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This is the second of a series of eating east Asian cuisine in Toronto by flashbracket.

Banh Mi Boys
Location Reviewed:
399 Yonge Street
Toronto, ON M5B 1S9
(416) 977-0303
www.banhmiboys.com

During the past few visits to Toronto I would make my way to Banh Mi Boys. Their Yonge street location, south of College, is just around the corner from where I often stay and I first stepped foot into the busy eatery when I met up with a friend for lunch. I had been hearing about this place for a while now but hadn’t thought much of it. I love banh mi, the Vietnamese sandwich on a French baguette, and the thought of leaving Chinatown and paying more than four dollars for this half-foot sandwich seemed ridiculous to me. I would had never guessed that my dreams of eating dirty fast food would somehow become fulfilled from eating non-greasy Asian fusion grub in a sleek and trendy setting.

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The Yonge street location store front. Top Photo: Clockwise from top left – Five Spice Pork Belly Banh Mi, Tofu Fries, Tofu Taco, Panko Tofu Steamed Bao.

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This is the first of a series of eating east Asian cuisine in Toronto by flashbracket.

Kingyo Toronto
51B Winchester Street
Toronto, ON M4X 1R7
(647) 748-2121
www.kingyotoronto.ca

Where do I start with Kingyo? In a market full of excellent east Asian cuisine — Toronto that is, and definitely not Montréal — I often feel a bit overwhelmed trying to keep up with all the great restaurants serving Chinese dim sum, Korean barbecue, and Japanese ramen. I travel back to my hometown of Toronto whenever I can, and each time I’m back in town my family and friends are holding a list of places that we need to try, or restaurants they really want to go back to and know that I would be down for some good eats. Kingyo, a Vancouver inception, opened their Toronto outpost at the end of 2012 but I only made my way over to its Cabbagetown location earlier this year. So I am about a year late in the game. But I am glad that, since my first visit, I kept coming back to this restaurant serving Japanese bar food just about every time I was back in Hogtown. And every time I’m back on the train headed to Montréal I still think about my favourite meals and Kingyo is always one of them.

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Boulangerie Cheskie
359 Rue Bernard Ouest
Montréal, QC H2V 4H3
(514) 271-2253

There are many ways to pad my womanly hips here in Montréal. I don’t have a huge sweet tooth but I love baked goods — real quality baked goods, that is. I previously wrote a love letter about baguettes and how good they are in this city. Unlike in my native Toronto, Montréal suffers from a plethora of amazing bakeries; this is a problem as there are too many places to keep up with. But amongst all the French and Quebécois boulangeries dotting every neighbourhood, Cheskie’s often gets mentioned as one of the best bakeries in town. It doesn’t even bake baguettes! But the danishes, rugelach, babka, challah, cookies, and other pastries filling this shop draws a line out its door on many days, opening up the neighbourhood for the amazing scent of its freshly baked goods.

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The Forks Market
105 Waterfront Drive
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
1-888-942-6302
www.theforks.com/attractions/at-the-forks/the-forks-market

Have you ever been to Manitoba? As a Torontonian living in Montréal, I tend to hang around the central-eastern parts of my huge country. But when the opportunity arises, I like to cover untrodden regions of this 9,984,670 square kilometre nation and it’s not too often that I get to out west. When we Canadians talk about Western Canada (or way over there from where I’m from), we mean the province of Manitoba and its neighbours to its left — Saskatchewan, Alberta, and British Columbia. Manitoba was one of the few provinces that I had not discovered until recently when I visited the southern parts of this prairie terrain. And where’s a better place to discover Winnipeg culture than The Forks, a lovely meeting place of community and commerce for the past 6,000 years?

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A shop on rue Saint-Denis in the Plateau

Montréal is a truly beautiful city in the summer. In the winter? Well, the city becomes endowed with a damning amount of snow so we make most of what we’ve got during these gloomy months. But let’s get back to the summer season. Even though the daytime sun shows off European-inspired architecture and the well-kept gardens dotting the city, some might argue that Montréal becomes even more alive at night. And I’m not just pointing to the city’s famous adult entertainment — the city is so much more than being just the default Canadian getaway city for those celebrating the last of their bachelor(ette) days.

Some cases in point follow. An evening stroll reveals picturesque silhouettes of numerous steeples, vestiges of the city’s strong religious past. The city with the most number of restaurants per capita in Canada (and second in North America) brings fierce competition for diners, serving up excellent culinary experiences into the night. And of course the ongoing array of events jam-packed in the summer, such as Just for Laughs and Montréal Jazz Festival, keeps the city partying past your usual bedtime. It just happens that we took a few photos here and there during these warm months between sips of cocktails on a terrace. Here are a few images of some of the city’s summer evenings thus far, a small snapshot into the bustling summer nights in Montréal.

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Changing lights on the façade of Pavilion Judith-Jasmin at Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM)
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Omma
177 rue Bernard Ouest
Montréal, Québec H2T 2K4
(514) 274-1464
www.restaurantomma.com

Since moving to Montréal a few years ago, I have accepted a few culinary facts about the city:
(1) The baguettes are always amazing
(2) “Vegetarian? No problem, we have fish!”
(3) The quality of Korean restaurants are dreadful

File this under complaint number 8,356 about the gaping hole of good ethnic eats in la belle province. Alas, I have come to terms with the lack of quality and authentic Korean restaurants in Montréal with heavy pangs in my heart. I get it, I was spoiled with an excellent array of Korean food during the first twenty years of my life as I grew up in the Toronto suburbs where a subpar Korean restaurant would never last more than a year. Torontonians, both those of Korean heritage and seasoned Korean food diners, demand some decency when grabbing Korean grub, whether it is Korean barbecue, KFC (aka Korean Fried Chicken), hipster Korean tacos, momofuku (or those inspired by the inventive Japanese-Korean fusion eating trend), late-night pork bone soup, or just a traditional eatery. See? So many different types of Korean restaurants are out there! Why not bring some good ones to Montréal, I ask?

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Dol sot Bibimbap (top) with sweetened hot sauce, Kimchi Combo side (middle), and Spicy Lamb or Agneau épicé (bottom)
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Happy Lunar New Year! The new year according to the lunar calendar is also known as “Chinese New Year” for those of us in English-speaking countries. Koreans, just like the Chinese, traditionally followed the lunar calendar before adopting the Gregorian calendar of the west, so we Koreans refer to the same horoscopes as the Chinese. For 2014, we celebrate the Year of the Horse, and apparently it is the year of the “Blue Horse” for this cycle. According to the Korean Broadcasting System (KBS), the Blue Horse, unlike a regular horse horoscope character, comes around every 60 years. This is just as unique as the two other “special” horoscopes that I am aware of — The Golden Pig, which happens to be my dad, and the White Horse, which happens to be my sister.

The Lunar New Year is a very big event in Korea; it is considered the most important holiday of all, besides Chuseok or Korean Thanksgiving in the fall. And holidays in Korea mean family and food, not unlike the celebratory traditions of many other cultures. So what does my family do? We make a feast. But what do Korean people make at home to feed a crowd? I am the kind of person who asks my friends from non-Anglo-Saxon backgrounds what their families make at home, so I thought others may be interested in what the dinner table looks like for Korean-Canadian families. So here it is.

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“Kalbi” or barbecue short ribs

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