Tea Shops Review 1

4 06 2010

Today I started doing what I’ve always needed to do but kept running out of time on: finding a place that sells good Earl Grey tea.

Ever since buying that really expensive earl grey at Afternoon Tea in Japan (about $2/bag), I’ve been craving superb earl grey here in Canada. But considering I know nothing about tea and I don’t do that thermometer and timer thing, I can only fumble my way through this all tea sampling thing. Regardless! I tried the earl grey from two shops with a friend today and here is my review!

50g bag for $5.50, free of tax (or included) and staples (staple-less stapler for the receipts).

Great scent, better than the Tetley crap you get at supermarkets but a bit… impure. It smells like there’s something else mixed in with the earl grey, a faint whiff of something that resembles preserved Chinese plum fruit thingers. The tag says the base is a Chinese black tea and has blue mallow blossoms and yellow sunflower blossoms as highlights.

Taste-wise, it’s okay. You can’t really taste (what I think is) the bergamot and there’s no bitter tea taste (that I actually really love). But it’s not bad for the price. Comes in a silver reseal-able bag with a label that describes the tea and some steeping instructions.

The Red Tea Box:
1 pot for $8.75, sit down tea. 2oz. bag for $12, paper bag then wrapped again in plastic. 1oz. tin for $9 (or something).

Because this had a sit down place we chose to have a pot instead of buying more leaves that’ll take me years to finish if I didn’t particularly like it. The smell again, was nice, and purer than Tealish. Leaves look to be pure tea (no flowers) and all they could tell me was that it’s a normal Ceylon for the base. The tea was just as bland but with more bitterness to it. I’m not too crazy about this one either.

The good thing is, they had some nice sandwiches in their Mad Hatter Sandwich Set ($25). The set included an Indian spiced chicken sandwich with avocado and romaine lettuce (I think, I’m not into lettuces) on raisin bread, chicken wellingtons with curry potatoes on it, carrot cake with berries on top, scones, banana bread, and.. some other cake/bread thing.

The amount was decent for the price but still a little pricey for afternoon munchies. The scones were definitely too sweet for the tea they served but it may just be me. Tea is served with milk and honey and tiny shortbread cookie squares. Decor is lovely but the dishes, utensils etc are very mismatched and confused.

Buy tea at Tealish if they have what you need, at least in terms of earl grey. But that’s not set in stone until I actually try the teas side by side one day. Go to The Red Tea Box for some dainty but filling munchies in the afternoon and don’t panic when you’re getting out of the bathroom (read the unlocking instructions under the knob).

I know the lack of pictures makes this a boring review but I didn’t think to bring my camera today so maybe next time.

Shops found through this, feel free to suggest others.


The Return to School is Such a Hassle

7 01 2010

My life is going back into the pointlessly-stressful, frequently-boring, and 100%-money-eating type of life an university student life is bound to lead at one point of their nerdy, studious career. While I’m not quite sure what I just wrote in the previous sentence, I can promise a more coherent report for the remainder of this post. Maybe.

During the break I bought a book for making bread. It’s a simple recipe book without all the interesting but useless narratives ‘real’ cookbooks have and was on sale at Chapters. Unfortunately, the lack of narratives should have been my warning sign instead of the factor that influenced my purchase. Something was horrifyingly wrong with this book:

I realized now that maybe it would have been a good idea to take a picture of what was wrong with this book but it’s too late, I’ve already returned it. Anyways. Can anyone guess what could be so crucially wrong with this book that I’m writing such an elaborate, round-about hate-review for a book that you will never ever purchase even without this review?

It was missing ingredients.

Yeah. A recipe book missing ingredients in the ingredients list, but the missing items show up in the NAME of the bread and the instructions… The sales clerk who did the returns for me was speechless too.

On the other hand, I bought Vogue Collections Winter/Fall 09/10 when I returned the bread book. It had no price tag on it since it was an import so I nearly cried when I went through the checkout:

It came out to be $50. Quite the sob story.

