Noodles are a big part of Chinese life and have fit into the hundreds of different cuisines inside and outside of China. Crossing the Bridge noodles, or Guoqio Mixian, is a soup noodle from the province of Yunnan and have recently taken over Markham.
The noodles start with a large bowl filled with steaming broth and rice noodles; side dishes like raw beef, pickled vegetables, and tofu are then added, at the discretion of the diner, to the dish after it arrives at the table.
The story for Crossing the Bridge noodles goes that a scholar’s wife brought him food regularly as he studied for his exams on an island in the middle of a lake. His wife noticed that the noodles became soggy and cold by the time she crossed the bridge, so she separated the ingredients and mixed them together after finishing her journey. Because the wife crossed this bridge to bring her husband his meal everyday, the dish was named Crossing the Bridge noodles. Today, the dish is popular in Yunnan, with many restaurants centred around it.
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
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
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
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
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.
Those who know me know that it’s no secret that I love taking food pics though I admit, not every dish looks presentable in photos. This is why photo editing apps are a must!
1. My favourite app for adding text and overlays would be Phonto. It’s super useful for adding watermarks and image overlays because you can adjust the transparency and quickly save your photo.
2.VSCO is a popular photo editing app, but the filter selection is limited (compared to Instagram) because there are certain ones you have to purchase. VSCO also offers basic adjustments such as brighten and contrast, which are great for food pics that weren’t taken in good lighting.
3. If you’re into putting all of your food photos onto one image, Layout (created by Instagram) (iOS • Android) allows you to create collages with ease. You can choose as many photos as you’d like, add borders, and flip or rotate individual photos within the collage. The one issue I have with this app is that you can’t adjust the border’s thickness or colour. (I made the side-by-side below using Layout.)
4. For iPhone users, the built-in Camera app has eight different filters (shown on the right above) you can choose from. The filters are accessible when you tap the “Venn diagram” icon on the bottom right corner (circled in red above) of the app. My go-to iOS filter is “Fade”. Unfortunately, the filter levels can’t be adjusted… which brings us to probably my favourite photo-editing app of all (so far)…
5.Instagram! I use Instagram’s editing functions for almost all of my photos, so I’ve learned quite a few tricks along the way.
Instagram filter and editing tricks/hacks (refer to screenshot above):
If you scroll all the way to the end of the Instagram filters, there’s a “Manage” button (circled in red) where you can move the filters around and/or even hide some (circled in orange). We can FINALLY hide that awful Kelvin filter! Just kidding… My favourite filters are Clarendon, Lark, and Reyes.
Tap on any filter twice and you can adjust the strength of that filter. Adjusted to 15, maybe Kelvin isn’t so bad after all?
You don’t have to just add a filter to your photo. You can also edit the basics (circled in yellow) like brightness, contrast, and even its angle (only works for square images right now).
Too lazy to fiddle around with the adjustments? Tap the Lux icon (circled in pink) for a quick auto-adjustment.
If you’ve made a million edits already and want to compare it to the original, just tap the pic for a quick peek.
Now here’s my favourite trick/hack: First, go to your Instagram settings and turn on “Save Original Photos”. Next, turn off your WiFi/data, edit your pic, and hit “Share”. Your edited photo will automatically save to your camera roll.
If you have a favourite photo editing app that I haven’t mentioned, please share them with me in the comments or on my Instagram page! I love trying new apps. 😀
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)
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”
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.
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 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!
I love food. I thought I should declare that before I start sharing a tip or two about clean and healthy eating. I’ve been meal prepping for a little over two years now and it has really made a difference in my overall well-being.
Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoy my cheat meals and indulgence often enough. However, in the busy lives that we live, it is hard to eat well if you are not conscious and fail to plan. For me, meal prepping has really helped me stay on track. Eating well also led me to have more energy, sleep better, and reach my fitness goals easier. I’ve turned eating well into a lifestyle and habit.
Every Sunday, I plan out my meals for the week, make a grocery list, go grocery shopping, then spend about two to three hours prepping, cooking, and storing my week’s food.
If you like to dine out once in a while, below are some tips for how to stay healthy when not eating at home.
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.
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.
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!
Admit it. You regret not paying a little more attention in Chinese school. If only you just learned the Chinese characters for “chicken”, “pork”, “stir-fried”, “steamed”, “boiled”, “buns”, or the other common words on a Chinese menu, you wouldn’t have to be in this position. Better yet, you think back to the times when you were a kid and your folks would order such delicacies with ease.
“If only I paid more attention to Dad when he ordered that fish scent eggplant thing with the minced pork…”
You know the feeling. When you’re out with your friends at a restaurant and the menu is only in Chinese, but none of your friends know how to read Chinese. The struggle is very real.
Or to those who are not Chinese venturing into this dim sum place that your co-worker recommended, but all you see is gibberish next to the ticky-boxes.
There’s nothing better than ordering chicken or pig’s feet as a surprise.
Damn you chicken feet!!!
Face it – when it comes to food in Markham, options are dominated with Chinese food choices. And while most restaurants are now smart enough to include English, there are still some that do not.
What’s worse is that it’s usually the really good restaurants that don’t have English on their menus.
The restaurant owners know this and think, “Pfffttt… the food here is so good, we don’t need to waste money on English menus.”
What’s funny (and sad) is sometimes we have too much pride. I’m sure the server can read out and translate the menu to you, but that’s lame and embarrassing, especially for someone who looks head to toe Chinese, only to not be able to order.
And trust me, I’ve personally tried to find ways around the embarrassment of asking. In fact, I’ve gone as far as using the Google Translate app to translate the Chinese menu:
I think I’ll have a “Making money Duck Song Pack” with a “Health and Beef Roll Soup”.
And I know we are not alone on this. In fact there’s a category of Foursquare/Swarm/Yelp tippers who truly look out for their fellow food-comrades by phonetically spelling out different dishes:
Honestly if that’s not looking out for one another, I don’t know what is.
Seriously, we really shouldn’t have to work that hard just to get good Chinese food. I think it’s time everyone can enjoy everything on the menu.
So as a plea to those Chinese-only menu restaurants, I challenge you to get it together before it’s too late.
As you know, in the next five to ten years it’s going to be us menu-illiterates who will be the majority patrons of your fine establishment.
So please do something before we’re all reduced to start ordering in broken phrases of, “Ngor Yew Yut Gor Hak Jeew Ngow Pa Faan, please!” (“I would like one Black Pepper Beef Steak Rice, please!”)