Sunday, April 9, 2017

Tasting Menu at Sidecar

I wrote a blog post about Sidecar Bar and Grill in May 2010, about a month after I started this blog. You can check it out here if you want. In a nutshell, it's about my friend Cindy and I trying Sidecar's prix fixe menu for the very first time and me falling in love with their steak frites (FYI till this day Cindy and I still go on a lot of dining escapes together!). Ughhh, looking back at old blog posts always make me cringe - I hate the way I wrote back then. Sometimes, I have an urge to delete certain old posts, but a friend once said I shouldn't because "it shows growth"...yea, seven year's worth! *Sigh*. Reading that post actually made me laugh though because of how I described my cocktail:

"This was so yummy and refreshing. I love fruity drinks!"

Kill me now! Oh, how I've grown. I despise fruity drinks nowadays. The boozier, the better. Actually, this is an excellent example of how a person's taste can change over time, which is why I always encourage people to try foods they previously didn't like because you may end up enjoying it the second time around (especially if years have passed). I used to despise sea urchin but now I can never get enough. Can you imagine? Hating uni? I don't even know myself anymore.

Sorry to veer off topic. Anyway, since that blog post, I've probably been to Sidecar a handful more times over the years. Admittedly, I frequent their second floor cocktail bar - Toronto Temperance Society - way more often. TTS is like my second home; it makes some of the best cocktails in the city and the atmosphere there is second to none. Seeing that I haven't been to Sidecar in a while, I was very intrigued when I heard that a new chef took over downstairs.

Before I start talking about the food, there are two things worth noting: 1) A minor change, but nonetheless important, is the restaurant's slight name change. Back in the day, the restaurant was called "Sidecar Bar & Grill", now it's Sidecar Restaurant (Instagram: @sidecar_restaurant), and 2) Since 2017, the restaurant eliminated tipping completely to become Toronto's first gratuity-free restaurant.


Helming the kitchen at Sidecar now is chef H ("Hyun Jung") Kim (@hhyunjkim). Graduated from George Brown in 2010, Kim started his career at Globe Bistro under chefs Kevin McKenna and Daniel Sanders, followed by a brief stint at C5 with chef Ted Corrado. He then worked at George Restaurant for chef Lorenzo Loseto as chef de partie and eventually moved up the ranks to junior sous chef. After two and a half years at George, he traveled around Europe for six months. When he came back to Toronto, he staged at a couple places and briefly worked at The Chase before heading back to George as sous chef. In December 2016, Kim took over the kitchen at Sidecar, and the rest, as they say, is history.


Move over fruity drinks! Nobody gets between me and my old fashioneds anymore.

OLD FASHIONED ($14)
Bourbon, sugar, bitters


I have a soft spot for restaurants that offer complimentary bread. There's not many of them out there anymore.




Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The Winner of the Made With Love Toronto 2017 Giveaway is...

@thisharriet

Congratulations! You've just won a PAIR of VIP passes to MadeWithLove™ Toronto Regional Finals taking place on March 27th from 6-11pm at the Liberty Grand Entertainment Complex. Please email me at foodjunkiechronicles@gmail.com to claim your tickets!


A big THANK YOU to the 37 people who participated in this contest! 

Here's a snapshot of the Excel spreadsheet where I tracked the #fjcmwl 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 "Hey @foodieyu take me to the largest mixology competition in Canada @_MadeWithLove_! http://bit.ly/2nyHU8i #fjcmwl #enjoymwl". 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 107 valid entries:


I used "True Random Number Generator" from random.org to pick one winner for me.






Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Made With Love Toronto 2017 Giveaway - CLOSED

Are you a cocktail aficionado? If your answer is a resounding "YES!" then enter my contest now for a chance to win a PAIR of VIP passes to MadeWithLove™ Toronto Regional Finals taking place on March 27th from 6-11pm at the Liberty Grand Entertainment Complex. The tickets are valued at $130! 


MadeWithLove™ is the largest mixology competition in Canada. Founded in Montreal, it is an internationally reknowned competition for culinary discoveries and an annual celebration of the restaurant industry. Today, MadeWithLove™ (Twitter: @_MadeWithLove_, Facebook: MADE WITH LOVEis active in 3 countries (Canada, Mexico, and Spain) and continues to develop internationally.

For one night only on March 27th, the MadeWithLove™ Toronto Regional Finals at the Liberty Grand Entertainment Complex will host 18 of the city's most talented Barchefs will present a unique and original cocktail & some food-pairing creations in view of being crowned Toronto's BEST Barchef for 2017. The public, alongside a panel of renowned judges, are invited to witness this interactive competition by savoring various creations presented to them and to vote for their favorites. The winner of each category of Public’s Choice and Judge’s Choice will represent Toronto at the National Finals held in May 2017 and will have a chance to win one of 10 trips to one of the MadeWithLove™ affiliated distilleries. 

The Toronto finalists are:

 Jamison Cass - Baro Toronto
Nathanial Jai - Voodoo Child
Nick Incretolli - Bar Sazerac
Christopher Whitlow - Parts & Labour
Rob Male - Lake Road
Michael O'Doherty - Byblos
Michele Maffei - Noce Restaurant
Luis Martinez - El Catrin
Danielle Yoon - Drinksmith
Trirell Biggart - Luma
Chris Flink - Cafe Belong 
Dessa Harhay - The Chase Fish & Oyster
Marian Walsh - Two Black Sheep
Blake Spears - R&D
Kasra Khorramnejad - The Passenger
Manuel Contreras - El Local Loco
Leah Young - The Carbon Bar


Date: Monday, March 27, 2017
Time: 6:00pm - 11:00pm
Place: Liberty Grand Entertainment Complex, 25 British Columbia Rd, Toronto, ON 
Prize: Two tickets valued at $130
What is included: Your tickets allow you and your guest to a complete tasting of all showcased cocktails, some food-pairing, a welcome cocktail as well as a right to vote for your favorite cocktail creation / favorite BarChef.


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

Hey @foodieyu take me to the largest mixology competition in Canada @_MadeWithLove_! http://bit.ly/2nyHU8i #fjcmwl #enjoymwl

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 #fjcmwl 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. This is a 19+ event.

CONTEST DURATION
Contest starts on Tuesday, March 14, and ends on Tuesday, March 21, at 12PM. 
One lucky winner will be chosen randomly from www.random.org and I will announce the winner shortly after.

GOOD LUCK!!! ^_^



Sunday, March 5, 2017

The Winners of the One Of A Kind Spring Show 2017 are....

@sleepydex
@PillyJ
@JubleeW
@shellyfaber
@Girlstar28
@BrendaKennedy76
@JuiciChic
@bonitafong
@amandaaaq
@loucheryl

Congratulations! You've all won a pair of tickets to this year's One of a Kind Spring Show! Please email me at foodjunkiechronicles@gmail.com to claim your tickets!


A big THANK YOU to the 52 people who participated in this contest! 

Here's a snapshot of the Excel spreadsheet where I tracked the #fjcooaks17 and #fjcooakx17 hashtags from day one of the contest (I made a mistake of putting #fjcooakx17 when I first published the post. When I realized the correct hashtag for the event is #ooaks17 not #ooakx17, I corrected my post to show #fjcooaks17 that's both hashtags were tracked to be fair). 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 @ooak_toronto! http://bit.ly/2mqXBxU #fjcooaks17 #OOAKS17". 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 125 valid entries:


I used "True Random Number Generator" from random.org to pick 10 winners for me.




Friday, February 24, 2017

One Of A Kind Spring Show 2017 Giveaway - CLOSED

I'm giving away 10 PAIRS of tickets to this year's One of a Kind Spring Show #OOAKX17 taking place from Wednesday, March 29 to Sunday, April 2 at the Enercare Centre Exhibition Place! Each pair of tickets is valued at $26.


The mission of One of a Kind (Instagram: @ooak_toronto, Facebook: One of a Kind Show and Sale) is to provide a marketplace to bring together makers and buyers who share a commitment to handmade excellence. Since its inception in 1975, One of a Kind has been cultivating creativity, craftsmanship and connection in order to deliver an inspired shopping experience.


Did you know there's also food at the One of a Kind Spring Show? Take a look at the show's website and under the "Flavours" category on the "Explore The Artisan Profiles" page, you'll find profiles from over 50 artisans specializing in food and beverage!

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

Hey @foodieyu I want to #win a pair of tickets to @ooak_toronto! http://bit.ly/2mqXBxU #fjcooaks17 #OOAKS17

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 #fjcooakx17 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

CONTEST DURATION
Contest starts on Friday, February 24 and ends on Friday, March 3 at 12PM. 
10 lucky winners will be chosen randomly from www.random.org and I will announce the winner shortly after.

GOOD LUCK!!! ^_^


Sunday, February 5, 2017

2017 Chinese New Year Dinner: Poon Choi ("盆菜")

Happy Chinese New Year to all my Chinese friends! 2017 is the year of the Rooster, and because I have no idea what that entails, I googled it. I found this nifty graph showing how people born in a year of the Rooster (i.e. 1933, 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005, 2017, and 2029) will do in 2017 when it comes to work, love, wealth and health. Check out how scientific the folks at Chinahighlights.com made it all look:


This shows what's lucky and unlucky for Roosters. Note the cockscomb (obviously) and how Roosters should never, ever, venture east.


I'm not superstitious at all but it's fun to look at horoscopes sometimes, especially during Chinese New Year! But y'all know what's more fun than zodiacs during CNY? Eating the food my Mom makes.

This year, my Mom switched it up a bit. Instead of making multiple dishes, she made poon choi, or 盆菜, which literally means "basin vegetables" in Chinese. Ingredients are cooked separately, layered carefully and topped with an assortment of delicacies. Each person at the table takes food from the "basin", layer by layer, from the top to the bottom. Eating 盆菜, or "big bowl feast", signifies abundance and richness in the coming year.

FYI. According to Wikipediapoon choi was invented during the late Song Dynasty. When Mongol troops invaded Song China, the young Emperor fled to the area around Guangdong Province and Hong Kong. To serve the Emperor as well as his army, the locals collected all their best food available, cooked it, and because there were not enough serving containers available put the resulting meal in large wooden washbasins.


There are all the ingredients that went into my Mom's poon choi:

⇒ Bottom layer: white radish, carrots, cabbage (白蘿蔔, 紅籮蔔, 長紹菜) 
 2nd layer: roasted duck, oil chicken, roasted bbq pork, brined pork stomach (烧鴨肶, 油雞肶, 烧肉, 鹵水猪肚) 
 3rd layer: fish maw, sea cucumber, shiitake mushroom, dried scallop (花膠, 海参, 冬菇, 瑤柱) 
 Top layer: black moss, abalone, soy sauce marinated tiger shrimp, egg tofu and broccoli (發菜, 鲍魚, 豉汁明蝦, 玉子豆腐, 西蘭花) 

A short Instagram video of my Mom pouring homemade chicken broth into the pot on the stove. That sizzle thooo (don't mind my Dad talking in the background).


Each bite of the poon choi was such a treat - I wouldn't change a thing. The poon choi fed the five of us no problem..there was so much food in there!

Before I go, I want to mention the most precious ingredient in the poon choi, which was the abalone. My mom bought this "Gold Price" boiled canned abalone from the supermarket. With just two abalones inside, this can was close to $70. The mollusks were tender with a bit of chewiness to them, and due to the salt water they lived in, the meat tasted a bit salty.


Like always, my Mom totally spoiled us :) Thanks, Mom!


Sunday, January 22, 2017

Doma

French-inspired Korean cuisine. Have you tried it before? Not me, at least not until I visited Doma back in December. Doma (Instagram: @domatoronto, Facebook: Doma) is a French-inspired Korean restaurant that meshes French cooking techniques with traditional Korean ingredients and flavours (or vice versa). According to Doma's website, their menu changes every month, which is in line with chef/owner Paul Kim's philosophy of using local ingredients as much as possible. Each month's menu would include Kim's new creations, as well as two to three popular dishes from the previous month.

Located on Clinton and College, the Doma space was previously occupied by Backwoods Smokehouse, and before that Red Sauce, and before that Acadia. The decor is minimalist and simple; clean lines with white walls and light-wood furnishings. I personally find the room a bit bleak. Also, maybe it's the OCD in me but because all the tables and chairs are angled diagonally, I had a really strong urge to move everything so that they would be parallel to the wall.


Anyway, enough about the room, let's talk about the food. I was really eager to try Doma because I always viewed Korean food as a more casual type of cuisine; as in, I've never experienced "Korean fine-dining" or "refined Korean food" before. Which is why I was really excited to try Doma, especially having heard that chef Kim studied at Le Cordon Bleu in Ottawa. Combining his knowledge in French techniques with his Korean background, I was pretty sure that Kim would be debuting a refined menu that none of us have ever tried before.

By the way, I love the long and slender cutlery at Doma. They are a more stylish matte black versions of the silver ones you would normally find in traditional Korean restaurants. 


NEXT GENERATION ($13)
Soju, Perilla, Maple, Lime, Ginger Beer
OLD BOY ($13)
Cucumber infused Boodles Gin, Rice Vinegar, Soy, Daikon


My friend and I chose the $65 per person tasting menu which consisted of an amuse, six courses and a dessert. You basically get to try the entire menu with this tasting so I highly recommend getting it.

AMUSE BOUCHE
Steam bun filled with mushroom, caramelized onion and sweet doenjang




Sunday, January 15, 2017

Spicy Mafia Hot Pot

It's f%^&ing frigid outside. It's so cold that when wind hits your face it stings. Ughhh! Well, for most Chinese people, myself included, one of the first things we think about when temps drop below 0°C is hot pot. Actually, "winter" is synonymous with "hot pot" for us. For whatever reason, we all suddenly crave cooking a bunch of raw stuff in hot broths.

Morals Village currently ranks as my favourite all-you-can-eat ("AYCE") hot pot place. With locations in downtown Toronto, Markham and Mississauga, it's really easy for me to get to. Food quality is on point, veggies are cleaned thoroughly and service is always good. They offer a wide variety of meats and veggies for all your hot pot needs, and their sauce station and sweet buns make me happy.

Having said that, not everyone who wants hot pot necessarily wants to do AYCE every single time. I certainly feel that way because 1) restaurants usually charge a higher price for AYCE, and 2) I don't want to give myself that added pressure of having to "eat my money's worth". Let's face it, when it comes to AYCE we all end up eating way more then we should, with most of us hating ourselves afterwards.


 Spicy Mafia (Instagram: @spicymafiato, Facebook: Spicy Mafia) in Markham is where you wanna be if you are looking for good, bargain hot pot that's not AYCE. From the same owners as Morals VillageSpicy Mafia is catered towards a younger crowd, made instantly obvious by the restaurant name itself and this large mural of mafia-style characters inside.


At Spicy Mafiaeach guest orders from a prix-fixe menu and gets their own personal mini hot pot.


Hot pot combos are either $12.99 or $13.99 depending on the type of soup base. The combos come with your choice of:

1) Soup Base: Signature Spicy, Exclusive Spicy, Housemade Pork Bone, Chinese Angelica or Sweet Tomato Pork Bone;
2) Noodle: Rice vermicelli, fresh rice noodle, instant noodle, rice or Japanese udon;
3) Meat: New Zealand spring lamb, sliced pork or certified Angus beef; and
4) 2 Dipping Sauces: House made sesame, chopped garlic in oil, spicy powder, herbal sauce, house made spicy oil, house made fermented bean curd, coriander or scallion.

Additional meats, seafood, veggies and other toppings can be added to your combo, and they range from $1.50 to $2.50 per order.




Saturday, January 7, 2017

Dufflet After Dark: Dessert & Wine Night at Dufflet Beach

Happy New Year everybody! Sorry for going MIA for almost a month 😄 Looking back at previous years, I seem to always slack off in December when it comes to posting. I guess it's hard for me to want to stay home and write when there are so many things going on during the holidays. Come January, I would feel extremely guilty for slacking off; seeing all the backlog also makes me cringe! So, enough with the excuses, right? Let's get straight into it and start the year off with something sweet, Dufflet After Dark.


A dessert and wine night held on Friday evenings between 8pm to 11pmDufflet After Dark at Dufflet's Beach location offers guests a quiet and cozy oasis to relax, sip on wine and indulge in a variety of delectable cakes. 

What a warm and pretty room! The soft glow of tea lights creates such an intimate ambiance. The snowflakes combined with the view of the garden makes the space extra cozy; it's winter outside, yet it's warm and toasty at Dufflet (Instagram: @duffletpastries, Facebook: Dufflet Pastries).


I've been to this location before when Dufflet introduced their high tea service. Take a peek here if you're curious to see how this room looks like during the day (hint: it's just as pretty).


For $25 per person, guests at Dufflet After Dark can enjoy:

1) 8 different kinds of desserts, including a selection of cakes, pies and petit fours;
2) A complimentary glass of red, white or sparkling wine; and 
3) Dufflet drip coffee, Americano, espresso and Sloane Fine Teas.

Additional red, white and sparkling wines are available for $6-8 (5oz). Baileys coffee is also available for $5.