Bombe au C’ChoColat

Weekend getaway to Paris North – pourquoi pas? Why not, indeed, to a fab Canadian stay-cation worthy of good eats in beautiful Montréal, Québec. Arriving ‘tout à l’heure,’ I waste no time and make my way downtown where ‘le centre-ville’ is home to several locally authentic French cuisine finds. Forgoing ‘foie gras’ – this time – I have reason for travelling through the hustle and bustle of the city’s artery, and it’s prime – believe me!

C'ChoColat 2 arrGood company and good times! And, as for the weather? Certainly, ‘je me souviens’ – a city to be remembered. But, don’t let the clear skies fool you! Brisk air to some, I would comparatively rate the weather as well below freezing temperature. Nonetheless, this trip was never about the windchill. Food shopping on the mind, this chocoholic-epicurean – that is ‘moi’ – landed in front of the doors of 1255 Rue Bishop for one precise item: C’ChoColat’s signature house dessert, the C’Wow.

Wowed – 100% – by this memorable chocolate bomb, this sweet plate is truly unlike anything I’ve yet had the pleasure to witness. Scanning the menu, the composition of listed ingredients for the C’Wow already sounds pleasantly familiar. Just imagine, a plated dish that includes: a scoop of artisan gelato surrounded by broken pieces of waffles, brownies, pecans, fresh berries, and crumble that is then encapsulated in a chocolate dome. But wait, this dessert gets better when served table side – ‘à table,’ chocolate lover!

Like a page stolen from history, suspenseful anticipation for this Trojan horse is no where near reached until post delivery of this gorgeous cocoa structure. Don’t worry, however, this sweet invasion equally makes for one delectably welcome fateful ending. In a nutshell: the C’Wow came, was seen and conquered – by caramel! Ultimately covered by heated caramel sauce, behold: a demolished collapse of layered confection toppling over a rocky bed of waffle and brownie bits. Jaw dropped, bearing witness to a fantastic chocolate demise, a moment of fascination is soon replaced with reality and the realization that it’s taste-testing time – finalement!

C'ChoColat 10 arrAs hoped, every bite of the C’Wow encompasses a mélange of delightful flavours. Inclusion of fresh berries justly brighten the flavours of the dense and rich cakey components. Generous in size and highly caloric, this select is a feat to finish. As such, here’s word to wise: the C’Wow can easily be shared by two or ordered for one large appetite. Either way, this chocolate themed venue offers more than meets the eye and is sure to appease many a sweet tooth.

C'ChoColat 6 arrSatisfying the chocophile-in-anyone, enjoying the finer things in life – if only via chocolate – is a dream come to fruition at C’ChoColat. Never ceasing to disappoint, there’s something for everyone from chocolate-infused beverages dubbed ‘choctails’ to Hong Kong style honeycomb waffles and savoury dishes. Too tempting not to try, the pistachio gelato is truly divine. Still in vacay mode, adding accompaniments like a latté and the Matcha Matcha Man frappé make for an accepted and extended guilt-free indulge-a-thon. Between green tea and herbal varieties, the assortment of milkshakes, ‘chocolat chaud’, hot/cold coffee beverages and Parisian crêpes run plenty. Heart happy in #MTL, C’ChoColat’s C’Wow is a clear winner to be experienced for yourself, ideally in person or just a click away.  It’s seriously, ‘the bomb’ of chocolate desserts!

Copyright © DISHFUL, 2017. All Rights Reserved.

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A Heavenly Beauty Regimen

Heavenly 4 arrWe all know that eating locally-grown food is good for us. After all, remember that saying ─ “You are what you eat” ─ it must exist for a reason, right? Whether it’s true or not, there’s no denying this: the breathtaking island of O’ahu is pleasant in every sense ─ sensory taste buds included! So whilst on a dream escape, it’s no wonder that my vacation memories are inclusive to an early morning breakfast at none other than Heavenly. Ringing true to the “Island Lifestyle,” this eatery specializes in breakfast and lunch items that are in sync with their policy, “Local first, organic whenever possible.”

