Monthly Archives: September 2014

Sorrento Ristorante @ Maple

Sorrento Ristorante

Address: 965 Major Mackenzie Drive. Maple, ON L6A 4P8

Phone: (289) 553-2132

Website: http://north.sorrentoristorante.ca/

I came to Sorrento under recommendation from my boss.  He came across the restaurant as he was making reservations for his Italy trip.  The owner, Nino, also has a restaurant at Sorrento, Italy, a town along the Amalfi Coast.  The restaurant, 7 hours, by flight, away from Toronto is ran by his brother.  These restaurants are a family gem, to allow everyone experience a taste of true Southern Italian cuisine.

The closest I can get to Italy (at the moment) is Sorrento Ristarante in Maple, a subdivision of Vaughan.  This new subdivision has flourished in the last 7-ish years.  I watched it build!  The plaza is only 3 years old, quite new.

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Ornately decorated tables and pictures of the Amalfi Coast were hung along the walls. The colours seen in the restaurant are some common ones found in your home.  It was really comfortable sitting in the restaurant.  Felt at ease, listening to the Italian music and sipping a glass of Italian water. The owners pride themselves for being Italian and for offering top notch quality.

Service can be improved because our serve was really cool and had a “poker face” all evening.  But I managed to make him smile in the end.  I guess he just needs to warm up to you.  I did not feel the Italian passion or attitude or hospitality in general.  But I am more of a foodie person than service.  Therefore, as long as they have the basics and generals nailed, then I am content with it.

The food was amazing, authentic and all homemade.  Water was also Italian imported.  Spring water most likely sourced from Northern Italy, bordering the Swiss Alps.

imageFrittura di Calamari ($13) — Fried calamari with fresh lemon and tartar sauce.  The calamari was crispy and not oily.  I am always scared of the rubber overcooked calamari texture.  But, this calamari appetizer tasted fresh and had a soft texture.  Generous portion provided.  We were full from eating it.  I could not finish my main course.

imageScialatielli del Pescatore ($25) — Home made pasta with clams, mussels, calamari and shrimps, “vesuvio” cherry tomato sauce.  The seafood pasta was fresh and full of seafood or ocean like flavours. The pasta was homemade with a press, therefore appeared thicker than the store bought ones.  The pasta was a little harder than al dente but I was satisfied.  I tend to like pasta or noodles hard because it gives room for sauce absorption to make it softer.

imageRavioli di astice con salsa cremosa ai Gamberi ($22) — Homemade lobster ravioli – tomato cream sauce, shrimp and green peas.  The sauce was very rich and creamy.  It was paired perfectly with the cheesy lobster ravioli.  It was hearty.  And i was amazed how the the ravioli filling had real lobster meat.

I definitely enjoyed the meal.  I can rightfully say, this is one of the best Italian fine dining restaurants in York Region.  It was not the cheapest meal ever but similarly priced as O&B.  The food quality is definitely as good or even better than O&B.

Ratings

Food 4/5

Service 2.75/5

Ambiance 3.5/5

Sorrento on Urbanspoon

Homemade Garlic Bread

I love garlic in general, an ingredient which has the ability to make all foods taste good.  I love how garlic is “hot and spicy” when it is raw, which is the reason why it strengthens your immune system.  Then i love the sweet taste when garlic is cooked.

I has been a long time since I have had garlic bread.  My mom does not buy garlic bread because she cannot justify a small loaf for at least $5-$6.  Therefore, she switched to buying garlic spread, until she found out it is made of margarine instead of butter, which has no health value to it.  In the end, she stopped buying completely.

Here I am making my own garlic bread or toast late at night, 10 pm, to prepare for breakfast the next day.

Ingredients

wpid-20140915_222305.jpgLoaf(s) of Bread, split

4 – 5 cloves of garlic, minced

3 teaspoons of parsley

4 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons olive oil

**3 tablespoons of cheese

— I used Mozzarella.  You can use Parmigiano, A blend of Cheddar and Swiss, however you like.  Cheese is optional.

Directions

1) Combine garlic, butter, oil and parsley in a microwave safe dish over a pot with medium heat boiled water.  Mix well, until better is melted.
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2) Brush bread generously with garlic-butter mixture.  Toast bread under broiler for 4 minutes.

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4) Remove bread when it is toasted golden brown in color.   Sprinkle with cheese, if using.

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4) If you added cheese, return to broiler and brown 30 seconds. Cut into chunks and serve.

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Do Us a Flavour~

I have noticed a stand of Lays Do Us a Flavour at different grocery stores –  No Frills, Longos, Food Basics, Fresh & Co etc.  Do Us a Flavour has been available for at least 2 years online, where everyone is given a chance to create a flavour of their own and explain why it was created.  The company choose the finalists, which were the best and most creative out of the entries.  Now, it is up to the general public to vote for the best flavour out of the 4.  There are 4 flavours – Tzatsiki, Cinnamon Bun, Jalepeno Mac n Cheese and Bacon Poutine.

Tzatziki seems to be the only flavour that interests me.  Tzatziki is a Greek sauce using plain yogurt, dill and cucumbers as the main ingredients.

wpid-20140912_191313.jpgChips were kettle cooked, giving a crunchier and tougher texture.  The format it was made led to the chips overall feeling less oily.  The spices takes the form of sour cream and onion, tiny green flakes on the individual pieces of chips.  The chips were true to taste, very tzazitki.  The chips were loaded with cucumbers and dill, not so much the yogurt but it felt real.  It was interesting!

I liked the flavour, minus the crunchiness.  However, this is not a flavour that I love.  The more I ate, the less exciting I got and felt overwhelmed by the strong flavour.

These chips are available across Canada.  Try them out for something different.  However, tzatziki might be the only bag I will buy because I never liked cinnamon buns nor mac and cheese.  But I never know.  Maybe one day, I hear a voice in my head telling me to buy a bag of Do us a Flavours.

Cheers~

 

Golden Harvest Northern Chinese Restaurant 五毂集粮

Golden Harvest Northern Chinese Restaurant

Address: 328 Highway 7 East, Unit 18. Richmond Hill, ON L4B 3P7

Phone: (289) 597-0099

Family and I spent a day travelling between all Sears across the GTA hunting down curtains.  Everyone may know, majority of the Sears are closing down in GTA, therefore, a lot of their products are on sale or clearance.  Whatever they have in the store is what is left.  We were trying to find matching curtains and it was the toughest job ever!  Buying and returning just kept recurring because we were buying backup curtains too. Our mission wad to find the missing half to the one curtain pattern we liked most.  After 5 trips, we finally and successfully conclude, we found a set!  And what does that have to do with eating out?  By the time we found it at Scarborough Town Centre and drove back to York Region, it was 8:00 pm.  This means, it was dinner time~

We kept it local.  We could not think of the best place to eat because my parents were never interested in eating outside.  Main criterias: edible but wants the best, cheap and good portions.  I just wanted dumplings, so we came up with Northern Chinese Food at Chalmers Plaza, which we have never tried before but pass by it a lot because our doctors are located at the medical building next to the restaurant.

imageMixed Vegetables with Glass Noodles 五彩拉皮 ($6.95) was “cold” looking.  I liked how they kept the sauce on the side, so we can mix it to however we like.  The sauce was comprised of black vinegar, soy sauce and peanut sauce, somewhat more sour than sweet.  However, I find the flavours appetizing.  The salad was fresh and crunchy, resembled cold noodles a lot.

imageChili Beef Noodle 辣牛肉拉面 ($6.95) was one of their chef’s recommendation.  The soup base was not salty and had a subtle spicy kick to it.  The noodles were hand “pulled” fresh in the kitchen.  Soft and al dente texture, where the noodles readily absorbs the flavours from the broth.

imageSmoked Meat Pancake 熏肉大饼 ($5.95) is not something we would order normally.  But my father insisted, and said this is authentic northern China food.  The pancake was sizzling hot when it arrived and had a crispy, crunchy texture.  It had similar flavours to Peking Duck, except duck is substituted with beef.  Beef was thinly sliced and soft.

imageChives Pork Dumpling 韭菜豬肉蒸餃 ($5.95) was the highlight of the meal.  Dumpling was the main reason why we decided to eat here.  I was so dumpling deprived before this.  I think it has been 3 months?!  I watched the lady prepare the dumplings, from the wrap to the filling.  Very fresh and hot and had a strong chive flavour.  Chives and pork always went well together.  This is a flavour we always made at home too.  SO, I thought these dumplings were amazing, very sweet and authentic.

We just came back from our trip to Central China, which is considered a bit “north”.  It was dry, hot and lacked precipitation.  Due to the weather and atmosphere, the locals grew wheat and barley for a basic living.  We spent days eating noodles and dumplings.  Therefore, I am very glad to find a restaurant in Canada that resembles as much as possible to the meals we had on our trip.

Ratings

Food 3.75/5

Ambiance 3.5/5

Service 3.25/5

Golden Harvest on Urbanspoon

Symposium Cafe

Symposium Cafe @ Richmond Hill

Address: 13237 Yonge Street #B1, Richmond Hill, ON L4E 1B6

Phone: (905) 773-1118

Website: http://www.symposiumcafe.com/

I have only tried their dessert and dinner entrees when I was in university, but one day it closed down and I never heard of it again until recently.  Symposium Cafe has developed into a franchise restaurant, and this particular one opened recently in Oak Ridges, now is a subdivision of Richmond Hill.

