A Life-Long HG – The Remarkable Rare Tuna, Chipotle Mayo Mexican Tostadas at Milagro Cantina Mexicana, Part I!

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Your heart fills with joy.  You can’t stop thinking and gushing about it.  And as soon as it’s over, you can’t wait to come back for more.  It’s the ultimate in first dates…with food!  Call it infatuation, call it true love; when you’ve found a holy grail place to eat, nothing else comes close.  It is truly one of the best feelings in the world when you finish a delicious, wonderfully foodgasmic meal and think, “Can I live and eat here for the rest of my life?!”  Maybe taking up residence is a little unreasonable, but solidifying an eatery as a life-long dining destination is not. 

We all have them.  Those go-to places that we keep going back to over and over again because they are just that damn good.  Maybe it’s the diner around the corner from your house.  Maybe it’s a bakery in the next town over.  Or maybe it’s that fancy place in the city that you’re more than happy to splurge your hard-earned wages on several times a year.  Wherever the place may be, it’s a place that makes you happy, excited, and probably pretty darn full by the end!  My group of favourites will need to make room for a new member because Mexican powerhouse, Milagro Cantina Mexicana, has smoldered its way into my heart and into my list of holy grails!

Milagro, located smack dab in the downtown core at 5 Mercer Street between King and Wellington (with two other locations in Toronto), is a Mexican food lover’s dream.  Not only is their menu incredibly reasonable in price (a possible $12 for dinner?!), it is also a treasure chest of regional Mexican dishes and ingredients that speak to the diversity of Mexican cuisine and culture: red snapper ceviche with mango and serrano; Tijuana caesar salad, Yucatan pulled pork in achiote; Michoacán style braised pork; Pachuca style lamb slow roasted in a banana leaf; and LOTS of mouthwatering favourites including Oaxaca cheese, fresh corn tortillas, tostadas, enchiladas, burritos, and so much more. 

One very memorable moment during my first visit to Milagro was what my server said to my boyfriend and I.  He asked, “have you ever been to Milagro before?” to which we replied no, it was our first visit.  “Well, you’re in for a treat then!”  Words have never rang more true.  They are so, so committed to bringing authentic flavours, dishes, and ingredients to the table and it is mind-blowing how delicious their food is.  Gone are the stereotypes of Mexican food as being a one-track taco machine.  Milagro doesn’t just banish them – they chew them up and spit them out. 

What makes me so revved up is their variety.  And their prices.  Sure, there are some $18, $19, and $20 items on it, but a majority of their dishes fall under the $10-$15 bracket and for authentic Mexican food at this level of quality and quantity, it is beyond worth it and absolutely affordable as a life-long holy grail.  And the variety of food is remarkable – if you’re a meat-eater!  I’ll preface this by saying that while there are some vegetarian options, there aren’t many, so just keep that in mind if you’re vegetarian or if you have vegetarian friends you enjoy dining with.  Their variety lies in the different types of meat and their cooking styles.  Seafood (snapper, shrimp, rare tuna, octopus), rib-eye, lamb, chicken, pulled pork, and chorizo in grilled, marinated, slow cooked and roasted forms are just some of what you can find on the menu. 

Everything about their food is spot on.  Their portions are fantastic (my boyfriend could only comfortably finish half his burrito.  And he’s a boy!), their ingredients are so, so fresh, and EVERYTHING has a spicy kick in the pants.  There’s even a disclaimer on the menu warning everyone that the food is spicy!  If heat is your foe, don’t freak out.  It’s not “oh my dear god, I need a fire extinguisher in my mouth!”, it’s more like, “woo, that is some damn good stuff”.  Insert a few gulps of water and puffs of air here.  Trust me on this one.  My heat tolerance is at medium-strength and while there was definite spicy kick in every single bite of food, the heat doesn’t linger for very long.  A few minutes later, the sensation was gone for me and I had completely forgotten that I had downed half my glass of water.  You’ll feel it at first, but it’s the type of heat that makes eating spicy food fun, not painful.

