Night It Up 2016

Night it up is a three day outdoor food event from July 15 to July 17, 2016 (dates change every year) featuring street style food and games that one would find at an authentic night market in Asia. I love going to Night It Up! It’s something that I look forward to going every year around July. It brings back memories of how I used to go with my family while I was still a child in Taiwan.

Every year, I would always go on the first night and that’s when alot of people go as well. But here’s the thing…it is super packed on the first night. It’s fine for those people who enjoy the crowds and excitements. So I’ve finally learned my lesson after years of goin on the first night: going on the afternoon of the second day (I cant believe it just hit me that i could do that). Not only can I walk around at my normal pace, I also didn’t have to wait 30 minute for every food vendor that I want to try out. 😀😀😀😀 So here’s a tip: go on the second or third day!

Thai iced tea drink in a bag

This was such a super cute idea: serving thai iced tea in a bag. For some reason….it just seems more authentic when it’s served in a bag. We don’t see it often here in Toronto…but actually, it is quite common in alot of Asian countries. 

Japanese raindrop cakes from @aaagrills

I’m so glad this raindrop cake is finally available here! It was super hyped up on instagram a while back..and i’ve always wondered how it would taste like. It taste like a jello!! 

Taiwanese oysters pancake

Classic taiwanese street food. 😄😄 if you ever visit taiwan…you will see this everywhere. 

Taiwanese fried chicken from Kanpai snack bar 

Rice burger with fried chicken

Ramen burger with fried chicken

I love how innovative n creative this was! Looks super appealing and guess what? It tasted just as good! Chicken was crispy, tender and juicy. 

Kakigori @gustahaus

This sakura kakigori  was so amazing! It was as if I have been transported to Japan! It was light and refreshing..perfect for a hot summer day. 

Paper net fishing

You have not experienced a real night market if you haven’t tried to catch a fish with a paper net!!! It takes some serious skills but I’ve seen people catching 4-5 fish without breaking the net!!! (Too bad i’ve never had any success) Best part about it is that you get to take home whatever you catch! 

Admission: free!! 

Parking: lots of free parking on the streets. 

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Tasty Tours Toronto: Kensington Market Sweet & Savoury Food Tour

Have you ever had times where you feel like you’re just bored of going to the same places over and over, week after week? You visit the same malls, the same cafes and restaurants because you just can’t think of anywhere else to go. Worst thing is, you don’t really have any other choices. It’s either you stay home and be bored, or you go out to the same shops you’ve been to the week before, the only thing different is the location of the mall. Truth is, I feel the same all the time!

Here’s an idea: play tourist and join a local tour! It’s actually surprisingly fun! You may think that just because you’ve lived in this city for such a long time, that you probably know all the places! Chances are, you probably don’t! This never even crossed my mind until last week, when I had the pleasure of accompanying Grace from Foodinthecitytoronto in joining Tasty Tour‘s Kensington Market Sweet & Savoury Food Tour.

To my fellow Torontoians, we all know that Kensington Market has some of the best diversity of foods: from sweet to savoury, from Asian to Mexican to everything else in between! You name it, they probably have it! There are some really well known restaurants that everyone knows about like Seven Lives and Dirty Bird, where there’s always crazy line-ups. People are always focusing on the super popular restaurants, myself included, and end up overlooking some of the other amazing places within Kensington Market. These hidden gems are the main focus of Tasty Tour’s Kensington Market Sweet and Savoury Food Tour. Audrey, the founder of Tasty Tours and also our amazing tour guide, brought us to all the other amazing places within Kensington Market and gave us a chance to sample the food from these restaurants.

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First Stop (Pictures above): Dingdong Pastries & Cafe | Located at: 321 Spadina Ave, Toronto, ON M5T 2E9

We got to sample their spring rolls! This bakery has been here forevers! Well, not forever but a really long time. Audrey (our tour guide), also gave us an in-depth history of how spring rolls came to be! Seriously, it was super interesting. If you are interested, and you are in Toronto, join one of Audrey’s tasty tours and she can tell you the story.

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Second Stop: Ten Ren’s Tea | Location: 454 Dundas Street West, Toronto M5T 1G9

Not only did we get to try some cold red bean lotus seed milk black tea and cookies, we got to learn about the traditional way of making tea and had a live demonstration of it.

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Third Stop: Moo Frites | Location: 178 Baldwin St, Toronto, ON M5T 1L8

They are known for their amazing, moist Belgian fries and lots and lots of different dipping sauces. What we got to sample that day was their CLASSIC POUTINE! Who doesn’t love poutine!? The owner also gave us some background of how he came up with the idea of bringing Belgian fries here and the whole science behind making the perfect fries.

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Fourth Stop: Toronto Popcorn Company | Location: 147 Baldwin St, Toronto, ON M5T

Their popcorn flavors are endless…

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Fifth Stop: El Arepazo | Location: 181 Augusta Ave, Toronto, ON M5T 2L4

El Arepazo specializes in arepa: a round, gluten-free cornbread sandwich that is stuffed with a variety of meats, cheeses, veggies, and salsas. I’ve never had anything like this before. I didn’t even know what an arepa was until Tasty Tours. From the above picture, you can see that one arepa is different from the other ones. That is because it was a vegetarian arepa. Another thing that makes Tasty Tours so good is their attention to people’s dietary needs. They do try and accommodate and pay special attention to everyone’s dietary restrictions to the best of their abilities.

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Sixth Stop: Pancho’s Bakery | Location: 214 Augusta Ave, Toronto, ON M5T 2L4

If you live in Toronto, you must have heard about the infamous churrocone from Pancho’s Bakery. During the tour, we got to try their churros with our choice of strawberry sauce, chocolate sauce or condensed milk.

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Seventh Stop: Wanda’s Pie in the Sky | Location: 287 Augusta Ave, Toronto, ON M5T 2M2

MINI MINT CHOCOLATE CUPCAKES! YUM!

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Eighth Stop: Blue Banana Market | Location: 250 Augusta Ave, Toronto, ON M5T 2L7

It’s a quirky shop that sells everything from fun gifts to tasty chocolates and candies.

Overall, I had a super fun time! I can tell that Audrey put a lot of thoughts and efforts into the tour. She provided us with lots of fun facts and history about the places we’ve visited. It’s too bad that it was raining that day, otherwise it would’ve been perfect! This was a total new experience for me. I’ve never thought about joining a local tour and pretend to be tourists. I learned a lot, got to meet new people, and tried places that I normally would’ve never tried. I stepped out of my comfort zone and tried something new- and it’s about time that I did because I would’ve been missing out on so much!

Join one of the Tasty tours and try it out! Enter “Wendieats” as the promotional code when you sign up and get 20% off adult tickets booked until september 30, 2016 (tour can take place after this date. Just needs to be purchased before September 30th.)

Big Beef Bowl – Hand Pulled Noodles

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Oh how I missed blogging! I’ve been neglecting my blog for the longest time! 😦 I had all these places that I wanted to blog about but never got around to it because I had to study hard! I love to blog…I love staring the gazillion shots that I took of the exact same thing and choosing which one I would eventually use. But enough about how much i miss blogging and lets get started on Big Beef Bowl!

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Big Beef Bowl is a small, homey restaurant located near Yonge and Finch. They specialize on traditional hand pulled noodles. If you have any doubts about whether or not you’ll actually be eating fresh pulled noodles…worry not! You can look straight into the kitchen and see the chef pulling at the noodles non-stop.

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Wood ear fungus with cucumbers- $2.99

This is honestly probably one of the best things to eat on these hot summer days right now. This dish is served cold, and trust me- it will definitely leave you feeling refreshed.

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Chicken Shitake Dumplings- $5.99

I had to order this after reading the name. For me, I’m used to seeing pork dumplings with chives or cabbage or shrimp. But I have never tried dumplings made of chicken and shitake!! I was super excited to try it and needless to say, it did not disappoint.

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Braised Beef Brisket- $7.99 (s) | $8.99 (l)

One thing that is special about this restaurant is that not only do you get to have freshly pulled noodles, you also get to choose how thick you want your noodles to be! You get to choose from round noodles to thick flat noodles- both with various different sizes for you to choose from. I couldn’t help but go for the thickest noodles they got and it looked amazing!

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Classic Beef- $7.99 (s) | $8.99 (l)

Another aspect of this restaurant that I love so much is that they have such simple menu where you only have to choose between 4 different flavors of noodles you’re craving for. Some places have pages and pages of menu to choose from and sometimes, by the end of it, i still don’t know what i want. Not saying that i don’t appreciate the variety of foods I get to choose from, but sometimes, simplicity is best.

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Spicy corn with cheese- $2.99

Last but not least, I had the spicy corn with cheese. I only have one word for it…AMAZING! I LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE it!

Overall, I enjoyed everything about this place! I especially love their corn! It’s fast, tasty and inexpensive. (My fav kind of meal!) It’s a really small place, and probably easily missed. But it truly is a hidden gem! If you live close by, or happen to be in the area, it’s definitely worth the visit!

Parking: paid street parking

 

Big Beef Bowl Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Aka Teppan Markham

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I visited Aka Teppan with a couple of friends a few nights ago for dinner located at the First Markham Place plaza. This wasn’t my first time here, but I was still pretty excited to go since I haven’t had it for quite some time. I still remember the first time I had dinner there, was when they first opened. The line would go out the door and the standard wait time was at least 30 minutes. Of course it would be busy; who wouldn’t like the concept of “DIY-ing” (sort of, not really) your meal on a hot sizzling plate?

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Thankfully, my friends and I didn’t have to wait long to be seated. I’m not sure if it was a little early for dinner, or maybe it just wasn’t as hyped up as before. Or, maybe it’s because they opened up a second location, so not everyone is jammed to one location.

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First thing I asked the waiter was: “Do you guys have any hot pot today?” I came here one time because I was craving for their mini hot pots, but they were sold out! That night, I left hungry and disappointed because they didn’t have what I wanted. So, despite the super hot summer-like weather we had the other night, I wanted to get what I couldn’t have the previous time. (And I did. But at least I wasn’t the only one that was crazy enough to get hot pot when it was 20 degrees outside.)

20160526_200239_mh1464315634560Supreme Beef with Rice – $9.49

One convenient thing about their sizzling plate dishes is that you get to control how well you want your beef cooked. If you like it a little more raw, you can remove them and just mix the rice up with the sauce. If you prefer more flavor and don’t mind the cooked beef, mix it with the rice until they’re all incorporated with the sauce.

20160526_200342_mh1464315589601Spicy Beef Udon – $12.99

20160526_200649_mh1464315701242Spicy Beef Udon – $12.99 (0.99 cents each to add egg + cheese)

Another great thing about the place, is that you can add extra toppings, at the cost of .99 cents per item that you add. Just look how amazing this spicy beef udon looks after adding the cheese and egg. AMAZING!

20160526_200516_mh1464315763480Hokkaido Gyunyu Milk Hot Pot – $16.99
Served with beef, udon, naruto maki, enoki mushroom, hakusai cabbage, shirataki noodle

The soup base was AMAZING! Tip: the longer you cook the soup, the creamier and thicker it gets! Just imagine all the ingredients in that creamy soup! Yum! This was worth every sweat drop that I had to endure! (Just kidding. Although, it did get pretty hot for me half way through the soup.) This would be perfect on a cold winter night!

Verdict– It’s pretty neat that you’re able to customize the dish to how you want it (sauce, ingredients, how well you want your protein cooked, etc). If you are picky about your food, this might be the right place for you! Overall, food was great; and an added bonus for me: they are visually appealing.

Parking: FREE PARKING! (Two of my favorite words!)

Aka Teppan Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Patois

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Last week, I visited Patois with a few other food lovers like myself (@foodinthecitytoronto, @foodsoftoronto and @tdotglutton). Have you ever seen a bunch of foodies eat at a restaurant? Well, if you haven’t, you are definitely missing out on the funniest sight ever. We needed a table with natural lighting, and since Patois only has one table right by the window, we had to specially request for it when we called in to make the reservation a few days in advance. (Tip here is that they take reservation!)

One great thing I loved about Patois is that they have a sharing menu called “The Whole Shebang” for $119 (not including drinks, desserts, tax and tips). It’s a great deal because, for four people ording our own individual dishes, it probably would’ve added up to cost more per person. So, why not sample all their popular dishes!?

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Another look at our specially requested table! 🙂 Thankfully the nice and helpful staff from Patois can accomodate our request!

20160524_184425_mh1464141115123Jamaican Gimlet – $13 / $48
Spiced rum, coconut rum, pineapple juice, lemon, salted rim

20160524_184723_mh1464141187044Coconut & Rum – $14
Fresh whole coconut & bacardi rum

I loved my drink! It was so refreshing and fitting for the hot weather on that day. I especially love the visual asthetic aspect of this drink! (I have a thing for drinking out of a real fruit.)

20160524_190752_mh1464141417232Patois Rum Punch – $14 / $52
Earl grey infused white rum, peach liqeur, lemon, soda, OJ & pineabble

20160524_190320_mh1464141259486Edamame
Dashi Butter, Spicy Furikake, Bonito

All I got to say is that the sauce complimented the edamame perfectly. It really was seasoned to perfection. This was a cold dish, so it’s great to have during the summer when the weather is super hot.

20160524_190914_mh1464141701213Jamaican Patty Double Down
Two cocktail patties, bacon, Swiss cheese fondue, sriracha

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Closer shot of the Pineapple bun burger. Look how amazing that looks. It’s savory but it also has a hint of sweetness from the Chinese pineapple bun.

20160524_191059_mh1464141793793Crunchy Chinese Salad
Napa cabbage, romaine, wonton crisps, spicy plum dressing

20160524_194740_mh1464142027907Jamaican Coleslaw
Creamy cabbage, carrot and scallions

20160524_195042_mh1464142232124Dirty Fried Rice
Red sausage, sweet soya sauce, Cajun trinity, peas and farm egg

This is the true definition of Chinese and Jamaican fusion! I’ve had a lot of fried rice before, but not many comparable to this dish!

20160524_195507_mh1464142129573Juicy Jerk Chicken
Churrasco, rotisserie roasted

20160524_205146_mh1464142430162Fancy brownie for dessert?! Yes please.

Verdict: Everything on the Whole Shebang menu were amazing! I was a bit skeptical about the whole Chinese and Jamaican fusion, but after going to Patois, I WANT MORE! Great service (very accomodating and informative), and amazing food! Next time I go back, I will definately try out their other items that weren’t on the Shebang menu!

Parking: Paid street parking

Patois Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

MeNami

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My sister and I both love a good bowl of udon, so we decided to check out MeNami over the long weekend. MeNami, located at Yonge + Finch specializes in the traditional taste of Japanese Udon. They serve udon made in various ways (cold, soup base, baked, stir-fried). If you are in a sharing mood, MeNami offers tapas and pots (sukiyaki pot, oden..etc).

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I knew that this was a pretty popular restaurant destination, but I wasn’t expecting all the tables to be filled up during the long weekend. Had we arrived a few minutes later, my sister and I probably would’ve had to wait to be seated. Luckily, we beat the rush by a few minutes and got the perfect seats! It felt like we were at an indoor patio from where we were seated.

20160523_125743_mh1464034586503Corn Kaki-Age – $5.00
Corn Niblets, Honey Butter Mayonnaise

I love this dish. The honey butter mayo compliments the corn niblets perfectly. I dare you to stop at just one or two! For sure you will not be able to stop! I couldn’t!

20160523_130754_mh1464034671781Black Sesame Puree Udon with Beef – $15.00
Beef, Schichimi, Green Onion, Red Pepper Thread, Baby Spinach

Not only was this dish visually appealing, it had a unique taste to it. Definitely not what I was expecting (in a good way).

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20160523_130854_mh1464034745318Tempura Udon – $11.50
Shrimp, Seasonal Vegetable Tempura

Verdict: I would definitely go back! However, I would stick to ordering non-soup based udon like the black sesame or the baked udon. Those are probably more worth your money, whereas the regular soup udon you can get anywhere else for much cheaper price.

Parking: Paid street parking.

MeNami Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tasting Event at Té

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Last week, I had the pleasure of accompanying Grace from Food In the City Toronto to a tasting event hosted by , a Taiwanese and Korean fusion tapas restaurant located at 70 Ossington Ave. Needless to say, I was exploding with excitement on the inside- I got to have two of my favorite cuisines together, at the same time!

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Marbled Te Egg Shooter – Single $1.00 / Round of Four $3.00

Taiwanese spiced tea egg

If you are Taiwanese like myself, you will instantly be reminded of all the snack runs to 7/11 convenience store. If this is the first time you are trying the tea egg, then you’re definitely at one of the best, if not the best place to have it. This amazing shooter will not leave you disappointed. This is how a traditional Taiwanese tea egg is supposed to taste like and trust me, one will not be enough!

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Unadulterated Ssam – Meat $14.00 / Tofu $11.00

Red lettuce leaf wraps, each layered with thin slice of sweet-pickled winter radish, fresh garlic, sweet red chili paste and a choice of one protein. (Bulgogi, Grilled pork belly, Sweet and spicy pork belly, Pan-ried tofu)

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Crispy Ramen Jalapeno Poppers – $5.00

Bite sized jalapeno and creme cheese in a spicy ramen noodle crust

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Braised Pork Crostini – $11

Chopped Taiwanese slow-cooked pork belly on toasted French baguette slices

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Dark-Spiced Taiwanese Fried Chicken – Two for $9.00 / Four for $16

Marinated in traditional Taiwanese spices, battered & fried, finished with pepper-salt seasoning

The chicken was juicy, tender and spot-on on the traditional Taiwanese taste.

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Toasted Kimchi Ravioli – $10.00

Panko crusted jumbo ravioli squares filled with a kimchi- spiked ricotta, mozzarella and Parmesan blend, finished with drizzle of honeyed wasabi pesto sauce

The key here, is that everything about this dish starting from the ravioli to the honeyed wasabi pesto sauce was created in-house from scratch.

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Kimchi Deviled Eggs – $6.00

Hard-boiled eggs re-dressed with kimchi paste, sesame and yolk mash, topped with bacon

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Salsa Trio – $9.00

Fresh kimchi-spiked tomato salsa + guacamole + corn salsa, served with tortilla chips

My favorite was the kimchi-spiked tomato salsa. I just love the Korean twist! The subtle taste of house-made kimchi brought this salsa to a whole new level!

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Bachan Set – $10.00

Sampling of the three traditional Korean side dishes: par boiled spinach tossed in garlic and sesame oil, sweet soy-braised shredded beef brisket, mini omelet rolls

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Té Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato