Monthly Archives: August 2015

Apkujung Restaurant

Address: 6309 Yonge St, North York, ON M2M 3X7

Phone: (416) 229-6248

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This restaurant literally has no English name, but oddly enough it has a Chinese description.  Finding this restaurant was literally a confusion for me.  I only heard of their famous ginseng chicken pot and I did major research to locate the “name” and location of the Korean restaurant.  I also had to track it down with street view of google maps.

The English pronunciation of the restaurant name was found on the menu cover. Ap-Ku-Jung!  I shall remember it from now on.  Also, thank beans for a rainbow coloured sign, for easy recognition.

I was surprised by how busy it was on a weekday when I stepped in.  All tables and rooms were filled.  It had a weird atmosphere because everyone were sort of staring at one another, despite not knowing each other.  They looked at what you ate, your attire for some form of cultural recognition.  They ultimately were curious about the language one another spoke to see if you are Korean or not.  Everyone were nosy, including me, but whatever!

There is no decor to even comment on.  It was extremely decorated to the simplest it can be.  They picked the flimsiest looking table and chairs which resembles the food court of a mall.  It was just plain ugly, especially with exposed troughs and airways.  The surfaces were sticky from the oil odor and aroma, scrubbing is required.  Clearly, the focus is put on the food.

The female servers were not that fluent in English but they tried their best to explain to us what the food was and how it was made.  They worked hard for every table because they pretty much cook and grilled everything for you on the spot.

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The side dishes were kimchi, pickled cucumbers, tofu skin, kelp, sweetened potatoes and pan seared tofu.  These side dishes are subject to change everyday, except the usual kimchi.  I love eating Korean side dishes because they come in small portions and offers a variety of healthy vegetables seasoned with different condiments or prepared in different techniques.  Flavours vary too, from sweet to salty to spicy.  It balances the flavours happening in your mouth.

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Steamed Freshwater Snail AKA CONCH MEAT ($19.95) came in a BIG portion.  This was honestly more than what we expected.  Much appreciated for de-shelling the meat for us.  The conch meat was extremely fresh and cooked for the right amount of time, where it was soft and chewy.  If overcooked, the conch meat will appear a darker yellow, close to gray tone and smaller in size.  Plus, it will also have an eraser like texture.  Each individual conch meat was big, like the size of a thumb.  The dish was served with two dipping sauces – a red mild fermented bean paste and the typical Asian sweet sauce.  I liked the red one better because it added dimension to the overall flavour, like adding something to the natural sea tastes.  However, I personally thought the conch tasted amazing just the way it was, without any additives, just pure natural.

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We also ordered a Ginseng Chicken Soup Pot ($25.95) is a 2 person portion meal.  Noodles is served and congee is made out of the broth, as I will further explain.

Our server comes with a big pot with a whole chicken covered in broth filled with a couple pieces of ginseng and red dates. This soup is exceptionally healthy because it strengthens immune system, energizes or renews our body, last but not least, assists in red blood cells production. This is a famous stew or soup Koreans eat occasionally.
wpid-20150317_184650.jpgWe wait for the broth to boil, approximately ten minutes and for the chicken to cook further, additional five minutes. I believe this process is necessary to get the flavours of the ginseng pieces to come out also. You get excited from all the action that is happening in the pot and just simply cannot wait to start eating. I confess, i was picking at the chicken here and there. The wait was just a nuisance. But after it was done, the server came back and used a pair of scissors to cut open the chicken, which apparently was stuffed with sticky rice. She halved the chicken, then quartered it. She gave us each a piece of the quarter chicken to begin.  The chicken was fresh and soft. I easily picked the strands of meat off the bones and the chicken was very chunky or meaty.

