Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Amaya Indian Room [Indian]

I have been to Amaya Indian Room (@amayarestaurant) only once a few years ago and recently I have been seeing a lot of their new menu offerings on all of my social media feeds and was so excited when I got invited to a tasting.

Open since 2007, Chef Hemant Bhagwani's Amaya empire came a long way with Amaya Bread Bar, a couple of Amaya Express and food court location across the city plus it's catering business. Plus a line of natural Indian food/sauce called Amaya Gourmet.

We were greeted and served by the man himself and we were told that's we'll be tasting dishes from their Lobsterlicious menu. For $39, you can a 3 course Lobsterlicious prix fixe menu and it's happening until May 18th which you don't want to miss.

 Mango Fennel Lassi $3.90
~ Greek yogurt w/ fresh mango pulp & fennel seeds
This is perfect for those who can't handle all the spices and heat but for me, thought it was too sweet and thick for me. Quite filling, especially with all the food we were served. Should have ordered a lighter and more refreshing drink.

 Crab Lollipop w/ Indian Tartare Sauce Amuse Bouche
 Amuse Bouche usually in bite size, this definitely take quite a few bite. Yes it's a line paper style plate and although it's cute, I am not sure it ties in with the space. That aside, the plates were rather slippery and presentation is as good as it last to the table. Basically we had 2 dishes that things slip around and ruined the presentation. That aside, this was delicious, very subtle spices in the sauce with crab packed lollipop with minimal fillers.

 Gold Medal Scallops
~ spice crusted scallops, cauliflower fritters, roasted lentil & chilli relish
Usually not a big fan of scallops but this was so good. Love all the spices and flavors here plus the added crispiness from the fritters. Strong spices but not overpowering where you can still taste the scallops flavors.

 Lobster & Corn Samosa
~ herb chutney
Found this a tad salty, it was so flavorful already that the extra salt wasn't needed at all. The refreshing chutney did save it a bit.

Tandoori Shrimp
~ spicy marinade, chilli & coconut panna cotta
Had my fair share of Tandoori chicken but never had shrimp before but it was delicious. Perfectly cook and flavored plus love the touch of sweetness from the panna cotta foam

 Ghee Roast Lamb Tenderloin $12.90
~ wasabi ice cream
After mentioning at the beginning that I would love to try something from their regular menu as well and we were offer this dish. Of course we were a tad curious and skeptical about the wasabi ice cream but there was no reason to be since it paired surprisingly well. The sweetness contrast perfectly with the spices and with a pop of nose numbing wasabi flavor plus the lamb was perfectly cook.

 Lobster Makhani with Brandy
~ lobster tika in makhani sauce
The sauce was just so amazing, wish it came with a bowl of rice but somehow we still manage to clean the plate.

 Roast Lobster 
~ beetroot & curry leaft khichdi, spiced lobster jus
This was amazing, the lobster was perfectly roasted & love love love the beetroot khichdi which was incredibly delicious and gave us a break from the stronger / spicier dishes. Love the sweetness of the beetroot with the grilled lobster and you could decide on how much sauce to take from the side depending on your personal preference.

 Chef's Biryani 
~ biryani is a basmati dish made w/ spices & can include lamb, chicken, seafood & vegetables. Amaya seal their cooking pot with dough & bake it in the oven and it's in limited quantity
The dough was broken at the table with steam and smell coming out, you can't help but want to dig in right away. Love how it was pipping hot and it was a perfect contrast will the cooling cucumber yogurt on the side.

 Chilli Olive Naan $4
Never had naan with stuffing like that before and it was packed with so much flavors. They also have flavors like smoked bacon & lamb kulcha and chilli paneer. Although I really enjoy it, I can't help but think that plain ones will go better with the dishes where you can scoop up the sauces etc.

