Showing posts with label Congee. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Congee. Show all posts

LiWan Kitchen 荔湾肠粉 (Toronto)


Previous rice noodle rolls and congee restaurants I’ve visited have been cozy establishments where tables are practically communal and anyone who’s claustrophobic should avoid them at all costs. Hence, stepping into LiWan Kitchen was a pleasant surprise. Despite the narrow store front, the dining room stretches far into the building and tables are spaciously placed apart. As a bonus, the air conditioning is more than adequate to hold off the heat sweats from eating congee in the summer.

With a full page of rice noodle roll options, we knew this would be a dish that is a must order. Having sampled three, they were all adequately filled and although the wrapper wasn’t as thin as some other specialty restaurants, they were still lighter than what’s generally found at dim sum.

The shrimp and snow pea leaves ($4.50) are evenly distributed amongst each roll with two large shrimp in each and half lined with the slightly crunchy leafy vegetable, which adds colour and a herby taste against the seafood. A vegetarian version replaces the shrimp with prince mushroom slivers ($4.50). While the menu describes it as multi-mushroom with snow pea leaves, there’s really only one fungi, but plenty of it is included in the roll. Plus, being a meatier mushroom with a slight bite, the prince mushroom contrasts nicely against the silky rice wrapper.


How good the dough stick in plain rice noodle roll ($4.50) is depends on the dough fritter. At LiWan Kitchen, it’s warm, very soft, and has a thin crispy crust… a good start to the dish. You’ll just need to ask for more sauce as the little dish they provide is comical (don’t worry, you’ll receive more for free).


I will never look at vegetarian congee the same again, the chestnut and pumpkin ($4) combines the stewed rice with puréed chestnut and pumpkin to give it a vibrant yellow colour and a light earthy finish. Corn kernels are thrown in for a bit of texture, but you will need to add salt as it’s fairly neutral on arrival.


In general, LiWan Kitchen keeps their dishes under seasoned, providing salt at each table so guests can add more. The fried rice with egg, BBQ pork, and shrimp ($9.99; also called yeung chow fried rice) also needed a liberal sprinkling for flavour but was nicely combined with plenty of ingredients. It’s definitely a healthier version of the dish as it’s also less oily than competitors.


If you don’t mind a 20-minute wait, their casserole rice dishes are even better. The pork pancake and BBQ pork ($8.99) topping the rice is fairly run-of-the-mill, but the golden rice crust on the bottom is beautifully crispy – the best part of casserole pot rice, in my opinion. It comes with bowl of bone broth with chayote, hence can be a filling meal for one. 


Having visited LiWan Kitchen on multiple occasions their friendly and efficient service keeps me going back. Surprisingly, customers can even request a complimentary Chinese newspaper at the end of the meal, despite their reasonable prices. I’m just glad I can enjoy these comfort dishes without being squished and leaving in a pool of sweat. 

Overall mark - 8 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 4271 Sheppard Avenue East


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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!


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Yummy Cantonese Restaurant 老西關腸粉 (Toronto)

It takes a lot for someone to stay in a restaurant when it’s freezing inside. During our lunch, when the weather outside was below thirty degrees Celsius, staff and customers alike remained in their jackets as Yummy Cantonese Restaurant’s heater was broken. Their dining room was still almost full at 11am and people were staying to eat in these chilly conditions! So, I re-zipped my jacket and remained seated as well.

Luckily, the congee really warms you up, and for their low price is one of the better bowls in the city. The congee base had a lovely smooth texture and the seasoning was spot on – flavourful enough without being overpowering. Sticking with my go-to preserved egg and pork version ($5) the pieces of egg were rather small, but made up by the big chunks of pork. Personally, I find the combination goes perfectly with fried dough fritters ($2), too bad these arrived after I was half done. Yummy Cantonese needs to ensure the sides arrive with the congee, since what’s the point of having the fritters when the congee is finished?


If you don’t mind having the fish’s skin left on, the sliced beef and fish congee ($5.50) incorporates fresh pieces of seafood (compared to the frozen variety found at other places). Ample ginger slivers are added to ensure there’s no fishiness in the broth. This is one bowl that has a lot of ingredients.


Despite the restaurant’s Chinese name, their rice noodle rolls are average. While they are better than what’s served at dim sum, the actual pastry is suitably thin, it just doesn’t incorporate enough filling. Perhaps it’s due to the vegetarian Taiwan bok choy and egg rice noodle roll ($4.50) we ordered, while the vegetable provided a nice crunch against the soft sheet, everything was just so tasteless. Luckily, each table contains an array of sauces and with a bit of sweet beany hoison and sprinkling of sesame seeds, the dish was better.


