[Review] Dragon Legend Chinese buffet in Markham

Website: http://www.dragonlegend.ca/
Address: 25 Lanark Rd, Markham ON
When I visited: May 2016, dinner
Rating: $$, 4.5

I have done a blog post back in 2014, but have been to Dragon Legend at least 5 times since. Some menu items and the pricing has changed, so it’s time for an update. I bumped up the rating since the food has been consistent in terms of quality and selection, however their price had increased from 2014.

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Saturday and Sunday lunch is $21.99 and kids between 5-12 are $11.99, and Friday to Sunday dinner is $32.99 and kids between 5-12 are $16.99. Seniors 65+ get 20% discount and kids under 4 are $2.99. They got rid of their VIP membership program.

The set up of their tables has not changed. It does not matter where you sit at the restaurant, the tables are made of solid wood and beautiful. The entrance with the long bar is picture worthy. I’m confident that Dragon Legend has the nicest decor for a Chinese buffet in Toronto!

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A few menu changes from my previous post. They used to serve scallop sashimi during dinner, and now they serve salmon and hamachi sashimi and sweet shrimp. They also have a really flavourful Ginseng chicken soup.

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The crab legs are only available on Saturday and Sunday’s. Other favourite items are their house made noodles and soup, Peking Duck, deep fried oysters, selective stir frys and their black sesame ice cream.

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The best deal is to go at lunch on a weekday, where the price is only $15.99/adult. They also offer the Peking duck and salmon sashimi at lunch.

Overall:

I am a fan of Dragon Legend! If you eat a lot, it is definitely worth it since the price is more than many other Chinese buffets. With a beautiful decor, the buffet makes a great spot for special occasions. Dinner is way busier than their lunch hour. Do make reservations in advance.

Dragon Legend Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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[Product Review] First impressions of the Instant Pot

The power of social media..I first heard about the Instant Pot from my blogger friend Carole (http://theyumyumfactor.blogspot.ca/). Her IG  feed of dishes made from her Instant Pot were mouth-watering. I found out that I could make mac and cheese, stews, potato salads and creme brulee in the pressure cooker, all done in record timing! Yes, creamy no-stir risotto in 7 minutes. I was sold!

My Instant Pot

My Instant Pot

About the Instant Pot IP-DUO60 7-in-1 Programmable Pressure Cooker, 6qt/1000W: 

Instant Pot (http://instantpot.com) is an electric pressure cooker designed by Canadians. From their product brochure:

  • It is the latest 3rd Generation Technology. Stainless Steel Cooking Pot and Exterior
  • Convenience, Simple as Pressing a Button Instant Pot IP-DUO series is a 7-in-1 programmable cooker, built on our best-selling IP-LUX series. IP-DUO combines the functions of a pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker/porridge maker, steamer, sauté/browning, yogurt maker and warmer. Using the 14 built-in smart programs (Soup, Meat/Stew, Bean/Chili, Poultry, Sauté, Steam, Rice, Porridge, Multigrain, Slow Cook, Keep-Warm, Yogurt, Pasteurize and Fermented Rice), your favorite dishes are within the reach of pressing a button. Green peas, sweet corn and baby carrots can be steamed in 2 to 3 minutes, fresh or frozen. To make mashed potato, don’t boil potatoes in water for 50 minutes leaching nutrients into the water; steam them in Instant Pot for just 15 minutes. An entrée of chilli or Irish stew can be done within an hour, without you watching over it.
  • The benefits include saving time and energy, preserving nutrients, eliminating harmful micro-organisms in food, and making delicious food.

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With 2 young kids, I wanted to get an appliance to help me cook healthy meals quickly and the Instant Pot has impressed me in many ways so far. Let me tell you about my experience over the last couple of weeks….

Pressure Cooker newbie mistakes: 

I have not used a pressure cooker before and was a little nervous using the Instant Pot at first.

I do not like reading instructions but feel that it is important to read the manual to understand the safety features, the various functions on the pressure cooker and how to properly clean it. I also recommend to read a few recipes before making your first dish. I did not. I tried to steam 2 apples under the “steam” function at 7 minutes under high pressure with about 2.5 cups of water. I was expecting soft pieces of apples but instead the apples turned into mush, and mixed in with the water. I made applesauce instead!  It was perfect for my infant daughter, but the texture was not what I intended.

I didn’t realize that it takes between 10-40 minutes for the pressure cooker to “get to pressure” depending on the size of the content before the cooking timing starts. I thought my instant pot was broken at first when the display counter said “On” but stayed that way for about 10 minutes before the timer began.

As an amateur mistake, when I made a pork bone stock, I didn’t let the pressure come down naturally (natural pressure release) before changing the valve from “sealing” to “venting” and quickly released the valve after the timer was up on the pressure cooker (quick release). With the stock filled to the maximum line, the soup sprayed continuously and uncontrollably on my counter for over 5 minutes.

