Table 17 – Leslieville (Queen East)

I found this place as my friends and I were trying to decide where to meet up on a Sunday. The answer was obvious: brunch! We all love brunches, and this place has got to be one of the most relaxing places I’ve been to so far. The reason being: no line up! Also there’s lots of free parking on a Sunday at Queen East. It’s just so easy, without the stress of waiting and finding parking.

The restaurant has a very english country style. The patrons who eat there seem to be very relaxed and the atmosphere isn’t stuffy at all. Definitely a place I’d go if I want a chill brunch day.

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Because I liked it so much, I ended up going a second time. This time I ordered the Neapolitan Eggs. The eggs were done well, but the best part of the dish were the amazingly flavourful tomato base that was used. This was a good dish, but not everyone may like tomatoes.

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I’m a sucker for scrambled eggs. Ever since having the best scrambled eggs of my entire existence at Australian Dairy Company (Jordan, HK), I always want to try scrambled eggs to see if anything will top that. It hasn’t.

These eggs were quite good, but still nothing compared to ADC. I really do love that they had salad with every dish, just to make myself feel a little less guilty.

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Today’s star was actually the quiche. It featured spinach, potatoes and truffle oil. The truffle oil was not overdone as it so often is, so that you could taste the flavours of the ingredients in the quiche. However, it still does not compare to the best quiche I’ve ever had (Duchess, Edmonton).

The service both times were quite good. The first time I was here, the waiter was very friendly and liked to joke around with us. However, the hostess that led me to my table had done a poor job as she led me to one that had not been cleaned yet. When I was here today, the service was nothing special to mark.

Overall I didn’t think this restaurant was all that special, but I did love the combination of the hassle-free feeling as well as its price.

Service: 4/5

Food: 7.7/10
Atmosphere: relaxed, english country
Price: $10-15

Table 17 on Urbanspoon

~ kehwon

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Inatei – Richmond Hill

Inatei is located at 9021 Leslie st. I first heard about it about 2-3 years ago when my parents heard that the owner of the restaurant they frequent, had opened up a second restaurant: a japanese one. They had tried it and recommended it to me. Today I went with my friends to this place I like to go to when I feel like treating myself.

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I love the decor of this restaurant because it really does capture a Japanese feel to it. With its dark stone constructed wall contrasted with the light coloured wood to partition the booths, finished with the oriental flower fabric, the atmosphere is instantly created. As a very full-package oriented person, I do believe that decor makes and breaks a restaurant. If my eyes and my tastebuds don’t completely agree, then there is just something off. Not to say a restaurant has to be beautifully decorated, but it has to match and fit. This place definitely does that for me.

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We ordered the sushi and sashimi moriawase which a selection of sashimi, nigiri and maki. I love this place because they don’t focus on the common types of fish we tend to see. They had this yellow roe fish (which is actually the golden herring menhaden), saba (mackerel) topped with green onion and ginger, scallops, among the more common types. Everything was very fresh and the quantities were enough that we can really savour the fish. We also ordered a spider roll which had an amazing flavour, which at first almost tastes like okonamiyaki (a flavour I cannot get enough of). I usually am not a fan of soft shell crab but this roll really sucked me in.

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We also had an order of uni nigiri. But they had run out of regular Vancouver uni, so they threw in a Hokkaido Uni (which was more than double the price) in for us instead. The uni more to the bottom of the picture is the Hokkaido one. My friend and I split these two and we definitely could taste a difference. The Vancouver one had more of a fishy taste, and was more “watery”. Whereas the Hokkaido had less fishy taste, but a bitter aftertaste that lingered for quite a while. It also was very very creamy and smooth. I’m not a huge lover of uni but have been enjoying it since my trip to Japan. So I definitely thought their Hokkaido uni was really quite good.

