finally checking out the noodle-hype

So much hype.  I had to check it out.  Since I’m not big fan of no-reservations-wait-in-the-snow lunches I was happy to find Momofuku Noodle Bar to be a bit on the quiet side a few days into the new year.  A friend of mine (and fellow asian-food snob) is off to Japan for a few months for work.  He will be missed, so this seemed like a great opportunity for a good-bye lunch.  Although I’m sure he will eat many bowls of better ramen in Japan.

I’ll first comment on the space, in the new Shangri-la hotel, the noodle bar on the main floor is very nicely designed.  Much fancier than the other ramen joints I’ve been to around town.  We actually got seated on the second floor with a view of the main restaurant.

momofuku menu slushie

 

Since it was my first time I decided to stick with the Momofuku Ramen, at $15 it’s pretty pricey but I figured I should give it a try.  We also decided to share an order of the Pork Buns ($10).  The pork buns were very good, the “bun” was very fresh and soft, and I thought the hoisin sauce and cucumber were a nice addition to the pork.  These seem to be a popular choice based on social media and other reviews and I can see why.  The ramen was good.  I’m not sure it was great.  The noodles were nice, very fresh and for me, the highlight of the dish.  I really liked the cabbage, pork shoulder and fish cake in the soup, but the pork belly didn’t have any flavour and the broth wasn’t hot enough to cook the egg.   I also found the broth to be a bit on the heavy, smoky sauce they had piled in the middle of the soup was a bit overpowering for my taste.

momofuku pork buns and ramen

 

Overall I enjoyed the restaurant, the food is good, the atmosphere is fun and the service we had was good (despite some other reviews I’ve read).  I will go back and probably check out some of the other dishes.  The prices are high, but that’s what I would expect in that location.  I think it was worth it for a nice lunch out.

Momofuku Noodle Bar,  190 University Ave, ground floor.  

Food 4/5     Service 4/5     Value 3/5     

Overall Rating 4/5

 

Advertisements

A sweet neighborhood treat

I was up early to watch a disappointing hockey game so thought I would start to catch up on some posts. This will be a quick one since its not really a restaurant but more of a snack place.

My neighborhood is pretty light on venues for my blog, so when The Waffle Bar opened up I was curious. For several months they didn’t actually sell waffles to the public, which seemed unfair since you could see and smell everything just walking by. So you can imagine our excitement when we saw they had opened a retail storefront one Saturday morning as we were walking home from grabbing a coffee.

20130103-074808.jpg
The menu is limited, so we ordered the waffle with berry fusion ($4.50). The waffle isn’t terribly big but more filling than you would expect. The ‘berry fusion’ is like a chunky jam that goes nicely with the crispy-on-the-outside, soft in the middle. I’m definitely not a waffle expert, but apparently these are Leige-style waffles, not the Belgian ones which are more common around the city. Whatever you call them, they were yummy! A great treat on a fall morning. If you happen to be in the neighborhood it’s worth checking out. And if not, I believe they do sell packages of pre-made waffles at other places around the city. My only criticisms really have nothing to do with the food. The teen working that morning seemed like there were a million places he would rather be, and let’s be honest, for anyone who cooks its pretty clear that 5 bucks is pretty steep. They do sell packages or pre-made waffles at the store for $8.50. That being said, on a lazy Saturday morning, I’ll probably do it again.

The Waffle Bar
281 Scarborough Road (647) 748-9235

Food 4/5 Service 2/5 Value 3/5

Overall Rating 3/5

getting caught up….

So it’s been a crazy busy summer and I haven’t had much chance to get out to eat around toronto.  Lots of travel, cottage weekends and backyard bbq’s instead.  I’m not complaining, but am looking forward to getting out for some more great meals this fall.

As I was thinking about where to eat next I realized that I never posted about my dinner earlier this summer at Salt Wine Bar.  According to their website, the are an Iberian/Canadian tapas place. This post will be short and sweet, mostly because the meal was a few months ago and honestly, not that memorable.

Salt is a tapas restaurant in the west end of the city.  The place is really nice, with a trendy, yet cozy vibe.  They had an interesting sounding cocktail list so we started off with those – but they were awful.  Wine is the way to go here for sure!

