Montreal Toronto Round 2: Let’s Go

Oh baby, look who made it back for another visit to Montreal and Toronto. Twice in one year – can’t complain although this trip was much more family oriented. I still was able to hit up a decent amount of places, albeit several were of places I used to haunt frequently back in my university days.

Let’s get to it. Montreal’s first up, Toronto’s after. You can click here if you want to jump straight there instead.

Montreal

La Maison Kam Fung
Epicerie Umami
Sammi & Soupe Dumpling
Qabane à Thé
Fabergé
Boulangerie Guillaume
Qing Hua Dumpling
Rotisserie Romados
Mei Restaurant
Mon ChiCha Bistro
Restaurant Decca 77
Les Salons Quilles G Plus (Rose Bowl)
Première Moisson
Mr. Patty
Chabanel
The Coldroom

La Maison Kam Fung

One of the few places that I used to eat dim sum at in Montreal was Kim Fung in Chinatown. I’m not sure if these two are related but I mistakenly thought in my mind that Kam Fung was Kim Fung. Oops. Well, if you find yourself crossing the bridge and heading to the south shore, this might be worth a try.

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On Boxing day, we decided to brave the crowds and head out for dim sum. Lucky for us, one of my relatives got there early and managed to get the #1 spot. First one seated! All I can say is get there early because the lineup was pure insanity. The seating area is massive, think banquet style, yet it was completely full by 11:00am. When we were trying to exit, it was like leaving a zoo.

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There were 15 of us so no way good pictures were going to happen. We ate the usual staples (ha gow, siu mai, cha siu bao, ha cheung, woo guk, tripe, bean curd, fried squid, rice with spare ribs, and jouk to name a few). The prices are in the $3.75 – $5.50 range if I recall correctly.

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Decent dim sum but pretty standard in my books. I wouldn’t drive all the way off the island if it was my choice.

La Maison Kam Fung
http://www.restaurantlamaisonkamfung.com/
#111, 7209 Boulevard Taschereau
Brossard, QC
(450) 462-7888

La Maison Kam Fung Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Epicerie Umami

We stumbled upon this place while we were looking for parking downtown. Took a look inside and what we found was a really interesting concept: Epicerie Umami specializes in recipe kits where they put together all the ingredients you would need to make a specific dish.

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There were about half a dozen options available – pho was one of them! Intriguing. I’m curious how many units they sell each day. Perfect for those individuals that are too lazy to get everything gathered but still want to eat well.

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You can also get your groceries done at Epicerie Umami along with offering coffee, pastries and a small menu. We tried a croissant which was decent enough.

Epicerie Umami
http://www.epicerieumami.ca/
1195 rue Bishop
Montreal, QC
(514) 871-0401

Epicerie Umami Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Sammi & Soupe Dumpling

I’m not sure how it happened but I ended up eating at quite a few dumpling houses this trip. I guess you can never have too many dumplings right? Well, Mon and I met up for an early Monday night dinner. The weather was spitting rain outside so it was nice to take comfort inside. The place is pretty compact but it’s cool how you can see the workers making the dumplings fresh in the kitchen.

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You can even bring a bag of dumplings home if you want (30 pieces for $10.35 – 15.00).

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The menu is basically split into three: appetizers and soups, XLB’s and pan fried dumplings. I love me some XLB’s but I’ve never seen so many varieties for it. I’m a traditionalist though so when it comes down to it, always go with the classic.

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Cold noodles with peanut sauce ($2.99)
IMG_0286The noodles were passable but the flavour was pretty lacklustre. I wasn’t a huge fan of the peanut sauce, which tasted watered down but hey, it was cheap enough.

Juicy pork (classic) (J1) ($6.99)
IMG_0287You get 10 XLB’s for only $7! Are you kidding me??? What a steal. These were a satisfying take on the classic soup dumpling. Juicy, a pleasantly thin wrapper and balance of flavours.

Pork, leek and shrimp (F4) ($8.99)
IMG_0289They were already out of most of their pan fried options but we were still able to try one type. These were on the small side and I wished that they had been crisped up a little bit longer. That being said, they were still solid enough and you do get 15 pieces.

Another solid spot in the ever expanding options of Chinatown 2. Man, I love this area.

Sammi & Soupe Dumpling
1909 Rue Saint-Catherine Ouest
Montreal, QC
(514) 846-8886

Sammi & Soupe Dumpling Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Qabane à Thé

We were looking for a place after dinner to grab a dessert/drink and ended up choosing Qabane à Thé. It’s located right beside Concordia and has some serious competition with Cafe Myriande next door.

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Right when you walk in, you’re greeted by the worker/owner. I like to take browse a bit and take my time ordering when I first walk into a new place but here, I felt hurried/pressured to order right away. Annoying. Oh well, that just meant we only ordered drinks.

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Matcha iced tea ($4.55) and hot matcha latte ($4.55)
IMG_0299I went with a matcha iced tea while Mon went with a hot matcha latte. The iced tea wasn’t blended well enough as I ended up sipping several chunks of ice while I had my drink. Both teas really lacked in matcha flavour; it was seriously weak. I wasn’t very impressed.

Sure, they have a cute (read: Instagram) coloured, painted area in the back that mimics like you’re sitting outside in a courtyard but that’s not enough to get me coming back anytime soon.

Qabane à Thé
http://qabane.ca/
1428 rue Mackay
Montreal, QC
(514) 799-2748

Qabane à Thé Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Fabergé

Trying to decide where to go for brunch in Montreal is an impossible feat. Okay, okay, that’s a little dramatic, let’s go with extremely difficult task. The options are endless and I was getting in a tizzy trying to decide which brunch place to try out. After much debate, Em and I decided on Fabergé, which if you didn’t know the meaning behind, well it’s essentially a fancy jeweled egg.

