Snacks & Street Food
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An Arepa is a traditional Venezuelan corn bread. Arepera du Plateau bakes these delicious breads and fills them with fresh ingredients ranging from boar chorizo, onions and peppers to minced stewed shark in tomato sauce. The restaurant is located on a very central spot at the corner of Du bullion and Duluth and has a decent amount of seating. The staff was extremely friendly, greeting diners with a joyous “Ola!” and singing along to Spanish songs as they worked. A veritable cornucopia of fresh fruit and produce are on display at the counter along with fresh juice for sale ranging from guava, tamarind, sugar cane and mango.
When it comes to Greek street food in the downtown area, you’re either a follower of Kojax or a disciple of Arahova. As an office experiment, we decided to compare the two and we began with Kojax on St Catherine (between bishop and crescent). We ordered three types of Gyros platters – Classic, Pork and Chicken. Generous toppings of Tzatziki and spicy sauce accompanied with garlic potatoes and salad make this a very filling lunch. Everyone who leaves with food also leaves with a suite of coupons enticing you to come back for more. Had we known we may have resorted to accosting people for unwanted coupons as they leave the store… not that I’m suggesting anything.
XOCO is run by Rick Bayless – you may have heard of him before. Guest judge of Top Chef on Season Four, winner of Top Chef Masters, James Beard Award winner for best American chef in 1991, national chef of year in 1995, humanitarian of the year in 1998, cookbook of the year in 2001, best chef in the midwest in 2002… The list goes on. In Chicago for the weekend, we eagerly made this our first lunch destination. Not too far from the downtown core, the place is on North Clark street, next to the Frontera Grill and Topolobampo.
Quaint and cozy, this joint is a typical Québecois diner. Its authenticity is further highlighted by the fact that it is located relatively deep in the countryside of Québec, where the population is dominated by francophones – also the ones who invented the irreplaceable, unlike any other, international recognized and provincially representative dish of poutine. Just off the main graveled road is a little house that is one of the oldest mainstays in town. Behold, the Casse-Crôute Chez Claudette! The food served here is basic – hot dogs, hamburgers and… poutine ! And boy, do they do it well. The cheese curds are freshly made, squeaky and firm and the fries hold their form even in the onslaught of thick, delicious gravy. Poutine doesn’t get realer than this.
Frankfurters, frank, weenie/wienie, wiener, dog, wienerdog (think Welcome to the Dollhouse), danger dogs, and red hots are all colloquial terms for the pervasive social and cultural phenomenon of the hot dog. Costco sells the best of them. The juicy jumbos (literally) are exactly what they are advertised to be: mouthwateringly thick and moist and large enough to be called jumbo in size. To sweeten the deal even further, these dogs are cheap – a large refillable drink cup and the dog itself come to $1.50 and no one can come close to beating that. Once in a while, I will make the effort to go here just to eat the hot dogs. I’m not joking.
Looking for frozen turtles? Mangosteen, rambutan or fresh coconuts? A selection of dozens upon dozens of distinctive soya sauce brands? Specialty Asian drinks? I’m talking about Calpico, Pocari Sweat, Basil Seed, Ramune vintage soda, White Fungus Bird’s Nest, your choice of any Foco fruit drink and many, many more. Marché Hawaii has it all. I’m not joking. They even have a spa for shoppers needing some relaxation time as well as a small Vietnamese restaurant at the front of the store if, you know, you get hungry after looking at all the great food on display. Located in Ville St-Laurent, the Asian grocer is stocked full of ‘exotic’ and hard to find fruits, vegetables, protein, condiments, snacks and desserts all priced at a very affordable rate.
I first really took notice of My Cup of Tea when I went to Oysterfest earlier last month. MCOT had a booth during the event and were handing out free trial cups of tea that were absolutely delicious! I traded in my last two tickets for eight tea packets and since then, I’ve been hooked.
Hungering for something cheap and delicious, we stopped by the legendary Cuisine Bangkok for lunch. Located in the low-key setting of the Faubourg right by Concordia University, the restaurant can be found on the top floor and is easy to pick out by the usual lineup of people around lunchtime. Awarded “Best Thai” restaurant in the city by the Mirror, it is no wonder the place is almost always in customer overload. The pad thai here is famous (whether you order it with shrimp, calamari, chicken, beef etc.) as is its eggplant and chicken dish. We ordered one shrimp pad thai and one chicken pad thai, with extra lime. When they ask you for how spicy you want it, be careful. They don’t kid around with the spice level – if you ask for spicy, you’re going to get it. And remember, cash only. For those of you who haven’t tried it yet, stop wasting time!
Sunday, September 11th was a perfect day. For once, the weather cooperated. Shooting rays of sunshine and warmth all over the city, Montreal’s annual Oysterfest event was a complete blowout success – starting around 2 in the afternoon and lasting all the way until 9 pm, the lineup was long even at the start. Tickets at the door went quickly and were totally sold out about an hour after the event started. With over two dozen restaurants present providing food in exchange for coupon tickets, the place was teeming with excited and eager foodies itching to try everything all at once.
Based off the Lachine Canal, the St. Ambroise Terrace is an ideal pit stop for bikers, rollerbladers and runners. While a little out of the way for non users of the nature path, rest assured that you are coming to enjoy one of Montreal’s best outdoor spots for live music, fresh beer and cheap barbeque. For an apricot beer, an alcoholic cider and two burgers, it cost us $16. Not bad, eh? We then added two hot dogs on top of that and it broke down to costing about $4 for a beer, $5 for a cider and around $3 for the steamers and burgers.
Located directly across from Lasalle College, Avesta may be easy to miss amongst many ethnic eateries on St Catherine West. Once we saw the lady in the front window happily stretching fresh dough to make delicious flat bread, we committed to giving it a try. The service was somewhat slow during the lunch hour as we picked up sandwiches (that were really wraps) to go. Word on the street is that Avesta’s specialty is Manti which is fresh dough with spiced beef covered in yogurt, butter and spices.
Located immediately next to Atwater Market’s parking lot in its open air market space, the Satay Brothers has been garnering a lot of buzz in the Montreal food scene lately – and rightfully so. Serving South Asian food, the menu is short but sweet and filled with authentic Singaporean items. Alex (one of the Satay Brothers) ordered for us after we asked him to give us the best of what they had.
Kono Pizza is just that – flatbread rolled into a cone and filled with delicious pizza ingredients. We ordered the Bocconcini Pesto cone as well as the Carnita cone (each 6$). The ingredients tasted fresh and the cheese was great – one cone is not quite a full meal but you can get a cone drink and salad for 10$. They also offer deli, breakfast and dessert cones but my feeling is that the pizza cone is king.
A warning to potential visitors to Longshan Temple – it is a weird and freaky place. It was my second time there and the feeling of walking around in a post-apocalyptic circus world lingered still from my original impression. While I may be exaggerating a little bit, my description isn’t too far off from reality.
Overwhelmingly cute, Hello Kitty Sweets is known for its Hello Kitty themed everything – that includes furniture, decoration, staff uniforms and of course, the food. I don’t have a particular affinity for Hello Kitty but I did think that going to this restaurant would be an interesting experience worthy of blogging about.
From what I gather, Sadaharu Aoki is currently the most popular Japanese chef in Taiwan. His minimalistic patisserie shops have been catching my eye since ever I’ve been in Taipei (once in the Regent and the other when I passed by Joel Robuchon’s Salon de The in Bellavita) so I was happy to finally stop by and pick something up at the location in the B2 level of the Bellavita complex. Everything looks amazing… good enough to make you actually semi-seriously contemplate buying one of each dessert and worrying about the calories later. We got one Valencia with candied orange and sugar on top and one chocolate cake. Pictures speak for themselves.
A chain store located all over Asia – mostly in fancy department stores and malls (the one I visited was in the basement level of the Ion Orchard in Singapore) – Awfully Chocolate attracts customers by advertising their most interesting item: poached chocolate. The sales associate kindly explained the process to me which involves the process of deep freezing the chocolate and letting it readjust to a reasonably cool temperature. I tried the Kahlua and Bailey’s poached chocolate on her recommendation as it was the bestseller of the house. To be totally honest, I was attracted to the shop due to its aesthetic appearance and tried the poached chocolate purely out of curiosity. Even after the first bite, I knew immediately that I wouldn’t be able to finish it alone due to its super rich texture and heavy chocolatey flavor. No one else I was with was interested so I had regretfully to leave half of it behind. Awfully Chocolate really is awfully chocolate – I would recommend it exclusively for hardcore chocolate fans.
Walking into 313 – the newest mall on Orchard Road – we stumbled upon Honeymoon Dessert on the fourth floor just below the Food Republic. Attracted by the beautiful photo slideshow of traditional Chinese desserts with a modern twist, we decided to give the place a shot.
The number of high tea places in the Shoppes at the Marina Bay Sands seems endless. After our pleasant foray into the world of high tea in Singapore with TWG, we decided to check out High Society. Featuring plush red velvet seats and curtains, gold colored chandeliers, black and white tiled floors, a bar full of nothing but Veuve-Cliquot and Moet, the place definitely gives off a more fancy and uppity air. Despite the setting, the service isn’t snobby at all and you can really enjoy a nice cup of tea or coffee and a dessert quite comfortably.
Clearly influenced by their former British colonizers, TWG Tea, otherwise known as The Wellness Group is a Singaporean tea house primarily known for its impressive selection of teas (well over 100!) and delicious desserts. The loose leaves of the different blends are held in pots that are clearly identified by number and name and are placed on shelves that slide back to reveal more tea several rows deep.