Showing posts with label stir fried noodles. Show all posts
Showing posts with label stir fried noodles. Show all posts

Riz Gluten-Free Asian Kitchen (Toronto)

If you have a serious food allergy, eating out may feel stressful and require research and planning. Enter Riz: after moving north on Yonge, they morphed their menu into an entirely gluten free offering so there’s no risk of cross contamination. Celiacs, you have found the place to go to for Chinese food.

Their hot and sour soup ($6) contains traditional ingredients such as tofu, black fungus, and green onions, but could also something crunchier to round out the textures - in lieu of julienned bamboo shoots, Riz uses a softer vegetable. Overall, the soup didn’t satisfy my craving, especially since it had a sweet finish that I found strange.

The rice noodles (ho fun) used in the veggies and tofu pad see ewe ($19.75) is much thicker than what you’d find elsewhere. Perhaps, this is also why we found the dish blander and lacking the aromatic wok hay that’s synonymous with the noodles. A bit more soy would have helped and perhaps we should have taken them up on having some chili oil with the dish.

Luckily, the black bean tiger shrimp ($22.50) was flavourful and went nicely with the pad see ewe. The normally pungent black bean was mellowed into a sweet sauce studded with garlic and onions. Incorporating a variety of vegetables, the broccoli really soaks up the sauce so some people may find this too salty… for me it was perfect. Make sure to get an order of steamed rice to pair with the dish.

If you read the description of the purple Saigon eggplant ($17.75), you’d think the hoisin, garlic chili, and soy sauce would create a sweet, spicy, and savoury dish. Instead, there’s a tanginess that while not off-putting is also not expected. The eggplant was cooked perfectly, flash fried to retain its vibrant purple hue and quickly tossed with the rest of the vegetables. Given the chili logo on the menu, I would have liked this spicier.

I love that Riz incorporates so many fresh vegetables in their dishes. If what’s used in the stir fries and noodles aren’t enough, the snow pea and broccoli ($17.75) offer even more greens. During our visit, the recipe also included snap peas, likely used to augment the off-season snow peas that were a bit tough.

What Riz Gluten-Free Asian Kitchen lacks in finish, they make up for with their service. Attentive and friendly, it’s a restaurant where you feel taken care of. Stress be gone. 

In a nutshell... 
  • Must order: black bean tiger shrimp
  • Just skip: hot and sour soup

Overall mark - 6.5 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 3471A Yonge Street


Follow me on twitter to chat, be notified about new posts and more - https://twitter.com/GastroWorldBlog
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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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Great Fountain (Toronto) 大泉港式快餐 for takeout

Watch food shows about Asian countries and they will inevitably feature street eats. The compounds may be located outside or indoors, but the common themes are the array of dishes available, the no frills communal dining area, and the unfathomed low prices compared to the hard work that goes into creating the dishes.

In Toronto, our closest comparison is the da pa dongs set in GTA strip malls. Scarborough food courts were once bustling in the late 1980s and 1990s, my parents and I used to regularly visit them in my youth. But once eateries switched to using disposable containers (they previously used real dishes and you could request a takeout container for leftovers), the environmentalist in me steered my parents towards restaurants like Congee Wong instead.

It’s a shame, as having stir-fried dishes at a da pa dong is the epitome of how they should be enjoyed. Within a minute, it’s out of the hot wok, onto a plate, and you’re digging into the fragrant dish in no time.

My favourite item is the stir-fried rice noodles with beef or gon chow gnow ho. Since the pandemic started, it’s also a dish that I’ve been getting from various Chinese restaurants around the city, always disappointed with the outcomes. Hence, after seeing it featured on Great Fountain’s Instagram feed, I worked in a visit to the eatery after dropping off provisions to my mom, who lives in the area.

The stir-fried noodles with beef ($7.50) was exactly what I had been craving - the noodles cooked long enough so there are bits of caramelization on the ends and to give the dish wok hay. There was enough soy sauce and condiments to flavour everything giving the noodles a lovely deep brown hue, yet they remained dry and not clumped together. I could even do without the beef, to be honest, as what makes the dish are the chewy aromatic noodles, sweet onions and chives, and crunchy bean sprouts. If it is this good after a 20-minute commute, I can only imagine how delicious it would be dining there.

Perhaps there was a bit too much bean sprouts in the Singapore stir-fried vermicelli ($7.50) as the noodles were a little soft for my liking. My hypothesis is the water from the bean sprouts soaked into the thin noodles as it sat in the container. Slivers of green bell peppers would have been a nice addition to substitute for some of the sprouts and add a pop of colour. Regardless, the dish a lovely curry flavour and was a nice balance of noodles, barbeque pork and vegetables.

Each dish is served with a complimentary drink (I skipped to cut down on plastic waste) as well as a free soup. Great Fountain’s hot and sour soup was still surprisingly warm after the drive home and while it’s not the greatest, it’s also not terrible for a free addition. It could be a touch spicier, but where it lacked in the “hot” there was enough of the “sour” element to give it flavour. It reminds me of the hot and sour soup found at Chinese buffets, and even comes packed with big cubes of tofu.

The popcorn squid ($5.99) was the sole disappointing dish; another item I’ve ordered regularly during the pandemic, and once again reminded why it must be eaten in a restaurant. Of course, it was no longer crispy, which is such a pivotal part to making the squid delicious, but Great Fountain’s also lacked seasoning, despite the slightly fiery red tinge.

During the lockdown, when we’re forced to take out from restaurants anyways, it’s the opportune time to visit da pa dongs again - the guilt of relying on plastic and Styrofoam containers dissipates slightly. So far, the meal from Great Fountain has been the tastiest alternative to eating stir-fried noodles at a restaurant. Long live “street eats”. 

Overall mark - 8 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 8 Glen Watford Drive
 

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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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Perfect Chinese Restaurant (Toronto) for takeout


Note: Prices in post are based on regular menu prices and may be higher when using delivery services

Having gone to my fair share of Cantonese-Chinese restaurants in the GTA, I find the clientele tends to be fairly homogenous – either comprised of 90% Chinese patrons or in the case of the “chop suey” establishments lacking anyone of Chinese representation (my husband’s nostalgia for Choice of the Orient means I’m usually the only Chinese customer when we visit). 

Perfect Chinese Restaurant is different. Since I can remember, their clientele is so diverse that even during major Asian holidays like Lunar New Year, you’ll still see families of various ethnicities. During lunch hours, you’ll hear the Chinese ladies loudly describe the dishes in broken English as they push around the dim sum cart. They also stop frequently to speak to regulars; things move a bit slower here.

The restaurant’s been around forever and the draw could be Perfect’s vast menu: there’s the traditional Cantonese dishes, all-day dim sum, and they do a great job on “chop suey” dishes… even my grandmother likes their sweet and sour pork.

They are also famously opened 24 hours a day (I’ve had my fair share of post-club visits) and offer some great specials. Even now, during COVID, they continue to provide take-out and delivery around the clock and have several discounted dishes available for take out through their new online ordering system. Such as the all-in-one meals like the roasted duck on rice ($7.95), which provides a decent portion of flavour fowl on a bowl of rice with two leafy vegetables; or the fried rice noodles with beef, bean sprout and soy sauce ($9.99) that’s well-tossed with sauce while still keeping the noodles intact.

Like my other experience with takeout lobster, the flour coating on the stir-fried lobster with ginger and green onion ($19.95) does get mushy (I suggest using less or switching to a flour that’s not as heavy and sticky), but the flavours are bang-on, fragrant and salty that I would happily have one of these in a single sitting.

If you enjoy dishes such as sweet-and-sour or honey garlic, you’ll want to try the sesame chicken ($6.95). I found it a bit too breaded and syrupy for my taste, but it was my husband’s favourite.

Surprisingly, the most expensive dishes of the meal were the vegetables. I love Chinese leafy greens and couldn’t pass-up the stir-fried garlic snow pea leaves ($14.95). There were some bits of harder steams left on (a breeze for us to consume but could be more difficult for dentures), but they sure pack plenty of it into the takeout container.

Their sautéed Buddha-style mixed vegetables ($11.95) doesn’t incorporate the gluten puffs you’ll find at Buddhist vegetarian restaurants, substituting the lighter white snow fungus instead. It’s also made up a variety of vegetables - broccoli, bean sprouts, snap peas, baby corn, bamboo shoot, and mushrooms – from what I can remember.

A dish of diversity, not unlike the customers of Perfect Chinese Restaurant. 


Overall mark - 8 out of 10 


How To Find Them 
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 4386 Sheppard Avenue East
 Delivery: Uber, Doordash, Skip the Dishes
Referral Discount Codes 
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Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never order again
  • - 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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CLOSED: Dim Sum Queen (Toronto) for delivery and takeout



Note: Prices in post are based on regular menu prices and may be higher when using delivery services

Coming from a Cantonese Chinese background, my brunches were less about eggs benny and pancakes and more about steamed dumplings and pan-fried delights. Being able to have dim sum was something I took for granted, just a lunch we’d have as a family every other weekend. It wasn’t until the quarantine hit that I realized how much I would miss these small bites. So much so, that one Saturday, I placed a huge order at Dim Sum Queen and delivered care packages to family members.

A groan of delight must have escaped when I bit into my favourite dish, the siu mai (pork dumplings). They were a little wet from sitting in a steamy closed container, but once the condensation evaporated, they’re not that far off from what you’d get at a restaurant. Both the pork ($5.30 for 4 pieces) and chicken shitake ($5.30 for 4 pieces) versions are delicious, a nice meaty consistency but not overly dense.

The shrimp and snow pea leaves dumpling ($5.30 for 3 pieces) doesn’t travel as well since the wrappers get soft and sticky. Order the pan-fried shrimp and chive cakes ($5.30 for 3 pieces) instead, the thin wonton wrappers don’t mind a steam and the filling is just as good – plump pieces of shrimp studded with bits of leafy vegetables.

Of all the dishes, I would have thought the steamed sticky rice with meat in lotus leaf ($5.30 for 2 pieces) would be best for takeout - the wrapper helps keep in the heat and they are steamed for so long anyways that another 15 minutes wouldn’t make a huge difference. Alas, Dim Sum Queen’s has so much rice and so little filling that it’s a bland forgettable dish.

