Showing posts with label hot and sour soup. Show all posts
Showing posts with label hot and sour soup. 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
Referral Discount Codes
 Support the blog by using my referral code
 UberEats: use eats-ju6ta to get $5 off a $15 order 
 SkipTheDishes: click link to get $5 off a $15 order
 

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 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!

Other Gastro World posts similar to this:


Qi - House of Sichuan 呇 (Hong Kong)


Before venturing to Qi – House of Sichuan, you’ll want to read this first. There will be things that draw you to the restaurant: a Michelin star, an easy reservation system (a simple email), and their Wan Chai location that’s close to other night life.

You may even be drawn by their website’s description:

The authentic Sichuan dishes here reflect the “seven flavours of Sichuan” – spicy, aromatic, sweet, bitter, sour, peppery, and salty. Not for the faint-hearted, be prepared to experience a wide spectrum of spiciness as the house serves up explosive flavours from the Sichuan canon.

Just heed their warning – the menu is not for the faint-hearted. Unless you have a high tolerance for spice, dishes from the Sichuan region really differs from the sweet, sour, and salty preparations of other Chinese regions. Even if you’ve been to a Sichuan restaurant outside of China, you may not be prepared. I was no match for Qi.

Learn from my mistake. Here are three words of advice:

1. Skip the hot and sour soup

While the hot and sour soup ($60 a bowl) was tasty, incorporating plenty of thinly julienned ingredients so that each bite was a mix of flavours and textures, the soup was so hot (in terms of spice and temperature) that your tongue will be scorched by the time you’re even a third of the way through. Good luck handling anything else.


A better starter is the mouthwatering chicken ($85). One of Qi’s signature dishes, the slightly chilled boneless white meat is tender and flavourful all on its own. Plenty of warm chili paste is placed over top, but you can add as little or as much as you like to ensure it’s not overwhelming. Aside from spice there’s a bit of mala heat that has a numb inducing quality – semi-protecting rather than scorching the tongue.


Or you could just go straight to the mains and nibble on the forced upon snack plate ($30) while waiting – a non-spicy sesame oil laced winter melon, lightly spiced cucumber, and lotus root tossed with a mala sauce. 


2. Balance out the meal with non-spicy dishes

A good ratio to aim for is about 50/50. Thinking the sugar glazed ginger and scallion beef ($160) would be a dish with respite, in the dark dining room we didn’t notice the chili beside the name on the menu. Indeed, with the first bite you’re greeted with a crispy crust and aromatic syrupy sauce… but then the chili dust mixed into the batter erupts into the mouth. Nonetheless, it’s mellower than all the other dishes we tried, except for the mouthwatering chicken where the diner controls the spice level.


Even the vegetarian eggplant ($115) was too much. It’s a shame there wasn’t a plain eggplant dish as the vegetable was done perfectly – cut into thicker sticks and cooked until creamy. But then the sauce was so thick that it’s hard to get away from the chili. Unfortunately, for vegetables, there’s only one choice for something without heat – a plain seasonal vegetable ($90) with or without garlic.


Surprisingly, the dish I could handle better was the spicy prawns ($240) – a dish that actually has ‘spicy’ in the title! While it looks scary and filled with red tongue torturers, the chilies are left in large pieces so you can easily avoid them. While the deep fried prawns are stir-fried with chili oil, each are fairly large in size, so the seafood to batter ratio makes the heat more balanced.


3. Arm yourself with plenty of water and a cold milk tea

The restaurant is smart to include a bottle of water at every table. In the heat of the moment, you’ll find yourself reaching for it ($70) – although I did see some tables ask them to switch the bottles for a regular pitcher.

Yet, it was the cold milk tea ($45) that offered the most respite. The sweet cooling dairy temporarily quenching the flames. It was the only thing that allowed me to try everything twice, although my husband and I eventually had to tap out and leave most dishes half done.

If all else fails, you can always ask them to tone down the spice – as I overheard from the neighbouring table when they ordered the chili crab. It may feel like you’re wimping out, but at least you’ll be able to finish the meal.

For a Michelin starred restaurant the service could have been better. Being under staffed, it was difficult to flag someone down to order the milk tea and the paying process was painfully long. Still, while we left the dinner defeated and tongues a flamed, I’ll still give Qi a decent mark since it lived up to what was promised and the food was done well. Just listen to my advice and perhaps you’ll leave victorious. 