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We came on a Tuesday and got there just before 11:00am. There was already a lineup inside the door (Montrealers don’t mess around) but by the time we were settled into our seats, the line stretched out the door. Crazy. Tip: make sure you have your whole party there, otherwise they won’t sit you.

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The vibe is chic but pretty laid back. Love how there were 90’s cartoons playing in the background. Talk about nostalgia. Even though the place is compact and close quarters, there still is room to breath.

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The menu is pretty extensive for brunch.

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Broken down into sweets (crepes, french toast and waffles), benedicts, sandwiches, omelettes and eggs. We decided to share and with Em, we obviously had to get one of the sweet dishes.

S’mores waffles ($14.00)
IMG_0313Chocolate waffle, marshmallows, caramel, nutella and graham crackers. Holy cow, this was awesome! I thought it would be way too sweet for my liking but everything was well balanced. Gooey marshmallows, nice crunch from the graham crackers and a generous dose of nutella.

Le massif ($16.00)
IMG_0315Three eggs, bacon, ham, sausage, baked beans and bacon jam. Served with home fries, toast and fruit along with either crepe or french toast. We went with the former.

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The sides were completely forgettable. I wouldn’t even waste stomach space eating those baked beans, blah. The rest was pretty standard fare and didn’t have me jumping out of my seat like the s’more waffle. I like how you get a cup of fruit but our waiter took ours away before we finished it! Brutal.

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This place is hip and popular. Personally, I wouldn’t be willing to wait with a line running out the door but I can see why people would like it.

Fabergé
http://faberge514.com/
25 Fairmount Ouest
Montreal, QC
(514) 903-6649

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

Boulangerie Guillaume

Since we were already in the area, Guillaume was a no brainer. Grabbed a baguette along with a fougasse! So many options, so little time. I walked a bit further into the bakery this time and spotted a few dessert options you can buy too. I had no idea!

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Baguette tradition ($3.00)
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Fougasse aux olives ($4.25)
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Love this place and so does everyone else. The constant, continuous amount of people coming in and out of this place is impressive.

Boulangerie Guillaume
http://www.boulangerieguillaume.com/
5132 boulevard Saint-Laurent
Montreal, QC
(514) 507-3199

Boulangerie Guillaume Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Qing Hua Dumpling

I haven’t been to Qing Hua for a few years but I’m glad to see it’s still as popular as ever. This was THE place where I first discovered my love for dumplings. We came on a Tuesday evening, around 8:00pm, and had to wait to get seats! Ridiculous, I couldn’t believe how busy they were.

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The menu is dumplings, dumplings and more dumplings.

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Although there is a lunch menu available Monday to Friday (11:00am – 3:00pm).

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The inside looks exactly the same. I like how you can peer through the kitchen window and see all the dumplings being made in house. They’re lightning fast! We ordered (once we were able to get a waiter’s attention – don’t expect great service here) and had our three dishes in no time. We may have gone overboard but hey, leftovers are never a bad thing.

Shrimps with pork and leek (#21) ($9.99)
IMG_0326We decided to get one order boiled and the other steamed. Each order gets you 15 dumplings and the filling is nicely stuffed. Em wanted to get her favourite combo, shrimps with pork and leek, which was a solid choice. Don’t forget these dumplings have soup inside so be careful with your bites.

Pork and dill (#31) ($8.99)
IMG_0328First time trying out dill in dumplings. Loved it! Not overpowering but the perfect balance. These were my favourite of the night. I need more dill in my life.

Mix flavour dumpling soup (#3) ($7.99)
IMG_0329I also wanted to try their dumpling soup out which was totally unnecessary for two people (10 dumplings included) but it was way better than expected. They throw in an assortment of dumplings, I’m assuming extras/reject ones but I liked it. The broth was surprisingly light and flavourful.

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40 dumplings later (well, with a few for home), we left very satisfied. Qing Hua is the OG when it comes to dumplings in town and I’m happy to report it’s still as good as ever.

Qing Hua Dumpling
1676 avenue Lincoln
Montreal, QC
(438) 288-5366

Qing Hua Dumpling Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Rotisserie Romados

A Portuguese chicken staple that I love and frequented often back in the good ‘ol days. I haven’t been back to Romados since they had a fire but I like the upgrades they’ve done to their place since then. There’s a couple spots to eat in now although it would be nice if they had expanded on that more.

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We came on a Wednesday after the lunch rush so there wasn’t a lineup at all, a beautiful thing. The menu is small but there’s actually more options than I thought. Honestly, I’ve only ever ordered the chicken combos.

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If you want other things, there’s poutine, sandwiches and fries.

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Their menu du jour actually has some really interesting things. Maybe I’ll divert from my usual and try it next time.

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Their dessert counter. Look at all them natas! *Drool*

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4x 1/2 chicken, fries and salad ($9.85)
IMG_0347There were six of us so we decided to go with the 1/2 chicken combo with comes with a mountain of fries, side salad and rice. They also throw in a white bun but you’ll be stuffed from everything else, trust me. According to my aunt, this is the best way to go value wise (we were thinking of getting the whole chicken combo for $24.00). I guess you do get more chicken overall; math folks.

Anyways, what to say about the Portuguese chicken? Delicious. ENSURE you get the spicy sauce because it makes all the difference in the world.

Natas ($13.00 for a dozen)
IMG_0377No trip is legit without an order (or dozen) of natas. It’s $1.45/each but gets cheaper the more you buy. So light, flaky and creamy.

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My mom also picked a box of other assorted desserts. Didn’t try any of them but they looked good.

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It’s hard to pick a favourite Portuguese place in town these days but I’ll end with saying Romados is cheap, filling and satisfyingly good.

