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Tapagria Restaurant Review – Out with Markham Food

December 1, 2015 by

We recently partnered with Tapagria to host a fun night of food tasting for our bloggers friends. The night came with a lot of appetizers, different entrées (including a couple of brunch items), and lots of hand-crafted sangrias. Tapagria is the only restaurant in Markham right now that serves Spanish tapas. Not only is the food delicious, but you have to check out their interior too. The restaurant is designed with a lot of attention to detail and just about every corner is “Insta-worthy”. 😉

Tapagria-Restaurant-Markham

Tapagria-Sangria-Flavours
We tried so many flavours of their hand-crafted sangrias we can’t remember all of the flavours… Some of the ones we remember are lychee-lime, peach, raspberry, guava, fig, and strawberry. All were amazing, but if we had to choose one: the strawberry!

Tapagria-Restaurant-Sangria

Tapagria-White-Anchovie-Pintxo

One of the many apps we tried was the White Anchovie Pinxto above. Our two favourites (not pictured) pinxtos were the Angus Tartare and the Foie Gras. These dishes definitely opened up our appetites and we were ready for more food.

Tapagria-Mussels

If you’re feeling for more seafood, we’d recommend these steamed mussels. They have a bit of a kick to them thanks to the chilli peppers, but nothing we can’t handle. 😛 This small dish was the perfect way to start off our round of main dishes.

Tapagria-Pecado-Frito-fried-fish

The Pecado Frito (literally “fried fish”) above was perfectly fried, seasoned, and prepared. Although the potatoes and veggies paired nicely with the fish, but we thought there were a little too salty.

And now onto the most popular mains of the night! The following three were hits among the bloggers – with many of us rushing to claim every last bite.

Tapagria-Paella

Above is one of the two paellas that Tapagria serves. The Paella De Tapagria is made of bomba rice, shrimp, chorizo, hen, mussels, jamón, octopus, and peas – a terrific combo packed full of flavour and served at the perfect temperature.

Tapagria-Chuleton-Asado-Steak

It’s safe to say that the Chuleton Asado (“grilled steak”) – the 32oz roasted ribeye – was the most popular dish of the night. Every time we look at this picture, we get hungry. LOOK AT THAT STEAK! The level of doneness, juiciness, and tenderness…everything about it was good. Like with the fish above, we thought the veggies were overly salty. When we go back for this, we’ll definitely ask for less salt.

Tapagria-Mega-Dessert-Platter-Markham

And finally… the secret item that’s not listed on their menu: the Tapagria Mega Dessert Platter. Get this platter of all of their dessert options to share with your group. From back to front, we have the Crema Catalina, Chocolate Cake, Churros with three dipping sauces, and Spanish Toast. Customers are known to order multiple Spanish Toasts in one sitting – they’re that good. And again, this platter was devoured almost as quickly as the steak was.

If you go to Tapagria with a bunch of your friends and/or family, we recommend that you order a variety of dishes to try and share. It’s a great environment for dining, socializing, and drinking with your loved ones. Explore the #TapagriaRestaurant hashtag on Instagram to see more pics!

Address: 230 Commerce Valley Drive East – Unit 2, Markham, Ontario  L3T 7Y3
Phone Number: (905) 771-8868

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Brunch Chinese Dim Sum Lunch Reviews

Dragon Boat Fusion: My Favourites at This Popular Dim Sum Restaurant

November 26, 2015 by

Dragon Boat Fusion Cuisine

With plenty of great spots to choose from and some of the best in the GTA, York Region has really got it good when it comes to dim sum. Here’s a look at some of the features and my favourite dishes from one of these gems.  Arguably one of the most popular dim sum joints in the region and for good reason, Dragon Boat Fusion serves up fairly consistent, good quality dim sum along with crazy daily lineups as any good dim sum joint should.

Early birding is encouraged.

Early bird pricing is in effect on weekdays (not including holidays) when you order before 11am when all small, medium, and large dishes are $2.99.  Otherwise, the regular prices are:  S $2.99, M $3.99, L $4.99,  XL $5.99, and SP $6.99.

As for tea, there are the standard teas available at dim sum to choose from and it goes for $1.30 per person. They serve the nicer quality stuff here than typical dim sum joints. For tea, I usually prefer Iron Goddess.

Some Dim Sum Faves

Dragon Boat Fusion - Har GowDragon Boat Fusion - Siu Mai

(1) Har Gow and (2) Siu Mai

These are the classic duo. If they make har gow and siu mai well, then you know the dim sum is good.

(1) Big and plump, chock full of fresh shrimp. Well made skin as it’s thin and translucent yet firm enough to not break when picked up. Garnished with a whole shrimp in the shell.

(2) Also quite big and plump with a balanced ratio of pork to shrimp and topped with roe. Fresh, flavourful, and moist.

Dragon Boat Fusion - Rice noodle rolls with dough fritter

Rice noodle rolls with dough fritter

The dough fritter is actually crispy; a key feature of quality for this dish. Nice and thin rice noodles. Topped with bonito flakes giving these an added deep savoury flavour which definitely levels this up. Warm, sweet soy sauce served on the side to use as you please. Also served with the standard peanut and hoisin sauce for dipping.

Dragon Boat Fusion - Foie Gras Almond Shrimp Balls

Foie Gras Almond Shrimp Balls

A fine example of their fusion dim sum. Love the textural contrast with the crispy almond slivers and shell to the smooth foie gras filling. Very tasty deep, savoury flavours

Dragon Boat Fusion - Thousand Layer Custard Cake

Thousand Layer Custard Cake

A somewhat rare find at dim sum these days. Piping hot, steamed multi-layer, rich yet mildly sweet egg yolk paste.

Dragon Boat Fusion - Dragon Boat Specialty DIm Sum Platter

Dragon Boat Specialty Dim Sum Platter

Served on an afternoon tea style 2-tiered tray with assorted sweets and fruits on top and savoury gems on the bottom. Quite a nice treat to enjoy alongside regular dim sum dishes. Having had this twice, I’ve found that they change up some of the items.

Dragon Boat Fusion - Platter 1

Top Tier (of the platter)

Assorted sweets including birds nest milk tart, coconut pudding on papaya, red bean paste dumplings, assorted jello, fruits, and cherry tomatoes.

Dragon Boat Fusion - Platter 2

Bottom Tier (of the platter)

White cloud chicken feet, eel/meat pastries, seaweed salad, and beans.

Service

The service here is generally quick and efficient  Though it’s the kind of service you’d expect from typical Chinese restaurants. When it gets crazy busy, you’ll have a harder time waving down wait staff.

Décor and setting

Overall, this joint is well lit with a pleasing modern decor in a gold and white theme.  Modern style tableware with many dim sum presented in branded square steamers. Both tables and chairs are adorned in cloth. And of course, as the focal point, a somewhat blinged out double happiness raised platform area for all those dope wedding banquets or dope dim sum sessions in this case. (It does seem a bit quieter up there.)

Crazy line ups

When I have some time off at non-peak times during a weekday, I love whisking away to dim sum hoping to enjoy small lines and very short wait times.  Not so at this joint. If you want to avoid the crazy lineups, be ready to get there before the doors open at 9am, even on a weekday.  Tables fill up minutes after the doors fling open and then the crazy wait begins.  Also, as is the case with many Chinese restaurants, even if you make a reservation you will most likely end up still having to wait a while when you get there.

Inadequate Parking

In terms of parking, there are only a handful of spots outside the restaurant reserved for it.  Around the corner, are a handful of unreserved spots available.  But when those are all filled up, take a detour to park over at the adjacent parking lot where The Keg is and then cross over the small hill.

Regardless of these cons the quality, variety and unique fusion takes on dim sum as well-made standard dishes makes this joint a worthwhile visit.

Address: 160 E Beaver Creek Road, Suite 4-6, Richmond Hill, ON L4B 3L4
Phone Number: (905) 731-3718

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Breakfast Brunch Dessert Snack Taiwanese

The Travelling Foodie’s 5 Top Dishes in Richmond Hill & Markham

November 10, 2015 by

The York Region is home to many amazing dishes! When the Markham Food team asked me to write an article featuring my favourite dishes in Richmond Hill & Markham, I happily agreed.

Here are my five top dishes in Markham and Richmond Hill to get your appetite going:

Smash Benedict at Smash KitchenSmash Benedict at Smash Kitchen (Unionville, Markham)
2 poached eggs, pulled pork, gravy, 4 cheese blend, English muffin, sm’hash browns

The brunch of champions! The combination of the ingredients was perfect.

Popcorn Chicken at Mama Bear Taiwanese CuisinePopcorn Chicken at Mama Bear Taiwanese Cuisine (Richmond Hill)

Mama Bear is one of my favourite places for popcorn chicken. Crispy, juicy and tender. It wasn’t salty and it has distinct taste of herbs that differentiate it from other popcorn chicken I’ve tried.

Honey Garlic Oysters at Fishman Wharf SeafoodHoney Garlic Oysters at Fishman Wharf Seafood (Markham)

Huge oysters in honey garlic! A friend said to go with the Salted Egg Yolk version for next time.

Green Tea Wizard (Green Tea Snow Ice) at Cha Me. ChaGreen Tea Wizard (Green Tea Snow Ice) at Cha Me. Cha (Unionville, Markham)
With Grass Jelly, Red Bean, Tapioca, Condensed Milk

Green tea lovers will rejoice with this popular shaved ice dessert at Cha Me. Cha.

Deep Fried King Oyster Mushroom – ZenQDeep Fried King Oyster MushroomZenQ (Unionville, Markham)

Best fried mushroom I’ve had. Mushroom is juicy and tasty, and not overly salty nor oily.

I hope this post inspired you to try some of my favourite dishes in Markham and Richmond Hill! Let me know if you have any questions.

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Brunch Chinese Dim Sum Lunch

10 Dim Sum Dishes You Should Try

November 2, 2015 by

One of the best perks of Markham is the plentiful supply of high quality dim sum. On weekends, popular restaurants will have a queue outside, long before they open. For me, dim sum is one of the only reasons to wake up before 10am on a Saturday. There are two types of dim sum restaurants, ones with carts loaded with dishes and wheeled around the restaurant for diners to order tableside, or those with ordering sheets. Most dim sum restaurants today favour the ordering sheet. If you’re new to the morning tradition of “yum cha”, the bevy of steamed dishes and Asian-centric ingredients may be daunting. Add in the fact that many restaurants lean towards exclusively speaking Cantonese or Mandarin and an order sheet with minimal descriptions, it gets even harder to figure out what to order. To help, here are 10 dishes, savoury and sweet, that would be a good start to any dim sum journey. Each dish is listed with their English name followed by Cantonese and Mandarin pinyin.

(1) Shrimp Dumplings – Har Gow, Xia Jiao
A staple, plump shrimp wrapped in a transparent wrapper and steamed to perfection. The wrapper should be thin and the dumplings shouldn’t stick to the paper or other each. I like mine with a dab of hot sauce.

(2) Shumai – Siu Mai, Shao Mai

Another classic steamed dish, generally with ground pork, shrimp and mushrooms wrapped as an open dumpling.

(3) Chicken Feet – Fung Zau, Feng Zhua

Yes they’re the feet of chicken and look odd, but when prepared well, the perfectly rendered skin and cartilage melt off the bone. Start with trying just one knuckle.

(4) BBQ Pork Bun – Char Siu Bao, Cha Shao Bao

Steamed and soft or crispy and baked, BBQ pork buns are a must.

(5) Lotus Leaf wrapped Sticky Rice – Lo Mai Gai, Nuo Mi Ji

A sticky rice ball filled with chicken, shiitake mushrooms and Chinese sausage all wrapped in a lotus leaf and steamed. This dish is filling and full of umami flavours.

(6) Rice Noodle Roll – Coeng Fan, Chang Fen

In general, this dish consists of a long sheet of rice noodle rolled with a filling and steam. Typical fillings are fried dough fritters (my favourite), ground pork or shrimp. The fish is served with a seasoned soy sauce that’s poured on top of the roll.

(7) Steamed Tripe – Ngau Pak Yip, Niu Bai Ye

This was the dish that made tripe one of my favourite proteins. Thin slices of the white offal is steamed to a perfect tenderness with fragrant ginger and green onion.

(8) Beef Offal – Ngau Jaap, Niu Za

Honeycomb tripe is featured in this dish along with lung, spleen, daikon and various other goodies. It’s like a treasure chest of textures and taste.

(9) Sesame Ball – Jin Deui, Ma Tuan

Made with glutinous rice flour, often filled with a red bean paste and rolled in sesame seeds, half a ma tuan is my favourite way to end a dim sum meal. Half, because that’s usually all there’s room left for.

(10) Egg Tart – Daan Taat, Dan Ta

Puff pastry filled with an eggy custard, egg tarts are a one bite wonder. The pastry should be flakey and the custard silky smooth, creamy and not too sweet. When I find a good plate of egg tarts, I will happily take a plate to go.

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