Showing posts with label mac n' cheese. Show all posts
Showing posts with label mac n' cheese. Show all posts

Nomé Izakaya (Toronto)

When a coworker suggested meeting at Nomé Izakaya for a team get together, it was a brilliant recommendation. After all, in Japan, an izakaya is often the place where groups meet after work for small plates and rounds of drinks before heading home. It’s an environment that you can be loud and getting things to share is a must.

After sampling two of their salmon rolls, I found them so similar that it’s difficult to distinguish between. Both the apple salmon roll ($19.80) and the seared salmon roll ($20.80) are encased in the fish with cucumber, avocado, asparagus, and crab meat salad on the centre. Where the difference lies are a few ingredients: the apple salmon including julienned apple and onion, while the seared salmon features cream cheese, coleslaw, and a host of other condiments. Both were freshly made, stuffed with fillings, and potentially the seared salmon having a slight edge with the plethora of sauces used to add interest.

For those who are squeamish about raw fish, Nomé Izakaya’s extensive menu offers tons of cooked dishes. Their chicken wings ($14.80 for a lb) were a hit with a shatteringly crispy crust and juicy interior having been wet-brined in soy sauce-based marinade. They were flavourful enough naked, but a hit of the spicy honey garlic made it even better.

The Japa-burgers ($17.80 for 3; extra piece for $5.90) are akin to a smashed burger slider with tomato, lettuce, onion, barbeque sauce, and a garlic mayonnaise. Interestingly, they toast the bottom of the bun so it resists getting soggy – I like it crispier so this was perfect for me, but I can see those who like a super soft bun finding this to be a drag.

While the sliders were delicious, there wasn’t really anything “Japanese” about them. I would have liked a more pronounce sauce (perhaps subbing teriyaki for the barbeque) and more Japanese ingredients (slivers of toasted nori in lieu of the lettuce) to differentiate the burgers.  

Dive into the mac & cheese ($15.80) upon arrival as it’s so gooey and rich when it’s hot out of the oven. Diced bell pepper, onion, and bacon are mixed throughout to give it interest (shrimp and scallops are also available, we eliminated these to accommodate an allergy). I didn’t expect an izakaya to make such a stellar pasta, but this rivaled many Southern joints.

The bulgogi tacos ($18.80 for 3; extra piece for $5.90) were large and filling but missed the mark. Firstly, the beef was the ground variety rather than shaved, which detracts from the bulgogi feel of the dish. Moreover, the menu mentions a host of toppings - lettuce, onion, fresh jalapeño, kimchi, Japanese beni shoga, garlic mayonnaise, spicy salsa, and furikake – but really what stood out the most was just a lot of mayo. Being a heavier taco, it really could have benefited from kimchi (mine contained none) and a fresher element like green onion.

If anything, a crispy pork belly ($12.50) taco would be a tastier dish. On its own, the slices of deep-fried braised pork belly were melt-in-your-mouth good but would benefit from a crispier crust to give the dish more contrast. It’s served with a generous squeeze of seaweed paste, which looks amazing but doesn’t offer much flavour, along with fresh scallions. They’re tasty to munch on but a couple of slices wrapped in a soft tortilla with a mango slaw and a stronger condiment would be incredible.

While izakaya’s are about sharing, if you’re a hands-off-my-food type of person the aburi salmon donburi ($16.80) would be the ideal choice for a single person. The small bowl of sushi rice was topped with a generous portion of diced seared salmon, aburi sauce (a mayonnaise-based condiment), shredded salad greens, red onions, and a raw egg yolk. It was flavourful and works as a complete meal for one.

But truthfully, most of the fun about visiting an izakaya is going with a larger group and letting go of niceties and just allowing yourself to be boisterous. At an izakaya, sharing is caring. 

Overall mark - 7 out of 10

How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 4848 Yonge Street

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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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CLOSED: Prohibition Gastrohouse (Toronto)

Location: Toronto, Canada
Address: 696 Queen Street East
Type of Meal: Dinner

It gets busy at Prohibition Gastrohouse. So, if you’re going on the weekend, do yourself a favour and make a reservation. Of course, it’s not difficult to see why people are drawn to the bar - their “hooch hour”, offered from 4-7pm and 10-midnight, gets you any beer (draft or bottle), house wine or liquor for only $5.09. And the bar keeps up with all the demand with ease; we quickly received each round of drinks ordered.

Their food is another matter. With “Gastrohouse” in one’s name, you’d think the food would be just as great. Of course, I wasn’t expecting fine dining but perhaps a rung above pub food would be nice.

My organic bison burger ($13) was a disaster. The first one I received (pictured below) appeared burnt on the outside but upon biting into it, the patty was clearly raw on the inside. Although the waitress had warned me that bison, being a leaner meat, wouldn't be completely cooked through, I still wanted it medium (not rare).

So, it got sent back and I received another burger about 10 minutes later (the waitress was apologetic and put in a rush order). This one was still rarer than the medium I wanted, but at least edible. Something about their cooking surface is off as this patty also had a burnt ring around it so the char masked any of the meat flavour I hope to enjoy. Luckily, they provide a pail of great artisan condiments so I resorted to using plenty of the jalapeno relish to give the burger flavour.

Prohibition’s sandwiches aren’t accompanied with sides so we ordered three to share. For me, they were the highlight of the meal and if I ever return would just order a few in lieu of a main. The ultimate mac and cheese ($9) was delicious with a sharp cheddar and gruyere mixed in a rich truffle cream. The pasta are larger spirals with great crevices that holds in the fragrant buttery sauce.

The DF (duck fat) frites ($3) were also good arriving with shoestring thinness, great potato flavour and crisp crust. They are definitely not as good as Beer Bistro’s duck fat fries, which are much longer and seasoned well, but Prohibition’s fries were still enjoyable.

The organic green salad ($8) was decent with a pleasant balsamic dressing.

Two of my friends also ordered sandwiches and they looked much better done than the bison burger. The double decker club ($12) had a good helping of pulled chicken, prosciutto, grana padano cheese, basil, tomato and lettuce. My friend just found it a bit heavy as they buttered and grilled the sourdough bread instead of toasting.

The other had the pulled pork grilled cheese ($13), which actually sounded more indulgent than it looks. For this sandwich, Prohibition uses duck fat pulled pork confit, gooey cheddar and flavour it with BBQ sauce mixed with a raspberry jalapeno compote. She seemed to enjoy it.

My last friend tried the fungi flatbread ($13) which smelled fantastic from the fragrant truffle oil. It was topped with big mushroom pieces and plenty of cheese (chevre, pecorino romano and mozzarella). In the end, she thought it was okay.

All in all, Prohibition Gastrohouse has a great vibe and the drink prices are hard to beat. So, it would be a great location for pre or post-dinner drinks or maybe even a meal of mac n’ cheese with salad. But, don’t expect too much “gastro” from this neighbourhood joint.

Overall mark - 6 out of 10

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Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • - 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!