Monthly Archives: August 2014

Mi Ne Sushi

MiNe Sushi

Address: 10815 Yonge St. Richmond Hill, ON L4C 3E3

Phone: (905) 883-6616

Website: www.minesushi.ca

It was one of those days where no one at work wanted to eat their home packed lunch.  Boss tempted me with the idea of having sushi, and it has been 3 months I have had it.  How can I turn down the offer.

Mi Ne Sushi  is located in a plaza at the busy Elgin Mills and Yonge St intersection. Surrounded by industrial and residential communities, they have a steady and fast growing clientele.  Parking is limited in the plaza, but I noticed the business the restaurant generated.  They were extremely busy and had a fast turn over rate.

It has a typical sushi or Japanese restaurant decor made of wood panels and a sushi making bar.  No surprises and funkiness to the outlook.  It is more realistic than being creative.

The ladies and sushi chefs were extremely helpful and nice. I was studying the menu , trying to make a decision on what to order.  A server came to introduce the combo lunch menu which has a mixture of different rolls for a better price.  She also gave me a cup of tea while the chefs were preparing the lunch.  Very polite.  Smiles and thank you gestures were in the air.  Grateful~

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Miso Soup and Green Salad came with the lunch combo set.

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Maki Set D ($11.95) came with 3 pieces of California Roll and 8 pieces of Dynamite Roll.  California roll is made of avocado, crab meat, tobiko and cucumber.  Dynamite roll is made of shrimp tempura, avocado, tobiko and cucumber.  Tobiko is fish roe.  Standard textures and tastes.  Ingredients were fresh and crunchy.  The tempura was not that crispy, mainly because it took us another 30 minutes after receiving the food to officially start eating.

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To the left Spicy Scallop Maki Roll ($6.95) and on the right Avocado Maki Roll ($4.95).  The ingredients used are quite self explanatory.  I enjoyed the soft and melt-in-the-mouth avocado roll.  The roll was really fresh and sweet.  Tangy spicy scallop roll was enjoyable.  I find the sauce stronger and more flavourful or distinct than other sushi restaurants.  The spiciness really exists!  However, I do not think I will order spicy scallop roll again.  Scallops were diced, which I thought was a waste of the scallops; they felt nonexistent.

Watching the sushi chefs make the rolls instantly guarantees the freshness of the sushi.  I was definitely not disappointed.  I really enjoyed the sushi lunch on a work day.  It was so rewarding that physically, it gave me energy to continue working.  The sushi, psychologically, brightened up my day!  The flavours were standard, no surprises there.  However, they serve generous roll portions.  They were big!  Eating these rolls will make you look like a goldfish, bloated cheeks and continuously chewing.  Sometimes, 2 bites recommended.  I admire the amount of rice used to make the maki rolls.  A very thin layer of rice and seaweed (1/10th of the roll) wraps the large filling portions.  With these proportions, successful crunchy and chewy maki rolls were produced.  Low sodium and MSG levels, since I was not thirsty nor had a sore throat after the meal.

For some economical fresh tasty sushi, I recommend Mi Ne Sushi!

Ratings

Food 4/5

Service 3.75/5

Ambiance – cannot rate since I ordered take out

Mi•Ne Japanese Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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Sze Chuan Shredded Potatoes

There are many ways to make potatoes.  You can make baked or mashed potatoes, wedges, breakfast potatoes, hash brown, fries and potato salad; probably more options than what I listed.  The one I remember most is from a China trip to the province of Sze Chuan 2 years ago.  Appetizers or a main dish were created using potatoes and other simple ingredients.  I gave it a first try at home, reminiscing my favourite cuisine.

Ingredients

4 Potatoes

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 teaspoon salt

4 dried chili peppers

2 garlic cloves

2 teaspoon Chinese wine (Optional, I did not use it because of allergies)

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1) Peel the skin.  Cut them into thin stick-like strips.

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2) Put the cut potatoes into a bucket of cold water for 15 minutes.  Rinse and drain to let the starch out.  If you do not, the final cooked product will be sticky and mushy.

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3) While waiting for the potato strips drain, chop the chilies and garlic.

