Showing posts with label Spice and pepper fried squid. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Spice and pepper fried squid. Show all posts

Hong Shing (Toronto) for delivery

Note: Prices in post are based on regular menu prices (before 20% discount) and may be higher when using third party delivery services

There are a lot of great restaurants in North York/Midtown. Even so, sometimes I miss the options from downtown. With the dazzling array of choices and most offering delivery, eating diversely is not a problem for those south of Bloor.

Given the density of the downtown core, it’s no surprise that the delivery radius cuts off homes north of Yorkville. Sometimes, the area may expand to Eglinton, but the outer Toronto regions are deserted. Hence, Hong Shing’s pop-up deliveries to the outskirts of Toronto and beyond (Mississauga, Brampton) are such a blessing. The cities vary by day (check their website or Instagram), but place you order by 4pm and you’ll receive free delivery and they even honour the 20% online discount. 

What really captured my attention was the promise of fresh lobsters for the weekend. Between that and Chinese barbeque – two things I don’t make at home – I had a two-month long craving that yearned to be satisfied. So, dinner plans were changed and that evening we were having Chinese!

The pièce de résistance was of course the lobster e-fu noodles ($35). How they managed to jam so much food into a single container is staggering – even after eating two portions each there was still plenty of leftovers.

Despite travelling all the way from downtown to North York, the lobster remained surprisingly hot and not overcooked. Perhaps the flour coating the crustacean was a bit gluier than normal (note to chef: maybe only dust lightly?) but was still very satisfying. Even the e-fu noodles held-up nicely and didn’t become soggy, likely the better delivery option compared to chow mein.

Families regularly get Chinese barbeque to go, so it wasn’t a surprise that the roast pork ($15) and duck ($15 for half) delivered well. Without the diluted hoisin sauce, the pork just wasn’t the same, but the skin still crispy despite it being a rather lean cut. Meanwhile, the duck could have done without the liberal ladle of sauce into the container - that extra moisture rendered the skin soggy and made it so salty that adding any plum sauce would be overpowering.

The Chinese barbeque did work well as leftovers for the following days. Using the popular “KFC rice cooker” recipe as inspiration, the roast pork went into the rice cooker with 2-cups of rice, a teaspoon of bouillon, and a tablespoon of soy sauce to be transformed into a fragrant sticky rice and tenderized the lean meat. And after re-heating the duck in the toaster oven, it was combined with chewy noodles and broth for a tasty dinner.

Dishes that didn’t fair well for the drive were the honey spicy crispy beef ($14) and the deep-fried spicy squid ($14). Once they lost their heat it became dry and powdery and even re-eating them in the toaster oven only marginally improved the dishes. At least the spicy honey sauce on the beef was well flavoured; the spicy squid, on the other hand, needed a lot more seasoning.

It’s surprising that the squid wasn’t spicier considering Hong Shing’s hot and sour soup ($7 for a medium; equivalent of two bowls) was a flavour bomb! Whether it’s the sting of the vinegar or the kick of chili flakes, this was a great rendition of the soup incorporating plenty of tofu, vegetable slivers, and bamboo shoots.

Stir fried snow pea leaves ($14) is another quarantine craving of mine. The leafy vegetable is impossible to source through supermarket delivery and curb-side pickup, so I was elated when a packed container arrived. The neutral vegetable was an ideal pairing with the other heavier dishes.

Hong Shing’s online ordering system allows customers to choose whether they need cutlery, an option I hope all restaurants implement. Yet, whoever is packing the order doesn’t seem to care as our arrived with plastic cutlery and extra sauces anyways. For someone who is trying to reduce waste when dining under the “new normal” conditions, I really really would have preferred not to receive something that could be saved from the landfill.

We all need to do our part during this epidemic. Customers should support small businesses to ensure they continue and survive. Restaurants, please also consider your footprint on the environment and reduce unnecessary waste and packaging whenever possible. 

Overall mark - 7 out of 10

How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 195 Dundas Street West
 Delivery: self-delivery, Uber, Skip the Dishes
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Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never order again
  • 6 - decent for delivery and takeout, but there's better
  • 7 - this is good, for delivery and takeout
  • 8 - great for delivery and takeout, it's almost like you're in a restaurant
  • 9 - wow, it's like I'm eating at a restaurant
  • 10 - I'd happily order this for delivery or takeout instead of dining in any day!

Is That It? I Want More!

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Congee Wong 天皇名粥 (Toronto)

Location: Toronto, Canada
Address: 10 Ravel Road
Type of Meal: Dinner

Congee and noodle restaurants are the casual family restaurants for Chinese individuals. Their menus are usually filled with tons of options at bargain prices and dishes arrive as ridiculously large portions. Congee Wong is one of my favourite such restaurants and their location at Finch and Leslie has been a popular spot for years.

Having visited since a child, there are tons of tried and true dishes we frequently order off their menu. I recently realized that despite visiting every few months, I've never written a post about it. Such a shame, as they are such a great option for quick and affordable meals.

Their menu has over a hundred of items on it so its impossible to even touch upon a portion of it in one visit.  But you can certainly find something for everyone with all the great options. 

During every visit, we can't help but order a bowl of congee - after all this is their namesake dish. Congee could be considered Chinese porridge made from rice that has been boiled for hours in water or broth. What you'll find at restaurants tend to be thicker and silkier feeling compared to what's made at home as they will often add rice noodle fragments to it which changes the consistency and texture of it. 

With over 40 varieties to choose from the options seem endless. My favourite congee they offer is the seafood with wintermelon super bowl ($8.75) but given its large size is difficult to order with less than four people. During one visit, we ordered another seafood based one -  Lai Wan style congee ($4.75). Containing octopus, shrimp, rehydrated pork rind, pieces of roasted duck, peanuts and shredded lettuce on top. Typically this dish wouldn't include roasted duck but for some reason its a staple at Congee Wong. 

During the winter visit, the lettuce looked a little haggard but still did its job. Lai Wan congee contains various "crunchy" textures from the various seafood and pork rind, a hint of freshness from the lettuce and a richness from the duck. I'll warn you, its not for all individuals as can sometimes feel like a mishmash of whatever's leftover.

Congee Wong is known for the substantial portion sizes for the rice and noodle dishes. Their house seafood and mixed vegetable fried vermicelli ($11.25) may not be incredibly colourful but is still chocked full of flavours and textures. There's quite a bit of seafood in it including shrimp, baby scallops and pieces of squid. The addition of bean sprouts, diced bell peppers, fresh green onion and egg rounds everything out. The vermicelli isn't as oily as other fried noodle/rice dishes and doesn't have much of a sauce on it so better if you're in the mood for something lighter. 

One of my favourite dishes offered by Chinese establishments is the salt and pepper spicy fried squid ($6.95). The price at Congee Wong is hard to beat with so many pieces of deep fried squid included with it. The batter is a bit thicker and sometimes may be a little softer than I like. But, its generally dry enough and quite flavourful with its saltiness and just a hint of heat from the diced chillies. Just be careful when they first arrive as they are very hot but its hard to resist tucking into the fragrant dish.

Given my father regularly visits he often gets a complimentary dessert made from grass jelly, red beans and sago pearls in a sweet soup made from coconut and evaporated milk. I can't really tell what this may be as part of their menu but could be the house special dessert ($2.95). For a Chinese dessert its actually quite sweet but a cool refreshing way to end the meal.

Congee Wong has varies locations throughout the GTA, as well as a sister chain called Congee Queen. But, something about their Finch and Leslie location will always be held dear in my heart and the one I choose to visit.

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
  • 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!