Tag: spicychopsticks

Spicychopsticks.blog

Yes! I have officially upgraded my WordPress plan to a premium account!

My official website is now http://www.spicychopsticks.blog. The site will be down for a few short days and until I figure out the design layout, I should have something up and running in the near future so until then, I sincerely apologize for my website’s renovations.

I want to thank the WordPress community for providing me with support on the world of blogging. It has taken some time to find my way how I wish to express myself and live the life I see ahead of me but somehow I’m getting there.

Most of all, my inspirations and posts are shared with my wife with whom I spend every happy moment with. I thank her for giving me that extra push to start my small world on blogging.

A Filipino Outdoor Market Experience: Food And So Much More.

img_0846

3-day Local Market, Iloilo City, Philippines

This weekend was a bit of a treat.

Inside the MegaWorld complex of Mandurriao, Iloilo City, Philippines held a local market named “Produkto Lokal Festival”. Usually these are run by organizers that attract local vendors to sell their goods and services in an open market setup. Ironically it was situated right in front of the restaurant I last reviewed.

Although it was a little bit out of our way, we were lucky to drop in on the evening of one of the 3 days it was running. From one tent to another, my family and I checked out what was available for sale. People from around the province were selling handmade weave accessories and freshly grown fruits and vegetables most commonly sold at a local farmers market. The choices were amazing. Take your pick from any large selection of mangoes piled on a table. How about choosing from a huge bunch of bananas and plantains?

img_0833

img_0850

img_0852

 We picked up a large bag of lettuce for only 50 pesos ($1 USD!)

Some vendors have made their own brand and made a whole line of products such as jarred pickled items and packaged dried food.

img_0832

img_0839

So impressed with the thought and effort put into each vendor’s stall.

I looked for some ready-to-eat snacks to eat. There was always something to find.

puto

img_0841

Some really delicious treats such as “puto” made out of ube (yam) and cheese and some crunchy snacks too!

I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to enjoy the rest of the evening without a cup of fair trade coffee, grown and roasted in the Philippines. This local vendor brews their coffee the “cowboy” method. Much stronger in flavour with the right amount of strength to the taste. They also sold their other specialty, Matcha green tea, but my mind was already made up.

img_0843

img_0834

Even though the temperature remained hot and humid, I still enjoyed my special brewed cup of coffee, served to me with a smile and a “thank you”.

img_0847

If you have any type of outdoor market in your area, get out and support the local vendors. It is a fun experience!

Jip Bab – Mandurriao, Iloilo City, Philippines

img_0451
Korean Restaurant located in Iloilo City, Philippines

Check out my review on Jip Bab – Mandurriao, Iloilo City, Philippines

Click here: Yelp |  Tripadvisor | Google Maps

By the way, if they end up becoming the best Korean resto in Iloilo City, I take full credit for being the first person to review their restaurant and putting them on the map with Tripadvisor and Yelp 🙂

Update: My Tripadvisor link is up but they forgot my photos. Oh well!

 

REVIEW: Wildflour Cafe & Bakery, Makati, Philippines

img_0324
Cuban Sandwich – Highly recommended!

Check out my review on Widlflour Cafe & Bakery, Makati, Metro Manila, Philippines

Yelp | Tripadvisor | Google Maps

 

Where Does The Time Go?

Just the other day, I decided to take a break from a long day and look through some of my social media and email accounts. While I was quickly swiping through a few posts and messages I noticed that the email account that handles my blog was flooded with unread emails.

spicy-chopsticks-mailOver 300 unread emails to be precise.

I couldn’t believe my eyes. How could this have happened? I logged into my blog and noticed that the last time I had posted was over 4 months ago. I even checked my online reviews and was surprised with the same result. I looked away from my phone and just stared out the window. I found myself trying to recollect what I have been doing for the past 4 months and piece together why I have neglected my food blog.

It all came down to time. Not enough time (and partly lack of motivation). After a series of family outings and events, holidays, and daily work life pretty much consumed all of my time. It’s hard to say how much of my time was devoted to everything I do on a daily basis, I just know that everything I have done up to now has taken up my time. But I am very happy that my time was spent with family and friends who I care for. At the end of the day, that is what counts the most.

Perhaps I can get to writing one or two reviews/posts per week. For now, I am changing the way how I will post anything into my blog and social media accounts. In the meantime, I’m happy with what I have done and how I will spend my time in the near future.

I hope all of you have spent your time as well as I have.

The Canadian National Exhibition Experience

1.Front entrance

When I was a kid, my parents used to take my family to the Canadian National Exhibition (CNE) in Toronto. It was the “annual fair” that came to town filled with rides, games, food and entertainment. I always had fond memories of our visits to the CNE.

I remember my parents buying strings of small coupon stubs so that I could ride the merry-go-round or brave the kids swing set. It was one of those special days when we could eat whatever candy or junk food we want. My dad would have this obsession to win the big prize by shooting pellets around a red star printed on a small piece of paper hanging at the end of a long wire. He would never win but we would always be happy that he tried his very best.

2.KidsRide
Kiddie Ride
3.Popcorn
Candy Stand
4.CandiedApple
Caramel Apples
5.Shootout
My Dad Used To Spend A Lot Of Money On This Game

They still kept some things the same such as the “midway” where all the food and games are just an arm’s length away. The all famous Food Building still has over a hundred food vendors just footsteps away from the GO Train entrance. Of course, the annual Canadian International Air Show is always ready to perform if you are lucky to find a seat.

6.TheMidway
The Midway
7.PrizesAndGame
Prizes And Games On The Midway

We always like to see what’s new and upcoming at the CNE. Since we’re a lot older now, they added a lot more entertainment. Today, there are rock bands entertaining the beer thirsty and pork-hungry Ribfesters, a casino open to the experienced and amateur poker player, a large shopping building full of international goods available for sale, and several updated shows and current events to entertain people of all ages. Two of those shows we wanted to see was the ice skating and SuperDogs show.

8.Dogs
SuperDogs Show
9.IceSkating
Aerial Acrobatics

The ice skating shows always try to feature a Canadian celebrity skater. In the past they have had Olympians Elvis Stojko and skating duo, Scott Moir and Tessa Virtue.

10.ScottTessa
Scott Moir And Tessa Virtue During Their 2012 Show At The CNE

This year we had the pleasure of watching Joannie Rochette, Canadian Bronze Medalist at the 2010 Vancouver Canada Winter Olympics.

11.JoannieRochette
Joannie Rochette

After the ice skating show, we decided to take our time doing a lot of shopping inside the Enercare Building. Items for sale ranged from clothes to food, and everything in between. My sister was generous to buy us 1kg of unpasteurized honey. We didn’t realize how heavy it was to carry it around while shopping, we felt like dragging our bag on the ground!

12.IndoorShopping
Indoor Shopping

At one time, we were very thirsty so I decided to buy something a little different than the usual bottle of water. It wasn’t a lot but it helped hydrate ourselves from carrying around the honey and other free samples we picked up along the way.

12.Coconut
Fresh Coconut

The biggest highlight of our day was the long line of food trucks near the Princes’ Gates entrance. One of my favourites is a truck called Fidel Gastro’s. They own a restaurant on Queen Street, Toronto but has extended their express service to a food truck. We ordered the Porknado sandwich with the owner, Matt. Within minutes, out came this huge sandwich filled with Korean pulled pork topped with two crispy pork dumplings, green onions, and crema. The flavours are unreal compared to any sandwich I have ever tasted. With each bite, the pulled pork melted in my mouth and the dumplings added another flavor of pork. The fusion of Asian and Latin spices gave that extra kick while the crema just tied everything in.

13.Porknado
Fidel Gastro’s Porknado Sandwich

Matt was very generous to come back out and give us a free sample of their CNE Specialty called the Cubano. What a treat! This was a deep fried sandwich filled with pork brisket, onions cheese and pickles. Oh boy, the calories! Crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside. Cheese and pickles are my favourite toppings so I could not hold back on having that extra bite. This sandwich did not disappoint and it was an instant hit in my books.

15.Cubano
Fidel Gastro’s CNE Special – Cubano Sandwich

We were so impressed with Fidel Gastro’s that I wanted to take my picture with him. I even asked him to promote his food truck for me to post on my blog.

14.Matt
Matt From Fidel Gastro’s

Some time later, we had to treat ourselves to something sweet. It just so happens there was a food truck that sold Churros. Nothing better than eating a sweet, deep fried pastry sprinkled with sugar and injected with caramel syrup.

16.Churros
Snacking On Churros

At the end of the day, we were exhausted from all the shopping and pigging out on food. If you can make the trip to Toronto while the CNE is opened, you must try the experience of walking throughout the entire grounds. Make a second day trip if you can’t finish it all. Even as I get a little older, it makes me feel like a little kid all over again.

Heart Sushi – AYCE Sushi and Sashimi

IMG_8138

Heart Sushi
Unit 2, 815 Britannia Road West, Mississauga, Ontario

Want to get your sushi on? If you feel the need to satisfy your appetite for Japanese food then I know the place.

 

In one of the west buildings in Mississauga’s Heartland area is an AYCE (All You Can Eat) restaurant named “Heart Sushi”. They share the building with a few other tenants but if you find the Heart logo you can see they are placed at the very end. Grab a parking spot as quickly as possible because spaces are very limited on the weekends.

 

Like most AYCE sushi places today, their pen and paper ordering system is replaced with the iPad menu. Make your choices from a range of edamame beans to red dragon rolls or Korean kalbi slices to Chinese fried rice.

IMG_8143
Fancy iPad menu. It’s the way to order.

What I like about this place is the sushi and sashimi are fresh. For lunchtime sushi, they don’t stuff each piece with a fistful of rice. The same can be said for all of their maki rolls. At dinner, the thickness of each sashimi is cut just right. The best part is the presentation. When your appetizers arrive one dish at a time, you can’t wait to sink your teeth into some sashimi. But when it arrives in an illuminated bowl of ice with some fancy decor, it totally makes the experience so much more enjoyable. I used think “meh, just feed me the sashimi on a plate and serve it to me as quickly as I order it” but my outlook changed when you see all your sashimi light up! And when you sink your teeth into a cold fresh piece of fish doused with soy sauce and wasabi? Whoa!!! You cannot help but order more!

IMG_7535 - Copy
Various sashimi of salmon, white tuna, octopus, and clam on an illuminated bowl of ice.

Like many other asian restaurants, there are some minor downsides. Sitting down in the booth seats often leaves feeling the impact of the person moving around behind you. Some of the Chinese dishes are a little bland. Besides, why would I stuff myself with rice or noodles when I’m there to eat sushi??? For the most part your dishes come quickly, but even the iPad system might leave one or two items lagging behind.

IMG_8149
Appetizer Seaweed
IMG_8157
Korean Kalbi
IMG_8148
Shrimp Tempura – lightly battered
IMG_8154
Red Dragon Roll – Bits of cucumber, avocado, some shrimp topped with salmon

There are a few unexpected dishes I particularly like. Available during lunch and dinner, order up the Tom Yum soup. It has a piece of simulated crab, slices of mushroom and one shrimp swimming in a slightly tangy soup base with a small garnish. No coconut milk, so it will never taste like the original in Thailand. White tuna for sushi or sashimi melts in your mouth and tastes far better than other types of fish. Available for dinner only, you must try the chopped spicy salmon sashimi on top of a Pringle chip! I ordered it thinking how crazy it was to eat but surprisingly it was really good! Just think, fish and chips right?

IMG_8158
Tom Yum Soup
IMG_8152
White Tuna Sushi
IMG_8150
Clam and Salmon Sushi

I’ve eaten at several sushi restaurants but this one surpasses a lot of them. Some have their own unique features, much like Heart Sushi, that makes them different from other places like their service or their decor. 

IMG_8159
Cleanse your palette with a scoop or two of red bean ice cream

So after eating here, I have a pretty good idea how to satisfy my cravings. Stay tuned for my next blog about the DO’s and DON’Ts on eating at AYCE sushi restaurants.

My rating:

I'm-Smiling-Review

Momofuku Daisho – Toronto

14037339_10209665411093440_846330154_o

Momofuku Daisho
190 University Avenue, Third Floor
Toronto, Ontario

I will probably write shorter reviews in the future but since this is my first review on an upper casual fine dining asian restaurant, I wanted to spend some time to share the full experience both my wife and I had at Momofuku Daisho.

My wife has offered a couple times to dine with her at Momofuku Daisho. Unfortunately living on the west end of the GTA doesn’t give us much opportunity to travel into downtown, find parking then feed the meter or ticket machine, then walk to the restaurant. With Toronto’s Summerlicious program hitting the urban cuisine life, this was the perfect opportunity to give Momofuku Daisho a try.

I didn’t know much about what Momofuku Daisho had to offer so I checked out their website and also searched them on Google. New York’s top-rated chef, David Chang, opened Momofuku’s three-storey, four-in-one restaurant building in 2012 next to the prestigious, five-star Shangri-La hotel. Daisho’s theme is based on a steakhouse: burgers, steaks, salads, and seafood. They do not specifically serve Asian dishes, however some of their dishes do have some asian ingredients unlike the other two restos in the building: Noodle Bar and Shoto (“Nikai” is a bar and lounge while “Milk Bar” sells baked goods shipped in from their New York kitchen. Both are on the second floor). The concept design of Daisho is simple: a glass cube on the 3rd floor. I heard at night the lights illuminate the exterior of the entire building and showcases Daisho’s interior. Maybe next time I might drop in for dinner just to see it.

Calling into Momofuku for reservations was easy especially since they offered a separate connection specifically for Summerlicious. What I liked about their reservation line is that they called me the day before to confirm my reservation. Traffic was light and easy heading into T-dot late morning and my wife saved us a ton of money finding us street parking across the street from the underground parking entrance.

A short 5 minute walk around the corner to University Avenue and we made it. We weren’t entirely sure where the main entrance to the building was. We knew it was beside the Shangri-la hotel but not part of it. We saw the large entrance door behind the what appeared to be a large tree sculpture made out of stainless steel. Later I learned that the sculpture is reminiscent of a headless dragon adorned with doves to resemble world peace. Although it is placed in front of Momofuku’s megaplex, it was actually designed for the Shangri-la hotel.

We arrived early for our reservation and when we entered the small waiting area, my wife and I were a little confused as to where we needed to be. After a little walking around, we realized that the entrance to Momofuku hasn’t opened yet and so we sat down on the few benches until we were ready to go in. The restaurant promptly opened at 11:30am and the hostess at Noodle Bar directed us to the 3rd floor for Daisho by giving us a choice of using the stairs or elevator. I wanted a smooth ride so we took the obvious choice.

The hostess immediately greeted us as soon as we stepped out of the elevator and she sat us down at what my wife and I thought was the best table. Seated in the corner of the glass cube resto, my wife had the view of the restaurant and outside south of University Avenue while I enjoyed my view of my wife and north of downtown. Everything was clean and well-polished. The windows and ceiling stretched high and gave the entire restaurant so much natural light. Our waitress, Jasmine, gave us the time we needed to look over their Summerlicious menu. We talked for awhile and built up the questions what we needed to ask:

“What are these ingredients?”

“How large are these portions”

“If we wanted to try dishes on top of the three-course meal, is the option available?”

I have to tell you, she answered every single question with the fullest description but brief and to the point. It just made our ordering that much easier. We decided to hold off on ordering extra dishes in case we weren’t able to finish our prix fixe lunch.

For appetizers, my wife ordered the BBQ Pork Bun stuffed with red cabbage, bread and butter pickes, and avocado. I decided to try the roasted carrot soup with almond, crab, and chive. For the main/entrée dish I had the Pork Secreto SSam with pickled green papya, fish sauce and bibb lettuce while she had the Grilled Trout with roasted buckwheat, chanterelle mushrooms, and arugula. The desserts, a humble blueberry cheesecake and a shortcake for me.

We made our order and sipped on our hot green tea and had a delightful conversation about how excited we were to try our food. Within 10 minutes, our appetizers arrived. I have to tell you, we were absolutely impressed with the presentation. The BBQ Pork Bun was a hit. Everything was neatly packed inside the bun. Something so simple looked delicious! Although mine was a simple soup, it was presented to me with the ingredients inside the soup bowl while the actual carrot soup was inside a ceramic bottle with an open spout. The server place the bowl in front of me then poured the soup around the ingredients so that it wouldn’t drown and get soggy. Very smart!

Shortly after we finished our apps, our entrees arrived. We were both equally impressed with the presentation. The Grilled Trout was seasoned very well without any fishy taste. Roasted buckwheat was a complete surprise.  We found ourselves using our fork to figure out exactly what else was inside it. The roasted buckwheat looked like couscous but tasted nothing like it.

My Pork Secreto SSam is similar to what I used to eat when I was a kid. The plate arrived with several slices of pork and bibb lettuce piled on one side, fish sauce and sticky rice in separate small bowls. Either you could take the pork and rice then place it inside the lettuce then spoon the sauce on top and eat it like a burrito or simply use your cutlery and let it ride. All the ingredients for this asian dish was subtle but very tasty.

The desserts: The cheesecake was not thick or dense as how you would normally buy or make. It was light but not runny and it was paired with a scoop of sorbet. The two combined made for a cream and tangy flavour that cleaned the palette. I could not finish my strawberry shortcake. My wife had to help me as shortcake is usually a little dense. I’m not saying that it wasn’t good, it was very good but I just couldn’t finish everything.

IMG_8026.JPG

IMG_8030.JPG

From beginning to end, our foodie experience at Momofuku Daisho did not disappoint. Although we came here during Toronto’s Summerlicious venue, I would definitely come back here and try some of their other dishes on their regular menus. I heard their Roasted Rice Cakes are worth trying. If you ever find your way into downtown Toronto, drop into Momofoku Daisho. I highly recommend their food and their service.

Very-Good-Review