Merlot Restaurant (Toronto)


I love old school restaurants where the furniture is fashioned from solid wood and the walls are adorned with sconces and/or varied paintings and prints. A place where there’s a napkin, water glass, and place settings. Most of all, a place where the music blends into the background so you can still chat amongst the table.

To my delight, Merlot captures these qualities. You’ll find the traditional French favourites on their menu like escargot and steak frites, as well as interesting dishes like the “St. Tropez” fish soup ($15.50). The broth has a bouillabaisse feel spiked with more saffron and thickened with pulverized fish - personally, I would have preferred if the fish was left in chunks, so it’d feel less like eating savoury baby food. 

The texture improved once I dropped in bite-sized pieces of the toasted baguette topped with creamy rouille (a garlicky lemon and saffron aioli) and grated Emmenthal to each spoonful. Think of it as a lighter French onion soup that swaps out the onion for fish.

If there’s duck confit ($32.50) on the menu, most likely it’s what I’ll order. Interestingly, the duck leg arrives with no sauce giving it a lovely rustic homemade quality. You can certainly taste the duck and without sauce the meat has nowhere to hide, it needs to be done perfectly to taste delicious. In this case, it was.

Yet, it was the caramelized sautéed garlic potatoes that stole the show. Cooked in duck fat until a sticky and crispy crust forms, the spuds made me swoon with delight. Never swap these potatoes for fries.

The meal ended perfectly with a shared slice of tarte aux pommes ($13.50). The thinly sliced apples sat on a bed of apple sauce and a perfect pastry crust. Likely the apple sauce helps to add moisture without relying on syrup, which keep the tart light. While there’s nothing wrong with the apple sauce, using crème anglaise or some sort of custard give it a richer element. And get rid of the fruit coulis, it makes the plate pretty but takes away from the lovely apple flavours.

When I saw the handwritten check, I knew we were in the right place. I truly hope traditional restaurants like Merlot continue to thrive as they have such a lovely charm.

As we get into the summer, I’ll be returning to enjoy their patio, which hopefully will transport me to a Parisian café. 

Overall mark - 8 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 2994 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!

Other Gastro World posts similar to this:





Té (Toronto)


There’s a cheekiness to Té that I enjoy. The French flair added to “tea” to form their name, the unexpected breezy décor that flies in the face of traditional Korean restaurants, or even the silent black and white Sailor Moon that graces the television in their bar area. Té is different and certainly won’t please everyone.

Starting with the rustic look of their kimchi devilled eggs ($7 for 3). The yolks are mixed with sesame oil and kimchi paste, instead of creamy mayonnaise, creating a stiffer paste to pipe back into the egg white. I could certainly taste the nutty oil that always makes my taste buds sing, but would have liked more of the gochujong as there wasn’t much heat to the egg. In fact, aside from the sesame oil these tasted like any other deviled egg. Swapping the bacon bits for chopped kimchi may give it that element it’s missing and make the dish vegetarian-friendly to boot.

Similarly, the kimchi was lost within the ricotta, mozzarella, and parmesan mixture in the toasted kimchi ravioli ($13). Chances are any ingredient wouldn’t be able to hold up against the swiggle of honey wasabi pesto piped on top of the crispy ravioli as the wasabi was so pungent and overpowering. Some reviewers rave about this dish, but I found the panko crust made it too dry and the pasta was overly chewy. It’s not one I’d order again.

The bulgogi sliders ($15) were good with a pile of thinly sliced sweet-soy marinated sirloin topped adorned with a perfectly cooked quail egg, which is runny so makes for a messy first bite. The sliders would be even better if there wasn’t wasabi in the mayo (Té’s chef certainly loves wasabi) and the buns were warm and toasted.

If you really want to try the bulgogi I’d opt for one of the main dishes instead. Té’s bi bim bap ($17) follows a traditional recipe where the beef is accompanied by cold sesame-marinated vegetables and a fried egg. They swap out the white rice for nuttier purple rice instead and Té’s sweet chili sauce is thicker and spicier than other ones I’ve tried.

Sadly, the bi bim bap wasn’t presented in the typical hot stone bowl. That vessel is so important as it creates the crust on the bottom of the rice and the heat warms up the cold garnishes and sauce so that once everything is mixed together the flavours really melt and meld together.

There’s plenty of bulgogi on top of their mac and cheese ($18) and the pasta was excellent as well. I enjoyed the creamy gooey cheese sauce and the parmesan panko crisp on top adds a lovely textured crunch for those who want an extra pop of flavour.

Other stand-out dishes were the following small plates. The braised pork crostini ($14) features a juicy hunk of five spice-soy marinated pork belly that seeps into the crusty toasted bread. It’s simple but such a lovely bite.  

The pork belly and kimchi lettuce wrap ($14) was also a hit. In this dish, the pork belly is thinner and grilled to give it a lovely caramelized crust. Sitting on a layer of kimchi, pickled daikon, and crispy lettuce with a sweet garlicky chili paste the wrap is a lovely balanced bite and one of the better ssam I’ve had.

And you really can’t go wrong with freshly fried chicken ($9 for 2 pieces of $16 for 4 pieces) that arrives steaming hot and begging to be eaten. I’m glad Té left off the typical sweet, sour, and spicy red sauce and kept the chicken lightly dusted with five spice seasoned flour. It keeps the skin crispy and the chicken was juicy enough to not require any sauce.

It’s remarkable how much they create in-house, including a handful of baked goods. The butterscotch caramel cheesecake ($6) wouldn’t have been my first choice for dessert, but I’m glad we went with our server’s suggestion as it was a nice blend of sweet and gentle saltiness, and smooth cake with a bit of crunch from the toffee bits.

For those who’d rather drink their dessert, Té has plenty of cocktails to choose from at $14.50 each. The mango black Té is their play on a mango bubble tea except spiked with Scotch for a boozy adult take on the classic drink. It’s a tad gimmicky as the drink isn’t executed well given the mini tapioca pearls are rather hard and the straw not thick enough to actually allow them to pass with the tea.

The bobaless drinks were more my style, having sampled a lovely vivid-pink strawberry with Proescco cocktail that really hit the spot and their seasonal feature drink that is almost like a mojito incorporating lemonade so that it’s extra refreshing.

As a warning, service can be a tad slow, for drinks and food, as everything is freshly made - I wouldn’t dine there if you’re in a hurry or starving. Té should consider creating a banchan platter for the table, which they could split in advance into little dishes stacked on top of one another allowing servers to just grab-and-go. Patrons may be a little pissed that they’ll be charged for it (banchan is normally complementary at Korean restaurants), but at least it will help ease the wait and can even double as a “bar snack” for cocktails. They could even add their flair to the name… parTé platter perhaps?

Overall mark - 7 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 70 Ossington 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:


KOKO! ShareBar (Toronto)


Images of cheery smiling cartoon characters flash through my mind when I heard the name KOKO Share Bar. Bubble-eyed creatures that blink with earnest and flash big smiles as they proclaim the importance of love and sharing, almost like a trippy Care Bear. In reality, KOKO is set up like many traditional izakayas with sparse wooden tables and black chairs, each table divided by a tall pane of plastic in the new COVID era. Not one anime character anywhere… I couldn’t decide if I should be relieved or disappointed.


And in a very unlike me manner, we also didn’t share at the Share Bar. It didn’t stop me from ordering the salmon aburi sushi ($20) to start, the rice adorned with thick cuts of salmon topped with lime aioli. At KOKO, there was just enough of the mayo to take on a hint of smokiness and to add a splash of creaminess without making the sushi greasy. I would have liked some stronger finishing ingredients to create more interest – like the customary jalapeno slice, a dab of chopped olives, or even a sprinkling of green onions. The aburi was good but lacked pizazz.