 Blueberry Cardamon Kulfi 
~ liquid nitrogen - prepared table side
Had kulfi a few times before but never really enjoyed it but the one here was amazing. Not only soft and smooth, it had just the right amount of cardamon which can be overwhelming with a heavy hand. I never imagined I'll finish dessert after all the food we had but this was so good that I was wishing for more.

Impress dish after dish, totally amazed by their new menu/direction
Great combination of new modern dinning with traditional Indian dishes
Highly recommended

 Lobsterlicious is on until May 18th, do not miss it.

*** This meal was complimentary. Opinions are my own***
Amaya the Indian Room on Urbanspoon

One of a Kind Show [Spring 2014]

Last month I finally attended my first One of a Kind Show (@ooak_toronto). For years I have been hearing quite a mix opinion about the show and this year I finally get to see for myself and I loved it. Full of unique vendors and gifts, I find myself loving quite a few pieces.

Amazing display by the entrance

Although it's true that most product are quite expensive, you'll have to consider that it's one of a kind and made in limited quantity if not handmade and unique. I totally find it worth splurging on some product while I enjoy just looking at most even though I want to bring everything home.

Here are some of my favorites :

Owner and founder Tyler wanted to make an impact upon the world was always moved by graphics on t-shirts and that's how it all started. Since we went on the last day of the show, a lot of the sizes was sold out but I manage to get the Living on Dreams "Starbucks" tank ♥

Monday, April 28, 2014

Marben [Brunch]

Chef Rob Bragagnolo (@RobBragagnolo) took over the kitchen of Marben Restaurant (@MarbenResto) about a year ago and completely reinvented the men from a meat centric menu to a Mediterranean version and it's all inspired by his travels from the pass 10+ years.

The brunch menu was no exception, it was a collection of the chef's favorite dishes from his travels around the world

It's our first time back since the change of chef/menu and their mini renovation, so I am very excited to see what they had to offer (see my previous visit here and here).

The space just look brighter and more open with the bare brick wall at the bar (used to be shelves full of alcohol  bottles) with simpler light instead of Manson jars light all around.

This was unplanned for and we just drop by at around 2:00pm and was glad that there was no wait.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

iYellow Wine Club ~ Muscadet + More [EVENT]

Back in February I was lucky enough to be once again invited by iYellow Wine Club (@iyellowwineclub) to their Muscadet + More Wine Class. Love how iYellow invite some of the world's best winemakers to host exclusive wine tasting / class.

This time it was Pierre-Jean Sauvion, a 4th generation winemaker (what he called pleasure maker) from The Chateau du Cléray - Sauvion which is located in the heart of Nates vineyard in Eolie.

Muscadet is made in the city of Nantes in the Pays de la Loire region, made from the Melon de Bourgogne grape. And it's name refer to the characteristic of the grape variety; "vin qui a un goût musqué (wine with a musk-like taste).... huh, that sound interesting cause musk like doesn't sound that delicious but never say no before trying it, right?!

The Loire Valley (Val de Loire), France's third most important winemaking region and included in UNESCO's World Heritage List is a land of balance - between North and South, smooth suavity and crisp freshness, art and literature, traditional and modernity.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The County Cocktail & Snack Bar [American]

After another amazing meal at County General here, it remind me to try their newly opened sister restaurant The County Cocktail & Snack Bar (@countycocktail). It just happened to be in one of my favorite neighborhood, Leslieville.

I was pleasantly surprise that the place was not packed since their Queen West location is always packed It's a rather small space but love the bright red chair and stool, plus isn't it amazing what wood blocks can do.

 The First Word $13
~ Beefeater London Dry Gin, Strega, St. Germain, Lemon
 Love lemony cocktail and the beefeater flavor was very subtle here which was I fond perfect

Love how they served all local wine with five red and five white by the glass and by bottle to choose from, all at a really reasonable price with the most expensive bottle at $60

Love those little bites, not only are they cute but they were all delicious.
Beef Cheek, Mushroom, Scallion, Ginger, Steamed Bun $4 
Cod Fritter Deviled Egg, Pickled Ginger $5
Cheese Puffs, Momay, Onion Jam $3
Fish N Chip, Anchovy, Chips, Garlic Tar Tar Sauce $4

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Yellow & Pink Bouquet [OOTD]

Outfit Details:
Dress - F21; Jean Jacket - H&M; Bag - Rebecca Minkoff

Aren't everyone tire of the dark cold winter, time to bust out the sunshine and that include your clothes. Bright colorful clothes just make me feel happy and with the amazing sunny weather it's even better. I have a lot of friends who are afraid of patterns, especially flower print but really, really everyone can wear it... just need to know what work best for you, smaller or bigger prints etc. I dare everyone to try on a bright flower pattern, maybe start with a skirt away from the face which will be easier to get use to (^_^)

Monday, April 21, 2014

Destingo [Italian]

 We passed by Destingo (@destingoTO) so many times since it opened but have never been. I was lucky enough to be invite to a dinner and got the choice of à la carte or they'll bring out multiple half dishes for us to try and of course we went with the latter since they know what's best on their menu right.
 This place is definitely underrated serving good casual simple comforting Italian food, nothing fancy

 Love the spaciousness, no chair bumping and the huge open kitchen with amazing smell whiffing through the restaurant.

 Grilled Calamari
~ caramelized onions, Kalamato olives, capers, local grape tomatoes, roasted garlic
 Perfectly cooked calamari with simple delicious ingredients, what else can you ask for?!
Perfectly delicious!!!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Yakitori Kintori [Japanese]

Yakitori Kintori (@yakitorikintori) is a compact space above the recently opened 2nd location of Kinton Ramen on Bloor. This newest edition of the Guu, Kinton & Jabistro family of restaurant is devoted to Japanese Charcoal Grilled Yakitori / Skewers.

The space barely has 40 seats, so I highly recommend making a reservation since I saw quite a lot of people being turn away that day. You got to choose between regular tables and bar seats where you get a front row seats to the kitchen where all the skewers are being made.

Just as their logo is a Chicken, the menu consist of mainly chicken skewers and is illustrated on the menu with over a dozen parts. The day we went, they didn't have any of the special parts like neck, chicken oyster or cartilage (very very disappointing) and not even the Pork Intestine (Buta Horumon)

And of course, we choose to sit by the bar / kitchen.

"Binchotan" which is a traditional charcoal of Japan which burns at a lower temperature for a longer period than ordinary charcoal. And as you can see, it does not release smoke which is perfect to use indoor at restaurants.


Monday, April 14, 2014

Jacket & Booties [OOTD]

Outfit Details:
Jacket - H&M; Dress - no brand; Boots - Libby Edelma (old); Bag - Rebecca Minkoff
Love the style and color of the dress, just not the material since it wrinkle so easily, I swear I steam it perfectly before heading out and this was only after a car ride.
And yes, it is one of my fave time of the year since I got to wear my motor leather / faux-leather jackets. Hope it will be an amazing summer, i am in desperate need of a tan.

Totto Ramen [Japanese ~ NYC]

Instead of going back to Ippudo, we decided to try another ramen shop during our April's NYC trip. A friend highly recommended Totto Ramen (@TottoRamen52), so we decided to give it a try.

We actually had a reservation for someplace else that day but we shop way too long at the Outlet and couldn't make it back in time, so we had to cancel. After some traffic getting back to the city, we decided for some ramen on this windy day. We arrived with a line up and end up waiting for an hour. Note there's no one to take down your name, you have to sign up on the board by the door. The 4 of us ended up sitting separately since the place is so small with barely 2-3 tables at the back with the rest being bar seats.

See how narrow it is...

Love being able to see all the action here...
I usually prefer pork broth (tonkotsu) instead of chicken broth since I usually find it too thick and oily in comparison but Totto Ramen had me convinced that it can be great when done right.