Sunday, May 22, 2016

Cluck Clucks Fried Chicken & Waffles

Tucked away at the corner of The Esplanade and Princess Street is Cluck Clucks, a restaurant dedicated to fried chicken and waffles. The place is pretty hidden and not easy to find, so you gotta purposely look for it or know where you're going. I only found out about Cluck Clucks from my boyfriend, who has been for dinner before and thought I should try it out.


Serving halal chicken, Cluck Clucks' fried chicken is cooked to order so all customers are informed when ordering that there'll be a wait of about 15 minutes. If you live or work in the area, you'll be happy to know that you can order Cluck Clucks (Instagram: @cluckcluks, Facebook: Cluck Clucksvia Ritual.


My boyfriend and I went to Cluck Clucks twice so this post combines my two experiences there.

FIRST VISIT

WHAT THE CLUCK! (Solo $10.49, Combo $12.99)
2 pc bone-in-chicken, fresh waffle, choice sauce
Cluck Clucks fried chicken is on point. Crispy, golden, seasoned chicken skin with meat that's extremely juicy and tender. Delicious. As for the waffles, if you like them super soft, light and fluffy, this is the place for it. I personally like mine with a crispier exterior (i.e. crispy edges but still soft inside). The fries were seasoned well but a bit soggy. I didn't care for the Cluck Sauce; it had a sweet/tangy flavour and consistency that's similar to Italian salad dressing. Just not my thing. Thinking back I should have picked maple syrup as my "sauce", which is how fried chicken & waffles is traditionally served anyway (along with butter). The succulent union of sweet and salty, soft and crunchy, maple syrup and chicken may sound strange but it's unbelievably good.


CLUCK YEAH! (Solo $12.79, Combo $14.99)
Boneless chicken breast in between a fresh jalapeno and cheddar waffle with coleslaw, chipotle aioli, dill mayo
Other than the fried chicken, this Cluck Yeah! sandwich was my favourite item on Cluck Clucks' menu. The waffle - infused with the jalapeno and cheddar - was in many ways better than the regular waffle, both in flavour and texture (it was crispier for some reason). The chicken breast wasn't dry at all (dry chicken breast is my worst nightmare). Together with the creamy chipotle and tangy coleslaw, this waffle-sandwich was very satisfying to eat.




Friday, May 20, 2016

The Winners of The Boil Bar Giveaway are ...

@Carolroooo
@herbs_to
@jchant
@jaydawgdizzle
@my__villa
@katnip
@emfriesen
@1BootyfulAries
@MUSHYSPAPPY
@a_wong

Congratulations! You've all won a $20 voucher to The Boil BarPlease email your name, Twitter handle and mailing address to foodjunkiechronicles@gmail.com.


A big THANK YOU from me to the 46 contestants who participated in this contest! 

Here's a snapshot of the Excel spreadsheet where I tracked the #fjcseafoodboil 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 "I want to win a $20 voucher to The Boil Bar from @foodieyu! http://bit.ly/1OmmbMY #fjcseafoodboil". 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 102 valid entries:


I used "True Random Number Generator" from random.org to pick 10 winners for me. A few individuals were lucky to enough to be picked more than once (I won't say who!) but since I wanted to make sure there are 10 different winners, I made random.org pick again.




Saturday, May 14, 2016

Tweak Your Tea: Cocktails with Pure Leaf Teas

Pure Leaf teas, brewed from real tea leaves, has just launched a new line of unsweetened teas in Canada. Pure Leaf's Unsweetened portfolio - Unsweetened Black Tea, Unsweetened Green Tea, and Unsweetened Lemon Tea - contains 0 sugar, 0 artificial sweeteners, and 0 calories.


To celebrate the launch, Pure Leaf (Instagram: @pureleafcanada #pureleafcanada, Facebook: Pure Leaf Iced Tea) invited me to be part of their #TweakYourTea campaign, where I was given the task of creating Pure Leaf tea combinations that show off my individual style.

