Maison Christian Faure – Old Port

So another patisserie adventure with my good friend Tamishka. She had found this patisserie and linked me one day. We got extremely excited to come here and try. Mainly because the chef is fairly famous and this patisseries is actually a pastry shop in the lower level. Christian Faure earned the title of Meilleur Ouvrier de France Glacier after studying many years in Paris to become a pastry chef. He was awarded the Best Pastry Chef of the World Title after opening a shop in Old Port Montreal.

Needless to say, it was a must-try.

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I for one am huge on restaurant decor, ambiance and service. My philosophy is that I don’t need to have good food in a restaurant if I’m not getting all the other aspects that come with eating out. I could make a good meal at home (although not AS good), but it really is ultimately the atmosphere that makes the meal for me. I love the modern and slightly victorian touch of the decor. While the white makes the restaurant extremely feminine, the stone wall gives back the masculin balance. Just being in this environment makes me extremely happy and positive-feeling. All the small touches to the shop is amazing. The more detail-oriented a restaurant is, the higher expectation of the food I have.

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Super cute menu display

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We were extremely amused by the cute display of quinoa salad in these little plastic globes. We didn’t order this, but I love these little details they add to the presentation.

Unfortunately, we were informed that the hot food menu stops service at 3pm, so we weren’t able to get the savoury dishes we wanted. But we settled for some tarts instead.

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The walnut tart really caught my eye. I definitely thought that it was fitting for the cold chilling weather we’ve been getting. It was glazed and filled with a rich caramel sauce that would flow out when you cut into the tart. The caramel sauce combatted the bitterness that comes with walnuts perfectly. It was so simple yet so alluring. I didn’t find the caramel to be too sweet, and had a nice thick consistency without drying or choking you.

The Chocolate Cream tart was very rich and bitter. It was definitely made with dark chocolate, and had a thin layer of chocolate sauce on top, thick sturdy cream and ganache in the middle. The tarte itself was glazed with some lighter chocolate sauce to avoid an inconsistent look. The three little decor on the top were made of chocolate pieces and chocolate cream. I was a little taken aback at first at the taste of this. I had imagined it to be more on the sweet side, and much more mousse-like. However, the interior of this was thick and sturdy, without that drying feeling. The bitterness of it gave it depth and obviously the different textures and consistencies made it all the more interesting even though the whole tart was chocolate flavoured.

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Tarte aux Noix, Tarte chocolat crémeux fleur de sel

We also got two fig macarons to try. I thought they were done well, but nothing that I hadn’t experienced elsewhere. I thought it could be more true to being fig-flavoured, since the filling had a good amount of chocolate butter cream in it.

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Obviously I want to try all of their pastries, but wasn’t able to in one go. I’m interested in that giant pink macaron, but am unsure whether I’d be able to handle it! Theres some cream pots at the back that look delicious as well 🙂

Overall I thought this patisserie gave me a good impression. I can’t comment much because I feel that I hadn’t explored much of the shop, and want to go back to get another taste to give a better view and verdict. I hope you’ll come here and have an afternoon tea with your best girlfriend, or drag your unwilling boyfriend here before 3pm so he can have some of the savoury dishes. The braised beef cheek served with creamy macaroni and morel mushrooms, and the Royal Lobster and Crab on Choux pastry are on my list to try on that menu!

~ kehwon

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Japonais Bistro (Kaiten Sushi – Mobile Sushi bar) – Downtown Edmonton

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Kaiten Sushi (name of the catering service), which is operated by Japonais Bistro, was hosting an event to promote their mobile sushi bar catering. They offered all you can eat of a select items on their menu for $30 + 15% gratuity, which includes sushi, sashimi, maki, and a variety of cooked dishes that they have created. If you didn’t know, kaiten sushi in japanese means conveyor belt sushi. We decided to give it a try since the menu looked pretty interesting and it was a good price as well.

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The setup was very interesting. If you have ever experienced any type of kaiten sushi before, it is similar to that, except in this case you have to walk up to get your own food from the rotating conveyor belt as opposed to having the food rotate around you at your table. This was sort of expected since it is a mobile sushi catering service and it would be impossible to set up something like the ones in japan. The decor is modern and vibrant. The sushi bar is brightly lit so you can see the sushi chefs hard at work.

