Showing posts with label ribeye. Show all posts
Showing posts with label ribeye. Show all posts

Momofuku Kōjin (Toronto)


The best tables at Kōjin, in my opinion, are the ones by the window. Overlooking University Avenue, there’s a unique beauty as you see the cars and people whizzing by amongst the serene Kōjin environment. It’s the epitome of taking a break from the hustle and bustle, without leaving the city.

To ease us into dinner, two complimentary eats are presented: a bowl of lightly pickled peaches, Asian pear, corn, and tomatillos that were a refreshing nibble during our hot summer visit; and a bowl of chicken consommé, which really didn’t smell or taste like much and was a rather strange pairing with the pickles.  


A lot has been written about their corn flatbread, a concoction that combines Chef Paula Navarrete’s Colombian roots with inspiration from Chef Chang’s bing flatbread. Even plain it’s good – I inhaled the toasted corn aroma before biting into the bread that’s lightly salted and has a bit of oiliness with crispy edges. Frankly, I'd like the option of just ordering them without anything else (the most minimal order is with butter and honey); your closest option would be the flatbread with ham and to eat them separately.


Since we were already having meat as our main, we paired the flatbread with spinach dip ($13) instead. The hot, creamy, and cheesy mixture is fluid from Steamwhistle beer being added to the dip, which gives it a light bitter aftertaste. While the concoction is tasty, I found it too rich, masking all the delicious K2 mills cornmeal and hominy flavours of the flatbread.

Even though the restaurant serves Colombian dishes with a Momofuku twist, they still strive to use Canadian ingredients. Our waiter explains that aside from the seafood, other ingredients are sourced 100km from the city - the meat, their biggest draw, is sourced from Magee Farms just outside Toronto. The oysters ($24) were two P.E.I. varieties. Both small, delicate, and light. Arriving with a green pepper hot sauce (more for the pepper’s flavour than heat) and pressed cucumber, both condiments are so neutral that I really missed the acidity of vinegar or lemon that pairs so well with the shellfish.


Being a steakhouse, Kōjin’s menu is very different from their predecessors (although there are choices for those who don't eat red meat). Oh, how heads turn when the wooden platter of steak is presented at a table. Our 14oz boneless ribeye ($78) arrives with a fire roasted tomato sauce (nice and zesty but would be better with fish), steak sauce (oddly tastes exactly like Diana barbeque sauce), and brown butter marrow with porcini dust (the best of the three with steak). Then on the side is what looks like a large shishto pepper but is much spicier … good luck finishing that thing.


In reality, the steak was great on its own. Perfectly seasoned with a restrained amount of salt and pepper, the beef was richly flavoured thanks to the 32 days of dry aging and fattiness (bordering on prime rib amounts). While the butcher block looks great, the wood absorbs a lot of heat, so the steak arrives cool. Moreover, if chefs are used to pulling off the steak earlier (as it continues to cook on the plate), the butcher block seems to stop the cooking process as our medium rare steak arrived rare.

Regardless of what you order, a side of Tita’s mash ($15) would be a delicious addition. Based on Paula’s grandma’s recipe, this is one for dairy lovers as the dish incorporates cheese curds and more melted cheese on top. Every spoonful is like eating cheese with potatoes, the hot skillet keeping everything gooey until the last sinful bite.


Meanwhile, the BBQ zucchini ($15) with anchovy and chives is an odd combination that must be described on the menu … had I known there’d be fish added to the vegetable, I would have gotten something else. While the anchovy gives the side an interesting depth of flavour, it also adds a fishiness that we found off-putting with the zucchini.


On the other hand, the dulce de leche ($15) dessert is exactly as described: a sweet bread with dulce de leche and ice cream. The egg bread is fluffy and resembles a baked doughnut, it’s then topped with a light ice cream and thinned dulce de leche, both adding sweetness without giving a sugar high. What a satisfying ending of having that bite (or in this case numerous bites) of something sweet but isn’t too heavy.


