Friday, February 24, 2012

Bare Bones

In the new year I find myself in a new neighborhood with my new job in the area near Yonge and Sheppard in North York. There are some familiar names and some new ones to explore in the restaurant scene here. The wintery winds and falling snow really made me yearn for a bowl of hot comfort. I trekked the roads onto the first location that came to mind. At the doorsteps of Joons, I feel like a Japanese salaryman looking for solace in repast after a stressful day of work. Steamy windows obscuring toasty patrons enjoying themselves. Across the floor I sees students and young professionals talking about their day.  Clarity slowly came to when  my noses can smell all that delicious table side cooking. Settling in my cozy little corner I let my mind de-stress from my day as I have already made my choice for dinner. The aromatherapy washes over my mind and body as I wait for the side dishes before the main course. It didn't take long as my meal was delivered just as my stomach clamored for nourishment. It didn't take long for the food to arrive thankfully.

The side dishes that had accompanied the meal was very generic. These are the usual suspects line the dinner lineup. Only one thing that was memorable was the mashed potato for reasons I will reveal later.  

It is always nice to see effort putting into presentation for something as simple as a plate of dumplings. Sitting atop a bed of shredded lettuce are these dumplings fanned out and streaked with hot sauce. Each dumpling looked as if they were clones of each other which only confirmed the suspicions I had after I bit into my first one. Tasting the void of flavor only confirmed to me that they were hibernating in a freezer awaiting their scalding destiny. What was that saying about style and substance again?

Coming to the main course I wanted to give them one last chance at redemption. First impression of this was that it was going to be worth it after struggling with all the disappointment. Don't let looks deceive you as the meat in the pictures was about all the meat I found in my meal. Perhaps I may have viewed this dish all wrong in the past.  It is called Pork Bone Soup so why am I saddened to see there is so little meat on the bones.  In the soup base I observed that there was a transparency that I'm not use to in this dish. The taste was very flat as there wasn't much flavor within it except for a sourness. Do you remember when I said that the mashed potatoes was the only memorable dish of the night? The reason why it was memorable was because of the absence of the spuds in the bowl! My guard was totally down for this one, two rapid assault combo in the gut.

Shock and disbelief was still fresh in my mind next morning whether or not the events of the previous night had actually transpired.  All the table cooking happening around me last night has started to make me re-evaluate what I should order the next time I come back.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012


For the longest time this place has been haunting my mind.  You know what I'm talking about right?  That elusive song in your head, that for the life of you, just can not recall the name of it.  That oppressive heat at the T&T Asian Night Market was just pounding on my body and cooking my brain.  Even the lake shore breeze could not save my appetite from being cooked well done.  I know there were some places that I really wanted to try.  In retrospect, I must have taken those pictures to remind myself later to search them out. One of these places did not come full circle until I read the article from The Grid and reinforced by Cheap Dude's post.

It took a few tries before I finally got to their brick and mortar location near Queen Street West and Spadina Avenue. I wanted to order everything but there was no way I can finish it all myself. After some hard thought I whittled down the selection to one sandwich and taco. The place is pretty spartan but functional.  This is still a soft open when I was there so it is understandable why things look almost barren.  I couldn't help but notice the really nice burberry coat and boots this attractive girl was wearing. I have to distract myself some how before the food arrives.  ;)

After reading those articles I decided to get pork belly banh mi and kalbi tacos. I can't say no to pork belly.  What else would go with an Asian taco except naan bread! Quite often I have naan bread that are dense and takes an effort to bite or tear off.  To my delight these were softer, thinner and lighter that made eating it much more enjoyable.  The kalbi taco was dripping with sauce which is not a bad thing at all. This kimchi still had a bit of a crunch and maintained a spicy heat that nicely matched the slightly sweet kalbi sauce.  Those pickled vegetables inside didn't have the harshness from their vinegary soak.  I find that is the biggest sin when the marinade is so strong that all the other flavors are lost.  Everything is made fresh  ,and mostly in house, in case you haven't taken a peek at the links especially the bread!

Polishing off the taco, I didn't think the banh mi could be better. Boy was I wrong! The pork belly worked its magic again. I'm pretty sure I didn't see him put any butter on the bun.  My mind was really boggled where this rich and smooth texture was coming from.  Then it dawned on me as this creaminess must be from the pork fat literally softening into a buttery spread from all the long hours of of braising. Gone will be the days of the margarine and unknown pate between the buns.  Speaking of buns I have had enough experiences where there is confusion between a nice crust and day old bread.  That hard and jagged feeling is bruising the roof of my mouth.  Well that didn't happen here so I thank them and my mouth thanks them too.  You can see the the nice crust and feel it yield as you bite in to reach the soft bread underneath.

This was so good it is worth going back again and again.  As a person that is leaning heavily as a meataterian I would have liked just a bit more meat.  Pricing wise it is higher than the street version you get up a bit on Spadina.  The quality here is worth spending that little bit extra.  Next time I think I will get 3 tacos since it doesn't feel like I ate as much bread although I could be completely wrong.  Food only get better when it is nice and messy.  Excuse me while I off and practice a few sets of Triple D Hunches before I go back for another round.

Banh Mi Boys on Urbanspoon