Monday, August 30, 2010

Post 1 : Virgin America flight to L.A --> Thai Garden

This post starts a series of posts chronicling my trip to Los Angeles a few weeks ago. I won't be just talking about food and restaurants in these posts, but will also be posting various pictures that I find beautiful or interesting along the way during my 9 day trip in the States.

For those who follow my blog, you probably know that I was given a free flight, courtesy of Virgin America (@VirginAmerica on Twitter) and their partnership with Klout (@Klout), to either Los Angeles or San Francisco (if you want to find out how this came to be, feel free to read my post about it here). I chose L.A. because my brother and my sister-in-law were also going to L.A. so I figured I will tag along (after asking them, of course). So on Saturday, August 7th, I arrived at Pearson at wee hours in the morning. I want to say here that I detest Terminal 3. I'm usually at Terminal 1 and never had problems. But geez, this time at Terminal 3, the line-up at customs was a nightmare, super long because only 4 counters were opened.  Going through the X-ray scan was horrible because only TWO X-ray lines were opened, and everyone there was slacking off and chatting. The whole customs and X-ray ordeal took an hour and a half! I was almost late for my flight - the first time ever that I had to RUN to the gate because they were already announcing the final boarding call for my flight. I was freaked out because I am NEVER late and always super early for a flight.  Albeit all the commotion before the flight, this Virgin America flight to L.A. is probably the best experience I've ever had on a plane. And no, I am not paid by Virgin America to say this LOL!

The whole cabin, in my opinion, looks really cool. The purple mood lighting (maybe bias because my favorite color is purple), the whole polished white scheme and the black leather seats make the whole environment very sleek and modern. Everything looked so new.They also have soft relaxing music playing in the background before taking off. Some people say all this is weird because it's like a lounge, but whatever, I like it.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Apricot Tree Café

Apricot Tree Café, located in Sherwood Forest Village, is probably one of my favorite, if not the favorite, restaurant in Mississauga. This is saying a lot - not sure if you know but I hardly dine in Mississauga (I'm a downtown and uptown girl even though I live in 'sauga) but as yet, I still haven't found a place like Apricot Tree Café outside of Mississauga. I've been to Apricot Tree Café many times now. My parents also go often by themselves for dinner.

I love how Apricot Tree Café is small and cozy - its cute decor and space is surrounded by greenery, white street lamps, wood window panes, and green roof shingles. The walls are painted blue like the sky. All this, coupled with the cafe's simple tables and wooden chairs, often makes me feel like I'm dining on the streets of Europe somewhere. The staff there are also very friendly and helpful.

Here are a few pictures from their website:

And you know how I love open kitchens? WELL THEY HAVE ONE TOO! =)

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Quince (Summerlicious)

This is my third time going to Quince for Summerlicious / Winterlicious ever since the event started. I go back simply because it is a nice little restaurant in midtown with good food, good value - a nice "default" place when I can't think of any other restaurant to go to. Quince's 'Licious menu has always been $25 with a lot of selection for each course. I like how it is in midtown since I hardly venture downtown on weekends (I'm in downtown Monday to Friday for work already). Bad thing is that it's located at the Yonge & Eglinton area so is super hard to find parking. Oh well, give and take I guess. 

Anyway, because I was very pleased with the first two visits at Quince, I decided to go back this year again for Summerlicious. However, I was a bit disappointed with the food this time. From what I remember, Quince used to serve simple, delicious and non-complicated food with good portions. But this time, it got all fancy with their dishes, had smaller portions, and their food tasted average at best. I just feel that they are trying too hard to be a restaurant that they are not. I guess I am bias because I've been there before this "change" so I will naturally compare the "before" and "after". But yes, I AM comparing apples to apples because the previous times I've been were also during the 'Licious events. 

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Biff's Bistro Tweetup

A #biffsTweetup at Biff's Bistro was kindly organized by Ben (@LauBenedict) about a month ago. Not sure how the conversation about oysters came up on Twitter (I'm guessing, very likely, that it was from Eugene (@euge_loo)) but either way, I'm sure someone proclaimed their love for oysters, and then one thing led to another, a Tweetup was organized and we all found ourselves gathered together one night for dinner  to enjoy some oysters and food at Biff's Bistro. It was great seeing Summer (@summer_luu) and Evelyn (@eviechiu) again, and an opportunity for putting faces to the names I've been tweeting with for awhile now: Ben, Chris (@chrisunagi), Chelsea (@chelseachoy), Eugene, and finally meeting a new friend, Priscilla (@priscillasam). 

