ROASTED !, Toronto

:: Le Cafe Michi

JW and I have been eager to find good japanese restaurants in the uptown area and we came across this hidden gem in Scarborough. Le Cafe Michi is a coffee shop style restaurant run by a family. It famous for its unatama (eel simmered in egg on rice) and cakes.

P1070613

I ordered their Unatama and JW tried their Cafe Au Lait Chirashi Sushi. All combos come with coffee/green tea that can be refilled, green salad and miso soup. We ordered coffee despite the fact that we were having dinner b/c we knew their coffee are very high in quality.

P1070617

JW’s assorted sashimi were placed very artistically in a special piece of dinnerware. The sashimi were fresh.  The sushi rice had very little vinegar added to it compared to other japanese restaurants.  Very simpleyet delicious dish.

P1070630

We found this letter to customers very thoughtful and cute. It basically said they had to raise the price of some of their dishes due to worldwide eel shortage. We understand this perfectly because we have witnessed eel prices going up as well in the last few years.

P1070631

I LOVE THE UNATAMA. It came with a lot of eels even though they raised the price. The dish was very light in taste despite of the colour of the sauce which was definitely deceiving. Although you expect more flavours to explode in your mouth, the dish served the purpose of bringing out the real flavour of the eels. I prefer it this way instead of drowning the egg in sauce and then all you could taste would be the sauce and nothing else.

P1070628

We got to pick two pieces of cake to wrap up this amazing meal. We went with green tea cake and tiramisu. Love the green tea cake which had red beans hidden in the cream. Compared to the green tea cake, the tiramisu was certainly not as bright. We can’t wait to try out all of their cakes.

P1070633 P1070632

 

Verdict:

roasted !

It is worth to note that the portion of the food are fair. We felt satisfied after the meal but not stuffed. Love this place! Can’t wait to go back for more unatama or even a piece of cake to go with a coffee for a nice afternoon tea. Definitely a hidden gem.

Le Cafe Michi on Urbanspoon

Standard
ROASTED !, Toronto

:: Ryus Noodle Bar

Hi everyone!

Last sunday, JW and I walked around the Baldwin Neighbourhood to grab a quick lunch. Then, we were surprised to find out there was a newly opened ramen restaurant called Ryus Noodle Bar ! Debating between Kinton Ramen (see our review here!) which was a few steps away and this new noodle bar, we couldn’t bring ourselves to miss out something new.

What was even more exited is that…we took our very first video using the new instagram video function!! Take a look and you can have a glimpse of the interior of the restaurant and their food :) Follow us on instagram @theroasteadacorn for more videos in the future!

When we first walked into the restaurant, it was quite empty, partially because they had only opened for a week or so and it was 4pm. Also, there wasn’t air conditioner so it was kind of hot and humid inside the restaurant even though it was a rainy, cool sunday. I cannot imagine how hot it will be when eating a hot ramen there in a hot summer day.

photo 1-1

In Ryus Noodle Bar, a special oil or sauce will be served along with your ramen. Half way into your ramen, you can add the sauce/oil and it is supposed to give you a different flavour. Interesting.

photo 4-1

JW ordered the the AAA Roast Beef Ramen with Shoyu Sauce with seasoned house spicy oil.

photo 1

:: Normally, pork is served with ramen. The roasted beef was an interesting twist and the taste and texture went pretty well with the ramen. The beef was tender and we could taste the black pepper that was lying on top. What surprised us the most was that it came with TRUFFLE OIL mixed with salt !!  Although delicious, it is better to treat the beef was a side dish as the truffle oil will disappear once dipped into the soup.

:: The ramen and broth were very generic and nothing special.The spicy oil had a hint of sesame oil and it smelt delicious. We actually couldn’t wait until we finished half of the noodle to add the spicy oil. Once we added it, the ramen transformed and gave it a wow factor. Although not very strong in taste, the spicy oil gave a nice change in flavour from the ordinary broth.

I ordered Seasonal Shoyu Ramen with garlic & shallot oil. Again, nothing special with the ramen and broth. But the garlic oil was to die for  ( I am sorry that I forgot to take a picture of the garlic oil. Please watch the video as I caught a shot of it !). It smelt and tasted amazing and again transformed the ramen into something extraordinary. Also, we actually enjoyed mixing the two oil together.

photo 4

verdict:

Roasted!

We like the special oil/sauce idea very much. We would probably add the oil at the beginning next time.

Ryus Noodle Bar on Urbanspoon

Standard
ROASTED !, Toronto

:: Okonomi House

P1070433

After reading BlogTO’s article about Toronto’s Best Japanese Restaurants, we paid Okonomi House a visit. Okonomi House specializes in okonomiyaki, traditional japanese savoury pancakes. This is very different from all the japanese restaurants we go to. We were also surprised to find out that this restaurant has exceptionally high rating.

P1070445

Located in the heart of downtown, this restaurant is pretty small but very home-like. As usual, we requested to sit at the bar.

P1070441

JW ordered their scallop okonomiyaki without onions and I had the shrimp okonomiyaki.  We also added dried seaweed and bonito flakes for a dollar that came on the side.

P1070440

Overall, I really enjoyed the okonomiyaki. It basically tasted exactly like takoyaki but in a pancake form. The onion in the pancake elevated the otherwise doughiness/blant texture to something more crispy.  Thus, compared to JW’s okonomiyaki which didn’t have onions, mine definitely had more interesting texture and didn’t taste as heavy (partly because of the shrimps as well) . We also highly recommend one to pay an extra dollar to get the dried seaweed and bonito flakes as they added another dimension of flavour that complemented the okonomiyaki sauce very well.

On the other hand, although the seafood in our okonomiyaki was definitely lighter and more refreshing compared to other meat options, they didn’t have much flavour.  Thus, we think that meat would add more flavour to the okonomiyaki and we will try that ourselves next time!

The okonomiyaki was  not very filling as JW claimed he was “still hungry” after eating the entire pancake. Some of our friends claimed they would order another rice to go with the okonomiyaki. But for me, I felt very satisfied.

Verdict:

Roasted! 

Definitely a gem! Cheap eat in downtown. We will definitely visit again when we crave for okonomiyaki.

Okonomi House on Urbanspoon

Standard
ROASTED !, Toronto

:: Kinton Ramen

We actually visited Kinton long time ago when they just opened about a year ago. To be honest, it was not the most impressive ramen experience we had. Also, the online review and rating of Kinton are not that great so we never visited it again. However, we got to know a few friends who LOVE Kinton. By love, I mean they are “Kinton Bowlers” and I can see them on my facebook newsfeed EVERY TIME they visited Kinton – “xxxx’s 34th time”. JW and I are curious why they are so in love with Kinton so we decided to give it a shot again.

photo 1

Like all other ramen restaurants, Kinton gives you the luxury of choosing a light,  regular or rich broth as well as the fattiness of your pork. You can go for a lighter pork shoulder or a heavier pork belly. Interestingly, when JW requested to have his noodles to be harder/firmer, the server said it cannot be done because their noodles are very thick and its already very firm.

photo 2

JW’s cousin ordered the Miso Ramen with pork shoulder and a regular broth. I ordered the Shoyu Ramen (Soy Sauce) with pork shoulder and a ligher broth. Overall, the broth was delicious but not as rich as other ramen restaurants. The pork shoulders were nicely torched, thus locking the juice and fat inside the meat. Very tender and juicy. Despite of my choice of a ligher broth, the broth was still very flavourful and I enjoyed it a lot as I often find ramen broth to be a little salty and heavy for me. The seasoned egg that came with my Shoyu ramen was like the cherry on top as the half boiled yolk thickened the broth.

However, the noodles were too hard that I thought it was uncooked after my first bite. This is true because the noodles were slightly thicker than normal ones thus giving its hardness and “chewiness”. For people like JW who likes his noodles to be harder, Kinton’s ramen would be perfect for him. But for people like me who like their noodles to be normal, this would be too hard.

photo 3

photo 4

JW had the Garlic Spicy Ramen with pork belly and a rich broth. At first, we were worried that the ramen would be too spicy. Yet, while every sip of the broth was deliciously filled with amazing taste of garlic as you can see the generous amount of minced garlic in the picture, the spiciness was rather blunt and weak. Overall, the broth did not have enough taste.

photo 5

verdict:

ROASTED.

JW and I had a difficult time deciding whether Kinton Ramen is roasted or not. JW likes the hard noodles and how the spicy ramen was not too spicy but I am not a big fan of their noodles. The broth was delicious but it lacks flavour. Compared to other ramen restaurants, Kinton ramen was not the best among them all yet it is still a nice addition to Toronto’s ramen restaurants. If we are nearby/ within walking distance, we would visit again. But if we have other choices like Santouka, we would possibly opt for that.

ALSO! Don’t forget that we are now on instagram! Follow us @theroastedacorn !

Kinton Ramen on Urbanspoon

Standard
NOT ROASTED !, Toronto

:: Bent

P1070305

We were very excited when we learned about Bent’s seafood tasting menu because Susur Lee is in charge of the Bent’s kitchen and the restaurant is operated by his sons Kai and Levi Bent Lee. We even cancelled our reservation at somewhere else that night because the tasting menu was ending on the very next day (at least for some reasons we thought so).

P1070284

P1070283

Susur Lee’s wife, Branda Bent-Lee, was behind the interior design of Bent. I really appreciate the little details that she added to every corner in the restaurant. The atmosphere was very lively and casual. Yet, it was kind of loud that JW and I had a hard time talking.

P1070271

Bent’s seafood tasting bent-o box included a wide selection of items that can be found on their menu. We thought this would be a great opportunity to try out some of their dishes. The tasting bent-o box costs $35 from 5-7 and $42 from 7 onwards.

The tasting bent-o box included:

:: Lime Coconut-Curry Shrimp SoupP1070277

The soup was light with the perfect balance of curry, coconut and spices. It was not spicy and very refreshing. Although the portion was small, you can find different ingredients in the soup so each spoon was filled with unique texture and flavour. We enjoyed the soup very much.

P1070285

Shortly after, a server came up to us and explained what was in the dish that she was holding. I simply said okay thinking that it was just one of the bento box dishes as it was so loud in the restaurant and I could barely hear her. After she put down the salad, JW told me that the salad was not part of the bento box. Opps.

The salad was basically different marinated vegetables including beets, carrots, beans and kohlrabi. Not very strong in flavour and easy in the mouth.

Then the rest of the dishes came on a tray like a large bento box:P1070286

:: Spicy Peruvian Style Ceviche
The dish was served cold. The white snapper and calamari were mixed with a lot of Aji Amarillo chili and fresh lime juice and served in the middle. The mussels and clams were served on the side with only a little bit of sauce drizzled on top. We could barely taste the flavour of the white snapper and calamari because there was too much sauce and the sauce was too spicy for us. Yet the mussels and clams were deliciously flavoured since it was not drowned in the chili.

P1070287

:: Pressed Octopus
This was JW’s favourite dish. The octopus was chewy and did not have much flavour on its own. Yet, the pomegranate vinaigrette and olive oil gave an interesting hint of sweetness and saltiness.

P1070288

:: Spicy Tuna Avocado Tartare
I was expecting the deep fried rice cake and tuna to be freshly fried yet it was served cold again. I would prefer them to be nice and hot.

P1070290

::Lobster Tacos
One of the taco came in a wonton shell and the other one in a taro shell. I preferred the taro shell since the taro added a new dimension to the lobster filling. JW, on the other hand, preferred the wonton shell because of its crispiness. Yet they were both equally delicious. The lobster was very fresh.

P1070298

:: Oyster Sake Shot
First, we do not like oysters. Marinated in lemongrass, shallots and ponzu sauce, we took it in one shot. Although not as gross as fresh oysters, it was still not our thing.

P1070293

:: Tuna+Watermelon Ceviche
The dish was way too sour. We couldn’t taste the tuna at all because the citrus juice was very very sour. Glad there was the watermelon to balance off the sourness. The Chinese doughnut fritter added an contrasting texture to dish but it did not really go with the watermelon nor the tuna.

P1070292

:: Asian Style Atlantic Salmon Gravlax
When put into the mouth, the japanese omelette embraced the salmon completely and added a hint of sweetness that tasted like pancake to the salmon. Although the softness and doughiness were not very flattering, they created an interesting experience in the mouth when mixed with the salmon.
 

P1070291

In addition to the bent-o box, we also ordered the Braised Spiced Short Ribs. The braised short rib was so so soft and juicy. Although the parsnip puree had a very strong scent of truffle which we loved, it was weirdly a little too sweet.

P1070301

The short rib also came with roasted duck fat potato. Very delicious. You can never go wrong with the roasted potato.

P1070302

The meal ended with complementary desserts. P1070304

Verdict:

Not roasted!

Our time at Bent was an unique and impressive experience as we tried out different combinations of texture and flavour that were unheard of in other restaurants. But we realized that it was not our thing. Most of the dishes were overpowered by the sauce and we could not taste the natural flavour of the food. When the flavours of all the dishes were added together, it was just too overwhelming. Yet, we still look forward to our next visit to other Susur Lee’s restaurants.
Bent on Urbanspoon

Standard
ROASTED !, Toronto

:: Ema-Tei Japanese Restaurant

We brought my cousin who was visiting us from New York to Ema-Tei. The reason why we chose Ema-Tei was because most japanese restaurants offer only little dishes that are hard to share between a large group of people. But Ema-Tei’s sukiyaki solves this problem. Also, it encourages interaction between people as you help people to add and get what they want. This is what I always look for when dining with a group of friends.

Sukiyaki

:: The beef and a variety of vegetable came on a plate uncooked along with a gas stove and heated pan. Then, the server would place about 1/3 of the food on the heated pan and add the sukiyaki sauce into it. They were ready to serve when the sauce was heated up and the food was cooked. According to your own pace and preferences, you can slowly add the rest of the food into the pan afterwards.

It is highly recommended to share this dish with at least 3-4 four people even though it is intended for two (according to their menu). JW and I tried eating the sukiyaki once with just us two and we were very very stuffed after that.

photo 4

Although these were not the best beef, they were still very tender. The vegetable was delicious after absorbing all the flavour from the sauce. Generally, sukiyaki sauce is mix of mirin sauce, soya sauce, sake and plenty of sugar and hence its saltiness and sweetness. It is very tasty however it can be very salty after awhile. Therefore, we had to add diluted sukiyaki sauce to dilute the saltiness (given to us at the beginning). At the same time, we preferred serving the sukiyaki with rice to balance out the strong flavour. Overall, I really enjoyed the sukiyaki. However, it is noted that the sauce didn’t taste exactly the same every time we visited Ema-Tei.

2013-05-25 21.17.49

We also ordered sushi and grilled mackerel. They were well done and lived up to our expectations.

photo 2

photo 1

Verdict:

roasted!

Ema-Tei is one of the traditional japanese restaurants found in Toronto. We like to visit it every now and then for their sukiyaki and curry! Also, it is not too hard to get a table when you walk in at 7-8pm. Therefore, Ema-Tei will continue to be one of our favourite places for some japanese food other than ramen and sushi.

OH ONE MORE THING! We are now on instagram! Since we can get a little lazy with updating the blog sometimes, JW and I decided to join instagram to post pictures and give instant review of the food we had which can range from restaurants to street food. So follow us on instagram @theroastedacorn. For those who don’t have instagram, you can still meet us at www.instagram.com/theroastedacorn ! See you there!

Ematei Japanese Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Standard
ROASTED !, Toronto

:: Guu Izakaya (lunch)

Guu has recently started offering lunch from Monday to Friday! This is such a great news for us since JW and I are such hardcore fans of Guu. Arriving around 1:30pm, 30 mins before their last order, we were surprised to see Guu, a place where it is always overly-crowded, being half emptied. It was quite a view.

2013-05-17 13.26.13

 

Compared to their dinner menu, their lunch menu offers only a limited number of items. All of their dishes came on a tray along with Miso soup and other little dishes. We had three of their dishes:

Saba Miso (simmered mackerel with miso sauce)

:: While mackerel can easily be overcooked and too dry, Guu’s Saba Miso was nicely done. The mackerel absorbed all the flavour in the miso sauce but remained its juiciness and softness. It was delicious!

 

2013-05-17 14.20.14

2013-05-17 14.21.48

 

Gyu Don (Sukiyaki beef on rice topped with half boiled egg)

:: Excuse the half emptied bowl of rice. We were too excited to see the egg lying on top of the sea of beef that we forgot to take a picture until we were half way into it. The half boiled egg “glued” the beef and the rice together, creating a very creamy texture. The beef was deliciously tender and juicy with a strong taste of onion. It was very good.

2013-05-17 14.03.38

Chirashi Don (Assorted fresh sashimi on sushi rice)

:: The chirashi don came with salmon, tuna, scallop and salmon caviar. The fish was very fresh. Nothing really crazy special though.

2013-05-17 13.44.18

2013-05-17 13.44.44

 

Verdict:

Roasted!

:: All the dishes were nicely done and lived up to our expectations. However, it failed to give us that wow factor when we first visited Guu. Nevertheless, it is still a great place to grab a lunch in downtown (A great alternative to all those ramen restaurants in downtown!).

Guu Izakaya on Urbanspoon

Standard