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Everything posted by Renka

  1. Looks like the first posted review is up (that I'm aware of): http://www.nowtoronto.com/issues/2006-09-2...foodfeature.php It appears it's time to head out there to try this newly found gem. (I do hope it's wonderful, since my trips to Japan I've been longing for more kaiseki experiences.)
  2. I just meant the cherry should look like Pierre Herme's, not the cake. ← Swisskaese: Yup, I got that from your post. I just took the mention of PH a little further just because I like the polished look of his cakes. (Besides, I like the concept of the layered/structured, multi-component pastry). I might also get boo-ed because my suggestion is not a cake for those seeking the rustic look.
  3. I have a thing with Pierre Hermé cakes (i.e. attempting to make them with the assistance of my beloved La Patisserie de PH or the Desserts By PH books). There's something so satisfying about making a BIG cake from those recipes and the slices/cross sections that come out of them when you serve it. In addition to the crazy brainstorming discussion Ling and I had re: the now passé tart recipe idea (so pleased that it did come up a little earlier, re: tart crust, cake base and some sort of mousse/flan layer mention – very PH), I just wanted to throw in my two cents on this topic that is subject to suggestions regarding its feasibility. I'd revamp the PUDC into some sort of charlotte, layered from bottom to top: a genoese cake base (maybe brushed with some rum/brandy), pineapple flavoured mousse, a middle layer of caramelize pineapple chunks (chutney like, with brown sugar, and all the other good goop), another thin layer of cake, more mousse, a few very thin slices of bruleed pineapple slices (and if you must, a half maraschino cherry in the hole of each ring), topped with a layer of cherry "flavoured" jelly (transparent and tinted pink). This would be wrapped by gioconda cake. I'd serve this with a side of warm brandied cherries (syrup and all). Of course this is all in my head, whether it would work, LOL, that's another story. All I know is that the cross section should look nice given the layers.
  4. Depending on what you feel like and where you're willing to travel to, I can really only provide you with the downtown recs, just because that's within my realm of knowledge (and physical travel distance). People who enjoy finer dining would tend to suggest Lai Wah Heen, and although lovely, it's almost a cop out. Safer bets are always King's Garden or Golden Leaf, however New Sky is very tastey. If you don't mind the decor, Xam Yu (the stir-fried lobster with chili and garlic aka "Fung tong long ha" in Cantonese is mega delicious) for seafood. Although there are always line ups, Lee Gardens has some very nice dishes, but with the new Westernized plating (what's with the Spring Rolls attempt of Susur styling and decrease of portion size?) and increased costs, I'm a little hesitant to suggest that place as the one and only restaurant to try. I do enjoy theire Grandfather smoked chicken and the Schezuan fried chicken dish (whatever it's called, I just know it's spicy nuggest of lightly battered and fried chicken bathed in a scrummy chili sauce). On the side, if you were looking for a Northern Chinese experience, dishes such as Xiao long baos can be found at Asian Legends, however there's debate regarding the best ones (look for the other thread) where you might need to travel a little away from the DT core. Anyway, these are my picks if you stay within downtown. I'm curious if there are other places that will be recommended that I have yet to try (or in need to try again).
  5. Renka

