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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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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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Le Hip-Hop Café
4801 avenue du Parc
Montréal, QC H2V 4E7
(514) 439-2771
www.hiphopcafe.ca

I love finding good coffee, and I also love supporting independent cafés. Good thing Montréal has both, and some of my favourite cafés can be found downtown, in the Plateau, and the Mile End. Le Hip-Hop Café is a relatively new addition to the Mile End neighbourhood and I had been meaning to drop by and check out the place since it opened in February. Mind you, the establishment situated at the corner of avenue Parc and rue Villeneuve is not just a café but more of a business with a concept — one that happens to offer good coffee and eats but operates for the purpose of promoting hip hop culture in Montréal.

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Fall is upon us, and before the summer’s over several neighbourhoods in Montréal hold bi-annual sidewalk sales. The city has these outdoor street sales to promote retail clearance events and snacks from food vendors, which is the perfect time to get reacquainted with what is happening on the main streets. These sales mean that the roads get shut down, the people come out, and you get a reason to stroll around your block to see what’s going on.

My neighbourhood in the Plateau recently held its end of summer sale, Vente Trottoir l’Avenue Mont-Royal (Sidewalk Sale of Mont Royal Avenue), along the main street of Avenue Mont-Royal and the streets were packed with vendors, shoppers, and curious onlookers. Avenue Mont-Royal is known for being dotted with funky and independent fashion stores, trendy bars and restaurants, and cute bakeries. The Plateau is kind of the francophone equivalent to the adjacent anglophone neighbourhood of the artsy Mile End, home of Arcade Fire, Stars and other musicians. I am on a budget so no purchases were made, but it is always fun to see the people come out of their row houses to grab some snacks and stroll around the streets in the last days of summer.

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Pourquoi Pas Espresso Bar
1447 Rue Amherst (south of Maisonneuve)
Montréal, Québec H2L 3L2
(514) 419-9400
https://www.facebook.com/PQuoiPas

How is everyone’s Labour Day weekend going? Mine is actually quite boring; I have been at home doing work as I have several deadlines this month even though the new school year for me officially starts on Tuesday. Regardless, I managed to enjoy the outdoors by fitting in some long runs to the mountain here in Montréal — Mont Royal (Mount Royal for anglos) — to practise some long runs and hill work. I absolutely love the mountain, which is only about 3 kilometres from my home. I will share some photos of the mountain and park in the near future, so look out for a future post on Mont Royal.

As I mentioned, I have been working from home but about half, or perhaps more than half, of the time I like to work in cafés. There are some excellent cafés here in the city, with most providing free Wi-Fi for its customers — I know, we’re spoiled that we don’t have to pay for WiFi in cafés in Montréal unlike many cities in North America. So what usually happens is that I perch myself at a café all day which can be a nice reprieve from being holed alone in my apartment. There are so many great cafés in Montréal and I definitely have my favourites, but I also love discovering new ones. Last month, my friend and I were doing some vintage furniture shopping in The Village and we came across Pourquoi Pas Espresso Bar just north of the hustle and bustle of rue Sainte-Catherine.

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Beaudry metro station in The Village

Montréal Pride week, or the LGBT festival, is in full force this week. Recently, I took a mid-week and mid-day walk through The Village in downtown Montréal along rue Ste-Catherine. During the summer the portion of this main street is closed for pedestrian use only, which becomes lively during the evenings and weekends. As expected, Montréal’s LGBT community is brightly decorated with equally vivid storefronts. The Montréal LGBTA Parade took place on Sunday August 18, 2013. Click here for more information.

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Clearly I have a love affair with nail polish. I am all about sporting a natural visage, but on my hands I love bright hues on a daily basis. In the summer I indulge in bolder nail colours because, if you live here in Montréal, weather that permits your hands to go mitts-free obligates celebration. For the past few months I have been loving coral, pink and rose shades that had me venturing into some unexplored hues on the colour wheel (though my hands remain too shy to go too far into the glitter and textured territories). This summer I have been wearing and test driving nail polishes from five different brands: Estée Lauder, L’Oreal, Joe Fresh, Revlon, and Essie. Here is my round up of my favourite shades and formulas.

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Estée Lauder’s 06 Berry Hot

There is nary an Estée Lauder product in the makeup stash, except for this one nail polish from a department store gift with purchase that was passed down to me as a gift. Free nail polish? OKAY. I was intrigued by the bright and pigmented shade, one unlike any other nail polish that I currently own, which is best described as a vibrant, cool-based metallic fuschia. The formula coats evenly and is almost opaque with a single swipe so that you can get away with two coats sandwiched between a base coat and a top coat (I use Revlon base coat and top coats for all my manicures). The wear is pretty good, but slightly below average because I found the metallic formula was prone to minor flaking at the edges. However, the colour remained vibrant and true for a week’s worth of wear.

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