1 Jun 2005
Issue 7 By Katherine Kiang June 1, 2005
Hello again! We’ve made it to the half-way point of 2005. So, how is everyone doing? Have you been planning your summer vacation, got your garden going, opened up your cottage, taken some “pre-summer” trips already? Good going! If not, well, I’m sure you’ll get to it.
This “episode” (yes, I saw Episode III of Star Wars recently), is a bit of a continuation of that May Pre-Summer “Special Edition” and finally, SUMMER IS GOING TO BE HERE! YEAH!!!
So, here we go….
MORE BITS AND BITES….crunch, crunch
This is kind of a continuation of the Special Edition. More food!!!
I figured I would add more of my favourite restaurants, and, I have also included recommendations from friends which I have not tried yet. I think “word of mouth” is a great way to try new things. Like, you wouldn’t tell your friends about a great sale??? Yeah, right. So, I’m sure, friends, you would not be leading me astray – otherwise, the word is being passed, and I could get into BIG trouble! (I do appreciate those of you who have included restaurant address, telephone number and/or websites. You know I love that! Thanks!)
The Ever Popular Thai Cuisine
I did not include Thai cuisine in my recent Pre-Summer Special Edition, so, here are some places to try. One of my favourites is Young Thailand (several locations in Toronto; http://www.youngthailand.com/). I have basically realized that not all Thai food are “created equal”. For example, I’m not too fond of pad thai being sweet – hey, I want it spicy, man! And, you know, my favourite pad thai is actually at a pub (The Rose & Crown, 2335 Yonge St., N. of Eglinton; tel: 416-488-5557; http://www.roseandcrown.com/) – YES, a pub – believe it or not. And, Thursdays are “Thai Nights” – which means a discount on pad thai and other Thai/Asian food on their menu. Woohoo!!! I have friends who have recommended three Thai restaurants which I have not tried yet. So, maybe we can give it a try.
Spice Thai Cafe
246 Queens Quay W.; tel:416-598-0600; http://www.spicethaicafe.com
My friend, K, recommends this nice place down at Harbourfront. She mentioned it’s nice for couples, or if you’d like to “get away” – by the lake is always nice in the summer. So, I’m sure I’ll be at Harbourfront this summer, and thanks to K, I will give Spice Thai a try. You too? Come on down!
Jasmine Rice Restaurant (Thai & Vietnamese Cuisine)
1830 The Queensway, Etobicoke (North ie across from Sherway Gardens, just west of HWY 427); tel: 647-435-5206
My friend, T, had a delicious meal with friends. By the way, I “googled” the name of the restaurant and found a Jasmine Rice Restaurant in Auckland, New Zealand. Neat, eh? Wonder if they are related in some way?
170 Eglinton Avenue E.; tel: 416-322-5463
I have mentioned in a previous KaTsZoNe that my friend, Irene, suggested this Thai/Vietnamese restaurant. In about 95% of the time, I have agreed with Irene’s tastes, so, if she recommends a restaurant because she likes it, I will most definitely try it. Well, what can I say – great minds…or great taste buds….”think” alike?
Toronto Thai Restaurants:
As I mentioned in my e-mail accompanying the “Pre-Summer Special Edition” of KaTsZoNe, I did not include Italian or Chinese food – lack of space or I ran out of steam. Irene, who knows me quite well (she’s only known me for about 27 years!) described her SHOCK when she did not see Italian food on my list. I guess Italian and Chinese food, to me, are my staple foods – I guess, I’ve taken them for granted because it’s like you’re speaking your mother tongue. But, don’t worry, KaTsZoNe friends, you shall not be disappointed!
Passione Italiana Ristorante
1423 Yonge St. (just steps south of St. Clair); tel: 416-966-3999
Irene and her friend stumbled upon this great gem and became “regulars”. The food is delicious and service is friendly. I have brought my friends and recommended this restaurant too. But, make sure you bring an appetite because you will be stuffed to the gills. It’s Italian, remember. I usually top off dinner with very yummy tiramisu – sharing is also a good idea. (Vicky/Nick – Remember the tiramisu at Vagabondo? Yeah, to die for!!!) So, you now also know my “weakness” …sure, need a favour? Well, let’s talk about it over a tiramisu at Passione Italiana….hmmm?
2035 Yonge St. (about 4 bl. south of Eglinton), tel: 416-440-1986;
This is another recommendation from Irene, but, surprisingly, I still have not made it to Grano. I seem to stick to certain favourites. I went to their website and not only does their menu look interesting, I can understand why they also offer Italian lessons too! Do check out the menus – you’ll see what I mean. So, another place I need to try!
Italian Restaurants in the GTA:
With 107 Italian restaurants just on Toronto Life’s list, why wouldn’t I think of Italian as a staple? The only thing that tops the number of Italian restaurants in the Toronto Life’s list are the “Bars and Pubs” category. Is beer a staple too? (I’ll check with my friend, Terry.)
Does anyone know how many Chinese restaurants there are in the GTA? No…really. Who knows how many there are? I’m sure I’m not the only one who has noticed the number of Chinese (and other Asian cuisines like Thai, Japanese/Korean) multiply like crazy over the years!
In my third year Anthropology course, “Nutritional Anthropology” at York U., I wrote a research paper on “The Canadianization of Chinese Food”. I visited various Chinese restaurants and picked up some menus to analyze. Few restaurants would actually write it, but, occasionally, there was a section called “Canadian Chinese” food listed. I wrote the paper back in 1987/1988. I won’t go into detail, but, it was interesting to research the creation of certain foods (i.e. egg rolls, chop suey) in N. America – so, those in the Far East would not know what an egg roll or chop suey was.
In 2005, in the GTA, non-Chinese folks will not likely put up with “Canadian Chinese” food any more. Most of my non-Asian friends use chopsticks better than me, and, I bet many non-Asian households have condiments such as soya sauce, oyster sauce, chili sauce(s) in their kitchen. Can anyone prove me wrong? Well, unless you don’t cook or eat at home.
I’m not even sure where to begin, in listing favourite Chinese restaurants in the GTA. So, let me try and describe types of Chinese food and in particular, what I am used to. My father was from Shanghai and my mother was born in Malaysia, but, her parents were from the Hubei province in China. So, what does a Shanghai/Hubei/Malaysian gal eat besides Japanese, Korean, Middle Eastern (Lebanese), British, French, Spanish, Italian, Polish, Hungarian, Thai/Vietnamese, Greek, Peruvian, Indian, Irish, Portuguese, Filipino, Malaysian/Indonesian, Caribbean and Jewish food? (Yes, I’ve tried all of these). Well, Chinese food, of course. But, what kind? You will find Chinese restaurants in the GTA, such as the following:
Cantonese – If a Chinese restaurant does not say it on its sign,
chances are, it’s Cantonese style – probably the most popular in Canada. If you like congee (porridge), you must go to a Cantonese restaurant because they make the best congee, hands down – except for my mother, aka the Congee Queen!
Shanghainese – My sister, Irene, introduced us to a Shanghainese restaurant. I’m not familiar with special dishes. But, my fav. has always been Shanghai noodles – thick noodles with a sweet minced meat and sauce with sliced cucumbers on top. And, if it says Shanghai noodle on the menu but does not look or taste like what I have described (i.e. thin egg noodles, hot meat sauce), then it is not authentic! Probably a “Cantonese” version – is what my parents used to say.
Szechuan/Hunan – When I hear the words Szechuan or Hunan style, I am thinking, “Spice Girl”! Keep the fire hose handy…I mean, order a tall glass of water! I wonder if there’s a high incidence of ulcers in Hunan/Szechuan provinces….hmmm.
There are too many Chinese restaurants to try and I have tried many. In recent years, friends have introduced me to some great Chinese food downtown, and so, I figured I’d stick to a Garden theme just because of summer. You may want to give these a try.
Lee Garden Restaurant
331 Spadina Avenue (N. of Dundas St. W.), tel: 416-593-9524
My mom tells me we went there when I was a kid. I don’t recall. But, a few years ago, my friend, J., re-introduced me to Lee Garden. Well, don’t be surprised to see a long line-up. I recall some tourists lining up at the restaurant, and they just stuck around because they were told, it’s worth it! So, if you’re like me, and you’ve lived in T.O. for so long and you have forgotten about Lee Garden or have never been there, be like the tourists and try it! Just remember, you may have quite a wait but, it’s worth it!
Spadina Garden Restaurant
114 Dundas St. W., tel: 416-977-3413
I noticed that Fodor’s travel guide mentions this restaurant, and it was in the N.Y. Times travel section. If you like hot and sour soup and other spicy foods, then make your way to Spadina Garden. One lunch portion is even good for 2!
Eating Garden Chinese Seafood Restaurant
41 Baldwin St., Upper Level, tel: 416-595-5525; http://www.eatinggarden.com
Every time I go there, the salmon with black bean sauce special calls me. Eeeks…I just cannot resist!!! Lunch portions are plenty and hey, it’s even good for you! It’s a good thing it’s a nice walk back to work at the Eaton Centre….whew!
Are you hungry now? Lots of great restaurants to try. So, let me know what you think, if you try any of the restaurants I’ve mentioned – especially those restaurants which were recommended by my friends, and I have not tried them yet.
If you are interested in trying different ethnic cuisines, my friend, D., mentioned that her and her friends started a food club in 2000. They try a different restaurant every month. The group consists of many 20 and 30-something year old professionals but, it does not matter how old you are, as long as you love to try different types of cuisine – and at a very reasonable price! As far as I know, it started with a group of friends and then, other family and friends joined in. Recently, there was an article in “The Toronto Star” about this group. So, I am now on their mailing list. Next event is Pakistani food (at only $12 per person, excluding beverages). If I have not already e-mailed you, and you are interested in receiving updates either from me or directly from the group, please let me know. I will give send you the details via e-mail.
Grocery Stores of the Ethnic Kind
Holland Store (2542 Weston Rd., just south of Hwy 401, tel: 416-247-8659; http://hollandstore.safeshopper.com/)
Marleen, my Dutch friend, introduced me to imported goods from the Netherlands, including croquettes (chicken & beef) and Stroopwafel. And, I made a few other delicious discoveries on my own. Okay, pack ‘em up in my car, I say. I’ll even take orders….lol.
Where to find a British Bakery in T.O.?
My friend, Phyllis, asked me if I knew of a bakery, in or near downtown T.O. that sells British food. She found something at the North St. Lawrence Market which is open only on Saturdays. Well, I’m wondering the same now. Marks & Spencer used to be the best place, until they departed Canada…sob, sob. Perhaps, you could really cheer us up if you can help us locate that bakery! Yeah!!!
More on summer events (including cultural, musical festivals and concerts)!
“NOW” Magazine Events Calendar – Summer Festivals, Concerts
(* Go to each link, and search July and August events by replacing “june” with either “july” or “august”)
Harbourfront Centre – Summer Festivals
Summerlicious – July 8 – 24, 2005
Hey! Do I have your attention now? And, you thought I would just be talking more about food and stuff to do this summer, huh? Well, shall I tell you all about my “summer romances”? Let’s see….
1. I fell in love with a Starbucks frappucino one fateful summer, although, it may not actually have been summer – doesn’t matter now. My friend, Irene, made the introductions. I thought it was going to be just a temporary fling, but, no. Those who know me well will confirm that I have not quite shaken my “Starbucks fling” – yes, moved on to more than just frapps! (Why am I still talking about food, you ask? …..No comment.)
2. I had a short-term fling with Breyers’ orange sherbet ice cream with Grand Marnier lovingly poured on top. (My friend, Terry, made the introductions in this case). Guess I am now a touch heartbroken because the Grand Marnier does not reside at my home -- no, this is not a hint, so, please do not be so kind to drop off mysterious bottles of G.M. at my door, thanks. Yes, I shall have to move on. I have tried to cut out alcohol for health reasons except on very rare occasions. (Okay…it’s still about food….hmmm…..)
3. BUBBLE TEA. I wasn’t sure what all the fuss was about until I tried it one summer. My own daring move – no one introduced us. Tori and Mina will remember that summer – right girls? My favourite bubble tea is at the one and only “Bubble Tease” (located in several shopping malls). Gosh…all I need is a bubble tea (with tapioca) with a tall, dark, handsome bubble …um….never mind. (Well, I was almost getting away from food.)
That’s it for now on my “summer romances”! If you really want the scoop, and I don’t mean ice cream, you’ll have to wait for my diary to be published. The only one who has read my collection of tales so far is M. As for the rest of you, my friends, my “summer romances” are 1, 2 and 3 above. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!
Most of us will be travelling about this summer. So, here are some websites which I hope will be helpful, wherever you may go. Thanks Vera & Alvin, my two “Road Warriors” aka my travel consultants whom I have learned a lot from and therefore, can supply you with these websites. Tracy, my road buddy – thanks, I’ve also learned lots from you – i.e. how to read a map/drink coffee or eat /change the tape in tape deck at the same time, while driving the car (that’s why it’s nice to have a co-pilot, boys and girls).
MAPS – ROAD TRAVEL
Mapquest – Driving directions, local maps (around the world):
Traveller’s Info. (Ont. Min. of Transportation) – Road closures, road construction report, etc.:
HOTELS/B & B’s IN CANADA
Hotels and Hotel Reservations – searchable databases:
Bed & Breakfast Online – Canada:
Ont. Public Transit Systems (Ont. Min. of Transportation):
Weather Conditions across Canada:
World Weather Information Service:
Plan Your Vacation Online – Flight, Packages, Car Rentals, Accommodations, etc.:
http://www.budgettravel.com/canada.htm (list of websites)
If some of you have tips on planning trips – i.e. travel books/magazines, travel agencies, people (contacts) and other websites which I have not mentioned above, please let me know.
I have not used all of the websites mentioned above. If you have had an unpleasant experience with any of the above sites, please share, so I can let others know.
Have a wonderful and safe summer!!!