In love with the Cheesecake Factory Toronto

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Oh man. The Cheesecake Factory and I go waaaaaaay back! 2010 to be exact, when I visited their San Francisco location for the first time. Big portions, super legit comfort food (I am all about this), and an amazing strawberry cheesecake… I was HOOKED!!! My go to is for sure their Chicken Alfredo, with it’s really creamy, parmesan goodness. Ah, I love comfort food so much!

So when I got a chance to try the first Canadian location in advance of the opening, I started counting down the days!! No lie. Finally… the day arrived! My first impressions are that the Yorkdale location is huge and extremely busy. They’re expecting it to be busy for a few months though, so get ready for long wait times Toronto.

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Ok now on to the food. I should say though that they offered a limited menu for the media preview (with their full menu being around 200+ items). First up, apps. My boyfriend shared their Buffalo Blasts, which came as a HUGE portion of a lot chicken pieces. Man, I really forgot what their sizing was like. The only way I can describe it is cut up chicken pieces with buffalo sauce and cheese that had been coated in a spicy wrapper and deep fried. I’ve never tried anything like this app before and I really have to say that it was an awesome surprise. A super interesting take on chicken fingers. This is definitely best paired with a pint. By the time we finished this, I was feeling pretty stuffed (and we were only on the apps!!).

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For the entrees we tried the Chinese Chicken Salad, and the Bacon Bacon burger. Again these were huge (I LOVE this about Cheesecake Factory). Let’s start with the Chinese Chicken Salad, which is a staple for me whenever I visit a location. Presentation wise it was awesome, but taste wise it felt lacking and a bit bland, kind of like they went light on the dressing. The ingredients still tasted fresh though!

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The Bacon Bacon burger is not a typo!! This burger is pure American goodness with two different types of bacon: crispy bacon and thick cut slow roasted smoked bacon. Loved how juicy the patty was, and the slight sweetness of the smoked bacon. This also came with fries. At this point, I was struggling to breathe and mentally unbuttoning my pants… and I was in heaven!!!!

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And now we get to my favourite part, the cheesecake!! I typically get the original with whole strawberries and whipped cream, which is a classic and something I would recommend anybody. This time we shared the Oreo Dream Extreme cheesecake, and man the name reflects how decadent and delicious this was! Everybody, this is the best Oreo cheesecake that I have ever tried!!! They’ve baked whole Oreos into their original cheesecake, sandwiched between layers of fudge cake and an Oreo cookie mouse, topped with a milk chocolate icing and a huge piece of Oreo. I died and went to heaven!!!

To wrap up this super long post, I strongly urge you to give one of my favourite classic spots a try (hopefully when the lines die down). You will for sure love the food and not to mention the service is pretty great!

The Cheesecake Factory (opening November 21, 2017)
3401 Dufferin St,
Toronto, ON M6A 2T9

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I can die happy now.

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Oh, Tokyo. I often think and daydream about what an amazing adventure the two weeks my boyfriend and I spent there in February. And when I say often, I really mean once every few weeks (not ashamed to admit it at all!!).

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The country. The culture. The food. The people. Everything is wonderful. And it’s unfortunately taken me ages to post about the best beef experience and all in all best restaurant that I’ve experienced / had the absolute pleasure of eating at in my entire life thus far – Sumibi Yakiniku Nakahara (炭火焼肉 なかはら). Mostly because I was unsatisfied by the photos I took (low lighting struggles), and because I really needed the photos to clearly capture the meal. It was SO epic, from the service to the food, which is so meticulously prepared and cooked.

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It took me two months of deep research to narrow down a solid Tokyo food itinerary (consulting Tabelog, and other food blogs), and this spot topped the list of must-eats. I’m a HUGE steak person, and needed to experience wagyu in Tokyo. This highly recommended spot needed a reservation made one month in advance, and it was a thousand times worth it.

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My cousin, boyfriend and I sampled different slices of cuts from the highest quality Tajima Black Wagyu beef, from wagyu sirloin, oyster blade, ribeye, and so many more.

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Look at this beauty – MY GOD, the marbling!

This was 100% on another level – my eyes literally rolled to the back of my head with every bite of meat, with my favourite being the ribeye. This is likely the best beef experience in the entire world.

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The charcoal grill was really important in melting off a bit of that fat, and it also gave the meat a slight char/torched flavour. This is mainly the reason why I chose to go with yakiniku style (grilled meat) of cooking for wagyu. To top it off, the service was outstanding, and it felt like we were welcomed in the restaurant like we were old friends.