Rotisserie Romados
http://www.rotisserieromados.ca/
115 rue Rachel Est
Montreal, QC
(514) 849-1803

Rotisserie Romados Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Mei Restaurant

Mon and I wanted to try out GaNaDaRa, which shockingly, we have both never been to even though I’ve passed by it a million times. Well, the one time that we try to go to, they’re closed for the holidays (December 23 – January 2 FYI). Worse luck ever! Oh well, plenty of alternatives to choose from. We were thinking of ramen but on the walk over, I spotted Mei Restaurant and the menu tapped on the front door sounded promising so we stepped inside to check it out.

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The inside is much more spacious than you’d expect and it actually felt quite homey. It must be the exposed brick; I’m a sucker for exposed brick. The menu is actually quite impressive with lots of pictures (smart); it just has way too many options. Dim sum? I’d avoid. Everyone was ordering dumplings but we already had ate dumplings at Sammi & Soupe so we decided to explore the rest of the menu.

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Hot and sour rice noodle (C9) ($7.99)
IMG_0355They were out of the noodles that they regularly use for this dish but our waiter said they could substitute some round white noodles in instead. We figured it would be okay but the replacement noodles weren’t very enjoyable. The rest of the dish was great. The hot and sour was spot on and addictive. The sliced cucumber added a nice refreshing contrast. Note, this is a cold style dish.

Chinese crispy pancake (G6) ($4.99)
IMG_0356This is jianbing, which translates to fried pancake. It’s a popular street food – think of it as a Chinese style crêpe. Heck, it’s like a relative to banh xeo (Vietnamese style crêpe). I’ve never seen this before in Montreal so that was a sweet find. Every bite was tasty; crispy and eggy but light.

Handmade noodle (G4) ($9.99)
IMG_0357Whenever I see handmade noodles on the menu, you know we’re ordering it. These were respectable. Had a pretty good bite to the noodles but they still don’t beat my favourite from La Maison du Nord.

BBQ lamb skewer (J1) ($5.99)
IMG_0359Four pieces of lamb skewers. Tasted pretty authentic to me with the typical Northern Chinese spice rub. However, you only get three skewers and they’re on the smaller side.

Cash/debit only! You know it’s legit when…

Mei Restaurant
http://meirestaurant.com/
1425 rue Mackay
Montreal, QC
(514) 288-1314

Mei Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Mon ChiCha Bistro

On the way home, I walked by Mon ChiCha and glimpsed what was a new bubble tea spot to me. We were in the area again the following day so it was clearly meant to be!

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It was boxing week; they had a buy one, get one drink free promotion. The only restriction was that you had to order the same type of drink to get the offer.

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I have no idea what this place was beforehand but it has an industrial, club/loungey feel to it. At least the music made me want to start dancing like I was up in da club. The exposed brick, slick tables and cute anime chalk drawings made for a very cool interior.

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The drink menu is pretty big but I like how they categorize everything and separate into hot/cold options. There’s their top hits, flavoured/latte/creamy/herbal cha, smoothies and specials.

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There is also a food menu but we’d already eaten dinner. Think Taiwanese snacks and desserts (egg waffles and crepes).

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Passion fruit (MT9) and mango yogurt with mango frubo (MT8) ($5.45)
IMG_0368You can customize the amount of ice and sugar that you want. Love how this is becoming a standard at most places. I ordered mine with 50% ice and 50% sugar. I was originally going to order the mango yogurt but Mon wanted that so I opted for the passion fruit. I actually liked mine way more than hers.

The drink was refreshing and you get real pieces of passion fruit. The tapioca texture was good and it was pretty sweet that they let me get half tapioca/half lychee pieces. For the other drink, the mango frubo was a little too artificial tasting but I did like how they exploded in your mouth.

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Cute spot and I would easily come back. Perfect spot to bring a date or to come to after you’ve had dinner in the ‘hood.

Mon ChiCha Bistro
https://www.monchicha.ca/
1396 boulevard de Maisonneuve Ouest
Montreal, QC
(438) 387-6393

Mon ChiCha Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Restaurant Decca 77

Originally, I made a reservation to check out Les 400 Coups, which has been on my list (forever) to try. Their lunch prix fixe ($22.00 for two dishes, $29.00 for three) is a sweet deal. Well, I booked a table for 12 and everything was good until we got a call from them last minute telling us that they weren’t open for lunch the last week of December. Unbelievable! When I say last minute, I mean it was literally a day before our reservation. No apologies whatsoever. The fact that they take your credit charge and state that they’ll charge you $50.00/person for any no shows is even more infuriating. What happens when it’s the other way around and they cancel? Nothing. I was quite unimpressed. Rant over.

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Anyways, to fill the void last minute, my sis and her boyfriend ended up booking a table with Decca 77. The inside is impressive with high ceilings, comfy booths and a huge wine glass cellar. We came on a Thursday for lunch and were almost the only ones there. Likely because a huge snowstorm hit in the morning. Our waiter, the only one working the front was excellent and amiable.

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The menu is short and concise. Oysters, tartares, appetizers and entrees.

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Cafe au lait
IMG_0384The sis and Om both ordered one (or two each). Solid according to them.

Fresh oysters ($34.00 for dozen)
IMG_0388We got a dozen oysters to start and decided to try half with the gourmet option ($5.00 extra) which we didn’t expect to be baked with cheese on top.

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Honestly, oysters are best when you can taste the purity of them. The baked ones you couldn’t even tell you were slurping oysters; it was more like eating a bite of lasagna. The regular oysters weren’t bad but they were a little too warm. Odd that they don’t bring them out with ice underneath. Skip them.

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Closeups of both types of oysters.

Soup of the day
IMG_0390The soup was good and hit the spot on a cold winter day.

Chicken schnitzel, aïoli, lime ($22.00)
IMG_0392My aunt and uncle both ordered this. My mom wanted to get one as well but they’d already ran out of schnitzel, which made no sense given that there was no one in the restaurant.

