Chuch/Chuchai

 

My dream come true, a completely vegetarian restaurant, with close to one hundred Thai dishes. Located right on the Plateau at St. Denis between Rachel and Duluth, this restaurant offers traditional a vast variety of Thai dishes, mostly consisting of noodle dishes, tofu entrees, mock chicken, mock fish, mock shrimp and mock beef in traditional Thai styles. For our feast last week, I ordered the hot and sour soup, in a thick red tomato chili broth. Although the soup was small and did not have tofu, it had mock chicken, and mushrooms, but no bamboo shoots. Oh well. The soup portion was quite small considering it was $3.75. For my main dish, i ordered the Thai green curry with vegetables and tofu ($11.00). For our appetizer, we all ordered the seaweed fried with tofu skin, surrounded by fried basil. That dish was to die for, creative, very crunchy, flavourful, and tasty. In addition, we also ordered a round fresh veggie rolls with peanut sauce. The peanut sauce was spicy and chunky. For their main dish, Aaron and David ordered a red curry with mock chicken and mock shrimp with fried spinach in a peanut sauce. Since we all shared, I was able to taste everything. All of the dishes were fabulous. The green curry was slightly stronger and more pungent than the red curry.

Vivian and her friend Aaron arrived as we were finishing out meal. They ordered the deep fried spring rolls, served with a clear beige coloured dipping sauce. Viv seemed to like what she ate. The menu is crazy. There are so many choices it is difficult to choose. The menu is intimidating. I saw many dishes that seemed appetizing (Thai Eggplant, Mock Chicken with Sauteed Vegetables, Mock Beef Curry, Mock Fish and Shrimp with Vegetables)

 

There is no dairy, but some dishes have egg, which can be omitted by request.

Chuchai has a liquor license and an outdoor terrace in the summertime. Entrees are from $7.95-$12.95. Next door at 4094 Saint-Denis is Chuch, which are owned by the same people, but offer take-out and allow you to bring your own wine. It’s a more casual dining experience and the menu is identical. The deli counter offers more than 50 mouth watering “one day old” dishes, all vegetarian and mostly vegan products, for considerably cheaper prices. They can also heat up the food for you in the microwave, thus making it a little less expensive.

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Il Fornello (Beaches Jazz Festival)

Il Fornello- The Danforth
576 Danforth Ave.
Tel. (416) 466-2931
Major intersection: Danforth & Carlaw

Il Fornello- Yonge and St. Clair
1560 Yonge Street
Tel. (416) 920-7347
Major intersection: Yonge & St. Clair

Il Fornello- Bayviw Village
2901 Bayview Ave
Tel. (416) 227-1271
Major intersection: Bayview & Sheppard

Il Fornello- Theatre District
214 King St. West
Tel. (416) 977-2855
Major intersection: King & Simcoe

Il Fornello – Beaches
1968 Queen St. E
Tel. (416) 691-8377
Major Intersection: Queen & Woodbine

Il Fornello- Queen’s Quay Terminal
207 Queen’s Quay West
Tel. (416) 861-1028
Major intersection: Queen’s Quay & York

Il Fornello Bloor West Village
2277 Bloor St. W.
Tel. (416) 761-9222
Major intersection: Bloor & Runnymede

IL FORNELLO *newest location-opening July 2005*
491 Church St

Located right in the heart of the Beaches, this cool, hip and trendy eatery is surrounded by art, exposed brick, dim lightings, and a funky menu that incorporates traditional Italian fare with health conscious and trendified food. On my last visit to the chain in the Beaches, I had the large Insalata Roma … (mixed greens, chèvre, roasted peppers, walnuts, and balsamic vinaigrette). My friend Justine had the artichoke and pesto pizza, Daniel had the hearty Beef Manicotti which he thought Insalata Roma … (mixed greens, chèvre, roasted peppers, walnuts, and balsamic vinaigrette)was fine. He found that there was a heavy use of sage I think, which made the meat taste a little heavy/hars; maybe better use of oregano or other Italian spice would have been in order. My sister had the squid was a little on the rubbery side. Both Daniel and my sister thoroughly enjoyed the 1 litre of Sangria. There are some vegetarian pizza items, some made with spelt crust, and many offering soy cheese. The salads are funky (Tossed Salad , Caesar Salad … Grilled Chicken and Baby Spinach with mango and endive, Strawberry, Pear, Spinach Salad, Wild Mushroom and Arugula Salad, Crispy Prosciutto, Arugula and Spinach salad

Pastas include Linguini di Mare (tiger shrimp, scallops, mussels and calamari, light olive oil, tomato sauce), Penne Capri , with roasted chicken, wild mushrooms, spinach, in a lemon, garlic olive oil sauce, Spaghettini Primavera … (spaghetti with sauteed vegetables), Truffled Wild Mushroom Cannelloni (Cannelloni with Wild mushroom and ricotta), Tortelloni Fornello … (cheese tortelloni in a spicy tomato cream sauce), Manicotti (ricotta and spinach filled pasta baked in tomato sauce), and Daniel’s dish Cannelloni (meat filled pasta baked in tomato sauce), Spaghettini Misto … (Spaghettini with grilled chicken, tiger shrimp sautéed with caramelized onions, rapini, cherry tomatoes, in a lemon garlic olive oil),
Fettuccine Salmone … (Fettuccine with smoked salmon, and veggies in a dill vodka cream sauce ), the classic Penne Arrabbiate … (Penne in a spicy tomato sauce), and lastly Linguini Sorrentina … (Linguini with fresh basil, bocconcini cheese, and tomato sauce)

Pizzas ($9.00-$13.50) are served on multigrain crust, spelt crust (add $2), Quejos crust (add $3) and even carb-reduced crust (only available at Il Fornello at 1560 Yonge St. and Bayview Village)

Some pizzas include Prosciutto Pizza,Pizza Santo (w/soy cheese) ,Italian Sausage Pizza,
Pizza Affumicato (tomato sauce, carmelized onion, smoked chicken, spinach, and pine nuts),
Pizza Pollo (tomato sauce, roasted garlic, grilled chicken, roasted red peppers, and provolone),
Pesto Pizza (gaisli, grilled chicken, fire roasted eggplant, pesto), Pizza Gorgonzola (red wine caramel pears, gorgonzola, caramelized onions, walnuts, lemon dressed arugula), Fig Pizza ( prosciutto, honey figs, mascarpone, and shaved grano padano), Pizza Salmone (pizza with smoked salmon) , Pizza Tre Colori (very colourful pizza with Buffalo mozzarella, basil oil, prosciutto, oven cured roma tomatoes), Wild Mushroom Pizza ( 3 kinds of mushrooms with brie and basil oil), Pizza di bufala (Buffalo mozzarella, basil oil, oven cured roma tomatoes), Pancetta pizza … (regular cheese pizza with pancetta), Mediterranean Pizza … (Mediterranean vegetables, asiago cheese), Traditional Pizza (tomato sauce, cheese, pepperoni, mushrooms), Pizza Nove (basic vegetarian pizza), Escargot Pizza (Escargot, garlic, tomato sauce, mozzarella), Pizza di Bufala (Buffalo mozzarella, basil oil, oven cured roma tomatoes
Anchovy Pizza (Tomato sauce, mozzarella, anchovies, and black olives), Pizza Semplice (Tomato sauce, fresh herbs, and mozzarella), Tri Coloured Pepper Pizza … (green, red, yellow grilled peppers, tomato sauce, roasted garlic, and chèvre), and Hawaiian Pizza (prosciutto, pineapple, tomato sauce, and mozzarella)

You can build your own pizzas too. Choose your crust (multigrain crust $1.25, spelt crust $3.25, gluten-free quejos $5.00, carb reduced crust), then add your ingrediants to make your own unique and personal pizza. Select from various cheeses: buffalo mozarella ($5.00), brie, chevre, gorgonzola, gaisli, asiago, mascarpone, camboloza, ($4.00)

Choose your meat and gourmet vegetables: grilled chicken, pancetta, shrimp, grilled chicken, pancetta, shrimp, mozzarella, artichoke hearts, escargot, roasted red peppers, sun dried tomatoes, feta, provolone, pine nuts, bocconcini, smoked chicken, prosciutto, smoked salmon, spicy Italian sausage, pesto, fire roasted wild mushrooms, soy cheese ($3.00)

Other herbs and vegetables to choose include: fresh basil, caramelized onions, fresh rosemary, fresh dill, mixed fresh herbs, roasted garlic, ham, anchovies, snow peas, pepperoni, roasted eggplant, parmesan cheese, oven-cured roma tomatoes, red peppers, fire roasted field mushrooms ($2.00)

Other smaller vegetables and condiments include: hot peppers, pineapple, tomato sauce, broccoli, onions, green peppers, black olives, green olives, red onions, capers, spinach, freshly chopped garlic ($1.00)

Il Fornello also has a small “alternative menu”. Alternative items include spelt pizzas, pastas, and Gluten free pastas . You can design your own pizza or pasta dish. For gluten free items, add an additional $1.25 for Rice pasta instead for menu items marked with a +.

Some “alternative” menu items include the Pizza Santo (Tomato sauce, herbs, spinach, red onion, roasted red pepper, ‘non-dairy’ cheese ), Gluten-Free Pasta, $13.25 (wheat and gluten-free pasta with olive oil, garlic, fresh herbs, and veggies)
Quejos Pizza Crust $5.00 (gluten free Quejos pizza crust and design your own pizza)

Accepts every card. Expect lineups on the weekend and for brunch.

Arax Restaurant

1966 Queen E Toronto
(416) 693-5707

Last night Justine and I went out for dinner at the 16th annual Beaches Jazz Festival in the Beaches. We found this cute, charming Mediterranean bar/restaurant in the heart of the Beaches with about 15-20 tables.

The decor of Arax is “homey”, looks like its family run, (we peaked inside the kitchen and it looked like the owner’s mother was the cook that night.) with dim lighting, in an intimate bar-like setting. The place was surrounded by very happy customer, photos of people kissing, depicting a “home-style” neighbourhood restaurant, richly surrounded by an arrays of large mirrors (giving the illusion that it’s larger) and strung with a cheesy floral design resembling trashy curtains from the 1980’s.

Staff are very friendly and the customers looked so comfortable, like family. They were very lively and looked as though they were enjoying themselves immensely. The only drawback is the very small and limited menu. From this simple one page menu of about 15 items, we only found 2 vegetarian options.

Some dishes on the menu include Fried zucchini slices ($5.95) (Lightly battered) , and sweet tomato chutney with mushrooms and peppers ($5.95) , and Lahmajoun ($13.95) grilled flatbread with a layer of seasoned ground beef. ($13.95).

Justine ordered the large Falafel plate, with 4 Falafels, salad, topped with Tahini sauce and a plate of thinly sliced pita (unfortunately white pita) for $13.95. I ordered the vegetarian shawarma plate with spicy red beans and medley of vegetables and salad for $13.95 topped with tahini sauce. I loved the mix of the flavourful beans in a lemony viniagrette, topped with the strong aroma of the tahini. Prices are as follows. Appetizers and salads are $5.95-$9.95 and entrees are $9.95-$13.95

Our food was fresh, tasty, and although there was a lot of tahini on our plate, we still thought the food was excellent. Falafel was not too greasy but fresh, nutty, and flavourful.At first glance, it resembles a bar with a large display of drinks.

They accept all cards. Service was excellent and staff are enthusiastic and seem to love working there. Food was excellent and water was always refreshed with a lime 🙂

Samraat

388 Bloor Street East
(416) 323- 9409

Located right in the Annex near another Indian restaurant (Natraraj) this North Indian buffet did not stike me as being a fabulous Indian buffet. Sure, the food was good and reasonably fresh for a buffet. Prices were a bit high ($12.95 for a dinner buffet, $7.95 for a lunch buffet) and it includes many meat and veggie dishes with Naan bread, pappadum, but no dessert. A friend told me “When you’ve been to one Indian buffet, you’ve been to them all.” For the most part I would agree. This one was good but nothing special.

I always have the same Indian dishes. You can be sure that aloo gobi (potatoes and cauliflower), Tandoori Chicken, Butter Chicken, Channa (curried chick peas), Daal (curried lentils), and a vegetable curry made with peas and carrots will always be there. This time I had the channa, daal, aloo gobi, vegetable curry, and one of my favourites, Matter Paneer (Spinach with Indian cheese). Indian cheese tastes like tofu squares, chewy, and mild in flavour.

My dining companion said that his lamb curry was good, soft, and the gravy was tasty. He also enjoyed the rice too. Food was fresh and they do have a regular menu with many traditional Indian favourites (Mulligatawny Soup, Pappadum, Raita, Tandoori Chicken, Chicken Tikka, Chicken Tikka Masala, Butter Chicken, Bharta, Vegetable Curry, Channa, Aloo Gobi, Paneer Makani, various seafood curries (Goan Fish, Shrimp Curries), Tandoori breads, Lamb, Goat, and Beef Curries (Goat Curry, Lamb Curry, Rojan Josh, Beef Vindaloo, Karahi Lamb), and Rice Dishes. Serves many Indian desserts and traditional Indian-spiced tea. Free delivery within Annex and South Annex neighbourhoods. Accepts all cards.

Urban Thai

638 College St.
416- 535- THAI

Wendy, Daniel, Faline and I went last week for dinner to Urban Thai, located right in the heart of Little Italy at College and Grace. Part of the Friendly Thai/Just Thai chain of restaurants Daniel and I immediately recognized the identical look of the menu and pricing. We asked the waiter for a confirmation and he told us that Urban Thai is not affiliated with Urban Thai Bistro in the Beaches but is part of the Just Thai and The Friendly Thai franchise.

I ordered the vegetarian hot and sour soup. It was fabulous. The portion was OK for $6.95 but the flavour, and the consistency of mushrooms, bamboo shoots, and tofu and the broth made it wonderful. I truly hope it was really vegetarian. For my entree, I ordered the coconut cashew stir fry with tofu vegetables, in a VERY salty coconut sauce with pieces of sauteed tofu. It was very good, saucy, but very salty. Wendy ordered the Thai basil chicken which she thought was thoroughly yummy. Faline ordered the Thai salmon with noodles and vegetables. Daniel ordered the Green Curry Beef dish. He felt that the curry sauce base was great, but the meat was over cooked and rather chewy. The spring roll appetizers were excellent.

Entrees are from $7.95-$10.95. Appetizers are about $5.95-$7.95.Some appetizers include the spring rolls ($3.95), fresh salad rolls ($5.95), Thai calamari ($6.95), spicy thai mussels ($8.95), satay (skewers of beef, chicken, or tofu) ($3.95/$.95/$5.95), coconut shrimp ($11.95), and Thai chicken wings ($7.95)

Soups include the Hot and Sour soup ($6.95), Coconut Chicken ($6.95), Thai mushroom ($5.95), and Lemon shrimp ($7.95). Salads include the Urban Thai Green ($5.95), Spicy Shrimp ($8.95), Green Mango ($7.95), Chili Beef ($7.95).

Pasta dishes include the typical Pad Thai ($8.95-$12.95) depends on ingrediants. You can choose from vegetarian, chicken, seafood, or a chicken/vegetarian curry Pad Thai, Urban Spicy Thai Noodles, and Glass Noodles (both $9.95)

Rice dishes include the Vegetarian, Urban Thai fried rice, Shrimp Olive, Pineapple Fried, Coconut Rice, Fragrant Sticky, and Jasmine between $1.50-$9.95

Beef dishes include Beef with Oyster Sauce, Mango Red Beef Curry, Green Curry beef, Urban Thai Basil Beef, and Grilled Thai Steak (all $11.95). Most of the menu seems to be chicken. Dishes include the Thai Grilled Chicken, Ginger Chicken, Thai Mango Chicken, Red Curry Chicken, Green Curry Chicken, Golden Curry Chicken, Lemongrass Chicken, Savoury Cashew Chicken, and Thai Basil Chicken (all $9.95-$12.95). They all come with an assortment of stir fried vegetables.

Seafood includes the Garlic Pepper Shrimp, Crispy Shrimp with Lychee, Pineapple Red Curry Shrimp, Golden Curry Shrimp, Ginger-Tamarind Fish, and lastly the Seafood combination ($17.95). Most seafood dishes are $12.95-$14.95. Lamb includes the Thai Ginger Lamb, Red Curry Lamb, and Garlic Pepper Lamb (all $12.95).

Vegetarian dishes include the Thai Eggplant ($7.95), the cliche Vegetarian curry ($8.95), Lychee Lemongrass Tofu ($8.95), Tofu Goreng ($8.95), Coconut Cachew Tofu and Vegetables ($9.95), Urban Mango Tofu ($9.95), and the Avocado Peanut Stir Fry ($9.95). I ordered the Avocado Peanut Stir Fry at Just Thai a few months ago and it was fabulous.

As with many Thai restaurants, there are a few Malaysian dishes. The most economically valuable includes the Satay Combo which I’ve had several times at Diners Thai on the Danforth and The Friendly Thai on Queen West and Yonge street. The Satay Plate is HUGE. It includes 4 skewers of spicy meat, tofu, and seafood served with stir fried vegetables and peanut sauce. The dish is VERY affordable as it is a complete meal. It comes with steamed rice, grilled pita, or roti ($9.95-$12.95). Lastly there are 4 Malaysian curries to try (Chicken, Beef, Shrimp, or Lamb)for $10.95 – $11.95.

Service and presentation is really nice and wait time is not too long. Food is made to order. They accept every card

Innocenti [changed to KiWe Kitchen ]

03/2007-Changed to KiWe Kitchen

587 King Street West
416-203-0551

Wendy and I went for the Summerlicious festival to Innocenti, located right on King between Spadina and Bathurst, in the Fashion district.We had the prix fixe menu for dinner. Our dinner includes a salad, entree, and dessert, all for $20. This does not include taxes, tip, or drinks.
With a lovely ambiance, white sheer curtains divide large spacious dining hall into three sections. With Mediterranean design, light earth tones, yellows, with one wall of deep red
Walls were adorned with copies of Monet paintings surround restaurant and some are for sale. Restaurant is lined with tan coloured velour seating and exterior seats are wicker chairs.
Has a beautiful outdoor terrace with approximately 15 tables. With a calm, peaceful ambiance with colour scheme of earth tones.

Menu is one page full of traditional Italian dishes. Divided into antipasto (appetizers), sandwiches, entrees (salads/steaks), primos (pasta), secundi (meat/chicken), and desserts

Some appetizers and salads include the classic romaine salad ($8.95), caprese salad ($8.95), insalata mista ($7.95), seafood tapas (a medley of seafood with grilled calamari) ($17.95), antipasto ($13.95), sauteed shrimp with mixed greens ($13.95), grilled calamari ($7.95), bruschetta and crostini ( $5.95 and $9.95)
Some pasta dishes include various pastas (penne pomodoro ($11.95 ), fusilli with free range chicken and rapini ($17.95), linguini with scallops and shrimp($19.95), canelloni with spinach and five cheeses ($16.95). Some entrees include the chicken piccata($17.95), osso buco milanese (slow braised veal shank in a creamy Risotto) ($20.95), Grilled Atlantic Salmon with salad ($19.95)
The lunch menu is identical but for lunch, they serve a variety of sandwiches (grilled portobello, grilled chicken, tuna nicoise, and tony’s sausage- all from $9.95-$12.95. Menu claims to be flexible if customers have dietary concerns or personal preferences

For the Summerlicious menu, i ordered the Caprese Salad (vine ripened tomatoes with boconcini cheese, Vidalia onion and fresh basil, with mixed greens in balsamic vinaigrette).
Although small and only consisting of two slices of tomato, the salad was wonderful. My entree was whole wheat rotini pasta with caponata sauce (big chunks of eggplant, zucchini, capers and baby spinach in tomato sauce)

As I hardly eat pasta at all, once per year, and this was my annual treat. For dessert, i ordered the berry tarte with whipped cream and some fruit with this sour yucky raspberry sauce. I should have ordered Wendy’s dessert (the pecan chocolate tarte)

Wendy had the Romaine Salad (classic Caesar with Parmesan and housemade croutons).
For the entree she had the Grilled 8oz Rib Eye Steak, with chunky fries dressed in pepper and onion, served with horseradish

For dessert she enjoyed the Chocolate Pecan Tart with Cream & Fruit. She also ordered a sweet white wine ($6.50) and a capuccino ($3.00). Our server Julia was super nice, friendly, accomodating, and the ambiance, food, decor, and space between tables was not too congested.

Another good thing about Innocenti was that they will still offer their Summerlicious menu until July 24th, 2004. Summerlicious was from July 2- July 15. They accept all cards.

Herbs [Wendy]

3187 Yonge Street
416-322-0487

Mark and I went to Herbs as part of Summerlicious. I chose the restaurant as there were both meat & veggie friendly options.

The restaurant opens at 5:30 for dinner which is good if you have to be elsewhere at 7, however, I should have warned them about my time constraints.

The décor was beautiful, lush & full of soft textures everywhere, including the faux-suede bench with fluffy pillows we were seated at. There was even fabric hanging from the ceiling.

Things started off well, with the one exception of the bread offering. This guy comes over to us with a basket of bread, offering us some, & I optimistically thought we’d get the basket or at least a few pieces * my mistake! We got one sliver of baguette each & a little tub of herbed butter. I guess there’s something to be said for not filling up on bread, but come on!

For my appetizer I opted for chilled sweet pea soup with goat’s cheese croute. Basically, that’s fancy for cold pea soup with a cute little toast smothered with goat cheese floating on it. It was ok, but I would probably choose something else next time. It needed some zip to it!. I also ordered a pricey glass of rose to complement my meal. It was good.

For my entrée, I selected the Atlantic salmon on sauteed gnocchi, French green beans, cherry tomatoes & spinach with a warm caper olive & lemon sauce. Oh my! This was an awesome dish, very fantastically yummy & totally filling. I was so stuffed after this, but happy. I’d re-order this dish any day. The portion size was decidedly sufficient.

We got an order of each of the desserts on the menu & shared them. I focused on the strawberry pudding/mousse-like creation with crème fraiche & a raspberry sauce which was great & Mark focused on a key lime mousse cake with a crust he adored.

Herbs would be a good place to bring someone if you wanted an upscale dining experience & want to impress someone. I could not afford to dine there nightly, but I’m sure that’s the point * it’s someplace special.