The restaurant had a cool, quiet, spacious and airy atmosphere.  Its walls had a lot of famous European artwork, which looked dated to the eye.  Stone tiles were plastered on the floor and the walls, which made it very heat absorbent and cold.  Colours were very muted, so gray.

When my friend and I walked through the entrance, the girl was in another world or something and few seconds later she was like “OH~ Hi!”, a sign of absentmindedness. Our table was not well cleaned, bread crumbs were observed.  We asked for extra cleaning.  The girl seem reluctant.  She asked us if the table was cleaned to our liking, which I thought was funny.  “Should you not tell me?”  Be confident~ What if we said no, then she will be cleaning all over again.  Our server was friendly and smiled a lot.  He was easy to talk to.

imageMy friend ordered Eggs Benjamin ($12.45) – A toasted english muffin served with smoked salmon, poached eggs, red onions and crowned with hollandaise sauce.  Served with breakfast potatoes.

imageI moved the camera, not realizing the picture was distorted and not taken.  I apologize~  But this is French Toast with White chocolate cinnamon ($12.55), a corner was seen.  Fresh cinnamon honey batter dipped egg bread was served with white chocolate cinnamon sauce and fruit salad on the side.  They also served ham or bacon on the side.  The french toast was disappointing.  It was burnt, soggy and moist.  It was like soaked in water kind of texture.    Overall, the toast lacked the crispiness I hoped for.  White chocolate cinnamon was savory, a good ingredient combination.  Other than the cinnamon sauce, they give you maple syrup on the side.  But because of the sad french toast, I did not enjoy the brunch much.

image A picture of the fruit salad my french toast came with.  The fruits were fresh cut and sweet.  It was not the canned fruits you get from supermarket, where the fruits are submerged in sugar juice.

Verdict :  if you ever go for bunch, do not try their french toasts.

Ratings

Food 2.5/5

Service 3/5

Ambiance 3/5

Symposium Cafe Restaurant & Lounge on Urbanspoon

Golden Jade Restaurant

Golden Jade Restaurant 金翠園餐廳

Address: 633 Silver Star Blvd. Unit 110.  Scarborough, ON M1V 5N1

Phone: (416) 321-3326

Was grocery shopping in Scarborough with the family and daddy proposed to eat out.  We remembered watching an advertisement on Fairchild TV channel about a restaurant’s signature dishes and how it was a must try.  Here we arrived at Silver Star Blvd’s strip plaza to locate our restaurant.  The 3 of us had to put our minds together to know which one it was.  I remembered the dishes, dad remembered the street and mom remembered the name.  Great team right?

The restaurant is located across from Pacific Mall and Market Village, behind Splendid Plaza, next to No Frills.  Scarborough is known for its variety of Asian food.  A lot of competition in the area, as there are at least 20 other restaurants or cafes next to it.  This restaurant has to stand out and shine in order to stay in business.

Interior has a modern design, with hanging Ikea lights and sleek materials.  The black and silver colours are contrasting but it looks dark and dim, giving a cool appearance.  Materials used were slate and corion – cold upon the touch.  The air condition was strong and cold air seem to be emitting off surfaces.

Service needs to be improved on.

1) My mother does not like drinking tea at night because of sleeping issues.  Hot water was requested at least 3 times before it finally came.  A lot of Chinese restaurants provides a teapot of hot water, but they only offer a cup.

2) We like to study the menu since it is our first time trying the restaurant.  We want to see what is offered and take our time.  However, the owner came over and started talking to us like he had known us for life and constantly gave recommendations on what to order or pair dishes for us to eat.  He kept on rejecting the selection we made saying how we could not taste the essence or the spirit of the food and the routine starts all over again.  It was just too overwhelming because as consumer, we want to freely order what we want to eat and not be pushed around.  Also, we thought maybe he just want to rid his readily prepared foods hence hard selling us.  From our observation, the owner was behaving the exact same to ALL tables.  It was quite annoying.  He should know where the line is.  Trying too hard can sometimes bring bad results.

In the end, we did not care about what he said and went with our instincts and ordered what we felt was the best for us, which the owner “nodded in approval”.

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Hand Pulled (half) Chicken Served on Jelly Fish ($15.99) was mediocre.  I believe not even half a chicken was used, as big slivers of skin and big chunks of bone were seen than real meat.  Only a handful of jellyfish was on the plate.  In fact, jellyfish skin was used (cheaper at the grocery stores or food provider) than the thick core.  The jellyfish skin has a darker appearance, more wrinkly and has a “dark boarder”.  Sesame oil was the main marinate.  Too much of it was used, made the appetizer too oily and covered in sesame flavour, losing the natural chicken texture and taste.  The price of this dish does not justify its size and taste; not worth it.

