• [Food Post] Tsujiri Toronto

    Tsujiri Toronto's first North American outpost opened earlier this week near Bay and Dundas amid much fanfare. This is their first foray into a market outside Asia, but they are planning on expanding to other cities in North America in the future. I had the pleasure of getting a sneak peek of some of the products that Tsujiri Toronto has to offer a day before its soft opening, and got the chance to chat with one of the managers, Tylor Shek.

  • [Food Post] Nordstrom Eaton Centre Opening Gala featuring Daniel et Daniel

    The gala opening epitomizes what Nordstrom is all about - great customer service and consistency of the brand. Hence why they partnered with Daniel et Daniel to be the official caterer of the Nordstrom Opening Gala, as both companies share the same ideals and business ethics.

  • [Food Post] Waterloo Food Tour

    The Region of Waterloo is home to many regions that inspire start-ups (such as Thalmic Labs), housing, and of course many restaurants. The Region is developing and propelling a movement alike many urban areas, by bringing innovative ideas and talented people together, whilst keeping the scenic and spacious rural landscape. Andrew Coppolino of www.waterlooregioneats.com (@WatRegionEats on Twitter) gave us a tour on behalf of Waterloo Region Tourism, with 4 set destinations in mind for the day.

  • [Food Post] Ebisu on Queen / Ebisu Toronto

    Ebisu Japanese Restaurant originated from Vancouver, as its first location opened in December of 2006. There are two locations in Vancouver and one in Richmond, along with two restaurants under the Kamei names. The brand itself is very well-known in Vancouver, and they hope to expand it in Toronto with this new outpost.

  • [Food Post] Dave and Buster's Oakville Grand Opening

    However, over the last two decades, much has changed, including the demise of arcade and game centers due the emergence of mobile phones and Netflix. The health movement over the last six years has also made Dave and Buster's traditional burger and fries menu far less appealing than what it was. With that being said, they have changed their food menu, and the options are now more diverse. The menu is rather extensive with items like shareable appetizers, side salads, beef steaks and ribs, pasta, sandwiches, and so much more.

  • [Food Post] Morals Village Mississauga

    Morals Village is a hot pot restaurant chain with over 600 locations in China. They opened their first Canadian location in 2015, and has since grown at a relatively rapid pace. About 1.5 weeks ago, I had the pleasure of attending the Morals Village Mississauga Grand Opening Event. The Mississauga location is their 5th Canadian location, and they have plans to open another in Ottawa. With that being said, Morals Village prides themselves in providing top-notch quality and Szechuan cuisine influenced flavour with their hot pot offering.

  • [Event] The Royal Dinner with Chef Michael Bonacini

    The Royal Winter Agricultural Fair is now open until November 13, 2016 at the Exhibition Place, Toronto. Start the holiday season early by attending one of the largest combined indoor agricultural fairs and international equestrian competitions in the world. The fair takes place every November in Toronto, and it is where guests can enjoy the best in agriculture, local food, and equestrian competitions from across the country. There are so many things to do, and see at this year's The Royal Winter Agricultural Fair.

  • [Food Post] CNE Media Preview 2016

    Every Sunday, Montecito offers a brunch buffet starting at 11 am to 3 pm. Brunch isn't new at Montecito, but they recently revamped their brunch buffet, and added several new items to the menu. The 12,000-square-foot Montecito opened up its doors late 2014, and is a partnership between Hollywood director Ivan Reitman and Chef Jonathan Waxman.

  • [Travel] Satsuki and Mei's House from Totoro

    My Neighbor Totoro is a 1988 animated production written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki. It's a childhood favorite of many people and I have seen many shops dedicated to selling Totoro merchandise while in Japan.

  • [Travel] Day #15 in Japan [Koyasan]

    A shukubo is an accommodation that allows you to stay in a Japanese temple or shrine for the night, and enables you to experience the culture. You are given your own personal room, and there are multiple washroom facilities throughout the temple.