Based on my friend’s recommendation (and plenty of other reviewers), I had to try KOKO’s roasted miso black cod ($36). It’s a solid dish but with a few changes could be even better: including some of the miso sauce on the side for those who want a more flavourful fish or to pour over the steamed rice, removing some of the cod’s bones to make it easier to cut into (even the large shards were left behind), and roasting the skin longer so that it becomes crispier.



Still, I appreciated the decent sized piece of black cod, which was fresh and flaky and there was a nice variety of vegetables included to create a balanced and healthy meal. If only there was more seasoning on the vegetables that seemed to be merely steamed.


For an izakaya, KOKO sure plays it safe with their flavours. What a shame, no Japanese anime characters, and no bold ingredients.


Overall mark - 7 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 81 Yorkville 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:


Orote (Toronto)


There's something about a tasting menu that gives me a thrill - it's oddly freeing to detach myself from decisions and just be ready to experience. Almost like a rollercoaster for eating where I strap myself in for a ride and hope the track is enjoyable.

Orote presents a six-course menu ($78) where there are some decisions: a choice of main course  and whether you want any of the supplementary ingredients and courses. It's not overly exhaustive, I settled on the fish and as a table we decided to add on everything we could. Let the ride begin.

It starts off slowly, as we made our way up the dinner hill. The thinly sliced pork belly with boiled daikon and pickled parrilla leaves is a dish that's better as a whole than each of the individual parts. Yet, the kitchen needs to work on balance: there's too much parrilla so the acidity overwhelms the delicate pork belly and the chunk of irregularly cut daikon makes it really difficult to create a roll. If these ingredients were smaller, the diner would have a better opportunity to taste the paper-thin pork belly and its dusting of savoury shrimp powder. 


We begin to pick up steam when the skewer of lobster and pumpkin robata arrives. It was fantastic, each bite augmented with black garlic and bits of walnut. The spices and grilled preparation gives the lobster such a unique taste that I couldn't register the protein during the first bite, wow was it meaty. 


As we make our way to the top of the plunge, I'm momentarily skeptical of the "salad" course... there's an awfully large portion of what looks like unadorned leafy greens. We're told to make sure to dig to the bottom where we'll find poached mussels and a wonderful consommé. All in all, I didn't mind the  leafy greens and sticks of daikon, it made for a nice cleanser between the grilled lobster and the following dumplings. I just wish the greens were quickly blanched so it wouldn't cause the rest of the dish to cool down so much. Make sure you get every drop of the lovely soup. 


I was thrilled with the two plump mushroom and tofu dumplings. On its own it may seem a bit plain, but as I broke them apart and had bits of it with the bonito dashi, it was delicious. If there's one thing Orote does well it's their soups - they seriously should consider having a larger soup course. For this dish we added shaved truffle ($10) but it didn't make that much of a difference. Give me an extra bowl of dashi any day. 


For the main, I opted for halibut, a nice thick meaty piece that was cooked superbly. It just needed more seasoning - there was so much sesame sauce on top of the fish, yet it added more of a creamy texture than flavour. Even the broth served with the halibut wasn't as strong as the previous dishes. All in all, the main was fine, but not overly exciting. 


Had I known, I would have gone with the pork loin, which was way more flavourful and tasty. The pickled kale made me think of the dish as a lighter and less greasy form of braised pork belly with preserved vegetables, the Hakka mu choy cow yok (from the Cantonese dialect). The pork also went better with the bowl of miso yolk rice ($4), which I forgot to take a picture, but imagine a bowl of steamed sticky rice topped with shaved egg yolk and way too many green onions. 


The shared add-on dishes were sprinkled throughout the ride. Orote's chicken ssam ($12) consists of large mounds of cold shredded chicken topped with a slice of daikon. You can't really wrap it up like bo ssam, so it is slightly strange the dish is named chicken "wrap". I recommend including some of the pickled greens on the side: it would give the chicken more flavour and would provide diners with ingredients to make chicken ssam two ways.