Catch of the day ($35.00)
IMG_0395The special that day was an ahi tuna with seasonal vegetables. The ahi was seared perfectly medium rare and this was easily the best dish out of everything we ordered.

8 oz flank steak and glazed vegetables ($28.00)
IMG_0393The steak was cooked to our liking of medium rare. There was a decent variety of vegetables including brussel sprouts, cauliflower and carrots.

Risotto, mushroom and tartufo ($24.00)
IMG_0391The risotto was a miss. It was nowhere close to being that perfect, creamy texture; it was actually undercooked. I wasn’t a fan and the dish also lacked balance. Someone was way too heavy handed on the cheese.

Gourmet grilled cheese ($16.00)
IMG_0397Let’s just say there was nothing gourmet about it. Probably one of the worst grilled cheeses I’ve had actually. The salad was you’re generic mix but the grilled cheese was plain and simple gross. It looks nice with the grilled marks but the taste, texture and flavour was very off putting. Shockingly bad.

Confit salmon, candied shallot and fennel salad ($25.00)
IMG_0398The salmon was much better but the fish was slightly overcooked. The side of fennel salad was light and reminded me of spring gardening.

Fries
We saw another table order fries which my aunt saw and her eyes lit up so we ordered one for her. Didn’t get a picture but she loved them. I guess it’s “off menu” so you have to ask for it.

Creamy chocolate cake and vanilla icing ($7.00)
IMG_0401This was just like a molten lava cake. Rich, creamy and piping hot! Holy crap. If you like rich chocolate desserts, look no further. A scoop of ice cream was icing on the cake.

Lemon tart and grilled meringue ($7.00)
IMG_0400The lemon tart was the complete opposite. The side of raspberry sorbet and chocolate type crumble stole the show though. Oh man, so light, slightly tart and refreshing.

I knew coming in what to expect and that’s essentially how our lunch turned out. A couple good dishes but a lot missteps as well. This place screams suits/business lunch meetings spot and with a hefty price tag for lunch, one try is good enough for me.

Restaurant Decca 77
http://www.decca77.com/
1077 rue Drummond
Montreal, QC
(514) 934-1077
Decca77 Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Les Salons Quilles G Plus (Rose Bowl)

Arcade games, billiards, babyfoot, 5 and 10 pin bowling. Rose Bowl brings you back to the days of your youth when all you wanted to do was go bowling to celebrate your birthday. Ah, bring on the nostalgia. This place is gigantic and has 72 lanes. Yes, you read that right: 72 freaking lanes (36 for 10 pin and 36 for 5 pin bowling).

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Prices are reasonable enough. Depends on how many people you come with. You go to the counter to get your lane set up; service is slow but the guys were nice.

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You can get a lane by the hour (for up to 6 people max). We went with the 3 hour option ($55.00). Shoe rentals also cost $2.17.

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Old school pixelated monitors, vintage lanes, what else do you want? We had a great time and were able to whip out 5 games in our allotted time slot. It would be cool if you could switch between 5 and 10 pin, but we stuck with the latter. There were a lot of families and groups of friends when we went.

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There’s six other locations around (who knew?) the city so plenty of options to get your bowl on.

Les Salons Quilles G Plus (Rose Bowl)
http://www.quillesgplus.com/
6510 rue Saint-Jacques Ouest
Montreal, QC
(514) 482-7200

Première Moisson

Première Moisson is a staple in the city when it comes to bread and pastries. There’s a dozen alone on the island so I guess they’re considered a chain but damn, they’re consistency is impressive. We decided to grab a box of pastries after a hot yoga session (treat yo self!).

Pastries
IMG_0428We ordered a couple types of croissants for everyone to try along with a peach turnover pastry. I had half of the cheese croissant (it had cheese inside for extra cheesiness) and half of the almond croissant ($3.25); flaky and filling is divine. The 100% butter croissant ($1.65) was devoured by my dad so safe to say he liked it.

We also tried a strawberry rhubarb pie ($9.25) that we saved for New Year’s eve. I found the filling a little too sweet for my taste buds but a few others liked it.

Première Moisson
https://premieremoisson.com/
5500 Avenue de Monkland
Montreal, QC
(514) 484-5500

Premiere Moisson Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Mr. Patty

Mr. Patty/Pattie is a stone’s throw away from my aunt’s place but I’ve never actually stepped foot into their shop till this trip. My cousin absolutely loves this place and always brings back a dozen or two bags back home with her. For those that don’t know, they specialize in Jamaican patties, which you can get either hot or cold.

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The main menu is all about the patties but there is also roti, desserts and drinks.

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Specials menu is only available Friday and Saturday. Jerk chicken, jerk pork, curry goat and oxtail! Wish I tried one of them out.

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For hot patties, there’s a chart for you to figure out their costs. 1 patty = $1.75, 6 patties = $10.50. Not sure why you don’t get a deal ordering more but c’est la vie. If you buy them cold, it’s $13.00/dozen. There’s also the cocktail (mini party) size option.

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They had a few random desserts under the counter; this one was a grater cake.

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Three options to choose from: chicken, beef and vegetarian. You can tell the chicken from beef as the former has a little red marking on one of the corners.

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Dozen cold patties ($13.00)
IMG_0438Six chicken and six beef to share with the fam jam. Pop them into the oven and they’re just like new. The beef filling was hands down the better choice. Nice blimp of heat, incredibly flaky and tender. They make them fresh everyday and it’s tasty because they use lard. So not the healthiest option but hey, that’s why you share.

I haven’t tried any other Jamaican/Caribbean places in the city but this family run shop is worth the trek out west.

Mr. Patty
http://www.mrpatty.com/
5312 avenue Patricia
Montreal, QC
(514) 483-2323

Mr. Patty Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Chabanel

If you haven’t heard of Chabanel, it’s a shoppers paradise, especially for the ladies. Every time that I’ve gone with my sister, she comes back with a bag full of goodies. It’s soooooo unfair (first word problems). Most of the shops here their wares at wholesale/discounted prices so you’ll likely find some sweet deals. We came on New Year’s Eve on a whim, not expecting any places to be open. Lucky for us, there were three shops open and my sis hit the jackpot on the last one.