Heavenly 1 arrAlready feeling content with this chosen venue and its ‘Heavenly’ mission, I follow suit and make an edible-friendly statement of my own: “May I please have…everything?” Kidding aside, this was the exact order: the “Pitaya Bowl” and “Beauty” smoothie ─ for me ─ in addition to the “Big Island Honey French Toast” along with a “Power” smoothie. A lot to take in ─ I know ─ but that ‘morning glow’ must come from somewhere. As in this case, I happily get my daily dose of vitamins via homegrown nutrient-rich fruits. Loaded in antioxidants and all that good stuff, I’m pretty sure there’s no shortage of other good-for-you menu items ─ trust, there’s plenty!

Heavenly 2 arrAs for my ‘beauty’ treatment, here’s the raw scoop: who ever says clean-eating is boring, they’re wrong ─ healthy tastes divine. Far from an ordinary cereal bowl, my ‘flowering’ vision is reminiscent of an orchid-touched purée of fresh dragon fruit that is topped with ruby red slices of fresh ─ never frozen ─ strawberry, chunks of ripened pineapple, crisp granola and coconut milk. Needless to say ─ and as advertised ─ this detoxified select is synonymous of a “Super Fruit Morning!”

Now, let’s talk about that French toast. Just one bite, and it’s quite evident why ignorance ─ of satiety ─ is bliss. Hollering for more Hawaiian-style brioche, Heavenly again uses fine ingredients ─ “locally-made sweet bread” ─ for the making of this classic recipe. Equally similar to challah, just imagine: banana-embedded French toast that is finished with a saucy drizzle of chocolate. So maybe this ‘sweet’ indulgence is not as trim-friendly as the Pitaya, but it’s still worth a taste.

Heavenly 3 arrIn continuum of happy times, the smoothies complement either of the aforementioned plates but are ─ FYI ─ contrasting in flavour. Specifically, “Beauty” ─ also my preferred beverage ─ evokes a mild and sweet taste thanks to these ingredients: berries, coconut water, celery and chia seeds. Those looking for a protein boost, however, may opt for “Power” that carries a somewhat stronger and nutty profile due to the following medley: almond ─ both the butter and milk ─ spiralina powder, a hint of cinnamon, and fruits. Getting used to the spa-like treatment ─ even if it’s table-side ─ other blended items to try include: “Energy,” “Radiant” and/or “Dream.” All in all, delighting in locally-cultivated food items is a daily practice that I welcome with open hands ─ a “Heavenly Island Lifestyle” that, unequivocally, suits me fine.

© DISHFUL, 2015. All Rights Reserved.

A Taste of “HI-Life”

Keoni 5 arrSea, sun and surf ─ life’s pleasantly a beach! Recently back home from the most surreal island vacation, I’m not only living the life, I clearly lived the “HI-life” whilst in the beautiful archipelagic state of Hawaii. Unforgettable for more reasons than one, ‘mahalo’ is in order ─ thank you ─ to the incredibly warm and kind-hearted people of O’ahu, who have left me with countless impressionable memories. Beyond beachin’ splendors ─ ocean air, salt in in my hair, and sandy toes ─ befriending locals has enriched my short-lived stay with plenty ─ good company, light-hearted conversation, and delectable food of course.

Keoni 2 arrTalk like the locals, why not? Here, ‘ono’ means delicious. And for a meal worth recounting, this foodie is ready to talk about all things ‘ono,’ primarily breakfast ─ made Hawaiian-style! Feeding my mind, heart and soul with every bite, Keoni is the place I ventured for a simple yet elevated Hawaiian take on the all-American pancake breakfast. Not too far from Waikīkī Beach, Keoni’s offers a generous plate at a modest price. Serving plentiful of all things wonderful, behold: two strips of crisp bacon, two scrambled eggs, and two moist golden pancakes.

Keoni 3 arrFar from ordinary and with keeping with the numerical trend, Keoni’s pancakes are made particularly enjoyable for TWO reasons: macadamia nuts and coconut syrup. Yes, indeed ─ coconut syrup exists! Tried and true to authentic flavour, I am very familiar with maple syrup but now ─ and courtesy of the gracious hostess ─ I have learned the ‘proper way’ to indulge in mac-nut flapjacks: first pour equal portions of maple and coconut syrup onto a separate plate, and then soak up morsels of cake into the pool of heavenly liquid nectar. Combining coconut-essence sweetness with crunchy bites of moist cake and seasoned bacon, this dish is comfortably similar while somewhat welcoming different. In a nutshell, fluffy macadamia nut-embedded pancakes soaked up with coconut syrup, in addition to its salty and crunchy accompaniments of ‘extras’ echoes a balanced dish full of flavour and texture ─ in other words, pure ‘extra’-ordinaire!

Hawaiian Sun Coconut Syrup arrFortunately, time and distance away from the south-pacific doesn’t mean one cannot recreate this “must-indulge” plate for a Sunday morning treat or everyday breakfast. For a taste of “Hawaiian Sun”, an insider’s tip is that this brand of coconut syrup is ‘the one’ to try. Hopefully spreading ‘aloha’ ─ love and kindness ─ is achievable via coconut syrup on top of your homemade flat-top griddled rounds. But in case this syrup is far-reached and inaccessible at your grocer’s, know this: a golden morning can still persist with shredded coconut or flakes sprinkled over ladled batches of your favourite pancake recipe. For an alternative spin on this local find, you can even add bananas and/or chocolate chips into the nutty batter. Trying one or all, happily decide how to make your very own pancakes ‘extra.’ All in all, I take away more than a recipe from this trip. Fully embracing the HI-Life state of mind, life is about enjoying the small and simple things ─ edible mac-embedded sunrises included!

© DISHFUL, 2015. All Rights Reserved.

Chiado Is What Chiado Does

Chiado 1 arr Summertime is sizzling and for one reason ─ Summerlicious! If you haven’t heard, no worries, there’s still time. Every year, this Toronto food event caters to hungry, enthusiastic and curious patrons. Foodie or not, now is the time to literally sample a three course menu from that establishment you’ve been eyeing for some time. Among friends, here’s a little piece of FYI: please do, R.S.V.P. Chiado 2 arr“I used to be indecisive, but now I’m not so sure.” This expression clearly resonates, given we’re ready to eat but uncertain in which locale to invest. Choices galore, the range of participating venues leave many to contemplate between fair to fine dining hosts. This year, however, I just had to taste my way through a ‘prix-fixe’ that was inclusive to an item never tried. And so, I must ─ “must-indulge,” at Chiado. Chiado 3 arrDid someone say ‘sizzle’? ─ Sim, sim, sim!!! ‘Chiado’ ─ as in the Portuguese term ─ indicates ‘sizzle,’ and for a reason. Happy to greet, seat and serve guests, the start of my experience is sizzling with great service. Waiting not, prompt seating and tableside attention is not an issue ─ mind you, former reservation had been made. Evidently still, staff are welcomingly present, professional and do their very best to accommodate patrons. First thing’s first, treat your senses with a taste of complimentary: black cured olives, an overfilled bread basket, and dipping olive oil. Already noted ─ here ─ it’s all about quality.Chiado 4 arr Eager for more appetizing delights, the menu selection is consistent with palatable options. For starters, opt for a seaside inspiration via saffron and cognac-infused shrimp bisque, grilled lemon garlic sardines or salmon tartar à la avocado mousse. Agreeably tempting, I forgo the aforementioned for a vegan appetizer that satisfies while taking account of needed room for the ‘main’ choice to come. In the meantime, my first course leaves a pleasantly earthy and enriching taste that is: portabella mushroom and eggplant that is topped with delicately broiled goat cheese, and justly flavoured with champagne vinaigrette.  Chiado 6 arr A true reflection of the Mediterranean, Chiado succeeds in a menu that well-encompasses regional cuisine as seen with: ‘dourada’ or fileted sea bream, grilled squid and a salted cod terrine, in addition to other piscatorial dishes such as pan-seared skate fish and Atlantic salmon. Seafood cooked right is an incomparable experience in its own right. Chiado 5 arrNonetheless, I set my ‘mainly’ mind on Chiado’s apparent “rule of the roost.” Tried for the first time, the garlic and herb-crusted “Roasted breast of Capon” is overbearingly succulent, adequately heated with ‘piri piri’ sauce, and persists to be undeniably preferred over the usual ‘white meat’ chicken alternative.  Absolutely hearty, the generous serving of ‘capon’ is enough to satisfy one’s eyes and appetite, though the root vegetable and ‘haricots verts’ accompaniments are worth savouring. Chiado 7 arrAnd now, time for dessert! Beyond comfortably-full ─ several bites ago, into the second course ─ how can I ignore Portuguese tradition? Treated to a pillow slice of light ‘molotof’ ─ egg white meringue ─ enrobed in caramel, this cotton candy-like cloud denotes both a sweet finale to this delicious meal, and a prelude to a necessary siesta. Happy eats and sweet dreams in, this Summerlicious experience is ─ most definitely ─ ‘Chiado.’

© DISHFUL, 2015. All Rights Reserved.

A Little Shuck & Awe

Pure Spirits Oyster House 1 arrIt’s late in the night, you’re in the heart of the city, and crave a taste of the sea.  Where does one go?  Thinking not of Toronto’s Harbourfront, my anchor is set on D-squared.  Better known as the Distillery District, just take a stroll along the copper-red brick road and find none other than Pure Spirits Oyster House & Grill.

Pure Spirits Oyster House 3 arrServing last-minute patrons ─ myself included ─ ‘raw-bar’ enthusiasts are promptly seated and informatively served with a bi-coastal listing of ocean fresh selects.  Scanning the best of east and west coast shucked clusters, I tread close to common waters ─ the Atlantic ─ and decide on three regional offerings:  Bluepoint, Caraquette, and Oddball.  Among all that’s fine and brine-y, I’d rate the meaty New York Bluepoint as a dominant standout in comparison to the Maritime alternative ─ this time, at least!

Feeling squeamish at the thought or taste of oysters?  Don’t be shell-shocked!  Fortunately, the captain of this seafood house prepares a tasty trio of savoury sauces for smooth sailing of slurping good eats.  Minding table-side manners ─ always ─ loosen your oyster of choice with a spoon or other provided utensil, and top off with these condiments:  classic cocktail, jalapeño mango or refreshing cucumber-infused vinegar.  Pure Spirits Oyster House 4 arrDynamic and all good in their own right, my ‘addition’ of choice is the pleasantly unexpected mélange of sweet heat courtesy of the spicy mango dip ─ a flavourful pairing that simply works.

The night, however, is still lively.  And so, this candlelit supper is not over until it’s over ─ fully satisfied!  Seafood and pasta options abound, order’s up for my table:  a “fancy salad,” and “branzino and beer.”  A bore ─ for some ─ I can never get tired of a healthy mix of veg.  Pure Spirits Oyster House 5 arrSpecifically, in my bowl of “chopped salad” one would not be disappointed to find a well-intended toss up of all that goes together:  pieces of grilled chicken breast combined with creamy avocado, sweet corn, chunks of feta cheese, chick peas, crunchy asparagus and capsicums, cucumber, a touch of sunflower seeds, and a gentle dousing of cilantro dressing.  Given my liking for the aforementioned greens, I approve though it’s understandable if this is not the case for some.  On that note, why not savour a pan-seared serving of branzino ─ p.s. it comes with a glass of beer.  Uncomplicated for a fish dish, the branzino’s exterior is cooked to a crisp while maintaining a fork-tender flaky flesh, and is then bedded on top of a medley of sautéed dandelion and mushrooms.  Generous in portion and flavour, either hot or cold plates won’t leave you flagging any white napkins.  If anything, catches of the day are so fresh you’ll be happy to slap them ─ on a fork!

© DISHFUL, 2015.  All Rights Reserved.

“In Todd we trust!”

Cross your “t’s”, dot your “i’s”, and most definitely ensure to check off your foodie bucket list.  For me, this equates to tasting as many celebrity chef-inspired dishes allowed in a lifetime.  And, talking about right place and time, Las Vegas strip is home to a handful of restaurants by well-known culinary greats.  TEpub1 arr

“Table for two?” ─ yes, please!  Going where I have yet to dine ─ even ‘sans’ reservation ─ I know lady luck must be chiming nearby as my impromptu dinner is already made exceptional with speedy service, and booth side seating at none other than Todd English P.U.B.  Not your ordinary after-hours retreat, this casually upscale pub bustles with more than lively patrons who are eager to strike up conversation.  Truly giving guests something to talk about, this resto is justly named after the celebrated chef, himself ─ the Todd English ─ who is both a restaurateur and multi-winner of the James Beard Award.  In spirited terms, this urban food and bar house is bound to ring in cheer, good times and deliciously made traditional British fare ─ all under the influence of Todd, of course!TEpub2 arr

