[Review] Morals Village – All-you-can-eat hot pot (Chinatown location)

Website: http://cqdz.ca/
Address: 436 Dundas St. West, 2nd floor, Toronto, ON
When I attended: January 18th, 2016 – Media Dinner
Rating: $$, 4

Ahhhh – nothing hits the spot like a big boiling pot of broth filled with seafood, meat, veggies and whatever else your heart desires. Hot pot is one of my absolute favourite meals, and we eat it often in our household! It is often referred to as “Asian Fondue” but let’s get real here, it is WAY more than that!I attended the grand opening of Morals Village in Toronto for a media tasting event. This is the second location in the GTA, but Morals Village is a recognized name in China with over 600+ restaurant locations! Yup – SIX HUNDRED, pretty crazy, right?! I went in with an empty stomach and left feeling incredibly satisfied and as we like to say in my family after a great meal, “I’m sooo full, I can’t breathe” (from over-eating, a normal and common phrase at the Tang residence).

The space was buzzing with excitement; there was a photo booth with props, a DJ spinning tunes all night, and a giant gong for the opening ceremony! The décor was simple and elegant, with spacious seated benches, modern light fixtures and touches of Asian flair. I especially liked the light-up flower mural by the bar!

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Mural by the bar

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Main seating area

Let’s get down to it. The FOOD! There are 12 soup bases to choose from. I opted for the mountain cliff wild mushroom and super spicy soup base. I found the super spicy soup base just a touch too oily, but the mushroom broth was spot on – YUM! There is also a make-your-own sauce bar to complete your hot pot experience. Options include soy sauce, chili oil, satay sauce, and a personal favourite – preserved bean curd :). This can be tricky if you don’t know how to curate sauces well, which was the case with me.  Luckily, this did not deter my dining experience one bit, as the ingredients were fresh and came out in hoards!

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The servers brought out an endless assortment of goodies – thinly sliced pork, beef, lamb, squid balls, golden fish balls, mushrooms, bamboo shoots, fish paste, whole (LARGE) shrimp, squid, marinated fish fillets, quail eggs, bean curd… the list goes on and on! This was a hot pot DREAM! It was evident that everything was of great quality – nothing looked or tasted like it was sitting on a counter, waiting to be eaten. All of the dishes came out beautifully presented and you could see the labour of love from the kitchen staff and management in providing a memorable meal. There is no shortage of options you can choose from, but you can opt for premium upgrades including Wagyu short rib slices, Alaskan snow crab legs, tiger shrimp, Japanese scallops, fresh oysters and abalone for an added cost. Below is a sample of what I ate:

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Thinly sliced, marbled beef

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From left to right: Sliced pork, an array of mushrooms/greens, and Szechuan pepper fried pork

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Bean curd, qual eggs, seafood and taro!

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Thinly sliced lamb – delicious!

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Everyone has their own hot pot!

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Fresh cuttlefish

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Szechuan pepper marinated fish fillet – which soup base to choose?!

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Nicely presented beef hearts

Would I come back? Absolutely! Hot pot is so dear to my heart and knowing that I now have a go-to place for my fix makes me a happy gal :).  The price is on the higher side, but I enjoyed my meal through and through. Next time you’re hankering for hot pot or if you’ve never had the pleasure of having it before, make a stop at Morals Village – your belly will thank you!

See the full menu below:
IMG_9296-001Pricing:

Adult $25.99
Children (Under 13) $13.95
Senior (Over 65) $19.95

Weekends & Holidays:
+ $2.00
+ $3/person for certified Angus short rib slice

*Disclosure: The meal was complimentary but the opinions and views expressed in the post are my own.
Morals Village Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Until next time! :)

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Winterlicious 2016 Preview at the Windsor Arms Hotel

Website: http://www.windsorarmshotel.com/
Address: 18 Thomas Street, Toronto
When I visited: January 25th, 2016

Winterlicious is a love/hate foodie event that happens every year in Toronto – foodies often feel that restaurants have smaller portion sizes, service might be rushed, or the overall bang-for-your-buck experience is more ‘nay’ than ‘yay’. I would have to say that I was pleasantly surprised with my Winterlicious dinner at The Living Room, the dining area of the Windsor Arms Hotel in Toronto.

The boutique hotel was built in 1927 and brings old-world, neo-gothic charm right in the heart of Yorkville. The dining area is quite formal, with romantic lighting and British-inspired furniture and artwork.

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I had the chance to preview a number of dishes from the Lunch and Dinner Winterlicious menus.

Starters:

Crispy Calamari with Heirloom Tomato Salsa (Lunch)

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This was FANTASTIC! The portion size was massive and the batter ratio was spot on.

Wild Mushroom Veloute and Black Trumpet Mushroom Croquette (Dinner)

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Very earthy with a velvety texture

Lobster Bisque (Dinner)

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Roasted Baby Beets, Peppery Citrus Salad with Aged Balsamic Reduction (Dinner)

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I love roasted beets, and this salad was perfection. The arugula salad was delicately dressed with a sweet, citrusy dressing.

Mains:

Pan Seared Sea Bass with Beet Ravioli, Shaved Fennel and Lemon Butter Sauce (Dinner)

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Marinated Beef Rib, Butternut Squash and Rosemary Fingerling Potatoes with Horseradish Jus (Dinner)

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This was my favourite main course of the evening – the meat was tender, rich and oozed so much flavour!

Braised Lamb Shank with Sweet Potato Puree, Glazed Root Vegetables and Fresh Bean Tempura (Dinner)

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The Lamb shank was fall-off-the-bone tender and the portion size was so big!

Chicken Roulade stuffed with Spinach, Mushroom, Polenta, Vegetable Tempura and Thyme Jus (Lunch)

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I typically don’t order chicken at restaurants with the fear of the meat being overcooked. This dish was well seasoned and moist.

 

Desserts:

Lemon Trio (Dinner)

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If you love lemons, this dessert trio is what your dreams are made of. Variations of tart, sweet lemon treats to complete your meal :)

Vegan Truffles (Dinner)

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Rolled in peanuts and pistachios – delicious!

Overall:

I enjoyed my dining experience at The Living Room. The portion sizes were much larger than I expected and the dishes were expertly crafted with fantastic flavour profiles. If you haven’t already, book your reservation before Winterlicious is over!

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*Disclosure: The meal was complimentary but the opinions and views expressed in the post are my own.
The Living Room - Windsor Arms Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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[Review] Kintori Yakitori – Japanese Skewer Snack Bar

Website: www.kintoriyakitori.com 
Where: 668 Bloor St. W, 2nd Floor, Tor., ON
When I visited: January 12th, 2016, Media Dinner

I had the opportunity to attend an exclusive tasting experience at Kintori Yakitori – a snack-style eatery specializing in Japanese grilled skewers known as “yakitori”.

Kintori Yakitori is part of the ever-popular Kinka Family, which includes Kinton Ramen, Kinka Izakaya (formerly known as Guu), and JaBistro. I am a HUGE fan of the Kinka restaurants, so I knew I was in for a foodie treat (more like…MEAT TREAT)!  Fun Fact: Kintori Yakitori uses Binchotan charcoal and bamboo skewers that are imported straight from the holy land itself – Japan!

The space was cozy and inviting with a similar ambiance to Kinton and JaBistro. It was slightly less high-energy and exuberant compared to Kinka Izakaya, making it a great place for catch-ups, date nights, or a solo food adventure.

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I started off with a grapefruit/vodka cocktail. Even in this frigid Toronto weather, there is nothing like a crisp, fruity cocktail to warm up your belly :)

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We sampled 16 dishes in total – here’s what I ate:

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Chicken Original Soup – Who doesn’t love a little soup? This was rich in chicken flavour – mmm!

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Oshinko Morisawase (assorted Japanese pickles) – These accompanied the yakitori well, adding a touch of pickled goodness to compliment the savoury meats

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Negima (chicken thigh and Tokyo scallion) – The chicken was tender and well-seasoned

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Zuri (chicken gizzard) – I LOVE innards so this was right up my alley!

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Nikumiso Kyabetsu (cabbage salad with house made chicken miso dip) – The salty miso dip paired well with the cabbage –  a nice palate cleanser between dishes

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Tebasaki (chicken wing) – This was PIPING hot when it was served – can’t go wrong with chicken wings!!

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Uzura Kushi Age (panko breaded deep-fried quail eggs)

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Premium Gyu-Tongue (beef tongue) – super tender!

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Tsukune (chicken meatball) – Every cuisine has their version of a meatball and this did not disappoint!

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Hatsu (chicken heart)

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Reba (chicken liver) – Liver can be unpalatable when overcooked – this was DELISH!

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Asparagus (panko breaded deep-friend asparagus wrapped with bacon) – I ate this in 2 bites because…bacon (duh!)

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Negi Shio Gyu (beef with scallion sauce)

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Dashi Maki (Japanese omelet) – Perfectly creamy texture

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Yaki Onigiri (char-grilled rice ball with plum filling & sweet teriyaki sauce)

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Houji Cha Brulee (roasted green tea crème brulee) – I’ve had this before and it’s still perfection – the green tea flavour is subtle yet perfectly highlighted!

Overall – I really enjoyed my experience at Kintori Yakitori! The food is well-priced and not overly seasoned, allowing the true flavours of the meat to stand centre stage. What I liked most is that you can sample so many different types of meat/vegetable skewers without having to commit to one dish! Don’t get me wrong, having one hunk of meat does the job once in a while, but why not sample 5, 10, 15 different types of yakitori?! Like I said, it was a foodie treat. The service was attentive and the company was great too. Go check it out yourself – you won’t be disappointed!

Menu for the evening – sweet personalized touch in the bottom right hand corner :)

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Follow me on Instagram at e5tang!

*Disclosure: The meal was complimentary but the opinions and views expressed in the post are my own.

KINTORI YAKITORI Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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[Review] Brunch at Windsor Arms Hotel in Yorkville

Website: http://www.windsorarmshotel.com/
Address: 18 St. Thomas Street, Tor., ON
When I visited: Oct. 2015

Brunch in the Courtyard Café at the Windsor Arms Hotel was amazing!  This, of course, is an understatement since you need to be there to experience it yourself.  I was invited to sample the new brunch menu on a Sunday by Mary Tang and was blown away.  I never had brunch at a hotel before.

The Windsor Arms hotel is located in Yorkville and it’s hidden just around the corner from big name shops of Yorkville like GUCCI, Monte Blanc and Holt Renfrew.  When I first walked in, I couldn’t imagine how beautiful and classy it was.  Right through the front entrance – I can see the gates to paradise (the brunch/dinner hall).  At first I thought it was a regular brunch, but to my surprise it was an All-You-Can-Eat brunch!

Image by Bao Dao | lucidphotoevents.com

Image by Bao Dao | lucidphotoevents.com

Image by Bao Dao | lucidphotoevents.com

Image by Bao Dao | lucidphotoevents.com

Image by Bao Dao | lucidphotoevents.com

Image by Bao Dao | lucidphotoevents.com

I was greeted and escorted through to the brunch hall within minutes of my arrival. Once I’ve found my seat, I was offered a glass of Windsor Arms Mimosa (a cocktail of specialty Windsor Arms Champagne with fresh orange juice).  A fantastic start!  Drink in one hand, camera in the other – I explored my new found food paradise.

Image by Bao Dao | lucidphotoevents.com

Image by Bao Dao | lucidphotoevents.com

Image by Bao Dao | lucidphotoevents.com

Image by Bao Dao | lucidphotoevents.com

As you can see, the buffet is all-encompassing with eggs Benedict, eggs Florentine, eggs Benjamin, anti-pasto, salads, smoked salmon, OYSTERS, Alaskan crab, pastas, chicken and mushroom croquet, coconut shrimps, beef wellington, more OYSTERS, and that table of dessert!  There’s also a fondue chocolate fountain!  The crème brulee was to die for, hands down one of the best I ever had.

Image by Bao Dao | lucidphotoevents.com

Image by Bao Dao | lucidphotoevents.com

Image by Bao Dao | lucidphotoevents.com

Image by Bao Dao | lucidphotoevents.com

Image by Bao Dao | lucidphotoevents.com

Image by Bao Dao | lucidphotoevents.com

Image by Bao Dao | lucidphotoevents.com

Image by Bao Dao | lucidphotoevents.com

Image by Bao Dao | lucidphotoevents.com

Image by Bao Dao | lucidphotoevents.com

Image by Bao Dao | lucidphotoevents.com

Image by Bao Dao | lucidphotoevents.com

Image by Bao Dao | lucidphotoevents.com

Image by Bao Dao | lucidphotoevents.com

Image by Bao Dao | lucidphotoevents.com

Image by Bao Dao | lucidphotoevents.com

The Windsor Arms Hotel also carry an extensive menu of teas.  I’ve never seen so many types of teas before, so it was a great opportunity to try out some.  In picture is the Eve’s Temptation – which was pure fruit, apple and mango combination of flavours.  Not sure why it was pink, great for photos though!

Image by Bao Dao | lucidphotoevents.com

Image by Bao Dao | lucidphotoevents.com

Image by Bao Dao | lucidphotoevents.com

Image by Bao Dao | lucidphotoevents.com

Image by Bao Dao | lucidphotoevents.com

Image by Bao Dao | lucidphotoevents.com

Image by Bao Dao | lucidphotoevents.com

Image by Bao Dao | lucidphotoevents.com

I really enjoyed the brunch at the Windsor Arms Hotel due to the fact that it was a AYCE, and they have all things I love to eat – oysters, smoked salmon, egg benedicts, beef wellington, and all you can drink minosas!!!  If you are in the Yorkville neighbourhood, and feeling hungry I definitely recommend checking out this brunch.

The hours for Sunday brunch are 11:00am to 1:30pm. Adults are $65pp and children under 12 are $40 pp. For reservations, call 416-971-9666

Check out the rest of the photos on my website http://www.lucidphotoevents.com

Until the next adventure!’

– Bao

@wowbaobao (Instagram)
@BaoTDao (Twitter)
http://www.lucidphotoevents.com

*Disclosure: The brunch was complimentary but the opinions in the post are my own.

Courtyard Cafe - Windsor Arms Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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[Event] Supper with Syria at Wychwood Barns

WEBSITE: http://www.supperwithsyria.org/
WHEN:  Sunday  November  29th,  2015  4pm-­8pm.
WHERE:  Artscape  Wychwood  Barns  (601  Christie  St,  Toronto,  ON  M6G  4C7)

The night featured 2 live performances by the Canadian Arabic Orchestra and a number of individuals personally involved in bringing refugees from Syria and helping them start new lives in Canada.

The night featured 2 live performances by the Canadian Arabic Orchestra and a number of individuals personally involved in bringing refugees from Syria and helping them start new lives in Canada.

You may remember we previously promoted a wonderful community event organized by the residents of Toronto’s Ward 21. Well, Supper with Syria was an extraordinary success and Mary’s Happy Belly was there to experience this important event. The initial goal was to raise enough funds to sponsor 2 Syrian families and secure their safe passage to start a new home in Toronto, away from the ordeals they have faced in their war-torn home country.

Well Attended

Directions to a new life

Directions to a new life

Along with ticket sales and donations, and the generosity of sponsors including Dunpar, Fiesta Farms, Beau’s All Natural Brewery, the event was able to surpass its original expectations and raise enough for 3 families! Needless to say, it was a resounding success. Between delicious Syrian eats and performances by musicians, dancers, poets and caricaturists, the event entertained a steady group from 4:45 pm until 9 pm and included remarks by Toronto Mayor John Tory and Alexandra Kotyk of Lifeline Syria. Attendees also purchased raffle tickets at the event for a host of incredible prizes — as well as participated in a silent auction.

Raffle participants competed for a variety of excellent prizes including a one night stay with dinner at the Drake Devonshire and a $1000 Office Chair by Matteograssi

Raffle participants competed for a variety of excellent prizes including a one night stay with dinner at the Drake Devonshire and a $1000 Office Chair by Matteograssi

by Sanjiz Matthews, Incredible Spice

by Sanjiz Matthews, Incredible Spice

by Ali Fallala of Reyan Restaurant in Mississauga

by Ali Fallala of Reyan Restaurant in Mississauga

*The ticket to attend was complimentary but the opinions in the post are my own.

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[Product review] Fudi creates high-end frozen dinners

Growing up, my family did not buy frozen dinners. Even now, I make most of my food from scratch but periodically buy frozen pizzas, Jamaican patties, and Chinese dumplings.

When I was given samples to try out frozen dinners from Fudi Canada (www.fudi.ca), I wanted to make sure it was healthy and the portions were substantial, since my husband and I have great appetites.

About Fudi:

Fudi was founded by Maurizio Racco after he found that he could not find healthy, exquisitely-prepared, yet quick dinner options in the frozen-food aisle. The ingredients in the packages are locally sourced and slow cooked and preserved using the sous-vide method. The sous-vide method eliminates the risk of contamination by e-coli, salmonella, listeria and other harmful pathogens. For a home cook, this also means all I had to do was place the bags into a pot of boiling water to prepare a delicious dinner. Yes!

Currently, there are 5 chicken flavours including Pollo (chicken) tandoori, jerk, cajun, sante fe, and alla cacciatora. The free-range chicken is locally sourced from Beretta Farms  and is antibiotic and hormone free, and served with 1/4 cup of pearl barley sourced from Ottawa Valley Grain Products; and 1 cup of uncooked, Ontario (when available) organic baby kale that is field frozen and sourced from AJ Lanzarotta.

So how was my experience trying Fudi?

  • I liked that the packaging had simple pictures and instructions.

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Fudi package instructions

Fudi package instructions

  • The preparation was easy and convenient as all I had to do was drop the packages into boiling water for 17 minutes.
What the packages looked like. The chicken, barley and sauce is in one bag, and the kale is in the other.

What the packages looked like. The chicken, barley and sauce was in one bag, and the kale was in the other.

In a pot of boiling water

In a pot of boiling water

  • I did not open the bags directly onto a plate since the kale had too much liquid. Instead, I put the kale in a colander first.
  • As for taste, the chicken for all 5 flavours were well seasoned and moist. The barley was done nicely.
  • The portions for one package was enough for 1 person. Unlike many frozen dinners, I find the portions too small.
  • The price is well worth it for $9.99 a pack or $45 for a variety pack
Jerk Chicken from Fudi

Jerk Chicken from Fudi

Tandoori Chicken from Fudi

Tandoori Chicken from Fudi

Now, I did find the food repetitive after eating 5 packs over a span of a few days. The variation in the flavours was similar. As the company expands, it would be nice to see different meats, grain and vegetable choices as the offerings are only chicken, pearl barley and kale at the moment.

Fudi is currently available at Whole Foods across the province, as well as select Foodland locations. I may not be the target market for this product since I rarely eat frozen dinners but would buy this again to prepare when I need a quick weeknight dinner and want an inexpensive and healthy option. It’s also nice to support food that has sustainable practices and is sourced locally.

Follow them on social media for more updates:

facebook.com/fudicanada
instagram.com/fudi_ca
twitter.com/fudi_ca
www.fudi.ca

*Disclosure: I was given the samples to try but this is not a sponsored post as I chose to review the product. All opinions and views expressed in the post are my own.

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