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.


ICHIRAKU RAMEN ($15)
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.

PAESE COLLINS ($14)
Beefeater gin, lemon, thyme-infused syrup
OLD ITALIAN FASHIONED ($14)
Campari, Maker's Mark bourbon, sugar cube, orange


COMPLIMENTARY FOCACCIA
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.

GRILLED OCTOPUS ($16)
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.

POKE SALAD
JALAPENO POKE
Salmon, avocado, jalapeno, tomato, onion, garlic chips
CITRUS SOY POKE
Salmon, nori, sesame, avocado, cilantro, green onions, tempura bits
YUZU PONZU POKE
Butterfish, cucumber, avocado, sweet egg, green onion, melon, yuzu sauce

TACOS
FISH TACO
Asian slaw, avocado puree, chipotle mayo
SHRIMP TACO
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 (www.jonlim.ca)
Video shot with the DJI Osmo.


Wednesday, August 24, 2016

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

@mcgoatz

Congratulations, k baker! You've just won DINNER FOR TWO at Upper Deck by Fran's valued at $100! Please email me at foodjunkiechronicles@gmail.com 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! http://bit.ly/2bs9fUO #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 random.org to pick one winner for me.





Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Upper Deck by Fran's Giveaway - CLOSED

 I'm giving away a DINNER FOR TWO to Upper Deck by Fran's valued at $100. This is your chance to visit the latest addition to the Downtown Yonge corridor and Toronto’s newest rooftop patio before the summer's over!


Upper Deck by Fran's, which took over the two upper levels of Fran’s flagship College Street location, is a casual eatery with a menu that focuses on Americana and international flavours. Customers can expect generous diner-style breakfasts and home-style comforts with contemporary twists. They even have an extensive seasonal cocktail menu including classics like the Negroni, Old Fashioned and Cosmopolitan, as well as shareable cocktails such as the Muskoka Mule, College Street Tea and Jack Daniels Rhubarb Lemonade.


When you are there, don't forget to order their Boomtown Burger. It's delish! In case you missed it, you can find my full post on Upper Deck by Fran's here.


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: 

Enter for your chance to win a Dinner for Two at #UpperDeckbyFrans valued at $100 from @foodieyu! http://bit.ly/2bs9fUO #fjcupperdeck

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 #fjcupperdeck 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. Prize expires on September 30, 2016

CONTEST DURATION
Contest starts on Wednesday, August 17, and ends on Wednesday, August 24, at 12PM. 
One lucky winners will be chosen randomly from www.random.org and I will announce the winner shortly after.

GOOD LUCK!!! ^_^



Monday, August 15, 2016

Feast of St. Lawrence Festival: Dinner Under the Stars

 The inaugural Feast of St. Lawrence (#feaststlawrence) began on Friday, August 12th, with Dinner Under the Stars, an exclusive dinner where one hundred guests gathered on Front Street (between Scott and Church Street) for a special al fresco dinner. Rain was in the forecast so a tent was set up.


Tickets to Dinner Under the Stars was $200 per person. A portion of ticket sales was donated to FoodShare and a charitable tax receipt was issued for a portion of the cost.


Dinner Under the Stars began at 6:30pm with passed hors d'oeuvres, and a wine and beer reception.

Steam Whistle, Norman Hardie 2015 Riesling, Cave Spring Brut 'Dolomite', Tawse 2014 Limestone Ridge Sparkling Riesling


Oyster station from Pearl Diver.




Sunday, August 14, 2016

Hello Fresh - A "Cook from Scratch" Meal Delivery Service

With 7.5 million meals per month and 850,000 subscribers globally, HelloFresh made their way to Canada in May 2016. HelloFresh (Instagram: @hellofreshca, Facebook: Hello Fresh CA) is a meal delivery subscription service that delivers locally sourced fresh ingredients and recipes straight to your doorstep. HelloFresh's team of in-house chefs create easy-to-prepare, nutritious recipes, and pre-measured ingredients are delivered right to your door every week. The recipes are quick and easy to follow (they all take 30 mins or less), and don't require any fancy equipment or techniques. All you need to have available at home is salt, pepper, sugar, cooking oil, and butter. 

HelloFresh delivers on Tuesday and Wednesday of each week and delivery typically occurs between 9am-5pm. If you are not home during delivery, their courier will drop the box off at your front door (or wherever you specify in your delivery instructions). HelloFresh's subscription service is very flexible; there's no minimum length for subscriptions and you can deactivate at any time. You can even pause your subscription, just as long as it's done before midnight on Wednesday before the following week's delivery. HelloFresh currently delivers across Southern, Central, and Eastern Ontario (see delivery zones here).

Every week, HelloFresh's Pronto and Family Boxes feature 4 meal choices: 3 with meat options and 1 vegetarian option. You can choose your top 3 favourites each week and also set personal preferences such as Beef Free, Fish Free, Pork Free, Seafood Free, or Shellfish Free as choice defaults. I was sent a 3 Meal Pronto Box for Two to try. 

You can now receive $30 off your first box order and another $30 off your second box order (total savings of $60 overall) when you use my code FOOD_JUNKIE at checkout!


HelloFresh have specially designed boxes that are lined with thick liners and are 100% recyclable. I love how each recipe and its ingredients are in separate boxes. This keeps everything neat and in-place.


Underneath the boxed ingredients is a separate layer containing protein and ice packs.


Everything in my Meal Pronto Box for Two are shown below. HelloFresh offers three types of boxes (prices include delivery):

3 Meal Pronto Box for Two - $79.99 
3 Meal Pronto Box for Four - $139.99 
3 Meal Family Box for Four - $129.99