Category Archives: East Asian

NEW Pho Bo Ga La

Address: 761-763 Somerset St. West.  Ottawa, ON. K1R 6R1
Phone: (613) 233-2222
Website: https://newphobogala.ca/

What happen when you do a spontaneous one day trip to Ottawa, the capitol of Canada?  The drive from Toronto is 5 hours, so when you arrive past noon, you realistically have a few hours to speed visit everything before your return trip back home.  As a given, you visit the touristy places, like everything around the Parliament Hill perimeter.  With a lack of plan and research, you also end up eating at the most random restaurant ever that is along the way back home.

With Chinatown Ottawa being around the corner, you just make that rash deicion of parking your car and eating at the first restaurant on the strip with fast service.  Obviously, we chose the one that was busier and has more seats occupied.  The more traffic, the fresher the food and better reviewed or liked.  It was hard to not notice NEW Pho Ba Ga La!  So, I assume there was a “not-so-new” Pho Bo Ga La or this was a relocated version of the original Pho Bo Ga La.  What was with the NEW?

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The decor was very practical, just wooden tables paired with black chairs lined on both sides of the restaurant.  The furniture is quite worn out and sticky, like some major scrubbing is required.  Pho Bo Ga La was never meant to be a high end gathering or chilling place.  Evidently, they positioned themselves to be a budgetized fast food restaurant.

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Well Done Beef, Slightly Fat Beef and Beel Ball Rice Noodles in Soup – Phở Chín Nạm Bò Viên (small, $9.00) is made as the name described.  Pho, a simple stapled street food option in Vietnam, has gained a tonne of popularity internationally.  Not only is it easy to cook, but also, with a lot of variations to differentiate it from one another.  For a small size, they offered a generous amount of ingredients, making the bowl of pho filling, very tasty and satisfying.  The broth was aromatic and sweet.  Bonus to not being salty and thirsty after the meal.  The beef was thinly sliced and had a thick layer of fat stuck to the surface, hence, it was very soft, but too well-done tough.  Meanwhile, the meatballs were quite tough, and chewy.  I felt like I was eating a rubber ball.  The noodles was al dente but a few strands that was undercooked.

The meal was quite decent and was more than I expected, though, I did not know if I had any expectations.  It was either overcooked or undercooked, but overall, it was decent enough for a fast meal.

Ratings

Food 3.25/5
Service 2.5/5
Ambiance 2.5/5

New Pho Bo Ga La Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Different Sriracha Chips….Which one is better?

Chips are my own nemesis.  No matter how hard I try to defeat the crave, it just cry for more.  I can truthfully conclude, i am a couch potato.  😦  Just be thankful, I am not the size of a potato.

When I walk down the chip aisle in the supermarket, I cannot help but to look at the different brands and the wide variety of flavours offered.  Competition is there!

Those who know me knows I love spicy food, chilies and love being experimental.  The newest flavour in chips I discovered late 2016 is SRIRACHA.  How could I resist?  I have so far tried the Kettle Brand, PC’s World of Flavour, and Original Sriracha.  A comparison is made today!

Where I Found the Chips:

PC’s World of Flavour Sriracha:  Loblaws, No Frills
Kettle Brand Sriracha: Longos
Original Sriracha: Bulk Barn

Packaging:

Original Sriracha: Rank 1!!  I love how original the packaging is.  The bag really resembles the bottle of sriracha!

Kettle Brand Sriracha: Rank 2! The thick bag is a novelty of the Kettle Brand.  The red colour differentiates itself from the other flavours.  So to speak, red resembles the sriracha redness and the spiciness of it.

PC’s World of Flavour Sriracha: Renk 3! Just like other PC chips, all in the same white bag, nothing special, just showing the ingredients and name.  You really have to go through each bag to find the right flavour.

Texture:

Original Sriracha and Kettle Brand had the same kettle cooked chip texture, where it was thick, hard and crunchy.  However, Kettle Brand had an extra crispiness to the bite, probably due to the thick bag package, helping to keep its freshness and preventing the environment affect the chip nature.

PC’s World of Flavour was the “fried” in oil texture, thin cut and crispy texture.  It reminded me of the typical regular chip.

Under this category, I rank from best to good as follow: Kettle Brand, Original Sriracha, PC’s World of Flavour.

Flavour:

Original Sriracha: sweet, but had a feeble hint of spiciness.  At least there was a kick to it, or at least attempt to!  The flavour was well balanced and evenly spread onto the chips.

Kettle Brand Sriracha: tasted sweet, lacked spiciness.  I thought I was eating sweet chilies.

PC’s World of Flavour Sriracha: extremely salty, lacked spiciness, strongly tasted onions and garlic more than anything else.  Remember long time ago when there were powder flavours offered at Cineplex that could be put on your popcorn?  Or when McDonald’s had the shake flavour fries?  The PC chips reminded me of those concept, how the chips were really seasoned by a lot of sriracha powder that made the bag of chips a disappointment.  After a period of time, the tongue becomes rough and numb.

Under this category, I rank from best to good as follow: Original Sriracha, Kettle Brand, PC’s World of Flavour Sriracha.

Overall/Conclusion:

The three of the brands were unique and different.  I do personally prefer the Original Sriracha most out of all.  However, I must admit, they were not attention grabbing or memorable enough that I would have seconds again.  The manufacturers need to develop or strengthen the flavours more and improve it.  But in terms of recognition, Kettle Brand is more easy to access because they are in all supermarkets, while Original Brand is such a niche and PC’s World of Flavours are only recognized under the Loblaw’s corporate.

 

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

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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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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