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Great Value Sushi North of Toronto: Toro Sushi

21 May

I‘ll admit, it’s been several months since I went to Toro Sushi in Markham, but I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while now. My boyfriend and I were craving sushi. When we asked my brother for suggestions, he mentioned that most of his previous “go-to” places north of Toronto had gone downhill. However, Toro had opened recently, and my brother had great things to say about his past visit there  – they were even treating guests to complimentary raw oysters! So my entire family packed into a car and drove off to Toro for lunch.

Like many Asian restaurants that try to do it all, Toro offers not just sushi, but also Korean food. Would its large menu pass the test?

Toro Sushi - appiesWe started with complimentary Korean banchan, which included cold glass noodles, kimchee, and bean sprouts. All were yummy. And yes, we got our complimentary oysters too – 2 per person! This place gets points for free appies!

IMAG1933My boyfriend ordered a lot of sushi, including several pieces of ngiri, which Toro served on this cute fish-shaped platter. Points for presentation!

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Trendy Thai: Khao San Road, Toronto

8 Apr

A few months ago, we arrived at Khao San Road early on a frigid Thursday night. It was only 5:40 PM, and -20°C. Still, there was a 25 minute wait for the two of us. Wow, this place was popular!

We were seated at the bar. The menu offered the typical Thai choices. This was, after all, a place that prides itself on elevated Thai street food.

Khao San Road - Pad Thai Three Flavours Pad Thai with chicken

 

Green CurryThe green curry with thinly sliced beef could have benefited from more veggies, but it otherwise tasted good. The flavour of the bamboo shoots really came through.

 

IMAG1956I had the Khao Soi, a signature dish with egg noodles and crispy noodles in golden curry. It had many large chunks of tender beef I could pull apart with a fork.  The dish however, felt a bit incomplete without any vegetables.

This is definitely a place for 20 and 30-somethings, with long and high communal tables and plenty of bar seating. Khao San Road serves fancy street food that you can wash down with Thai iced tea, beer, or a selection from a wine list that is unexpectedly long for an Asian restaurant. The food is well-executed and nicely presented – nothing will catch you off guard, you’ll find the ingredients and combinations that you would expect.

Food: 4/5 | Atmosphere: 4/5 | Value: 3.5/5

Info: Khao San Road, 326 Adelaide Street West, Toronto, ON, Canada M5V 1R3

Khao San Road on Urbanspoon

Toronto’s Best Dim Sum Part 1: Crown Princess

15 Mar

Search for Toronto’s best dim sum and you’ll likely find Crown Princess on the list. I have been there twice now, both times on weekdays, for lunch. Unlike many other Chinese restaurants, this one is calm and quiet. The decor by contrast, is over-the-top – it’s a space with high ceilings, Roman columns, large oil paintings, and faux marble everywhere – the floors, the bar, and the walls – and yet it’s not all that big. The more intimate size makes you feel like you’re in an exclusive club. The place is bright, with large windows opening onto Bay Street. This grandeur is matched by high-quality dim sum and attentive service.

IMAG1883Above: Beef tripe and steamed bbq pork buns. Everything was yummy!

Crown Prince, TorontoTea is served in fancy English-style teapots and the dim sum pieces themselves are small and dainty. Above: pan fried turnip patties; stir fried greens; shrimp rice noodle roll.

IMAG1880Fried taro dumplings are one of my favorite things to order at dim sum. Unfortunately, most restaurants serve them only lukewarm, and not hot. Crown Prince’s taro dumplings weren’t an exception – this was the only disappointment during my meal. They were also smaller than typical taro dumplings, although each order came with four pieces, instead of three.

Crown Prince - Chiu Chow dumplingsChiu Chow style pork dumplings. (The order came with four pieces. I devoured one before I remembered to take this photo!)

Crown Prince - tapioca puddingA highlight of our last lunch at Crown Princess was dessert. The restaurant makes what is likely one of the best tapioca puddings in the city. There’s no doubt that it’s impressively presented, elevated in a glass bowl. Each pudding is made to order.

Crown Prince - mango puddingMango pudding is cutely shaped like a fish.

The Final Word: Dim sum at Crown Princess is a deliciously refined experience. Though prices are higher than average, the quality of the food is terrific.

Info: Crown Princess, 1033 Bay Street, Toronto, Canada

Crown Princess on Urbanspoon

Modern brunch: Mildred’s Temple Kitchen, Toronto

1 Feb

Mildred's Temple KitchenMildred’s Temple Kitchen is a bright, roomy, and chic spot for Sunday brunch with the girls…and one guy (I dragged my fiance along). At the front of this Liberty Village restaurant you’ll find a few high tops and a bar – coffee bar in the morning, cocktail bar later on. Unfortunately, Mildred’s doesn’t take reservations, though we knew to expect a long wait.  Our group of six waited almost an hour to be seated, but it was worth it. Some brunch spots stuff you shoulder to shoulder with diners at the next table. At Mildred’s, tables are nicely separated so you can easily navigate to your seat and dine in comfort (what a concept!)

IMAG1976“Veda’s Choice” – well-executed poached eggs with smoked salmon on a croissant, with salad on the side.

IMAG1978The “Huevos Monty,” with black beans and cheddar cheese between flour tortillas, topped with eggs, salsa, and avocado crème fraiche, is one of the more creative items on the menu.

IMAG1980“Mrs. Biederhof’s Legendary Light & Fluffy Blueberry Buttermilk Pancakes” arrived in a shallow pool of maple syrup and topped with whipped cream and more blueberries. You can’t deny it – everything is beautifully presented. Though the pancakes were yummy, they were definitely denser than I had expected, based on their menu description. I still like my pancake recipe better.

What’s the one big downside to Mildred’s? The bathrooms. A door off to the side of the coffee bar reveals a corridor lined with white unisex stalls on one side, and a row of sinks on the other. Once inside a stall with the door closed. a soundtrack begins to play. Soothing music? Absolutely not. Instead, voices of airline stewards announcing the safety instructions for an Air Canada flight, followed by French announcements for a flight to Paris. You know, probably one of the least desirable places to do your business is in an airplane stall. Why Mildred’s designers would want to make us feel as if we were trapped in one is beyond me.

The Final Word: Good quality takes on standard brunch fare and comfortable seating – I could definitely lounge here for hours (no wonder the long waits!) Prices are a nudge above average, but you’re paying for the atmosphere. I just don’t understand those bathrooms!

Info: 85 Hanna Avenue, Toronto, ON, M6K 3S3  Canada

Mildred's Temple Kitchen on Urbanspoon

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