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The tireless search for perfection of food and of the craft is evident in so many restaurants that I visited, in Tokyo. Sumibi Yakiniku Nakahara in particular stood out to me, when I read a what owner Kentaro Nakahara said about wagyu: a miniscule 0.2mm difference in thickness or a slight change in knife angle can cause a complete transformation in texture and taste. I was lucky enough to speak to him in person, and you really can see his passion and commitment to the serving highest quality beef and hosting an amazing yakiniku experience.

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These pictures don’t do the entire experience justice at all. If you’re visiting Tokyo soon, I would REALLY recommend booking through here!

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Sumibiyakiniku Nakahara (炭火焼肉なかはら)
GEMS Ichigaya 9F, 4-3 Rokubancho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo (map)
+81 3 6261-2987

Tested and Perfected Rice Krispie Squares

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Rice Krispie Squares: so easy to make, but so easy to mess up. I sadly was only introduced to them in the past year, when my coworker brought them in to the office… LIFE CHANGING! Yeah, really. Because before then I’ve only tried the packaged versions, which if you’ve tried the freshly made ones, can’t really hold a candle. So in my first few attempts to make them, I made sure that it was gooey and not dry, with some melty marshmallows in each square.

Now the real key to this recipe, and my coworker Liz would highly recommend, is to add a bit of vanilla. I did experiment with more expensive vanilla extract and regular vanilla and couldn’t taste the difference at all!

The recipe after the jump is my tried and true recipe, having made over 4 batches of them for our bake sale at the office. It’s pretty much perfection! The aluminum foil lining is a MUST to easily remove your squares from the pan.

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When Japan ruined sushi for me

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_DSC1703.jpgI’ve been to Tokyo and back, and can 100000% confirm that what Anthony Bourdain and David Chang have said is true: Tokyo is the world’s best food city. Not gonna lie, Tokyo has ruined me. For all food. Japan devotes so much quality and perfection into food that it’s really on another level.

My boyfriend (HUGE sushi lover) and I had to try the omakase at one of the best sushi spots in the city, one Michelin star restaurant, Sushi Tokami. I was super intrigued by this restaurant, and what some people touted as a “tuna specialist” (LOVE TUNA), and their strong robust rice seasoned with red rice vinegar.

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I can tell you right now that this dining experience was out of this world!!! From the service, and especially to the food – WOW I have never tasted fish this fresh, and rice so delicate but at the same tinged red with a slight vinegary taste. One of my favourites, chū-toro, was a super creamy lightly marbled piece of tuna taken from the belly. The piece literally melted in my mouth!!

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We loved the energy and vibes of Hiroyuki Sato, the head chef, who was super welcoming and chatty. We weren’t rushed at all, and enjoyed each end every bite of heavenly sushi!!

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Here’s one of my favourites, mackerel – I can’t even describe how unreal this tasted, fish that tasted so fresh it felt like it was caught that day! In comparison, I’ve had mackerel here in Toronto and it cannot even compare at all because it tasted really fishy and I had to literally gulp down water to wash down the taste.

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Hamachi, amazing, lusciously buttery and light in it’s flavour profile.

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To end the meal is a delicious tamagoyaki (egg cake): creamy, slightly sweet with a caramelized top surface, kind of similar to creme brulee.

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Sushi Tokami

8-2-10 Ginza Chuo Tokyo

東京都 中央区 銀座 8-2-10 銀座誠和シルバービル B1F

Clean Eating with Pan Seared Lemon Rosemary Salmon

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Aaaand I’m back with the recipes! Currently I’ve been pretty much overusing the method of pan searing, then placing the dish in the oven (steak, pork chop, salmon etc). I really LOVE the colour you get when you sear! I also find that when you pop it in the oven to cook, the texture of your meat can be controlled better than frying it completely, which can result in tougher meat.

I’ve been working on my summer bod, which really means sleeping in the gym and working out 24/7. Truth is, weight loss is mostly about what you eat, and as hard as it’s been – I’ve been doing pretty well! Best way to stick to a diet is to make sure you still eat delicious meals… and this lemon rosemary salmon is one of my faves!! Super easy to make and healthy too!! I served this with roasted sweet potato, sauteed brussel sprouts with bacon and pine nuts and roasted zucchini. MMMMM!

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