Wednesday, September 9, 2015

One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well

A Taste of My City - Part II

Indeed and its a good reminder in our world today, when one in five Canadian child lives in poverty and goes hungry to bed. Not to mention the fact that a third of the world population barely manage to eat one decent meal a day. So, with humbleness and appreciation for the blessings many of us enjoy, I would like to profile few of my favourite eatery spots in the city.

I prefer home cooked meal above all other options, but when I am out with friends and family, I like to explore the richly diverse food in my city, one that is an amalgamation of spices and cuisines. So, here are some old favourites and new discoveries, based on its affordability, aesthetic, customer service and of course quality of food being served.

 1. Zyng Asian Market and Noodlery
One of my favourite meal: rice noodles, corn, mashroom, shrimps, veggies & spicy sauce

This is one of the many Asian franchise restaurants in Toronto and Montreal, its popular with students. Back when I was undergrad, we would come to this particular spot, which is not far from University of Toronto downtown campus at Charles street. This location is family owned and has been around for over ten years at least, I love that its clean, affordable and a better alternative to junk food. The customer service is also pretty good and even though I rarely go there due to its location, whenever I am in the area, I tend to check it out.

And if you are like me, someone who find themselves often modifying menu items then Zyng lets you make all the decisions. With its popular 'Create Your Own feature,' you can choose between noodle, rice or the cabbage options and dress it up with your choice of protein, sauce and vegetables. They also have a robust set menu options that you can easily select from General Tao chicken, to Pad Thai and Pho.

2. The One Eighty - 51st Floor
 Crab + Lobster Dip: served warm with house made black pepper kettle chips

This restaurant was a pleasant surprise to me, because I have been going to Manulife building for years, whether it was to see a movie, check out Indigo or visit a friend, and I knew nothing about the existence of this beautiful restaurant. It tend to attract mostly a younger, cooler professional crowd. My friend invited me and few of her Somali Canadian/American trailblazers for a night out and she booked a table at this restaurant. Its on the pricey side, so its more of a treat than a spot you would visit often (unless budget is not a concern for you). 

And it does not hurt that it has a beautiful view of Toronto, where a lot of the guests tend to take pictures, or can choice to dine outside while enjoying the sunset.

From the moment you step inside the restaurant, you would think you came into a beautifully decorated loft and can I just say their waiters and bartenders all look like they were hired straight out of a modelling cast.

Here are some of the food we ordered

Halibut Tacos: red slaw with coriander, sriracha sour cream, pico de gallo + lime 

I am not a food critic, but every order that came to our table was both aesthetically pleasing and tasty. Their desserts in particular were endless moments of foodgasm. I enjoyed my time there beyond the great company and will definitely return to The One Eighty.

 Cheesecake Cannoli: balsamic strawberries, pistachios + candied basil 

My favourite was the Jumbo Molten Chocolate Macaron: vanilla bean ice cream

3. Sushi Moto Restaurant Sake & Wine Bar
 Yakitori: chicken breast and vegetable skewer with teriyaki sauce

Sushi is a necessity in my life, at least ones a week I need to gorge on some form of sashimi or sushi lunch. I must have been the only one among my pre teen friends back in the late 90s and early 2000s, who preferred sushi, when it was neither that popular nor the dining option of many in the city. Hence, why I am always on the look out for genuine sushi spots, one where its customers are those who would traditionally eat in their homes what is being served at the restaurant. Sushi Moto like many other places also offer westernized selections that are familiar to those who are not a fan of raw meat. Of course this is not the only sushi spot I like, but it will take a whole post to just highlight my favourite sushi restaurants.

Sashimi Combo: assorted sashimi, tuna, salmon and california rolls

 One of their private rooms you can book depend on the number of guests

 I love the writing on this tea cup

 Volcano Roll: California roll topped with mixed seafood baked in spicy mayo and eel sauce.

 Maki Combo: california, dynamite, fire, miami, spicy salmon

 The best way to enjoy good food is in the company of great friends

Banana Tempura with Vanilla ice cream

4. Art Square Cafe & Gallery
 Grilled chicken & mayan organic dark chocolate

I would describe Art square cafe as a beautiful place with a mediocre customer service that serves one of the best crepes in the city. I love that they display the work of local artists, we even met few months back a 10 years old whose amazing work was on display. If you enjoy French inspired savoury and sweet crepes, while being surrounded by paintings and sculptures, then this is a spot worth checking. Its right across from the Art Gallery of Ontario.

 Banana & Walnut Crepe

 Smoked salmon & goat cheese

love their teas, whether its African Queen or Kashmiri Chai

ps. the title of this post is a quote from Virginia Woolf
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