Insane seafood bridge at Yunshang Rice Noodle

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I always love trying out new cuisines, flavours, and food! I find it so fun and feels like a mini adventure to see how other cultures prepare food (and to taste it of course!). A small part of me always feels like I’m taking a little trip overseas when I try anything new. This is why I was so excited when I got invited to taste a few dishes from Yunshang Rice Noodle, opening tomorrow (March 15) in North York!

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A bit of backstory – they are the largest Chinese rice noodle chain in North America, serving up Yunnan cuisine (which I have never tried before). They do have a few locations in Toronto, but this is their first North York location. When I spoke to the manager, he mentioned that they make it a point to source fresh and natural ingredients. They use a lot of bones as well to make the broth really tasty – like pork, ham, chicken, and beef. And guess what, the bones are boiled for more than twelve hours, and made everyday with no MSG or other artificial flavours! This made me so excited to try the dishes, and they didn’t disappoint!

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Up first was a jaw dropping, Instagram worthy dish – their exclusive “Yunshang Bridge Rice Noodle”, made specifically for this location and only available for two weeks. There is so much served here, from Canadian Atlantic lobster tail, oyster, sea scallop, beef slices, and sooo much more. At first glance you may be overwhelmed with so much food, but it’s really simple! The idea / cooking technique for this and the other rice noodle soups is that boiling soup will be served to you in a super hot stone bowl, and then you would drop these ingredients in, basically cooking them. Here, I tried the tomato sauce, which had more of a sweet and slightly tart taste.

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Here’s some more deets on what this comes with: Canadian Atlantic lobster tail, fresh French Kiss oyster (sourced from Diana’s Seafood), sea scallop, shrimps and crab sticks. It also comes with other ingredients like beef slices, fish cakes, ham, enokitake, Chinese lettuce, and egg tofu.

Hot deal: For their grand opening tomorrow (March 15) to March 16, the first 100 people will get this bridge for free, starting 6pm each day! No purchase required, first come first serve, and the giveaway is only available at the North York location.

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I was also able to try two yummy sides, fried Chicken Wings and Popcorn Chicken (yes I love everything fried) – both so delicious, flavourful and juicy. You really can’t go wrong with these. I loved the spices that were used to flavor both dishes, although if you had to ask me I preferred the Chicken Wings more. It was just so juicy!

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I also got to try their Oriental Rice Noodle with Curry Coconut Sauce. I really enjoyed this broth over the Tomato sauce version. To me, this reminded me more of a Malaysian Laksa and I liked how the meat tasted with this type of flavour profile over the tomato broth. It also came with ten little sides that you would drop into the soup to cook as well.

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Definitely give them a try for a unique and delicious experience.

One last tip: they give free refills for the rice noodles!

Yunshang Rice Noodle
Unit 5 – 5285 Yonge St.
North York
http://www.yunshang.ca

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Toronto: New Winter Menu at Azure!

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Winter’s right around the corner! As much as I’m dreading the cold, I’m also looking forward to eating some nice comfort food, from stews, pastas, mashed potato, soup – anything that will keep me warm when it’s chilly outside! Which is why I was so excited to try the new menu at Azure, the restaurant at the InterContinental here in downtown Toronto. Launched October 19, their winter menu features a mix of hearty comfort foods, from short rib pasta, truffle fries, steak as well as healthy options! I knew that I would have trouble figuring out what to order because a lot of dishes looked so good. Thankfully, I was able to try a few of them for dinner and breakfast, all of them outstanding!

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My sister and I thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, from the warm service, to the delicious food – we truly loved our experience at Azure.

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First up for dinner was a delicious Caesar Salad, a great start to the meal with a light, creamy garlic dressing and fresh romaine lettuce leaves. We then tried the Brisket and Short Rib Mafalda, a lovely pasta with cabernet braised beef ragout, demi-glace cream, pearl onions, sour cream and garlic confit. This was one of my favourites of the evening, with the beef so soft and tender, with the sauce tasting tangy, creamy and well balanced. I could definitely eat more than one order – it was that good!!!

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My sister and I are total steak lovers so of course, we had to try both of the steaks that were on the menu: the Beef Tenderloin from Wellington County, and the Canadian AAA Dry-aged Beef Striploin. Both superb dishes, depending on what type of cut you prefer. I personally loved the tenderloin, which was juicy, well cooked and came with tahini sweet potato puree, vegetables, garlic confit, balsamic & caramelized onion butter and jus.

