Showing posts with label AYCE. Show all posts
Showing posts with label AYCE. Show all posts

Asian District (Dubai)


I will forever be grateful to Asian District for saving our New Year’s Eve celebration in Dubai. To make a long story short, because of the ineptitude of a Platinum List event coordinator, we found ourselves being told on the night of - at 9pm (!) - that the event was cancelled. Imagine … standing in your New Year’s best, in a foreign country, and being told that you need to find something else. Certainly, it’s not the end of the world, but surely ruins a buzz.


After a few frantic calls, Asian District saved the day and was able to provide us with an outdoor table so we can celebrate the night and watch the fireworks display. Better yet, they didn’t even raise their prices above the typical AED395 a person for the all-you-can-eat and unlimited house drinks deal. Indeed, it turned into an indulgent evening of food and drink.

Asian District offers an AYCE menu where the dishes are brought to your table. For those who don’t want to consume to the max there is an a-la-carte option as well (prices included in this post for information). It’s an extensive menu covering Chinese, Japanese, Thai, and Vietnamese cuisine so getting through the booklet can be a time consuming affair. So, let me help you with some of the top dishes of the night:

You can’t go wrong with the chicken green curry (AED62). It’s a safe choice and ideal for those who want that flavourful coconut sauce without too much heat.


Their dynamite roll (AED38) isn’t a typical maki filled with a tempura shrimp. Instead, it’s like an elevated spicy salmon that made us want another bite.


The wasabi prawns (ADE72) was a decent dish, plump deep fried battered shrimp tossed in a light wasabi mayo, I just wish I had them hotter – the perils of eating outdoors. Even the salt and pepper squid (AED56) was good, if you don’t mind that the batter is a bit too thick.


Other dishes could have been done better. The skin on the Peking duck (AED88 for a quarter) was so soggy that it tasted like you’re having reheated roast duck in the microwave.  At least their garnishes and wrapper were made thin enough.


The chicken skewers (AED56) needed more satay; there was very little flavours other than the peanut sauce.

While the pad Thai’s (AED56) flavours was okay – a nice balance of sweet and sour – the noodles stuck together in a clump and there seemed to be something missing from the dish, it could have been a lack of fish sauce as there wasn’t that lovely umami essence.


If you’re going to have pho, I’d skip the protein and just go vegetarian as the beef in the beef pho (AED46) was way too thick. The broth is a cross between the traditional bone broth and the soy sauce laced beef noodle variety. While not terrible, it’s just not what you’re expecting when you have a spoon of soup.


In general, I found Asian District relies too much on soy sauce. The hot and sour soup (AED32) incorporated so much of the condiment that it wasn’t edible.


Given we visited on New Year’s Eve, it’s difficult to gauge their service levels. That evening, it was slow and they forgot a dish (the plain stir fried bok choy I was craving), but the restaurant was completely packed. And we were disappointed that the desserts never arrived, so we couldn’t taste the mango sticky rice the other tables were raving about. Nonetheless, their staff was friendly and they were on point with bringing out the drinks.

At the very least, they saved the night by feeding us a filling meal, plied us with tons of alcohol, and provided an amazing vantage point for fireworks. Thank you Asian District for a wonderful New Year’s Eve.  

Overall mark - 7 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Dubai, United Arab Emirates
 Address: The Pointe, Palm Jumeirah - Al Mirziban

Follow me on twitter to chat, be notified about new posts and more - https://twitter.com/GastroWorldBlog
____________________________
Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • 6 - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!


Is That It? I Want More!

Other Gastro World posts similar to this:

  • Mr. Miyagi

Asian District Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Surely Up Vegetarian Hot Pot (Richmond Hill)

During the winter months, I’m constantly craving a good hot pot meal. A bowl of boiling broth in front of me releasing an umami aroma, ingredients slowly being cooked, and voila a make-and-eat dinner is borne. There are abundant hot pot options across the GTA, both a la carte and all-you-can-eat (AYCE), but Surely Up Vegetarian Hot Pot is the first one I’ve found that’s completely meatless. 


It’s also the first one that has their ingredients presented on a conveyor belt, so you don’t need to try and flag down a staff member to get an extra order of anything – except for desserts as those seem to be slow to make it onto the belt.


The dining room is small but space is efficiently used. About twenty seats are placed in an oval around the conveyor belt, with a large mesh bag (for jackets) and a small shelf (for bags and phones) situated underneath the bar table. It makes you feel like you’re dining in Japan.


Up until end of February of the 2019-2020 holiday season, Surely is encouraging people to go vegetarian by offering a special $19.99 AYCE rate that includes a choice of soup base (mushroom or tomato), sauces, iced tea, and plum juice. It’s a fairly good deal from the regular $21.99, which includes the soup, but there’s an additional $1 for sauces and extra for drinks. In either case, if you want to go for the rare precious mushroom broth, it’s an additional $5.99.


In reality, there’s already tons of mushrooms spinning around as hot pot ingredients that you could easily make your own fungi broth. Grab anything you want from the conveyor and if you’re not sure what it is, underneath the dishes lies a sticker with the ingredient’s name. There are a few items where there’s an extra cost, these are clearly marked.


We mixed and matched to our heart’s content – tons of vegetables (oh watercress my beloved leafy green), mushrooms (enoki and shemeji goes so nicely with the broth), and even some mock meat for good measure (the mock shrimp balls and colourful dumplings were both good).


If you’re really hungry as you’re waiting for things to cook, there’s even a selection of ready-to-eat items such as warm tea eggs (these need a bit of extra flavouring added on) and mock duck floating around.


For me, the best part of the meal is tucking into a steaming bowl of noodles, at the end, and drinking the cooking broth with the noodles. The soup condenses down and is teeming with flavours. The frozen knife cut noodles at Surely is a nice change from the typical udon or instant noodles (although these are offered as well).

However, the worst part of the experience is all the plastic wrap being used to cover each and every dish – talk about a waste for a restaurant that’s encouraging people to go meatless! Of course, Surely needs to make sure things are hygienic, but the majority of the ingredients need to be cooked in scalding boiling water anyways, so it really doesn’t need to be covered. For the rest, they should invest in reuseable plastic domes to protect the plates. In fact, it’s the guilt of discarding all this plastic wrap that discourages me from visiting Surely Up more often.



Nonetheless, what I like most about hot pot is being able to spend time slowly catching up with a loved one. There’s no waiting around for ordering or dishes to arrive, and you eat at your own pace. Having hot pot is such a warming tradition that makes the winter months a bit more bearable.

Overall mark - 7 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Richmond Hill, Canada
 Address: 420 Highway 7

Follow me on twitter to chat, be notified about new posts and more - https://twitter.com/GastroWorldBlog
____________________________
Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • 6 - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!


Is That It? I Want More!

Other Gastro World posts similar to this:



Spoonful (Brampton)


It’s been years since I’ve been to a traditional buffet, where there are food stations to select to your heart’s content. As a child, we’d visit them for large family dinners - our parents were glad there were enough options to satisfy picky tastes and we could leave the table to walk around without them being judged. Somehow, we stopped going as my cousins and I became better behaved and our parents’ appetites shrunk.

Hence when Spoonful invited me out to try their buffet and my eyes swept across all the food, a pang of nostalgia ran through me. The layout feels familiar - the buffet area in the middle with various rooms of seating surrounding it – but the amount of choices were remarkable, figuring out where to start can be a challenge!

There’s of course an array of salads, but I steer clear of these at all costs. There’s no way I’m filling up on salad, even if there is an area that you can customize with Japanese cold noodles, edamame, and more. Soups are kept in domed heated pots that give an intergalactic feel to the restaurant - I was a tad disappointed that there wasn’t my go-to hot and sour soup, but there was lobster bisque, Chinese bone broth, mock shark fin, and wonton.


Beside all this was a sushi bar that had SO many maki, sushi, and sashimi choices. As pretty as they are to look at, sushi is never good at buffets… sitting on ice causes the rice to get hard and dry. A piece of dynamite roll confirmed my suspicions. But boy, do they look tempting.  


With the plethora of seafood options, my first plate was dedicated to crustaceans and fish. A lady stands guard overly freshly shucked oysters, cold sea snails and chilled crab legs, ensuring items like the raw oysters are kept sanitary. From the hot section, the baked garlic scallops in shell were tiny but delicious. 


I had all this before realizing there was another seafood tower on the other side of the room, filled with mussels, snail, octopus tendrils, and cocktail shrimp! The restaurant is a place for seafood lovers, offering even more choice on weeknights when there’s also crawfish and baked oysters (on Wednesday), and stir-fried BC crab (on Thursday).


From the Brazilian churrasco grill, the steak was surprisingly good, a perfect medium rare when taken from the middle. I only wish they left off the sweet teriyaki sauce to preserve more of the beef flavour. Generally, most of the meat items I had were delicious: the roasted duck well marinated and the skin of the roasted pork giving off a lovely crispy crunch.


While Spoonful offers a variety of stir fried noodles and rice (smartly kept in domed heated plates to resist getting dry), I went for the made-to-order pad Thai – the same station offers an array of freshly made Italian pasta dishes as well. I was happy to see the pad Thai sauce was brown instead of the bright pink meaning it's made with ketchup. It tasted pretty authentic, but less sauce could be used as the tamarind was overpowering and it could be stir-fried longer to give it more wok hay. If you like heat, you’ll also want to opt for the “very spicy” pad Thai sauce, I could barely taste any chili with the “spicy” one.


Spoonful invests in specialized equipment to keep things heated as optimally as possible. Like the domed heating plates used for the noodles, deep fried items are kept as a single layer in hot boxes and there are flat top warming grills for items like taquitos.


I barely made a dent into trying everything. Just to name a few more items they also offer lobster mac ‘n’ cheese, a variety of savoury tarts, beef ribs, the traditional choy suey buffet items (spring rolls, fried chicken wings, etc.)… *deep breath* … grilled teriyaki items, duck rolls, grilled pineapple … it goes on and on! Surprisingly, the thing I missed most were hot stir-fried vegetables. The stir-fried green beans were ignored and dry, so I stuck with the plain broccoli and Shanghai bok choy.


For those with a sweet tooth, Spoonful has TWO huge dessert stations containing a variety of cakes, tarts, cookies, Jello, and custards. There’s of course a waffle station and a soft serve ice cream machine that’s great for topping the waffles.


As if this weren’t enough, they also have a cascading chocolate fountain with marshmallows, fruits, and bubble waffles for dipping. A rotating ice cream station is also a cool feature and since there’s someone there to scoop it for you, I didn’t have to worry about sticky hands getting into it or the ice cream becoming too soft as the freezer lid is left open.


By the entrance are candy pod stations with a variety of chewy candies - just looking at them made my teeth hurt!  Needless to say, Spoonful dominates in the dessert category - any sweet lover would be in heaven.


The coolest feature has got to be the doughnut machine where you can see the automated spout pipe the batter into the hot oil and the doughnuts conveyor through until the end. Talk about nostalgia, the station reminded me of Tiny Tom doughnuts from the CNE.

I’ll admit, the doughnuts smell better than they taste as they’re oily. Perhaps it’s my fault, I had to get the freshly fried ones that just dropped off the conveyor belt. Maybe if I took them from the basket and gave them a chance to drain it would be drier. Nonetheless, adding some red bean ice cream to it and forming a doughnut ice cream sandwich made the oiliness less noticeable.  


For all the options, their prices are very reasonable: for adults, lunches are $17.99 and $23.99 and dinners are $27.99 and $33.99 for Monday to Friday and weekends and holidays, respectively. They also offer a host of specials to seniors (60 years + of age), birthdays (50% for the individual on the day of their birthday or 10% for the whole table during the month), and if you promote them on social media (10% off after posting on Wechat, Facebook, or Instagram).

As an affordable buffet, Spoonful is one of the better ones I’ve been to. If only we visited the restaurant as a child … it’s like a magical AYCE Willy Wonka world.

Overall mark - 7.5 out of 10
Disclaimer: The above meal was complimentary. Rest assured, as noted in my mission statement, I will always provide an honest opinion.


How To Find Them
 Location: Brampton, Canada
 Address: 499 Main Street South

Follow me on twitter to chat, be notified about new posts and more - https://twitter.com/GastroWorldBlog
____________________________
Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • 6 - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!


Is That It? I Want More!

Other Gastro World posts similar to this:


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

CLOSED: The Berlin (Kitchener)


Brunching at the Berlin ensures you’re satisfied right away. You’ve experienced it - the hunger pangs from a delayed breakfast; for a person who eats by 7:00 am during weekdays, waiting until even 11:00 am seems like an eternity. The Berlin gets you – they’ve set-up a harvest table with cold dishes so you can get into the meal quickly after being seated.



Soon after our drink orders were taken (a mimosa for me that’s already included in the meal price), I descended upon the table with a promise to bring back only one plate. After all, I couldn’t fill up and not eat any of the hot dishes.

With a changing menu, depending on what the local producers have in season, there was a nice combination to choose from. Half of the table was dedicated to sweets (black berry muffins, coconut chocolate scones, and an iced citrus loaf, to name a few), in the middle a make-your-own granola section, and on the other end, my kind of end … the savoury affair.



Gorgeous slices of smoked pork neck and lachsschinken (a brined cured pork loin) charcuterie and a pile of Beemster cheese. Placed onto their yeasty crusty bread, it transformed everything into an ultimate ham and cheese sandwich.



Aside from an extremely over salted shaved cabbage and green apple salad, the other options were delicious:

  • Citrusy cubes of the lightly cured rainbow trout with creamy avocado and a hit of mystery spice that gave the dish extra pep (could it be a ginger salt similar to the ginger sugar used on the grapefruit)?   
  • Despite having my fill of beets this season, the liberal sprinkling of green onions mixed into the traditional goat cheese mixture was fantastic and gave the salad a fresh spring-like quality.

Be warned, the harvest table is a test to your self-control - despite knowing I had already ordered a poached egg, I couldn’t stop myself from grabbing a slice of the leek and goat cheese frittata as it came warm from the oven. Just step away from the table and strap yourself into your seat.



Berlin’s brunch ($24 for adults and $10 for children including a beverage) is my kind of buffet. To ensure the hot items are at their peak, these are made-to-order. Order one or many and they will arrive individually plated, perfect for passing around the table so everyone gets a taste.



The medium poached egg already arrives with spiced lentils and a creamy yoghurt. But, you could easily combine it with a slice of jowl bacon and bread or English muffin to make a DIY eggs benedict. As for the bacon, meat lovers have to try it. Don’t let the thick layer of fat scare you; it tastes light in the mouth and simply melts away into deliciousness.



Put together their hot juicy garlic sausage (accompanied by a lovely grainy beer mustard) with a crispy dense potato latke and you’re in for a hearty meal.



Yet, it’s the French toast with the maple syrup that got our table in a tizzy. The thick piece of pumpkin spiced bread with pumpkin seeds (?) must have been soaking for a long time in the egg and milk mixture. Once you cut through the caramelized exterior, the middle in piping hot and has a soft custard consistency. Just take a moment to savour the French toast … it’s … just … so … good.



So delicious that once I went back to the harvest table for “dessert”, the freshly made cinnamon sticky buns and crispy sesame-poppy seed palmier seemed so normal. Forget the sticky bun, I could have had another slice of the French toast any day.



It’s a shame that the Berlin isn’t located closer to home, or perhaps it’s just a saving grace for my waistline. The meal was friendly and fantastic. Oh Chef Jonathan Gushue, how do you make the first meal of the day so satisfying? And now, for a nap.

Overall mark - 9 out of 10
Disclaimer: The above meal was complimentary. Rest assured, as noted in my mission statement, I will always provide an honest opinion.


How To Find Them
 Location: Kitchener, Canada
 Address: 45 King Street West

Follow me on twitter to chat, be notified about new posts and more - https://twitter.com/GastroWorldBlog
____________________________
Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • 6 - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!


Is That It? I Want More!

Other Gastro World posts similar to this:



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