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For dessert we ordered my beloved tofu cheesecake. Inatei was the first time I had tofu cake and although I was very very hesitant at first, I fell in love with it at first bite. It is more like a hard pudding consistency, with tofu taste and graham cracker base. Eaten with the chocolate drizzle, whipped cream and the sliced almond on top, it is so amazing. I also love that this is quite a generous portion of cake (compared to places like Guu, where the slice of yuzu cheesecake was the size of my middle and ring fingers combined….).

Another generous gesture was seen by the owner as he threw in 3 lychee panna cottas for us. It was really more of a lychee pudding, with a piece of lychee at the bottom. Very light in texture and flavour, but I don’t think I would’ve paid for this.

We were served with speed and friendliness by the owner. I loved the whole experience and although I’ve come several times already, I continue to recommend this restaurant to my friends and family. Perhaps it was that I asked if they had tofu cheesecake in stock when we first sat down, or perhaps it was because I spoke cantonese to the owner. Either way, I believe that if you seem to really want to eat their food, they will treat you as treasured customers. Afterall, this restaurant wasn’t opened purely to make money.

Service: 4.5/5
Food: 8.7/10
Atmosphere: Excellent
Price: $20-30

Inatei on Urbanspoon

~ kehwon

Brassaii – King West

2013-06-21 18.17.28 I went here with my friends for my birthday. I arrived with one of my friends as we met up downtown and got there together. They seated us at the lounge while we waited for the rest of our party. They would not seat us until our whole party was there. I found this nice at first, but annoying later when we were just waiting for one more person.

Since it was my birthday I decided to order a cocktail. I got the pimms drink with mint. It was pretty stiff and sweet. Typical.

2013-06-21 19.40.48I got the halibut with snow peas and chanterelle mushrooms. It was pretty delicious and I loved the presentation. I also ordered a side of roasted beats. It was honey-glazed and was yellow-coloured. Was not that flavourful other than the taste of the honey. I didn’t think it was really worth $8.

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My friend ordered the lamb with fava beans, smoked mushroom, heirloom potatoes and eggplant.
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Honey-glazed duck breast with sweet potato purée, treviso, root vegetable and blueberries.
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Steak Tartare

Overall I thought the place was too pricey for its food. It’s not that it tastes bad, but nothing too extraordinary. I do love the presentation and the atmosphere and decor of the place. It definitely is what attracts so many different kinds of people to the spot. The only thing I have to complain about is that as usual, we were treated like university kids who cannot spend the money. It’s all very frustrating when I’m treated like that. Yes, I am in university, and yes I’m not rich. However if you give me good service, I will tip you generously. It was just very condescending and I didn’t enjoy that for my birthday at all.

The place gets turned into a club after a certain hour, but their lounge is okay nice. The building is sinked in behind other big buildings so the patio is not directly at the street where all the pollution and honking is. It really is quite nice but we did opt for sitting inside as a lot of my friends had seasonal allergies.

Service: 3/5
Food: 7.5/10
Atmosphere: trendy
Price: $25-40

Brassaii- Cafe- Restaurant- Lounge on Urbanspoon

~ kehwon

Michi Cafe – Scarborough

2013-06-18 12.55.08 I was very excited to come to Michi Cafe. The very first time was a failed attempt. My cousin from HK used to study at U of Toronto. She told me that one of her favourite spots after class was Michi. However when we arrived, they were closed. They are closed on mondays!

So finally we got here and my cousin’s brother had advised us to eat the Café au lait chirashi sushi. So we did. And it was amazing. The sashimi was very fresh, and I loved all of it (of course it’s not the same as Tsukiji Market in Japan). But what surprised me the most was the eel rice underneath! It was so delicious. I generally didn’t like chirashi because I always thought the rice underneath was so boring and bland. But they completely erradicated the only thing I didn’t like about chirashi. A delicious dish at a hefty price though: $40 before tax! Even so, we just shared this.

