Showing posts with label North York. Show all posts
Showing posts with label North York. Show all posts

Kinton Ramen 4 (North York)

Location: North York, Canada
Address: 5165 Yonge Street
Website: http://www.kintonramen.com
Type of Meal: Dinner


If line-ups aren’t your thing, head to Kinton Ramen’s North York location after 10pm. At the later hour, plenty of tables available but there's still enough people mingling that it doesn’t feel empty.

Kinton’s fourth location offers a combo menu made up of a ramen, side dish and drink. Being a financially savvy person, I had to analyze the pricing to see whether it's actually a deal. My verdict is that although you save money, the savings of a $1 is negligible thus fairly worthless. Strangely, the lack of savings is due to Kinton charging more for the side dish as part of the combo than off their regular menu. Thus, this works to negate savings from adding a drink. In the brackets below, I list the combo and a la carte menu prices as a means of comparison.


I stuck with the pork original ramen ($10.90 for both combo and a la carte menu) as a means of comparing the uptown recipe to their Baldwin outpost (you can read about experience with the later here). Made with a shio (salt) base, I went with ‘regular’ strength as I found the ‘light’ one too watery. It was nice, not too salty or oily and had a light pork flavour coming through. So, it’s worth trying the regular first before you opt for the lighter choice.


The thick noodles were just a springy and the pork shoulder having a smoky quality as I enjoyed in my last visit. There’s also bean sprouts, green onions, a piece of nori and my favourite – the egg. Kinton still gives a full egg and at the North York location it’s even more soft-boiled, just look at the gooey brilliant yellow colour!



During another visit, I tried the spicy garlic ramen ($10.90) which really packs some heat in the broth. Following my friend's advice, I removed the ball of garlic on top and gradually added it into the broth to control how garlicky the broth became. In the end, about a third was enough for my taste.


Accompanying the combo, was a pint of Sapporo ($3.80 for combo vs. $5.80 on the a la carte menu). And this, my friends, is where any of the savings actually occurs.

The gyozas ($4.80 for combo vs. $3.80 on the a la carte menu) were deep fried arriving piping hot. Interestingly, they were topped with a zippy Miracle Whip sauce rather than being accompanied by soy sauce. It’s a nice change, but Kinton should consider listing the sauce on their menu as some people may be put off by the creamy sauce if they were expecting naked dumplings.


I wanted to know more about said sauce, but our waiter was no help: simply noting he didn’t know what was in it. Frankly, for a place where there’s such a limited menu, it’s sad for someone who works there to actually tell a customer they know nothing about the dishes. At the very least, they should offer to check with the chef or someone else who would know what’s being served.

Which brings me to the biggest difference between Kinton’s Baldwin and North York location – the service. Sure, everyone still shouts as you enter/leave, dishes arrive quickly and generally everyone is cheerful and friendly. But, it’s the small things that are not quite as polished.

The first, as already mentioned, is the lack of knowledge of their menu (at least the person who served us that night). Another example, was when soup was spilled as the table was cleared. Our waiter warned us about the spill (that he caused) but then chose to ignore it rather than cleaning it up. Normally, it wouldn’t matter. However, in this case, the soup was dangerously close to the edge of the table and could drip onto my fellow diner. Moreover, since all our napkins were taken away, we couldn’t even clean it up ourselves.

All in all, the slight service slip aside, I was satisfied with the food. Indeed, compared to other options available in the Yonge and Empress area, the ramen is better. Thankfully, the taste and quality is in line with Kinton’s downtown location; the serving size may even be slightly larger. If only their employees were better trained and their combo pricing strategy reevaluated than I’d be even happier.

Overall mark - 7* out of 10

* You may notice that I’ve given Kinton’s Baldwin location a “6” and the North York location a “7”.  The uptown location is by no means better than its downtown location. But, due to the uptown branch being so conveniently located and wait times being less than Downtown, I know I will likely return (thus, rendering the 6 as untrue).

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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!


Pho 88 (North York)

Location: North York, Canada
Address: 5197 Yonge Street
Website: http://www.pho88.ca/
Type of Meal: Dinner 


There’s no hiding it … I love pho. Something about the rich but not overly heavy broth, thin noodles and simple ingredients makes me happy. It’s the first thing I crave when I return home from a long vacation. There’s an abundance of it around the city and prices are unbelievably low for something that tastes so good! But, not every place makes it great – you can refer to this post for my top picks.

One evening my friends and I needed a quick dinner and found the line at Kinton Ramen way too long. Luckily, Pho 88 was just doors away and held promise for the same thing we craved – a big bowl of noodles and broth. Until this occasion, I’ve only been to Pho 88’s Scarborough location, which has always satisfied me. But, after eating at the North York location I wonder if they are even related given their menu and taste differs so much.

The spring roll platter ($11) was an enticing starter. Included were a good selection of the traditional favourites: deep fried chicken spring rolls, deep fried shrimp rolls and fresh cold shrimp rolls. On the side, a trio of sauces: peanut & chili, sweet chili Thai and a Vietnamese vinaigrette.


We weren’t impressed with the platter. The two fried versions could have been hotter. It’s either because it wasn't cooked long enough or there being too many layers of wrapper, but there was a doughiness to the roll’s inside. Additionally, there was too much filler (taro and yellow beans) such that the chicken was barely recognizable and even the shrimp rolls contained some. The cold roll was worse – the noodles were hard and the shrimp not at its freshest.

My pho, the plain rare and well-done beef ($6.75 for the small shown below; $7.75 for medium or $8.75 for large), was a touch better. But, it was really was just a hair better. The broth was a tad watery lacking that deep beef bone essence you’d expect. The beef was decent and lean but there was but a few slices and for a bowl that’s supposed to contain rare and well-done it arrived looking the same. The noodles were fine and the one saving grace to the meal.  


So, yes, I love pho. But, I’m definitely not in love with Pho 88’s North York location.

Overall mark - 5.5 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!

Pho 88 on Urbanspoon


Sushi Moto (Toronto)

Location: Toronto, Canada
Address: 4901 Yonge Street
Website: http://sushimoto.ca/
Type of Meal: Dinner



Sushi Moto is a spacious place, there’s large booths and tables in the centre perfect for bigger groups.  Having been there before, my husband and I dropped by for more of the delicious sounding rolls they offered.


Being a little adventurous we ordered the spicy killer maki ($9.95). Sure the name sounds deadly and makes you sweat in anticipation of the spice but it ended up being bearable. Essentially a spicy tuna roll with red chillies (although the menu notes jalapeño) and avocado which is then deep fried so there's a crispy crust and the tuna cooks. The crunch is nice and the heat augments the spiciness. Luckily, the avocado helps to neutralize it a bit so you can still enjoy the flavours. The spicy killer is filled with flavour but is meant to be shared as quite heavy.


We also had our normal purchases the spicy salmon ($6.95) and dynamite ($9.95) maki. The spicy salmon is average with big chunks of salmon rolled with tempura bits and spicy mayo. Sushi Moto leaves the salmon in big pieces rather than chopped up into tiny bits, which I personally like.


The dynamite is large and filling with tempura shrimp, avocado, julienned cucumber, and fish roe. Also a decent roll it could have been even better if the shrimp were freshly fried.


Craving something hot and meaty we also ordered the kalbi ($9.95). Arriving on a sizzling plate with plenty of onions it's fragrant and hot. The thicker cut and sufficient marinade was appreciated but for the price I did expect more than two pieces cut up into smaller pieces.


Additionally, Sushi Moto provides complementary Japanese noodle soup (not quite sure what the soup base would be). And if all the television screens can’t keep you entertained their tea cups offer an interesting read.


Compared to our first experience, Sushi Moto has improved slightly with their food’s flavours. Personally, I feel it’s worth it to pay a bit more for their "special" maki as they tend to have more fillings and often offers a different take on the normal rolls. Other ones that sound interesting include the erotica, tataki attack and the pink lady, which I’m sure we’ll go back one day to try. 


Overall mark - 7 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!

Sushi Moto on Urbanspoon

CLOSED: Asian Legend 味香村 (North York)

Location: North York, Canada
Address: 5188 Yonge Street
Type of Meal: Dinner



In the past, all my visits to Asian Legend were at their Scarborough location (read more about it here). But, my husband and I were craving soup filled dumplings, so decided to drop by the closer North York location instead. Not quite as large, it still has ample seating and was very busy during our weekend visit (make reservations if you’re planning to go with more than two people).

