Showing posts with label steamed fish. Show all posts
Showing posts with label steamed fish. Show all posts

MIMI Chinese (Toronto)


Gathering dishes from across the country, MIMI Chinese's menu showcases the different flavours and ingredients in China's Sichuan, Guangdong, Hunan, Shaanxi, and Canton provinces. Think of it as a crash course on figuring out what you like as you dig into the fiery chilies of Sichuan or the saucier multi-flavour dishes from Guangdong. The educational experience is held in a dark dining room on comfortable plush banquettes with dishes featuring traditional spices and preparations so you can expect to taste authentic interpretations.

The crossed arm dumplings in red oil ($26) may sound like a starter for grumpy old men, but is named after the way the  wonton wrappers are folded and the two tips meet. Having made many dumplings in my youth, this style is much quicker to prepare, compared to the pleated variety, and also allows more filling to be used.  


Indeed, each thumb length dumpling at MIMI was stuffed with plenty of the pork and scallion mixture, which could have used more seasonings such as Shaoxing wine, sesame oil, or soy sauce. Maybe it's due to the thicker wrappers or there not being much heat within the "red oil" condiment, but the dish was rather devoid of flavours despite the colourful look. The oil is described as roasted chicken oil, which leads me to believe they use the leftover oil from deep frying chickens to make this condiment, something that sounds great in theory. In reality, it doesn't add much additional flavour and really the oil could benefit from more chilies and something pungent like shallots. 

I can't recall that last time I had shrimp toast ($21 for four pieces; $5.50 for extras), but I must have been young as this dish has been removed from dim sum menus as customers become more health cautious. Pieces of soft white bread sandwich a mild shrimp paste and is deep fried and topped with a sesame crust. The crispy toast was bang on - the crunchy exterior and slight leak of oil is reminiscent of childhood memories. 


Since MIMI uses two pieces of bread (restaurants previously used an open-faced sandwich format), the carbs did drown out the shrimp taste. The toast could benefit from more filling or incorporating pieces of diced shrimp in order to give it a stronger seafood essence. 

The scallion and ginger sea bass ($59) uses white leek but lacks ginger making it a fairly neutral main. The soy sauce and scallion oil is poured table side instead of directly from wok to dish, which while nice for presentation purposes, means it lacks the "scalding" properties that crisps the skin a bit and causes the sauce to more deeply permeate the meat. All in all, it was a pretty plain tasting dish and is for those who really want to enjoy the fish's flavours - at least it was well cleaned and tasted fresh. 


For those who are afraid of bones, this dish is perfect as everything is pretty much removed (all I found was one really thin small piece). While the lack of bones makes it much easier to eat, it does mean the fish cools quicker, so be sure to tuck into it right after the sauce is poured.  

Presented at the table with a flourish was the four foot belt noodle ($26), stretched to showcase its length before being cut into more manageable two inch segments. While not a terrible dish, the noodle could be thinner as we found it a tad chewy and the sauce needed something else for interest. Although the noodle was covered with a fair amount of chili oil, a salty richer flavour like bean paste or a complex XO sauce would have been a great addition. 



I preferred the supreme fried rice ($28), filled with umami flavours thanks to the dried scallop, salted egg, and lap cheong sausage. These ingredients do make the rice a tad dry, which MIMI ties to combat by adding diced vegetables and scallions into the dish. Really, I think if there was just more rice to mix with all the other ingredients it would provided the needed moisture.


Their vegetable dishes are fairly plain (stir fried gai lan or cabbage), we decided to try the chilled pumpkin and snow melon ($10), which are ribbons of the squashes tossed with Shaoxing broth. For those who can't handle spice, this would help counteract the heat of other dishes. For us, we found it almost seemed out of place and dessert-like due to the sweet after taste.


Be sure to listen to their feature dishes, we ordered both and they were my favourite of the evening. 

The Cantonese chicken ($28) is your traditional fried chicken with shrimp chips. It was executed perfectly at MIMI: the skin delicate and crispy, the meat very juicy, and there wasn't an ounce of pink on the bone (something that can be found at Chinese restaurants and make some squeamish).


I loved how the kitchen took the razor clams ($26) and chopped it to pieces and mixed it with wine, garlic, vermicelli, and other herbs before steaming the crustacean. With each bite you get different flavours and textures, a lovely seafood special. 


Being Chinese, I'm probably more difficult to impress as I've had so many experiences in my lifetime that there's often a comparable or better version of a dish previously eaten. While some dishes were a little bland for my taste, how the ingredients were prepared and the dishes executed were fantastic. What is also great about MIMI is their approachability and friendly service, a quality that can sometimes be lacking at Chinese restaurants.   

I can already imagine the pundits' responses: there's nothing special about the dishes and you can find them cheaper elsewhere. There is truth to this statement, the dishes aren't "westernized" and presented in the traditional format, albeit with more attention to plating. And the menu prices are much higher than the casual family establishments and still more than the banquet style restaurants. However, applaud MIMI for keeping with traditions and to allow customers, who may be hesitant to visit a Chinese restaurant, to try dishes that are not the General Tao variety they might have otherwise. As for the prices, just be mindful about their Yorkville rent and the higher labour costs (there were a lot of servers, all of whom are fluent in English). 

MIMI likely won't be the place your mom, dad, or grandparents will be love, but it is where you bring your friends who want to expand their taste bud experience beyond the Cantonese-focused menus that are typical in Toronto. It's where they will be able to try items from a variety of regions and they won't need your help interpreting the menu or translating. All you need to do is sit back, relax, and eat. 

Overall mark - 7 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 265 Davenport Road


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:


Fishman Lobster Clubhouse (Toronto)


Fishman’s newest location is also their largest: a colossal dining room that resembles a mini banquet hall with what seems like a hundred tanks lining the walls ... all filled with living and breathing sea creatures. I’m just glad we were sitting in the middle of the room. All those eyes on me, while eating, would have been unsettling.

As typical in Chinese restaurants, staff bring the live seafood to the table prior to cooking – the restaurant feels they’re showing diners they’re getting something fresh. It’s an act I’d rather skip. After all, if they really wanted to deceive you, they’d switch out the seafood in the kitchen since there’s no distinguishable feature once it’s chopped, deep fried, and covered in garlic anyways. Moreover, in the age of "doing it for the gram", the fad of hoisting the big creatures by the claws to take pre-dinner shots is disturbing. Yes, they're about to be killed, but shouldn't they at least die with as little stress as possible? Frankly, I find it cruel … *deep breath* … animal welfare activist rant over.

A couple of tips for first time visitors to Fishman Lobster Clubhouse.
  • Go with a larger group - 8 or more individuals is ideal - as their best options are the combos. Otherwise, for a duo, indulging in a lobster or king crab can get expensive as they’re $20+ a pound and they rarely carry ones under 5 lbs.
  • Order less than the suggested menu group size as they always provide too much food and inevitably will try to upsell you for 1-2 extra pounds since animals rarely all arrive at an exact weight. For example, for our table of nine, the special king crab dinner or combo G ($468), which is supposedly for 6-7 people was more than enough.
It starts with a big pot of boiled silkie chicken broth, the steamed soup arriving piping hot and full-flavoured. While a bit oily, it’s at least a clear consommé - a lighter start to the otherwise heavy meal.


All the “smaller” dishes arrive near the first half of the meal. Things like the deep fried oysters lightly floured and tossed in a thick honey pepper sauce. It’s crispy, but not overdone, and the sauce’s flavours were spot on. Although the actual oyster had a stronger odour than I would have liked.


Two lighter dishes followed. First, the steamed bass, which could be cooked a touch less, but tasted fresh and clean as the kitchen took the time to thoroughly descale the fish and cover it with plenty of scallions. To round out the meal, a sizeable bowl of poached snow pea shoots topped with goji berries. Normally, I would prefer the dish with garlic, but Fishman smartly leaves out the ingredient since it’s already so heavily used with the lobster and keeps the vegetables neutral.


Soon the fried seafood arrives. There’s of course the lobster: a behemoth 7 lb. tower (although in this case ended up being 8lbs) cut into huge pieces. While impressive to look at, a bigger lobster does mean the meat isn't as sweet and the claws’ texture is denser and harder. The claw shells also seem to have a stronger odour... maybe I just have over reactive olfactory receptors.


Nonetheless, the tail pieces arrive as baseball sized globs of meat – you almost wish there’s a knife and fork so you can cut through it like a steak and really enjoy the lobster. Even the legs become more edible as they’re thick enough to have meat in the spindly limbs.

The lobster tomalley is used in fried rice with a bit of green onion. The dish could use more seasoning, but our table ended up adding bits of the fried garlic from the lobster, which quickly helped spruce up the rice.


