Sunday, April 26, 2009


695 Yonge St. (at Bloor St.)
Toronto, ON (and various other Toronto locations)
(416) 966-2424
Number of times visited: At least 10
Mains $4-8

My newest fail-safe Vietnamese cafeteria-style food place. Almost always order hot & spicy tofu pho, but have also tried multiple rice and noodle dishes. Portions huge, food always cooked right, and combo of flavours make me think this must be what Vietnam tastes like.

Rating (out of five stars): *1/2
Image courtesy of

Saturday, April 25, 2009

The Black Hoof Charcuterie

928 Dundas St. W. (at Bellwoods Ave.)
Toronto, ON
(416) 551-8854
Head Chef: Grant van Gameren
Dates visited: Friday April 3, 2009 & Thursday April 16, 2009
Plates $10-35

Obscure-looking, dark hangout in the middle of nowhere. Sparse modern narrow space with a marble bar, handful of wooden tables and chalkboard menus galore. Very cordial service. Ordered the small charcuterie plate: cured horse meat, chicken liver paté, spicy pastrami, rabbit terrine, and more. Great plate for $16.

2nd visit: Splurged on Iberico jamon ($30). Always worried hyped-up food stuffs won't live up but Iberico did. Thin slices of fatty meat with the most deep, rich, complex flavours -- nuttiness, smokiness. Further indulged in the $13 tongue-in-brioche: just incredible! A little spicy, salty but gorgeously tender and swear-to-God can't stop eating it. Brioche perfect toasted, crunchy, buttered complement.

Disappointment: no infamous Delilah cocktail; and my basil one was nothing close to the finer ones I've had at Renaissance Congress 606 in Boston, and Regent Hotel's Table 8 in South Beach, Miami.

Still, food amazing. Told vegetarian at table next to us, if there was ever a time to start eating meat again, The Black Hoof is it. (Why there was a vegetarian at a charcuterie in the first place? Do not ask me!)

Rating (out of five stars): ****

Photo courtesy of

Monday, April 20, 2009


723 Chestnut St.
Philadelphia, PA
(215) 413-9070
Head Chef: Masaharu Morimoto
Date visited: Friday April 10, 2009
Average prices (USD): Apps $16-30; mains $20-50; sushi/sashimi/maki $8-16; omakase $80, 100 or 120

Huge modern space of soft wood, high ceilings, plastic dividers that glowed different colours, white leather chairs and a small open sushi kitchen in the back with a bar for seating. Service was nearly flawless. Waiter knew the menu superbly, always checked in to see how we were enjoying our orders and very accommodating (picked up Amber's cellphone for her from awkward place; offered to take a photo of us with Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto; gave us edamame on the house when our sushi order was delayed). Couldn't believe Morimoto was actually there. He was working the front room a bit. Talked with us for a bit and took pictures. Later, bowed when I complimented him on the black cod, and put flowers in our hair!

Dinner was delicious. Only disappointment, the cocktails - white pear for Amber, cilantro gimlet for me. Started with black cod miso. Broiled and it was buttery, slightly sweet and extremely moist. Then had $50 chef's combination of sushi, and two maki rolls. All fishes were delightfully super fresh and pure tasting. Sushi rice was plump and finely made. Nagiri was the best. Maki rolls were okay. For dessert, a yuzu meringue tart with diced mango in a raspberry sauce for garnish. Perfect sweetness combined with citrus. Meringue was light, smooth and creamy. Everything so beautifully presented. Would definitely return if I had the chance.

Rating out of five stars: ****1/2

Image courtesy of

Monday, April 6, 2009

Navarino Bakery and Pastry Shop

5563 Avenue du Parc

Montreal, QC

H2V 4H2

(514) 279-7725

Number of times visited: 3

Pastries $1-3

Low-key, casual bakery. Delicious éclair and croissants. Disappointments: almond croissant with custard in the middle, passion flakie-like pastry.

Rating out of five stars: **