Kōjin means fire with the restaurant named after the element since food is cooked or finished off on the wood-fired grill. For me, Kōjin’s appeal is less about fire and more about the menu’s variety (tons of Colombian dishes with Momofuku standards thrown in for good measure) and use of Canadian ingredients that brings out the patriot in me. It’s also the feeling of rising above the busyness of life. For a moment, for one meal, it’s all kept at bay.

Overall mark - 8.5 out of 10 


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 190 University Avenue (3rd floor)

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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: Labora (Toronto)


In the evenings, the back of Campo Food Hall transforms into Labora, a tapas restaurant. With the rest of the stalls closed, there’s a sense of calm as you enter the space, like walking through a short alley to get to the restaurant.

While Labora isn’t as laid back as a small shop in Barcelona, it does have a casual vibe, which is why when our waiter asked if we like olives (before we glanced at the menu), my husband answered yes (even though I’m impartial to them). Soon a large plate of them arrived with a $7 charge to match. I’ve dined in countries where a snack charge is added to everyone’s bill. Usually, this means a plate is already sitting on the table and the menu generally calls out the cost. To have someone ask if you like olives, like if you want bread, and then charge you for it feels misleading.


Maybe if it was only $3 (and a smaller portion) it would be less noticeable. What arrives is a sizeable plate with four different types of olives marinated in citrus so makes it less pungent and almost sweet. As olives go, these aren’t bad. Just not my first choice for adding to the meal.

A dish like the Joselito lomo ($13.50) is what I would have preferred to snack on with beer. Sourced from an Iberico pig, it’s cut from the loin instead of the leg, so the meat is leaner but still melts on the tongue and has that lightly salted sweetness found in jamon. It’s also a good introduction to Iberico products, if you’re not sure if you want to shell out $30 for jamon.


The menu describes the pan tumaca ($6) as tomato rubbed ‘Cristal’ bread. What is Cristal bread? From what I deduced, the moniker likely references all the air pockets formed in the well-toasted airy bread that’s drenched with olive oil and so crunchy, it tastes deep fried. The thin layer of tomato paste is rather neutral, most of the flavours stem from the olive oil.


For something spicy, the bocata del calamari ($9.50 each) will have you reaching for a cerveza. Rings of lightly dusted deep-fried calamari are sandwiched in a brioche bun with tons of aioli, drizzled in hot sauce, and a pickled pepper is skewered through the squid. The pepper adds a juicy freshness to the sandwich but with the siracha was really spicy. Luckily, you can always pull it out and take small bites to temper the spice. The sandwich was delicious and one of my favourite dishes of the evening.


Another was the rubia gallega ($19.50) a cured Ontario ribeye that’s prepared like Iberico, thinly sliced then topped with honey mushrooms and truffle oil. The truffle oil was a bit overpowering when eating the beef on its own, but with crostini the flavours balance out. What a genius idea to use ribeye as the protein, the cut has enough fat for that lusciousness, like ham, and lends itself to taking on the lightly sweetened flavour.


After some heavier dishes the tumet ($19) was a welcomed contrast. The oven-roasted terrine made with thinly sliced zucchini, eggplant, and potato was a fairly big portion. Aside from the potato, the other vegetables became lost in the thick zesty tomato sauce so more of the zucchini and eggplant would make this even better.


Some dishes could have been good if only there wasn’t one overpowering ingredient added. Sometimes it just pays to keep it simple with seasonings like oil and salt.

The BC striped shrimp pintxos ($16), a special for the evening, takes the tiny shrimp and lines them onto whipped roe on toasted bread. These ingredients would have been more than enough: the roe salty with a rich seafood essence; the shrimp a little sweetness; and there’s even chives, adding a taste of the herb and colour. But then, a liberal sprinkling of paprika is added, completely overpowering the shrimp and giving a slightly bitter finish to the dish. 



Similarly, the sour grapefruit used in the serviola crudo ($18.40) covered the delicate yellow tail tuna. Maybe it has something to do with our waiter urging us to spoon the marinating liquid over everything, to get the coffee flavours. 


In all fairness, our waiter was extremely friendly and warm, I know he was just trying to make sure we had the best experience possible. However, I couldn’t taste any coffee and the sour grapefruit so pungent I coughed. Alas, the poor tuna no match for the citrus. 

Overall mark - 7 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 433 King Street West (in the Campo Food Hall)
 

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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: AMA (Toronto)


At AMA, the operations seem laid back … there’s not a corporate bone in the establish. Sebastian Gallucci, owner of AMA, recalls how he found their sous chef from Kijiji then proceeded to be 20 minutes late for their interview and even ate a bowl of pasta during the entire ordeal. Having gone through the interview process many times, I could just imagine how unsettling it would be to try to answer behavioural questions while watching someone twirl spaghetti.


He also jumped at the opportunity to team up with u-Feast to showcase AMA’s Argentinian cuisine. The $95 + taxes per person meal hooked my friends and I, after all, how can you turn down a 5-course meal with wine pairings? And not just any old pairing, thanks to the Wines of Argentina distributor, we could sample TWELVE, that a few per course! To ensure the post stays to a reasonable length, I’ll just highlight two wines I found particularly notable:

After hearing the 2017 Crios Torrontés ($14.95 at the LCBO) was made by a vintner known as the Queen of Torrontes, Susana Balbo, I knew I had to try the creations from the first wine maker from Argentina. The crisp white wine is made with Torrontés, a grape only found in Argentina, at a winery that’s located at a high altitude. It has a distinctive floral taste as soon as it hits the palette, which will need to be carefully paired with food but works well for sipping.

It’s no surprise that we sampled a host of red wines – a favourite region for me as wines are generally full bodied and reasonably priced. The 2014 Colomé Estate Malbec ($24.95 at the LCBO) is grown in Cafayate, a city 3111m above sea level! A gorgeous deep red hue, the Malbec is rich on the tongue but finishes so smoothly.


In terms of the meal, AMA’s empanadas are held together by some of such thin pastry despite being stuffed with lightly spiced ground beef hit with parmigano for extra flavour. They’re good, the dish’s heaviness dialed down by the chimichurri.


There were some great unexpected additions used in the red snapper ceviche: celery that provided a great crunch that’s different from the typical chip and sweet grapes for balancing out the tart guacamole. Of course, there’s also the customary onion, herbs, and lime, which give the ceviche its signature flavour along with big chunks of the fish. It was all served on top of a tostada for even more crunch, ideal for breaking off into pieces to dip into any stray guacamole.


Sebastian, being from an Italian Argentinian household, even showcased a ricotta gnocchi in the meal. They were the large and pillowy variety, to the point each were almost the size of ping pong balls, and perfect for those who like softer smooth gnocchi. While my preference is for smaller ones that have a bit of bite or a crispy crust, the sugo sauce was delicious - the tomatoes bright creating in a hearty sauce. I only wish there was crusty bread available to clean the plate.


Our main would make any carnivore swoon – a platter filled with two cuts of beef (a juicy ribeye and a leaner skirt steak), chicken, and chorizo. I didn’t try the chicken, but the other items were done perfectly, laced with an aromatic grilled aroma synonymous with Argentinian cuisine. My favourites were the steak, even the leaner skirt steak was so tender, the meat so flavourful. The only faux pas was the abundant globs of chimichurri spooned everywhere – the shear sourness was so overwhelming I had to scrape it off, it’s a condiment best served on the side.


Needless to say, it wasn’t all meat. A vinegary leaf salad and a yummy chunky mashed potato were also served, the starch great for soaking up some of the alcohol.


After having four red pairings with the main, I was in a happy hazy place by the time the assorted Argentinian inspired desserts came around. Truth be told, I remember little about them, only fleeting tastes of chocolate, buttery crust, and of course, dulce de leche.


What once started as a food truck (Che Baby) has morphed into AMA. They describe the vision for their restaurant so beautifully, “AMA - which means Loves in Spanish and Love in Italian - represents the idea that an experience should be more than the sum of its parts. The name AMA is inspired by our love for food, music, and our passion to creating lasting memories for those we love.” After the equivalent of 1.5 bottles of wine, I can feel that love… AMA baby AMA.