    Stinky Tofu

    On my trip to China I had my first real experience of the stinky tofu vs the fried tofu cubes I've had before. I'd like to pride myself for being open to all foods and to try everything at least once, however ensuring that whatever I eat won't pose a possible health concern later on. I don't want to have food poisoning or possibly catch SARS. So we were brought to this place near Hangzhou that was supposed to have really good stinky tofu by our Chinese tour guide. I was excited as I watched my order being freshly deep fried and when a lovely chili soy sauce was being drizzled over the blocks. They were fair sized chunks, at least a good two bites large. The outside was slightly crispy and the sauce imparted a bit of a chili kick… the custardy innards were insanely hot but practically melted in the mouth (think like foie or a smooth flan), and I didn’t really sense any disgusting flavour. It was only when I swallowed the tofu did this rotting taste/smell/sensation of smelly socks (or what I would imagine rotting smelly socks would smell like) rise up and cling to the back of my throat and down my esophagus. I couldn't get the smell/taste out of me! I downed a lot of fluids and tried to eat other snacks to wash the flavour away. It was seriously pungent. I have to admit the texture was quite pleasant, but the lingering taste… I've been there and done that once and it's quite enough. Age tofu for me from now on please.
  6. I second the suggestions for Splendido or Scaramouche, Chiado's if you're looking for a crazy selection of wines available. Happy dining and hope you have a lovely time at the wedding. (Oakville is such a quaint place to host a wedding - was there for on in July )
  7. Wow, that was quick! Do you know where he's at now? The last I heard he was still working on perfecting the menu at Le Sélect as there were some issues there... but he's moved on already? How curious.
  8. Yap, I know Thuet is gone to open his own restaurant Thuet (beside susur). But I didn't know Challet has left. Where is he now? ← Challet is now maning the stoves at Le Sélect (new location on Wellington Street West).
  9. Just a quick update/FYI, The Fifth has changed quite a bit in the last year... so it might not be the same dining experience as before i.e. Thuet is long gone, Challet has left, and I believe it's call The Fifth Restaurant and Social Club now with a simplified menu that concentrates on the grill.
  10. Or so say a very select number of people, eh?
  11. To further jenc's suggestions (heading from East to West, with a lot of North and South tangents): I would head to Thuet for their savory and almond croissants. They are super flakey and are made with real butter! (I remember asking their baker once about their products, and he emphasized that). I think their polaine is lovely (but see if you can get a half loaf if you can't consume the whole thing. It's better than going to get the real Polaine shipped from Paris, and you can really taste the fermented grapes while savoring the fine crumb of this bakery giant). I also enjoy their roasted garlic sourdough and German pretzel. You could stop by for brunch there on a Sun as well (however it's only decent IMHO, and the one wait staff that served me was snooty. I don't know why, I ordered 3 entrees and their bread basket (a must order) for 2 people (yes I ate 2 entrees. It's brunch! And waffles don't count... except as a dessert. Maybe it's because I look young or the fact that I did order a bunch of things, but they weren't hard to finish. It was that big of a portion (and it is brunch, you know, two meals in one). Did I mention I love carbs?). South on Wellington is Senses that has some nice pastries. You can have your selections plated there or boxed to go. Head a little north to Alchemy Baking in Kensington Market for their Apple Walnut bread and some gourmet shortbreads. His jalapeno blue cornbread is nice too. (I believe he used to be the bread baker for Senses.) A little further north on Harbord is Dessert Trends Bistro you can find some lovely pastry and desserts there as well! BTW, many items from Dessert Trends, Claffouti, Dessert Lady, Wanda Pie in the Sky, Rahier, ACE Bakery (pick up the super delicious Mediterranean fig almond boule), Fred's Bread, Harbord Bakery (pick up the challah, or raisin cinnamon bread (with streusel!!) or even Splendido's breads (available Thursday-Saturday) can be all found at Pusateri's. You can make that your one stop shop without having to travel all over the city for certain pastries and breads. Granted they may not have EVERYTHING, but it's close enough for the sake of convenience. Staying around the area you can also hit the downtown location of Pusateri's and/or Pangaea for desserts from the much acclaimed Joanne Yolles (i.e. banana coconut cream tart). And as funny as it sounds, I love the cranberry walnut bread and the Seeduction bread from Whole Foods. But I'm sure you can get those in NY whenever you want. If you go north again to St. Claire Ave to Pain Perdu (736 St. Clair Ave. West) you'll get to my favorite place in TO for baguettes! This is a must go (especially early in the morning), um, i.e. 7-8am. If you're going early, I'd also head north east to Manor Rd and go to La Bamboche for Japanese style French pastries (i.e. mont blanc, le paquet, croissants). Oishii! And although gelato is not a bread nor pastry, you could hit Hollywood Gelato (1640 Bayview Avenue) for delicious gelati. Then you could roam around the area for Rahier, Le Comptoir de Celestin, etc. Enjoy eating in TO. I'm not sure how you might find the carb items here compared to your city. I know I got quite excited when I was down in San Fran/Napa Valley earlier with all the varieties I sampled there (breads and food). And don't get me started about how I was in carb heaven when I was in Japan, the land of delicious wheaty goodness.
  12. Terra Breads has a white Chocolate/Blueberry foccacia. They also have a Biscoiti with some Chocolate but no Chocolate Bread of any kind ← Yeah, it's a white chocolate blueberry foccacia, and it's pretty nice. Not too sweet. However it's the size of a danish. (I personally enjoy their dried fruit and pecan loaf more!)
  13. Are you looking for a bread with just chunks of chocolate in it? Have you looked at Whole Foods? I know the one here in Toronto has one that's chocked full of chocolate and dried cherries.
  14. <snip> Canoe is a good shot. Note, as Toronto is not the "east coast" I think that you might be looking for something that does not exist. <snip> I think if you are looking for the Lumiere type dinner go to Susur (Perigee based on advice of others since I have not been) but neither are my cup of tea since lately my fix for the same has been satisfied through my trips to Per Se (and no place it Canada that I have been to has matched yet - I have not been to Stadtlander's Eigensinn yet so who knows). Most places are much more spread out in Toronto and I think you may have to take a cab or two while here since I would not advise relying on your feet as this is probably to restrictive to get what you are looking for. Check out Ema-Tei to compare as this places is as good, if not better, than comperable Japanese places in Vancouver. ← Just to add on, I think Canoe is a good bet too, but if you were choosing between Canoe and Spendido, go with the later (IMHO). Another choice seafood in TO is the much tooted Chiado's (but outside your 1km hotel radius). It's a nice place for fresh fish (the skate - wonderful) and one of the better places, but that's if you want fish outside of Van... I've not been to Per Se, but I have been to both The French Laundry and as well Eigensinn Farm within the past year. Both are an experience (The French Laundry was a lovely dining experience, and the service, exceptional. Eigensinn Farms is more rustic with the dishes served, and hence has a diff feel and felt like one was eating very well (and it was) in someone's home). Whether Toronto has something on par with Lumiere with the whole fusion-esque sort of thing, you'll have to decide for yourself. I've been to Susur (also recently - so at least these comparisons are more up to date), and um... it's not Lumiere. If you want the fusion thing, however I haven't been there recently, Boba on Avenue Rd (north of where you'll be staying) is also nice for a Asian-Mediterranean type fusion. For a Latin fusion spin: Bloom (found on Bloor. You can reach it via subway). The ice cream/sorbet desserts there are interesting. If you want to have what I consider as top notch around downtown, just look above (for sure Scaramouche). As you know, in both cities there is much hype over certain restaurants, and with so many choices (and a limited dining time), you'll really have to decide how you'd like to attack them all. I'm really interested in what you'll choose and what you'd think of them all in the end.
  15. adelaide, You're from Vancouver? Excellent, now I have a reference. What places do you like and not like in Van? Is there a particular style of cuisine you're into or have set your heart to try out? Finer cuisine: Like I recommended before, if you like Vij's go to Debu Saha's Biryani House. But Vij's is so much more yummy. If you want sushi, go to Omi (it's really great. I prefer Omi's omakase vs Hiro's (ironically Omi is in Hiro's old space). I find Chef Lee's creations quite "original" and tasty and would choose to return there repeatedly vs i.e. Tojo's), but seriously, price point and freshness value, Vancouver's where I'd go to stuff myself with good fish. And I loved the seafood tower at Blue Water... and have yet to see anything remotely like that here. If you want something to compare to West, try Splendido (I like it better). Scaramouche is wonderful for French, and very unlike Lumiere (of which I wouldn't compare Feenie's work to any particular chef here in TO). You might like Perigee or George, if you want to taste a variety of dishes/options like the latter. I love Kirin on Cambie for their dim sum (Sun Sui Wah is alright), of that calibre but a little fancier would be Lai Wah Heen in TO (or even Golden Leaf or King's Garden). However I always get my dim sum fix (for a reasonable price) in Vancouver. There's nothing like Guu (with Garlic), Hapa, etc. here. Don't let the term Izakaya fool you. Korean food wise, if you go to Korean Town on Bloor past Bathurst, you can get quite a variety with my favourite restaurant being Korean Village, the walnut cakes are great for a snack as you're jetting to your next eating destination at the Walnut Cake shop (which are very unlike the egg waffles at, i.e Tim's in Aberdeen, but filled with red bean paste, etc), and a few cheap eats places around there are great too (if you want further info, let me know, I can't recall their names - Korean - which I'm not, but I can describe where they are). In speaking with the eGulleter Ling (from Vancouver), we've agree that the bread department in Van seem to be a little on the lacking side, but if you're into carbs, I'll give you my run down of where to go in TO. If you do try these places out, I'd love to hear what your opinions are of them (vs the same or other Vancouver restaurants you've been to). It helps me decide where to go on my (bi-, tri-, etc) yearly return to my hometown (Van).
  16. I've been a long time subscriber to this area (welcome hotel neighbour). If you're going to have Japanese go to Omi. It's on Church St. south of Wellesley (Sutton is on Bay & Wellesley). The chef is very good, and go omekase. Sushi Kaji is way too far, esp. since it's not within any 3 hour walking distance. Estimated walking time, probably 15 min. If you want homestyle Japanese, go to Tokyo Grill (cheap and oh SO good) at Wellesley and Yonge (just on the other side of the block from the hotel). Estimated walking time, about 3 min. If you're too lazy to go to all the bakeries, etc for good pastries or nicer cakes/tarts, and breads (!), head to Pusateri's at Bay and Yorkville. You can also pick up some gourmet prepared foods there too. Estimated walking time, about 10 min. If you travel a little to the west of that, you'll hit MB&Co (for more gourmet sandwich eats). If you go a little north of that on Avenue Rd, you'll get Whole Foods... and all the organic offerings. Go quite a bit further... and you'll hit Scaramouche (absolutely wonderful, esp if you have an expense account). Splendido would be very nice for a lovely meal, it's on Harbord, and just on the other side of the university campus (the hotel flanks the eastern boarder of the UofT campus). Estimated walk time 20 min. Nice indian food (not quite Vij's in Van, but still very good), Debu Saha's Biryani House is found at Wellesley and Yonge. Estimated walk time 5 min. If you want cheap eats, ha ha, Yummy BBQ (Korean BBQ) is south of Wellesley on Yonge. Estimated walk time 8 min. Are you willing to travel on subway (by a couple stops)? Or take a taxi (for just a little bit)? Enjoy your time in TO.
  17. Renka

    Xiao Long Bao

    Really?? I haven't seen them down in Chinatown for the longest while! Maybe that's why I have a craving for them. When you can't have things anymore, that's when you want them the most! The only thing I've seen there that resembles the "car-tire" bread are really pale cousins. I guess the bakeries they're at are uptown. Boo to that! Thanks for the help anyway, maybe I'll just have to wait until I head back west to satisfy this craving.
  18. Renka

    Xiao Long Bao

    T&T's buns are okay, but not stupendous; like their sushi. My wife, sons, and I usually go to the Promenade one on Saturdays (my son loves the samples, even the sea cucumber). I really like the bakery in the chinese plaza on the NE corner of Leslie and Finch. Great prices and very fresh. They don't do steamed buns though, so no Dai bao. My wife loves the cream filled ones whereas I prefer the savoury types like char chiu bao and guy bao. My eldest son (3) loves hot dog buns and the egg from the egg buns. Mark ← Hi all, I'm rather a bread crazed "snob." Ha ha. I like plain "pai bao" or "chan bao," personally. The ones with fillings, only if a craving sets in. Sometimes, I go crazy for freshly baked "bo loh bao" (aka pineapple topped ones, without actual pineapples or filling). I find the T&T breads here soppy, and very oily (vs. i.e. in Vancouver). They're also less airy and fluffy. The sponge is lacking or dry. I think I've tried the Metro Square one a while back... it's ok. I can't remember. If you do go Endy', let me know how you find it and if you do see the "cheh leun bao" - I think its name is reminiscent of i.e. cart wheels as it's circular. I like more toasty crusts, vs a roll with raisins in it, that I've seen at the "newer" bakeries. Happy eating! Hope to hear a report soon!
  19. Renka

    Xiao Long Bao

    Oh wow, "Dai Bao" - it's been a while since I've had one (a good one, that is). If we're on the subject of cravings to be fulfilled, I've been looking for a bakery that carries "che lun bao" (aka the long ridged cylindrical bread with raisins; yummy crust to innards ration). Neither Kim Moon nor the Vietnamese bakery next to it carry it. I know it's more old style as I haven't been found it in any of the more new style bakeries that have a million and one combinations of bread and fillings (I don't particularly like the spongier less toasted exterior of larger raisin roll like bread the the Taiwanese bakery Cheung King (sp?) although they've got decent other stuff).
  20. Renka

    Xiao Long Bao

    I don't doubt that. I think in the preparation of XLB you're supposed to put in small cubes of aspic. I don't know about the use of frozen soup cubes but I suppose it would be less labour intensive...
  21. IMO (and only limited to the downtown area), my preference for dim sum is as follows: high end (@ $4-8/dish): Lai Wah Heen - not to be missed, the baked mini puff pastry turnover with cured ham, shrimp and pork mid ranged (@$2.50-5/dish): Golden Leaf Chinese Cuisine &/OR King's Garden Chinese Cuisine affordable pricing (@$2-3/dish): Rol San Please, for the sake of your stomach (unless you want to be amused by push carts), don't bother with Bright Pearl. I appologise to all others who think otherwise, but it's terrible. If you were to venture out for the BEST dim sum, IMO, I would say in Hong Kong: Yat Tung Heen or closer, Vancouver: Kirin (on Cambie).
  22. Renka

    Xiao Long Bao

    In the limited selection of restaurants that offer good XLB in Toronto, I also put in my vote for Asian Legends (the one in Chinatown, on Dundas, is ok; the one by Sheppard is better) and Ding Tai Fung - although I haven't been to the latter for a while and I've heard that they're not as good as they first were. I have to say, nothing compares to the XLB that I had in Shanghai... but I digress. Do you prefer the traditional all pork filling, or ones with the pork and crab (crab meat and crab roe)? The crab and pork combo, if done well, is SO GOOD!
  23. Oh please... Only 2 more months 'til we get to show you around! ← Don't get me going on how excite my tastebuds are. Have a fantastic evening tonight!
  24. Ahh!!! Can you make anyone more jealous?? Ha ha. This, the little AB exposure, all the dining, shoulder rubbing with the chefs and being in the midst of it all, I don't know how I'll keep up with you! I should just seclude myself and live vicariously through you (and your stomach).
  25. Wow, I'm in awe... heyjude has a crazy amount of cookbooks! That's probably more than any known library out there. Can I be correct in that assumption? More importantly does Judy mainly collect and lend out the cookbooks, or have any of them been used/flipped through? Henry, you went to an ice cream social with Emily Lucchetti?? Did she preview stuff from her new ice cream book?? Jealousy!!
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