Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Rose City Kitchen, Queen West


Rose City Kitchen is most definitely an undermined eatery in Queen West, located just West of Queen & Spadina. I avoided this spot (like many other Queen West spots) while residing in the neighborhood since I believed that it wouldn't be worth trying, but really - it deserves all of the praise! Their incredible fresh flavour combinations, made to order. Sandwiches are served up in a half-cut pita. "1 for a snack, 2 for a meal, 3 if you’re starving..." is recommended - but I was strangely super stuffed after sharing (!!!) a poutine, we were struggling to finish up our two half-cut pitas. The beauty is that you start with choosing your protein - Chicken ($5), Falafel ($4), Steak ($5) and Halloumi ($5), then onto the style of condiments and seasoning, there are the "RCK" Original, Greek, Lebanese, Morrocan and Egyptian to choose from. Check out their sweet, sweet menu, here.

1. RCK Poutine ($7)
With Sumac-seasoned Fries, grated Halloumi, Hummus Aioli and Taboulleh. Add Falafels (+$1)
Good god. A Middle Eastern Poutine?! Give it all to me. The Falafels here run for 55c a piece, my inner hustling Asian-self felt that this was fantastic value as we received four for $1. The fries were crispy, and were a filling delight - Mediterranean generously oozing - tangy, and full of flavour.

In-house made Rose Petal hot sauce - a ting of spice, and a mouthful of roses.
My hands are small, it was fairly petite.

2. Glass Coke bottles 
I don't fancy pop at all. But we "had" to get these they are apparently from Mexico...
3. Morrocan Sandwich ($5)
Harissa dressing, Couscous, shredded Lettuce, Red Onions, Tomatoes, sliced Almonds, Apricots, Parsley and Chickpeas with Steak
4. Greek with Chicken ($5)
Tzatziki, Cucumber, Lettuce, Red Onions, Tomatoes, Oregano, Garlic Oil and Haloumi Cheese with Chicken
We managed to take our first nibble of these 30 minutes after it was prepared for us. So... The pitas were of course stiff, and within an hour (or two...), they were completely cold. I just wasn't hungry! The flavours were absolutely incredible! I can only comment on the Greek tasting incredibly authentic; I loved the balance of the bits of Apricot and the strong Harissa dressing in the Morrocan. Very nice. The meat was very dry, but it's what I sort of expected.

Great service, fresh, awesome for take-out and nice pricing. Be prepared to wait about 10 minutes if you're doign take-out, throughout my (three? four hours?...) stay, that was the approximate time that I scouted. RCK is an awesome change up from my usual fare of eats. I will definitely be back to try out their Halloumi, perhaps a single Pita and their Humus.

Rose City Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Monday, January 26, 2015

Inspire Restaurant, Markham

Located in Unionville, Inspire Restaurant couldn't have chosen a better location for them to truly shine! It is exactly the charm that I expected, and plenty more. I've had this spot on my mind for the longest time, but, their beautifully crafted dishes and fair pricing - it all seemed much too good to be true. All I knew was that I wanted that funky looking dessert with the eggshells and whimsical caramel swirls. Parking can be found right behind the restaurant. Seated for lunch for two with a reservation at 2PM on a Saturday, this was the perfect time. The crowd was dwindling down and we had the option between Brunch and Lunch, the latter appealed to us. Selections made, deeply facinated by the modern interior, we were twiddling our fingers in anticipation of the quirky dishes to come.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Magic Noodle, Scarborough

A 24/7 treasure in Scarborough. Rolling in on a chilly evening at 3AM after a late-night shift, this was exactly what I needed. Upon entry, we were blessed with swell the welcoming of no line. Subtle foreign murmurs and amusing sights of girls stumbling in throughout. A young fella is seen through a window a long the kitchen continually working his magic (see what I did there) with both hands, clutching a log of dough, pulling and thwacking it against the table. "The apprentice taking place of the absent (regular) old man", my friend went on to tell a tale.

The standard expectation of a Chinese restaurant, quick and simple. A litre of water by your side to quench your own thirst and chili oil, salt & pepper and vinegar for taste. Food in 15!

1. Sizzling Tofu ($1.50)
Our tofu appetizer came first, and this was a true delight. Wow! So beautifully crispy, and seasoned in, what tasted like a fine mix of Chinese and Indian spices.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

[LIST] George Brown Quick Feeds

My sole day-to-day drive to get up for my consecutive 8AM classes are my very thoughts of what I will be having for lunch later that day. In and out of St. James Campus, and bracing the same sickening Subway sub, daily special wrap and Tim Hortons muffin day after day... I knew that there had to be more to this student life! After extensively growing my list, I have assembled a list for you, my Monday to Friday fellow strugglers alike.

NB: There are still many nibbles to be put into action, but I will be updating as I go along.
quick eats gbc
Photo: Pita Land 

There really should be a lot more student-friendly options on campus. The lack of lower prices and healthy food alternatives surprise me. On a day-to-day basis, I would like to spend a maximum of $10 a day. This $10 would go towards a beverage in the morning to keep me pepped up ($2~), and a nibble to get my Instagram going ($7~).

This list is for the quick eats we're looking for inbetween our one hour breaks on a bolt, ready to hop to the next class. Each are super take-out friendly

Do you actually want to dine-in and get more value (and adventure) for your money? I have you covered, over here. Or, if you're looking for more of a cafe-lounge-and-Wi-Fi-milking feel, I got you.

"Quick feeds" subheaded into:
On Campus, Familiar spots, Grab & Go

Saturday, January 17, 2015

[LIST] George Brown Coffee Spots

Start your day right. On the road to becoming a (voluntary) caffeine-addict, George Brown College has plenty of caffeine options. There are a nice number of coffee spots on campus, and plenty of independent cafes to unwind at with a laptop a block or two down or around. 
IMG 4257
"Coffee Spots" subheaded into:
On Campus, Familiar spots, Grab & Go and Lounge & Sip

Sunday, January 11, 2015

The Wren, The Danforth

1382 Danforth Avenue
Toronto, Canada
Bar - Southwestern - Saloon-style
Sunday brunch stop, on the Danforth. This was my first time making a trip down to the Danforth, but not for their glorious selections of Greek spots, but, for brunch! The Wren is a saloon-styled pub with a sublime craft beer selection - a week after the creation of my New Year's Resolution list, I am still at the peak of my confidence that I do not need to drink beer a 1PM. A skim of their craft beer list etched onto a chalkboard up front, my heart still skipped a beat at the sight of Nickelbrook's Immodest showing up on the list, other sweet selections included a few Great Lakes and Flying Monkeys. To soothe myself into my vow for a beer-free weekend, I opted for a low-carb traditional ol' Canadian Caesar

The Wren's menu oozes of Mexican and Southwestern comfort food, as well as daily specials for dinner. This was definitely going to be a more interesting pick for our Sunday brunch. Into the habit of our lingering experience at Bar Buca, we went for a few dishes that were definitely not going to be tapas, but we went for that style of dining.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

[LIST] Top 12 Toronto Notable Dishes of 2014

This one was a tough one. Settling these based on the thought: If I were to die after eating a piece of any of these dishes,would I die happily? And yes, yes I will! I almost feel selfish for keeping these on the down low for so long, that, two of the twelve are no longer available... I present to you 12 dishes that, without a doubt, will be the best of the sort that you've ever had. A few of these picks are of course from my Top Toronto Eats of 2014 list.

1. Fried Chicken Skin in Sea Salt & Teriyaki Sauce ($1.90)
ZAKKUSHI | 193 Carlton Street, Toronto
$$ - 5:30PM~1AM - Japanese Grill
After the surprise of a slurp of refreshing Takowasabi and falling in love with the atmosphere at Zakkushi, these two skewers is what tied it all together for me. This was one of the mystery Chicken skewers they use to have on their menu. Both flavours were incredible. Upon bite, we both took a deep gasp in appreciation of it's beauty. We were ready, then and there, to take the rest of the dishes and 10 more to go and run into a movie theatre. The crispiness of the Fried Chicken Skin tastes just like Pork Crackle - just with a thinner, and bouncier bite. Imagine that.

2. Baked Eel Puff Pastry ($5.30)
CROWN PRINCESS | 1033 Bay Street, Toronto
$$ - 9AM~11PM - Dim Sum
Review here
If anybody has dined with me, they would know about my profound love for eel. And it here was, presented before me in all of it's glory. This is always a must-order at Crown Princess. The genius behind this menu item better have gained a damn decent royalty, because this simple looking pastry is extraordinary. Always spot on - a puffy pastry flaking apart, and a juicy, sticky-sauced eel upon bite. Ugh.
3. Khao Soi ($14)
PAI NORTHERN THAI KITCHEN | 18 Duncan Street, Toronto
$$ - 11:30AM/5PM~10PM (Mon~Sat/Sun) - Thai
I honestly never knew how bad I'd fall in love. Filled with Fresh Egg Noodles and "Chicken Drumsticks", in a Golden Curry.The Khao Soi was wonderfully smooth and incredibly full of authentic flavours. It was insane. And that topping of Crispy Egg Noodles?! Mix it all in when you're ready. The only disappointment was my expectation of peeling meat off the Chicken Drumsticks - the chicken arrived boneless, they did all of the dirty work for me.

