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Archive for the ‘restaurants’ Category

2 months later, and it’s only a quickie. I haven’t stopped eating (clearly). I’ve simply paused writing. Rather, only writing I’ve done lately are emails to clients…and Instagram captions. And sadly, not even that witty.

Just wanted to share our weekly sushi fix. Well… weekly for J & E. Personal track record tends to be a wee bit higher. But, let’s not dwell on mercury levels.

Avocado quota anyone? We met ours yesterday. And while not immediately apparent in this pic, these are big, fat, generous rolls. The way we like ‘em.

So, until we save up our money jar for Sushi Kaji’s 7 or 8-course delectable feast, Asahi Sushi suits us perfectly! Thanks to the beautifully ripe avocado (or two) sacrificed for our satisfied bellies.

p.s Asahi – what happened to your wickedly spicy kimchi soup that used to come served bubbling hot in your stone bowls? Not quite the same with the ceramic whites. And don’t worry, the leggy blonde can handle the heat.

We beg you, bring the stones back.

http://www.asahi-sushi.com/

640 Church Street, Toronto
416.934.9990

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SUKHOTHAI: Tucked away on not-so-charmingly Parliament E. Deliberately unassuming.

KHAO SAN ROAD: Prominently located for all to stumble upon on Adelaide W. Vibrantly welcoming.

Both owned by husband wife duo Jeff & Chef Nuit Regular. Menus are 90% similar. And the common thread, despite vast differences in locale, decor & ambiance, is the food. Simply phenomenal. Ask anyone who has eaten at either. No competition. Easily the best Thai in this city.

Hold up. I do say this with a tiny caveat, as Mengrai is another hidden gem & deserves more recognition than it’s been given. Another time, another post :)

Ok, the elusive recipe for success. Is the food really that good? YES.

If you think you’ve had a good red curry, try the Gaeng Phed. If you think you’ve had good pad thai, try the Sam Roas. None of this one-note business. Chef Nuit offers dishes that are beautifully complex, flavourful, lingering with fantastic heat. Seriously satisfying.

If you’re trying for the first time, may I recommend two dishes? Dishes that may easily be passed over, simply because you don’t recognize:

  1. Gaeng Massaman: With a hint of tamarind, bolder hand with peanuts & chunks of potatoes, this curry is one the most fantastic balance of sweet heat you’ll ever taste.
  2. Khao Soi: A rich, velvety smooth yellow curry with coconut milk, with added texture from the crunch of crispy noodles, this one is crave-worthy special.

khao san road: khao soi & squash fritters

{Quick tip!} I’m a medium-heat kind of gal. If you’re the same, go hot for the curries & get an ice cold Singha to help you get through the medium pad thai, as it’s infinitely more spicy. In a ridiculously good way.

Thai food fascinates, because I haven’t been able to re-create at home. One-note wonder. Same for you? So, until George B. teaches some of the finer points of Thai cuisine in May, will happily get my fix with Sukho or KSR.

Although…what would be even better… if Chef Nuit (in her abundant spare time of course) would graciously think about opening up her kitchen for cooking classes! Wouldn’t you just love to make a good tom yum soup from scratch & throw away that tom yum paste?

Hey now, don’t look at me like that. Bet you have a jar stashed in your fridge.

Below are dishes from both menus. Begrudgingly ranked as friends tell me I must be objective & not love EVERY dish I try. Hrmph.

Outstanding:

    • Gaeng Massaman: Thai curry with tamarind sauce & cooked with onions, peanuts, potatoes & bay leaves; topped with crispy deep fried shallots.
    • Khao Soi: Egg noodles in a coconut milk enriched curry, garnished with crispy noodles, green onion and lime.
    • Sam Roas: Pad Thai “three flavours style” topped with home-made roasted peanuts, dried chili & fresh lime.

Honourable Mentions:

    • Gra Bong: Fried squash fritters battered with red curry paste, shrimp paste, and lemongrass.
    • Gaeng Phed: Red Curry with squash, kaffir lime leaves, basil leaves, red/green peppers & coconut milk.

It Pains, But Forgettable:

    • Khao greup goong: Large airy shrimp chips with a tart tamarind dipping sauce.
    • Tao hoo Taud Samoon Prai: Nuggets of fried tofu breaded in a crispy garlic/fresh kaffir lime coating, served with sweet & tangy garlic sauce.
    • Fresh rolls filled with homemade chicken sausage, lettuce, carrots, mint leaves, Thai basil
    • khao san road: tom yum soups

      http://www.khaosanroad.ca/
      326 Adelaide W.
      647.352.5773

      http://www.sukhothaifood.com/ 
      274 Parliament St.
      416.913.8846

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And it begins! Simple fare. Simple favourites. Casual dinner before a TIFF screening? Perfect.

From my first infatuation with Canteen almost a year ago (bonne anniversaire!), Chef Bangerter has had some fun with the menu… introducing new dishes, removing some and tweaking others. And I, with the help of a few friends, have eaten our way through most of it (surprise surprise!).

Below are my picks for best dishes to try pre-TIFF screening.  Sidebar: And only 24hrs until A & I strategically plant ourselves in front of one handsome-strapping-actor-musician-not-so-secret-love. Sweet lo, we can hardly stand it. Yep, fully aware of Eva canoodling. Temporary lapse.

Chef J, if he steps foot into the building and sits his cute butt down, you MUST send smoke signals. Will reco a few dishes, let him know the burrata upstairs is also to die for, happily offer up ourselves… ok, FOCUS.

Favourite Canteen dishes!

  1. Beet roots. Just started to love ‘em. Now, can’t get enough of ‘em.
  2. Seared scallops with a hint of curry. And sweet sweet raisins.
  3. White pizza, pancetta and a fried egg? Yes, please.
  4. The lemon posset. Lightest dessert ever created, every spoonful is sigh-worthy.

beet roots w/ tarragon, hazelnut, rice wine vinaigrette

seared scallops, curried cauli & sultana raisins

frattau pizza w/ potatoes, pancetta, fried egg, pecorino, rosemary

lemon posset, chantilly & blues

O&B Canteen
330 King St. West, TIFF Bell Lightbox
647.288.4710

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Is this not the most beautiful dish you’ve ever laid eyes on?

Reinstating slight obsession for Susur’s singaporean slaw. 19 elusive ingredients… from daikon sprouts, fennel, julienned jicama, cucumber, carrots to taro root, edible flower petals, toasted sesame seeds… it’s visually spectacular & indescribable. Yes, even carrots become exotic. If you’ve had it, please chime in with wildly descriptive love notes. If you haven’t, will incoherently rave for a few min & then force you to be next dinner date.

One ambitious day, L & I will attempt. For fun. Can you imagine?! Will need hours, a mandolin (or two) and lots of good humour.

Until that day, if I suggest Lee or Lee Lounge for dinner… say yes to the slaw.

20110804-012421.jpg

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You may rave about a restaurant. And why do you rave? The Food. Cocktails. Ambiance. Service. Super cute waiter. That ONE dish on the menu.

Alas, 2010 is wrapping up & I have a penchant for making lists (bright yellow sticky notes are a girl’s best friend)… this one had to be done!

[Sidebar] One must always be prepared. To fill awkward silences. Make witty small talk. Entertain hrs of conversation. You know, if ever stuck in an elevator… on a double blind date… job interview…  you see? Countless needs. So yes, I have my list ready.

And I’ll have you know that I tried (albeit half-heartedly) to narrow down to top 10. Silly conventions. Let’s make it a top 18 with a bonus list.

Below, you’ll find my most blathered about dishes in 2010. Any day, any time, anywhere.

Made up of the city’s finest*:

18. Enoteca Sociale: Grilled octopus
17. Le Select Bistro: Steak tartare
16. Guu: Salmon natto yukke
15. Burger’s Priest: Cheeseburger
14. WoodLot: Potato puree & bone marrow
13. Mildred’s Temple Kitchen: Profiteroles
12. Biff’s Bistro: Chicken liver parfait
11. O&B: Grilled calamari
10. Grace Upstairs (BBQ): Grilled lobster
9. Marben: Roasted beef
8. Black Hoof: Charcuterie
7. Tutti Matti: Beef carpaccio
6. C5: Corn salad
5. Cava: Foie gras
4. Scarpetta: Polenta with truffled mushrooms
3. Foxley: Black cod with truffle oil & asian greens
2. Luma: Burrata
1. Foxley: Arctic char ceviche (surprise!)

luma: burrata

C5: corn salad

Guu: salmon natto yukke

 

And these six are special. It’s like being asked to pick your favourite child. Impossible.

  • WoodLot: Handcut pappardelle w. wild boar ragu
  • Tutti Matti: Handcut pappardelle w. pulled beef brisket
  • Mengrai Thai: Red curry w. lychee & pineapple
  • SukhoThai: Red curry (gaeng phed)
  • Nadege Patisserie: Salted caramel macaron
  • Moroco Chocolat: Salted caramel macaron

nadege: salted caramel & pistachio macaron (photo cred: Tina H)

 

For the past 12 months, have eaten my way through the city… with many friends, many bottles of vino, and many O MY! moments. Glorious fun. Pure unadulterated fun. So much fun, planning to do it again next year. Who’s joining? ;)

 

*Excluded – mama’s cooking. Y’all know why…homecooking is simply incomparable x

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Life has been hectic. In a great way hectic. Playing catch up, and so much to share. Rewind back a few weeks, shall we? My dearest & bestest was getting married and as maid of honour, was responsible for planning her final ‘single’ party.

I had wanted to do something a little different, fun and interactive for the bride-to-be. Toyed with the idea of private cooking classes at the Calphalon, The Chef UpstairsDish Cooking Studio etc. but sadly, we’re not made of money. <pause> Don’t even say it. Blissfully unaware. <longer pause> Fine. Personal restaurant track record MAY beg to differ.

Reached out to friends for more reasonable ideas and suggestions flew in – from inviting Massimo Bruno to cook a family-style dinner to oyster shucking at Oyster Boy to a simple themed potluck to private dining at Toronto’s newest restaurant Luma. The last suggestion came from Luma’s own Chef Jason Bangerter.

He was offering an intimate 14-seat private room for exclusive dining and a grand meal to remember.

Should’ve seen my face.

Beamed like I had just won the mayoral debate.

If the room was available that night, it was ours. And a few days later, confirmed. Bless his heart, this was going to be the best experience ever. Then…then, it gets better. I know, right? Then, Chef Jason asked if I wanted to design the menu for the eve.

P-a-r-d-o-n.

Had Christmas come early?! Sweet j, this was fantastic.

T’was the early season of giving, so I called in my clever strategist and talented art director into a meeting. Pourquoi? Well, common denominator lies in our passion and slight obsession with food. K is our resident chef and E is a budding macaron maker & appreciator of all things French & wine. As 90% of our conversations – when not work-related, of course – center around food, they were perfect.

With that, extremely important meeting was called. Urgent. Needed ASAP in main boardroom. Moi, frantic? Never. Ahem. Ever so kind, both rushed to my defence. And projected on the screen was Luma’s menu. 1) select three appetizers 2) select three mains 3) select one dessert. Go!

Should’ve seen us. Like three little pigs in mud, so happy we were. Laboriously debated each dish, drooled (quite literally) over every ingredient, balanced several options against tastebuds, sacrificed dishes for others… and this is what we ended up with:

———————————————————————————————————–

APPS

BURRATA
{fresh mozzarella cheese with beetroot, roasted eggplant, marjoram and pine nut vinaigrette}

SCALLOP SASHIMI
{sliced thinly with celery leaves, herbs, radish and ginger vinaigrette}

FOIE GRAS TORCHON
{pineapple, brioche, macadamia nut and vanilla}

MAINS

RICOTTA GNOCCHI
{light tomato fondue, basil, sunchokes and roasted garlic}

BUTTER POACHED LOBSTER
{steamed potato, corn, grilled leeks, lime and coriander pistou}

GRILLED BEEF TENDERLOIN
{braised beef cheeks, crispy potato chips, celery root purée, caramelized sunchokes, watercress and wild mustard jus}
-or-
BAKED SALMON
{gallo mussels, spanish chorizo, piquillo pepper and saffron rouille}
-or-
ROASTED COD
{northern woods mushrooms, sweetbreads, hazelnut, celery and porcini cream}

DESSERT

LEMON TART
{sour cream ice cream and blueberries}

———————————————————————————————————–

Best menu ever. And obviously torn with the last main dish, we left it up to the executive chef to make the executive decision. But, oh so proud we were with our selections…as if we had created these dishes ourselves. Can you imagine?? What great fun we’d have.

[Sidebar] Always try to approach life with this much enthusiasm. Good for the soul.

Oh my, could not WAIT to dine. Too bad it was 8 days away.

To be continued…in tomorrow’s gluttonous edition of LEKIM.ca

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Our first experience sans photos. Our second experience avec photos.

This wknd, a girlfriend asked if we enjoyed Ruby Watchco just as much the 2nd time round, and I belatedly realized with some chagrin that I had never posted our fabulous dinner from July.

Blasphemy!

Let’s fix that, shall we?

So, we were celebrating sweet A‘s birthday, and on the menu for the eve was Ruby’s BBQ chicken dinner. Now, if I may be completely frank, chicken doesn’t excite (ever). Perhaps to see what it’s been stuffed with, but given the amount of time I devote to a menu…barely a cursory glance. 2%, if that, to le insignificant poulet. Judge away. I judge your chicken with my snobbery.

Wish I could say that night was different. And I can’t, so I won’t.

Instead, will focus on what was underneath…and O MY, did it ever make up for its nonexcitingness.

Coffee porter braised beef brisket hash.

Yes. Sounds pretty freakin’ good, right? Forget the chicken, we were all digging for the braised beef. Dig dig dig.

ruby watchco: feast

Stand-outs: Warm and unbelievably fresh, you bet your pretty little smile those chive buttermilk biscuits taste just as good as they look.

…and even better with their to-die-for house churned butter.

ruby watchco: cheddar chive buttermilk biscuits

Now, honourable mention goes to the grilled corn with honey smoked paprika butter. Boiled, cooked in milk, finished off on the grill and smeared with that crazy good butter. Sweet corn on a summer’s day is the best, isn’t it? Too bad it’s no longer summer.

Right then, moving along!

It pains, but forgettable dishes of the night included the creamy cilantro lime napa slaw + summer bean salad.

The slaw was far too creamy, and absolutely unfair, but slaw triggers salivation over Susur’s singaporean version. The bean salad had a nice crunch from the yellow and green beans. Nice, like, your first blind date nice. Never again, nice.

ruby watchco: feast II

Cheese plate! So, I’m a stinky hard cheese kinda girl.

The riopelle was soft, brie-like, a triple cream cheese from Quebec…quite nice & smeared exceptionally well. Talk to the other ladies, they’ll give you a more eloquent orgasmic reaction.

ruby watchco: le riopelle de l'isle

Mmm, warm & peachy crumble.

More crumble & a stronger hit of cinnamon would have been just what autumn ordered.

ruby watchco: ontario peach crumble

Now, don’t worry we’re ending on a high note. Like you guys were even concerned ;)

Pavlova. My new FAVOURITE dessert.

Meringue-based, light, delicate and velvety with a spongey-crunchy shell; texture is fantastically good. Berries were bittersweet, but fork kept returning to the plate…for more pavlova…like it had a mind of its own. Hmm.

ruby watchco: pavlova w/ blackberries

ruby watchco

Ultimately, enjoyed the food more the first time around – however dessert redeemed itself tenfold, remember our le-gourmand-style-hard-rock cookies?! Service was just as lovely, we toasted the day A was born & happily stuffed our faces like the little piggies we were and enjoyed every minute of it.

Now, it’s been months and we need to find ourselves another pavlova.

http://rubywatchco.ca/
730 Queen St. East
416.465.0100

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