I think the reason it was so expensive was that it had no ads, which I rather enjoyed. The magazine had a pretty nice overview of a large number of designers and was close to the comprehensive type of thing I’ve been looking for.

Chanel got 4 pages, which was heavenly in my opinion. I love Chanel and what Karl Lagerfeld does for it. My only gripe? Oscar de la Renta, my god of evening gowns, only got one page. I spent an entire evening ranting to everyone I saw.

I recently subscribed to a new load of… blogs and stuff. Amongst which, The Business of Fashion is a really nice thinger majiger to follow. It really pertains to my interests since I’m a business student who likes fashion so it’s always nice to read about the business side of Fashion. I highly recommend people who want to look beyond the glamour to follow this site.

PS. I just downloaded a daily resolution record thing from The Small Object to keep track of which dates I’ve kept up my 2010 resolution. It’s a simple little thing but will be a great help in keeping you motivated and on track. My 2010 resolution is to run a marathon by September so I’m doing a lot of cardio training on top of my dragonboat practices. You can get the calendar here.

Make a Reservation Now!

24 12 2009

What I really don’t like about the holidays is that most large restaurants stop taking reservations. It was such a pain last night when I needed a table for 10 and Moxie’s screwed up on the waiting list. Ugh.

On the other end of the reservation..spectrum, there is Japango, a Japanese place that you pretty much NEED a reservation to get a spot. It’s a tiny little place off of Dundas Street near Eaton Centre. Tiny. I think it’s half the size of Konnichiwa.

This is a place that’s more focused on sushi than anything else. There’s a decently sized list of fish available along with some choices of donburi and noodles. It’s a no nonsense menu that doesn’t really have all the little things that a lot of other places have. You can say ‘choice is limited’ or ‘dedicated menu’.

Food-wise it wasn’t too spectacular. I ordered an oyako-don, ‘parent-child’ rice bowl. It has chicken (parent) and an egg (child) on top of hot rice sprinkled with seaweed strips. It’s a crude joke but I find it endlessly amusing, especially when the ‘grandparent-child-grandchild’ version has mayo added. Heh. Anyways, the dish was around $12 and was rather average in taste. I also had some salmon skin rolls and they were good but again, not spectacular. That was around $6 I believe.

The dishes my friends ordered were on the average side too. They ordered: katsu chicken, beef donburi, spider roll, dragon roll, salmon roll and grilled salmon belly. The only complaint that I have is that the grilled salmon belly doesn’t have enough salt on it. All of us each had a roll and a main dish and paid around $25 each including tips.

The service was really friendly and happy but they tend to forget to follow up on the status of your drinks. We ran out of tea five minutes into the meal and didn’t get more until the very end.

Other than the minuscule size of the place and the average tasting food, Japango have things that I don’t see often at other Japanese places. One was the oyako-don. I haven’t seen it on the menu at all the places I’ve went to this year I don’t think, other than you know, in Tokyo. The other was o-toro sushi. It’s bluefin tuna belly and from what I gather, very expensive. This is the only place in Toronto that I’ve seen have it. Although I haven’t been to any pricier establishments to really have a say in this. An order of o-toro sushi is $16 I think and an order of sashimi is $20. All the other types of fish have single digit prices here.

Food quality: 7
Food quantity: 7
Price vs. Portion: 7
Price vs. Yumminess: 7
Atmosphere: 7
Dressiness: every day or after work

122 Elizabeth St.
Toronto, Ontario
M5G 1P5
416.599.5557 Reservation HIGHLY recommended

Even though I rated it a bit lower than Konnichiwa, I would still go again. Mostly to try their o-toro but also because it’s slightly cheaper than Konnichiwa and located at a more convenient place.

How Original is Original?

18 12 2009

Today’s fantabulous post is about the store Original in downtown Toronto. It opened not too long ago and is a two-part store.

On the first floor there’s a good selection of shoes and boots that are cute, conservative, and versatile. There are those Victorian-esque boots with the decorative buttons on the side. There are classy heels from Bordello and there are some other… generic cute shoes. Also some very weird ones off to the side that are kinda… retro. I don’t know, but one pair looked pretty darn close to a non-bouncy pair of moon boots.

