Saturday, November 30, 2013

Kintaro Yakitori Izakaya

Kintaro opened quietly around two months ago on 459 Church Street. The restaurant specializes in yakitori ("yakitori" is traditionally a term used for a type of grilled chicken in Japan). Nowadays the terms "yakitori" and "kushiyaki" are used interchangeably in Japanese society, with "kushiyaki" being the formal term for foods encompassing both poultry and non-poultry items, skewered and grilled. Long story short... think meat, grilled to order over charcoal, served on bamboo sticks... and that's what you get at Kintaro Yakitori Izakaya. Although there are many types of bite-sized meats served at Kintaro it is still the chicken that reigns supreme when it comes to the variety of cuts offered on the menu. But more on that later...

The decor at Kintaro is really fun, warm and inviting. The way the space is designed with all the wood paneling, Japanese posters and tatami mats makes it feel like you're actually at an izakaya in Japan (not that I've ever been to Japan but just take my word for it haha).

This visit to Kintaro was on a weeknight at 5:30 pm so obviously it wasn't busy at the time (who eats so early anyway?! 

Seated at a table across from the charcoal grill, I watched the chef prepare skewer after skewer of delicious smoky meats.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Toronto's Top Female Chefs Collaborate for the 2nd Edition of The Dinner Party

Organized by chef Alexandra Feswick and my good friend Kristina Chau of Not Your Average Party, The Dinner Party will be hosted at The Great Hall for the second year in a row. After the overwhelming success of The Dinner Party last year, it is anticipated that December 3rd, 2013 will mark yet another wonderful, and playful celebration of female culinary talent in the city of not to be missed.   

The Dinner Party
What: Inspired by the famed artwork installation by Judy Chicago, the fundraising dinner is a celebration of female chefs with the support of some of the city’s most notable and talented male chefs.  
WhenTuesday, December 3rd @ 7pm
WhereThe Great Hall, 1087 Queen St. West at Dovercourt
Tickets: Prices are $120 and include alcohol pairings and tax. All proceeds will be donated to I Walk for Water. - Click here to purchase tickets -

Created by and for Toronto’s female chefs, The Dinner Party is a fundraising collaboration dinner where chefs will be challenged to co-create a 6-course tasting menu for this sensational interpretation of Judy Chicago’s artwork installation, The Dinner Party in commemoration of women who have inspired them. This monumental multimedia project has been seen by more than one million viewers, and has been displayed in fifteen exhibitions in six different countries.The Dinner Party is currently on exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum.

Judy Chicago's Dinner Party (Photo credit: Brooklyn Museum)

The dinner will be modeled after Chicago’s piece where guests will be seated at a large triangular table at The Great Hall, home of Samuel J Moore, and will host some of Toronto’s best female chefs who will model their dishes after women that have inspired them: 

Charlotte Langley, Executive Chef, Catch
Carla Digenova, Pastry Chef, Pizzeria Libretto
Tiffany Wong, Chef de  Cuisine, Pizzeria Libretto
 Tara Lee, Sous Chef, Skin and Bones
Leonie Lila, Executive Chef, The Libertine 
Trish Gill, Executive Chef, The Dock Ellis
Alexandra Feswick, Executive Chef, Samuel J. Moore

Leah Wildman (2013 Toronto Hottest Chef) of Fit Squad will be heading up dinner pairings while the lovely Miriam Strieman of Mad Maple will MC for the evening.

The icing on the cake: some of Ontario’s most talented male chefs will be serving! Dustin Gallagher (Acadia), Alex Molitz (The Farmhouse Tavern), Jeff Crump (Earth To Table), Rocco Agoistino (Pizzeria Libretto), Scott Bailey (Compass Restaurant) and Basilio Pesce (Porzia). 

 “They all support and believe in what we’re doing and having them work with us tonight is my hope that the community will see us working together: while changing these typical expectations about the inherent rolls of men and women in a restaurant.” (Alexandra Feswick, The Dinner Party, 2012).

