Showing posts with label vegetables. Show all posts
Showing posts with label vegetables. Show all posts

Noodle & More (Toronto)


Walk around Toronto and you’ll find tons of small restaurants that aren’t opened by “celebrity” chefs or widely covered in mainstream and social media. I’m intrigued about these establishments. Often the owner is also the chef and generally this is where you can taste real authentic non-fussy cuisine.

Since the restaurant is called Noodle & More, it’d be unwise to visit and not order noodles. We’re advised their stewed beef hand-ripped noodles ($13.99) is one of the most popular dishes. The broth is beef and soy sauce based with a light spicy note in the background, flavourful enough that you didn’t need to add anything else. While the diced beef were rather small pieces, they were well braised and tender. Yet, the standout was the hand-ripped noodles arriving as thick ribbons, almost like knife cut noodles but longer and slightly thinner. Surprisingly, they could withstand sitting in the soup for a decent period of time without getting too soft and doughy.


Unfortunately, I couldn’t say the same for the fried noodles with beef ($11.49), which was too soggy for me. The noodles were simply too thin compared to the sauce. Moreover, the dish needed something crunchier to contrast against the soft noodles; while there were bean sprouts and green onions, these were also cooked too long so didn’t add a textual contrast.


Combining the fried noodles with some of the stir fried vegetables with garlic ($9.99) helped. These were cooked nicely, the vegetables retaining a vibrant colour and crunch. It was also a surprisingly sizeable portion, which with all the other carbs helped balance the meal.

As the pan fried chicken, cabbage and mushroom dumplings ($10.49) arrived at the table, memories of making paper snowflakes in kindergarten flashed through my mind. Except, at Noodle & More the snowflake web is created from caramelized dumpling juices. By itself, the dumplings’ filling needed more seasoning, but once you dip them into the tableside condiments, it gets better.


Aside from the hand pulled noodles, the dumplings are also made in-house, which you can witness by the window. In fact, their sister restaurant (located on Dundas West) is known for these creations. It’s called … wait for it … Dumpling & More!


The savoury Chinese crepe ($6.50) needs to be eaten quickly or the crispy wonton cracker in the centre gets stale. From the areas that retained the crunch, it goes nicely against the thin egg omlette and lettuce, bits of green onion and cilantro add a freshness to the wrap. Hoisin sauce was smeared on the crepe for a bit of sweetness, but would be nice if more was provided on the side so eaters can add to taste.


For something really flavour, the malatang ($12.45) is great, if you’re in the mood for a spicy dish. A variety of vegetables are combined with tofu, black fungus and Spam in a bowl of chili laced broth. It’s not nearly as spicy as what you can find elsewhere, the heat mostly coming from chili oil rather than the Sichuan pepper that numbs and scorches. For me, it was the perfect level of spiciness as anything more would be inedible. The dish would be even better if there’s the option of adding noodles.


Truthfully, I’d probably never would have stopped by Noodle & More if it weren’t for the Eatibl app, which allows a user to book a reservation online. While this doesn’t sound revolutionary, but what makes an Eatibl reservation different is that depending on the time of the reservation, diners get a discount. For example, at Noodle & More, a 4pm seating means you’d benefit from a 20% discount, while other times 10-15% off the final bill. A great option for those who have non-standard routines (i.e. students) or are not picky about when they eat.


Otherwise, it’s just a great excuse to check out some of the little known Toronto restaurants. There’s tons to discover, some event at a steep discount.

Overall mark - 7 out of 10
Disclaimer: The above meal was complimentary. Rest assured, as noted in my mission statement, I will always provide an honest opinion.


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 402 Bloor 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!

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Potman Hotpot (Toronto) 锅匠火锅

If you’re lucky enough to live in Toronto, you’re probably experiencing the cold touch from Mother Nature like the rest of the city. Of course, you could complain and hibernate, or rather embrace the Canadian mantra and go out there and have fun! Alas, me and winter activities requiring balance will never align, so I take the opportunity to indulge in hotpot instead.

Potman Hotpot is a new entrant and thanks to a BlogTO video has attracted a host of visitors – arrive before 6pm or make a reservation to avoid standing uncomfortably in their non-existent waiting area. The video showcases the meal to be a feast, which of course is possible, but you’ll pay for it as Potman is not all-you-can-eat.

Take the time to thoroughly go through their two-page menu as there’s a lot to choose from, starting with a choice of nine broths. If you’re indecisive, the split pot allows you to choose two flavours ($5.99 for small or $9.99 for large); financially, the large one doesn’t necessarily save much unless you’re sharing amongst more than two people.

For my first visit, I split the pot between homemade pork bone soup, which surprisingly incorporates a host of Chinese herbs resulting in a smooth creamy finish, and sweet tomato ox bone soup. In the future, I’ll stick with just the tomato broth (by itself $4.99 for small or $8.99 for large) as it adds a lovely flavour to all the ingredients so sauces aren’t even necessarily required.


Nonetheless, each person will be charged $0.49 for condiments, but allows them to mix-and-match from 19 items. Overall, what’s provided is sufficient, but Potman should consider giving the soy sauce in a pourable container (rather than the actual dipping dish) as after a few dunks the broth already starts to dilute everything.