*Do not waste the heat of the broth. Dunk the conch meat into it for additional flavours.

wpid-20150317_191012.jpgThe server came back after we finished our individual quarter piece chicken, with a plate of fresh handmade green tea noodles. You know it was fresh when the noodles were soft at the touch, warm and had uneven lengths or widths.  She threw it into the pot of boiling broth, and added a bit more water, since, the broth evaporated into the atmosphere when not covered, lowering liquid levels.  We waited approximately for five to eight minutes for the noodles to cook before the waitress filled our bowls with noodles and ginseng soup.  At this time, the soup had thickened slightly and became more oily.  The noodles were al dente, but you do not taste a strong green tea flavour, tasted like any type of noodles.  The soup also did not have a strong ginseng aroma either, despite being boiled for the past twenty minutes.  With no doubt though, the meal was great up to now.

wpid-20150317_191434.jpgBy the time we finished the noodles, we were stuffed and could barely eat more.  Our waitress came with a bowl of rice and stirred it into the pot of remaining soup.  She walked away and let it sit there for five minutes, to let the rice absorb the water and soften up.  Then returned to stir the rice for more water absorption and used the ladle to mush or breakdown all the remaining ingredients until it was all integrated together to become a congee or porridge paste like formation.  This was my favourite part of the entire meal.  The congee had an amazing soft but sticky texture.  It  absorbed all the ginseng flavours, where it was slightly bitter, and also the chicken essence, which balanced the bitterness, hence, not overpowering one another.  In the congee, you can eat the individual bits of the broken down red dates, ginseng pieces and lose strands of chicken.  This congee was very aromatic and rich.

We wobbled out the door and carried our bloated bellies with us back home. This was an extremely satisfying or rewarding meal that I will return for again.  But next time, I am not ordering the conch meat because it was unnecessary!  I also want to try their grilled items because everyone around us were ordering it and looked awesome too, with many sides and ways of eating.  I highly recommend the restaurant!

Ratings

Food 4/5

Service 3/5

Ambiance 2/5

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Restaran Malaysia

Address: 815 Major Mackenzie Dr E, Richmond Hill, ON L4C 9X2

Phone: (905) 508-1432

Website: http://restoranmalaysia.com/

Living literally five minutes away from the restaurant and also as a quite well known local restaurant, I have never tried it anytime in my life until my friends showed some interest and requested a gathering there.  It is quite shameful actually.  Because my family do not like eating anything aside from Chinese food, I never had the opportunity to eat other cuisines until I was in university or started working.
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dsc_0675This is a typical family like restaurant, which offers quite a large variety of East Asian Cuisine.  Their clientele is quite multi cultural too, bust mostly locals.  I find familiar faces in the pool of clientele, but too loud, packed and far to say hi!

A warning, this restaurant is CASH ONLY!  This policy is quite new and their servers remind us before seating us.  It is quite a hassle sometimes and unfortunate because this policy really screams “do not eat here because I do not have cash with me”.  I am pretty sure they do lose business from this.  They did carry debit and credit card machines for the longest time but just in the past year, they cancelled it.  The owner actually admitted how the high machine charges led to this decision.

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Green Mango Salad ($8) consists of green mango, shallot, sweet pepper, chopped sun dried shrimp, topped with toasted peanut, served with a Thai vinaigrette.  The salad was so sour and the green mango is not ripe enough.  The mango matchsticks were hard to the bite.

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Seafood Salad ($9) was made of shrimp, calamari, mussels, scallop, mixed with cucumber, onion, and lemon lemon grass served with a Thai vinaigrette.  Seafood was crunchy but it was the frozen seafood mixture from the groceries, found in the freezer.  Otherwise, the vegetables were freshly prepared.  The salad was flavourful, a mixture of a sweet and sour blend.  The lemon grass taste lingers in your mouth for quite some time.  The seafood salad was more enjoyable and rewarding than the green mango salad.

The size of the salads were smaller than we expect.  I do not think it was worth the money we paid for.  It really was a one person portion, one bowl amount.  If you are looking for an appetizer to share, there are much better options to order.

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Pineapple Fried Rice / Nasi Goring Nenas ($11) has chicken, shrimp, pineapple, tomato, sweet peppers, topped with toasted cashews.  I liked the dry texture, where the rice was not soggy and each piece of rice was coated evenly by oil.  The ingredients maintained its juiciness.  Therefore, not overcooked.  The fried rice had a balance of sweet flavour, from the pineapples, and natural rice aroma.  Overall, this dish had no surprise.  It was quite standard and showed the chef’s ability to control the wok and fire.

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Seafood Yellow Curry / Lautan Masak Lemak Kuning Siam ($18) was made with sweet peppers, baby corn, onion, basil, coconut, lemon grass, and turmeric.  If you are sensitive to spicy foods, this yellow curry is probably your best bet because it was extremely mild to the palate.  It was extremely flavourful.  I can probably serve five bowls of rice with this.  The coconut milk brought out the rich array of spices to this curry.  The seafood maintained its natural flavours and soft crunchy texture.

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Classic Indonesian Beef Rendang Minangkabau ($13) was made with galangal (ginger), grisek (toasted coconut), lemon grass, turmeric, shallot, and lemon leaf.  This was one of our favourite entrees of the evening.  The beef was softly braised and the strands could be easily peeled off the bone.  The aroma of culinary herbs and ingredients seeped into the beef.  Each bite was like rich blend of “fire and ice” because the lemon grass and lemon leaf gave off a cool effect while the turmeric, shallot, ginger added heat to it.  This was another dish that can serve another five bowls of rice.

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Singapore Chicken Rice ($9) had steamed chicken, served with rice cooked in chicken oil, with chili sauce and soup on the side.  This was quite standard, as long as the chicken met its requirements.  I liked how they picked the bones out of the chicken.  Every bite was meaty and saved us a lot of effort.  The chicken was fresh, juicy and retained a lot of its natural chicken flavours.  The oil from the chicken skin was used to mix the rice, therefore, every bite of the rice strengthens your impression of the chicken further.  The soup was really water they used to braise the chicken.  If you find the aroma of the chicken meat itself a bit bland, eat it with the rice and dunk it into the soup, the flavours are enhanced.  The dish was simple, but it kept its natural shine and essence.

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Pad Thai ($10), a stir fried rice noodle, with shrimp, chicken, sweet pepper, bean sprout, egg with a tangy sweet sauce, and topped with toasted chopped peanut.  Pad thai can be found in almost restaurant.  I personally do not think this noodle dish was different from others, except being a bit less soggy and is more dry than others I have tried.  This dish is absolutely the safest to order, especially if you are not looking for surprises nor great expectations.  The pad thai was good, had a sweet and sour taste to it, with a crunch to it from the assistance of the toppings.

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Beef Murtabak ($6.50) is a stuffed roti with chopped meat, spices, onion and eggs.  I always had the Chinese version of this pancake like dish, where all the ingredients were mixed into the batter and pan seared on both sides.  Most of the time, I used roti as a “bread”, where I dipped it in a sauce or held Peking duck.  Therefore, this stuffed roti dish was quite new to me.  I thought the outcome was a tad dry, no juice at all.  The filling was like stir fried ground beef and was slightly bland.  Overall, it was a disappointment to me.

I do enjoy heavily spiced dishes occasionally.  I will visit Restaran Malaysia occasionally because it is close to where I live and for some good cultural fix.  Next time, I want to try more of their curries and entrees.  I recommend the dishes that you cannot make at home or is more complicated to gather the ingredients for because those are usually their authentic Malaysian cuisine.  Lastly, do try their appetizer platter because it is based on their street food and I thought it tasted awesome and is a quick fix for a light afternoon snack.  But one thing I am not pleased with is their cash only policy, quite a hassle.

Ratings

Food 3.75/5

Service 3.5/5

Ambiance 3.5/5

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Ramen Raijin

Address: 3 Gerrard St E, Toronto, ON M5B 2P3

Phone: (647) 748-1500

Website http://zakkushi.com/raiji:n/

IMG_0053Ramen became very popular within the last few years, with many eateries opening and gaining popularity around Toronto.  What differentiate each ramen joint is the variations of broth and the type of noodles.   Therefore, a wide variety of ramen exists in Japan, with geographical and vendor-specific differences.  Each individual chef will have its own style!

Discovered another ramen restaurant in the Downtown Toronto core, located on the border of Ryerson University.  Raijin in Japanese, apparently, means the God of Thunder.  With such a powerful and domineering name, I must try a bowl of ramen to see if it lives up to the godly standards.

Everything inside the interior was natural wood colours.  It followed the energy and vibe of the Japanese culture, where everything is simple, clean and highly respect the environment.  It was helping us connect to the nature and that everything originated from mother earth.

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The restaurant has a big open restaurant and we watched the chefs and assistants hustling bustling away on every order.

The moment we enter the sitting area, we watched by the towering Thunder God statue.  We paid our respect to the god and patiently waited to be seated.  At some point, it felt creepy because the statue was watching everyone’s movements and listening to every single word exchanged within the restaurant, as if there was nowhere to hide.

