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Make your way through the hustle and bustle of the Jean Talon market, past the Boitre aux Huitres, the colourful flower stalls and the smell of a freshly baked bread, fragrant cheeses, and the spice shop boasting mixtures from around the world. Browse the boutique specialty food shops and stop by the fruit stands to sample the carefully farmed fruits and vegetables and you won’t be disappointed.
According to the endearing blog-style website Kem CoBa has up online, the name of the restaurant means “third auntie’s ice cream” in Vietnamese. That right off the bat tells you that it’s an operation that takes family into consideration. And it shows. The cheery little shop is run by the co-owners and husband and wife duo Ngoc and Vincent who have managed to create high quality, interesting products that just keep you coming back for more
There is a distinct New York vibe about Le Cartet. With an upscale gourmet foods boutique at the front of the restaurant, diners are encouraged to check out the goodies while waiting in line during the busy weekend brunch rush or upon leaving the restaurant during regular hours. The trendy design of the place features minimalistic art, colorful ransom lettering of select menu items on the front welcome board and long communal tables where diners sit alongside one another, strangers and friends alike. The hustle and bustle of the place doesn’t take away from the quality of service at all, contrary to what you might think – we were served promptly and courteously from the moment we walked in.
Hidden between Montgomery and Embarcadero, Hillstone is part of the Houston’s restaurant family and serves New American Fare that is true to fresh ingredients and big flavors. Reservations are essential – even with one there was a slight delay before we were seated. We started with a Iceberg Wedge & Blue Cheese Salad with Campari tomatoes and warm beets along with Oak Grilled Artichokes and Spinach Artichoke dip. The grilled artichokes were charred and served with a few simple dipping sauces – simple and tasty. The Spinach artichoke dip was a perfect dish to share, cheesy and thick. I usually don’t order blue cheese because I find the cheese overpowering but the blue cheese salad was actually quite creamy and well balanced (not too strong).
For entrees we began with Hardwood Grilled Trout which is cajun seasoned trout, served with seasonal vegetables, followed by Jumbo Lump Crab Cakes with pommery mustard sauce, served with hand-cut French fries and coleslaw and finally the Flying Tuna Platter with mixed greens, avocado, mango and miso vinaigrette.
The highlight was definitely the Flying Tuna Platter (Above) which was seared perfectly. The mango and avocado complemented the tuna so perfectly that I found myself trying to get a piece of each component in every bite.
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Nakhla Shisha is by far the classiest shisha joint I’ve ever been to. Instead of the usual cramped and smoky fare I’m used to in Montreal, the decor channels a hip modern cross between Indian, Arab and Asian style. The place offers just under two dozen different flavors for shisha including green tea, jasmine, mint, watermelon and lychee – we ordered the latter two for the seven of us to share.
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.
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.
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.
swUrl is a frozen yogurt shop with a lot of character located at 1464 Crescent street. We were invited to attend a tasting of their Bacon flavored frozen yogurt and we couldn’t pass it up. Before getting in we were greeted by two brand ambassadors decked out in bacon themed attire and we were handed a pass to unlimited frozen yogurt.
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.