Monthly Archives: July 2016

Kasa Moto

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Address: 115 Yorkville Ave, Toronto, ON M5R 1C1
Phone: (647) 348-7000
Website: http://www.kasamoto.ca/

Situated in the heart of Yorkville neighbourhood in Downtown Toronto is a chic Japanese restaurant of Kasa Moto.  It is one of the restaurants under the Chase Hospitality Group.  Once again, a big applause to their success in bringing diversity in their culinary empire.  The attention to detail makes the dining experience pleasurable.

The beautiful decor was an awe and was splendid to dine in such an environment.  The natural lighting from the side windows brought an airy sensation into the space, brightening every corner, very relaxing.  But in the dark, the dim lights made the environment romantic, a great date restaurant.  The wall art were very pretty.  Closer to the entrance, they are more of a pastel themed sakura trees.  As you make the way to the back of the restaurant, the theme suddenly becomes more vivid or serious, with traditional Japanese cultural geisha hair styles, dark against pastel colours.  Everything seen within the restaurant is a strong representation of the American influenced  Japanese culture, and sets the theme for the fusion menu.

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These beautifully designed, unique, one-of-a-kind menus were exciting to look at.  Drinks, dessert and a la cart menu has its own design.  I must compliment how the colour theme of the menus compliments or follow the interior decor of the restaurant.  Who knew the designers were that considerate to coordinate every little bit of detail with one another to give the restaurant a certain form of grandeur and class.

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Kasa Moto Roll ($22), a house specialty, has spicy scallop, lobster and salmon, topped with avocado and sprouts.  The roll was made with daily fresh ingredients from the market; flavour was sweet.  I enjoyed the bite size, where the roll had a consistent thin layer of rice, making the texture less powdery.  However, there was nothing special to note about.

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8oz American Wagyu Skirt Steak ($36) is made with steak spice and yakiniku sauce.  The even spread of the fat on the wagyu beef was used to the chef’s advantage, making the steak extremely tender, a melt in your mouth texture.  It was cooked to perfection.  However, the steak was on the saltier side, which was expected, as Japanese cuisine loves salt to bring out the freshness of the ingredients.

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Kamameshi ($18) is a hot rice dish mixed with wild mushrooms, burdock root and truffle soy butter.  This was my favourite selection of the evening.  The rice was brought to us in a stainless steel warmer, with the truffle soy butter on the side. The server mixed the ingredients and the sauce into the rice in front of us, to keep the rice moist and the wild mushrooms tender.  This prevents the rice from over absorbing the sauce.  The thought of having the rice in the stainless steel warmer ensures the rice does not dry out and stick to the sides, hence, scraping the rice is much easier.

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The rice had a resemblance to risotto, in both appearance and texture.  The rice was very creamy, soft al dente in texture.  It tasted very savory and rich in butter.  The mushrooms were nicely infused into the rice too, where the truffle oil helped bring out the natural flavours of the fungus.  I highly recommend this rice dish.  After all, how Asian are you without eating rice?!

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Hamachi Ponzu ($18) is yellowtail fish marinated with yuzu ponzu sauce, topped with crispy carrot and shiso oil.  The ingredients were very fresh.  The thin slices of hamachi fish were submerged in the sauce and was made easy for the sauce to penetrate through.  The fish was thoroughly marinated.  Yuzu is a citrus fruit related to pomelo that is found in Asia and ponzu sauce is a Japanese cirtus based sauce.  Therefore, the dish tasted a bit tart, but the sweet freshness of the fish and shiso oil offset the sourness.  Texture was crunchy becuase of the crispy flakes and the sprouts sprinkled on top.  Nonetheless, this is quite a basic Japanese appetizer that can be easily found at other restaurants or easily replicated.

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Rock Shrimp Tempura ($16) is chopped fried shrimp pieces mixed in yuzu pepper aioli and wasabi.  This is not the typical deep fried strips of tempura that you find at ayce or any restaurant.  The creativity of this appetizer was admired because the chef made a twist to it by chopping up the fried shrimp and mix it with the tart citrus juice, hot wasabi and garlic.  It was extremely refreshing, with a candy like texture.  It overall tasted a bit like the thousand island sauce  but slight bit more fiery.

With no doubt, I admired the freshness of all the ingredients, the magic mix of the elements to creative distinctive savory pieces.  All was like an artwork, that ends up in my belly.  Good job!

Ratings

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

Kasa Moto Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Colette Grand Cafe

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Address: 550 Wellington Street West.  Toronto, ON M5V 2V5
Phone: (647) 348 – 7000
Website: http://www.colettetoronto.com/

Tucked in the Fashion District is Colette Grand Cafe, bringing the streets and culture of Paris, France to life in Toronto, Canada.  Hid within the developed condominium community, I was quite surprised to see a restaurant so cute and unique, adding diversity and multiculturalism within the city.  The restaurant expressed a theme of spring’s bloom and refreshment with the plants and the blue-white canopy.  The park, the low rise townhouses in front made the outlook of the eatery very relaxing, slows down your pace and sights could be perceived a couple of miles away.  There is a parking lot, holds fifty cars, across the street, which is convenient for drivers.  Taxis are lined at the front door, which is also convenient for travelers.  The restaurant intersects on Bathurst Street, therefore, TTC street cars and transit are easily approached.

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The decor was gorgeous, a European influenced or inspired design.  I love the high ceilings and the arches, causing an illusion where the space is very tall and grand, especially with the chandeliers.   If you noticed, there are a lot of round shapes in the restaurant – arched ceilings, lighting and chairs.  The shape helped to unite the ground and ceiling, instead of being a separate entity.  The tiling work, especially how it is on an angle, elongated the space too, wider and longer than usual.  Natural sunlight seeps through the full drop down windows at the front, resonates through the whole restaurant by reflecting off the white walls, pale beige chairs, tables, and tiles.  The natural light not only adds life to the restaurant, it also acted as the main element of the whole design.  It felt as if the interior united as one with the exterior, like you are sitting outside or in the hallway.

Meanwhile, the buffet area has a complete different theme from the dining space.  It is darker  in colour, with wood floors, like the 1800s castles in Europe.  I think it helps to differentiate the spaces from one another.  I absolutely love the flow, the grandeur and sophisticated beauty of the whole restaurant.

My girlfriends and I reserved for a Sunday Brunch Buffet, $54 per person, early in the day, at 10:30 am, when they open.   Each buffet customer can be seated for two hours.  Once the two hours limit is up, the servers automatically bring the bill over.  You can cheat-sit there for as long as you want, if you do not get caught.  But if you were asked to leave, they give you the option to sit on the patio to enjoy the beautiful weather, as long as there is space.

Colette offers a wide selection of food items in their buffet.  *Note: Food selection changes weekly.  They are made according to the supplies of fresh produce purchased by the restaurant.  What I had and seen in the pictures can be different from your selection when you visit.*

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The large salad bar and cold cooked food selection is located at the entrance of the cafe.

The salad bar was quite standard.  There were three types of green salad – baby spring mix with arugula, spinach and radicchio or garden salad with lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers and onions or a kale salad.  You can top it the different sauces on the side – balsamic vinaigrette, thousand island sauce, Italian dressing.  They also had extra toppings like nuts, dried fruits, oat on the side to additional touches to your salad.  A Mediterranean twist was added to the menu by serving a quinoa and a couscous salad, made with broccoli, Brussels sprouts, peppers, red onions and olive oil.  They also had a lentil salad with kidney beans, chick peas, tomatoes, pepper, parsley, lemon juice and olive oil.  Italian pasta salad or a Greek style pasta salad were part of the options too.  Thai curry bowl was spotted within the large food selection, as well as, a Spanish paella inspired rice dish.  Italian stuffed tomatoes, peppers and eggplants were served.  There was many more choices, but my brain could only remember so much.  Nonetheless, the selection was diverse and multicultural, like there was always something for everyone.