It didn't take me long to figure out what my style is when it comes to beverages because I LOVE cocktails, especially cocktails with whisky, vodka and rum. So, why not make tea cocktails?

BLACK TEA BOURBON COCKTAIL
Place honey, bourbon, orange slices and fresh mint in a medium bowl. With the back of a spoon, muddle all the ingredients together. Once the mixture is pressed and flavours are extracted, add Pure Leaf Unsweetened Black Tea and stir. Pour the strained, sweet and boozy tea over ice and you're done.


ICED GREEN TEA COCKTAIL
Muddle lime juice, fresh mint, and sugar (you can use raw or sweetener) together in large glass until the leaves bruise lightly and the flavours release. Add ice until glass is about 3/4 full, then pour in white rum and Pure Leaf Unsweetened Green Tea. Stir well and garnish with mint. Truly refreshing.


LEMONADE ICED TEA
In a glass, mix together honey, lemon juice, vodka and Pure Leaf Unsweetened Lemon Tea. Top with a bunch of ice. Enjoy.


Get creative and try using teas in your cocktails. My Pure Leaf Unsweetened Tea cocktails all tasted really cool and fresh. Best part is they were so easy to make! Great for those summer house parties ;)


*This is a sponsored post*



Thursday, May 12, 2016

The Boil Bar Giveaway - CLOSED

I'm giving away 10 vouchers, each worth $20, to The Boil Bar!


If you've never had a seafood boil then you should hit up The Boil Bar (Instagram: @boilbar, Facebook: The Boil Bar) in Scarborough. Put a bib around your neck, roll up your sleeves, and prepare to get messy. First, you decide exactly what you want to eat - choose from Crawfish, Dungeness Crab, King Crab Leg, Snow Crab Leg, Lobster, Shrimp, Mussels, and Clams - then, you have to decide what flavouring you want with your seafood choice. You can order Lemon Pepper, Cajun, Garlic, Curry, or what they call House. The House Sauce is a mixture of all the sauces. Last, but not least, you pick your level of spice. You can go A Bit Spicy, Mild Spicy, Medium Spicy or Super Spicy. That's all there is to it at The Boil Bar (click here to read my full post on The Boil Bar).  Enter my contest now and experience this one-of-a-kind experience for yourself!


HOW TO ENTER
1) You MUST be following me (@foodieyuon Twitter
AND
2) Tweet the following sentence, exactly as shown, nothing before or after it: 

I want to win a $20 voucher to The Boil Bar from @foodieyu! http://bit.ly/1OmmbMY #fjcseafoodboil

1. For your entry to be valid, you need to tweet the above sentence exactly as shown
2. You may tweet once a day for the duration of the contest. Re-tweeting others do NOT count as a valid entry
3. Contest is tracked by the #fjcseafoodboil hashtag. If you don't see your tweet in the hashtag stream it means there is no entry from you. Read this to find out the possible reasons why your tweets are not showing up
4. Voucher expires on June 21, 2016.

CONTEST DURATION
Contest starts on Thursday, May 12, and ends on Friday May 20 at 12PM. 
10 lucky winners will be chosen randomly from www.random.org and I will announce the winners shortly after.

GOOD LUCK!!! ^_^



Saturday, May 7, 2016

The Boil Bar

Put a bib around your neck, roll up your sleeves, and prepare to get messy at The Boil Bar (Instagram: @boilbar, Facebook: The Boil Bar). The concept at this Scarborough restaurant is simple. First, you decide exactly what you want to eat - choose from Crawfish, Dungeness Crab, King Crab Leg, Snow Crab Leg, Lobster, Shrimp, Mussels, and Clams - then, you have to decide what flavouring you want with your seafood choice. You can order Lemon Pepper, Cajun, Garlic, Curry, or what they call House. The House Sauce is a mixture of all the sauces. Last, but not least, you pick your level of spice. You can go A Bit Spicy, Mild Spicy, Medium Spicy or Super Spicy. That's all there is to it at The Boil Bar.


The concept of seafood boils is believed to have originated in the American South, a staple of both Louisiana Cajun cuisine and low-country cuisine. It first began from the crawfish boil, which eventually expanded to include other shellfish seafood. The live seafood is boiled together in a large stockpot until cooked, usually with no set recipe as cooks like to add their own seasonings and ingredients. Families and large parties often host seafood boils where everyone eats from the communal pot(s).


As far as I know, The Boil Bar and The Captain's Boil are the only two places in Toronto serving seafood boils. I've been asked several times now how the two restaurants compare. Sorry, can't help you there, I've never been to The Captain's Boil.


Bibs and paper towel. The essentials at any seafood boil.




Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Magic Noodle Downtown

I didn't plan to blog about Magic Noodle. Nothing against the place but I don't write about each and every one of my dining experiences. If you follow me on Instagram or Twitter you'll know; I share photos from more restaurants there than I write about here. There are several reasons why: 

1. I didn't find the food interesting enough to dedicate a blog post on it;
2. I've written about the restaurant before so unless I went back and tried a lot of new dishes, I won't write about it again;
3. The restaurant changed its menu by the time I got around to writing about it;
4. Life got in the way, I got busy, and the restaurant got lost in the my ever-expanding draft folder; or
5. The restaurant belongs to the KINKA FAMILY group of restaurant so I wouldn't feel right writing about it (since I work at KINKA).

So, where does Magic Noodle come in? I would say it's reason #1, at least initially. It's a personal thing but I just don't find a bowl of soup noodles much fun to write about. I might be biased because I'm Chinese, since we all know I can still blog about the flavour of the broth, the texture of the noodles, the different toppings, the restaurant's atmosphere and service, etc, etc. But again, to me, a bowl of noodles is simply a satisfying meal that I can finish in less than 10 minutes. I couldn't care less about the service or the atmosphere either (unless it's really bad). It's the same thing with Vietnamese pho or Korean tofu stew - I enjoy them tremendously but I don't have the desire to blog about them. For me to want to write about those places I would have to find the food or the service to be exceptionally great or exceptionally bad, and sorry to burst your bubble but Magic Noodle belongs to "exceptionally bad" category.

I've been to the noodle house in Richmond Hill before for lunch. I though the food was good, not superb, but good enough that I remember leaving happy and satisfied, which is why I was pretty stoked when I found out Magic Noodle opened a location on Harbord Street. My first thought was "Yay! I no longer have to trek uptown for good Chinese hand-pulled noodles!"

Magic Noodle's menu is separated into cold apps, hot apps, hand-pulled noodles, hand-shaved noodles, stir fried noodles and sauced noodles. We ordered two hot apps to start:

CHIVE POCKETS ($2.99)
Garlic Chives, Scrambled Eggs, Dried Shrimp, Vermicelli


Chive pockets? More like grease pockets. Check out the pool of oil at the bottom. The tip of the chive pocket was actually submerged in it. To make matters worse, when the paper underneath shifted all the oil seeped through the woven basket and spilled onto the table. We tried wiping it with our napkins but we ended up just spreading oil all over. The napkin was also soaked by the end. Yuck.


PORK JIAMO ($2.99)
Pan Fried Bao, Shredded Pork, Magic Hoisin Sauce


Served hot, these pan fried baos were nicely browned and slightly crispy on the outside. I also really liked the finely shredded pork filling with Magic Hoisin sauce. This was the best dish of the night.

There's no question that the chive pockets were oily but at least I didn't feel deceived by them - they were just poorly made. I felt really deceived, however, by the noodles. Below is a screen shot of the "The Magic" from Magic Noodle's website. A very similar photo, shot top-down, was used on their printed menu at the restaurant. Looks incredibly delicious, right? That sunny side up fried egg, those luscious hand-pulled noodles, the bright red chili oil and the handful of fresh cilantro and scallions...who can resist? I honestly chose "The Magic" because of how enticing this photo looked.




