Chinese


I’ve almost never written about my actual cravings which  was the initial inspiration for the name of this blog. I suppose it’s a good thing because for the most part if I’m craving something I go out and get it shortly after. I try not to deny what the stomach wants especially since you only get so many meals in a lifetime; why deprive yourself right?

Well I’ve had a serious craving lately for something similar to the photo below.

Photo courtesy of : Food Porn Daily

I’m really in the mood for crispy chicken tossed in a spicy sauce, perhaps a General Tso’s recipe. The spicer the better too as I’ve been really loving everything extra spicy these days.

If you have a recipe that you think I’d enjoy, please leave a link and I’ll definitely have a look and add it to my recipe list. I have yet to actually look and find a recipe I’d enjoy.

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Szechuan Szechuan is a pan Asian and Szechuan restaurant. It has two current locations; one in Vaughan mills and the other in the First Canadian Place in downtown Toronto. On a shopping excursion to Vaughan mills, my family decided to eat at the Szechuan Szechuan restaurant. We decided for quicker service and general convenience to stick with the takeout/express service as opposed to the sit down meal in the restaurant. I can’t comment too much on decor but it looks really classy and modern inside the restaurant. The website displays some pictures.

image taken from google

The food choices are quite extensive even for the take out. There are soups, salads, main dishes of every meat, sushi, side dishes, rice, noodles and set menus with the type of food ranging in the Chinese, Thai and Japanese flavours. Simply ideal if you ask me. We ordered 4 dishes, one for each of us and ended up with leftovers. The other bonus to the take-out service is that they provide take out boxes of all sizes if you’re unable to finish. There’s also water on hand so you don’t have to worry about buying tons of drinks if all you need is some refreshing water to go along with the meal. The take out service has certain special up on the board with enticing photos as well as the menu. It’s all very clean-looking and appetizing. I can’t really explain the thought process behind choosing what we did that day. We all wanted a little something different.

I remember choosing the Pad Thai ($9.95) simply because the other noodle choices didn’t seem appetizing at the time and although Pad Thai dishes in most places aren’t all that authentic, I’d settle for it over other options. It was surprisingly better than I had anticipated, certainly not super authentic but better than most. There was a lot of flavour and you could definitely tell that it was freshly made to order. I could happily live off of Pad Thai for the rest of my life.

My father got the General Tso Chicken ($10.50) since it was advertised as a house speciality. I can’t say it  looks all that appealing in this photo but it was definitely delicious. A little too much on the salty side so luckily we had some rice to go with it. There wasn’t as much spice and kick as you’d think there’d be considering all the dried peppers in the dish. I like my food spicy but I don’t mind either way. Definitely a hearty dish.

I’m not 100% sure what this is. Upon reviewing the online menu, I tried to figure out what this might be and was torn between two choices. I’m leaning more towards Crispy Ginger beef ($10.95) but someone correct me if I’m wrong. At my favourite Szechuan restaurant, they have a similar crispy beef dish so we decided to try this out. It was certainly tasty but a little salty as well. We might have ordered extra rice because of it. Again not as much spice and kick as you’d think considering you can see the big pieces of dried peppers. We had some of this left over in the end.

And finally, my sister decided she wanted Sweet & Sour Pork ($8.95), a Chinese classic dish. Also tasty but pretty generic compared to others you could find elsewhere. She happily gobbled it all up.

Overall, Szechuan Szechuan is a great place to grab a bite. There’s a wide selection and I certainly appreciate the takeout option as it is certainly much more convenient especially while on a shopping trip. The portionning is really good and great value. It’s a different level of fast food. Maybe one of these days, I’ll venture into the restaurant itself but in the meantime, I hope you try it for yourself and enjoy :)

1 Bass Pro Mills Dr
Vaughan, ON L4K 5W4
(905) 738-8398
Website
Take Out Menu
Cash/Credit/Debit

Szechuan Szechuan on Urbanspoon

UPDATED 01/12/09 @ 3:45PM — I forgot a few more dishes so for those who have already read this post, check the end to see even more food from the party

New Year’s is a huge event for my family because it’s a two fold celebration. In addition to the general excitement for the new year, New Year’s day happens to be my father’s birthday. My family throws an annual New Year’s bash, invite all of our family and friends and party from the afternoon until the wee hours of the morning. Because it is such a long event and there are more people than the normal get-together, there’s a pretty big spread on our table.

After a year of numerous parties, my family tends to feel like we’ve gone through the majority of the Filipino dishes out there. Therefore, we like to attempt to ring in a new year with different food that isn’t always typically seen at a Filipino party. When deciding upon the menu, we consulted a variety of sources for inspiration and recipes and came up with a menu that features some of our most favourite dishes, some experimental food and some tried and true Filipino food.

Recipes that I reviewed

Recipes from various sources

Click to see more food from the party!

(more…)

Kingston has a large amount of Japanese restaurants but unfortunately all of their authenticity comes into question as most are under managed by Koreans or Chinese. It’s apparent when you look at their menus and realize that there’s a whole other section dedicated to their cuisine alongside the japanese fare. It begs one to wonder why they don’t just specialize strictly in their food as I would happily go to an authentic Korean BBQ place over a less authentic Japanese restaurant but that’s beside the point.

For my 20th birthday, I was having a major cravings for sushi. I had originally considered ordering in as I was still in the process of making my birthday cake and didn’t want to stop but after consulting some of the prices plus the cost of delivery, that idea was quickly squashed. I’ve been a little weary of eating sushi in Kingston due to price and freshness. I’m used to the concept of All-You-Can-Eat (AYCE) which is easily found in Toronto for a rather affordable price. I’m also the type of person who often doesn’t eat sushi (to keep it a more special occasion when I do) so when I eat it, I eat TONS of it!

I had heard good things from friends about Sakura, claiming that it was the only place in Kingston to go for sushi. In hindsight now, I realize their advice is a little one-sided since most have not ventured to other sushi places beside Asha and Ta-ke, both of which I’ve read enough mixed reviews. But since it was AYCE, I decided to give it a try. Now A is not a fan of sushi but since it was MY birthday, he was willing to go along.

When we arrived I wasn’t sure whether or not to go for the teppanyaki menu or the AYCE sushi menu since I knew that A would probably prefer the teppanyaki more, but I couldn’t ignore my craving and convinced him to just give it a try. The place was rather busy even for a Wednesday night. I realized a little later that another birthday get together was going on. Itwasn’t overly loud and we still were able to enjoy the evening.

There were two menus provided with the option of AYCE sushi. One listed their menu standards while the other featured some special items. You could definitely tell the Chinese influence on the place as there were quite a number of Chinese dishes. I was really craving udon noodles as I remembered fondly of this delicious soup with udon noodles dish that I always have at one of my favourite Japanese restaurants back in Toronto. Since I wasn’t interested in soup, I opted for the stir-fried variety, chicken yaki-udon.

NOTE* I apologize in advance for the yellow tinge lighting on all the photos. This is the flaw in having only a P&S and forgetting to turn flash on. I also apologize for a lack of photos as I was so hungry, I almost forgot to take any at all.

The udon itself tasted okay, nothing remarkable. It just needed more flavour. The chicken was horribly dry even amongst the sauce/soup of the yaki-udon. I prefer a little more bite to my vegetables but it would do. The portion was perfect as it allowed you a sample. Any more and I would have over-stuffed myself on the highly starchy noodles.

Next up was the chicken and steak teriyaki:

As you can see, I couldn’t manage to get a photo of the steak fast enough before A ate it all up. It was probably the only thing on the menu he was willing to eat. The steak teriyaki was deliciously tender. It wasn’t overly chewy and just melted in your mouth.  The teriyaki sauce that accompanied it wasn’t overpowering or too sweet as some other Japanese places do it. For example Ta-Ke normally has the meat swimming in its sauce, which I often don’t mind because I’m a huge sauce fan, but of course, the steak should be the highlight. It was a reasonable portion but since it was so delicious we opted to get 3 more servings I believe, most of it going towards A and his appetite. Unfortunately their steaks were inconsistent which dampened our excitement and praise for their steak. One ended up being a little too rare for my liking. I don’t like a steak too well done but it was bleeding a little too much for me to attempt to digest. Another steak was overcooked for its thickness and size so it ended up being horribly chewy with very little flavour, even with the teriyaki sauce. All in all, their steaks didn’t match that of the first experience and we deemed it as a fluke on their part.

As for the chicken, just like the pieces found in the udon, it too was horribly dry despite the sauce. It lacked flavour and had an unsettling mealy taste to it. It may just have been that night but as a safe bet, I’d avoid it.

I also ordered some shrimp & vegetable tempura:

I love tempura and try as I might, I just can’t get it to be like those I find at Japanese restaurants (I’m still working on it) . I don’t normally get the vegetables but it came as a set along with the shrimp. It was fried to perfection, not overly oily. The shrimp were a good size and didn’t have too much coating. I love sweet potato tempura so that out of the vegetables was the best. The onion was a little undercooked but overall a tasty fried dish.

A also ordered some chicken fried rice (I don’t know why we kept ordering the chicken knowing how bad it was, wishful thinking I guess). It was a medium size portion (although much too big for my capabilities at that point). Upon discovering onions A decided not to eat anymore and left that up to me.  The chicken was again horribly dry and I picked them out of the rice. The rice didn’t have a lot of flavour but it was passable as a filler. I could certainly fry up a better batch at home.

The one and only photo I took of the sushi as it was presented to me ended up being far too blurry to showcase so the best I can provide is the photo above with the few pieces of sushi seen at the bottom right hand side.

Knowing that A wasn’t going to partake in the sushi experience I ordered their Sunshine roll (8pcs), as well as a Spicy Tuna roll (6pcs). They describe their Sunshine roll as having ‘Salmon, Tempura & Avocado Inside, Topped with Fresh Salmon, Scallion Spicy Creamy Sauce and Crunchy’. Upon its arrival I was disappointed to realize that the inside salmon was cooked and I’m not particularly a fan of cooked salmon, especially in sushi but I ate it anyway. To be honest, it wasn’t anything remarkable. It was well balanced in textures, underwhelming in flavours and not all that exciting. As for the spicy tuna roll, there was too much rice for my liking and after all the other food I indulged in, I didn’t need more starchiness from rice. It too was nothing spectacular.

A and I shared a vanilla ice cream to finish the meal which was sadly probably one of the best things of the night.

Dinner prices are as listed (and of course subject to change):

Overall, it satisfied my craving for the time being but was nothing compared to my experiences back in Toronto. I don’t know if i’ll be returning for their sushi but I may give their teppanyaki a try as I’ve heard mixed reviews on that as well. This time around quantity sufficed the lack in quality. A who didn’t eat much from the menu and was disappointed in the steak at the end probably won’t be joining me for another sushi adventure, however he’s never experienced the cheesy show that teppanyaki offers so maybe we’ll go just to give him something new to look at.

As for service, it was certainly lacking. We ended up having to follow up several times for some items and they often took a tad too long to clear the finished dishes. There’s definite improvement to be made there.

Sakura also features delivery which I will be reviewing next.

Sakura Japanese Restaurant
1350 Bath Rd., Kingston. ON
613-531-8882
website

Sakura Japanese Restaurant on Urbanspoon

I have a deep love for asian food and everything that falls under that umbrella. My family and I are always on the search for good places to eat in Toronto and the York Region. I believe my mother came across this restaurant either by review or by word of mouth. We went primarily for their Peking duck because it can sometimes be difficult to find good, affordable Peking duck in our area.

We have gone to Chung King numerous times in the past and although we don’t love everything on their menu, we certainly have favs. We’ve passed our on love for their food unto others and now I shall do the same for you.

Chung King is located at the back of the famous Pacific Mall located at Steeles Ave. & Kennedy Rd. It is one of the many restaurants located in that area. We often go during lunch and thus have never had a problem getting a place to sit or being surrounded by tons of other people. You’re greeted promptly and often have a choice of where to sit in the restaurant. It’s fairly small with hardwood decor and other than the unsightly fake flowers that adore the front window, beautifully decorated with paintings, traditional asian vases and urns. The place appears very clean. 

 First up was Singapore Noodles (8.95). My mother is a big fan of Singapore noodles as is on a constant search for Singapore noodle sauce in a jar (anyone know of a brand?) Compared to some of the other noodle offerings, this one is a pretty safe bet. Nothing too spectacular, better than most I’ve had so no complaints. My family eats it more as a starchy filler since we often don’t get rice.

Next up was Sizzling Chicken in Black Bean Sauce (10.95). My father is a big fan of chicken so we’re always trying numerous chicken dishes for the best one. I’ve think we’ve tried a few on their menu but tried this one to change things up. It came on a super hot plate, sizzling just as the name had promised. The sauce reminded me of the consistency of sweet and sour but not the taste of course. It had many onions (a plus for me) bell peppers, and tons of chicken. Overall fairly tasty although I think we’ll continue exploring for more adventurous chicken options.

Now comes my most favourite dish, the reason why I come to this restaurant in the first place, Sichuan Crispy Beef (10.95). I don’t know how to emphasis my love for this dish. My family would happily come to this restaurant to eat this alone. When my aunt visited, she ate some and wanted to go back every day if she could. She even wanted us to ship it over to her in Germany. I make a special request that anytime my family come to visit me that they MUST bring me a take out of the crispy beef and as stated in my ‘About‘ page, it would definitely be included in my last meal. I don’t know if there’s anything truly magical about this dish. It’s certainly hard to find elsewhere. When its brought to you its super crispy without the least bit of oiliness. The beef inside is super tender. There isn’t too much sauce and it doesn’t overpower the beef or make its coating soggy. It’s spicy without too much kick which comes from the red chili flakes and has tang to it. There are also slivers of carrots and green onions for added flavour, freshness and texture. In other words, its heaven to me. I strongly suggest that others give it a try.

 

Last up was the Honey Garlic Spareribs (11.95). We had ordered this maybe at most 5 mins after our main order, just as an afterthought because we weren’t sure if we’d be filled enough with what we had ordered. We were afterall starving when we had come in. Wanting to try something completely new we picked the honey garlic spareribs. I don’t really know what we had expected. I guess something like what your normally get if you order spareribs in black bean sauce only substitute the sauce for honey garlic. We were waiting in the restaurant for what felt like forever, something not typical of their service but because we didn’t have other plans, we were willing to wait it out. At some point we were trying to figure it out why it would take so long to cover little spareribs with a sauce. We decided to allow ourselves to digest, drink more tea and talk about the tragedies that had currently hit our homeland, the Philippines. Finally, after a very long wait we were present with napkins and wetnaps and these medium sized ribs that were smothered in a very garlicy honey sauce. The ribs were probably boiled and then fried before placing the sauce all over it. We quickly understood why you needed the napkins. They were pretty delicious and I could definitely appreciate the sauce. It was something new and I’d certainly like another helping of it the next time I go.

Like I mentioned earlier, the Peking duck there is quite tasty. We normally order only two courses which comes up to 32.95. We tend to reserve that for special occasions. They do take-out if you’re not in the mood to sit in.

We were satisfied with our meal as usual and left very happy. I recommend that you try it for yourself.

 ——

After we had to make a trip to Ikea to pick up a missing part for a shelving unit that my parents were assembling. This was a perfect opportunity for some dessert, Ikea’s $1 frozen yogurt. Whether it’s actually yogurt is debateable but its tasty considering its only a dollar. It doesn’t taste quite as synthetic as some other places. The also have other things on their menu for cheap such as coffee and hot dogs but we tend to just buy the frozen yogurt.

Chung King
4394 Steeles Ave E, Markham
(905) 513-8788
no website

Chung King Garden on Urbanspoon

Another dim sum night with seaweed salad and a homemade sushi roll. Definitely a yummy combination. The roll was filled with shrimp and seaweed salad. The rice wasn’t the best in the way it was seasoned so it didn’t hold up as much as one would want but still yummy.

Montreal Smoked Meat is one of my favourite meats out there. My family has often gone out of our way to make a trip to Montreal to visit the famous Schwartz deli for a taste. For those who aren’t able to make the trip and who don’t live in the area, you can purchase a frozen version from Costco. The meat is packaged in portions and can be microwaved or boiled in the packaging. It’s convenient and pretty delicious. I decided to heat some up and put it into a pita. Instead of the usual mustard that some people opt for I used a wasabi ginger concoction that I bought at a specialty shop. I had first tasted the sauce at a shopping mall where a company had a booth set up and free samples. I tasted it and love it but for one reason or another didn’t purchase it. Luckily, a week later my family headed up to Niagara-on-the-lake where a specialty food store there was selling it. After a nice sales lady located the jar for me, she asked me what I was planning to use it for. I told her I had no idea but that it tasted too good not to buy and now I have a use for it. I was a little over zealous and added a little more than I was able to handle. It ended up being pretty spicy but the beauty of wasabi is that its a spice that doesn’t linger. It punches you hard and then disappears. A very yummy sandwich.

Pocky often goes on sale on the many asian supermarkets near my home in Toronto. My mother often buys them as they make for good snacks. I’m most fond of the strawberry flavour but I won’t oppose to the other kinds. We usually stock up on them and bring them as a side snack in the event that we’re out and a little hungry. I’d take these over chips any day as my go-to snack.

I’m a big fan of dim sum and when most people are out having brunch eating eggs, bacon and toast, my family goes out to have dim sum. There’s many wonderful places to go get some in Toronto. Unfortunately I haven’t found that here in Kingston :( so I’m forced to buy the frozen kind and transport it back to Kingston. I buy my dim sum at a store called Oriental in Scarborough as they have a decent variety and reasonably priced. It’s sometimes difficult to find frozen dim sum of decent quality without the MSG. I normally only get the Har Gau and Shao mai but this time I got two other types. It was quite the task trying to steam it as I didn’t have a steamer so I had  to improvise. Did it work out well? Ehhh, it did the trick but I won’t be doing it again.

Along side the dim sum, I cooked up a bowl of vermicelli with some pad thai sauce that I had laying around. I cooked with some shrimp, onions and crushed peanuts. From what I remember it tasted pretty good. I don’t think I finished it all at once because it is a lot of food but very statisfying for my asian craving at the time.

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