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4) Heat the wok over medium-high heat and add oil.  After 4 seconds, add the garlic and chilies and stir until aromatic (about 30 seconds).

5) Add the potatoes and stir-fry until browned (4 minutes).

6) Add soy sauce and salt (and Chinese wine).  Stir for another 2 minutes.  *Potatoes is high in sugar, therefore, do not necessary need to add sugar when you are stir frying, but it is your choice.*  Serve hot.

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Of course, you can always plate it nicely by adding some fresh parsley on the top, strips of red and green pepper or perhaps more chili peppers.  I particularly like this dish because it is very crunchy and soft.  Flavours can be tailored to suit your personal tastes.  This particular recipe is made to suit my family, who favours natural flavours and simplicity more.  If you like it more spicy, can add chili oil, more chilies or peppers.  Overall, stir frying potatoes is a recipe that you can play with condiments and ingredients to create variations of the dish.

 

 

Minced Ginger

What is there to do with excess ginger sitting in the fridge?  How long will it take to eat it up before it goes bad?  Problems I had with my stuffed fridge, and my mom continuously replenishing it with on sale grocery items.  I looked at the show box filled with ginger scarily.  REALLY?!  Not again.  Suddenly, I had the best idea ever- two birds with one stone, save space and cook up some ginger.  I do not know how to cook, so this is meant to be simple, for beginners like me.

Ginger is a common spice that can be used fresh, powdered, dried, oil or juice in different cuisines.  Aromatic, pungent and spicy~ It is believed to have many therapeutic benefits.  Some benefits of ginger are:

  • gastrointestinal relief
  • reliefs nausea and vomiting
  • anti-inflammatory effects
  • lowers cancer rates
  • boosts immune system

Ingredients

6 ginger roots

1 1/2 cup of vegetable oil

1/2 teaspoon of salt

Steps

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1) Wash the ginger root thoroughly, ensuring there is no mud or residue.  Dry the ginger, either with towel or paper towel.

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2) Cut the ginger into slices and then dice it up, until fine.  I do not recommend grating because a lot of the natural juices will evaporate and all root fiber broken.  (This is a moment that I wish i have a food processor.)

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3) Bring water to a boil in a saucepan under high heat.  Heat a medium bowl of vegetable oil over the saucepan.  Add a teaspoon of salt to the oil and stir until dissolved.  Note: steam is relied on to heat the oil, as oppose to directly heating oil in a saucepan because the pan might not be thoroughly cleaned or free of other foods’ residue.  I am trying to keep the oil pure.

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4) Place the minced ginger into a glass jar.  Pour the heated salt-oil mixture into the jar.  Ensure the ginger is completely covered by oil.  Mix the ginger and oil with a spoon.

5) Set aside until cool.  Put the lid on and refrigerate it.

Use it whenever you like, like a dip, sauce, stir fry, marinate or the way it is.

Simple =)

 

 

Le Saint Tropez

Le Saint Tropez

Address: 315 King St W, Toronto, ON M5V 1J5

Phone: (416) 591-3600

Website: www.lesainttropez.com/

A memorable evening in Toronto, with pouring rain, loud thunder and strong lightning, running down the street to salvation.  2 hungry souls lured into Le Saint Tropez by a menu displayed at the entrance.  But of course, we really want to hit two birds with one stone – stay dry under a roof and satisfy the empty stomachs.

Situated in the heart of the Entertainment District, across from TIFF Bell Lightbox Theatre, traffic should not be a problem.  However, with the competition around them, it makes business tough.  I assume, Toronto International Film Festival is the restaurant’s high season, with artists from around with the world, fans and tourists celebrating the festive moment.

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The restaurant serves Southern French Cuisine.  Even the decor has a similar theme.  Southern France is close to the Mediterranean Ocean, therefore it has a warm, sunny, humid climate.  The interior decor mimics houses of the Southern French region, made of mud and stone.  The materials are readily available and cheaper than imported products.  With the weather conditions, the structure of the building is designed to keep cool and fresh, nor will it breakdown or decompose easily.

Environment was quiet and dim, quite romantic, complimented by a pianist-singer on stage performing.  The performance enlightened the atmosphere, was relaxing and laid back, reflecting the European culture.  Service was decent, introduced the daily specials side menu, followed up on our meals but slow on refilling our glasses of water; not prompt enough.  Most of the night, I noticed the servers were standing around socializing.  The management has to work on the hospitality aspect in general.
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Salade Maison ($7.50) is a mixed green salad with a Dijon mustard vinaigrette.  Greens were extremely fresh and crispy.  A good standard or typical selection of salad vegetables – tomato, cucumber, lettuce and arugula. The vinaigrette was refreshing, the vigorous taste of olive oil mixed with a hint of Dijon mustard’s spiciness, gave the salad a sweet sour and spicy flavour.  Although the vinaigrette sunk to the bottom of the plate, leaving the top quite dry, I find the overall result of the salad was a good choice for the appetizer, as it tasted mild and comforting.

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Risotto de Veau ($20.00) – risotto with local Ontario veal strips, wild mushrooms and spinach. The chef gave generous portions of veal, big chunks of it, when i was expecting a sliver of shaved veal barely to be found.  The risotto was al dente – firm, not hard to the bite.  I definitely liked how the rice was individually pieced instead of a sticky or gooey structure which I have seen before.  The mushrooms and spinach were a good combination, as it added depth and structure to the overall flavour and appearance.  The finished product was quite salty, probably from the stock used to moisten and cook the risotto.   A likable selection; the liquid base was absorbed by all ingredients and every bite was palpable.

wpid-20140727_203556_richtonehdr.jpgCreation du jour ($21.00) – veal bone with wild mushroom peppered sauce, roasted golden potatoes, and mixed vegetables.  Again, generous portions.  The veal was roasted to medium, was soft and juicy, with the meat barely attached to the bone.  The veal was rich in flavour.  The strong pepper was balanced by the wild mushroom, hence neither a choking, sneezing, nor panting effect occurred.  The potatoes were sweet and soft, had a powdery bite to it.  The vegetables stir fry was spicy, took all the fresh natural flavours the vegetables had.  I question the health factors the vegetables had remaining.

Although, both dishes had a similar taste to some extent, but on a personal level, the day’s special was better than the risotto because of less salt and the variety of flavours and assortment it had.   Nonetheless, the romantic and relaxing environment added excitement to the food.  But because I walked into the restaurant randomly, I did not have much expectations for it, hence, I enjoyed the food quite a bit.

Ratings

Food 3.75/5

Service 3/5

Ambiance 3.5/5

Le Saint Tropez on Urbanspoon

Soma Chocolatemaker

Soma Chocolatemaker

Address: 443 King Street West. Toronto, ON. M5V 2Z4

Phone: (416) 599 – 7662

Website: www.somachocolate.com/

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Other than suntanning on the beach, enjoying drinks on the patio or hiking, there are other activities to consider.  On my summer weekend, I adventured and explored Downtown Toronto.  After vigorous walking and exposure to the sun, a rest was well deserved.  Walking past Soma, the word chocolate captivated me.

Soma Chocolatemaker has 2 locations.  The headquarter is at Distillery District and the one I visited is located on the busy King Street West, in the Fashion District of Toronto, but on the border of the Entertainment District.  The store is smacked in between design related lofts and boutiques.  On TTC streetcar route and major intersections, they have a high volume and broad array of clientele.

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Stepping inside, I am welcomed by a cute, trendy, modern contemporary space.  The interiors feel very personal, or rather down to earth, with the finishes, displays and counters made of wood and limestone collected from mother nature.  Great carpentry skills were shown, as the shelves and tables appear very sturdy and solid.  The space felt welcoming, as it gives off a strong homey feel, appearing like a dining room or a long hallway, but realistically, a storefront full of interesting items to discover.  The layout of the store looks sleek and clean, feels laid back.

Other than being a chocolate retailer, they are also a cafe, serving gourmet coffee, latte, mocha and teas.  Ingredients are imported from South America, mainly Peru and Chile, which arrives as raw beans and is processed or refined into edible products.  However, this process is done at the Distillery District location, as it has a larger storefront and kitchen.