The charcuterie board was good, although it’s hard to mess that up.  After that it was hit and miss.  The cured fish (can’t remember what the fish was) dish was really tasty, very fresh with a great mix of flavours, but then the calamari, while well cooked, was just a bad combination of different tastes.   We definitely had some good dishes,  but overall nothing was amazing, and it wasn’t really worth a trip across town.  I think if it was in my hood I would likely give it another shot.  But since it’s not, I’ll just move on…

Salt Wine Bar,  225 Ossington Ave.  (416) 533-7258

Food 3/5     Service 4/5     Value 3/5     

Overall Rating 3/5

great venue, great food, great weather… perfect saturday

This post is a little off topic, but last nights event at the Brickworks was so great I have to write about it. The Toronto Underground Market is a monthly event that has been going on for almost a year, but this was my first time.  It’s a food event, not a farmers market, but less stuffy than a food show – i guess a “food market”, or as my husband says “a farmers market where somebody else does all the cooking”.

The event is made up of all kinds of food vendors cooking up a variety of dishes.  There are lines for pretty much all of the booths, but we quickly figured out that the trick is to get a drink (beer lines are the shortest, tequila the longest) and then get in line, enjoy your drink while you wait, get your food and then pick the next line, repeat.  There is some seating but empty spaces are rare and really, you just want to keep trying more food anyways.  One of our favourites was the paella at the Pimenton booth.  It reminded me of the vendors we saw on the beach in Spain, cooking up giant batches of this traditional dish.  For $6 you get a good size portion with lots of meat and fish.

Here is a sampling of some of the other dishes we tried – chicken curry and waffles; Hawaiian cantaloupe punch and mac salad; jalapeño cornbread grilled cheese; root beer glazed ribs; lobster, scallop and marlon ceviche with crispy taro chips; and braised pork shoulder in bulgogi sauce and huli hull tacos.

I should mention that it’s a good idea to come hungry and willing to share.  There is so much good stuff to try that it’s the only way we got through so much.  They do sell tupperware, or you can bring your own so that you can take home any leftovers.  I had read that tip before we left so we used our to bring home dessert… delicious looking brownies that we will eat today.

Tickets for the event are $10 and sell out fast.  Once you’re there, most dishes are $2-$6.  There is an ATM, but if you bring cash you can skip that line and get right to the food.  Parking at the Brickworks is limited so transit is probably best, they have set up a school bus/shuttle from Broadview station to make things easier.  The next TUM is at the end of August and we will be back for sure!

Pizza Napoletana at Pizzeria Libretto

Monday night a friend and I headed out for a long overdue catch up.  I had heard about Pizzeria Libretto on the Danforth a few months back but couldn’t justify waiting in line for hours for pizza.  Thankfully it seems they have gotten rid of their no-reservations policy and are now up and running on Open Table (a great App if you haven’t checked it out yet).  Unfortunately, our last minute booking meant getting a table for 5:30.  We solved that easily by passing some time with a bottle of wine and some starters.  I should mention, wines are a good mix of Italian and Ontario, and reasonably priced.  They are also all available by the glass, quartino, half-bottle and full-bottle.

Our first dish was a crostini with asparagus, cremini mushroom, pecorino, stracciatella, lemon juice & herbs ($6).  This was a yummy starter, just a few bites of great flavours.  I guess you really can’t go wrong with this dish.

We also decided to share the Rocco’s Salad with brussels sprouts, butternut squash, Pingue prosciutto, heirloom beets, pine nuts, ricotta salata & crispy egg ($11).  With so many yummy ingredients we figured it had to be good.  Our waiter explained that they quickly poach, batter and fry the egg on top so that it should still be runny when you break it open.  It didn’t.  Oh well, still a tasty salad.

For the highlight of the meal, our pizza! Apparently not all pizza’s are created equal, and Pizzeria Libretto prides itself in serving up authentic VPN (Verace Pizza Napoletana) certified pizza.  You can read all about it on their website, but basically this is real pizza – Naples style.  And it’s very good.   I went with the daily special – wild boar, mozzarella and the green parts of the garlic.  The crust is thin in the middle, but perfectly doughy and crisp around the edges.  But the best part was the cheese, I’m not sure where they get it, but it was really yummy – not your average pizza cheese for sure.   I had to hold back to bring some leftovers home to my husband.

