Friday, February 27, 2015

Akiko's Restaurant [San Francisco]

When we went to Akiko's Restaurant (@akikorestaurant), the outside was under renovation so no luck with a nice picture of the storefront but from online pictures it look pretty cute. Upon entering there's the standard sushi bar which made me pretty skeptical but at the back, there's another cute space. Love the expose brick and pipes which remind me of street food stalls back in Asia.

Akitabare Koshiki Junzukuri "Nothern Skies" Sake $24.00
Mild and dry, this is the type of sake that I can keep drinking and pairs perfectly with sushi.

 We decided to have the Omekase but they do not really have a standard menu for it, it's basically Chef's selection. Give them a budget and they will stop serving if you've had enough or more and everything is charged per serving on the bill.

Ohitashi $6
Love this spinach steeped in the light flavorful dashi sauce

Agedashi Tofu $9.00
  Light crispy soft center tofu, was so good when soaked up in that soy broth served piping hot. 

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Iryewon Asian Fusion Restaurant - Man Ri Jang Sung [Korean-Chinese]

Iryewon Asian Fusion Restaurant (Man Ri Jang Sung) was recommended by none other than Justine (@foodigatorJ aka my go to anything Korean bestie) when asked for a place for Spicy Korean Seafood Noodle.

This place is known for their Korean Chinese style food! We arrive at around 1:00pm on a Sunday and the place was packed, we had to wait in line but fortunately it's pretty quick. We were seated within 15 mins. They have a bunch of combos available but it was only in Korean, so no idea what kind of deal they have but the rest is in both Korean and English.
Side Dishes : Kimchi, Raw Onions, Black Bean Sauce & Pickled Raddish

Kam Pung Ki ($16.99 Small)
~ Sweet & Spicy Chicken
 Love this, perfect sticky sauce and mostly brown chicken meat (white meat tends to me too dry) ♥♥♥
This is pretty mild, so wished it was slightly spicier. Need to come back for dinner and get this with soju or makkoli. This also comes in Large for $26.99 which is huge when I saw another table ordering it.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Baker and Scone [Bakery/Café]

 We just had lunch at The Stockyards next door and was pretty full but we just couldn't resist going in Baker and Scone (@bakerandscone) when we pass by. It has been on my to eat list and I promised myself I'll just share one and we need coffee anyway, right?!

You'll fall in love with this place as soon as you open the door with the buttery smell surrounding you, it's just heavenly and I can sit there inhaling the goodness all day long.

Immediately fell in love with the scone display in all the different size and shape of jars (if you ask any of my friends, you'll find out I have an addiction for them)

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Mama Bear Taiwanese Cuisine 熊媽媽 [Taiwanese]

Heard so many amazing thing about Mama Bear Taiwanese Cuisine 熊媽媽 from friends and finally get to drop by back in December. Love this place! Taiwanese cuisine is hard to come by in Toronto, so this will hopefully stay.

Taiwanese Burger 割包 $4.99
Unlike the usual pork belly boa that we are so used to, this one come with Chinese pickled mustard greens that's on the sweeter side and a mix of peanuts + sugar. Have always love the sweet and savory combination of this dish and am glad to know where to find it now.

Taiwanese Popcorn Chicken 鹽酥雞 $7.99
Remember the crispy fried basil is a must in this dish and wish they had more of it, totally make this dish much more fragrant and delicious. You can find this in most Bubble Tea places but they never have that basil in there.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Marben [Winterlicious 2015]

I have been a fan of Marben Restaurant (@MarbenResto) since it first open and remain so even after they change chefs & concept (see my post here, here, here and here) since I love their food as well as their service.
I was a bit disappointed this time, first we have to wait over 15 minutes for our table with a reservation which is fine since I understand they are but during Winterlicious but then we sat at our table for over 25 minutes without being served... nop, no smile or nob, no water, no nothing until we waived someone over which we have to in turn wait a few more minutes for our actual waiter to come over. Plus there wasn't even a drink menu, no cocktail for brunch?! Not even simple ones like Caesar or Mimosa?! Ben only knew what to ordered just because he saw the beer on tap while waiting.

$23 Prix Fixe Winterlicious Lunch
This was a pretty good deal given they featured the same menu for dinner at $35 instead.

Steamed P.E.I Mussels
~ with Chorizo, Lemongrass, Ginger & Chili
This was a rather huge portion for an appetizers for a $23 prix fixe menu, after eating this with a few slice of bread I was almost full. Love the lemongrass and chili here which was refreshing and very fragrant, great change from the usual tomato or white wine sauce.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Ki Modern Japanese + Bar [Sake & Shochu Nights]

Ki Modern Japanese + Bar (@kiJapanese) is introducing Sake & Shochu Nights every Friday after 7:00pm. The selection will change every week which is great and it's selected by National Sake Sommelier, Michael Tremblay. At $10 a flight, you can't go wrong given a lot of the sake features are not readily available to the public in Toronto.

Being big sake fan, we were both excited to try the flight tonight and not knowing much about Shochu (not to be confused with the Korean Soju), I was excited to learn more about them.
We sat at the bar side with TVs playing the games, Ben was in heaven. 

Here's a quick bio of Michael Tremblay :
 Michael’s foray into wine and sake has been 20 years in the making, traveling around the world and using wine and sake as a lens for learning about the history and culture of different regions. Michael began his formal wine education with the International Sommelier Guild (Level I and II) before finding a passion for sake, Japan’s ancient national beverage. In 2010, Michael trained with world renowned sake educator John Gauntner in New York and Tokyo, becoming Ontario’s first certified Advanced Sake Professional (ASP).

 Michael loves to teach sake, and in the capacity of Vice President of Education and Knowledge for the Sake Institute of Ontario, has taught many seminars on sake rationality, sake basics and sake making. In addition, Michael was an organizer and Head Judge for Canada’s first ever sake competition, the Toronto International Sake Challenge, where he evaluated over 200 sake samples alongside five esteemed judges (see my post on the event/awards here). Michael is currently the Head National Sake Sommelier for Ki Modern Japanese + Bar, where he manages the largest sake list in Canada. He is dedicated to being Ki’s ambassador for sake, educating guests and staff alike in the beauty and subtle art of sake, wine and food.

Ki Premium Sake Flight $10
It's awesome that Michael came with the bottle and explain each of the sake before pouring it. Just love listening to all the stories, origins and method. Love that it also came with the clue card with the names and history of each sake. I only had the Nigori before, so was excited to try 2 new sake here and my favorite was the 2nd one. Love the choice of the 3 sake which all came from 3 different West coast region of Japan and yet all so different from each other.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Bake Shoppe [Bakery]

Previously know as Wedding Cake Shoppe, Bake Shoppe (@bakeshoppeTO) is the new and improve version. The previous name kinda confuse people since people would assume it's only Wedding cakes but unknown to their other goodies like cupcakes (post here) and macaron (post here) that's also available for sale.

The rebranded shop still have those beautiful custom wedding cakes, my fave cupcakes (although with only 3 daily flavors) but also a lot of other goodies.

Love the display cases with a pink glow from the Baked light sign.
I was so disappointed that the were sold out of their Pop Tarts that are filled with Nutella or seasonal jams... another reason to go back soon.

Homemade Flakies
Filled with jam & cream yet the pastry/shell remain crisp and soft, would have thought it'll get soggy sitting there. Love it especially with my coffee.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Brock Sandwich

Open since 2013, I was surprise that Brock Sandwich (@BrockSandwich) was never on my "list" before, I only decided to go when I saw a picture of their sandwich on Instagram a few weeks ago.

The place is rather small, more of a take out counter since they have less than 10 seats.
You order at the counter, take a seat & food will be bought over when ready. Love the casual friendliness here, they checked on us twice to make sure we are enjoying our meal.

Soup of the day $6
We order the large size and we were immediately offer to split into 2 bowl for us.
This was a vegan vegetable and chic pea soups and it was so delicious that I can't believe there's not the slightest bit of meat in it.

Brisket Sandwich
This wasn't on the menu, we originally wanted to order the porchetta but we were quickly told that the brisket was just done so we switch without hesitation. Love Love Love it!!! It had just the right amount of fatty and it was also perfectly moist. Delicious! Also love how the bun hold up to all the meat and the saucy caramelized onions.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

The Hyatt Regency [Winterlicious 2015 Media Preview]

I was invited to The King Street Social Kitchen at the Hyatt Regency (@HyattOnKing) for their Winterlicious and Valentine menu preview and what an amazing time with the good food and even better company.

This is my first time dinning here and I was excited to see what they have to offer. Love the private room we got with all the full side dishes on the side for us to take pictures which is great since we can dig in right away when dinner is served (we got sample sizes to taste but the pictures below are all actual portion size).

Executive Chef Wesley Boodhram inspired by Asian streetfood, created an Asian themed Winterlicious menu.

Tofu and Vegetable Steamed Wonton Soup
~ served w/ a Lemongrass and Tamarind gremolata and Soy miso
Definitely had a twist with the lemongrass and tamarind flavor in the broth which is rather refreshing and great way to start the meal.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Secret to quick fluffy Congee 粥 [Recipe]

I always love a hot bowl of congee  during winter months and the plain congee 白粥 is the easiest to make with only 2 ingredient that's always on hand, rice and water. I remember mum would always make congee with tons of Chinese Dried Scallops when I am sick, how I miss that.

Although with only 2 ingredients, congee making can be time consuming since you have to keep an eye at it since it can easily stick to your pot at the bottom or boil over and take at least an hour to an hour half to make a good fluffy pot of congee. But there's a few tips I learn to make life easier.
Basic Congee :
1 cup Long grain rice
10-13 cups water
Preparation :
 ~ Bring the water and rice to a boil in a large pot.
~ Turn down the heat to medium low once it's boiling.
~ Depending if you like thinner or thicker, you can always add water as you go.
~ Add salt to taste
Note :
~ If it's your first time making congee, try half the recipe with 1/2 cup of rice and trust me it is more than plenty for 2 people since the rice does expand quite a lot. 
Add :
~The one pictured here, I added a pack of Frozen Bean Curd Sheets which gave it that extra milky color and gave it a smoother texture (you can find it at most Chinese Supermarket)
~ Feel free to add chicken, pork bone, pork, minced beef or seafood for more variation.
~ The Thousand year egg with Pork is one of my favorite.
~ Feel free to substitute the water with chicken, beef or vegetable broth for quicker easier version.
~ When I'm having plain white congee, I like to have some saltier side dishes and one of my non-cook favorite is Chinese Pickles like cucumber, radishes, mustard greens, Chinese cabbages that you can get readily made in small packets or bottled.
Secret :
~ Wash the rice, put the wet grains in container/ziplog and freeze it. Next time you crave for congee, take that out and just put it into a pot of boiling water or broth. This way the rice break more easily and you cut your cooking time in half to achieve that fluffy congee texture.
Tips :
~ Put 1 or 2 of those Chinese Ceramic Spoon into your pot cause when the congee is bubbling/cooking away, the spoon will move around and prevent it from sticking at the bottom.
~ Put a chopstick or wooden spoon between your pot and lid allowing steam to escape.