Monday, October 17, 2016

Canis Restaurant

It has been a long time since I've been excited about a new restaurant here in the city. Maybe I'm harder to please now that I'm older, but I feel that the Toronto dining scene is pretty stagnant currently when it comes to creativity and offering people new things. As in, do we need another Italian restaurant? Do we really? I'm also tired of seeing gimmicky and/or "instagrammable" foods that do not deliver on taste. Do these "creations" deserve that much attention? And, sorry, I'm just not that into barbecue. Finally, against popular opinion, I want more "fine dining" or "upscale" restaurants, and less "fast casual" restaurants, please! *End rant*

So, let me just put it out there: Canis Restaurant is now one of my favourite restaurants in Toronto. Caniswhich opened a month ago on 746 Queen Street West, does upscale, yet approachable, Canadian cuisine. Their menu is intricate, thoughtful and original. Canis is good. Real good. 

The interior of Canis is sleek and modern with a bright open kitchen at the back. The modest dining room features mostly concrete, wood and leather.

To start, my boyfriend opted for beer (below) while I opted for a glass of bubbly (not pictured).


Canis' dinner menu is divided into snacks, starters, mains and desserts. I asked chef Jeff Kang if he could just bring out dishes for us since we do not have any allergies and we eat everything. So, here we go!

BREAD (complimentary)
Sourdough from Clark's Bread served with whipped garlic butter, and fresh ricotta & chimichurri. Mix together the cheese and chimichurri, and you'll literally get the best spread ever. The garlic in the butter was a bit too subtle for my taste (I love my garlic) but the sourdough was excellent.

Sunday, October 9, 2016


Originally founded in 2011 as a chef-drive burger concept, Wahlburgers, the U.S.-based burger concept launched by Executive Chef Paul Wahlberg and brothers, Mark and Donnie, opened its first Canadian outpost in November 2014 in Toronto. Located at the SoHo Metropolitan Hotel on Blue Jays Way, the location is the family's first international outpost of their original Hingham, Massachusetts restaurant. With fresh made-to-order burgers, fries and frappes, Wahlburgers' menu reflects a mix of classic burgers and sides, as well as family favourites.

The 120-seat Wahlburgers Canada (or "Wahlburgers" from now on) is similar in layout to their U.S. counterparts in that it showcases a sports bar, a dine-in restaurant and a quick service take-out all under one roof. The restaurant emphasizes casual comfort food in a family-friendly environment (there was indeed quite a number of families there when I visited on a Friday night).

While burgers are the main focus, Wahlburgers (Facebook: Wahlburgers Canada, Instagram: @wahlburgersca) offers a variety of sandwiches and salads as well. Other specialties include a selection of house sides like sweet potato tots, mac 'n cheese, fresh cut Yukon Gold fries and onions rings, along with ice cream frappes and boozy frappes, Wahlburgers' alcohol-fortified version of the ice cream beverage.

Wahlburgers' "quick serve" counter with approximately 40 seats.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

98 Aroma in Chinatown

Sorry for being MIA for the last little while. I was in Tokyo for two weeks and then needed a week after coming home to recover from jet lag and to get back into the groove of things. Anyway, I've returned and I hope you guys missed me! :) I will be sharing some of my Japan travels on the blog soon too, but before that, I want to write about my experience at 98 Aroma (Instagram: @98aroma, Facebook: 98 Aroma), a Northern Chinese restaurant I visited for dinner a couple days before my Japan trip.

The first thing I noticed about the restaurant was its interior. Traditional decor executed with a modern touch, 98 Aroma differentiates themselves instantly from all the other Chinese restaurants in Chinatown. Without even having to taste the food, you know they are striving for something different. In photos, the blue mood lighting may seem a bit much but in real life they work well. It's too bad the exterior of 98 Aroma doesn't match its upscale interior - it needs a lot more work, in my opinion (sorry I forgot to take photos of the outside).

I really like the look of these booths.

98 Aroma brings forth refined Northern Chinese food. Its menu consists of some popular Northern Chinese dim sum, such as scallion pancakes, dumplings, and pan fried steamed buns, as well as many traditional dishes that most of us may not be familiar with or have heard of before.