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Set aside a few hours because you’ll need it if you’re planning to go ham. Don’t forget to bring cash because most shops are cash only.

Chabanel
555 Chabanel
555 rue Chabanel Ouest
Montreal, QC
(514) 381-5921

The Coldroom

We didn’t have any set plans for New Year’s Eve but while we were deciding where to go out, my cousin’s friend was already out at The Coldroom. No (ridiculous) cover fee? I’m in. Speakeasy bars are the latest rage and this place fits the description to a tee. The barman’s all have beards, tattoo’s and man buns.

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The outside is pretty discrete so you’ll have to keep your eyes peeled for the entrance. Once you see it, ring the bell and you’ll be granted access. I originally had no idea why this place was called The Coldroom but the door is supposed to mimic a cooler/refrigerator door. Clever.

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Walk down the stairs, pass the duck logo and voila, you’re in.

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There was a short NYE menu: drinks on the front, packages on the back. The barman were chill and kept the drinks coming all night. They even were serving fresh oysters, which I wasn’t expecting to see.

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The inside is dimly lit with exposed brick and mostly standing room tables but we lucked out and snagged the couch area to sit/dance around all night. The vibe is mellow and the crowd was a good mixture of locals/tourists. Met some people that were from my hometown – talk about small world. The music was good and surprisingly wasn’t on full blast. Sometimes it’s nice not to have to scream your lungs off to be heard.

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Red wine (~$11.00) and Moscow mule ($13.00)
IMG_0469The sis went with red wine all night while the rest of us tried a few of their cocktails along with some shots. The Moscow mule was delicious and overall, a well balanced crafted cocktail.

Definitely a solid spot in touristy Old Montreal to check out and grab a few cocktails.

The Coldroom
https://www.thecoldroommtl.com/
403 rue Saint-Vincent
Montreal, QC
(514) 451-6911

The Coldroom Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Toronto

Insomnia Restaurant & Lounge
Poop Cafe
The House of Yoga
Zhen Zhen Health Centre
Dumpling House Restaurant
Harbourfront Centre
Home Of The Brave
Momofuku Noodle Bar
Chachago
Nathan Phillips Square
Ematei Japanese Restaurant
Barrio Coreano
Harvest Kitchen
Toronto Bike Share
Tacos El Asador

Insomnia Restaurant & Lounge

First meal in Toronto and obviously, it has to be brunch. Like I said, I’ve been warming up to brunch lately and Insomnia has definitely made me a fan. The cous and I met up on a holiday Monday and the place was packed.

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Put your name down and they’ll send you a text when your table is ready to go. Perfect. The wait wasn’t too bad, about 45 minutes, so we ended up getting a few errands done around the area.

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The inside is actually really relaxed and homey, which I wasn’t expecting. They even let you linger for as long as you want which you don’t see very often, especially with places that are this popular. But it goes well with the vibe. The seats are soooooo comfy. Makes you want to lounge all day in them.

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The lunch menu which is mainly burgers and sandwiches.

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The brunch menu. So much delicious choices.

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Heaven on earth ($15.00)
IMG_0503French toast, berries, cream cheese, honey and maple syrup. The french toast is absolutely massive! Definitely lives up to its name. So light, fluffy and stuffed to the brim with berries and cream cheese. Awesome!

Manami ($13.00)
IMG_0506Gluten-free, curry rice cakes served with poached eggs, hollandaise, mixed greens and homefries. Those homefries are like crack; addictively good. It was our first time trying eggs benny with curry rice cakes on the bottom. All I can say is DO IT. Such a killer combo. Perfect blimp of heat in them too.

Side kale salad ($6.00)
IMG_0508Sugar snap peas, pine nuts, onion sprouts, carrots and lemon tahini dressing. Our waitress somehow forgot to put this in when we first ordered but it came out eventually. We felt healthy getting some greens to balance things out. The pine nuts added a nice crunchy element. Simple and refreshing.

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Great first meal for me and I’d say it was worth the wait (which wasn’t half bad). Brunch game is strong over hurr.

Insomnia Restaurant & Lounge
http://www.insomniarestaurant.com/
563 Bloor Street West
Toronto, ON
(416) 588-3907

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

Poop Cafe

Bloor Street West has everything! Like seriously, WTF is this shit? No pun intended. I’ve actually heard about these type of cafes in Asia but had no idea that they’ve made their way over Canada.

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But what a name. No idea why you’d want to come here other than for the “experience”.

Poop Cafe
http://www.poopcafe.ca/
706 Bloor Street West
Toronto, ON
(416) 535-7667

The House of Yoga

The cous wanted to check this place out so we went and took a look. They have a store inside where you can buy some “merchandise”.

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Had no idea that they do ganja yoga in the back along with Thai massage and Thai massage training/workshops. Interesting combination of yoga…makes sense that the two would go hand in hand.

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The House of Yoga
http://www.ganjayogatoronto.com/
714 Bloor Street West
Toronto, ON
(647) 741 – 4200

Zhen Zhen Health Centre

After brunch, we did a little shopping (Boxing Day sales were still going on) and were debating what to do afterwards when my cous had a brilliant idea. Foot massage/reflexology/whatever you want to call it. Hell yeah.

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We picked a spot in Chinatown and went with Zhen Zhen. It’s $30.00 for an hour foot massage but that’s a little misleading. If you break it down, it’s about 10 minutes of getting your feet soaked in hot water then about 35 minutes of massage. So just keep that in mind when you go. Yes, I know that doesn’t add up to an hour. Do the math.

