Sunday 30 March 2014

Nomé Izakaya :: Sunday Dinner

Assortment of Alcoholic Beverages Displayed on the Bar

(L-R) Red Sake Sangria ($7.45), Takara Plum Wine ($9.30 for 4oz), Virgin Sangria ($5.50)

Another restaurant to add to my mental list of restaurants that carry Takara Plum Wine! Additionally the Red Sake Sangria and the Virgin Sangria taste pretty much the same except the Red Sake Sangria has a small taste of sake, though not quite apparent. This makes the sangria for those who dislike the taste of alcohol but enjoy a couple drinks (but quite dangerous for those who are drinking quite a few as they may not realize!).

Japa-Burger ジャパバーガー ($8.80)
Nomé’s original homemade sliders made with sliced rib eye meat and topped with tomato, spring mix, onion, smokey bbq sauce and garlic seasoning

The Japa-Burger was pretty good, though I feel the buns took a little away from the dish as it was cold and the proportion of bread overpowered the patty. The sliders would be greatly benefited if a different bun was used and/or if the buns were placed on the grill. Otherwise, a pretty homemade-like slider. 

The Tuna Tango (Maguro Tataki) マグロのタタキ ($9.80)
lightly seared tuna with ground daikon, shallot chips and Nomé’s original ponzu sauce

Great for seared tuna lovers! The toppings provided a tasty change in texture and the ponzu sauce enhances the flavour of the seared tuna.

Marinated Black Cod (Gindara No Yuan Yaki) 銀鱈の幽庵焼き ($9.80)
black cod marinated with citrus soy sauce

Your standard black cod served at any izakaya joint. The black cod was buttery, though arrived slightly on the colder side. Good dish, but nothing out of the ordinary.

Baked Oysters (Kakimayo) かきのクリームソースやき ($9.30)
oven baked oyster with spinach cream sauce (4pcs)

Buttery, buttery, buttery creamy goodness. Your traditional cheesy baked oyster - no extra bells or whistles. Although spinach cream sauce, the spinach taste was not extremely apparent. Personally, I would have preferred if they added more cheese. The oysters arrived warm, though not really hot (since they are baked). For those who have been to Guu, the 4 individual oysters here are approximately the same amount or less than the 2 baked oysters that Guu provides.

Buttered Scallop & Shrimpホタテとえびのバター焼き ($8.80)
baked scallop and shrimp, simmered in garlic butter

Similar to the last few dishes, nothing extremely out of the ordinary. The Buttered Scallop & Shrimp provide exactly what the menu describes. Butter-simmered scallops and shrimp with crunchy chips on top.

Korean Style Beef Sashimi - TarTar (Yuké) ユッケ($8.70)
thinly sliced beef sashimi and fresh egg yolk with a Korean style soy sauce dressing.

My favourite dish of the night and the most unique of the dishes ordered. The tartare was fresh and with onions/garlic mixed in. Loved the fact they provided lots of tartare but did not provide enough crackers for the amount they provided. Luckily I used the Creamy Mentai Crispy Potato Chips (next) to eat with the rest of the tartare or ate the tartare alone.

Creamy Mentai (Crispy) Potato クリーミー明太じゃが ($5.80)
pan fried thinly sliced potatoes with reduced creamy cod roe.

The Creamy Mentai Crispy Potatoes took quite some time to arrive. Since the word "Creamy" was in the name I was expecting it to be a lot creamier than it actually was. Would have liked a little more cream and a less oil to be the perfect dish for me.

Marinated Short Rib カルビ ($9.30)
"arguably Toronto’s BEST marinated beef short ribs immersed in our secret blend of spices"

Menu claims that the Marinated Short Rib is 'arguably Toronto's BEST marinated beef short ribs' and I would argue otherwise. Although tender and juicy the short ribs came cold and for those who prefer their beef medium rare, the short ribs came out more on the rare side. Although they were good, I would say I've had the same quality elsewhere.

Overall, Nome Izakaya is a great izakaya joint for those who live in North York/Markham who do not wish to travel downtown to satisfy their Japanese Tapa cravings. The food is the typical Japanese tapa standard - but nothing extremely unique. I found a lot of the food arrived on the colder side though. The staff are super friendly and the environment is great. I would definitely return with friends or go for a birthday (though the location isn't super large) and perhaps try some of their sushi items (I saw a few pass by that looked interesting). Food is on the pricier side for tapas (by a few bucks) and the portions are great for sharing though the typical tapa portions. Great for weekends out with your friends due to their extensive drinks menu.

Nomé Izakaya
4848 Yonge Street
Toronto, M2N5N2
Nomé Izakaya on Urbanspoon

Saturday 22 March 2014

JOEY Markville :: Study Break

Sangria (Saturday Special $6)

Every time it's Saturday and I find myself at JOEY, I always order their sangria special. Normally, I ask for less ice since its usually full to the brim with ice and hardly any sangria but today was slightly disappointing as the glasses arrived not even full and with 2-3 pieces of fruit.

Shrimp Lettuce Wraps ($13 + $2 for chicken or shrimp)
toasted peanuts, crispy noodles, fresh cilantro

The Shrimp Lettuce Wraps were super flavourful and spicy. The combination of the spiciness, crispy noodles and toasted peanuts against the refreshing lettuce is amazing. Even shared amongst 3 people, this appetizer is quite filling.

French Dip & Yam Fries ($17.50 + $2 for Yam Fries)
slow cooked prime rib, housemade roll, beef crackling, au jus

The sandwich was just as described, though it would have been preferable if the beef was not as compact such that when the sandwich is dipped the whole sandwich is able to absorb the au jus. 

Bombay Butter Chicken ($17.75)
aromatic almond basmati rice, grilled naan

The curry, as described, is extremely aromatic and is very flavourful. For individuals who are worried about heat, the Bombay Butter Chicken has some, but it is extremely bearable. The vegetables and the chicken in the curry were moist and tasty. Both the moist naan and the crisp were great for dipping into the curry.

Kobe Style Beef Meatballs ($21)
fettuccine, truffle cream

When JOEY first opened its Eaton Centre location, this was my favourite dish. The Kobe Style Beef Meatballs are delicious and extremely well seasoned, however, they changed the spaghetti and tomato sauce to a fettuccine with truffle cream which I am not a huge fan of. Although the allure of the truffle cream makes the dish sound 'fancier', it doesn't really harmonize well with the meatballs and makes the overall dish quite heavy. 

Similarly to the previous disappointing review I gave to this location, I still feel that this location's organization and service are still not at par. Although the food is starting to reach the standard par set by the Yorkdale, Don Mills, and the Eaton Centre location, I still feel that the Markville location requires improvement. Prior to coming to dine at this location, I went online to put my name onto the guestlist. Upon arriving I was notified that I would have to 're-wait and placed in line again' and wasn't given any explanation on why my online registration didn't work and quickly ushered away without an apology. My email told me I would only have to wait 5 minutes before being seated, however I ended up waiting 35 minutes. Additionally, it was difficult to find a waitress during dinner service and upon asking for water for the entire table she brought back a single glass. Upon being prompted again she said "Oh right" and never returned for the duration of the meal. Lastly, a waiter spilled a dish of soy sauce right beside me which landed near the foot of my chair where my Canada Goose jacket was hanging. He seemed unfazed by this and did not make any acknowledgement of the spill nor did not make an any effort to let me know that he was going help to clean it up or bring extra napkins such that I could do it myself. He just simply walked away, came back to wipe the spill, and walked away. Nonetheless, although the food consistency is better, I see no improvement on the organization or the service of this restaurant in the last 4 months and I am not pleased with this location and will probably not return on my own accord (though I forsee myself going back as it is the closest location with another dining party.)

JOEY Markville
1247-5000 Hwy 7 East
Markham, ON L3R 4M9
JOEY Markville on Urbanspoon

Friday 21 March 2014

The Carbon Bar :: Carson's Birthday Dinner

Hot Water

Cheese Croquettes ($9)
apple-chipotle sauce

The croquettes were really good, but for $9 I wish they provided more! They definitely were not worth $2+ a pop but still yummy. The apple-chipotle sauce was an interesting compliment as it was quite sweet and tangy - extremely opposite the oily, fried, and cheesy nature of the croquettes. Personally, I wouldn't order it again as I don't think it's worth the price.

Hamachi ($14)
hamachi tartare, clementine pear, coriander, kambucha vinegar

Just like the Cheese Croquettes, the Hamachi is also a tasty entree. However, it was disappointing that there was at most 4-5 small pieces of hamachi (which are visible in the above photo). Other than that, the clementine pear, vinegar, and coriander was a great combination to have with the hamachi tartare. I would definitely order this dish again if it had more Hamachi (since the name of the entree states it as it's star ingredient!) as $14 for 5 small pieces of hamachi isn't really worth it.

Pit Master Platter ($27/person)
pork ribs, beef brisket, cornmeal fried chicken, pickles

This was absolutely delicious. Note the above portion is for two people so depending on how much you order the portion will not be the same as pictured. It was nice that the waitress pointed out what order we should each of the proteins based on how quickly they can get cold at (start with brisket, ribs, and finish with chicken). Out of all three my favourite was the brisket, chicken, and ribs. The brisket was soft and tender. The provided sauce went well with it and enhanced the flavour. The batter for the fried chicken was also deliciously seasoned and the chicken was mouthwateringly moist. One of my friends did comment that Popeye's fried chicken was better though. Personally, I liked The Carbon Bar's chicken better as it wasn't as oily though I understand where my friend was coming from. The pork ribs were also very tasty but were quite reminiscent of Swiss Chalet's pork ribs in terms of taste and texture.

Pulled Pork Ssäm ($22)
pit fired pulled pork, bibb lettuce, pickled cabbage, corn nuts, coriander

The Pulled Pork Ssäm was delicious and a great choice in terms of savoury flavours and being filling. The corn nuts provided a crunchy texture and the coriander (and the Bibb lettuce wrap) provided a refreshing change that both complimented the pulled pork well. Also, my friends made a lot of comments on how 'perfectly round' the Bibb lettuce was! 

Banana Toffee Cream Pie ($16)

I was a little skeptical to order this pie at first since but I am super glad my party decided to opt for it! The pie crust was perfectly proportioned with the cream. The banana toffee centre was delicious and not overly sweet. I would definitely order this again. It is meant for 2 people.

Overall, I found The Carbon Bar quite pricey, though sharing and splitting the bill with friends can make up for it. All the food is flavourful and delicious, but nothing stood out as unique. Portions fall on the smaller side. It's a brisk walk from the Eaton's Centre. In my opinion, a single entree isn't going to fill most people up and some will be leaving here hungry. If you are a fan of large portions I would not recommend The Carbon Bar. The environment is upbeat and quite open. Service staff are friendly, but I found it difficult to find my waiter when we required service (ie: more water, ordering more food) and other waiters seemed to ignore my beckoning since they weren't assigned my table. It's not near my 'neck of the woods', and I will probably not make a trip to The Carbon Bar specifically to eat there, but if I happened to be in the area or was invited to a dinner there I wouldn't be opposed to going (but mentally prepare myself for a little larger bill).

The Carbon Bar
99 Queen Street East
Toronto, ON M5C 1S1
The Carbon Bar on Urbanspoon