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We started by trying one of each of their special rolls of the night and a few of their regular rolls. All the rolls generally tasted very good. They were all very elaborate and used a very unique combination of ingredients that I have never seen used together. Here are the ones we tried below:

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New York Roll – crab, avacado, salmon roll with chop scallop, parmesan cheese, sliced cheddar cheese, sweet soy and spicy mayo sauce on top
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Mt Fuji Roll – Shrimp Tempura, chopped scallop roll with spicy tuna, avocado and ginger vegetable dressing
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Green House Roll – Crab, avocado, spicy tuna, shiso leaf and fish eggs wrapped in a cucumber crepe with yuzu sesame sauce
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MK Roll – Smoked salmon, tempura, cucumber, grape, soybean paper roll with wild salmon and ponzu onion on top
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TNT Roll – Shrimp tempura, tobiko, TNT sauce and sesame seeds on crab and avocado roll
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Flamingo Roll – Tamago, tuna, avocado, red pepper roll with BBQ eel, mango, yam chips and sweet soy on top
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Harbour Moon Roll – Grilled salmon skin, organic greens and cucumber roll with tuna and avocado and sesame balsamic sauce on top
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Sunshine Roll – Shimp Katsu, cucumber, avocado roll with wild salmon – tobiko, bonito flakes and spicy mayo sauce on top
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Red Flower Roll – Avocado and cucumber roll with salmon, seaweed salad, coconut flakes, fish egg kamikaze sauce on top

All the rolls were 10/10 for creativity and uniqueness . I have never had any of these rolls before and each and everyone of them were worth trying. Some were obviously better than the rest. My favourite 3 rolls, in terms of taste and flavour, were the MT Fuji, Sunshine, and TNT. The MT Fuji shines because of the scallop, which gave the roll a very pleasant sweetness. The Sunshine was amazing because of the torched wild salmon on the top mixed in with the bonito flakes, which gave it a very smokey rich flavour. The sauce is on the TNT roll was outstanding and really made a very typical roll stand out and gave it that pop that landed it in the top 3. My least favourite roll was the MK roll. The combination of smoked salmon and fruity ingredients didn’t go well together for me.

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Beef Tataki
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Glass Noodle Salad
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New Style Sashimi – Tuna and salmon seared with hot olive oil, yuzu soy, thin sliced ginger, garlic, green onion and sesame seeds
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Tuna Nachos – spicy sesame tuna with tobiko, avocado, sesame seeds and jalapeno on crispy wonton chips
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Sushi Tortilla – tuna on crispy tortilla with avocado, red onion, cherry tomato, cilantro, jalapeno, and arugula

The beef tataki was good but not great. The quality of the beef itself was done well, however it was a bit too thick for a beef tataki. Also there was too much ponzu sauce to the point where the beef was swimming in it. It was also a bit too sour for my liking. The glass noodles were done well and the sauce wasn’t too overpowering. The new style sashimi was great. They used very fresh tuna and salmon and I liked how they torched them on one side. The yuzu soy had a very subtle hint of yuzu flavour in it which added to the freshness of the sashimi. Tuna nachos were good and interesting to say the least. The combination of the avocado, sashimi, and a deep fried chip went really well together. However, I couldn’t say the same for the sushi tortilla. It was dry, bland, and poorly put together. Now onto the main menu items.

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Pork Cheek Tempura – with wasabi sour cream and yuzu salsa
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Seafood black sesame cream udon – mussels, prawn, squid, spinach, red pepper, onion, and udon noodles in house cream sauce
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Bob “Ishiyaki bowl style” – Sukiyaki beef, seaweed, shitake, greens, onions, tobiko, parmesan cheese on rice in a hot stone bowl and spicy butter soy
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Traditional shoyu ramen – tonkotsu soy soup base, egg noodle, kombu, bok choy, egg, red onion, and pork slice

To start, we tried the pork cheek tempura. It was delicious. The outside had a lightly crispy batter and on the inside, there was a very tender and moist pork cheek that was relatively lean. It was topped with a wasabi sour cream and yuzu salsa. Although we couldnt really taste the wasabi or the yuzu flavour in the salsa, it was a very good dish and innovative. The seafood udon was not enjoyable. The seafood was not fresh (likely frozen) and the sauce resembled a condensed can of Campbell’s mushroom soup. It was not something you would expect at a Japanese restaurant. The Bob “Ishiyaki” bow was great. It came in a hot stone bowl which gave the rice at the bottom a very nice crispy layer. The sauce was excellent. It was soy based but the addition of the onions, seaweed, shitake mushrooms and butter gave it a very nice aroma that gave the dish an excellent flavour. I highyl recomend that dish. The ramen on the other had was very poor. The noodles taste like the frozen ramen you can buy at the grocery stores and the broth was bland and boring.