Options ranging from carved meats, classic fish and chips as well as fresh “raw bar” oysters, don’t let mouth-watering selects leave you stuck in a pickle of a decision ─ order it, instead!  Evading confusion, then, let’s start with the obvious for appetizers ─ “Crispy Beer Battered Pickles,” anyone?  Having just that, I’d compare P.U.B.’s fried slices of house made pickles to be a supremely elevated variation of dill potato chips.  Far from ordinary, T.E.’s take on this condiment snack remains unmatched as the pickles retain a crunchy texture and are mildly sweet in flavour.  Even better is the batter!  Using beer-infused tempura, these ‘freshly’ fried bite-size pickle chips are first coated prior to getting their hot oil treatment, and come served with a trio of barbeque, ranch, and blue cheese savoury dips.  Surprisingly irresistible, this lump-free alternative to the all-time bagged favourite is genuinely that good.

TEpub3 arrFirst round in, this foodie ‘listed’ wish would not be complete with ─ at minimum ─ the inclusion of a highlighted pick among “Todd’s Favorite’s.”  And there it is, “Lobster Cobb.”  Menu scanned and choice made, my decision indicates this:  great appetites think alike ─ they’re ‘mindful’ of layered tastes.  In plain ‘English,’ this meal is made of the king of crustaceans ─ a.k.a. meaty lobster ─ and, it is appropriately dressed with delectable fixings:  creamy avocado, smoked bacon, blue cheese, roasted corn, plus more edible goodness.  More than just baby greens, this dinner salad is substantially rich and generous in servings of under the sea.  So when opportunity strikes, asking for additions ─ skirt steak, salmon, turkey, chicken or shrimp ─ is all the more reason to dive into temptation and make this dish a personal well-encompassed surf ‘n’ turf favourite.  Clearly not going overboard, I must request additions.  After all, how much is really too much?  If anything, my eager-to-order eyes have taught me that when dealing with countless appetizing options, more is always more.  Dinner lightweight, heavyweight or unsure, no worries here!  Happy hour at Todd English P.U.B. means you can wind down, enjoy the atmosphere, and delight in a satisfying meal.  All in all, this establishment does a fine job in making guests feel right at home.  Being one to attest to a contently fulfilling experience at P.U.B., it’s no wonder, “in Todd we trust!”

© DISHFUL, 2015.  All Rights Reserved.

This Is How We Do Vegas

BBP4 arr“Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas, Nevada!”  Landing in “Entertainment Capital,” this inviting foodie haven is bound to appease every sense.  Fortunately, the need to feed can be accomplished northbound or heading south of Las Vegas Boulevard.  Hungering over Vegas sights, who knew walking along “the strip” quickly leaves one simply hungry.  Sleepless in 702, and with an insatiable appetite for sinfully delicious calories, BBP is a worthy pit stop to replenish and re-energize.

BBP2 arrCourtesy of Bobby Flay’s very own burger palace, this fast-food joint flame-broils three selects ─ Angus beef, chicken or ground turkey ─ and with endless savoury ‘stately’-inspired toppings.  Debating not over the east or west, burger-lovers can go coastal with picks such as the “Miami,” the “Dallas” and even the “Bobby Blue.”  What’s more?  Choose your preferred meat patty, and get it “Crunchified.”  That’s right, even if you’re not keen on the “Crunchburger” ─ double cheeseburger with chips ─ this burger house will generously tower any desired protein plate with golden crisps.  So there you have it:  the addition of complimentary potato chips fit for preferential treatment ─ burger of choice ─ and, ultimately a high stakes noshing session of tasty bites of Americana.

BBP1 arrDo we ever learn from jokes?  I do like my coffee ‘hot,’ my chips ‘crisp’ and while in a restaurant, I’ll definitely ─ especially, when given the choice ─ take my burger “Topless.”  Inside-joke ─ perhaps ─ but, when you’re at BBP in Vegas, this is the way to order.  On the menu, and soon to be my very own, I opt for a “Topless” ─ hold the buns, carb-free ─ “L.A.” style Angus beef burger salad with a serving of chicken.  Clearly, ‘someone’ hearts protein and veg.  Even better, my plateful is promptly delivered tableside and ─ utensils in-hand ─ ready for consumption.  All in all, the combination of succulent ─ doubled ─ meat with sweet baby greens, creamy avocado relish, refreshing tomato, watercress, and balsamic dressing is without a doubt one delectable gamble for a meal gone right.

BBP3 arrFully satisfied at BBP, a ‘good’ food experience is like winning the jackpot.  Luckily, Bobby’s Burger Palace offers plenty of highly mentionable items to leave many with ‘won-over’ appetites, post-indulging.  Tender yet crisp, the sea salted sweet potato fries are quite good and a possible accompaniment as are other sides.  Leaving enticing malts and milkshakes for a future visit, here’s my overall first impression of Mr. Iron Chef’s burger restaurant:  it does reign in supreme flavour and service.  On that note, “Allez cuisine!” ─ and, make a trip to BBP.

© DISHFUL, 2015.  All Rights Reserved.

Too ‘Gut’ To Be True

World cup soccer drawn to a close, why not keep the winning momentum going?  Full of heart and national pride, celebrating all-things Deutschland is welcome and year-round at one particular destination – SCHNITZELand.

Conveniently located in Thornhill, Toronto, this corner eatery satisfies both dine-in/take-out patrons eager to champion a sought-after taste of Bavaria.  Specializing in Eastern European food, ‘overtime’ is graciously offered to leisurely review the abundant list of hearty selects.  Between traditional appetizers, dinners, desserts and – ‘ja’ – even lager, be prepared to keep your eyes on more than one prized option.  Offering plenty – in variety – the ongoing dilemma of indecision persists.  Which one to choose, schnitzel or spaetzle?Schnitzeland2 arr

Hungry for a taste of victory, questions are finally settled with the only feasible request – order’s up, for both!  Typically bread-coated, I forgo any crumbed masking and pleasantly sample Holstein Schnitzel – made, my way – in its purest form.  Appeasing to my palate, I am presented with a plate of simplicity – chicken schnitzel that is clean, lean, lightly seasoned, and sufficiently grilled to succulent perfection.  Reminiscent of Persian ‘shirazi’, this meal is also paired with a refreshing side of Israeli salad – cubed cucumber and tomatoes – and, served with a generous helping of crispy bacon-embedded saurkraut.  Already bright in taste, things look far more attractive – to a protein-lover – with a complement topping of one sunny-side egg and cured anchovies.  Notably, in this case, it doesn’t take a genius to concur that ‘e’ equates to – more than – ‘enough’ fare, fulfilling one’s hunger.

Über peckish, still?  Larger than life – spirited – friends, fear not!  If you can stomach more – delicious – but, have yet to reach your ‘wall’ and are left wanting more, this place doesn’t refer itself as “SCHNITZEL-and” for no reason.   Upon demand – and extra cost – you can easily “double-up” portions of ‘tenderized popularity’ or opt for additional plates of flavourful classics:  bratwust sausages, goulash, sweet or savoury perogies, and dumpling-like spaetzle laden with gravy.  Clearly dynamic, the heroic lineup of appetizing dishes are befitting of one Germanic ‘happy meal.’  Needless to say, anytime man engineers edible triumph – winning over appetites – well, ‘das gut!’

© DISHFUL, 2014.  All Rights Reserved.

The Real Momofuku

Mr. Noodles. Back in the day, a steaming hot bowl of dehydrated noodles came to life with a packet of flavouring. Effortless and budget-friendly, minimal wait time added to the appeal in turning this little ‘square’ – that would and could – into a stringy carb-induced sensation.Momofuku Exterior arr

Modern taste buds, however, call for something e-special-ly different. Where supplemental quick-fixes and balanced flavours meet, countless options are to be found at must-visit-try-and-taste noodle bars. Dishful’s select? – Momofuku. You read right! In the heart of downtown Toronto, this trending hot spot delights one’s appetite for Asian-inspired cuisine with a myriad of – new-to-me – ingredients.Momofuku Tsukemen arrMomofuku Shrimp Bun arr

Feat one: get through the heavy entrance doors. Task once complete, making it to the ‘other side’ is worth the effort. Promptly acknowledged – with R.S.V.P., mind you – the open ambiance fittingly mirrors the inviting menu. Simple and concise, don’t let the short list fool you.   Eyes at work, repetitious scanning of the daily-selects is necessary. Already familiar with ‘delicious’ – kimchi, shrimp, shiitake and the like – my mood beckons adventure. Seeking something untried and worth exploring, “Smoked Chicken Ramen” and a side of “Okonomiyaki” appeases my curiosity.

Wall art admired and conversation in full swing, it isn’t too long before my party of three is served – one-by-one – bowlfuls of harmony. Correctly pairing a mélange of sweet, sour, savoury and salty tastes, let’s not forget the ‘meaty’ quint-essential fifth counterpart – ‘umami.’ Contrasting in texture as in flavour, balance is reached across the bowls. Combining the old with the new, mixtures of fresh and raw ingredients complement fermented saucy reductions.Momofuku Smoked Chicken Ramen arr

Not your ordinary meal, the crispy exterior of the chicken confit is revealing of multifaceted cooking techniques. Getting more than bites of noodles, my hearty bowl also manages to encompass a delicately cooked whole egg, floating above hot seasoned broth, alongside ‘menma’ (dried bamboo shoots) and tender fungi. Momofuku Okonomiyaki arrHalf-way into the start of lunch and already full, it would be unfortunate to miss the Japanase hotcake.

After all, the showing of a good attempt must go on – with one more bite, of course! Comfortingly familiar, this Japanese yam pancake has a fluffy interior while decorated with an unexpected item. For the element of surprise – ‘katsuobushi’ – dried skipjack tuna flakes are generously topped onto this savoury snack; a contrasting twist to an otherwise humble breakfast staple. Momofuku Fat Noodles arrBut, that’s not all! Korean beef with swiss cheese “Fat noodles” or cured salmon “Tsukemen,” indulging in distinct samplings of sophisticated complex-simplicity – palatable noodle dishes – is sure to satisfy any patron of Japanese-fusion eats. Similarly content, I leave enlightened – in-the-know – of the real Momofuku: everyone! When you eat, here, you’re status is undeniably elevated – one “lucky peach!”

© DISHFUL, 2014. All Rights Reserved.

Kebab or Nothing!

Have no fear, kebab houses are near – at least in Richmond Hill!  When summer comes to a close so, too, does storing away your backyard barbeque.  Luckily, I found one Persian eatery that keeps hot coals aflame, literally fanning of charcoal – in old-school fashion – year round. TaftanContact arr

Chicken, lamb or beef?  When it comes to tasting a selection of skewered authenticity at its fastest, I make my way to one particular dine-in/take-out establishment for some fired meaty perfection.  Despite its small corridors, Taftan Kebab upkeeps tradition serving Persian cuisine in mountainous portion-sizes and flavour – both, BIG!

TaftanK arrOpting for my usual – “Shah Abbasi” – if you ask, you shall receive.  Request made and order fulfilled, I got my hands on a very hefty package.  Here, they just ‘meat-it!’  Container overflowing, my preferred dinner plate consists of a kebab trio – ‘joujeh’ (chicken breast), ‘koobideh’ (ground beef), and ‘barg’ (beef tenderloin) – made to order, with delectable juices dripping over a “king-size” bed of fluffy saffron-infused basmati rice.  Not only does it smell like b.b.q. heaven, the taste of the saffron and lemon juice marinated chicken kebab is above and beyond your local mall “shish” order; fresh and succulent, I got what I wanted insofar as char-flamed protein – superiorly moist, no dry ‘jerky’ strips here.

Sumac arrAs much as I am contently occupied with my Persian ‘beloved’ – kebab – the next best thing, in succession to sword-length meat-covered skewers, is sumac.  What in the world?  For those not in the know, ‘sumac’ is a dry seasoning; grainy to the touch, deep red in colour, and sour in taste.  Ripping two sumac packets – just as one would treat ketchup – I generously coat my kebabs with this tart topping.  Slow ingestion is beneficial, I’m aware; but, believe me, this meal did not require “One Thousand and One Nights” to devour – no postponement necessary for this ‘kingly’ meal!

Copyright © DISHFUL, 2013.