Browsing Tag

Markham

Chinese Lunch Reviews Taiwanese Vietnamese

Good and Quick Lunches Around Markham and Richmond Hill

September 13, 2016 by

I admit that I’ve been a big foodie since I graduated. I only started aggressively blogging about food and restaurants since the start of 2016. I have worked around the Markham and Richmond Hill areas for 10+ years. Throughout the years, I have sampled many cuisines from many of the restaurants in the area and have even helped organize corporate food events.

During some days of the work week, my colleagues and I may have only 1 hour available for lunch. Most of the time, it is really good to get out of the office and enjoy great food to refresh the mind and spirit.

Here are my recommendations for quick – but good –  lunches in the area depending on the type of cuisine you are craving for.

Restaurant #1: Pho 88

Cuisine Type: Vietnamese

Satay Pho at Pho 88 in Scarborough
Reasons: Though this location is in Scarborough, it is close enough to the York Region border that those who work in Markham can access it easily. Once you get a table, the pho dishes come out really fast (like within five minutes). The restaurant is styled like a cafeteria and you get seats pretty quickly.  Fast and good food, consistent taste, and fast service with no nonsense. I used to eat only bun (vermicelli) dishes, but their restaurant had such great pho it converted me and I never went back. My favourite dish is the Satay Pho above.

Restaurant #2: Mei Nung Beef Noodle House

Cuisine Type: Taiwanese

Mei Nung Beef Noodle House in Markham
Reasons: If you want to taste Taiwan, these is the closest thing. This restaurant is famous for their beef noodle soups and stinky tofu side dish. The dishes normally come out quickly. Beware of the clothing you wear into the restaurant because the stinky tofu smell can stay on you.

Restaurant #3: Northern Dumpling Kitchen

Cuisine Type: Northern Chinese

Xiao Long Bao (Soup Dumplings) at Northern Dumpling Kitchen
Reasons: This place offers great tasting dumplings and other northern Chinese cuisine for very reasonable prices. My friends and I really like their steamed, boiled, and fried dumplings along with the shredded pork cold dish. I personally think that their xiao long bao is the best in Toronto. Their service speed is good for a fast lunch.

Restaurant #4: Phoenix Restaurant

Cuisine Type: Hong Kong Style Cafe

Minced beef with rice at Phoenix Restaurant
Reasons: Even though there are three locations, this location has more space for seating and parking. They have a large menu when it comes to HK-style foods. Their meals are very consistent with each visit. The pricing isn’t too expensive and you will definitely leave feeling full. Their dishes come out very quickly (within 5-10 minutes). My favourite dish is the Fried Pork Chop with Maggi Sauce on Rice.

Locations

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Dessert Dinner Drinks Italian Japanese Lunch Miscellaneous Spanish Sushi

Top Places for Dates in Markham

February 13, 2016 by

For the First Date

Chit-Chat Play Board Game Cafe

Chit-Chat Play Board Game Café
Get to know your date in a fun and casual environment where you can stir up some healthy competition between the two of you. Chit-Chat is a small, but popular board game cafe with more than 400 adult- and kid-friendly games to choose AND buy from. There are also plenty of yummy desserts including gelato, waffles, and cheesecakes if you want to treat your date to a sweet surprise!
Bonus: there’s no time limit here so you can stay as long you’d like (our record was 5 hours!).
Price: $12 per person on weekends for unlimited play and a drink valued at $3.25 (or upsize for extra charge)
Cotton Candy Latte Art - Initium
Initium Co.
Want to really impress your date? Initium takes “going out for coffee” to the next level with their extravagant lattes. From cotton candy espresso drip drinks (‘cause who doesn’t want a fluffy cloud of goodness?) to their beautiful latte art, their drinks are worth going for the picture alone! They’re almost too pretty to drink. Almost. In addition to the fun drinks they also have a small brunch menu where you can get light snacks such as smoked salmon and croissants!