While eating in a parka is not the most comfortable act, the food arrived fairly quickly and in less than an hour we were warmed inside and full.  

Overall mark - 7.5 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 4400 Sheppard Avenue East


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____________________________
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:

Yummy Cantonese Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Fancy Chinese Cuisine 利嘉盛 for dim sum (Markham)


I may have found a new go-to place for dim sum: Fancy Chinese Cuisine. However, I’m hesitant to label the restaurant with the title as its predecessors over the last few years gradually were replaced – mainly as the wait times during their special pricing hours became unbearable. 

Fancy also has the special (between 8:30am – 11:30am or after 1:30pm) where anything classified as small, medium or large is $2.98. Nonetheless, even if you dine during the prime lunch period (11:30am – 1:30pm) prices aren’t much higher: medium dishes are $3.28 and large/special sizes a mere $1 more for $3.98.

These relatively stable prices means there’s less people rushing to get in before 11:30; most visits we were seated within a short wait when arriving before 10:00am. Finally! A place that caters to my impatient personality.  

Fancy also executes dim sum in an OG fashion. Sure, they’re not shaped into Instagram friendly flowers or animals, but they do offer strong flavours and traditional elements. The shrimp dumpling (har gow) and pork dumpling (siu mai; both L) are solid versions of the favourites – the shrimp not overcooked and the wrapper relatively thin on the har gow while the siu mai has the customary juicy pork mixture studded with shrimp.


The shrimp and chives dumpling (L) is also decent: a large size and the chives adding a herby element to the dumpling.


Rather than layering peas or watercress under the steamed beef ball (S), the chef opts for a sheet of parchment paper instead, which makes separating the balls a breeze. The recipe could use a bit more coriander, but the consistency was bang on. Personally, I prefer the beef ball Chew Chow style (M), essentially the same meat balls but served in a broth with watercress. The soup is your typical salty MSG version, but keeps the beef warmer and moister.


With seven fillings available for rice rolls, there’s something for everyone. Having tried the steamed shrimp (L) and BBQ pork (M), they’re both good: enough ingredients so each bite has filling and slits made to allow the soy sauce to permeate further. Although the rice sheets are on the thicker side, the wrapper was still silky and soft.


On the other hand, the fried Chinese dough rice roll (M) was terrible, where the dough fritter was either stale or so over fried that it shatters into oily shards.


Similarly, the conpoy with dumpling in soup (L) was a disappointment. The dish was overcooked rendering the shrimp into small bites of rubber and the actual wrapper mushy.


Normally considered an extra-large dish at other restaurants, you can still order the beef tendon in special sauce (L) at the special pricing. Tendon has a soft chewy gelatinous texture that’s an acquired taste – even for myself, it wasn’t until my adult years that I started enjoying the dish. Fancy’s “special” sauce is a cross between the sweet red sauce used with chicken feet, a spice (perhaps curry?), and tons of garlic. The dish certainly doesn’t lack flavours.


Similarly, the cuttlefish with curry sauce (M) is one of the more powerful ones I’ve had over the last few years.  


The chicken and mushroom steamed rice (L) is served in the typical clay pot. Despite skimping on the soy sauce (a mere tablespoon), there’s sufficient amounts of chicken, black fungus and golden needle (a Chinese herb) to make up for it.


While the mixed meat and seafood congee (L) looks plain, once you dig into the bowl you’ll find a decent portion of fish and pork rind mixed throughout – both white ingredients that simply blends right into the rice. The salted pork and preserved egg congee (L) offers more contrast and I’m surprised by the large pieces of meat and egg within it, it seemed as if every spoon was filled with the ingredients.


Fancy’s dessert offerings, on the menu, does seem skimpy with five choices. However, it’s augmented by options pushed around in carts, so you may want to save room for those. The dumpling with black sesame paste (S) was sweet enough with plenty of coconut, peanut and sugar inside. I loved the sesame casing, which was soft, chewy and fresh.  


How wonderful it feels to have a place to regularly visit again. I appreciate the short waits for a table and my parents love the small touches such as asking whether you want a newspaper with the meal (complimentary and yours to keep afterwards). It’s friendly and comforting, a restaurant you’ll likely find me at most Sundays, on a going forward basis.

Overall mark - 7.5 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 7750 Kennedy Road

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:


Fancy Chinese Cuisine Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Pot Rice & Rolls House (Toronto)




If you’re looking to eat for less, there are tons of inexpensive options at suburban food courts. My parents introduced me to Pot Rice and Rolls House, after they walked by it one day and found a crowd surrounding the relatively plain looking stall.

After looking at the menu, they soon realized why – Pot Rice’s congee combos were a steal. The only drawback is the menu is written in Chinese, so illiterate individuals would never know about the deal. For $5 you get a pretty filling meal:
  • A choice of congee: century egg with pork, dried vegetable with spare rib, free run chicken or a giblets mixture;
  • A rice roll filled with either beef, pork, pork liver or dough fritter; and
  • Soy milk.
We tried the century egg with pork congee, where there was plenty of the preserved egg but little pork. The black egg with jellied egg white and creamy yolk is an acquired taste, as the yolk has a strong metallic tang to it (the black jellied egg white is unflavoured). The congee itself, a thick consistency, was a bit too paste-like for my taste.


The dough fritter wrapped rice roll was better and I enjoyed that you dress it yourself; you can put as much soy, hoisin and sesame sauce to your heart’s content. The dough fritter could be crispier, but some do like their rice rolls to be chewy rather than crunchy.


The eatery offers other dishes as well: rice and noodle items normally found at congee restaurants. The stir-fried rice noodles with beef ($5.50) were accompanied with bone broth soup and soy milk. It lacked the colour, flavour and aromatic essence you’d normally expect from this dish. Green onions, which would help improve on all the above, was definitely required. If you’re going to eat at the Pot Rice, just stick with the congee.


As a food lover, I generally appreciate taste over value and found the meal disappointing. However, in an age where McDonald combos are $7+, I can certainly see the appeal of the filling $5 congee and rice roll meal. As such, Chinese illiterate individuals, you are now also in the know. 


Overall mark - 6 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 633 Silver Star Boulevard

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!


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My Wonderful Kitchen 十粥十 (Richmond Hill)

Location: Richmond Hill, Canada
Address: 350 Highway 7 East, Unit 101
Website: https://www.facebook.com/pages/My-Wonderful-Kitchen-%E5%8D%81%E7%B2%A5%E5%8D%81/541062532648943
Type of Meal: Dinner


Hidden at the back of a Richmond Hill strip mall, My Wonderful Kitchen, busy even during week nights, is a place known to local residents. Luckily, the restaurant is enormous so there's no wait and unlike some competitors, their tables are comfortably spaced and the large enough to hold the various dishes.


Deep fried squid in spicy salt ($6.95) is one of my favourite dishes, so I've had it at uncountable restaurants, including Luckee. This was possibly one of the best versions I've ever had! Piping hot, the crispy crust retains its shape (creating almost a shell) while inside the squid remained tender and moist. Every piece was evenly coated with the spicy salt seasoning so there no bland ones. And to top it off, they were presented with an edible "shell", what a great idea!


What My Wonderful Kitchen has going for them is their intense flavours. The fried rice noodle with shrimp and BBQ pork in curry sauce ($7.95) had a hefty dose of curry powder making it fairly spicy but still bearable.  As a warning, the “sauce” in the name is deceiving as the noodles are dry (don’t expect liquid curry). If you’ve ever had Singapore vermicelli at other restaurants, this is pretty much the same thing except made with flat chewy rice noodles. Mixed with BBQ pork, shrimp, crunchy bean sprouts, onions and slivers of bell peppers for colour it’s a great choice if you can handle heat.


Another satisfying dish was the super-sized House special noodle soup ($8.95), where it arrived in a candle heated serving vessel. Despite the shallow bowl, there was a fair amount of noodles – enough for approximately seven bowls. Moreover, there was a great selection of toppings including plump shrimp wontons, Shanghai wontons (same as shrimp except includes slivers of crunchy black fungus) and tender braised brisket & beef tendon. Once again the soup base had a deep flavour; some people, such as my dad, may find it too salty, but it was perfect for me. 


To end a complementary cold mango tapioca dessert. The soupy consistency threw me off at first as I was expecting mango Jello. But, it was a decent sweet to end the meal.

I’m torn after eating at My Wonderful Kitchen.  Congee Wong has always been my go-to congee and noodle restaurant but I feel like it may have been dethroned.  Alas, if only Wonderful Kitchen wasn’t so far away from my house, I’d definitely be returning regularly to try more of their extensive menu.

Overall mark - 8 out of 10


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____________________________
Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • - 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:
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