Of course we had to get what we came for - the steamed soup filled pork dumplings ($5.99). These tasted the same - decent wrapper thickness and a good amount of soup encapsulated in each one. But, we also opted to try the steamed soup filled crab and pork dumplings ($7.99) as well. I didn’t bother taking a picture of both because they look exactly the same.


At first I felt dubious about the addition of crab and weather it’d be worth the extra $2. But, am happy to say that you can certainly taste and see the extra ingredient. Overall, it brings an extra depth of flavour to the dumpling; an aromatic seafood essence. Since I eat mine without vinegar, I could taste the crab’s natural flavours mixed in. But, if you’re going to top the dumplings with a lot of condiments, I wouldn’t bother going past the traditional pork.


Their pork potstickers ($4.99) were not as juicy as the Scarborough location. The wrapper also could be improved as a couple were splitting apart (hence letting all the juices run out). Additionally, it lacked the more developed crust of their sister location.


The Singaporean style fried vermicelli ($10.99) had some great flavours to it with the generous dusting of curry powder. Indeed, it’s a much smaller portion than my previous experiences and found there wasn’t much of the staple ingredients of shrimp, BBQ pork and egg.


Overall, the taste of the dishes are similar as they seem to follow similar recipes. However, the execution of dishes (the potstickers) and value-for-money (the noodles) definitely falls behind their Scarborough counterpart. But, if you’re craving Shanghainese comfort food and don’t want to travel far, Asian Legend’s North York location may help tide you over.

Overall mark - 7 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!

Asian Legend on Urbanspoon


The Frog (Toronto)

Location: Toronto, Canada
Address: 4854 Yonge Street
Website: http://firkinpubs.com/thefrogandfirkin/
Type of Meal: Dinner



My husband is a loyal customer of the Frog and has been trying to convince me how good their food tasted. Admittedly, I was skeptical, as pub food is often greasy and frozen tasting. Nonetheless, one night I succumbed to his recommendation and visited the Frog for a proper meal. I was pleasantly surprised with the freshness and caliber of their food, so much so that a post seemed to be in order to share the experience. From the clean atmosphere, friendly & attentive service and piping hot dishes the meal was a success.

Firstly, a stuffed yorkie ($8) shared between us. It was delicious and if paired with a side salad could make a satisfying meal. A crispy Yorkshire pudding was stuffed with mashed potatoes and smothered with a rich gravy filled with cubes of tender beef. The gravy was already flavourful but the horseradish sprinkled on top added a great zip; if only there was more of it as not every bite incorporated the great flavour.


The maple BBQ pulled pork sandwich ($14) was one of the best I've ever had.  The pork was mostly shredded but there were also large intact pieces incorporated into the filling. Aside from the sweet BBQ sauce there was also a smoky flavour akin to honey glazed smoked ham.  But, what made it special were two tempura battered apple slices laid on top between the toasted ciabatta bun. As you bite through the soft bun you're met with a juicy crunch before reaching the meat itself. With plenty of hot fries (were okay and a bit dry) and a wedge of fried pickle (very crunchy) this was a filling meal.


An equally large sandwich, the turkey and avocado club ($15) also arrived with plenty of fries and a pickle. I enjoyed the thick slice of turkey (rather than thin deli meat slices), which was tender and smoky; but would have been even better if it was heated slightly.  Topped with thick slices of smoked bacon, creamy avocado, shredded ice burg lettuce, tomato and parmesan mayonnaise it’s a very hearty sandwich.  The toasted multigrain bread was fresh and soft with just a hint warmth from being toasted.


For something the lighter, the grilled vegetable and seven grain salad ($14) was still satisfying. It contains a variety of grains with tons of textures and flavours tossed with a light curry spice. From what I can tell there was quinoa, couscous, lentils, small white beans, wild rice and barley. The grains sits on a bed on spring mix with balsamic vinaigrette and is topped with goat cheese and slightly warmed grilled vegetables (onion, zucchini, peppers and eggplant). 


But, when you need to indulge the poutine ($8) fits the bill. Arriving in a cast iron skillet it's piping hot so all the cheese curds are completely melted. The gravy was beefy, salty and rich, what you want in a hearty poutine.


During my second visit, we entered from the back of the restaurant and this is when I discovered the great outdoor sitting area (on the top and bottom). The parking lot view aside, I'm sure it'd be a great venue during the warmer months.



In the end, I can see why my husband and his friends enjoy the Frog so much. So, if you're a skeptical foodie like myself, I urge you to try new things as you may have a pleasant experience. On the other hand, if you like pubs certainly give this place a try as it receives my stamp of approval.

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!

The Frog: A Firkin Pub on Urbanspoon

Pho Mi Asia (Toronto)

Location: Toronto, Canada
Address: 1008 Wilson Avenue

Type of Meal: Dinner 


Having only visited pho places in Scarborough, I was delighted to find on Blog.TO information about a decent establishment located a short drive from my place.  Pho Mi Asia is like many other restaurants – situated in a strip mall with sparse but functional furnishing.  None of that matter since pho is not about the atmosphere but rather tastes.

Sticking with my regular small well done beef and tendon ($5.50) it arrived looking rather small.  Admittedly, I was a bit surprised as in reading reviews most people comment on their huge portions of meat.  During my visit, I found this really wasn’t the case and the bowl was actually tinier than the other places I visit.  Nonetheless, the noodles were cooked well and not overdone, the soup base decent & not too oily and the beef lean & tender.


The spring rolls ($4) were too dense, in my opinion, due to all the yellow beans added to the filling.  So, despite the wrapper being crispy and thin, the spring roll felt heavy.  Additionally, they were very hard to find on the menu so we ended up ordering the wrong ones (rice paper rolls instead) and had to ask them to switch; luckily they were nice about it and were willing to replace the order.

Not being entirely satisfied after the bowl of pho, we decided to order a slushy drink.  I opted for the sweet red bean, coconut cream and jelly ($3.50) hoping to reconnect with the taste of my childhood.  Arriving in a plastic cup it didn’t look the most appealing on account to the green jelly and dark bottom – I sort of felt like I was eating dirt and grass.
Strangely, in lieu of the smaller Asian red beans that are normally used in desserts, Pho Mi Asia used gigantic kidney beans.  Sure, they were still soft and slightly sweet from the syrup but it was a bit off putting.  The only highlight to the drink was that they did add thick coconut cream (instead of ice cream and evaporated milk) which did care a nice luxuriant feel.

All in all, it’s an adequate establishment to visit if you happen to be in the area. But, not good enough that I’d make it the place I go to.  For all my pho cravings, I’ll still be heading to Pho Metro or Pho 88. 

Overall mark - 6 out of 10


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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!


Pho Mi Asia on Urbanspoon

CLOSED: Estrella Taqueria (Toronto)

Location: Toronto, Canada
Address: 4899 Yonge Street

Type of Meal: Dinner



Estrella Taqueria isn’t located on Dundas, Queen or King West but rather in North York at Yonge and Sheppard. Taking over the former Smokey Joe’s, it’s a big restaurant occupying over 4,000 square feet and seats 280 inside and another 130 on their rooftop patio. Unfortunately, we visited in the winter so we couldn’t see the patio, but will be interesting to see how this outdoor oasis is updated next year.

From the moment we entered, the staff was friendly and efficient. Frederik, our waiter was great - very friendly, attentive and generally smiles at all times. Service was definitely not an issue at Estrella as everything came as ordered and we were in and out in less than 40 minutes. What they were lacking was good food, the most important part of any restaurant. In reading the few reviews available, people noted the guacamole was plain and in general the appetizers a disappointing, so we decided to play it safe and ordered six tacos to share. 


Of the bunch, the short rib taco ($5.50) was the best.  The beef was a decent size, pretty tender from being braised in cola and fairly flavourful. The addition of chimichurri and chipotle aioli provided a good balance of heat and freshness.  Topping the taco were slivers of yukka chips, which would have been even better if they were crispy to add some contrasting textures.


Even the elote de tortitas ($4.95) had some promise. Being the sole vegetarian option, it consisted of a big corn fritter flavoured with black bean puree, pico de gallo and chipotle aioli.  If only the fritter was shaped evenly, cylinder rather than football, it would have allowed the fritter to cook uniformly.  Unfortunately, the middle of our fritter was underdone so you could taste raw batter, whereas the sides were cooked well and enjoyable.


Sadly, anything that’s worth eating stops there.  The oyster taco ($5.50) was dismal and made from such small oysters that they could have been clams for all I know - the cornmeal batter was more plentiful than any actual seafood.  Overall, it was rather tasteless despite it having a miso/celeriac remoulade; the sauce simply has to be stronger (or at least saltier). The thought of pairing it with green tomatoes is commendable since if the oysters were big enough this condiment would let them retain dominance while still adding some freshness to the taco.  



The taco de panza’s ($4.95) pork belly, although described as being slow braised, was pretty tough and should be classified as boiled at best.  The fat wasn’t rendered enough so that it was still white and hard which made it inedible.  Despite the menu noting the taco containing guajillo sauce, cilantro and queso panella, nothing really stood out except for the large portion of cabbage (also quite bland) on top.  I actually had to resort to squeezing the lime on it hoping to add some taste. 


On the other hand, the baja fish taco ($4.95) was extremely spicy (likely on account of the pickled chilis mixed with chipotle aioli).  This would have been nice if the deep fried snapper wasn’t so small and dried out. There was no flakiness at all and appeared to be frozen based on the crumbly consistency and slight fishiness. Sorry for the somewhat dim picture quality, but should give you an idea of how small the fish is. Usually, most competing tacos I’ve had the fillet is longer than the shell; at Estrella you could hardly see it under the slaw.  Let’s be honest, snapper is a pretty inexpensive variety of fish, with a $5.50 price tag they could easily offer a larger piece using fresh fish and still make a profit.


The last taco I tried, duck confit ($5.50), ended the meal on a low.  Normally, I expect duck confit to be tender and flavourful on account of slow cooking duck in its fat.  Estrella’s version was shredded and dry so it’s almost like eating rehydrated duck jerky mixed into coleslaw.  The flavours were also pretty lacklustre and needs something (maybe a sweet and spicy bean paste) to wake it up.  Estrella should consider slicing the duck rather than shredding to help retain some moistness and allow the customer to actually taste the duck’s essence.  


In general all the tacos were pretty small and about the size of a cd or dvd (readers younger than 20, you’ll likely have no idea what these are so please refer to google images for a photo and description). Thankfully, they do use corn tortillas, rather than the softer wheat ones, but when the taco didn’t have enough sauce on the base they ended up cracking and falling apart – especially the taco de panza. Usually, other taquerias would use two layers and more sauce to prevent this from happening, so this is something Estrella should consider.

For the quality and size, the tacos were significantly over-priced so really you’re paying for the surroundings more than food.  I’ll admit, the atmosphere is nice and an improvement from the former tenant. There’s a large bar on the bottom floor and a section with two ping pong tables in the back (no one actually playing on our Saturday visit). Conceivably, all this space that is non- revenue generating would need to be subsidized by food and drink sales; so, the tacos are a poor value if you’re only going to eat.  

In the end, Estrella is only a superficial improvement from Smokey Joes. It’s disappointing as I frequent the area and was hoping for a good non-chain restaurant. Who knows, maybe I’ll return for drinks in the summer and check out their rooftop patio.  But, it’s doubtful that food would ever be a big draw to visit again.

Overall mark - 4 out of 10

Like the blog? You can now follow me on twitter for notifications - 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!







CLOSED: Estrella Taqueria (Toronto)

Location: Toronto, Canada
Address: 4899 Yonge Street

Type of Meal: Dinner



Estrella Taqueria isn’t located on Dundas, Queen or King West but rather in North York at Yonge and Sheppard. Taking over the former Smokey Joe’s, it’s a big restaurant occupying over 4,000 square feet and seats 280 inside and another 130 on their rooftop patio. Unfortunately, we visited in the winter so we couldn’t see the patio, but will be interesting to see how this outdoor oasis is updated next year.

From the moment we entered, the staff was friendly and efficient. Frederik, our waiter was great - very friendly, attentive and generally smiles at all times. Service was definitely not an issue at Estrella as everything came as ordered and we were in and out in less than 40 minutes. What they were lacking was good food, the most important part of any restaurant. In reading the few reviews available, people noted the guacamole was plain and in general the appetizers a disappointing, so we decided to play it safe and ordered six tacos to share. 


Of the bunch, the short rib taco ($5.50) was the best.  The beef was a decent size, pretty tender from being braised in cola and fairly flavourful. The addition of chimichurri and chipotle aioli provided a good balance of heat and freshness.  Topping the taco were slivers of yukka chips, which would have been even better if they were crispy to add some contrasting textures.


Even the elote de tortitas ($4.95) had some promise. Being the sole vegetarian option, it consisted of a big corn fritter flavoured with black bean puree, pico de gallo and chipotle aioli.  If only the fritter was shaped evenly, cylinder rather than football, it would have allowed the fritter to cook uniformly.  Unfortunately, the middle of our fritter was underdone so you could taste raw batter, whereas the sides were cooked well and enjoyable.


Sadly, anything that’s worth eating stops there.  The oyster taco ($5.50) was dismal and made from such small oysters that they could have been clams for all I know - the cornmeal batter was more plentiful than any actual seafood.  Overall, it was rather tasteless despite it having a miso/celeriac remoulade; the sauce simply has to be stronger (or at least saltier). The thought of pairing it with green tomatoes is commendable since if the oysters were big enough this condiment would let them retain dominance while still adding some freshness to the taco.  



The taco de panza’s ($4.95) pork belly, although described as being slow braised, was pretty tough and should be classified as boiled at best.  The fat wasn’t rendered enough so that it was still white and hard which made it inedible.  Despite the menu noting the taco containing guajillo sauce, cilantro and queso panella, nothing really stood out except for the large portion of cabbage (also quite bland) on top.  I actually had to resort to squeezing the lime on it hoping to add some taste. 


On the other hand, the baja fish taco ($4.95) was extremely spicy (likely on account of the pickled chilis mixed with chipotle aioli).  This would have been nice if the deep fried snapper wasn’t so small and dried out. There was no flakiness at all and appeared to be frozen based on the crumbly consistency and slight fishiness. Sorry for the somewhat dim picture quality, but should give you an idea of how small the fish is. Usually, most competing tacos I’ve had the fillet is longer than the shell; at Estrella you could hardly see it under the slaw.  Let’s be honest, snapper is a pretty inexpensive variety of fish, with a $5.50 price tag they could easily offer a larger piece using fresh fish and still make a profit.


The last taco I tried, duck confit ($5.50), ended the meal on a low.  Normally, I expect duck confit to be tender and flavourful on account of slow cooking duck in its fat.  Estrella’s version was shredded and dry so it’s almost like eating rehydrated duck jerky mixed into coleslaw.  The flavours were also pretty lacklustre and needs something (maybe a sweet and spicy bean paste) to wake it up.  Estrella should consider slicing the duck rather than shredding to help retain some moistness and allow the customer to actually taste the duck’s essence.  


In general all the tacos were pretty small and about the size of a cd or dvd (readers younger than 20, you’ll likely have no idea what these are so please refer to google images for a photo and description). Thankfully, they do use corn tortillas, rather than the softer wheat ones, but when the taco didn’t have enough sauce on the base they ended up cracking and falling apart – especially the taco de panza. Usually, other taquerias would use two layers and more sauce to prevent this from happening, so this is something Estrella should consider.

For the quality and size, the tacos were significantly over-priced so really you’re paying for the surroundings more than food.  I’ll admit, the atmosphere is nice and an improvement from the former tenant. There’s a large bar on the bottom floor and a section with two ping pong tables in the back (no one actually playing on our Saturday visit). Conceivably, all this space that is non- revenue generating would need to be subsidized by food and drink sales; so, the tacos are a poor value if you’re only going to eat.  

In the end, Estrella is only a superficial improvement from Smokey Joes. It’s disappointing as I frequent the area and was hoping for a good non-chain restaurant. Who knows, maybe I’ll return for drinks in the summer and check out their rooftop patio.  But, it’s doubtful that food would ever be a big draw to visit again.

Overall mark - 4 out of 10

Like the blog? You can now follow me on twitter for notifications - 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!