Friday, October 17, 2008


What?  I have a blog?  Oops, I forgot.  

It's such a pleasure to give a new restaurant a good review.  There is a new Korean restaurant on Somerset and I'm pleased to report that I like it!  I visited Koreana for lunch with my friend Sara.  On the corner of Somerset and Arthur, Koreana is a beautiful old space with high ceilings and exposed brick walls.    

We were warmly welcomed by the very sweet, attentive and rather inexperienced staff and ordered from the lunch menu, which is very reasonably priced.  I had the Bulgogi and Sara had something similar.  (Time to start carrying a note pad.)  We were brought a Korean pancake to start and then the 4 dishes of seaweed (my fave), Kimchi, the radish thing, and the bean sprout thing.  And miso soup.  They just kept bringing things!  Our table became full of unexpected deliciousness.  The Bulgogi was not super exciting, but very satisfying and fun.  And with the bill, a little plate of fresh fruit.  So lovely! 

 For 8 or 9 dollars, it was totally worth it and Sara and I are already planning our next trip. 

Monday, September 1, 2008

NYC Whoopee!

Finding places to eat in New York takes some planning. That's what I learned from our trip. There were times when we were tired and hungry and in the wrong area for food so we'd end up wandering aimlessly and desperately and settling for something disappointing. To me food is sacred and should always be enjoyed, especially while on vacation. So after a very depressing mazoh ball soup at Grand Central Station waiting for the train at 10pm, we resolved not to let that happen again.

As a food loving Jew, I had to make time for a pastrami on rye at one of New York's oldest and greatest delis, Katz's on East Houston. We stood in the shortest cutter line, as we were ordered to do. The cutter gave us a couple slices of the steaming hot, thickly cut meat before making the sandwich. Oh my god... Katz's is a must do. I didn't even care that for a sandwich and a root beer the bill was 20 dollars. Oy, it was worth it.

Sunday was our best food day by far. It was Kris' birthday and I made reservations for brunch at Five Points, a restaurant recommended to us by the owner's father who we met at the Charlottetown farmers market a week beforehand. It's a very popular place for Sunday brunch and it was buzzing. We were seated at the back under a huge skylight and in front of some very beautiful bread. We started by ordering peach and raspberry birthday bellinis, then breakfast! I had eggs benedict with smoked salmon and Kris had something similar but with fennel sausage. They both were beautifully and simply presented. Mine with two poached eggs on one big flaky pastry, and Kris' each on their own homemade tea biscuit. The flavours were delicate, the textures were perfect. I LOVED it. Then, two desserts, the piggies that we are, a warm blueberry tart with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, and a rich, but not too rich chocolate tart with creme fraiche on top. Oh boy oh boy. After that, we were ready to take on the city.

The next time hunger struck we were in Grenwich Village. A good place for us with record stores for Kris and lots of clothes for me. It was dinner time and there were lots of options. I had a feeling about this little tiny place I found called Hakata Tonton. We were welcomed by the calm interior, with nothing on the beige walls and red accents.  The bibimbap was carefully mixed at the table for us and the gyoza soup presented in a shallow cast iron pan with a wooden serving spoon that looked like it was from 400 AD.  There were flavours I'd never experienced before in this simple clear broth with sprigs of cilantro floating in it.  And for dessert, my personal favorite, spicy salmon had roll!  It was the hand roll of the gods.  The whole meal was magical.  It seemed like everything was too good. And it wasn't until I visited the washroom and read the New York Times article on the wall that I discovered the secret ingredient in everything on the menu was...guess what...PIG'S FEET!  No wonder we were the only white people there!  Suddenly all the menu items mentioning collogen made sense.  Collogen is abundant in pig's feet, apparently.  As we were leaving, the stunningly beautiful waitress opened the door for us and, in the street, offered us a candy from a pig pez dispenser.  She said that's just what they do at Hakata Tonton.  My new favorite restaurant.  

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


Kris and I did a road trip from Halifax to New York and we've been in food fabulous NY for 5 days now. There were some ups and downs in the road trip food department, of course. But on day 2 we had breakfast at an old fashioned ice cream and lime rickey joint at beautiful Old Orchard Beach in Maine. Egg, ham and american cheese on a bagel. Wonderful.

Later that day, we ended up in Providence, Rhode Island for a late lunchtime.

We felt our way through downtown to a gorgeous neighborhood on the hillside. We walked up the hill and Hallelujah, there was Geoff's. A quirky little take out sandwich joint in the midst of some very stately looking houses and around the corner from the Rhode Island School of Design.

These guys have the hugest sandwich menu I've ever seen on chalkboards on the walls and there's a barrel of half sour pickles for the taking in the middle of the place. I ordered a chicken salad sandwich with spinach and cranberry sauce and got into a discussion about the nature of sarsaparilla with the very friendly staff.

The sandwiches were humongous, in true American style, fresh and thoroughly satisfying, on thick soft rye bread, or whatever kind of bread you choose. (Note to self: remember to take pictures BEFORE eating half the plate.)

We were so lucky to have stumbled across this place. I have great travel food instincts! What can I say?

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Oyster Heaven

Aurora, Emily and I went for a drive to get a peck (64) of fresh, succulent oysters for 24 bucks at the big blue oyster factory just down the road from Lucy Maud Montgomery's birth place.

Here I am shucking the first one by the side of the road. It was one of the best I've ever had.

Two days later, I think there are about 3 left.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Welcome to the Island

I'm on beautiful PEI now, where it rains every day and every night. Having a great time anyway. OMG! I just had the first glimpse of the sun in 4 days! Well, sort of.

I'm here staying in a house with two of my girlfriends, my sister and my mom. It takes forever to get out of the house. Four of us live for seafood, shellfish in particular. One friend, Misako, does not. I feel for her because there really is nothing to eat here but seafood. There is simply nowhere to get good bread, and no international food whatsoever. Poor Misako was forced last night to try her first oyster. The photos are hilarious. And the other night, she was subjected to the infamous PEI lobster supper!

The lobster supper is a PEI tradition. Hundreds of people crammed into a huge dining hall filling up on the 60 foot salad bar, all you can eat mussels, and the grand finale, a cold, overcooked, pre-cracked lobster cooked in very very salty water. It's something you have to do every 5 years or so, just for the experience and to remember that it's always better to do your own lobster. Luckily, my sister Aurora ordered the crab legs instead of the lobster, so when Misako discovered that alas she does not like lobster, and Aurora was unimpressed by the crab, they traded and everyone was happy. Then dessert, 4 kinds of pie, undetermined numbers of assorted squares, soft serve ice cream, and strawberry shortcake.

We girls shut down the place and were guided to the only way out, on the other side of the kitchiest gift shop imaginable, with a sweet islander lady at the counter to ring through Aurora's lobster harmonica and lobster keychain with her boyfriends name on it. We three in the back seat slept most of the way home.

Monday, July 28, 2008


I've been meaning to try Ichibei Japanese restaurant on Bank St. for a while now. It has a reputation for being very authentic and very excellent and was recommended to me by a reader. I did some scouting of restaurant review sites, though, and it actually had mixed reviews. So the other day Tracie and I, on one of our epic dates, had an early dinner there. It was much smaller than I had imagined, and had a welcoming, traditional feel. The waitress was dressed in kimono and brought us hot towels. So far so good! I wanted to try the Sukiyaki or something hot and non sushi as was recommended, but when there's sushi on the menu I just can't seem to order anything but! It's a problem. I know.

Tracie and I decided to share the sushi/sashimi combo at 43 dollars. Not cheap. It was beautifully presented and had my favorites, ika (squid) and the raw sweet shrimp with the head on (don't know the name). It was quite good, but I gotta say, I didn't think it was excellent. I've had salmon that melts in my mouth more, and I found the rice a bit chewy and dry. Just a bit.

I think i'll try Ichibei again one day and give the mains a try. Maybe that's their forte. But for the price, I think there are better places in Ottawa for sushi.

That's my report on Ichibei. I talk about sushi alot, eh?

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

I'm posting my very first picture! It's a weird one, I know. My camera is on its death bed, so Tracie took this photo for me at the Manx.

We all know the Manx (370 Elgin) has great pints and pub food, but the portions are outrageous! I had the Furlonger club and could only eat half of it. So the waitress crafted this cute leftover purse for me.
Hello Youth League!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

No More Nagina

The bad news is our beloved Nagina is gone. The good news is Bombay Dining is here and it's good! They've been open in Nagina's old spot at 217 Rideau for 2 weeks and I had the pleasure of tasting their lunch buffet yesterday.

Friends Emily and Jethro and I were looking for somewhere to eat in close proximity to the big LCBO and, looking for Nagina, we settled for Bombay Dining and sat down inside before realizing it was the same place. They've spruced up the interior just a bit and have a bigger buffet than Nagina did. There were no labels on the dishes, so I don't know what anything was called, but they had all the usual dishes: tandoori chicken, butter chicken, a chick pea thing, a vegetable thing, a zuchinni thing, pakoras...
My favorite thing and Emily's was a cardamom chicken dish with a greyish brown sauce which I've never seen anywhere else. It was delicious! In fact everything was. Everything was fresh and fragrant. It was lighter and more delicate than what you usually find at Indian buffet. And for only $9.95! (on weekends too!) Emily insisted, however, that I tell you their ice cream freezer was too cold and she couldn't work the scoop.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Back to Sushi

I just had a quick lunch at Sushigo in the market. They have a fridge full of sushi combos already packaged in plastic boxes for very enticing prices. But I opted for the more eco friendly option of ordering fresh and eating off a real plate. I ordered a salmon kamikaze roll and a dynamite roll (almost the same thing) and it came to 15 something, a few dollars more than the fridge combo I liked which had more variety and more pieces. Way to reward people for thinking of the environment.

So I sat at the front of the restaurant, feeling like a fish in a tank looking at and being looked at by tourists. The sushi was OK, sort of unelegant, unsubtle. Too much spicy mayo and cucumber. I'm not trashing Sushigo, It's pretty good for fast food sushi. Just get the stuff in the fridge. Next time though, I'll be back at good ol' Sushi Fresh.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Hippie Food

Here's a hidden gem for you. I was taken to this place for lunch by the young vegan cousin of my girlfriend visiting from Vancouver. I've known the market area for 7 years or so and never heard of Peace Garden, inside 47 Clarence. It's gotta be the hippiest place in town. And I love hippies!

On Canada day Kris and I ventured into the market to try to get food, not an easy feat. We were not in the mood to stand in line for an hour waiting to be seated somewhere and we were starting to get testy when Kris brilliantly thought to go to Peace Garden. We opened the door to the building and it was an oasis of calm. We both ordered Mother India's Thali Plate which consisted of a delicious dahl, Kashmiri curry, brown rice, a samosa or bonda and salad and chutneys. All vegetarian of course. Maybe vegan except for the yogurt and the lassis we had. The lassi was overpoweringly rosey tasting, but I'll give it another chance. The lady told me it was sort of an experiment and next time she'd add less rose. Weird.

So if you're looking for a quiet vegan friendly place in the market, with very fair prices, and a good selection of amazing looking salads, sandwiches, and Indian inspired stuff, I recommend Peace Garden. They'll be very, VERY happy to serve you.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008


Good Canada Day morning! It's very noisy here in lowertown, so I thought I'd get up and recall the dinner I had Sunday night with my very successful blogger friend, Tracie.

I am a lover of different cuisines from all countries. The only one I've had trouble with has been Korea. I was taken out for Korean food once in my university days by my teacher and he forced me to order bibimbap. I was put off by the fried egg and the vinegariness. It was just unappealing to the less adventurous me of 1999.

I am pleased to report that I've tried a couple more times recently and now I'm totally into Korean food! I've been to Alirang (Nelson, north of Rideau) twice now. The first time I had something with raw salmon over a bunch of stuff in a pot and stupidly ruined it by pouring the miso soup all over it. DUH! So that was unsuccessful. This time I decided to give bibimbap another go and I don't know if this is just a better restaurant than the one I tried in Toronto years ago, but I really enjoyed it. The fried egg integrated nicely with all the other stuff and it was just spicy enough and had some sweetness to offset the vinegariness which used to bother me.

I put my stamp of approval on Alirang. It's worth a trip just to see the neon jellyfish wall aquarium.

Friday, June 27, 2008

I love sushi.

Hi! So, now I think I'll talk about sushi. As you Ottawanians must know, this is not a sushi town. We have the two fancy market sushi places, Kinki and Wasabi, which both have very good sushi at a very high price. What we don't have much of here is good, casual Japanese food at "Toronto prices". Not much at all, except for, (drumroll) my favorite sushi place, Sushi Fresh! Above the Lapointe seafood restaurant at 55 York St. (also recommended), you'll find the sushi restaurant. They have an extensive menu, with everything you need, tea without ordering, (what is this, ordering tea?) and good fresh fish. I wouldn't recommend the tempura, though, it's not quite right. And they're not licenced. Those are my complaints. But after trying not all, but many of the other options, I keep coming back.

Upon discovering that Sushi Fresh is closed on Sundays, Kris and I tried Totoya, on Dalhousie. The verdict: Good, but too expensive and I found the menu confusing and hard to order from.
We tried Sushi 88 on Somerset.
The verdict: Lots of options on menu, bad rice and fish situation.
Thank you for listening.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Mother's Dumplings, sigh.

It was actually Kris' idea for me to write a food blog. We were in Toronto at one of my all time favorite places to eat, Mother's Dumplings and I was raving about it. I always tell people who are going to Toronto that they must make a trip to Mother's. It's on Huron at Dundas, a block east of Dundas and Spadina, in Chinatown. It's a tiny little humble restaurant with mismatched furniture and only about 6 tables. The dumplings and noodles are all homemade right in their kitchen, which looks like anyone's kitchen in a home. We had lovely boiled pork and dill dumplings, steamed pork buns, and a green onion pancake, the best I've ever had. And we also ordered mango sticky rice not knowing what that would be. It was the most delightful dessert, sweet sticky rice with slices of mango laid on top, sprinkled with sesame seeds with a sweet, but not too sweet white sort of custardy sauce. So nice! Kris and I were very satisfied for a bill of only 18 dollars!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Hava Java

Hava Java opened on Elgin Street under new ownership just as I was moving out of the neighborhood. I got to chatting with the owners before it opened while waiting for the wine store next door to open. They were super friendly and keen(not to mention stressed out), and gave me a couple vouchers for free coffee. How nice! So here's what I have to say about that place. I love it! The other day I had a cold mocaccino thing and asked for it not to be too sweet and it came out PERFECT. They have amazing scones and nice sandwiches and other snacks too. They take a while to make things, but it's because they care. One of the few independent coffee shops in town, it deserves lots of business.

What happened to Frescociello?

My very first post was inspired by the dinner I had at Frescociello with my boy, Kris. I was disappointed to find that my favorite pasta place had gone way downhill. The interior had changed, maybe for the better. The bad art was gone and there was brown paper on the tables, which I thought was cute. Sort of a New York casual Italian bistro feel. Then, upon looking at the menu, I saw that they no longer offer half portions of the pastas, and that was the beginning of the end. So, we ordered my favorite tomato/cheese/leaf salad, otherwise known as caprese salad (I think). The tomatoes were so under ripe they were almost white and very hard. And the basil was chopped very thinly probably to disguise that it was old and browning. I gave the presentation pretty low marks too. Then the pasta came and was a bit better, but I found the pasta undercooked and there was WAY too much garlic happening. I couldn't get rid of the garliciness for the rest of the day.
On the upside, the service was great and it was a lovely day.