Pizzeria Libretto is a great addition to the Danforth and I will be back.  The restaurant has a  cozy, but trendy feel and would be good for either a casual weeknight meal or a fancy night out.  The staff were really friendly and helpful and most importantly (since we were there at 5:30) didn’t rush us through our meal.

Pizzeria Libretto, 550 Danforth Ave.  (416) 466-0400

Food 5/5     Service 5/5     Value 4/5     

Overall Rating 5/5

HBC and O&B…. yummm

I seem to be falling a little behind on my blog these days.  I’ve been traveling quite a bit so it only seems fitting that when I was briefly home last weekend I was in the mood for some Canadian cuisine.  We had some errands to run downtown and an O&B gift card from christmas so we decided to grab a quick lunch at Bannock.

We started with the Bannock Caesar ($9), which was tasty but nothing special.  The menu is really interesting and we couldn’t really decide what to try, so opted for our usual “order a bunch of stuff and share” plan.  We had to try the Roast Duck Poutine Pizza ($16) just because of how crazy it sounded.  It’s basically poutine with duck meat piled on top of a piece of bannock (check out the wikipedia description here).  This was a pretty fun dish but really not a main course.  I’d suggest getting this as a starter to share with a bunch of people because you really only need a slice, and it’s very rich.

We also ordered a cup of the Homemade Habitant Split Pea soup ($5) which was delicious.  This was a perfect cool weather day treat.  It’s made with smoked ham hocks which really enhances the flavour.  It’s also very filling so I can’t imagine getting a full bowl.

Finally, my favourite dish was the East/West Coast Shrimpwich ($16) made with fresh shrimp from Newfoundland and BC in a light creamy sauce.  I’ll be back for this sandwich, maybe from the take-out side of the restaurant which seems like a great place to pick up lunch on a busy work day.

Overall, I really enjoyed Bannock and would go back.  Canadian cuisine is often hard to describe, let alone make up an entire menu of tasty dishes.  O&B has done a nice job making a cozy little restaurant in the corner of their flagship Bay store.  And, if it’s busy when you get there, they will take your cell number and call you when a table is ready so you can pass the wait time shopping!

Bannock, 401 Bay Street (at Queen)  416-861-6996

Food 4/5     Service 3/5     Value 4/5     

Overall Rating 4/5

Indian food on the Danforth

It’s been a few weeks since my last post, but last Saturday night, with an empty fridge at home, we decided to go out for Indian food.  We decided to check out Sher-e-Punjab on the Danforth since it was nearby and seemed to get good reviews online.  We invited friends along to join us, partly for their company, but also so we would be able to try out a few more dishes!

We started with the tandoori chicken ($9.95).  It came out on a sizzling hot plate on a bed of green peppers and onions.  The chicken was very nicely seasoned, well cooked but not dry, with just the right amount of heat.  This was a great starter and the full portion had 8 pieces, perfect for sharing.

For our mains we got a variety of our favourites.  My husband picked the Chilli Chicken ($10.95) which I believe is a Hakka dish, made with deep fried boneless chicken with green chillis and onions.  I ordered the Matar Paneer ($7.95), its a wonderful veggie dish made with green peas and paneer in a sauce of blended spices.  This is one of my favourites and my best friend’s mother makes it the best I have ever tasted.   The dish at Sher-e-Punjab is good, but can’t compete with her version.  We also ordered the Keema Egg Curry ($9.95) made with minced ground beef, egg & green peas in a light curry sauce.    There was a really nice spice to this dish that provided just enough heat for our meal.

All in all, it was a good meal.  We were craving some good Indian food and the food at Sher-e-Punjab was perfect.  I think I’ll keep searching for the city’s “best” Indian food.  It is nice to know that they offer delivery through Just-Eat, we will likely be trying that out sometime soon.

Sher-e-Punjab, 351 Danforth Ave  (416)-465-2125

Food 3/5     Service 3/5     Value 3/5     

Overall Rating 3/5