Tastebuds

A food blog from everywhere!

Toronto: The Ethiopian House

4 Irwin Avenue
http://www.ethiopianhouse.com/

A few nights ago, I tried Ethiopian food for the first time. With four other friends, we headed to the Ethiopian House, one of the more well-known restaurants of its kind in Toronto.

True to its fame, this place did seem pretty popular. The interior was small and dark but almost all the tables, along with those on the patio, were taken. The whole restaurant had only one waitress, though, so service was a bit slow for it was difficult to catch her attention sometimes. However, contrary to many reviews, I found that the food came out within a reasonable amount of time, perhaps 15-20 minutes after we placed our order.

We ordered a vegetarian platter for four. Initially, seeing that other tables with only two people have such large platters, we thought that a platter for two would be enough. However, the waitress insisted that we up it to four so we relented. Well, one would expect that for paying that extra 25 dollars, there should at least be more food in the four-person platter, but it was the exact same size as all the platters seen on other tables with fewer customers than us! Perhaps we got more injeera rolls on the side, I don’t know, but I did feel rather cheated, for there was barely enough food on that so-called 4-person platter for the five of us.

IMG_1345
Vegetarian platter

But that aside, I must say that the food was pretty decent. I enjoyed the lentil stews the most, for they had that wonderful starchiness often found in legumes and ranged from mild to spicy. The kale was quite sour, so I didn’t enjoy that as much for it only added to the sourness of the injeera. There were stir-fried veggies, which included string beans cooked to a degree of softness yet still retaining a bit of mouthfeel. The “Tikil Goman” (“Cabbage, carrots, potatoes, cooked in turmeric sauce”) was mild and rich. All this was served with injeera crepes to scoop up the stews, communal style. Despite the cost versus size discrepancy of our meal, it was definitely a novel and fun eating experience.

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August 22, 2010 Posted by | Miscellaneous, Restaurants, Toronto | Leave a comment

Another trip to Hong Kong

So this weekend my dad and I took another random trip down to Hong Kong. Yay! Well actually the reason was because my dad needed to renew his visa but me, I’ll look for any excuse to go to Hong Kong. Really I think Hong Kong is one of the greatest cities in the world and I would absolutely LOVE to live there one day. It’ll either be Hong Kong or New York.

Anyways. As we all know, any trip to Hong Kong requires splurging, and this one was no different. As soon as we got out of the train station I went over to a bakery and got an egg tart and a bbq pork triangle.

The egg tart (which was, btw, very fresh and still warm from the oven) was of the uncaramelized variety, the type that I don’t quite like as much. I find these type of egg tarts to be too monotonous in texture…the whole thing is just…soft and filmsy. Of course they taste just fine but I find that they lack textural variation.

The bbq pork triangle was also pretty decent. The filling was saucy and sweet without being overly so. However, one common trait about all char siu bakery items that really bothers me is the presence of fat chunks in the filling. The pork meat tastes great but the chunks of gooey pork fat are quite off-putting…do people actually eat them???

After that little snack we went off to go book browsing. Yep, in this side of the world Hong Kong is practically the only place where I can stock up on English books.

After book shopping we decided to have lunch at one of the innumerable Japanese restaurants that can be found in just about every crack and cranny in Hong Kong. In Tsim Sha Tsui, at least, one can locate a Japanese eatery in just about any random direction. Assailed with so many different choices we haphazardly settled on Sushi One Plus.

As soon as we entered I knew it probably wasn’t a good choice because the place simply didn’t feel authentic. But then of course I was hungry and didn’t bother searching out some other place. So an unauthentic Japanese meal it’ll have to be!

Looking to eat light so that I’ll have room for junk later on, I ordered three small dishes. First came the fatty tuna sashimi, which was expensive but wonderful. The fish was a little cold but that didn’t detract too much from its creamy, melt-in-your-mouth taste and texture. Yummm….

The uni handroll was unglamourous. I wish they added a piece of cucumber to provide some crunch and texture contrast to the roll. The uni was also a bit too small. It tasted fine and fresh and all but I know that it can be done better.

My last order was the asparagus with caviar. The asparagus was sort of weird; it seemed like it couldn’t decide whether it should be hot or cold. However, I think that those little sprigs of asparagus matched with the plumpy caviar quite well. The flavours of both were subtle and thus complemented each other. Unfortunately the strong Japanese mayo at the bottom somewhat ruined that harmony…

My dad ordered a lunch combo and I tried some of his items. Above is the tamago, which was served steaming hot, was sweet and rather dense. I didn’t really enjoy it.

The lunch combo also came with this salmon and mango sushi, which I didn’t try but it looks like it’s got too much rice and not enough filling.

After that semi-decent Japanese cuisine experience we headed over to Harbour City to accomplish my main purpose of the day: buy MACARONS from JEAN-PAUL HEVIN! I’ll blog about that in the later post but below is a photo of the awesome hallowed macarons =)

After splurging on macarons I walked around Harbour City by myself, looking for edible interests. First I stopped at the Panash Bakery at Ocean Terminal and quite impulsively got a chocolate croissant. Unfortunately it wasn’t such a good choice. The nice shiny croissant looked promising on the outside but the inside was dry, tasteless, and paper-like. Even though it was no longer warm the chocolate was in a sauce form and not a solid block like it should be. I took two bites and threw the thing away. Bleh! >

After the failed pain au chocolat I felt in the mood for something cold so I lept at the sight of a very unusual ice cream cone in 7-11: Ovaltine ice cream =O!

Definitely not a flavour that you see around often. As you can see, the top of the cone is covered with chocolate and in the first few bites the chocolate completely obscured the ovaltine. However once the chocolate covering was gone the wheaty ovaltine flavour was unmistakable. Even though I don’t like ovaltine much I quite enjoyed this cone for it was something unique. My only complaint (a defect that affects all pre-packaged cones in warm weather) is that the cone was soggy…

Oh yeah actually a funny thing happened while I was unwrapping the ice cream. Because the weather was so warm, I was in a hurry to get my camera out and take a photo and I think in my haste I accidentally threw my camera case into the trash can along with the ice cream wrapping. Wow, I must have looked really stupid doing that…Thank god it was the case and not the camera.

Anyways, later in the afternoon I walked into Starbucks and, spotting an interesting cake flavour, couldn’t resist trying it out. The Earl Grey cake was quite mousse-like with a hazelnut base and a jelly-like topping. The Earl Grey taste was definitely present at just the right amount. The cake was pretty light and so if you like Earl Grey and light cakes, you’d definitely like this.

All right, lastly and finally I had some chocolate from Leonidas. The Palet d’Or, which had 75% or something cocoa content, consisted of a mousse-like center enrobed with dark chocolate. It was very chocolatey and slightly bitter though I found the center to be a bit dry. Overall a nice piece of chocolate.

The truffle naturel wasn’t really a conventional truffle; instead of being a dense chocolatey mass it was a ganache covered with a thin layer of chocolate and cocoa powder. It wasn’t what I expected so I can’t say much about the truffle…it was good, but it wasn’t what I wanted.

Whew! What a long post! And that, readers, is the documentation of my day of fooding in the wonderful city of Hong Kong. The end =)

November 1, 2009 Posted by | Bakery, Desserts, Hong Kong, Japanese, Miscellaneous, Restaurants, Travels, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

High Tea at The Peninsula Hotel, Hong Kong

The Peninsula Hotel Lobby
Salisbury Road, Kowloon
http://www.peninsula.com/hong_kong/en/default.aspx#/hong_kong/en/
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A continuation of our Hong Kong adventure:

So after having our dessert at Causeway Bay, my friend and I headed back to Kowloon and set out to accomplish one of my life’s goals: have high tea at the Peninsula Hotel in Hong Kong.

For those of you who don’t know, the Peninsula is one of the oldest high-class hotels in Hong Kong and it is famous for its high tea. Served every afternoon, it aims to recreate one of the most popular past-times brought over by the British during Hong Kong’s colonial years. Needless to say because the place is so touristy and classy, everything at the Peninsula is notoriously expensive.

Anyways, so we disregarded the price for this once and went and had their high tea set. I must say that it was quite the experience. Everything was so daintily done that we felt rather out of place at times! Firstly, we each got individual tea pots with our choice of teas. I had jasmine tea and my friend had Earl Grey, which was served with milk. They also brought over hot water for us to add to the tea leaves when needed.

Pretty soon the three-tier tea set with the food came. On the bottom tier were three raisin scones served with butter and jam. They were pretty decent scones.

On the second tier were the savoury items: cucumber sandwiches, ham and egg salad sandwiches, a small quiche, a smoked salmon roll, and spinach pastry. I really liked the ham and egg salad sandwich in particular.

On the top tier were the desserts: a cake stick with fruits, cream cake rolls (it had this strange disk on top that I thought tasted like cardboard), truffle (very, very sweet), another chocolate treat (also extremely sweet, esp towards the end of the meal), and a few other tidbits that I can’t really recall.

Halfway through out meal they brought us a raspberry coulis + cheesecake mousse + lychee ice concoction that was absolutely amazing. Definitely the best item of the meal, I thought.

So that’s the end of my one-day Hong Kong adventure! I was absolutely stuffed by the end, but it was great fun, and I had a great time catching up with my friend. Oh, btw, the bill at the Peninsula came up to 500 something HK dollars.

September 19, 2009 Posted by | Miscellaneous, Restaurants | , , | Leave a comment

Hong Kong Adventure

Location: All around Hong Kong


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Last week I went down to Hong Kong to visit a friend and partake in a one-day food adventure. It was absolutely amazing.

First up, I met my friend at Harbord City at around noon and I was quite hungry. So we headed to this Chinese restaurant on the second floor of the shopping mall called Crystal Jade La Mian Xiao Long Bao. It was a fancy Chinese restaurant with fairly high prices, but that is to be expected at such a high-class place like Harbour City. Nonetheless the great food that they served totally made up for it.

First, we had the Japanese Style Cucumber Salad. It consisted of garlicky cucumbers and a few pieces of some soft white vegetable that I wasn’t able to identify. The salad was very refreshing and a great start to the meal.

Next came the best part of the meal, the xiao long bao. These dumplings were amazing. They were soupy with and their wrapping was quite thin. The flavour of the soup inside was really good as well. A definite must-have if you ever come here.

Because we were planning to eat a bit everywhere (or at least I was), we didn’t order too much. The last item served were the pan-fried pork buns. These were freshly made and pan-fried, resulting in a nice crispy bottom with a soft upper part. The filling was similar to the xiao long bao filling without as much soup. My only complaint was that the buns were a bit small, but otherwise they were excellent.

After this Chinese lunch we went off on the metro to Causeway Bay. There, underneath Times Square near City Super is a small food court serving various different cuisines. One of the booths sold Asian desserts and drinks. It was very easy to order because they had plastic versions of all their items on display, much like those you see at Japanese restaurants. Anyways, so from the dessert booth I got the Purple Sticky Rice and Durian with Coconut Milk. It basically consisted of a scoop of purple sticky rice with taro chunks and some durian in a pool of shaved ice drizzled with coconut milk. Sounds simple, but it was absolutely amazing…the textures and the tastes all complemented each other very well…I think that I’m drooling just thinking about it…So if you’re ever in the area, definitely check the place out!

September 18, 2009 Posted by | Miscellaneous, Restaurants | , , , | Leave a comment