Showing posts with label roast duck. Show all posts
Showing posts with label roast duck. 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
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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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Zen Sanuki Udon (Toronto)

While many Japanese noodle shops are small and cozy, Zen Sanuki Udon is palatial with a spacious and airy dining area. To the point they could add more tables given they’re at capacity so quickly – pretty much every table was filled when they opened at 5:30pm. More seats shouldn’t detract from service levels: they employ a lot of staff so that food arrives at a quick clip and there’s always people standing around waiting to serve.

Speed is important when you’re selling noodles in broth. At this Zen location, their menu is based around hand-made sanuki udon from the Shikoki region, which is square-shaped and thinner compared to the cylindrical thick ones found elsewhere.

I expected springy chewy noodles, but they arrived fairly soft for udon. If anything, they tasted like the hand-pulled noodles found at the neighbouring Magic Noodle, which while not terrible is also a dime-a-dozen in the Markham area.

The ebi-ten udon ($16) allows diners to try the dashi broth made with a combination on konbu, bonito flakes, and dried baby sardines in a neutral form. Not surprisingly, there’s a rich umami flavour and it’s just salty enough without becoming overwhelming.

But then they ruined by broth by throwing in so many tempura bits that as you’re sipping the hot soup, every mouthful is filled with mushy batter. A spoonful would have been fine, but it seemed like there was equivalent tempura bits to noodles. As much as I commend chefs who use food scraps to eliminate waste, they should serve them in a separate bowl so diners can add it to broth themselves.

Bits of lemon zest adds a refreshing element to the udon, but the citrusy taste could also be strange for some customers, especially if you’re hoping for soup that’s really hearty and savoury. Who knows, perhaps it’s just something they include during the summer months to lighten everything?

The tempura was kept separate and arrived hot and crispy. While the shrimp a good size and deliciously sweet, I would have liked a light sprinkling of salt on everything as the vegetables were bland so you had to dip it into the broth, rendering the crispy crust soggy, to add flavour.

Their beef udon ($17) is like having bulgogi with udon, the meat thinly shaven and even has the same marinated sweetness. Call me a traditionalist, but it’d be much better if the beef was served in thick slices, similar to the pork shoulder cut you find with ramen.

Large portions is something you won’t find at Zen; if you don’t have a light appetite, add the $3 to upsize the bowl. Even their sides are miniscule: the kamo (duck) roast ($14) only had five slices, which is surprisingly when the actual duck udon already contains four pieces. It’s a satisfactory side, the freshly grated wasabi a lovely addition, but the actual duck could be more flavourful and less chewy.


With Zen’s history of serving solid Japanese cuisine, their soft noodles, over garnished broth, and puny portions is rather disappointing. Which is dangerous since udon seems to be the next “it noodle” opening across the city. With competition, there are better options, in my opinion, to tuck back a bowl.

Overall mark - 7 out of 10

How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 3720 Midland Avenue

Follow me on twitter to chat, be notified about new posts and more -
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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