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Archive for March, 2013

Lioele BB Creams Review

without comments

I bought a sample kit of BB creams by Lioele to try out to see if I would like them. I ordered them through Lilies Shop (which has since been rebranded as Keauty Store.com). The sample kit includes 2 BB creams, a shimmer base, and a sunscreen. I’ll review the BB creams and shimmer base.

 

The Packaging

Lioele - packaging
From L-R: Blooming Shimmer Pearl Base, Water Drop BB Cream, Beyond the Solution BB Cream

Each little plastic tube contains 5ml of product, which, depending on how much you squeeze out at a time, can last you anywhere from 1-2 weeks. The cap twists off to reveal a small, elongated opening (think of Too Faced Shadow Insurance Primer). I like that the cap actually has a small “pin” on the inside that goes through the opening when you twist on the cap. This keeps the product from drying out and clogging the opening. Smart design.

 

The Product

Lioele - product
From L-R: Blooming Shimmer Pearl Base, Water Drop BB Cream, Beyond the Solution BB Cream – straight from the tube

Now a bit about each product from Lioele’s website:

Blooming Shimmer Pearl Base

It gives definition to the face to make it lustrous by the light diffusing colour system. Regarding as a makeup base, this controls moisture balance and keep your skin moist.

 

Water Drop BB Cream

This is no product listing on their main website, but I found some old advertisements floating on the inter webs. The Water Drop BB cream is the most hydrating of all of Lioele’s BB creams, and claims to keep the skin moist and hydrated with their “water drops”. It also contains SPF 27.

 

Beyond the Solution BB Cream

It creates clear and natural skin tone by being effectively absorbed to skin. You can complete make-up speedily as it does not require any make-up base or foundation. Its bisabolol, licorice acid derivatives, and allantoin component sooth your skin and jojoba oil, macadamia nut oil, hyauronic acid derivatives, and marin collagen make your skin moisturize and smooth.

 

Lioele - swatches
From L-R: Blooming Shimmer Pearl Base, Water Drop BB Cream, Beyond the Solution BB Cream – swatches

The Blooming Shimmer Pearl base is a light pink colour, with quite a bit of shimmer to it.

The neat thing about the Water Drop BB cream is that you can actually see water drops forming when you’re starting to blend it out! See those little white spots? Those are the “water drops”!

The Beyond the Solution BB cream is thicker than I anticipated, but a pretty good colour so far.

 

Lioele - blended out
From L-R: Blooming Shimmer Pearl Base, Water Drop BB Cream, Beyond the Solution BB Cream – blended out

So you can see that the Blooming Shimmer Pearl base blended out still has a light pinkish hue to it. It does give my face a little bit of brightness, but I’m not a huge fan of the sparkliness it gives me.

The Water Drop BB cream is amazing. Blended out, it completely melds with my own skin tone and gives off a very natural finish. I love this.

Beyond the Solution BB cream scares me! It has a very greyish colour payoff and makes me look rather sickly. I think this could work with the more fair skin tones, but for my asian yellow-toned skin, I looked ill. Even when I used less, it still gave off a grey colour. I had read that it would oxidize to match your skin tone but for me, it didn’t oxidize enough. Those with yellow-toned skin, stay away from this one.

 

The Verdict

For me, I would purchase the Water Drop BB cream not just because it worked for me best, but also for it’s hydrating properties. I tend to get dry skin in the winter, and produce lots of oil in the T-zone during the summer. This is light enough to not have that caked on feeling, and works well for my skin. For the Blooming Shimmer Pearl base, there are many other makeup bases that work better for me. And as for the Beyond the Solution BB cream, well, I’m staying far away from that one.

 

Where to Buy

Written by Jessica

March 31st, 2013 at 6:02 pm

Posted in Beauty,face

Sassafraz

with 2 comments

For our Christmas present, my best friend gave us a Groupon to dine at Sassafraz, one of Toronto’s popular dining places to spot celebrities. I first heard about it from my Torontonian friends back in high school, who had said it to be THE place to go for a ritzy dinner. I’d never been, and neither had Mr. Pixelbunny, so we were excited at the chance for a dressy date night.

 

The Atmosphere

Located in Yorkville, the iconic yellow house on the corner of Bellair and Cumberland, the interior is gorgeous. When you first walk in, you’re inside the lounge area: a bar with bar seating, a couple of standing round tabletops, some seating tables and chairs, and along the east wall, coffee tables with low couches to sit and relax in. Through the glass door to the left of the entrance, you’re brought into the dining area. Mr. Pixelbunny and I were seated at a square table with a pristine white table cloth, luxuriously soft chairs, and a centrepiece of beautiful deep pink orchids in a small vase.

Sassafraz - orchid centerpiece
Orchid centrepiece

Our server offered to check in our jackets but we opted to keep them with us at our table. If it’s one thing I noticed, the servers are extremely attentive to detail, and give you ample time to look at the menu and enjoy your dishes before coming to check on you.

The neat thing I noticed about this dining establishment is how everything is so white. The walls are painted white, the ceiling is white, the chairs and table cloths are white. It’s a nice change from other fine dining places that use dim lighting in darker toned decor. All of the white coupled with dim lighting painted the dining room in a very soft glow, which was beautiful.

 

The Food

Sassafraz - Frosty Mint
Frosty Mint – $6

My drink was the non-alcoholic Frosty Mint, made of green tea, fresh mint, and agave nectar. I liked how you could tell that they crushed a lot of mint into this instead of a little bit. Very refreshing. About 1/3 of the way through, Mr. Pixelbunny noticed a fly had was stuck to the inside of the glass. We’re guessing it was hiding in the mint and when the drink depleted, it stuck to the side. We told our server about it and she immediately apologized, whisked it away, and brought back a second one. The second one wasn’t as strong in the mint, but we really appreciated that she brought me a second one. Plus, she didn’t charge us for it at the end because of the fly!

 

Sassafraz - Evergreen
Evergreen – $9

Mr. Pixelbunny got the Evergreen, made of gin, Elderflower cordial, apple juice and ginger ale. I also really liked this one. Not too strong on the gin and can definitely taste the ginger ale and a hint of apple juice. I’m not sure what Elderflower cordial tastes like, so I either tasted it and didn’t realize it or it’s hidden in the other flavours.

 

Sassafraz - Tempura
Tempura

This was a pretty big dish considering it’s only an appetizer. They’re lightly battered and served with two dipping sauces: sriracha aioli and sweet chili. There was asparagus, French beans, calamari and octopus. I was oddly reminded of a popular chinese appetizer dish of deep fried salt and peppered squid, but minus the salt and pepper. And since I couldn’t get it out of my head, every bite made me wish it had some salt and pepper in it. Otherwise, I was impressed at how fresh and calamari and octopus were.

 

Sassafraz - Beet
Beet

Mr. Pixelbunny’s appetizer was Beet, which consisted of three different kinds of beets, topped with arugula, walnut vinaigrette, yuzu gastrique, and beet cress. The beats were tender and juicy, with lots of flavour. I couldn’t really taste any walnut in the vinaigrette though. I also liked how they paired arugula with the beets – the flavours work well together.

 

Sassafraz - Scallops
Scallops

My most favourite dish of the night – Scallops! Four deliciously sizeable, moist scallops were served with an apricot pumpkin purée, sautéed spinach, and a Bourbon sage emulsion. Who would have though that apricots and pumpkin would work so well with scallops? I certainly didn’t, and my utmost compliments to the chef who created this dish. The combination of sweetness from the apricot and pumpkin and the salty savouriness of the scallops tasted so good. I was really glad there were four on my plate. Any less and I would be craving more. Any more and I might have over eaten. Four was just enough.

 

Sassafraz - Halibut
Halibut

The Halibut was pan seared and served over a bed of poppy seed spaetzle, rainbow swiss chard, a lemongrass emulsion and chipotle saffron oil. The halibut was cooked just right, moist and tender on the inside, with a slight crisp on the outside. The spaetzle was particularly interesting. At first, we didn’t pay too much attention to the menu so we couldn’t figure out what it was. It was bread-like in texture, yet slightly slippery like a pasta. It was only when I consulted the menu again that we realized it was spaetzle. Not a whole lot of flavour to it by itself, but in the same bite as halibut and the sauces, very very delicious.

 

Sassafraz - Brûlée
Brûlée – all three together on the same plate

My dessert was a trio of brûlée, which I’ll describe individually. They were all served in tiny little saucers, presented on a long rectangular plate.

 

Sassafraz - Brûlée - maple
Brûlée – maple

The maple brûlée was the sweetest tasting of the three. The custard had a definite maple taste to it, including a tiny little drizzle on top. Half a ginger crisp garnished it.

 

Sassafraz - Brûlée - Baileys
Brûlée – Baileys

The Baileys brûlée was in the middle of the three in terms of sweetness. The custard also had a Baileys taste to it and a tiny drizzle underneath the strawberry.

 

Sassafraz - Brûlée - white chocolate
Brûlée – white chocolate

The mildest in terms of sweetness, the white chocolate was my favourite. The garnish was an Oreo-like cookie. Chocolate cookie on the outside with a gooey marshmallowy centre.

 

The Verdict

This dining experience was amazing. I can’t say enough how impressed I was with the service. Food and their presentation was incredible and so full of flavours. For a fun night out in fine dining, you should definitely check this place out.

 

The Place

Sassafraz
100 Cumberland St, Toronto, ON
416-964-2222

Written by Jessica

March 29th, 2013 at 12:00 pm

Posted in Food,Restaurant

Spring 2013 Luxe Box Review

with 8 comments

Look what came in the mail today! My Spring 2013 Luxe Box! Must open now.

 

Spring 2013 Luxe Box
Spring 2013 Luxe Box with a special Steven and Chris sleeve

For this season’s Luxe Box, they were partnered with Steven and Chris (who have their own show on CBC) to bring us 8 great deluxe beauty samples to try out. My box came a little earlier than I expected (an email was sent out telling us to expect our boxes early next week) but mine arrived before the long weekend!

 

Spring 2013 Luxe Box - drawstring bag and info card
Drawstring bag and info card

Like the previous box, a beautiful silky drawstring bag with the Loose Button logo houses all the products inside. A cute product card that opens up accordion style that says “Spring Trends 2013”.

 

Spring 2013 Luxe Box - info card 1
Product card 1/4

I’d heard of Colorsmash before but wasn’t sure if it would work against my dark, black hair. Smashbox was an early love of mine, and it’d be neat to try their Photo Finish Hydrating Under Eye Primer.

 

Spring 2013 Luxe Box - info card 2
Product card 2/4

Ooo a spring fragrance fro Marni’s! And Lancôme’s Genifique! I LOVE Genifique and have been faithfully using it for the past 2 years. I’m going to need to do a review post on it soon. KMS Quick Blow Dry wasn’t too interesting to me since I don’t really do much with my hair. Moroccanoil’s Body Buff would be neat to try since my skin has been extra dry from winter lately. L’Occitane’s Shea Butter Hand Cream would be PERFECT for me to try since I’d been eyeing it for the past couple months but hadn’t bit the bullet to buy it yet. Mèreadesso Lip Treats could be good depending on what colour it was.

 

Spring 2013 Luxe Box - info card 3
Product card 3/4

This box is amazing so far! Pandora’s Makeup Box mascara (because who doesn’t love a tube of mascara to try?) and even Kératase’s Bain Chroma Captive shampoo. This is a most incredible box! There’s a little blurb about Anthia’s Lounge, a new place to give feedback on your Luxe Boxes rather than filling out Google surveys.

 

Spring 2013 Luxe Box - info card 4
Product card 4/4

Wait, what? You mean all those products listed on this card isn’t what’s in my box? Turns out the info card was not a product card which I initially thought, but information about the upcoming Spring 2013 trends. Imagine my disappointment when I actually opened the bag and found out that my samples weren’t the same ones listed on the card. Haha oops.

 

Spring 2013 Luxe Box - contents
The samples

Smashbox Photo Finish Hydrating Under Eye Primer
Full size: 0.33 oz – $32
Sample size: 0.05 oz – $4.85
But there were 3 samples of this! Therefore value is $14.55.

Blue Lagoon Rich Nourishing Cream
Full size: 30ml – $130
Sample size: 2ml – $8.67

Blue Lagoon Silica Mud Mask
Full size: 200ml – $100
Sample size: 30ml – $15

Colorsmash Hair Shadow
Full size: 0.11oz – $15
Sample size: This was a full size sample!

KMS Free Shape quick blow dry
Full size: 200ml – $18.99 (at Ulta)
Sample size: 30ml – $2.85

Lancôme Genifique Youth Activating Concentrate
Full size: 30ml – $95
Sample size: 8ml – $25.33

Pandora’s Eyes Mascara
Full size: 10ml – $19
Sample size: This was a full size sample!

Beauty Blender-type sponge? Loose Button’s Blending Sponge
Full size: ??? No price tag listed, but let’s guess it’s around $15.
Sample size: ??? This is the full size sample!

Unfortuantely, when I logged onto my Loose Button account, the product info wasn’t updated with the Spring box contents yet. I don’t know who makes this sponge or how much it is. I’ll update this post when they do. According to the post on Anthia’s Lounge, this is Loose Button’s own makeup sponge applicator.

Total value of box: $85.40 + value of sponge $15 = $100.40

That’s a pretty good value for a box if you ask me! I’m especially excited to have the Lancôme Genifique because not only do I LOVE this product already, the size makes it great for travelling. The mascara is also great too since I’m on a hunt to find something more affordable than my beloved Chanel Inimitable Waterproof mascara. Skincare products are always welcome in my box (hooray for Blue Lagoon!) although I could pass on the hair products. Like I said earlier, once the product information is updated on Loose Button’s website, I’ll update this post with info on the sponge.

What did you get in your Spring Luxe Box?

Written by Jessica

March 28th, 2013 at 12:36 pm

Posted in Beauty,Luxebox

L’Oreal Warehouse Sale for Spring 2013

with 3 comments

***Originally posted March 24, 2013. I went a second time and picked up a few more things. Second visit posted below the original first.***

Mr. Pixelbunny got a ticket for me again this year so I went with one of my besties yesterday.

Maybe it was because I’d been twice before already, but the sale didn’t wow me as past sales had. If anything, I saw a lot of repeats from last year, such as the L’Oreal Infallible and HIP eyeshadows and Maybelline mascaras.

For the nail polish lover, there was a huge rack of Essie polishes that were $6 each or buy-5-get-1-free. I’m holding out until the second week because last year, Essie polishes were the same but on the second week, they were $4.50 each.

I am proud of myself for only walking away with 3 things this time. This is what I picked up:

L'Oreal Warehouse Sale Spring 2013 haul
A small haul compared to previous sales

  • L’Oreal Color Riche nail polish in 213 – Sassy Pink – $2.50
  • Maybelline Color Sensational Lip Pencil in 45 – Plum – $3.75
  • Lancôme Bright Expert & Bienfait UV 50 SPF gift set – $44

When you go, you have to look at everything and their prices very closely. I almost made a pretty costly mistake.

You could buy the Lancôme Bright Expert Dark Spot Reducer individually for $78 there (which is still regular price when compared to their website), but if you looked a little more and found the gift set, you get the same size tube in addition to a bottle of Bienfait UV 50 SPF lotion for $44. So let me get this straight, I pay less but get more? Done! From past L’Oreal Warehouse sales, I remember I first saw the Dark Spot Reducer for $60 at the Spring 2012 sale, and then it was $30 at the Fall 2012 sale. I don’t know why the price for Spring 2013 is regular price of $78. Doesn’t that defeat the purpose of a warehouse sale?

Anyways, I do plan on going again during the second week in hopes of finding something else. I plan on picking up a few more of the L’Oreal Color Riche nail polishes. The mini size bottles are perfect for me (5ml) and I love that they have a really wide brush – very similar to Lancôme’s nail polishes. And at $2.50 each, how can you say no?

Did you go to the L’Oreal sale? What did you pick up?

 

***

I went a second time. Thankfully, on a wednesday afternoon, it was no where near as crazy as on the weekend. Here’s what I picked up:

 

L'Oreal Warehouse Sale Spring 2013 haul 2
More stuff this visit compared to last time

  • L’Oreal Volume Collagen shampoo and conditioner – $2.50 each
  • L’Oreal Color Riche nail polish in 616 – Innocent Green – $2.50
  • L’Oreal Color Riche nail polish in 305 – Dating Coral – $2.50
  • L’Oreal Color Riche nail polish in 202 – Marie Antoinette – $2.50
  • Maybelline Color Sensational Lip Pencil in 25 – Toast – $3.75
  • Maybelline The Mega Plush Volum’Express mascara – $3.75
  • Lancôme Les Yeux Doux in C50 – Vert Tendresse – $19.75
  • Lancôme Les Yeux Doux in A50 – Rose Romance – $19.75

I’m most excited about the nail polishes and both Lancôme eye palettes. The palettes are both from their Spring 2012 collection and, being that the weather is slowly warming up to be spring, I figure it’s time I put a little colour into my routine.

