Showing posts with label fusion. Show all posts
Showing posts with label fusion. Show all posts

Uncle Mikey's (Toronto)


If you arrive at Uncle Mikey’s between 5-7pm, get ready for an affordable meal. Not surprisingly, their happy menu offers drink specials ranging from $6-$8, the soju negroni ($8) strong enough that you’ll feel buzzed after a few. The soju works great in the drink, giving it a smoother finish with the same kick.


There’s also a selection of small plates. The kimchi jeon ($5), an onion and cabbage pancake, is made with glutinous rice flour and spread thinly so the centre is chewy while the outer edges turn crispy. No kimchi is in the batter, rather the vinegary and spicy flavours come from a dipping sauce so even a non-spicy food eater can enjoy the plate.  The chicken wings ($5) were also hot from the fryer and quickly tossed in a lightly sweetened sauce. Pieces of pickled choyote (a neutral vegetable) helps cut through the greasiness of both dishes.


From their regular menu, the kimchi rice bowl ($9.50) is a nod to bibimbap, but not nearly as good since it doesn’t arrive in a hot stone bowl. Yet, it still has all the tastes and textures of bibimbap, including thinly sliced sesame oil laced cucumber, nori slivers, scallions, and crispy onions. Interestingly, Uncle Mikey uses stewed kimchi, which is mellower and heartier than the raw version. For an extra richness, we added an onsen egg ($2.50) where the yolk is creamy and cooked through.


Oh boy was the oxtail gnocchi ($15) good … crispy deep-fried nuggets slathered into a thick shredded oxtail ragu. Even though they were burning hot, I couldn’t eat these cheesy nuggets fast enough - in a flash, the delicious gnocchi were done! The meaty pulled ragu was also tasty and is a versatile sauce that could go on almost anything.


Uncle Mikey’s has a “hipster” vibe. If you’ve watched Shameless, their depiction of hipster places is extreme, but I’ve encountered my share of bad service from “too cool” attitudes and annoying clientele; so, while this draws some people to a restaurant, it’s a feature I have reservations about. Luckily, our waitress Emma put me at ease, her welcoming attitude brought a light-hearted feel to the dinner – almost like we were stepping into cool Uncle Mikey’s home.

Overall mark - 8 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 1597 Dundas Street West

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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Doma (Toronto)


Doma offers an array of dishes they describe as "Korean with French inspiration or French with Korean influences". To keep things fresh, their menu changes monthly and only a few favourites from the previous month are carried forward. It’s a pretty democratic way to create a menu; as staff ask diners about their favourite dishes, the menu should be curated around the taste of customers.

Most people partake in their tasting menu where for $65 a person you try everything. In reality, for the sake of fairness, it’s really your democratic duty to sample it all so you can give a well-informed opinion on your favourite dish. If you’re not up for the task, the prices per dish have also been included in this post.

Within a short while of ordering, an amuse bouche is brought out. Being an acorn jelly, the actual jelly is neutral, so you’re greeted with a hit of spice from the finely diced kimchi and pickled onions with a slight saltiness added by the soy dashi. A refreshing summery start.


Meanwhile, the yook hwae ($18), a beef tartare that’s spiked with the spicy gochujang, is filled with flavours: of course there’s a bit of heat, but this is fairly delicate and balanced with sweet pear gel and pickled honey; black garlic aioli adds a lovely savoury creaminess. 

The long strips of beef, instead of the customary diced pieces, takes getting used to as it’s difficult to scoop the tartare and causes the entire pile of meat to come off in one bite. Hence, you’ll need the aid of a fork and it’s best to break the rice and seaweed chips into smaller pieces to create one-bite portions. Nonetheless, the tartare tastes good and I enjoy the little pieces of cauliflower and broccoli mixed in for crunch. The chips are also kept neutral so they add texture without competing on flavours.

More than one staff member told us their grilled octopus ($20) is the sole dish that’s been on every menu since the start. In my opinion, this needs to be tweaked or retired. Sure, the slaw of cabbage, bell peppers, cucumber, pear jelly, and seaweed is good – it’s that mix of sweet, sour, and spicy flavours that’s synonymous with Korean flavours. Even the pickled grainy mustard on top really adds a pop to the salad. But then, the actual octopus, although meaty and tender is just SO sweet. If octopus can be rendered into a chewy candy, it’d resemble what Doma serves.


Instead, they should keep the sam gye tang ($24), a great rendition of the French chicken roulade where medallions of dark meat is stuffed, rolled, and then baked until the skin crisps up. The Asian flavours are brought in with the stuffing: a mix of ginseng, dates, and more meat. It’s tender and flavourful, and with a dollop of fragrant ginger and scallion paste even better. White and black fungus is added for crunch and also helps to soak up the oriental herb infused chicken veloute sauce in all its crevices. Of all the dishes, this was the greatest at amalgamating the French and Asian flavours in one plate.


If Doma doesn’t keep the uhsun mandoo ($26) forever on their menu, I’ll be seriously mad. What a seafood lover’s delight with a piece of wonderfully cooked white fish (could be pickerel), a large sweet prawn, and the best part, a mandoo, which is a Korean dumpling filled with crab encapsulated in a ravioli pasta. Each of the individual proteins already have sufficient flavours, but then you smear on onion or pea puree and the ingredients change again.