Why oyster at Biff's Bistro you ask? Well, every week night after 5pm they have a raw oysters special, an oyster for $1. That's right, a buck! Can't go wrong with that, right? I guess when it's so cheap, it is normal to start wondering whether you will get food poisioning afterwards but let me assure you that I did not, and nobody else in the group did either. 

I've never been to Biff's Bistro before; I used to work right across from it on the Esplanade, but somehow I never made my way over there. 

This is the bar area.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Southern Accent

Southern Accent is a cajun and creole soul restaurant situated in a Victorian town house in Toronto's Mirvish Village (near Bloor and Bathurst). Me and two friends were strolling around the area one night looking for a place for dinner. We were being adventurous, well, more like none of us could make a decision on what or where to eat, so opted for wandering around the neighborhood, which was our last resort. After looking at Southern Accent's menu out front, we decided to give the place a try. 

It was a nice day so we sat out at the covered patio area. From looking at their website though, it seems to me that the inside of the restaurant is where it's "at".  From the pictures on the website, it seems to have a year-round Mardi Gras feel with the hanging beads, the artwork, the lighting, the "Zydeco and Louisiana" music, psychic reading, and their 1940's bar, all very "New Orleans" style. Guess we missed out on because the the patio was nothing to rave about, but you can tell that they try to spice things up with the mini hanging lanterns. However, definitely no "southern feel" out there.

Entrance to the inside of the restaurant from the patio.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Tako Sushi - A Teppanyaki Nightmare

Last night at Tako Sushi, hands down, was the worse teppanyaki experience I've ever had in my whole life. It was so bad that I have to blog about it today right away so I won't forget all the bad things I have to say about it. The food was awful, the service was awful, everything was AWFUL. The only thing "positive" that I can say about it was that at least the dinner wasn't expensive, it was actually really really cheap. Considering that my experience there was so bad though, you can imagine why they can charge so little. Let's just say that at the end of the day, I will NOT go back to Tako Sushi for teppanyaki ever again, even if for free.

It was packed last night there. This Mississauga location only opened a month or so ago, so I was not surprised by the crowd. Mississauga lacks good Japanese restaurants in general, and when new restaurants open people tend to flock there. Tako Sushi's original location is at Don Mills, which I've been to once for sushi (sushi was not good), but not for teppanyaki.

I went with my family and the five of us were led to the teppanyaki room. There was exactly 5 seats available for us in a row, which was perfect with a good view of the teppanyaki table, but the waiter insisted we sit at the corner with 3 people on one side and 2 on the other like an "L" shape, with empty seats available on both sides beside us. We thought this was really really weird, but he insisted that we could not sit like that because he is expecting other guests to arrive soon. Which, in my point of view, doesn't even make SENSE because those people can be seated on the other 5 empty seats in a row too, like why this awkward arrangement? But whatever, we didn't argue.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Marble Slab

I've been to Marble Slab twice now, both times at the Markham location (they only have one in Markham), and I gotta say that their ice cream does not impress me at all. The only reason I went this second time was because I had a 2-for-1 coupon; if not for the coupon, I'm not sure when my second time would've been. 

I know it's cool how Marble Slab have a vast variety of mix-ins which you can incorporate into your ice cream like fresh fruit, cereals, nuts, cookies, candies, etc., but in terms of the quality of their ice cream, I would much prefer Ed's Real Scoop or Greg's Ice Cream. The ice cream I had at Marble Slab this time was not creamy at all, too soft, and was already melting in my hands right after I paid for it. Not only was I not pleased with the ice cream itself, the waffle cone was hard, chewy, and pretty much STALE. I love waffle cone and I order waffle cone pretty much every time I have ice cream, so I know my waffle cone. I'm pretty sure it's the worse waffle cone I've ever had.

Let's talk about the store first. Besides the ice cream, the place was nice. It was very spacious and clean.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Third Time at Guu Izakaya

Kinda knew this was gonna happen, as in, the need for a second Guu post. My first post combined my first two visits there and this post documents my third time. With a decent sized izakaya menu, it is possible to order and try new things each time you go and also order old favorites. To avoid being repetitive,  I'm not going to post pictures of the three dishes that I ordered this time again, such as the Kabocha Korokke (Pumpkin Croquette), the Brie Cheese, and the Salmon Natto Yukke.

Fully expecting some sort of lineup, my two friends and I went on a weeknight at around 6pm, and lo and behold, no line up! Still, the only seats available inside was at the bar. We took that at first but later on realized that a table was better because with the three of us, its easier to chat at a table instead of sitting side by side. After waiting for a few minutes, we got a table =)

That night they had a beer special for their 6 month anniversary. 

Monday, August 16, 2010

Maple Yip

Maple Yip, or "Look Yu" in Cantonese, is a Chinese restaurant located at the southeast corner of Sheppard and Midland (exact address is 4227 Sheppard Avenue East Scarborough, ON M1S 5H5). It is pretty much hidden in the furthest corner of one of the many plazas at the intersection so it maybe a bit difficult to find the restaurant if you don't venture around that area often. Let me assure you though, don't give up trying to find this place if you do decide to go because you may be missing out on one of the best Cantonese style restaurants in Ontario. Although Maple Yip doesn't have a website, here's a thread on chowhound about the restaurant. I know the posts there are a bit dated, but in my opinion, the content still holds true. 

I've been to Maple Yip twice now and both times I've really enjoyed the food (my parents have been there a lot more than me, for lunch and dinner). They offer really delicious Cantonese style dishes that you may not readily find at other Chinese restaurants. If no traffic, Maple Yip is around a 1/2 hour drive from where me and my family lives,  so if we do go it is because of a special occasion.  We went there several weeks ago on a weeknight to celebrate my parents' anniversary. The restaurant was packed solid! Pretty impressive for a weeknight.

Surrounding the restaurant you will find special menu items posted on the wall, written only in Chinese.

Friday, August 6, 2010

My Craft Blue Burger at Craft Burger

Thanks to FabFind (@FabFinder on Twitter) and their free $5 certificate at Craft Burger (@Craft_Burger), me and two friends went to Craft Burger for dinner one night a few weeks ago. When I saw this free coupon on FabFind, I immediately emailed a few of my foodie friends about it, and naturally most of them signed up an account with FabFind to get the coupon, and naturally a date was settled on when to go (some couldn't go because they work uptown). This is one of the good things about working downtown - the ability to go try out new places and restaurants right after work =)

I'm always trying to find good burger joints. There are sooo many burger places popping up in Toronto nowadays that it's seriously hard to keep up. Meanwhile, there's no way I would want to try every one of them because some may not be worth my time. I've asked a few foodies and most of them said Craft Burger is probably one of the best ones around.

There are two Craft Burger locations in Toronto, one on King street and one on Yonge street. I went to the one on Yonge street since it was closer to my friend's work.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Origin Restaurant

Lisa (@HipUrbanGirl) organized a mini all-girls Tweetup at Origin last night. I remember Lisa and I talking about going to Origin a month ago on Twitter, and being as organized and on-the-ball as she is, right away Lisa asked for available dates from everyone and BOOM! Reservations were made =) Thanks to Lisa, last night was a get together between five girls, enjoying good food and good conversations, really can't beat that, especially after a stressful work day! It was my first time meeting everyone IRL too so that was exciting =) I don't know about anyone else but I had a blast - there was never a dull moment as we chatted about work, relationships, school, vacations, food, and other girly things ^_^ Great to meet Aimee (@aimeemabelle), Rebecca (@bexz10), Lisa (@HipUrbanGirl), and Alysia (@blarkness). I cant wait to do another Tweetup with these wonderful ladies =)

I have been wanting to try Origin for quite a while now, ever since it opened a few months ago actually. I think I never got around to going because they serve tapas style, small plates for everyone to share, so to me, it was only ideal if a bigger group of people go (as in, more than two) in order to try as many dishes as possible. 

Drinks menu - we didn't order any booze since it was a school/work night. Also, we really came to Origin for the food only.

The waiter came by and explained to us how the menu works (basically explaining to us that its small dishes for everyone to share). He recommended 2-3 dishes per person, and he highly recommended the 32 oz ribeye steak, priced at $70 (stated as market price on the menu). But we all know that there was no way we were gonna order steak at Origin.

After we ordered, I asked the waiter if it was OK for me to take some pictures of the restaurant, mainly of the open kitchen. He said no problem. I think it is always good to ask, especially when I knew that Claudio Aprile, the head chef of Origin, wasn't too pleased about all the picture taking at his restaurant (or at least with people taking pictures with flash). Anyway, although I was given an OK, I still snapped these pictures relatively quickly. I guess I'm paranoid.

As Aimee knows from reading my blog, I ♥ open kitchens!