I question the hygiene or cleanliness of the restaurant because our server took us to a table with mega wet and dirty floor, probably from accidentally tipping a broth filled bowl.  The chair was also appeared wet.  I asked the servers to clean the floor and chairs for us before we seat.  I was aghast that she used newspapers to wipe the floor with her bare hands.  Then, she covered the floor with newspapers for us to step on, which turned soggy in no time.  I barely ate with my feet touching the ground.  But I am uncertain if she sanitized her hands immediately after.  Our cups of water were taken from readily filled ones on the kitchen counter-top.  These activities kind of threw me off or gave the restaurant a bad first impression.

Their tonkotsu soup broth is made in house, with pork bones, a Japanese fish dashi stock and vegetables in a pressurized pot, creating a rich creamy texture.

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wpid-20150322_195704.jpgwpid-20150322_195720.jpgTonkotsu Tsuke-Men Combo ($14.50) comes with a small rice bowl and a salad.  The rice bowl is actually Japanese curry, which tastes like the readily made sauce from Asian supermarket.  Salad tastes typical.  The ramen is topped with pork shoulder slice, seasoned bamboo shoots, canola flower and a soft boiled egg, green onion, nori seaweed, sesame seeds and served with a rich tonkotsu shoyu-dare dipping sauce.  You can eat the noodles two ways, dipping or mixing style.  This is the first Tsuke-men style ramen I ate and it is quite memorable.  The thick dipping sauce was really salty and somehow had a smokey flavour to it.  It was interesting, however, the more I dipped, the flavour began to alter, to a bit sour.  The noodles were softer than I usually like it to be, in between al dente and soggy, as if over boiled.  The pork shoulder was thickly sliced and the texture was tough and slightly hard.

wpid-20150322_195427.jpgTonkotsu Shio Ramen ($9.95) is a salt flavoured ramen topped with pork shoulder, green onion, canola flower, kikurage mushroom (black fungus), cabbage and half a soft boiled egg.  I enjoyed this ramen more, mainly because the hot broth kept the noodles warm and I liked the creamy, salty and smokey flavour.  I like to slurp up the broth while I eat my noodles because it adds amusement to the meal.  Additionally, I also liked heap of the raw green onions they used to garnish the bowl of noodles because the half cooked-half raw texture cleaned my heavily salted palate.  But, I find the use of cabbage as a topping a bit cheap or shabby.  The same complaint of the pork shoulder as the other ramen, thick, tough and hard.  Same complaint about the noodle texture as the other ramen we ordered, over cooked and soft.  I am also missing the dried seaweed garnish too!  Because I like how the seaweed soaks up the flavour.

Overall, I did not think the ramen tasted that great; I definitely tasted better ones in the city.  I like the pork shoulders a bit fat because that softens up the texture and it is easier to steep the flavours into the meat.  I am unsure if the chefs were having a bad cooking day, but I am feeling moderate and a bit less to this ramen joint.  The hygiene really scared me off and I do not think I will visit the restaurant a second time.

Ratings

Food 3/5

Service 3/5

Ambiance 3/5

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Banh Mi Bar

Address: 189 Augusta Ave, Toronto, ON

Phone: (647) 629-8358

During the summer, Kensington Market becomes pedestrian only on Sundays.  I was lucky enough to enjoy the freedom and full width of the streets while I stroll around the neighbourhood.  There were a lot of food stalls and performances you can enjoy during your visit on Sunday afternoon.  Situated along the main street of the Kensington Market, Augusta Ave, is a Vietnamese fast food like restaurant.  You can either sit in to enjoy the meal or take out.a14dd5b4c6ba48716e3eba08025425a9_1438454859_200_thumbDo not mix up Bahn Mi Bar with Bahn Mi Boys.  They are not affiliated.

