Monthly Archives: October 2016

Tapagria Tapas Restaurant

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Address: 230 Commerce Valley East.  Markam, ON L3T 7Y3
Phone: (905) 771-8868
Website: http://www.tapagria.com/

Something different, a Spanish restaurant has opened at Richmond HIll – Thornhill border for few years.  It took up the Go 4 Tea space the generation y used to hang out at.  Now, the focus is on tapas, Spanish style small dishes, hoping to attract the groups to somewhere more Westernized and upscale, over the forever popular Asian bubble tea.

What a makeover!

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The interior is very rustic and extremely European, with the brick or stone walls and mosaic tiles on the bar island.  Space is very maximized.  I like the airy open concept!

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Salmon Pate ($5.00) was reasonably priced, out of all that was ordered.  As the literal meaning of the dish, nothing hidden, is basically blended salmon and chives, topped with olive oil.  I loved the rich taste of the salmon paired with the crispy and crunchy baguette.  The slice of toast offsets the flavourful salmon, giving it a balance.  The salmon pate was just so soft and creamy, a melt in your mouth texture.

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Jamon Wrapped Dates ($10.00) actually tasted better than I would expect.  The dates were wrapped with bacon.  This warm and soft tappas was such a delicacy to eat.  The saltiness of the bacon seasoned the burst of sweetness from the red dates at each bite.  The flavours were well balanced and spread evenly.  The only thing I would complain about is the price does not reflect the portion.

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Paella De Tapagria ($45.00) is a Spanish rice dish made with shrimp, chorizo, hen, mussels, jamon, octopus, and peas.  This dish is quite a lot of work to make, continuously stirring the rice with ladles of stock until it is absorbed and softens.  The final result was very salty, but the rice was al dente that it stuck to the bottom of the pan.  If the rice could be creamier.  Overall, the food lacked flavour or freshness and the meat was quite dry.  The dish had no bells and whistles to it, hence, it was quite a disappointment.

To be honest, the restaurant does not have the same vibe and atmosphere.  The owners were not as successful in generating gatherings and meetings to the restaurant like its former self.  Biggest reason is, the price point did not meet the quality and size of the food.  However, do go with a large group to make the tappas more worthwhile.  I think the tappas have a far better taste and more consistent than their entrees.

Ratings

Food 3/5
Service 4/5
Ambiance 4/5

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

Linda Modern Thai

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Address: 11 Karl Fraser Road.  North York, ON.  M3C 0E7 (Shops On Don Mills)
Phone: (416) 642-3866
Website: http://www.lindamodernthai.com/

The open shopping area of Shop on don Mills do not lack any forms of entertainment, high end shops, markets, cafes and restaurants.  There is always something for everyone.  Tucked within the multicultural shopping district is Linda Modern Thai, specializing in southeast Asian cuisine.

A very decorative front entrance already gives a strong cultural vibe and bond.  It was truly beautiful, as if I was walking down streets in Thailand or entering a temple.  This first impression allows the restaurant to develop like a shrine for food.

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Sure enough, as I was walking towawrds the table, I noticed an intricate Buddhist stupa in gold situated right in the center of the whole restaurant.  It was a beautiful ornate detailed attention grabbing artpiece.  All tables were arranged around the stupa, and every guest can view it at all angles.

Buddhism focuses on happiness at all times, wisdom, kindness, compassion towards every living being and the world.  Humble!  This centrepiece, though, is perceived as a blessing for continuous business growth, symbol of success.  A buddha’s existence, however, made me feel that everyone were at ease and behaved down to earth, polite, passionate and respectful.  It was a very easy going and comfortable atmosphere, filled with loud laughter and big grins on everyone’s faces.

Service was standard.  They did not do anything that was way out of their way to assist me.  I had to keep reminding them about my empty glass.  But all workers always had a humble, gratitude and happy expression.

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Royal Pad Thai with Shrimp ($18.00) is rice noodles stir fried with tamarind, fish sauce, wrapped in egg and topped with peanuts.  I have never seen a pad thai wrapped in egg, so this is a first and interests me.  You would have to slice up the egg into small strips to fully incorporate it within the noodles to fully enjoy it.  Otherwise, you would have to eat it like we did, egg sheet noodles, defeating the purpose.   A pad thai is a pad thai, even if the chef tried to spruce it up with egg coolness.  There really was nothing special about this dish.  I like how clean and dry the outcome was, but the noodles were on the salty side and interestingly, had some ketchup like flavour too, when it was not mentioned on the menu.  The pad thai does not seem as authentic and has more of a westernized twist.

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Green Curry Chicken aka Gaeng Klow Wahn ($18.00) was very aromatic.  The chicken was juicy and tender, but I wish they steamed it instead of grilling because grilling adds some charcoal flavour to the final result, making the curry not as pure or clean.  The green curry was still as fragrant and pungent.  It was spicy that my tongue was on partly fire.  The lemongrass and basil offset the hotness, and gave the curry a tart and sweet taste too.  Finally, the curry was very creamy from the rich coconut cream and milk.  I wish i had a second bowl of rice to soak up the essence of the sauce.  Green pepper and brocoli were used in the sauce, definitely compliments the green theme, but adding some other colour, like carrot, eggplant, or substitute yellow pepper, makes the dish look more colourful and cheerful.  However, the colour and appearance do not affect the taste and flavour of the dish.

The menu was reasonably priced, but I have seen cheaper and portions were very generous.  I would go back to try the curries and to experience the comfort, soft and meditating atmosphere.  The aromatic meal is having my stomach growl once again for more Thai food.  Almost time for a big shopping season! 😉

Ratings

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

Linda Modern Thai Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Sushitto On the Road (Food Truck)

Address: Downtown Toronto, commonly found on University Ave & College Street, Dundas St & University Ave, Royal Alexandra Theatre, Mel Lastman Square *Check their instagram for daily updates of location and time*  They will serve till Oct 31, 2016.

Email: sushittontheroad@gmail.com

Website: http://torontofoodtrucks.ca/sushitto-on-the-road-food-truck-toronto

**updates*  They have a permanent store now named Rollipub!**

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I finally got my hands on these sushi burritos, the first and original creative mobile makers of this snack in Toronto, before they wrap up and disappear for the winter.  After trying Rolltation, I really wanted to taste the founding fathers for comparison and ofcourse, to follow the trend.

Food trucks are short lived, finding its popularity throughout late spring, summer and early fall.  Once the weather starts dropping in temperature, turns cold and muggy to snowfall, these trucks find it hard to make business.  In fact, in the cold seasons, Torontonians like hearty hot foods to keep warm.  Hence, it is especially short lived with the cool sushi burritos.  Also, the expense in the long run to maintain the truck in the winter can not be covered by selling sushi burritos.

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They have a wide selection of burritos and sizes.  The cheaper prices reflect the half burrito size, approximately 6 inches.  Meanwhile, the higher prices reflect the full burrito size, approximately 12 inches.  Order appropriately.  There is always something for everyone.

On the left, lobster sushi burrito ($9) was made of tempura lobster, crab meat, cucumbers, lettuce, egg, avocado, fish roe and topped with a creamy mayo soy sauce.  On the right, spicy salmon sushi burrito ($10) was packed with cucumbers, lettuce, avocado and copious amount of salmon mixed in with a spicy mayo sauce.  They were packed with ingredients and were generous in size.  The seaweed nori was barely large enough to pack the ingredients.  If they were not held by the cup to keep its shape, they would have exploded and became a big mess.

Lobster Sushi Burrito: The lobster tempura was probably made before hand because it was a bit soggy from age and mosture of the ingredients, but, it had a flavourful salty tempura batter.  The crab meat was sweet, balancing the salty lobster and neutral flavours of the vegetables.  The roe, cucumbers and lettuce added a lot of crunch to each bite, quite captivating.  The avocado made the roll very creamy, a melt in mouth sensation.