A fresh and unlimited copious amount of cooked seafood – mussels, smoked salmon, king crab legs, shrimp and lobster meat – with bowl of sliced lemons for juicing and a bowl of pungent cocktail sauce to bring out the natural flavour sat gloriously next to the salad choices.  During the refill process, I admire the staff for changing the food trays while stocking up.

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I loved the large antipasto tray of salami, prosecutto, sausage, olives, mozzarella, pamigiano, and a cheese I do not recognize.  On the side, they had marinated grilled eggplants, artichoke hearts, grilled zucchini, asparagus and peppers.  You can customize your antipasto to your own taste and have unlimited supply of it.  Everything was scrumptiously fresh, with strong sweet flavours.

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Hot foods area is tucked inside the cafe and offers a standard breakfast selection.  The hot food trays contain sausage, bacon, scrambled eggs, waffles, pancakes, french toast, potatoes.  They also had caramelized peaches and brie on the side, therefore you have the opportunity to make your own sauce for the dough goodies.  Roast beef and wellington salmon were readily prepared within the selection, where both were kept hot under the heat lamp, cut to the customer’s request.

Fresh omelettes were made fresh on the spot per customer’s request and customized to their palette because they get to pick what could be on the omelette from the list of ingredients provided.  *Remember, you can choose between egg whites or not.* When prepared, approximately 10 to 15 minutes, the server will bring it up to your sitting table.

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The dessert and fruit bar had a lot of variety.  Those with the sweet tooth could choose from parfaitchocolate or vanilla cupcakes, chocolate cake pops, meringue, lemon bundt cake, citrus triffle, strawberry shortcake, madeline, black forest trifle.  I was relatively disappointed with the dessert selection the day I visited because they either lacked flavour or did not have enough variety.  In fact, they did not represent the complexity and delicacy of French style pastries, like macarons, eclairs, specialty croissants, puff pastries, tarts, mousse cakes etc.   While, the healthy individual could choose from cantelope, honeydew, strawberry, blackberry, raspberry, grape, watermelon, and orange.

Food was very healthy and fresh.  If you love food the way I do, you will love the variety of selection that you can try out.  I enjoy the customization in pretty much everything.  Instead of picking from a fixed menu, you make your own.  One thing I ask the restaurant to do is to label each dish, just for clarity.  The kitchen staff are very intelligent and clever because everything they prepare does not conflict with cultural, religious or personal behaviours.  I hope to try the Eggs Benedict with Hollandaise sauce some day!

You know Colette is a high end restaurant when all the food was plated in Staub cast iron pots, or Staub ceramic kitchenware.  In fact, our dining ware were made of sterling silver because they are heavy duty and you see the polishing marks.  These little fine details make the restaurant special and provides confidence to the customers.  I must compliment the restaurant’s management staff.  The servers change all our dining ware to prevent cross contamination and mixing of flavours.  Also, when the new session begins to roll in, they completely prepare new fresh food and serving utensils.  Nothing from the previous time slots were served and used again.  It was really considerate because this helps quality control and good restaurant management.  In conclusion, I had a pleasant but expensive experience at Colette Grand Cafe.

Ratings

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

Colette Grand Café - Thompson Toronto Hotel Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

MeNami

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Address:  5469 Yonge Street.  Toronto, ON M2N 5S1
Phone: (416) 229 – 6191
Website: http://www.menami.ca/

Conveniently located on Yonge Street, near Finch Avenue makes this udon specialized restaurant easily accessible and noticeable.  But you have to be walking to really notice the entrance because the sign is on an angle and indifferent from a lot of other storefronts, on the darker shade.  When we drove down Yonge Street, we missed it twice, as big as our eyes were.  But, if you are purposely making a trip to visit the restaurant, just use a GPS, especially to find parking because we had to park at the church on the side street.  Hopefully, they were not mad at us.  Thank you God. =)

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The restaurant is quite narrow and sits roughly around 60 at most.  I arrived on Friday at 7pm, thinking it will still be early, as everyone might still be stuck in rush hour traffic.  Was I ever wrong;  I was the tenth on the waiting list, mostly groups of two or three.  In the end, I was standing for minimum forty five minutes.  Therefore, I highly recommend making reservations on Friday evenings and on the weekends, otherwise, the wait can be quite tedious.

