Happiness & Warmth in a Bowl – Matcha Lattes & Pork Gyoza Dumplings with Ramen at Destiny Cafe, Part II

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Now that you have all read about my tale of birthday ice cream cake embarrassment, it’s time to get down to food business with photos and food stories of noodles and tea drinks!  Destiny Cafe is situated in what I call the “restaurant congregeation” of Richmond Hill, right by East Beaver Creek Drive and Highway 404.  I’m not joking when I refer to this area as restaurant central – there are more than 10 restaurants on this one plot of land and they’re all within hopping and skipping distance from one another!  If you’re in the mood for fruity drinks and tea, snacks, and lots of Chinese food, and if you happen to be in the area, Destiny Cafe is your destination.  In my opinion though, Destiny is worth going to even if you’re aren’t in the vicinity because I think their menu caters to many tastes and appetites. 

Destiny Cafe has two locations, one in Scarborough and one in Richmond Hill, and while I’ve been to the Scarborough location several times in the past, this was my first time eating at the Richmond Hill one and I was beyond shocked when I stepped inside the large and majestic cafe.  I knew it looked huge from the outside, but nothing could have prepared me for what I saw on the inside.  This wasn’t a cafe, this was the size of a banquet hall!  The entire space was bathed in ivory, cream, and chocolate brown with splashes of soft green.  Beautiful light fixtures hung from the ceiling and gorgeous floral arrangement planters filled with calla lilies, siberia lilies, and other flowers dotted the dining areas throughout the cafe, bursting with red, oranges, and yellows.  Big windows allowed plenty of natural light to filter through and seating was ample and spacious.  The atmosphere felt fresh, peaceful.

What I love about Destiny, aside from the gorgeous decor, is the variety of food and drink and how organized the menu is.  The menu is divided into two sections (drink and food), where the first portion of the menu is devoted to bubble tea, herbal tea, and coffee drinks.  A rainbow of bubble tea, slushes, soy drinks, milk teas, milkshakes, coffee drinks, lattes, and tea drinks with ice cream greet you within the first five pages or so, followed by a page of herbal and flowering teas.  If that’s not enough to make your head spin, the menu continues on with a healthy dose of dim sum appetizers, snacks, diner style sandwiches, toasts, fried rice, fried noodles, steamed rice meals with meats and vegetables, and soup noodles. 

In addition to their regular menu, they also offer a set lunch menu from 11am-2:30pm which includes a salad, spring roll, your choice of entree, a small coffee, iced/hot green tea or milk tea, and a dessert for $7.99.  On top of that, there’s an afternoon tea time menu offered from 2:30pm onward, with dim sum dishes, small plates, and snack items.  In yesterday’s post, I posted a photo of some crispy shrimp and mango rolls.  Those were ordered from the afternoon tea time menu at the Scarborough location and they were absolutely divine.

If I had to compare Destiny Cafe to another place, I’d say that the menu is somewhat similar to that of Ten Ren’s Tea Time.  Both Destiny and Ten Ren’s have an abundance of bubble tea and tea drink menu items, as well as a menu centered around Chinese, Taiwanese, and Japanese dishes among other Asian foods.  While both menus offer the same scope of bubble tea and tea selections, Destiny’s food is definitely more diner style whereas Ten Ren’s leans more toward traditional dishes found in Cantonese and Taiwanese cuisine.  For example, while you wouldn’t find diner style sandwiches, toasts, and fried rice at Ten Ren’s, you would find plenty of soup noodle meals, steamed rice with meat and vegetables, and appetizers and snacks.  

If you’re really looking for a tea and dessert type of meal though, I’d go for Ten Ren’s as their selection is greater and more unique.  Destiny’s desserts are more run-of-the-mill as many of them come from La Rocca.  The food and drink though?  Fabulous. 

Given how I’m on a bit of green tea latte and dessert kick, I had a delicious, warm matcha latte ($4.49) to go along with my ramen noodles in soup with gyoza pork dumplings ($7.99).  The latte was nice and strong in matcha flavour and not “milked down “or diluted in the least.  It was a great accompaniment to my noodles which I enjoyed so much.  I love noodles and I especially love ramen noodles in soup.  It’s one of my favourite comfort foods and meals.  The warmth of the soup broth, the savouriness of the noodles – it’s happiness in a bowl!  I was debating between the pork cutlet with ramen noodles and the ramen noodles with the gyoza dumplings and ultimately, the dumplings won me over because I adore dumplings with noodles. 

The ramen noodle bowl contained a tea egg (cha-yeep-daan), some crabstick meat, bean sprouts (I’m not the biggest fan of bean sprouts and telling the nice waitress completely slipped my mind, so I’ll admit that many of them were still floating around in the leftover broth when I was finished.  My bad.), some vegetables, three pork gyoza dumplings, and lots of scrumptious ramen noodles.  The noodles were absolutely delicious.  They were cooked perfectly al dente and they were savoury and thick and just divine.  And the dumplings!  They were golden brown, crispy around the edges, and juicy and soft on the inside where the pockets of pork were.  It was a wonderful meal, one that I would most definitely have again. 

Coming here has made me realize just how much I’ve missed it and how crazy I’ve been for not coming back for good eats sooner!  Even though the humourous catasphrophe that was my birthday is an event I can look back on and laugh, I’m happy to have these new food memories.  Especially ones that tasted as delicious as these.

 

*****

Destiny Cafe is located at 165 York Blvd. in Richmond Hill, Markham.  The large space is housed within a complex of restaurants and eateries and can be accessed via East Beaver Creek Drive and Highway 7, just off the 404.  Destiny Cafe has two locations in the GTA.  The other location is located in Scarborough off Silver Star Blvd. and Steeles Ave. East.  The markham location is open for business at 11am.

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Bubble Tea, Chinese Food, and Memories of a Melting Ice Cream Birthday Cake – Destiny Cafe, Part I

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You know a cafe holds a special place in your heart when you’re happy to go back for eats even after a mortifying experience.  On your birthday.  In front of other people.  And by mortifying, I mean having your special circus-themed ice cream birthday cake completely defrost, deflate, collapse, and flood the dinner table with your dinner guests watching, laughing hysterically, and then helping you mop up the goopy mess afterward.  And that, my dear friends, is the fondest memory I have of eating at Destiny Cafe until now.  Which is somewhat unfortunate considering I’m in love with their menu, their decor, and their drinks and food!  Let me start from the beginning though and turn the clocks back to the summer of 2008.  

Enter the reunion of yours truly with a childhood friend through the magic of social media.  Said friend suggests grabbing a bite at Destiny Cafe in Scarborough.  Yours truly, not yet the savvy food adventurer she is now (humour me with that one), has no prior knowledge of what Destiny Cafe is or what food and drink they serve.  However, she is highly intrigued and jumps on the chance to try a new place and to catch up with an old friend.  Yours truly is happy to find out that Destiny Cafe is a lovely place with traditional Chinese rice and noodle meals and snacks, and vows to come back in the future.  

    

When she does so in 2009, she is shocked to see the cafe has undergone a complete makeover in both appearance and in menu, making it one heck of a gorgeous and delicious space to eat in!  Goodbye wooden and bamboo accents and furniture; hello sleek and shiny gunmetal and olive green!  The scrapping of the traditional Chinese food menu made way for the more modern and hip bubble tea and tea drink cafe with fried rice and noodles dishes, dim sum appetizers, and Hong Kong diner style fare.  Yours truly is hooked and vows to eat and drink her way through this luscious Chinese cafe.

And eat and drink she did as she enjoyed afternoon tea time food with her family (scrumptious crispy shrimp and mango dim sum rolls!  Mango peach bubble tea!) and a birthday get-together with friends and boyfriend.  She decided Destiny Cafe would be a lovely place to hold a birthday dinner – large space, large menu.  With circus themed goodie bags and special ice cream cake in hand (or rather, hands), the birthday girl made her way Destiny Cafe for what hoped to be a memorable birthday celebration with great food, drinks, and friends.

Oh, it was memorable alright, as unforseen circumstances took hold.  The food gods must have chosen her as the next target to poke fun at because before anyone could say, “melting cake!!!”, disaster struck as the birthday girl’s entire cake caved in, melted, and spread like evil molten lava.  Mortified and nearly choking on her Portuguese chicken and rice, she lunges for the stack of napkins and tries to salvage what is now a circus freak show mess.  The birthday girl’s friends and boyfriend help to clean up by eating any and all unmelted remnants, shoving the leftover goopy mess into the cake box, and using ice cube water and leftover guava juice to mop up the evidence.  All the while giggling uncontrollably and soothing the birthday girl’s wounded spirit. 

And that, folks, is the last memory I had of Destiny Cafe until now.  Under the circumstances, I actually took the incident fairly well and snorted about it on the way home.  That incident occurred two and a half years ago and I look back it ruefully and fondly.  My last trip to Destiny may have ended on a mortifying note, but I look back and only remember the good because all my food experiences here in the past have given great food and memories.

If not for my old friend, I never would have known about this Chinese cafe and I never would have had the pleasure of tucking away another delicious Chinese food spot into my list of Chinese cafe mainstays.  Destiny played a part in my family’s afternoon tea time meal phase during a difficult time in my life, and it gave my friends and I one of the most ridiculous, hilarious memories ever.  No matter what, food brings us together and it’s what anchors many of fondest memories. 

Aside from the crispy dim sum rolls, what you see up top are photos taken from the Markham location as opposed to the Scarborough one.  I’ve barely made even a tiny dent in the food and drink department since, but I have a yummy post to share with you all tomorrow that’s sure to get you eating and drinking here.  Minus the melting lava cake. 

*****

Destiny Cafe is located at 165 York Blvd. in Richmond Hill, Markham.  The large space is housed within a complex of restaurants and eateries and can be accessed via East Beaver Creek Drive and Highway 7, just off the 404.  Destiny Cafe has two locations in the GTA.  The other location is located in Scarborough off Silver Star Blvd. and Steeles Ave. East.  The markham location is open for business at 11am.