Tag Archives: Toronto Foodie

The King of Ramen

Several months ago, I was watching a TV show called You’ve Got to Eat Here, which was highlighting a restaurant in the Toronto area called Kinton Ramen. Since then, the company has expanded to open several location in the GTA.

For those of you that don’t know what ramen is, it’s a unique Japanese dish that consists of soup, noodles, and a protein, all served in a big bowl at a bar or a small table.

The location that I’ve now visited a number of times is located on Yonge Street in between Sheppard and Finch. Every time I’ve been there, whether it’s for lunch or dinner, it’s always busy but despite the fact that every table is always taken, the line moves fast because people get served quickly, eat quickly, and then leave.

For the ramen, you have different options including thick or thin noodles and pork, chicken, beef, fish balls, and more for your options of protein. Everything I’ve tried arrives steaming hot, nicely cooked, and is super tasty. It’s also not an expensive meal, so two can dine for under $40.00 including tax and tip.

The staff at this location are incredibly friendly, knowledgeable about menu items, always willing to make suggestions, and work extremely efficiently. Within minutes of placing your order, your drink is delivered and if you’ve ordered an appetizer it comes hot and fresh, with your delicious ramen right around the corner.

Personally, I always chuckle when people are leaving, as all the staff shout “thank you” and “good-bye” in Japanese. The restaurant has a fun and lively atmosphere. I highly recommend it if you’re looking for something different and authentic, whether it’s a quick lunch, heading out on a date, or just grabbing a bite.

Kinton Ramen North York
(647) 350-7887
http://www.kintonramen.com/canada/

 

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Rose and Sons: All grown up….and delicious!

A couple of weeks ago, I stopped by the revamped Rose and Sons to take my wife out for our anniversary lunch. Rose and Sons was the first of a unique set of restaurants, such as Big Crow, Fat Pasha, and Schmaltz Appetizing -all owned by Anthony Rose.

Rose and Sons is a tiny hole in the wall, that when originally opened, could best be described as an upscale diner. It was a licensed establishment, with amazing dishes and high-end comfort foods. The location at Dupont only fits about 20-25 people, but it’s always busy and popular.

Back a few months ago, restless for change, Rose and Sons revamped their menu, and instead of a diner, it’s now an old school delicatessen. I was a little skeptical at first, but I’ve heard nothing but good things.

Chopped liver was our appetizer and was absolutely amazing. This was followed by my wife and I both ordering pastrami sandwiches…which is the house specialty, brined in house and smoked at Big Crow. As a funny aside, it was a tough choice for my wife, choosing between that and the smoked turkey, so I jokingly mentioned to the server that if any turkey fell onto the plate, I wouldn’t complain if they left it there. Low and behold, the cook overheard this and put a few pieces of turkey on the side for us to try.

Aside from the sandwiches, we also tried the thick cut french fries, which were served hot, crispy and perfectly salted. Lastly, how could we not share a dill pickle?

All of the food came out hot and fresh and the chopped liver was not only attractively presented, but delicious! The portion sizes were generous and we left stuffed.

Though there were only a couple of servers due to the size of the restaurant, the service was fast, friendly, warm and the employees were very knowledgeable and excited about the new menu. The cook was also extremely friendly and clearly strives to provide customer satisfaction.

The price is a little north of your typical delicatessen and you may end up waiting for a table as it can be busy on weekends, but it’s worth every penny and every minute of your time.

For those that know me, even though there are a lot of restaurants I enjoy, there are very few restaurants that I really look forward to going back to. This is one of them. While I will miss the diner (the patty melt remains on the menu!), I am happy to welcome a superb deli experience!

Rose and Sons
176 Dupont Street
647-748-3287
http://www.roseandsons.ca

 

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Leela will show you a great night on the town!

Recently, when my wife was out with a friend, they went to an Indian restaurant in The Junction area. When my wife returned home, she said she had a great meal and that it was a little different from most Indian restaurants she’d been to.

The place is called Leela Indian Food Bar and they describe their restaurant as “a journey of old Indian streets, with dhaba-style food”. The menu covers all regions of India, but has some different and authentic Indian dishes.

My wife has been wanting to go back for a repeat visit, so this past weekend, we made a reservation and headed there for dinner.

The restaurant is a small, rustic, but modern place, with approximately 30 seats. It has an open kitchen so you’re able to see the entire cooking process. When we arrived, we were greeted right away warmly and seated at a table that was already set for us. We were quickly approached by the server, who was very pleasant and knowledgeable about the menu items. Unlike most servers who don’t make recommendations until you ask, he told us all of his favourites and recommended items according to our tastes.

Even though they prepare all of the dishes as they are ordered, the food arrived quickly. All of the dishes were hot, fresh and everything was really beautifully presented.

During the course of the meal, the server was extremely attentive and made sure our water glasses were always filled. We received the bill soon after we had asked or it, and the payment was taken promptly. As we were getting ready to leave the restaurant, we were thanked for coming, given multiple coupons for a return visit (good for any night of the week….no restrictions!) and headed out for a walk in the neighbourhood.

