Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Guu with Otokomae (Guu Gastown)

obviously not my fantastically manicured finger... but fancy vianne's
I've hit up this location, along with Guu Original based on the proximity of the location to my apartment in vancouver, (another izakaya I always used to go to is Alpha Global Sushi & Bar on 1099 Richards Street, looks like a big black box, unseeingly a great izakaya restaurant lays inside), also because Guu with Otokomae (Guu Gastown) is the preferred location when you are with a  bigger group of people because it can accommodate and take reservations.  We've also had, on occasions of group parties, a set menu, where you can pick a whole bunch of dishes for $25.00 per person.  As I mentioned on my quick rundown of all the Guu's I've been to, this one is probably the trendiest, and darkest. Oobviously Trendy > Lighted environment. 

Last time I stopped back home, I went out with my girlfriends to devour some delicious izakaya, and salmon and 14 of his friends. 

Grilled Short Ribs
You can compare to the pic and comment below, not worth rementioning. it is what it is.

Beef Tataki
Something changed and I can't put my finger on it, first the presentation used to be on a rectangular dish, with daikon on the bottom, this just seems… Lazy. But still tasty. I have such great expectations.  The waiter took our plate away when there was 1 more piece of beef tataki left, I was FUMING.  I was like, MAN someone is gonna hear about this, and as the closest waiter came our way, I started to complain when he put a fresh plate of beef tataki down.  The table of drunk dudes who didn’t know what they were ordering wasn't going to miss it, so I kept my mouth shut, and chewed on the free raw beef. Score!

Ebi Mayo
This is how it needs to be done Guu Church, look at the crispy textured batter and the spicy mayo where I can see the spice, not like that cream coloured sauce you sprayed all over the toronto version.

Grilled Black Cod / Gin Dara
Yeah, this was delicious, as always, when it's from the ocean. We can't decide what those sticks are, we think its uncooked soba or something.  The presentation is WAY better than the Toronto Guu

Hamachi Tuna
I love tuna, such a magical fish, you cook him and flake him and melt cheese all over him and he's delicious and cheap. You eat him raw and he's an expensive mother f*er. You eat his tummy, call it Toro, and he'll break the bank, what the hell.  Nothing beats the melt in your mouth texture of a nice piece of fresh fish tho. Mmm.

Oyster Gratin
More Gratin than Oyster but what do you want, this is kind of a filler and oysters + carbs + cheese sounds like an excellent aphrodisiac.

Salmon and 7 friends
We actually ordered this dish twice, hence the 14 friends.
I had something similar at Guu Original on Thurlow…(by myself… I can't remember if I took pictures, but I was in town for work and was set up in a hotel, got hungry, couldn’t wait to find someone to eat with, so I went to Guu by myself and ordered like 6-7 dishes. There were 2 dudes I was sitting next to, they ordered 3-4 dishes. They should have been embarrassed.)

This is how the Salmon and his friends look when they have a giant orgy together, oh yeah I was trying to say something, so last time I had something similar at Guu Original except it had some fermented beans in there, they did NOT mix it for me (as they did here, it's quite the spectical, as our waiter skillfully mixes it all, using the egg to bind everything together, pulling it straight into the air, turning it into one big delicious mess.  I guess you're suppose to use the nori (seawead) and wrap it.  The friends to nori ratio is pretty unbalanced so we had to order 2 orders of nori to finish the rest up, at an upcharge :( I suggest you bring your own seaweed.

Yaki Udon
Obviously we don’t stray far away from the tried tested and true dishes we all know and love.  Like I mentioned before, a satisfying "filler" type dish of beef, mushrooms, green onion in a soy-butter noodles.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Cake VS. Pie

so this isn't actually about the age old debate about who reigns superior, Cake OR Pie.
This is just a random comment, cause my co-worker brought it up today, we do apparel at work, and I work on some graphics sometimes, and he was asking me to put together a shirt for some sort of play off with brackets. I had no idea what he meant by "brackets", so explained it to me, like just a visual representation of what happens during play offs, A team plays B team, C team plays D team, and the winner plays each other. And im like OOOOHHHHH like Cake VS Pie! And I sent him this picture. 
He was just cracking up about it today, and I decided to share just what kind of food loser I am… The very best kind.

Guu Izakaya Church: Jessica checks another one off

Saturday was an awesome day indeed, I went to the Toronto production of Billy Elliot, and it was just as heart felt and amazing as the New York production I saw in 2008. After the show, it was like 10:45PM, and we were hunnngry and since we were in the downtown area, and driving down Church Street, I was like…. Omg let's check out Guu! Guu Izakaya is one of a few brand named Izakaya (japanese tapa's) places in Vancouver, and one of the things I miss the most in Toronto.  There's such a concentrated population of Japanese people in Van so it trickles to the van culture,  like sushi on every block, and japadogs, and kumon… 

When we got in, we were informed that the kitchen was doing last call at 11:30 which meant we only had half an hour to order, which doesn’t sound difficult, but I like to order as I go along, so I had to make a decision. And QUICK!  I just started naming all the usuals to the waitress and she was like, WOW you know the whole menu… I was like. Heehee, im from Vancouver, so told me they had just opened up a new Guu @ Bloor and Bathurst… Damn it! Just when I thought I got to check all Guu's off my list, but another Guu to add to my experience!

As I understood, Izakaya's/Tapas are bar type foods to be enjoyed with alcohol (like a super epic glamourous pretzels and nuts) there's a lot of fried dishes, cause I guess  fried goes well with alcohol, and they're generally sharing dishes. To me I love Japanese Izakayas cause of the orginaity, flavour, and presentation packed into a small little dish. There are so many different dishes, and specials, that I'll never be bored, or afraid to try new things.

Each Guu has something unique to offer, both in experience and in the menu.

Guu Original – probably what I imagined being in Japan would be like, its a shoebox of a restaurant,  small open kitchen to the right and a bar all around it, few seats in the front and 2 larger tables with benches in the back next to the washroom. Its small, cramped, dark, and loud, but its a great experience. 
Guu with Garlic – I don’t know what you call it, but you can take off your shoes and sit into the floor like traditional japanese style eating, there's a small patio area on the side for the summer, its a little more brighter at this one, delicious!
Guu Aberdeen – its in richmond. Its in a mall? I dunno what it has to offer. Haha. Its a bit larger than the first 2 Guus, people seem to think the quality goes down when things hit Richmond, I thought it was decent!  
Guu with Otokomae – I have no idea what Otokomae is, even after googling it, so I just call this one Guu Gastown, to me, this is one and richmond would be one of the more spacious Guus, it's located in historic Gastown in Vancouver, with fireplaces, and to me, always seems like the more trendier Guu maybe cause of the clientele.
Guu Garden – is a little more "sophisticated" than the other guus, the ladies washroom feature decals on the wall and chandelier type lighting, there is an open patio in the front, it really is like eating in a garden, its open and fresh, 

And now we finally get to the first Guu in Toronto, Guu Church.
Guu Church – this was by far the loudest Guu I have ever been to, probably cause it's just one giant open space, when you go in, you've entered some sort of cafeteria, picnic style, family style eating area where the majority of the seating area are long tables with benches/seats.  I think there could a few more intimate tables on the side, and a long ass bar along open kitchen.  It's decently lighted, which is why I could take pics with no flash, I always love being greeted by the staff, love the service. It was a GUUD TIME.

Although the food wasn’t up to the standard of the Vancouver counterparts that I've become accustomed to… Hey take what I can get… 

eating view

Pumpkin Croquette AKA
"KABOCHA KOROKKE" Deep fried kabocha pumpkin croquette with a boiled egg inside
So this is a staple that I always get in Vancouver, @ Guu Original they usually have stacks of fried balls (heh) ready cause it's a pretty popular little dish.  
This was the first dish that came, and it looked the part, I was taken aback… However.. Something in the mix went a big wrong. 
Where was the pumpkin?? I'm not sure if I just had a deformed ball and they ran out of pumpkin and just decided to roll it around in flour until it formed a decent sized ball… It was more like batter and egg ball. Total disappointment :( especially when I knew what it could be! 

RAMUNE- Japanese Soda
 super yummy!  $.50 of each bottle purchased  goes towards a donation to support Japan.  

Beef Tataki AKA
GYU CARPACCIO" Loghtly seared marbled beef sashimi with wasabi mayo
This dish changes people.  When Chris and I were working in Vancouver, I told him I would take him out for dinner for always helping me/driving me home, as a thank you (chinese people thank via food), he was totally skeptical at first, as he'd always only had italian or "caker" canadian food as he calls it, but was open.  I think I wanted more to shock him by ordering the RAW beef, like, take that white guy! And after one bite, he was sold.  I think while we were in Van, he consumed 4-5 plates of these. I think he still dreams of it… But no longer! I can report that this beef tataki is just as good, maybe even better than the vancouver counterpart, if not better (from my Feb visit to Guu Gastown, the beef tataki was a bit… Meh)

Tuna Tataki AKA
"MAGURO TATAKI" Loghtly seared B.C. albacore tuna sashimi with ponzu sauce and garlic chips
How can you go wrong with BC albacore tuna with ponzu sauce and garlic chips… Mmmm melt in your mouth delicious! Always better when it comes from BC! haha

Beef Short Ribs AKA
"KARUBI" Salt&papper grilled beef short ribs with green onion sauce
Tender, they are what they are. Salt and peppered grilled short ribs. Cant really go wrong, though was not my favourite, as dish after dish was packed with interesting flavour, S&P just doesn’t do that much in this situation.

Ebimayo AKA
"EBIMAYO" Deep fried prawn in crispy batter with spicy mayo
Hmm again another disappointment from what I am used to in Vancouver. From the soggy shrimp, the overly heavy breading, in my opinion, soggy fried breading which cant even make sense but that’s what it was, the mayo wasn’t spicy enough… MEH

Special: Vancouver Uni
Ah uni.  The first time I had uni, I was in my late teens, and was not at an age where I appreciated the fine delicate texture and crescendoing flavour that uni brings to your tastebuds.  I didn't get it.  But then, last year, my food cousin brought me to this authentic japanese restaurant in Stevesten, and I had fresh uni, and it was sooooo amazing.  I can see what little sea otters risk being squewered to get at the delicious mustard yellow center. Sea Otters are foodies too!  I had the choice between Vancouver and Boston sea urchin, obviously everything is better from Vancouver, so I went with the Vancouver uni. Haha. Yet again, the BC grown dish did not disappoint. Haha.

"IKAPIRI" Deep fried calamari with spicy ketchup and wasabi mayo
This was  a first dish for me, usually we go for a grilled calamari with a spicy mayo, which is great, this wasn’t too bad.  The spicy ketchup was great, it was tangy and sweet, with a kick.  Calamari is such a filling food to eat, and the tangyness made me want to keep eating it.  Loved the fried wonton type bowl it was in. 

"KAKI FURAI" Deep fried oyster with 3 kinds sauce
Hmm. This is a new dish I decided to try as I panicked to pick enough food to order… Its.. A lil below MEH. Im an oyster fan, oyster gratin, oyster motoyaki, raw oysters.. These oysters, probably since you couldn’t just grab them out of the sea, like in vancouver, were a bit "fishy", it was nothing to write home about, except that one of their pink tartar like sauces featured boiled eggs… Weird! Yummy!

Grilled Black Cod AKA
"GINDARA" Grilled black cod with SAIKYO miso and white wine sauce
Love black cod, or butter fish, or yummy delicious flaky fatty fish! The flavours were amazing, I coulda licked the plate, this is a staple I get all the time.  My only complaint, which is a big one, is that, I could tell the fish was frozen. It didn't flake off the way I was used to, the texture was a bit mush, there were hints of unfresh "sea" like taste… I mean, what can you do, Toronto is the middle of land and a dirty lake… Sigh. 

Yakiudon AKA
"YAKIUDON" Pan fried udon NOODLE with beef and vegetables
This is always delicious, and to me, the filler starch portion of the meal, to make sure you don’t stop for a burger on your way home.  Delicious with tender (and minimal) slices of seasoned beef, with delicious chewy noodles. 

Ah. And the total. For 2. It's not the cheapest meal, not the most expensive either, prices range from $4-$10 dollars maybe, it can be cheap if you eat 1 or 2 dishes.  It's worth what it is. But im a greedy little pig who loves to stuff her face in deliciousness, so it was alllll worth it :) 

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

St. Lawrence Pizza & Ice Cream

Last week, or two weeks ago, who knows what and when i eat.. I went down to the St. Lawrence Market (more on that in a later post), and i always go hungry expecting myself to gorge my fat self, but alas, i am not 20 anymore and usually one meal stuffs me full.  So this time, i went to the St. Lawrence Pizza and Ice Cream, at the back, by the fishie place (I had a swordfish sandwich there, and it was amazing... first time swordfish, very meaty)... you'll always see a line up of people trying the free sample of pasta, or ravioli in their meat sauce, or some sort of spicy mix of everything (green, red, white... haha), with a fork, a sop of sauce, and on to the napkin and into your mouth, very no nonsense. 

I've bought their fresh ravioli when i want to treat myself, cause it's not cheap, and so this time i finally decided to sit down and munch of their fresh pastas at their bar.

This was my view... the only thing separating me from that hot sexy cheesy pizza was that dam glass or my face would be all in that.

This was my meat ravioli, got a mix of sauces of meat sauce and spicy, it was super yummy. I of couse had shared this large portion, cause it is quite a bit. 

Pizza looks good, will try it next time... if i want to waste my one meal on pizza...

Here below is the blurb from the St. Lawrence Market website on this place:

St. Lawrence Pizza & Ice Cream specializes in fresh homemade pastas, pizzas, pesto and sauces. Aziz is often hard at work at his pasta-making machine in front of the shop, creating many shapes of fresh pasta. All his pastas are made on site using pure semolina flour with no additives or preservatives. His fresh homemade sauces and pestos are based on old family recipes. All his wonderful pastas, sauces and pestos are available in containers to take home to heat up for dinner or entertaining. Whole fresh pizzas can be ordered to your specifications. They also sell pizza dough and ingredients for those who like to make their own

Monday, March 21, 2011

Clam Chowder Fail


So... i'm kinda too afraid to post a picture of my catastrophe, cause i'm afraid you'll think this is what i usually do, which is fail horribly at making food... it really is only a once in a while occasion...

I'll get the nerve to take a picture tonight but in the meanwhile....

note to self. LABEL YOUR SPICES.

the funny thing is, i dont even have that many spices... since i dont really have any room for spice bottles, and too lazy to transport them over even if i did buy them, I just keep them in the plastic baggies i get them at bulk food places...

This incident took some time to brew.

1.  i was intended to making another salmon chowder, but laziness overcome me and i put that off for about 3 days where the salmon eventually went bad, and i had all the ingredients to make a delicious chowder.  So i went with a clam, since the shelf life of those baby clams lasted for another 3 years anyway, no way that was gonna go bad on me.

2. I was looking up recipes on clam chowder and saw one with mixing a bunch of spices in with the clams first, a whole bunch of spices found in italian seasoning, along with dill and majoram, i remember having just bought new italian spice so was gonna give that a try

3. Forgot that i ran out of italian (white tie), that i had always used and had bought new (green tie)

4. threw a bunch of green spices in the clams

5. threw the clams into the chowder

6. watched in horror as chowder turned grey green, and as balls of tea leaves beging to unravel into long wavy leaves of PEPPERMINT. I PUT FREAKING PEPPERMINT TEA LEAVES IN MY CHOWDER!!!!

you know if i was in tuned, i coulda made this a few days ago and been completely relevant with St. Patty's day, but since i am always late for everything.... SIGH SIGH SIGH.


OK... so i've taken the picture before i tossed out a whole lot of work down the toilet. this is not for the weak of stomach.... :(


And here, is my sad attempt to fix this mistake, as you can see, there was A LOT of chowder.... i tried to strain some of it and pour in chicken stock and new cream.. but alas it wouldnt take. damn that is some powerful peppermint tea.... it smelt good but god i couldnt look at it...

Monday, March 7, 2011

Any Time is Congee Time!

Congee Time
5817 Yonge Street
Toronto, ON
(416) 225-6688
Ohhhh fancy shot! hahha i was so proud of this one since im generally a pretty horrible picture taker. haha. SO Congee Time, what can i say except this place brings me back... when i first moved to Toronto some 3 years ago, my friend Stef and her boyfriend at the time picked me up from the airport and brought me to this place by Stef's condo, and my new home for the next year.  Congee time, i made the stupid joke of asking them, if they knew what time it was, and they fell for it and i got to say, IT'S CONGEE TIME!!!! (though i guess it's always time for lots of stuff... morphing time, tool time, hammer time?)

Oh yeah, well Congee Time is near the Yonge and Finch intersection, and it's always pretty crowded during the dinner scene.  I used to take out quite a bit when i lived near by, they have really good take out containers for their congee (canadian made! hard plastic! selling point! :)

I went with Chris and he picked one of their SuperBowls, which is the equivalent of 2 normal orders... i left the teacup for scale. This superbowl consists of: shredded duck, shredded chicken, mushroom and egg - $7.75... which is super cheap, considering my minced beef congee at Vancouver's Congee noodle house was almost 6 dollars... (however, I would pay to have Congee Noodle House congee shipped to my mouth. so...... )
Also, we got the Chinese Eggplant with Spicy Minced Pork.  Funny story, one time i ordered the wrong thing, cause their menu is massive with M15 and A5 and B20 ETC ETC ETC and i called out the wrong thing and accidently ordered a MAO PO TOFU which i never order, and only eat if my dad orders it (cause he loves it, my dad loves everything, if you have been reading along, lol).  which is tofu, with this spicy pork, and i tried to send it back and the waitress would have non of it, comeon', its a chinese place.  So I was stuck with it, and was like, I AM NOT EATING IT, but i remember people like to put it in their congee, so i did so and DAMN it was sooo good, so hence, this time i ordered this eggplant version.
if you know me but at all, this will not come as a surprise to you, cause i am a messy girl with no judgement of volume whatsoever, with addition of gluttony and greed. This wasn't done so I could take a shot of an overfollowing bowl of congee... i just couldnt judge how small the bowl was.....
Chris picked this Salt and Pepper fried shrimp for his side. I think this is one of my dads favorites too... hahahaha.
And the total... not too bad eh? It's decent food, decent prices, quick service, and a bright environment, you'll see lots of postings from this place for sure.

AAA grade Roast gets AAA+ grade

So Sunday I went to Costco and decided to pick up a nice roast since my roommate finally got a replacement... well, toaster oven for the oven that never was at the apartment... and it`s been a while since i`d had the pleasure of oven cooking so how else to celebrate than to cook a nice, juicy, fat ass piece of cow.   
picked up a nice 3 pound roast, AAA canadian grade umm, something, it was the tier right after prime rib, sirloin perhaps, not sure, but it was tender.  i did it my mom`s way, sticking lil cloves of garlic all over it after piercing a slit through, and made a rub of freshly ground pepper (LOVE my mortar), salt, paprika, onion powder, and italian seasoning... basically the only seasonings i have right now.. haha. gave it a nice oil massage and slapped on that rub on that baby, and threw it in the STUPID ASS TOASTER OVEN.

and after many button pushings (i should show you the horror that is this toaster oven, there is no temp, just `fav temps for fav foods` and you go up and down in time and temp from that.... but out came my hellraiser roast! haha. dont you see it? 

Ah and it was time to cut the cow. my friend jimmy came over to help me eat this 3 pounder, which we worked out to be 48 ounces of meat... though looks like a quarter of that is pure fat. it was pretty delicious though i must say, parts of it were rare, since the TOASTER OVEN IS A PIECE OF SHIT, and i dont have a proper roasting pan, and some bits were kinda rare, but, it was super fresh, so... beef tataki! I am so stuffed right now....
I also put in some potatoes but since the toaster oven cooked at the speed of a rock race.... stupid. TOASTER OVEN.
and there you go. 3 measly slices of leftovers for lunch tomorrow. haha. 

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Bay Sushi - Vancouver

Bay Sushi

678 Seymour Street

Vancouver, BC

Here`s another Vancouver post, cause... again, i was visiting last week, and i have sooo many pictures to update with, seriously, the amount of eating i did in vancouver last week would have served me well for 2 normal weeks... So 2 wednesday ago, I went downtown to Zeal Salon on Robson to get my hair did (i LOVE their massage chairs, and friendly, cute, anime Japanese service, detail oriented and man i love that scalp massage on the, did i mention massage chair).  Anyway, since i used to live in that area, after my hair appointment, I went to check out my once favourite neighbour cheap sushi joint: Bay Sushi, by... well The Bay (HBC), across from the granville skytrain station... that place is always packed with exchange students, and suits, and hungry people of all sorts.  You go pick out your food, they have the same specials since i was around 3 years ago on a chalkboard out front, and various pics around inside, so order your food, get a cute laminated ticket, wait for your food, and eat in, or take out! 

I choose the eat-in option with a Chirashi Don at around $13-$14 bucks. This thing was MASSIVE as i could not even finish it. The fish was fresh and assorted. salmon, tuna, some other white fish, and squid maybe, i dunno. I got the hot version, which really, just came with a big bottle of hot sauce. Fresh and delicious! Man i miss vancouver
here`s a shot of the fish once i moved the seaweed out of the way... 

Congee Noodle House with Mom and Dad

Congee Noodle House
141 E Broadway
VancouverBC V5T1W1
Tel: (604) 879-8221

I LOVE the congee at congee noodle house, i dont know what it is, its so smooth, but there`s bits of texture within the smoothness, ahhh its just sooo good.  I haven`t been able to find anything like it here in Toronto, if anyone knows what im talking about, please lead on to the right way, i am looking for some good congee!
We got a basic minced beef congee, and even that is the most amazing congee to me... i want congee noodle housssseeeeeeeee
I always mention my dad`s favs, but this is one of my favs, rice noodle with beef and veggie... um the wet version. My dad preferred the version we got from Mui Garden the day before, but meh, i love em all. 

Ok this is my dad`s fav, he loves Jongs. which is basically sticky rice with green beans, fatty pork and salty egg in the middle.  Why, he said cause it fills him up.... which would NEVER be a reason for me to like something... my dad is weird.
Oh, and another one of my dad`s favorites... haha. wontons, though he forgot to order the noodles, which really is his favorite,  he loves a good chewy wonton noodle.  Me, eh, not bad.  

The end, this is a pretty boring post. i blame the basic staples of chinese quick eats.