Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Antler Kitchen.Bar [Canadian]

Can I say it right off the bat that Antler Kitchen Bar (@AntlerKitchen) is my favorite restaurant of 2015 and it was to be expected from one of my favorite Toronto Chef, Chef Michael Hunter (@TheHunterChef). For so long we only got to taste his special dishes at special events, so glad that there's a permanent spot for all the goodness.

Antler celebrate regional ingredients with a menu that feature foraged ingredients and farmed game meat which mean you will find things other that the usual beef, pork and chicken. Farmed game meat and not hunted since Canada have very strict regulations for serving hunted game mean in restaurant (outlawed with exception for charity dinner).

The place have very limited seating with a long bar, although with 2 weeks advance reservation, we only got bar seats.

Wild Mushroom Tarte Tatin $10
~ caramelized onions, foraged mushrooms, sorrel walnut pesto, puff pastry
This is for me the perfect example of foraged ingredients with the yummy earthy mushrooms and did I mentioned the super flaky super buttery puff pastry, Mushroom + Puff Pastry = I'm in heaven!

Jamaican Venison Patty $9
~ spicy dipping sauce
What a great take on the classic street food, love how it's served in the paper bag. Made in house, the pasty is incredibly light and delicious... no idea how I can go back to the regular ones now. Even the side of scotch bonnet hot sauce mixed with the sweet red pepper puree was perfect with the savory minced venison.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Lin's Chinese Bun 包子林 [Chinese - Scarborough]

 Lin's Chinese Bun 包子林 is hidden at a corner of a Chinese plaza at Finch and Midland. Last time we noticed it only after eating and notice that there was a long line, so we decided to come back this past weekend.

This is the type of small hidden gems that I want to keep to myself but too good not to share.
As the name says, it's mainly about boa aka Chinese steam bun but they also have items like marinated and smoke dishes which are just as delicious.

Fresh Tofu Pudding  特色豆腐脑 $2.49
The tofu is incredible smooth, I find it a tad bland so I added so chili oil which was perfect. And the liquid is perfect to go with the buns.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Kinka Izakaya [Tasting Menu]

Due to the ending of a franchise contract between Kinka Family Inc. and Kitanoya Marketing Corp, all 3 locations of Guu Toronto will be renamed as Kinka Izakaya (@KinkaIzakayaTO).

The name Kinka means Golden Flower and symbolizes Happiness in Japanese and aside from their name, nothing is change. Same staff, menu and quality that we all know. In celebration of the name change, we were invited to a Tasting Dinner featuring their popular menu items.

Love their selection of sake, very reasonably priced, good price range and each location has a slightly different selection.

I never knew that have a 9-course tasting menu for $33pp, all favorite dishes from their menu.

Gomaae $4
~ blanched spinach w/ sesame sauce
Love the sesame sauce, thick and delicious; always love starting my meal here with this dish.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

La Merceria [Coffee]

Passed by La Merceria (@lamerceria) many times and I kept saying how I should come by this cute café for coffee one day and never did until a few weeks ago.

After entering, I realize it's a café slash home design store with display of household items for sale.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

LUSH obsessed [Beauty]

I have been obsessed with a few LUSH Cosmetics (@lushcosmetics) this pass year and what not to love with all the effective handmade products made from fresh organic fruit and vegetables and finest essential oils and safe synthetic. Everything is made fresh by hand with little or no preservative with minimal packaging. Here's a few favorite of mine.

I have super fine hair which make it difficult to find a hair treatment that doesn't weight it down but this is a miracle. This is a hair and scalp treatment with minty cooling sensation that revitalize the scalp and extra virgin olive oil and honey to soften and condition hair to make it shine. This totally give my dull fine hair volume and shine without weighting it down. 
Healthy hair does start at the root!!!

A face and body scrub, no synthetic preservatives self preserving formula. Love this salt scrub instead of my usual sugar scrub, this is perfect for oily to combination skin or acne pron skin. The minerals in sea salt soften as it scrubs away dirt, dead skin and blockages for a bright, fresh complexion. With the fresh avocado and coconut added to the mix it hydrate while the like and vodka deep clean and tone the skin; so no irritation or dryness with this scrub.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Boxcar Social - Riverside [Café-Bar]

Boxcar Social (@boxcar_social) second location of this cafe-bar hybird and just off Queen East, this is the perfect location for a relaxing afternoon.

Bigger and better with an amazing high 18ft ceiling with expose brick and beams, what's impressive is that they made all the wood furniture ad countertops themselves which looks amazing.
There's something for everyone from coffee, beer, wine to whiskies.

Just like their original location, there's coffee flight tasting available which I will def be back for (see my post of 1st location here). And I read that they also have a Whisky Tango Flight that consists of two features espressos paired with two half-once bourbons or even a pour-over paired with a beer.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Maha's [Egyptian] - Brunch

Maha's (@mahasbrunch) is an Egyptian brunch spot that I have been meaning to visit for a while but was discourage a few time when I saw the line up outside, this past weekend with the extra hour we finally went. No reservation but we waited for around 30-40 mins for a table of 2 at around 11am Sunday, a very reasonable wait time but be warned that the space is rather small, so I won't recommend for party of more than 4 people.

Love the little counter as we walk in, there's so many action going oh with the pastries, coffee and cashier. And the shelf that separate the front from the kitchen. With this type of wait, they should definitely consider expanding since the space next door is vacant.

Honey Cardamom Latte $4.95
This is their signature drink and I really don't know anywhere that serve this in Toronto. I generally do not like any added flavor to my coffee but this was delicious especially for the fall weather. You can see them grinding the cardamon for each order and the smell is just amazing. All the flavors are so well balanced. They also have Turkish coffee which I would love to try next time.

Foole $4
This was so delicious, this arrived piping hot and make sure to order this with a side of Pita $1 to scoop up all the goodness.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Fresh City Farms [Recipe Bags] - CONTEST

Fresh City (@freshcityfarms) acquired Recipe Kit Company Fresh Canteen (see previous post here), now we can look foward to organic and locally focused recipe bag/meal delivered to our door.
We get to choose between vegetarian, fish and organic meat based meals which start at $7.75 to $12.00 per portion, feed up to four people and can include 2 to 5 meals per week (more details here)

On top of that, Fresh City's online market boost over 800 grocery items sourced from local farmers and markets from Ontario.

Love how the meat/fish are packed separately from the other ingredients.

Just like all the meal-in-a-box delivery, Fresh City's recipe bags include all of the ingredients and instructions for a healthy easy to cook meal. 

Compare to the other similar services I tried before, I find Fresh City's version include less steps with less prep/cutting which would be great for beginner cook (ahem, aka the bf).

All of below are portion for 2 people, the meat and fish dish portion was quite a generous portion but I find the vegetarian portion rather small or at least for the recipe I got.

The only con of Fresh City's recipe bags is that you do not get to choose the dishes that you want but only the type of meat/fish/veggie option.

Moroccan Chicken w/ Raisin Quinoa
This was easy and definitely something that I would cook at home, I especially love how they list out the amount of each ingredients in the Moroccan Spice Mix so that I can make my own in the future, especially if I want to recreate this dish. Please make sure to keep the recipe cards included for each meals in the future.

Pukka [New Menu Media Preview - Indian]

This is my 5th time at Pukka (@pukkatoronto) and that says a lot since I barely go back to restaurants that many time (see previous post here, here & here)

Food being delicious at Pukka is a known fact but this time around, what a huge improvement on the cocktails as well compare to the last few time I've been there. There was 4 feature cocktails for us to try that night.

Mumbai Sour
~ Bombay Sapphire, Aperol, grapefruit, cardamon bitters, egg white
Varanasi Sling
~ white rum, mango + cherry + orange liqueurs, almond, lime, pineapple juice
Lyte Martini
~ cachara, coconut liqueur, coconut water, lemongrass syrup
Pom Cosmo
~ vodka, pomegranate liqueur, pom juice, lime

And remember Pukka does amazing wine paring for all their dishes with Peter Boyd as their Sommelier. You would be surprise how well Indian food paired with wine. I personally think that white is better then red with the curries.

Okra Fries
~ mustard taita
These are so good that I can munch on them all night and I would be satisfied. With the batter, the okra doesn't have the usual amount of gluey-ness to it.

String Tikka
~ string vegetables, moong sprouts, rice crisps, pomegranate, mango, chutneys + yoghurt
A Pukka all time favorite, it's a must with all the ingredients packed into a bowl.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

SuzyQ Doughnuts [Ottawa]

SuzyQ (@suzyqdoughnuts) is a small "shack" shop in Hintonburg and their doughnuts honor the old Finnish traditional recipe with new and unique flavors.

We arrive at around half an hour before closing time and there was still a constant line up and there was still constant smell of fresh doughnuts drifting out as you wait in line.

Pricing was surprisingly reasonable at $2 each, $10 for 1/2 dozen and $20 for a dozen.
Even though we were pretty full from eating all day, we couldn't resist getting a dozen with the different colors.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Mr Tonkatsu [Japanese]

Mr Tonkatsu is pretty much what's it's name states and serves Japanese style fried pork. The menu is mainly focused on katsu here, pork chicken and shrimp katsu with only a few other dishes like chicken karrage and Korean fried chicken.

Can you imagine they bake their own bread and make their own panko from it. 

They also make their own salad dressing, tonkatsu and katsudon sauce in house which are totally MSG free. They also have instruction on each table as to how to grind your sesame seeds and add it to the katsu sauce.

Crisp Chicken Thigh $5.50
~ Korean Style Deep Fried Chicken
Love the use of chicken thigh (dark meat) instead of white meat, this is more flavorful and moist. It was super crispy and with a peppery taste to it. Would definitely need to come back to try the Karraage Wings soon.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Town [Ottawa - Italian/Canadian]

Love locally source ingredients restaurant and Town (@townlovesyou) was no exception, we just had to squeeze in a last meal for our Ottawa trip and here we were there at 5:00pm as they open.

Love the decor of the space with the art wall and especially the little area with the book shelves that lead to the kitchen.

Love the list of local beer and wine; I just got to try a glass of Redstone Winery Chardonnay which is the latest venture of Moray Tawse and Ben had the Dominion City Brewing Co. (@dominioncitybc). My clumsy boyfriend end up spilling his beer only after a few sip, the guys were nice enough to clean it up in no time and bring him a new pint.

Friday, October 9, 2015

The Albion Rooms [Ottawa - Canadian / Brunch]

The Albion Rooms (@TheAlbionRooms) is located inside Novotel Hotel, it's recommended by a quite a few friends and we manage to squeeze in Brunch there. They serve both Breakfast Buffet and a la carte Brunch as well but by the time we got there, it was too late for the buffet which ends at 11:00.
From their website: 
Chef Stephen La Salle selects from the finest in the neighborhood  to put our regions growers, producers and artisans’ passion on your plate.  From breakfast to lunch to dinner and late night, Chef Stephen’s menus take a rustic yet contemporary approaches to bites, snacks, meals and feasts for any and whatever the occasion! Our bartenders serves up craft Ontario beers, wines from small wineries and winemakers, classic cocktails and our house signature serves that deserve their own place at the table.

Love the space at the front bar are and we were seated by the window with great lighting inspite of the gloomy weather but when we walk to the back which was closed, we discover an even more pretty area especially the chef's table by the kitchen. Love the different space from the leather sofas by the bar to the country rustic tiles at the chef's table, the velvet booths at the dinning area and even a hipster corner with copper tiles covered wall.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Art-Is-In Bakery [Ottawa]

Heard so many people raving about Art-Is-In Bakery (@ArtisinBakery), so we managed to drop by for a afternoon bite but we were a bit late and most of the goodies are already sold out.

Though their cafe location would be at a more commercial location but it was next to their production facilities warehouse location.

I guess the bright side of a warehouse location is a larger sitting space.

Ham and Cheese Croissant $3.25
~ guyere cheese and ham
They were sold out of the plain croissants and that's the only type they had left and it was delicious. The crossant was perfectly fluffy and buttery plus love the slightly burnt guyere pieces.
The next day we went to the Ottawa Famers' Market and got the plain regular croissants and it was delicious and we even bought home a few, it tasted just as good the next day.