October 29, 2011

Dim sum @ Casa Victoria

At this point, I think I've established that I'm crazy over dim sum. Casa Victoria is another pricier dim sum restaurant, but well worth it (in my opinion). Luckily, I was here with my mom, which compelled me to be more cost-conscious while ordering (which means I try to stick to S or M items). I also had the sense to make a reservation, so we didn't have to wait long for a seat.
I reluctantly ordered the super jumbo har gow dumpling to take home for my boyfriend. I say reluctant because har gow here is an XL item, and costs a whopping $6.90. It was the most expensive item of my meal. The dumplings themselves were certainly not jumbo in size, but I guess the shrimp inside was. I ate a piece, and it was tasty, but not worth $6.90 in my opinion.
In contrast, my order of rice noodle rolls in XO sauce was way larger in portion, and it was actually cheaper than the har gow ($6.50). The XO sauce was delectable!
Deep fried taro dumpling- a thin layer of mashed taro encasing rich, meaty filling- was another small item, to my delight. It was another excellent execution. 

I really like 鹹水角in general, but almost never get it when I go for fixed price dim sum because it's always a small item. Finally, I don't feel the need to maximize the value of my order. Casa Victoria's version of deep fried meat and chives bud dumpling was an absolute delight! I loved the combination of the sweet, chewy dough and savoury pork filling. The deep fried dumpling skin, made from sticky rice, was particularly tasty.

For some reason, I had a strange craving for BBQ Pork buns that day. I never really care for BBQ pork bun when I have dim sum, but this was delicious! The bun was light and fluffy, and the filling was hearty and sweet. I think these buns converted me into liking char siu bao.

For my sweet tooth, I ordered these mini milk pie with papaya, and they were just so darn delicious! These mini delights were topped with a crumbly eggy sugar dough, similar to the top layer of Chinese pineapple buns (菠蘿包). The milk filling was a creamy complement to the pastry. A perfect bite to end the meal.
Casa Victoria Fine Dining and Banquet on Urbanspoon

October 26, 2011

Watami Sushi & Grill @ Market Village

Watami at Market Village has a lot of gourmet sushi rolls that I enjoy. One of my favourites is their summer roll, featuring grilled salmon on top of spicy salmon roll with hot sauce. It's a big delicious mouthful of spicy salmon! I liked the textural contrast between the grilled and raw salmon, and the hot sauce kicked it up a notch.

Spider roll with soft shell crab was pretty typical, but well executed. Can't go wrong with slathering mayo all over the roll!

 Watami roll was a tempura roll topped with mixed sashimi chunks. I also enjoyed this combination, although I personally prefer the summer roll over this. These rolls are huge, so it was really difficult to eat all the components together.  
In addition to their special rolls, Watami also has a large variety of lunch bento sets to choose from. This was the Omega 3 lunch set, which included salmon rolls, salmon sushi and sashimi. Although it wasn't very filling for my boyfriend, it was a good combo for salmon lovers.

I love rolls, so the maki box set was perfect for me. The combo included 6 California rolls, 6 spicy salmon rolls, 3 cucumber rolls and 3 tuna rolls, in addition to the standard salad, miso soup and gyoza. It was certainly more food than I needed for lunch, so I happily gave away some of my rolls to fill my boyfriend up (not really a fan of cucumber rolls and plain tuna rolls). The rolls were pretty delicious, although obviously not as good as their gourmet rolls. In general, I think Watami's lunch combos have pretty good value, and I would come back for lunch more, if only parking wasn't such a nightmare during lunch time at Market Village.
Watami Sushi & Grill on Urbanspoon

October 25, 2011

Lunch @ Yummy Vietnamese Cuisine

I decided to try out this Viet place near where I live. It was a healthier alternative to the Pizza Hut located next door. Going in, I didn't have much expectations for this place.
I'm still trying to identify what the first sauce from the left was (it was not chili oil, as I had hope it would be). It tasted really weird.

The lychee ice was the single best thing of the meal. The lychee and ice were mashed up into tiny pieces, and the drink was really refreshing. Usually, there are whole pieces of lychee in the drink, but I think I prefer the lychee mashed up like this.

There was something funky about their Vietnamese spring rolls. It looked the same as the typical ones, and all the ingredients seemed right. But there was something about it that I didn't like. I couldn't pinpoint what it was. The fish dipping sauce also tasted different than the ones from other Viet restaurants, which made it more weird. Don't think I'll be getting this again.
We got a large pho with rare beef and beef tendons to share. The flavours were fine, but unfortunately, the noodles were overcooked and soggy, which ruined it for me. Even though I really liked the drink, I don't think I'll be coming back, since both the pho and the spring rolls weren't up to par.
Yummy Vietnamese Cuisine on Urbanspoon

October 24, 2011

Dinner @ Montana's Cookhouse

This is my all-time favourite dish from Montana's, and the only reason why I keep coming back to a otherwise mediocre chain: oven-baked antojitos. It's a spicy blend of cheese, jalapeño, onion and red pepper, rolled up in a flour tortilla and oven-baked till it all melts together and it's served with pesto sour cream. I would often order this as my meal, even though it's only an appetizer. It's just so good! How can you resist rich, spicy goodness wrapped up in a cheesy roll?
I find Montana's ribs to be a hit or miss. On this occasion, we ditched the ribs and opted for beer battered fish and chips: beer-battered haddock fillets, cooked to a golden crisp and served with tartar sauce, coleslaw, fries and a fired-grilled lemon to squeeze over top. It was actually pretty good! Even though the fish looked burned, that wasn't the case. The fish was moist and flaky beneath the crispy batter. They were certainly better than the ones from Jack Astor's, which are often overcooked. The fries were mediocre, so I didn't have too much of that.
My boyfriend really loves their mild high mud pie: espresso chocolate flake ice cream layered with creamy peanut butter and chocolate on a crunchy cookie crust, all topped with whipped cream and chocolate sauce. You have the option of ordering half the mile only, which we did here. I think the full version would have been a little too much.
Montana's - Scarborough on Urbanspoon

October 23, 2011

Dinner @ O.M.G. Restaurant Lounge

My mom was intrigued by O.M.G. Restaurant Lounge because she keeps hearing about it in the Chinese ads.  I was quite apprehensive to try a restaurant named O.M.G., but thought I should give it a chance. We were particularly interested in their German pork hocks, but unfortunately, it was sold out. I overheard many diners trying to order it, and we were all disappointed.
 I didn't like how the bread was toasted after it was cut, resulting in a hardened surface on every slice.
In addition to the usual butter, the bread was also served with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. However, it was really difficult to dip the bread into the ramekin. They should've poured it onto a plate.
 If you upgrade your order into meal for $3 (entrée + soup + drink), you can enjoy a buy 1 get 1 offer for their oysters, up to a dozen in total (i.e. you can buy up to 12 for $6). The oysters were surprisingly good- very fresh and sweet. The BOGO offer was definitely a good deal, and I'd come back just for that.
For our soup, we chose clam chowder over the borscht. It was better than the average Chinese-style clam chowder: creamy and loaded with goodness. At this point of the meal, I was pretty happy with everything. But that was about to change.
After the soup, we had to wait 40 minutes for our entrées. 40 minutes!! I thought I was going to faint. All around me, I could hear other customers complaining about the slow service. The table next to us got their food around the time when we placed our order, and by the time our entrées arrived, they had finished and left! My boyfriend ordered grilled chicken steak with black pepper sauce, which was actually pretty decent. The chicken was moist and tender, albeit slightly undercooked (we had to ask them to recook a piece more thoroughly, just to be safe). I would've been happy with the dish, had it come in a more timely manner. 
My mom and I shared Malaysian tenderous rib, which arrived bubbling hot. I thought that the curry had good flavours, but was a little watered down. We could tell that the tenderous ribs were not cooked in the curry, but were placed inside the pot before serving. The meat was tender, but the flavour was bland on its own. I had to slather a lot of curry onto each bite. Overall, I liked the chicken a lot more. In summary, I had a major issue with the speed of the service. The food was actually better than what I expected, but the wait was just unbearable. I would want to come back to try their pork hocks and order the oysters again, but only if their operating efficiency improves.
Omg Restaurant & Lounge on Urbanspoon

October 20, 2011

Thanksgiving Dinner @ O&B

Thanksgiving just isn't the same without turkey! This year, I continued my quest for the perfect traditional turkey dinner (because my mom doesn't like or cook turkey). I saw an online ad for O&B's Thanksgiving specials so I decided to give it a try. Upon arrival, I was surprised that this "Thanksgiving special" wasn't advertised at all at the restaurant, and we had to inquire about it. Luckily, we came just in time to sweep up the last two orders available for the night. This was our traditional roast turkey dinner with sage bread pudding, Yukon gold mashed potatoes, Brussel sprouts, Northern Ontario cranberry sauce and gravy. I definitely liked the dark meat better than the white meat because it was more moist and flavourful. The sage bread pudding was a little too salty on its own, but went well with sweet cranberry sauce (I love cranberry sauce!). Altogether, I liked the combination of all the different flavours.
The Thanksgiving dessert special was Niagara apple strudel with sweet spiced pumpkin gelato. I found the strudel to be mediocre, probably because I'm not a big fan of strudels. I much prefer apple pies or apple crumbles. However, the pumpkin gelato was a refreshing delight! I wished that it had been paired with a pumpkin pie. But all in all, it was a satisfying Thanksgiving meal and we were more than happy with it.
Oliver & Bonacini Café Grill  on Urbanspoon

October 17, 2011

Brunch @ Beast

My friend and I have been meaning to try out Beast's brunch for awhile. Finally, we had the chance on Thanksgiving weekend!
The three of us all wanted to sit in the patio, but unfortunately the fall weather was not cooperating. We decided that we didn't want to have our meal engulfed by falling leaves. It wasn't very busy at the restaurant on that particular Sunday.
At first, my friends had no interest in ordering Rachelle’s maple-bacon donuts. But when we saw multiple batches of these lovely creatures coming out of the kitchen, we just couldn't resist. We split two between the three of us, and they were just amazing. The donut itself was soft and moist, topped with a thick and decadent maple glaze. And the best of all? The savoury bacon bits! I'm really starting to love bacon in desserts. The smokiness worked so well with the sweetness of the donut. I wished Tim Hortons could serve these donuts!
My friend opted for “poutine” with fried gnocchi, ontario water buffalo, sheep’s milk cheese curds. This was my favourite of the three dishes, although the portion was a little smaller. The fried gnocchi was lovely- crispy on the outside with a gooey, melt-in-your-mouth texture on the inside. My friend commented that after eating the whole bowl, it was a little too salty. But because I only had one bite, it was delectable to me!
My other friend, the more adventurous diner, chose sunny side duck egg hash, duck hearts, sweet potato.
The sunny egg was cooked beautifully, but other than that, I wasn't a big fan of this dish. The duck heart was a little bland, and tasted very Chinese to me. I guess all offal dishes taste Chinese to me, since that's the way I've always eaten it. Overall, the dish didn't stand out.
I was torn between the benedict and the fried chicken croquette, but in the end, I decided on the fish cake benedict with poached eggs, lemon hollandaise, english muffin.
To my disappointment, the poached egg was overcooked. I'm not sure this was an accident, or they intended the yolk to be almost solid. But either way, I prefer my egg yolk to be runny. Other than that, I liked all the other components of the dish. The english muffin was nicely toasted. The lemon hollandaise was quite different from any that I've had before- more tangy and less salty. It was a little on the thick side, but still tasty nevertheless, and went well with the fishcake. I also enjoyed the side of potatoes, which were well-seasoned. All in all, it was a different take on the traditional eggs benedict and I liked it.
I ended up packing half of my meal home to save room for dessert...
From the start, we had our eyes set on the pumpkin cheesecake topped with marshmallow fluff and accompanied by drunken cranberries. At $10, I had expected a bigger piece of cake (the portion was really tiny!) I thought that the maple bacon donuts, at $5, had way better value. Cost aside, the cheesecake was superb! The cake was rich with pumpkin flavour with a hint of cinnamon, and that brûléed marshmallow top was lovely and added an extra creamy dimension. My pumpkin-crazy friend went nuts for this cheesecake! All in all, the sweets were definitely the highlights of this brunch.
Beast on Urbanspoon

October 16, 2011

Desserts @ Moxie's Fairview

On Thanksgiving weekend, I went to grab drinks and dessert with my friends at Moxie after watching 50/50. This was only my second time to Moxie's at Fairview Mall, and I noticed that the lighting here is a lot brighter than the other locations. I got my fruity peach bellini, but didn't moxie-size it this time.
One of my friends has never tried the white chocolate brownie (which I adore), so she ordered it. Lucky for me, I got to mooch off quite a few bites. My friend commented that brownie was not warm enough, but it was still delicious to me!
My boyfriend wanted the chocolate espresso mousse, but they no longer offer it in the large portion. Instead, I encouraged him to try the warm callebaut chocolate cake, which was new on the menu. It was baked with cacao liqueur, served with callebaut granola almond bark and french vanilla ice cream. The cake resembled a molten chocolate lava cake, which I love. However, I wasn't a fan of the granola almond bark because it was too sweet. But overall, this is a good dessert for chocolate lovers, although my boyfriend still prefers the chocolate espresso mousse. At least they still offer it in the miniature version. 
We finished everything like pigs!
Moxie's Classic Grill on Urbanspoon


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