Thursday, April 24, 2014

Omakase at Sushi Kaji

Occupying the last stretch of an ordinary strip mall in Etobicoke is Sushi Kaji, a small Japanese restaurant known for their long-standing impeccable quality, inventiveness and commitment to excellence. Yeah the restaurant may not look like much from the outside (it could easily pass for a typical sushi joint or AYCE restaurant on Bloor St.) but we all know that looks can be deceiving, right? Well, damn right 'cause even after 14 years Sushi Kaji remains as one of the best restaurants in the city (notice I said "restaurant" not just "Japanese restaurant"). Whether Sushi Kaji is indeed the best or not, in whichever category, is irrelevant because food is so subjective. However, what I can confidently say is the following: the dinner I had at Sushi Kaji two weeks ago was the best omakase I've ever had in my life (so far).

From Wednesday to Sundays, 30 diners each night will have the opportunity to experience one of two set dinners prepared by chef Mitsuhiro Kaji and his team. Omakase is the only option at Sushi Kaji - you won't find bento boxes, teriyaki or California rolls here.

So aside from the fact that Sushi Kaji doesn't offer an a la carte menu, what makes this Japanese restaurant so special? The simple answer is chef Mitsuhiro Kaji himself. Chef Kaji has been making sushi ever since he was 13 years old. For more than 10 years he apprenticed under many different master chefs all over Japan. Since immigrating to Canada in 1980, Kaji has opened eight different sushi restaurants. In May of 2000, he finally opened his very own Sushi Kaji.

Just as important as chef Kaji himself, the quality of ingredients also plays a crucial part in Sushi Kaji's success. Chef Kaji believes that the secret of good sushi is to always select best ingredients, and never compromise on quality. Kaji's Japanese supplier flies fish from Tokyo bay within 24 hours after it has been taken from the water. Kaji serves fish in the evening that he has purchased the same morning, never keeping fish overnight. Other ingredients such as vegetables, condiments and even garnishes are also exclusively imported from Japan. 

Chef Kaji's attention to detail is commendable as well. He uses different kinds of vinegar during different seasons: a soft and sweeter vinegar in the summer and a slightly more bitter one in the winter. As for soy sauce, chef Kaji prefers to make his own from scratch with dried bonito because he finds regular soy sauce too salty.

Once we sat down at Sushi Kaji the first thing I did was order sake; there's absolutely no way I can fully enjoy an omakase meal without sake! I had my favourite type of sake that evening: nigori.


Monday, April 21, 2014

Find Me on Google's Field Trip!

My dear readers, I'm absolutely thrilled to announce that I've partnered up with Google's Field Tripan app focused on uncovering unique and interesting content about our communities. Available for download at the App Store on iTunes and Google Play, you can now find Food Junkie Chronicles within Field Trip!

Developed by Google Inc's Niantic Labs, a small lab within Google led by John Hanke, the founder of Google EarthField Trip is an app that uses your current location to show you unique and cool points of interests in a very creative way. Think of it as Google Now, but much more detailed in terms of information about any given place it lists. 

I tested out the app on the weekend and it's so simple to use. Once you open Field Trip the app will pinpoint your location (MAP). A variety of pop-up cards written on the surrounding area will populate (NEARBY). Since I was inside Shangri-La when I captured these screen shots my post on Shangri-La's high tea showed up right at the top (just so you know you have the ability to select key interests you like, that way the app shows you only relevant places and information). Aside from "Food, Drinks & Fun" other categories in Field Trip include: Architecture, Games, Historic Places & Events, Lifestyle, Offers & Deals, Cool & Unique, and Art & Museums.

 So for this particular example, not only can you read my write-up on Shangri-La within Field Trip you'll also find other restaurants close to Shangri-La that I've written about. Even if you don't open the app you can set Field Trip to show frequent or occasional notifications (you can even turn on an audio option that will speak the title and description of a spot). 

From Port Credit to Parkdale...

And Leslieville all the way to Richmond Hill...

Food Junkie Chronicles has got you covered in Field Trip!

None of this would've been possible without your continuous support for the last four years! Thank you so much from the bottom of my heart! ^_*

Saturday, April 19, 2014

The Winners of the 2014 Green Living Show Tickets are...


Congratulations! You have each won a pair of tickets to the The Green Living Show taking place at the Direct Energy Centre from April 25-27, 2014. Please email me at and I'll provide you with the online code to redeem your tickets.

Thanks to the 31 contestants who participated in my giveaway

Here's a snapshot of the Excel spreadsheet where I tracked the #foodieyuGLS hashtag from day one of the giveaway (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.) 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 "Hey @foodieyu I want to win a pair of tickets to The Green Living Show @GreenLivingPage! #foodieyuGLS". Each person can tweet once a day for the duration of the giveaway. Once the giveaway was over and everybody's entries were accounted for I checked to see if they follow me (@foodieyuon Twitter. Below is a list of people who qualified for the contest:

I used "True Random Number Generator" from to pick the two winners from the 52 entries.

Friday, April 18, 2014

A Globally-Inspired Sunday Brunch at Marben

After taking over the helm at Marben a year ago and replacing Carl Heinrich as executive chef, Rob Bragagnolo (@RobBragagnolo) has successfully reinvented the previously meat-centric restaurant on 488 Wellington St. W. into one that offers diners a more sophisticated Mediterranean fare. Bragagnolo, a Torontonian with an Italian background, has spent the last 10+ years working in Spain and travelling across the world. With an impressive stint in Mallorca and a passport full of stamps under his belt, Bragagnolo is determined to share his love for international cuisine at Marben.

I visited Marben (Twitter: @MarbenResto, Facebook: Marbentwo Sundays ago. It was a last minute decision (as well as a very late one) so the Sunday brunch rush was already over when we arrived.

 The Marben's brunch menu begins with the following statement: "A collection of my favourite brunch dishes from my travels around the world". I was excited just from reading that.

My brunch consisted of the following four dishes (it's a bit excessive I know):

2 poached eggs on spiced cauliflower, quinoa salad, beetroot humus, baby kale & parsley

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Bier Markt / Goose Island Brewmaster's Dinner

On Thursday April 10, Bier Markt Esplanade (@BierMarktEsplan) hosted a special #bonkersforhonkers "Bier Dinner" to celebrate the exclusive Canadian availability of Chicago's Goose Island Honker's Ale on draught at Bier Markt (Twitter: @BierMarkt, Facebook: Bier Markt). Goose Island Brewmaster Brett Porter and Bier Markt's Executive Chef Michael Cipollo narrated each course and shared tasting notes for Honker's Ale, Goose Island's Sophie, Pepe Nero and Matilda.

You'll now find Goose Island Honker's Ale on tap at all Bier Markt locations. Here are the Brewmaster's notes on Honker's Ale:

"Inspired by visits to English country pubs, Honker’s Ale combines a fruity hop aroma with a rich malt middle to create a perfectly balanced beer. Immensely drinkable, Honker’s Ale is not only the beer you can trust but one you’ll look forward to time and again."

FYI: Brewed for the first time in 1988, Honker's Ale was the first beer that Goose Island ever made!

Aside from Honker's Ale guests also had the following Goose Island beer pairings to go with each course:

Below is a recap of the evening (as well as a sneak preview of Bier Markt 's new menu debuting on April 24):

Baked Salt Spring BC mussels, smoked bacon & aromatics, herbed bread crumbs, beurre blanc
Pairing: Honker's Pale Ale | 4.5% ABV

Saturday, April 12, 2014

The Cutting Board at Weslodge Saloon

I was invited to Weslodge (Twitter: Weslodge, Facebook: Weslodge) on Monday for the launch of their Cutting Board, an impressive meat platter featuring a selection of grilled meats and poultry. Available on Sunday and Mondays from 5pm onwards, discerning carnivores at the popular King West restaurant can share a platter of succulent beef, pork, lamb, and poultry which have been aged, marinated or slow-cooked to delicious perfection. Served as part of a special pre-fixe menu The Cutting Board is, in my opinion, very reasonably priced at $29 per person. 

We started the evening off with a welcome cocktail.

Bombay Sapphire Gin, Campari, sweet vermouth blend, orange oil. Aged in American Oak. Rich bitter grapefruit, deep toasted orange peel with a subtle spiced vanilla oak finish.

Next up, my favourite appetizer from Weslodgetheir Scotch Egg. Wrapped in a layer of tasty chorizo then coated with breadcrumbs and deep fried, this Scotch Egg has a beautiful bright yellow yolk that's still runny in the centre. The addition of sweet and tart tomato jam alongside black truffle elevates this traditional English canape from good to amazing.

Chorizo + Tomato Jam + Black Truffle

And here it is, Weslodge's Cutting Board:

Crispy Hen + Lamb Ribs + Duck Sausage + Dry Aged Ribeye + Pulled Pork + Cuban Slaw + Baked Pasta + Jalapeno Biscuits

With The Cutting Board, Chef de Cuisine Kanida Chey wanted to showcase the best of what they do at Weslodge. "Our goal is to cook really familiar foods using the best ingredients made in-house and do it with a level of technique that isn’t typical. It’s an approach that allows us to reinvent the classics and highlight the extraordinary flavours of the premium meats we have always been serving our guests.” said Chey, “The meats we chose for The Cutting Board are premium quality, prepared with the same level of technique we approach all of our dishes, but now guests can sample our best cuts on one beautiful board.”

2014 Green Living Show Tickets Giveaway - CLOSED

I'm giving away TWO pairs of tickets to this year's Green Living Show!

The Green Living Show (Twitter: @GreenLivingPage, Facebook: Green Living) is Canada’s largest consumer show dedicated to all things green and healthy. Taking over the Direct Energy Centre from April 25-27, 2014, show-goers can shop from over 400 exhibitors while gathering information and inspiration from a diverse selection of demonstrations, presentations and activities.

One of the many attractions at the Green Living Show is the Ontario Culinary Explorers Pavilion. Back by popular demand and better than ever, the Ontario Culinary Explorers Pavilion is a mouthwatering food and drink experience: attendees can embark on a tour of the ‘tastes’ of Ontario; chat with producers, chefs and other representatives about the versatility and variety of local foods, beers and wines; and discover the environmental and health benefits of choosing fresh, sustainable and Ontario foods all year round.

The Ontario Culinary Explorers Stage also promises three days of exciting programming including demonstrations, presentations and lectures from some of the province’s best kitchen kings and queens and local food aficionados.


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 Green Living Show @GreenLivingPage! #foodieyuGLS

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 #foodieyuGLS 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 Saturday, April 12 and ends on Saturday, April 19 at 12PM. 

Two lucky winners will be chosen randomly from and I will announce the winner on Saturday, April 19

GOOD LUCK!!! ^_^

Friday, April 11, 2014

Habits Gastropub: Upscale Pub Fare in Little Portugal

Gastropub. Have you ever wondered what the term means? Or where it comes from? It should be somewhat obvious that "gastropub" is derived from the words "gastronomy" and "pub". Digging deeper (which just means googling and clicking on Wikipedia on my part) the word "gastropub" actually originated in the UK in the late 20th century. Traditionally British pubs were merely drinking establishments with little emphasis placed on serving food. If pubs served meals they were usually basic cold dishes such as a ploughman's lunch (i.e. cheese, chutney and bread). The term "gastropub" was coined in 1991 when David Eyre and Mike Belben took over The Eagle pub in Clerkenwell, London, where the duo specialized in serving high-quality food. From then on the concept of a restaurant in a pub reinvigorated both pub culture and British dining. 

When Michelle Genttner and Luis Martins opened Habits Gastropub (Twitter: @HabitsGastropub, Facebook: Habits Gastropub) in the summer of 2012, their vision was to provide the 'next step' in pub-going in the city. With a weekly changing menu that focuses on using the freshest ingredients and as much local as possible, Habits Gastropub elevates 'comfort food' by taking the things you know and love and giving it a little extra; a "sophisticated" update, so to speak.

Partners in both business and in life, Genttner manages the front of house while Martins has adopted the role of head chef at this cozy neighourhood gastropub.

Habits features Ontario craft beers on tap and strives to maintain a local focus by constantly adding VQA wines to their list. Their cocktails also feature house-infused liquors. Fun fact: Habits houses the third largest collection of whiskey at any bar in the city (which explains its elaborate bar).

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

é by José Andrés, Las Vegas

Housed within The Cosmopolitan hotel of Las Vegas, José Andrés brings the authentic flavour of Spanish tapas and paellas to JaleoWithin Jaleo is a second restaurant, the exclusive é by José Andrés

"Offering a clever and creative tasting menu of more than a dozen Spanish avant-garde dishes, this intimate space with 8 seats along a chef’s bar sets guests on a culinary journey. Led by José Andrés culinary vision and presented in an inspiring and whimsical style, é is a secluded setting where the best products of Spain shine. A unique experience enjoyed by few but envied by many."

Reservations at é by José Andrés are available by email only, and become available three months in advance. Seatings are available Wednesday through Sunday with two shows per night, at 5:30 PM and 8:30 PM. At a maximum of 8 guests per seating, the é menu is $195.00 per person (excluding beverage, tax and gratuity). Wine pairings available at extra cost. 

ALBARIZA - Gin, St. Germain, Amontillado Sherry, lemon, egg white ($15)

HIGOS Y SALVIA - Bourbon, D'Aristi, Cream Sherry, fig preserves, fresh sage, lemon ($15)

Sous chef Cody Jeffs

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Milestones' Homestyle Chefs' Tasting Menu

It is always a pleasure attending a Milestones media dinner (this is my third one). Not only do I get the opportunity to taste a bit of everything from Milestones' newest menu, I also get to order as many bellinis as I want (I know it sounds stupid but I've been a sucker for their bellinis since the beginning of time...I'm obsessed with those fruity slushies!) In all seriousness I'm always eager to try Executive Chef Jason Rosso's new creations. Ever since chef Rosso joined Milestones as corporate chef I've noticed a significant change - a very positive one - in the restaurant specifically when it comes to embracing global cuisine. Being Asian, I particularly enjoy the Asian influences in Rosso's plates. His Spicy Thai Basil Stir-fry and Grilled Japanese Tuna Tataki from last year's Summer Chefs' menu, and his Vietnamese Bun Cha and Galbi Style Rib Steak from the most recent Inspired Chefs' menu are all examples of fusion dishes done well (these dishes also demonstrate Rosso's creativity and genuine passion for exotic ingredients and flavours). In this particular Milestones' Homestyle Chefs' Menu tasting, chef Rosso took us on a culinary journey, treating our taste buds to the bold flavours of South Asia all the way to the Mediterranean.

It is somewhat embarrassing to admit this but I had two bellinis before dinner last week at the Milestones located at Dundas Square. Yeah TWO bellinis. This is what I get for arriving way too early, I mean what else is there to do besides downing cocktails? Speaking of cocktails there's word on the street that Milestones (Twitter: @MilestonesCa, Facebook: Milestonesis in the process of revamping their cocktail menu to include classic cocktails such as the Old Fashioned and the Moscow Mule. I'm so excited about this! *GASP* I foresee myself cheating on the bellini...

A frozen blend of premium white rum, peach liqueur, sparkling white wine, topped with Boone's Sangria

Along with our cocktails we were served these beautiful canapes:

Prime rib adobo poutine with smoked gouda*
Gouger of cheddar and poached egg mousseline in puff pastry
Atlantic smoked salmon rosette with tarragon goats cheese and fried capers
Wild mushroom and truffle bruschetta on parmesan cracker
Chorizo and mozzarella fritters with smoked paprika aioli*
*Available on Milestones' Homestyle Chefs’ Menu

After cocktails and apps we were ready for dinner! Below is chef Jason Rosso (@jasonrosso) giving us a brief intro about the new Milestones' Homestyle Chefs' Menu (he also came out in between courses to explain each dish).