For dessert we had the Matcha Crème Brûlée and the Double Cheesecake brownie with yuzu yogurt icecream. The Crème Brûlée was delicious. The green tea flavoured custard with the hard caramel top was a real treat and a must try. Yuzu yogurt icecream had a very strong yuzu flavour but was very good. Unfortunately it was almost melted by the time it arrived. The cheesecake brownie tasted neither like cheesecake or brownie and was frozen solid. I wouldn’t recommend it.

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Matcha Crème brûlée
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Double cheese cake brownie with yuzu yogurt ice cream

Dining at Japonais Bistro and sampling the mobile sushi bar by Kaiten sushi was a very interesting and delicious experience. The food was certainly very innovated and intricate. There was a lot of attention to detail applied in creating the dishes as well the presentation of it. Most of the food tasted as good as it looked, however there were a few not so great ones. Although the servers were extremely busy at the event and were unable to attend to us consistently, the experience was very positive. There is another Kaiten sushi event next Wednesday, November 27th and I would highly recommend everyone to try it out.

Service: 3.5/5
Food: 8.9/10
Atmosphere: modern, Kaiten
Price: $30

Japonais Bistro on Urbanspoon

~Thomas

Glasshouse Bistro – St. Albert

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Well here is an interesting restaurant. Located on a country road in St. Albert near Edmonton, is a restaurant that is part of The Enjoy Centre, which includes a market, spa, and boutique shops. The restaurant is decorated beautifully, with a style that is young, modern, and fun.  The entire restaurant is covered with glass and filled with trees and shrubs, which makes you feel like you are dining in a greenhouse. You can see in the pictures of the restaurant below.

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View from our table

I ordered the fresh pressed juice with orange, apple and ginger. The juice was fresh and the combination of apple and orange went well together. I was worried about the amount of ginger in the juice but the taste of the ginger was not overwhelming and it pleasantly added a bit of kick to the juice. The only issue was that for $5, you get very little juice with a large glass, which makes the quantity of juice seem even smaller.

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Karen ordered the yogurt. It was delicious. The yogurt and the berry compote were as fresh as it gets. Mixed with the house granola and raisins, it was the perfect yogurt combination. Definitely worth the $4.

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Local Yogurt & House Granola w/ house-made fruit compote

For my main, I had the baked eggs. I was a little disappointed with this dish. The eggs themselves were good. However the sauce underneath the eggs, which was a heavily spiced cumin tomato sauce was not. It was too heavy on the cumin and too salty, which ended up masking the taste of the eggs and feta cheese. All I could taste was the spicy sauce, which wasn’t good in the first place. The house hash wasn’t bad but nothing spectacular to boast about. It was a bit bland and the potatoes were too soft for my liking. The bread, which was likely made in house, was great though. Overall, a poor dish, but definitely deserves credit for having such fresh ingredients.

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Baked Eggs – 2 eggs soft poached in roasted garlic tomato sauce, feta cheese, sauteed kale, house hash & rye toast

Karen ordered the farmers scramble which included turkey sausage, scrambled eggs, winter vegetables, and hash (sweet potato and yellow potatoes similar in my dish). This dish was ok. The sausage was definitely the star of this dish, but the hash was similar to mine in that it was a bit bland and too soft. The eggs were also a bit overdone and dry. It was a pretty average dish and not worth $16.

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Farmer’s Scramble SandyView Farms turkey sausage, local eggs & herbed winter vegetables w/ hash & whole grain toast

Glass house bistro is a beautifully decorated hyper-local restaurant that cultivates and utilizes its own organic foods to create wholesome dishes. There is no doubt that the ingredients that go into the food are as fresh as it gets. However, their creativity with their ingredients in making not only a dish that is fresh, but innovative is lacking. There is nothing amazingly special about their dishes and that is certainly one area that they can improve on.