Written by Jessica

March 27th, 2013 at 7:53 pm

Posted in Beauty

TRESemmé Fresh Start dry shampoo

without comments

I bought this a couple months ago in a quest to find a good dry shampoo to use. I keep reading from different beauty bloggers about the wonders of dry shampoo and how they don’t have to wash their hair every day. Being one with an extremely oily hair and scalp, I figured it might be something to look into.

My scalp is one that is extremely oily, and I have to wash my hair every single day. I know a lot of girls who can do every 2-3 days, but I can’t due to having the worst combination of factors for my hair type.

  1. It’s super oily. By the 24th hour, my hair is completely weighed down and all volume is virtually gone.
  2. I have super fine hair. Very very thin strands of hair.
  3. High hairline so my forehead is super exposed.

The combination of the above three means that my hairline has to be virtually grease free in order for the hair to spread out evenly and to cover my forehead properly. Otherwise, it will clump together and my glorious forehead peeks through.

 

The Packaging 

Trésemme Fresh Start dry shampoo
Large bottle but unimpressive product

It’s about the same size as standard hair spray bottles. It’s your typical aluminum cylinder with plastic nozzle at the top. You get 5.7 oz for $5.26 at Wal-Mart.

 

The Product

The one I  have is called Smoothing, which is for straight/normal hair. Unfortunately, I have to say that I hated it for a number of reasons:

It had a really strong chemical smell to it. I hate anything that smells like my old chemistry lab. Yuck.

It felt like it added more weight and dirt to my hair rather than removing grease and giving me some lift. If anything, it made my hair look worse. I looked like I hadn’t showered in days. Not the kind of look you want other people to see.

And the nozzle clogged repeatedly. I don’t mind having to wash out the nozzle every once in a while but every single time? Design fail.

 

The Verdict

I used it for two weeks before finally giving up on it, tossing it out. If I wasn’t happy with the product at all, why keep using it? It’s time to move on.

What dry shampoo do you use and do you recommend it?

Written by Jessica

March 25th, 2013 at 12:56 pm

Posted in Beauty,hair

Kokyo Sushi

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This is another popular sushi place that Mr. Pixelbunny and I come to constantly. It’s one of our holy grail sushi places in Toronto.

 

The Atmosphere

Located just east of the north east corner of Yonge and Alexander, you can’t miss Kokyo’s bright sign and extended awning. There’s an outdoor patio that opens up when the weather is warmer, and a cozy interior with tables and bench seating. A small sushi counter is situated right against the back well from when you enter. Seating for 2-3 people is available right at the sushi counter. Otherwise, you have your pick of multiple tables and chairs through the rest of the room. Along the front window is a long, cushioned bench with which tables are set. I generally prefer the bench (lots of natural light from the window) but any of the other tables are great also!

 

The Food

Kokyo - tempura tofu
Tempura tofu – $2.95

Our first appetizer was the tempura tofu, deep fried tofu in tempura batter with shreds of seaweed on top. A small dish of tempura sauce is on the side for dipping. Crispy on the outside, soft on the inside.

 

Kokyo - deep fried soft shell crab
Deep fried soft shell crab – $7.95

Another favourite, this one does not disappoint. Crispy on the outside, crabby on the inside. Served with a ponzu dipping sauce and lemon wedge if you like. We don’t order this every time, but when we do, it’s always an amazing treat.

 

Kokyo - miso and salad
Miso soup and salad – the included sides to our main order

The miso soup is always served piping hot with little cubes of tofu and sheets of seaweed. Not too salty but just the right amount of miso in it. The salad is fresh too, not drowning in sauce, with a little nest of slivered carrot on top.

 

Kokyo - sashimi combo C
Sashimi Combo C – $21.50

I think we’ve only ordered something different a couple times we’ve been, but every other time has always been this, sashimi combo C – a myriad of 27 pieces of sushi that includes 3 pieces of salmon, tuna, tai (snapper), clam, tako (octopus), ika (squid), hamachi (yellowtail), amaebi (pink shrimp) and scallop. The best part of this dish is that whenever we order it, there’s always some sort of variation to it. We once had wild salmon added in addition and many times there is more than 3 pieces of tuna and salmon.

