• [Giveaway] Duff + Ted's Up In Smoke Extravaganza

    Enter for a chance to win 1 of 5 Grill Pro Traditional Horizontal Offset Smokers! Click on the link in red for more details on how to enter to win one. Good luck everyone!

  • [Food Post] Bar Isabel

    Bar Isabel is a popular restaurant known for their Spanish-influenced tapas dishes. Its location on College and Ossington is easily accessible, and there's a paid parking lot nearby.

  • [Food Post] Trattoria Mercatto

    Trattoria Mercatto is a casual-fare Italian restaurant located inside of the Eaton's Center on the second floor of the mall. I was invited to attend the "Antipasti With Us" event in late August along with several local food bloggers.

  • [App/Tech] Tab Payments

    Tab is a recent Toronto startup that aims to make dining out seamlessly easy. They have partnered up with several restaurants where customers can pay their bills with the Tab app; eliminating the use of a physical credit card, or cash.

  • [Food Post] Jacobs and Co.

    Jacobs and Co. Steakhouse has a very sizable steak selection which are visibly displayed in a glass container at the front. The glass contains dry-aged beef with information tags on them (name, date, etc ...) for customers to choose from.

  • [Food Post] Sake Bar Kushi

    We were provided with a few items from their regular menu and June specials menu. Not only do they serve kushi (skewered poultry and non-poultry), but they also offer a great variety of tapas styled dishes that are meant to be shared

  • [Travel] Satsuki and Mei's House from Totoro

    My Neighbor Totoro is a 1988 animated production written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki. It's a childhood favorite of many people and I have seen many shops dedicated to selling Totoro merchandise while in Japan.

  • [Food Post] Canoe Restaurant + Bar

    Canoe is one of Toronto's critically acclaimed restaurants offering upscale Canadian cuisine. It is located on the 54th floor of Toronto Dominion Bank Towers in the financial district. As it is relatively high up; its beautifully designed dining room offers a spectacular view of the city's skyline.

  • [Food Post] Au Pied de Cochon

    One of the great appeals of the restaurant is their extensive menu. The menu at Au Pied de Cochon offers concoction of dishes that entails the uses of animal parts that are not always found in other restaurants.

  • [Travel] Day #15 in Japan [Koyasan]

    A shukubo is an accommodation that allows you to stay in a Japanese temple or shrine for the night, and enables you to experience the culture. You are given your own personal room, and there are multiple washroom facilities throughout the temple.

Sakura Japanese Cuisine

Sakura Japanese Cuisine is a Japanese restaurant located in the Annex; they offer both AYCE and a la carte options. This short review will be on my first visit to Sakura Japanese Cuisine where we opted for their a la carte menu for lunch. We were short on time as we had a meeting to attend, so we only had less than an hour that Saturday for lunch. However, we enjoyed our visit, and return soon after for their AYCE. That is going to be a separate review on its own.

I opted for the beef short ribs bento box ($10.99). Please note that the following bento box that I ordered was not part of their lunch specials and part of the dinner. They had a beef short ribs lunch special for a mere $6.99 but it didn't come with any sashimi or sushi. Normally, most places would give you tempura but in lieu of that, Sakura Japanese Cuisine gives you three pieces of salmon sashimi. It's a welcome alternative for those who like sashimi much more than tempura. Granted this was still an AYCE, so the sushi and sashimi aren't on par with high end places, but the quality was still pretty good. I'd say that Sakura Japanese Cuisine had a constant flow of customers during their lunch hour, so there was definitely a steady movement of fish. I also can appreciate the fact that there were more than 7 pieces of meaty ribs; the norm is usually four at other places.

J ended up getting the tempura udon ($8.95) which arrived out pretty quickly. He liked the fact that the tempura wasn't in the soup and on its own.

Sakura Japanese Cuisine on Urbanspoon

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Kenzo Ramen

Kenzo Ramen is another ramen chain that has several locations across the city. I went to the one located in the Annex a couple of days ago. I ordered their The King of Kings Ramen ($12.95) - spicy Netsu ramen with five toppings of roasted pork, sliced egg, fish cake, fresh seaweed and dried seaweed. Season topping: marianted bamboo shoot, which was topped with a generous amount of sliced roasted  pork and bean sprouts. It was priced well and the portion was more than generous. However, I couldn't help but noticed how much more sodium (salt) there were in the pork broth here than any other places that I have been to. It was kind of hard to drink the entire bowl cause I was pretty much consuming a handful of sodium with each gulp.

Unfortunately, my review on this particular bowl of ramen is a little mixed. While I enjoyed the tasty and tender pork; I thought that the noodles tasted slightly like instant ramen to me. However, they do offer vegetarian options at Kenzo Ramen so that's always a plus for those who can't eat meat.

 Address: 372 Bloor St W Toronto, ON M5S1X6 

Kenzo Ramen on Urbanspoon

Kenzo Japanese Noodle House on Urbanspoon

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All Star Wings and Ribs

All Star Wings and Ribs is a casual chain restaurant offering more than 100 flavors of chicken wings. In addition to the wings, they also serve a variety of other food items such as burgers, fries, sandwiches, salads, steaks, ribs, etc ... This was my third visit to this particular location up in Vaughan. I was here about less than a month ago for an old high school's friend's birthday dinner. We were a small group of seven people so reservation wasn't really needed since it was a weeknight.

We were seated at one of the larger tables, and were given menus to browse through. As mentioned earlier, they have a lot of different wing flavor, and some were pretty creative. We decided to order two different rounds of wings along with a pitcher of beer, and some pop drinks. To start off the night, we got two batches of their beer battered fries. I absolutely loved the fries here, as it's so crispy and delicious. Definitely up there along with the fries from St. Louis as my favorite. 

 As for the chicken, customers have a choice between non-breaded or breaded wings for each order.  All of their wings are served with celery and dip, and anything additional costs $1 each.

The prices are as followed:

Single ($10.95) - no splitting
Double ($20.95) - 1 flavor
30 wings ($29.95) - 1 flavor
50 wings ($48.95) - 3 flavors
100 wings ($89.95) - 4 flavors

The wings were rather delicious and the pieces weren't small at all. I would say that the sizes were relatively comparable to other wings joints that I have been to. The flavors were definitely there, and I did enjoy most of the ones that we selected. I liked that the wings weren't dripping in excess oil, so that's always a plus in my books. Overall, it's a good place to relax and enjoy some wings with friends, family etc ...

Address: 3130 Rutherford Rd Vaughan, ON, L4K 0B1

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Sukho Thai

Sukhothai recently opened up their third location on Dundas St. W, replacing the brunch spot, The Guild. They now have three locations to their name throughout the downtown area. A couple of months back, a friend and I decided to eat at the Wellington location around 6 pm. We chose a good time as we were immediately seated when we arrived, but they did get busier as the night went on. 

Walking on Wellington Street E, you will see a plethora of restaurants in the area. However, it's not that hard to miss the giant dark green sign with an elephant logo on the storefront. This location is much larger than their original location and can accommodate more diners.

The decor was a mix of rustic and modern with its exposed brick and comfortable seating. It differs from Khao San Road's communal styled seating. As for the menu, it was a simple two pager showcasing main dishes between $10-$15 and the appetizers are roughly $5-$10 per dish. The prices may be slightly higher than the average Thai establishments downtown but the quality of the food is definitely there. 

I ordered the shrimp sukhoThai pad thai ($15) - included peanuts, long leaf and lime, and it came out nicely presented and was good sized portion. The flavor profile was definitely there as I thought that that the Pad Thai had a good balance between tangy and spicy. Additionally, they use tamarind in the paste which is so much better than ketchup which a lot of places use as an alternative.

 In regards to the service, our server was brisk but he was friendly. We didn't wait long for our orders to be taken, and the food arrived in a timely manner.

My friend, Ray, got the curry ($13) - includes rice and choice of chicken, beef, tofu, fish or shrimp. However, it's an extra $1 if you opt for the fish or shrimp options.

Address: 52 Wellington Street E, Toronto, ON, M5E 1C9

Sukho Thai on Urbanspoon

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Ichimoto Japanese Restaurant

 Ichimoto is another AYCE in the Richmond Hill area that I have tried in the past two years. It's located in a plaza, so there are plenty of free parking spaces if you decided to drive up there. I am no stranger to the concept of AYCE sushi, as I have been to a few around the cities. At times, I do like the idea of eating a variety of different dishes instead of opting for simply a bento box.

Prior to this visit, I have never eaten at Ichimoto before, but my brother was a repeat customer. He insisted that they were pretty consistent with their food, and treated me for my birthday. The weekend price was pretty on par with other AYCE establishments, as it was $21.99.

Quite a few people online have complained about their small portions, which I don't understand. It's an AYCE, so you have the option to order more if you're still hungry, and wanting more. I on the other hand like the idea of smaller portions as it allows myself to try out different items on the menu.
The overall food selection was pretty good as they have a little bit of everything; appetizers, cooked dishes, hand rolls, sashimi, sushi, and desserts. They had a decent selection of rolls, and the rice in these rolls wasn't too abundant or tasteless. I really liked their sushi pizza, and fully enjoyed the spicy mayo that they used to topped off the rice patty. Most of their cooked food was solid, and I liked that the cuts of the salmon sashimi had a good texture to it. 
As for service, I believe that they do have a 2 hour seating limit. However, we didn't feel rushed by any of the wait staff at all. Although they weren't very talkative, they did promptly clear our plates and refilled our glasses of water and coke throughout the meal which is always a plus. Overall, I thought that Ichimoto was a pretty solid AYCE in terms of what you pay for.

Address: 360 Hwy 7, Richmond Hill, ON L4B 1B1

Ichimoto on Urbanspoon

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Milestone's Grill & Bar

We often eat at some of surrounding chain restaurants after movie date nights at the Queensway Cineplex. Although, my SO lives downtown, he likes to drive us up to the Cineplex on Queensway as it's painfully difficult to get parking downtown especially on Fridays and Saturdays. We have dined at various Milestone's Grill & Bar on a few occasions, and I have to applaud them for consistency. At times, I find that chain restaurants can be a hit or a miss depending on the locations, but Milestone's Grill & Bar has been consistent with both their service and quality of food.

We were slightly disappointed that they were sold out of Prime Rib that night. I am assuming that it's one of the most popular cuts on the Milestone's Grill & Bar's menu. We decided to still get steaks - just different cuts.

I opted for the 8 oz Top Sirloin ($23) - signature seasoning, served with red wine jus and seasonal vegetables. My choice of side from the list was the red skin fries. I ordered my steak medium, and it turned out pretty tasty. The seasoning wasn't overwhelming salty and the meat itself was tender. However, I didn't really like the small salad portion that came with the dish. It barely had any green lettuces in the mix, but rather large chunks of peppers and onions.

My SO got the 12 oz Rib Eye ($32) - signature seasoning, served with red wine jus and seasonal vegetables with the choice of a baked potato with house-made sour cream, horseradish and chive sauce for a side.

Milestone's Grill & Bar offers casual fare at comparable prices as their competitors such as Joey's, Kelsey's, Jack Astor's Bar & Grill, Moxie's Grill & Bar, etc ... The overall atmosphere at this particular location was more low key with ample seating in the dining room. I have been to the Yorkdale location twice, and that location was louder compared to the one on Queensway. Overall, I thought that the service was good as our server was attentive despite waiting on four other tables in our allocated area in the dining room.

Address: 1001 The Queensway Toronto, ON, M8Z 6C7

Milestone's Grill & Bar on Urbanspoon

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[Giveaway] Duff & Ted's Up In Smoke Extravaganza

 Enter for a chance to win 1 of 5 Grill Pro Traditional Horizontal Offset Smokers! 

I absolutely love to BBQ (especially during warm weather); whether it be wings, ribs, chicken, or shrimp. So when I heard about this giveaway; I didn't hesitate in wanting to share it with my fellow BBQ & food lovers.

How would you like the chance to win 1 out of 5 Grill Pro Traditional Horizontal Offset Smokers?
Ontario Gas BBQ (World's Largest BBQ Store) is running an amazing contest right now called Duff & Ted's Up In Smoke Extravaganza. The five winners of the contest will get to take home a Grill Pro Traditional Horizontal Offset Smokers, and this will be determined on Saturday, October 25, 2014 at their store (3310 Langstaff Road, Vaughan, ON, L4K 4Z8).

Ontario Gas BBQ is a privately owned Canadian company, and is currently the World's Largest Barbecue Store. They have been serving Canadian barbecue lovers for over 30 years now. Despite their name, they don't just display and stock gas barbecues. Rather, they have over 150 different barbeques from propane, natural gas, charcoal, electric, smokers, pits, etc ...  In additional to barbecues and smokers; the large BBQ store also offers parts and accessories for sale. Everything for your BBQ needs.

Ontario Gas BBQ also has a large Charcoal Room, which is larger than many of their competitors' stores. The room features charcoal from around the world (such as Canada, US, Mexico, South America, Africa and Indonesia), and they stock over 10 brands of premium hardwood charcoal. What's so great about the charcoal they offer? Well, they contain no additives, no chemicals, no softwoods. Additionally, they undertook major expansion back in 2009, and the store now exceeds 50,000 square feet making them the World’s Largest Barbecue Store.

The Prize

5 lucky winners will be randomly drawn at the Ontario Gas BBQ store, and will win 1 of 5 Grill Pro Traditional Horizontal Offset Smokers (pictured below). Perfect for the 2015 BBQ season next year! 

Grill Pro Traditional Horizontal Offset Smoker
How Do I Enter?

Go to this page at http://www.bbqs.com/up_in_smoke_ballot for the ballot form. Print out the ballot, and fill out all of the required information. Bring the completed ballot to the Ontario Gas BBQ store located at 3310 Langstaff Road, Vaughan, ON, L4K 4Z8, on Saturday, October 25th, 2014 between 12:00 pm to 12:30 pm to be entered into the draw.

Winners do not have to be present at time of draw, but you do need to get your ballot in before 12:30 pm though. However, it'd be great to stay to enjoy all of the festivities that Duff & Ted's Up In Smoke Extravaganza has to offer.

Draw Details

Date: Saturday, October 25th, 2014
Time: 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM
Location: Ontario Gas BBQ at 3310 Langstaff Road, Vaughan, ON, L4K 4Z8

Giveaway Start

There will be 5 draws (first draw is at 12:30 pm and last draw is at 2:30 pm) on Sat, Oct 25, 2014.

Free Sandwiches

You don't have to be present during the draw (as long as your ballot is in between the set times of 12:00 pm to 12:30 pm). However, you should definitely stay as Ted Reader's Hoptimus Prime Fire Truck will be in the lot giving away FREE pulled pork sandwiches to the first 200 people who donate a minimum of $5 to Camp Bucko. It's for a good cause as it's a camp for children who are burn survivors.

Hope everyone can make it to the Ontario Gas BBQ Store at 3310 Langstaff Road, Vaughan, ON, L4K 4Z8 on Oct 25th :)

Get Connected with Ontario Gas BBQ

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/OntarioGasBBQ


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Reds Midtown Tavern

 Reds Midtown Tavern is an upscale tavern and is the second location of the original Reds Tavern that's located in the Financial District. Additionally, the two locations actually share the same menu. Despite its namesake, it's not exactly located in midtown, but rather at Yonge and Gerrard. I came here for a friend's birthday, and his girlfriend booked the private dining room that was located in the back of the restaurant for us. 

The menu was printed on a double-sided board with the average casual fare such as sharable appetizers, burgers, sandwiches, salads, steaks, etc ...

While perusing through the drinks menu, I realized that they have an extensive list of alcoholic drinks. They have roughly 20 or so beers on tap, various cocktails ,and wine bottles. To toast the birthday boy, the table got a bottle of Domain Luquet Roger (price's unknown).

Three of us at the table decided to share a platter of freshly shucked oysters (1/2 dozen) ($14) - served chilled on frozen river rock with freshly grated horseradish, green apple mignonette and wasabi cocktail sauce. The oysters were indeed fresh and was priced fairly.

The steak frites 14 oz rib eye ($34) - AAA Canadian‏ Beef, truffle parmesan frites, wild mushrooms, Madeira jus, was a lot larger than I expected. However, the steak was mighty tasty as the steak itself was tender and full of flavor. I really enjoyed this dish and recommend it.

I love chicken wings a lot, but unfortunately the ultimate chicken wings ($13.25) - Buffalo butter sauce, fresh market vegetables and blue cheese dip, didn't do it for me. The wings themselves were of a decent size, but I wasn't too fond of the taste of the butter sauce.

I was able to add a fresh sidecar salad to my chicken wings order to make it into an entrĂ©e for an additional $5.95. I added a knife & fork Caesar which was tender romaine lettuce with mild white Spanish anchovies, shaved Parmesan, bacon and garlic confit dressing.

Mediterranean braised lamb shank ($22.95) - 8-hour slow-cooked lamb with creamy polenta, green beans, orange gremolata and black olive relish.

Lobster cobb salad ($26.95) - East Coast lobster with crisp pork belly, 63-degree egg, fresh croutons, cherry tomato and a poached shallot dressing.

Chicken carbonara ($17.95) - a creamless twist on a classic. Rigatoni, sweet garden peas, confit garlic, smoky bacon, chives and a perfectly poached egg.

One waitress was assigned to our table for the entire dinner. Overall, I thought that she did a wonderful job of managing everything by herself. She was friendly, conversational, and our glasses of water were constantly refilled throughout the night.

Address: 382 Yonge St, Unit 6, Toronto, ON, M5B

Reds Midtown Tavern on Urbanspoon

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