Other than the famous Vietnamese style sandwiches, they also offer spring rolls, pho and rice.  We ate a lot while we were strolling around the market.  Banh Mi Bar is the last place we stopped into and wanted something light.  The best option was the sandwiches.
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On the wall next to the cashier or food station is their hand drawn  sandwich menu.  Obviously, there are many variations you can try.  Our criteria were simple and cheap!
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Grilled Pork Belly Banh Mi Sub ($5.99) is grilled pork belly with pickled raddish, carrots and cilantro on a baguette with hoisin sauce on the side.  I appreciate the waitress cutting the sandwich into 3 portions.  She was attentive for respecting our needs and requests.  The sandwich was made fresh in the little kitchen.  The pork belly took at least 8 minutes to grill or cook.  It was really fatty and oozing in oil, soft texture overall.  The vegetables were fresh and crispy or crunchy.  Ingredients were trying to gush out of the baguette.  Our sandwich was fully loaded!

My complaint is on the salt levels.  I was so thirsty for the remaining half of the day, chugging myself with water.  My mouth was so dry after this sandwich, which was loaded with MSG and salt.  Thank goodness I did not apply the hoisin sauce.  I would have enjoyed the sandwich more if there were lesser amounts of salt.

I think I will just stay with the cold cuts Vietnamese sandwiches for more simplicity and healthiness.  In fact, I can make many variations with such a simple sandwich by adding more condiments or whatsoever.

Ratings

Food 2.75/5

Service 4/5

Ambiance 2/5

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Lamesa Filipino Kitchen

Address: 669 Queen St W, Toronto, ON M6J 1E3

Phone: (647) 346-2377

Website: http://www.lamesafilipinokitchen.com/#modern-filipino-cuisine

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Another Summerlicious 2015 experience at Lamesa Filopino Kitchen with my badminton peers after an intense session at Trinity Bellwoods Community Center.  The walking distance was supposedly not that far, roughly ten minutes,  but we were exhausted from the game and the heavy workout bags carried along extended our travel time to twenty minutes.

The restaurant is in a convenient location, where TTC street cars and buses can access.  Within the entertainment, fashion and design district, this eclectic or fusion restaurant benefits from the multicultural neighbourhood.

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This long narrow restaurant has limited sitting area.  I like the white, beige tones making the space feel airy and comfortable.   Big windows at the front gave a lot of natural light.  The wall art looked authentic, showed pride and gratitude to the ethnic group.  Philippines is an island country; Lamesa gave me the vision that I was sitting along the shore having dinner under the gazebo, enjoying the ocean breeze.  The other vision was sitting in a wooded hut in the village having a meal.  Overall, I wanted to comment how the interior decor followed the Filipino theme.IMG_0982

Our problem was, we had no idea what the food was because it was practically written in the native Filipino language.  The girl server with very awesome Afro-like hair had to explain each item on the menu patiently.  For $25 per person, this summerlicious menu had a lot of offer, from vegetarian to fish to different types of meats and different cooking styles.
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Ensaladang Talong is charred eggplant, topped with adobong caponata, salted egg, andcreme fraiche.  The moment the appetizer came to the table, my friend stuffed it down her stomach because clearly badminton burns energy and fat.  Meaning, we were not able to try it.IMG_0988

Sisig is stir fried pig’s head and chicken gizzard, topped with fried egg, and rice on the side.  The chicken gizzard and pork stir fry was crispy and crunchy.  It had similar texture and flavours to the Chinese roasted pig’s skin and fat to me.  If they substituted the rice with roti or something along that line, it would have been more enjoyable and less filling.IMG_0987

Vegetable Pancit is mung bean noodle stir fried with corn, peas, fava, chili, and mint.  This was a refreshing appetizer, as the mint and chili added a zing to the noodles.  It was healthy and crispy with the amount of vegetables in it.  Texture was similar to the rice noodles or glass noodles from Korean restaurants.  Except, this noodle was made from beans which has less carbohydrates than the Korean potato based glass noodles.IMG_1002

Grilled Chicken Adobo is topped with chimichurri, soy garlic puree, jus, and mustard greens, then served with rice.  It was fresh and juicy; flavours were good.  But, there is only so much you can do with chicken. There was nothing spectacular about this entree, quite standard.

