Asian Legend

 5186 Yonge St, North York (416) 221-9797
418 Dundas Street West – (416) 977-3909
505 RR-7, Thornhill – (905) 763-8211

Located right in the heart of the Newtonbrook neighbourhood at Yonge and Finch, comprising an extensive corridor of Asian (mostly Korean) restaurants between Yonge and Finch and Yonge and Sheppard. Asian Legend serves Northern Chinese cuisine with vast menu with many vegetarian options. This classy restaurant, which was jam packed with people at 5:00pm has 2 other locations in Thornhill and in Chinatown Downtown.

On this venture up to North York, I went to meet my father at Finch station. We both walked south on Yonge to find the perfect restaurant that we would both like. For our starters, we shared vegetarian steamed dumplings in a nice rice vinegar sauce. (4 for $5.00). In addition, I ordered a vegetarian hot and sour soup with tofu, mushrooms, baby corn, bamboo shoots, in a thick vegetarian broth.

For my main, as usual I ordered a vegetarian stir fry with tofu. Vegetables included broccoli, mushrooms, baby corn, baby bok choy, and baby corn. The sauce was vegetarian and I added some hot sauce to it. My father ordered a “small” crab, shrimp, and wonton soup. His “small” size soup was actually quite large in portion. As well, he ordered an order of spring rolls which he enjoyed because they were crisp, fresh, and not too greasy. For his main he ordered the beef and broccoli, huge portions, fresh and filling and affordable ($8.95).

Asian Legend has a sleek design that relies on minimalism, with huge tables spread across two dining halls separated by partial walls. Decor is not kitschy but with warm orange lights and minimalist design and high ceilings, the ambiance was relaxing, calm, and soothing. At the end of our meal, our bellies were full and the bill came out to $40 with drinks (2 Diet Cokes), 2 mains, and 2 appetizers. What an excellent deal. Accepts all cards and has a liquor license.

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Restaurant La Cabane de Portugal

3872 ST LAURENT BLVD
(514) 843-7283

 

La Cabane was the best dining & drinking experience I’ve had in a long time. We (my friend Ken & I) went to this Portuguese tavern in a crazy blizzard one Sunday night, and I’m so glad I went.

La Cabane very much embodies the whole spirit of the plateau. It has a very relaxed and cozy atmosphere, very cool. Ken said this is a place he’s never seen a fistfight. To say it’s a Portuguese tavern is completely accurate, there are a lot of Portuguese dishes focusing on meat & sausages like chorizo. In addition to the meat dishes, there are also salads, desserts & coffees. The top price is $15.95 for the filet mignon.

We started the evening off with a large pitcher of Boreal Noir to share. This beer was sooo delicious, I just wish I could find it in Toronto dammit! It is like Guinness, but it is a bit sweeter & goes down was smoother. Believe me when I say it goes down easy, I could have drank it all night.

Our first appetizer of the evening was Petisco – a dish that included pork, chorizo, Swiss cheese chunks, pickled peppers, and olives in a white wine, olive oil sauce. This dish was so to die for! It was so savoury and delicious, and came with crusty rolls to soak up the sauce. At $10.95 for the small, and $14.95 for the large order, this was completely worth it. Good call Ken!

Our second appetizer was just as fantastic. We shared the garlic shrimp, which came in an artery hardening pool of melted butter, yumma! The shrimp were very tender & sweet, you could see the garlic swimming happily in the butter. We got more crusty rolls to sop up this delicious pool of yum.

To cap the evening we ordered alongees, and our waitress was smart enough to bring ice water to accompany it.

This dining experience was one to remember, good food good friends, good times.

Chez Cora

Chez Cora/Cora’s 6250 blvd. Cousineau St-Hubert, QC 450-443-5624

Several locations across Quebec & Ontario, including:

Locations in Quebec

http://www.chezcora.com/Main-en/Trouver-en.htm#Quebec

Locations in the GTA

4120 Dixie Road,
Mississauga
(905) 624-1297

Unit 13, 16655 Yonge St.,
Newmarket
(905) 954-1317

277 Wellington St., West (at Blue Jays Way)
Toronto
(416) 598-2672

My dad & I went for brunch on Boxing Day 2004, and he actually chose the spot. I was quite impressed; I would not expect him to choose a restaurant like this. I�ve been to Chez Cora in a few other spots in Montr�al before, like on Peel St. and in Old Montreal, and have always enjoyed my experiences.

In Montreal, you have a choice of smoking vs. non-smoking, & as my father’s a smoker, he was happy that such a choice exists.

We walked in at the right time; within seconds there was a lineup out the door behind us. We were seated and got our coffees quickly. This place was mighty busy, as reflected in the volume coming from conversations throughout the restaurant. The dining area is open concept (what is the point then of differentiating smoking vs. non I don�t know), and is family friendly. Although the menus are in French, our friendly waitress Mado was bilingual, and able to answer our questions when my French failed me.

The restaurant is fully licensed (beer with your bagel anyone?), and specializes in breakfast and brunch. They serve all the standards like eggs, bacon, waffles, pancakes & things like that, and after 11 they start to serve more savoury items like burgers alongside the breakfasts. They are most known for the massive portions of nicely presented fresh fruit that accompany most meals here, my meal having been one of them, (my father’s was not), as well as the always generous portions.

My father is not a frequent brunch goer, so he wanted a standard breakfast style meal. He ordered Eggs Maurice, $6.95 which is as close as one will get to a traditional breakfast here. His meal included 2 eggs, which he asked for over easy, sausages, potatoes, toast & baked beans. He initially said his eggs were perfect, and later changed his verdict to underdone. I�ll have to take his word for that as I do not eat eggs. We were both somewhat surprised by the fact that his �sausages� were actually hot dogs!?! How weird is that? The menu said �saucisse fume� which technically is the direct translation of a hot dog, but still it seemed odd. At least it was a jumbo. We asked the waitress to explain & oddly enough, Eggs Maurice happened to be the only meal on the menu that had hot dogs instead of a regular breakfast sausage. Oh well, it tasted fine. It was odd, but live & learn.

My meal on the other hand more closely resembled a typical Cora breakfast. My meal was called Sarrasin de Galette $8.95. This meal included 3 sausages (standard breakfast ones this time) wrapped in buckwheat crepes, topped with melted cheddar both inside & outside the crepe with mixed fruit on the side. My mountain of fresh fruit included watermelon, grapes, pears, apples, oranges pineapple, & kiwi all decoratively carved & was quite the impressive display. I was able to get them to omit the bananas � no problem 

My food was quite good, and the portion was so big I needed to take some of it to go. My dad gave a mixed review to the potatoes, but was very impressed with the baked beans, said they tasted homemade. I tried some they really were good! He said the beans were the best thing on the plate & his plate was so big, he couldn�t finish his meal either. His one comment was �everything is very good, but I didn�t expect hot dogs�. I�d have to agree with him on that.

All in all, this was a positive dining experience & I�ve been here before & will definitely be going back many more times. I’ve not yet been to any Toronto locations, however I�m interested to try them out soon.

Okonomi House

23 Charles
416 925-6176

 

Definitely not vegetarian friendly at all. Vegetarians beware! Located right at Charles near Bloor right beside 7 West and across from the Manulife Centre, this cosy dim-lit 10 table space has been serving Japanese food for many years, claims my friend

The menu is 2 pages, very simple. It’s divided into main dishes, okonomi yaki [Japanese egg pancake], side ordders, beverages, and desserts. Main dishes include teriyakis served with rice and stir fried vegetables. Items include beef, chicken, salmon, yakiniku, tofu, and seafood teriyaki. Also included is a yakisoba and seafood yakisoba dish. All dishes are made with chicken or fish stock so let them know WAY before hand that you’re vegetarian. Side orders include miso soup (not vegetarian), noodle soup, stir fried vegetables, rice, green salad, seafood salad, sunomono, and edamame.

The Okonomi Yaki, an egg pancake fried with vegetables with your choice of either beef, chicken, pork, bacon, vegetable, shrimp, squid, scallop, ($5.25-$5.85) or seafood deluxe ($9.95).

Unfortunately the vegetable okonomi yaki is made with fish stock so I was stuck ordering the tofu teriyaki ($6.05)but the teriyaki sauce is fish vbased so my dish was flavoured was soy sauce, how tasteless and salty.

Okonomi House also serves plum wine, saki, and a variety of Japanese and domestic beers ($4.40-$8.50). I’ve notived that many Japanese restaurants do not meet the needs of vegetarians. It seems all of their vegetable dishes include a lot of beansprouts but no real vegetables. For example, I ordered a side of stir fried vegetables ($2.95). In terms of vegetables, there were very few brocolli and carrot, but most of the vegetables were bean sprouts which are not that filling, mostly containing water and fibre. Daniel ordered the Salmon Teriyaki which came with Salmon marinated in a nice sauce. He loved it. It came with rice glass noodles, rice, and some vegetables. I think he was very happy with his meal. He also ordered a beer as well [The Japanese Sapporo $4.10]

Excellent prices, all under $10.00 and excellent, well informed service. Thank goodness the waiter told me about the fact that hardly anything was truly vegetarian.

Unfortunately, I do not think I’ll go back to Okonomi House since there are no dishes for me there and although service was great, they were not accomodating or flexible. Accepts credit card and Interac. Open late. Liquor license.

Sidhartha, The

The Sidhartha – Fine Indian Cuisine
1450 Gerrard St. E
416-465-4095

30 Eglinton East
416-485-5552

See also East Indian, Little India, Yonge/Eglinton

My general impression of Sidartha was that is was significantly nicer in atmosphere than one would expect from a dinner buffet at $9.99! The lunch buffet runs at $7.99 and I’m sure it is just as nice. You can dine in or take out, which I think is fantastic for a buffet. Of course, itf you take out, it’s just the 1 plate, but still, how much can you eat, really? If buffets are not your thing, there is an extensive menu to order from.

My friend & I went for the buffet & it was really good, we kept finding more & more things to eat that we practically stuffed ourselves silly. There were both meat & vegetarian options, pakoras, chicken tikka, vegetable curry & much more. My friend Shane really loved this restaurant – he hadn’t even finished his dessert & he said how much he was looking forward to his next visit. Now that’s the sign of an excellent dining experience!

The really nice & unusual thing about this place is that despite the buffets & great prices, the atmosphere was warm & inviting, they decorated each table with real flowers, instead of fakes, & the big surprise – it was QUIET! What a relaxing way to eat!

All in all with taxes & tip the meal came to $26. Sidartha also caters & has banquet facilities for 100 people. They also do free delivery on orders over $30.

Paradise Ethiopian and Canadian Cuisine

950 Danforth Ave
(416) 416-406-6342

Located right at Danforth between Jones and Donlands, this cosy Ethiopian restaurant serves up traditional Ethiopian dishes, most under $10.00. Wendy and I went for dinner last Friday night and we had quite the adventure.

First of all, it was quite amusing to see such a small menu (only 2 pages) that consisted of one chicken dish and mostly lamb dishes and one popular vegetarian dish. The whole menu was shameful since it was full of atrocious spelling errors. How funny and incredibly embarassing.

The other thing that we found out right away was that our waitress did not understand any English. She tried though, but she could not fool us. She did smile a lot and say “yes” very often but we could have asked her if we could bomb the restaurant and she’d smile and say YES. We could have asked her to give us all the cash in her register and Wendy and I could be sure she’s say YES. We expected the ambiance to be tacky and cheesy but it was not. With authentic acrylic paintings of typical scenes in Ethiopia and calm African-inspired music, the setting seemed perfect but was made slightly tacky by the big screen TV at the corner of the restaurant that featured basketball. How tacky!

Our dishes were served within 3 minutes so i suspect some microwaving was involved. I ordered the vegetarian special for $10- which included a split pea curry type dish, a spicy orange lentil curry, a cabbage and potato curry, a spinach type curry, salad, and tasteless salt-free feta cheese. When we asked the waitress what this mysterious dairy product was, she said “yogourt” and we looked at her in a weird way.

Her permanent smile remained locked and we asked her to check to see if it was Feta cheese. I was certain it was salt free feta cheese. Afterall, it’s on the Danforth and the Danforth is known as Greektown. When she came back, she told us it was feta cheese–according to Wendy pretty awful feta cheese.
Wendy ordered the Doro Wat, a dark chicken in a dark curry with a hard boiled egg in the middle ($10). Wendy was not impressed since she wanted chicken breast and not chicken leg and she hates eggs of all types.

Our food was fresh, healthy, tasty, and very filling. All dishes were served in injera bread, thin flat sour dough sheets that capture the food since cutlery was not used in Ethiopian cuisine. We ordered drinks Mango nectar ($2) and soda ($2). All prices include tax so our bill came out to $22 including drinks. Not bad. The only problem was when we received our bill, we got two bills, one with the prices before tax and one bill with the prices after tax. Both bills came out to be $28.14 but we added up the prices after tax to be $22.00
What a frustrating experience.

The waitress could not communicate with us as her English skills lacked considerably. She also could not add as our bill came out to a completely different price than expected. What a funny and frustrating experience. Wendy and I agree that we’ll probably not go back to Paradise Ethiopian and Canadian cuisine. Although the food was good, the service was out of the ordinary and the staff were slightly aloof and spaced out. I found that the waitress who did not speak any English made it difficult to convey what we wanted. Even in multicultural Toronto, basic English communications skills is somewhat important, isn’t it?

Babylon

 553 Church
Phone: (416) 923-2626

Situated on Church street north of Wellesley in an old 3 storey century old brick Victorian house, this place is an unpretentious place to relax and unwind. They have over 250 flavours of vodka Martinis, all home made from marinated and flavoured vodkas. All Martinis are $8.50. The menu is very small and limited. They serve a typical green salad, french fries (thinly cut and home made) perogies, caesar salad, hamburgers and some sandwiches that are perfect for late night munching.

Don’t expect a full course dinner at Babylon as the emphasis is on the drinks. They also serve beer as well. Cosy and comfortable with an operating fireplace on the main level, exposed brick, leather couches, small tables, intimate enclaves where friends or couple can chat privately, and an all around intimate setting. Some Martinis that caught my eye were the Chocolate martini with creme de menthe and coconut, The Fag Hag, Mango, Peach, Lime, Green Apple, and other fruity and lollypop flavours. Open late, accepts all credit cards.