Showing posts with label pork jowl. Show all posts
Showing posts with label pork jowl. Show all posts

Kiin (Toronto)



Although my love for Thai noodle dishes will never wane – cold, stir fried, smothered in a coconut broth, or engulfed in a fiery tom yum – it’s a pleasure to see Chef Nuit and Jeff Regular’s newest restaurant, Kiin, introducing Toronto to more refined Thai dishes, especially Royal Thai cuisine.

The difference is evident as soon as you enter the restaurant, the dining room is light and airy with plenty of empty space between the bar and tables. Gone are high-top tables and backless chairs of Pai and in its place plush banquette seats and chairs that hug around you. The vision of Chef Nuit, Kiin’s environment is pretty and serene, inviting guests to relax and take things down an octave.

Even the dishes have a surreal artistic quality to them; the age old saying of eating with your eyes first is certainly evident here. The chor ladda’s ($12) chewy jasmine rice wrapper is naturally coloured with butterfly pea, an ingredient common in Thailand that’s spreading to the Western hemisphere.

Kiin Toronto chor laddaInside each plump flower is a sweet and savoury paste of finely minced peanuts, onion, pickled radish and coconut sugar. Not only do the crispy garlic, bird’s eye chili, and baby romaine garnishes complete the floral look, they also augment the flavours and textures of the chor ladda.

In Thailand, describing a dish as a salad, just means it’s tossed. The yum tua plu ($15) puts the North American leafy greens to shame with a base of diced crispy blanched wing beans, which is like a cross between green beans and an Anaheim pepper. The chili shrimp paste adds a fair amount of heat, while the toasted coconut and peanuts a lovely rich crunch. Of all the dishes, this was the spiciest; yet the dishes at Kiin aren’t overly hot and well balanced so if you prefer a medium chili level it’s perfect.

Kiin Toronto yum tua plu

The hoi nung ta krai ($14) arrives in a gorgeous silver tiffin container, one layer holding the mussels and the other for the empty shells. The seafood is steamed in a simple mild broth, most of the flavours coming from the zippy lemongrass, lime, and garlic sauce on the side, which gives them a refreshing quality. On a hot day, a container of these with a cold glass of beer or wine would be heavenly.

Kiin Toronto mussels

Having had a taste of Chef Nuit’s pork jowl at the Destination Thailand media event, I knew the kang mo yang nam jjim jaew ($15) would be delicious. The slices of grilled meat are well marinated in sour tamarind and roasted red chili, but then further augmented by being tossed with mint, roasted rice, and vegetables.

Kiin Toronto pork jowl

We’re instructed to have the hot meat followed by a bite of the cold Thai kale stalk. Dutifully, I follow instructions, but find the mouthful of plain broccoli like vegetable underwhelming. Personally, I’d rather pick the leaves off and wrap the pork jowl, vegetables, and kale stalks into them like ssam.

Jeff advises that most of their ingredients are important from Thailand, even the produce to ensure they’re fresh and the real deal: the garlic is Thai garlic, lemongrass is fresh, and the fruits rarely found in other establishments.

A dish that showcases all these ingredients is the khao yum ($24), which arrives as three piles of coloured rice (a yellow turmeric, red beet juice, and blue butterfly pea), before being tossed with diced beans, coriander, lime leaves, toasted coconut, pomelo, fried chili, sprouts, lemongrass, and edible flowers.

Kiin Toronto khao yum
The khao yum could use more of the tamarind and soy bean sauce, as despite looking colourful, it was a tad bland. Overall, although gorgeous to look at, I’d rather have a bowl of coconut rice any day ($5).

A bowl of this aromatic grain comes with the gaeng boombai nua ($28), a bone in beef short rib smothered in a fantastic tamarind gravy. Along with the fragrant coconut rice, it’s so satisfying that each bite made me instantly want more. Oh why didn’t we order two of these for our table of four?! Don’t make the same mistake we did.

Kiin Toronto gaeng boombai nua beef short rib

Meanwhile, the mieng pla ($32) is great for larger groups.  A whole salt-crusted sea bream is displayed at the table before being brought back to the kitchen and fileted (be careful, we still found numerous larger bones left in the fish).

Kiin Toronto meing pla sea bream

The fish returns along with a platter of Thai kale leaves and baby romaine topped with vermicelli noodles, thai garlic, basil, mint, peanut, ginger, shallot and lime. Having been salt-crusted, the fish itself is flavourful, but there’s also a citrusy chili vinaigrette to add even more taste to the dish.


One can only imagine all the preparation and time it takes to prepare the mieng pla – crusting the fish, baking it, preparing all the ingredients for the wraps, assembling the wraps, fileting the fish, and making the sauce. Everything arrives ready to add a piece of fish and eat.

The use of intricate techniques and fresh vibrant ingredients is what makes Royal Thai cuisine so special. All the time it takes to perfect and create a dish is also why you rarely find restaurants willing to serve the fare.

Although it sounds corny, you can taste the care that goes into each dish. During our visit, Chef Nuit and Jeff Regular were both at the restaurant: Jeff visiting tables to explain dishes, while Chef Nuit making a couple of brief appearances from behind the kitchen. The Regulars have brought something special to Toronto with the opening of Kiin. To them: khob khun mark ka and krab.

Overall mark - 9 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 326 Adelaide Street West
 Website: www.kiintoronto.com

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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!

Other Gastro World posts similar to this:



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

CLOSED: Brothers Food and Wine (Toronto)


If you’ve read anything about Brother’s Food and Wine, you’ll likely know about their prominent location above Bay Station (complete with rumbling subway underneath) or the notable lineage of Chris White and Jon Nicolaou, the chefs and owners at the restaurant. Hence, I’ll leave you to pursue other publications for further details and focus on the restaurant’s cooking instead.

By no means is Brothers shabby, the seating is snug, but still comfortable in a minimalist sort of way. Yet, it’s not fancy either. The plates are your average round white cafeteria versions and there isn’t a wasted garnish in sight – everything on the plate is meant to be eaten. In essence, the restaurant does “home-style” cooking really well. In terms of taste, some diners may find the chefs a little heavy handed with the salt and pepper, but it’s perfect for me. Even the slices of sourdough and butter we nibbled on incorporated bits of salt in the mixture.   


Although it doesn’t look like much, the slices of pork jowl ($17) left me wanting more. As you bite through the crunchy exterior, a pool of melted fat covers the tongue and afterwards you’re left with tender meat and soft chewy cartilage. It’s fatty and indulgent, even the side of baby romaine is charred and slick with a garlicky and slightly spicy Cesare dressing.


You don’t want to let the Cornish hen ($25) sit too long after the initial cut as it tends to dry out (was on-point for me, but slightly dry for a friend who ate it afterwards). Once again, the kitchen doesn’t hold back with the seasoning: there’s the bite from pepper and a strong taste of thyme or tarragon. Although not exciting, the skin is crispy enough and the creamed spinach a safe but delicious pairing.


As the heavenly smelling hunk of bone-in lamb ($29) was presented, I start salivating like Pavlov's dog. Although the meat had been cooked for a long period, arriving tender, it’s likely roasted (instead of braised), as the meat stays securely on the bone and the bits of connecting tissues can ever so slightly be sliced away. It’s satisfyingly hearty and if it weren’t the for the restaurant’s public setting, I would have gnawed on the bone (once again like Pavlov’s best friend). Aside from the salty wilted black kale, there’s a thick dollop of creamed horseradish, which helps cut through the lamb’s heaviness and gives the dish a prime rib feel.


The gâteau Basque ($9) is closer to a pie than cake with its thick buttery shortbread crust. Inside is a fairly thick layer of vanilla custard, which could be sweeter as both the custard and side of whipped cream were fairly neutral. Nonetheless, the solo dessert satisfied and hit the spot. After all, does it seem like most hearty home-cooked meals always end with pie?


Overall mark - 7.5 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 1240 Bay 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:


Brothers Food + Wine Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Santouka Ramen (Toronto)

Location: Toronto, Canada
Address: 91 Dundas Street East
Website: http://www.santouka.co.jp/en/index.html
Type of Meal: Dinner

The Santouka in Toronto is part of a large Japanese franchise with locations throughout Japan, Asia and North America. When my friend told me about the place, I was excited to try this "authentic" ramen restaurant. But, we were unsuccessful in the fall as the line was too long.  Luckily, during our second attempt we were finally got in after waiting for approx. 15 minutes.

If you can’t eat pork, you shouldn’t come here.  The broth is pork based and flavoured with a choice of:
  • Shio - salt
  • Shoyu - soy sauce
  • Miso - fermented soybean paste
  • Spicy miso

I opted for their signature dish the Toroniku Ramen ($15.95) in a miso soup base. The star of the dish is not the noodles, but rather the cha siu (roast pork) that accompanies it. Made from the jowl (cheeks) of the pig, the meat is very tender and delicate in flavour.  Some have described it to resemble the texture of seared fatty tuna; I wouldn’t say they are identical, but is the closest description of its consistency.  Unlike pork belly, there's only a thin layer of fat covering the meat so it is also quite lean.



Any healthiness in the meat is negated by the broth where a sheen of oil covers the surface.  The lard has an added benefit of retaining heat in the broth – the soup was wonderfully hot when it arrived and pretty much stayed that way for most of the meal.  But, it really didn’t add much in terms of taste and the oiliness was a bit off-putting.  The menu claims you can customize the amount of lard used in the soup, next time I’m going to get them to skip it.  Santouka’s soup was richer than most.  But, at the end was still just very salty broth.  Perhaps it’s because I ordered the miso version, which is such an over powering ingredient.  Next time, I will opt for the shio form and hope the essence of the boiled pork bone and seaweed will stand out more.

The noodles were good – perfect thickness (not too thin or thick), cooked so that it was al dente and still had the “springy” texture I expect.

Overall, each individual component of the dish was good.  But, I only wished there was a contrast of something crispy and bright to offset the heaviness of all the ingredients.  Escorting the dish of cha siu were sticks of bamboo shoots and what could be black fungus.  But, both of these items were well cooked and had the similar soggy texture and salty taste.  The one glimmer of hope was the handful of chopped green onions, which I happily added to my noodles to attempt to balance the greasiness and brighten up the flavours.

If you're feeling hungry, Santouka offers a combination plate, which consists of a regular sized bowl of ramen, small bowl of rice and half a hard-boiled egg. My friend ordered the pork miso and chicken rice combination ($15.50) and I got to sample a few bites of the rice. The texture and taste reminded me of stir-fried glutinous rice that you can get at Chinese dim sum restaurants, except without the bits of chopped mushrooms and sausage.  Maybe it’s because I had the rice after drinking the salty soup, but I found it bland. In the end, it was average, not really something that goes well with ramen.

Like most noodle places, seating consists of a mixture of stools along a counter and small closely laid out tables.  At this visit, we were seated at the counter where we got to peer into the kitchen; but, there really wasn’t that much activity going on.




The view from our table

The service is certainly fast - within five minutes of sitting down our order was taken and as soon as the last person laid down their chopsticks, bowls were whisked away and the bill presented. But, this is what gets turnover happening and the line moving. 

Overall, Santouka’s ramen was good, but not worth the wait.  I will eventually go back and try a different broth combination, but will likely not return until the line disappears.  Luckily, a plethora of ramen shops have sprung up across Toronto over the last year, so the waiting may end soon.


Overall mark - 7 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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