Buy a ticket now and be fed by some of the most talented female chefs our fine city has to offer!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Chef Nic Prong on Cooking in Port Credit, Social Media and Young Talent

Despite our busy schedules, my friend Nic Prong (@niccancook), executive chef at Ten Restaurant & Wine Barand I would make an effort to meet up for a wine + cheese ("w+c") night once every couple of months. Given our almost opposite schedules we found that this was the easiest way for us to catch up: Nic after service (him having w+c for dinner) and me after dinner (me having w+c for dessert). What we talk about naturally revolves around food - we would chat for hours on end about it. It's always fun, as an avid diner and food blogger, to discuss food and the city's restaurant scene with a chef because it tends to spark very interesting discussions. Having said that, I thought it would be a fun idea to do an interview w/ Nic here so that you guys can know more about him :D In the Q&A below, Nic explains his food philosophy, why he prefers being the 'big fish' in Mississauga rather than doing the 'downtown thing', and his thoughts on social media. Nic also discusses the issues surrounding young cooks and why they should stay away from watching the Food Network.

Where have you worked prior to Ten
I started off working for Mövenpick BCE Place as an apprentice when I was 14. I then went to work at Snug Harbour as a pantry cook (I worked there for 6 years). After there I took a corporate gig for Moxies which only lasted 6 months. I then came to Ten Restaurant where I have been for 8 years.

How have those experiences shaped who you are and how you cook today? 
My time at Mövenpick was my introduction into the culinary world, more specifically the European Brigade style of kitchen structure. I was a young kid surrounded by adults and it was a bit of a culture shock. Snug Harbour taught me how to deal with high volume but while there I got caught up with all the trappings of restaurant life including drugs and alcohol which in all honesty set back my culinary development. Working at Moxies taught me that I never want to work in a corporate structure restaurant. In my eyes corporations have no place in the industry. When you put profit above quality ingredients, guest fulfillment and staff development, you end up destroying the beauty of the industry.

What is your style of cooking? How and why does it appeal to you? 
I am an ingredients first cook. I try to let the ingredients create the dish with doing the least amount of manipulation possible. My classroom and inspiration is the bounty that is Canada and enjoy most highlighting the seasonality and cultural variations that surround us. I also like to be tongue in cheek (no pun intended) and have fun while doing nose to tail cooking.

Do you see any differences between diners in Mississauga and those in downtown Toronto? 
The irony is that the daytime diners of Toronto are the night time diners in Mississauga. There seems to be something lost when a commuter travels west across the 427. I find a large contingent of suburbanites like to play it safe when dining out, the penne alfredo and chicken caesar crowd which at the end of the day makes them happy so I bite my tongue and make it. That being said there still exist some loyal 'foodies' here in 'sauga.

With so many restaurants opening in downtown, do you feel 'secluded' from all the action? 
I'm often asked why I don't do the 'downtown thing' and I think it's this question that's one of the main reasons I stay put in suburbia. I fear that a lot of aspiring cooks feel that it's location that's going to hone their craft or somehow they will become instant stars. Unfortunately, more than not they find the opposite is true. There is much to be said for being the Big Fish. I may not get all the media attention but being a cook is about your relationship with your guest, not your relationship with Toronto Life or NOW Magazine. I have the opportunity to feed 300 people on any given Saturday and that's why I cook. Too many cooks or pseudo chefs are trying to get lights around their name these days and forgot that cooking is and intimate relationship between cook and diner and that's all you need.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Spinning Plates Premiere Giveaway - CLOSED

I'm giving away a PAIR of tickets to the Canadian premiere of SPINNING PLATES on Wednesday, December 4th at 7pm held at the TIFF Bell Lightbox.

Joseph Levy's Spinning Plates is a feature documentary about three extraordinary yet wildly different restaurants: Alinea, Breitbach’s Country Dining, La Cocina de Gabby and the compelling stories of the incredible people who bring these restaurants to life. A world-renowned chef competes for the ultimate restaurant prize in Chicago, while privately battling a life-threatening condition. A 150-year-old restaurant in Iowa is still standing only because of an unbreakable bond with the community. And a fledgling Mexican restaurant in Tucson struggles as its owners risk everything to survive and provide for their young daughter. Their unforgettable stories of family, legacy, passion and survival come together to reveal how meaningful food can be, and the power it has to connect us to one another.


