Saturday, May 23, 2015

A Celebration at Kyozon: Happy 3rd Blogaversary A Famished Foodie™

Every year on April 14th, my friends and I celebrate another year of A Famished Foodie™.  It's really an excuse to get together with great friends, drink ourselves into oblivion while stuffing our faces with scrumptious food.  The past two years we've chosen to have fun at pizzeria's, this year we decide to go with a little Asian persuasion.  Eight of us met up at Kyozon around 8pm for dinner and drinks to celebrate the 3 year milestone.  

I had been to the Kyozon opening and had wanted to return so I thought why not return for my Blogaversary.  We arrived and had a round of drinks at the bar before heading over to our table.  As we sat and glanced over the menu, I couldn't help but notice how awfully expensive the menu was.  I did not expect this at all.  $14 for a roll of sushi, it better be good.  We ordered up a bunch of dishes and continued drinking and chatting waiting for our food to arrive.  

The first dish to arrive were the edamames we ordered to snack on while we were still looking over the menu.  The two dishes were placed in front of us and as we all dug in, we seemed to all have the same unpleasant reaction - Salty!  The edamames were so over salted, it burned each of our throats as we ate them.  We quickly called over the waiter and asked that new edmames be brought as the ones we were served were inedible.  He returned with two new dishes and set them down on the table.  This time the edamames were completely salt free, not exactly what we asked for but much better than the first batch.  

The drinks kept coming and finally the food began to arrive too.  I started my meal with some Dim Sum, Siu Mai's to be exact, filled with the promise of pork, shitake mushrooms and water chestnuts.  As I bit into the dumpling, I found it to be tasty, but no sight of the mushrooms or their flavour.  Their was something lacking in this dish, it wasn't awful but I definitely will not be running back for these.  

The next bite I took continued the Dim Sum theme,  Gyoza's filled with black cod and shrimps.  I was excited for these dumplings.  I thought the combination was brilliant and couldn't wait to see how Kyozon's chef executed this dish.  The dumpling were mediocre at best.  The wrapper was chewy and a tad hard, the filling was mediocre at best.  There was no flavour and I could hardly tell what the filling was.  

After the first two dishes, I couldn't help but worry about the next dishes to come especially since my guests were also not impressed with their dishes. The "Prawn" toast was next on my radar and this dish definitely disappointed.  The toasts were basically burnt and tasteless - shame!

The peking duck Bao's arrived and even though I though they were way too large, they weren't half bad.  The flavour was there, but slightly too sweet.  Out of all the dishes I sampled that evening, this probably was the best one.  The duck was covered in so much sauce though, that I could hardly tell what it was.  Charging $12.50 for this dish was a little insane, it would have been better to serve two smaller version for the same price!

After we finished the duck bao, it was time to sample the sashimi.  I don't even remember what we ordered, but I do remember they had no toro, no uni and so we were left with the basic options (salmon, ikura and I think octopus).  Nothing really to write home about, totally basic and nothing special at all.

The sashimi was disappointing and I knew at first glance the sushi would be too.  A few of us ordered the spicy tuna roll and none of us enjoyed it.  I found the spicy sauce too overwhelming, not because it was too spicy, but because it completely masked the flavour of the tuna (and whatever else was in the roll) and left you guessing what was really in the sushi.  A good spicy tuna roll has a sauce that compliments the delicate yet delicious fish, not hide the fish - truly a disappointment.  

The manager sent over some desserts for the table and they all looked delicious.  This was the highlight of the meal, besides the drinks!  The frozen berries with hot white chocolate were simple and delicious.

The chocolate lava cake was fluffy and not overly sweet, I like it and so did most people at the table.  The green tea ice cream was a nice touch to compliment the rich dark chocolate.

Then came disaster, for me at least.  I happened to be quite tipsy at the point and didn't even think to examine the white chocolate cheesecake for the one thing I don't eat, Bananas - Yuck!  Who puts bananas on a dessert anyways unless its banana flambé?  Well as I bit into this cake I thought I was going to be sick!  Now, I have no idea if the cheesecake itself was good or not as I was preoccupied with trying not to gag at the table, so gross,  but my friends seemed to like the cake a lot and finished it quite quickly.  Guess that means it was actually good!

Even though dinner was quite disappointing, we had a wonderful time at Kyozon.  The drinks were great and the staff is awesome too! 

KYOZON on Urbanspoon

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Katsuya @ The SLS South Beach

Dining in any restaurant is always a fun experience, but dining at a high end restaurant is always my favourite.  When in South Beach, I always go a little insane and spend way too much money eating in deliciously expensive places and loving every minute of it.  This last trip down to the sunny beaches of Miami, I joined my friend at one of his favourite South Beach spots, Katsuya in the SLS hotel.  

Arriving on time for our reservations, even though we got a little confused on the way, the over friendly staff at Katsuya greeted us with the traditional Japanese greeting, "Irasshaimase," and seated us at our table.  I was surprised by the greeting as I am used to the welcoming screams at more casual Izakaya's but not at such an upscale place.  I enjoyed it though as it made the staff and restaurant seem more down to earth rather than stuck up and pretentious.  

As soon as we sat down, our waiter and busboy arrived to offer us water and one of their specialty cocktails.  We ordered up a few to start, I had the Kiwi Envy while my friend who had dined here before (a few times to say the least), had the Burning Mandarin.  Our other dining guest enjoyed a glass of white wine.  After ordering our drinks, it was time to conquer the menu and decide what we were going to order.

The kiwi Envy made up of St. Germain Elderflower liqueur, gin, fresh pressed kiwis, lime juice and a splash of sparkling water, was sweet refreshing and perfectly delicious.  I truly enjoyed this cocktail all evening, I think I had four in total.  
The Burning Mandarin was spicy, sweet and also a delicious treat.  You can tell the pride that Katsuya's bartenders take in concocting their signature cocktails.  

After careful consideration, we opted not to order the tasting menu and just order dishes a la carte.  We started with the crispy rice with spicy tuna, one of Katsuyta's signature appetizers.  The grilled rice was very flavourful and topped with fresh delicious tuna and spicy jalapeños.  This dish was three bites of pure perfection, we all really enjoyed it.

As we finished our first bites, another Katsuya signature appetizer arrived, the baked crab hand rolls.  I for one was very excited for these and well, they really did not disappoint.  The hand rolls were over stuffed with big chunks of deliciously fresh and tasty crab meat.  The special dynamite sauce was not spicy but perfectly flavoured and complimented the sweet crab beautifully.  This dish was also truly delicious and enjoyed by all at our table.

Next came the Special Katsuya roll.  As a signature and special roll named after the restaurant, we all had high hopes but were quickly disappointed.  The roll was beautifully presented but tasteless and plain old boring.  We all agreed that this roll was not what we expected and the weak point of the dinner.

It was around this time that the table next to us caused a minor disturbance.  We were enjoying our meal, but a hooligan at the next table started to go ballistic on his date.  We were amused by this disturbance but truly it was uncalled for and embarrassing at such an upscale restaurant.  We laughed it off and joked about it for the rest of the night.  Never a dull moment!

The next dish was yet another sushi roll but this one was really something amazing.  A deliciously fresh spicy tuna roll topped with crispy rock shrimp tossed in a spicy creamy sauce - Ah-mazing!  The shrimps were really the star of this dish and could have been served alone, but on top of the spicy tuna roll, perfection!

As we munched on all the appetizers, we ordered another round of drinks.  As we sat sipping our delicious cocktails, our mains started to arrive.  First came a life changing dish, the Wagyu beef with seared foie gras drizzled with a plum wine reduction.  Three perfectly plated delicious bites of Wagyu were placed in front of us and we immediately dug right in.  My first bite can only be described in one word; Orgasmic.  I can truly say that this dish blew my mind.  

The tender butter-like rare cooked beef was complimented perfectly by the subtle sweetness of the reduction and earthy depth of the foie - perfection!  I really wished that this dish wouldn't end, I would have gladly ate bite after bite all night.  Sadly, all good things do come to an end.

As we sat recuperating from the tremendous food orgasm we just consumed, a delicately plated Miso marinated black cod was set in front of us.  It was the perfect dish to follow the Wagyu.  The cod was delicate and light with the perfect balance of flavours. 

After the black cod, the pièce de résistance arrived, a very large wood cutting board carefully decorated with a delicious and fresh assortment of sashimi.  Delectable bites of Toro, sweet shrimp, fried shrimp heads, yellowtail tuna, sea urchin and more entered our bellies quite quickly.  Every bite was well enjoyed except for one bite of toro, there was some chewiness issue but that was quickly forgotten as we bit into the sea urchin - Uni!

As our plates were cleared and as our forth round of drinks vanished, it was time to consider ordering a sweet treat to end the meal.  I for one am not a sweets lover, but the mention of a doughnut, I cannot resist.  Fresh and hot little doughnuts drizzled with a passion fruit caramel glaze and salted with flakes of sea salt was the perfect way to end a wonderful meal.  I truly enjoyed every bite of our meal at Katsuya, not to mention the attentive and friendly service.  I cannot wait till next year when I can return and enjoy yet another scrumptious feast!
Katsuya on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

My Ceviche - My Happy Place

South Beach is not only known for hot weather and bikinis, the food scene is quite spectacular as well. There is a very diverse food culture in Miami, especially when it comes to Latin food. From Venezuelan empanadas to Columbian patacones and the delicious flavours of Cuba, Spain and Mexico, South Beach has it all.   That being said, My Ceviche has got to be the best restaurant in town!  Not only is the food consistently fresh, the flavours are what Miami Beach is all about!

For this trip to Miami, I was so excited to land, drop my bags off at the condo and run the 3 blocks to My Ceviche's South Beach location.  I wasn't able to do that as my flight landed pretty late, but the next day like clockwork I was at the counter picking up dinner.  

We ordered a few of our favourites, ok half the menu, and ran back to our place to devour our delicious feast.  Raw tuna tacos, mixed fish ceviche and of course my all-time favourite, charred octopus tacos.  We literally ran home with a delicious bottle of wine and sat and feasted for a good hour - we really took our time!

I am not sure if this is possible as I loved My Ceviche so much last year, but this time I swear the food was ten times better.  It is so refreshing to return to a restaurant and not only consistently enjoy delicious food, but to like the food so much more than you originally remembered.  With each bite, my sister and I felt more and more like we died and went to food heaven - no joke!

Every dish we ordered was fresh, delicious and oh so flavourful, but there is something so special about their charred octopus tacos.  Not only is the octopus always cooked to perfection, the charred flavour is so good I cannot even begin to describe it.  This is a must try dish and hands down the best taco I have ever tasted!  They offer different sauces to accompany your tacos, I always stick to my two faves; salsa roja and their perfectly spicy lime roasted jalapeño mayo - literally to die for!  The charred smokey flavour of the tender octopus harmonized with the pickled onions, radishes and queso fresco, makes for one perfect taco!  

I love raw tuna, it is one of my favourite sashimis and tartar, so I always order some raw tuna tacos at My Ceviche.  The fresh fish is always so perfectly sliced and so delicious.  The mild fresh fish flavour is never overpowered by the delicate toppings; they compliment each other perfectly creating the ultimate tasty treat.  

Ceviche is hands down my favourite way to enjoy fish.  I mean what is not to love?  Citrus, spicy peppers and tasty fish, what more can one ask for?  Aji Amarillo is a spicy pepper used mainly in Peruvian cuisine, but more recently, this pepper started to appear in more and more types of cuisines.  At My Cevishe, Aji Amarillo is the name of my go to ceviche; a mix of citrus juices (lime, lemon and orange), ginger and of course, Aji Amarillo peppers.  

I have trouble describing the flavour that this delicate combination of ingredients creates.  The citrus is not over powering, nor is the spice from the peppers; the balance makes for a perfect and oh-so-tasty dish.  I have eaten ceviches in many restaurants and I keep comparing them to that of My Ceviche's.  For some reason, My Ceviche always wins.  The freshness, flavour combinations and little extras, all work together beautifully creating a superb ceviche treat.

After we devoured each and every bite, it was time to relax.  We sat comfortably satiated from the meal we had just devoured and began planning our next evening's dinner.  Yes, we ate at My Ceviche for four nights in a row.  Must be some kind of record, no?  By my last evening before my departure back to the cold, I had officially become My Ceviche South Beach's favourite and most loyal customer - YAY!  Now if they would only allow me to open one here in Montreal ... 

My Ceviche on Urbanspoon

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Uniburger: What a Burger!

One of my fondest memories of my childhood is being up north at my parent’s country house playing on the lawn while my Dad BBQued dinner. We used that charcoal Webber like it was going out of style. I loved to help my Dad, but I always knew I had to stay far away from the fire. I would bring him the meat, or a clean plate to put the cooked burgers or steaks on, all the while staying far away from the actual BBQ. One of our favourite dinners, besides a good rib steak, was burgers. Oh how I love a good hamburger (or cheeseburger)!

I had heard amazing things about the burgers at Uniburger. Classic all meat patty, fresh topping and a killer bun what’s not to fall in love with? One night after a long tiring day at work, my friend and I headed over to the Cote-des-Neiges location and ordered up a couple of burgers, fries and drinks!

There is no real vibe to the grungy, casual decor at Uniburger, it just feels like a burger joint. We grabbed a seat at one of the bench tables, filled our cups with Orange crush and sat sipping our drinks till our burgers and fries were ready. It didn’t take long for two picture perfect burgers and crispy fries to be arrive, and as soon as they were, we dug right in.

This is the only burger place I can think of that takes such pride in executing identical and perfect burgers. The burger was picture perfect and tasted even better than it looked. The burger screamed fresh meat, the toppings were just perfect and the delicious potato bun that held it all together was on point – No soggy mess here!  I especially loved how each burger is made fresh and can take about fifteen minutes for your order to be ready.  The fries were perfectly on point as well.  Crispy and not greasy, just really good fries.  

I really enjoyed Uniburger, so much so that I have been back quite a few times since.  For a damn good burger and fries, Uniburger has become my go to place, and it's so cheap!  Next time, I got to try a shake!
Uniburger on Urbanspoon

L'Gros Luxe - dinner at the bar is always better!!

Grilled cheese, poutine, fish ‘n chips, what more could one want to accompany a damn good drink on a girl’s night? That is exactly what my best friend and I were hoping for on our last girl’s night before her husband returned from a business trip. We both had heard all the buzz about L’Gros Luxe and decided we had to head over and try it out for ourselves.

We decided to stop by the Bernard location and quickly grabbed two seats at the bar. We love sitting at the bar, not only is it fun to chat with the people sitting next to you, but the bartenders always make the night that much better. This night, we had two very entertaining men to the left of us and had a blast debating what to order with them. First things first, we had to order drinks!

I started the night with their “Brody Dalle,” a gin cocktail with Campari, lime syrup, raspberries and basil. My friend had “Le Pickle,” a gin martini with a dose of dill pickle juice. Both drinks were strong but still delicious. Despite having a tad too much pickle juice, my friend still enjoyed “Le Pickle.” Her only comment as she sipped her martini was thank goodness she loved pickles otherwise this drink would be awful. My drink was bitter, sweet and delicious, just the way i like it.

We then ordered up what we thought was going to be a feast. We had the evening special, tater-tot poutine, and crispy fish tacos. The plates arrived quite quickly and we both started to eat. The first thing I noticed was how small everything seems to be. The special that evening was a Portobello mushrooms slow-braised served on a brioche bun with an olive tapenade, melted brie cheese and arugula. My friend and I had decided to share everything and as I bit into my half of the Portobello burger I had high hopes for this meal. The Portobello was tender, flavourful and absolutely delicious. Paired with the melted brie, saltiness from the olive tapenade and fresh peppery arugula, this burger was really damn good. The side salad lacked a lot to say the least. Flimsy mixed lettuce, one little cherry tomato and maybe there was a dressing, but I definitely did not taste nor see any. Oh well, I thought, I definitely did not come to have a salad.

Next we sampled the fried fish tacos. First thoughts, where are the tacos? When I say there were small, I mean they were tiny. Literally a two bite taco – no joke! That being said, they were only $2.50 so I really didn’t have a real complaint. As I bit into the taco all I tasted was fried, no other flavours at all. No lime, no cilantro no taste of miso mayo and definitely no pickled veggies, nothing but fried. We were both shocked and disappointed. The cod was cooked perfectly though, tender and flaky with a nicely crispy fried crust, but no flavour whatsoever.

