Archive for January, 2010

sunday mornings

omelette + paper = perfectly content


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The things we do for food. 

Including wait outside in -18C weather. 

Yep, that’s right. Hesitated for half a second. But, N & I are like-minded…and stubborn as anything. 

And her reaction to the french toast…EPIC. Worth it. If only we had a video camera, I’d replay over & over again. Warmed my frozen little toes right up. 

latte bowls


Menu was smaller than expected, with daily specials written in chalk on the blackboard. Debated the omelette of the day (chorizo, asiago, roasted red peppers, caramelized onions), but ended up getting one of their signatures, which immediately caught my eye when we finally squeezed ourselves in 20 min later. 

The croque madam: lightly toasted brioche layered with ham & gruyere, topped with an over easy egg, sliced baquette and fresh greens… ahhh, why people rave about this place. 

croque madam


For dessert, snuck in a few bites of the thick french toast. Sweet deliciousness. Could not get over how GOOD it was…and I don’t even like french toast. Honestly, if we could’ve captured that first moment. 

french toast


According to the couple sitting next to us, the quiche was the best quiche he had ever had. Wow. Ok, already planning next visit. 

And though there was a line-up, we weren’t rushed out. In fact, we were offered a platter of decadent-looking cakes & tarts. Twice. Declined once, almost accepted the second. 

Final sips of our latte bowls, happily stuffed – we wandered outside both wanting to explore the neighbourhood… stopped. looked at each other. realized it was still -18C & said “are we crazy?!” 

Charming & tiny – seating less than 30 ppl – this Leslieville brunch spot is a clear favourite. Couldn’t even tell you when a good time would be to go. Ask the morning people. 

fyi: cash only 

812 Queen Street E.  
Open: Tues-Sun (8am-4pm)

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Quick snaps part deux

3 times this week already. Same fish, different place(s). 

I sound distinterested. But you know better, right? 

Snaps from yesterday: Sushi Xtra 

salmon lover combo


maki mono set D


Sushi Xtra
423 Queen Street W.

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O & K’s mantra of the night —  

“Don’t be deceived. We’ll eat our weight’s worth…and more.”  

Forget the set-up, no time to mince words. It’s late & won’t be able to sleep until posted. Remember? Save draft mode doesn’t exist. Must share experience now…and plus, body is still recovering from the onslaught it just received.  

photo cred: spotlighttoronto


So, why didn’t we stop after the 6th dish? Because, we’re gluttonous souls.   

3.5 hours, 8 dishes, 4 glasses of vino later… INCROYABLE.  

Service? Fantastic. Say hi to Kyle if you go. Ms. Le & Mr. Dey sent you.   


Stand-out dishes:   

Jamón iberico
(as my Dove chocolate wrapper instructed ‘ignore the price tag’, so we did. oh YES.
proscuitto has nothing on you.)

jamón iberico


Pinchos of gamay-poached foie gras with prune plum chutney
(jaws dropped. pause. best EVER. period.) 

Smoked kingfish ceviche with a friseé salad
(yes! ceviche-streak is going strong) 

kingfish ceviche


Eggplant with queso fresco, honey and tomatillo sauce
(surprise “wow” dish of the night)  



Honourable mentions:   

Torta of duck breast & anchovy
(first taste & “Oooo, so good” of the night)  

Forty-eight hour beef cheek with white pureé & chimchurri
(just slather & let melt)  

48 hour beef cheek


Braised oxtail tamal with pasilla chile sauce 
(10 pts for presentation)   

braised oxtail


It pains, but easily forgettable:   

Chickpea morcilla
(“if this was our least favourite, I can handle it.”)   


Until next time:
Pinchos of avocado & wild salmon machaca
Four oysters on the half shell with tomatillo salsa
Cauliflower & chickpea tagine with medjool dates & spanish saffron
Octopus anticucho with lentils & romesco
Clams with chorizo & fresh bay leaves
Quail & porkbelly a la plancha with calabacitas   


fyi: all food photo cred goes to O.Dey & his far-superior mobile device.  

1560 Yonge Street

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Quick snaps

Dazzling. On King. Yep, that’s the name of the restaurant.    

