Showing posts with label affordable. Show all posts
Showing posts with label affordable. Show all posts

Perfect Chinese Restaurant 雅瓊海鮮酒家 for dim sum (Toronto)


The most affordable dim sum in Toronto has to be at Perfect Chinese Restaurant: on weekdays most dishes are $1.80 rising to $2 in their “VIP” room, weekends all standard dishes are $2. Of course, they do have certain “special” items peddled from the dim sum carts, but theses are still $3 or less. Even the customary tea charge is only $0.60 per person. If there’s a place that’s cheaper, I certainly haven’t found it.

Even with the low prices, the quality of Perfect’s dim sum is good and certain dishes even larger than competitors. So how do they do it? You’ll find out the moment you pull into the old neglected plaza and sit down in their dated dining room – the surroundings aren’t palatial, but the low rent and passé décor means savings in your pocket.

Perfect has such a large selection it’d be impossible to highlight even half of their offerings in this post. Instead, this will focus on the dim sum that’s particularly good, bad or I find special as it’s hard to find elsewhere.    

Stepping away from the “hamburger” method of providing feedback, we’ll start with the poorly constructed dishes. Their nuggets of tofu and fish paste ($2) has an awful mushy and sticky consistency. Save for some saltiness from the sauce, they lack flavour and are forgettable. Moreover, their pork & dried vegetable congee ($2) is gritty from the poorly soaked vegetable, so I’d stick with the chicken & corn version instead.


Luckily, they have a lot of good offerings. When the steamed shrimp and scallop dumpling ($2.20) is hot (a shame they’re not served covered in bamboo steamers), these umami laced dumplings are fantastic and beat the traditional har gow any day. Aside from seafood, the filling contains diced celery adding a lovely refreshing crunch to the dumpling.


If you’re a fan of ham shuy gok, the oval crispy orbs filled with minced pork, the shrimp version is worth a try. Shaped like crescents, inside is a fair amount of shrimp dressed up with chives. The crisp slightly sweet glutinous coating is similar to what’s used in the popular pork dish.


Getting a clay pot of their regular rice ($2) will require luck as they’re generally gone by the time the cart arrives to your table (people go to the cart). If you don’t like hunting down the food, splurge on the baked seafood ($3) one that arrives piping hot with a creamy shrimp, scallop and squid sauce on top of fried rice.


Their fried quail ($2.75) is a steal for a dish that takes so much preparation (brining, drying and then cooking). It’s well marinated for flavour and deep fried giving the skin a crispiness similar to Peking duck but the fowl meat juicier.


You can find pan-fried turnip ($2) or taro cake ($2) anywhere, but Perfect still uses the old fashioned cooking carts giving you a hotter dish. Moreover, they really take the time to allow a golden crust to develop and if you ask nicely you can mix-and-match any three pieces from the savoury turnip & taro or sweet chestnut offerings. 


For dessert you really should try their steamed glutinous dumplings filled with red bean paste ($2). Sometimes it can be hard to rip off the bamboo leaf wrapped around it, but the chewy soft dessert is very tasty. The steamed custard roll ($2.20) is also a nice choice, the fluffy light sponge cake smeared with a thick egg custard – a light but satisfying sweet.


After stuffing yourself with dim sum take the time to walk around the plaza. There’s an eerie quality to the abandoned stores that seem frozen in time: a relic space heater left in one and an entire supermarket filled with empty shelves. 


As a teenager there was even a defunct bakery with its display wedding cakes still featured prominently at the window. Perfect Chinese Restaurant has out lasted them all, survival of the fittest.

Overall mark - 7 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 4386 Sheppard Avenue East 

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:


Perfect Chinese Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Paramount Fine Foods Yorkville


It seems like yesterday I first step foot in Paramount’s two-floor Yonge and Dundas location. I was marveled about its size and extensive menu dedicated to Middle Eastern cuisine; deciding what to order was no small feat. In less than five years, the chain now has 26 operating restaurants and another 16 in the queue – there will soon be more Canadians facing the ordering dilemma.  

Their menu has all the popular favourites: shawarma, kafta and shish tawouk skewers. Yet, Paramount also offers dishes such as the manakeesh, a flatbread topped with a variety of ingredients that’s similar to pizza, which until Paramount I’ve never heard about. This summer the choices continue to grow with another dozen dishes added, a selection featured in this post.

The Yalla special ($9.99), a dish popularized by the Yalla Paramount food truck, is not unlike poutine - cubes of chicken shawarma replaces cheese curds and plenty of garlic & tahini sauce is drizzled over top instead of gravy. It's a popular dish for the food truck.  However, unlike the Canadian favourite, the sauces aren’t warm so the fries arrive cool losing that hot crispiness I love and crave with fries.  
If you’re looking for a great shared starter, opt for the mezza plate ($9.99), the selection of dips are fantastic:

  • Of course there’s the classic hummus: a smooth chick pea paste combined with tahini (a toasted sesame seed sauce) and drizzled with olive oil.
  • The tabbouleh is refreshing, the diced tomatoes and crushed wheat helping to mellow chopped parsley and onions. If you’re having any of Paramount’s grilled meat mains, save a bit of tabbouleh, it goes so nicely mixed with hot beef or lamb juices.
  • Lastly, a serving of moutabbal, which I mistakenly thought was baba ghanoush at the restaurant. Having researched the dip further online, the Syrian Foodie explains that although both use eggplant cooked on an opened flame (to give the dip a smokiness), moutabbal mixes the vegetable with tahini while baba ghanoush uses pomegranate molasses and parsley – so you’ll find the moutabbal richer and more savoury.

The mezza plate is the perfect condiment for paring with the pillowy pita made fresh at the restaurant’s wood-burning ovens. Heated to 600F, the intense heat causes the middle of the bread to steam and puff up. As the basket is brought to the table, I can’t wait to dig into the hot bread and inhale the yeasty steam. Paramount’s pitas put supermarkets to shame – they’re chewy with a lovely toasted crust, nothing like the dry powdery cardboard you find bagged in plastic.  

Another new bread being offered is the markook, an ultra-thin flatbread which is used in their tabliyeh saj chicken shawarma wrap ($11.99). Plenty of shredded roasted chicken is wrapped in tortilla-thin bread, then toasted so that it gets a crispy exterior. The garlic sauce gives the wrap moisture and almost a cheesy quality when it’s warm and gooey. The platter makes for a great lunch with a generous portion of fries (complete with more garlic sauce for dipping), pickles and turnips.


Paramount’s first seafood dish, the BBQ shrimp plate ($16.49) is wonderful. The marinated shrimp cooked quickly on the hot grill so they get a lovely light char but retain a crispiness. I love the lighter tomato garlic sauce they’ve concocted for the dish – the spicy heat going nicely with the shrimp and even better when mixed into the fragrant basmati rice. This has to be my favourite dish at Paramount to date.


Even their drinks are a sight… every time someone see’s the Paramount Special ($7.49), they immediately peruse the menu to find the elaborate concoction. The drink could easily work as a light meal or dessert: the fresh strawberry and mango juices topped with mixed fruits (strawberry, kiwi and pineapple), crushed almonds & pistachio, ashta cream (similar to clotted or Devonshire cream) and honey. For me, I prefer their mango juice ($6.49), silky and fragrant without being overly sweet.


Paramount has always been a popular restaurant for weekday lunches – their service is quick (allowing the lunch to stick to an hour), prices are reasonable (most mains are under $15), there’s a great selection and no on leaves hungry. If time is not an issue, I suggest first ordering appetizers and adding on mains afterwards - otherwise everything comes in quick succession and the small tables makes fitting the large platters a challenge.

I can certainly see why Paramount Fine Foods is one of the quickest growing franchise in North America. And thank you for the new mezza and BBQ shrimp plates, deciding what to eat has now gotten even more difficult.

Overall mark - 7 out of 10
Dislaimer: 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: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 1250 Bay Street

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:



Paramount Fine Foods Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Kinton Ramen 5 (Toronto)



The newest Kinton Ramen location has just opened beside the first Kinka Izakaya (formerly Guu) … talk about coming full circle! In contrast to Kinton 1 on Baldwin and Kinton 4 in North York, the Church street restaurant is surrounded by windows giving the dining room an airy atmosphere and some turning heads as pedestrians walk by.

Its menu is identical to the other restaurants but there are some slight differences in the food’s preparation. For example, at Kinton 5 some pieces of their original karaage ($5.90) have the skin left on so that the deep fried chicken is even moister and an addition crackling crunch. Any flour coating the chicken is minimal making the appetizer lighter than the versions I’ve tried at Kinton 4 and Kinka.


Be careful when biting into the takoyaki ($4.50) … it’s HOT! As the steam settles, you can see the octopus pieces mixed into the glutinous dough of the deep fried nuggets. Its consistency is more fluid than you’d expect, but it’s not off putting and almost reminds me of a stickier deep fried turnip cake.


Having had a good experience with the spicy garlic pork noodles, I decided to try the other flavour amped offering: the spicy jalapeno chicken ramen ($11.90). The heat, stemming from the jalapeno paste, is subtle and plays peek-a-boo with the tongue; barely noticeable until the last moment the soup is swallowed.


The two slices of chicken breast weren’t overly flavourful but are tender having been cooked sous vide and goes well with the blanched diced white onions. Personally, I think the ramen should come standard with corn (an extra $1), which adds an additional punch of colour, its sweetness balancing the jalapeno and the crunch contrasting against the otherwise “soft” ingredients.

Adding on a seasoned egg ($1.50) is wise, it seems even more slowly cooked than the other locations, its yolk a molten jelly texture.


The silky chicken broth has a creamy quality without being oily so it’s a lighter meal – perfect for the warmer weather. And, it’s one of those bowls that’s easy to finish every last drop so that you too can become a Kinton Bowler and get a picture on their online wall of fame.

Overall mark - 7 out of 10
Disclaimer: The above meal was provided on a complimentary basis, but rest assured, as noted in the mission statement, I will provide an honest opinion.


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 396 Church Street

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:


KINTON RAMEN 5 Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato