Monthly Archives: April 2016

Han Ba Tang

Address: 4862 Yonge St, Toronto, ON M2N 5N2

Phone: (416) 546 – 8218

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The restaurant front can be easily missed, without any signage or anything in general.  The good old GPS played its reliable role this time.  AND, second time customers – my friends guided and led us to the restaurant for a double date dinner.

Han Ba Tang is conveniently located on Yonge Street, very near the Sheppard subway station and a lot of Green P parking nearby.  Hence, their clientele is very diverse, in age and nationalities.

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The interior decor is very rustic, like an old barn or cabin, completely lined by wood or mock wood porcelain tiles on the floor.  The restaurant is simple and clean with a contemporary touch to it.  I find it cute to have the restaurant’s name glowing in light bulb silhouette hanging inside out at the front window; only their customers can see it from inside, felt very exclusive. It can act as an amazing backdrop for in-house band performances on weekday evenings or weekends, an amazing idea.

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The decor makes the restaurant look like an underground English or Irish pub. We are in Canada but for some European Asian fusion, grab a beer with a great companion to spend a night here. But, it will not be as loud or crazy a pib or bar can get sometimes.

Service was good, very prompt and reacts to attention.  They are also good looking Caucasians too.

The entire menu is a Fusion between Korean and American culinary styles.  It is quite extensive and has a good variety.  The portions are quite small, like tapas style or pub like food.  My recommendation is to eat with a group of friends to try the options on the menu for a good representation of the food.  The small portions are great munchies and great for social activities.

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Mac & Gouchujang with Baby Octopus ($10.00) is made of macaroni, baby octopus, onion, and green bell pepper baked with cheddar and mozzarella cheese mixture, topped with house made extra spicy sauce.  The mac and cheese was very creamy and stringy with the assistance of the cheese mixture. The dish was very rich in flavour, and heavy or filling. The baby octopus was finely chopped and could barely feel its texture but I think it was mainly used to add dimension to the macaroni. Personally, I am not a fan of cheese, so overall, this dish did not appeal to me. BUT, I am biased.  I still encourage everyone to try it.

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Triple Kalbi Taco ($13.00) is grilled kalbi or beef short ribs, topped with onion, red bell pepper, green onion, and deep fried onion, wrapped in taco shell. Were the portions ever small.  This dish reminds me of Peking Duck, except made of beef.  The kalbi was cut into fine strips and very soft to the bite.  Overall flavour was sweet, with the help of the sauteed vegetables and marinade made of soy sauce, brown sugar.  My only complaint is how the taco shell is soft and thin.  When something hot and wet was put on it, it tends to moisten the shell, causing it to break easily.

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Tofu Kimchi with Braised Pork Belly ($10.00) is sauteed kimchi, braised pork belly, and tomato rested on fresh tofu. I find this refteshing because of the soft, fresh and bland tofu helped to offset the salty pork belly. It also had a fiery kick to it with the kimchi. I could not get enough of it. Why were the portions so small?! I would love to have triple portions. This was a very enjoyable appetizer.

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Kimchi Fries ($10.00) with added Bulgogi ($3.00) is pan fried kimchi with potato fries, topped with bulgogi or grilled marinated beef, herb mayo, chopped scallion and house made gravy. This was my favourite dish of the evening. It is a stapled item and heartwarming food choice in a Korean fusion style. It had a strong spicy kick, but also sweet at the same time. It gives a new perspective to the original fries. The fries just tasted amazing.

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Black Calamari ($11.00) is calamari in roasted seaweed sauce, topped with cucumber, thai chilli, and fried baby shrimp. The seaweed sauce was thick and wrapped the calimari fully, but the flavour was sort of bland, as seaweed itself had no flavours. The cucumber, chilli and shrimp were just a side character to the calamari, giving it additional texture, making every bite more crunchy. They, also, added freshness to the overall flavour, but it was nothing too particularly special about this dish.

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Spoon Pizza ($10.00) is mashed Korean sweet yam and potato, baked with mozzarella cheese and mushroom. The dish was like a mashed potato texture, therefore, I enjoyed how soft and creamy it was. The mushroom was extremely finely chopped, can barely find its existent or texture in the pizza. But overall, I liked the strong, creamy texture.

The dinner was enjoyable. I liked the insipration and the fusion aspect. It is different from the traditional Korean cuisine. The enviornment is great, good gathering place with friends. I definitely recommend groups of friends to try it.

Ratings

Food 3.75/5
Service 4/5
Ambiance 3.5/5

Han Ba Tang Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

JaBistro

Address: 222 Richmond St W, Toronto, ON M5V 1W4

Phone: (647) 748-0222

Website: http://www.jabistro.com/

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I can easily miss the entrance to JaBistro, with its fully blackened windows and door.  The restaurant was really narrow and in a way, quite shady, for being sandwiched between a club and unrented premises.  It was rather quite random to find the glowing fish hanging on a window, representing the restaurant.  That fish was quite cute and attractive, had a hint of Hayao Miyazaki inspired design.