Slightly forgivable after eating the best spicy tuna maki  in the city. Dare you to find better.  

kimchi tuna maki


A’s flavourful Panang curry – spicy & delicious.  

panang curry


Panang noodles – unimaginatively ok. (see VK! can be a critic.)  

panang noodles w. shrimp & chicken



291 King Street W.

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Tapas… Japanese-styles.  

Immediately intrigued. Love small plates. Love sharing food.  

A girlfriend mentioned Guu to me a few weeks ago, a buddy had raved about it. Hugely popular in Vancouver. Owners just opened up a new restaurant in Toronto. Then, I read a post by torontolife. And all the comments that followed it. Then, another friend asked. Then, a co-worker.  Then, another friend… OK, that was it. I HAD to go. 


photo cred: compendium daily


We arrived exceptionally early. 5:30pm early. Well, A was on time. I was running late… as per usual. sigh. Life-long resolution. 

Atmosphere was warm, loud and boisterous; chefs yelling, waiters answering, voices raised to make themselves heard …this was gonna be great fun. 

Menu begs you to try something different. So many choices. Where to start? Our strategy: pick one ‘safe’ dish, then pick one dish you’d never think of trying. Ooo, I like this game.  

guu izakaya menu


Ok, must admit – whenever there’s salmon sashimi on a menu, deal is sealed. Can’t help it. Undeterred by unfamiliar ingredients (natto + shibazuke + takuan) and the raw egg (didn’t bat an eyelash) – this was my ‘safe’ dish…with a twist. Salmon natto yukke, done. 

Adventurous pick? The mackerel. Simply because, I’ve never tried. A ordered tuna sashimi (secret fist pump, love tuna) and deep fried calamari.  

Hungry tummies were waiting. With great anticipation. Would the food live up to the hype? 

photo cred: Renée Suen


YES. unequivocally yes. 

My favourite? The ‘safe’ dish! And uniquely different. 

Familiar flavours mixed with new flavours (fermented soybeans + pickled egglant/cucumber + daikon radish pickle). Raw egg? Yep, it holds that mixture together. Spoon on to seaweed, roll and enjoy. It’s messy. But, delicious.  

A’s favourite? Ikapiri. Calamari, spiced up with a kick and dipped in wasabi mayo. How can you not like? 



Sure enough, by 6:30pm – all seats were filled. We didn’t care. Barely noticed. Too busy saying “ohhh, so good” & eagerly reaching for more.  

Would reco going with a small group of 3-5. Just so you can sample more, and very affordable with each dish between $5-9.  

We had 5 dishes between the two of us…and probably could’ve kept going. Gluttony is at an all-time low after the holidays. clearly. high five. 

Sitting at the long wooden communal bench, shoulders touching with complete strangers, inadvertently over-hearing conversations (“seriously, I could eat this dish every single day, it’s that good”), not-so-discreetly eyeing each other’s plates, openly asking which ones we had tried… ohh, I’ll be back. 

And bringing a few of you with me. 


Stand-out dishes:  

 “SALMON NATTO YUKKE” Chopped salmon sashimi with 7 friends (Natto, shibazuke, takuan, wonton chips, garlic chips, green onion and raw egg yolk). Mix them up and wrap it in NORI seaweed.  

“MAGURO TATAKI” Lightly seared B.C. albacore tuna sashimi with ponzu sauce and garlic chips  

maguro tataki


Honourable mentions:
“IKAPIRI” Deep fried calamari with spicy ketchup and wasabi mayo
“Grilled SABA” mackerel with garlic, lemon and herb on vegetables  

grilled saba


It pains, but easily forgettable:  

 “KABOCHA KOROKKE” Deep fried kabocha pumpkin croquette with a boiled egg inside  

kabocha korokke


Until next time:  

“ABURI SALMON” Lightly seared atlantic salmon sashimi with ponzu sauce & wasabi mayo
“AGEDASHI TOFU” Deep fried tofu in DASHI broth
 “HOTATE BUTTER” Pan fried scallop with soysauce & garlic butter
“GINDARA” Grilled black cod with SAIKYO miso & white wine sauce
“BUTAKIMCHI BIBIMBAP” Rice, spicy ground pork, kimchi, assorted vegetables & an egg in a hot stone bowl 
 “OKONOMIYAKI” Deep fried Japanese style pancake with TONKATSU sauce & mustard mayo 


fyi: 2-hour time limit 

And until the hype dies down, go early. Or you risk waiting. And they don’t take your #, tell you to go across the street & have a drink while you wait. You just wait.  


398 Church St.

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Every Tomi-Kro review will rave about the lobster maki balls.  

This one, won’t be any different. So unoriginal, I know.
Visual caveat: these maki balls don’t do anything for me. Barely excited. 
And I like to get excited about my…… food.  

So, we get over the presentation. And focus on the different layers of fantastic.  

Cut into the crispy battered tempura shell to the lobster meat & avocado (that combination alone); smear on some heat with wasabi and dip into the soy. Redemption.  

photo cred: blogTO


Let’s rewind and focus on the foie gras crème brûlée for a minute, shall we?  

Foie gras + crème brûlée. It’s exactly what you think it is.  

Take your spoon and lightly tap… into indescribableness.
I know it’s not a word and please don’t hate me for enjoying it so much.  

photo cred: Jen Chan


And rewind again, to that first step through the door. Immediately, you’ll take in the ambiance, artlessly detailed decor, warm tones…eclectic and inviting. One of those great date places.  

Try it, you’ll see.  

photo cred: Jen Chan


Stand-out dishes:  

Tempura lobster maki balls
Fois gras crème brûlée
Cedar Valley organic duck breast (if you enjoy duck, you’ll love)  


photo cred: blogTO


Honourable mentions:  

Veal osso bucco
Bay scallops over slaw
Shitake risotto

It pains, but easily forgettable:  

Wasabi panko potato cake
Tuna tartare & sashimi (delicate portion woes)
Brussel sprouts with asiago & pancetta
Roasted beets w. pistachio, balsamic vinegar & goat cheese (not a beets fan, wasn’t converted)  

Until next time:  

Octopus ceviche (on a mission to try every ceviche dish in the city)
Sesame albecore tuna
Arctic char  

1214 Queen St. E.
(416) 463-6677



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Turkey Chili with Beer & Lime

Home-made chili…oh so good.
Find me someone who doesn’t enjoy & I’ll make this recipe for them.
The hardest part? Waiting out the 90min, while it simmers.

Adapted from Food to Die For: Secrets From Kay Scarpetta’s Kitchen (2001) – Patricia Cornwell.


3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 lb (450 g) ground turkey (or lean ground beef)
1/4 lb (120 g) button mushrooms, trimmed, sliced (about 1-1/2 cups)
1 each: diced small red bell pepper, diced small green bell pepper
2 cups chopped vidalia onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 28 oz/796 mL cans tomatoes, chopped
127 mL can mild chopped green chillies (no need to drain)
12 oz (355 mL) bottle Mexican beer
3 tbsp lime juice
2 tbsp each: chopped oregano leaves, slivered basil leaves
2 bay leaves
1-1/2 tbsp chili powder
2 tsp or more salt
1-1/2 tsp ground cumin
28 oz (796 mL) can red kidney beans, rinsed, drained
19 oz (540 mL) can black beans, rinsed, drained

Hot pepper sauce to taste
Shredded extra-old cheddar to taste
Dollop of light sour cream & sprinkle of chives to taste

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in large pan on medium-high. Add turkey. Cook until browned, about 5 min, breaking up with wooden spoon. Remove to medium bowl.

In same pan, heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil on medium-high. Add mushrooms, peppers, onion and garlic. Cook, stirring and scraping browned bits on bottom of pan, until peppers are tender, about 5 min.

Stir in turkey, tomatoes and their juices, canned chillies, beer, lime juice, oregano, basil, bay leaves, chili powder, 2 teaspoons salt and cumin. Bring to boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, partly covered, 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

Add beans. Uncover and simmer 30 min. Adjust salt. Discard bay leaves.

Serve topped with hot sauce, cheddar, sour cream & chives.

Makes 8 to 10 servings.
(Or in our case, 6-8 servings. Generous is me.)

*A & S. Coolman’s notes: Heat a couple slices of bacon in pan first. Remove bacon. Use fat rendered from bacon as cooking oil. Add turkey. Dice up bacon. Add to mixture for stirring.

And yes, it’s worth it. ENJOY.

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Prettiest Red Dragon ever eaten…   

Red Dragon & Sake Maki

16 Yonge St. 416.363.9379

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