Fusion · Italian · Japanese · Restaurants

Carino – COVID-19 dine-in edition

Cheese Pull called and wanted to meet for dinner. She asked me to bring L but he declined as he dislikes being the only dude out with a group of chicks. For this post, let’s listen to “Just a Girl” by No Doubt.

Cheese Pull and I wanted to check out Carino, specifically for the gyozagna – a fusion blend of gyoza and lasagna. Carino has moved a couple of doors down the street into spacier, fancier digs. The room is filled with natural light and has a fresh, airy feel to it.

I asked our server for a glass of wine that would pair with the lasagna. He recommended the Barbera ($11). Cheese Pull doesn’t drink. I noticed that kids nowadays don’t consume alcohol, perhaps because they have better coping skills than my generation did.

For my appetizer, I choose Chicken Karaage ($8). Each piece of chicken was bite-sized and juicy, with a light, soft batter. The taste of basil in the mayonnaise was prominent. Cheese Pull commented the batter wasn’t as crunchy as Sukiyaki House‘s karaage.

The Gyozagna ($24) was so good that Cheese Pull let out a low growling sound as she ate. If that isn’t a compliment, I don’t know what is. Each dumpling was so plump, stuffed with a pork filling that burst with its hot juices. The wagyu meat sauce was so rich and heavy it just melded into the lava of melted mozzarella.

I enjoyed everything about this dish. From the delicate dumpling wrapper to the fresh flavour of the tomato sauce to the crunchy bits of caramelized cheese that crusted onto the top corners of the dish. The portion was also very filling.

Cheese Pull packed half her pasta away while I ate my entire serving. I was planning on bringing L half my pasta but it was so decadent I couldn’t stop eating. Cheese Pull said it was his fault for not coming. Our server was surprised I crushed my plate.

 

I was too full for dessert but Cheese Pull ordered the Hassun ($12) – a trio of sweets. Cheese Pull said the lemon flavouring in the shooter glass was subtle with a consistency like apple sauce. Her favourite of the trio was the creme brûlée. I could hear her tap on the sugar until it broke. She described her creme brûlée as a fancy pudding. The tiramisu was deconstructed – with the bottom layer tasting strongly of espresso.

I plan to return and get L to order the gyozagna so I can order the Alberta Beef Tenderloin with Seared Foie Gras Ravioli ($49.99). If you haven’t been, you have to check Carino out. The food is unique and delicious. Hitting the Sauce gives this Japanese Italian fusion gem two fat thumbs up.

Fusion · Restaurants · Special Occasion · Vietnamese

Foreign Concept

Beep Beep was in town for my birthday. For one of my celebratory dinners, I picked Foreign Concept. We arrived at 7:00 p.m. and the rooms were just buzzing. Most of the clientele were in their fifties and well-dressed. Though I doubt Foreign Concept’s crowd listens to Jidenna, I want to give props to Chef Duncan Ly so here’s Long Live the Chief.

Beep Beep and I started off with a cocktail – Long Farewell (2.5 ounce, $12). This is a drink I can get behind. The combination of Ketel One vodka, plum sake, maraschino, lime juice, and basil was tart, boozy and refreshing.

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We started off with the Bulgogi Imperial rolls ($12). The lettuce arrived lush and shiny. The imperial roll was hot out of the fryer, crunchy and chewy. The addition of the greens, pickled vegetables and mint made this dish come alive. We asked for more mint half way through our rolls. I like my mint.

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I was surprised that the Cashew Satay Toasted Eggplant ($10) packed such a flavour punch. When I bite into the marinated eggplant, the juices drip down on my plate. The delicate tangle of greens, sautéed red peppers and perfectly cooked snap peas sopped up the eggplant juices.

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My favourite dish was the Charsiu Pork and Foie Gras Steamed Buns ($29). I liked the process of taking a warm squishy bun and adding a slice of pear, small coins of cucumber, and pickled vegetables. When I chewed, I could taste the distinct and contrasting flavours of the foie gras and pork.

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I appreciated the pace of which the food arrived at our table. Our server asked us if we needed more time in between the eggplant and the pork entree.

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I want to start coming to Foreign Concept more often. The food is refined and the flavour combinations are sophisticated, at least to my palate. Hitting the Sauce gives Foreign Concept two fat thumbs up.

Foreign Concept Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Bars/Lounges · Fusion · Special Occasion · Vietnamese

Girls Night Out – Scary Sherry’s Bday

I was in charge of picking the restaurant for a surprise party for my friend Scary Sherry. I’m not making fun of her behind her back, that’s her nickname. Our mutual friend, JG, actually formally introduced me to her as “Scary Sherry”. To this day, I still don’t know how Sherry got the scary.

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Now, where to go to celebrate someone’s 50th birthday? I wanted a venue ideal for a large party. I also wanted the service to match the food. I know if Duncan Ly is in the house (or rather in this case, the hotel), we would be in good hands. So Veronica booked a hotel room for the night and brought Scary Sherry to Raw Bar for drinks.

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Seven of us surprised Scary Sherry at the bar. After she bawled like a baby, we sat at the same table that Leonardo DiCaprio graced the previous month. We also drank what he drank – the Derelict $12 (spiced plum and clove jelly, Skyy Vodka, Soho Lychee liqueur, fresh lemon and pineapple juice).

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I ordered my usual – the Aztec Julep ($12). Every time I took a sip, the girls took turns impersonating some unknown southern belle, “I do declare, on a hot summer’s day, only a bourbon mint julep will do.” For my second round, I wanted to drink in peace so I ordered a glass of Wayne Gretzky the “Great White” ($10.00). I was mercilessly heckled for drinking a wine made/marketed by the “Great One”. Tough crowd.

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Veronica ordered the table oysters on the half shell with Thai chili hot sauce ($18 for six) and spicy salmon and tuna tartar ($14). Some of the hecklers at our table don’t eat raw seafood. All the more for me! The puffed rice cracker went really well with the tuna mixture. I wish more restaurants would serve tuna tartar with this type of vessel.

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We really appreciated the VIP service. Yellow Door’s service manager, Sebastian Bravo (aka Awesome ‘Stache) help to arranged for Scary Sherry’s husband to drop off a gift from Tiffany & Co, as the previous plan fell through. As well, Christina Mah, the mixologist at Raw Bar, came over to say hi and wished Sherry a happy bday. Duncan Ly, who I know is crazy busy, came over to personally say hi and arranged for a special dessert for Sherry.

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After drinks and oysters, we moved to the second venue, Yellow Door Bistro. We weren’t the only group who decided to celebrate at Yellow Door. A stag and a 30th birthday party was also in process, though neither was as loud nor rowdy as our group.

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Our group opted for the daily chef’s choice (three courses $40) plus wine pairings (normally $25 but for the month of May, promotional price of $12.50). The fresh bread and butter on the table was too good to pass up. The foccacia was warm and you could taste and smell the rosemary. The brown bread had sesame seeds and was soft and sweet.

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A surprise for everyone at our table was an amuse-bouche of Foie Gras and Chicken Liver Parfait with rhurbarb gelee. All eight of us loved this parfait shooter. The foam was fruity, while the rest of the mixture was rich and creamy.

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The Scallop Ceviche with compressed Asian pear, frisée and salsa verde was light and refreshing. The salad had a nice mixture of different greens and a nice, zippy dressing. The pear was juicy and sweet, sliced razor thin. I couldn’t get enough of the scallop ceviche.

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The fourth course was the Sous Vide Milk Fed Veal Strip loin with spring vegetable succotash and sun choke velouté. I know what veal is but the succotash and velouté I had to Google. The meat was soft and tender. I really enjoyed the vegetables, particularly the fresh beans. So much, I ate my skinny neighbour’s plate as she was too full. You know the food is good when you eat off another person’s plate. It also means that you eat too much.

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Dessert was paired with a decadent coffee liquor. I don’t normally eat dessert but I devoured it. Layered with chocolate, it had just the right amount of sweetness to it. I drank the liquor before my dessert arrived, but I imagine it was a heavenly pairing.

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We were a loud and rowdy bunch. I was grateful we were not kicked out. Someone who shall remain nameless broke a wine glass, as that person slammed it down like a finished bottle of beer. Sorry about that Duncan.

For a fun night out with a bunch of friends, Raw Bar and Yellow Door sure know how to create a memorable experience. Thank you Duncan and Yellow Door/Raw Bar staff for truly making Scary Sherry’s birthday a special celebration.

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