Overall mark - 7.5 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Wan Chai, Hong Kong
 Address: 60 Johnston Rd (J Senses, 2nd floor)

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!


Peking Duck Kitchen 東成酒家 (Toronto)


In my opinion, some of the best restaurants are small family run affairs; Peking Duck Kitchen seems no different with father and son in the kitchen and mom and other son running the front-of-the-house. Food may arrive slower and dishes don’t arrive with serving cutlery, but good things come to those who wait.

Trust me, their Peking duck ($48.99) is worth the wait. Despite listing only two dishes on the menu, it actually arrives as four:

Think of the first as a paid amuse bouche: six bite-sized slices of the thickest skin served in sugar. My husband describes it as duck candy, which may sound odd, but the crisp skin and bit of oil that leaks out goes nicely with the sugar – like a duck skin timbit.


Next, the main course, where the fowl’s skin and meat is sliced and arrives with steamed flour wrappers. The duck’s skin is crispy despite not being fried (you can monitor the cooking process with their open kitchen and the oven on display) and there’s a bit of spice added to the bird so by itself there’s already flavour.


Even the wrappers are outstanding, so translucent and thin, but strong enough to withstand being pulled apart and filled with three slices of duck. Nothing fell apart and I happily bit through each sweet (thanks to the hoisin) and crispy bite. Plenty of skinless cucumber and scallions are included to help cut through the fattiness of the duck. Having had my fair share of Peking ducks in Toronto, it was one of the tastiest.

The lettuce wraps were average, there’s enough seasoning and contrasting textures, but too much fried vermicelli – a bit is good, but when there’s too much it tastes like you’re eating bits of Styrofoam.


Lastly, the duck bones. By now there’s very little meat left on them, given everything has been sliced off and even the meat around the carcass is shredded off for the lettuce wraps. Nonetheless, you can jazz them up – for an extra $4.99 the chef stir fries them with salt and pepper to give it interest. If only the restaurant has television screens playing sporting events … imagine the viewers who’d love to nibble on these while drinking cold beers (they have mini kegs available).


Peking Duck Kitchen isn’t a one dish wonder. Everything else we tried was solidly executed. I had doubts about ordering sweet and sour pork ($9.99) at a Beijing restaurant, but was pleasantly surprised with the outcome. The sauce was balanced in terms of flavours and consistency (not too thick that it became slimy but thick enough to cling to the ingredients). Each bite of pork had enough batter to develop a crispy exterior but you could still taste the meat. The bell peppers remained crunchy and even in the dead of winter the pineapples were fresh as opposed to the canned variety.


Another popular Sichuan dish is boiled fish filets in hot chili oil ($14.99). It’s one I’m generally not ecstatic about as it becomes a chore to try to pick out all the chilies – especially the smaller Sichuan pepper that releases a bitter taste and numbs your tongue. Luckily, the wire mesh helps extract the fish easier and I like that the soup underneath wasn’t a clear broth, instead incorporating something sweet (perhaps bean paste or oyster sauce) so that the fish has taste even without the peppers.


If you’re wondering what the garlic A dish ($8.99) is, the “A” denotes the A choy, a leafy green vegetable that has the whispy leaves of romaine lettuce and the crunchy stalk of Chinese broccoli (or gai lan). Sometimes the vegetable can have a slight bitterness, but this wasn’t evident at all at the restaurant, maybe due to the abundance of garlic in the dish.


Some Chinese restaurants give complimentary soups, a custom they don't follow at Peking Duck Kitchen. Nevertheless, their menu has plenty to choose from and the prices are reasonable. We settled on the hot and sour soup ($7.99 for a medium) that was large enough for a table of six. The restaurant certainly doesn’t skimp on ingredients with plenty of slivered vegetables, tofu and black fungus.

The soup’s taste, although still enjoyable, was a little off for me. The “hot” came from adding tons of cracked black peppercorns to the broth instead of chili, so the soup tickles your throat as consumed. Meanwhile, the “sour” really wasn’t prevalent – something I personally enjoy – but could be the missing flavour for someone else.

Mom and pop restaurants always have a special place in my heart. The décor may not be picturesque and the service less polished, but I appreciate that many stick to dishes they can execute well and at Peking Duck Kitchen you can’t go wrong with the duck.

Overall mark - 8.5 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 1 Glen Watford Drive

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:



Peking Duck Kitchen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato