In my humble opinion, garlic is one of the best things to happen to food!

Originating from Central Asia, garlic was first cultivated 7000 years ago for cooking and medicinal purposes. While the Ancient Egyptians apparently fed garlic to the Great Pyramid builders because they believed it made people stronger, the Ancient Chinese used garlic to protect themselves from the plague.

Although some cultures embraced the awesomeness of garlic, other groups weren’t as welcoming. For example, when garlic was first introduced to North America, it was looked down on because it was seen as an ethnic, working class ingredient.

Thankfully, garlic is now  widely loved and grown across Canada and the States! While I’ve never tried garlic from other parts of North America, I know for a fact that Ontario garlic is AH-MAZING.

I was first introduced to Ontario garlic a few years back when Davey’s aunt gave us some garlic bulbs from her garden. It’s amazing how flavourful and huge Ontario garlic cloves are! Ever since trying Ontario garlic for the first time, it’s been very difficult to go back to imported garlic from China.

To celebrate the deliciousness of Ontario garlic, Yoan, Davey and I checked out the Toronto Garlic Festival last month. The festival took place at the Evergreen Brick Works and brought together garlic lovers, chefs, farmers, as well as local breweries.

We kicked-off the event with Amsterdam Brewery’s Harvest Ale, which is a delicious ale that uses fresh cascade hops picked from a farm in Collingwood. To ensure freshness, the hops are added to the brewing process within four hours of being picked off the vines!

One thing I was really excited to try was black garlic, which is garlic that’s slowly roasted under 60°C heat for about six weeks. Ultimately, this process breaks down the sugars in garlic and gives it a sweet, caramelized flavour. One of the stalls had mixed some black garlic into a tub of cream cheese and it was seriously delicious! Another stall had some black garlic brownies, which sounds weird but the sweetness of the garlic went really well with chocolate.

Some pics from the festival:


Garlic entry stamp.


I really wanted Yoan to buy this. She didn’t.


Exploring the rest of the Brick Works since it’s such an awesome space!


Garlic goodness! Looking forward to next year’s festival already!

The Stop’s Night Market

The Stop Community Food Centre hosted its second annual Night Market this week to raise money for its anti-poverty and anti-hunger programs…and it was incredible!

The Stop is a local organization that strives to increase access to healthy food in Toronto communities by tackling poverty, hunger, poor health and isolation. Starting out as a food bank more than 30 years ago, The Stop now runs a number of initiatives such as food education and cooking programs, community gardens, civic engagement workshops and a farmers’ market.

While the Night Market took place on both Tuesday and Wednesday night, we only got tickets for Wednesday. For $50, the event was all-you-can-eat AND drink between 7 and 11 PM. Top restaurants, pop-up shops, breweries and wineries from all over the city set up fancy stalls along the back alley of Honest Ed’s to celebrate good food for a great cause.

Before I get into the food, I just want to say how impressive all the food stalls were. Designed and built by local designers, such as students from Ryerson’s School of Interior Design and Central Technical School, they were all so creative and thoughtful. Here were my two favourite food stall designs:

Cote de Beouf’s stall, designed by [R]ed[U]x Lab. You can check out this cool time-lapse video of the team assembling the food stall.


Tori’s Bakeshop stall, designed by Fake Line Factory. This is a terrible pic that I took so you can’t really see the details but the sign is decorated by origami pieces with little lights in them that double as donut containers. So simple but clever!

Now for my top three dishes from the event:

#3 Paulette’s Original Donuts and Chicken: Garam Masala Donut. Wasn’t sure what to expect from this donut at first but it was nice and dense and you could really taste the hints of ginger and cinnamon.


#2 Babi & Co: Padang-style pulled chicken curry on a fried Chinese bun (man tow) with cucumber and fried shallots. The use of the sweet Chinese bun made this deliciously savoury.


#1 Delica Kitchen:  Tandoori duck breast pastrami, with mango slaw and curried maple almonds. What can I say, I love duck meat.

Surrounded by delicious food and drinks, happy souls, fun music and wonderful summer weather, the evening was pretty magical. Thanks to The Stop for organizing such a wonderful event and reminding me why I love this city so dearly!

[Photgraphs: 1 and 3. Jenna Marie Wakani via Toronto Life, 4. Babi&Co, 5. Jen Chan via foodpr0n]


There is just something about ramen’s salty broth, starchy noodles and assorted toppings that makes it the ultimate comfort food.

It is believed that ramen originated from China and was first introduced to Japan in the early 1900’s by Chinese chefs living in Tokyo. Hence, the word ‘ramen’ is derived from the Chinese term, ‘lai mien,’ meaning pulled noodles.

A traditional bowl of ramen consists of three main components: noodles, soup and toppings.

The noodles are made with wheat flour, water, salt and kansui (mineral water containing a combination of sodium carbonate, potassium carbonate and phosphate). Kansui is a crucial ingredient as it gives ramen noodles its flavour, firmness, elasticity and colour.

The soup is often made from a pork or chicken stock and additional seasoning, such as salt, soy sauce or miso paste, is added  depending on the ramen recipe.

While the toppings vary for each ramen recipe, they usually include barbequed pork, seaweed, boiled egg, fermented bamboo shoots and chopped spring onions.

After trying the handful of ramen restaurants in the city, here are my top three:

#3 Kinton


Kinton is a Vancouver-based ramen restaurant owned by James HyunSoo Kim, who is the same genius behind Guu. Kinton’s soup base for all their ramen recipes is made with pork bone stock, chicken stock, fish broth, vegetable broth and filtered water. Customers can customize their ramen by choosing the fattiness of their soup and the type of pork meat (shoulder or belly). I ordered the Shoyu Ramen (soy sauce flavour) and opted for the regular soup and the pork belly. While the soup was flavourful, it was way too fatty and heavy. The texture of the noodles was a bit too tough for my liking and the alkaline flavour of the noodles was slightly overpowering. Despite not being a huge fan of the soup and noodles, the barbequed pork belly was perfection. The pork was sooo tender that it kept falling apart every time picked it up with my chopsticks. The best part of the whole dish, however, was the soft boiled egg (ajitsuke tamago). Everything about it, the texture of the egg white, runny-ness of the yolk and the seasoning was beyond perfection. I can honestly say that the egg at Kinton is THE BEST I have ever had. While the soup and noodles weren’t the best, the pork shoulder and egg really did it for me.

#2 Sansotei


Santosei is a Toronto-based ramen restaurant that is popular for their creamy pork-bone based broth. When ordering, customers can choose between the original, thick or thin noodles. So far I’ve tried the Tonkotsu Ramen (pork-bone based soup) with original noodles and the Tonkotsu Shoyu Ramen (pork-bone based based soup flavoured with soy sauce) with thin noodles. While the Tonkotsu broth was really fragrant, it was a little too salty. I would also prefer to have the egg a little more seasoned. The barbequed pork was a little tough on my first visit but was incredibly tender on my second visit.

#1 Santouka


Santouka, a Hokkaido-based ramen restaurant, serves the most well-rounded bowl of ramen in the city. I’ve ordered the Shoyu Ramen twice and on both occasions, the pork-based soup was deliciously rich but not too salty. Though Kinton’s pork belly is unbeatable, the barbequed pork at Santouka was well-seasoned with soy sauce and had a decent amount of fattiness to it. The noodles had the best consistency out of all the ramen restaurants in the city as it was slightly chewy but not too tough. My only issue with Santouka is that they charge extra for the boiled egg and even then it’s not as good as the one at Kinton.

To end this post, I present you with the magical Kinton egg:


[Photographs: 1. Kinton Ramen, 2. Sansotei Ramen, 3. Santouka Ramen, 4. Kinton Ramen]

Dim Sum

Dim sum is, without a doubt, one of my favourite things about Chinese cuisine.

A Cantonese meal that’s extremely popular in Southern China (especially in Hong Kong), dim sum is an exciting breakfast/brunch meal that’s eaten with a group of family or friends. While the literal translation of dim sum is “touch of the heart,” the act of going for dim sum is referred to as yum cha, which means “drink tea,” (as tea is always served with the meal).

Traditionally, dim sum dishes are served in little metal carts that are pushed around by ‘dim sum ladies.’ The ladies circulate the dining room and shout out the names of each dish, while dim sum goers order by calling them over or going directly to the cart. After an order is made, the ladies stamp the order card at each table to indicate the size and quantity of the dishes ordered. At the end of the meal, the stamps are tallied up to calculate the cost of the meal. While this is a fun and interactive way to enjoy dim sum, it’s no longer a popular way of ordering at most restaurants, unfortunately. Luckily, the way dim sum is ordered doesn’t affect the quality of the food!

