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Okay, granted PaPa Jackie‘s is far. It’s the South Shore – but it’s not even at the tip. It’s deep in there, I’m talking neck deep. You probably won’t be casually stopping by because you’re in the area. You’re going to go because you’ve planned to – if excellent, affordable Chinese food is what you’re looking for then PaPa Jackie’s is where you need to go. Saturday night was particularly busy – every table was filled. Make sure to make a reservation before you go if you’re making the trip.
On our last night in Japan, we went to Matsuskagyu in Osaka. As recommended by the New York Times “36 Hours in Osaka” travel guide, this spot is ‘where the beef is’. After two weeks of meals made up of predominantly fish, we were excited to try a meat-centric meal for a change. We headed to the Fukushima location where up a flight of stairs, and through a narrow walkway we were seated in a semi-private booth with an inlaid tabletop grill. All seatings up there have half curtains that lend a sort of privacy to the diners sitting inside so that they can grill and drink more intimately.
Finally. It’s come time for us to share with you the legendary, all-encompassing, truly epic cabane a sucre au pied de cochon experience. Is there anything else like it? Probably not. After signing up a little later than we meant to for this season’s apple themed menu, we got a call from PDC two months after we were waitlisted asking if we wanted to fill in for a last minute cancelled reservation in the middle of the week.
Cuisine Szechuan serves exactly what its name advertises. There’s no dancing around it – this place serves legit Szechuan food, plain and simple. There are no frills, no added extras – just real food that stays true to its roots. There’s a mixed aura of respect and fear around the restaurant for its ability to produce delicious but mind-blowingly spicy food. I’m talking fish filets marinated in chili peppers and I’m talking cucumbers marinated in chili flakes and oil. Basically hot on hot on hot.
It’s been more than a month since we went to the Tuck Shop to celebrate. I for one, have secured an internship for the summer at an agency I really had my heart set on! Bubbling over with happiness and excitement, Alex insisted that we head out for a couple of drinks and something good to eat.
The Wok Cafe goes for a more understated name that doesn’t rely on a play on words that incites a smirk or an outright laugh. Take Wok and Roll or Wok and Run, where the puns are taken to another level. Don’t get me wrong, they’re hilarious – I chuckle every time. We’ve caught fleeting glimpses of the Wok Cafe on our way to the fish market but never looked at it long enough to realize that it is much more than just a cafe. Actually, it’s not really even a cafe at all. It’s a Chinese restaurant that serves some pretty great dishes that include your typical crowd pleasers like General Tao chicken, sweet n’ sour pork and crispy noodles but more importantly, some authentic ones – look out for the menu written in Chinese only at the last page. If you don’t know how to read the characters, just ask. I’m sure the servers would be more than willing to explain. One of these items is the fish belly, crab and squid soup we ordered to start. The texture is admittedly unique, with the fish belly and squid tasting a little more jelly-ish and rubbery that you would expect (this is good) and the soup just between thick and thin in consistency. With a spoonful of black vinegar mixed in, this soup is not quite like any other. I love this soup – it’s an old favorite that’s served at almost any Chinese restaurant and if you haven’t tried it before, I say go for it.
We had a red curry and coconut beef dish that was served along with some red and green peppers. They amount of peppers was overkill and for some reason the red ones tasted much fresher and crunchier than the green ones… There were easily at least ten slices of green peppers left on the plate when we left. Luckily, that didn’t take away from the tastiness of the protein. The eggplants were served hot sufficiently mushy – these have a strong taste and are harder to eat alone but on top of rice, they’re just right. Lastly, we had an order of Thai seafood which came with crab meat, shrimps, peppers, onions and a variety of other veggies. I noticed that all the crab meat served was artificial which I wasn’t a big fan of. Either deal with that or order dishes that don’t include the crab. All in all – definitely check this place out if you’re in the West and are at a loss of where to go out for a quick and easy dinner.
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Montreal is a city with no shortage of mid to high priced burger restaurants. Unfortunately many of them bad – and the cheap places tend to be a better bet. Perhaps the pressure of consumer expectation when paying more than $10 for a burger is just too much. Thankfully, ART:brgr (why no vowels?) actually delivers on the lofty promises of the $12 – $20 burger.
The location is on Gilford street just off the corner of St Denis and the interior decor is random but charming. Notably a pool table lies at the north side of the restaurant and a bar in its center. We stopped by on a Saturday evening and were a little curious as to why it was empty. The restaurant is larger than we expected and there were only two other groups of diners when we stopped in.
The menu consists of signature burgers, build your own burger and homemade hummus plates. I suppose the hummus plate is way of accommodating vegetarians? We ordered the Rojas Burger with lettuce, tomato, thin fried potatoes, jalapeno, cheddar cheese and a sunny side up egg with spicy home made aioli tomato sauce and the Steve McGarrett Burger with lettuce, spicy sweet chilli sauce [ house ], grilled pineapple, grilled onions and brie cheese. There are a couple of beers on tap including the usual St Ambroise as well as Carlsberg.
The Rojas Burger was straight up delicious. The patty was thick and perfectly cooked. This is where a lot of these pricier burger restos fall flat – they get so caught up adding expensive ingredients that they forget to honor the patty. The sunny side up egg has the potential to create a messy situation but instead the yolk became your friend. It seeped into the meat and added genuine flavor to the condiments.
The Steve McGarrett Burger was doing something more unconventional with the grilled pineapple and I dare say it could have been gimmicky. It was saved by a shrewd pairing of brie cheese and grilled onions. The soft cheese tones down the fruitiness of the pineapple and allows for the meat and chili sauce to come through.
Both the burgers were extremely filling and came with fries and salad. I was relieved at the portion size of the fries because a lot of burger places go overboard with it. The fries were thick and crispy – very tasty. I also like not having to choose between fries and salad but I guess that is one of the amenities of paying $13 for a burger plate.
Overall, we enjoyed our burgers and they lived up to the $13 price tag. There are some burgers on the menu that flirt with the $20 range so whether those ones are worth it we can’t say just yet. If you do end up going let us know in the comments!
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After hearing so much hype and buzz around Les Enfants Terribles, we finally made it over last week. Excited and ready to be impressed by the culinary prowess we’d heard so much about, it was unfortunate that after so much build up and positive expectations, we were let down. To start off, we made reservations for 9:30 pm only to be seated forty-five minutes later. That in itself is unacceptable. I understand that the restaurant is busy and it is a Friday night, but so are most other restaurants in the city and from my experience, this has only ever happened one other time. Don’t restaurants have a system through which they organize the amount of seating they have available, the timing of those coming and going so that there aren’t these kinds of frustrating waits? Right off the bat, it was just a bad start to the evening. Most people I’ve spoken to about their tolerance for wait time averages around 20-30 minutes, and 30 minutes is reserved for restaurants that they really, really want to go to. This made the rest of the evening difficult to enjoy despite pleasant company of my dining counterpart. Note that I’ve tried my best to judge the food impartially.
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.
Having opened its doors about two months ago, Restaurant Biarritz is a new restaurant venture headed by Stéphane Bouzaglou who has previously worked with celebrity chef Daniel Boulud (check out this post from Singapore for a review on his Bistro Moderne). The place is a cozy, tiny little thing that exudes friendliness and warmth, offering up a casual chic atmosphere to meet up with friends and family.
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.
One of my favorite spots to go to for a quick and easy lunch is the Vietnamese Hoai Huong, located a block away from the Cote-St-Catherine metro station. We sat on the terrace out front which was quite roomy and equipped with sun umbrellas so those who don’t like to endure the heat can eat in comfort. I had the “pink Vietnamese drink with coconut milk” which was exactly that- the pink color comes from the red jelly at the bottom which was chewy and a little sweet. Great chiller for summer weather.
Two hours away from Taipei (one if you drive quickly) there is a beautiful little restaurant off a back road called Wu Zhu Ju. The entranceway winds through a small garden full of bamboo shoots, a little stream and a tiny bridge. It is full of greenery and exotic flowers and it is also very quiet and zen-like. Natives that I went with truly appreciate the place for the authenticity of the Hakka style food as well as the chance to be around nature, a sort of getaway from the hustle and bustle of Taipei city.
Conveniently located in the Shida night market, this eatery is famous for its sliced noodles. Thick and chewy, these noodles are individually cut from a large piece of dough the chef holds over a wok filled with water – check out the pictures below for a good visual. Freshly made, these noodles are traditionally put in soup or fried. Definitely worth checking out if you’re in the area and don’t want street food – the prices are almost just as cheap and you get to enjoy the comfort of nice, cool air conditioning (I keep bringing this point up as a big plus because the weather in Taiwan in the summertime is extremely high both in temperature and humidity).
Serving Hunan style food, 1010 is located on the 6th floor of the swanky Eslite building. We ordered Chinese cabbage with some pork strips, orange chicken (especially delicious), ribs smothered with cumin seeds (tender, falling off the bone goodness. You get a plastic glove to eat with and a wet towel to clean up with), grilled shrimp (bite off the head and tail, eat the rest of the body, including the shell. Crunchy!), Chinese buns done two ways, steamed and fried along with condensed milk sauce. For dessert, we had the black sesame ice cream topped with tapioca balls and a bowl of chestnut soup with longan (dragon eyes) inside. Unghh, so good. Personally, I never get really excited about Chinese food simply because I have it so much at home. 1010 did a great job of serving delicious Chinese food with a few interesting surprises here and there.
Mitsui is elegant, sophisticated and chic. With slick black granite floors and tables, stylish wood/glass partitions and an understated, minimalistic decor, the restaurant is known to cater to celebrities, mobsters and famous politicians as well as the local elite. The service is impeccable here. The ratio of the wait staff to the clientele is almost one to one – that is how well taken care of each individual at the restaurant is. Or at least that’s how it feels, and that’s what counts. The minute we sat down, we got bowls of tea, wet towels to clean our hands with and additional cutlery to match what we ordered. Our bags and jackets, leaning on the backs of our seats, had black bags put over them so as to ensure nothing would get dirty.
A few steps away from the Shida night market, Mo!Relax Cafe is a stylish meeting spot that acts alternately between a cafe, a bar and a snack dispenser. The walls are plastered with all kinds of colorful posters and CDs which are actually available for sale – much of the music they play at the restaurant comes from their physical collection. If a client happens to enjoy a track and want to purchase the album, they can! On the coffee tables, there are graphic design and architecture magazines, fashion lookbooks and photography texts lying about, creating an art chic feel. There are bookshelves full of Chinese literature and manga. Exuding a cool and relaxed atmosphere, the place seems to attract young twenty-somethings of the ‘creative type’. The layout of the restaurant is unusual – in this, several spaces/nooks for people to wander into are created and as a result some areas are more secluded than others, giving the place a little bit of mystery.
A lot of the restaurants I will post in the coming future will likely be difficult for me to translate into English. Please bear with me! I’ll do my best with pictures and Google Maps to identify the places for you. The first restaurant we went to in Taipei city was a noodle shop close to my grandmother’s apartment. We ordered a beef tenderloin noodle soup and a pork turnip noodle soup. Food came out a few minutes after we ordered and tasted great too. Having gone with natives of the country, we didn’t think to give our bodies time to adjust to the local food. Either that or we got a bad batch of noodles. In this, both my brother and I had upset stomachs that evening and had to stay in bed for the entire next day. So my advice to you is to stay away from greasy/oily soups your first couple of days in.
Having just made it off of a 15 hour flight from Toronto to Hong Kong, we were tired, cranky and on the prowl for something tasty to eat. Walking around Inside the Hong Kong International Airport, we went up to the 7th floor and found a number of enticing restaurants though the majority of them were not open as it was 5 am. Lucky for us, one of the most attractive food stands was open – Ajisen Ramen. We each ordered a different ramen noodle bowl: one spicy beef bowl, one BBQ pork bowl, one garlic pork rib bowl and one vegetarian bowl. Service was fast and courteous – this was a given that we were pretty much the only ones there. If you happen to be stopping over at the HK International airport, Ajisen is a solid place to go. It is also entirely possible that we were just very hungry.
Chu Chai is one of the few Asian vegetarian restaurants in Montreal, and a good one at that. Serving a fusion of Thai and Chinese influenced food, Chu Chai has the fine dining area of the restaurant along with the terrasse sectioned off from the Chuch bistro (variation of Chu Chai) next door, which offers more of a take out sort of deal. The latter also features a bring your own wine policy.