Chef Susur Lee’s restaurant Lee is incredible! @susurlee @leerestaurant

Website: http://www.susur.com/lee/
Address: 601 King St. W, Toronto ON
When I visited: Sept. 2014, dinner
Rating: $$$$, 5

Having been to Luckee and Bent this year, Lee also hit another high note with me. It’s been a few weeks since my visit and my memories live on. It was the best meal I had so far this year! That’s a bold statement, given that I have had tons of delicious eats.

I visited late September and my husband and I lucked out with summer weather and King St. was buzzin’! The beautiful bar was eye catching as we walked into the restaurant. We also lucked out with Chef Lee in-the-house greeting customers and making sure that business was running smoothly.

Bar at Lee

Bar at Lee

I knew that the cocktails at Lee were pricey (average of $18 for a drink!) but it was our anniversary and had to order the drink special appropriately called “double happiness” made with a beer and liquer (sorry, that’s all I remember). I also added on a Kirin Ichiban beer to compliment my meal.

Double Happiness cocktail

Double Happiness cocktail

The servers were very helpful in providing recommendations and suggestions. They mentioned that the plates were best for sharing and choosing about 4-5 dishes would be an appropriate amount for us. We did just that and were were stuffed!

With the dark lighting, I do apologize for the quality of my photos.

We started off with Chef Lee’s famous 19 ingredient Singaporean slaw (vegetarian). This was my husband’s first time trying the slaw and he understood what the hype was about. At $22, this was a great deal! This salad had it all-texture, height, lightness and flavour…and did I mention 19 ingredients including jicama and crispy taro?

Lee's famous Singapore slaw

Lee’s famous Singapore slaw

Our next dish was the black pepper charred tuna sashimi and spicy tartare with soya bean, tonnato sauce and lotus chips. I loved the strong bold peppercorn crust which gave a nice contrast to the delicate center.

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Moving on a heavier meaty dish, we had the Korean style marinated striploin (8 oz US prime), garlic mushrooms, roasted pear, blue cheese and dill sauce and arugula. The creamy sauce was a nice touch with the seared steak.

Beef striploin. Note: We cut the steak into pieces.

Beef striploin. Note: We cut the steak into pieces.

And my favourite dish of the night was the special which was the duck breast on duck confit with foie gras, yuzu puree and various sauces. It was worth the wait to get the dish! The duck confit was extremely tender and flavourful without being overly salty. The variety of sauces including the cherry sauce made the dish fun to eat as we dipped each piece of meat into each of them. This dish blew me away!

Duck

Duck

And to end the meal, we had French and Chinese tong yuen of warm sweet rice dumplings with a warm chocolate centre, topped with strawberries with a personalized greeting on the plate! I loved it. The best part of our dessert experience was having our server sing a beautiful love song to us. I didn’t know the song but he could be casted in the next broadway musical!

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Overall:

The food was phenomenal and the restaurant made for a perfect celebration spot. Lee should be everyone’s list of restaurants they MUST visit!

Lee on Urbanspoon

{Review} My Wonderful Kitchen in Richmond Hill

Website: No website, Yelp review 
Address: 350 Highway 7 Unit 101, Richmond Hill ON
When I visited: August, dinner, 3 people
Rating: $, 3

My Wonderful Kitchen serves HK style Chinese food with prices and combos similar to their competition such as Pheonix Restaurant and Blue Ocean Cafe.  My favourite out of the three is still Pheonix but they have some specialty items worth trying out including the pork chop in a bread bowl with gravy and fried fish skin. 

In the lobby, the restaurant had cool swiveling ipads on their walls for the kids and an interactive machine that printed coupons. The restaurant was spacious with tons a combination of booths and regular tables.

Ipads on the wall

Ipads on the wall

 

Coupon machine

Coupon machine

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My husband and I wanted a quick bite so we went for their combo snack menu rather than their fancier items in their main menu. To start, we ordered the fried fish skin which was only $2.95! 

Fried fish skin

Fried fish skin

For our mains, we shared the BBQ rice dish, fried pork chops (came with 2 pork chops for about $6) and fried squid.  We upgraded to a combo and ordered lemon iced tea and HK style milk tea and got a small dessert at the end.

BBQ at My Wonderful Kitchen

BBQ at My Wonderful Kitchen

Squid with spicy peppers

Squid with spicy peppers

Overall:

I’d like to return for dinner and try their specialty items that so many of my blogger friends have raved about. The meal was just ok to me. Aside from the fish skin, all other items ordered tasted and looked pretty standard. The best part is that our entire meal was about $35 before tax.

Happy eating!

My Wonderful Kitchen on Urbanspoon

{Event} Delicious Food Show was a must attend event for foodies! #DFS14

Websitehttp://www.deliciousfoodshow.com/
Address: Direct Energy Centre, Hall A, 100 Princes’ Blvd, Toronto ON
When I went: Fri. Oct 17th, 2014

It was the first year that I attended the Delicious Food Show and it was memorable! Before the show was opened to the public, a group of elite media members and I were given a tour by Chef Chuck Hughes in the kitchen who showed us where the “exclusive Chef series” would take place.

Check Chuck Hughes giving us a tour

Check Chuck Hughes giving us a tour

Next, we were given a tour of the event ground where we were treated to samples by many generous vendors like Von Doughnuts.  Before I digged into my breakfast sandwich, I already had a beer from Ted Reader’s Firetruck, a coffee from Parachute coffee, a campfire s’mores ice cream bar from Home of the Brave and hot sauce samples from No7 Mexican hot sauce. The breakfast of champions!

Ice cream bar from Home of the Brave

Ice cream bar from Home of the Brave

Before the press conference, we were treated to a delicious breakfast from Buca. I wish the plates were a tad bigger since I was only able to grab a few items. Everything looked amazing…I wanted to eat everything!

Buca breakfast

Buca breakfast

Abbey Sharp from Abbey’s Kitchen was on hand to explain her elaborate “Abbey’s Kitchen Stadium” pavilion. Inside the pavilion, top 8 Toronto chefs showcased 2 food items for $5 each. Attendees got to vote on their favourite dish, where the top 4 chefs got to battle live on stage on Sun. Oct. 19th. I was not there to see the live battle but heard that Chef Robbie Hojilla from Hudson Kitchen took the championship title. Congratulations!

Abbey from Abbey's Kitchen

Abbey from Abbey’s Kitchen

To end off the exciting morning, we had a press conference with celebrity chefs Tyler Florence (Tyler’s Ultimate, The Great Food Truck Race), Mario Batali (Iron Chef America, The Chew), Chuck Hughes (Chuck’s Day Off, Garde Manger) and Rob Gentile (Buca). The big announcement was that Food and Wine is coming to Toronto in 2015! I can’t wait for that big show.

Press conference

Press conference

I stuck around for most of the day to experience what the show had to offer and was impressed. Here are some highlights and why I recommend the Delicious Food Show for all food lovers!

  • There were over 200 exhibitors, so there was a LOT of food, products to buy and some drink booths…because you need some wine with all that good food.
Vendors at #DFS14

Vendors at #DFS14

  • The favourite food items I tried were the mussels and duck heart escabeche from Parts and Labour, balls from Menu Food Truck and lamb chops from the Peru booth.
  • There was free food! There were many vendors including Foodland Ontario, VG Farms and Tabule giving out samples!
  • The cooking demonstrations were amazing! The celebrity chefs including our very own talented Chefs, Mark McEwan and Chef Chuck Hughes cooked up a storm, with recipes and tricks you would want to try at home.
  • You get to meet your favourite celebrity chefs! I had the opportunity to meet Mario Batali and Tyler Florence during the book signing. What an honour!
Cooking demonstrat

Cooking demonstrat

Tyler Florence completely blew me away with his responses to questions, about his crowd sourced cookbook “Test Kitchen” (which I lucked out with a copy before it was released in Canada) and intellect. “Tyler’s Ultimate” cookbook is one of my favourites and I can’t wait to try out his new cookbook. He was able to figure out a way to cook a 16 pound turkey in 1.5 hours and still make the skin crispy and the meat moist. That’s what I call brilliant!

Chef Tyler Florence and I

Chef Tyler Florence and I

Friday was a great day! I would have liked to see Chef Roger Mooking again who was at the show on Sunday but hopefully there will be an opportunity soon.

There’s no doubt that I will return to the show. If you went to the show, how was your experience? What were your favourite things to see or eat?

 

Zomato, a restaurant review and search site launches in Canada! It’ll be the next big thing.

Zomato (http://www.zomato.com/toronto) has launched in Canada and I want to tell you more about the new restaurant search and discovery service!

Source: Zomato Twitter site @zomato

Source: Zomato Twitter site @zomato

As a member of Urbanspoon and Yelp, I see  benefits and improvement areas for each site on the perspective of the reviewer, as well as the person reading reviews. I can’t comment at this time which restaurant search site is the best, but I can tell you some information and features that will make Zomato the next big thing in Toronto and Canada: 

  • Zomato was founded in 2008 by Deepinder Goyal and Pankaj Chaddah. The company is present in over 100 cities across Canada, the UK, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, UAE, South Africa, New Zealand, the Philippines, Portugal, Brazil, Chile, Turkey, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and Qatar, and India.
  • Zomato has in-depth information for over 270,000 restaurants across 17 countries including menus (one of my favourite features), photos, and geocoded coordinates for restaurants.
  • Aside from being able to rate and review restaurants, users can create their own network of foodies.
  • Zomato currently serves over 30 million monthly visitors globally, who use the website and mobile apps to search for places to go out for a meal, get home delivery, catch up at a cafe, or enjoy the local nightlife.
  • A highly targeted platform makes it convenient for restaurateurs to interact effectively with customers searching for dining options.
  • Zomato covers over 11,000 restaurants in the Greater Toronto Area and is available on web and mobile. 
  • Zomato’s award-winning mobile app allows users to discover restaurants around them based on their physical location, in addition to providing information for all restaurants in the city.
  • Zomato announced, last year, a US $37 million round of funding from Sequoia Capital and existing investors Info Edge. This has taken Zomato’s total funding to over USD 53 million. In Canada, Zomato has earmarked $10 million to expansion in Canada. 

* Source of stats from Zomato.

You will hear more about Zomato and I encourage you to use their mobile app and join the foodie network! I will announce my profile as I get more acquainted with the site.

Follow them on Twitter @zomato for news updates.

Zomato

Zomato

Support Mary Tang in her goal to raise a $2800+ for The Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation (CBCF)

On Oct 6th, 2014, I sent my first post about my fundraising efforts. With great success in my campaign thanks to wonderful sponsors like you, I was able to reach over 80% of my initial goal in just 2 weeks! That is incredible!!

I have increased my goal from $2500 to $2800 to help the CBCF (The Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation). To-date, I have donated more than $500 to my fundraising efforts.

To recap, I am supporting the largest funder of breast cancer research in Canada (The Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation) AND want to be part of the Kitchen Aid Cook for the Cure CULINARY SHOWDOWN on NOV. 29th, 2014 to have a chance to compete with top chefs.

The top 50 fundraisers over $2,500 will have a chance to  compete under the direction of a celebrity chef in an on-stage gourmet battle! Cooking is my passion and I would love to compete.

DONATE TO MY FUNDRAISING EFFORTS NOW !! I appreciate donations in ANY amount. My goal is to reach $2800 by Oct. 31st. 

CulinaryShowdown

Representing all the foodies and food bloggers out there!! Support me! Together, with food and fundraising, we can help create a future without breast cancer!

If having a chance to attend the Culinary Showdown or cooking with top chefs interest you, why don’t you join me? More info on the Culinary Showdown Website on how you can sign up!

Lots of love,

Mary Tang (aka Mary’s Happy Belly)

 

Toronto Foundation for Student Success (TFSS), #feedtomorrow event overview

Website: http://tfss.ca/
Event type: Charity
Event date: Oct. 9th, 2014

As a food blogger, I feels nice to get away from my regular posts and share information on charities worth knowing about. The Toronto Foundation for Student Success (TFSS), a registered charitable foundation of the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) was a charity that resonated with me as they have programs that deal with child hunger and poverty.

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There are many studies that show that a hungry child has a direct impact on their grades and motivation. If a child is hungry, it is hard to focus and learn. 78% of secondary school students who eat breakfast on most days are on track for graduation. Did you that 3.9 million people in Canada do not know when they are going to eat next? The scary part is that 1.1 million of that number are children. More alarming stats on the #feedtomorrow fact sheet.

From Oct. 6th to 10th, the #feedtomorrow week was the largest awareness campaign of its kind for hunger and nutrition programs. As part of the campaign, I was invited by Mary Luz (@maryluzonfood) to participate in the #feedtomorrow events by seeing the nutrition programs in action!

Off on a yellow school bus with a group of Toronto VIPs (nutrition program donors, politicians and passionate advocates for TFSS), we first visited the Nelson Mandela Park Public school where we were welcomed by principle Jason Kandankery to introduce the nutrition program staff and the students.  The program includes asking parents to voluntarily pay $0.25/day to provide a healthy breakfast for their childre to ensure they will be well nourished and ready to learn.

Breakfast

Breakfast

At the school, The Breakfast Club of Canada generously donated $658,000 to TFSS to support the nutrition program. That was incredible!

Cheque presented to TFSS by The Breakfast Clubs of Canada

Cheque presented to TFSS by The Breakfast Clubs of Canada

The next stop was at Sprucecourt Public school in Cabbagetown where we met with principle Matthew Reid who talked about their school’s nutrition program and described the positive impact it had on the kids. At the event, Glenn Hadden from the Hadden Family Foundation discussed his vision of having children globally getting equal access to nutrition programs, as well as why he supports the initiatives of TFSS.  At the school, he presented a generous cheque of $150,000.

Cheque from the Hadden Family Foundation to TFSS

Cheque from the Hadden Family Foundation to TFSS

As part of understanding the nutrition program, each of the attendees got a chance to bring snacks to the classrooms. I got to spend time in a Jr. Kintergarden class where seeing the enthusiastic kids really touched my heart.

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Dropping snacks to a kindergarten class

Dropping snacks to a kindergarten class

After the tour, we had a reception hosted by the St. Lawrence Market store owners and had a “Sushi Making for the Soul” workshop led by Chef/restaurateur Sang Kim. As we were taught how to make delicious sushi rolls, he addressed important issues and facts related to hunger and poverty. Sang Kim has a big heart and really gives back. This year, he conducted the world’s largest sushi making class via the internet and helped teach food literacy for children.

Reception

Reception

Sang Kim teaching us how to make sushi rolls

Sang Kim teaching us how to make sushi rolls

My maki rolls

My maki rolls

The nutrition program was an example of one of the TFSS programs that have made a difference! The TFSS “Beyond 3:30″ program provides kids access to after-school programs operated right in the school. The Jr. Chef program has been a hit and a great and safe learning environment.

According to the TFSS website “TFSS operates independently from the TDSB. However, thanks to support provided by the TDSB, there is no administration fee for funds donated to School-based Nutrition Programs and the Emergency Fund, enabling a full 100% of all donations to go directly to these programs.” That is amazing!

What an incredible event seeing donation dollars and programs in action. The nutrition programs do make a difference and can’t happen without all the volunteers and sponsors like you. TFSS is worth donating to, more information on how HERE!

Also, thank you to all the sponsors at the St. Lawrence Market!

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* Although the meals were complimentary, the post was not sponsored by the TFSS and the opinions in the post are my own.