Showing posts with label garlic shrimp. Show all posts
Showing posts with label garlic shrimp. Show all posts

Riz (Toronto) for delivery

Note: Prices in post are based on UberEats (the only delivery service they use) and may be less when ordering directly from the restaurant

I’m skeptical about restaurants with an extensive menu of varied cuisine. With no focus, how well can chefs actually prepare dishes? Riz is one of these places. The menu encompasses cuisine from so many east Asian countries, that dishes are either decent or a complete flop. Other restauranteurs would likely trim the subpar items from their menu. At Riz they have a permanent home, so ordering is like playing a mild game of Russian roulette.

Having dined-in at the restaurant and ordered take-out a couple of times pre-COVID, something seemed off about the October delivery we had. Maybe we lost at the game of roulette, but the ratio of dishes that disappoint to appease was at an all time high. Could it be that one of the chefs, pivotal to making the dishes decent, was let go?

The Szechuan crispy beef ($19) was the sole dish that continues to impress and truly one of the better renditions I’ve tasted. Thin sticks of beef are just barely coated and deep fried to give the protein a delicate shell and cooked to the point the beef is chewy and not hard. Their sweet and salty sauce is much thinner than ones found elsewhere, still full of flavour but doesn’t saturate the beef to the point it’s too sticky and candy like. Indeed, it tastes even better at the restaurant, but for delivery was delicious.

If you’re in the mood for a “healthier” complete meal, the drunken garlic shrimp ($29) is not overly oily and arrives with a cup of nutty wild rice. Yet, it lacked that fragrant aroma and taste of Chinese rice wine you’d expect, and despite it looking like there was plenty of garlic and shallots sprinkled throughout the shrimp, these aromatic flavours weren’t prevalent either. If simple stir-fried shrimp is what you’re looking for, this isn’t bad. But, for being labelled a “signature dish” and called “drunken garlic” it really needs more oomph.

Like others, the crispy noodles are separated from the sauce for the vegetable and tofu chow mein ($18). While the sauce is a nice consistency and flavourful, there’s so much of it and not much else: several scant broccoli florets, sliced carrots, squares of cabbage leaves, and small tofu pieces - that’s about it. Missing were traditional Chinese ingredients like bok choy, bamboo shoots, baby corn ... things that would make this much heartier.

But truly anything is better than the chicken young chow fried rice ($19). Seriously, was this actually made by someone who had any cooking experience? If you took steamed rice and mixed in boiled chicken and vegetables, then sprinkled finely chopped scrambled egg over everything you’d get Riz’s fried rice. There was absolutely no flavour and no wok hay. I had to scoop crispy beef over it to add any flavour and ended up stir frying the ample leftovers with more eggs and other ingredients the following day to make it edible.

The wrapper on the shrimp dumpling or har gow ($9) was sticky and something leads me to believe these were frozen, but I understand… Riz isn’t known for dim sum and therefore likely not making these fresh daily. For a dinner delivery, they weren’t terrible.

Yet, what threw me off was the black square of who-knows-what stuck onto a dumpling as soon as I opened the package. How much time could it possibly take someone packing the dish to remove the debris? Is a dirty dumpling really the thing you want customers to see?

For everyone’s sake, I surely hope the delivery was just an off night. Because one thing that’s great about Riz’s expansive menu is their commitment to serving those with ingredient intolerances: not many Chinese restaurants offer a gluten-free menu safe for a celiac person and also have a number of vegetarian options that can be made vegan. Unfortunately, these customers will also never get to taste their crispy beef, the one thing we would ever re-order for. 

Overall mark - 6.5 out of 10

How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 3321 Yonge Street
 Delivery: Uber
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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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SukhoThai (Toronto)

Location: Toronto, Canada
Address: 52A Wellington Street East
Type of Meal: Dinner

Having heard much about Sukho Thai, when they opened the new Wellington location (accepting reservations), I rounded up a friend to try their Thai classics. Housed in the former Hernandos Hideaway, the second restaurant is much larger and during our visit scored a table on the raised level right by the window – great for people watching!  SukhoThai was founded by the husband-and-wife duo that later started Khao San Road (also since departed) and is now being run by the husband’s parents.

The garlic shrimp ($10) is incredible and I highly recommend if you ever visit. Aside from the flavourful breading (garlicky with a slight sweetness) and crisp crunch, the shrimp itself is just cooked so well.  You have to taste it as it’s hard to describe, something about the texture is how I imagine all fried shrimp should taste like.

SukhoThai offers two types of pad thai, we went with the “SukhoThai” version ($14). The noodles were not overly saucy (how I enjoy it) and cooked well allowing them to retain a slight springiness. But, something about the sauce’s flavours weren’t for me – too sour and nutty. Possibly, it’s the tamarind paste base they use, which adds a tang that ruins the pad thai. A plus is that the tamarind does give the dish a wonderful dark brown colour without having to resort to using fake colouring.

Since we’ve never tried the gaeng masaman curry ($12) we felt it was an opportunity to expand our experience with Thai cuisine.  Unlike the typical red, green and yellow curries, this has a citrus tang to it from the lemongrass.  Although there’s still a hint of coconut milk this becomes secondary to the spiciness and sourness and makes it lighter tasting.  The ingredients are simple with just the protein (in our case chicken), potatoes and the sauce.

Returning one day for lunch, I tried their khao soi ($13 at lunch, $14 at dinner) intrigued by the promise of curry and noodles. The bowl was beautifully presented with fried crispy noodles on top, which when broken up and mixed into the curry sauce added a great contrasting crunch against the soft noodles.

Having gotten the “spicy” choice, it indeed had heat and kick to it – this dish would be great at warming you up during the cooler months. The soup was a delicious mix of curry, chili oil, coconut milk and something nutty giving it a great depth of flavour. Cubes of soft beef brisket were mixed throughout with the thick egg noodles.  This would be a dish I’d order again.

Honestly, I didn’t enjoy all the “new” dishes I’ve tried and next time will go back to the regular pad thai and green curry combo.  But, I always welcome the opportunity to expand my experience – some dishes that I haven’t even tried while travelling to Thailand.  Often, I believe our tastes have become accustomed to a safer and more “Westernized” version of the cuisine so I appreciate SukhoThai’s willingness to make us push past this.  If you’re looking for a non-conventional take on Thai dishes, this is the place for you.

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!

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