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Curry Brisket on Rice ($9.95) arrived looking watery, resembling a soup.  The strong curry flavour was definitely there but the ingredients did not compliment the flavour.  Potatoes were cut a bit small and had a wrinkly texture, like aged potatoes.  Hence, I question the freshness and quality of the potatoes.  Beef brisket was barely found, meat resembled stewing beef.  As brisket, I could not see the tendon lining.  A lot of fat goblets were floating around in the sauce, which was quite unappetizing and inconsiderate.  The ingredients were disappointing.

imageMinced Pork in Gui Lin Style Vermicelli Soup ($8.95) had an appealing appearance and I thought was the best of 3 items ordered.  It was colourful with the tomatoes, green onions, parsley, pickled cabbage, minced pork and mushrooms.  But it was too oily for my liking and the fresh taste of the ingredients was taken over by the strong soup base.  The overall taste was good, tasted like any typical soup noodle.  I think any type of noodles will go well with the ingredients and soup base.  Gui Lin style is really a gimmick and marketing tactic.  Therefore, the Gui Lin vermicelli did not shine as advertised.

The meal was mediocre.  MSG was heavily relied on for enhancing the flavours.  Overall, there is a lot of room for improvement.  Learning from this experience, I probably will not take TV advertisements that seriously anymore.

Ratings

Food 2.75/5

Service 2.5/5

Ambiance 3/5

Golden Jade resturant on Urbanspoon

Congee Wong @ North York

Congee Wong @ North York (天皇名粥)

Address: 10 Ravel Rd.  North York, ON M2H 1S8

Phone: (416) 493 – 8222

Website: http://congeewong.com/

After 2 hours of lining up at Fairview Mall’s “Share-a-Coke” kiosk on Saturday, my friends and I were famished.  We chose Congee Wong at Finch Avenue and Leslie Street because it was located midway to all our homes and close to main highways, easy for us to leave and access other amenities.

Congee Wong is a franchise in York Region, famous for its congee while serving typical Cantonese stapled foods.  Congee Wong at North York receives its business from Seneca College students, work force and surrounding neighbourhoods.  This is probably the busiest Congee Wong of all franchise.  Lineups always happen.

All servers had quick swift movements and great teamwork skills.  One will be clearing the tables of dirty dishes, a second wiping and a third setting up the table.  Everything done ensures a fast turnover rate, to please their waiting clientele.  Despite the busyness, everyone kept their composure.

All Congee Wong has the exact same style of layout and colours, probably a copyright of theirs.  It is comfortable looking, has good flow and space is optimized as best it could.  They were never meant to be a fancy fine dining restaurant.  The layout and atmosphere resembles the bubble tea shops for family and friends to gather, except Congee Wong is the dinner version of it.

imageSpicy & Pepper Salt Pork Chop 椒鹽豬扒 ($8.75) was cut into smaller pieces than one full piece of pork chop.  With smaller pieces, the meat was easier to cook and had even amount of the spice comprised of salt, sweet peppers and chili.  The subtle spiciness was exquisite.  Meat texture was soft and easy on the teeth.

image Beef & Veggie Rice Noodle 時菜牛河 ($8.25) leaned towards the dry end of the spectrum.  But there was enough sauce to moisturize the noodles and give it flavour.  Not overdone~  A lot of vegetables, as opposed to other places giving two stalks.  Beef was soft and thin.

imageYeung Chow Fried Rice 杨洲炒飯 ($8.50) had a dry texture.  Not much oil was used.  Each piece of rice was coated with egg.  The scallions and cha siu pork enhanced the flavours of the rice.  This is an example of fried rice success.

image Beef Mushroom Hot Plate 京都肉扒 (11.95) was sizzling hot when served.  The fumes and aroma evaporating into the air made our mouths water.  Scallions and Onions were used for flavour enrichment.

image Vegetables with Mixed Mushroom 碧綠扒三菇 ($9.25) was very appetizing.  The vegetables were very fresh and not much starchy sauce was used.  It was a good balance to all the protein and carbohydrates we ordered.

This was a very savory meal.  For a party of 6, we ordered 5 dishes.  Every time we go out for Chinese cuisine, we finish everything on the table.  Likewise, we think how we can handle all the food.  However, food portions were HUGE.  We kept stuffing ourselves nonstop.  When we stopped eating, the table looks untouched.  Leftovers to take home~

Verdict: Fast meal, big portions, good price and tastes awesome

Also, if my parents drive 30 minutes from home to eat at Congee Wong @ North York, this really is how good the food is.  It is a restaurant that we specially make a trip for.

Ratings

Food 4/5

Service 3.5/5

Ambiance 2.75/5

Congee Wong on Urbanspoon