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Izakaya Ju @ J-Town?

I've now become a frequent customer of Izakaya Ju and had to write about it. My favourites:
The Agedashi Mochi- a delicious must try- large gooey pieces of mochi swims in the perfect dashi broth with a slightly crispy skin. It equals my love for Guu's cheese bi bim bap.
The Spare Ribs - fall off the bone with a distinct Asian five spice flavour
Gindara Daikon - large piece of soft soy/dashi soaked radish with tender pieces of black cod
Ochazuke Takowasa - earthy light broth with whole grains of rice and small pieces of squid with freshly ground wasabi
Ikura & Salmon Gohan- small bowl of perfectly steamed rice with roe and fresh salmon sashimi
Yakitori - My favourites were the leg and chicken wings... some could say it's pricey but he uses real binchotan plus he stands there and fans each piece that hits the grill... for $2-$3 / skewer, it's not a lot considering each bite is crispy with a light distinct charcoal flavour.
Though it doesn't have the lively atmosphere of Guu, and he's still waiting for his liquor license (yes, he has applied but is waiting!), Ju cooks with heart and authenticity. Definitely worth a visit!

Tiny Tom Donuts

For those of you (like me) who crave Tiny Tom donuts year round, you'll be happy to know that they opened their first retail location today at 7323 Woodbine Ave (in Markham). I'm currently enjoying my first bag of the little donuts drowning in sugar & cinnamon...mmm.
here's a coupon btw:

AME - Anyone been?

Surprisingly, I didnt see any real reviews on Chow, but did see a whole bunch of bad reviews on Martiniboys but we decided to give it a shot anyway. I hate writing bad things about a restaurant but I'm going to be completely honest- it was definitely disappointing.
Our waiter was courteous but we had a few servers bring our plates to our tables quite unsure of what they were serving. One waiter had a hard time remembering the word for "miso". Yikes!
The maki rolls were creative in flavour, but the rice was on the hard side and not at all like sushi rice. Also the flavour wasnt evenly distributed (ie: some pieces from the same roll were spicy, some werent). The portions in general were also tiny for the price.
We tried the sea bream on cedar from the robata grill, which was flavourless and mediocre. The worst dish was the "Pork Ribs, Matsu Apple, Soy Caramel". It was literally like a dry pork sausage cut up into four 2 inches pieces at $16. We weren't one bit full or satisfied and really didnt want to order anything else.
The one redeeming factor is the ambiance and the drinks were gorgeous and unique. I would go for a drink at the bar but I wouldnt order any food with that.

Truffles is Closing!

I just heard from the manager (the most gracious man named Melville) at Truffles that it's closing on September 5th!! I'm definitely going to miss the wonderful service (especially the coffee service) :(

John Lee's Omi - The paper is off the windows

John Lee says he's going to try to open this weekend. I think his fingers are crossed as much as all of yours!

Nota Bene - Amazing experience yet again - review + pics

I've been to Nota Bene twice in the last two weeks and both experiences were great. Excellent food, service and value for money. The charcuterie plate was awesome and unique and just the right portion. Also, we loved the $8 (well worth it) pecorino cheese fries. Delicious!

La Taquiza: Mexican food in the GTA -- no, really!

I was just going to post about this restaurant too. I went the week it opened and we loved it! The owner was really friendly and informative- he told us that even the chairs and tables were shipped in from Mexico from a craftsman to keep that authentic feel.

Loved the salsa bar- I hadn't had salsa this authentic outside of Mexico of course! You can even buy some to take home (which we did, and they purposely made us fresh guacamole and fried beans to take home too, instead of giving us leftovers). We also had some delicious homemade tres leches cake for dessert. The prices were decent too. Highly recommend it if you're in that plaza for shopping!

Bento Boxes & Accessories

Well the stuff I bought was really good... what I like about the site is that they disclose whether the item is made in China or Japan. I only buy lacquer bento Made in Japan =).. not that crappy stuff from T&T/china town that literally peels away. Anyway, Ive been really happy with the stuff so far!

Bento Boxes & Accessories

There's an online store I go to for that stuff- I think they ship from markham too so it's usually really fast. I believe they supply most Japanese restaurants in Toronto.

Little Tokyo (Japanese Grocery) on Augusta Closing

Not sure if you heard, but Little Tokyo on Augusta is closing May 24th and everything's 20% off. They have loads of authentic Japanese grocery and gift items and it's the cheapest in the city right now.

Valentines Day

Whatever you do- don't go to Senses!! We had a terrible experience last year. We paid something like $110pp and the servers awful, and the portions were teeny. For that price, the waiters should be explaining the plate, not just plopping it down without a word. Also, our waiter poured tap water into our glasses filled with $10 sparkling water. Needless to say, the water wasn't carbonated anymore!
Also, they crammed so many tables into the restaurant that you could hear everything everyone 2 tables down was saying.

Reliable Fish 'n Chips - Queen St. East

The halibut & chips there are incredible there. Never soggy or greasy, just totally crisp and delicious, especially with the malt vinegar! I mean you could get cheaper fish & chips nearby but the portions are smaller and the quality is not as good.
I also love the poutine with his own fries (not pre-made from frozen). Mmm now i'm totally craving!!

More Authentic Japanese Food!

Oops sorry I forgot to explain that I wanted to show the size of the pieces of sushi- there's definitely no skimping on the fish. But of course nothing can describe the melt in your mouth sushi. The first piece is Toro, which is harder to get these days especially at such a good price. We had more "common" sushi: tamago, maguro (tuna), hamachi, sweet shrimp, uni, etc. We also had special kind of clam sushi that i've never seen before. It wasn't mirogai but a smaller type of clam (I dont have a picture because that was from the 2nd time we went).

More Authentic Japanese Food!

I thought I was the only (crazy?!) one who felt the need to pull out my camera... see below a pic of the sushi course we had for my sister's birthday.

More Authentic Japanese Food!

I'm sure Endo-san can accomodate anything you ask for. There was someone in our party who had diet restrictions and he immediately changed all of his dishes from that point on!

More Authentic Japanese Food!

Since Katsura (along with the whole of prince hotel) got bought out by new management, the sushi chefs upstairs have started their own restaurants.
I just ate at Aoyama (Vic Park/Finch), a new restaurant opened by former head sushi chef Endo-San and his wife. Don't go there for the atmosphere but try the truly amazing expertly made sushi. He uses the best quality fish but doesnt charge Katsura prices. We ordered Omakase in advance and it was something like only $60 per person!! I'm not sure if that pricing is fixed- I suppose it depends on what he makes, but for sure we felt undercharged!! We had octopus & kelp salad with homemade kyoto miso, an omlette-like dish laced with Uni soaking in broth, crab miso soup, sashimi, sushi and sweet melon just to name a few dishes.

The other young chef that used to work at Katsura is now working at Shinobu @ yonge/lawrence. I haven't tried it yet but his sushi at Katsura was also excellent.

Also heard that Sake (pacific mall) is actually starting up their own Omakase room with a Japanese sushi chef too. This is a trend i'm looking forward to!