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[Japan] Gontran Cherrier Tokyo

I love Tokyo and its food scene. Not only do they offer a variety of cuisine, they also have an excellent selection of patisseries and bakeries. One of the bakeries that piqued my interest was Gontran Cherrier Tokyo after seeing pictures of their matcha croissant on Instagram. 


 The two-floors bakery was centrally located in the busy districts of Shinjuku/Shibuya, so definitely a prime spot. The space was of average size, but they had a variety of different pastries out on displayed, and customers are to take a tray and tong to select their pastries.


 The first thing that I grabbed was the Matcha Croissant (¥ 250 each). The croissant was one of the best ones I have had, and rival to the ones in Paris.






We had breakfast an hour earlier, but we will always have room for more food =)


Address: Shibuya, 1 Chome−14−11, BCサロン



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Good Earth Coffeehouse

Good Earth Coffeehouse is a Calgary-based chain of coffee shops with several locations in Calgary. The first location opened in Calgary in 1991, and they now have over 45 locations throughout Alberta, British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Ontario.

Earlier this year, they expanded into the Toronto market with a new location on Jarvis and Dundas Street East. They are situated in a prime location as it's steps away from the Eaton's Center and Ryerson University. Students and workers in the area can grab a coffee and a quick bite in the morning.




The new location is an open-space concept with lots of natural light, and has a decent seating capacity. Good Earth Coffeehouse also offers free wireless Internet to their customers, so people are welcome to use it to work or study.



The coffeehouse is dedicated to providing the best quality food and beverage products to its customers and believes in exceptional coffee quality.
"The coffee scene in Toronto is constantly evolving and diversifying. We are excited to launch Good Earth in this market," said Nan Eskenazi, Founder, Good Earth Coffeehouse. "Good Earth prides itself on offering exceptional coffee and fresh food with a down-to-earth attitude, making Toronto an ideal market for us to grow into."


Good Earth Coffeehouse's coffee and espresso menu are based upon the Italian tradition of espresso drinks. They chose the Italian tradition because of its integrity, simplicity and authenticity with respect to espresso drinks. I didn't get their coffee, but I will try it next time. Instead, I opted for their Caffe Latte (frappes) ($4.75) from their cold handcrafted drink menu. It was a nice smooth drink that contained a good helping of caffeine.



Good Earth Coffeehouse serves fresh-baked goods, hot breakfast, soups, salads and various hot and cold drinks. Some of the sweets that they offer are cinnamon rolls, cookies, rice krispies squares, and more. 




I also got the Honey Lemon Squish ($2.75) - fresh lemon zest, wildflower honey, and cream cheese filling as a treat. 


Aside from their coffee and pastries, they also offer a small selection of breakfast items like the Southwest Breakfast Wrap ($5.50) -  egg, hash brown, cheddar, fresh spinach and salsa




Good Earth Coffeehouse is a great addition to the neighborhood, where you grab and go.

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Address: 198 Jarvis St, Toronto, ON M5B 2B7

Disclaimer: The food provided in this post was complimentary. However, all of the opinions expressed in this review are of my own.



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Kinton Ramen on 7 (Hwy 7 Markham)

Kinton Ramen is a popular chain of ramen restaurants with several locations in Ontario. Earlier last month, they expanded uptown to Markham with a new outpost in Commerce Gate Plaza. Uptowners can now get their ramen fix instead of having to come all the way to North York or downtown.  
 


I had the pleasure of being invited to Kinton Ramen for their soft opening, where I got to try several appetizers and a bowl of ramen of my choice with a guest. Upon entering the establishment, I noticed how much larger the space was compared to their other locations. The interior design however remains consistent, as it was sleek and modern with their signature wooden furnishing. A perfect blend of traditional Japanese aesthetics with modern appeal.



Kinton Ramen on 7 differs slightly from the other downtown locations, as this one offers several popular dishes from the Kinka Izakaya menu like the kakimayo and gomaae. Uptown guests now have the option to eat ramen or share several items from the izakaya menu. It's really the best of both worlds! 

We started off with two orders of Kinka Original Ramune ($3.50), a favorite of mine. Ramune is a popular carbonated soft drink originally sold in Japan, but it is also available worldwide. The drink is widely known for its distinctive codd-neck bottles design, where you need to use pressure to open the bottle. The drink available at Kinton has been re-branded with the Kinka logo, and for every bottle sold, Kinka Family donates $0.50 to SickKids. So drink for a good cause!



What I like about Kinton Ramen is that the quality of their food is fairly consistent despite multiple locations. Additionally, the portion size is very filling, as I have never left Kinton Ramen hungry.  

I opted for the Original Pork Ramen ($10.99) - sea salt, scallions, nori, seasoned egg, pork, as my bowl of ramen. I also decided to add some additional topics including corn, bean sprout, and seaweed. My ramen came out pipping hot with a mountain high of toppings, savory broth, and topped off with two seared pork belly with a good meat-to-fat ratio. If you're not into the original pork broth, the ramen menu includes other bases like shoyu (soy sauce), miso (soy bean paste), spicy, and extra pork. Additionally, noodles are available both thick and thin, and I chose thick. The broth was rich and well-balanced (not too salty).  Like I mentioned previously, it was consistent with the quality that I often receive from the Bloor location (the one I frequent most).  



From the choices of several starters and appetizers, I decided to start off with the Hot Karaage ($8.30) - spicy fried chicken. The plate consisted of several pieces of large, and juicy chunks of lightly battered chicken covered with hot sauce.


We also got the ikapiri ($7.90) - deep fried calamari with spicy ketchup and wasabi mayo, from their Kinka Izakaya menu.


One of my favorite Japanese snacks has to be takoyaki, which I had plenty of in Osaka, Japan this past December. The takoyaki ($5.50) contained five deep fried octopus balls with tonkatsu sauce and mayo. There was a reasonable amount of octopus pieces stuffed into the flour-based batter. I enjoyed it!


I was pretty full from my meal, but I will always have room for desserts so I got the Matcha Cheesecake ($4.50) - baked matcha green tea cheesecake. The texture of the cheesecake was creamy with light matcha flavor. It wasn't overly sweet like Western desserts. I ended up eating the entire cheesecake slice, as my fiancé was too full - so I didn't have to share =) 



The only issue that I had was that it took a while for the last two appetizers to come out. We actually cancelled our gyoza order, as we were full from finishing our bowls of ramen. The gyoza from Kinton are really my favorite, but I was too full at that point. The one thing that they do need to improve on is probably the disorganized service, and servers need to be more attentive. Despite the minor setback, Kinton Ramen on 7 did not disappoint, as we had an overall pleasant dining experience.




Address: 505 Hwy 7 East, Unit 54-58, Markham, ON L3T 7T1

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Disclaimer: The food provided in this post was complimentary. However, all of the opinions expressed in this review are of my own.


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Uncle Tetsu’s Unionville - Sakura Cheesecake

Earlier last week, I had the pleasure of going to the Uncle Tetsu’s Unionville in Markham to try their new Sakura Cheesecake. Unlike the fluffy baked cheesecakes that they are known for, this new one is a no-bake cheesecake. It is also exclusive to the Unionville location, and it is highly recommended that you pre-order in advance due to the craftsmanship that goes into baking them.



This was my first time at their Unionville location, but I have been to the downtown one on several occasions. All of the storefronts in Unionville are modeled as historic village houses, and the Uncle Tetsu’s Unionville's location is no different. It's a cute looking home with very minimal space inside (quite cramp when it's super busy). I went on a Friday evening, and it was busy, so everyone was kind of shoved into a little corner while waiting for their cheesecakes. 



The Japanese-Style No Bake Cheesecakes are available in two different flavours, Sakura and Yuzu. The smaller version was $8, while the large was $35. The larger size may be a little pricey, but it would be a great cake to order for a special occasion to share (like birthdays, bridal shower, Valentine's Day, etc ...).

 The Sakura No Bake Cheesecake was beautifully decorated with cherry blossom petals, gold leaf, and glazed with gelatin jelly. The pink layer was creamy, and has a similar texture to a mousse cake. The cheese flavor was light, and the cherry blossom petals added the aroma to the cake.

Sign up today (FREE) to the Toronto Gourmand Club (link is here) for a 20% off coupon that you can use for the Uncle Tetsu’s Unionville’s Sakura Cheesecake. The coupon expires on February 10th, 2017, but there are plenty of upcoming benefits and discounts for members. 




I was also able to sample the Yuzu Cheesecake as well. The light cheesecake was flavored with Japanese yuzu, and had a nice strong citrus flavor. However, I do like the Sakura Cheesecake a lot more over the Yuzu one. 





Address: 158 Main St Unionville, Unionville, ON L3R 2G9

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Disclaimer: The food provided in this post was complimentary. However, all of the opinions expressed in this review are of my own.


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Spicy Mafia

Spicy Mafia is from the same team behind both Kaka AYCE and Morals Village. I had the pleasure of attending a tasting at Spicy Mafia during their soft opening, and enjoyed an intimate mini hot pot meal. The concept at Spicy Mafia is similar to Morals Village Hot Pot except it's not AYCE. Rather, the meal is DIY, and each diner gets their own personal hot pot complete with a pre-arranged assortments of items. However, you are free to add more items for extra costs. 



Spicy Mafia is housed in the previous HOPO spot and its interior is very bold and modern with lots of prints. There are also a few mafia themed motifs throughout the restaurant including writings on the servers' shirts. It's very fitting considering its name. 

We started off the night with some snacks, Chicken Nuggets served with Tartar Sauce ($3.99) and Cold Noodle Mixed with Spicy Sauce ($5.99). I am not a fan of cold noodles, but the ones here was pretty good, as the sauce added quite a kick.






Prices start at $12.99 for your choice of soup base, one item from staple food, one meat item, and two dipping sauce. The mini hot pot set comes with all the following topping items; luncheon meat, Japanese crab meat, Hong Kong style red sausage, while shrimp, tofu puff, Napa cabbage, lettuce, lotus root, sweet corn, seaweed, and enoki

Unlike the large soup bases menu at Morals, there are only five options for soup bases at Spicy Mafia. The newest soup base is the healthier option, Chinese Angelica Soup Base. 




For meats, you have the option to choose from the following; New Zealand Spring Lamb, Pork Slice, Certified Angus Beef Slice. Each portion comes with four to five slices, but you can always order more meat plates for an additional $2.50 each. 




For my hot pot, I opted for the signature spicy soup base, Japanese udon (+$1), certfied Angus beef slice, and housemade sesame sauce and housemade spicy oil as my sauces. The signature spicy soup base is my go-to soup base at Morals Village, so I definitely wanted it as my soup base




For my drink order, I got the Creamy Thai Coconut Slush, which was refreshing considering the spicy soup base that I chose. 




I'd say that the overall meal was affordable especially given the quality of the food. It would have been nice to have a little more meat slices, but the extra cost isn't too bad for more. I had a lot of fun with the hot pot concept, and the meal was just right - I was not too full nor too hungry. Spicy Mafia is a good alternative to hot pot if your appetite isn't up for AYCE hot pot, as that can get pretty pricey, especially if you're not that hungry.   

Spicy Mafia is currently running a 20% off deal when you post on social media of your meal. 

Address: 20 Gibson Drive Unit 111A Markham, ON, L3R 0M7

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Disclaimer: The food provided in this post was complimentary. However, all of the opinions expressed in this review are of my own.



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