Personally, I found the king crab (6 lbs.) was the better of the two crustaceans – although there were mixed reviews around the table. Firstly, a king crab is naturally larger so the flavours remain succulent. Moreover, Fishman makes it easy to eat by splitting the legs’ shell so you simply need to drag a finger through it to get everything out.


Described as Hong Kong style on the menu, in Chinese this translates to bay fong tong. Compared to what I’ve sampled in the past, it’s less spicy, less saucy, and in in lieu of small fried fishes (or ground pork) the crab is combined with French fries – something I don’t mind as the toppings usually go to waste and I can always eat fries! However, it would be even better if the crab was simply steamed with garlic. Sure, it doesn’t look as impressive, but the king crab’s quality would be preserved and since the lobster is already fried, a steamed option would balance the meal better.

With all the seafood, we added an order of the diced beef tenderloin with garlic ($25), which really wasn’t necessary since we couldn’t even finish the rice. Yet, having a different flavour and texture was nice – the beef, cut into thick cubes, had a nice tender chewiness.


Although I don’t love the food at Fishman Lobster Clubhouse, I can see its appeal. It’s an excuse to gather a group of loved ones and share in a filling extravagant meal. Especially one where you can let loose, get in there, and get your hands dirty. 

Overall mark - 6 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 4020 Finch Avenue Street East

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:



Fishman Lobster Clubhouse Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


Szechuan Legend 半畝園 (Toronto)


Gather a group of ten before heading to Szechuan Legend as their set meals, especially on weekdays when they are even cheaper, are an amazing deal. The $198 weeknight non-spicy menu had enough variety to satisfy.

Of course, you’ll get your seafood fix with a medium four pound lobster done “fishermen wharf” style (essentially deep fried and then stir fried with garlic and chilies). It’s a nice change from the traditional ginger and onion and adds a spicy salty kick to the lobster. Afterwards, the tomalley is used in the fried rice, giving it a sticky and rich (albeit slightly fishy) essence.


The crustacean parade continue with two Dungeness crabs simply done with ginger and onion. Both seafood dishes are decent – not overcooked and incorporates enough seasoning without overpowering the seafood.


Although it’s not really Szechuan, a large steamed golden tilapia, is also included to counteract all the fried dishes. Again, the cooking time is bang on so that the fish flakes away from the bone without the texture turning tough.


Other seafood dishes completing the meal includes a Peking style sea cucumber – a sea creature that despite its name is not actually vegetarian. Normally, I’m not a fan of its soft blubbery texture, but at Szechuan Legend it’s chopped into small pieces and quickly stir fried (rather than braised) keeping them crunchy. Lastly, a plate of vermicelli noodles containing a fair amount of seafood and vegetables; it could use more salt as it’s colourful but tepid.


A favourite for my family is Peking duck, so we were in luck when the set menu included one done three ways. Traditionally, the highlight is the slices of skin cocooned in flour wrappers. They’re fine at Szechuan legend – the skin crispy (to the point the duck may have been flash fried) and the wrappers impossibly thin. Yet, the duck needed more seasoning as without the hoisin sauce, it’d be pretty bland.


On the other hand, the lettuce wraps and duck bone soup arguably steals the show. Large chunks of duck meat is reserved for the stir-fried lettuce wrap mixture and the Styrofoam rice noodles are left out in favour of crunchy vegetables and water chestnuts. There’s little meat within the duck bone soup, but the restaurant adds soft cubes of tofu and quickly boiled napa cabbage to make it hearty. A hot boil of soup is a nice toasty way to end off the meal.


The sole vegetable dish included with the set meal is stir fried baby bok choy with shrimp… boring and rather unforgettable compared to everything else. For this reason, we added an order of the stir fried lotus root ($8.99), which has a great crunchy refreshing texture.


The execution on the crispy half chicken ($8.99) varies. Since we had a larger table, we ordered a full chicken and each half arrived separately. The first looked man-handled and was starting to border on dry, while the second better but the breast a tad undercooked. Even so, we all agreed the sweet and spicy sauce accompanying the chicken was fantastic and helped mask the flaws.


In need of more starches, the seafood fried rice cakes ($8.99) were a nice change from noodles. The chewiness of the rice cakes pairs nicely with the crunchy black fungus; pork slivers, shrimp and napa cabbage completes the dish.


On both visits, dessert consisted of red bean soup. The restaurant’s rendition incorporates what looks and smells like Baby’s Breath. Given a limited amount of sugar was used in the dessert, there was little flavour to hide the floral taste. Nonetheless, despite tasting strange, the red bean soup did have a digestive effect after a heavy meal.


Even without the lower pricing, I’d suggest visiting on a weeknight. The restaurant is generally understaffed so service tends to be slow even when the dining room isn’t full. All the same, Szechuan Legend is a respectable restaurant; for the most part, the food is tasty despite being affordable. You’ll leave full and satisfied … just with a floral aftertaste in your mouth.

Overall mark - 7 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 3280 Midland Avenue

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:


Szechuan Legend Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Fishman Wharf Seafood 漁人碼頭 (Markham)


When your restaurant’s named Fishman Wharf Seafood, there shouldn’t be customers wandering in hoping to get an amazing sweet and sour pork or sizzling beef plate. Indeed, the establishment’s focus is seafood, but in particular, Alaska king crab, which was a bit of a letdown as I really had a hankering for a lobster tower, without the added expense of the crab, and there little options for the tower without the aforementioned crab royalty.

Moreover, many set meals also includes shark fin and when asked if they can substitute it with something (perhaps crab meat?) the answer is no, but they can serve it on the side so those who would rather not have it can have their rice plain. Substitutions are definitely not encouraged.

You really need a group of at least six people to fully enjoy the restaurant – if you can round up a table of ten, even better. They’re known for their set meals and do offer a la carte dishes, but a tower can easily cost $100 on its own, so purchasing everything piece meal is definitely an expensive choice. Also, the restaurant assumes everyone at the table is a hungry teenager as our lobster seafood set for six ($258) was more than sufficient for seven of us; if we didn’t stuff our faces, the dinner could have even accommodated an eighth, despite the waitress urging us to add on a chicken.

The soup and dessert are the slow boiled varieties, both not overly exciting – pork with leafy dried vegetables for the soup and a papaya with white fungus for dessert - but at least flavourful and hot enough.


What I was there for was the eight pound lobster tower, for an extra $10 we changed the preparation ‘fried garlic’ to ‘Hong Kong style’ having heard it’s much tastier. The later still had tons of garlic, but also incorporated deep fried small whitebait fish and a bit of spice. Overall, a decent dish: the lobster not overdone, enough flavour without completely overpowering the seafood itself, and piping hot.


With a salted egg yolk batter covering the deep fried Vancouver crab, it’s different. At first almost offending, the oily powdery crust grew on me and the rich yolk contrasted well against the sweet crab – not unlike a less salty sharp cheese with seafood.


Despite being named deep fried eel, the ingredient likely only underwent a quick flash fry and then was stir fried with chilies and green onion. Normally, the eel has a gamier taste, but the stronger sauce helped mask this and was a tasty sauce.


Although the clam cooked in wine was rather plain (generally I prefer them stir fried with black bean sauce), after all the heavier deep fried dishes, it was nice to eat a less oily one. It’s a shame you can’t really sip the cooking broth – unless you like the taste of pungent Chinese cooking wine.


The steamed grouper was done in the “traditional” method with Chinese wolfberries (adds a light sour element) and black fungus. Also executed affably, but could use a little more soy sauce.  
Even Fishman’s vegetables incorporate seafood, the boiled yu choy incorporating slivers of dried cuttlefish (?) on top. It’s fine, but didn’t actually help enhance the dish.


To end, a large platter of shark fin fried rice. It wasn’t what I expected - a pyramid of fried rice in a pool of crab meat laced shark fin soup. Despite being morally against the shark fin, I have to admit the dish was delicious. However, with so many other elements, the shark fin really isn’t required; personally, I believe slivers of the spongy soft and crunchy bamboo innards (or jook sun) would be even better with the rice.  


Some things to keep in mind: they take reservations but only for large groups and payment is debit or cash only… not abnormal for Chinese establishments. After the meal, I certainly felt I had my fill of seafood.  Lobster, crab, eel, clams and fish … satisfied.

Overall mark - 7 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Markham, Canada
 Address: 4080 Steeles Avenue East


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:


Fishmen Wharf Seafood Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

CLOSED: Maple Yip Seafood Restaurant 陸羽海鮮酒家 (Toronto)

Location: Toronto, Canada
Address: 4227 Sheppard Avenue East
Type of Meal: Dinner

Some of the best ethnic restaurants are tucked away in a non-descript plaza in the suburbs. Maple Yip is no different and has been a family favourite for years. It’s not a fancy, but perfect for casual family dinners with prices to match.

They are known for some of dishes that require 48 hours advanced notice. Their winter melon soup ($48 for the large) is great for the winter as the soup stays hot within its vessel throughout dinner. For smaller tables they also have a tinier version, simply tell them your table size and they’ll make one accordingly. However, large tables can always opt for a medium one as there is just so much soup! With ten of us and the large version we each had two bowls and still had plenty leftover.


Winter melon soup is essentially a fragrant broth made with chicken, Chinese cured ham, dried and fresh scallop, shrimp, crab, Chinese mushroom and other dried herbs. It’s all placed into the hollowed out squash and steamed for hours to infuse the melon’s sweet juices into the rich soup.


As it’s eaten, you scrape off the melon’s sides to enjoy with the soup, which is pretty bland by itself but lightens the flavourful broth.


Another dish I highly recommend is the deep fried glutinous rice stuffed chicken ($38). An entire deboned chicken (except the legs and wings) has its cavity filled with a sticky rice mixed with Chinese cured sausage (lap cheung) and mushrooms. After cooking they deep fry it so that the skin is golden red, light and crispy.


On the inside, the chicken meat remains juicy and tender. The sticky rice was the highlight mixed with all the chicken’s juices – it’s fragrant and flavourful.


If you don’t want a full chicken, another dish I’ve enjoyed is their crispy chicken topped with ginger and scallions ($9.95). Unfortunately, it’s not on their regular menus (it’s on one of those papers tacked along the wall). So, be mindful not order the steamed version on their regular menu; this is the crispy one called “yow lum giy” in Cantonese.


The chicken is essentially like the deep fried chicken with rice crackers you’d find at most Chinese restaurants. Then they douse is in a sweet diluted hot soy sauce (similar to what accompanies steamed fish) and top it with tons of green onions, ginger and deseeded chilies. That combination of crispy skin, juicy meat, sweet/salty sauce and fragrant herbs is simply delicious.

Maple Yip’s stir fried double lobsters with green onion and ginger ($34.95) was admittedly not the best. The lobsters, perhaps were smaller than normal, ended up looking shrunken due to the tinier pieces. But, there was a good flavour to the dish.


A special for the night was an old fashioned steamed grouper tail ($27). A meatier fish, the grouper was cooked well and topped with slivers of onion, orange peel and other items which added great flavours against the neutral fish. Its larger bones are also perfect for those who aren’t use to eating bone-in steamed fish and are squeamish about swallowing them in the process.


The stir fried clams ($9.95) had a decent fragrant black bean sauce but the seafood itself was rather small and there wasn’t much to eat.


Maple Yip’s chili shrimp and eggplant ($9.95) certainly has some heat to it. Served in a clay pot it’s piping hot (be careful) and allows it to be left out for a while retaining its temperature. Although timing is not an issue here as they whip out dishes in quick succession. In fact, most of the time, this is the problem with their service: you will have gotten the winter melon soup and before you even finish the first bowl other dishes will start arriving.


The deep fried pork chop with spicy salt and pepper ($7.95) was crispy and satisfying. If you like it spicier, wait for a piece in the middle or bottom that’s covered with the chili and salt mixture.


Meanwhile, the sweet and sour pork ($7.95), although having a great sauce, could have been cut into larger pieces. I found it a tad doughy and lacked the juicy pieces of meat I enjoy.


Most dishes are enjoyed best with steamed rice. But, if you’re already ordering the rice stuffed chicken and would like another starchy dish, the stir fried e fu noodles with mushrooms ($8.95) is reasonably priced and tasty. Just be aware of the spongy texture of the noodles – some may find its softer springy texture strange.


Despite most dishes being under $10, their vegetable dishes are pricier, but the portions are substantial. Below is the stir fried prince mushroom with bean shoots, although $16.95 is a satisfying dish.


Maple Yip is hidden in the corner at the back of the plaza whose entrance can easily be missed. But, it’s worth the search and plenty of people have found it. So, do yourself a favour and make a reservation to avoid disappointment. And be sure to order the winter melon soup or deep fried glutinous rice stuffed chicken if you’re visiting with a crowd.

Overall mark - 8 out of 10


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
  • - 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!