DineOut Reviews: Toronto Two-Month Round-Up

Since it is quite a bit into November, this post is a little late in coming but photos of food are timeless, aren’t then? This is where we went in September and October 2011!

Fish Noodles Soup House (Richmond Hill)

Only earlier this year, I discovered the joy of DIY noodle soup at Cattle Cafe and then Duotian opened in such a convenient location in east Vancouver near NPY’s place that I went there several times in a month. So at the hint of a DIY noodle soup place near Lil Sis’ in Toronto, I wanted to try it as soon as possible.

Oh, but things in Toronto are different. As soon as we opened the door, we were hit with the pungent smell of fish broth and it was a bit of a dive place–spacious but not really clean-feeling, despite the cheerful bubble letter signage.

We ordered tea-marinated chicken wings which upon my first impression tasted like beef jerky. Lil Sis ordered the Malaysian broth which tasted like watered down curry with squid and beef topping and rice spaghetti. Freebies for her soup included fried tofu, shrimp, and imitation crab. I ordered the fish broth because the choices seemed limited with marinated egg, sausage, and rice spaghetti. They messed up and gave me pork skin and I didn’t have the heart to send it back. Free toppings included daikon, mushroom, bean curd sheet, and imitation crab. The broth was very fishy and I should not have been so surprised.

 

Din Tai Fung (Markham)

This summer, I finally made it to the newest Din Tai Fung, located in Bellevue. It was fun but we had a largely dim sum meal and I wanted to try some of their other food and there is a location in First Markham Place. Or is there? It is not a location listed on their worldwide locations page so we’ll continue to wonder….

Fortunately, when we ordered the famous Shanghai pork dumplings, we did not have to have 10. When we bit into them, we were alarmed that the pork was pink and we were raised not to eat pink pork. We flagged down the server who was quick to explain that the pork had been marinated (“yeep”) and that kind of pork won’t change from pink even when well done.

We ordered the red-roasted beef noodle soup and ja jiang mian. I didn’t find the cut of beef brisket to be very good but the noodles were good if not plentiful. The broth was highly flavoured with 5-spice which means the cinnamon came through quite strongly. In the ja jiang mian, the noodle shone again and the sauce was nice and spicy. I didn’t like the bean sprouts.

 

Richmond Court (Richmond Hill)

When my mother was visiting in October, it was a good opportunity for us to have a Chinese breakfast. We drove over to First Markham Place but nothing was open on a Wednesday at 10:30 so we head back to Times Square and the old standby, Richmond Court. I can’t say I have been there in many years, or ever.

I don’t think Mum knew about Chinese breakfasts so it was fortunate that only one rice roll arrived that she packed most of to take to Grandmother and we could share the breakfast which has two parts, for just $5.49! We started with macaroni and ham in a light broth. I slurped up the macaroni and left the ham slivers. Then came the fried hot dog weiners and creamy scrambled eggs. The butter bun was Chinese-style and fresh and warm.

 

Chiu Chow Boy (Toronto)

When Mum came to visit in October she mentioned wanting Chiu Chow food, that it’s good in Hong Kong (I looked it up, it is). Is it good in Toronto? Big Uncle wasn’t so sure at first but then suggested Chiu Chow Boy on Kennedy that we’ve passed so many times before given where my grandparents lived before entering a nursing home. We browsed and browsed the menu and decided to get a set dinner for four (there were five of us) adding on the famous oyster omelet and a claypot rice.

 

We started with a spicy sour cabbage soup that was a good start for me. Clear and sour. With the omelet we were taking a risk not asking them to hold the cilantro (had a bad experience the only other time I ordered it, at #9 in Richmond) and the omlet was laced in green! Green onions, fortunately. There weren’t that many oysters so the omlet was a bit bland by creamy.

 

Part of the dinner included the Chiu Chow style marinated duck which was okay. I don’t know the Chiu Chow-ness of the ginger onion chicken. The winter melon clam dish was a nice bit of vegetables.

 

Another vegetable dish was gai lan with a twist–the broth was sour and tasted of wine. I was munching on it because of the green content! Some white-flesh fish was fried crisp and salty black bean sauce poured over it. I wasn’t a huge fan.

Then came the claypot rice with olive and shredded pork. Sad, I didn’t get a photo of the pot as it was placed far from me. Mum and Big Uncle shook their head at my naivete since I never had olives with my rice. I don’t even like olives so much but it was the most unique topping I had seen. It was not so salty and the toppings were nice and equally crumbly.

Congee Queen (Markham)

Lil Sis is on a quest to find the best congee in the city. We tried Congee Time at Yonge and Finch but the surroundings was not so great. Immediately upon seeing Congee Queen in Markham, I had a lot of hope.

We were in a dining mood, especially after having to wait a little bit. The place was hopping. We ordered dried oyster, lean pork, preserved vegetable congee and house Cantonese chow mein, the latter by Lil Sis’ request. Our eyes were bigger than our stomachs and we also ordered the chili salt fried squid.

The congee was very good but I think with that combination of ingredients and with them finely chopped and throughout the congee, it is bound to be a flavourful congee. The noodles were good, fried crunchy at the edge and chockful of ingredients tossed in to make it “house-style”. The squid was good when we were having it at the restaurant, not so great as leftovers.

 

Mi Ne Sushi (Richmond Hill)

Where to bring our mother who is visiting and it’s been a long day and we just picked up my sister who works far up on Yonge Street? Well, to the Urbanspoon-rated best Japanese restaurant, also on Yonge Street? It was not a bad pick at all.

We order the A.S. Dragon Roll which meant it was a dragon roll (some kind of Toronto thing?) that was covered with avocado and salmon slices. There was a weird sweet sauce that I’ve learned to scrape off to save on calories and improve the taste. We also ordered the sashimi and tempura box which gave us the excellent combination of hot, fried food and quality cuts of fish. It was all really good.

 

Amaya Express (Toronto)

Vina and I took a walk through the Urban Eatery, Eaton Centre’s newly renovated food hall and she pointed out which places she had tried and she wasn’t impressed with Amaya Express. Well, she would have higher standards but I was craving Indian food so when I was killing some time, I wanted to try it.

Butter chicken poutine kind of had a pull but a rice bowl was more sensible and I ordered the butter chicken rice bowl with biryani basmati and chana masala. It was not too bad at all, just pricey, about $9 for this bowl.

Friendly Thai (Toronto)

My cousin Aline was visiting and we explored the city together for an afternoon, walking on Queen Street West past Spadina, popping into camera stores and cute shops. Our schedule was wonky and we weren’t hungry until about 3:00 and decided on a Thai restaurant.

Aline wanted salad rolls and I liked the idea (as usual) of tofu curry so we ended up ordering the same combo that happened to have both. I didn’t like the salad roll with too sticky rice paper wrapping. The mushroom soup was tangy and spicy but no hint of mushroom. The red curry tofu was good with big pieces of vegetables and a huge portion. Aline and I thought we could have split the combo.

 

VIP Vietnamese (Markham)

Okay, I can’t exactly remember the name of this restaurant and VIP is most likely the wrong one. Trying to be a little different, we ordered a rice in soup and a pho. For the rice in soup, we ordered it with the usual pho toppings of rare beef and beef balls. We specifically asked for no cilantro but it was dropped in in bunches anyhow. It really is white Jasmine rice in soup, just so tainted by cilantro. The beef brisket tomato wine sauce rice noodles was odd. it was a little sweet and the consistency was odd. I wasn’t too happy with my choices.

 

Tracy Desserts (Markham)

While driving around First Markham Place and ending up at the next plaza for “VIP”, I noticed the familiar characters for Hui Lau Shan, the famous mango dessert chain in Hong Kong. Except it wasn’t Hui Lau Shan, was it? The English name was Tracy Dessert. We could see that mango desserts were being served so I saved some room from Vietnamese for some dessert!

There aren’t that many mango desserts after all so we ordered the mango bonanza one: mango and pomelo with tapioca cream and ice cream. It was a good dessert with yummy and fragrant tapioca cream and mango pieces. Lil Sis remarked that they were using the currently in-season mango and not tastier Alfonso ones. We also ordered the double-boiled egg and I had asked for egg white but we got egg yolk instead and the idea of so many eggs in one dessert was a little unpalatable. We had simply ordered too much!

 

 

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