Whether it’s just a night on the town, a first date, or a family function, Leela has great food, great atmosphere and is something a little different.

Leela
416-769-7777
http://www.leelaindian.ca

 

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The Olympics are over…but the newfound appreciation for Korean Cuisine goes on!

A few weeks ago I was getting together with a former SQM employee and for a bit of fun I gave her the challenge of picking the restaurant. She asked me if I preferred better food or a fancier place and I responded that I’d like better food. I don’t care how fancy it is as long as the place has good food and a good atmosphere. Since her background is Korean, she picked a popular Korean restaurant near Yonge and Finch in Toronto.

Huh Ga Ne is a traditional BBQ restaurant that is open 24/7. They have your regular tables and the more traditional ones where you sit on the floor. I’ve been there three times now and it has always been insanely busy! The restaurant offers authentic, ethnic, and delicious cuisine!

The staff are very friendly, helpful, and are happy to make recommendations. I’ve tried both hot pots and barbecue…both options are excellent and filling. They have a nice selection of beers and drinks to choose from. Other than one small television that is usually tuned to CP24 and the news, all of the other, large screens are constantly playing kpop, which I personally find adds to the fun atmosphere. It truly is a relaxing, casual place, with a great Korean atmosphere.

Given the amount of business, the products are certainly fresh, and even though I’m cooking some of it myself, it has always turned out to be tasty and flavourful. Even better, it’s reasonably priced….two to three people could eat for $40.00 -$50.00 depending on what you order. If you want something not too far from midtown Toronto, and a fun, authentic experience, I suggest this cozy Korean spot.

416-901-1288
http://www.huhgane.com/

 

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Spice Girls Are Not the Headliner Anymore!

If you’re an avid baker, you may have realized that there is a worldwide shortage of vanilla beans. Not only is the price of supply skyrocketing, but it’s also making it difficult to find good quality beans. Since my wife had a recipe that required several vanilla beans, I went on a search looking for beans at a reasonable price. During my research, I came across a store that I used to be familiar with when I lived downtown. House of Spice located in Kensington Market in Toronto on Augusta Avenue.

I called up to find out if they had the product I was looking for, and much to my surprise, they stocked a few different varieties of the bean. The most popular is the Madagascar vanilla bean and while other places quoted as much as $12.00 a bean, House of Spice was selling them for $6.95. My wife and I decided to go down there to check out the quality. Much to her excitement, the beans were fresh and of high quality!

While we were there, my wife started looking around and found a number of different and unique ingredients that she had been searching for. Items like pickling salt, Ethiopian spices, and several different types of coffee were all right there, tucked into the little store. In addition to the wide selection of products and reasonable prices, perhaps what was just as important, if not more, was that the staff were extremely friendly and very knowledgeable.

When it comes to something like simple salt and pepper (this store had 4 different varieties of specialty sea salt and truffle salt!) you don’t need an expert, but with other products you need someone who understands what they are for, and how they should be stored. The employees at House of Spice were helpful, and clearly know their business! Although it is a small store, they manage to stock a lot of different items, so I would plan on browsing the shelves. In fact, why not make an afternoon of it? There are lots of other food stores in the neighborhood, as well as great restaurants to grab a bite.

House of Spice is definitely a worthwhile place to check out for anyone interested. Enjoy your cooking and shopping and remember to invite me for dinner!

House of Spice
416-593-9724
http://www.ehouseofspice.com

 

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Es Delicioso, El Catrin!

Tacos on the patio at El Catrin.

A few weeks ago, I was told of what was promised to be one of the best Mexican restaurants in Toronto. I was a little hesitant to go, because it happened to be located in the Distillery District, where I haven’t had the best experience with restaurants. During past visits to other restaurants in the area, I have found that the food wasn’t that great, the service was slow and unattentive, and prices were through the roof! With that being said, I was told this place was great and after my arm was twisted, we ended up going.

As we approached the location, the first thing I noticed was the patio. It was big, it was beautiful, and it set the perfect atmosphere for a nice dinner. The patio was decorated with all sorts of lights, making it seem almost festive. Once we entered the restaurant, we were immediately greeted by a wonderful hostess, and taken to our reserved table inside the dining room, which was already set up and waiting for us. Within minutes, our server came over and introduced herself. She was extremely enthusiastic, cheery about having us, and constantly making suggestions and recommendations based on her personal favourite items and restaurant best sellers.

With regards to the food, we ordered a variety of items to share – and everything was delicious! The tacos were delectable, and the guacamole was absolutely heavenly…my mouth still waters just thinking about it!

When the bill came, I was delightfully surprised to note that it wasn’t outrageously expensive (like I was expecting). In fact, I was so impressed with the overall service and food that I personally spoke to the manager to tell him how enjoyable the evening was. It turns out it was only our server’s first week and the fact that she provided such amazing and attentive service spoke volumes about El Catrin’s ability to scope out good, hardworking people and train them well.

Without a doubt, I would return for the amazing food and extremely hospitable service. Whether after a walk in the Distillery District, on a warm summer night, or in the middle of the winter, El Catrin makes for a great dining experience!

El Catrin
416-203-2121
www.elcatrin.ca

 

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