June 29, 2011

Lunch @ WVRST

I generally don't like sausages, with the exception of gourmet ones.WVRST is a newly opened gourmet sausage and beer eatery on King West, a fairly new concept in the city. Although I'm not crazy about beer, I was quite excited to try it out.
I arrived at 1:30 pm on a Saturday afternoon and the place was surprisingly quiet. The atmosphere was relaxed and casual, with wooden communal tables and rows of light bulbs strung to the ceiling.
The menu was very simple, and the sausage are served two ways: currywvrst style and on a bun. Of course I had to try both! For the bun, I opted for turkey/chicken sausage with sautéed jalapeños and caramelized onion. I modified my concoction into a hot dog by adding ketchup and grainy mustard. However, I wasn't overly impressed by the sausage. It had decent flavours, but the texture was too dry. The toppings were very tasty though, but I wanted more on my bun. 
For the currywvrst, we chose spicy Italian with pork and chili flakes. For me, I preferred the sausage on a bun, and again I found the sausage here overly dry. It was served with two pieces of rye bread, which I didn't enjoy nearly as much as the bun. The overall texture was tough and chewy.
In addition to the two sausage dishes, we also got a small order of plain fry Belgian-style fries with maple rosemary dip. The fries were actually my favouite part of the meal and the maple rosemary dip was quite addictive. That said, I think it is pretty hard to mess up fries too badly.
Overall, I think WVRST didn't live up to the hype. I was intrigued by the sausage/beer hall concept, but I wasn't overly impressed by the gourmet sausages. Both of my selections were overly dry and didn't wow me with flavours. Perhaps I should have ventured out to try one of the game sausages, but nevertheless, it wasn't remarkable enough for me to come back.
Wvrst on Urbanspoon

June 28, 2011

Mi•Ne Sushi

My next destination for my sushi quest brought me to Mi•Ne Sushi at Yonge and Elgin Mills. Interestingly, I went to a restaurant also called Mi-Ne Sushi in Hong Kong last year, but the two are obviously not related. Regardless, after reading many positive reviews, I had pretty high expectations for this restaurant.
Mi•Ne Sushi had a very large menu, including many interesting maki that I would love to try. Most combos came with salad and miso soup. One complaint was that the wait staff neglected to serve us tea even after our food arrived.
I came with a group of friends, so I also took pictures of their meal. This was the chicken teriyaki zen combo with shrimp and vegetable tempura, 3pcs nigiri sushi and 3pcs California roll and a bowl of rice.
One of the maki combos included 6pcs of spicy tuna roll, spicy scallop roll and California roll each. I sampled the spicy tuna and spicy scallop roll, although I really couldn't differentiate between the two spicy rolls. My friend complained that the rice was too sticky, but I didn't detect that problem. In my opinion, the two rolls were quite tasty.
This was the sashimi and tempura zen combo that included 7pcs sushi and maki, 12pcs sashimi with shrimp and vegetable tempura, and a bowl of rice.
I had some of the tempura and it was fresh and tasty. I rarely see onion tempura, so I found that quite interesting. Unfortunately, I didn't try it, although I presume it would taste like an onion ring.
This was my maki combo that included 7pcs golden dragon roll and 6pcs California roll. The golden dragon roll was simply a dynamite roll wrapped with fresh salmon. I wished I had gone for a more innovative roll, but it was tasty nevertheless. For me, I found my friend's spicy scallop/tuna rolls to be more enjoyable. In the end, I swapped a lot of my rolls to sample everyone else's food.
One of my friends ordered the Lobster roll: Deep fried fresh lobster tails, avocado, tobiko and cucumber, crab meat, shaved bonito. I tried one, but it didn't taste that much different from a dynamite roll. I didn't get a lot of the lobster flavour.
 Another friend opted for the Mi•Ne Special Dinner, with beef teriyaki,  4pcs shrimp tempura, 7pcs sushi and maki, and 12pcs sashimi.
We were served oranges for desserts and they were very sweet. In the end, I enjoyed the food here more than most of my friends. I really liked the menu variety and the dinner combos certainly came with a lot of food (not that quantity matters that much to me). However, I probably won't be coming here much due to its far location.  
Mi•Ne Japanese Restaurant on Urbanspoon

June 27, 2011

Lunch @ Dumpling Village

Dumpling village has my favourite dumplings in town, as well as other Northern Chinese comfort food. The ambiance and décor are not great, and the service is borderline terrible at times (I frequently struggle with getting the wait staff's attention), but the food is genuinely delicious and the prices are cheap. To start, we ordered a plate of shredded meat and cucumber with vermicelli, dressed with a peanut sauce. It was a light and refreshing dish, and the vermicelli was velvety smooth.
"Silver buns", which was just simple steamed buns. However, I have a deep love for buns of any sort, so I gobbled a lot of this despite its plainness.
Braised beef and pancake wrapped in foil: marinated slices of beef shank and spring onions rolled up with a piece of green onion pancake. The tenderness of the meat was a good complement with the crispy texture of the pancake. Although this was a delicious snack, I personally prefer the beef roll at Asian Legend more. 
I'm always excited when my bamboo basket arrives with 14 delicious and juicy dumplings steamed to order. On this occasion, we opted for assorted steamed dumplings with pork so we can have a large variety. The majority features a combination of pork with some sort of vegetable, such as fennel, chives, cabbage, mushrooms and zucchini. The unfortunate thing is that you never know which one you'll get since they look identical from the outside. My absolute favourite one is a more standard variation- pork and chives.
Pan cake with chives and eggs: crispy, pan-fried pockets stuffed with loads of aromatic garlic chives, bits of scrambled eggs and egg noodles. The piping hot filling was addictively delicious. My family always order a batch of these and pack home the leftovers for a tasty lunch the next day.
The pork pot stickers were comforting and yummy as well. The bottom was pan-fried to a beautiful golden brown and has that wonderful crunch. I particularly enjoyed pairing my pot stickers with black vinegar and chili oil.
As if we haven't had enough of carbs, we go for the red bean paste cake for dessert. The dough is slightly thick, but there's an abundance of red bean paste to make up for that shortfall. Again, I would say that Asian Legend's version is tastier, but this one is quite satisfying as well. Dumpling Village never disappoints me, and I'm usually stuffed silly when I walk out of the restaurant. This meal was not an exception.
Dumpling Village on Urbanspoon

June 25, 2011

Post-convocation dinner @ Wildcraft

I was forced to attend my sister's convocation recently (yes, I am a terrible sister). I wasn't thrilled about going because I had three midterms and one assignment to deal with, but on the bright side, it gave me an excuse to enjoy a nice post-convocation dinner at Wildcraft. As usual, the bread was very creatively presented and delicious.
To start, I picked popcorn escagot: cajun battered escargot with southwestern aïoli and balsamic reduction. My sister and I enjoyed it quite a lot, as we both love escargot. It was a deep fried morsel of goodness! The balsamic reduction wasn't particularly memorable (in fact, I couldn't even detect what it was while I was eating it). Altogether, however, it was a very tasty snack. My mom wasn't a fan of it, and since my sister was on a diet, I single-handedly demolished more than half of the plate.
I love Wildcraft's flatbread, and this time we chose the wild mushroom flatbread with portobello, shiitake, oyster, field mushrooms, garnished with truffle oil, fontina cheese and frisée. The flatbread was another winner. The wonderful crust was adorned with earthy, flavourful mushrooms, and the frisée added a great herbiness
Most disappointing of all was probably the Southern burger with southwestern aïoli, onion straws, tomato relish and jalapeño havarti. Although the patty was very nicely charred, the meat was overly dry. I also couldn't really taste the aïoli and jalapeño havarti, which is one of my favourite kinds of cheese. A quarter of this burger was definitely enough for me.
We didn't have dessert, because I already stuffed myself with cheesecake before dinner. The catering service provided many varieties of cakes, and of course I couldn't resist helping myself to a little of everything. My favourites were the blueberry cheesecake and mango mousse cake! Congratulations to my sister and all her fellow engineers!
Wildcraft on Urbanspoon

June 23, 2011

Dinner @ Khao San Road

I love Thai food. However, I didn't have a very good experience eating Thai food in Thailand, probably because I was on a tour. So I was extremely excited to have a delicious, authentic Thai feast at Khao San Road. There's been so much buzz about this restaurant that I'm surprised it took me this long to come here.
We made a reservation for 7 pm but arrived early, so we were informed that we might have to wait 10 minutes for our table. Because of that, we were given some complimentary shrimp chips to snack on while we waited. I was very impressed, as 10 minutes is hardly a long wait. I also felt slightly bad, since a lot of other people were also waiting for a table (but didn't make reservations) but weren't given free appetizers. 
Even after the shrimp chips, I was still greedy for more appetizers, so I went ahead and ordered a plate of gra bong-fried squash fritters battered with red curry paste, shrimp paste, and lemongrass. It was positively addictive and I couldn't stop stuffing my face with it. The fritters were delightfully crispy on the outside, and the spiced savoury batter brought out that subtle sweetness of the squash. The accompanying tangy dip was also really tasty.
Of course, my love for Pad Thai compelled me to order the Street-Style Pad Thai with tofu and veggies. I'm not really sure what qualifies as "street-style", but it was quite tasty nevertheless. Unfortunately, I had to pack most of it home because I was too full from all the snacking.
I coerced my boyfriend into ordering the Khao Soi with braised beef, egg noodles in a coconut milk enriched curry, garnished with crispy noodles, green onion and lime. We both loved it, and I would definitely come back to order a spicier version next time (he went with mild). The curry broth was quite sensational and full of deep flavours. I'm actually not that big of a fan of egg noodles, but I was drinking that broth like a tasty soup.
Overall, it was a very satisfying meal. The squash fritters and Khao Soi were both standouts. Next time, I wouldn't order the Pad Thai again as it was quite unremarkable compared to the other two dishes. The place gets very busy (for a good reason) so reservations are definitely recommended!
Khao San Road on Urbanspoon

June 22, 2011

Lunch @ Biff's Bistro

Biff Bistro is my last O & B restaurant to try, so I decided to stop by for a weekend lunch.
Biff Bistro offers a lunch prix fixe combo, which comes with the soup of your choice. I wasn't tempted by the soup of the day (some sort of bean soup), so I opted for the mushroom soup instead. I was very happy with my choice, as the hearty soup was rich with robust, earthy flavours. A very enjoyable start to the meal.
For the main, I decided to try Basquez style chicken with preserved lemon, olives and chorizo. The dish was visually stunning, and I was immediately drawn to the bright, vibrant colours. Luckily, the taste did not disappoint either. The chicken was very tender and the broth was just bursting with flavours of the meat juice and herbs. The delicious broth was absorbed by a fluffy bed of couscous, which I gladly demolished.
I was less thrilled with our other dish- caramelized onion tartlette with warm mushrooms, anchovy and grand crème delin. For me, the mushrooms were the star the the dish, adding a meaty richness to the bed of greens. However, the pastry itself was slightly too thick and hard, particularly in the bottom. I also wished that the anchovy had been more evenly distributed throughout the tart. The large chunks of cured fish made certain bites overly salty.
All in all, it was a very enjoyable lunch, and I really loved the chicken. Unfortunately, I don't think I'll be coming back anytime soon since my boyfriend hates French food. He found the meal "survivable".
Biff's on Urbanspoon

June 21, 2011

Studying @ Hank's Cafe

I love to study in a cafe, as it seems to stimulate my productivity. I'm not sure why, but I have difficulty with sitting still and focusing at home. This also gives me a good excuse to try out new cafes in the name of doing work. So on a particularly busy weekend, I decided to drag all my books and work at Hank's Cafe.
I loved the bright and spacious interior. The cafe was quiet for most of the morning, which was great for accomplishing work. However, around lunch hour, this place does become quite noisy with the lunch crowd.
Coffee is bottomless with the purchase of food.
Since I had to save room for lunch, the two of us shared one breakfast and we opted for Cheddar n' Eggs: Scrambled eggs and 2 yr cheddar, bacon, toast and home fries. There's nothing that I love more than a simple breakfast of toast, bacon and eggs, and this one was very satisfying. In particular, the buttered toast and home fries were very good.
I like combining all the components to make my own version of a breakfast sandwich. I added a squeeze of ketchup to counterbalance the savoury bacon and eggs. It was very yummy!
Hank's on Urbanspoon


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