Smoked Salmon & Mango and Scallop With Crunchy Tempura – Rolls, Menu Changes, and the Red Tea Cups at Ginza!

6 Comments

Back in February of last year, I wrote a little love letter professing my adoration for cream cheese, cheese cheese in sushi, and the gorgeous red tea cups at Ginza.  I also gushed about how their giant Moscow rolls with the cream cheese, three types of sashimi, and crunchy, savoury exteriors were like little blinking sushi beacons of love.  I also promised to try out more maki rolls and to report back.  It’s January 2012 and to say that I am fashionably late with my follow-up post is an understatement.  But I am here, like I promised, with more food photos and yummy sushi stories to share from Ginza!  I really love Ginza and feel the quality of their food is spot on (at the Yorkville location at least since I haven’t been to any of the other ones in the city) and I couldn’t have picked a better time to go back for another round of delicious sushi because they’ve recently revamped their menu!

If you haven’t been to Ginza for awhile (or at all) and if you’ve been relying on their online menu to tide you over until your next visit (or first visit), you’re in for a very pleasant surprise.  I don’t know when they made tweaks to their menu, but Ginza has made some fabulous changes and additions that I am so incredibly excited about!  Ginza is always one of the top four sushi places I consider every time I want to gorge on some (not including all-you-can-eat spots) but with their new menu items and changes, I’m not going to want to eat at any other sushi bar for a long time!

Most of the maki rolls and mains are still the same, but if you love dessert and love finding unique sweets to enjoy at different sushi bars, you are going to be head over heels for their new dessert menu!  They’ve added sesame ice cream, they now have FIVE flavours of tempura ice cream (I have date with the tempura mango), tempura cheesecake (well, now they’re just dangling a carrot in my face), and – get this – TROPICAL ICE CREAM IN A HOLLOWED PINEAPPLE AND COCONUT!  OH.MY.GOD.  The pineapple one I might not be able to eat because of my allergy, but the coconut?!  I will hug and kiss it because it will be that fabulous. 

I cannot wait to try this the next time I go and the only reason why I didn’t order it during this meal is because I was taken aback by their new menu and incredible dessert selection and had no intentions of budgeting a dessert into the mix.  So with an aching heart, I let it go this time.  But next time?  Oh, I’m going to stuff my face in it and enjoy it!

Aside from the revamped dessert menu, the other very noticable, positive change to the menu are the prices.  Yes, you read right, the prices.  They’ve been lowered!  I KNOW!  I can’t believe it either!  We deal with rising prices, every month it seems, for the most mundane things: transit, food, gas, housing, services, you name it.  I sigh every time I learn that my bus ride is going to cost more, that a loaf of bread just ain’t what it used to be, and that we’ll have to dig deeper into our pockets just to sit in our own house.  Knowing that prices for certain things are staying constant is a relief.  Learning that prices for particular things have lowered is a godsend!  Prices for numerous menu items have been dropped by $1-$2 and that makes a huge difference when you factor in taxes, tip, and/or ordering more than one dish.  I know for a fact that the rice dishes are $2 less, the sushi pizzas are $1 less, and the prices of many of the maki rolls have also been dropped by a $1.

You can see why I’ve fallen even more in love with Ginza and why I had to tell you all the great news!  Even though I couldn’t have possibly ordered and ate everything I wanted on the menu right then and there, I kept my promise and tried out some other maki rolls and they were splendid!  I had an order of the smoked salmon mango rolls (6 pcs) and the Fire Cracker Dream rolls (6 pcs) which were comprised of scallops, crunchy tempura bits, and spicy mayo sauce.

  

The smoked salmon and mango had such contrasting flavours with the savoury, cured saltiness of the smoked salmon and the sweet, fresh juiciness of the julienned mango mingling together.  I love mango and smoked salmon, but I didn’t know how they would work out in the same roll and I found that I really liked it.  The smoked salmon was sliced filet-style (2 slices in each roll) and you feel like you’re eating it with juicy salsa with the mango.  The sesame seeds the rolls are rolled in lends a crunchy nuttiness to it that is so delicious, so you get a little bit of everything in terms of flavour and texture.  It’s a savoury-sweet combination that works and you get the best of both flavours without either of them being lost or compromised.