Because it is situated on an angle, there are two large windows with tonnes of natural sunlight flowing into the restaurant, brightening every corner.  The layout is pretty straightforward, maximizing the space to the best they could.  Since MeNami has the same owner as Han Ba Tang, which is ten minute drive south, the restaurant has a similar theme and touch to the latter.  MeNami has a rustic look with the stone wall, wood both like chairs, bar table, cabinets and concrete flooring.  A flow was created from the natural material finishings, and the matching colours like the congruent cabinets, table and bar top, consistent grey floor to grey stools to grey walls.  Harmony and comfort is achieved.

The day we arrived, a party of twelve, who arrived and seated way before us, were celebrating a friend’s birthday, therefore all orders were delayed approximately ten to fifteen minutes.  The service was amazing, informing what was very popular on the menu and recommended items based on what your palette was looking for.  Because we studied the menu before being seated, we knew for a very long time what we were going to order.  But the food took so long to arrive, at least thirty minutes.  Our stomachs were growling like crazy.  The server was so apologetic that she gave us an appetizer on the house, so nice.  Alas, our food finally came!

Three udons were ordered to share between us, to try the different flavours.  The portions may look small, but the approximately 2 cup portion of udon per dish was definitely enough.  The noodles can be quite filling, especially on hungry stomachs.

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Tako-Wasa ($3.50) is a common and standard Japanese izayaka dish of chopped up octopus sashimi seasoned with wasabi and green onions, served with seaweed.  The dish was very stimulating, with the pungent flavours of wasabi.  The ingredients were very fresh, especially the octopus, which had remnants taste of the ocean water.  The fresh green onions and seaweed gave added crunchiness when the juicy octopus was dabbed or wrapped within.  Overall, this was a delightful appetizer, getting your nervous system spiced up and preparing your stomach for the upcoming food.

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The Original Tsuke Udon ($7.95) served on a bamboo mat is dry udon topped with seaweed and sesame, with a sauce made of grated ginger, daikon, onion, on the side.  The udon arrived with steam emitting from the noodles but after a couple minutes, it became cold serve.  The simplicity of the udon brings us back to the basics or to the natural aroma of Japanese cuisine, where the vital ingredients always used were shown.  The sauce was fresh, had strong aroma of the raw daikon and onion, cleaning our the palette for other heavily flavoured udons ordered.  I thoroughly enjoyed the udon.

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Curry Udon with Shrimp Tempura ($11) is udon submerged in the thick Japanese style curry, topped with tempura shrimps and onions.  The dish had the exact same essence of a don or a rice bowl dish, but with udon.  It was nicely paired.  Curry clung and lingered onto the strands of udon.  Our mouths were filled with the fragrant spice with every slurp.  The tempure shrimps were crispy and crunchy, thankfully lightly battered.  Overall, there was no surprise to the curry udon, and was quite self explanatory or as how I envisioned it to be.

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Salmon Cream Sauce ($13) is a udon topped with pan seared salmon, tomato oil, and green onion.  Couple of eating ways, breakup the salmon to smaller pieces and mix into the noodles or eat the salmon as an individual.  The salmon was fresh, soft and had residual pink in the center.  Nonetheless, the udon dish reminded me of alfredo pasta but lot less heavy or strong in taste.  Thankfully, not so cheesy.  The tomato oil did not contribute much to the overall flavour, but sure gave a nice appearance.

All the udon noodles were handmade in the restaurant because they were of different thicknesses and lengths.  Texture was al dente, just done the way I like.  The portions were quite filling and generous for the price.   There were no wow-factor to the restaurant but MeNami will be returned for sure, just to fix my udon crave.  Popularity was given because it is the only restaurant dedicated to udon.  The restaurant was full of inspiration for those who likes to cook and be adventurous with their food.  Different styles to make udon were learned and “stolen”.

Ratings

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

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