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You have to walk up a flight of stairs to get to Zhen Zhen. The inside has a mix of rooms (for massage) and open style doors (for foot massages). We ended up getting one male practitioner (for me) and female one (for my cous). Pressure was pretty good and he definitely got a few tender spots.

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I guess they expect you to tip them because they were grumbling in Chinese when we only dropped one bill instead of two? Either way, it’s cash only. I haven’t been to any other foot places in town so hard to compare but this one was decent enough.

Zhen Zhen Health Centre
326 Spadina Avenue
Toronto, ON
(416) 599-8288

Dumpling House Restaurant

The dumpling festivities continue but this time in Toronto. We were right beside Dumpling House right after our foot massage so it would have been irresponsible not to stop in for a few bites.

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Love how you can see the dumplings being made fresh right outside the window. There’s three of them working like little bees non-stop. I wonder if they enjoy it…

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While we waited for a table, we got to watch the open kitchen do their thing. It’s small, cramped but they make it work. The wait was only about 10 minutes. Oddly enough, they sat us at a table for two (even though we ended up having a third) and wouldn’t let us switch with a solo diner who was at a table that could fit six. Weird.

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The menu is dumplings, noodles and appetizers on the front.

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Chef’s specials, rice, daily specials and soups round things off on the back.

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Green onion pancake (#50) ($4.99)
IMG_0530Green onion and vegetable oil. Simple but delicious. Sometimes simple and fresh is best although the pancake was pretty greasy.

Wonton soup (#87) ($5.99)
IMG_0529Wontons, lettuce, carrot, bamboo shot, wood ear and cilantro. The cous wanted wonton soup, which I rarely order but it was a good pick. Broth was excellent and the wontons were even better. Small but packed full of flavour.

Lamb meat dumplings (#8) ($8.59)
IMG_0533You get 15 steamed dumplings. Lamb dumplings are my favourite and these were absolutely money. The filling tasted gamey, just the way I like ’em. None of this subdued lamb flavour garbage.

Fried pork & chive dumplings (#17) ($7.99)
IMG_0531You get 12 pan fried dumplings. We went with the standard pork and chive dumplings which hit the spot.

Everything at the Dumpling House was freshly made, fast, tasty and cheap. Not sure what else you’d want but we were satisfied.

Dumpling House Restaurant
328 Spadina Avenue
Toronto, ON
(416) 596-8898

Dumpling House Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Harbourfront Centre (Natrel Rink)

We wanted to go outdoor ice skating and this was one of two options downtown (the other being Nathan Phillips Square). Only half of our party had skates so the rest of the group went inside the rental shop to get skates.

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They’re open from 10:00am to 10:00pm but cut off rentals an hour before they close. Bad timing for us because we got there right around 9:00pm meaning we were SOL. Adult skates cost $10.00 for a 2 hour time slot but you can also rent helmets (gross) and lockers. Don’t forget to bring along one piece of ID.

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The rink was busy for a Monday evening but that was likely due to it being a holiday. We didn’t skate but the friends that did said the ice was pretty choppy. Still fun if you just want to zoom around.

Harbourfront Centre
http://www.harbourfrontcentre.com/venues/natrelrink/
235 Queens Quay West
Toronto, ON
(416) 973-4000

Home Of The Brave

We hadn’t had dinner yet so after our skate session, we debated where to go. Four girls deciding = way too much deliberation. I swear 20+ restaurants were thrown out to the group before agreeing on Home of the Brave.

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The outdoor patio looks pretty nice for the summer time.

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Gotta love the slogan: join or die. Guess it goes with the American comfort food. The American flag at the booth we sat at was a nice touch 😉

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Go upstairs because the main level houses Locals Only.

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Lucky we got there when we did because we made it just in time for last call. We put in an order right away and the food came out pretty quickly.

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Every place seems to have a neon sign of something, somewhere in their place. Snake’s HOTB choice to keep up with the hipsters.

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Drink menu to the left, food to the right. Everything’s meant to be shared.

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Dessert’s use Sweet Jesus’s soft serve. Damn, they’re popular.

Ommegang hennepin saison ($8.00)
IMG_0546This saison is a golden ale. It was light, crisp yet full-bodied.

Buffalo Cauliflower ($9.00)
IMG_0545Beer battered cauliflower, Buffalo hot sauce and ranch dressing. Everyone seems to think it’s a must order but the hot sauce didn’t do much for me in terms of tastiness.

Brussels sprouts ($7.00)
Smoked cheddar sauce, parmesan and toasted mustard seed. No picture but these were good. Love brussel sprouts when they’re done right.

Ribs ($20.00)
IMG_0546Memphis rubbed honey garlic baby back ribs, spicy slaw and ranch. Tender, moist, sticky; good late night ribs.

Tater tots ($7.00)
IMG_0549Crispy potatoes, cheese, gravy and herbs. Tater tots brings me back to my youth; these were waaaaaaaay better. Obviously.

Mushroom mac ($11.00)
Mac was goooooood. Just the right amount of creaminess. Again, no photo 😦

Cobb salad ($10.00)
IMG_0553Roast chicken, egg, tomato, avocado, crispy lamb bacon, greens, red dine vinaigrette and gorgonzola. I’m not a huge cobb fan to begin with (must be because of the iceberg lettuce) but this was half decent.

Fluffer nutter ($6.50)
IMG_0550Twist, peanut butter sauce, marshmallow coated ruffles, peanuts, white and milk chocolate. This was actually better than my visit to Sweet Jesus’s actual spot. Maybe because you could eat it more leisurely/without having to worry about it falling completely apart/melting.

HOTB was a solid spot to share a few plates and have a couple drinks. Chill vibe, friendly staff and no fuss American food. Just like the American dream right?