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As stated, the restaurant is extremely narrow and lacked space, with less than ten individual tables and less than ten bar seats.  A tip, go early or make reservations ahead of time, especially during the weekends.

The decor was a sleek modern contemporary design, with a lot of line emphasis.  The longitudinal lines lengthened the restaurant, longer than reality.  The vertical lines also brought our eyes upwards to a clean ceiling.  These lines worked in harmony to let their customers feel peaceful and at ease.  I loved how the colours worked together to produce a natural “forrest” like environment, as the walls and chairs were made of bamboo.

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Ichigo Strawberry ($8) was made with strawberry, grenadine and cranberry, tasted like to very berry juice. Sweet and juicy!

Two portions of the Tasting Prix Fixe Menu ($77) for 5 courses were ordered to get as much variety as we can.

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Sashimi Sampler had fish coming from all across the world, mainly from Spain or in general the Atlantic.  It consisted of octapus (tako), mackerel (saba), tuna (toro), shrimp (ebi), salmon roe (ikura), salmon (sake), scallop (hotate), and amberjack (hamachi). One word to simply describe it, FRESH!  Texture was soft and flavours were sweet.  The sashimi pieces were fat and oily.

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Lobster Broth Miso Soup was on the salty side after a fresh and sweet sashimi platter. The miso soup is not the typical readily made msg mixture from supermarkets and all-you-can-eat Japanese restaurants. It was clear and more mellow to the palate and made with a seafood broth. You can strongly taste the mixture of crustaceans in the soup. On the side, they give you one meaty lobster claw to munch on, which is tough and dry, since it was cooked for a period of time to make the broth.

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Gindara is grilled black cod on a bed of Japanese tartar sauce, served with braised radish. The cod was soft and extremely fresh. It was simply grilled with salt as its main seasoning. The salt brought out the natural flavours and helped retain it. The cod was traditionally grilled with charcoal stove, hence, it had a hint of smoky flavour to the cod too. Paired with the braised radish, the dish was phenomenal, tasted light and healthy. The radish was soft to the bite and juicy, with a hint of chicken broth.

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Sushi sampler came with fatty tuna (toro), salmon (sake), shrimp (ebi), mackerel (saba), JaBistroll made of salmon, snow crab, uni, cucumber, tobiko. After the saltier main courses, the kitchen decided to moderate our taste buds with a simple sushi platter, giving us the carbohydrates or energy to keep our day going.  You start from the left to right (as shown in the photo), the milder flavours to the stronger.  The tuna and salmon were very fatty and oily.  They had the melt in your mouth texture, kind of like bringing you to a different dimension and different level of joy.  I love shrimps, so the shrimp sushi was meant to be, very chewy, fresh and sweet.  The mackerel surprised me because it did not have the fishy taste from the ayce joints that I always shunned away.  This mackerel was SO sweet and salty, probably from the deeper parts of the ocean.  JaBistroll was a wall exclusive to the restaurant, made of everything.  The roll was very crunchy because of the tobiko surface layer, kind of like popping bubbles in your mouth.  But the roll had a stronger taste than the rest of the platter – saltier and dryer.  I liked how the platter gave different gradients or levels of experience, like from spring to the winter and each piece is a transition or phase.  It sums the beginning and the conclusion.  Good Job!

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Dessert was a green tea creme brule, and vanilla ice cream topped with pickled Japanese plum.  Both selections were not sweet.  The pickled Japanese plum was interesting – zingy, sweet, moist and chewy.  It paired extremely well with the vanilla ice cream because the plum absorbed some of the creamy flavours and coolness of the ice cream, giving it a sour-bitter-sweet sensation.  The creme brule was legitimately made with matcha green tea.  It was very strong in green tea flavour and had a smooth creamy texture.  I personally prefer the pickled Japanese plum vanilla ice cream more because it felt more special and interesting.

This Prix Fixe menu was definitely worth the money and very healthy.  The head chef easily designed its courses to suit the main food groups our bodies need each day.  Japanese are known for its mannerism.  The servers were extremely well-mannered, polite, gentle and extremely nice.  Not to mention, they were also good looking.  Eating at JaBistro was a nice experience.  The food choice was in a nice logical order based on the flavours.  The food order was like reading a report, from introduction to the meaty important major points to conclusion.   The portions may not look big, but it was definitely filling.  The satisfaction and bloated belly was the result!

Ratings

Food 3.75/5
Service 4/5
Ambiance 4/5

JaBistro Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato