Fattening up NPY: April 2012 Toronto Trip

While I threw up the recap post very quickly (was preparing it through the week), I had not originally intended on posting about the food we had. But NPY asked about it and I’m all to happy to throw this together while getting caught up on television shows from the week. I want to honour the week of cooking and dining and sharing in the way I know how–blogging about it.

Home-cooking Chinese meal

I really wanted to share the very homestyle-tasting bamboo shoots and mushrooms dish I learned to make recently. It was so successful that now I need to be sure to have some bamboo shoots in my pantry to make this dish in a pinch. I was a little heavy-handed with the sauce. And I knew it wasn’t very real-vegetable heavy so I tossed together a “fusion” sautee with two types of zucchini (NPY’s favourite) in hoisin sauce and lemon with cute button mushrooms. And for a fruit dessert, I’ve discovered Cara Cara oranges (a cross between orange grapefruit) and strawberries.


Spam & Egg “Mc”Muffin Meal

Ever since making the Spam and egg breakfast sandwich a month or two back, I really wanted to share it with NPY and looked forward to his arrival. I shopped for hashbrowns and picked up Milo for a really hearty meal. It was all fun to prepare because I have a Cuisinart grill on which I can make the whole spread at once.

This meal really held me for a while!

NPY’s Request: Mac ‘n’ Cheese

NPY made a request and I wanted to fulfill it: to have some homemade mac ‘n’ cheese. I pinned a Lunch at Six Point Beer Mac and Cheese recipe and followed it except it was very flexible. Chose the beer (sweet Innis & Gunn), pasta (cavatappi which we love from cavatappi Alfredo at Cactus Club), cheese (Asiago, provolone, and Bremmer), and instead of bread crumbs, I crumbled some of the sour cream and onion Popchips we have around. I will eat potato chips if it is part of a meal.

Since the pasta dish was not so veggie at all, I threw together a soy sautee of asparagus, zucchini, and tomatoes. Because when the kitchen is nice, cooking is easy… almost fun.


Thompson Diner

After the Yonge Street 10K and we stopped moving, we were cold! It was only about 6 degrees. In addition to the streetcars on Queens Quay being messed up due to construction, the additional load from runners and spectators meant it didn’t look like we’d get on a bus soon so we started walking and Bathurst looked viable for brunch.

The wait for a table felt long. We ordered and the wait was long… for everything. I had barely formed an idea from the menu what to order when Lil Sis pointed out the Brunch burger that had fried egg topping a burger that is on a donut! Both Lil Sis and NPY had eggs Benedict and I shared with them part of my burger and fries so it wasn’t so bad for me after all. ;)

Thompson Diner on Urbanspoon

Real Sports Bar & Grill

I walk by Real Sports all of the time and more recently I learned it had been voted in 2010 by ESPN as Best Sports Bar in North America. Not shabby! There is a two-story television screen surrounded by medium screens on the left and right and smaller screens line the bottom edge. We got a good seat along the back row of tables (even better would have been a booth but it was just the two of us) and overhead, a second level dining room gets a bird’s eye view of the big space. We were there to watch the all-important game 5 between Canucks and LA Kings with the Canucks fighting to stave off elimination from the play-offs. My reservation was half an hour before the game started and we watched as the place filled up and I was delighted that the big screen switched from the Raptors game to the Canucks game at 8 p.m.

NPY ordered a predictable beer while I tried The Winner. I couldn’t get away from the name! I has a mixture of vodka, Red Bull, Gatorade and OJ. When I told Lil Sis about it, she made a face. But it looked like an innocent tall glass of orange juice and it provided me with a buzz and energy. We ordered a pound of wings dipped in a winning sauce of maple bacon mustard. The wings (about 7 of them) were meaty and delicious. I loved dragging it through the tzatziki.


Real Sports Bar & Grill on Urbanspoon

Ten-Ichi Japanese Cuisine

Since our last visit in late January, Ten-Ichi moved to a different unit in the same plaza and renovated so NPY was treated to a modern-looking restaurant. Just like last time, we waited for about 20 minutes and I had made a reservation! I was eager to show NPY our favourite dishes and in the second round, he confidently took control and made an order in order to fill in his gaps. I raved about their hand rolls – crispy nori sheets used each time – and after NPY had his first hand roll (a salmon one), he ordered two more unagi ones! We had a lot of fun and ordered a bevy of desserts. I didn’t take many pictures since we have been there twice before.


Ten-Ichi Japanese Cuisine on Urbanspoon

Destiny Tea House [yelp.ca]

There’s an amazing little “plaza” at Highway 7 and the 404 with all the Big Box Restaurants you would want to hit up for a while: The Keg, Marlowe, Alice Fazooli’s, The Melting Pot (new!), Jack Astor’s… and Destiny. NPY was impressed by the size of the place and wondered if it gets filled. It might suffer during the dinner rush but I have the feeling it’s really busy and hopping in the late hours and after clubs close (if they are still open). Service is just as you expect in a Taiwanese shop (less than non-existent, worse than at other Chinese restaurants). It was cold while NPY visited and additionally it was a rainy day so we warmed up before dinner with warm milk teas.

Destiny on Urbanspoon


Bannock is one of those new iconic restaurants in Toronto that I’ve actually wanted to try. I’m getting older, or the scene isn’t so exciting, or I usually have no one to go with, but I don’t have great hankering to try much around here… except Bannock. “Canadian Comfort Food” is its tagline and I made sure we got comfort food for at least one of our dishes. I would have liked mac ‘n’ cheese but I thought I saw one served and it looked puny and I was making my own later in the week.

So we went with a shrimpwich that was just okay and as a cold sandwich, not so comforting. But it was light and the bread was buttery. NPY’s Arcadian chicken pot pie was a success with generous and big pieces of tender chicken and the mashed potatoes were creamy with a fragrant gravy that was strongly chicken.


Bannock on Urbanspoon

Prairie Girl Bakery

I wish there was more choice but since there isn’t, it seems that Prairie Girl has the cupcake market in downtown Toronto cornered. My closest location is in the PATH and at lunch time the queue to order/pick up cupcake orders is long and dominates the hallway. I was successful getting the the flavours I wanted when I went down around ten in the morning, my strategy from now on as I might indulge and get these cupcakes, oh, once a month.

We enjoyed the chocolate cake with strawberry icing over lunch and the cake was divinely moist and the icing so fluffy. We saved the cafe au lait chocolate cake (the day/week’s special) for dessert in the evening but by then the chocolate cake was getting chewy and the icing was more solid. Still intensely flavourful.

Prairie Girl Bakery on Urbanspoon

Spice Route

When I asked V for a suggestion where we could all meet up, she suggested Spice Route. We’ve wanted to check it out when it turns into a lounge later on but it was also a cool place to have dinner… but the reviews are not so great. We all go in wary because it’s an Asian fusion place and we have high standards for that stuff.

The dining room is really dark so my photos are so grainy! We would have ordered separate dishes as it was most convenient and we have different tastes and waved away when the waitress asked if we had dined there before and explained it was “family style”. But something about how it the food was plated and we switched over to family style and shared all the food. Mongolian beef that was spicy and tenderized slices of beef. Teriyaki beef with cabbage-wrapped steamed rice was well done. Soy miso cod was good but not plentiful and came on a bed of Shanghai noodles. Seared yellowfin tuna was alright.


Spice Route on Urbanspoon

Mill St. Brewpub

After poking into every corner of the Distillery District, we walked into the most lively spot, Mill St. Brewpub. The New York Rangers-Washington Capitals game was on one of the screens and NPY could point his bar stool towards it. He got an organic ale from the microbrewery while I pored over the beer flights and got a G&T instead. NPY surprised me, ordering a pulled short rib poutine. Nice to nibble on and just as we were finished it, all the screens were changed to the Blue Jays-Mariners game. Time to leave!

Mill Street Brewpub on Urbanspoon

Tofu Village [yelp.ca]

A trip to Toronto is not complete without a Korean meal! Given my homebase is downtown, we went to Korea Town at Bloor & Christie. But which restaurant of the tens to patronize?? I’ve been to the North York version of three of the top four Korean restaurants in the Annex: Buk Chang Dong Soon Tofu, Owl of Minerva, and Joons Korean Cuisine. We walked by Imonay and Tofu Village, both of which have 100% ratings on Urbanspoon with 24 and 16 votes, respectively. NPY liked the look of Tofu Village better so we ended up there. After a wait, we were seated in a packed dining room.

I hate to point it out but I was jarred and then a little worried because my usual barometer to read how good a place can be had to be re-calibrated. In North York, all of the customers are Asian. It’s the nature of the neighbourhood and proximity to Richmond Hill and Markham. I like the flaked firm tofu that came with our banchan and each time I see the bean sprouts dish, I am reminded of how I want to figure out how to make it. I ordered the oyster soon tofu (tofu soup) “medium” on a scale including plain, mild, medium and spicy. We were a little full from the day but tofu soup will open up my appetite.


Tofu Village on Urbanspoon

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