Third floor, 190 University Ave
Let’s continue on this “David Chang in Canada” journey shall we, by taking another flight upstairs to the third and top floor of Toronto’s house of Momofuku. With the tasting menu offerings of the impressive looking counter seat-only kitchen of Shoto unavailable this evening, the remaining choice was the ala carte menu offerings at Daisho. In case you are interested, I was informed by the hostess the two spaces are run by two seperate teams of chefs.
The large glass panels that feature prominently all along the outer barrier of the floor space is stunning. As you are led to your table and make your way through the aesthetically clean lined tables and seating, you get the sense that you will definitely be paying for this view in the menu prices. Watching the blue hour unfold if you time your visit nicely, is something I would recommend experiencing.
Momofuku Milk Bar
190 University Ave
Swapping out a single word in the title of the previous post, we find ourselves upstairs in the very same establishment and into a glass-walled cool room, set up as a mini dessert shop-within-a-shop. It is a fully self-service, including the need to return down the flight of stairs to pay for purchases; which can be a pain when the hostess is trying to process a bill for a customer from the Noodle Bar, or trying to escort new customers to their seats. With a minimal footprint, if you’re in there browsing the goods with even a few other people, you can feel a bit squeezed in. I imagine it is a nice place to be in during the humid Toronto summer, but the late-winter/early-spring season makes you think you’re actually back outdoors.
Momofuku Noodle Bar
190 University Ave
In a recent discussion with the Foodosopher, we touched on the topic of this website, our former haunt where we used to regularly pen our thoughts on our latest eating adventures and released them to the oblivion of the internet. Was anyone still reading it? A good question. The WordPress stats seem to indicate there is still a stream of traffic coming mainly from search engines, much to my surprise. So let’s see what happens with this post, a testing of the waters so to speak…
888 Nelson Street
With shrinking domestic markets and consumption, combined with growing awareness and demands overseas, we’re seeing more new entrants in various industries reach our borders. Rumors of Japan’s massive clothing retailer Uniqlo apparently coming soon to Vancouver is one. American’s Target and Nordstrom are also prime examples. And the focus of this piece, the 600+ strong (in Japan) yakiniku chain Gyu-Kaku has steadily made its way with outposts in Asia and the US. Canada was chosen as their beachhead into Canada, specifically downtown Vancouver.
Having been to several of their locations in Japan over the years on lazy meal nights when I was craving meat, news of Gyu-Kaku’s arrival in Vancouver personally didn’t excite me a great deal. Its like a Vancouverite getting excited about a Cactus Club visit I suppose. When its around you and very ubiquitous, the allure is simply not as high. So my eventual visit was even a random, impromptu one just last week. I came away from the dinner pleased overall and with no major complaints and with a clear understanding it can’t be 100% replicated overseas. From the very full room on a rainy, mid-week evening, its clear they have established a solid clientele already. Kudos!
The recent influx of Mainland Chinese has brought over more than just an increase in our real estate prices – they have also imported a taste for spicy Chinese food that until fairly recently, was relatively foreign to Vancouver. As recent as three or four years ago, I recall thinking how precious few places served authentic spicy Chinese food. And those that did specialize in these cuisines are often cloaked Cantonese kitchens that catered to the milder Cantonese palate – serving food that would not have satisfied the Mainlanders’ spice cravings. Over the recent years, with the increasing immigration of these “Northerners”, the number of spicy Chinese restaurants has been steadily increasing to the point where I think we now have enough of a selection to have a solid week-to-week rotation of places to eat.
I still think we don’t have an exemplary Sichuan restaurant (especially after losing a very good one in Chuan Xiang Ge in Richmond), but I think we have Yunan covered (S&W Pepperhouse in Crystal Mall and their less able branch in Richmond), and we now have two very good Hunan joints to choose from: Alvin Garden (Burnaby) and Lucky Noodle (Collingwood).
Sal y Limon
701 Kingsway Ave
I’m a big fan of Kingsway as a foodist’s destination. The scruffiness of this diagonal slash of a street seems to impose a level of gastronomic authenticity that you will not see in other parts of this city. Embedded into the various strip malls along this drag are some true gems – mostly of the ethnic hole-in-the-wall variety. This road is of course well known to fans of Vietnamese food, but this post is about a Mexican Tacos and Tortas newcomer to the section many people call “The Triangle” at corner of Fraser St.
When someone texted me a picture of the menu of this newly opened hole in the wall a couple of weeks ago, I was instantly intrigued and have been angling to check it out. The subsequent social media buzz about this restaurant further stoked my interest.
I finally made the effort last week and ordered a selection of tacos (al pastor, cordero, pernil) and a carne asada torta (grilled beef sandwich). The tacos are small (as they should be) and served on doubled-up tortillas…but they were not inexpensive at $2.25 each – about the same range as La Taqueria’s offerings. A bit high for Kingsway joint, I thought.
When Goa Girl posted that she missed the banh cuon from the late lamented Northern Vietnamese restaurant Truong Thranh, I thought it was time to revisit Thanh Xuan, a Kingsway hole-in-the-wall that I knew specializes in this Vietnamese delicacy. I blogged about this place around the time I first encountered it, and I haven’t really been back for quite some time, so I finally found an excuse to return.
Banh cuon, a simple steamed rice flour crepe, is a common breakfast dish originating from Northern Vietnam. Like most of Vietnam’s indigenous food, however, banh cuon’s true origins are in Southern China – specifically from the familiar cheong fun, the rice roll you will find in all dim sum menus. The methods of preparation are quite similar – rice starch batter (often augmented with wheat, tapioca or other starches) is steamed to form a thin sheet over boiling water. While cheong fun is steamed in shallow metal trays, bank cuon is steamed in a specially constructed pot which has a fine cloth tautly stretched over the opening.