The tater-tot poutine was the one dish I had heard great things about and I was eager to taste it for myself. At first glance the dish looked perfect to me; cheese curds, crispy tater-tots, green onions and a perfect portion of gravy smothered all over. The tots were still very crispy and not soggy which I really enjoyed, but I found the gravy to be lacking flavour. The green onions were a nice touch but very overpowering, there were way too many of them. A small sprinkling would have been sufficient, but with each bite all I tasted was green onions. Again, we were both a little disappointed with this dish, but loved the idea behind it.

As we finished our first round of drinks, we ordered another. This time I went for the “El Diablo” a tequila cocktail with lime juice, triple sec and Pimm’s No 1 gingerale. This drink is now my favourite. Crisp, refreshing and absolutely delicious, I loved this drink!  The perfect balance of tequila, gingerale and lime – outstanding! My friend had the “Madame Luxe,” a gin cocktail with Lillet, basil, cucumber and soda. She too thought her drink was divine, and it was.

As we sat chatting with the fellows next to us, my friend was completely unsatisfied and wanted to order something else to eat. We decided on the plain grilled cheese and fries. The guys next to us also felt the need for something else and ordered up another dish. The grilled cheese arrived and damn it was good. The perfect blend of cheeses, crispy not greasy bread and delicious fries, we were both finally satisfied. The guys too seemed to enjoy whatever it was they ordered.  Of course by the time the grilled cheese arrived I was too tipsy to remember to snap a pic, you'll just have to imagine it!

Then it was time for dessert, not being a huge dessert lover, I let my friend choose what we should get. Deep fried cookie dough, of course! A slab of cookie dough battered and deep fried, what could go wrong? Well to me, everything was wrong with this dish. The fried battered was awful and the cookie dough was mushy – not for me at all!

We had a fun evening at L’Gros Luxe, and I will definitely be back for more drinks, but the food wasn’t too spectacular. There is so much potential, just needs a little tweaking.

L'Gros Luxe on Urbanspoon

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Brunching on a whole new level at Suwu

Brunch has officially been re-invented. Pancakes, French toast and fried eggs have somehow magically transformed to elaborate dishes consisting of some of the most exquisite, and might I say expensive, ingredients. One such lover of re-inventing brunch is none other than Montreal based Chef Antony Nassif. I have been following this young Chef on Instagram and Facebook for a while and he consistently surprises me with his insanely creative dishes that he posts so often. The other day while glancing on Facebook, I noticed he was doing a brunch special at Suwu and I knew I had to have it.

My friend and I arrived on a busy Saturday morning and chose to sit at the bar to watch the action in the kitchen, plus the place was so crowded, we thought the bar would be the best option. As we sat down, menus were quickly provided and the friendly bartender made us feel welcome instantly. He let us know the specials of the day which immediately caused me some heartache; how was I supposed to choose between a slow braised breakfast lamb shawarma and a smoked brisket hash with foie gras and truffle?

We ordered the doughnuts to start while I contemplated what I was going to eat. My friend knew she wanted the All-dressed MTL bagel and that definitely didn’t help my situation. At the last moment I went for it and decided to order both dishes – Food coma here I come!

The doughnut arrived quite quickly and was stuffed with a delicious house made berry jam (I thought it was raspberry but not 100% sure), creamy peanut butter and topped with a deliciously sweet glaze and coloured sprinkles. Cut in half and skewered with a strawberry on top, this doughnut was divine. The doughnut itself was just perfect. Soft, chewy and creamy with the perfect glaze and crunch from the sprinkles made me really love this doughnut. The ratio of peanut butter to jam was just perfect; not too sweet nor was the jam overpowered by the peanut butter – heaven!

