Saturday 30 November 2013

JOEY Don Mills :: Black Saturday Dinner

Summer Sangria ($6/each on Saturdays; $7 regular)

Sashimi Tuna Entree Salad ($18)
seared rare ahi, mixed greens, mango, peanuts, avocado, crispy noodles, cilantro ginger dressing

Steak Frites ($20)
CAB® sirloin, parsley butter, rocket greens, fries

JOEY Don Mills
15 O'Neill Road
Toronto, ON M3C 0H2

Thursday 28 November 2013

Miller Tavern :: After Work Dinner

Sesame Ahi Tuna ($14)
guacamole, tomatillo salsa, pickled ginger, watermelon, tortilla chips, wasabi cream, ponzu sauce

Of the Sesame Ahi Tuna Wontons that were present on the plate, they were quite average. Such an appetizer could have been created at a home kitchen. Although the sear on the Ahi Tuna was done correctly, the Ahi Tuna flavour failed to come through the mass mix of wasabi cream, ponzu sauce (which tastes like sriracha, perhaps cause of the tomatillo salsa? but I did not taste any hint of lime/citrus) and pickled ginger. As such, I was quite disappointed with the lack of flavour from a dish that is centered around quality ingredients opposed to technical cooking skills. Likewise, for $14, I was appalled by the presentation. Although it is initially appealing to the eye, the among the mess of herbs, only two piles, 4 chips, and 4 slices of seared ahi tuna was provided. For a steakhouse, presentation can be done much better as this dish looks like it was crafted on improv. Assuming the condiments, presentation, and chip cost was negligible, the Miller Tavern is charging almost $4 a slice for seared ahi tuna (including taxes). The size of the slices were equivalent to two quarters at most. The chip did nothing to accentuate or elevate the flavours or the condiments; if anything it cheapened the flavour. I would highly recommend not ordering this appetizer, and spend your $14 at another establishment (Even at Milestone's for their Ahi Tuna Tacos. It features only three slices but the flavour and the presentation surpass this dish indefinitely. I would choose Hawaiian Ahi Tuna Poke at $7/lbs from Costco over this dish any day.).

Baked Oysters ($14)
baked with spinach & herbs, topped with Béarnaise sauce

Similarly to the Sesame Ahi Tuna, this dish was also an expensive disappointment. Aside from the fact that there was no effort place into the presentation, the oysters given were approximately the same size of a mussel! The oysters were downgraded in taste as it was barely detectable under the cheese and the flavour was reminiscent of a rubbery mussel?!? The cheese, was disappointing and cold - I would guess the cheese used was processed. I assumed Baked Oysters would have the connotation of warmth associated with this dish - but it arrived cold! I also would highly not recommend ordering this dish as the lack of size, lack of oyster meat, lack of flavour, and lack of presentation is not tolerable.

Sirloin ($22 for 8oz)
with loaded baked potato or side caesar salad

Just as I commented on the previous two dishes - the third is no exception. The sirloin was also an expensive disappointment. Presentation is subpar for a steakhouse. The protein on the plate came to the table lukewarm at most. No seasoning seemed to be apparent prior to cooking. Steak had no flavour and was chewy. Given the same ingredients, one can replicate this dish better than it was at this establishment.

Berry Cheesecake ($9)
vanilla cheesecake, graham crust & fresh berry compote

Lastly, the dessert was probably the best dish ordered for the entire meal. The Berry Cheesecake was the standard, expected dessert flavour with nothing outstanding.

As a first visit to the Miller Tavern, I am appalled by the fact that this steakhouse was so busy! Unless, the meal I had was a spoof, the popularity must not be attributed to the food quality. Prices are unexplainably high from the dishes I tried during this visit. If I had to describe the Miller Tavern briefly it would be: stupendously disappointing, below average, overpriced/not worth it. If you are looking for a steakhouse, I would recommend The Keg or Milestones over the Miller Tavern any day of the year.

Miller Tavern
3885 Yonge Street
Toronto, ON M4N 2P2
Miller Tavern on Yonge on Urbanspoon

Tuesday 26 November 2013

知味齋 健康素食 Gourmet Vegetarian Restaurant :: In Remembrance

Asian Hot and Sour Veggie Seafood Soup ($11.99 for regular; $6.99 for small)

French Mixed Pepper & Sour Veggie Beef and Pork ($10.99)

Veggie Shrimp in Thousand Island Sauce ($12.99)

Simmered Tofu w/ Mushroom & Broccoli ($7.25)

知味齋 健康素食 Gourmet Vegetarian Restaurant
280 W Beaver Creek Road
Richmond Hill, ON L4B 3Z1 

Smash :: Pre-Skating Lunch with Justin

Grilled Portobello & Quinoa Salad ($15)
arugula, goat cheese, grilled seasonal vegetable, pesto, balsamic

My last visit to Smash was overwhelmingly disappointing, but the Grilled Portobello & Quinoa Salad most definitely restored my faith in the restaurant. I felt the salad portion was small, but the flavour was impeccable. The balsamic reduction was in delicious harmony with the goat cheese and pesto and accentuated the flavour of the quinoa, portobello, and grilled vegetables. 

Daily Special - Lobster Mac and Cheese ($22)

Smash Kitchen & Bar
4261 Highway 7 East
Unionville, Ontario

Monday 25 November 2013

Sonoya Ramen :: Lunch with Dad

Tonkotsu Ramen ($10.95)
Hakata district speciality: creamy pork bone-based broth

rice bowl dish topped with breaded deep-fried pork cutlet, onion & egg

Sonoya Japanese Noodle House
(Part of Kenzo Ramen)
3235 Highway 7 East, Unit 22
Markham, ON L3R 3P3

Thursday 21 November 2013

Mi-Ne Sushi :: Thursday Night Dinner with Dad

Zen Combo CD-8: Mi-Ne Special Dinner (Choice of Chicken, Salmon, or Beef) ($31)
with 2 pieces lobster, 2 pieces shrimp tempura, 7 pieces sushi & maki, and 10 pieces sashimi & teriyaki

Mi-Ne menu indicates that the Zen Combination Dinner are personal dinner combinations. However, the portions that Mi-Ne gives are extremely generous and both my father and I were able to share this combination dinner with a bit of teriyaki left to bring home. The food was delicious and made from fresh and quality ingredients. 

Shrimp & Lobster Tempura

Between the shrimp and lobster tempura, both my dad and I preferred the shrimp tempura since the meat was sweeter. Both tempura types were delicious.

7 Pieces of Sushi & Maki + 10 Pieces Sashimi

Beef Teriyaki

Mi-Ne Sushi
8865 Woodbine Ave D5
Markham, ON L3R 5G1

Tuesday 19 November 2013

Milestones :: Grandparents Goodbye Lunch

The Works ($4.99)
carrot, green apple, beet, ginger, celery

The Chopped Salad - Gluten Free Version ($15)
grilled chicken, avocado, chickpeas, feta cheese, chopped vegetables, lime cilantro vinaigrette, crispy red corn tortilla
(gluten free version: no crispy red corn tortilla)

The Milestones Trio ($14.50)
two turkey club minis, seasonal soup (above: tomato soup), mixed greens, or roasted garlic Caesar salad
substitute the salad with Milestones Signature California Spring Salad (+$1.50)

3760 Highway 7 East
Markham, ON L3R 0N2

Southern Accent :: Complimentary Tasting Menu Review

Today, Southern Accent invited me to go a complimentary tasting menu at their restaurant! Southern Accent features Cajun & Creole cuisine and is located in Koreatown of Downtown Toronto, close to Honest Ed's (and super close to the Bathurst Subway Station). I brought my mother and Southern Accent gracefully accommodated my plus one. Our super friendly waitress, Wendy, told us that Southern Accent has resided at its current location for 29 years!

Wendy's been working at Southern Accent for 20 years and her knowledge and enthusiasm for the food was quite infectious. She informed us that Southern Accent offers 'Special Menus' to cater to individuals who have a vegan, gluten-free, nut-free, and/or dairy free diet. I was quite impressed with the special accommodations they make for individuals with specific dietary restrictions to ensure that all their guests enjoy their meal. She also pointed out that Southern Accent had an unique Cajun/Creole/New Orleans inspired drink menu, which ranged from a spicy Cajun Caesar to a fruity Gator Bait.

Gaitor Bait ($8/10)
coconut rum, melon liquor, Blue Curacao, Irish cream, pineapple orange juice

Gaitor Bait is one of Southern Accent's popular alcoholic drinks and was described as a smooth and easy piña colada. It's more on the fruity & sweet side and reminiscent of a piña colada flavoured candy. I personally enjoy sweet and fruity drinks, so Gaiter Bait was right up my alley - though I can understand it may be a little sweet for some individuals.


Hurricane is one of Southern Accent's non-alcoholic drinks. It is also fruity in nature. Just like Gaitor Bait, Hurricane's flavour was also similar to candy - but a strawberry and fruity one. Between Gaitor Bait and Hurricane, I preferred Hurricane.

For our appetizers, Southern Accent provided a tasting of their various delicious appetizers. As such, please note that portions are smaller.

Cajun Calamari  ($9)
tender crispy rings of calamari coated with spices, deep-fried and served with ginger remoulade and blackened tomato coulis

Wendy describes the Cajun Calamari as 'the best calamari you can find in the city'. Both my mother and I thought that the calamari was absolutely delicious. The batter was seasoned and delicious without being doughy and the calamari was cooked well without being rubbery. The seasoned sauce harmonized with the fried calamari beautifully.

Assortment of Appetizers: Hush Puppies, Piquant Shrimp, Blackened Chicken Livers
hush puppies: served with garlic lime piquant sauce ($6)
piquant shrimp: black tiger shrimp sautéed in our garlic lime hot sauce, served with hush puppies ($9)
blackened chicken livers: chicken livers tossed in house blackening spices, seared on a cast iron pan, napped with fresh lemon beurre, and served with garlic bread ($9)

On this dish, an assortment of appetizers were provided. The Piquant Shrimp was good, though the spice slowly catches up to you. However, the spice elevated the flavour! Hush Puppies are fried cornbread balls made for dipping into sauces, like the piquant shrimp's garlic lime hot sauce. The hush puppies are creative and yummy, but the favourite of the appetizer dish was the Blackened Chicken Livers. The Blackened Chicken Liver was rich in flavour and soft which contrasted well with the crunchy buttery garlic bread. Since the livers were seared on a cast iron plan, the slight burn contributed to a more 'smokey' flavour. My mother and I really enjoyed the Blackened Chicken Liver.

Assortment of Entrees: Bourbon Street Chicken, French Quarter Lamb, Canal Street Creole Jambalaya, Dauphine Street Cracker Catfish
Bourbon Street Chicken: blackened, boneless, chicken breast with fresh lemon beurre, normally served with garlic mash potatoes, roasted yellow and green zucchini ($18.50)
French Quarter Lamb: blackened, grilled lamb loin chops marinated in rosemary, white whine, mustard with apricot, ginger and mint glaze, served with garlic mash potatoes and green beans ($26)
Canal Street Creole Jambalaya: a highly seasoned rice dish with chicken, smoked ham, andouille sausage and tomatoes; served on a bayou sauce with baby shrimp and topped with shredded sautéed collards ($18.50)
Dauphine Street Cracker Catfish: farm raised louisiana catfish fillet with a crispy coating of crackers and spice, served with pickled jalapeño tartar sauce, cumin basmati rice with pan seared collard greens ($19.50)

I was pleasantly surprised and impressed with the Bourbon Street Chicken! I am a tough crowd for chicken as it's hardly ever cooked in a way that it is soft, tender, and moist. However, all of those three traits were found in the Bourbon Street Chicken! Also, the fresh lemon beurre went deliciously well with the chicken.

My second favourite was the French Quarter Lamb. As an avid lamb eater I was delighted to see this appear on the tasting menu! The lamb was seasoned well and not overly cooked. It was easy to cut into with the knife and a joy to eat. Unlike the regular menu, the mash potatoes were not included in the tasting menu.

My mom's personal favourite of all the entrees was the Canal Street Creole Jambalaya. It was a burst of flavour. The rice was seasoned in a way that it was tangy yet sweet & the chicken was tender.

Lastly, the Dauphine Street Cracker Catfish was also quite yummy. It was crispy and went well with the jalapeño tartar sauce. It's a great fish dish for those who have tendencies towards fish, but personally, I would prefer the other 3 dishes as they were more flavourful in my opinion and unique to Southern Accent.

Marie Leveau Voodoo Seafood Pasta ($22)
Marie Leveau Voodoo Seafood Pasta: squid ink penne pasta with shrimp, scallops, and lobster in a spicy file cream sauce

I love this pasta!!! It was delicious! The pasta was cooked just the way I like it - firm but not too hard. The sauce was very slightly spicy and covered the pasta's components well. Wendy explained that the pasta was named after Marie Leveau, a voodoo witch from New Orleans since the spice seems to "magically" give you a kick! (For those who watch American Horror Stories Season 3 - Marie Levau is referenced in it!)

Nawlins Bread Pudding ($8)
with apples, pecans, and raisins; served with bourbon sauce

Lastly, dessert was served! By the time we were eating dessert - we were stuffed! The pudding bread has pecans and raisins throughout and apple-pie-like-apple slices near the bottom. The bourbon sauces was delicious and added an extra flavour to the pudding.

Outside View of Southern Accent - Festive Decorations Already Out!

Upstairs of Southern Accent

Upstairs of Southern Accent

All in all, I had an extremely wonderful experience at Southern Accent and I highly recommend anyone to try it. I'm surprised that I've never heard or tried Southern Accent prior to them reaching out to myself - but I am glad they did! I look forward in visiting them again in the near future. Their menu is top quality and food consistently tastes amazing regardless of what you order.

Thank you Southern Accent!

Southern Accent
595 Markham Street
Toronto, ON M6G 1L7
Southern Accent on Urbanspoon

*** FTC Disclaimer: Although Southern Accent reached out and invited me to a complimentary tasting menu to review their restaurant, the opinions expressed here represent my own and not those of the restaurant. ***

Monday 18 November 2013

La Carinta :: Birthday Dinner with Fontaine & Carson

I have been wanting to try La Carinta for quite sometime and finally had a chance to go on my birthday! Dinner service doesn't start until 5pm so my friends and I had to wait outside until they let us in, despite it being cold outside. The atmosphere and service staff were quite relaxed and "hipster". Since we had an early dinner since I had classes afterwards, we were one of three tables. 

Assortment of Tacos

Tostada de Ceviche ($6.25)
swordfish, guacamole, coconut milk, habanero tomato, cucumber served on a hard taco

After eating the Tuna Ceviche from Grand Electric with Mike, I was super excited when I saw the Tostada de Ceviche on La Carinta's menu. Since the Tostada de Ceviche was $3.25 more than the tacos at Grand Electric, I was expecting something of similar quality. While the Tostada de Ceviche was good, the waitress informed us that La Carinta only had one hard shell taco featured on the menu - which was on the daily specials - so the Tostada de Ceviche's hard taco surprised us. Despite being pretty filled up on top, the hard taco made it difficult to eat the Tostada de Ceviche. Additionally, the ratio of toppings on top of the hard taco had an imbalance of swordfish. Both Fontaine and I noted that we could barely taste the presence of the swordfish, and for $6.25, we expected more fish meat opposed to onions. The Tostada de Ceviche had a slow burn to it as well. Overall, the Tostada de Ceviche was good, but the tuna ceviche & the guac combination at Grand Electric was tastier and cheaper. 

Pollo Frito($4.75)
peanut mole sauce, pickled green cabbage & salsa fresca

Carson had the Pollo Frito.

Tortilla Chips 
with ancho chili powder & one side ($6.50) or all 3 ($13). sides include: guacamole, corn salsa, and cashew hummus

The way the menu was formatted I didn't think it was clearly marked that having all 3 sides would cost an additional $6.50. When I ordered the tortilla chips, the waitress didn't even warn me. She just asked "Do you want the guac, corn salsa, cashew, or all three?". The way she said it made it sound like there was no price difference between the four "choices". I was also quite disappointed with the fact for the additional $6.50 no extra chips were provided - since the side to chip ratio was obviously unbalanced. However, of the three sides, everyone agreed that the guacamole was the best. It was refreshing with a touch of lemon. My second favourite was the corn salsa. All three of us agreed that the cashew was only decent. The consensus was that the chips and all the sides were also quite spicy. Just like the tacos, the Tortilla Chips were good, but not as good as Grand Electric's (or as good of a price).

Overall, La Carnita was decent. The food was good, though it did not meet my expectations after visiting Grand Electric. However, where La Carnita failed was in their service and I also felt their food was a little pricey. Perhaps it was the waitress we had, but she seemed very uneducated about the menu (as she failed to recognize that there were more than one hard shelled taco) and failed to warn us about the price differences of ordering one side to three sides despite us telling her it was our first time visiting La Carnita. What La Carnita has over Grand Electric is that it is much closer to Eatons, Ryerson, and University of Toronto.

La Carnita
501 College Street
Toronto, ON
La Carnita on Urbanspoon

Mi- Ne Sushi :: Birthday Lunch with Dad

Japanese Green Salad & Miso Soup

Lunch Combo CL-5: Mushroom Soup with 3 Pieces of California Roll & 5 Pieces of Sushi ($13)

Sushi Portion of the Lunch Combo

Two Ebis were provided! :p

Mushroom Soup

Maki Set Lunch #I: 3 Pieces of California Roll and 8 Pieces of Lobster Roll ($16)

Close up of Lobster Roll Contents

After my cousin raved about the Lobster Roll, (they came to visit Toronto during the first week of opening for Mi-Ne and returned 3 times!) I decided to try it for myself. The roll was delicious and made with good quality, fresh ingredients. Out of preference, I prefer Mi-Ne's shrimp roll over the lobster roll, but both are delicious. The portions were overwhelming and I had pack up a portion of the roll to bring home.

Bill with Wrigley Mint Gum

Today, for my birthday my father took me out for lunch at my new favourite restaurant Mi-Ne Sushi. Despite writing a happy review about Mi-Ne back in October on Urbanspoon, I am shocked to find their rating of 71% (out of 14 votes). The service is great, the food quality is outstanding, and the portions are huge. Perhaps its due to the higher prices, Mi-Ne has not been met with great percent ratings on Urbanspoon. Keeping in mind that you have good quality food and a large portion, one menu item can most likely be shared between two individuals. Similarly to Inatei, the food quality is amazing, as such the prices are a little higher. Mi-Ne is just as good quality has Inatei, but a little cheaper and larger portions. I am confident with time the ratings for Mi-Ne will increase as the restaurant is still relatively new.

Mi-Ne Sushi
8865 Woodbine Ave D5
Markham, ON L3R 5G1