2013-06-18 13.24.45For dessert, we ordered two cakes: Green Tea Red Bean and Earl Grey cake. They were both quite delicious, although I’m not a huge fan of the red bean so I leaned towards the earl grey cake more. Both had good flavours of the green tea and earl grey. The earl grey was especially fragrant, but I would have liked it more if it had less whipped cream on it.

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On another occasion, I went back with my friend and we shared the Karaage instead. There was this fried chicken with spicy mayo (karaage) on the top level, a dish of sashimi right underneath, and finally eel don (rice) on the very bottom. I didn’t think the karaage was that great. I am generally a very picky person when it comes to fried foods and the batter used. However, I loved the combination that you get a little of everything.

For Dessert, we shared the green tea crème brulée. It was pretty good, had okay green tea flavour. Nothing too extraordinary.

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The service is quite good, they are fairly attentive and manage any changes very easily. One the second visit, she had mistook my order for tea when I ordered coffee, but had brought me a new coffee quickly and politely. The place only seats about 15-20 people, so it would be advised to go a little earlier or later than peak hours.

Overall, I would definitely recommend this place, especially the chirashi if you can dish out the cash!

Service: 4.5/5
Food: 8.3/10
Atmosphere: quiet, cute
Price: $20-45 (If you get the chirashi)

Le Cafe Michi on Urbanspoon

~ kehwon

Hapa Izakaya – Little Italy

Of course with the ramen and izakaya craze in Toronto, I’ve had a fair share of these. But I’m now reviewing Hapa Izakaya, which is a cute shop in the middle of little italy. Hapa Izakaya hails from Vancouver and currently only has one shop in Toronto.

I was greeted by a very cute waiter, who could not pronounce “Irasshaimase” if his life depended on it. Nonetheless, he led us to where our party was seated on this dreadful, rainy day.

We came here for their half-price hapas, which run from 5:30pm to 6:30pm every day. We only ordered from this Hapa Hour menu.

Since it was my friend’s birthday, some of us got drinks. I was of course drawn in by the Yuzu Slush. My friend had the Harajuku girl. We got the tuna avocado salsa dip. When my friends ordered this I wasn’t too excited. Boy, was I wrong! This dish was quite amazing. It had a perfect balance of everything, and we all wanted seconds. Definitely recommend this!

We obviously ordered Ebi-mayo, and it was a little disappointing. It had this weird fried batter under the excellent mayo, and made the texture very bizarre. The batter became this mushy mess and it was not good. The shrimp was okay.

We also got the Karaage, which was okay. Again their batter is not the best and was not a dish that I would recommend.

Baja-roll was again something that I didn’t really think was going to be good. It wasn’t. I did not like how the spiciness of it just jumped out at you like it wanted to slice your throat. There was no balance and no harmony. Just spicy and weird combinations.

I did not look forward to the Curry Mali we ordered but was pleasantly surprised. I am not a fan of Japanese curry and thus I didn’t think this would taste very good. But the flavour was not too strong, and the squid was pretty good. Not too chewy (which makes me gag).

Spicy Pork Ishi-yaki was ordered as a filler in case the tapas weren’t too filling. We were quite wrong about this and were actually all stuffed. But we all got a small serving of this anyway. It was definitely a pretty good dish. Nothing too amazing or extravagant. A decent choice.

Overall the experience was only good because I had good company. The waiters and waitresses were very amateur, and had no knowledge of Japanese cuisine (traditional or modern) at all. I’m someone who loves the authenticity of a certain cuisine, and is more into the food when the atmosphere matches what I’m eating. At this venue, they were just interested in people spending money, have drinks and be off, instead of having a great dining experience. I don’t highly recommend this place, but their hapa hour is pretty cheap and is great if you have a larger party.

Service: 3.5/5
Food: 7.0/10
Atmosphere: trying to be Japanese Izakaya
Price: $10-30 depending if you make it to hapa hour

Hapa Izakaya Restaurant on Urbanspoon

~kehwon