After we devoured the dessert, it was time for the real food and a second cup of coffee. First my shawarma arrived casual style and I dug right in. The first bite blew my mind. I guess Chef Antony really knows what he’s doing because I have never had a more flavourful shawarma in my life. The crispy slaw, the crunchy pickled turnips and a fried egg, all pulled together to elevate this shawarma to a whole new level. From the tender lamb to the rich not overpowering garlic sauce, I now see why this shawarma made its way onto Suwu’s dinner menu – minus the fried egg of course.

Then out of nowhere, the largest breakfast dish I have ever seen appeared in front of me. Terrified that I was going to pass out from all the food, I slowly put down the shawarma and reached for my fork. As I took the first bite from the gigantic cast iron pan, I started to feel weak at the knees. This breakfast hash was in a class of its own. The truffle, grand des champs cheese and foie gras incorporated with eggs, breakfast potatoes and brisket made this dish truly special. Each bite incorporated flavours from each element of the dish creating little bites of pure deliciousness. My only problem with this dish was how big it was, but that worked to my benefit as I took the leftovers home and it re-heated perfectly – Amazing!

We sat at the bar sipping our coffees and digesting the feast we had just devoured. The bartender kept us entertained and we really had a great time chatting with him. Sitting at the bar was the best idea ever, not only did we have a clear view of the madness going on in the kitchen, but the bartender let us taste his creations and the service was pretty damn good too. This brunch is really going to be hard to top, can’t wait to see what Chef Antony will come up with next!

SuWu on Urbanspoon

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Blue Ribbon Sushi - Las Vegas

Vegas is one of my favourite cities. Not because of all the parties or the fact that you can drink anywhere and everywhere, ok because of that too, but the food scene in Vegas is one of my favourites. From Bobby Flay to Mario Batali, this city is where you will find so many restaurants owned by so many acclaimed and “Celebrity” chefs. Right before I turned 30, one of my oldest and closest friends and I decided we needed a pre-birthday bash. We booked our flights, booked our hotel and headed to the airport three days later – Girl’s trip!

I arrived in Vegas at 5pm on a Saturday night and headed straight for my hotel. I checked myself and my friend into the Cosmopolitan and headed up to our room. My friend wasn’t due to arrive until later that evening, so I quickly showered and decided to explore and grab a drink. After about an hour or so of drinking and flirting with some really cute guys, my tummy started to rumble – Feed me!! I asked around and was quickly told to try Blue Ribbon Sushi upstairs in the hotel. I could not resist and headed upstairs to the restaurant.

I arrived at the restaurant and opted to grab a seat at the sushi bar, always the best spot when dining solo. I was greeted by the head sushi chef, a few waiters and a couple other patrons eating at the sushi bar. I quickly ordered a beer and chatted with my fellow sushi eaters. I grasped that this was going to be a delicious yet expensive meal as most of the sushi rolls were double the price of any place I had ever been to, but I was in Vegas and could not care one bit.

I ordered up three rolls of sushi to start; the California roll with blue crab, spicy tuna with tempura flakes and last but definitely not least, as per the chef’s recommendation; I ordered the special shrimp tempura roll with red tuna. As I sat at the bar talking and drinking, I realized that I was beyond drunk and desperately needed to eat something. As I looked over, a beautifully presented board of sushi was placed in front of me. The rolls were perfectly uniform and deliciously appetizing, so naturally I dug right in.

The California roll was the first bite I took. The blue crab in the center of the roll was delicious, fresh and plump. The crab elevated this simple sushi roll to new levels and the buttery and rich texture and flavour of the avocado complimented the crab perfectly. It craved some spiciness so naturally I ordered a spicy mayo to accompany this roll.

The spicy tuna and crispy flakes was just what I expected; fresh tuna, a deliciously spiced sauce with a zing to it and crispy tempura flakes. Spicy tuna is one of my favourite sushi rolls; this one was delicious.

The last roll I devoured was the special shrimp tempura and red tuna roll. This one was hands down my favourite, but had I not been in Vegas, I would never pay $24 for this roll. It was a classic shrimp tempura roll with red tuna and sprouts, really not worth the price tag but it was delicious.

I enjoyed my sushi and dining company for about an hour or so, and then asked for the bill. I walked out of the restaurant satisfied, the perfect beginning to an incredibly insane pre-birthday weekend.

Blue Ribbon Sushi Bar & Grill on Urbanspoon