The two hand rolls you can spot at the back of the plate isn’t actually a part of sashimi combo C. We ordered 2 uni (sea urchin) hand rolls and it was served with our sashimi combo. Uni is something I always insist on getting, especially when it’s in season as Kokyo has always given me exceptionally fresh uni. There’s a funny story for Mr. Pixelbunny about uni. We once came here for dinner a few years ago, and I wanted to try an uni sashimi. He didn’t want one because of a previous experience with uni that wasn’t fresh at another establishment. After seeing my face after eating it and gushing about how creamy the texture was and how fresh it tasted, he ordered one to try. After that, he was hooked onto uni again and always orders a hand roll with me.

 

The Verdict

This is our holy grail place for fresh sushi in the downtown Toronto area. The fresh quality you get for the price point you pay is practically unbeatable. We haven’t found another like it. Whenever friends come to visit or family comes to town, this is one of the places we default to because we know Kokyo will always impress.

 

The Place

Kokyo Sushi
501A Yonge St, Toronto, ON
416-962-6968

Written by Jessica

March 21st, 2013 at 5:40 pm

Posted in Food,Restaurant

World Class Bakers

without comments

Not exactly a restaurant per say, but you can get a hot meal here. However, I was drawn here by the looks of the baked goods in the window!

 

The Atmosphere

When you first walk in, there’s a homey café like feel to the place. Spacious, with lots of tables and chairs near the front of the place. Once you walk in, to your left is the coffee/bakery section. Towards the middle is your pies and cakes, then the back caters to the hot foods. The bakery counters are full of baked goods. A little placard on top of the counter tells your the price of each.

 

The Food

It was an afternoon meet up with one of my best friends so we opted for a hot chocolate and some treats.

 

World Class Bakers - chocolate chip shortbread cookie
Chocolate chip shortbread cookie

This cookie was huge. It was, if not slightly bigger than the palm of my hand and at least 1cm thick. It had a good amount of chocolate chips in it, with some salt as well, which makes it an excellent combo. It wasn’t as buttery as I expected, but still good. I was close to done after that cookie. It feels like it sits pretty heavy in your stomach after consumption.

 

World Class Bakers - butter croissant
Butter croissant

The butter croissant looks impressive, but sadly that’s where all the good things ended. It was dense, not flaky, and too chewy when I bit into it. It felt like I was eating bread disguised as a croissant. I would not recommend this.

 

The hot chocolate was even less impressive than the croissant. A sad small mug of hot chocolate that was too watered down for my liking. It didn’t even merit a photo. Skip that one for sure.

 

The Verdict

Unfortunately, there isn’t much to say about this place. I would try some more of the shortbread cookies, but only to take out. I might have a go at some of the cakes in the bakery cabinets, but the croissant and hot chocolate has made me a little wary to try anything else.

 

The Place

World Class Bakers
690 St. Clair Ave. W, Toronto, ON
416-654-0606

Written by Jessica

March 18th, 2013 at 12:38 pm

Posted in Food,Restaurant

Ryoji Ramen and Izakaya

with 5 comments

The ramen quest continues! This time, I hit Ryoji Ramen and Izakaya with Mr. Pixelbunny and our friend. After ramen at Santouka, we wanted to try another ramen place. So we settled on Ryoji. It is both a ramen house and an izakaya. For our trip, we all wanted to try their ramen.

 

The Atmosphere

Located in the Little Italy district, this place is quite far from downtown in comparison to its competition. However, a short streetcar ride west on College was all it took for us to get there.

Once you walk in, a cheerful hostess greets you and brings you to your seat. The bar is right at the entrance and large urns of sake are on display on shelving above the bar. There is ample seating room, with large mirrors on both the tall ceilings and the back wall. It was a neat effect because it created the illusion of a larger more loftier space. The side wall uses Japanese clay roof tiles, which adds a neat touch. Rectangular chandeliers hang from the ceiling, giving off a really nice ambient light.

 

The Food

Ryoji - ja-ma-mi peanut tofu
Ji-Ma-Ji – $6

This was our appetizer to start, Ji-Ma-Ji. It’s homemade peanut tofu. At first, we weren’t sure what to think of it. It looked like panna cotta! However, when we used the spoon to cut it open, it was actually kind of sticky in texture, not silky like most other tofu I’ve had. It definitely had a strong peanut taste, and the sauce was a syrup of sweetened soy sauce (I think). It went really well with the tofu.

 

Ryoji - Otoko-Aji Tonkotsu
Otoko-Aji Tonkotsu – $11 (if you want the soft-boiled egg, add $1.50)

All three of us ordered the same thing: otoko-aji tonkotsu ramen. I added a soft-boiled egg to mine and was I glad I did. The egg is amazingly soft, with the yolk just starting to congeal. This bowl of ramen is served with 2 slices of chasu, a heap of scallions, kikurage mushrooms, and bean sprouts. The first thing I did was drink a spoonful of broth. WOW. There were so many flavours in this bowl that I don’t even know where to describe it except that it’s way more than just pork bone. This soup was DELICIOUS. I couldn’t not believe my taste buds when I drank this.

The chasu was also one of the best I’ve had from any ramen place I’ve been to. It’s a little tricky to pick up the piece because it falls apart easily, and once in your mouth, it melts away. It’s that good. Seriously. I wish I ordered extra chasu too. There’s always next time.

 

Ryoji - Otoko-Aji Tonkotsu noodles
Noodles in the Otoko-aji Tonkotsu

The noodles here are a thin type and our waitress explained that it can be ordered in 4 ways:

1. Extra hard – a quick dip in hot water which leaves the noodle with the chewiest texture
2. Hard – like al dente
3. Regular – softer than al dente but still a little chewy
4. Soft – not chewy

We all tried hard. It’s not your typical wavy, yellow ramen noodle, but it’s still good. Because the broth is so hot, the noodles continue to cook a little bit while you’re eating. Next time I’m here, I want to try extra hard.

 

Ryoji - strawberry cheesecake
Strawberry Cheesecake – $7.50

The dessert menu was a little disappointing because it consists of cakes from Dufflet. We were hoping for some japanese style desserts like some mochi or green tea mousse. The one thing they did have was their house made strawberry cheesecake. So we opted for that. It came in a cute little champagne flute glass. However, the amount of cheesecake you were getting certainly was not worth $7.50! Maybe closer to $4 is more like it! It wasn’t anything special. There were some graham crumbs at the very bottom, then the cheesecake on top. I’m pretty sure it’s a no-bake recipe as it’s served in the champagne flute glass. I could also taste some whipped cream blended in. It was more like a mousse than a cheesecake, but a thicker mousse. Some slices of strawberry topped it off. At least the strawberries were sweet.

 

The Verdict

For the ramen portion of the menu, I loved it. The broth was so incredibly flavourful that I actually polished off the entire bowl. Our waitress was so surprised to see our bowls were empty and repeatedly thanked us for enjoying their ramen so much. The peanut tofu was really good too, and I’d recommend you to try it as well.  As for the izakaya portion of the menu, I’ll have to make a second trip there, which I certainly don’t mind doing!

So far, this ramen place ranks at the top of my list. Once I’ve tried all ramen places, I’ll probably do another post with my rankings.

 

The Place

Ryoji Ramen and Izakaya
692 College St, Toronto, ON
416-533-8083

Written by Jessica

March 14th, 2013 at 11:50 pm

Posted in Food,Restaurant

Ginger

with 4 comments

I met up with a friend whom I hadn’t seen in over a year for a long anticipated catch up. So we picked the place we always went to when we met up – Ginger!

 

The Atmosphere

Having met here on multiple occasions over the last 5 years, nothing’s really changed about the place. You go up to the cashier, place and pay for your order, then take a laminated card with a number to your seat. Once the food is cooked, they bring it to your table and retrieve your card. A small water station is set up across from the cashier where you can get your own up, ice, lemon slices and water.

The place is clean and simple. White walls, white tables, white chairs. Oh yes, and the place is clean!

 

The Food

Ginger - tempura yam and avocado roll
Yam tempura and avocado rolls

I’ve never had this roll before but my friend gets it every single time we’re here. The yam is crispy (which means it’s freshly made!) and the avocado so ripe and soft. It comes wrapped with some lettuce shreds, carrots, bean sprouts and parsley, and served with a small dish of soy/fish sauce mixture. I think I’ll order this again the next time we meet!

 

Kokyo - lemon grass chicken and pad thai
Lemongrass chicken with pad thai

The lemongrass chicken with pad thai AND the yam tempura and avocado roll was a special of the day for only $8.50! Definitely was going to get that – more bang for my buck! Unfortunately, the chicken was very dry and tough, which makes me think it may have been made quite some time ago. The flavouring was great, and the onions just a tad crunchy, but the dryness of the chicken set me off. The pad thai was nothing overly special, as their pad thai is. I usually order it because it’s a fairly large portion of noodles and I’m full and satisfied every time. In the corner of the plate is a pile of shredded cabbage and carrot that’s been slightly pickled.