For my first visit to Milagro, I went with the Tostadas De Atun ($12.95): crispy, crunchy corn tortillas in the shape of round disks piled high with fresh diced cubes of rare tuna and thick wedges of avocado, smothered in chipotle mayo with crispy fried onion on top.  You know, the stuff you normally get on a traditional dish of meatloaf.  Anyway.  OH.MY.GOD.  MULTIPLIED BY A MILLION.  !!!  I would continue on with the exclamation points but I don’t want to hurt anyone’s eyes so I’ll leave it at three.  BUT OH MY LORD.  This ranks in my Top 10 of best dinners ever.  Possibly even Top 10 best dishes in general.  This was SO, SO delicous and scrumptiously good. 

The rare tuna was so soft and moist, the crunchy, crispy strands on top gave the dish a punch of salty savouriness, the tortillas were so full of warm corn flavour and if I’m not mistaken, the tostadas were drizzled with some olive oil that, combined with everything else, created a dance party in my mouth.  And the mayo.  OH MY GOD THE CHIPOTLE MAYO.  The mayo, in combination with the mouthfuls of creamy avocado and cubes of tuna was unbelievable.  The mayo made this dish.  It was creamy, spicy, and honestly something I’d spread on just about anything and everything.  I could not get over how delicious these rare tuna tostadas were.  And how they reminded me of sushi!  With the exception of the tortillas and crunchy bits, it was almost as if someone had deconstructed the most amazing spicy tuna and avocado rolls with spicy mayo and placed the mountain of goodness on Mexican corn tortillas.  Purely fantastical.

And to cap off one of the most amazing dinners in my life?  Why, Mexican dessert of course!  That’s for tomorrow.  What can I say, I like to be a bit of a tease.  When it comes to good food, it is so worth the wait.            

*****

Milagro Cantina Mexicana serves 3 locations in Toronto:

  1. 5 Mercer Street in downtown Toronto, between King Street West and Wellington St. West, just west of David Pecaut Square and Roy Thomson Hall in the Entertainment and Theatre District.  They are open 7 days a week from 11:30am-10pm Monday-Wednesday, 11:30am-10:30pm Thursday & Friday, 3pm-10:30pm on Saturdays and 3pm-9pm on Sundays.
  2. 783 Queen Street West by Trinity Bellwoods Park, between Euclid and Manning Ave. west of Bathurst St.  They are open 7 days from 5pm-10pm Monday-Wednesday, 12 noon-10pm on Thursdays, 12 noon-11pm on Fridays and Saturdays, and 12 noo -9pm on Sundays.  The Queen West location serves weekend brunch!
  3. 3187 Yonge Street in uptown Toronto, north of Lawrence Ave. by Ranleigh Ave.  They are open 7 days a week from 5pm-9pm Monday-Wednesday, 12 noon-9pm on Thursdays, 12 noon-10pm on Fridays, 2pm-10pm on Saturdays, and 2pm-9pm on Sundays.   
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Havana Days, Havana Nights – Achiote & Lime Chicken Sandwiches & Cuban Crème Brûlée at Delux, Part II!

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Some foodie districts can only elude you for so long.  For me, Ossington Ave. was one of them.  I’ve walked around it, I’ve walked through it, but I’ve never eaten in one single cafe, bistro, or restaurant on it!  There are so many places on Ossington I’ve heard and read about (and even saw while strolling by several times), but I’ve never tried them.  Whether it was because of money, not being anywhere near the neighbourhood, or just being unsure of the hype and resisting the somewhat annoying “trendy” tag slapped on it, I’ve gone through my entire food journey without an Ossington meal.  All that has changed. 

After hearing and reading about the famed Ossington Ave. eating district for what feels like eternity, I finally made the plunge and went Cuban for lunch at Delux!  I’ve wanted to eat at Delux for a long, long time.  I was absolutely floored, though, when I looked up their menu online and discovered that they served Cuban lunch and brunch!  OH.MY.GOD.  All this time I thought they only served French fare for dinner (which, don’t get me wrong, they do); I had no idea they served lunch and Sunday brunch, much less CUBAN!

Coming to Delux was such a joy because to my recollection, I’ve never had anything Cuban in my life.  I was beyond excited.  I was in conniptions.  I planned this visit an entire two weeks prior, going over the menu and deciding what I wanted to try, and even showing up for lunch outside the restaurant half an hour early and then circling the neighbourhood in twitchy anticipation before they opened.  With the exception of going to Fresh, I’ve never shown up to any restaurant that early.  That’s how giddy I was about eating lunch here.

Delux, located at 92 Ossington Ave., serves up a mean Cuban inspired lunch menu Tuesday to Saturday, and a Cuban brunch menu on Sundays.  I know my post title says “Havana Days, Havana Nights” and I know the Havana Nights part doesn’t make the most sense considering Delux goes French in the evenings, but I thought Havana Nights sounded a lot sexier than Havana Days on its own, so humour me with that one.  Their Cuban inspired lunch menu hits all the marks in terms of selection: appetizers, salads, sides, sandwiches and mains, and desserts.  It’s well-rounded, it fits the bill for any and every type of appetite, and there are vegetarian options for those who go meatless.  

The menu, while Cuban inspired, has a number of Caribbean, Mexican, and South American flavours and influences within it.  Menu items include conch fritters (a type of shellfish and dish typically found in the Bahamas), empanadas, jicama salad with cucumbers, radishes, and apples, fried green plantains, roast pork with rice and beans, the famous Cuban sandwich, and so much more.  Their prices, ranging from $6-$15 for appetizers, salads, and mains, and $3 for sides, are incredibly reasonable and I’d even say more reasonable than many other places around the neighbourhood and city. 

I’ll be honest with you, I’ve always thought of Delux as one of those places in the city that was fancy and inaccessible to me, a place I’d only be able to go to when I truly had the money to splurge.  I was so wrong.  While it’s true that I based this judgment on incomplete knowledge, it was a still a misguided perception nonetheless.  And I am SO happy that I was proven wrong.  Delux is as accessible as they come.  I didn’t feel like I was eating in a place that oozed pretentiousness, or that I was dealing with that pesky “trendy” label at all.  It felt like a place that I could come back to again and again for the amazing food and reasonable lunch prices.

I had myself some guava juice ($2), their achiote and lime chicken sandwich with avocado, tomato, and aioli on fresh bread ($9), and for dessert, their Cuban crème brûlée ($4).  First off, let me mention the service.  I know this is an aspect that I don’t talk about at all on the Ate by Ate and it’s because if a place was truly bad, I simply don’t write about it at all.  So you know by default that the service is fine (to me, let’s be clear about that) if it shows up on the blog.  Thus, my mentioning it at all means something special.  The service is awesome.  So friendly and so FAST.  I wasn’t waiting around for my food at all and I was actually taken aback by how fast my food came to me.  I don’t mean 5 seconds after the nice waitress took my order, but definitely quick enough for me to notice! 

Second, let’s talk about the marinade of the meat: achiote.  I have never had this in life.  Prior to seeing Delux’s menu, I had never heard of it in my life.  Achiote, commonly used in Latin Americna, Mexican, and Filipino cuisine, is created by grinding the seeds of the inedible annatto plant/fruit and transforming it into a powder and/or paste with other spices and herbs.  From there, it is either used as a dry rub for meat or combined with liquid to form a marinade. 

In this case, it was used as a marinade for the chicken and it was out of this world.  I will even be so bold as to say that you have not eaten chicken until you have eaten this sandwich!  The flavour had depth, warmth, a bit of kick, a bit of tang, and a hint of smokiness.  It was like the much awesome sister of BBQ sauce (sorry, BBQ sauce, but you lose this contest hands down).

This sandwich was all sorts of amazing.  Amazing doesn’t even do it justice.  The bread was as soft as you can imagine with delicious crust and surprisingly sturdy!  This sandwich was stuffed to nines with fresh chicken chunks, thick wedges of avocado, tomato, and one very amazing herb aioli spread, and the bread didn’t give or fall apart.  It was able to contain everything and boy was everything delicious.  One of the BEST sandwiches EVER.