If you're sensitive to salt, Orote is actually a great place to dine at as even the truffle rice cake and perilla seed ($25), described to us as a really creamy rich dish, wasn't overly heavy or powerful. Sure, the sauce was thicker compared to the broth that adorned other dishes, but it wasn't creamy in the traditional sinful sense. If anything, the best part of the dish wasn't it's "creaminess", truffle shavings, or the perilla seeds... it was the soft chewy pieces of rice cake.


Overall, the ride ended on a high: I thoroughly enjoyed the barley cream dessert, which is like a really fluffy panna cotta topped with finely grated chocolate shavings, puffed buckwheat, and black sesame. Creamy and light, it had a great texture that I wanted to savour, yet also wished I could just pop half of it into my mouth and allow the delicate sweetness to flood my taste buds.


The newly opened Orote offers a wonderful tasting option for those who are looking for a healthier meal that doesn't leave you feel stuffed and heavy. I can certainly see Actinolite's influences in Chef Kwangtaek Lee's menu. Though I urge Chef Lee to consider bringing in even more of his Korean influences into the dishes, especially in the mains and add-ons to really give it some pizzazz. As it stands, Orote is nice and solid, but there's the potential to make it really thrilling. 

Overall mark - 7 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 276 Havelock Street


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:


FK Dulce Bakery (Toronto)


There is no shortage of artisanal doughnut shops in North York, but FK Dulce Bakery's nod to Filipino flavours certainly provides a unique take on these deep fried sweets. This is best showcased in their leche flan ($3.50) doughnut, the yeasty soft pastry wrapped around a thick slab of eggy flan and drizzled with a sticky caramel glaze that is so indulgent. It's a rich dessert that was oh so satisfying and unique - the combination of custard and pastry was fantastic and already makes me yearn for more.


My first bite into the jammy ube ($2.99) was interesting and unexpected. I'm not sure I liked the feeling of the purple yam filling flooding onto the roof of my mouth and wished it was captured as a jelly centre similar to the Bavarian doughnut - it's messy so take extra care if ever eating the treat while wearing white. Nonetheless, I enjoyed the added coconut with the yam, which created an almost black sesame essence and the filling was the perfect sweetness.


It's not just the flavours that make FK Dulce tasty, the dough for the pastry was great having a cakey yet light consistency. Take the matcha white chocolate ($2.25), the doughnut appears like a honey dip except glazed with melted white chocolate and matcha powder. Yet, when you bite into it, the dough doesn't seem hollow and dry (like your typical honey dip), instead there's a chewiness to it, almost like it incorporates a touch of mochi without becoming dense.


The Bavarian cream ($2.50) was probably the least Filipino influenced, but still fantastic, especially for those who appreciates a Boston cream. I'd say the Bavarian is more custard than cream, silky and thick and was my husband's favourite of the bunch. 


FK Dulce's menu isn't just doughnuts, they also offer a dozen cakes and even savoury bites like fishballs and kwek kwek. It's a snacker's heaven for when you want something savoury and sweet - as separate flavours that is... although hot dog doughnuts may be appeal for some. 

Disclaimer: The doughnuts were complimentary. Rest assured, as noted in my mission statement, I will always provide an honest opinion.

How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 3418 Bathurst Street


Follow me on twitter to chat, be notified about new posts and more - https://twitter.com/GastroWorldBlog


Is That It? I Want More!

Other Gastro World posts similar to this:








Evviva (Toronto)


If seasons could be paired with mealtimes and types, Spring just reminds me of traditional English brunch. Even more so when experienced in the pastel hued Evviva that has made its way into North York.

Their menu is extensive with loads of choices including a great assortment of vegan options for those who want to skip the eggs, bacon, sausage, and ham. The classic vegan Reuben sandwich ($16.99) just beckoned me to try it and arrived looking like a glorious pastrami sandwich. One bite into the faux meat and I was reminded this is indeed vegan – the seitan was too soft and mushy, tasting more like beef tartare than smoked meat. Instead of creating such a thick stack, I would rather Evviva uses less seitan and took the time to really grill each slice, so it develops a crust to provide the bite and chewiness of meat.