Service: 3.5/5
Food: 7.5/10
Atmosphere: hyper-local, bistro, modern, fun
Price: $20-30

Glasshouse Bistro & Cafe on Urbanspoon

~Thomas

Tapeo – Villeray

My friends and I wanted to get together and we found Tapeo and decided it was worth a try. Tapeo is a spanish tapas place that had opened for about half a year. It had gotten extremely excellent reviews on Urbanspoon. We barely got a reservation, but managed to grab a last one at 8pm at the bar. As a result, people who normally would sit at the bar to wait for their seats were left standing at the foyer. It was pretty packed at the beginning of our night and I was a little annoyed due to the fact that the guy standing behind me would elbow me every 2 minutes. I told the hostess about it because I didn’t feel like confronting 5 huge guys, and she was an absolutely sweetheart about it.

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Soon everyone who was waiting behind me got seated which was a great relief. So we started off the night just chatting and then deciding quite lightheartedly on a couple dishes we wanted to try.

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I ended up starting the night with the Rosé Sangria. It was a little stronger in alcohol taste as I would have liked. It wasn’t really very sweet nor sour but a touch of bitterness. It was good nonetheless. We were also served some salmon tartare amuse bouche, which were mixed in with basil. This had such an interesting, refreshing taste we considered ordering it as a dish.

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We started off with the Grilled Octopus dish. This was served with roasted potatoes and herbs, topped with tomato sauce. I really thought this was a good dish to start off with. The octopus chunks were of a good size, not like those tiny pathetic tentacles you often get at restaurants. The texture had a crunch when you initially bite into it and was chewy to the extent that it required a few more chews, but definitely didn’t become tough. There was a slight smokiness to the octopus since it was grilled which isn’t a flavour I particularly enjoy, but it worked well with all the flavours combined here.

The hostess had also suggested that we order cod fritters with the octopus as they would go very well together. And that it did.

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The consistency of the cod fritters reminded my friend of crabcakes, as it was fried on the outside and had bits of fish on the inside. It was really really delicious and had really kick started our appetite for the night. It was served with a side of tartar sauce, which obviously went very well with it. The crust of the fritters were just crunchy enough, but not so much that it became hard. It was easy to split this in half to eat it with some finesse, and really did go amazingly well with the octopus.

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For a need for some vegetables, we ordered the vine tomatoes with mozzarella cheese, pesto and basil leaves. This was extremely delicious. The tomatoes were of excellent quality and had that amazing tomato flavour I am in love with. The mozzarella added an extra punch with the pesto, providing for a difference in texture. The basil leaves gave an even more fragrant addition to the dish. Although it was a little bit more pricey, I really liked this and wouldn’t be something I’d make often at home (just because of the ingredients).

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I was the most excited about the Paella. When it came, it was jam packed with seafood which is always a bonus. The rice was to a consistency I liked with paella; not TOO mushy but definitely not too hard. The sauce was quite creamy, which isn’t the most traditional. The seafood was quite good, although I did see a large difference in quality between the enormous shrimp and the tiny mussels. But everything still tasted fresh, so I overlooked that. Also with the dish came scallops, squid and chorizo. Of course, it was flavoured with saffron and other herbs, giving a fragrant taste to the rice. I did find this dish to be a little on the expensive side ($40) but it was M.P on the menu.

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Finally we had the Iberian Pork “Secreto” which is a type of pork I’d never tried before. It is supposed to be similar to the “black pork” that some of you may have heard of. The dish was presented as thin slices of pork dressed with a pesto-oil mixture, and garnished with some greens. The pork was grilled and retained a smokey flavour, while the middle of the slices were still pink. Honestly, it tasted like eating a steak in terms of texture and the type of flavour. You can taste that it is pork, but the juicy, meaty taste of eating a piece of steak was there. The meat also contained a good amount of fat which made it taste even better, and at $20, it was definitely a good try.

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The waitress definitely tempted us with the desserts and we couldn’t resist trying the churros, which she raved about. We got it and were so relieved it didn’t come with cinnamon since both me and one of my friends hate it (I know.). The churros were topped with sugar and was served with a decadent chocolate fondue sauce. It was evident that the chocolate sauce came out of a heated bowl filled with pieces of chocolate. The churros had a doughy, eggy flavour and texture with the slight crunch outside. The sugar also gave it an interesting crunch where the chocolate sauce gave it an extra oomph of sweetness. Sometimes I ate it without the chocolate sauce. It was an excellent finish to spanish tapas and really showcased the talents of the chefs using such traditional and “simple” dishes.

They don’t really pay attention to the presentation of the dishes, but in my opinion, tapas don’t need good presentation. As long as the food is amazing.

My friends also ordered some Mojitos which were amazing. Had just the right balance of sourness, sweetness and herb-iness. Tapeo is apparently quite well known for their mojitos.

Another great thing about this restaurant is the fact that I left without smelling like anything. No smokiness, no food smells. Their ventilation system is phenomenal!

Needless to say, their service is quite good. At least the waitress I had. I do believe that it may be different if you’re not seated at the bar, since it may be so busy that you would feel a little neglected. But nonetheless I think that all the waitresses and waiters would have a pleasant personality and approach when they do come to tend you.

I highly recommend trying this place if you’re ready to dish out a couple dollars. It’s not cheap, but I had a blast here. The food was absolutely incredible, the ambiance was so engaging and the service excellent. I would advise you to call in early to make a reservation, as Tapeo gets incredibly booked up on the weekend.

Service: 4.5/5
Food: 9.1/10
Atmosphere: modern, bistro
Price: $50

Tapeo on Urbanspoon

~ kehwon

Maiko Sushi – Mile End

This friday was Tamishka’s birthday and we celebrated by going out for sushi (because we were all craving it) and some drinks after. We were recommended by our good friend who hadn’t been to Maiko in a long time but remembered it to be up to par with good sushi places. We had all chatted about our endeavours in Japan and our love for sushi and that’s what kick-started our craving.

So a reservation was made for the 5 of us and we had some high expectations for this fairly pricey sushi restaurant. Their site showed an exquisite display of sushi and as we walked in the decor was quite good. It had a high end and modern flair to it with Japanese-theme and cultured accents. I thought it was nice. There were some Christmas decorations too which I actually enjoyed because I’m excited for the holidays.

I will say this outright. This restaurant is awful for sushi.

Three of us shared some dishes: two Chef Specials ($18 each), and a Sushi Chef Sleection (depending on the Chef’s mood) which was $60 meant for 2 people to share. I also ordered a Chawanmsuhi (which they decided to name Shawanmushi..) for myself.

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We’ll start with the Chawanmushi. It was quite delicious, and was scolding hot. The egg was very very smooth, fluffy, very flavourful and had a good amount of fish and scallops. It was topped off with a shiitake mushroom and a piece of broccoli (which was insanely hot). I quite enjoyed this and was probably the best thing I ate at this restaurant.

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Next we ordered the Scallops which were flambéd in alcohol and served with ponzu sauce, fennel, raspberries and blueberries. It was quite nice but I thought that the alcohol was a little overpowering and was difficult to taste the sweetness of the scallops. The presentation was definitely good.

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We also ordered the Seared Salmon marinated in ponzu sauce which was plated with an assortment of fruits, greens and avocado. It was enjoyable but I didn’t think that the 5 pieces of seared salmon was worth $18. The salmon was a little hard and seemed to have been sitting in that shape for a while. But at least the fruits were fresh.

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Last but not least was our chef selection sushi. This was the biggest disappointment ever. We were given california rolls, rolls with pickled vegetables and 6 pieces of sashimi. This was absolutely pathetic. The rolls were extremely messy, and they didn’t even take care to cut off the straggly ends. The rice was hard and cold, making all the rolls very unenjoyable. I cannot believe we paid $60 for this. I would definitely discourage anyone from coming here for sushi. Where I get takeout (sushi inbox) has much better quality of sushi than here and I only pay $12 dollars for 11 pieces.

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The service was very amateur and I felt that I was being served by a high schooler. He didn’t really care about us and was more focused on getting our orders down and then going to the back to play with his phone or something. One of my friend’s order was completely wrong only she was too hungry and nice to make him redo her order. We also get a random assortment of staff who come to tend to us which makes it extremely difficult to understand if we’re supposed to direct our requests (and complaints) to anyone or one specific person.

Service: 2.5/5
Food: 5/10 (only saved by their delicious chawanmushi)
Atmosphere: modern, up-scale, Japanese-themed accents
Price: $40-50
Maiko Sushi on Urbanspoon

Lili Co. – Plateau-Mont Royal

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So this weekend me and Wang went to this brunch place called Lili Co. She had intro’d it to me, saying that it had just opened this October! Obviously I was pretty excited, and excited that all midterms are finished.

The decor was definitely my style. I love the masculinity of it, with the black walls, and the wooden tables. It just was much better for brunch than a cutesy getup, in my opinion.

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Scone with creme fraiche, strawberry jam

We started off with a scone, since I LOVE scones. We dug in, took the first bite. I looked at her and said “Damn”. Although it didn’t look it, the scone was very buttery and full of warm flavour. It was so delicious, melting in my mouth. It’s not the texture of a regular scone, but more the texture of a fluffy muffin. It was topped off with some strawberry jam, and was placed on a small pool of creme fraiche. With each bite, I made sure I had all three parts on the spoon. It was damn delicious.

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Doughnut sprinkled with cocoa shavings and sugar, served with butter caramel

After a while of chatting, the waitress informed us that they had messed up on the dishes, so they’re remaking it, but treated us to the doughnuts to apologize for the wait. I am not a huge doughnut fan, but I absolutely love the ones with sugar on them. The doughnut was topped off with some cocoa sprinkle (that looked like it was shaved fresh from a piece of dark chocolate), and served with a buttery caramel. I am not a fan of caramel, but everything in this dish was amazing. If anyone knows Shanghainese cuisine, the doughnut part of it tastes exactly like “Gao li dou sha”, the dessert that is deep fried, filled with red bean paste and covered in sugar. For those of you who don’t know, the inside is a little gooey, and definitely not crumbly and textured like a typical Tim Hortons doughnut. It doesn’t have any spaces/holes inside, and is dense to the fact that everything is stuck together, but is still airy because it’s not cooked fully. The buttery caramel added just enough flavour to it and I much prefer this version over the Shanghai version.

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BAked egg, with ragout of pork, gesiers of duck (gland in neck area) and chorizo.

Finally, we got our main dishes. Wang got this amazing baked egg dish. Feel free to wander over to her page to hear more about it!

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Omelette with rabbit sausage, mushroom, and caramelized onions

As for me, I got an omelette with rabbit sausage and mushrooms on top. The mushrooms are more like fungi, similar to the black ear mushrooms. The omelette was extremely thin and smooth, and was filled with the rabbit sausages and caramelized onions. It was served with bread from the bakery Guillaume which the waitress informed me was just down the street. The rabbit sausage added the perfect amount of flavour to the dish. There was also a good amount of sausage in the omelette, avoiding the overloading-with-caramelized-onions that people may lean towards doing. The mushroom added the texture (slightly crunchy) that the dish needed. Of course the bread was fragrant and well-buttered.

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Overall, I’d definitely give this brunch place a try. All of their dishes have an interesting and unusual ingredient in it. The dishes also had a more masculine touch, perfect for a large group. I love that they put a small twist to very traditional brunch dishes. It’s great!

It should be noted that they only serve brunch on Saturdays and Sundays, and are open for dinner during the weekdays 🙂

Service: 4.5/5
Food: 8.8/10
Atmosphere: Masculine, easy
Price: $15-25

Lili Co. on Urbanspoon

Bouillon Bilk – Latin Quartier

I had met a really good friend in Montreal standing at the bus stop. It was a little weird and random, but if I hadn’t said anything, we wouldn’t have met each other. It would have been such a shame because we’ve been to so many places to eat, and we are still finding new places. She actually recommended me to try Bouillon Bilk as she had a great time with her parents when they came to visit. I had gone with tfung once and with said friend another time. This restaurant is quite expensive, so it is definitely not a frequent visit. However they definitely take care in presentation (which is a huge plus for me), and delicacy. Their service is also excellent (as it should be for the price!). On the first visit, we had ordered an appetizer and entrée each. We had skipped on the dessert because we wanted to eat elsewhere after.

