Showing posts with label Fine Dining. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Fine Dining. Show all posts
Celebrity chef Akira Back's first Canadian namesake restaurant is now open in the Bisha Hotel Toronto. Located inside of the luxury boutique hotel, the restaurant offers a menu of Japanese cuisine with Korean flavors and Canadian twist. We had the pleasure of attending a media preview at Akira Back Toronto last week, where we were treated to a tasting menu of some of his best dishes. 


I was looking forward to the opening of his restaurant when it was announced earlier this summer. Akira Back has a growing reputation in the hospitality industry for the creativity that he brings to his culinary creations. Back's food is inspired by his passions for adventure, travel and culinary exploration. "Each of his restaurants features inventive menus that embody his life and travel inspirations throughout the world, representing the root of his culture and his culinary background in every dish. Akira Back is one of the most exciting names in the culinary world, growing rapidly across major international". (credit: press release) 


“Toronto is a cultural epicentre with a diverse and multi­cultural food scene, which is why I always hoped to have a restaurant here,” says Chef Akira Back. “The menu will feature a number of my signature dishes along with some new ones that were inspired by my time spent in the city.” - Akira Back
Throughout his career, he has many culinary successes, including being awarded the title of “Rising Star” by Restaurant Hospitality (2008) and has had the distinct honor of hosting the prestigious James Beard House dinners (2008, 2010, 2011 and 2012, 2013 & 2014). Besides having restaurants in the USA, he has opened several overseas locations such as Akira Back Restaurants in Singapore, New Delhi and Jakarta. Earlier this November, he was awarded a one Michelin Star by the 2018 Michelin Guide Seoul for his restaurant DOSA in Seoul, South Korea.


Walking into the restaurant, I was in awe of the space as it paid homage to traditional Japanese culture with contemporary ornamentation. "Subtle nods to Japanese culture will appear through refined and intimate details which balance the central design feature, a full­-length cove ceiling showcasing a colourful custom graphic". The overall interiors contain several neutral elements with bold wooden decor, which creates an intimate yet classy environment that appeals to a wide range of diners.




The menu at Akira Back Toronto features a number of his signature dishes, along with several new ones that were inspired by his visit to Canada. The tasting menu that night consists of five courses with wine pairings that perfectly complement each specific dish.


[First Course] 

Tuna & Mushroom Pizza ($22) - truffle oil, micro shiso


[Second Course] 

Jeju Domi ($22) - orange tobiko, red sorrel, chojang

Salmon Tiradito ($21) - roasted peaches, Kizami wasabi, spinach cilantro


[Third Course] 

Eggplant Miso ($12) - sweet miso sauce


Rock Shrimp ($17) - sriracha ranch

(photo credit: @akirabacktoronto)

[Fourth Course] 

Seared Halibut - mushrooms, soy beurre blanc,

(photo credit: @akirabacktoronto)

48 Hour Wagyu Short Rib ($32) - root vegetables, quail egg, braising jus


[Dessert] 

Black & White Sesame Matcha Cake - salted agave ice cream


Yuzu Citrus - sable crumble, strawberry gelato 



“Akira Back is an extremely talented chef on the cusp of exploding internationally and we’re excited that Bisha will be his first location in Canada. After interviewing many recognized chefs over a three­year period, I felt that Akira Back’s talent and uniqueness would be the perfect match for Bisha Toronto to make it a complete hospitality experience,” says Charles Khabouth, Chairman, ICONINK. (credit: press release) 


All of the dishes were perfectly crafted to combine the various cuisines that Back is influenced and inspired by. The use of fresh ingredients definitely enhanced the flavors of the dishes, particularly the two mains (halibut and short rib). The night ended with not one... but two desserts. The elegant desserts consist of two very popular Japanese flavors; matcha and yuzu. My favorite was the black & white sesame matcha cake, which was rich in flavor and creamy in texture. I loved matcha desserts, so this definitely hit the spot for my sweet tooth! Akira Back Toronto is definitely a welcoming addition to the city of Toronto for its visionary dishes that encompasses the combination of Asian and North American cuisine. Can't wait to be back!


** Pictures by Cherie. Visit her Instagram and Blog to check out her feeds **
** Pictures of Chef Akira Back by Akira Back Toronto **

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Disclaimer: The food provided in this post was complimentary. However, all of the opinions expressed in this review are of my own.

