Showing posts with label Now Closed. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Now Closed. Show all posts

Fresh East is a new fast-casual sandwich shop from the growing Paramount Fine Foods chain. This is their third locations in Ontario, as there is one in London, and another at Erin Mills Town Centre in Mississauga. Their third branch is conveniently located on Yonge/Dundas; a busy district near the Eaton's Center, and Cineplex. Fresh East offers casual Middle Eastern inspired food at relatively affordable prices, and perfect for those on student budgets (as it's also near Ryerson). Like all of the Paramount chain restaurants, Fresh East caters to serving only halal-certified food. Halal is meat (excluding pork) that has been prepared according to Islamic guidelines. Although, they are a halal-certified restaurant, many of their menu items also cater to health-conscious diners as well.

Fresh East has positioned themselves as a quick-serve restaurant, and does not offer full-table service. Rather, they are more focused on providing high quality, and freshly prepared food. The halal sandwich shop simply occupies a small storefront where they only do take-out orders. Essentially, customers get a taste of the aromatic flavour of the Middle East with a mixture of Western influence (with the sauce, and toppings). It is here where customers are able to customize freshly baked sub or shawarma to their liking using only the freshest ingredients and toppings. All of their items are clearly displayed on the menu screen on the wall, and the toppings are openly display at the counter top area. Their menu items range from pitas, submarines, sandwich in a bowl, soup, salads, and breakfast. 

Similar to several submarine sandwich chains, customers can choose from either a 6 inch or foot long (12 inch) sub. They also have the option to change it to a wrap, or shawarma. The concept entails the customers having the ability to customize their sandwiches to their liking - from choosing the bread type, toppings, and sauces. I opted to try one of their submarine sandwiches, which are made with daily fresh-baked bread, and halal deli-fresh meat. The 6 inch sub starts at $4.29 on top of which you can add additional toppings. After going through the menu, I opted for the 12 inch turkey submarine ($7.89); an offering from their FreshEast Delight menu. For an additional $2.49, I made it a meal by adding a fountain drink with a bag of chips. The deli roast turkey style slices was good, and I liked that it wasn't loaded with sodium. Now, I didn't go crazy with my selection of toppings, and instead chose the bare minimum. However, I must say that the options available for the toppings, and sauces were pretty good in terms of variety. There are many ways that one can customize their sub and shawarma here. Overall, it was a solid submarine sandwich with a good amount of turkey slices, and filling.

J got the 12 inch roast beef ($7.29) as his choice of submarine sandwich, and also made it a meal for an additional $2.49. The amount of roast beef that they give you in the sub was abundant, and the sub itself was rather filling. The only thing that I wished that was done differently was that we weren't asked if we wanted the buns to be toasted, so it was left untoasted. That was a minor issue for us though, as we headed home, and re-heated the buns. Overall, I'd say that Fresh East is a great spot to grab a quick meal, as they offer a healthier alternative to the array of fast-food options in the area. 

Address: 334 Yonge St, Toronto ON, M5B 1R8

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

Fresh East Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Fresh East (Now Closed)

by on Monday, November 09, 2015
Fresh East is a new fast-casual sandwich shop from the growing Paramount Fine Foods chain. This is their third locations in Ontario, as...
Aka Teppan is a take on popular Hong Kong chain, Pepper Lunch, where meat dishes are cooked on tabletop hot plates. I went to the newly opened location on Bloor St W to meet up with some friends for lunch. Aka Teppan is currently running some lunch specials (ends September 15), where dishes range from $7.99 to $10.49. My friends, and I were the first customers during the lunch hour on a warm Saturday afternoon. However, service started picking up once we were in the middle of our lunch, and more people arrived. The overall ambiance was clean, minimalist, and bright with wooden tables.  