4. Beef Brisket Rice Noodles ($5)
WONTON TIME | 4392 Steeles Ave East, Toronto
$ - Chinese
This baby is situated in the Market Village next to Pacific Mall. My mate that introduced this place to me did not rave at all about their headlined Wonton Noodle Soup, but, instead, for this - their Beef Brisket Soup. Wow. I didn't expect to be swooned. You'll need two bowls of this, but, it is rich and absolutely perfect. You can taste the love. Don't forget to order a cup of Soy Milk!

5. Kinoko Bibimbap ($8.80)
GUU SAKABAR | 398 Church Street, Toronto
$$ - 11:30~2PM & 5PM~11:30PM (to 12:30AM Fri & Sat) - Japanese, Tapas
Kinoko Bibimbap. The risotto of Japan - and, folks, this is the part where we fall in love. Incredibly rich in flavour, I can't believe that there was no meat in this! This sizzling hot-stone bowl is brought beautifully assembled with it's components of Rice, Mushroom, Cheeese and Seaweed Sauce, and stirred up right before your eyes. One of the best you'll experience in Toronto, guaranteed.

6. L.A Beef Short Ribs ($14.95)
KIMCHI HOUSE | 149 Dundas Street West, Toronto
$$ - Korean
Simply mouth-watering. The L.A Beef Short Ribs are always, always perfectly cooked, holding it's juices and incredible flavours. I'm going to cheat and sneak in that their Seafood Pancake ($13.50) sitting by side will be a wonderful conpanion to your meal! Oh god. It has to be the best Korean Savoury Pancake that I've had - an ample assortment of vegetables and seafood bits.

7. Daily-made Agnolotti ($11)
CAFE BAR PASTA | 1588 Dundas Street West, Toronto
$$$ - 8:30AM~11PM (Tues-Sat) - Cafe, Italian
Hold those expectations high! The most wonderful surprise when this arrived at our table - these adorable Agnolotti resembled my all-time favourite childhood dish, Banh Bot Lot. This had plenty of wonder. Filled with Ricotta, Artichoke and Dill, it broke apart so beautifully. Incredible.

8. Porchetta Stuffed Focaccia ($12) 
BAR BUCA | 75 Portland St, Toronto, ON
$$ - 8AM~2AM - Italian
Review here
Held at one of my all-time favourite restaurants during brunch, the Porchetta Stuffed Focaccia. Filled with Roast Tuscan Pork, Farm Eggs and Mostarda, a juicy wonder. The Focaccia Sandwich was  was soft and salty, you could really taste the rosemary throughout. The perfect dish to share as two pieces are enough though since it is a bit oily, you can almost feel it's drenching because of how rich and delicious it is.

9. Duck Confit & Potato Hash with a Fried Egg, Hollaindaise & Greens ($18)
ROSE & SONS | 176 Dupont Street, Toronto
$$ - 9AM~12AM - Comfort Food
[No longer available] A wonderful well-seasoned Duck Confit on top of a salad filled with Cranberries and Walnuts, this was a true beauty, The Duck was extraordinary, I'm in awe that it was a regular on the brunch menu! 

10. Spicy Crispy Beef ($13)
BAZARA ASIAN CUISINE | 188 Ossington Avenue, Toronto
$$ - 11:30AM~10PM - Asian Fusion, Sushi Bar
Review here
Don't be underestimated by it's simple name and appearance. The Spicy Crispy Beef is one of my (no longer, top secret) favourites in the West. No spice held here, and wonderfully marinated. The pieces of beef were chewy from being deep-fried, so they were just as juicy as you'd imagine. The thick and sweet sauce generously coating it all took the whole dish home. 

11. Chicken & Waffles ($17)
INSOMNIA RESTAURANT & LOUNGE | 563 Bloor Street West, Toronto
$$ - 10AM~2AM - Breakfast & Brunch, Comfort Food
The slaw was delicious, it was of the much more creamier type, and the two pieces of waffles were of a sweet batter, the whole thing wonderfully drenched in Maple Syrup. But, hold on, that wasn't all. The Fried Chicken was a complete different story, in three dark meat pieces, it was very lightly coated in fine breading. I would do it over and over again.

12. Garlic Doughnuts ($7)
BAR HOP | 391 King Street West, Toronto
$$ - 12PM~2AM - Bar
Craft beers and a food menu that you will automatically fall in-love with upon first skim. I've come upon Bar Hop with craft beers as it's sole purpose, but I vow to no longer make Bar Hop as my post-dinner stop, I will let it become my entire evening. Their Garlic Doughnuts were paired with a beautiful Bone Marrow and Garlic Aioli - it was so, so good. Doughnuts of perfect density, and strong tinges of garlic. Beautiful.