Want to check out UFeast for yourself? Sign up with my referral link to get $10 off your first experience.

Overall mark - 7 out of 10



How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 930 Queen 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!


Is That It? I Want More!

Other Gastro World posts similar to this:



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

BlueBlood Steakhouse (Toronto)


If you haven’t visited Casa Loma lately, you’ll be surprised by how much has changed. Once a destination for tourists, elementary school trips, and weddings, the attraction now houses an escape room and BlueBlood Steakhouse, a sprawling restaurant occupying three rooms on the main floor. When an eatery is set in a castle, there’s undoubtedly opulence and the price points to match. At BlueBlood, staff gush about the caviar and wagyu tasting flight, menu items that not every average non-noble can afford.


Even with steaks as mains, we started with the prime steak tartare ($26). For raw meat, it was surprisingly tender and despite the dish incorporating cured duck egg and house made pickles, the tartare was mellow tasting. The only disappointment was the for-show-only bone marrow; the tartare didn’t seem to incorporate any of the ingredient.


It’s unclear whether the restaurant forms the crab cakes differently depending on the number of people sharing the dish - the jumbo lump crab cake ($24) ended up arriving as three, making it much easier to split - kudos to the kitchen if there is that level of customization! This would help explain why the crab cakes were rather thin, which results in an oily starter since there’s so much breadcrumb coating. While it would help if they were drained better, the fresh hot cakes were good, especially with a smear of the light dill aioli.


For a steakhouse, their steak selection isn’t the greatest. While the menu includes a lot of high end options such as wagyu and shared cuts like a tomahawk, there’s not that many reasonably priced personal-sized portions. For my favourite cut of steak, the ribeye, BlueBlood only offered three choices with none in the dry-aged category. Settling on the 14oz wet aged Erin, Ontario ribeye ($65), it was tender and flavourful, but would be even better if it were a smaller thicker cut. While lying on the hot plate, the thin steak soon became medium in the middle and well done on the edges.


At first, the 16oz dry aged centre cut striploin ($75) tasted great given it had such a rich flavour from being dry aged. But, after two slices the ultra-lean beef soon became chewy and heavy. Personally, I find lean cuts, like striploin, aren’t the best for dry aging. The evaporation of moisture causes the beef to toughen, albeit concentrating the flavour.




Perhaps, this is a cut that benefits from a sauce. We chose to forgo them and rely on the salt selection instead – the smoked salt goes particularly well with everything.


While petite in size, the 8oz barrel cut Nebraska filet ($65) was tasty with its strong beefy flavour. Given the filet is another lean cut, it was suitably wet aged and remained tender. Truthfully, while the steak looked dwarfed compared to our other choices, the portion was adequate; especially if you’re ordering appetizers and dessert, you won't leave feeling glutinous.


Trust me, you'll want the sides, especially the lobster mac ‘n’ cheese ($20) where the pasta was done perfectly and the cream sauce not overly thick so remained molten throughout the meal. The dish incorporated enough lobster to go around and I went back for seconds and thirds.  The garlic mashed potato ($14) was also silky without relying too heavily on cream, the garlic essence was present but restrained. I could have done without the cheddar espuma sauce that accompanied the broccolini ($16), since all the other dishes were already so rich… at least it was kept to the side so there were plenty of plain roasted pieces to choose from.


The baked Alaska ($28) for two could easily feed four, a honking rectangle of Neapolitan ice cream covered with sponge cake, Prosecco ice, and meringue.


My first and only experience with this flaming concoction was as a child on a cruise ship, therefore to see the rum being poured from pot-to-pot before setting the dessert ablaze brought back memories of my youth. Is it the yummiest dessert? Probably not, you order it for the show and if you want a boozy adult ice cream cake.

Thank you Parv for these amazing photos
Before leaving for the evening, a box of Avoca dark chocolate caramel truffles arrives, in the shape of sapphires. For some, diamonds are a girl’s best friend; for me, at a steakhouse, it’s a nice piece of ribeye.