While the sweet potato rice cakes ($16) were good – a base of chewy Korean rice cakes filled with a creamy sweet potato puree - it could have been the dish that French flavours are featured more prominently. The European influence was in there with a light sprinkling of parmigian, but it didn’t really add much and everything else was more Korean focused. The tofu and pork belly ragout spooned onto the rice cakes is similar to the sweet bean paste sauce found in ja jang mein. In lieu of the ragout, it would be interesting to pair the rice cakes with a creamy sauce or replace it with a thicker beef bourguignon instead.


For being glazed in gochujang, I would have expected the pork belly ($26) to be spicier. Instead, it merely tastes sweet and savoury, especially with the grilled nectarines accompanying the dish. Overall, the flavour that was missing from Doma’s dishes is something spicy. Indeed, there was a bit of it from the kimchi in the amuse bouche, but afterwards everything else was void of the taste that is so popular in Korean cuisine. The pork belly could have been the opportunity to showcase spice, even if it was merely incorporated into a side dish with the meat. 


Nonetheless, I’m glad Doma invested in using a premium part of the pork belly where the meat and fat alternates in layers (rather than having one thick piece of each), it makes the pork belly less heavy and the flavours better-rounded.

When it came to dessert, the Korean influence flew out the window. The first dessert, an ode to corn ($10) wasn’t even French and instead best described as North American. Sweet corn ice cream is combined with salted caramel popcorn, sponge cake, and corn kernels. The sweet and salty dessert was good and the honey truffle sponge cake an interesting pulled fluffy texture. Nonetheless, it was a bit disappointing that it had nothing to do with Doma’s vision.

While the apple tarte tatin ($10) is definitely a nod in the French direction, it once again has no Korean influences (unless the country loves marshmallows). The dessert was just so sugary ... when there’s caramel sauce one doesn’t need marshmallows on top. Despite looking decent, it was just too sweet and even the fruit was overpowered.


While Korean cuisine isn’t known for desserts, there are still some notable dishes. Chewy glutinous rice creations, similar to mocha, could have been filled with fruit and topped with Chantilly cream to make a Doma appropriate sweet. With so many renditions of red bean paste encapsulated desserts (whether it be pan fried, baked, or deep fried), surely something French could have been incorporated into the pastries to give it a fusion twist.

Don’t get me wrong, with the exception of the octopus and apple tarte tatin, I was pleased with the taste of Doma’s August menu. If our waiter didn’t feel the need to explain that restaurant is known for French and Korean inspired creations, I could have just accepted the dishes as presented. But, if they really want to be known for marrying the two cultures, more dedication is required at ensuring every dish (not sure some) really showcase the spirit of each culture’s cuisine. Otherwise, it’d just be another mixed continental restaurant , which are a dime a dozen.

Overall mark - 8 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 50 Clinton 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:



Doma Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

CLOSED: Urraca Resto Lounge (Toronto)

Location: Toronto, Canada
Address: 19A Finch Avenue West
Type of Meal: Dinner

After visiting Urraca Resto Lounge’s professional looking website, it was a bit of a shock to enter the restaurant itself.  Painted and furnished in all black, the place reminded me more of a small university club than a lounge.  Even their menus were in dismal condition – photocopied, caked with spilt drinks and numerous menu items crossed out. 

With this first impression, I had low expectations for the food to come.  Nonetheless, my friends and I decided to brave it and order a few items to try.  Urraca Resto Lounge’s menu consists of tapa dishes, combining Korean favourites (such as bulgogi and kimchi) with Western bar foods (mainly fries, nachos and tacos). 

Overall, it wasn’t that bad; dishes weren’t outstanding but they were edible and in line with most bar foods.  Unfortunately, most of the dishes used the same sauces and ingredients which caused them to taste alike, but there were two dishes that stood out:

  • Seafood rice cake ($12): Korean rice cake sticks mixed with a sweet and spicy gochujang sauce, cheese and seafood (mussels, shrimp and fish cake).  The seafood itself appears to be frozen so overall unimpressive and really could be substituted with any protein.  But, the rice cake sticks were chewy and had a great flavour, just a hint of spice but not over powering so really anyone could enjoy.




  • Kobe beef sliders ($12): although I couldn’t decipher the Korean part of the dish, the sliders were juicy and packed with flavours.  Cheese, a salsa with jalepenos and a spicy mayo sauce covered the thick tender meat patties providing a mouthful of tastes with each bite.    





The beef tacos ($7) and bulgolgi poutine ($7), on the other hand, were esthetically pleasing to look at but tasted like any other run of the mill version of the dish.  The problem may stem from the poor quality beef used to make both. Normally, when I have bulgogi, the beef is sliced paper thin, marinated and cooked quickly so that when it arrives the beef is juicy, flavourful and tender.  Urraca’s beef is hard, luke warm and tastes like large quantities of it is made ahead of time and just added to the dishes when necessary.  Additionally, both use the identical salsa and spicy mayo sauce (also used in the sliders) so after having one dish they all start tasting the same.     

Urraca, like most Korean restaurants, offer drinks that are soju based.  I often find them too diluted and sweet, so we opted to share a bottle of soju ($14) for the table and mixed a splash of Ginger Ale ($1.50 per can) in each to make it taste better.

The service we received from the waitress was helpful – she suggested menu items and aided in making dishes appropriate to serve four.  However, when my friend was feeling nauseous and dizzy, thus having to lie down for a moment, the manager was not sympathetic and made us feel like we had to leave.  In the end, this harsh attitude damaged any chance that either of us would ever return to the restaurant again.   




Overall mark - 5 out of 10


____________________________
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!