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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Pho Mi Viet Thai

Review Location:
2354 Major MacKenzie Drive
Maple, Ontario

I always love going to Pho because it's fast, cheap, and relatively satisfying. I think because of that, I don't have too high an expectation for the restaurant surroundings or service (unless it's beyond terrible of course..). Pho Mi was exactly the restaurant that fills this situation. The restaurant is by no means fancy, food presentation isn't the best, and the server doesn't really do much, but the food tastes great and it was quite affordable.

 Large Special Pho

The pho I ordered came with all the typical ingredients that you find in a "special" pho like beef balls, tripe, tendon, flank, beef, etc. I have to admit, the pho here was really good. They used authentic pho noodles that were cooked just right, and the beef was a really good cut of meat. Of course the soup was basically all MSG, but I found it wasn't as bad as a lot of other pho places. The portions was also huge! The bowl was actually bigger than my head. Much much bigger than that picture portrays it to be. Good deals.

 Chicken and Pork Chop Rice Platter

The meat on this rice platter was very well marinated and well cooked. The meat was tender and went really well with the short grain Vietnamese rice. The menu actually has a really large selection of rice platters. While we were there, every table had one of these. A lot of them had an extra egg with it, so I really want to try it now!

The menu also had a large variety of fruit drinks like most other Vietnamese places, but some of the fruits they had were so exotic that I didn't even know what they were. Anyone know what a "Sweet Sop", or a "Sapodilla" is?

The name probably would've given it away, but they actually serve both Vietnamese and Thai food. We only ended up ordered Vietnamese food this time, though I wouldn't mind coming back to try the other Thai dishes. And maybe I'll finally try the rice dishes with the egg in it!

Pho Mi Viet Thai on Restaurantica

Monday, April 25, 2011

Me Va Me

Review Locaiton:
9302 Bathurst Street
Thornhill, Ontario

This location is relatively new that opened less than a month ago. That being said, the inside is fairly modern and nice. Right when you enter, there is a circular shaped bar on the right side so people can grab drinks while they wait for their tables. While this is a real space killer, it was probably a good idea since they don't take reservations. We waited for quite a bit and ended up getting some beers to pass the time. This is actually the second Me Va Me restaurant location. There is one other restaurant location, and another express location that just offers take out. I've only had the express and have never been to the original restaurant, but from what Rob tells me the food is amazing! People would line up over an hour for it. We came with a table of 10+, so we got to try lots of different dishes!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Dinner at Rob's House

So because I can't just keep eating at restaurants every day, it was bound to happen where I would have to post some homemade food. But it doesn't matter, because this meal was so good I would've wanted to take pictures of it anyways.

The star of the night was a 15 pound AAA rib roast, costing $75...

After an entire day of cooking...and voila!

Roast Beef with baby potatoes, carrots, and yam

Carving the roast. Look at those that bloody cutting board after. Kind of gross to look at actually...but so good!

The roast beef and ribs plated. The picture doesn't do the portions justice. The rib peices were like the size of bananas. It was like jumbo size ribs!

Top: Potatoes, carrots and yam, left: corn, right: zucchini 

I am actually getting hungry again just posting these pictures. The roast beef was cooked to perfection, and went so well with all the sides. I really liked the potatoes, because they were baked for so long that the skin on the outside was all hard and crispy, almost like eating potato chips! And after all that delicious food, we still managed to find some space for dessert.

DQ soft serve ice cream with strawberries and cantaloupe

Okay. I think I need some time to digest, let the itis kick-in, and pass out....

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Win's Seafood Restaurant

Review Location:
50 Lockridge Ave, Unit 1
Markham, ON

My family came here for dinner one night because there was some set dinner for 8 that was supposed to be a really good deal. You'll soon see from the pictures that it was A LOT of food and was enough for at least 10 people. The restaurant is like a typical chinese restaurant, with the round tables, white table cloths and squishy seats. Definitely nothing too fancy.  In fact, the insulation in the place was terrible because it was freezing despite there being heat on. Anyways, I noticed a certificate on the wall close to where we were sitting showing that the cook graduated from George Brown college. So at first I was kind of excited to try the Chinese food that would come out of a Canadian culinary school graduate. After the meal I realized that in fact there was quite a bit of western influence in the meal.

 appetizer: salted fish and peanuts

  bean curd sand meat soup. (WAYYY too peppery. Did not enjoy this at all.)

