303 Fusion Kitchen

I had a chance to go out with my family for lunch. Five of us went to 303 Fusion Kitchen. I’ve always been interested in trying the few Taiwanese restaurants in town. This one caught my attention as a friend seems to visit frequently. Chinese food isn’t just one thing; there are many different areas in China with a subculture. Taiwan is one of them. My parents had visited Taiwan long ago, and still hold fast to memories of being there.

First up was the yam fries. For the sauce, a plum sauce from Taiwan was used. Crsip and sweet, the sauce went with the fries quite well. Next came the calamari, equally crisp and with a nice change up: tentacles instead of rings.

I wondered what the crystal dumplings were. They were pork and ginger potstickers pan fried in a flour paste to make the bottoms look extra crisp.

The oyster pancake was soft and fluffy with a rich gravy over top. Mom recalled that the oyster pancakes in Taiwan weren’t sauced, so this must be the fusion aspect.

The fried tofu with salted pork was really nice. I love how tofu can be accented with the taste of anything. The pork belly rice was full of flavour too.

All of the above were their specials. Next time I come back, I’ll have to try the beef noodle soup.

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Sweet Yam Fries with Plum Spice

 

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Calamari

 

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Crystal Dumplings

 

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Oyster Pancake

 

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Pork Belly Rice

 

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Mongolian Style Beef

Tofu with Salted Pork

Tofu with Salted Pork

 

303 Fusion Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Chinese New Year’s Eve Dinner

Chinese New Year was last month. It’s been a long time since I sat down to dinner cooked by my Mom. We always have had a special meal such as this on new year’s eve. The dishes often have a connection with Chinese traditions.

We started with a cream style corn egg drop soup. Not traditional, but it was easy.  Then we had stir fry BBQ pork with assorted vegetables. In Cantonese, it’s called yew gor yuk ding.  Roughly translated as cashews with diced meat cubes and vegetables.

The next dish is similar to shiitake mushroom with dried oyster and seaweed dish. This version has king mushrooms, shiitake mushrooms and bok choy. Traditionally it contains dried oysters and seaweed. In Cantonese, it’s called ho see fat choy. Ho see sounds like prosperous and fat choy sounds like hair and means healthy.

The last dish is a chicken, ham, and broccoli dish. It is called kum wah yuk shi kai.  Kum sounds like gold in CantoneseKum wah (jinhua) is also a famous ham in China. Yuk shi means jade. Kai is chicken. It’s a homestyle Cantonese dish.

Oh and white rice, which we had, but not in the photos. In Cantonese, everything is about how it sounds and what it resembles.

Thanks Mom, for the food and the memories!

Cream style corn soup

Cream style corn soup

Chicken and cashews with assorted vegetables

Chicken and cashews with assorted vegetables

Mushroom and bok choy

Mushroom and bok choy

Chicken and ham with broccoli

Chicken and ham with broccoli

Chinese New Year's Eve Dinner

Chinese New Year’s Eve Dinner

Saffron Mantra

I’ve been ordering a lot of delivery of late; the latest foray was to Saffron Mantra last month. The concept sounded intriguing; a fusion of Indian and French cuisine. We started with the tandoori chicken tikka. It had layers of complex flavours which blended together well. The taste was sweet, smokey and spicy. For my entree, I had the Himalayan lamb burger which was spicy, yet creamy with the citrus mint aioli. The dressing for the house salad tasted of Indian spices and citrus. Hubby had the chicken fritter burger. I thought about ordering the wicked ghost pepper burger for him, but thought better of it. Someday, I will visit to dine in.

Himalayan Lamb Burger with starter house salad and Sizzling Tandoori Chicken Tikka

Himalayan Lamb Burger with starter house salad and Sizzling Tandoori Chicken Tikka

Saffron Mantra on Urbanspoon

The Himalayan

We went to The Himalayan a couple of months ago, on the recommendation of a friend.  It’s hidden away in a strip mall by the Westbrook LRT station. Easy to miss. It looks like a family run operation, and a busy one at that. Seating is limited, so best to go in the off peak hours. Hubby and I went early on a Saturday for their lunch buffet.

They have a good selection of vegetarian dishes, along with some meat. Everything was extremely tasty. Some of the things I tried included: pappadam, saffron rice, dal, butter chicken, Everest lamb and chili tofu. They also had a salad bar and a few desserts. The mango pudding, fruit salad and halwa were good. They also serve naan on the side.

The service was prompt and friendly. Well worth a return visit.

 

Lunch buffet

Lunch buffet

The Himalayan on Urbanspoon

Chicken Roast-off: Oven vs BBQ

I think I started this post in June. Now I am finally finishing it.  I’ve always roasted chicken in the oven. Time to try it on the BBQ. Bird to bird cook off. For ease of cooking, and less mess, BBQ wins hands down. When it is too hot in the summer to use the oven. Another win for BBQ.  Taste wise? Quite similar, actually. Both go quite well with sides of grilled red kale and mashed potato with cheese, green onion and bacon. I do like the brown skin on the BBQ chicken.

BBQ vs Oven Roast

BBQ vs Oven Roast

For the oven roasted bird, I used a version of Thomas Keller’s roast chicken recipe. For the BBQ, I used the following recipe, which is a meld of several approaches I found on the web.

Roasting Chicken on the BBQ

3-4 lb     roaster chicken

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Potatoes, carrots and oil if desired

This recipe uses a cast iron pan.

Take the chicken out 30 min before BBQing to allow to come to room temperature. Rinse if needed. Season with kosher salt and fresh ground pepper. Tie the legs together. Get a large cast iron pan. Arrange the chicken, breast up and tuck wings under. If there is room you can add a couple of potatoes brushed with oil. If you don’t have an instant read thermometer, you can insert an oven proof one at this time in the thickest part of the thigh.