For the Ones Who’ve Just Dropped the “L Bomb”

Markham's Inspire Restaurant in Markham Village
Inspire Restaurant
Looking for something out of the ordinary? Enter Inspire Restaurant, where their dishes truly are “inspired” with Asian-fusion. From a variety of cool dishes such as Udon Carbonara or Butter Chicken Serpentini (pictured above), they take common Italian dishes and spin it to include Asian flavours. We say Asian flavours because you’ll see flavours from all corners of Asia from Korea to Japan to China to India. Prepare yourself for the nap you’ll want to take after eating here because their dishes are decadent, rich, and oh-so indulgent. We suggest their Inspire Burger with Pulled Pork Frites (above) – it is DELISH.
Pizza at Levetto in Vaughan
Levetto
Homemade pasta? Check. Huge portions? Check. Seriously, Levetto’s best feature is their portion size to price point – it’s impressive. The pastas are definitely one of the biggest highlights of the menu (as in you NEED to order it!) – they have their very own extruder in-house so pasta is made fresh on site and the result is a variety of shapes that are each dense, chewy, and delicious. We recommend splitting a pizza and a pasta between the two of you. You won’t regret it!

For the Couples Who Have Put WORK in


Tapagria Spanish Tapas Restaurant
Don’t want to trek all the way downtown for Spanish food? You don’t have to. Tapagria offers a variety of pintxos, cold and hot tapas, and our favourite, paella! If you really want to treat your sig-o out, order the $72 Chuleton Asado, a massive 32 oz roasted rib-eye that is seasoned and marinated with beautiful flavours. Served with roasted potatoes, romesco, and charred scallions, this brings a welcome and elevated twist to your classic steak and potatoes.
Zen Japanese Restaurant in Markham
Zen Japanese Restaurant
Previously located in Toronto, Zen has moved uptown to grace Markham with its presence. This humble features delicate and incredibly fresh pieces of sushi. Opt for a spot by the bar and have the sushi chefs personally place sushi one-by-one in front of you, Jiro-Dreams-of-Sushi-style. Enjoy their MASSIVE Spider Roll which has some of the meatiest soft shell crabs we’ve ever seen. We dare you to try to eat it in one bite (we deem it impossible)! Don’t forget to leave space in your tummy to end your meal off with a slice of their Mandarin Pie – tangy and a refreshing dessert to a delicious meal.
Who said you need to drive all the way to Toronto to have a nice night out? Whether you’re just getting to know a person or you’re the long-term couple, we hope you enjoy these as our top places for a special date in Markham!

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Local Events Miscellaneous

Things to do During Reading Week & Family Day 2016

February 11, 2016 by

Reading Week and Family Day are just around the corner.  If you’re ditching the books for a week or have nothing planned yet, there are a lot of things you can do around York Region!

Board Games & Chill

There are a handful of board game cafés in the Markham area where you can enjoy light snacks, a beverage, and play any board game you like .  Here are three places, but feel free to chime in if you know of a few others in the York Region area!

Get (Mentally and/or Physically) Active

Have you been glow-in-the-dark mini putting?  Putting Edge has locations in both Vaughan and Richmond Hill.  You can also go to Laserquest (actually beside Putting Edge) in Richmond Hill or go outdoor skating at the Markham Civic Centre.  By now, there are also many escape rooms to choose from in the York Region.  Here are a few:

Get Your Creative Juices Flowing

If you want to get in touch with your inner artist or just relieve some stress, try your hand at one of these activities.

markham-food-paintlounge

PaintLounge is a fun place to get together with a few friends to paint.  You can either freestyle or choose something from one of their sample books to draw inspiration from.  Check out these deals:

  • February 12 to 14 – ART & WINE WITH YOUR VALENTINE
    Enjoy an art date in style with two 16×20” freestyle sessions & two glasses of wine, beer, tea or coffee, $70 per couple.  More details at paintlounge.ca/valentines.
  • February 15 – FAMILY PAINT DAY
    This Family Day, come as a family for our “Up, Up, and Away” Family Workshop and explore colours, paints, and painting techniques and create collaborative art on a big canvas together. $50 per family for a 24×30” canvas. More details at paintlounge.ca/events/family-day.
  • Now to February 29
    Register with promo code BLOGGERPARTY2016, and your followers will get 45% off adult workshops, valid at all locations. Sign up at paintlounge.ca/adult-workshops.

Colour Me Mine is another painting place, but not on a canvas!  They have a variety of ceramic pieces you can choose from including mugs, décor, and bowls.  Here are a few of their deals:

  • Family Fridays
    One painting adult gets up to two free studio fees for kids (13 years old and under).  Adult must paint their own item and pay a studio fee.
  • Two-for-Tuesday
    Two people paint for one studio fee.
  • Ladies Night
    On Wednesday evenings (starting at 4pm) ladies of all ages receive half price studio fees.

Try a New Restaurant or Unique Dish

LOHAS-Cafe-honey-toast-markham-food

Have you seen the colourful cotton candy lattes from Initium, the beautiful toast with rice from My Wonderful Kitchen, or the drool-worthy honey toast from LOHAS Cafe? Check out our food blog or food page on Instagram for inspiration! Confused about how to find something you need? Check out our how-to guide.

Attend Local Events

February 15 – Take the family out for some free skating for the RBC Family Day Skate! The Markham event will take place at the Milliken Mills Community Centre.

February 15 – Visit the Markham Museum for Winterfest! There’s a $3 fee per person, but the whole family can experience activities such as ice block building, crafts, music, and snow-shoeing. They’re also running a few other events this month that your whole family can enjoy.

February (various dates)Pacific MallMarket Village, and First Markham Place are running some events to celebrate Chinese New Year.

February 23 – As cat lovers, we can’t help but mention the grand opening of Markham’s Cat Adoption and Education Centre (CAEC) (even though this technically takes place after Reading Week). Beginning at 10:30am, you can join in on the grand opening festivities by skating, doing fun activities, and enjoying some refreshments.

Head Downtown

Don’t wanna stay uptown this break? You can always head down to the seventh-best city in the world (according to NYT), Toronto! There are many ways to get across the city including the YRT/Viva, TTC, or GO Transit. Here are some things you can check out:

shangri-la-toronto-chinese-new-year-high-tea

Have something to add to our list? Feel free to comment below and share it with other readers!

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Dinner Drinks Japanese Lunch Out with Markham Food Reviews Snack

Donburi Restaurant Review – Out with Markham Food

February 4, 2016 by

The word “donburi” means a rice bowl consisting of meat, vegetables, and other ingredients cooked together and served over rice. Of course, this dish is extremely popular at the Donburi restaurant in Thornhill. Donburi is one of the few Japanese restaurants that don’t serve sushi. This opens up our options whenever we’re craving Japanese food that’s not sushi-related. We’ve tasted many things from their menu and nothing disappointed us. If you plan on going as a group, we recommend ordering multiple side dishes and entrées to for sharing.

Spicy gyu fries - DonburiSpicy Gyu Fries

When we visited, this was one of the newer items on Donburi’s menu. The fries had just the right amount of everything in it – spiciness, crispiness, and softness. We finished this quickly and were craving for more.

Beef tataki - DonburiJ1 – Beef Tataki ($9)

This lightly seared and marinated beef was surprisingly very flavourful, especially after dipping it in the citrus-soy sauce. We recommend eating it with a piece of the red onion to get the full effect of this appetizer. We’ve ordered the beef tataki a few times already and still aren’t sick of it.

Beef with ponzu sauce - DonburiS7 – Beef with ponzu sauce ($2.50)
Beef sirloin steak with ponzu sauce and grated daikon radish.

We’ll be honest – this skewer was small for two people, so we barely remember how it was. If you’ve ever tried it, let us know how you like it in the comments below!

Takoyaki - DonburiJ7 – Takoyaki ($5)
A delicious ball shape snack with diced octopus hidden inside.

Takoyaki are one of our favourite Japanese snacks. These octopus balls were perfectly warm, soft, and full of flavour.

Chicken omurice - DonburiD10 – Chicken Omurice ($8)
Chicken fried rice in a tomato base wrapped in a thin egg omelette.

This is personally one of our favourite entrées at Donburi. It might look small in the photo, but trust us…there is a LOT of rice packed in there. This is good enough for two or more people if you’re sharing multiple dishes.

Umami Don - DonburiD15 – Umami Don ($10)
An indescribable flavour bomb that will explode in your mouth.

The Umami Don includes unagi (eel), spicy mayo, cucumbers, dashi stock, and of course, rice. The description on their website was right. This was an explosion of flavour! We love the mix of ingredients as there was a unique taste and texture with every bite.

Calpis Fusion Drink - DonburiCalpis Fusion – A mix of mango Calpico and aloe.

Of course, we needed a drink to go with our meal so we each had the Calpis Fusion. This refreshing beverage is only available for a limited time (we don’t know how long) and is perfect if you’re looking for something sweet and cool to go with your meal.

Address: 505 Highway 7 #93, Thornhill, ON L3T 7T1
Phone Number: (905) 597-6505
Tip: Donburi is located at Commerce Gate, so there is plenty of parking.

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Dessert Drinks Giveaways Spanish Taiwanese

Giveaways with Tapagria, Lohas Cafe, and CoCo Tea!

January 29, 2016 by

We’ve been on a roll lately! What better way to kick off the new year than to give something back to our supporters? Here are three giveaways that are ending soon!

coco-tea-richmond-hill-markham-giveaway

Visit this page to enter for a chance to win a drink vouchers for CoCo Fresh Tea & JuiceSix winners will be chosen, but ONE lucky winner will get a Pandora charm along with their two drink vouchers.

tapagria-giveaway-markham

Get Tapagria‘s Paella de Tapagria and a pitcher of Traditional Sangria for only $40 on any Monday! Their paella is already $45 on a regular day, so this is a steal. 😉 Or… you can enter for a chance to win this deal (redeemable on any Monday) on our Instagram page.

lohas-cafe-first-markham-place-giveaway

Craving dessert? …Well, we’re not really giving dessert away, but LOHAS Cafe is offering three winners a chance to try their kimchi or wasabi mayo fries! BUT once you’re there to claim your prize, why not order one of their adorable lattes (taro & coconut above) or their amazing honey toast (in the background or here). Enter for a chance to win on our Instagram page!

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Dinner Japanese Lunch Reviews

Ramen Restaurants at New Kennedy Square

January 28, 2016 by

I’m always venturing for ramen places from one city to another.  Different areas seem to have their own ways of presenting their own businesses to the public.  I visited the Markham area recently and it seems like all of the businesses are within one large complex separated by roads and residential areas.  They might be less accessible if you don’t know how to drive, BUT there are lots of other ways to get there.  In Markham, I am sure everyone knows Sansotei is a legit ramen place, but let’s explore somewhere a little different within the Markham area – New Kennedy Square.

Located up at Hwy 7 & Kennedy, New Kennedy Square is a large plaza with food, businesses, and entertainment.  To get here by public transit, I simply board the Kennedy YRT bus at Steeles and Kennedy near Pacific Mall.  There are many restaurants in this area and a lot of them have been open since I was young. (Now I will let you guess my age ;).  There are three places that have ramen offerings on their menu. Let’s talk about them one by one.

Blue Ocean CaféBlue Ocean Cafe - Tonkotsu Ramen

Hokkaido-Style Tonkotsu Ramen ft. Hokkaido ramen with Stew pork soft ribs ($8.99)

Blue Ocean Café is a Hong Kong style café offering a wide selection of tasty food items from Malaysian curry to rice combos to noodles in soup.  They also offer a special house-made char siu known as “sam sok” cha siu.  Since they only offer a limited amount each day, they’re usually sold out by lunch or early dinner time.  As I was studying this menu, there was one small section that offers Hokkaido-style ramen. Blue Ocean’s Hokkaido-style ramen consists of a tonkotsu (pork bone) soup base topped with standard topping such as kikurage mushroom, corn, sesame, and a soft boiled egg.  As for the main protein, you can choose in a choice of stewed pork soft ribs, enoki mushrooms, beef, or teriyaki chicken.  This time, I decided to try the stew pork ribs.  At uptown ramen restaurants, stew pork soft ribs seems to appear often on menus.  The stewed pork soft ribs had a strong flavour with a soft & chewy texture.  Overall, their noodles & toppings were quite decent.  However, the flavour of the tonkotsu broth was more on the salty side.  Furthermore, there was a lack of creaminess in their pork bone broth.  If you are not comparing this with authentic Japanese ramen, this is worth a try.

Raku Ramen & Izakaya  

Raku Ramen Izakaya - Pork Belly Cheese RamenPork Belly Cheese Ramen

Raku is a Japanese-style ramen and izakaya establishment, which has a selection of tapas, robata grill, sushi, sashimi, and ramen.  They used to offer their ramen in a stone pot when they just started.  Recently, they changed it back to a standard ramen bowl.  I am used to eating ramen place at in the downtown Toronto area, so I don’t expect too much at uptown ramen establishments.  From their ramen selection, I tried something that was a little different from the standard selection of shio, shoyu, and miso).  I selected the dish below.

Pork Belly Cheese Ramen – Their house-made pork belly was actually one of the specialties that they are offering as a separate ramen item.  Accompanied with pork belly, this is a tonkotsu (pork bone) based ramen topped with green onion, kikurage mushroom, naruto maki, bean sprouts, corn, and cheese.  I had a variety of toppings in this bowl.  Indeed, cheese had enhanced the creaminess of their tonkotsu soup base, which masked the disadvantage of their soup base.  Their pork belly cha shu had less fat content on the surface, and the meat itself was quite tender.  Overall, this was quite interesting to try.

Chef Papa Tea & Noodle Bar

Original Shio Pork Bone Ramen + Wonton & Seaweed

Similar to Deer Garden, Chef Papa Tea & Noodle Bar has a “customize your own noodles” concept.  Pork bone based ramen is one of the selections on their menu.  You’re given a large piece of paper for your noodle selections.

Here are the steps from the ramen section:

Chef Papa Noodle Bar - Shio Pork Bone RamenHokkaido Pork Bone Ramen

Step 1: Pick your soup flavour

  • Shio (Original sea salt)
  • Red miso
  • Shoyu (Soy Sauce)
  • Szechuan dan dan sesame ramen

Step 2: Choose your noodles (Obviously you’d choose ramen noodles in this box, but there are other noodle options available on the list.)

  • Ramen noodles
  • Udon
  • Rice vermicelli
  • Instant noodles

Step 3: Choose Toppings (two choices)

(Note: The ramen package includes half of a soft boiled egg, corn, and kikurage mushrooms.  On top of these, you can pick two more toppings.  Depending on the topping, additional charges may apply.)

  • Pork cha shu
  • Beef brisket
  • Luncheon meat,
  • Slice lamb
  • Wonton

(Optional) Step 4: Pick a side order (additional charges may apply)

(Optional) Step 5: Pick a drink (coffee or tea; additional charges may apply for other drinks)

Since it was my first time visiting, I was a little crazy with the toppings.  I decided to add wonton ($1.75 extra) as one of them.  I also thought nori seaweed was not included in the package, so I ordered seaweed as another one of my selections.  Perhaps, extra seaweed was added to this ramen so it had completely enhanced the flavour of their tonkotsu broth.  The overall taste ended up quite well at the end.  If you like your ramen to be completely customized, Chef Papa is the place for you.

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Dessert Snack

Wooffles and Cream Review

December 11, 2015 by

Opening in July 2015, Wooffles & Cream is the newest addition to the food court situated in New Kennedy Square in Markham. In contrast to the surrounding vendors offering Asian comfort food, customers can expect to find a range of sweet and savoury Hong Kong style egg waffles, soft serve ice cream, parfaits, and craft sodas. The creative minds behind Wooffles & Cream are Mabel Yeung and Ka Yan Woo, who combined their favourite treats – ice cream and Hong Kong style waffles – to develop their innovative menu.

Our dining experience started with a Matchazuki parfait cup while waiting for the waffles to be made. This scrumptious dessert was carefully crafted with matcha green tea soft serve, red bean paste, cornflakes, and glutinous rice balls. The matcha soft serve was incredibly smooth with a subtle green tea flavour that complemented the sweet toppings perfectly.

Wooffles & Cream Egg Waffles and Parfait

After careful deliberation, we opted for the Black ‘N’ White Sesame waffle with a matcha soft serve swirl and the specialty Lap Cheong ‘N’ Seaweed waffle. The waffles are made fresh to order with crispy edges and a fluffy interior. The sesame waffle maintained its texture quite well against the ice cream due to a careful in-house tempering process. The lap cheong waffle was very tasty on its own with finely chopped pieces of Chinese sausage and shredded seaweed in every bite. This sweet and savoury combination is highly recommended if you’re looking for a unique treat.

Wooffles & Cream Parfait

Wooffles & Cream Egg Waffles

Tips

Be warned of potentially long wait times that can range between 10 to 40 minutes, especially during peak dining hours. If you’re in a hurry, it is recommended to get an idea of the wait time from a staff member before lining up. Nevertheless, onlookers can definitely see the effort and care that goes into each order.

The owners use locally sourced ingredients so you can always expect new concoctions in the works. For all of you green tea enthusiasts, keep an eye out for upcoming creations that feature an even more pronounced tea flavour!

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Brunch Dinner Drinks Lunch Out with Markham Food Reviews Spanish

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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