Spicy Salmon Burrito: The salmon was very fresh and a nice grade of salmon sashimi, very smooth and soft; no tendon like bits to the body, making every bite very easy to digest.  This burrrito only had cucumber and lettuce, nonetheless, added a lot of crunch.  While the avocado complimented the spicy mayo, making the burrito very creamy and neutralized the spiciness a bit.

The flavours and texture of the sushi burritos were definitely better than Rolltation’s.  *Sorry!!*  The selection of burritos were better.  The flavours were far more distinct, rich or diverse and true to taste, also, had a much better texture.  The burritos were very clean to eat because the sauces were mixed into the ingredients.  By having the sauce mixed into the ingredients beforehand, made the flavours spread evenly across the burrito.  Out of the two ordered, lobster burrito won.

I thoroughly enjoyed eating them, to a point that, they were not enough to satisfy my taste buds.  Stay in tune because the owners announced a permanent store location.  For those who lucked out on the truck, the store will definitely fulfill your desire.

These sushi burritos, in reality, is a ginormous sushi roll.  There is still a lot of room for improvements and room for more creation.  A lot of variations can make this concept succeed.

On the side, because the idea should be a fusion between sushi and burrito, the appearance defintiely looks like a packed burrito but the ingredients do not.  This will be time consuming, but in my mind, maybe the rice can be ground finely to flour and make flat breads out of it, to give an appearance of a true burrito.  OR, the outer layer should be rice instead of seaweed.  For structural purposes, the cooked rice can be pan fried to give a crispy outer layer to keep the roll intact.  These are just some suggestions, if plausible.

Ratings

Food 4/5
Servicce 3.5/5
Ambiance – nothing to rate because it is a truck

Dayali 大鸭梨

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Address: 160 York Blvd.  Richmond Hill, ON L4B 3J6
Phone: (905) 886 – 9592

Dayali does not sell the typical Guang Dong type of Chinese cuisine.  Instead, they focus on the northwestern Chinese food, where more emphasis is put on meat, noodles, spices and crops that require less water to grow.  A corporate restaurant originated from Beijing decided to branch out internationally and Toronto was their first city opened outside of China.  There are two Dayali restaurants in Toronto, in Richmond Hill and in Markham.  Please be aware, this post is strictly on Richmond Hill branch.

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The restaurant has the grandeur of a typical Chinese restaurant, with hanging chandeliers and crystal ornaments, producing glistening effects on the walls and pillars.  It has a happy tacky appearance.  The white walls, beige faux wood porcelain tiles had a luminous effect on the space, while contrasting the shelves and chairs, making the outlook comfortable.

The brightness of the restaurant does not reflect the cleanliness nor service.  Feels like there is oil slick on every surface that my shoes stick to the ground whenever I walk, making squeaky sound.  The ventilation system is not strong enough, that I was inhaling the oils, air felt quite murky.

For twenty dollars, you can sign up for a VIP card to enjoy the cheaper prices on the menu, which is highlighted in red.  If you do not eat there often, then this VIP status is not worth it.  We did not get the VIP card, therefore, the prices reflect the original price, without discounts.

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Steamed Lotus Root Stuffed with Sweet Sticky Rice ($6.99) 桂糯米藕 is a warm appetizer that was sticky and sweet.  Glutenous rice is a very starchy rice that gives a thick gluey texture.  The rice was stuffed and filled the holes of the lotus root, thinly cut to give a moisturized chip thickness.  I can only imagine this dish is tedious and time consuming to make.  The lotus root was cooked until softened, then cooked briefly with the sauce.  The flavour was nothing spectacular, a bit sweet and somewhat conflicting, had a mixture of lotus extract, sugar and cooking wine.   The finished product was on the hard side.