Home Of The Brave
http://www.thehotb.com/
589 King Street West
Toronto, ON
(416) 366-2736

Home Of The Brave Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Momofuku Noodle Bar

One last meal with the cous (and her co-workers) meant we were eating lunch downtown somewhere. That somewhere turned out to be the infamous Momofuku Noodle Bar, which I’ve actually never been to before. The David Chang empire finally made it’s way to Canada so I guess you can only avoid it for so long.

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If you’ve never been before, it’s inside the Shangri-La hotel.

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The inside is modern and upscale with several long communal sharing tables.

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Upstairs houses the rest of the Momofuku empire (Shoto, Daishō, Nikai and Milk Bar).

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I’m not sure why but they don’t let your party sit until everyone’s there. Seems unnecessary when there were vacant tables…

The menu is broken into snacks, buns, noodles and etc. But don’t forget about the truffle rice cakes ($45.00) and cavier & fried chicken ($150.00)! WTF.

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The back page of drinks includes beer, sake and slushies.

Pork buns ($10.00)
Hoisin, scallion and cucumber. The cous ordered these, which D. Chang is famous for. Tasty and flavourful but $10.00 for two buns is absolute cray.

Okonomiyaki ($7.00)
IMG_0573Japanese yam, katsuobushi and mayo. We ordered the okonomiyaki as our appetizer which hit the spot.

Pork ramen ($16.00)
IMG_0570Pork belly & shoulder, fish cake and egg. The broth was decent but nothing special. I felt the same way about the noodles; passable but indifferent. Both slices of pork were good; very tender along with a well executed egg. Overall, I think their ramen bowls need some work.

Chicken tan tan ramen ($14.00)
IMG_0567Sesame, chili, scallion and egg. The cous got the chicken tan tan and the broth had a decent kick to it from what I tasted.

You should know branches are never as good as the OG so keep that in mind if you come to Momofuku. Everything we had here was decent but it’s a bit overrated and overpriced. Personally, I would seek out the more authentic ramen spots if you’re looking for legit ramen.

Momofuku Noodle Bar
https://noodlebar-toronto.momofuku.com/
190 University Avenue
Toronto, ON
(647) 253-8000

Momofuku Noodle Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Chachago

Did a little shopping downtown and was feeling thirsty afterwards so I went looking for a bubble tea shop in the area. Chachago looked like it would hit the spot so I walked a few short blocks to try them out.

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Their selection includes milk tea, fresh fruit, fresh milk, salted whip, brewed tea, “feel the taste” and winter picks. You can choose from five ice and sugar levels along with two golden syrup/honey levels. Add-ons cost an extra $0.50.

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The counter has five of their popular drinks on display.

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Closer look of their take out menu. The wifi password is Chachago’s phone number.

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There’s only four tables inside so hope you time it right and can snag one.

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Passion fruit rocket ($6.20)
IMG_0595The drink is on the pricey side as it’s over $7.00 after tax and that’s not including any add-ons. Yeesh. At least they use real passion fruit; I could taste the seeds and chunks of passion fruit. The drink itself is quite tart but refreshing.

I thought it was worth a go; seems like there are so many Taiwanese BBT franchises popping up lately. They’re pretty comparable to Chatime and CoCo’s.

Chachago
http://www.chachago.ca/
3 Elm Street
Toronto, ON
(416) 591-7109

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

Nathan Phillips Square

Nathan Phillips Square is the other spot downtown to get your outdoor ice skating on. There’s always people walking around and taking pictures of the iconic Toronto sign.

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One during the day.

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And another one at night. Really beautiful actually.

Nathan Phillips Square
http://www1.toronto.ca/
100 Queen Street West
Toronto, ON

Ematei Japanese Restaurant

Going for sushi with my boy M is almost like a tradition now. We were looking for a new place to try and a friend recommended we check out Ematei. More of a Japanese izakaya than sushi place but it fit the bill.

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It’s a bit off the beaten path but easy to find. I like how the chefs counter is right at the front when you walk into the entrance and they of course greet you warmly.

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We came on a Tuesday evening right after work so we had no trouble grabbing a table but by the time we left, the place was bumping. The inside is well decorated with Japanese traditional outfits, posters, maps and artwork along the walls. We were seated in the back of the restaurant but the place has tons of tables.

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Menu is massive, almost daunting with all the choices. A LOT of people were getting the hot pot, which seems like a very popular choice here. If we had more people, I would have tried the sukiyaki ($80.00). You can see the whole menu here (1233a and 3b).

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A short recommendations list if you have trouble deciding on what to get like us.

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Totally forgot about the dessert menu. Yummmm, Asian ice cream.

Salad and soup
IMG_0610We got some complimentary salad and soups. Or else they came with one of the things we ordered. Either way, both were pretty standard fare but helped starve off the hunger pains while we waited for the main dishes.

Gyu tan salad ($6.50)
IMG_0613Grilled slice beef tongue on house salad. The grilled beef tongue was excellent.

Ikageso karaage ($7.00)
IMG_0614Crispy fried sexy calamari legs. Yes, you read that description correctly and that’s pretty much why we orderd it. Jokes aside, the ikageso was probably our favourite dish. Perfectly battered, crispy, crunchy. Delightful.

Yam tempura roll ($5.00) and spicy salmon roll ($6.50)
IMG_0615M’s favourite rolls that he always orders whenever we go for sushi. Both were tasty!

Enoki foil ($7.50)
IMG_0616Enoki, crab and onion grilled in foil. Shocking that they didn’t try to make the foil into a swan shape 😉

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Upon reveal, there was imitation crab and lots of enoki. The sauce underneath was sweet (from the onions). This would have been perfect with some rice.

Sashimi dinner ($28.00)
IMG_0618You get 15 pieces of sashimi; salmon, tuna, ebi, tako, yellowtail and the white one I don’t recall. I wasn’t sure how the sashimi would be after reading some reviews but we were both satisfied with everything. The pieces were properly cut and everything tasted fresh.

Wafu spare ribs ($10.00)
IMG_0621Japanese style BBQ ribs. Sticky, tender, moist.

Next time I’ll pay closer attention to their daily specials (you’ll see them when you first walk in). Everything was well executed and I’d be happy to come back again to try more things off the menu. Japanese hot pot next time!

Ematei Japanese Restaurant
http://www.ematei.ca/
30 St. Patrick Street
Toronto, ON
(416) 340-0472

Ema-Tei Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Barrio Coreano

Long story short, we tried to hit up Bang Bang Ice Cream but they were closed. Nooooooooooooooooooo. Don’t make that mistake; they’re closed for the whole month of January. I’ll make it to Bang Bang one of these days. Anyways, we were having trouble figuring out a good place to try but luckily, my friend saved us and recommended Barrio Coreano.

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Korean and Mexican had me raising my eyebrows but we kept an open mind on the interesting cultural fusion. The place screams cool hipster. They have old bowling signs as decor. Like come on, too cool. We came on a late Tuesday evening so had no trouble grabbing seats in the back. Our waitress was very sweet and checked in on us several times even though we were only here to try out their desserts.

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Cocktail menu board sounded promising.

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The actual menu had oysters, sharing plates, tacos and desserts.

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Along with the house cocktails, they have beer (it’s Korean, they have to have beer) and wine (red, white and sparkling).

Churros poutine ($9.00)
IMG_0630Weirdest name for a dessert I’ve seen. Churros and poutine? Like what? I guess the churros resembles the fries while the caramel sauce mimics the poutine gravy. Luckily, it tasted nothing like latter. The churros were hot and crunchy but pretty typical.

Tres leche ($8.00)
IMG_0629The tres leche was pure heaven. Holy Mexican goodness, this was probably the best tres leche I’ve had! Incredibly light and moist beyond belief. The top tasted like marscapone tiramisu on crack. GET IT.

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I can’t say anything about the food but the desserts were a great way to cap our night off. Cool, unique spot to bring a date.

Barrio Coreano
http://www.playacabana.ca/barrio/
642 Bloor Street West
Toronto, ON
(416) 901-5188

Barrio Coreano Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Harvest Kitchen

Last lunch meal in Toronto so I let J pick. She went with one that she frequents from time to time, Harvest Kitchen.

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Hours vary day to day so make sure you double check before you come here.

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Cute sign outside beckoning you in for coffee.

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The inside is bright, cozy and laid back. We didn’t have any trouble grabbing a table as it was a Wednesday so we sat by the window to watch all the people scurrying by in the 40km/hr winds.

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The chalkboard houses all their specials for the day.

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Starters, salads, burgers and sandwiches make up the short menu. See the rest of the menu here (12 and 3).

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Their elixir drinks sound fun, reminds me of Harry Potter. Cool that they have BYOW but corkage fee is $15.00 (kind of defeats the purpose). Interesting that they have their own farm (Skinny Barn Farm) and offer community style farming!

Coffee ($2.95)
J ordered a coffee and it came out cold. Our server rectified the issue and brought out a new one when she inquired about getting a new one.

Hand cut russet fries ($5.95)
IMG_0647Comes with a side of roasted garlic mayo. The fries were great.

HK burgers ($12.95) with kale salad ($5.50)
IMG_0645Served with Boston lettuce, tomato, HK pickles, red onion, aged cheddar, sofrito and red pepper mayo on a sesame seed challah bun with choice of soup, side salad or Russet fries. I had a bite of the burger and it was pretty good but I can’t believe they charged us $5.50 to add a kale salad! Not sure if that was a mistake (menu says $3.95) but I guess you’re paying a premium for kale.

Daily sproutzzadilla ($12.95)
IMG_0642Confit duck leg with sauteed mushroom, onion, red peppers and fresh herbs. Came with sides of pico, sour cream and choice of soup or salad.

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I went with the former, which was a mushroom almond puree with crispy onion and olive oil garnish. Wasn’t a fan of the flavour combination. Pretty bland and boring. The sproutzzadilla was better with toasted grill marks and tender duck meat. The portion is small though.

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Decent enough but it’s pretty standard cafe fare.

Harvest Kitchen
http://harvestkitchen.ca/
124 Harbord Street
Toronto, ON
(416) 901-5901

Harvest Kitchen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Toronto Bike Share

This will live on as Bixi in my mind. I was going to cruise around on the Bike Share bikes on the one day it was nice while I was down there but didn’t need to.

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Next time I’m in town! I’ll make sure to order a key before I come 😀

Bike Share Toronto
https://www.bikesharetoronto.com/
Toronto, ON
(855) 898-2378

Tacos El Asador

The last time I ate at Tacos El Asador was when they were in their old, cramped quarters across the street. Well, they’ve upgraded big time as the new place is spacious and modern. They’ve lost that feeling of being a hole in the wall but the food is still good.

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The wooden picnic tables are a cute touch and this place is actually way bigger than I thought. It goes pretty deep

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Lots to choose from on the menu: tacos, burritos, tostadas/enchiladas, quesadillas and pupusas. Wish we had time to try the pupusa, they were great last time.

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Soups, salads, tamales and platters round things out.

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Birria (goat) and fish tacos ($3.75 each) 
IMG_0660We got one of each but J likes her tacos crispy. Judge her hard. I got mine soft style, which are doubled up, and obviously the better way to eat them. Slightly biased 😉 Fish was soft and tender. Goat was good too.

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Solid spot to grab take out or have a few tacos. I’ll have to try one of their platters next.

Tacos El Asador
https://www.facebook.com/Tacos-El-Asador/
689 Bloor Street West
Toronto, ON
(416) 538-9747

Tacos El Asador Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

That’s a wrap. Always good times and good eats every time I come back to visit Tdot and Montreal. Looking forward to the next visit already.

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