Sunday, May 1, 2016

Lahore Tikka House

Opened in 1996 with just a few tables and chairs, Lahore Tikka House is a renowned Halal restaurant in Toronto. The iconic eatery in Gerrard India Bazaar offers Pakistani and North Indian food, and serves as a core for the South Asian community in the city. 


I haven't been to Lahore Tikka House (Facebook: Lahore Tikka House) in a really long time, at least not since I started my blog. What I remember about my last visit was that it was during the summer, and I was eating very delicious food with a group of friends. We were seated underneath a pitched tent in a parking lot, eating with plastic utensils and paper plates. I remembered having a lot of fun. Well, the tents and trailers are long gone now, replaced with this large, two-level stucco building. Talk about humble beginnings!


Anyway, back to present time. It was a Saturday night around 7pm when we arrived at Lahore Tikka House and sure enough, the restaurant was completely full. Although it seemed quite busy the wait wasn't too bad; the eight of us were seated upstairs after about a half-hour. I didn't have a chance to check out the the first floor but the second floor is brightly decorated with a very ethnic touch.

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Once we were seated we were given a paper menu, and a small white board and marker to write our orders on.




Thursday, April 28, 2016

Piano Piano

Splendido, my favourite fine-dining restaurant in Toronto, had its last service on New Year's Eve last year. Almost five months have passed and I can't say I'm over the loss; after all, the acclaimed restaurant proudly holds the title of "The Most Blogged About Restaurant" here on Food Junkie Chronicles. Ahhhhh, damn it. I miss Splendido. I miss their tasting menus dearly *sigh*. I guess the saying is true, "All good things must come to an end". But must it? Must it, really?

In March, chef and owner Victor Barry re-opened 88 Harbord as Piano Piano the Restaurant (Instagram: @pianopianotherestaurant, Facebook: PIANO PIANO the Restaurant). Talk about a quick transformation. To start, the Italian trattoria is now pink and sports a bright and colourful mural. You can't miss it!


In order to achieve a work/life balance, chef Barry's Piano Piano serves simple and delicious Italian food rather than the elaborate, fussy tasting menus that Splendido was famous for. Barry's goal is to have a casual restaurant where he doesn't have to be on the line every single day. He wants a place where he can bring his two young daughters, ages one and two, and welcome other families to dine.


The newly renovated space is decorated with vases of fresh flowers, floral designs, brass fixtures, cushioned banquettes, as well as original artwork from Barry’s eldest daughter, Charlotte.


 I fully expected the white tablecloths to be gone, naturally, as well as the plush, leatherback chairs, but the most dramatic change would have to be the open kitchen (note the large wood fired pizza oven in the back corner, which I was told was made with an insane amount of of bricks, steel and cement)! I wish Splendido had these front row seats! OMG, I must move onnn...




Sunday, April 17, 2016

The Grate Canadian Cheese Cook-Off: Chef Alexandra Feswick's Nutty Home-Style Mac & Cheese

Organized by Dairy Farmers of Canada, the 2016 edition of the Grate Canadian Cheese Cook-Off (#CDNCheeseCookOff) took place at the Toronto Food & Drink Market on April 8th. Four of Canada’s top chefs from coast to coast took the stage in an attempt to create the ultimate gourmet mac & cheese. The competitors included Andrew Farrell, Chef de Cuisine at 2 Doors Down Food + Wine in Halifax; Alexandra Feswick, Chef de Cuisine at The Drake Hotel in Toronto; Nicole Gomes, Executive Chef at Nicole Gourmet in Calgary; and Thompson Tran, Chef and Owner at The Wooden Boat, Port Moody.


Photo: Dairy Farmers of Canada

Chef Feswick's "Nutty Home-Style Mac & Cheese" emerged victorious in the culinary comfort food battle. Feswick's winning recipe combines the distinctive nostalgia of home-styled comfort classics such as Cheddar, sage and mushrooms, with flavours of hazelnuts, Blue cheese and Jerusalem artichokes. Check out a quick two-minute recap of the Grate Canadian Cheese Cook-Off here:


Thanks to Dairy Farmers of Canada, I was sent all the goodies needed to make chef Feswick's winning Nutty Home-Style Mac & Cheese. This is incredibly exciting because it has been a very long time since I've made, and enjoyed, a delicious gourmet mac & cheese.


Rich and cheesy with a light, crunchy topping, this Nutty Home-Style Mac & Cheese is what dreams are made of. The medley of Canadian cheeses - 7-year-old Cheddar, Niagara Gold, Blue d'Elizabeth and Alpindon - with the mushroom & artichoke infused sauce lend a depth of flavour and creaminess unlike any other mac & cheese I've ever had. Baked in a glass dish until golden-topped and bubbly, the finishing touch of breadcrumbs and toasted hazelnuts brings a delightful crunch to this guaranteed crowd pleaser. The Nutty Home-Style Mac & Cheese is certainly not the quickest nor easiest mac & cheese recipe out there, but trust me, the time and effort is well worth it!

NUTTY HOME-STYLE MAC & CHEESE - By Chef Alexandra Feswick

Photo: Dairy Farmers of Canada


Thursday, March 17, 2016

Zomato x FoodismTO @ The Good Son: A #ZomatoMeetUp

Maybe, just maybe, you're wondering "What the heck does she mean by Zomato x FoodismTO @ The Good Son: A #ZomatoMeetUp?" Meh, it's just my way of telling you guys I attended a Zomato Meetup dinner hosted by Zomato and Foodism Toronto at The Good Son Restaurant, that's all. I'm trying to be more creative with my writing these days. I'm failing miserably already, aren't I?


Last week, Zomato and Foodism Toronto, invited me and several foodies for an intimate tasting dinner at The Good Son, a restaurant that I've been dying to check out. As a matter of fact, The Good Son (Twitter: @thegoodson_to, Facebook: The Good Son Restaurant) is one of 12 restaurants participating in the #TOMealsForAYear giveaway, an amazing contest going on right now where one lucky winner will win a prize consisting of 12 meals (and drinks!) for two at 12 of Toronto's top restaurants. That's right, one meal every month for a year. Imagine that!



In association with restaurant listing and booking engine Zomato, Foodism Toronto has pulled together 12 of Toronto's most vaunted restaurantsThe list is very impressive, if I may say so myself:

Cafe Boulud
Lisa Marie
George
The Good Son
Canoe
Carmen
Windsor Arms
The Chase
Miss Thing's
Miku
NAO Steakhouse
The Carbon Bar

You MUST love food if you're reading this, so what are you waiting for? GET ON IT and enter now! If you snooze you lose because the contest ends on April 1st. By the way, if you're not familiar with Foodism Toronto, you will be very soon. Foodism is, in fact, London England's largest food and drink magazine, and in November 2015, Foodism Toronto was born. It's a website and weekly newsletter, and coming September, they will be launching a  print magazine which will feature local trends, profiles, personalities, gadgets and stories from Canada’s food and drink capital.  

Whew. With that outta the way, let us now focus on All The Good Food at The Good Son! That was pretty clever, right? Right?! ;) First things first, sitting by the pass has its pros and cons. I love being close to all the action in the kitchen, especially this one with that beautiful wood fire oven imported in from Mam Forni, Italy, in the back. At the same time, though, it's the absolute worst when you're hungry. DAMN IT, JUST GIMME ALL THE FOOD RIGHT NOW!


Chef Vittorio Colacitti (@vittorioreoand his team at The Good Son prepared a special seven-course tasting menu for the evening. The dishes were either entirely off-menu or a variation of what's normally offered on the menu.

SEA BREAM CRUDO
Tomatillo, apple, almond, avocado
Great start to the tasting. A beautiful and delicate dish that's rich in flavour and texture.