 Stir fried Lobster

 Stir fried button mushrooms and scallops with garlic

Left: Rum and butter seafood stew pot, Right: Baguette to go with the stew pot

 Sea cucumber, Chinese mushrooms and vegetables

 Steamed fish with soya sauce

 Stir fried button mushrooms and scallops in garlic

Stir fry snap peas with sea cucumber, white fungus, and king mushroom

 Stir fry leek and oysters

Rack of Lamb

 3 dessert options at the end of dinner: 
Black sesame dessert, Puree Almond dessert, and Taro Tapioca dessert. The Taro Tapioca dessert had the large tapioca balls! 

I'm not going to go through each dish this time like I normally do, because I feel like my thoughts on each dish are about the same. In generally everything was very savory (which probably came from the Canadian/Western cooking influence). The ingredients, the sauce, the flavours, everything. And while savory is not necessary a bad thing, it's a little too much when every dish is equal in intensity. You kind of need that more neutral bland dish to counteract it, but in this case there wasn't any. The lamb was a savory meat to begin with, and was drenched in a very rich in barbeque sauce, while the seafood stew was very heavy in butter flavourings. Even the vegetable dishes (which there were very few) were covered with more meat and seafood, which was stir fried in a salty and very thick sauce. But that's not to say the dishes weren't tasty. By themselves, each dish had relatively fresh ingredients and plentiful proportions. They didn't skimp out on the expensive ingredients either. My favourite dish which was the mushrooms and scallops, had equally as much scallops as it did mushrooms.

While it wouldn't be my first choice to come here again, I wouldn't write it off as a place I refuse to go to. I just personally wouldn't order all these dishes together at the same time again.

Monday, April 18, 2011

[Richmond Hill] Inaho Sushi

Review Location:
155 East Beaver Creek Road
Richmond Hill, ON

The other day, my friend Jenn and I went here on a weeknight to get some dinner. I've never been here despite it being in existence for a while. I guess I never noticed these small little restaurants next to the bigger East Beaver Creek chain restaurants. When we arrived, the first thing I noticed was that it was a family run business. It is literally run by like 2 people. (okay maybe 3 if there's someone inside washing the dishes). The one waitress attended to all the tables, and surprisingly, the service wasn't the least bit jeopardized. The place wasn't packed, but there was still a good 70% occupancy. She was very friendly and didn't seem like she was flustered with all the people she had to serve. Impressive. The second was the chef. He was Japanese (yay, bonus points!), but there was only one of them serving the entire restaurant. That being said, the food took a bit longer than I would've liked. It also probably explains the smaller menu and the lack of options compared to most other Japanese restaurants. I wouldn't suggest coming here if you were starving.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Craft Burger (now Big Smoke Burger)

Review Location:
830 Yonge Street
Toronto, Ontario

Today my friend John was in the area around where I worked, so we both went to this burger joint that we've been wanting to try. We've heard a lot of good things about it and wanted to see if the testimonials lived up to what it was. We got there a couple minutes after noon, and the place wasn't too busy. We managed to get a table, and the line up to order your food was quick. However, if we showed up just 15 minutes later, the place would've been packed, and the line up would've been out the door (literally). Thank goodness. The restaurant is pretty small, with a seating area that probably wouldn't accommodate more than 30 people, but most people were just getting their burgers to go.

Left: My Black Cherry Soda, Right: John's Root Beer

We both ordered burger combos that came with a side and a drink. These tall retro-looking bottles of Boylan sodas really caught our eye, so we paid more to get these as our drinks. My black cherry soda was not bad. It tasted similar to a cherry coke except not as sweet and less "coke" flavour (if that made any sense at all...). Hard to describe. At least I didn't get that gross gritty teeth feeling after drinking it like I do most sodas.

The burgers came on a tray and were delivered to you by a waiter after you order and pay at the cash register. It was quite quick and we got our food within 10 mins of ordering. We both decided to order burgers that had the word "craft" in it, cause we figured it must be one of their signature burgers.

Left: "Craft Burger" - Saute mushrooms, rosemary garlic mayo, lettuce, tomato, 
Right: Craft Burger Combo with Onion Rings.

The first thing I want to say, is I think this meal was way too over-hyped. Everyone told me how amazing it is, so I went in ordering a burger, and expecting a steak. But even with that being said, the burger was quite good. The first bite in I noticed that the meat was a little overcooked and dry, but as you worked your way to the middle of the patty, it was more moist and juicy. The beef didn't taste too processed, and it wasn't drenched in oil like most burgers. It was very slightly under flavoured but the rosemary garlic mayo made up for it. The onion rings were also quite good. It was made with a breaded batter (similar to what you make cutlets with), and was piping hot when it came out. The onion inside wasn't all shriveled up, allowing for an equal balance of onion and batter. Despite the fact that I prefer tempura-batter onion rings more, I really enjoyed these.  

"Craft Spicy" -caramelized onions, spicy chipotle, tomato, and lettuce.
This was John's order, and unfortunately I couldn't get a good picture, nor did I get to taste it. He seemed like he enjoyed the meal though. I tried some of the fries, and they really remind me of the fries from "The Grill" in Waterloo. The next most similar would be New York Fries, but not as crispy. They are more like the softer, restaurant-style fries. I liked that they weren't overloaded with salt.

For the same price as a McDonald's meal, is Craft Burger better than most fast food joints? Yes. Is it the best burger I've ever had? Probably not. But none the less, a very very good burger place in Toronto.

My friend John also runs a food blog devoted entirely to burgers, and his is more of a detailed a review of the entire restaurant rather than my quick look at the food. So if you want to read up on his Craft Burger experience, as well as other burger joints around Toronto, go check out his burger blog!

Edit: Craft Burger has now changed it's name to Big Smoke Burger. Different name, but still the same great burgers!

Craft Burger on Urbanspoon

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Bombshelter Pub

Review Location:
Student Life Centre, University of Waterloo
200 University Avenue West
Waterloo, ON

So yesterday the topic of university life came up between some of my friends. We all went to University of Waterloo, and the most memorable place on campus by a long haul would be the campus pub known as the The Bombshelter Pub or "Bomber" for short. Every Wednesday would be bar night with cheap drinks and awesome music. Line ups would get pretty crazy at times, so to avoid that we would go early for dinner and stay the entire night. As a tribute to some of the best times of my life, I think I owe it Bomber to feature their food for today's blog post.

"The Bomber Burger"

There are lots of things to order from the bomber menu, but this is undeniably the best thing to have. I've tried other things like casadeas, wings, nachos, and they are all alright, but doesn't compare to the bomber burger with a large heaping of super yummy criss-cross fries. The burger has a well seasoned patty, and the fries never disappoint. (Except sometimes when the fries get cold it doesn't taste that good. But I guess that's will all fries..) Pair it with some beer and you've got yourself a pretty satisfying meal.

Oh how I wish so much to have this on a Wednesday night again!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Cafe 28

Reviewed Location:
10 East Wilmot Street
Richmond Hill, ON

This restaurant is one of those places that serves chinese-style western cuisine. It's run entirely by chinese people, as are most of the customers that come here. The place is actually quite small, but the ambience of dimmed lights and elevator music makes it kind of comfy. While the menu is mainly dominated by western style items, they also have several chinese dishes like baked casseroles and fried rice. We decided to order a mixture of both styles of cuisine.

The western dishes came in set dinners, served with garlic bread, soup or salad, drink, and dessert. They ran out of garlic bread so we this potato patty instead.

Left: Salad with Fruit, Right: Clam Chowder
It's hard to see from the picture since the soup was unstirred, but it actually came with a lot of clams. The soup was the right consistency, but didn't taste creamy. Most likely thickened with cornstarch. The salad was your regular bagged salad with some fresh grapes, diced melon, and strawberries. The dressing was the most interesting part. It was a tangy strawberry dressing.

Left: Lemon tea + Egg Custard Pudding, Right: Potato Patties
Not much to comment here. Everything tastes exactly as it probably looks. Everything standard.

Top: Baked Pork Chop Rice, Left: 8 ounce steak, Right: Rack of Lamb
Though the plate used to serve the baked pork chop rice was very hot when it was served, it didn't taste like it was baked at all. It was no different than sauce over rice. The sauce itself was very salty, and the pork chops were slightly dry. Definitely did not enjoy this dish. The two grilled meat dishes however, were much better. You could tell the meat isn't top notch quality, but it was cooked perfectly to our "medium rare" order. I actually really enjoyed the mash potatoes that came with both these dishes. They were these partially mashed red skinned potatoes with a garlicky butter sauce. They were so good that I opted to eat the potatoes instead of the meat near the end of the meal when I was getting full. I think that says a lot considering I grew up being taught that you should always eat the most expensive stuff (ie. the meat) when you start getting full.

I actually quite enjoyed this place. The prices were actually rather inexpensive given the food quality and service. It's no classy hotel meal experience, but I'd say its definitely on the higher end of the moderate price range restaurants.

Cafe 28 on Urbanspoon

Monday, April 11, 2011

Bombay's Chutney

Reviewed Location:
Unit H1, 1070 Major Mackenzie Drive East
Richmond Hill, Ontario

The other night I went out for Indian food with some of my friends. I haven't had a great deal of Indian cuisine experiences under my belt, so I just wanted to disclaim that I don't have much to benchmark with, aside from my own personal preferences.

The restaurant is located in a plaza that has quite a bit of oriental restaurants, so I was curious to know whether this place would be run by oriental people. However, it wasn't, and I was greeted with Indian servers and soft Indian music in the background upon entering. The restaurant was small with not too many tables, but I noticed throughout dinner that there were more take out orders than sit-in customers anyways.

"Aloo Tikki" -Potato patties served with curried chickpeas & tamarind chutney

This appetizer was basically a glorified potato patty. It was crispy on the outside, and mushy on the inside with some ground up vegetable bits. It went well with the tamarind chutney which had a bland watery texture, with a bit of a spicy sour kick. I think my faouvrite part of this dish was actually the chickpeas. It had a nice curry taste and some crunch  from the raw onions. Was an okay dish, but nothing too special.

"Non-Veg Thali" -An assorted platter of Tandoori Chicken, Rice, Naan, Dal, Raita, Papadum (cracker), Pickle, Dessert, and your choice of beef/chicken/lamb curry
Left to Right: Dal, Curry Beef, Raita, Dessert
I ordered this platter and shared it with one of my friends. It's kind of like a sampler with small portions of everything.  It came in these metal plates and bowls. After talking to my Pakistani co-worker the next day, she told me that that's actually how traditional Indian meals are served. I have to admit I was a little impressed after that. The food in general exceeded my expectations. Nothing was unbearably potent in spices, but was definitely not underflavoured. I really enjoyed the raita which was a yogurt sauce mixed with spices and vegetables. It was refreshing, and something you don't find at a lot of places. My favourite part of the platter was actually the naan. This naan was HUGE! Most places I've been to serve naan that is roughly a teacup plate size, and are a perfect circle shape. I don't know if you can tell from the picture, but the naan here was larger than my dinner plate (measuring almost the size of legal paper) and triangular in shape. The naan was really well toasted to a crisp on the outside, but had fluffy soft, almost airy dough on the inside. Easily the best I've ever had, and probably my favourite part of the entire meal. The friend I shared this platter with commented that she really liked the rice. It was stiffer than Oriental rice and had more texture to it. Unfortunately we forgot to eat the dessert at the end, so I can't really comment on it. But I dipped my naan in there by accident thinking it was a sauce and it tasted similar to condensed milk. I imagine it would be alright. Despite being a sampler, my friend and I were both pretty satisfied after. I would recommend this to anyone who doesn't have a go-to Indian dish and wants to try a variety of items.

"Butter Chicken" -Charcoal roasted chicken simmered in rich tomato butter gravy with dry fenugreek

Another friend of mine ordered the butter chicken dinner. This was really really good. Being someone who doesn't eat Indian food often, I found this dish wasn't too big of an intrusion on my taste buds. It was a creamy consistency, and not too strong on the spices. Being so tasty and paired with that awesome naan, I definitely would come back and order this again.

Bombay's Chutney on Urbanspoon

Bombay's Chutney on Restaurantica