Zen Japanese Restaurant

I was recommended this place by a friend as it supposedly has “Toronto’s freshest sashimi”. I had really high hopes and it didn’t fail me!

The restaurant is quite small, and we sat by a table next to the entrance. Waitresses were attentive. I think they have timers for each table so they know when to check up on guests.

Read more here: http://www.yelp.ca/biz/zen-japanese-restaurant-scarborough#hrid:5X6nqSO9p8o875CaPmLy5Q

Balzac’s Parisian Mist

Just wanted to take a minute to mention Balzac’s Parisian Mist.

Parisian Mist Tea

This is your typical milk tea, but enhanced. At Tim Hortons, you’ll get your English breakfast tea topped with some syrup and milk. At Balzac’s you get French tea to begin with, mixed with a smooth steamed milk and sweet vanilla syrup.

Believe me, all this does make a difference. Smells great, tastes wonderful. At a Balzac’s near you!

Liberty Village Picks

Working in the Liberty Village area has given me the opportunity to try out loads of great food. This area is loaded with local gems! Here are some of my favourites:

William’s Landing

If you fancy classy meals, William’s Landing is a great choice. Service is always top-notch here and they’ve got plenty of dishes to choose from.

Pappardelle Forestiere

The pappardelle forestiere is a delicious mash-up of smoked chicken, roastede mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes and cream sauce. There aren’t many places that offer pappardelle (thick, flat pasta) in Toronto. The pasta was drenched in cream sauce, allowing it to slither through the other ingredients. I loved wrapping a piece of pasta around the mushroom and chicken for a complete experience.

Japanese Tuna Salad

The Japanese Tuna Salad is a crowd favourite. Made up nori crusted tuna, organic greens, edemame, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, quinoa (two ways), orange segments, honey soy vinaigrette and miso mayo spread, this is a quite the refreshing dish. I especially enjoyed the miso mayo spread (on the right). The sauce provided a thicker consistency to the runny vinaigrette. The tuna was slightly seared on the edges and was very fresh. Orange segments were extremely juicy. One word – refreshing!

Koja

My go-to Korean/Japanese food joint. I’m not sure if everyone else would appreciate this, but they use purple rice and yam for their sushi! For less than $10, you get a decent sized lunch bento box with soup, sushi and salad. Great deal if you ask me, and it’s delicious as well. I come here mostly for their cooked food (not their sashimi).

Chicken bento box for lunch

Mildred’s Temple Kitchen

I went to Mildred’s Temple Kitchen for burger week last year in June. This place is more on the expensive side but with that, comes quality. You won’t get the same juicy, tender patty from your regular fast food restaurants. Also, you’ll get fancy skinny fries for the side! Note: don’t expect a huge portion here. Their meals are intended for their guests to enjoy a good conversation while getting a small bite. The venue is structured in a way where you can enjoy just a drink at the bar or a small meal at the dinner tables.

Try their famous MTK burger!

Mildred’s Temple Kitchen

The Roastery

Nice and cozy cafe, mostly for take out. I love coming here for their burritos. Even a small sized burrito can be very filling, and they load you on fresh ingredients. Pulled pork, loads of guacamole.. Can’t say no to that! Come here during lunch and the place will be loaded with visitors.

Their breakfast selection is great as well. From sandwiches to bagels, they also add organic sauces to your pastries for a tip-top experience!

Almond Butter on Cheese Bagel

My bad for adding almond butter on a cheese bagel. That wasn’t too appetizing nor was it that great. I’m also not a fan of the almond butter.

Their coffee is apparently great too from what I hear. That’s next on my list to try!

Uma Cafe

Uma Coffee Card

This small cafe serves organic coffee. I almost always go for their coffee with a hazelnut shot. Trust me, it’s better than the sugar pumps you get from McDonald’s. Make sure you get a coffee card with them. Every 11th drink is free!

Liberty Village Market and Cafe

Pretty pricey in my opinion, but after today, I’d say I would come back for their cream of squash soup.

Cream of Squash Soup

 

I like it better than the lentil soup; it has the perfect consistency with chunks of squash in the mixture. The lentil soup was a little too thick for my liking. The small soup is $4.19+tax. However, it’s healthier than the soups you get a Tim Hortons! Their sandwiches are $6+, and it’s served on your regular Wonder bread size. Grilled cheese and salmon are great and all, but it just doesn’t seem to be filling enough for this fatass.

Grand Electric

Finally went to the famous Grand Electric for tacos last night! As expected, there was a bit of a wait. We went around 6pm and ended up waiting only 15 minutes (original ETA was 30-45 mins). The restaurant was small and dim with retro decorations and loud hiphop music banging in our ears. If you’re out to have long, deep conversations, I wouldn’t suggest this venue.

We ordered a total of 4 tacos, a side and dessert for 2 people. Tacos include baja fish, pork belly, beef cheek and crispy cauliflower.

The baja fish was my favourite! It was deep fried to a perfect crisp and served with a spicy sour sauce that was dripping through the wrap itself! You can taste the zing in every bite; definitely recommend this.

Next, I had the crispy cauliflower, which was very refreshing compared to the baja fish. Served with loads of mint and cilantro, this was probably one of the most unique taco flavours I’ve had. Give it a try if you’re up for trying something new!

The pork belly had more of a Caribbean flavour. Slightly hotter sauce, sweet pineapple and soft pork belly all meshed together in one gigantic wrap. Quite a buildup of flavours but pleasant nonetheless.

Finally, the beef cheek was.. intense. The tender beef was paired with a zesty hot sauce (don’t let the green fool you). The beef’s texture was almost like a brisket – the pieces fell apart as I munched through, almost as if it purposely blends into the rest of the taco.

As for the side, we ordered the tuna ceviche. For $11, they serve you a lot of tuna! The meat is slightly seared to perfection. The meat sat on layers of cilantro, jalepeno, thin slices of turnip and a crispy chip sitting at the bottom. I felt like this dish got better as I ate more of it. There were definitely more seared tuna at the bottom (the top pieces were just raw). Also, the mountain of goodies were piled up so high, I didn’t know where to start eating!

Almost forgot – we also ordered an Anchor Steam from South California, suggested by the waitress there. It’s supposed to be a light ale, but turned out to be more bitter than expected.

We ordered the key lime for dessert. Really refreshing after an intense flavour attack! The whip cream sat on top of the key lime cake and cookie batter. $5 for a cup enough to share for 2 people, certainly worth it.

If you were to ask me if I’d come back.. probably only to try the charred tuna and have more of the baja fish taco. However, this place does takeout as well, so there’s that option!