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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Amazing Chinese Breakfasts, Rice, and Ramen Noodles – Pulling Into Our Next Stop at Station Asia!

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It really wasn’t that long ago since my first visit to Station Asia at Market Village, but looking back, it feels like a lifetime ago.  I had just started grad school, I had a short haircut that would get shorter over the months ahead, and a whole new chapter of my life had started with new friends, new people in my life, and a new outlook on what I wanted out of life.  I remember coming here for the first time during my second month of grad school in October 2008 with my best friend and I remember the chill in the air, how beautiful the fall season was, and how DELICIOUS my lunch was!  

What I really like about Station Asia is how they touch on and incorporate so many different kinds of Asian and Chinese cuisine.  It’s a Chinese style diner with a lot of ethnic diversity and variety, and sometimes these differences in cuisine are so subtle you’d only know it if you had the knowledge about the different countries and regions and if you ate enough of the differerent cuisines to know.  I know I can’t speak for all Canadian-born Asians, but growing up, I went through the trials and tribulations of being born into and raised in a Western and Asian culture simaltaneously.  Sometimes one overshadowed the other and other times one or the other felt completely foreign.  I grew up eating the EXACT same food you’d find in Station Asia, especially when I lived with my grandparents when I was first born.  My great-grandmother would make me “baby congees”, Chinese bakery buns and cakes were staples in our home, dim sum was lovingly ingrained in my tastebuds and in my heart, and I would make homemade wontons and dumplings with my grandma in her kitchen.

Food isn’t just food; it’s a part of our upbringing, our ethnic identity, and so many other facets of life.  It sounds weird, but when I eat at Station Asia, it comforts me and makes me feel like I’m outside of the box at the same time.  In other words, I can eat here and be completely familiar with much of what I eat and see, but I am also reminded of how much there is for me to know and keep learning.  I want to know more about the subtle differences in regional cuisine and I want to know more about the food I grew up on but was too young at the time to appreciate.

Station Asia is great if you want a bit of everything.  If you feel like the HK style diner dishes, they have baked rice dishes, baked fish fillets with sauce, black pepper chicken steak with rice, and a host of cold drinks including ices, slushes, and bubble teas.  They touch on Korean style bibimbap, Chinese Portuguese curry, the incredibly popular Chinese and Singaporean Hainan chicken and rice (hoi nam guy fan), spicy Malaysian style noodles, and plenty of tradtional Cantonese food including congee (or as I like to call it, rice porridge), vermicelli, stir-fried noodles, and steamed rice with lots of fish, mushrooms, preserved vegetables, chicken, beef, oysters, pork, dried scallops, black bean, and many others.  They serve breakfast, lunch, tea time, and dinner, and they have different menus during different mealtimes over the course of the day.

The lunch and dinner meals will run you an average of $5-$11 and they offer many of their menu items as a part of a combo which includes a soup (ba wong fa soup!), an appetizer (which could be pickled vegetables, sliced chicken, salad, or a number of other things), and a hot or cold HK style drink of your choice with an additional charge for the fancier slushes or ices.  Breakfast at Station Asia is their strong suit.  Not only do I love the menu, but I love the prices even more!  Their breakfast, if you can believe it, is around $3.50-$5!  They have a whole menu full of breakfast items for $3.80, $4.50, and $4.99 and they are fantastic because the portions are BIG for a lot of them.  Think noodles and rice and sandwiches! 

Ordering food here is also a bit different from other places because everything is written down on an order form on a piece of paper where you specify the menu item number, the quantity you want (for example, if two or three people want the same dish or drink), and specific notes such as your choice between rice, ramen, noodles, that kind of thing.  There’s a section for food and a section for drink, so all you really have to do is just note the item number because the dish and drink you want.  Easy peasy!

I’ve been to Station Asia a handful of times and my favourites have to be their baked rice dishes, their rice with seafood and sauce, their breakfasts, and their ramen noodles!  I absolutely LOVED the first dish I ever had here which was a hot stone pot of rice and seafood (prawns, scallops) with snap peas and Thousand Island dressing.  It was delicious and I would order it again in a heartbeat.  Which reminds me that I should really take note the next time I’m there and make sure they still have this item! 

 

I am also a huge fan of their ramen noodles and their different kinds.  Yes, they have different flavours of ramen noodles!  I’ve had their regular, the spinach, and the tomato and hands down, my favourite is the tomato one.  The regular is delicious too and although I enjoyed the spinach, the spinach flavour was a little lost on me and I much preferred the tomato one for its flavour.  But I have to say, ordering the spinach ramen is really fun because you get to eat green noodles, ha!  I’ve had their ramen noodle breakfast with their breaded crispy fried fish fillet and their shrimp and scrambled egg sauce.  If I was to translate that it would be “wat daan ha yun mein”.  I know, I know, my spelling is probably completely off but it’s the best I can do!

I always look forward to coming here (Pacific Mall, Market Village, Splendid China Tower, I love them all), especially for the breakfast and the tea time menus, and it’s a comfort to me knowing there’s always something new to try and old favourites to come back to.

*****

Station Asia has two locations.  One is located inside Market Village closest to the north entrace (4394 Steeles Ave. East by Kennedy Rd.) and the other is located inside Splendid China Tower, closest to the north entrance (4675 Steeles Ave. East just east of Pacific Mall and Market Village on the north side of Steeles Ave.).  They serve breakfast, lunch, tea time, and dinner.