One more thing, RICE again!  Two full bowls of rice, was more than the amount I would eat on a regular basis.  The rice was extremely filling.  Overall, the proportion of rice to the entree and appetizer was incorrect. IMG_1003

Fried Bangus Fish is topped with tamarind, romesco, potato, radicchio, and leek.  This was a grilled whole deboned fish.  There were a couple of remaining bones here and there, but it was not enough to choke anyone.  I personally think it was an amazing task the chef did.  The fish was flavourful, charred and salty.  The meat was juicy and the skin was crispy.  I really liked the red sweet and spicy sauce because it added depth to the overall entree.  This was an extremely healthy dish; got my proteins and vegetables!  IMG_1005

Langka Cake is like an angel food cake served with rhubarb, coconut whip, and white chocolate.  The cake was fluffy and airy; felt like an angel food cake or vanilla pound cake.  But I did like the sweet and sour rhubarb sauce or jam because it added a dash of interest to the dessert.  Meanwhile, the coconut whip did not taste very coconut-ish.  It was like regular whipped cream to me, except lighter.  When you mix all the sauces and cake together, it was a miraculous amazing pairing.  It was neither sweet nor sour.  But it added dimension to our palette.IMG_1006

Ube Leche Flan is a pudding topped with apple tapioca, and rice crispies like pinipig.  Tapioca did not taste apple like at all.  It was really flavourless.  Saying that, I did enjoy this pudding more than the cake.  The pudding tasted a bit like black sesame and with the tapioca pinipig, it gave the flan extra texture; crunchiness and gummy.

Overall, Lamesa is worth trying because their Filipino cuisine is fusion style of Spanish, East Asian, Mediterranean cuisines.  Their multicultural clientele and atmosphere was an interesting mixture and brings curiosity amongst one another.  Many stories could be observed and understood in a short visit.

Ratings

Food 3.5/5

Service 4/5

Ambiance 3.5/5

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Millie Creperie

Address: 161 Baldwin Street, Kensington Market, Toronto ON M5V3H9

Phone: (416) 977-1922

Website: http://milliecreperie.com/

Summer is the season for random exploration in the city and staying out late because the temperatures accommodate us to do so.  It is also the season where a lot of stores grand open, meaning, new places to probe.

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Millie Creperie is a cafe tucked in Kensington Market, right off a side street in Chinatown, probably a two minute walk from Spadina Ave.  But we kept on missing it because it does not stand out colourfully or highly decorated like other cafes and is extremely small in size.  I am not sure when it opened but its popularity is spreading around the city, thanks to Instagram and Facebook.  The owners advertise by urging customers who are these interface users to post photos onto their public profiles.

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The shop itself only has three simple dining tables and roughly around 8 chairs.  It is extremely tiny that most of their customers order take out.  The “kitchen” or fridge area is extremely tight that the servers or girls were squeezing through one another or angling themselves a certain way to get things or to pass by one another.  No exaggeration!

The cafe offers wide range of products from dessert crepes to savory types, cakes to parfait to ice cream.  I am sure there must be something that fits everyone’s taste buds.  Price is competitive and reasonable for the handmade on the spot products.

The girl servers were polite and sweet.  But I could not comment on their service because it was sort-of take out style.  I was not there long enough where they had to assist and serve us.  However, the outlook of the cafe is very clean and maintained good hygiene by switching gloves, wiping counter tops, or glass doors.

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Green Tea Matcha Crepe Cake ($7.60 + taxes) is a meticulously built cake of at least 20 layers of crepe with matcha powdered whipped cream spread and layered in between.  The cake was delicious and not sweet at all.  It was also very delicate and soft, offered a melt in mouth texture.  I think I am addicted to this.  Is matcha caffeinated?  Since matcha is an antioxidant, hence I feel quite healthy devouring this cake.

I will be back to try the rest of their menu.  Open somewhere uptown, so I do not need to travel so far!

Ratings

Food 4/5

Service n/a

Ambiance 2/5

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Bosk @ Shangri-La

Address: 188 University Ave, Toronto, ON M5H 0A3

Phone: (647) 788-8294

Website: http://www.shangri-la.com/toronto/shangrila/dining/restaurants/bosk/

Summerlicious is an annual fine dining event in the City of Toronto.  You choose from a list of restaurants who enrolled themselves in the event for either a prix fixe lunch or dinner.  Prices vary from $25-45 at each restaurant and decisions are made based on the menus you see online.  You can pretty much google “summerlicious” for the information.

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This year for our girls night out, we decided to try Bosk because we have heard good reviews and do not want to keep re-trying O&B restaurants.  New experiences are always desired!  We went for the dinner option ($45 per person) and the menu looked decent.

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The interior decor of the restaurant was really nice and bright.  A lot of Chinese or Asian elements were used.  Lacquered vases were encased at every corner.  Every wall has intricately wood crafted panels installed.  The panels were movable, which were used as a separator or door for the different dining halls or rooms.  Lines from the walls were the main element used in design, transforming the restaurant into a long and tall space, very relaxing.  The panels also catches light reflections, offering many shadows, and brightens the space too.

Service was great.  Our server was extremely helpful with explaining the menu and giving recommendations.  The most important element was the welcoming bright smile, like he enjoyed the job, appreciated your presence and was thankful for your business.  He was always so responsive with our water and did follow-ups after each course.

We ordered a lot of repeats, so we did not try the whole menu.

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For appetizer, the Sweet Corn Soup with paprika, poached egg, fried quinoa and lardon was ordered.  The soup was really creamy and smooth.  The crunchy quinoa added texture to the soup but not flavour.  Meanwhile the paprika provided a heated sensation to the palate.  I enjoyed the soup hot because it started my digestion process.  Some restaurants like to make chilled soups to match the summer season.  When the air conditioning is cranked to the max, chilled soups really gives you goosebumps.wpid-p7130897.jpg

A second appetizer ordered was the Marinated Tomato Salad with charred bread, goat milk, ricotta, basil and olive.  The presentation of the course was not appealing.  It looked like a bunch of randomized ingredients put together, which I also felt when I was eating it.  The charred bread got really moist with the milk, oil and vinaigrette.  I understand it was suppose to soak up the ingredients but soggy bread just did not feel appetizing.  The ricotta was fresh and melt in your mouth texture.  Tomatoes were fresh and sweet.  The flavours were kind of all over the place and random.  Overall, the salad was not too spectacular but really healthy.

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A vegetarian main course Forest Mushroom Agnolotti with stuffed sweet pea, roasted mushroom and Parmesan cream was ordered.  Angolotti is a bigger version of ravioli.  Pasta shells were al dente.  The melted cheese made the course extremely creamy and savory.  Parmesan cheese is salty to begin with.  I admired how the chef did not sprinkle more salt on top, therefore salt levels were just right for me.  The filling was well paired, but in general, nothing could go wrong with mushroom and peas.  Overall, delicious entree.

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The second main course tried was the Pacific Halibut with couscous, tomato fondue,  fennel and eggplant.  Again, very randomized ingredients put together.  The red tomato puree is a photographic focal point to observe, and the rest of the dish looks muted.  Flavours were in the same analogy.  The tomato paste was flavourful in its famous sweet and sour zing.  Meanwhile, the couscous, eggplant and fennel were quite bland, despite fennel was a strong aromatic but not enough to pair with the dish.  Couscous when cooked was soft and soggy, reminded me of oatmeal.  Eggplant was extremely soft and quite nonexistent.  The halibut was pan seared nicely, very moist and flaky with a crunchy crust.  The pairings were oddly put together because they did not compliment one another.

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To conclude the meal, the Bittersweet Chocolate Fondant topped with blackberry whipped ganache, caramel ice cream and chocolate crunch was ordered.  The dessert was not sweet, it had enough sugar to make us desire for it more.  The mint leaves garnish made the dessert more refreshing.  Overall, the dessert was lacking originality and was quite standard.  Nothing could go wrong with caramel and chocolate.wpid-p7130900.jpg

The other dessert was the Poached Niagara Peach with darjeeling cream, bourbon syrup and brown butter crumble was devoured.  I thought this was the best part of the whole meal.  The dessert portion was large and tasted extremely good.  Darjeeling cream was a filtered tea cream which the chef made as a mousse layer.  It was so rich and smooth that I was quite addicted to it and wanted more.  The crunchy crumble gave the dessert a parfait texture but significantly smaller in size than the cereal bits.  The peach slice was a hidden treasure which you had to keep digging to find.  It was crunchy and sweet, definitely not canned peach because the texture and sugar levels were different if compared closely.  I enjoyed the overall presentation, texture and flavour of the dessert.  They were well paired!  Wish I could have another one~

The portions were small for its price, but it was a nice atmosphere and had great service, which made up for it, even though the food was not spectacular.  I might return to try its regular menu because there is more variety and more practiced on.

Ratings 

Food 3.25/5

Service 4/5

Ambiance 4/5

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