Akira Back Toronto Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Akira Back Toronto

by on Friday, December 08, 2017
Celebrity chef  Akira Back 's first Canadian namesake restaurant is now open in the Bisha Hotel Toronto . Located inside of the luxury ...
Every Thursday until the end of the year, join Blowfish Restaurant for after work cocktails at their #ThirteenThursdays event from 5 pm to 7 pm.  Experience product launches and sampling as well as cocktail flights & featured food from a special menu.


What is #ThirteenThursdays? It's a program that was started on October 13th, 2016, and will last for 13 weeks every Thursday (hence its name). Every Thursday, guests are able to enjoy an array of cocktails and order from their snack menu. It's a great spot if you're looking for a place to unwind after a long day of work. Blowfish Restaurant is conveniently located in the bustling Financial District, and a walk away from the subway station.


A few friends and I had the pleasure of checking out Blowfish's #ThirteenThursdays, and was able to sample a couple of items. We were seated in the modern cocktail bar lounge (BarFish); a narrow space lit with bright neon lights adjacent to the dining room.


We started the evening off with their featured cocktail ($15), the Autumn Fantasia - tito's vodka, cointreau, cinnamon syrup, lime juice. The drink was a delightfully light cocktail, and a favorite among the four of us.



Battera (box sushi) - masago, salmon, tabasco, negi, sesame, and tempura bits 


Edamame - with sea salt


Mochiko Crusted Chicken - with spicy daikon ponzu


Lotus-Steamed Lobster + Shrimp Dumpling - with spicy tobanjan sauce


Spicy Rock Shrimp - tempura style shrimp tossed in a hot garlic kewpie sauce


Spicy Tuna On A Crispy Sushi Rectangle - topped with jalapeno


Crispy Crab, Shrimp, and Scallop Spring Roll - with lemon and tamari kewpie dips



Wagyu Gyoza - pan-seared dumpling stuffed with wagyu, black fungus, ginger, preserved spicy vegetables


Tempura


Blowfish Restaurant has an extensive bar menu concocted by award-winning mixologist and head bartender, Nishan Nepulangoda.





The chefs at Blowfish Restaurant have created a delightful palette of Japanese fusion dishes. I have dined here before, and I do find the prices to be quite up there in terms of fine dining. However, #ThirteenThursdays allow diners to sample some items from their menu for a fraction of the price, while enjoying some after-work cocktails.

Address: 668 King St W, Toronto, ON M5V 1M7

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Disclaimer: The food provided in this post was complimentary. However, all of the opinions expressed in this review are of my own.

In Chinatown, there is a plethora of Asian dining options to choose from. Recently, I had the opportunity to check out the newly opened 98 Aroma where they offer refined Northern Chinese cuisine. The prices are higher than some of the neighboring establishments, so I highly recommend going with a group of 3-5 people to offset the costs. This way, you can order several dishes to share, as most plates are served with generous portion sizes and are meant for sharing. 

The outside may look unassuming, but the interior was designed to replicate traditional Chinese decor with its elaborate wood ornaments, and Asian-inspired craft works. The dimly lit restaurant sets a very relaxing ambiance, and there are several private booths available along with tables.

The menu consisted of several popular Northern Chinese dishes like dumplings, scallion pancakes, and spicy seafood and beef dishes. Most of Northern Chinese dishes are characterized by its bold flavors, and dishes are served in big portions. So, you can expect both at 98 Aroma. My friend and I started off with the refreshing Summer Breeze Salad ($9.99) - a colorful mixture of sweet-potato noodles, julienne leeks, bell-peppers, red cabbage, radishes, onions, and carrots with a sweet vinaigrette


Northern Chinese cuisine is very wheat-based, so I had to order the Pan Fried Pork and Chives Dumplings ($9.99), which was very good. The crispy potstickers were filled with a generous amount of pork, and the chives gave it a nice aroma after being pan fried.  


 Next up was their signature dish, the Steamed Tilapia with Chopped Bell Chilies ($29.99) - the dish arrived in a considerable sized bowl with the bone-in tilapia slathered in a rich yet spicy sauce. The fish was juicy and flaky, and the chili-based sauce complemented it beautifully. However, there were just way too many bones, so be extra careful when eating. 


 
I enjoyed the crispy texture of the Fried Salt and Pepper Calamari ($15.99), and it was perfectly spiced. 


Out of all the dishes, my least favorite was the Signature Chicken Wings ($15.99). Pricewise, it's pretty expensive for wings, and it was lacking in flavor. The peppers were sporadically spread out to the side, so it wasn't spiced very well.


Overall, I had an enjoyable dining experience at 98 Aroma. The restaurant was bustling with customers that Friday evening, and I thought that the wait staff did a good job of handling the customer service. Since they are a new establishment, there were two new waiters on staff training around that time. They were relatively slow, but it's understandable since they're new. 98 Aroma is a welcome addition to the area as they offer a more refined take on Chinese food, and is sure to please the people in the area looking for a nice place to dine.

Address: 440 Spadina Ave, Toronto, ON M5T 2G8

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Disclaimer: The food provided in this post was complimentary. However, all of the opinions expressed in this review are of my own.


98 Aroma Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

98 Aroma

by on Saturday, November 19, 2016
In Chinatown, there is a plethora of Asian dining options to choose from. Recently, I had the opportunity to check out the newly opened 98...
 Paese Ristorante is an Italian eatery serving classic Italian cuisine on Bathurst and Wilson in North York, ON. Their extensive menu is divided into several sections such as salads, antipasto, pasta, pizza, fish & meat, and sides. Paese opened over 25 years ago, and has become a neighborhood staple when it comes to homemade Italian-inspired cuisine. Walking into the restaurant, we were quickly seated at the table with natural sunlight shining in and given water. I found the overall ambiance to be quite inviting and warm. Their main dining area downstairs does not have many tables, however, they do offer a private room upstairs to accommodate larger parties. Paese Ristorante has been in business since 1989, and is still thriving today as a result of their ever-changing menus, and warm hospitality.


The menu stays true to Paese Ristorante's philosophy of "Inspired in Italy, Made in Canada". The dishes are handcrafted and house-made using traditional techniques that are combined with distinctive and original made-in-Canada twists.

We started the evening off with complimentary Focaccia Bread - with roasted red peppers, goat cheese, and tapenade. It was a nice change from the bread and olive oil that diners usually get from other Italian restaurants.  


Next up was the Grilled Octopus ($18) - potato, grilled escarole, mint, lemon and chill, which was a great starter. The grilled octopus was beautifully charred, but still remained tender and had a nice texture to them. I also enjoyed the refreshing lightness of the citrus sauce, and the potatoes complement the octopus rather well.


My friend got the Warm Goat Cheese Salad ($14) - baby kale, grilled zucchini and sweet pepper spaghetti with farro, toasted pine nuts and mint pesto vinaigrette, as his appetizer. The lightly tossed salad was not overpowered by the dressing, so that you get the full flavor of the zucchini, sweet pepper, and toasted pine nuts. The addition of the goat cheese was exceptional with the mint pesto vinaigrette.


I could definitely eat a whole order of the Polenta Fries ($10) - crisp polenta fries with roasted garlic aioli, sundried tomato ketchup. The outer layer was golden and crisp, while the interior was creamy. Great contrast in terms of textures, and a nice twist on traditional french fries.


As my main, I opted for the Grilled Shrimp Linguini ($25) - roasted pepperoncini, garlic and tomato arrabiata sauce. The linguini was cooked al dente, so there was a bit of chewiness. One main problem that I had with the linguini was that some of the strands were stuck together. This didn't completely ruin my experience with the main dish, as the shrimp had such a nice flavor to them that I enjoyed the dish overall. 


My friend got one of the specials, which was Beef Tenderloin & Potatoes ($25) - red wine jus, which he thoroughly enjoyed.


We ended up sharing one dessert, the Mango Gelato - with a sugar-dusted pizzelle. Since it was just gelato, it wasn't a memorable dessert, but it was a good finish to a delightful dinner. 


The atmosphere at Paese Ristorante makes it a very versatile place for lunch or dinner whether it be catching up with friends, on a date, or special occasions. It was a rather busy Thursday, and despite attending to other tables, our server remained attentive to us as well. Overall, I had an enjoyable dining experience at Paese Ristorante, and it's quite a gem in the neighborhood. Paese Ristorante is open daily for lunch (11:30 am to 2:30 pm) and dinner (5:30 pm to 11:30 pm).

Social Media:

Instagram || Twitter  || Website

Disclaimer: The food provided in this post was complimentary. However, all of the opinions expressed in this review are of my own.


Paese Ristorante Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Paese Ristorante

by on Thursday, November 03, 2016
  Paese Ristorante  is an Italian eatery serving classic Italian cuisine on Bathurst and Wilson in North York, ON. Their extensive menu is ...
A couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure of attending a media tasting at JaBistro. I have been here on three occasions, and it has remained one of my favorite sushi spots in Toronto. JaBistro is a modern Japanese restaurant known for their beautifully presented sashimi platters, and blowtorched sushi. Established in November 2012, JaBistro has remained a popular choice for many when it comes to choosing a premier sushi restaurant to dine at. Additionally, the restaurant is part of the Kinka Family, who also owns other establishments in the city, including Kinton Ramen, Yakitori Kintori, and Kinka Izakaya.  



