Showing posts with label broccoli tempura. Show all posts
Showing posts with label broccoli tempura. Show all posts

Drums N Flats (Toronto) for delivery

Note: Prices in post are based on regular menu prices and may be higher when using delivery services

There’s no shortage of pubs in the Yonge Lawrence neighbourhood and almost all of their menus offer chicken wings. But the pub that is most dedicated to the dish is Drums & Flats: showcasing it in their name and dedicating a quarter of their menu, including the option to have just the drums (the meaty “lollipop” third of the wing) or the flats (the middle portion).

For this order, one of their signature sauces was beckoning me – The Island Hot Hot Hot ($14.99). I imagined the heat of scotch bonnet peppers combined with sweet pineapples, maybe something like a jerk marinade. The three “hots” should have been a tip that there would likely be less fruit and more spice in the sauce. Three layers to be exact - buffalo, hot sauce, and chili flakes (?) - and not a tinge of anything tropical anywhere.

One bite into the bright red wing and the tingling heat began. The cooling carrot stick was not enough, but a dip into the lovely buttermilk dill sauce helped a bit. Nonetheless, after two wings, even that couldn’t calm the fire, only a big glass of almond milk could help me get through a few more of the flats.

Unable to get through the rest of the spicy wings, I saved them for the next day to build into another meal. After reheating them in the toasted oven and dunking them into a bowl of non-spicy instant noodles, the chillies combined into the broth creating a great bowl of spicy chicken wing ramen.

I should have stuck with our typical dish: the double-dipped hot and honey ($15.99), which takes the deep-fried wings and tosses it in the fiery sweet sauce and then grills them on the barbeque to caramelize that layer before tossing them in sauce again. While we kept it to a single flavour, normally you can combine two sauces to really develop something to your liking. Being cooked twice creates a smokier and stickier wing, but I find also makes them a little drier.

For those who don’t eat meat, Drums & Flats even has veggie wings ($12.99) using battered and deep-fried chunks of broccoli and cauliflower that are tossed in your choice of seasoning. Wanting to keep the crispiness in the coating, a lemon and pepper dry rub seemed to be a good choice and gave the dish enough flavour without rendering the batter to a paste.

While an inclusive idea, the dish is also extremely oily - the amount of grease that’s released after squeezing a piece in a paper towel is scary. The batter is too thick, more like fish and chips than tempura, which causes it to soak up so much oil.

The great things about wings is it works well for delivery arriving fairly hot and the veggie wings still surprisingly crispy. Plus, all inhibitions go out the window, you can really get in there and get messy in the safety of your own home. Take it from me, aside from the buttermilk dill sauce, you need a lot of napkins to go with chicken wings.

Overall mark - 7 out of 10

How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 1980 Avenue Road
 Delivery: Uber, Doordash, 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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CLOSED: Jackpot Chicken Rice (Toronto)

Although you won’t hit triple 7’s while dining at Jackpot Chicken Rice, it’s a good double 7’s and a bar. The quaint well laid-out dining room surely elicits excitement like a casino – the larger-than-life baby holding a watermelon painted on the wall and the sporadic tables wrapped in bright tropical flower motifs. On a first date? Just look around, there’s something that will get you talking.

A friendly vibe just buzzes throughout the restaurant. It definitely has something to do with the people working there – their smiles are infectious and puts you in a good mood. If you’ve read Gastro World in the past, you’ll likely remember my grips about communal tables. Jackpot put me in such a great mood, that my friend and I actually ended up sharing a table (and meal) with an out-of-town diner and had a great evening meeting someone new. Who said Torontonians are stand offish?

During dinner service sharing is strongly encouraged since most dishes are fairly rich and there’s so many interesting sounding ones to choose from. Their Go All In! menu urges patrons to share and already come with their staples (the schmaltzy rice, crispy chicken skin, soy eggs and winter melon soup). All you need to do is choose from the selection of snacks and large plates – the number varying depending on the amount of guests.

Our table of three settled with the Go All In! for two ($70; all the items listed below were included, the individual prices are listed for informational purposes) and added on an extra bowl of soup ($2.50). With all the food, we left satisfied… wow this would have been a feast for a duo. 

Of course, we did lean towards to the heavier dishes such as the kaffir broccoli tempura ($9) instead of steamed vegetables. The tempura’s batter was light and crispy with drizzles of roasted garlic aioli on top. The kaffir lime leaves helped add some freshness to the broccoli but it was still too heavy. In hindsight, the steamed bok choy with XO sauce would be a better choice to balance out the richness of everything else.

The Jackpot stickers ($10) were delicious, each thumb-sized dumpling containing a simple shrimp paste. It was all the condiments that made the appetizer sing, with the Japanese curry sauce that has a hint of mustard to the beet slivers that add a juicy crunchiness to the dish.

Our meal certainly was a chicken affair. Aside from their famed dish, the meal also featured the fowl’s crispy skin ($7), which had a surprisingly delicate crunch thanks to Jackpot baking the skin so that the oiliness is toned down. As a lover of soft boiled eggs, the soy sauce eggs ($3.50) had that gooey jelly centre I love, but the braising liquid could be stronger as the soy and Shaoxing wine flavours were non-existent.

Then there’s the dish everyone comes for… the Jackpot chicken ($16), where the bird is poached Hainanese-style on a slow boil so that it soaks up the flavourful stock and all the meat’s fibers break down. It’s certainly soft - to the point that it’s getting too soft - as the texture is turns towards mushy. I did prefer that the chicken was slightly warm (sometimes it’s dunked in ice water to create a jelly between the meat and skin), which helps coax out the ginger and scallion flavours from the dipping sauce a bit more.  

As the chicken simmers, the fat that’s released floats to the top and is skimmed off to form the base for the schmaltzy rice. Chef Craig Wong demonstrated how to cook the dish on Breakfast Television. The recipe starts off like risotto: chicken fat is infused with ginger and garlic, then rice is added and gets coated with the fragrant oil before chicken stock is poured in and the rice begins to steam. The resulting rice is heavenly, dressed with crispy shallots and scallions, something that could be eaten on its own.

In terms of the large plates, the Hanoi pork jowl ($18) was absolutely delicious, the chewy but soft pieces of meat coated in a blend of turmeric, ginger, and dill. The dish has that salty, sour and spicy combination normally found in Thai dishes; all these refreshing elements helping to balance out the richness of the oily rice. A tip I learnt from our new friend for the evening: add some of the ginger and scallion sauce served with the chicken onto the pork … it just brings the flavour up to another level.

It’d be nice if the winter melon soup ($2.50) was hotter - between bites of the oily rice a piping hot broth would certainly help cleanse the palette. As a warning, it’s nothing like the grand winter melon soups found in Chinese restaurants – steamed in the vegetable with seafood, cured ham and mushrooms throughout. Rather, it’s a bowl of condensed master stock, with simple garnishes of crispy shallots and scallions. The soup’s fine, but not something I’d add onto a meal.

Let’s be honest, if you’re going expecting the typical Hainanese chicken rice plates found in Hong Kong style cafes or food courts across the city, you’ll likely end up complaining about the price and portion sizes. Jackpot Chicken Rice isn’t typical: you’re going for the jovial atmosphere, the ability to make reservations, and getting to have a killer cocktail with the meal (they share a bartender with Cold Tea). It’s cheeky and fun.

And if you see a single diner needing a table, invite them to sit with you. It’d be a shame if they couldn’t get the full experience; there’s certainly enough food in the Go All In! to satisfy everyone.

Overall mark - 7 out of 10

How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 318 Spadina Avenue

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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!

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