Overall mark - 7 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 1 Austin Terrace (in Casa Loma)

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:


BlueBlood Steakhouse Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The Shore Club Revisited (Toronto)

Location: Toronto, Canada
Address: 155 Wellington Street West
Website: http://www.theshoreclub.ca/
Type of Meal: Dinner



Having recently returned to the Shore Club (read about Winterlicious experience here), one thing is for sure - their impeccable service has not changed. Once again our waiter, John, was extremely friendly, service was always attentive and our courses served in unison. They have done away with the black vs. white napkins, but this is likely due to switching to a lint free supplier. In terms of their environment and attention to customers there are no complaints here. 

During this visit I ordered off their regular menu and decided to go with the fish options given the restaurant is named the Shore Club. Alas, they may not be adequately named as my husband's meat-based dishes were definitely the better choice of the evening.

To start, I had the fish tartare trio ($19), which from left to right consisted of tuna, sea bass and salmon. The tuna was my favourite given it had the most taste from being marinated in soy sauce and sesame oil with chopped green onions mixed throughout. The salmon, combined with mayonnaise and dill, provided traditional flavours and was decent but did require some added salt table side.


My husband and I both agreed that the sea bass needed improvement – being such a neutral fish it had the opportunity to take on great flavours! Yet the chef did nothing so that it was essentially chopped up pieces of tasteless fish. It would have been nice to build on the fish's profile with citrus, chili and/or fresh fruit to give it a ceviche feel (a nice contrast to the other two offerings). The highlight of the Shore Club's fish tartare was the abundance of crostini provided; an adequate a number of pieces accompanied the dish so there was plenty of bread for the fish in the order.

In contrast, my husband's steak tartare ($18) was one of the better versions I've had in Toronto. Traditionally made with pickles, horseradish and onions it was well flavoured and a great consistency. Made with a good cut of tenderloin the tartare became soft and creamy, but the horseradish and maybe mustard mix throughout really deepen the taste nicely to complement the beef. As a warning, this is a fairly heavy dish so consider sharing it.  Combined with a salad it could have been a meal in itself! 


Continuing with the fish theme, my main was the stuffed rainbow trout ($31). I was flabbergasted with the portion of fish received; seriously, it was an entire deboned fish. If only it was cooked less it would have been better as I found the fish was starting to become dry. Additionally, it needed more stuffing as I really couldn't taste much of the dungeness crab or shrimp within the fish. Perhaps, the Shore Club should consider adding vegetables into the stuffing to provide moisture when cooking the fish as well as some contrasting textures and flavors. All in all, I enjoyed the deboned fillet and piping hot temperature the fish arrived in, just the doneness and flavours need to be tweaked.


My husband kept it simple and went with the bone-in rib steak ($42). I have to admit it's hard to go wrong with meat with plenty of fat marbleization and a bone to add flavor. My suggestion, if you go to the restaurant, is to stick with meat as they seem to prepare it better. Unlike our previous visit, the steak was cooked evenly so whatever problems the cooking surface was experiencing before seems to have been fixed. The meat could've been cut thicker, but it’s a personal preference (I'd rather have a thicker than wider steak) and could have been a better quality as we did find there was a fair amount of it that was simply too grizzly and hard to cut into.


Sorry but forgot to snap pictures of the sides. As a table we ordered green beans ($10), the steakhouse fries ($8), scalloped potatoes ($10) and mashed potatoes ($9) to share. You can refer to my previous post for thoughts on the green beans and fries. Of the other potato dishes the mashed definitely had the better flavour profile and was fluffy and well salted. The scalloped potatoes showed promise, they were cooked to a nice consistency, but was bland as it seemed the cream sauce didn't have much salt in it at all.

It's fairly surprising that the Shore Club seems to do better with Winterlicious. For the amount paid for the meal, I was disappointed with the offering as many dishes simply lacked much flavor or interest. Admittedly, the portion sizes are much bigger, but I would much rather have a smaller but better tasting dish.

Sadly, my opinion of the restaurant actually decreased since coming back for the regular menu (awarded a 7 for Winterlicious but only a 6 for this visit). Thankfully, the attentive and friendly service was still alive and that is something (along with portion sizes) that the Shore Club will always have going for it.

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!

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