Preheat the grill on indirect heat on high. If it is 3 burner grill, leave the middle off. When it reaches temperature, put the skillet over the middle burner. Close the lid, turn down the heat so the temperature is about 350-375F. Roast for 1 hour, 30 minutes. Use an instant meat thermometer if you have one in the thickest part of the thigh. Temp should be 170F.

Remove from heat when done, tent with foil and rest 15 minutes before serving.

Grilled kale, grilled raddichio and mashed potatoes

Grilled kale, grilled raddichio and mashed potatoes

Nourish Bistro

Continuing my search for unique food in Banff, I stumbled upon Nourish, which serves vegetarian food. I ordered the nourishment bowl, which was packed with textures and flavours. It was surprisingly substantial.

I tried their vegan cheesecake for dessert. It was pretty good, made with coconut milk. A warning though, the dessert is a bit on the expensive side.  If you like good quality vegetarian food, Nourish is for you.

Nourishment Bowl A quinoa, rice blend, hemp, flax and chia infused rice blend, sauteed with onion, red pepper, garden greens, seeds and nuts

Nourishment Bowl
A quinoa, rice blend, hemp, flax and chia infused rice blend, sauteed with onion, red pepper, garden greens, seeds and nuts

Vegan cheesecake with nuts and cinnamon

Vegan cheesecake with nuts and cinnamon

Nourish Bistro Banff on Urbanspoon

Tooloulou’s

Hubby had a conference in Banff last month. We arrived on a Thursday night, hungry and looking for dinner. Looking for something completely different, we decided to try Tooloulou’s, a Cajun and Creole restaurant. It was nice to go to a place in Banff and avoid the crazy weekend crowds.

We shared the Boudin balls to start, which was a tasty mixture of meat, veg and rice deep fried.  I ordered the seafood and sausage gumbo. It was flavorful with a medium spicy heat. The cornbread was pretty good too. It was a good sized portion. Hubby had the Creole jambalaya which he thoroughly enjoyed. It was nice that the chilies were served on the side, so you could control the additional heat.

We shared an ice cream sundae for dessert which hit the spot as it served to cool down our spiced taste buds.

Their menu is quite extensive, including many breakfast options. I will have to come back and try their breakfast someday.

Boudin Balls Blend of beef, pork, onion, rice, peppers and seasonings served with Creole mustard

Boudin Balls
Blend of beef, pork, onion, rice, peppers and seasonings served with Creole mustard

Seafood and Sausage Gumbo

Seafood and Sausage Gumbo

Creole Jambalaya

Creole Jambalaya

Tooloulou's Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Scaddabush

Continuing my search for good grub in Toronto, we decided to try Scaddabush, on my sister’s recommendation. Apparently, it is well known for its stuffed meatballs.  Somebody was hungry post half marathon so we were looking for something substantial. Hubby helped himself to the spaghetti bolognese. I went straight for the stuffed meatball. The meatball was the size of a baseball and stuffed with pepperoni and mozzarella. Their pasta is also fresh made in house. It was pretty good; the portions are deceiving filling. The tartufo made for a lighter finish to the meal.

Spaghetti and stuffed meatball

Spaghetti and stuffed meatball

Tartufo with strawberries and cream

Tartufo with strawberries and cream

Scaddabush Italian Kitchen & Bar on Urbanspoon

Fresh on Spadina

Living in Calgary (Cowtown), I haven’t really learned to appreciate really good vegetarian food in restaurants, other than in Indian restaurants. Until I tried Fresh, on a recommendation from a friend. I had the Energy bowl, which had a coconut curry sauce with vegetables on top of soba noodles. It also came with marinated tofu, which had a rich flavour, with undertones of vinegar. It was quite large and substantial. The flavours were rich and satisfying. I would highly recommend it, even for non vegetarians.

Energy bowl marinated tofu cubes, rich coconut curry sauce, chick pea & vegetable stew, cucumber, tomato, red onion, sunflower sprouts & tahini sauce

Energy bowl
marinated tofu cubes, rich coconut curry sauce, chick pea &
vegetable stew, cucumber, tomato, red onion, sunflower
sprouts & tahini sauce

Fresh By Juice For Life on Urbanspoon

Kenzo Ramen Queen West

I was craving some ramen when I went to Toronto last week. Since I’d already been to Kinton, my sister suggested Kenzo on Queen West. This is a relatively new location; she had been to the original location and enjoyed their house made noodles.

They had a nice variety of ramen on the menu. I ordered the ji su men, which had a thick broth due to the addition of egg. My sister commented that the noodles did not taste the same as their original location.  I thought they tasted suspiciously like Chinese egg noodles. We asked our server, and she said they did make their own.

Their gyoza, however was really good. There was a good quantity of meat inside and they fried it in flour paste water.

The service was quick and friendly. With so much to choose from in Toronto, it’s not likely that I will visit the same ramen place again.

Gyoza

Gyoza

Karashi Ramen Spicy ramen with japanese Karashi hot sauce topped off with roasted pork slices. Seasonal topping: marinated bamboo shoot.

Karashi Ramen
Spicy ramen with japanese Karashi hot sauce topped off with roasted pork slices. Seasonal topping: marinated bamboo shoot.

Ji Su Men A soy sauce base soup combined with chicken, eggs and sesame oil. Mixed with stir fried vegetables. Vegetarian option avilable.

Ji Su Men
A soy sauce base soup combined with chicken, eggs and sesame oil. Mixed with stir fried vegetables. Vegetarian option available.

Kenzo Ramen Queen West on Urbanspoon