Since pictures of this particular dish has flooded my Instagram feed, I opted for the Supreme Beef Teppanyaki Rice ($7.99). It arrived in a personal-sized teppan that was steaming hot at 300°F, and came with raw beef, corn, green onions, sauce, and steamed white rice. All you have to do is mix everything together, and cook the beef to your liking. The heat from the teppan will thoroughly cook the raw meat, and ingredients. Our server asked if we wanted him to mix our teppanyaki rice for us, which we appreciated. I thought that the sauce mixture blended quite well with all of the ingredients including the black pepper, and the beef slices were tender enough. I also added an extra raw egg (+$1) to the mix, and it added a nice texture to the rice.

I have read several reviews that have mentioned the poor service up at the Markham location, as they are often quite busy. However, I thought that the service at the downtown location was attentive, and good. I liked that our server mixed our dishes for us, and quickly took our dishes away when we finished our lunch. My friends, and I were able to continue our conversation after our meal, and never once felt rushed. Overall, Aka Teppan was a pretty solid option for a quick lunch, and I would definitely return.

Address: 394 Bloor St W, Toronto, ON M5S 1X4

Aka Teppan Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Aka Teppan (Now Closed)

by on Wednesday, September 09, 2015
Aka Teppan is a take on popular Hong Kong chain, Pepper Lunch, where meat dishes are cooked on tabletop hot plates. I went to the newly ope...
I received a complimentary gift voucher for Murgatroid from Zomato, and made my way to Cabbagetown on Parliament a couple of weeks ago. Murgatroid is a casual bistro offering locally-sourced breakfasts, brunches, and lunches. The restaurant specializes in making all of their dishes from scratch, and all their ingredients are locally sourced in Toronto. Their chicken for example are locally sourced from St Andrew Poultry in Kensington Market, and their bread are from Blackbird Baking Co. For those who have stricter dietary restrictions, Murgatroid's menu also offers vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options.


Looking through their menu, what caught my eye was their Murgatroid Sandwich ($9.30) - roast chicken, crispy chicken skin, Ontario gouda-style goat cheese, sprouts, mayo, fermented pepper relish. Overall, I thought that the sandwich was quite good in size, and there was a generous portion of roast chicken. In particular, I really liked the addition of the crispy chicken skin slices, as it adds a nice texture to the overall sandwich. The only downside was that it came with a side of only five pieces of canoe potatoes, which wasn't a lot to me. Murgatroid was a good place for a quick lunch if you're in the Cabbagetown area. They also sell frozen take-home dinners for reasonable prices for those who don't have the time to cook dinner.


Click to add a blog post for Murgatroid on Zomato

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

Murgatroid (Now Closed)

by on Tuesday, September 01, 2015
I received a complimentary gift voucher for Murgatroid from Zomato, and made my way to Cabbagetown on Parliament a couple of weeks ago. Mu...
Black Ox Bistro is a restaurant in Scarborough offering modern halal cuisine with an elevated flair. The restaurant caters to serving halal-certified meat that are from HMA (Halal Monitoring Association) certified sources. It's not a requirement for me to eat halal, but I was invited a couple of weeks ago to check out what Black Ox Bistro had to offer. I found out that they do not only offer halal items, but there were veterinarian and gluten-free options as well. Black Ox Bistro opened to much interest in the Muslim community this past January. Given the long lines at the Toronto’s Halal Food Festival 2015, one could tell the restaurant has gained popularity for their take on mainstream style dining.  However, the food isn't just for those who require their meat to be halal-certified, as it's certainly for everyone who loves good food. 

Upon entering the establishment, it was clear that the management of Black Ox Bistro wanted to create a more upscale and relaxed environment. The dining room was spacious with a bar located at the front of the house where they make in-house mocktails. The reason for the sale of mocktails is because alcohol is not permitted in hahal establishments. 

I started the night off with an order of their most popular mocktails, the Pina Colada ($6) - pineapple juice, coconut cream, and crushed ice. It was a very refreshing drink with a strong hint of coconut, which I enjoyed.

 I was told by one of the servers that the flat bread was one of the most popular appetizers on the menu. However, I decided to opt for the bacon wrapped scallops after seeing pictures of it on my Instagram feed earlier that week. The bacon wrapped scallops ($14) - four pan seared east-coast sea scallops, smoked veal bacon, arugula and mushroom salad, were absolutely delicious, and flavored really well. Normally, I am not a huge bacon fan, but I really liked that the texture of the veal bacon was slightly less crispy than pork bacon.

As for my entree, I got the filet mignon (6 oz) ($24) - the most tender and leanest of all steaks. All steaks are of the highest quality, and are never frozen. The steaks are Canadian Angus beef that are aged for 28 day, and HMA certified hahal. Each steak entree was served with the customer's choice of two sides from the following list; seasonal vegetables, house cut fries, or roasted garlic mash. I opted for the seasonal vegetables, and roasted garlic mash. I also added an extra order of lobster tail with lemon herb butter ($12) to make it into my own version of surf & turf. The juicy steak was cooked exactly to my order, which was medium. The sauce that I selected was the Café de Paris butter. A good Café de Paris butter needs to have the perfect balance of butter, and the fragrant herbs and spices used. The texture of the one from Black Ox Bistro was slightly thicker than I would have liked, but it did add flavor to the steak. The lobster tail also added the extra touch to what was a very tasty and filling meal.

Black Ox Bistro prides themselves on serving a variety of items that are made in-house from fresh local ingredients. Similarly to their food items, the desserts were all made in-house by their chefs. I was happy to see that one of the options was crème brûlée; my favorite dessert of all time. I ordered the crème brûlée ($7) - silky and smooth topped with caramelized sugar, which was well plated. Overall, the dessert was indeed excellent, and it was a generous portion compared to the ones at similarly priced restaurants.

I was pleasantly surprised that all of the staff provided both friendly, and attentive service to all diners. They all worked cohesively as a well-unified team, and that resulted in providing great and consistent service. Overall, I had a fine dining experience at Black Ox Bistro, as I enjoyed both the food and ambiance. 

Address: 1780 Markham Road, Scarborough, ON,M1B 2W2
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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.

Click to add a blog post for Black Ox Bistro on Zomato

Black Ox Bistro (Now Closed)

by on Friday, June 26, 2015
Black Ox Bistro is a restaurant in Scarborough offering modern halal cuisine with an elevated flair. The restaurant caters to serving hala...
 Chung Gi Wa is a hidden gem located in Mississauga at the corner of Haines Rd & Dundas St East. The restaurant itself is pretty tucked away, as we only found the restaurant randomly while driving to Popeyes one night. We walked in and was greeted by a very cheerful server, and quickly seated in one of the available booths. Chung Gi Wa serves both Japanese and Korean dishes.

Similarly to all Korean restaurants, we were served several dishes of complimentary bachan which were refillable. The bachan that were available were kimchi, bean sprouts, radish with carrots, and glass noodles. 

On my first visit, I opted for the Kam Ja Tang ($7.99) - pork bone soup with potato and vegetables in hot broth served with rice. First off, I'd have to say that the pork bone soup was priced well (at least according to Mississauga standards) for what you get. The order arrived in a hot bowl with three large pieces of pork bone and potatoes. The dish was flavorful, and perfectly spiced for my liking.

Soon Tofu ($8.99) - soft tofu soup (pork) served with rice.

The two of us enjoyed the Salmon Maki ($4.99) that we got another order after finishing up the first one. There was a generous portion of fish and the right amount of rice making it quite tasty.

Sashimi Tempura Bento - sashimi (9 pcs), shrimp (3 pcs) with vegetables tempura, California roll (6 pcs), rice, miso, and green salad ($17.99).

On my second visit, I decided to try out one of the Japanese dishes on the menu. I opted for the Teriyaki Dinner - broiled beef teriyaki, rice, miso, and green salad ($15.99). The price was relatively comparable to downtown pricing (maybe $1 more), but overall it wasn't too expensive. I enjoyed the thinly sliced and tender beef, and there was a generous portion of beef. 

On both occasions, we had the same cheerful server who was friendly, and attentive. She came into the booth from time to time to check up on us, without being super intrusive.

Chung Gi Wa Japanese & Korean Restaurant on Urbanspoon
I have been to The Happy Hooker a few times now as it's literally a 5 minute walk from J's house. As I have mentioned before in a previous blog post; the place has an outdoorsy feel with its wooden panels, paintings, random items like a Pacman machine, and even a washroom marked "outhouse".

I was invited to a media tasting in late October at The Happy Hooker to preview some of their new menu items. Chef Bethany McBride now heads the kitchen of The Happy Hooker and is originally from the South. She has incorporated and brought a lot of southern influence from back home to the seafood-centric establishment.

To start off the menu tasting, we had the Southern comfort chowder. I am not a huge fan of chowder, but I absolutely enjoyed this bowl of hearty goodness. Normally, I find that chowders tend to be really chunky. However, I found this dish to be comforting and creamy without being overly thick. In addition to the veggies that are mixed into the chowder; there are also three types of clams (Maine, Nova Scotia and Edmonton). This dish is perfect for the extremely cold weather that we're experiencing on and off in Toronto these days.

The next dish was the seafood popcorn ($9) which consisted of breaded calamari, shrimp and mahi mahi. This appetizer comes with three different dipping sauces; Chipotle aioli, Chipotle adobo and lemon aioli. This is a great starter to get, especially if you're a fan of deep fried seafood like I am.

This is how the seafood popcorn looks like when you order it.

Another starter that we were introduced to was the lobster spring roll. Chef Bethany McBride wanted to create an appetizer that was slightly different from the traditional lobster roll that they already offered on their menu. The fresh Maine lobster meat was wrapped in traditional rice papers, and deep fried. Instead of  aioli, there is cream cheese in the filling which complements the taste of the lobster. The lemon honey sauce that was served with the spring roll was brought over from Ireland. I just think it's a matter of preferences, but I did think that the sauce was a little too strong in taste. 

The Happy Hooker offers a few sandwiches on the menu as well, and we got to taste both the Louisiana Black Cat and Creole Shrimp Po Boy. 

The chef's take on the Louisiana Black Cat ($9) offers a taste of the South as Chipotle aioli and lime were used to complement the blackened catfish. The catfish was lightly battered and tasted good with the Portuguese bread. The bread was a debated issue within the small group of bloggers who attended the event. Some thought that the doughiness of the bread overwhelms the texture of the catfish,while others liked it. The bread used is from a neighboring Portuguese bakery so they're not baked in-house. 

The Creole Shrimp Po Boy ($11) seems to be an updated version of their previous po boy sandwich, which was fried. Unfortunately, I have never tried the previous one, so I can't really offer a fair comparison. The one that I had that day contained a good helping of shrimp and it was topped off with a lot of spicy Creole sauce (mustard).

Lastly for dessert, we were served key lime pudding. While thinking of a dessert that could be perfectly paired with fish; the chef thought of key lime. I thought that the light citrus dessert was good to end the dinner with. The dessert was made fresh from scratch, and contains 6 lbs of key lime and topped off with whipped cream.

 Although their menu may be limited compared to other places; it's one of the better places in Toronto that does seafood right. They also have a full service bar with a good selection of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. Additionally, their bartender also likes to create plenty of creative mixes that are often featured on the menu.

Address: 887 Dundas St West Toronto, ON, M6J 2P8

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

Happy Hooker on Urbanspoon

The Happy Hooker (Now Closed)

by on Tuesday, December 02, 2014
I have been to The Happy Hooker a few times now as it's literally a 5 minute walk from J's house. As I have mentioned before in a ...