While you can opt for a seafood platter, without a description of what comes with the dish it seemed safer to order the items we enjoy most. The shrimp ($5.99) was relatively good value with six large ones to an order… much better than the jumbo scallop ($2.99), which is essentially one scallop cut in half. Moreover, the small scallop pieces tended to get lost in the broth and became overcooked.


Most diners opted for the meat platter, but being carnivores, we stuck with single orders of the Angus beef ($6.99), pork ($4.99), and ox tongue ($6.99). My first time trying tongue in hotpot, I enjoyed the fattier cut that creates a flavourful bite – perhaps an alternative to the luxurious wagyu that costs $14-$50 a portion.


Where a platter works is for the vegetarian items ($7.49 for choice of 5 items) and the meat balls ($7.99 for a mix of 15) given Potman allows diners to choose what’s included in the mix. For the vegetarian items, you don’t get a lot with the leafy greens since they take up so much space, but for compact ingredients like wintermelon it’s a sizeable portion (these are also great for hotpot since they can be forgotten in the broth without ruining the vegetable’s texture).


For the meat balls there’s a choice of handmade or regular – I went with the regular machine-produced version and they were still very good. The cheese ball was our hands down favourite, very unique and I loved how after biting through the springy crust there’s a creamy molten cheese centre that’s enhanced with a sweet corn flavour. Their shrimp ball is also different holding shrimp roe in the centre – just be careful biting into it given the juices are hot and will squirt out.


Another one of my go-to ingredients is the fish tofu ($2.99), at Potman theirs is smooth while incorporating a rich fish flavour. The fish noodles ($1.49) isn’t the squeeze from a bag version, but rather comparable to wonton noodles with a chewier finish. While still tasty, the fish flavour is mild and somewhat lost if you add broth. Personally, I enjoyed the udon ($1.49), especially with the piece of ox tail accompanying the tomato soup base, it cooks relatively quickly without becoming mushy and goes so well with the tomato broth. On the other hand, the Korean rice cake ($1.49) breaks apart too easily and gets mushy in a matter of minutes.


While ordering a feast can get expensive - our indulgence costed $50 a person including taxes and gratuities (although to be fair we over ordered) - not being all-you-can-eat means staff have more time for service. Our food came out very quick (even add-ons) and our pots were constantly refilled to avoid it drying out. The service was excellent compared to other hotpot establishments. Moreover, there isn’t the pressure to stuff yourself silly, although with all the choices, that can still be difficult. 

Overall mark - 8 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 633 Silverstar Boulevard

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:

 Potman Hotpot Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

CLOSED: Cresta Restaurant (Toronto)


When I think about Pastizza, thoughts of delicious pizzas and an impressive bomba come to mind. Their funky name was whimsical and aptly describes the restaurant’s menu. It has since been re-branded as Cresta, to better showcase the restaurant’s focus of bringing California wines to Toronto (Cresta Ridge is where the owner’s winery is located). Otherwise, management and Chef Tri Tran remains.

Their menu has changed, evolving from one predominantly comprised of starches to include more starters and mains. Cresta's menu has trended towards upscale mains such as lobster spaghetti, seared scallops, and rich meats. Yet it's good to see less pricey items such as delicious pizzas and sharing plates are still offered.

The appetizers are great for sharing, the salumi ($15) a combination of charcuterie, cheeses, and fruits. Aside from a mild blue cheese, ultra creamy brie, and prosciutto, there are unique additions including a flavourful foie gras sausage and a firmer cheese topped with spicy truffle paste.


Marinated in harissa, a roasted red chili paste, the grilled octopus ($15) had a fair amount of smokiness and heat. With plenty of pieces of seafood, the dish could even work as a light main given it’s accompanied with fingerling potatoes and braised cipollini onions. Although the octopus was tender, cooking it a touch less would help retain more of its juices.


Cresta's pizzas are tasty as ever: the thin even crust wispy yet has a crispy base to resist sagging. The outer edges left thicker to remain chewy and act as the perfect vessel for dipping into chili oils (not immediately brought to the table but is available upon request).


The margherita ($18) is simple - topped with fresh plump tomatoes, plenty of fior di latte, fresh basil and a light dusting of parmesan – yet has a well-rounded taste and allows diners to enjoy each ingredient. On the other hand, the prosciutto cotto ($22) is intensely flavoured on account of the pungent gorgonzola, generous layer of salty prosciutto, chili and woodsy mushrooms. While I could easily eat an entire portion of the margherita, the prosciutto cotto is best enjoyed by sharing.  


Vegetarians can rejoice, Cresta has a selection of hearty meat-free dishes! The crispy zucchini ($9) is wonderful for nibbling, coated in seasoned cheesy bread crumbs but still juicy due to the squash.


The vibrant roasted heirloom beets ($9) could easily work as a salad, sitting on a bed of sautéed greens with a light lemon thyme dressing that subtly contrasts against the sweet beets.


To go with the steak or lamb, the mushroom and onions ($11) would be a decent side, tossed in a light creamy sauce with the sweet mild cipollini onions balancing the meatier mushrooms.