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A fridge or showcase of artisan chocolates were on display, which are for sale as a gift box or individual to have in store.  Truffles, caramel and fresh selection made everyday are found on display here.  wpid-20140727_173729.jpg

Shelves of chocolate bars were compelling to look at.  They have chocolate flavours that you do not find often with other chocolate brands purchasable from grocery stores.  You find chili hot pepper dark chocolate bar, chocolate bar coated with salt, pistachio chocolate bar, berries chocolate bar etc.  They have gift box of mini size assorted chocolate bars if you do not know what to get.  Other than chocolate, they bake biscotti, cookies and others.  A wide selection of products are offered here.

The price of the chocolate is reasonable and worth a try.  No disappointment guaranteed!  They are not sweet or creamy that it feels artificial or fattening.  The chocolate leans toward the bitter side of flavours but not heavy at all.  I find the taste really attractive and hearty.  With a cup of black coffee or black tea, the flavours of the chocolate is brought out.
wpid-20140727_173644.jpgAt the back of the store, there is an area serving gelato and sorbet. It is very popular within the store. On the day I visited, there were at least 10 customers ordering cups of coolness within the hour, which is extremely enjoyable in the summer.  Other than the specialty flavours, they have common ones like vanilla, strawberry and chocolate too.  wpid-20140727_174150.jpgMedium gelato ($5.94) comes with 2 scoops of your choice of flavour.  I picked pistachio gelato and basil blueberry sorbet, after sampling the selection.  The girls told me how everything there was handmade and used sustainable ingredients.  The pistachio gelato was very creamy, but lacked the pistachio flavour.  It felt like I was eating vanilla gelato.  The basil blueberry sorbet was like shaved ice but it was a very different taste, or rather amusing.  The minuscule blueberry seeds and basil herb added texture to the sorbet.  It was really rich in flavour and really surprised how the basil complimented the blueberry extremely well.
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At the very back of the store is the chocolate making workshop, a lot of silver-wear.  Looks like a professional kitchen.  Too bad there was not much happening that day I visited.

With Toronto Development projects sprouting, I have the confidence Soma Chocolatemaker will become a popular hangout place in the near future.  Their personal branding and selection of gourmet products to offer are their biggest asset to become successful.  A lot of potential room for further development and expansion.

Ratings

Food 4/5

Service 4/5

Ambiance 4/5

Soma Chocolate on Urbanspoon

Old Country Inn Restaurant

Old Country Inn Restaurant

Address: 198 Main Street.  Unionville, ON  L3R 2G9

Phone: (905) 477-2715

Website: http://www.oldcountryinn.ca/

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Old Country Inn Restaurant is located towards the end of the touristy strip of historic Unionville.  The restaurant is run by family, serving authentic Austrian and German cuisine.

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The Old Country Inn is a century year old house built in 1872 by Dr. Eckardt, who was the grandson of the original settlers of Unionville.  It was known as the Doctor’s House, having been home and office to a succession of medical practitioners.  The Victorian style house is a bit dated and cute.  It matches the German or Austrian background of the owner and menu.  I thought the design was quite homey and warm.
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The interior decor is extremely dated.   It looks like my living room, except more boring and dull.  I think we were sitting in the greenhouse because there were windows and plants everywhere.  I do enjoy staring at the colour green, as it does relax the ocular muscles.  The owners have maintained a lot of the historical elements and atmosphere of the house, especially in the other rooms.

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Due to personal preference, the patio was not chosen.  The owner gave us a table in the dining room, with openable doors to make us feel like we were sitting outside.  It was bright and lovely to sit there, made me feel energetic or a form of radiance.  Looks romantic, eh?!  Since it was our first time visiting, and the menu had an extensive selection or goodies that I would like to try, our server recommended the house platter because it had a bit of everything for us.

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Ordered the Hausplatte, House Platter, for 2 ($41.95) which includes schnitzel, kassler, würste, bratkartoffeln and sauerkraut.  Sequentially translate into schnitzel, pork loin, sausage, home fries and sauerkraut.  Everything came in doubles, generous portions.  Our eyes just bulged when the platter came because was this really meant to feed 2?  wpid-20140721_203732.jpg

There were two types of sausages – Krainer Wurste (smoked sausage) and Bratwurst (fried sausage).  There were 2 of each type.  The smoked sausage was quite dry. Despite being able to taste the heavy pork, there was not much substance to the flavour; was heavy on salt. Meanwhile, the fried sausage was surprisingly juicy. The sausage burst in flavours when I took a bite.  There were other spices mixed into the meat, making the sausage more interesting.

The schnitzel is a breaded cutlet, hammered thinly to give such appearance. The crust was crispy and crunchy; was very easy to cut through. Overall, this is a standard schnitzel, taste is consistent to the others that I have tried.  Baked to perfection because the cutlet has maintained its natural flavour.

Pork loin were thick slices of ham-like appearance. The pork loins were put in a brine, a solution of salt.  The juices, natural flavour and original texture were well maintained.  The texture of the pork loins were soft and moist, very easy to separate from the bone.  If I had a bun, I will definitely treat the pork loin like a sandwich and coat it with a layer of mustard.

Sauerkraut is a pickled cabbage. I particularly liked this side dish because the sourness or vinegar flavour was well absorbed by the thin strips of cabbage. It opened up my appetite and caused my stomach to create more gastric fluids for easier faster digestion.

The home fries were really potato wedges and not crispy. Because it was laying under the mains and neighbourded by the sauerkraut, the potatoes absorbed the water content, leading to the soggy texture and mashed potatoes like appearance.

We could not even finish half of the meal and took everything away, stored in two containers.  We are hearty eaters but this was just way too much for us to handle.  In fact, the leftovers took me another 3 days to go through.

In conclusion, the platter was authentic but quite standard, no surprise there.  It felt like another everyday family meal.  One thing that bothered me a lot was the server busily hustling around, cleaning, tidying, organizing tables and putting things away way before the closing time.  It was unappetizing to look at and made me feel unwelcome and wanted us to leave.

Ratings

Food 3.5/5

Service 3/5

Ambiance 3/5

Old Country Inn on Urbanspoon

Green Lemon Grass

Green Lemon Grass

Address: 9425 Leslie Street. Unit 8.  Richmond Hill, ON L4B 3N7

Phone: (905) 508-5328

Green Lemon Grass is located in Richlane Mall, where they have served the Richmond Hill neighbourhood for over a decade.  This restaurant is like a busy bee, tables always full, continuous short lineups and fast service.  In other words, table turnover rates, on average, are high.  I would not say they have the best service ever, but it is good enough for the speed they go at and polite enough in my terms.

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This restaurant that has a lot of Asian character to it.  Open windows mimic street vendors from Asia.  Try imagine sitting on the open bustling streets having a meal.  It is quite a cute and clever open concept, their clientele can observe the activities within or can lure potential clientele to eat there.  The menu is based on comfort foods of noodles, curry, roti, rice and soups.  Do not expect fine dining here.  They built their reputation for fast convenient meals (fast food like), which is represented by the street vendor decor.  Everyone come and go~

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BBQ Chicken & Spring Roll Vermicelli ($7.75) was a mixture of grilled chicken, fried spring rolls, topped with peanuts, carrots, cucumbers, shredded lettuce and mixed with fish sauce.  Served dry and warm, it was quite appetizing with the tangy fish sauce.  The chicken was over-grilled and very dry; rubber-like texture.  The spring roll was also over- fried, where parts of the wrapper was burnt; however, was crunchy.  But burnt food can cause cancer.

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Small Rare Beef Noodle Soup ($6.75) has bean sprouts, slices of  beef and garnished with green onion and a sprig of mint leaves.  The beef was thinly sliced and lightly cooked; therefore, the texture was well maintained and easily absorbed the soup base.  It had a very standard pho soup base, therefore tasted consistent with my perception of pho.

I found both noodles were extremely salty and had too much MSG to it.  Water was being chugged down the throats for the rest of the afternoon and evening.  For the speedy service, convenience of meals, on a tight schedule, does not hurt to go.  But if you are looking for an enjoyable, savory meal, then this restaurant is not what you are looking for.

Ratings

Food 2.75/5

Service 3.5/5

Ambiance 3/5

Green Lemon Grass on Urbanspoon