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Macaroni & Ham in Soup — Memories of Mac ‘n’ Chinese Breakfasts

September 21, 2015

Ahh…comfort food. Maybe it’s the sound of bacon sizzling that wakes you up in the morning. Maybe it’s leftover pizza at midnight. Or maybe it’s just that grilled cheese sandwich you had for breakfast…and lunch…and dinner. No matter where we are or what it is to us, certain things that we eat give us that warm and fuzzy feeling, one that tells the stories of home, a good day, or a full stomach.

I’m pretty Canadian through and through. And you really can’t be without having gone through dozens of those blue boxes in your kitchen pantries while growing up. Which ones, you ask? Kraft Dinner, of course. KD for the typical Canadian child after school is the equivalent to instant noodles and ramen for those of us blessed with Asian cuisine.

But Marco Polo didn’t bring back pasta from China to Europe just for scrumptious Italian meals that have spiralled into a cheesy quick fix for hungry adolescent teens (at least, I hope he didn’t). And neither has the humble macaroni been one where Mac ‘n’ Cheese is the only sure fire way for macaroni to be eaten. I know growing up that my first taste of the rainbow-shaped pasta wasn’t for afternoon meals or even dinner. I had it for breakfast.

Whoa, hold on for a sec. Breakfast?

As a Chinese-Canadian, I can vouch that Chinese people take the “Breakfast should be the largest meal of the day” idea very seriously. Please refer to dimsum if you’re curious to know why.

My section on Markham Food will be dedicated to relaying everyday comfort food that a lot of us from the East side (of the world) grew up loving and finding, well, comfort in. Like I said, comfort food is anything that brings back good memories or lets you settle down with a warm and hearty stomach at the end of the meal. I wanted to start with something simple. Something that gave me that same fuzziness. It may have been the fried rice I was eating, but I knew what I wanted my blog posts to talk about. The classic Combo A at your local Chinese cafes (aka cha chan tangs; read my next blog post!): Macaroni and Ham in Soup.

I mean, what can be more comforting in the morning, when you’re eating breakfast at home or at a local cafe, and be served a heaping bowl of macaroni in soup. With ham. And a piece of buttered toast/egg sandwich. Downed with a cup of hot milk tea? Want to be fancier? Try asking for the ham to be shredded first. Want to be less opulent? Remove those peas, carrots, and corn that’s usually sprinkled on top for “aesthetics” purposes.

I know a lot of people can agree on this, and it may surprise them, because it’s so simple. It may not be something you may miss immediately after weeks away from home, but it’s something that we do go back to time and time again. For me, it has become a large part of my life, because it reminds me of my earliest memories growing up.

My memory of macaroni and ham goes back to preschool when my dad and I would go to a local restaurant for breakfast after dropping my mom off at work. It would be the only thing we order. I would try really hard to finish all the macaroni, but I always ate too much of the ham and ending up pushing the bowl to my dad to finish. And in he’ll come to finish the meal, breaded butter and all. Hope you liked that walk down memory lane.

Mac n’ Cheese is pretty good, sometimes. But, Macaroni and Ham ain’t bad either.

Macaroni - Chinese Breakfast

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5 Noodle Spots to Avoid in Markham

September 15, 2015

We’re Janice and Joel from Blunt Food Review and we enjoy eating – we eat out A LOT! The next logical step to this was to start blogging about our gastronomic adventures. We like to keep things short and simple (a.k.a. BS-free), and we know most people do as well when it comes to food; hence Blunt Food Review was born.

Eating in Markham is always a hit-or-miss. With so many noodle choices, it’s easy to walk into a random restaurant and be disappointed. We just wish that we had a list of these ‘misses’ early on, which is why we compiled this list. We hope this will help you on your noodle adventures in Markham!


Niwatei - Chashu Ramen
Bluntly reviewed by Joel

If this isn’t the saddest looking bowl of ramen ever, then I don’t know what sadness is! I ordered the Chashu Ramen at Niwatei within J-Town with high expectations and I have to say that my expectations were crushed. The egg was overcooked, which you can clearly see in the picture. The chashu was not tender and quite hard to chew.  The soup was bland and worst of all, the noodles were overcooked. This was quite simply a mediocre bowl of ramen.

Mei Nung Beef Noodle House

Mei Nung - Beef Noodles
Bluntly reviewed by Janice

Mei Nung Beef Noodle House at First Markham Place has a high Yelp rating so I was excited to give it a try. Unfortunately I was quickly disappointed by my bowl of noodles as I chewed through the tough beef brisket. In addition, the entire restaurant smells heavily of stinky tofu, which doesn’t really go away and seeps into your clothes.

Beef Noodle King

Beef Noodle King - Beef Brisket Noodle
Bluntly reviewed by Janice

Beef Noodle King is a small restaurant slightly hidden behind First Markham Place. I knew I shouldn’t expect too much going into the restaurant when I saw that it was empty at lunch on a Sunday. The beef was surprisingly soft but the soup was bland and noodles were overcooked. The tacky velvet wall décor didn’t help much either.

Deer Garden

Deer Garden - Fish Soup Noodles fixed
Bluntly reviewed by Joel

This is a bowl of Fish Soup Noodles at Deer Garden, which is a favourite amongst noodle aficionados. Unfortunately, my bowl of noodles was quite disappointing. I can sum up the disappointment with one word – bland. The soup was watered down to the point where I could barely taste any fish flavour. I hate to say it, but I’ve had better from Deer Garden and I expect better from them.  Until they can keep up their consistency, I’ll be avoiding this place for now.

Pho Pad Thai

Pho Pad Thai - Pad Thai
Bluntly reviewed by Joel

This is the Pad Thai that I ordered at Pho Pad Thai. Please lower your expectations because they do not serve traditional recipe Vietnamese or Thai food here! I learned my lesson to not order Pad Thai at Viet/Thai combination restaurants following this dinner: when a Pad Thai is red in colour you know that they simply use too much ketchup for the sauce. It ends up not tasting like Pad Thai at all and more like ketchup with noodles!

Do you agree with our reviews? Let us know in the comments below!


Chinese Dinner Out with Markham Food Reviews

My Wonderful Kitchen Review – Out with Markham Food

September 13, 2015

Earlier this year, we were invited by My Wonderful Kitchen to try out some of the dishes on their menu. One of the more popular dishes sold here is their baked bread loaf with your choice of sauce, and spaghetti or rice with a meat topping (which we’ve tried and loved). At this point, we were already fans of the restaurant as we’ve dined there a few times already. The service/staff has always been consistent: fast, friendly, and attentive. We tend to order the same things every time we go, so we used this as an opportunity to venture out of our comfort zone.

Click through the gallery above for photos.

F08 – Thick vermicelli noodle soup with minced pork and preserved vegetables ($6.49)

After trying their (ultra) Spicy Vermicelli Noodle Soup with Beef Intestine & Beef (F09, $6.49), this dish tasted rather bland. There were a lot of noodles, but not enough meat and veggies on top.

Steamed oysters with black bean sauce and garlic

We didn’t know that My Wonderful Kitchen served steamed oysters and were pleasantly surprised when they placed this in front of us. The oysters were delicious! Both toppings were good, but if we had to choose, we’d go with the black bean sauce. We went back the same week to order it again, but they were sold out.

P09 – Stir-fried turnip patties with curry sauce ($6.99)

This was a different take on the traditional Chinese turnip patty dish and we didn’t know what to think of it. It tasted exactly like curried Singapore noodles (minus the noodles). Overall, it wasn’t a bad dish, but we prefer regular stir-fried turnip patties.

Z08 – Sweet & sour fish filet with crispy rice cakes ($11.99)

Crispy rice cakes aren’t what we’d usually order, but this was recommended by our host. Even though they were generous on the sauce, the rice cakes were by no means soggy. It had just the right amount of crispiness that blended well with the soft filet. You can definitely feel the different textures when you take a bite.

P03 – Pan-fried stuffed eggplant, green pepper, and tofu ($7.29)

We order this every time we go out to dim sum, so you can call us “experts” on this one. ; ) This had a lot of black bean sauce compared to other restaurants, which made it a tad salty. This wasn’t entirely bad though, as we ordered it again on a separate visit.

L02 – Fried rice with soft-shell crab, pineapple, and garlic ($12.99)

This is one of our favourite dishes and is a must-have if you’re ever dining here. We’ve tried other variations at other restaurants in the area, but this one takes the cake on both taste and presentation. The chefs are generous on the toppings because every bite has something different in it.

Address: 350 Highway 7 #101, Richmond Hill, ON L4B 3N2
Phone Number: (905) 889-1088
Tip: The front entrance and parking is actually at the back, opposite of Hwy 7.