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The striploin, which was incredibly tasty, came with brussel sprouts, double smoked bacon, spiced fries, and au jus.

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The next day, we sampled a few things from their breakfast menu, like their Banana Bread French Toast, with cinnamon apples, pecan crumble and maple yogurt. What a unique dish, and the first time I’ve come across banana bread being used for French toast! It was incredibly delicious and something I would get again. I highly recommend this if you have a sweet tooth!

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I also tried their Eggs Benedict, with an English muffin, peameal bacon, and breakfast potatoes. A solid take on a well loved classic, I enjoyed the perfectly cooked poached egg and the hollandaise sauce that was a good balance of rich yet slightly lemony flavours.

If you’re in the area or looking for a place to eat before a game at the Rogers Centre, definitely make it a point to stop here!

Azure
225 Front St W
Toronto, ON M5V 2X3

Four decadent desserts from Cheese Garden!

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There’s a Japanese café near me called Cheese Garden that’s known for their super delicious Japanese pastries like cheesecake and tiramisu. I was given a few to sample and WOW!!! I was so blown away by how delicious they were! You can tell the pastries were made from really high quality ingredients, each all so unique. I really don’t know any other place that offers desserts like these, so I highly recommend checking them out.

First up is their Yuzu Pistachio Double Fromage Cheesecake, a new limited time pastry that they created to celebrate their 2nd anniversary. Absolutely LOVED this – when you bite into it, you immediately taste the yuzu citrus and slight pistachio flavour, which go so deliciously with the rich and luxurious cheese notes. There are a ton of layers in this pastry, each complimenting each other very well:

  • The cheesecake base is made of pistachio sponge cake – super soft and delicate
  • On top of that is a rich, smooth, baked pistachio cheesecake, with some sugar roasted diced pistachios added into it
  • Above that is a rich and creamy yuzu mascarpone cheesecake
  • The cake is finished with a layer of pistachio sponge cake crumbs, sprinkled with gold flakes and decorated with a cute yuzu shaped chocolate button

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Make sure you grab this because it will be on sale only from October 13 to November 4, with 50 available per day, limited to one cake per person! If you drop by any of their locations from October 13 to 14, you can get 50% off one pastry item (this promo does not include the Yuzu cheesecake).

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The next pastry I tried is the Baked Cheese Tart. It’s freshly baked, filled with decadent molten cream cheese. I heated it up in the oven for a bit, and really loved the crispy outer shell of the puff pastry. The crust was a nice contrast to the delicious centre: gooey, salty, and sweet.

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I also really liked their Double Fromage Cheesecake, with layers of mascarpone, baked cream cheese, sponge cake, and coated with sponge cake crumbs. The cheese flavour tasted so delicate and delicious. Make sure you take a bite with all the layers – it’s a great combination of creamy vanilla and Japanese cheesecake flavours. Just slightly sweet and perfect. When you get this make sure you eat it at room temperature because it is usually stored in the freezer.

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Finally, one of my favourites from the desserts, their Uji Matcha Tiramisu. I am a huge sucker for anything matcha, and I enjoyed this so much! Soft, creamy, and bursting with matcha! It’s made with premium Uji matcha powder, matcha cream, double layers of fluffy cream cheese and specially made ladyfingers. This is a must buy!!

Make sure you try the Yuzu Pistachio Cheesecake, or any of the desserts really, especially because of the promo that they’ve got going on this weekend!

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Cheese Garden
5291 Yonge St, North York, ON M2N 5R3
www.cheesegarden.ca

Bar Altura: Modern Italian in Toronto

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I’ve been craving Italian food lately, and was really in need of some really solid pizza, pasta – anything!! Luckily, a few days ago I was invited to try a curated menu at Bar Altura, a newly opened spot that puts a modern spin on Italian classics. I was really looking forward to trying out their dishes, especially since it’s from some of the same people behind Kay Pacha. Let me tell you, it did not disappoint!

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First off, I really enjoyed their drinks! The attention to detail that they put into their cocktails are crazy! Out of the drinks that I tried, I LOVED the Pasquale’s Daughter, made with cucumber, ginger, butterfly pea infused vodka, Cointreau and lemon juice. Super delicious and refreshing, with a good balance of slightly sweet and tart flavours. The little tapioca like pearls at the top of the drink are made of Aperol, and has an interesting jelly like texture – so cool!

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I got to try a bunch of appetizers, with one of my favourites being the Caprese, featuring peeled tomatoes stuffed with buffalo mozzarella and pecorino. Its a nice and juicy bite full of fresh flavour! What a unique dish, definitely never seen Caprese made like this before!

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The Arancini was also delicious, stuffed with cheese and topped with tomato sauce.

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I really enjoyed my bite of the Carpaccio, made with lamb saddle, fava bean, pecorino and mint.

Other bite sized portions were served including Sardines (house cured, wrapped in Yukon gold potato string), “tu vou fa L’americano” (olive oil poached Nova Scotia lobster, Campari and Vermouth), and Spaghetti al Pomodoro.

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Now onto the mains. My highlights were the Cavatelli all’Ortolana, featuring house made Cavatelli, summer garden vegetable ragu, pecorino and fior di latte. I really enjoyed the bite to the pasta, and the freshness of the vegetables. This was delicious and went well paired with a rosé. I would love to see how they make a short rib ragu, or a meaty and indulgent pasta dish.

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Their take on porchetta, La Porchetta, was very soft and tender, featuring slow roasted pork shoulder, cotechino, puffed rind, caponata, apricot and amarena agro dolce.

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I would definitely come back, I loved their twist to classic Italian dishes, featuring such unique flavours. The space is so beautiful and bright – grab a spot by the window, it’s perfect for a date!!!

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Bar Altura
571 Queen St W
Toronto ON M5V 2B6

Southern Brunch Indulgence @ The Carbon Bar

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It’s finally summer, and in fact this Canada Day long weekend is about to have super hot weather at over 35 degrees C!!! I can’t wait, I live for this! Summertime calls for lazy weekend brunches (RIGHT?!) and let me just say, I just visited the perfect southern inspired brunch spot this past weekend! I am still dreaming about the suuuper refreshing Blood Orange Mimosa…and pretty much everything that I ordered at The Carbon Bar. From the apps to the mains, the dishes were really well made, plated beautifully and indulgent!!

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If you’ve been following my blog for awhile now, you’ll know that I LOVE comfort food, and The Carbon Bar is really comfort food at it’s finest. My best friend and I started off with Smashed and Fried potatoes (with kimchi, parmesan and green onions) and Jalapeño and Cheddar Pork Sausage – both so delicious! The potatoes were crispy, cheesy and super rich in flavour, and well balanced because of the kimchi. The sausage on the other hand was deliciously tender, succulent and cheesy with a nice amount of spice. I really enjoyed the fact that these sausages were made in house!

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Up next were the Buttermilk Pancakes + smoked bacon, with wild‎ blueberries, Ennis Farm maple syrup, and lemon yogurt – SO YUMMY! The buttermilk pancakes had a delicious lemon flavour to it, and were really light and fluffy. This is a hefty portion, but I highly recommend it if you’re craving for some delicious pancakes. The highlight of this was the juicy, thick cut bacon, made in house as well. You really can’t go wrong with that!

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Who doesn’t love juicy and succulent fried chicken?! Their version of Chicken ‘N’ Waffles featured buttermilk fried chicken, citrus crema, chili + honey + garlic sauce, and it was absolutely amazing! The chicken was really well seasoned, and super crunchy! The waffles were also on the crisp side too, and tasted delish with the honey + garlic sauce.

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OK now for my favourite dish. At this point, I had already mentally unbuttoned my pants, and basically was in food heaven. I really loved the Huevos El Carbon, served with warm tortillas, black beans, two eggs sunny, Manchego cheese, chorizo, guacamole, charred pico de gallo, coriander and a charred lime. This is the dish that I highly recommend and would definitely come back for. It’s a fun dish – you can build your own tortilla the way you want it, and is also perfect for sharing. I really liked how the rich flavours of the beans, chorizo, and egg were well balanced with the freshness of the coriander, lime and charred tomatoes. Topped off with some guac, it was perfection! My mouth is legit watering as I type this!!!

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So, have you called them to book your spot yet!? Well when you do, don’t forget that they are offering a FREE mimosa if you snap a photo sharing your brunch experience + tag @TheCarbonBar! Definitely take advantage of this, their mimosas are bomb!! I truly enjoyed my brunch at this super chic spot, the service was also amazing – you won’t regret going!!

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The Carbon Bar
99 Queen St E, Toronto, ON M5C 1S1