1) You MUST be following me (@foodieyu) on Twitter:


2) Tweet the following sentence, exactly as shown, nothing before or after it: 

Hey @foodieyu I want to win a pair of tickets to the Canadian premiere of Spinning Plates! #spinplatesmovie

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 #spinplatesmovie hashtag stream. If you don't see your tweet in the hashtag stream, it means there is no entry from you. Sorry. Read this to find out the possible reasons why your tweets are not showing up


Contest starts on Monday, November 25th and ends on Monday, December 2nd at 12PM. 

One lucky winner will be drawn randomly from www.random.orgI will announce the winner on Monday, December 2nd.

GOOD LUCK!!! ^_^

Facebook: Spinning Plates
Running Time: 93 Minutes

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Park Restaurant (Montreal)

I have a confession to make. 

On one of the nights during my weekend media / press trip in Montreal for TASTE MTL I indulged in two dinners. My first dinner at Imadake was arranged by Tourism Montreal. With my friend Jess of Where Jess Ate we shared plates of fried goat cheese, ebi mayo, takoyaki, miso beef tongue, miso black cod, karaage, green tea cheesecake and red bean ice cream. As if we haven't stuffed our faces enough at the izakaya we then proceeded to our second dinner - planned by moi - at Park Restaurant (that's the extent of my French, by the way). It wasn't just any meal either; it was an omakase a.k.a. tasting menu. Sorry Jess, I'm going to speak on your behalf but...


However not visiting chef Antonio Park's restaurant would be a crime especially when my hotel was merely an 8-minute cab ride away from his Westmount restaurant. And if you're wondering how I found out about Park Restaurant (Twitter: @Restaurant_PARK, Facebook: Park) I put the "blame" on social media. I started following chef Park on Twitter (@ChefAntonioParksometime this year after somebody I follow re-tweeted a photo of one of Park's dishes. I forgot who that person was or even what the dish was but whatever, it doesn't matter - what matters is that I remember thinking "whoa that looks incredible!" I then checked out Park's Instagram account (@chefantoniopark) and I was blown away. Photo after photo of impeccably plated sashimi and nigiri, chef Park's plates were all so elegant, stunning and extremely gorgeous. I wanted it all. I started following chef Park on Instagram too. All this makes me sound like such a stalker/creeper but I swear this is normal social media practice. Yes it is. Riiiiight? :S

Anyway long story short, once I found out my itinerary for Montreal I emailed chef Park and well he made it all happen! Jess and I both got a seat at Park Restaurant's sushi bar that Saturday night where chef Park personally prepared and served us our very, very epic omakase meal.

Executive Chef Antonio Park

I ordered a Kimchi Caesar. It was really delicious and refreshing especially after all the fried foods at Imadake. Notice the kimchi garnish~


I'm gonna get right into it with the omakase photos. Enjoy the food p0rn, y'all!

Kimchi daikon, braised beef, udon noodles, green onions

White beet salad, ice wine vinegar, lobster vinaigrette

Monday, November 18, 2013

The Whippoorwill Revisited

I have nothing but praises for The Whippoorwill. Recently named both Best New Restaurant and Best Burger Over $10 by NOW MagazineThe Whippoorwill (Twitter: @WhippoorwillTO, Facebook: The Whippoorwill Restaurant & Tavern) is doing everything right. From its cozy, retro/vintage decor, friendly service, to bar manager Japhet Bower's (@jollyinebriate) artfully crafted cocktails and chef Tyler Cunningham's (@ChefCunningham) globally inspired comfort plates, it's no surprise why this Bloordale restaurant is currently one of the most talked about restaurant in the city. 

I had to the pleasure to visit The Whippoorwill a couple of weeks ago for their new fall/winter menu. I remember leaving the restaurant very content with a very full belly much like my first visit there three months ago (click here for my first post on The Whippoorwill).

Dinner started off with a very appropriately named cocktail called Blogger Love (Japhet named it on the spot for us haha). As the evening progressed we were served the Diablo Verde and This Little Piggy:

COCKTAILS (left to right):
1. BLOGGER LOVE (off the menu): Cava, aromatic bitters, brown butter
2. DIABLO VERDE - Tromba blanco tequila, green chartreuse, lemon, house-made poblano syrup, maldon, scrappy's grapefruit bitters
3. THIS LITTLE PIGGY - Napoleon cortel brandy, grand marnier, briottet chestnut, sage, lemon, scrappy's celery bitters

Chef Cunningham prepared for us the following dishes from his fall / winter menu:

Walnut pesto, muscatel vinaigrette and Thornloe Stilton

Shaved mushrooms, chives and tahini

Creamed horseradish, puffed quinoa, salted cucumber and mustard oil

Friday, November 15, 2013

Touhenboku Ramen

Touhenboku Ramen (Twitter: @TouhenbokuRamen, Facebook: Touhenboku Ramen) is the newest of the new when it comes to ramen shops in downtown Toronto. Opened officially just yesterday on 261 Queen West at Duncan, I had the opportunity to taste their noodles on Wednesday before their big opening day.

Right off the bat Touhenboku Ramen differentiates itself from its countless competitors by offering a chicken broth base as opposed to the traditional pork broth. Continuing with the chicken theme, Touhenboku's chashu, prepared by rolling the meat into a log and then braising it at a low temperature, comes in both pork and chicken. I'm sure these two options alone immediately garner nods of approval from all the non-pork eaters out there. In addition, Touhenboku has four small donburi rice bowls on the menu with a variety of toppings (i.e. sauteed pork, grilled / roasted / fried chicken) which you can order as an appetizer or as part of Touhenboku's lunch sets. Last but not least, dessert! Unlike most noodle shops where they either have no dessert or at best, green tea ice cream,Touhenboku has six desserts on the menu. From an airy chiffon cake and a light cream puff to a dense chocolate cake, Touhenboku claims that their Japanese pastries are not overly sweet and are perfect after a bowl of their ramen.

Owner Zuimei Okuyama named Touhenboku after his bar in Ueno; a suburb of Tokyo. The name, Touhenboku, means "blockhead" in Japanese and is an homage to a cafe of the same name that he used to frequent when he was young. Zuimei decided to open a ramen restaurant in Toronto after being dissatisfied with the current offering. "I want people to know the true taste of ramen and have it be fresh. So I make my own noodles in house from scratch without preservatives. The taste is just better." Zuimei says the long, slow process in creating the chicken broth draws out the collagen to create a mizutaki broth that is considerably lighter than the regular tonkotsu (pork bone) with much less fat. Zuimei also claims that the broth is great for your skin and complexion (bonus!) Zuimei trained at the Shokuno dojo, a ramen school in Chiba.

Touhenboku uses custom-made porcelain bowls imported from Japan. These Arita bowls supposedly does a better job in keeping the noodles hot. Their chopsticks are also imported from Japan.

Made from chef Keiichi Machida's special blend of high-protein flour, noodles are churned out daily from this $40,000 ramen machine.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Death Row Meals - Youngblood

Inspired by the 1980's hockey movie "Youngblood", last Sunday's Death Row Meals (#DeathRowMeals) dinner featured 7 courses prepared by 7 very talented young chefs in the the city. These up and coming chefs prepared a themed feast reminiscent of the iconic film starring Rob Lowe, Cynthia Gibb, Patrick Swayze, Keanu Reeves (his first movie appearance) and the Toronto Maple Leafs own Steve “Stumpy” Thomas. The evening also included cocktail and wine pairings from Dillon's Distillers (@dillonsdistills) and Rosewood Estates Winery (@rosewoodwine). A portion of the proceeds from Youngblood benefited Right To Play Canada, a global organization founded in 2000 by Johann Olav Koss - a four-time Olympic gold medalist and social entrepreneur - that uses the transformative power of play to educate and empower children facing adversity. 

The Youngblood dinner took place at the classy and sophisticated Hot Stove Club. Located at the Air Canada Centre, the Hot Stove Club was established in 1963 (happy 50th birthday!) and revitalized in summer 2012. The restaurant is equipped with a large dining area, three bars and a lounge.

Below is a recap of Death Row Meals Youngblood.

Coulson Armstrong (@Chef_Coulson), Canoe Restaurant
Crudo of fluke - Gatorade, concord grapes, buffalo yogurt and caribou moss

Luca Gatti (@lucagatti22), Sanagans
Mini Chicago dog, house made potato chips, gravy seasoning

Monday, November 11, 2013

Milestones' Inspired Chefs' Tasting Menu

In May I was invited to a preview tasting of Milestones' Summer Chefs' menu (it was a "preview" because the menu was to launch across all Milestones locations the following day). Using ingredients influenced by global flavours, Milestones' Corporate chef Jason Rosso (@jasonrosso) prepared a wonderful six-course tasting menu which captured the chain restaurant's vision in offering diners the 'independent restaurant experience' while being a 'full service restaurant chain'.

Fast forward five months later and I found myself at Milestones once again (Twitter: @MilestonesCa, Facebook: Milestones) this time for the restaurant's Inspired Chefs' menu. Taking place at Milestones Festival Hall (or better known as "the-Milestones-beside-Chapters-at-John-and-Richmond") this fall / winter menu was inspired by seven of Milestones chefs from across the country.

Each of our six courses was paired with wines from Wolf Blass (@WolfBlassWines).

Below is my six-course Milestones' Inspired Chefs' tasting prepared by chef Rosso. 

Garlic infused water chestnuts served in a lettuce wrap with ponzo sauce and vermicelli noodles
Pairing: Wolf Blass Yellow Label Sparkling Brut

Rounds tossed in panko breading, stuffed with chorizo sausage, Mozzarella cheese, garlic and parsley  over paprika aioli
Pairing: Wolf Blass Yellow Label Sparkling Brut

Friday, November 8, 2013


On October 21st, I was invited to an exclusive dinner at Ruby Watch Co.. ZWILLING J.A. HENCKELS together with Ontario Pork (@OntarioPork) and chef Lora Kirk of Ruby Watch Co. (@RubyWatchcoteamed up for an evening of great products with great food. Prepared by chef Kirk, the evening consisted of a four-course, holiday-themed dinner using delicious Ontario pork, prepared and presented using an array of products within the ZWILLING portfolio of culinary brands. 

Wine pairings courtesy of Inniskillin (@InniskillinWine). 

ZWILLING J.A. HENCKELS - A Modern Company with a Long Tradition
The history of the ZWILLING J.A. HENCKELS brand starts on June 13, 1731 (under the Gemini star sign). It was on that day that knife-maker Peter Henckels from Solingen registered the "Twin" symbol as his trademark with the Cutlers' Guild of Solingen. Today, the premium German-based kitchenware manufacturer boasts a multi-brand portfolio that includes ZWILLING, MIYABI, STAUB and DEMEYERE, as well as the mass consumer brand J.A. HENCKELS INTERNATIONALZWILLING Culinary Solutions ca be found in over 100 countries. This year, the company is marking its 110th anniversary in Canada.

On display here is the STAUB line of traditional French enameled cast iron and ceramic cookware - La Cocotte "French Oven". Made exclusively in France, STAUB vessels feature vibrant coloured glazes in assorted shapes, sizes and functions. Acknowledged as the optimal platform for slow-cooking, the material density of cast iron retains and redistributes heat evenly. Its black matte enamel interior is ideal for braising and the unique spikes on their iconic flat lid provide the perfect surface to induce self-basting flavour enhancement. Each piece is adorned with a steel or brass knob and can even be accessorized with decorative figurines to provide further artistic expression. 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

TASTE MTL - Taste the Best of Montreal

From Nov 1-11, 2013, the city of Montreal is hosting TASTE MTL (#TASTEMTL), a culinary festival presented by Tourism Montreal (Twitter: @Montreal, Facebook: Visit Montreal) in association with the SAQ. The second edition of TASTE MTL a.k.a. Restaurant Week, is a culinary and cultural celebration of one of the most incredible cities in the world with 128 restaurants taking part. TASTE MTL provides an opportunity for Montrealers and tourists to discover new places to eat with a host of of special events around the gastronomic city alongside fixed-price table d'hôte menus. TASTE MTL offers three fixed prices for evening meal service ($19, $29, and $39, respectively) as well as a fixed late-night menu priced at $19 (click here to see the list of participating restaurants)This year the Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers joined TASTE MTL as an official partner, which means that you'll find chefs using maple on the menus at participating TASTE MTL restaurants. By the way, did you know that TASTE MTL is one of North America's 15 best food festivals according to Fodor's magazine?

I was one of five lucky Canadian food bloggers/members of Food Bloggers of Canada (FBC) chosen to cover TASTE MTL last weekend. Needless to say I was completely stoked about my trip! Not only was I thrilled about all the sight-seeing and food I was also looking forward to spending the weekend with some amazing foodies including Jess (@wherejessate) of Where Jess Ate, Vickie (@kiki_BFF) of kikis B.F.FJenn and Don (@foodiePrints) of foodiePrints and Janice (@KtchnHealsSoulof Kitchen Heals Soul.

So here goes! My whirlwind TASTE MTL weekend recap!

DAY 1 - Friday, November 1, 2013
I woke up early Friday morning and headed to Union Station for my train to Montreal. This is my very first time taking VIA Rail (@VIA_Rail) anywhere! The ride was pretty comfy and relaxing - I was able to catch up on some work too with their free wifi. This sure beats driving for 5 hours! 

My lunch on VIA Rail
Cod with vegetables on a bed of rice served with side salad, dinner roll and a glass of white wine.

Once we arrived to Montreal we dropped off our bags at Hotel Sofitel (@SofitelMontreal) located on prestigious Sherbrooke St. I was greeted with this lovely plate of cheese and fruit in my room. What a great start! I forgot to take photos but I assure you that my room was very spacious with an enormous king-size bed with breathtaking views of the Montreal skyline and Mount Royal Park. The staff at Hotel Sofitel was also incredibly helpful and friendly.

First destination in Montreal: Montreal Passion Vin wine tasting event. This year marks the 12th edition of Montreal Passion Vin (@PassionVin2013). Presented by SAQ with Standard Life as the major donor partner, the event was held at the Hilton Montreal Bonaventure Hotel and is among the most prestigious wine industry events in 2013. The proceeds from Montreal Passion Vin is to support the construction of the HMR Integrated Cancerology Centre. This is no doubt the most extravagant wine tasting I've ever attended!

We tasted six wines from Maison Remoissenet Père et Fils:
- Meursault Genevrieres 1er cru 1992
- Nolnay 1er cru Clos des Chenes 1978, 1969
- Gevrey-Chambertin 1er cru Combottes 1979, 1966
- Clos Vougeot Grand cru 1964

Tuesday, November 5, 2013 Campus Chompionship ft. Takeru Kobayashi

Throughout October, (Facebook:, Twitter: @JUSTEATca) has been on the hunt for Canada's hungriest student. Students from 25 universities across the country have rallied their classmates for online votes and created jaw-dropping videos for the chance to travel to Toronto to meet and train with famed competitive eating champion, Takeru Kobayashi (Facebook: Takeru Kobayashi, Twitter: @FReeKobi0704)

On Monday, October 28th, the five finalist devoured pizza alongside Kobi. Hosted by You Gotta Eat Here's John Catucci at The Drake Hotel, the five students competed in a three minute eating competition to win a personal prize of $5K & $20K for their campus.

Takeru Kobayashi in the media room before the big showdown.

Snuck in a photo! :)


Call for entries
University students across the country told why they should be Campus Chompion. The hungry contestant with the most votes from each of the 25 campuses will go on to represent their school as a semi-finalist.

Video showdown
The top-voted semi-finalists from each university created a video telling and Kobiyashi why they are hungry to win. The top 5 scoring semi-finalist videos went on to the final round: the Chompionship round.

The top 5 finalists travels to Toronto where they competed with Kobayashi for the title of Campus Chompion.

Watch how many slices of pizza were devoured by the five finalists and Kobi!