Yamamoto Japanese Cuisine

About: This AYCE opened in early 2013 in Market Village up in Markham, ON. It's rather spacious inside with a lot of seating space, and decorated with red paper lanterns all throughout the restaurant. 

Price: The price is reasonable as dinner (adults) is $21.99 (Mon-Thurs) and $23.99 (Fri-Sun/Holidays).

Menu: The menu is rather extensive with plenty of items to choose from. The list consists of hundred of items under the following categories; appetizers, tempura, sashimi, sushi, sushi pizza, hand rolls, chef's recommendations, grilled food, fried items, rice & noodles, and desserts. The ordering process was simply a sheet of paper and pencil and each table got about 3 sheets. Additionally, it is great that you can order pieces individually (1 piece per order) so that way portion size is under your control.

 Food: I'd say that the overall quality of the sashimi and sushi was above average for an AYCE joint. Their sashimi selection was standard with nine fish to choose from (sake salmon, tai red snapper, white tuna, mackerel, hokkigai, tataki, tako, herb salmon and albacore BC tuna). Some of the sashimi were sliced thicker than others, but that didn't really affect the taste. Both the salmon roses (salmon sashimi wrapped around chopped ika) and tiger roll (spider roll top with fresh mango & avocado) were quite popular with our table. Both of the dishes were executed well and there was a good ratio of fish and rice. In terms of cooked food; they have the staples that are often available at AYCE places. Out of all of the items, I enjoyed the steak, fried scallops, kalbi (beef ribs), grilled mussels, and chicken teriyaki the most. Personally, I didn't really like their beef udon or fried chicken cutlet, but most items were tasty.

I was extremely pleased with their dessert menu. It was incredibly extensive with mango yoghurt, tiramisu, mango pudding, green tea pudding, durian mousse, chocolate mousse, ginger milk, creme brulee, fried banana, and six different flavors of ice-cream. My favorite dessert of all time has to be crème brûlée so I was very happy!

Service: The place was fully packed that Thursday night, but I have to commend the service. The food came out pretty fast and our dirty plates were cleared quite often. There was a slight mix-up where we didn't get our two orders of kalbi but that was quickly corrected when we bought it up.

 Yamamoto Japanese Cuisine is pretty far for me, as I don't frequent the Markham area very often. However, I thought that it was a pretty good AYCE with its large menu selection, good food, and quick service.


 RATINGS:

Quality of Food: 4/5
Service: 4/5
Overall Dining Experience: 4/5
Price: $$

Address: 4390 Steeles Avenue E Markham, ON M1V 4S5

Yamamoto Japanese Cuisine on Urbanspoon

Guu Izakaya

Guu Izakaya is an izakaya located on Church St in downtown Toronto. It is highly recommended that you don't come here if (a) you have a massive migraine or (2) you're hungover. Why? Cause it's extremely lively and loud inside as the staff constantly shouts out welcomes and goodbyes to their guests.


I made a reservation for five people on a Saturday two weeks ago at 5 pm. Note that the only time available that you can reserve on both Fridays and Saturdays is 5 pm. The seating limit is 2 hours and they hold your reservation for only 15 minutes after your reserved time.

The food menu and drinks menu.

We were given the menus and the server took our drink orders. For those who are drinkers; they have a pretty decent selection of alcoholic drinks.


We decided to make it simple and ordered from the party menu; ended up getting five of the [B] course (which was $35 per person) ($35 x 5). This menu is great as it offers the top ten popular items from Guu and is ideal for sharing.



One of my favorite starters at Japanese establishments is the edamame (boiled soy bean). The ones here tasted pretty good with the right amount of saltiness.



The sashimi salad (assorted sashimi & greens) was really delicious. The fresh greens surprisingly went well with the sashimi and was a refreshing starter. Additionally, the sashimi that was used had a nice texture to it (not mushy or super soft).




The mauro tataki (seared BC tuna sashimi) was dressed in ponzu sauce, and sliced decently thin.



The first time that I tried takoyaki was in an izakaya in Tokyo; it had an interesting taste. Takoyaki (deep fried octopus balls) is a battered cover ball filled with diced octopus, and then deep-fried. The takoyaki at Guu tasted very similar to the ones that I had in Tokyo so it brought about memories of my trip. The dish was well-presented and topped off with flakes and shavings of bonita.


