On your way to Sherway Gardens? Say hi to Joey!
Check out my review on Joey Sherway.
A very well known bakery, Meli Baklava and Chocolates, in downtown Toronto was recently reported to have mice feeding on food displayed in the shop’s window. The nightmare of it all, it was caught on video.
Informative yet scary at the same time.
Here are my reviews on two Owl Of Minerva locations. One is really good. The other is not.
In the meantime, enjoy this short video of my favourite Seafood Soon Tofu Soup! It’s filled with a small dose of spicy red pepper flakes, tofu, some shrimp, mussel, egg, garnished with green onions.
Check out my review on The Owl Of Minerva Oakville
Check out my review on The Owl Of Minerva Mississauga
I wanted to share an explosion of fireworks during last night’s Canada Day 150th celebration in Toronto. Thank you to all my fellow bloggers and followers from around the world and hope this puts a smile on your face wherever you are.
Don’t forget to increase the volume and listen to all the fireworks and the oohs and aahs!
In the past few weeks, I have been to a few AYCE (All You Can Eat) sushi buffets in the Greater Toronto Area.
Each and every one of these restaurants had their own menu and style that may have included in one way or another different types of asian food such as Chinese, Korean, or Thai. After checking out each restaurant, I found this to be a great opportunity to compare notes on what I look for versus what I am paying for.
1. Sushi vs. Sashimi
What is the difference between the two? Originated from Japan, sushi consists of a special bite-size portion of cooked vinegared rice topped with a slice of raw seafood, vegetables, or even tropical fruits. Makis and Hand Rolls are types of sushi that have the fish and veggies rolled or wrapped inside a layer of rice or seaweed. Sashimi is commonly thin slices of raw seafood.
At many AYCE sushi buffets, I have seen sushi and sashimi served in different sizes, and girth. Yes, GIRTH. My biggest pet peeve is being served with a huge chunk of sushi rice with a small shave of fish. These sort of restaurants overfeed you with rice so they can save more money by holding back on the fish.
The best bang for your buck will always be the sashimis. I always order makis sparingly because I don’t want to fill myself up with rice.
2. Lunch vs. Dinner
At many AYCE buffets, the price is very different during lunch or dinner.
At an AYCE sushi buffet, the standard is having sushi served for lunch while sashimi is served for dinner, but when the price is $10 more per person and you eat the same number of sashimi as you do with sushi, then you might as well eat sushi for lunch.
Although in some AYCE restaurants, dinner menus may be served during lunch but of course, at a dinner price. Only your wallet and stomach will determine which one to choose.
3. Weekday vs Weekend
This comes down to price. The base price is lowest on weekday lunches (Monday – Thursday) and increases at dinner. Some consider Friday lunch as a weekday but Friday dinners are always at a weekend price. At most places, weekend lunch and dinner will skyrocket to a much higher unexpected price.
Other than serving sashimi for weeknight dinner or on weekends, usually there are no special reasons why they are charging more only that they know families and couples are most available to feast at these times.
Go for the weekday lunch if you can make it. You will get better service, pay less, and it won’t be so crowded.
4. All You Can Eat but not All You Can Drink
Better ask if your soda drink refills are unlimited and/or if it’s included in the AYCE price. Otherwise you might be paying much more than you think.
I usually order some Chinese tea or green tea solely because I gave up soft drinks a long time ago and also they refill hot water for free. Besides, carbonated drinks fill up my stomach and I like to consume more of the food than the drink. Most places provide a small pot with loose tea/tea bag steeping in hot water. They either charge one price for the number of pots or the number of people. So if you have a party of 8 and they all want tea, either you will be charged for 2 pots that can serve 8 people or pay the individual price per person even if you are given 2 pots. At one place my wife and I actually paid for our own separate tea bags in separate cups.
If you don’t need anything special, tap water will always be free.
5. AYCE Sushi plus other foods and fusion
Most sushi places are now mixing up their menus by offering Chinese, Korean, and Thai.
With Chinese, I try to stay away or limit my steamed rice or fried rice. I figured if you’re eating sushi, you are already having good portions of rice. Do try their dim sum (steamed dumplings) as they are slowly making their way into the sushi restaurants.
Most Japanese AYCE buffets mixes in several Korean dishes. If they offer kalbi (small strips of marinated short ribs) give them a try. Koreans know that it can be difficult and expensive to make kalbi so make it worth your while to have some. It’s delicious!
Tom Yum Soup is my go-to Thai dish. I have always enjoyed a little sour taste in my mouth to warm me up for a sushi fest. Any noodle dish such as Pad Thai should be ordered with caution because it usually tastes either very bland or very sour.
6. Types of Sushi and Sashimi
I used to eat a ton of red tuna. As time passed by red tuna became less available and salmon started to be the norm. Now I’m hooked on white tuna (or butterfish). Just thinking about the butterfish melting in my mouth makes me want to go out for sushi right now. Yum!
I have also started to love octopus and surf clam sashimi. They have a slightly rubbery texture to it but the flavor is starting to grow on me.
Some maki rolls make its way onto my plate. I love dynamite rolls (tempura inside), spicy salmon crisp, and Red Dragon with salmon toppings.
Hand rolls are the biggest flop in my book for AYCE buffets. So much rice and veggies are stuffed into the seaweed wrap that you can barely taste any fish at all.
7. Fresh means everything
Once you bite into any sushi, it should not have a fishy taste. Nor should it smell fishy either. Sushi and sashimi is meant for you to enjoy the moment without having any difficulty of forcing it down.
With any fish sushi, not only should it be chilled but it should also be easy to chew. If you find that you are chewing non-stop, then it is far from being fresh.
8. Price can make it or break it
How much are you willing to pay for an AYCE lunch or dinner buffet?
For lunch, I am willing to go between $15 – $20 and that’s if they are offering sashimi for lunch on the higher end of the price range. I find that even with higher prices, the quality is still the same.
Some restaurants will give you a 5% discount if you pay the bill cash. It doesn’t hurt to ask your server before you order if a discount is available.
9. Old style/New style menu ordering
Pen and paper menu ordering is slowly being phased out. Most of these places don’t have a picture what each dish looks like. Unless you have eaten at this sort of place several times and ordered everything on their menu, then you really wouldn’t know what to expect. Also, it is so hard to get your server’s attention if they don’t check up on you from time to time.
iPads now made their way into AYCE sushi buffets. Order the quantities of dishes by tapping away at the pictures on their slide bar menus. Food should arrive within 5 minutes as this system is supposed to increase efficiency. If they don’t serve your food within a good amount of time then either the restaurant is busy or the iPad is broken.
Most AYCE have credit card machines with preset amounts on how much tip to add onto the bill. I will tip depending if I have to go up to get my own food or if they will deliver it to me. Factor in if they bring my food quickly, take away my empty plates before I return from the tables. I always consider if I am treated like a paying customer.
Most importantly, the food has to meet my expectations.
So I hope my list helps all of you decide on what you will look for at any AYCE sushi buffet.
If you love sushi as much as I do, it is always satisfying to walk out of a sushi restaurant smiling saying that I ate well and having that ‘Life is Good’ feeling. If you can say that, then you definitely achieved the most value out of your sushi meal.
Thanks for reading my blog!
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.
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.
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.
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.
This year we had the pleasure of watching Joannie Rochette, Canadian Bronze Medalist at the 2010 Vancouver Canada Winter Olympics.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.