And the crème brûlée!  I would seriously come back to Delux JUST for the Cuban crème brûlée.  The flavours were like a punch in the mouth, but a happy, dizzying good way with a bold coffee, espresso flavour and sweet, creamy caramel undertones, wrapped in a rich custard whipped like mousse on the inside and a hard, crackled caramel shell on the outside.  Perfectly executed and bang on on what a crème brûlée should be.

I absolutely cannot wait to come back to Delux to try their other sandwiches, their conch fritters and empanadas, and definitely their Sunday brunch!  After realizing just how wonderful their food and menu are and how affordable their items are, I no longer have any apprehensions about those preconceived thoughts of Delux being out of my reach.  I am coming back and making myself right at home.  

*****

Delux is located at 92 Ossington Ave. at the corner of Ossington Ave. and Humbert St. between Dundas Street West to the north and Queen Street West to the south.  Delux serves both lunch and dinner from Tuesday-Saturday, and brunch and dinner on Sundays.  Lunch is served from 11:30am-3pm from Tuesday-Saturday, and dinner is served from 6pm from Tuesday-Sunday.  Click HERE to view their website, and HERE to follow them on Twitter @DeluxRestaurant

Voulez-Vous Coucher Avec Moi? Nah, Let’s Stick to All-Day Brunch at Lady Marmalade in Leslieville

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Leslieville has made it onto the blog and with it, Lady Marmalade!  I promise to do a Foodie District round-up post for Leslieville the same way I did for Kensington Market and no, I haven’t forgotten about our beloved Roncesvalles Village either!  I’m so excited to be posting about all these different neighbourhoods in the city and showcasing the yummiest of the yummiest, at least to me!  I pass by and even frequent certain areas of town on the streetcar fairly often but it’s a totally different story when you hop off and walk east and west, north and south, up and down and all around. 

Queen Street is probably the road I’ve travelled most frequently on via streetcar (almost from one end to the other and back on a number of occasions!) and I’ve passed by breakfast, brunch, and lunch diner Lady Marmalade in Leslieville more times than I can remember.  I had heard fabulous things about Lady Marmalade and I had seen the fabulousity taking place out on the curb.  People weren’t lying when they said the diner faced lineups out the door during weekend brunch!  For the record, I ate here during a weekday morning and I thankfully secured a spot before the real crowds started coming in, which they did at 10:30am no less!

The decor at Lady Marmalade almost makes me giggle because there are aspects of it that are so 70s it hurts!  Think 70s mismatched upholstery, moss green and burnt orange, and salt and pepper shakers.  It’s all in good cuteness and I find it endearing!  I think it’s what makes Lady Marmalade the brunch powerhouse and character that it is.  Aside from the punchy decor, the menu packs a punch like you wouldn’t believe.  They serve all-day breakfast and all-day lunch, and classic breakfast dishes such as eggs benny, crepes, and huevos rancherous are given special touches that make them uniquely Lady Marmalade.  Think miso-scallion cream with crepes, huevos rancheros with basmati brown rice, pesto bennies, tofu scrambles with bok choy, a good morning poutine, and a menu boasting lots of scrumptious avocado!  

Lunch items include sandwiches, rice bowls, and meal size salads, and the large drink menu offers fruit smoothies, loose leaf teas, coffee, juices, and different types of soda drinks.  Brunch prices come in at around $7.50-$12.50 with most dishes at $11.50.  The only down side?  Lady Marmalade only accepts cash.  No credit cards or debit cards, much to the chagrin of many hungry brunch goers.  You know everyone brushes off that little bit of nose wrinkling though because no matter what,  this place is popular and packed.

One of the best things about their menu?  You can easily make many of the breakfast dishes vegetarian and vegan which makes Lady Marmalade the perfect brunch spot for meat-lovers, vegetarians, and vegans alike.  A number of their dishes are already vegetarian to begin with, but we all know breakfast options can be laden with eggs and butter and cream, so Lady Marmalade’s menu offers plenty of opportunities to turn meat or vegetarian meals into vegan ones with little lists of “a, b, or c” choices that accompany said menu items.  Even though some meals offer bacon, sausage, and ham, as meat choices, I find Lady Marmalade’s menu to be pretty darn healthy in general!  I mean, breakfast diners are breakfast diners; you’re going to have some level of indulgence and decadence no matter what.  You can tell though that Lady Marmalade’s menu was, and is, well-thought out for the healthy and hearty in mind because there are lots of vegetables in all different forms all over the menu in the breakfast portion and in the lunch portion. 

Everything on the menu sounded delicious, but I wanted to go for something a little different.  There were many options I would have normally pounced on (tofu scramble and huevos rancherous, I’m looking at both of you!), but I wanted to show you all a dish unlike anything else I had previously blogged about so I chose the mouthwatering aged white cheddar and spinach savoury waffles!  The waffles, which come Belgian style and sliced in half diagonally into perfect triangles, are served with melted aged white cheddar cheese and creamy orange sauce on the tops, spinach cooked right into the waffles, and roasted tomatoes, salad, and a choice of bacon or avocado.  I could live off of avocado, so that choice was a no brainer for me!

There were so many amazing dimensions to this meal and they were all delicious for completely different reasons.  I loved each and every part of the dish, but what I loved and appreciated the most was the complexity of flavours and the cohesiveness of the dish in its entirety.  Every single thing had a flavour role to play and they played off each other so well.  Before I get into the deliciousness, I want to explain what I mean by cohesiveness.  We’re talking about savoury waffles with cheese on them, a rather strong cheese that’s been melted on spinach waffles.  When we think waffles, more often than not, we associate them with sweet flavours.  Thus, if the waffles had been served on their own, they would have been too rich and too savoury because dishes like these need other textures and flavours to break up the richness. 

Alongside the roasted tomatoes, salad, and avocado, everything worked because all of these functioned as palate cleansers.  The tomatoes were warm, juicy, and slightly acidic, the giant avocado (they gave me half an avocado, oh my goodness!) was cool, thick, and creamy with no distinctive sweet or salty taste, the orange cream added a zing of fruitiness, and the green salad was crunchy (which contrasted with the chewier texture of the cheese waffles) and extremely refreshing with an amazing sesame dressing with white and black sesame seeds to boot!

Here’s another very important thing to point out: the waffles taste 100x more fabulous when they’re cold!  I don’t mean refrigerator cold, but just no longer warm.  I KNOW.  No, I am not nuts.  I don’t know what it is about certain foods tasting a thousand times more foodgasmic when they’re cold, but I’m dead serious about this.  It could be that the flavours have time to settle in and intensify over time, or maybe heat just alters the way certain things taste.  We all know how disgusting French fries taste when they get cold, but we also know how some people are gaga over cold pizza.  This is one of those delicious cold pizza or spaghetti examples.  I know, when you eat out you’re most likely ravenous, but trust me on this one.  If you have the willpower, take a bite when it’s hot, chat with a friend for about 10-15 minutes before digging in again, and you’ll notice the difference and thank me for it.        

*****

Lady Marmalade is located at 898 Queen Street East in the Leslieville neighbourhood just west of Logan Ave.  They are open 7 days a week for all-day breakfast and all-day lunch.  From Monday-Friday, the diner is open from 8am-4pm, and from 8am-3pm on the weekends.

Soba Noodles, Pesto White Beans, and Delicious Slices of Grilled Red Peppers and Avocado: Build-a-Bowl Fun at Fresh!

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*Even though I’m uploading this post today, on the morning of August 23rd, it was actually written the night before, so don’t be confused by my usage of tense and my reference to time* 

I’m writing this post with a heavy heart after finding out this morning that Jack Layton, leader our federal NDP party and former Toronto city councillor (among many other things), passed away from his second bout of cancer.  Even after so many exuberant years in his career in politics in our beloved city, there were so many things I felt he could have continued to accomplish and I wish so much that he could have lived to see and enjoy allthe fruits of his successes and accomplishments.  I get teary-eyed every time I see the news footage displaying the chalk message mural for him developing at city hall, and all the flowers and messages that have been left for him at his office. 

Not that any of us have ever stopped fighting for change or fighting for happiness and a better world, but his death today is a huge wake-up call, or at the very least a solemn reminder.  A reminder that our life is precious and every day is a blessing.  That there is no such thing as too many “I love yous”.  That we should never stop fighting for our happiness, the happiness of the people we love, and change for the better.  To quote the last part of a letter he wrote just days before his death, “My friends, love is better than anger.  Hope is better than fear.  Optimism is better than despair.  So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world.”  In a nutshell: be the best person you can be and find the most positive ways to live your life.

This blog is my labour of love, my sounding board, and my inspiration, and I will always be grateful for all the amazing things I’ve seen and done for it and because of it.  So with that in mind, here is today’s foodie offerings to fill our tummies and our hearts: noodles, beans, and delicious veggies for build-a-bowl fun at Fresh!  If you’re accustomed to eating here, or ogling their menu online, then you know that they have a nice long list of entree bowls with a choice of brown rice or soba noodles with a slew of proteins, vegetables, sauces, and herbs.  Take my Beach Bowl, for instance.  Soba noodles with mounds of grilled red peppers, sweet potato, avocado, sunflower sprouts, zucchini, sun-dried tomato, and lemon juice and olive oil.  AMAZING in every way.  The Beach Bowl is just one of many bowls on their menu and although I can only imagine how delicious the others taste, there are times where I just want to have some fun and create my own bowl!  Kind of like the Build-a-Bear workshop, only with food!

Fresh’s menu offers a huuuuge, long list of sides that you can pick and choose from as add-ons to meals, but I actually use the list to create my own custom-made Fresh bowl.  Each item is assigned a price (ranging from $0.50 to $4) so you can mix and match between and across categories (raw vegetables, steamed vegetables, proteins, cheeses, sauces, dips, and others) and choose ingredients to your heart’s content!  Everything from tofu steaks, sunflower sprouts, black bean filling, steamed kale and bok choy, goat cheese, napa, jicama, chick pea curry, zucchini noodles, and on and on and on! 

For this particular build-a-bowl fun lunch, I ordered soba noodles with pesto white beans and thick, delicious slices of fresh avocado and hot-off-the-grill roasted red peppers.  The pesto white beans are to-die for and the red peppers have that perfect char on them.  And I’m just a lover of soba noodles and avocado in general.  Since these menu items are technically on the add-ons and sides portion of the menu, each ingredient you order comes in its own little dish.  And then you have yourself a ball and mix everything together yourself.  Or you can eat the sides on their own, straight out of the dish.  Whatever floats your boat! 

Now, these photos were taken before Fresh unveiled their revamped menu last month, so although the ingredients you see here haven’t changed, the utensils and aesthetics are going to look a bit different.  Gone are the green chopsticks, in are the bright orange ones!  And their bowls are nice big white curved ones, which actually give quite a nice contrast to the bright colours of food. 

After creating this bowl, I became hooked on wanting to create more.  The options and combinations are endless!  It’s so much fun and it’s such a cute way to get creative and healthy with your food.  And it’s great way to pick and choose based on your budget and the size of your appetite.  Not to mention, you get to put together a meal with everything you love – can you say happy taste buds and tummy?!  I’ll never stop eating my way through their menu, but this is a really awesome way to inject a little creativity and even more fun into eating here.  And that’s what food is all about: genuine love, making it fun, making it your own, and feeling good inside and out.

*****

Fresh currently serves 3 locations in downtown Toronto:

  1. 326 Bloor St. West (right off the intersection of Spadina Ave. and Bloor St. West, just east of Spadina)
  2. 894 Queen St. West (at the intersection of Crawford St. and Queen St. West, near Trinity Bellwoods Park)
  3. 147 Spadina Ave. (near the intersection of Spadina Ave. and Queen St. West, a block south of Queen)

Summer Love, Summer Salads

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I look forward to bean and pasta salads SO much when the warmer weather hits.  I enjoy eating them at any point in the year, but it’s so much more satisfying when the sun is out and you can feel the warm breeze waft through the windows.  Not to mention it’s just fun shopping at the fruit and vegetable markets around town.  It’s such an awesome feeling snagging fresh bunches of asparagus, tomatoes on the vine, and giant containers of juicy berries.  Last weekend my mom and I hit some of the fruit and vegetable markets in Korea Town down by Bloor St. W. between Bathurst and Christie St. and we picked up so much great stuff.  Blueberries, blackberries, avocados…we really lamented at not living closer because we would honestly go every day if we could.  A mix of beans, veggies, and pasta = meals I can eat every day for the rest of my life! 

Whenever my family and I want something simple and lighter to eat, these are our go-to meals and they’re so perfect for spring and summer and warmer patio weather.  I’ve always itched to get creative in the kitchen and it drove me crazy growing up when I wasn’t allowed to help and family would shoo me away and tell me to “go play”.  Now that I’m older, it’s been so great getting my hands busy in the kitchen and even though I’m still just a “helper” when it comes to preparing meals, it feels good to see a meal through from start to finish even if it’s something simple.  Healthy, crunchy, and juicy, summer salads are awesome because you can make a big batch and have yummy leftovers for the next day’s lunch.  Not to mention they’re filling and satisfying meals that don’t leave you filling gross and lethargic afterward.   

What I have for you is a smattering of summer salad photos with a bunch of different veggie, fruit, and pasta/noodle combinations.  Up top we have a crunchy salad of tomatoes, yellow and green bell pepper, white beans, chickpeas, and mixed kidney beans, and a fistfuls of chopped green scallions.  In the middle, a mixed bean and avocado salad with a sprinkling of cilantro and red pepper chili flakes atop udon noodles, and last, a pasta salad with Italian ditali pasta, roast chicken, green beans, tomatoes, potatoes, and fresh chunks of mango!  I think by the end of the summer I should have a veeery large collection of photos commemorating my salad love 😀

Taking Advantage of Summer’s Colour and Bounty – Not Your Ordinary Lunch Box Sandwiches

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This ain’t no ordinary kiddie lunch box lunch 😉  It’s been really fun mixing and matching vegetables and sandwich fillings with whatever we have in the fridge for the week and getting fresh bread from the bakery.  If you like mixing things up and hate eating the same thing twice in a row, you’re like me.  It’s quite fun, actually, challenging myself to get creative with combinations.  It’s like playing a sandwich puzzle, haha!  Here’s a thorough photo recap of some of my sandwich lunches over the past few months.

  • Sandwich #1: turkey, baby spinach, red and yellow baby bell peppers, hot banana peppers, sweet vidalia onions, mozzerella cheese on a submarine bun
  • Sandwich #2: oven roasted turkey, mesclun salad spring mix, green, red, and orange bell peppers, alfalfa sprouts, sweet onions on a kaiser bun with cantaloupe on the side
  • Sandwich #3: roast beef, baby romaine, roma tomatoes, mozzerella cheese, cilantro, lemon dill hummus spread on a wheat bun
  • Sandwich #4: roast chicken, alfalfa banana sprouts, hot banana peppers, avocado on a wheat bun 

Wooden Sushi Planks and Japanese Porcelain: Green Day, Sunshine, & Scallop Rolls at Tokyo Sushi, Part II

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I hope you all liked the photos and write-up yesterday!  This is Part II of my Tokyo Sushi mini series and today I’ll be showing you all some of the maki rolls they offer, as well as discussing things like seating in the restaurant and the overall pricing of sushi menu items.  You know I’m a sucker for sushi rolls and to be honest, I generally don’t order things like bento boxes or noodles or rice dishes when I’m out for sushi.  I looove noodles and rice, of course, but I’ve always been somewhat indifferent to these types of menu items, which is why it was a such a delight to eat their spicy salmon don and their spicy tuna don.  With the exception of some appetizers and dumplings, it’s one of the few non-maki roll related dishes that I really love and can see myself ordering time and time again.