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Hand Made Noodle ($6.99) 金牌手工粉 is sweet potato glass noodles in broth.  This was ordered because northern Chinese cuisine do not specialize in rice, since the environment is too dry and cold to cultivate rice, hence, they grow barley and crops to make noodles out of its extracts.  The noodles were al dente and was served in a MSG soy sauce flavoured broth, which was really salty.  The broth gave it a golden appearance, making the overall dish look appetizing.  The goji berries and chives topping acted like as a finishing touch to a painting, but sadly enough, did not do anything to the noodles.

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Sauteed Shelled Shrimp with Pear ($19.99) 虾 was a sweet and sour shrimp.  This was an extremely disappointing dish because frying the shrimp took all fresh flavours and bouncy texture from the shrimp, destroying the main ingredient in general.  In fact, deep frying the shrimps can disguise any lifelessness of the crustaceans.   The shrimps had a soggy texture.  The pears bits were also deep fried too, which tasted funny and weird, but the chefs hoped it can lock the sweetness.  In reality, the pears had no taste.  The sweet and sour sauce took over the whole dish’s flavour, lacking authenticity.  I would probably admire it more, IF, the shrimps were marinated in the pear’s puree juices.  How the dish was named did not justify what was served.

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Stewed Beef Brisket and Potato ($11.99) 土豆牛腩 was really fat.  The fat tissues were not properly skimmed off from the beef.  There was a shiny layer of fatty oil resting on the surface of the liquid and wrapped the potatoes, quite disgusting.  The beef was a low grade beef, as there was no meat flavour to it.  The sauce was a combination of minced garlic, cooking wine, red pepper flakes, soy sauce, MSG and water.  It was tasty overall, but really salty and thirst clinching.   For the individuals who like the salt will thoroughly enjoy the dish.  I can only say, I have had better.  

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Sauteed Home-Style Shredded Potato ($7.99) 土豆丝 was disappointing.  Though, I did like how the potatoes were thinly cut, which were obviously done by a machine to keep the consistency, but soy sauce being the main condiment made the dish very bland and lifeless and lacked character.  This is a dish that has many possibilities and yet, they chose a boring combination.  The potatoes did not feel starchy, and was very crunchy.

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Spicy Hot Pot ($11.99) 麻辣锅 had a lot of ingredients – shrimp, fishball, luncheon meat, sausage, lotus root, potato, bean curd, cauliflower, black fungus.  Basically, this is a randomly put together stir fry, where the food was sitting on a bed of oil, which was quite disgusting.  We wanted a spice or chili challenge amongst one another, and it was highlighted with a lot of chilies on the menu.  BUT, it was not spicy at all, that even the intolerable individuals were able to consume the dish.  The dish was heavily spiced with garlic and dried chili.  No other flavours were tasted, lacked dimension.

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Peking Style Roast Duck ($31.88) 北京烤鸭 had to be ordered because this is what the restaurant was known for.  The peking duck was the only thing that I thought tasted the best out of all that was ordered.  The meat was tender and each slice was evenly cut, with a bit of fat under the crunchy skin.  But, it was not worth the price.  Peking Duck was the last to arrive.  I had to remind the kitchen a few times that it was missing, and when they did serve it, they just brought a small dish of sliced duck to feed ten guests.  The proportion of the peking duck did not match the group size.  In general, there was no wow effect nor any bells and whistles to the dish.

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Duck Bones in soup (+$2.88 to the cost of roasted peking duck) was poorly made.  The soup was very salty and had no flavour.  The carcass of the duck was visibly there, but did not provide any fresh meat taste to the soup.  This was just a lazy water downed soup, where when the liquid runs low, pour in more water and vegetables to bring to a boil.  Besides, I felt like we got the bottom leftovers of the pot, because the ingredients appear aged.

In general, I was quite disappointed with the quality and service of the restaurant.  I definitely would not recommend the restaurant to anyone.  It was just not worth it.  There is better Chinese food around.  Quite a shame, that this is a chain store from Beijing, but lacked quality control.  I truly hope the restaurants in Beijing taste much better.

Ratings:

Food 2.75/5
Service 2/5
Ambiance 3/5

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