Now That's Tasty!

Friday, 23 November 2012

Sansotei Ramen

If it's not dumplings or cheese, noodle soups are my one true food fetish!

...and red meat....and spice...and pork products...Shit. This example started to fall apart on the figurative plate pretty quickly.

Regardless of where a comforting bowl of noodle-laden, boiling-hot broth falls on my list of food favourites it will remain a go-to item at any hour of the day. After writing a review for blogTO a couple months back at, then newly opened, Sansotei Ramen I returned with fellow food-feind and View the Vibe colleague, Adam Mazerall  for a second sampling of the goods!

Accompanied at the table by chef and owner Michael Zhang, we talked about the importance of freshness, food-fads around the city (the ramen invasion et al.), and why one should not shy away from slurping up your soup when dining at his shop! Sorry, grandma.

Take a look at the View the Vibe video blog below!

Chashu Don (pork belly on rice)
MUSH HAVE OFF-THE-CHAIN Zangi (deep fried chicken Karaage)
Tonkotsu Ramen
Miso Ramen
We were the last ones there. Don't expect it to ever look this empty!
Sansotei Ramen

179 Dundas St. W
Toronto, ON M5G 1Z8

M-Sa: 11am-10pm

Thursday, 8 November 2012

One Winery. One Restaurant. One Fine Affair!

Adjusting back to 'the real world' has been quite the adjustment. After 4.5 months away and nearly a decade of frequent moves and gleeful transience I've returned home to Toronto with relative permanence.

With my inhibition-less galavanting on hold and a need to replenish the coffers I've found myself a steady job and re-immersed myself into a city that I do truly love and enjoy. Lucky for me (whether through quality networking skills, the right timing, or a lacklustre background check) I've begun work with a stellar company—View the Vibe (—headed up by an exceptional and passionate woman (Nicki Laborie)—that allows me to attend awesome events, such as this one:

The Argento Wines event @ One Restaurant in the Hazelton Hotel

Treated to an evening of fine wine by Silvia Corti and a miraculous meal, curated at one of the masterful Mark McEwan restaurants; here is a little taste of the evening's affairs!

Read my View the Vibe event writeup here!

<iframe src=";byline=0&amp;portrait=0&amp;badge=0&amp;color=c39900" width="500" height="281" frameborder="0" webkitAllowFullScreen mozallowfullscreen allowFullScreen></iframe> <p><a href="">Cerca del Cielo (close to the sky)</a> from <a href="">Argento Wine</a> on <a href="">Vimeo</a>.</p>

Lamb Empanadas
Beet Salad w/ goats cheese and sweet pea mousse
New Argento Bonarda, 2011
Pan Seared Salmon
L to R: Beef Short Rib w/ thyme frites, Tenderloin w/ chimichuri, Pico de Gallo
L to R: Cabrales Blue Cheese, Running of the Bulls, St. Jorge, Don Panchego

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Ode to my second home: Sky Dragon

It's been a long time coming! I've probably gorged myself with steamers full of Sky Dragon dim sum dozens of times since I started blogging about food. In fact, Sky Dragon is almost undoubtedly my most frequented restaurant of all time! Without exaggeration, I've probably dined at The Sky more times than Tim Hortons, Starbucks and McDonalds combined (not that I ever ate there with any consistence). But I digress. 

Sky Dragon is more than just a traditional cart service dim sum spot on the top floor of Dragon City Centre, at the southwest corner of Dundas and Spadina, in the heart of Toronto's lively Chinatown--it's a tradition amongst my friends and my family, a place where I feel comfortable and at home, and a dim sum eating experience that is largely unparalleled in this city. I know this all sounds like a cheesy advertorial, but my feelings are genuine. After so many great memories, and of course great meals, writing this review was the easiest and perhaps most pleasurable of my 'ill-ustrious' career.

I've often joked to my friends that this is the place that I'll hold my wedding some day. And if I can find a wife that will agree to it, then it is REALLY meant to be! Wedding or not, Sky Dragon will always be my first love.

Thanks, Sky, for all the great times!

Read my blogTO review of Sky Dragon here.

It's all in the details. Such a touch of class.
Crispy fried egg wontons with shrimp and chive

A magical spread of fried shrimp balls and coconut shrimp
Ham Sui Gok
Honey garlic beef ribs
Puffy shrimp rolls
Fried smelt (duo luan yu)
Preggo innards. Eating unborn fish babies is delicious!!!
Seamed snow pea shoots
Fried taro stuffed with minced pork
Stuffed crab claw

I swear, I don't know these white people!

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Friday, 5 October 2012

The first feat is getting fed

Originally composed on: Day 3: April 20, 2012: KTL Commuter Train en route to Shah Alam, Malaysia.

Indulging in those things that bring one great joy, under normal circumstances, is exponentially heightened when done in new and interesting settings. Yoni (one of my closest friends and former expat travel companion in Korea) arrived two nights ago and it's been a pleasure to catch up with an old friend after so long. Despite our collective indecisiveness, especially when it comes to our food choices, we are always guaranteed to eat well--and eat lots! Yesterday was no exception.

The meager breakfast I ate at the hostel, while Yoni caught up on some sleep, forged a furious hunger as midday approached. Given our close proximity to Chinatown and the prominent Chinese influence on the Malaysian food culture, venturing towards there for lunch was not a difficult decision. On our constant search for street foods, local staples and unknown culinary concoctions, we shunned several simple looking food vendors and restaurants. A Lonely Planet derived hunt for a local food court proved fruitless. Yet, in the end, alluring aromas of cooked chilies and curries forced us (ever so willingly) into a busy hawker centre off of a crowded back alley.

Squeezing past sunglasses stands and singlet vendors we arrived in a brightly lit open court and the glory that turned out to be the Tang City Food Court. Tables tightly packed into the centre. A ring of small kitchenettes and cutting boards. Large menu boards, mostly in Chinese characters with some photo's thrown in for good measure. And a cacophony of bowls clinking, chopsticks picking, proprietors shouting orders and general chatter filled one's ears. The scents were tantalizing, my mouth was watering, my stomach was hollering.

Yoni made a quick-time decision and ordered a curry noodle bowl with chicken and coconut milk. It was sweet and mellow with clams, slicked pork, tangy pickled sprouts and a splash of key lime.

After settling for what turned out to be a delicious, yet decidedly unadventurous, plate of satay chicken and beef from the hostel the previous night, as my first "real" meal back in Asia, I knew I had to do it up proper! Requirements included: spice, soup, noodles and something I'd never seen before.

Along came Ma La Ban Mee: a bowl of bright, steaming auburn broth, minced pork, fried fish, shitake mushrooms, green onion, fish balls, bean curd and a heap of fresh handmade noodles. The noodles had a perfectly chewy, dumpling-esque texture. The minced pork was sweet and soft; combined with the salty crunch of the tiny fried fish, they balanced out the spicy edge of the molten broth. Though outside temperature was already forcing the sweat to bead off my forehead, this fiercely delicious bowl of broth  made my melon as moist as the soup in the bowl. Everyone loves a good sweat in the morning!

I'd been lusting for this meal for what seemed like a lifetime. This was perhaps one of the most wholly satisfying, simple, but superbly fantastic things I'd ever ingested!

The setup and the standards are now high. There is no doubt, however, that this meal will be matched many times over the next few months. Let the never-ending food crawl continue!!

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Back to basic obsessions...Korean BBQ

Ask anyone who knows me--meat is my obsession. For anyone who's ever read this blog, you know that my muse takes form as the the cured, roasted or grilled piece of partial animal carcass that happens to be posting up on my plate, if not for a brief moment.

With the recent XL Foods beef recall in Canada (if you haven't read about it yet, here's a snippet from the CBC) the worry-warts are soaking up the fear and potentially cutting down on their normally carnivorous tendencies. Me, I'm an optimist--so I decided to celebrate the latest E. coli scare by indulging in an all you can eat meat-centric marathon! 

Read my latest blogTO review of Bryan's BBQ and get into the spirit of supporting our nations most precarious (currently) and delicious industry! 

Tasty cuts of sirloin

Some nostalgia brew

Monday, 24 September 2012

From Across the Table

Originally composed on: Day 2: Thursday, April 9, 2012. Reggae Mansion, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Liquor is the law. It's the people and the poisons that make the place. In good company the most mundane of surroundings tend to turn into the most hospitable.

You could say you've had the same conversation a thousand times—I wouldn't doubt you for a moment. I've been there...
"How's it going?"
"Good, can't complain! I'm halfway around the world [from wherever it is I live] and I'm loving every minute of it!"
"And the beer is so cheap!"
"Amen to that, brother!"
The usual where from's, where ya been's and what's next's tend to follow. But I like the banter. People do some pretty cool shit when met with inhibition-less travel, a solid exchange rate and no return ticket.

I met a  stunningly beautiful, and intriguingly intelligent German girl named Maria, who's managed to convince one of the largest international medical assessment and pharmaceutical firms in the world that she's capable and qualified to act as one of the marketing managers. So competent, in fact, that she took the job over dozens of applicants who are decades older and more experienced than she. I met a Brit named Ben, who climbed Kilimanjaro in honour of his late father and raised over £16,000 for prostate cancer. Met dudes that shear sheep and others that pick up foreign accents.

There's a world of interesting vagabonds constantly roaming the world. It's merely a matter of who you're sharing a pint with today.

View from a main intersection near China Town

The Petronas Towers

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Bake for 4.5-months at 5500ºF

Originally composed on: Day 1.5.2: Wednesday, April 18, 2012: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

The heat comes first!

The heat always comes first. As soon as I cross the threshold of the cabin door I know where I am. It's sticky, humid and heavy. Outside the clouds are intermittent and the sun pokes through at irregular intervals.

Baggage claimed, some money exchanged and I hit the KLIA Express direct to Sentral Station. Rolling out of the station and taking my first up-close glimpse of Malaysia through the smudged cabin window; the country is remarkably, though I suppose predictably, dissimilar from any other Asian landscape I've encountered. The scenery is lush and green. Some small rolling hills here and there, the occasional shanty farm with a few cows and not nearly as much sprawling development than I would have imagined. I can't help thinking: what a nice place to carve out a golf course. Sure enough, one appears.

Once the ultra-modern, wifi equipped train breaches the boundary of the city centre the portrait outside my window is entirely different from the outskirts of town. Honking horns and grumbling motorbikes. Decrepit storefronts and dingy crumbling facades. There must be an allure to the place yet, but it's not apparent to me now. There's a striking contrast between the state of Reggae Mansion and its neighbors. The foreigner-only hostel is a pristine white building with large french doors, marble floors, clay tile courtyards and bumping techno music in the bar.

The evening will likely pass lazily as I await the arrival of my travel companion and decade-long friend, Yoni, and attempt to adjust to the time difference after 24-hours in transit.

So, it has begun!

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

The Stopover

Day 1.5:
Originally composed on Wednesday, April 8, 2012: Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport (TPE), Taipei, Taiwan.

It's a dreary dawn in Taipei. Dry and conditioned inside TPT; separated from the soggy exterior by large window panes. The tempered glass feels warm. Inside it's bright and the orchids are blooming. Two decisively different atmospheres a mere few feet apart.

Only just after 5am and it looks as though the humidity is pushing the thick cloud cover closer towards street level. Now more than 16-hours have passed since takeoff and the notion of leaving seems to be slowly setting in.

Orchids inside TPE
I saunter through the hallways of the terminal to stretch my atrophied limbs and sore back. You could be in any airport terminal in the whole world and the only thing that would change is the language on the signs and the script on the Coca-Cola machine. The smells is eerily similar, the laminate flooring and the moving carpets, all alike--except Taipei. Each individual gate-side waiting area has a unique design and accompanying theme. I sit in the futuristic techno-lounge, with power outlets at the foot of each curved, post-modern plastic seat. There's a jungle themed space with vines, trees and floor-to-ceiling murals. Even a Hello Kitty room, with decals of pink polka dots.

My meandering took me into all the various Duty Free shops where I was waited-on at each browse. I figured, given my carabiner clad backpack and thrifty travel threads, the salespeople would have deciphered that I wasn't the ideal candidate to purchase a $5,000 Cartier watch. It's more if a cultural thing, I know (or simply just good courteous business practice), but I did feel a bit bad that these pretty, immaculately made-up Taiwanese women were following me around the stores constantly asking me if I wanted help--or much more uncomfortably, just standing silently at my side. Maybe they took me for a thief?

Despite my 4am in-flight congee breakfast (baby shrimp, bonito fish flakes, cold tofu and all!) I stumbled upon something I should have anticipated, and would have welcomed at any level of hunger--airport dim sum! I am not a man of great temptation (now looking back at this piece of writing five months later I might be inclined to revise that statement with a more circumstantial preposition), but if there's one thing I can't resist, it's dumplings in the morning. While I opted out of the shitty looking shu maii, A $9 USD serving of xiao long bao, accompanied by a soothing bowl of chicken consommé with black oyster mushroom and pieces of moist boiled chicken later, and I find myself back on the airplane. Unexpectedly, I'm lounging in the luxury of an extra-wide, executive coach seat. My feet are propped up comfortably on the extended ottoman and I'm on the final leg of my one-way ticket to the trip of a lifetime.

I wonder what's for breakfast #2?

Notice the man in the Taipei airport sporting golf shoes! Maybe I missed the golf theme lounge?