Their steamed BBQ pork rice rolls ($5.30 for 3 pieces) are thicker than what I’ve had at the restaurant, nonetheless, they’re a still decent and the restaurant smartly sends the soy sauce separately so it doesn’t get too soggy.

One of my favourite items from Dim Sum Queen is their sesame seed and lotus paste balls ($4.50 for 3 pieces) – when they are freshly fried these sweet spheres are A-MAZING! Understandably, takeout doesn’t do it justice (maybe if they were shipped in paper bags instead of Styrofoam it’d allow it to breath better), but still fairly decent and the just-sweet-enough lotus paste was as tasty as ever.

Despite the restaurant’s name, their non-dim sum items are good as well. While the sweet and sour pork ($14) and General Tao chicken ($14) look identical, the sauces do differ: the pork using the typical sweet and sour combination but ends with a gingery finish while the chicken savoury and sweet. They’d be even better if the batter weren’t quite as thick and the General Tao given a spicier finish.

Nonetheless, both went quite nicely with the yang chow fried rice ($12), a sizeable portion incorporating shrimp, large cubes of BBQ pork and enough scallions to add a freshness to the rice.

The mixed vegetable chow mein ($10) is also a great choice, they serve the sauce on the side so the noodles remain very crispy and crunchy. They also don’t skimp on the vegetables, the container held big chunks of broccoli, snow peas, cabbage, and carrots, amongst other greens.

Honestly, dim sum tastes SO much better when it’s fresh; not all dishes lend itself to delivery. So, since the restaurant offers dim sum all the time, if you want to miss their busy lunch rush, a dinner of noodles, rice, vegetables, and select dim sum may be the smarter choice. 


Overall mark - 7.5 out of 10*
Higher marks for their noodle, rice, and other dishes than the dim sum


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 3241 Yonge Street
 Delivery: Uber, Skip the Dishes
Referral Discount Codes
 Support the blog by using my referral code
 UberEats: use eats-ju6ta to get $5 off a $15 order 
 SkipTheDishes: click link to get $5 off a $15 order
 

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 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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Mr. Miyagi (Dubai)


Let’s be honest, you go to Mr. Miyagi for the fun environment, not the food. It’s a cool looking place that looks like it’s been decorated by an organized hoarder: umbrellas lining the wall, picture frames everywhere, and a stamp collection adorning every table lamp. There’s a bar at the back of the restaurant, so after dinner you can stay for the party. The food, on the other hand, is decent, at best.  


The tastiest thing of the night was the shrimp crackers (AED19) hanging on the table lamps, the bag begging to be ripped apart and eaten before the other items arrive. The crackers are the real deal, flavourful with the deep essence of seafood, much like what you’d find in Thailand.


So much better than the Dynamite shrimp (AED45) that’s essentially deep fried shrimp tossed in a crap load of Miracle Whip. A really heavy starter that’s probably beloved, if you like that tangy zesty mayo wannabe.


If things aren’t great, smother it with condiments seems to be the mantra at Miyagi. The sushi aburi roll (AED55) is not flame torched, but rather drowned with avocado cream so you can’t taste an ounce of the salmon wrapping a huge piece of rice.


The Dragon roll (AED55) was even worse; it must have been pre-made earlier in the day as the rice was hard and dry. The menu describes it as being tataki style, which generally means lightly seared at other restaurants. At Miyagi, it translates to fully cooking the salmon and tuna to the point that they taste like they came out of a can, and of course drizzling so much sauce over it that they hope you can’t tell the difference.


There was a chance that the beef sisig (AED49) could be better – at least the flavours were nice – but the meat still so over cooked rendering it like eating bits of leather on crispy wonton crackers.


Of the mains, the curries are the safest bet. Both the green and red versions were decent (AED59 for chicken and AED65 for shrimp), but neither really packing much heat. Not even the red one, which had three chilies listed beside it on the menu, unless you actually have a bite of the bird’s eye chili.



Nonetheless, they’re better than the mee goreng handmade egg noodles (AED49). What it lacks in wok hay, Miyagi tries to make up for dumping more sauce on, but even that couldn’t rehydrate their dry hard tofu. Sadly, I’ve whipped up better noodles at home on a week night with a bottle of store-bought Szechwan sauce.


Aside from the shrimp chips, the only saving grace of the evening was the fact that it was Lady’s Night and our waiter was so friendly and attentive.

Interestingly, for a country that doesn’t allow alcohol to be served outside of hotels, the ones that do sell spirits also offers all-you-can-drink options. At Mr. Miyagi, on Wednesday nights their Lady’s Night menu provides women a choice of two dishes and two hours of unlimited drinks for only AED99. So, the fact that our waiter was on the ball with refills meant I developed a nice buzz even before the food arrived. Not enough for me to actually like the food, of course, but still a memorable night.

Overall mark - 5 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Dubai, United Arab Emirates
 Address: Media One Hotel

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:
  • Asian District

Mr Miyagi's - Media One Hotel Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato