Kinton Ramen

51 Baldwin Street, Toronto, ON
(McCaul St & Dundas St)
Tel: (647) 748-8900

Japanese Ramen seems to be a hot item in Toronto lately and most of the new shops appear to have insanely long line ups. I have walked by this place on Baldwin several times and each time I popped my head in to try to get a table, I’m told there’s a (min) 45-60 min wait. Luckily, it is on Baldwin and there are many near by cafe (John’s Italian is a good choice) to grab a glass of wine while we waited.

Other than in Japan and Vancouver, I have never had cheese with my Ramen in Toronto ..the combination tastes amazing. It’s a puzzle to me how the cheese melts so quickly even though the temperature of the soup isn’t scorching hot. And for some reason, this item is a popular favorite with the ladies. Guys generally like their Ramen with “extra” pork and butter (which is at least 3/4″ thick!!).

The only thing I was disappointed with was the cocktails. I ordered an Ichow (white wine with ginger ale) and it was only 1/4 glass full with ice!

But as for the line up (which I don’t generally do) .. All I could say was it was worth it!

• Cheese Ramen (soup broth is nice and creamy) – choice of lean pork or pork with belly fat
• Gyoza

Good to Know
• Best seats: At the back (The worst seats are ones at the front beside the window. Everyone who is standing around, starving, waiting for their name to be called is drooling and slobbering over the windows while watching you eat, bite by bite.
• Atmosphere: Casual and trendy (they use the brick blocks along their wall as their background design on their business cards)
• Attire: Casual
• Reservations recommended: N/A
• Patio recommended: N/A

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Momofuku (Shōtō)

188 University Ave, Toronto, ON
(Richmond St W and University Ave)
Tel: (647) 253-8000

Having been to (and had a great experience) at Momofuku in New York, I was excited to be one of the first to try their shōtō (tasting menu) in Toronto. Although, the overall experience was good and they had a couple of really excellent dishes, I didn’t feel it was worth the $150-200 (wine pairing optional) price tag.

When we arrived, the restaurant was packed and a line up was forming outside of Shangri-la for the noodles section. We sat at the bar and watched the chefs (about 5-6 of them) prepare. For such a hip establishment and a younger group of chefs/servers, I was surprised that most of them did not appear passionate in what they were doing .. in fact, they seemed stressed (maybe because they’ve only been opened for a week and were still sorting or organizing themselves out).

The pace at which we were served was well-timed and steady until near the end. The last plate, the dessert, took more than 15 mins (because someone forgot to put the houtenanny into the oven) and on top of that, they made a mistake on our bill that took another half an hour to try to fix and reissue our receipt. Unfortunately, they did not seem apologetic for our time and when they turned us away with “please call us tomorrow to settle this,” it left a disappointing taste in our mouths.

• Egg with dashi, horseradish and ikura
• Spaghetti with nori, sardine and lumpfish
• lobster with tandoor, lemon and fava
• banana with cashew, mint, gula jawa (tasted like “Crunch” candy bar)

Good to Know
• Best seats: Around the chef’s bar (to watch how they prepare and coordinate with one another)
• Service: Overall disappointing (although there were two servers that were great)
• Atmosphere: Trendy (and dark near the bar area, which made taking photos on this post difficult)
• Ideal for: foodies, long dinners and dates
• Attire: Smart casual and business
• Reservations recommended: Yes (weeks in advance)
• Patio recommended: N/A

Momofuku on Urbanspoon

Yours Truly (Carte Blanche Tasting Menu)

229 Ossington Ave, Toronto, ON
(Dundas & Ossington)
Tel: (416) 533-2243

I’ve only tried the Carte Blanche tasting menu, which varies daily depending on what is fresh and in season. The entire dinner lasted four hours and we were served more than 20 courses! By the end of the evening, I was waddling back to the car! The portions ranged from small bites to larger servings and more than half the items on the menu were Asian-inspired. Almost all the dishes were delicious except they spanned them too far apart in serving us and the chairs were not super-comfortable to be sitting for that long.

If you want to give this restaurant a try, I recommend you book ahead and use your AMEX (to receive a complimentary glass of champagne).

• Foie gras (served in a mini coconut cup) with nori (seaweed) wrap
• Fruit meringue
• Smoked carrots
• Bruschetta

Good to Know
• Best seats: No particular preference
• Service: Okay but slow
• Atmosphere: Hip and trendy
• Ideal for: Date, celebration and if you are not rushed to go anywhere afterwards
• Attire: Smart casual and trendy
• Reservations recommended: Yes
• Patio recommended: No

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Yours Truly on Urbanspoon

Khao San Road

326 Adelaide West, Toronto, ON
(Peter St & Richmond St W)
Tel: 647-352-5773 (KSRd)

A super busy Thai restaurant located near the financial/entertainment district downtown. This is one of my favourite Thai restaurants in the city but they do not take reservations. Unless I can make it there when it opens, I’ll have to pass because of the long line ups. Other than that, the food is delicious and the Thai ice tea is amazing .. It is nicely sweetened with a floral aroma and caramel flavour after-taste. If you’ve never tried this before, I strongly recommend it!

• Khao Soi (braised beef with noodles in curry sauce)
• Panang curry (red curry but more flavourful)
• Thai Ice Tea
• Tapioca pudding (if you have a very sweet tooth)

Good to Know
• Best seats: On the lower floor at the back (more privacy)
• Service: Good but not very personable due to the volume and flow of traffic
• Atmosphere: Simple, cozy and trendy
• Ideal for: Quick eats or lunch (I don’t recommend for business gatherings or conversations. Because of the noise and traffic, it’s very difficult to hear each other.)
• Attire: Casual
• Reservations recommended: N/A
• Patio recommended: Yes

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Khao San Road on Urbanspoon

Chez Laurent Restaurant

4965 Chez Laurent Restaurant
(Yonge St & Sheppard Ave)
T: 416-590-0909

Here’s a quaint family-owned restaurant/old style home located right on Yonge Street (just south of Sheppard). Although a bit run down, it complemented the ambiance .. cozy, homely and non-pretentious.
The food was spectacular and mostly homemade but it was the owner’s passion that gave the place its energy. This restaurant is truly a hidden gem within the city.

• Thin pasta wrapped with salmon, spinach and cheese (special, not on menu)
• White wine with cassis liquor (similar to a rose)

Good to Know
• Best seats: Next to the fireplace
• Service: Very friendly, knowledgable and passionate
• Atmosphere: Old fashion, traditional, cozy, non-pretentious; generally an older crowd
• Ideal for: Semi-casual gatherings; home cooked food lovers; pasta lovers
• Attire: Casual
• Reservations recommended: Yes
• Patio recommended: Yes

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Chez Laurent on Urbanspoon

Ten Ren’s Tea Time

111 Times Ave #101, Markham ON L3T 0A2
(Hwy 7 & Valleymede)
T: 905-881-8896

You probably recognize Ten Ren’s brand for their tea but very little people know that they also have locations for dining as well. The food was okay but their drinks are amazing. Flavours vary from the exotic fruits i.e. lychee to the more common ones i.e. green apple, available hot or cold.

• Pineapple Lychee Hot Tea
• Soft Ribs Green Tea Noodles in Soup

Good to Know
• Best seats: Booths at the back (for more privacy)
• Service: Slow but server made the effort to appear apologetic
• Atmosphere: Contemporary; trendy
• Ideal for: Casual gatherings; Tea lovers/dates
• Attire: Casual
• Reservations recommended: No
• Patio recommended: N/A

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Ten Ren's Tea Time on Urbanspoon

Blowfish on Bay

333 Bay Street, Toronto ON
(Bay St & Adelaide)
T: 416 860 0606

With Blowfish’s new location, combining art and Japanese cuisine just got more convenient for the folks in the Financial District. BF has the most tasty, innovative and delicious makimonos – ingredients include mango, curry and even popcorn … and they’re soooo good!!

• Makimonos
• Handroll – made with rice paper (not seaweed)
• Sakitinis (these are dangerously delicious because they taste like juice)

Good to Know
• Best seats: The round booth at the front
• Service: Friendly and helpful
• Atmosphere: Contemporary; trendy
• Ideal for: Date; business lunch; GNO; Sushi lovers
• Attire: Business casual; trendy; business
• Reservations recommended: Yes
• Patio recommended: N/A

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Blowfish on Urbanspoon

Osteria Ciceri e Tria

106 Victoria Street, Toronto ON
(Yonge St & Queen St)
T: 416 504 1992

A taste of Italy in the heart of Toronto at this nice, quaint Italian restaurant. A perfect little lunch getaway.

Their menu is set up so you can choose which five antipasti (these are like tapas size) dishes you want and the option of adding a primo and/or secondo (similar to entrees).

• The anitpasti menu changes often depending on chef’s choice and what is in season.

Good to Know
• Best seats: Table next to the window
• Service: Nice and helpful
• Atmosphere: Contemporary; hip
• Ideal for: Date; business lunch
• Attire: Business casual; trendy; business
• Reservations recommended: Yes
• Patio recommended: N/A

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Osteria Ciceri e Tria on Urbanspoon

Salad King

340 Yonge St, Toronto, ON
(Yonge St & Dundas St)
T: (416) 971-7041

Reopened earlier this year, Salad King still attracts the crowds from Ryerson, Eaton Centre and Yonge Street.

Although conveniently located, SK is not one of favourite restaurants because I find the noise really travels and have difficulty listening to the person I am dining with. Although I only like a couple of dishes, I do prefer SK more than Spring Rolls.

• Calamari
• Green curry chicken

Good to Know
• Best seats: None; mostly community tables
• Service: Mediocre
• Atmosphere: Simple; long steel tables and bench seats
• Ideal for: Quick eat; take away
• Attire: Casual
• Reservations recommended: No; first-come-first-serve; they do not take reservations
• Patio recommended: N/A

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Salad King on Urbanspoon

Humble Pie Bakery, The

6 Bay Baysville, Ontario P0B 1A0
T: (705) 767-1136

The Best Butter Tarts I ever had!! The filling oozes out as you bite into the scrumptious tart.

A must stop by if you’re heading up to cottage country in Muskoka!!

• Butter tarts
• Blueberry pie
• Scones

Good to Know
• Best seats: N/A
• Service: Very friendly
• Atmosphere: Small bakery
• Ideal for: Take out, on the way to cottage
• Attire: N/A
• Reservations recommended: No
• Patio recommended: No
• Parking: Free
• While you’re there: Stop by Muskoka’s local brewery, Lake of Bays, and try their beer.

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