My blatant display of affection for sushi rolls on the blog has also revealed how much I adore cute themes and names for sushi!  Tokyo Sushi offers a number of different rolls, in servings of 6 rolls, 7 rolls, and 8 rolls.  Be aware though that sushi rolls that aren’t listed on the lunch specials menu don’t come with the soup or salad, so it’s just something to keep that in mind when you order.  The very first roll set that I ate here was the Green Day roll 😀  How cute, right?  Named after a rock band?  Couldn’t resist.  Not to mention it was made up of MANY yummies that I love: rolls with cucumber, avocado, crunchy tempura bits, and shrimp, ALL covered in creamy slices of avocado.  Avocado and I are besties and the rolls were very good with big chunks of shrimp, YUM!

I’ve also had the Sunshine roll, with asaparagus, salmon, and mayo, as well as the spicy scallop roll.  Even though I wish the roll sets could be bigger (so instead of 6 or 7 rolls in the set, there would be 8 rolls) because I’m just that much of a sushi fiend, what I truly appreciate is how they don’t skimp on fillings and ingredients.  The salmon sashimi chunks in the Sunshine rolls were big and delicious and oh my gosh, don’t even get me started on how amazing the scallop rolls are.  Although I’ve adored all the rolls I’ve eaten here, hands down, Tokyo Sushi’s spicy scallop rolls are freakin’ amazing.  “I could eat 2 dozen of these” amazing.  These rolls have large chunks of fresh white scallops with avocado, shredded lettuce, and more of that oh-so-yummy mayo that I talked about yesterday.  I LOVE THESE ROLLS SO MUCH.

I know I’ve eaten at quite a few sushi places in and outside of the city, but jeebus these rolls totally sit in my Top 5 favourite kinds of sushi maki rolls now.  Just to be clear though, these aren’t as spicy as the name leads you to believe.  I know some people who love heat might a bit let-down by the lack of spiciness in the rolls, but for those who have a very low tolerance for heat, these are fine for you.  I felt a very subtle prickling on my tongue from the spiciness, but really, they’re not anything to be alarmed about.  These rolls are delicious and I would recommend them as THE roll to order when you come here 😀

Tokyo Sushi is not a sushi bar that you’d go to for el cheapo sushi though.  Their food is fantastic and I don’t have an issue paying a bit more for the sushi; if I did I wouldn’t eat here.  But this is me just being honest and putting it out there that if you’re on a very tight eating out budget, you’re better off going to places like Sushi on Bloor and The Sushi Shop (both of which I’ve blogged about), or even Sushi Xtra on Queen St. West by Spadina.  

For lunch, Tokyo Sushi certainly isn’t off the chart in terms of price (and since I’ve only eaten here for lunch that’s the only meal I can vouch for), but you’re going to have to pay around $12-$15 for your meal no matter what when it’s all said and done.  I can’t imagine anyone eating only 6 rolls for lunch, so if you order 2 sets of 6 rolls for example, it’ll cost around $10 or so and because we live in the land of heavy taxes, your meal will come to at least $12 for that type of combination.  The same goes for lunch special combos that go for $9.95 like the spicy salmon don.  A place like Sushi on Bloor, on the other hand, can totally feed you on $10.  If price isn’t an issue for you and you don’t mind shelling out the few extra bucks, Tokyo Sushi truly offers some amazing stuff that you can’t get at other places.  The quality of food is VERY good and I can’t imagine the quality and/or taste of their sushi coming under fire.  I’ve enjoyed my time here so much, I look forward to the food, and I’m totally on board with eating my way through a bunch of their rolls!

The restaurant opens for business at 11am from Monday-Saturday and at 12pm on Sundays.  I love the fact that they’re open at 11am because I’m a hungry girl and I enjoy avoiding the business lunch crowd rush if possible.  And if it’s possible for you to do the same, you should.  The restaurant is tiny and it fills up FAST when 12pm hits.  There are a few tables closer to the back that fit 4-5 people and a cozy 2-person booth nearby.  Other than that, most people just park themselves down at the sushi bar.  It’s a bustling place at lunch time and I quite like it.  A lot 🙂

*****

Tokyo Sushi is located at 33 St. Joseph Street, which is just north of Wellesley St. and just east of Bay St.  They are open for lunch at 11am and offer a number of lunch specials served from 11am-3pm.