Tag Archives: toronto

Sweetery Toronto Food Festival

While Matchachoco was restaurant hopping in Vancouver, I was out in Toronto on a sweet escape (that was just a euphemism for “I had too much sweets!”).

Last August, I went with a friend to Sweetery, Toronto’s inaugural sweets food festival. It was a two-day event featuring various sweets from local food vendors and George Brown culinary students, as well as several fun activities involving sweet treats. Although Sweetery was a small food festival compared to other food festivals in Toronto, it didn’t stop us from getting our sweet tooth fix.


Featured here are pastries made by George Brown students enrolled in the Advanced French Patisserie Program:


I had one of the éclairs made by one of the George Brown students. It was an éclair cassis filled with a lemon mascarpone cream, topped with a black currant glaze and a lemon almond streusel. It had the perfect balance of sweetness, tanginess, and creaminess (though I might be a bit biased because I love lemon and mascarpone cheese!). I also loved finishing glitter touch to it. Having a personal preference for desserts with a bit of sourness, this was one of the sweets I really enjoyed that day.


My friend and I shared the mille feuille with poached rhubarb, also made by one of the George Brown students. The presentation of this dessert stood out to me because I rarely see a mille feuille presented this way. It was a refreshing twist from the typical mille feuille.


Going through the food truck selections at Sweetery, we decided to try The Original Chimney’s food
truck. We got the Holy Chimnnoli, which was their own spin of a cannoli. The Holy Chimnolis were filled with the typical ricotta cheese filling you’ll find in a cannoli, but instead of a cannoli shell, the Holy Chimnnolis were made with their signature Chimney cake


The Chimney cakes were soft and tender on the inside with a very slight crisp on the outside. My friend and I both enjoyed them; however, midway through eating them, the sweetness suddenly caught on to us. We suddenly felt that it was too sweet, especially with the generous sprinkling of powdered sugar on the Chimney cakes.

Another dessert we had that day was the Vietnamese coffee mille crepe from Catering Diva, one of the vendors at Sweetery. It was made with 20 layers of crepe filled with layers of cream in-between. Although it was a bit smaller and limp compared to other mille crepes I’ve had before, this was one of the best desserts we had that day. The mille crepe was creamy and each bite melts in your mouth. It had a strong coffee flavour, but it wasn’t too overpowering, which I really liked. My friend particularly liked this one the most because it wasn’t overly sweet.


We also had a lychee snow cone from Sweet Snow Shave Ice (I forgot to take a photo unfortunately). I was a bit impressed with their snow cones because they were flavourful, in contrast to the bland snow cones that I’ve been too familiar with. The ice was also light and finely crushed. Flavour-wise, however, I strangely found the lychee flavor almost had a cotton candy taste. I thought it was the right amount of sweetness, but my friend found it too sweet for his liking.

Overall, we had a good run of trying different desserts at Sweetery. I’m hoping next year’s will not only be sweeter, but bigger with more variety.

– Ricelessasian

Winterlicious 2015: Bent I Ever Had

Excuse the Drake puns throughout this post – we are fully aware that we might overdo the use of Drake references here *cue the eye rolls*. We have heard that Drake, one of Canada’s treasures and an undeniably talented rapper, is a regular at this restaurant!

There is no question that Chef Susur Lee is a guggernaut in the elite culinary world. I’ve seen him on TV a number of times (Chopped Canada) and read some reviews on the Internet, so I was mighty curious about his restaurants in Toronto and what all the hype was about.


Named after his wife’s maiden name, Bent is a Toronto restaurant owned by Susur Lee that specializes in seafood and Asian fusion cuisine. I’ve heard so much about Bent and for the last two years, I’ve wanted to visit, but it was never the right timing. However, I planned ahead this year and noticed that I would be in town for Winterlicious, the two-week prix fixe menu foodie event, and Bent was on the list of participating restaurants (yay!). I didn’t have to do that much convincing for my partner-in-crime Ricelessasian to agree to join me, since she enjoys Asian cuisine as well!

The restaurant itself is quite special and unique. From the bar to the chairs to the floor tiles, there is an eccentric, retro-feel to the whole establishment that brings you a little back in time. I guess that is what’s particularly magical about the restaurant – it provides a ethereal escape from the crowded downtown core.


While there was only one option for dinner at $35 for 3 courses, the portions were rather generous for the price we paid. Our waiter said that normally the Asian Duck Confit would cost around $30 for just that dish alone.

We decided to get different entrees and appetizers (the dessert was the same on the menu), so that we could taste and sample each other’s dishes. I will be the first person to admit that I need a lot of variety when I go out to eat 🙂

For the first course, we chose the Pan-Roasted Braised Beef in Peking Crepe and the Baked Dim Sum Chicken (Siu Mai).


The crepe was something both of us didn’t expect! We had the steamed type of crepe in mind that is often served in Chinese restaurants, so we were quite pleasantly surprised by this fusion twist! The half-moon-shaped crepe, almost like a empanada, was deliciously crispy and flaky. The braised beef filling was very satisfying and was extremely tender and moist.


There were so many different elements and layers to the flavours associated with the Baked Dim Sum Chicken (Siu Mai) than the countless ones I have eaten at regular Dim Sum. The Sui Mai was juicy, plump and we were given very generous portions. It definitely had to be the most “Asian”-inspired dish on the menu; we appreciated the accompaniments like the white and black tree ear mushrooms and lap cheung. For me, it was a bit on the saltier side than I preferred. I often eat Siu Mai, so personally I was not blown away. Nevertheless, the dish photographed beautifully with the colourful plating and outstanding presentation.

For the second course, we ordered the Asian Duck Confit and the Roasted Assam Style Halibut.

After tasting the Duck Confit, we came to a consensus that it was a tad dry (overcooked), which was quite disappointing because we both enjoy enjoy eating duck. The only thing that saved this dish was the cranberry and ginger relish sauce (we would seriously bottle that up if we could!).


Oh you fancy huh? 

The plating was divine, with the lobster bisque resembling a pond, in which the fish and and tofu were “floating” in. I have nothing negative to say about the halibut. It was cooked perfectly – the “melt in your mouth” – type I’m talking about. We enjoyed the Indian-inspired flavours of the tamarind and chickpeas, which balanced well with the subtle flavours of the halibut.

Lastly, the dessert trio, made up of Chinese Sesame Tong Yuen with chocolate nougat, Passionfruit jelly, and Feuillatine Carrot Cake, was a great way to end our delicious meal.


The presentation was lovely with the 3 separate sections to showcase the different desserts. My favourite dessert would definitely have to be the Tong Yuen as there was a nice surprise of texture with the crunchy nougat that is not found in the typical Tong Yuen dish. The raspberry and apricot puree also nicely balanced the richness of the chocolate sauce. Unfortunately, the passionfruit jelly was not spectacular, and neither was the carrot cake. I thought I could have gotten these anywhere in the city.

Overall, the service was very friendly – our waiter was very talkative and even made recommendations for what we could order next time. I thought he was a bit pushy in suggesting us to order an “add-on” dish besides the prix fixe menu, but we politely declined. I was worried a bit after reading a few reviews about the ‘cold’ service, but I don’t think we encountered that during our lovely first visit. I guess you could say the servers weren’t on their worst behaviour.

There were definitely many highs and a few lows to our first dining experience at Bent Restaurant. However, because the Winterlicious and Summerlicious menus are such great values, we would opt to go again during these times and not during their regular service.

Bent was more than just an option during Winterlicious. It refuses to be forgotten.



Food: 4.5/5
Service: 4/5
Value: 5/5
Ambiance: 4.5/5

Mandalay Restaurant: An Intimate Dining Experience

In January, we were graciously invited by our good friend to dine at Mandalay Restaurant, which is located in East Scarborough, Toronto. We actually wanted to visit last year, however, due to school and my trip back home to Vancouver, we were unable to find a suitable time until the new year.


Mandalay Restaurant is a fine dining establishment serving a fusion of Western and South Asian cuisine, in the Toronto suburbs of East Scarborough. The restaurant is tucked away like a hidden gem in a small shopping strip. I’m not aware of too many fine dining restaurants in the outskirts of Downtown Toronto, so I was pleasantly surprised to learn about this restaurant! Overall, the entree dishes on the menu are something you would expect to see more in downtown.

The intimate setting is probably the greatest appeal to the restaurant and is a very convenient place to eat for suburbians who are seeking that quality dining experience near home. Though it is more suitable for special occasions, I wouldn’t think twice about going for lunch or dinner on non-occasion nights either. The entrees are moderately priced and are more affordable than other fine dining restaurants in the downtown core. The ambiance was very relaxed with a rather romantic feel, (a great place to have a date!).


The variety of food offered is quite amazing for a smaller, independent restaurant. While perusing the menu, I was very impressed to see that they offer bison and kangaroo on a regular basis. Overall, they have a lot of variation for both those who prefer a lighter meal and those who want to indulge a little bit more!


I’m not sure whether it was because we kept taking pictures, but the calamari was a bit cold and soggy by the time we ate it. Alternatively, we really enjoyed the Warm Spinach Salad, with honey dijon dressing, mushrooms and bacon bits, one of the more popular appetizers we learned. I love the idea of warm salad, especially on a cold winter day!


The appetizer-sized naan pizza with sautéed mushrooms, tomato and goat cheese was also another excellent recommendation. I really enjoyed this fusion dish and all the savoury caramelized flavours of the vegetables balanced well with each other. The amount of goat cheese was not overpowering and gave the dish that extra satisfying richness.


We were spoiled by the assortment of appetizers, so by the time the entrées came, I was nearly full! But you know what they say, when in Rome…

Ricelessasian ordered the Stuffed Chicken, a generous piece of chicken breast filled with an assortment of mushrooms, spinach and goat cheese. The dish was also accompanied with grilled vegetables and pineapple. The chicken was drier than we would have preferred, but the roasted vegetables were cooked perfectly, nicely tender and packed with a pleasant caramelized flavour.


I had a craving for some steak so I ordered the 10 oz. New York Striploin (AAA quality) with mushroom gravy, roasted potatoes and grilled mixed vegetables. The steak was cooked perfectly medium rare and was juicy and tender. I really enjoyed the mushroom glaze, which I felt complemented the meaty flavour of the striploin very well. The portions were very large in general and we thought it was amazing value for the price.


Needless to say, by the time dessert came, we were very full. If you know me or Ricelessasian, we have major sweet tooths! We don’t necessarily like very sweet pastries, but we both appreciate a good dessert to end a meal.


Coincidentally (or not), we both picked the same dessert to order – which was the Raspberry Mousse Cake. I noticed that their desserts are not currently featured on their website menu, possibly because the dessert menu changes from time to time. The mousse cake was very pretty and the slice was a very generous portion compared to other places I have eaten at. I really enjoyed the mousse part – maybe more so than the chocolate cake layer. We also had a sample of the Grand Marnier Cheesecake which had a refreshing orangey flavour to it. The liquer was quite subtle and the graham cracker crust wasn’t too sweet. Overall, we both enjoyed this cheesecake, and we regretted not ordering this initially! Haha.


The service was very attentive and we didn’t feel rushed throughout our entire meal. The restaurant also has an impressive wine collection, which we hope to try on our next visit.

The food quality and attractive plating speaks for itself and I would highly recommend it to any friends or family who are in the area!


Food: 4/5
Service: 4.5/5
Value: 4.5/5
Ambiance: 3.5/5

Mandalay Restaurant
3478 Lawrence Ave E C3
Toronto, ON M1H 3E5
(416) 438-7949

*Disclaimer: Our meal at Mandalay Restaurant was comped. However, all of our opinions regarding the food and dining experience are our own. 

Winterlicious 2014: Canoe

It was only last December that we ate at Canoe. The first time, we were treated to their regular a-la-carte menu – a combination of entrees and appetizers such as braised Alberta lamb, fresh oysters and smoked duck breast. It was a special occasion and meal for us and ever since, we’ve been comparing other restaurants to this one.


We never thought our second visit would be this soon. Fortunately, the annual Winterlicious food festival in Toronto has made lunch (and dinner) very affordable and therefore ‘easily’ convincing us to revisit one of our favourite restaurants in the city. Winterlicious (January 31-Feb 13) is really like the Olympics of eating. For two weeks, foodies alike in the city can participate in rounds of eating at the top restaurants the city has to offer. It’s not really competitive, but after a good solid meal, we really are all winners, aren’t we?

The atmosphere was calming, yet there was lively chatter amongst the business crowd and regular patrons. Canoe, one of the eight Oliver and Bonacini restaurants located in Ontario, is renown for its spectacularly breathtaking view of the CN tower and Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport. That’s really one of the selling points of this establishment that might keep you coming. Luckily, their food has been nothing but excellent quality and consistency.

The feeling of going up to the 54th floor of the TD Tower Building to the restaurant is rather exhilarating – in a good way. I often refer to it as “going up to food heaven”. (let’s hope there really is one ;))


We were quite decisive this time about what we wanted to order, having perused the prix fixe menu ahead of time.

To disclose, as a big fan of butternut squash soup, I’ve been hesitant of ordering it when it’s something I could make at home or purchase in the school cafeteria. Besides the fact that it was on the cooler side, I really was pleased with Canoe’s take on a classic – infusing ginger, tarragon cream (yum), and leavened bread croutons – items I would not usually put in my homemade soup. The richness of the soup did not overpower tasting the other ingredients in the soup, which I thoroughly enjoyed.


Ricelessasian, on the other hand, had the Maple Mustard Pork Rillette (similar to pâté), which was seasoned nicely and fork-tender. It was served with Kozlik’s mustard, hen’s egg, gherkin, and miniature mushrooms which all melded well with the rillette.


Out of the entrees, we were both drawn mostly to the Ontario Strip Loin with Northern Woods Mushrooms, Layered Potato, & Birch Onion Marmalade. Everything in that description sounded like what I would want to eat everyday. The Strip Loin was outstanding in both flavourful and texture (slightly chewy, yet tender); probably the best that I have ever tasted! The slight marbling on the meat also was what won me over about the dish.


The onion marmalade was actually one of my favourite things on the plate  – it had that amazing, sweet caramelized flavour which was a lovely complement with the meaty umami flavour of the Strip Loin and sauteed mushrooms.

If you know us, you would know that we usually look at the desserts before we pick our entrees. I’m sure people with a sweet tooth are accustomed to do the same.

Ricelessasian had the Wild Rice Pudding (ironically). The texture of the rice pudding was nice and chewy. The incorporation of the wild rice was a nice touch to the conventional rice pudding. We really enjoy the the mousse which topped the rice pudding. It was light, earthy, and fruity.


The Niagara Walnut Tart (apple caramel, roasted apple and creme fraiche) was a very decadent way to end the meal. It had a lovely buttery taste and the pastry was crisp rather than flaky. Believe me, it is a richer dessert but so worth it if you’re a fan of apple pie, or tarts in general. The mixture of tanginess from the berry sauce with the sweetness of the roasted apples on top complemented each other well. It was a very generous portion for a dessert to the point where I ALMOST couldn’t finish it! Thank you Canoe for not be stingy with the portion sizes.

Having one of the last lunch reservations of the day, we had the restaurant almost to ourselves near the end of our three-course meal. We thought it was a great moment to capture the view on the other side, something that we didn’t do the last time around.


If you’re ever in the city, we highly recommend to be wined and dined at Canoe.


Food: 4.5/5
Service: 4.5/5
Value: 5/5
Ambiance: 5/5

– Matchachoco

High Tea for Two at Ruelo Patisserie

Matchachoco and I spent a pleasant afternoon tea and brunch at Ruelo Patisserie about a month ago (yes, this post is a little overdue). I initially told Matchachoco that I wasn’t thrilled about going to Ruelo because of their mixed reviews online, but after having a few bites of their selection for high tea, I just had to take back what I said.


Being my first high tea experience at a patisserie, I was really pleased with it and I enjoyed most of their selections. Matchachoco, who has been to a couple of high tea places before, thought that it wasn’t the best high tea she had nor was it the worst.  Nevertheless, we generally both enjoyed our visit at Ruelo Patisserie. We had a great deal from an online offer, and it was amazing value for what we paid for and a fraction of the cost of high tea served at upscale downtown hotels.



For tea, we were given a wide range of options from the typical tea flavours to the unconventional ones like the chocolate spicy tea. Matchachoco had the Earl Grey Tea, while I had the strawberry green tea. The strawberry green tea had an overpowering strawberry aroma at first, but once I got to take a sip of the tea, I found that the strawberry flavour wasn’t as overpowering as its aroma; it had the right balance of strawberry and green tea flavour.


We were quite amused with the containers that were used serve the tea. We initially didn’t know how to use them and thought that we had to wait for most of the tea drippings to reach the bottom of the container before pouring the tea in our cups (that would’ve taken a long time!). We found out eventually that you had to press the button on top of the container to make the process faster. We felt a little silly for not knowing this new breakthrough in high tea technology 😛



The high tea selections included raisin scones served with Devon cream and Kusmi jam, pain au choclat, mini Atlantic smoked salmon sandwich on scone, Italian prosciutto wrapped grilled pepper, mini shrimp salad sandwich on crouton, tuna quiche, lemon cake, French macaron, crème brûlée, and mango almond pudding. Matchachoco commented that the servings were just enough for two people; it wasn’t overwhelming but it didn’t leave you short.


Ironically, I generally enjoyed the savoury selections more than the sweet selections. Of my top picks were the quiche, mini shrimp salad sandwich on crouton, and the French macarons. I liked the texture of their French macarons because they were on the slightly chewy side. Matchachoco also enjoyed the quiche and the French macarons. We think the purple macaron was cassis and the yellow macaron had a salty caramelized filling.


One of the major flaws we found, however, was that the crème brûlée was liquid at the bottom. I thought that the mango portion of the mango almond pudding was sweeter than what I was used to, and Matchachoco thought that smoked salmon on scone was just the wrong pairing.

In conclusion, this was Matchachoco’s grading of Ruelo (I’m gonna let her grade it since she seems to be the high tea expert here):

Selection: 4/5
Food: 3.5/5
Service: 2.5/5
Presentation: 3/5




Ruelo Patisserie
Yonge & Eglinton, 4-6 Erskine Ave.
Toronto, ON

Taste of the Danforth 2013

Let the marathon eating begin!!


To our surprise, not everything offered on Danforth Ave. was Greek food. That was totally fine by us actually, because we must admit that we thoroughly enjoying having variety and sampling different types of cuisine (if you’ve seen our last couple of posts you’ll know).

We were first-timers to TOD and were motivated to go by word-of-mouth, advertisements online and reminders all over the city. According to Toronto Travel Guide.com, TOD is the biggest street festival in Canada and is renown for having hundreds of food vendors that are Greek-influenced or fusion cuisine for 3 delectable days.

The festival spans approximately 4 TTC subway stations long on Danforth Ave (Broadview, Chester, Pape and Danforth). Our game plan was to start at Broadview station and trek the whole festival street, or see how far we could walk without going mad in the crowd. There’s always a strategy when you go to these food festivals, which is to not “…put all your eggs in one basket”. We definitely had a strategy to ‘shop’ all the vendors and make mental notes before standing in a half an hour line-up! Our FOODIE ‘Street Smarts’ told us that we might get too full too fast (I wish I could put that on my resume one day under ‘Other Skills’).



Asian-inspired Pulled Pork Sandwich with Radish

My favourite of the day. I wanted to go back and buy another one, but the vendor wasn’t there anymore 😦 . Both of us enjoyed it because the meat wasn’t over-marinated (which it usually is at other fast-food places) or overly salty. The white bun that was used was slightly buttery, but it wasn’t too filling. There was a good balance of crunchiness from the radishes and the softness of the slowed-cooked pulled pork.



Go Greek or go home? Am I right? We were looking to try something more authentic while at TOD. We were so looking forward to it, but we were both disappointed in the overbearing sweetness. While we’re both fans of phyllo-based pastries, Ricelessasian described the baklava as “melting in your mouth instead of being chewy”. I thought the major downfall was that most of the chopped nuts and sugary syrup got stuck to my teeth by the end.


Beetroot Brownie (purchased from Healthy Planet Grocery vendor)

How dare you call this a brownie!!!! lol. It was very very moist (in a negative way), cold and did not taste like a brownie at all. For the flavour, we were expecting a subtle beetroot taste, and a more robust cocoa flavour; meanwhile thinking it would possess a crumbly texture. We shouldn’t have second-guessed the first part of its name though. It was full-on concentrated beetroot flavour.


Gyros vendor (one of many…)

It’s one of those instances where you just had to be there to get a whiff of the aroma of caramelized onions and stir-fry beef. All that mouth-watering goodness wrapped up in a pita!

We vividly remember ordering beef, and they apparently gave us lamb instead. We never confirmed this with the vendors, but I could detect the slight gamey-ness of the meat. Out of the booths that served gyros, this booth had the longest line, so we were curious and lined up for it too. Ricelessasian was left to eat most of the gyros. She thought it was good, but nothing too special. It was a little bit too carb-y for me and I felt that the temperature of it wasn’t as hot as I would have liked.


Loukoumades from Athens Pastries

Deep fried dough puffs dipped in honey. It tastes similar to Jalebi, the popular sweet dessert in India. I didn’t like it so much because it was doused in honey and wasn’t as chewy as she expected, but Ricelessasian liked it, as she’s tried it before.


Greek Cheese Pie (Tiropita) from Athens Pastries

We both loved this! Ricelessasian’s recommendation to try this was ‘spot-on’! The warm crust had multiple flaky layers and inside there is a creamy cheese filling. We were both surprised at how unbelievably light the texture of this was. I thought that the cheese filling tasted similar to homemade mac and cheese (no disappointments here!).


Deep fried Squid

The line up for this was long, so Ricelessasian thought that the squid must’ve been really good. It was served with a thai vinegar sauce. We both enjoyed it and this was Ricelessasian’s favourite of all the things she ate that day. I was really scared that the squid would be too tough, or that it would have an overly battered coating, but it wasn’t at all. The natural flavour and texture of the squid won our hearts…and our stomachs!


Flourless Dark Chocolate Torte from Dough Bakery

We were glued to this baked goods vendor for a while because of all the amazing-looking treats. This little piece costs $3, which to some degree is rather expensive. It was moist, rich and chocolately (in a very good way). Since this vendor has a permanent store, we will definitely go back for that lemon square we wanted to try!


After strolling the festival for a few hours, we even managed to bring a few treats home. If you’re not too discouraged by large crowds, this is a great place to celebrate the Greek culture and cuisine on a beautiful summer weekend.

360 days until the next TOD!

Taste of the Danforth: http://www.tasteofthedanforth.com/tasteofthedanforth.php

Dessert Trends Patisserie à Toronto


On a rainy and humid summer day, Ricelessasian and I decided to visit and sample some of the pastries at Dessert Trends. Actually, it was so impromptu that we didn’t even know if it was open or not! We thought we would take the chance anyhow. Luckily, it was open and so the dessert madness begins!


Featured here are: Chocolate & Almond Opera Cake and Passion Fruit Parfait

Passion Fruit Parfait was by-far our favourite of all the desserts we tried. The passion fruit mousse was light and airy, not like traditional Western desserts. It also didn’t taste as sweet as other types of mousse we’ve tried before, which could be attributed to the freshness of the natural fruit flavour itself.

Chocolate & Almond Opera Cake – divine layers of goodness!

The opera cake takes technique to perfect its many layers of cake base, ganache and almond crunch. The contrast in textures of smoothness and crunchiness made it that more appealing bite-after-bite. It was Ricelessasian’s first time eating opera cake so she didn’t really know what to expect! She thoroughly enjoyed it because it wasn’t too rich.


Chocolate Mousse cake with un très petit macaron! How cute is that? We were more impressed by the little macaron than the cake itself. I thought that the dark chocolate mousse was nothing too special – it tasted similar to that I’ve tried in most Asian/French patisseries in Vancouver. Though this cake base lacked fluffiness and was quite dense. We liked the zebra stripe design though – a little inspiration for our future labs!



I sneaked a photo of Ricelessasian while she was busily taking photos of all the amazing desserts. (Hopefully this sees the light of day!)


The beautiful decor at Dessert Trends Bistro is like nothing else in Toronto. Looking out through the glass windows, we actually could have imagined ourselves at a patisserie in Paris. Everything from the colour palate of the restaurant to the high walls and ceiling made it an exquisite space to be in.


The aftermath of the White Chocolate ‘Egg’ that was the container for the Passion fruit parfait. We were very impressed with the stability of the white chocolate – how could it hold the Passion fruit mousse without breaking? Ricelessasian and I took a good few minutes to hypothesize about it.




Beyond anything else, we enjoyed each other’s company – having an afternoon of Blood Orange Tea (fancy!) and treating ourselves to something special.

Ricelessasian and I are not affiliated with Dessert Trends. We were recommended to try this from our friend. It did not disappoint!



Dessert Trends Patisserie
154 Harbord St.
Toronto, ON