For me, I had the Beet Salad to start

beet salad
Beet Salad

I thought the presentation was absolutely amazing. The fact that they took care to use a cutter to make all the beets circular, but different sizes added a lot of visual stimulation. The beets were also different colour, making it so much more interesting, as well as adding different flavours for the same type of vegetable. I’m actually a huge fan of this because it really allows you to taste how different each specific type tastes from another. This can help you when you create your own dishes. Moreover, I had been very interested in quinoa at this time (about a year ago), and had a taste in this dish. They actually fried it a little and gave it a brown colour and an awesome crunch that was just enough for this salad. The salad was accompanied with Halloumi Cheese which I had never had. It was slightly fried to give a brown complexion, and was very mild-flavoured. It also had a spongey consistency, similar to cheese curds. Finally the salad was topped off with fresh raspberries (one of my favourite fruits) and a balsamic vinaigrette. I thought that the presentation made this dish so much better than it would have been if it had just been thrown together. The ingredients are sparse, but all the different colours and placement made eating it so much more enjoyable. In terms of taste, it tasted as you would think, no surprises there. tfung ordered a bone marrow for his appetizer.

Bone Marrow
Bone Marrow

It was fittingly presented in a bone, likely to be a femur. The bone marrow was mixed in with escargot and celery pieces to give it some crunch. tfung wasn’t too impressed with it, even though it was quite tasty. He said it wasn’t as rich as he would have imagined, which was actually good because his main dish was incredibly rich and flavourful. To add flavour, they included garlic in the dish, but wasn’t too overpowering. For our mains, tfung had Guinea Fowl with Polenta and I had Scallops with Mushrooms.

guinea fowl 2
Guinea Fowl with Polenta
guinea fowl
Guinea Fowl with Polenta

The guinea fowl was incredibly tender yet still had a good chewy texture. The skin was also still intact, which added a more bold flavour as it was roasted. Topped off with foie gras and a rich reduction, this made for a hearty dish. IT was jam-packed with flavour, but in a good way. They added walnuts and figs to balance this, which was an excellent touch. Personally I love fruits in main courses as it adds sweetness and a different texture than vegetables can. Especially with fruits like figs or plums. The polenta was done to a smooth texture, and of course was what toned down the flavour in this dish, as it doesn’t carry much taste.

scallops
Scallops with Oyster Mushrooms

Although I usually am not impressed with scallops and think that they’re not worth the price at a restaurant, I was thoroughly and pleasantly surprised by this dish. The sauce definitely made this dish. The waiter had hinted that a lot of butter was put into it, so it made sense it was so fragrant and rich. It was a butter-mushroom infusion, I believe and was absolutely amazing with every bite. Definitely if you don’t like mushroom, you shouldn’t get this dish. Again the presentation is incredible, and I did get quite a few pieces of scallops. With the scallops, there were grilled zucchinis and oyster mushrooms which were obvious additions due to the mushroom sauce. The scallops were cooked to the point where the inside was almost raw. Only one side of the scallop was seared which I found interesting and unique. I wouldn’t say that the textures or colours in this dish were particularly enticing, but I really enjoyed it. As a tradition to this restaurant, the servers will personally explain every and each dish on the menu as well as any additional specials they had that night. They also never forget to tell you the prices of the specials, which with all the information they have to know, I found to be quite a feat to achieve. On my second visit with my good friend C., we went with a few more friends, and was a bigger party. We were basically seated at the same place I was on my visit with tfung, so I felt a sense of familiarity.

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Tomato Salad

To start, I shared a tomato salad with my friend. Again, they had different coloured and types of tomato (romano, cherry) which I love. There was also a small sprinkling of arugula accompanied with small spheres of canteloupe. Visually, it wasn’t as good as I thought they could have made it. Tomatoes are fruits/vegetables (depending on which side you’re arguing from) that can be extremely vibrant. Yet they chose to use some bland colours and it just didn’t do it for me. Taste-wise, it was also bland. They didn’t pick the tomatoes that encompassed different and distinct flavours. Especially the yellow larger tomatoes, they had almost no taste. Maybe it was my obsession with tomatoes, or maybe I had too high expectations. Either way, I was definitely disappointed by this.

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For my main, I went for the good old ricotta cheese ravioli on top of some pieces of lamb, served with tomatoes and pine nuts. Ravioli can be tricky to get just right and for some reason, I’ve had some really bad ravioli before. These ones were definitely what I would consider to be up to par and as they should be. The pasta was soft enough to not be difficult to chew through but definitely had texture. The cheese wasn’t too overpowering which was wonderful for me since I’m not a cheese lover. *insert boos and tomato throwing here*. The lamb was tender, not too gamey but wasn’t too overly infused with flavours to completely overthrow and off-balance the whole dish. I actually really liked that there wasn’t any one main player in this, and that they all worked together. When I ate it, I made sure I had a piece of everything (except maybe the tomato since that was a little sparse), and it was quite good.

I feel that although I was disappointed with the tomato salad, the restaurant’s expertise with food overall is definitely to be trusted. There is no doubt that the dishes they produce are of high quality, and they change the menu often enough to keep things interesting. At least for the frequency that I come, it wasn’t that I was met with the exact same menu. I’d say about half the menu had changed, and the ones that remained had been tweaked.

Service: 4.5/5
Food: 9.3/10
Atmosphere: Expensive, simple
Price: $40-60 per person

Bouillon Bilk on Urbanspoon

Buck-A-Shuck @ Von’s Steak House & Oyster Bar – Strathcona Edmonton

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Von’s Steak House and Oyster Bar offers a buck-a-shuck during certain times of the day. We decided to give it a try since you can’t really get oysters that cheap anywhere else in Edmonton. We went on a Sunday early evening. It was right at the beginning of the buck-a-shuck so it wasn’t very busy.  We probably didn’t need to make a reservation at 4:30 but if you went a bit later, it would start to fill up.  The waitress showed us our seats and explained the buck a shuck to us.  $1 an oyster was obviously too good to be true. The catch was that each person had to order a drink (an alcoholic beverage, a soft drink, or a tea). Also, each type of oyster has to be ordered in the half dozen or the full dozen so you can’t just order 2 of each. In addition, mostly the west coast oysters were $1, the rest were $2. Finally, there is an extra cost of a few dollars for special sauces (which includes a mignonette,  a dill vinaigrette, and another sauce which I can’t remember). We get our beverages but pass on the sauce since cocktail sauce, lemon, and horseradish was included and good enough for us.

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We were very happy to see the Royal Miyagi since we had them in San Francisco and enjoyed them very much. We decided to stick with the West Coast oysters since they would be the freshest anyways. We ordered the Royal Miyagi, Komoguay, Chef’s Creek, Deep Bay.

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Rows from Top to Bottom: Royal Miyagi, Komoguay, Chef’s Creek, Deep Bay

All of the oysters were very fresh. The first, Royal Miyagi, were very good. They are a medium sized oyster with a mild brine taste and a slightly sweet finish. They are very rich tasting and one of our favourites. The Komoguay were very good as well. They had a lighter brininess than the Royal Miyagi but had a very strong cucumber taste that lingers on. Although they were are on the smaller side, it was a very refreshing oyster. The third was the Chef’s Creek. This was my personal favourite. They are very large oysters with a very creamy texture. Not a hint of fishiness and a very sweet finish. These were very fresh oysters that I would definitely order again. The final and our least favourite were the Deep Bay. These are a small-medium sized oyster which are pretty bland with a hint of watermelon finish. We weren’t a big fan of the watermelon taste. The lemons that were provided were a bit dry and was tough to get the juice out of them. The horseradish was very poor. It was dry and lost its pungency. Either the horseradish had gone bad or they froze the horseradish for too long resulting in dryness and tastelessness.

The Buck-a-shuck is available Monday to Friday in the Oyster Bar and on our patio from 4:30 pm – 6:30 pm and all night Sundays. The oysters were very fresh and were shucked in a reasonable time frame. However, the catches to the buck-a-shuck make the bill a bit more expensive than you originally thought. It is a bit of a scam, but still ends up being a decent deal overall. They definitely need to step it up and provide fresh lemons and horseradish. Those condiments are very important compliments to the oysters and needs to be fresh or else it diminishes the quality of the oysters overall. Otherwise, with a group of friends, this can be a very good oyster experience where everyone can try a large variety of oysters at a very reasonable price.

Service: 3.5/5
Food: 8.3/10
Atmosphere: Steakhouse
Price: $1-2/oyster + $5-10/beverage + $3 sauce
Von's Steakhouse & Oyster Bar on Urbanspoon

~Thomas