Another favorite of mine was the ebimayo (deep fried prawn). The lightly battered prawns were of a decent size, and drizzled in a sweet mayo sauce.


The dish came with five pieces of gindara (grilled black cod) for the each of us (second dish not pictured). However, some pieces were a lot smaller than the others. The buttery black cod was grilled nicely, and marinated in a sweet glaze. I believe that if you order this dish on its own; it's one of the pricier items on the menu.


I wasn't a particular fan of the kaki mayo (baked BC oyster topped with cheese) as it was a lot more cheesy than I would have liked. However, the others did like the odd combination of mushrooms, spinach and cheese mixed in with their baked oysters.



The lightly battered karaage (deep fried chicken) was a hit at our table as we quickly devoured them one by one. The deep fried chicken was very crispy on the outside, yet succulent on the inside. It tasted even better when dipped into the accompanied buttery mayo.


Honestly, the two bowls of kinoko bibimbap (rice, mushroom & cheese in sizzling bowl) didn't look that appetizing at first. However, the combination of rice, mushroom & cheese actually tasted pretty good.



The last item of the night was ice-cream. We were given the choice of black sesame, green tea or coconut ... naturally I chose green tea as I always do at Japanese establishments.

Overall, I had a great night as the food was delicious and the company that I was with was wonderful. The only slight hiccup was that one of the servers kept on reminding my friend (who was sitting on the outside) of how much time we have left, and she did this roughly 5 times. That was about once every half an hour. Although she politely reminded him; we thought that it was unnecessary as we were aware of the 2 hour limit and were going to be done on time. Other than the constant reminders, she was friendly and efficient as were the rest of the staff.

The total damage for the night (not including tip yet).


RATINGS:

Quality of Food: 4.5/5
Service: 4/5
Overall Dining Experience: 4.5/5
Price: $$ || Online Menu
 
Address: 398 Church St, Toronto, ON, M5B 2A2

Guu Izakaya on Urbanspoon

Momofuku Noodle Bar [revisited]

It has been quite a while since my last visit to Momofuku Noodle Bar, which you can read about it here. However, I was craving for some pork buns and decided to drag my bf along (who has never tried the place). We arrived around 7 pm on a Saturday, and all of the communal tables were taken. Our server informed us that there were two seats available at the bar where customers overlook the kitchen area; which we took as we were pretty hungry.



The menu hasn't really changed much since my last visit, but there were a few new items on the menu. He opted for their signature ramen which was the Momofuku ramen ($15) while I got myself the smoked chicken ramen. The smoked chicken ramen ($14) was decent as its broth was light and there was a lot of menma in the ramen which added some flavor to the dish. However, I was underwhelmed by the lack of noodles. For its price tag, the ramen was not very filling at all if it's just a stand-alone order. Thankfully, I had also ordered two buns dishes on the side which filled me up quite nicely.


  The highlight of the night was definitely the pork buns. The order of pork buns ($10) came in two and dressed in hoisin, scallion and cucumber. The pork buns were delicious and both pieces of pork were juicy and tender as the last time that I ordered them.


While the pork buns remained to be a popular item on the menu; hardly anyone really mentions their chicken buns ($9). Each steamed bun contains a piece of crispy fried chicken topped with bacon, pickled onion aioli, and iceberg. I loved the crispy texture of the chicken skins, and it's a melt in your mouth feeling when you bite it with the soft white buns. 

RATINGS:

Quality of Food: 3.5/5
Service: 4.3/5
Overall Dining Experience: 4/5
Price: $$

Address: 190 University Avenue (Ground Floor), Toronto, ON M5H 0A3

Horizons Restaurant [CN Tower]

 It has been a few years since I visited the CN Tower; the last time was for a company dinner party at 360 Restaurant. I didn't even know about Horizons Restaurant until a friend of mine organized a group lunch earlier this past weekend for Winterlicious 2014.


The Horizons Restaurant is located on the LookOut level of the CN Tower. You have to buy a lift ticket for $15 (special price per person for Winterlicious) to go up the elevator to the restaurant as it's not free unless you dine at 360. Even though Horizons Restaurant does not spin like the revolving 360 Restaurant; it still offers a wonderful view of the city if you're seated by the windows.


The lift ticket for $15.00 (special price).
The menu is displayed right outside of the restaurant.
The menu for Winterlicious.

Unfortunately, we had a major mishap while trying to get to our reservation on time. My boyfriend's car snowed in and the tow truck wait was an estimated 2 hours. Luckily, my friend and her boyfriend were on their way and closed by to us, and they kindly gave us a lift. Many thanks to my two friends for helping us.

The boyfriend and I were hungry so we decided to order three Winterlicious to share between the two of us. We wanted to sample a little bit of everything on the menu and at $15 for each three course meal; who can really resist? The value of the meal was incredible as the food was delicious and we left happy with our lunch.

Additionally, our two lift tickets allowed us access to both the LookOut level and glass floor of the CN Tower. So I'd say that this is a pretty nice deal for those who also wants to check out the CN Tower. My friends and I spent a good 40 minutes on both floors taking photographs.

 Butternut Squash Bisque (dried cranberry chutney, maple crème fraîche).


The torn Romaine salad with black olives & oven dried tomatoes (shaved Parmesan cheese, roasted garlic cream) was simply presented on a large white plate. Despite it being a simple salad; I still liked the tangy dressing. It was a good refresher for the upcoming meal.


The browned crust of the salt cod brandade gratin (sundried tomatoes, artichokes, sour dough crostini) was full of crunch. Underneath the gratin was a mixture of lightly salted cod that was well-seasoned.


For those who want to steer from getting a Canadian dish; there is the curried lamb biryani (toasted almonds, dried fruits, saffron threads, and yogurt raita). It's a take on the popular Indian dish. I am not a huge fan of lamb so this wasn't a very enjoyable dish for me as the meat was rather dry. I did liked that the  seasoned fragrant wasn't too strong and the yogurt raita helps to enhance the flavor of the rice.


Out of the three mains; my favorite was the sweet onion braised Ontario pork & fennel sausage (warm lentil salad, lavender honey glazed parsnips). It was of a good size, and the overall flavor of the pork sausage was juicy. 

 

There was a choice of four mains, and we opted to not get the whole wheat spaghetti with broccolini & toasted pumpkin seeds (lima beans, roasted peppers, grated Pecorino cheese).


The pastry that accompanied the Newfoundland fisherman's pot pie (root vegetables, herbed puff pastry) was absolutely flaky and soft; I loved it. Additionally, the pot pie was definitely good comfort food that was perfect for the cold and snowy weather that we're having. The portion was also generous as there was a good amount of both vegetables and seafood in the creamy sauce.


The Southern Ontario apple crumble (vanilla bean ice cream) was extremely too sweet for my liking. The aroma of the cinnamon that the dessert emitted smelled nice, and the baked apples were topped with a scoop of creamy vanilla ice-cream.


The dark chocolate lava cake was a warm chocolate cake topped with Lindt milk chocolate ice cream. The inside of the cake contains rich and creamy chocolate that will satisfy many chocolate lovers.


Out of the three desserts; the spiced pumpkin cheesecake (toasted pumpkin seeds, cinnamon whipped cream) was by far my favorite. I haven't had anything pumpkin since pumpkins-season ended at Starbucks so this was a lovely treat. The cake was rich and I liked that there was a mild pumpkin flavor rather than the overwhelming taste of all pumpkin in the mixture. The slightly golden crust provided a nice contrast to the creamy texture of the cheesecake.


The staff was very accommodating and the service was quick and polite. We were a table of 8 people, and never once felt rushed by the staff the entire lunch. Overall, the lunch at Horizon was an enjoyable one and it's now on my list to return to check out what they offer on their regular menu.

 RATINGS:

Quality of Food: 4.4/5
Service: 4.4/5
Overall Dining Experience: 4.4/5
Price: $$$ || Menu
 
Address: 301 Front St W, Toronto, ON, M5V 2T6

Horizons Restaurant on Urbanspoon