Amazingly enough to say, I also found some extraordinarily bling’d out office calculators.

On the second floor is a formal dress shop full of dresses that will probably not match the shoes below. It’s similar to the ones that make you remove your shoes to get into but this one doesn’t have that particular requirement. The floor is luckily, wood. If I didn’t already buy a dress for formal this year I’d have looked around a bit more but at a glance, it has an impressive selection of dresses. The longer dresses aren’t that well suited for the young and picky so if you like short prom dresses, this is a good place to look. The old and picky should be able to also find nice things there. Sequins and beads seem to be an overhanging theme when the owner ordered her stock but it’s not old school or gaudy at all.

Also when you head up the second floor, look up. It may escape your notice if you’re not paying attention but the top rack has a LOT of petticoats. And some of these petticoats are REALLY fluffy. So much so that they don’t look like petticoats when you stand under them, but instead, a bizarre giant ball of fluffy things.

Dresses are at a normal price. I noted some of the short ones are between $100 CAD and $150 CAD. The petticoats start at $60 but the ones with a decent poof in them starts at $100, the $60 one is a joke.

The store I’d say is worth a visit. I’ll definitely go there to buy shoes but maybe not so much the dresses considering I’m a big loner and don’t have too many high school proms, weddings and galas to go to. Bawl.

515 Queen St. West
Toronto, Ontario
M5V 2B4

Pretty Awesome Restaurant to Fill your Tummy

17 12 2009

I think I’ll stop posting about my hair every day since it’s boring if I’m not faced with any kind of disasters. Instead, I want to share a nice place I found, for your dining pleasure.

Konnichiwa is a quaint, tiny little place on Baldwin St. That street has a lot of good food happening and my friends and I went to check it out two nights ago. It’s not a new establishment by any means since it has been around since 1996. It was also awarded Best Noodles in Toronto by Toronto Life in 2005 so I’m sure a number of you will know about it.

First, the atmosphere: it’s small and can be a challenge to eat at a table shared with your two friends but it is quaint, although I’ve used that word already. We sat in a nook by the window and although it was a little chilly, I feel that it’s the best place in the house, very cosy… though chilly. I don’t make much sense do I? About decor, plating, and whatever, do you care? I hope not. I don’t want to talk about them since food should always be the most important thing.

Let me tell you, I loved the food. I felt that I made a little mistake in ordering the grilled salmon because it was a tad dry when compared to my friend’s grilled black cod, which was mouth-wateringly juicy. At around $15 per dish, there’s a little bowl of rice to go along with 2 thin steaks of fish and a little bit of veggies for garnish.

My other friend ordered a sushi bento and I mooched some of the tempura in it and it was so yummy. The batter was light and crispy I didn’t drown my tempura in sauce this time and was able taste the veggies. Beautiful. My mouth is watering right now. Unfortunately I can’t comment on the rest of the bento because I’m not into sushi (only sashimi and maki) and my friend wouldn’t let me eat her dinner for her. What a bummer.

Appetizers and salads are between $4-6 and main dishes are around $15. It’s typical Japanese portions, nowhere near enough for me and perfect for normal people. Since I was still hungry after but didn’t want to look like the bottomless food pit that I actually am, I tried to order the appetizer Mozuku, which turned out to be seasonal and no longer offered. I ate the Kaiso salad instead and it had less seaweed in it than I thought, more leafy greens though. I didn’t think it should be almost $6 however.

A little pricey for job-less university students but well worth it for the well-made, authentic, non-sushi menu they offer. I’m definitely eating either a noodle bowl or a donburi, or maybe even both.

Food quality: 8
Food quantity: 7
Price vs. Portion: 7
Price vs. Yumminess: 8
Atmosphere: 8
Dressiness: every day or after work

31 Baldwin St.
Toronto, Ontario
M5T 1L1
www.gokonnichiwa.com or www.konnichiwa.ca

Be careful, it closes between 3-5pm to switch their menu and do cleaning.