I normally don't care for salads but 98 Aroma's signature salad served with carrots, lettuce, cabbage and topped with fried shredded taro was a winner. Mix all the components together with their sweet vinaigrette and you'll find yourself loving every bite. Or, at least, I did.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

NYC Ramen Tour

Three days in New York City and I managed to squeeze in six ramen shops. A little bit crazy but so much fun. I'm sure all the walking made up for the insane amount of carbs and sodium I consumed (at least that's what I tell myself!). Here's a rundown of the six ramen shops my boyfriend and I visited, including what we ordered + my thoughts on each (all prices in USD):

AKAMARU MODERN ($14 + $2 for soft-boiled seasoned egg)
The original silky "Tonkotsu" (pork) soup noodles topped with Ippudo's secret "Umami Dama" miso paste, pork chashu, cabbage, sesame kikurage mushrooms, scallions, and fragrant garlic oil.

A classic shoyu-broth featuring bonito fish dashi, with an incredible depth of flavor and richness. Topped with pork belly chashu, scallions, nori seaweed, seasoned egg, menma, and naruto.

- FridayWe arrived approximately five minutes before Ippudo's lunch service at 11AM. There were about five people, altogether two parties, already waiting at the door.
- Chefs and cooks in the open kitchen were all of Mexican descent and Spanish music was playing in the background. I felt like I was eating in Mexico.
- The best thing at Ippudo that day was the Ichiraku Ramen broth. The addition of bonito fish dashi to the classic Shoyu was exceptional. I hardly have fish broth based ramen so this was very memorable and a welcoming change.
- Other than the Ichiraku broth, everything else was pretty average. From the skimpy, thinly sliced chasu, the mediocre tonkotsu, to the thin and "doughy" noodles, I was pretty disappointed with this Ippudo visit overall (the seasoned egg was alright). I remembered it being a lot better a couple of years ago.
- We were not even close to feeling full after Ippudo. I guess this was a blessing in disguise since we had other ramen joints planned that day.

65 Fourth Avenue
New York, NY 10003
Phone: 212-388-0088

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Bar Reyna

Serving Middle Eastern and Spanish-inspired fare, Bar Reyna is the newest restaurant on the stylish Yorkville strip. The two-story Victorian house - completed with a gorgeous enclosed back patio - is an elegant and cozy location. Chic, yet not pretentious in the least, Bar Reyna (Instagram: @barreynato, Facebook: Bar Reyna) is an excellent spot for date night, or cocktails and snacks with friends.

The glamorous cocktail bar is the focal point on the first floor at Bar Reyna.

The window faces Bar Reyna's front patio on Cumberland Street.

The second floor is the main dining room. Everybody, myself included, took advantage of the few remaining days left of summer and opted for the patio instead. I'll check out the second floor next time I'm at Bar Reyna.

Bar Reyna exudes a rustic, sophisticated charm.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Angelo's Coal Fired Pizza

This was my first coal-fired pizza experience and it certainly won't be my last.

Angelo's Coal Fired Pizza, situated at 106 Front St. E. across from the St. Lawrence Market, opened its doors on July 18th. Originated in Boston, Massachusetts, this spot is Angelo's second location, and is Ontario's first coal-fired pizza restaurant. Angelo's pride and joy is their coal-fired oven, which takes up 32 sq. ft. of cooking space and weighs approximately 10,000 lbs. Co-owner Joe Rizzo told me the oven arrived from California on a flatbed truck and was installed at the restaurant by forklift. 

Co-owner Joe Rizzo

The pizzeria is very roomy at 5,000 sq. ft. and can accommodate up to 124 guests including the bar. There's also a patio out front that seats 32 people. I like the Edison light bulbs, the black herringbone patterned floor tiles, as well as the exposed brick wall, but why do they have to ruin it all with TVs? The space is casual and tastefully decorated, yet the flatscreens scream "sports bar". I'm not a fan.

Angelo's offers 50+ wines from regions of Italy​,​ California​,​ Australia​,​ New Zealand​,​ ​Chil​e ​and France​.​

This mighty TerraLuxe coal-fired oven can reach up to 900 degrees and above, and uses 150 lbs. of the highly efficient, anthracite coal a day.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Paese Ristorante

"Inspired in Italy, Made in Canada"

Paese Ristorante has been serving Italian inspired food for over 25 years in North York. Owner and operator Tony Loschiavo was three years old when he moved to Canada from Southern Italy in 1965. Growing up with a passion for food and its preparation, Loschiavo’s early start in the restaurant industry was with two acclaimed Toronto restaurants of the time: Fenton’s and Noodles. In 1983, he founded L-eat Catering and in 1989 opened Paese Ristorante (Instagram: @paeseristorante, Facebook: Paese Ristorante). The L-eat Group cultivates a 3,000 square feet urban garden in midtown, producing fruits and vegetables used for their catering events, and everything from tomatoes and chili peppers for the chefs, to mint and lavender for the bartenders at Paese.

I visited Paese for some Italian cooking on a Saturday night. As usual, we started with cocktails.

Beefeater gin, lemon, thyme-infused syrup
Campari, Maker's Mark bourbon, sugar cube, orange

Tapenade made of tomato, roasted eggplant and red pepper. 

Paese's dinner menu features a selection of salads, antipasti, pastas, pizza, fish and meats, and sides.

Potato, grilled escarole, mint, lemon and chill
This was a marvelous appetizer, and it's no wonder that this dish is so popular at Paese. Coupled with an impressive presentation, the grilled octopus here is soft and tender yet still had good texture and chew. The creamy sauce and the hearty potatoes were perfect accompaniments to the octopus.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Revisiting KAKA All You Can Eat Japanese

It's been almost a year since my last visit to KAKA, an all-you-can-eat Japanese restaurant located at First Markham Place (read about my experience at KAKA here). Since then, KAKA All You Can Eat (Instagram: @kakaallyoucaneat, Facebook: KAKA All You Can Eathas introduced several new items on their already sizable menu, and I was invited back to the popular AYCE spot to have a taste.

My boyfriend and I started the meal with Mio Sparkling Sake, a very light and bubbly sake.

The newly introduced items include three varieties of poke salad bowls and two types of tacos. I applaud KAKA's effort in offering the trendy poke to their menu but I was not crazy about them. In general, the poke bowls were under-seasoned and had too many competing ingredients. In my opinion, the best poke bowls are often the simplest ones with cubed fish seasoned with soy sauce, sesame oil, and sweet onions, then finished with a sprinkle of sesame seeds or scallions. That's it. I thought KAKA was overly ambitious with the number of ingredients. The tacos, on the other hand, were quite delicious. I would order them again.

Salmon, avocado, jalapeno, tomato, onion, garlic chips
Salmon, nori, sesame, avocado, cilantro, green onions, tempura bits
Butterfish, cucumber, avocado, sweet egg, green onion, melon, yuzu sauce

Asian slaw, avocado puree, chipotle mayo
Pico de gallo, avocado puree, wasabi mayo

After the poke and tacos, we continued to make our way through the KAKA menu. Highlights for me were the Ox Tongue Skewer, Chicken Meatball Skewer, the very creamy Bacon and Mushroom Carbonara and the Grilled Okra.

Ox Tongue Skewer
Butternut Squash Soup (new)
Chicken Meatball Skewer (new)
Bacon and Mushroom Carbonara Udon (new)

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Cottage Country with the 2016 Honda Pilot [VIDEO]

That cottage life. I can't get enough of it.

I had a blast in Muskoka a few weeks ago, and thanks to Honda Canada, I was able to give my six friends a ride up to cottage country in the very luxurious and very comfortable, 2016 Honda Pilot Touring.

The nine of us stayed at a cute roomy cottage in Bracebridge, a town about two hours away from Toronto. It was so nice to get away from the hustle and bustle of the big city - even for a few days - and just relax and hang out with friends. This video is a condensed version of everything we did at the cottage!

I miss this view soooo much. Till next year.

Thanks again, Honda Canada, for lending me the 2016 Honda Pilot. It was the perfect ride for the cottage; it held all seven of us plus all this stuff to Muskoka! We were all very impressed :)

Video shot by Jon Lim (
Video shot with the DJI Osmo.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

The Winner of the Upper Deck by Fran's Giveaway is...


Congratulations, k baker! You've just won DINNER FOR TWO at Upper Deck by Fran's valued at $100! Please email me at to redeem your prize.

A big THANK YOU to the 74 contestants who participated in this contest! 

Here's a snapshot of the Excel spreadsheet where I tracked the #fjcTFOB hashtag from day one of the contest. The tracking was done using chronological order, as in, #1 was the first person to enter the contest. To enter, the person had to tweet "Enter for your chance to win a Dinner for Two at #UpperDeckbyFrans valued at $100 from @foodieyu! #fjcupperdeck". Each person could tweet once a day for the duration of the contest. Once the contest was over and everybody's entries were accounted for, I checked to see if they followed me (@foodieyu) on Twitter. Below are the 168 valid entries:

I used "True Random Number Generator" from to pick one winner for me.