The thing I love most about dim sum is that since all dishes are served in small portions and intended for sharing, you will always have enough stomach room for ALL your favourite dim sum dishes. Awesome, right?

In no particular order, here’s some pics of my favourite dim sum dishes for ya’ll to drool over:

[Photographs: Robyn Lee]

Lo Mai Gai 糯米雞


Glutinous rice with chicken, Chinese sausage and shitake mushrooms, steamed in lotus leaf.

Zha Leung 炸两


Deep fried dough fritters wrapped in a thin layer of steamed rice noodle, sprinkled with sesame seeds. Often dipped in a bit of soy sauce, hoisin sauce and peanut sauce.

Wu Gok 芋角


Deep fried dumplings made with mashed taro and minced pork.

Ham Sui Kok 咸水角


Deep fried dumplings made with glutinous rice flour, minced pork and  shitake mushrooms.

Siu Mai 燒賣


Steamed dumplings made with pork and shitake mushrooms.

Dan Tat 蛋撻


Egg custard tarts made with a flaky puff pastry (much better than shortcrust pastry).

Glory Hole Doughnuts

Yesterday, I finally ventured out to the west end to check out the much-raved about Glory Hole Doughnuts.

Before my cousin and I made our way to this magical place, I’d studied their online menu and decided on the Salted Caramel & Spicy Pecan doughnut. Once we got there however, I found out that they had sold out of the Salted Caramel doughnut (booooo!!!) so I ended up getting the  Mocha Almond Fudge for myself and S’mores for Davey.

Here are the beauties:


You may not be able to tell from the pic but these doughnuts are massive!

The verdict: I wanted to love the Mocha Almond Fudge doughnut but found that the icing was just not chocolate-y or coffee-y enough! One thing I did enjoy was the chocolate pudding filling. Once you cut into it (yes I ate it with a knife and fork because I was in public and didn’t want to look like a giant slob with chocolate sauce all over myself) the gooey chocolate pudding just oozes right out and soaks the rest of the doughnut…it was awesome. I tried a bit of the S’mores doughnut and thought the icing was not chocolate-y enough either.

Despite not loving either doughnuts, I’m willing to go back just to try the Salted Caramel and Spicy Pecan one because anything with salted caramel on it is amazing in my opinion!

Bun Cha Hanoi

Bun Cha Hanoi is hands down one of the best things I’ve ever eaten.

I was introduced to this delicious dish when I visiting my friend in Vietnam two summers ago. It was the second day of my trip and my friend suggested we have Bun Cha Hanoi for lunch as it’s a pretty popular dish in northern Vietnam. We took a quick stroll around our hotel and settled for the first food stall that was serving Bun Cha Hanoi.

The food stall looked a little something like this:


The amazing thing about food stalls in Vietnam is that they’re really just a few plastic stools and chairs and a makeshift kitchen along the side of the road. At the same time however, they serve some of the most delicious Vietnamese meals ever – possibly because of their use of fresh, local ingredients.

Our bowls of Bun Cha Hanoi arrived within minutes after we sat down and I managed to snap this picture before I devoured it:


The dish is made with a fish sauce broth (served at room temperature), grilled pork seasoned with lemongrass, fresh vermicelli, bean sprouts and fresh herbs. The broth was a delicious combo of sweet, sour and salty goodness while the pork was warm, tender and flavourful. Ahhh… it was glorious.

I honestly wish I could eat Bun Cha Hanoi everyday. It’s a dish that I miss ALL THE TIME since it’s not commonly available at Vietnamese restaurants in Toronto. Even the places that have it just don’t serve the same bowl of perfection I had in Hanoi, unfortunately. Guess I’ll have to plan a trip back to Hanoi when this craving gets out of hand…

Nom nom nom

I love food.

My favourite pastimes revolve around food – whether it’s cooking, baking, bbqing, dining out, potlucking, or picnicking. My favourite people are those who love to eat and can talk endlessly about their favourite meals. My favourite memories in life are defined by the meals I’ve had and the people I’ve shared them with.

This blog is to share my love for food and celebrate all things food-related.