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For those that are regular readers of the blog, you’ll know that I went to Japan in December 2012. I’ve been so busy, I haven’t yet been able to blog everything I’ve eaten there yet, so you’ll have to be patient with me. Expect a sprinkling of posts from Japan here and there for the next couple months. Here’s one I can’t wait to share: my first experience at a Michelin starred restaurant.
Montreal is a city with no shortage of culinary institutions and L’Express is one of my favorites. Established in 1980, this Parisian bistro has long been a fixture of St Denis street with its name written out on the iconic tiled terrace.
Don’t be fooled by the tinted windows or the somewhat seedy exterior (i.e. purple and red neon signs, worn in seating and carpeting). Pekin Garden serves some great Peking duck – that is in fact, their specialty. We’ve been going here for years on and off, probably once every year or two. It’s a place that will do when you’re craving straight up Chinese food and some greasy, fatty, delicious duck.
Fully decked out in Christmas lights, Chao Phraya casts a warm glow onto the snowy street outside even though the holiday season has long passed. Hurrying inside to escape the cold on a Thursday night, we were seated almost immediately in arguably the best seats of the house. We were a party of three sitting right by the front window looking out onto Laurier street.
This has been a favourite spot of mine for years. It’s close proximity to my apartment and park lafontaine, very friendly staff and unbeatable table d’hote price speak for itself. To top it all off, it’s bring your own wine and they even have a small terrace. I’ve eaten here over 20 times and never had a bad experience. This summer, the restaurant underwent major renovations and this was my first visit back.
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.
About an hour away from Taipei, the Sunrise Villa is tucked away off a back country road – to a foreigner (yeah, me), maybe a little difficult to find. Popular in its own right, people travel from all around the country to taste their authentic Hakka style food. With an enviable feng shui arrangement, the natural space around the buildings are in perfect harmony – the mountains behind the restaurant serves as a strong support, the body of water in the front promotes fluidity and the green space in the middle of the lot for new life.
Not too far away from the SoGo department store in the Zhongxiao Dunhua district is the unique VVG Bon Bon (13, Lane 161, Dunhua S Rd Sec 1, Taipei 台北市敦化南路一段161巷13號). One of the most interesting places I have been to in Taiwan so far, this spot is great for a leisurely afternoon lunch or for high tea. The decoration inside, the general vibe and the clientele (from what I saw today) here is almost too cute for words. Housing an eclectic collection of items (silver glitter antler horns, a smiling child sized giraffe, several foot tall wooden nutcrackers, plastic cakes etc.) that would otherwise seem tacky or overdone on their own, VVG Bon Bon finds a way to make the pieces work together to create a fun atmosphere.
Ethan Wills and Marc Cohen, owners of the Sparrow (check this out if you don’t know about Sparrow already) opened Lawrence relatively recently and have managed to create an admirable online presence. Generating online buzz both in Montreal and abroad, their menu that changes daily/weekly depending on what the freshest ingredients at the market are. This enables the chefs to explore their creative culinary talent as well as to play with the menu options so that customers that go often are never bored – check out their Twitter account (@lawrencefood) for live updates of what’s to be served. This was my second time here – I love the atmosphere and the staff who work there. Everyone is extremely friendly and knowledgeable about the food, the way it is prepared and are able to suggest dishes that would most likely please the customer’s palate given some basic information.
Every summer since 2008, St. Catherine has been closed off from Amherst to Papineau to create a car-free zone. Encouraging pedestrian foot traffic and the emergence of a multitude of terrasses, the Gay Village is known for its vibrant community and colorful events. Steak Frites, being located at the center of all the commotion is appropriately equipped to handle almost any size of a crowd, with a private party room to boot. Elegantly decorated and dimly lit, the ambiance is cool yet inviting. Despite arriving ten minutes after our reservation time, we were asked to wait another twenty five minutes. Otherwise, the service was great – the servers were courteous and attentive.The specialty is steak, so it only make sense that the menu is composed primarily of it. Every main comes with a house salad, green beans and all-you-can-eat fries. We ordered the chevre-chaud, St. Paul, the duck confit (which was exceptionally tender), salmon, the steak frites in 7 oz. as well as the 9 oz.