Both of my previous dinners took place during the winter time (third experience was lunch), so I was not aware that JaBistro had a rooftop patio. The patio is open every summer until it gets too cold, as they don't have any overhead heat system. JaBistro's Rooftop Patio was tastefully designed with its sleek use of wood, and string lights. It provided a more zen ambiance compared to their dining space downstairs. The patio seats 40 guests, with the possibility of using the eastern (direction) side of 20 seats for private functions.

JaBistro offers a more elevated dining experience by offering both classic and contemporary dishes that are sourced using the finest, and freshest dish from coastal waters around the world. We started off our menu tasting with the first course, a beautifully plated sashimi platter accompanied with a glass of wine. JaBistro did not disappoint me with their selection, and the sashimi platter was a great indication of the rest of the meal. The sashimi was silky, buttery, and fresh.

Course 1 - Sashimi Platter + Cava Sampling

Akami - blue fin tuna loin (Japan), Tai - sea bream (Japan), Wagyu Beef (US), and Salmon (Canada)









Course 2 - Appetizer Platter

Kanpachi Kama (fish collar), Ebi Nanban (battered tiger shrimp), Ika (calamari), and lobster miso soup


The kanpachi kama (fish collar) was a great introductory course, and we both enjoyed the fish head very much. To be honest, we didn't expect the head to contain so much meat, so it was a welcomed surprise.



The platter also came with 2 jumbo pieces of ebi nanban (battered tiger shrimp), which I quickly ate. I liked that the tartar sauce was available on the side instead of glazed on the shrimp as they were on my previous visit, as the shrimps are already sweet in flavor. You can order the ebi nanban from the bistro menu for $14, and it comes with 6 pieces.



Course 3 - Nigiri & Aburi (blowtorced)

Hamachi (yellowtail) from Japan, Chu Toro (medium fatty tuna belly) from Japan, Lobster from Halifax, Salmon Oshizushi, Saba Oshizushi (mackerel), Ebi (tiger shrimp), and JaBistroll (salmon, snow crab, uni, cucumber, tobiko).


Up next was a platter containing chef’s choice of 3 nigiri, and 4 oshizushi, including one of my favorites, the JaBistro Roll. The JaBistro Roll is a signature roll filled with salmon, snow crab, uni, cucumber, tobiko, mayo, and then lightly torched. Additionally, the uni provided a nice creamy texture to the roll, which I really enjoyed.



Oshizushi is pressed sushi, and is made by pressing sushi rice and fish into a mould to create a rectangular shape, and then lightly seared with a blowtorch. The oshizushi sushi are topped off with different toppings to give each one a distinct taste. For example, the salmon was topped off with thin slices of jalapeño, while the mackerel was topped with scallion and daikon radish. Additionally, all the aburi are already seasoned with their in-house soy sauce, and wasabi. My favorite was the salmon oshizushi, and it is one of my must-have dishes.


Course 4 - Dessert

Mousse cake with vanilla ice-cream


We ended the night off with dessert; a delectable green tea flavored mousse cake with vanilla ice-cream. The chocolate sponge cake was layered with creamy and light green tea mousse, and topped off with strawberries. This combination created a very airy cake with subtle sweetness. Perfect for those who aren't into super sweet desserts. If you like sweets, then the accompanied ice-cream should satisfied that craving.

JaBistro is a great place for business meals, dates, or special occasions. Overall, JaBistro is a great place to dine for its quality food, attentive service, and we had an enjoyable dining experience up on their rooftop patio. They are open for lunch Monday-Fri from 11:30 am to 2:30 pm, and dinner from Sun-Thurs (5 pm to 11 pm), and Fri-Sat (5 pm to 12 am).

Address: 222 Richmond St W, Toronto, ON M5V 1W4

Social Media

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jabistro222
Instagram: http://instagram.com/JaBistro222
Twitter: https://twitter.com/jabistro222
Website: http://www.jabistro.com/

Disclaimer: The food provided in this post was complimentary. However, all of the opinions expressed in this review are of my own.




JaBistro Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Dinner @ JaBistro's Rooftop Patio

by on Thursday, August 04, 2016
A couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure of attending a media tasting at  JaBistro . I have been here on three occasions, and it has remai...