After having amazing spicy scallop rolls from Tokyo Sushi at Bay and St. Joseph St., I became obsessed with finding other scrumptious scallop roll varieties and Ginza has a great one: the Fire Cracker Dream roll.  These rolls have huge chunks of scallop, crunchy tempura bits, green onions, and some spicy mayo sauce mixed into the crunchy tempura and green onions.  The spiciness is nothing to be afraid it; it’s not super hot.  You’ll get a yummy kick of heat, but nothing that will make you want to douse your mouth in milk or water.  Even though the spicy scallop rolls from Tokyo Sushi are still my ultimate favourite, the Fire Cracker Dreams are SO yummy.  The scallops chunks are fresh and meaty, I love the green onions in it, and the spicy mayo sauce mixed into the tempura tastes exactly like sweet chili sauce which I love to death.

Edamame beans are still complementary with your meal (I ate almost the entire bowl all on my own!) and with all the great additions and changes to the menu, I feel even more compelled to squeeze in more sushi meals here.  I absolutely can’t wait to show you all some of the new stuff and I promise you, it won’t take me a year to report back!

*****

Ginza is located at the following 4 locations:

  1. 7330 Yonge St. (at the intersection of Clark Ave. and Yonge St. in Thornhill)
  2. 652 Finch Ave. East (located between Leslie St. and Bayview Ave. in North York)
  3. 1255 Bay St. (north of Bloor St. W just off of Yorkville Ave.)
  4. 9960 Dufferin St. (right at the intersection of Major Mackenzie Dr. W. in Maple)  

Ginza also offers a 10% student discount at certain locations, so call ahead and ask if you want to take advantage.

Advertisements

Shredded Kale Slaw Is the Delicious Newbie in Fresh Town! The Love For Kale Continues On, Part II

3 Comments

The love for kale continues on!  Yesterday I introduced the Italian raw bowl from Fresh to the blog (and to those of you who haven’t stuffed your face into it yet!), with its delicious crushed kale chips, basil pesto sauce, and zucchini noodles.  Today, my foodie love letter goes out to Fresh’s shredded kale slaw because it is absolute heaven in my mouth and if I could, I would sneak into their kitchens and eat their entire supply of it!  By the bowlful.  And then pass out from delicious happiness.  And then probably wheeled out in a wheelbarrow by kitchen staff.  It would be so worth it. 

Their shredded kale slaw is another newbie in Fresh town and from what I gather from other Fresh enthusiasts is that it’s already made quite the impression!  The side order of kale slaw comes with all burgers and wraps and replaces the cabbage slaw (which had chopped celery, red onion, and vinegar dressing) that was on the old menu.  I was in conniptions after I ate it for the first time last month and I am so glad this new side order is here to stay!  Cabbage coleslaw, I will always have fond memories of eating you with my grilled vegetable and basil pesto wrap filling on greens and with my mushroom onion burger.  I loved you too, but it’s time to say goodbye as I go on with my life with the new kid in town.

Farewell, cabbage slaw

I went full out GREEN this time with my build-a-bowl fun and ordered sides of kale slaw, sunflower sprouts, edamame beans, and Fresh’s signature house dressing with a warm bowl of brown rice.  Fresh is such a fun place for me to eat at because I try things I’ve never eaten before, I enjoy foods I don’t eat on a regular basis, and I get to learn about tasty combinations of foods I never would have otherwise thought of putting together.  I had sunflower sprouts for the first time here months ago and aside from times I eat yummies at Freshii, the only other time I eat brown rice is at Fresh and that’s simply because I eat steamed white rice at home and other places. 

You can tell how extensive Fresh’s menu is because after eating here a number of times, I have still have plenty of meals and foods I haven’t tried yet!  I’m still working my way through it and yet to try a Fresh weekend brunch, soup, salad entree, or smoothie!  Mixed fruit juice, yes, smoothie, no.  This was my first time having their brown rice and in combination with the kale slaw, sprouts, edamame, and house dressing, I shovelled the rice into my mouth and ate every last grain.

Fresh’s house dressing was the biggest surprise for me.  I knew it would be good, but I had no idea that it would be THIS good!  Made with a mixture of flax and sunflower oil, apple cider vinegar, lemon, dijon, garlic, and tamari (ingredient list taken from the menu), the house dressing is one of a number of dressings and dips that come with salads and as individual additional sides to any meal for an extra $1.  The flavour of the dressing is amazing.  Think of it as dressing with a subtle savouriness to it without the harsh tang from straight up vinegar or lemon.  The sunflower oil gives the dressing body while the apple cider vinegar gives it that sweet and sour taste that adds a kick to blank canvas foods like rice and plain noodles.  The shredded kale slaw itself is tossed with a bit of vinegar dressing of its own so the whole meal was just bursting with flavour and texture with the nutty, starchy flavour coming from the edamame beans and the crunchiness coming from the sunflower sprouts and kale.

I’m really excited to feature kale in my upcoming ‘5 Great…’ series on the blog and with so places utilizing the versatility of kale in their dishes, there’s bound to be some great hidden gems and showstoppers around the city to showcase.  The kale slaw at Fresh totally has my vote to be in the top 5.  It’s not fancy, but that’s the beauty of it because food doesn’t need to be fancy pants to make an impression.  All it has to be is fresh and delicious and made with love.  And of course, enjoyed with love.  No contest here.  I just might order two sides of it next time.

*****

Ate by Ate currently has 8 blog entries on Fresh.  To view all the Fresh goodness and scrapbook layouts, click here.

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)

Chicka-Chicka-Boom-Boom! Chick Peas, Sunflower Seeds, and Other Crunchy Munchies at Freshii

2 Comments

If you couldn’t tell by the scrapbooking and my love for adorable decor in foodie places, I LOVE working with themes!  Themes get my creative juices flowing like crazy and it’s especially fun applying it to my meals!  I think it’s really great when an eatery fills their own niche, has their own personality, and is cohesive in their decor and menu.  Call me a food nerd, but when I look over a Freshii “menu” (the little white checklists attached to the cute little clipboards which you can view here), I start thinking of how I can put together a meal centered around a common theme and how I can make it really fun 😀  I look over all the toppings and ingredients and think, “Ooo, this would make a good ‘breakfast’ themed meal!” or “oh yum, if I put these ingredients together, it’ll taste like a Mediterranean pizza!”  and “hey, I could make this into a Chinese take-out box!”  I guess this is part of the fun in eating at Freshii, being able to truly customize a meal in whatever way you like.  I feel excited when I come to eat here not just because I enjoy the food but because it’s almost like a creative outlet.  And you know, creating a themed meal makes it that much more fun to scrapbook, ha.

The theme for this meal was crunchy munchie!  I thank my friend Maree for the inspiration for this term 😀  I know I can eat anything from salad to wraps to burritos to soup here, but I love the brown rice bowls so much that I’ve never deviated from this since I first ate here during the fall season of 2009.  I know, shocking considering how much I harp on trying different things, right?  I do want to eventually try their soup with rice noodles, but brown rice bowls at Freshii are one of the few things that I stick with on a consistent basis and I’m pretty content with that for the time being.

I wanted to go full out with the flavour and the texture, so what I have here is a brown rice bowl with baby spinach, avocado, shredded jack & cheddar cheese, sliced mushrooms, chopped celery, corn, cilantro, edamame beans, chick peas, and sunflower seeds with yummy caesar dressing.  The spinach, celery, chick peas, sunflower seeds, and edamame made me crunch-a-munch like crazy and I absolutely adored this combination.  The combination of cheddar and caesar dressing made it flavourful and rich and the whole thing was just fun to eat!  Your jaw might get a bit sore by the end of the meal, but I totally recommend this combination of ingredients and toppings!  You never know if certain flavours will mesh well with one another (I’m hesitant about putting mandarin oranges with chicken, eh) but I’m glad that this meal turned out delicious.  I think next time I’ll try out my Meditteranean pizza idea!

Freshii is also offering a Spring Fling menu for the season with special menu items like the santa fe salad, sprouter bowl, and buffalo chicken burrito.  Click the link up top for more info on what’s in each of these menu items.  If I can get around to it, I think might be interested in trying either the santa fe salad or the sprouter bowl.  Happy crunchy munching everyone!

*****

Freshii in Toronto serves 11 locations in the city with one also serving Mississauga.  Click here for a list and map of specific locations, as well as more information on Freshii’s menu, goals, and mission statement.  The Yonge and St.Clair Freshii is located at 1560 Yonge St., just north of St. Clair Ave. on the west side of Yonge.   

My Vegetarian Oasis After a Long (and I Mean LONG!) Dundas West Trek – Lemongrass Fried Rice at King’s Café

7 Comments

Although I love King’s Café very much, I did not actually intend to eat there this past week.  So there is a story here.  If you’ve been reading and following my blog, you know how deeply I love the city and the joy it brings me to explore and learn as much as I possibly can.  However, my exploration of the city and my love for all things food will sometimes get the best of me and I will do crazy things! 

This past Monday I went back to Bunner’s Bake Shop in the morning for a chocolate chip cookie creamie sandwich (because I can seriously eat these babies every day oh my god.  Creamie blog post coming soon!) and then proceeded to go on the longest trek of my life within a morning window.  And when I say long trek, I mean long!  I thought to myself, “I want to go back to Kensington Market but eh, I’d really rather not use another bus token to get there.  Let’s walk it and see how far I can get!  And I can explore Dundas West to my heart’s content!  I can take pictures!  Yeah, let’s do that!”  That was one heck of a motivational talk I had with myself.  So I put my mitts on, stuck my knitted hat on my head and went on my way and by the end of it, I walked from Keele St. alllll the way back east to Spadina!  In one morning.  On foot.  And it was chilly out.  To put this into perspective for those who don’t live in Toronto or who only have a vague sense of direction, I walked a total of 6.3 km!  I was, and still am, uber proud of myself 😀

Needless to say, I was one tired cookie by lunch time!  I was even shocked with how ambitious I was taking that long of a walk through the city, good lordy.  I made my way back to Kensington Market, walked into the vegetarian oasis that is my lovely King’s Café, and collapsed into a cushy chair.  It was time for some food and the belly eagerly wanted some lemongrass fried rice!  I’ve written about King’s twice on the blog since I started it, once back in December on Christmas eve and another time in January, not to mention I took my family there back in February for the first time.  For the past few months I’ve been craving the lemongrass fried rice from their special winter menu because my family and I loved it so much when we ordered it.  I quickly flipped through the menu and was ecstatic to find that their winter menu selections were still there.  So I happily ordered the lemongrass fried rice.  I’m no fool; I wasn’t about to pass  up something that 1) I was craving for months and 2) that was probably not going to be around for much longer!

This rice seriously kicks the ass of anything with meat in it.  Trust me when I say that any meat-eating person won’t miss the meat and any vegetarian and vegan will prance around the room with glee over it.  My dad and brother, who are “manly men” meat-eaters, loved this rice.  And this also isn’t your typical mixed veggies vegetable fried rice either.  The lemongrass fried rice has amazing ginger flavour to it and the edameme beans and strips and chunks of bean curd MAKE this rice. 

The dish has goji berries in it as well and although they give the dish another dimension of flavour with a bit of sweetness and a spicy, minty bite, I actually think the rice could do without them because the rest of the dish is so amazing on its own.  The bean curd in the rice just blows me away.  It’s crispy and it gives the rice its body and protein.  I love it because it’s different from any other fried rice I’ve had, it’s flavourful without being greasy, and it’s fresh quality.  You get a big plate of it (I think even 2 people could share this!) with some freshly steamed broccoli and it’s a meal that doesn’t make you feel like collapsing into hibernation afterward.

Another thing that I absolutely love about King’s Café is how they nail the ginger flavour.  Most times I find ginger to be too overwhelming and with too much of that spicy bite to it.  The way they use ginger here is fantastic though and it’s demonstrated in the fried rice as well as in their ginger “chicken” dish which I would recommend to anyone.  It was my mom and brother’s favourite when I ate here with my family, and it’s also one of my mine.  I guzzled down glasses of lime water and wolfed down half my plate of rice and took the rest back with in a doggy bag (which by the way is adorable, ha).  This was the perfect meal to refuel my tired (but happy!) body last Monday after that crazy long trek through Dundas West.  Look out for pictures from my walk, as well as my Bunner’s Bake Shop creamie post!  I hope everyone is having a great start to the long Easter weekend!

*****

King’s Café is located at 192 Augusta Ave (accessible from both Dundas and College St, just west of Spadina) and is open at 11:30am seven days a week until 9:30pm from Monday-Saturday, and until 9pm on Sundays.