 

The Verdict

Overall, the reason my friend and I keep coming back to this place is the bang for your buck. You get large portions of food for a cheap price. It’s not stellar food, but it’s not terrible either. Average I would say. I think we’re drawn to it for sentimental reasons, and it’s a great place to sit and catch up without huge lineups vying for your spot.

 

The Place

Ginger
521 Bloor St W, Toronto, ON
416-536-3131

Written by Jessica

March 11th, 2013 at 11:28 am

Posted in Food,Restaurant

JaBistro (lunch)

without comments

I met up with a friend for lunch and we decided to check out JaBistro. It’s a restaurant that’s been on my radar since I read reviews of their soft opening in December, but never had the chance to go until now. We settled on 11:30 for lunch, right when it opened.

 

JaBistro - outside
How cute is that logo? They’re luring you in to eat…

 

The Atmosphere

As soon as you walk in, you’ll notice how sleek the place looks. A small place, but beautifully decorated with attention paid to detail. The stone wall on one side is beautiful with soft lighting. A small host table greets you, then you notice the bar which is right next to the chef’s counter. A seating bar is right in front of the chef’s counter with tables and chairs at the opposite wall. I noticed that the table tops had a really nice leathery texture. My friend and I sat right up at the chef’s counter so we could see everything. If you have a chance to, sit there. It’s amazing just watching them do their work.

 

The Food

Since it was lunch, I couldn’t order too much. But what I did end up choosing was incredibly delicious.

 

JaBistro - green tea
Green tea – $3

We started with green tea to sip in. Served in a glass mug, the tea bag was humongous and kept in place with a large wooden pick. A small empty dish was served alongside the tea so you could take the teabag out when you felt it had steeped enough. This was good green tea, and not too bitter. I liked that they repeatedly asked if I wanted more hot water and refilled my mug, and I could put the teabag back in to steep some more.

 

JaBistro - demi katsu
Demi katsu – $18

My friend ordered the demi katsu, which is a tonkatsu sandwich. It was served with a cup of soup which we were told was made of burdock fish. The first thing I noticed was how large the demi katsu was. That pork cutlet was at least an inch thick, and you could see the juices running into the bread. That is one moist piece of meat! According to my friend, the sandwich was so incredibly good that he was starting to slip into a food coma.

The soup was creamy with slivers of carrot at the bottom of the cup. There were no fish chunks in it, and my friend says it’s like a bisque.

 

JaBistro - fish bowl
Fish bowl 1/2 – $23

I ordered the fish bowl. Despite its name, all the fish was served on a large plate with the rice in a separate bowl. Let’s talk about the fish first.

Holy freshness batman! I watched the chef as he took each fillet of fish out and sliced my portions out of it, then put that fillet away. I could recognize salmon, tuna, and toro (fatty tuny) but the rest of the fish I am not sure of. I did ask, and cannot remember. Sea bream I think was one of them. There were also two pieces of fish terrine made in house. At the end of the plate were two sauces: house made soy sauce and sesame dressing. Underneath the fish was a salad of greens, but I was too stuffed to eat it.

 

JaBistro - fish bowl - rice
Fish bowl 2/2 – $23

This was the rice portion of the fish bowl. A large bowl of fluffy sushi rice, topped with red fish mash, then white fish mash, ikura (salmon roe), then finely shredded seaweed. I asked what type of fish was in each of the fish mashes, but the waiter could only tell me it was assorted fish. I guess it’s made of whatever they happen to have that day. I like how in addition to the sashimi you receive on your plate, you get a bit of a bonus in your rice bowl.

 

JaBistro - peeling daikon
Watching him peel a daikon round and round

After eating, we settled in to chat and watched what our chef was up to. This was particularly neat: he had a piece of daikon, which he peeled the entire thing lengthwise round and round until there was a long ribbon of daikon attached to a small core. Then he rolled it all back up and packed it away. I was immediately brought back a memory of my sister and I trying to peel an apple in one piece and failing miserably at it. We could never match our mom, hahaha.

 

The Verdict

This place is amazing. The quality and freshness of seafood you get here is amazing. The attention to detail is amazing. Stop reading and go make plans to eat there. They will not disappoint you! I need to come back for dinner.

 

The Place

JaBistro
222 Richmond St W, Toronto, ON
647-748-0222

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Written by Jessica

March 8th, 2013 at 2:54 pm

Posted in Food,Restaurant