Nevertheless, the marble rye was toasted to greasy perfection and the Russian dressing combined with sauerkraut and melted cheddar made for such flavourful bites. I ended up removing the middle portion of seitan and substituted it with pickles to create a delicious sandwich, the acidity of pickle was perfect to counteract the otherwise heavy sandwich.

The fries could have been double fried to give if more crunch but were at least hot and fresh. In retrospect, I would order the home fries instead as they are amazing: the uber crispy exterior and perfect sized cubes just begged to be devoured. I would have gladly traded in the handful of leafy salad the came with the Florentine egg’s benedict ($16.99) for more of the tasty spuds.

In my haste to order I forgot to ask for the poached eggs to be done medium, so I did find the yolk to be a tad runnier than I’d like. As luck would have it, the Hollandaise sauce and the home fries were piping hot and the perfect vessel for mixing and dipping into the eggs to stiffen the yolk. The sauce’s seasoning was also bang on with enough saltiness to flavour the eggs without overtaking the dish. I can see why the egg’s benedict is such a popular choice.

Each egg was also adorned with pretty edible florals, which is likely why the dish instantly put me into a spring-time mood. If April showers bring May flowers, I wonder what indulging in brunch will present?

Overall mark - 8 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 5221 Yonge Street
 Website: https://evviva.ca/


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:



Lotus Vegetarian Restaurant (Toronto)


While vegetarian options have advanced slowly in Chinese cuisine, there has always been a meat-free menu at "Buddhist"-type restaurants that are usually also vegan friendly given the limited use of dairy (sometimes used in desserts) and eggs (generally only found in dishes like fried rice and dessert). Unfortunately, given their reliance on mock proteins and soy sauce seasoning, these establishments aren't great for gluten abstainers, but at least offers some choice for the plant-based community.

There are three dishes I always order at Chinese vegetarian restaurants, and they're all featured in this post. Firstly, is the assorted gluten ($8.99 for small), which is especially important to order at Lotus Vegetarian Restaurant as it will save you from becoming hangry. Maybe it's due to the after effects of COVID and being short staffed, but service is slow and over half an hour went by before the other dishes arrived. 


Within the gluten platter, the spongy puffs were served the traditional three ways: sweet and sour, curry, and soy sauce. While a little more subdued in it's flavour, especially the curry format, they were nice big pieces and a great texture. Usually, the sweet and sour puffs are my favourite, but Lotus' bean curd rolls stole the show as they were wrapped tightly to be easily picked up, but still incorporated with enough space between the sheets to give it a lovely moist layered texture. 

Despite arriving with a lovely golden brown crust, the four bean threads sheet roll ($4.59 for 2 pieces) was really soft - it almost seemed like the restaurant pan fried the rolls and steamed it to finish, rather than the other way around. It was disappointing as what makes this dish good is the crispy crust mixed with the saucy vegetables. Nonetheless, there were ample amounts of well-seasoned black fungus, carrots, bean sprouts, and mushrooms within the roll and the layers of bean sheets weren't too thick. If this was just crispy, this would have been perfect.


The last dish that is a must have for me at vegetarian restaurants is the stir fried noodles with mixed vegetables ($13.99) or loa hong giy noodles in Cantonese. Lotus takes the time to properly toast the egg noodles so there are plenty of crunchy pieces to contrast against the saucy vegetables. The gravy was spot on and the vegetables cooked through but left with crunch. This was well worth the wait.


While visiting at lunch, expect a tea charge of $1.50 per person as they serve dim sum during this time. Indeed, dim sum seemed to be a popular choice for patrons, which may be why it was taking us extra long to get our order. Your meal could be sped up if you only order the gluten platter and mixed vegetable fried noodles, choosing the rest of the meal from their dim sum menu instead. Otherwise, channel your inner zen and just be patient. We can all use a mindful break from being hurried. 

Overall mark - 7 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 3838 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:




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: