September 28, 2012

Sansotei Ramen

Please say "hello" to Sansotei Ramen, the newest addition to join Toronto's crave for ramen. It had a quiet opening, but it didn't take long for me to find out about it.

The place is a small and narrow with limited seating.

Anyways, on to the most important part, the RAMEN.

Both RY (author on this blog) and I got the Tonkotsu Ramen which is simmered pork bones soup until it becomes creamy served with 2 slices of pork belly, soft broiled egg, black fungus and topped with diced green onion.

Tonkotsu Ramen $9.50
The soup was very tasty and flavourful and contained no MSG because I was not thirsty after dinner. This is the best soup for ramen I had in Toronto. It was not overly salty (my tolerance for sodium is low), however, it did get a little salty after 5 spoonfuls of soup. The soft broiled egg was cooked to perfection. I felt the egg could of used a little more seasoning. The two slices of pork belly had the perfect ratio of fat and meat. It was tender and well seasoned. I enjoyed this much more than the Kinton pork belly as Kinton's version had a very prominent pig taste that I was not fond of. One suggestion is that they could of julienne the black fugus instead of just leaving them as it is. Lastly, the noodle. It was a white noodle, different that the yellow noodle served at Kinton. The noodle was okay. It wasn't soft but it's not as al dente as Kinton's noodle. Overall, it worked fine with the soup. As of now, this is my favorite ramen place in Toronto. I will be back to try the other options.

Side note: We left the place around 6:30pm and they had a sign saying "SOLD OUT, be back around 7pm" They had a full house around 5:15pm and the line up formed outside the restaurant. I did not like their line up system as they didn't even taken our names and number of people. I thought it can get quite messy if the line ups got any bigger.

***UPDATE*** November 21, 2012 - Revisited again for lunch and at 11:45 am, there was a lineup already. This was my 3rd visit and I have to say, I'm impressed. So the owners have heard our voices and now offer a choice between thin and thick noodle. Don't be fooled by the name, it's not what you are thinking. The thin noodle are the ones Sansotei previously offered with it's ramen selection. The texture is soft, little springiness. Some people, like myself, prefer a chewier noodle. As a result, Sonsotei introduced thick noodle which are more like the ones offered at Kinton and Santouka. I decided not to be adventurous and just ordered what they did best, tonkotsu ramen. This time, it was wonderful. Perfect broth paired with al dente noodles was just heaven on a chilly day like today. Thank you Sansotei~

Final Verdict: Above Par

Sansotei on Urbanspoon

September 26, 2012

Grand Electric

Have you ever dined out at a restaurant and the food was enjoyable but the rest of the service was lacking? My recent experience at Grand Electric was a train wreck from the beginning. I have no patience for bad service. No matter how good the food may be, if customers are not treated with respect, I will not dine there a second time.

I arrived at Grand Electric around 6:15p.m on a Tuesday and the place was almost packed given that they open at 6:00p.m. On top of that, there were also people standing in front of the restaurant waiting in line. At the front of the line, there were two ladies holding clipboards and I went up to them wanting to get a table but they completely ignore me and continued their conversation. It wasn’t until I opened the front door and decided to go inside and seek assistance that they stopped me and asked if I was dining alone. I told them I have a friend coming in 10min and they told me that I would have to wait outside because they do not seat parties until all guests have arrived. At this point I was a little annoyed by the fact that the staff did not attend to me immediately and the fact that I know for sure that my friend was going to be here soon and I cannot wait while I have a drink.

When my friend arrived, we were immediately seated this time. The atmosphere is vibrant and casual. The décor compose of white walls, lots of wood furnishing and menus that are only written on blackboards. The only decorations are sagging string of Christmas lights and a glowing bullhead. 

The menu is really simple, a selection of tacos, all $3.50 a piece, salmon ceviche, spicy squid, fresh guacamole, and a few other items. There’s also a huge selection of bourbons to choose from. 

One thing I must mention is the hardcore rap music blaring constantly. It was hard to order food when my server can’t hear me on several occasions. This is not a place to take someone if you want to talk to them.   

We started off with a bowl of their famous guacamole. The dish is traditionally made and the flavor is simple. The guacamole had just enough spice and was creamy and light. The key to this dish is the fresh house-made tortilla chips and generous use of limejuice. In the middle of the guacamole was a Chicharrón (fried pork rinds) dusted with chili powder. The Chicharrón was crisp and airy, it tasted similar to shrimp chip. 

Top: Spicy Arbol Chicken

The Spicy Arbol Chicken tasted mild and had a slow building spice that only hit and leave a burn on the tongue after swallowing. I usually eat very spicy dishes and even I found it to be quite hot for most people. The spice took away the savory flavor of the chicken.

Right: Baja Fish 

The Baja Fish is lightly battered and deep-fried. It was a huge piece of fish relative to the small tortilla. However it tasted like fish and chips with thousand-island sauce. 

Bottom: Pork Belly Al Pastor  

The Pork Belly is lean and meaty. Contained pineapple bits and the taste reminded me of sweet and sour pork. 

Left: Beef Cheek

The Beef Cheek taco was saucy, tender and tasted like pulled brisket but more rich. However it was a tad too sweet for my personal tastes, but less so than the pork belly with its pineapple bits.

The only thought I had after I tried all the tacos was it weren’t authentic Mexican. I personally think that this place is overrated, totally pretentious. The tacos are over-sauced and are a fusion between Mexican and Chinese. I don’t understand why so many people love it. The service of the staff is enough to make me want to never return again.
Décor - 6
Atmosphere - 6
Service - 4
Food – 6
Overall – 5.5

Grand Electric
1330 Queen Street West
Toronto, ON M6K 1L4
(416) 627-3459
Grand Electric on Urbanspoon

September 21, 2012

Upcoming Restaurant Reviews

I just want to say THANK YOU to "Less is More" for updating this blog while I patiently wait for my new computer to arrive so I can upload pictures to start food blogging again~~~ Less is More updates every Wednesday if you haven't noticed by now... and as for me? I update whenever I go to a new place. I have tried a couple new places ever since my last post and here's a teaser on upcoming resto reviews;

  • Messini - best gyro in Toronto
  • Johnny's Hamburger - old fashion charcoal burgers 
  • Shiso Tree Cafe - Japanese fusion pasta
  • Smash Kitchen and Bar - unpromising on the outside, fancy on the inside
  • Bannock - epic duck poutine pizza anyone?
For those who haven't heard the news yet, the highly anticipated Momofuku opened its door this past Wednesday, Sept 19. I will definitely visit again to have their pork buns... as for ramen... it's up in the air. 

See you in the next post =)

September 19, 2012

The Fish Store & Sandwiches

Remember back in the day, when most places sold good food? Of course, there are some places where you can still find great food. But within recent years, I’ve found myself disappointed with the food I buy. Using fresh ingredients to prepare food seems like the logical thing to do. Yet, it is hard to come by in restaurants nowadays.

In today’s modern world, time is money. The only concern for people living an on-the-go lifestyle is how fast they can get their food and consume it hassle free with the least amount of time. Therefore we have so many fast-food restaurants around the globe. People nowadays don’t seem to care about what they put in their mouth. They focus more on quantity rather than quality.

I always believe that less is more. When it comes to food, I love cuisines that celebrate simplicity. In a time where processed frozen foods are the norm, simple recipes with fresh ingredients are much appreciated.

Good food to me is all about the ingredients. They have to be fresh. With fresh ingredients you don’t have to do anything too complicated with them, just keep it simple and it will deliver beautiful fresh flavor on the palate.

The fish store is a small neighborhood fish store located in little Italy that makes a simple but delicious sandwich using fresh ingredients. Just like its name suggests, the décor of the restaurants makes me feel like I am at a food stand inside a fish market eating the catch of the day. 


Sandwiches are made from ultra-fresh fish housed in an iced-display case. The fish store offers 15 types of fresh fish sandwiches. Customers can choose from wild salmon, scallop, shrimp, halibut fillets and black cod, etc.

On my most recent visit I opted for the salmon. Three tender strips of vibrant sunset colored salmon was slathered in garlic chili pesto grilled fresh to order in only a matter of minutes. They were then wedged inside a soft Portuguese bun and garnished with tomato, romaine lettuce and red onion.

What I loved most about this sandwich was the summery citrus rush I tasted with every morsel. The hint of lemon perfectly complemented the rich meat of the salmon. The fish was extremely fresh and it was seasoned perfectly. The simplicity of the dish is simply remarkable. It is obvious that the ingredients are all fresh and served with pride.

Please note that it can take up to 10 minutes during the lunch rush to get a sandwich. But we have to learn to be patient for good food. I really appreciate the effort they put in cooking their food made to order. 

Décor - 7
Atmosphere - 8
Service - 8
Food – 8
Overall – 8

The Fish Store & Sandwiches 
657 College St. 
Toronto, ON M6G 1B7
(416) 533-2822

Fish Store on Urbanspoon

September 12, 2012

Afternoon Tea @ Royal York Hotel

Life is always on the go, fast paced and seems to never slow down. We go to bed late, get up early, but our “To-do” lists are forever growing. In our hectic world, it is easy to rush without paying much attention or taking the time to appreciate all the beautiful things in life. I feel that we should sometimes take a break from the fast track and slow down to take a breather and do a bit of repair.

Taking time to enjoy a peaceful afternoon tea may be our answer. Imagine a relaxing afternoon sitting down to pastries and tea and pampering yourself with tradition and indulgence. Imagine a time of feeling unhurried, calm and comfort. Imagine the biggest worry you have is what gossip will be shared. 

Afternoon Tea is a classic British tradition, a way to relax from a stressful day, catch up and spend time with old friends and families. On a beautiful Sunday afternoon, my family and me decided to spend the day by indulging ourselves with an afternoon tea date at the prestigious Fairmont Royal York Hotel in Toronto. The Fairmont Royal York Hotel is located across the street from Union Station in Toronto and has been a landmark ever since it was constructed. 

Afternoon Tea has been served at The Royal York since it opened in 1929. It is served on weekends only on Saturday from 12:30p.m – 4:30p.m and Sunday from 12:30p.m -5:30p.m in the Library Bar located next to the Imperial Foyer. 

The room is decorated with antique furniture and beautiful drapes. The atmosphere is traditional, cozy and romantic. 

Afternoon Tea is traditionally served on a three-layer tier with sandwiches on the bottom, scones in the middle and pastries at the top. You eat from the bottom up (savory and sweet). However, Afternoon Tea at The Royal York is a four-part affair. Once seated, you’ll choose from a selection of loose-leaf teas. They range from classics like English Breakfast Tea and Earl Grey, to more subtly flavor Asian green teas like Jasmine butterfly. However, the teas are not served in the traditional steeping fashion, but rather the loose-leaf is contained in a tea filter within mismatched flowered china. I personally think an important part of the afternoon tea experience is literally using the strainer. When steeping loose-leaf tea, the area in which the leaves will unfold is very important to achieve the optimum flavors. When water can freely and abundantly run through the leaves, it can extract all of the nutrients and presents the finest flavors and aroma it has. 

I opt for the Egyptian Chamomile. When steeped, these fragrant blossoms smell of freshly cut apples and produce a rich, golden cup with calming flavor and sweet, floral finish. However, my pot of tea looked and tasted like hot water. 

Tea: Egyptian Chamomile 

As you sip your tea, you’ll enjoy a fresh baked crumpet that is drizzled in Grand Marnier butter and a slather of honey, served with seasonal berries on the side. Crumpets are griddlecakes that have a spongy texture full of holes for absorbing melted butter and other delicious toppings. The crumpet served at The Royal York was cold. The texture was hard and dense rather than light and airy.

Our waiter was extremely friendly and very informative. Every dish he arrived with he provided a detailed description. The hotel has their own herb garden and bee apiary on its rooftop. The honey used is all made on site. Tours on the roof are available seasonally.

First Course: Crumpets with Seasonal Berries 

The finger sandwiches were served on their own plate, offering a variety of color, taste and texture when presented together. The four different kinds of sandwiches were P.E.I Lobster and Mango Salad, Nova Scotia Smoked Salmon, Smoked Turkey Breast and Champagne Goat Cheese. The only sandwich I liked from the plate was the P.E.I Lobster and Mango Salad, which was prepared delicately in tasty morsels with high flavored local produce. It was refreshing and tasty. The smoked salmon and turkey breast sandwiches were too plain, all I could taste was a normal ham sandwich and smoked salmon. I could barely taste the other ingredients. On the contrary, I disliked the Champagne Goat Cheese. The taste was unpleasant, bitter and has a rotten fruit flavor in the aftertaste. I think it was the bitterness of the champagne. Overall, a horrible pairing of champagne and goat cheese. I was the last one at the table to finish, and I only finished the Champagne Goat Cheese sandwich because it seemed like our server would not bring out the next course if I didn’t. I did not like being forced to finish all the sandwiches before they bring out the scones and pastries.

Second Course:  
1. Smoked Turkey Breast, White Cheddar Cheese, Sliced Cucumber, Bing Cherry and Niagara Ice Wine Preserve (Top Left)
2. P.E.I Lobster and Mango Salad with Tomato Carpaccio, Celery Cress, Saffron Brandy Aioli (Top Right)
3. Champagne Goat Cheese, Baby Watercress and Strawberries (Bottom Left)
4. Smoked Turkey Breast, White Cheddar Cheese, Sliced Cucumber, Bing Cherry and Niagara Iced Wine Preserve (Bottom Right)

Once you’ve finished the finger sandwiches, you’ll indulge in some house-baked cranberry scones. These scones were very dry, floury and tasted like tender biscuits. It was not buttery at all. I prefer the ones at Windsor arms more. The texture of scones I like should be brittle but somewhat moist, slightly dense but not rough, flaky but not powdery.

Third Course: House-baked cranberry scones 

Lastly, a traditional three-tier afternoon tea stand was presented with Harmony Dairies organic cream, Madeline and a variety of pastries. There was a bunch of these stands sitting on the bar table out in the open from the minute we arrived. It makes me wonder if they had been there since this morning or even longer. It was not very comforting seeing our waiter grabbing one stand and brining it over to our table. 
Clotted cream is an utter treat for those who have never tried it. It is a cross between whipped cream and butter. I just can’t get enough of it. They are one of the reasons why I love to eat scones. 

Bottom Tier: Harmony Dairies Organic Cream 

The pastries were your average pastries. The Lemon Financiers were too sugary and had an artificial lemon flavor. The Royal York Honey and Dark Chocolate Madeleines were too sweet for my taste, and the texture was very mushy.

Middle Tier: Royal York Honey and Dark Chocolate Madeleines (Left), 
Lemon Financiers (Right)

The last tier is the pastry swans filled with Chantilly cream and berry tarts. The pastry swans tasted like the cream puff you could get in a grocery store. As for the tarts, for some reason it tasted burned. I really don’t have much to say about the desserts. They reminded me of desserts served at buffets. Since they were the last course, I didn’t have to finish it.

Top Tier: Pastry Swans with Chantilly Cream and Berry Tarts

High tea is about conversation and savoring your food and tea. Do not rush through it. My family and me spend two and a half hours at the library bar Sunday Afternoon. It was a unique experience enjoying afternoon tea at the library bar with its rich history. 

Décor - 8
Atmosphere - 8
Service - 8
Food - 6
Overall - 7.5 

Price: $35/person (Exclude Tax and Gratuity) for Traditional Afternoon Tea 

Library Bar - The Fairmont Royal York
100 Front Street W
Toronto, ON M5J 1E3
(416) 368-2511

Library Bar - Fairmont Royal York on Urbanspoon

September 5, 2012

NYC Roadtrip Roundup 2012: Ramen Edition


The instant noodle bar table.
Noodle bowl wall decor.
Hirata Buns (2 pieces) $9
Steamed buns filled with your choice of pork or chicken, served with Ippudo's original spicy buns sauce
The pork bully bun was good but it wasn't anything amazing. The price tag for it was definitely pricy too, not worth it. These buns were a little spicy and the big piece lettuce was not visually appealing. 
Shiromaru Hakata Classic $14 +  Nitamago Seasoned soft boiled egg $2  
This was the best ramen I had in North America. The noodle was al dente and the soft boiled egg was seasoned perfectly with the runny yolk. <3

Final Verdict: Slightly Above Par

Ippudo on Urbanspoon


Momofuku Noodle Bar

Please remember to check the opening time as we arrived an hour too early so we strolled around the area waiting for them to open. After we sat down, people started coming in. Have to say this place was not as busy as Ippudo. We didn't see any lineup at this place while lineup was already happening at Ippudo at 11:30am. People just can't wait to have their ramen fix. 

pork – hoisin, scallion, cucumber
 The pork bun at momofuku was slightly better than Ippudo. In the end, I think pork buns are just over-rated. As an Asian, we have these all the time in Chinese restaurant, maybe just not with pork belly.
momofuku ramen – pork belly, pork shoulder, poached egg
This was a very bad bowl of ramen. I did not finished my bowl was ramen. The soup was salty and tasted like wonton noodle soup to me. The noodle was kind of eggy, didn't like that at all. Did not understand why they had to put sooooo much green onion in there either. It was just bad. And poached egg in ramen? Really? All I have to say is, if this was really how ramen is suppose to be... then I'm sorry. I don't like ramen then. Momofuku is actually going to open in Toronto (190 University Avenue, opening date has yet to be announced), I'm not sure how I feel about that... but maybe I will give it another try.

Final Verdict: Par/Sub-Par

Momofuku Noodle Bar on Urbanspoon