I recommend buying the America Test Kitchen “Pressure Cooker Perfection” cookbook as there are great tips and tasty recipes that were tried and tested. I have used it as a guideline since.

Making oxtail beef chuck stew in the Instant Pot

Making oxtail beef chuck stew in the Instant Pot

What I love:

  • Flavours of the food!
  • My broths made with bones are incredible with all the nutrients extracted. The bones become soft and porous!
  • Saves me time…a lot of time! The pressure cooker is great for foods that take long to simmer on the stove top. I normally simmer stock for 4 hours on the stove top but I can get flavourful broth in one hour in the pressure cooker. I was able to boil potatoes for my potato salad in just 7 minutes.
  • It is convenient since I can throw a bunch of ingredients in the pressure cooker, set the pressure level and time, and forget about it until it is ready. I do not need to peak at my food.
  • There is no smell. I made fish stock and all the smell was contained within the pressure cooker while cooking.
  • It is portable and I can bring it wherever there is an electric outlet.
  • Once I got used to the functions, it is easy to use.
  • There is a keep warm function, and there is a delay timer setting.
  • There are lots of resources online to answer my pressure cooker questions.
  • I made risotto in less than 20 minutes including getting the Instant Pot up to pressure, which is amazing. I did not have to stir and it was creamy!
  • I have been using it to cook vegetables and fruit for my baby. The nutrients and flavours are locked in.

Instant Pot

Things I need to get used to:

  • Can’t peek at the food while it is cooking to make adjustments.
  • It is not obvious what the simmer or browning option is without reading the instructions.
  • With burnt bits from deglazing the pan, the base was not as easy to clean compared to my Le Creuset pans, even after soaking it in soapy water.
  • When sauteing or browning my food, the oil rises to my ceiling rather than under the hood range.
  • The 6 qt pot is tall but the base is not wide enough for me, which means I cannot steam a lot of vegetables at once. When browning my meats, I need to do them in several batches.

This is a personal preference, but if I am making a full pot of stew, I prefer to use my larger dutch oven to sauté and brown my vegetables/meat, and use the Instant Pot to shorten the overall cooking time, simmer and lock in all the nutrients/flavour. Plus, it is easier to clean my dutch oven.  I know that is not how the pressure cooker is meant to be used, and I have to wash an extra pot, but it works for me.

It won’t replace all my kitchen appliances. I will still cook food on my stove top at the same time I am using the pressure cooker. I may cook rice in my rice cooker while the pressure cooker is on, so that I can get more things done at once.

Chickpeas and acorn soup made by my Instant Pot pressure cooker

Chickpeas and acorn soup made by my Instant Pot pressure cooker

Examples of what I have made and the timing under medium/high pressure: 

  • Steamed apples, pears, brocoli and carrots – 3-4 mins
  • Creamy risotto with fish stock – 7 mins
  • Steamed potatoes-7 minutes
  • Chickpeas (soaked for about 15 minutes prior to cooking) – 8 mins
  • Vegetable soup with pasta, barley and broccoli – 10 mins
  • Pork bone soup with acorn squash, potatoes and barley- 15 mins
  • Vegetable stock – 20 mins
  • Red wine tomato oxtail and chuck stew – 35 mins
  • Pork tenderloin stock- 50 mins
  • Fish stock with lemongrass – 50 mins

Each item took at least 10 minutes to get to pressure and some dishes had a natural release, which adds another 10-15 minutes to the overall cooking time.

Using my Instant Pot

Using my Instant Pot

Overall:

It has changed my life and I don’t know how I lived without my Instant Pot before! Look out for pressure cooker recipes on my blog.

If you are thinking of getting one, you can get it through the Instant Pot Canadian Amazon Store off of “In Search of the Yum Yum Factor” blog.

*This is not a sponsored post.

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Grab tickets for the 3rd Annual Taste of Toronto June 23-26th, 2016

Website: http://tasteoftoronto.com/tastefestivals.com

Summer time means tons of food festivals in Toronto! Taste of Toronto is a food festival that should be on everyone’s radar; one that is perfect for the whole family. Did you know that kids under 12 are free? Also, it is still the only North American outpost of the international Taste Festivals

Taste of Toronto

For those new to Taste of Toronto, it “…showcases the true flavours of the local food scene. Enjoy signature dishes from the city’s finest restaurants, learn tricks of the trade from world-class chefs, and sample gourmet food and drinks, all in one place. Whether you’re a well-dined gourmand, a new-found food lover, or simply looking for a good time with friends, there’s something for everybody at Taste of Toronto!” (Source: http://tasteoftoronto.com/)

This will be my third year going and I wanted to share some cool highlights for this year’s event. Read about my 2014 and 2015 experience. The location will once again be at Fort York with an expansion to Garrison Commons.

There will be 7 newly participating restaurants including:

  1.       Alo
  2.       Piano Piano
  3.       Antler
  4.       Miku
  5.       Kanpai
  6.       Carver
  7.       Mamakas

Alo is the most  sought after reservation in Toronto, if not Canada! They are actually closing Thursday night of The Taste, so they can participate at the event.

Photo credit: Sarjoun Faour Courtesy of Taste of Toronto

Photo credit: Sarjoun Faour Courtesy of Taste of Toronto

Taste of Toronto 2016 restaurant and star lineup

  • Adrian Niman, Rasa
  • Aki Urata, Kinton Ramen
  • Anthony Rose, Fat Pasha
  • Carl Heinrich, Richmond Station
  • Chris Kalisperas, Mamakas Taverna
  • Chuck Hughes, celebrity guest
  • Claudio Aprile – Origin Restaurant.
  • Cory Vitiello, Toronto Life Chef’s Table
  • David Lee, Nota Bene
  • David Neinstein, Barque
  • Elia Herrera, Los Colibris & El Caballito Tequila y Tacos
  • Franco Stalteri, Charlie’s Burgers
  • Felipe Dueñas, The County General (Sunday only)
  • Jamie Kennedy – Jamie Kennedy Kitchens
  • Ippei Iwata, Kinka Izakaya
  • Kazuya Matsuoka, Miku Toronto
  • Mark McEwan, McEwan Group
  • Michael Hunter, Antler Kitchen & Bar (Friday only)
  • Michael van den Winkel, Little Sister & Noorden Food Bar
  • Michelle Jobin, Taste Theatre
  • Miranda Keyes, Metro Master Class
  • Patrick Kriss, The Bar at Alo (Thursday only)
  • Rick Moonen, Toronto Life Chef’s Table, Metro Master Class and Taste Theatre
  • Rob Bragagnolo, Carver
  • Ted Corrado, The Drake Hotel Properties
  • Trevor Lui, Kanpai Snack Bar (Saturday only)
  • Victor Barry, Piano Piano

Also on their website is the menu card. I recommend looking at it and downloading it. It pretty much tells you everything you need to know about Taste of Toronto in a printable PDF format, including a map, which Chefs will be there and when, as well as the dishes and number of crowns needed. This year, the number of crowns for a dish range from 6 crowns to 150. Start planning!

Admission prices for general entry tickets are $19 online and $24 at the door with further discounts for youths (13-17 years old) and American Express holders. There are VIP packages and private dining packages available as well (Buy Tickets).

Facebook: TasteofToronto
Twitter: @TasteofToronto
Instagram: @TasteofToronto
Hashtag: #TasteofToronto
Photos: Taste of Toronto 2015

I’ll be posting what I ate after the event on my blog and on Instagram https://www.instagram.com/themary_tang/ . Follow me!

I’ll be there with my family. Come say hello!

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[Product Review with video] Looftlighter fire lighting tool really works!

It’s BBQ season so I wanted to share with you a great tool that I am using to help light the charcoal in our Weber smoker.

We have had our smoker for a few years now and have been using our chimney starter. My husband is our household pit and smoke master. Before he would add the meat to the smoker, he would take at least 30 minutes to get the smoker started, with a process of adding in newspaper, charcoal and lighter fluid to the chimney starter to get the charcoal hot, before waiting for the smoker temperature to rise. I have watched him get the smoker started but haven’t done it myself.

Looflighter

Looflighter

When I heard that there is a charcoal heating tool that “ignites fires and BBQs in a few seconds”, that had grabbed my attention.

There are so many products on the market, and I wanted to make sure that it really worked and is worth the investment. With a growing family, we are more conscious of our spending and are selective with our purchases. I checked YouTube videos, Tweeted for advice and chatted with real users before making the purchase.

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Here is what the Looflighter 70018 Fire Lighting Tool claims to do:

  • Igniting fires and BBQ’s takes just a few seconds
  • The patented hot airstream process eliminates the chemical taste that infuses onto food when using lighter fluid and gas
  • Equipped with a safety casing
  • Does not throw flames
  • Speeds up heating process of coals and fire

Source: https://www.amazon.ca

With good recommendations, we bought ours from Amazon Canada. On our first try, I documented our experience to see how easy it was to use and how long it would take us to light up a pile of charcoal.

Check out the Looflighter Video, and see how long it really takes to light a pile of charcoal:  

What I loved:

  • Eliminates the need for lighter fluid
  • Lights wood and charcoal
  • Newspapers are not needed
  • Can be used for BBQs, not just smokers
  • Looks cool!
  • Does light up charcoal in less than 60 seconds
  • Easy instructions/easy to use
  • Equipped with a safety casing that cools to the touch within a few seconds after use

…and I feel comfortable lighting the charcoal myself for the smoker! Time to record some recipes to share with you.

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What I didn’t love:

It needs to be plugged into an electric outlight. It’s great for home or cottage use, but cannot be used if there is not an electric outlet nearby.

And last, I am not sure how long the Looftlighter will last. If it last at least 5 BBQ seasons, I will be happy. The chimney starter should last forever in my eyes.

With Father’s Day coming up this weekend, this would make an excellent gift. Happy BBQ season!

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[Event] Garden Party with Vinho Verde Wines

Websitehttp://www.vinhoverde.pt/
When I attended: June 2016– media wine pairing event

I was first introduced to Vinho Verde wines from Portugal last year at the media tasting at Archive 909 restaurant (read all about it).

On June 1st 2016, I was invited to an intimate garden party at the home of Ellen Douglas, who helps produce CNBCs Wine Portfolio; a wine, food and lifestyle TV series that airs in 40 countries worldwide. The event was co-hosted by Rea Kelly, a leading Canadian Artist from Toronto.

Rea Kelly and Ellen Douglas

Rea Kelly and Ellen Douglas

It was an evening of appreciating beautiful art, while learning about Vinho Verde wines. The wines were paired with a charcuterie board with fine cheeses and cured meats, as well as a flatbread with gorgonzola cheese, apricot jelly and arugula.

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With little insects out and a light evening breeze, the backyard oasis was a relaxing setting for the event. It was nice getting to know Rhea and Ellen, as well as the other bloggers in attendance. I was fascinated by Ellen Douglas’ experience and travelling stories. I’d love to be in her shoes to travel and enjoy the great eats and wines the world has to offer. One day, I will make it out to the beautiful Vinho Verde region of northwestern Portugal.

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About Vinho Verde (VV)  wines: 

  • The Vinho Verde region in Portugal is one of the largest and oldest wine regions in the world.
  • Vinho Verde are young wines that are not allowed to mature.
  • The majority of Vinho Verde sits on top of granite.
  • The Portuguese love their wine so much, they only export about 20 % internationally.
  • They only produce white and rose wines.
  • More about VV wines http://www.vinhoverde.pt/

Here are my thoughts of what I had sampled….

Vinho Verde Wines

Vinho Verde Wines

My favourite of the evening was the Borges Alvarinho 2014 from the LCBO Vintage section (LCBO#: 129394 $13.20) as it was the smoothest one in comparison to the others and fragrant. My next favourite was the Quinta da Aveleda Vinho Verde (LCBO#: 89995 $10.95) with prominent floral notes. The Sogrape Gazela Winho Verde wine (LCBO#: 141432 $9.95) was dry with a spritzy finish, which I would love to add in a Sangria. Overall, I felt the wines were light, crisp and aromatic.

Aside from being excellent wines, the price points are incredible!

As Rea Kelly had said “A great glass of wine is a work of art”, and this event was a great way to appreciate art and wine.

I’ll be looking for for Vinho Verde wines at my next visit to the LCBO.

Vinho verde June 2016

*Disclosure: The food and wine at the tasting were complimentary, but the opinions in the post are entirely my own.

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[Recipe] Kohlrabi Cucumber Salad with a Mint Sumac Yogurt Dressing

I love this salad and so happy to share the recipe! The kohlrabi provides a nice crunch, with a creamy yet light tasting dressing. Do not omit the mascarpone cheese, as it adds to the texture of the dressing.

This salad was adapted from the Jerusalem cookbook and I made some variations to make this my own including adding in cucumbers. If you only learn to make one new salad recipe this summer, make it this one.

Preparing the dressing

Preparing the dressing

[Recipe] Kohlrabi Cucumber Salad with a Mint Sumac Yogurt Dressing
 
Author:
Recipe type: Salad
Cuisine: Middle Eastern
Ingredients
  • 3 kohlrabi- peeled and diced
  • 1 cucumber-peeled and diced
  • 2 cups of arugula
  • 1 cup of watercress
  • Salad dressing:
  • ⅓ cup of Greek Yogurt
  • 5 tsp sour cream
  • 3 tbsp mascarpone cheese
  • 1 small garlic-minced
  • 1 ½ tbsp of lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp of olive oil
  • 1 tsp dried mint
  • 2 tbsp fresh mint
  • ¼ tsp of sumac
  • salt and black pepper
Instructions
  1. Cut the kohlrabi and cucumber
  2. Mix all the ingredients for the dressing in a bowl. The dressing can be made a few hours in advance and left in the fridge.
  3. Before serving, add the arugula and watercress to a bowl and toss with the kohlrabi and cucumber.
  4. Add the dressing and mix well.

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Kohlrabi salad

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