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!
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!
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.
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 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.
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:
Hokkaido Pork Bone Ramen
Step 1: Pick your soup flavour
Shio (Original sea salt)
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.)
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
(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.
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!