Yet it’s the brussel sprouts ($10) that were the most impressive. Our server explained they’re quickly blanched in garlic oil, giving the sprouts a crispiness reminiscent of roasting but keeps the center firm, while infusing the vegetable with a lovely garlic essence. Tossed in a sweet balsamic glaze, it's delicious and would be fantastic on pizza (with pancetta and parmesan) or even tossed into pasta.


Finishing off with an artfully presented house made gelato, the orbs of ultra-cold creamy salted caramel, French vanilla and chocolate gelato were rich and delicious. As if it weren’t enough, two decadent truffles adorn the plate, so creamy they’re best eaten with a spoon.


Normally not a fan of coconut, the warm rice pudding would be worth ordering again, the coconut’s sweetness combined with saffron gave the dessert a lovely aroma and a sweet & savoury quality.


Cresta’s food is of course made for pairing with wine - I tried a robust 2013 Noble Tree cabernet sauvignon ($14) that paired nicely with the acidness from the tomatoes and vegetables.

Yet, the restaurant’s cocktails are great for starting and ending the meal. A boozy walk through an orchard ($13) having the fruity essence from the apple cider, but made richer from the dark horse rye and bitters mixed throughout. Since the nutmeg is sprinkled on top of the foamy egg whites, it reaches the nose releasing a lovely scent with each sip. Although the Islay holiday ($14) sounds like it’s a “hair on your chest” drink, comprised of Tromba tequila and Bowmore scotch, it’s surprisingly refreshing due to the grapefruit juice. I dare say it’s even an easy going drink.

A muffin to go is the restaurant’s last parting gift; the salted caramel chocked full of walnuts mixed into a cinnamon laced batter and finished with a salty crumble.



Located on a quiet corner by the St. Lawrence Market, wine aficionados need to venture south of Front for Cresta’s Californian Italian experience. 

Overall mark - 7.5 out of 10*
Disclaimer: The above food items were provided on a complimentary basis. Rest assured, as noted in the mission statement, I will always provide my honest opinion. 


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 118 The Esplanade

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:



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

Congee Queen 皇后名粥 (Scarborough)

Location: Toronto, Canada
Address: 3850 Sheppard Avenue East (in Agincourt Mall)
Website: http://www.congeequeen.com/
Type of Meal: Dinner



The “wife” restaurant to the Congee Wong chain is the newer and larger Congee Queen. With a menu branching outside the normal Cantonese dishes, it also offers items such as pad thai (if you like the ketchup variety) and pho (never had it myself but the picture looks nothing like the pho I love).

There’s also a BBQ meat section that churns out dishes that look on point. I’ve tried the BBQ duck with thick vermicelli in soup ($7.25). The noodles (lai fun) are thicker than vermicelli and tastes nothing like it; they’re a non-doughy texture and resists getting soft. The BBQ duck, although well flavoured, was chewy and difficult to bite through. Needless to say, BBQ meats isn’t something I’ll be going back to order.


Despite their extensive menu, I normally go for the tried and true favourites – congee, rice noodles with beef, Singapore fried vermicelli, stir fried turnip cakes and salt & pepper fried squid. All are great and arrive in huge portions, sure to satisfy crowds.

If you’re with at least four people, I’d suggest ordering the seafood and chicken with wintermelon super bowl congee ($10.25), a great combination of ingredients. When I go with less people, we stick with the small bowls. Something simple like the sliced beef congee ($5.50) allows you to enjoy the thick smooth congee. The beef, although boiled, has been tenderized so that it resists becoming tough.


During a recent visit, I felt like something different. After all, with such a wide-ranging menu they must have other items worth a try. With a craving for lobster, the lobster chow mein ($20.95) seemed to be a good choice – crispy noodles topped with a full lobster. Stir fried in the traditional ginger and green onion sauce, the dusting of flour over each piece was a tad thick. But, once you got through it, the lobster itself was nice and tasted fresh. Moreover, the noodles were thin and remained crispy due to the thicker sauce.


Based on the picture, you likely won’t be able to tell there are a decent number of pieces of soft shell crab in their fried rice ($11.75). But, buried under the mound of well flavoured rice are lightly fried chunks of soft shell crab. Personally, I find that this relatively flavourless crustacean requires more spices or sauce to enhance it so it was a tad bland in the rice. Also, if you’re going to order this, make sure you finish all the crab in the restaurant, while it’s fresh, as it becomes mushy once reheated.


To round out the meal, a dish of simple but nicely prepared yu choy (a leafy vegetable) stir fried with beef ($10.75). I must commend Congee Queen on preparing their vegetables – they always seem so well trimmed and cooked perfectly.


If you’re looking for plain vegetables, their gai lan with oyster sauce ($5.95) satisfies and is a reasonable price.


Congee Wong will always be my go-to carb filled restaurant. But, with more and more locations opening, it’s just so convenient to head to Congee Queen! So, grab a group of people or be prepared to have a lot of leftovers. The price and selection makes it such a great everyday place to visit. 

Overall mark - 7.5 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!

Congee Queen on Urbanspoon