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Markham

Restaurant Reviews

Dining in Markham, York Region

26 September 2018

There are tons of delicious and diverse options if you’re looking for a place to eat in Markham. Being the largest municipality in York Region, fourth-largest city in the Greater Toronto Area, and Canada’s 16th largest city (source), there’s no doubt that the food scene is constantly growing.

We’ve highlighted four places across Markham that we hope you’ll enjoy.

Ding Tai Fung (First Markham Place)

Markham - Ding Tai Fung, First Markham Place

Markham - Ding Tai Fung, Xiao Long Bao, Soup DumpingsThis restaurant isn’t connected to the official Din Tai Fung in Taiwan, but it’s been around for about a decade and still a very popular choice for diners. We highly recommend ordering the spicy shrimp wonton and their famous xiao long bao (soup dumplings) shown above.

Cacao 70 (Downtown Markham)

Markham - Cacao 70 Dip Shop WafflesCacao 70’s Dip Shop just opened this summer and is already a hit among those with a sweet tooth. Their store is conveniently located near a lot of fantastic restaurants and across Cineplex Cinemas Markham & VIP. After your dinner and movie, stop by and indulge in some fondue or ice cream. Both the shop and their items are insta-worthy, so don’t forget to snap a pic and hashtag #MarkhamFood!

Old Firehall Confectionary (Main Street Unionville)

Main Street Unionville, Markham - Old Firehall Confectionary Main Street Unionville, Markham - Old Firehall ice creamAnother dessert option is the Old Firehall on Main Street Unionville (not to be confused with the other quaint area further east called Main Street Markham!). They have an assortment of ice cream cones, fine chocolates, and pastries to choose from. Once you’ve picked your dessert, take a stroll and admire the Unionville area.

19th Avenue Farmer’s Market (Markham North)

Markham, 19th Avenue Farmer's Market Markham, 19th Avenue Farmer's Market peppersIf you’re interested in seeing what some of York Region’s farmers have to offer, head north to the 19th Avenue Farmer’s Market! The market is always stocked with fresh produce sold both individually and in batches. There are also many more farms and farmers’ markets across the region – download the York Farm Fresh Map to find them all!

Regardless of where you go, York Region is full of amazing places to eat. Through YorkSafe, the York Region government is working to keep the restaurants you love safe and clean. For more information, visit york.ca.

This post was sponsored by York Region for World Tourism Day. Official hashtags are #LoveYR #WorldTourismDay and #WTD2018.

The Regional Municipality of York is not affiliated with Ding Tai Fung, Cacao 70, 19th Avenue Farmer’s Market, or the Old Firehall Confectionary.

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Restaurant Reviews

Lunch at Diana’s Oyster Bar & Grill

24 March 2018

Established in Scarborough in 2010, Diana Oyster Bar & Grill has been a longtime favourite for seafood-lovers in the Toronto area. Those who know about Diana’s seafood would talk about their juicy oysters and fresh seafood options.

To our excitement, Diana’s opened their doors in Markham three years ago! We had the pleasure of attending their grand opening event back then, alongside Markham Mayor Frank Scarpitti and other notable individuals. This new location is spacious and beautifully designed with a menu completely different from their Scarborough spot.

Please note the only lunch menu item above is the Lobster & Crab Roll. The rest are available through their regular menu and priced separately.

One thing many people forget about is Diana’s set lunch options, which we had the pleasure of trying recently. Each item on this menu is $18 and all sandwiches are served with coleslaw and a choice of fresh cut potato wedges, soup of the day, mixed greens, or clam chowder.

While we haven’t tried everything on their lunch menu, we heard the Lobster & Crab Roll was a popular item and gave it a go. This was perfect! The roll was perfectly toasted and there was a generous amount of lobster and crab chunks.

And if you visit them on a Tuesday or Wednesday, you’ll be able to take advantage of their all-day oyster special! Get a dozen Malpeque oysters for $15 or a dozen Fanny Bays for $24.

Other dishes you should check out…

Serrano Tuna at Diana's Oyster Bar & Grill Markham

Serrano Tuna– Albacore tuna, cucumber, avocado, serrano chili, and ponzu dressing

We loved the mix of textures and flavours in this appetizer. It looks small, but it’s a great size for 2-3 people to share while waiting for their main dishes.

Grilled AAA Black Angus Striploin at Diana's Oyster Bar & Grill Markham

Grilled AAA Black Angus Striploin – AAA Black Angus striploin steak, portobello mushrooms, garlic mashed potatoes, seasonal vegetables, and veal jus

For those who can pack in a little more during lunch, why not try the steak? This juicy steak was done medium rare (just the way we like it) and the garlic mashed potatoes was DELICIOUS!

Bouillabaisse at Diana's Oyster Bar & Grill Markham

Bouillabaisse – Lobster tail, shrimp, mussels, clams, assorted fish, vegetable-fish broth, and rouille-croutons

This dish is for the true seafood lover. The lobster tail was large and the clams and mussels were fat and juicy. Everything went really well with the broth and is best eaten immediately while it’s warm! (We took a while to get to this because we were busy taking all of the above photos!)

This post was sponsored by Diana’s Oyster Bar & Grill.

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Restaurant Reviews

Smash Kitchen Review

27 March 2016

Back in February, we co-hosted a blogger tasting event with Smash Kitchen at their restaurant to try out some of the new items on their menu. Not only did we have amazing food that night, but we had the best company! The 10 bloggers who attended this tasting were well-fed and had an amazing time socializing and trying out Smash Kitchen’s dishes. Some of us were return visitors, while others were trying the place for the first time. Here’s a look at some of the things we had.

No tasting is complete without drinks. ; ) These are the Red and White Sangrias with fresh fruit. Yum!

Above: Ahi Tuna Wontons // Below: Beef Cheek Poutine

Out of the eight different appetizers we tried, the Beef Cheek Poutine was crowd favourite as we devoured it almost immediately (after taking our pics, of course).

The Sunday Family Platter was so epic that we had to show it to you from different angles. Consisting of buttermilk fried chicken, BBQ ribs, homemade maple bacon & cheddar biscuits, L.A. mac & cheese, grilled andouille sausage, and grilled corn, this platter will feed your entire family! We shared two platters between 10 people and that was more than enough considering we had a lot of appetizers to begin with.

Above: Apple Smash 2.0 // Below: Smash Mini Donuts (Background: Strawberries & Cream Mini Donuts)

Two of our favourite desserts from the six we had that night… the delicious hot apple cinnamon crumble underneath cold maple walnut ice cream and the tiny donuts dusted with cinnamon sugar and caramel sauce. *insert heart eyes emoji* All of their desserts were good to be honest, but these were amaazzinggg and perfect for sharing!

Hope we made you hungry. ; )

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Guest Blogger Restaurant Reviews

Top Places for Dates in Markham

13 February 2016

For the First Date

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!

Written by guest blogger, cjnoms.

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Restaurant Reviews

Donburi Restaurant Review

4 February 2016

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

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.

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Restaurant Reviews

Ramen Restaurants at New Kennedy Square

28 January 2016

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 Café

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 Ramen

Hokkaido 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.

Written by guest blogger, Anthoni.

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Guest Blogger Restaurant Reviews

Wooffles & Cream Review

11 December 2015

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.

Wooffles & Cream Parfait

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!

Written by guest blogger, Tastebytes.

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