dim sum at pearl harbourfront

I'm such a sucker for dim sum. To me, it's the perfect mid-Saturday morning meal. And while I mostly frequent the Chinatown dim sum joints for convenience, I recently checked out Pearl Harbourfront for a change of scenery. With views overlooking Toronto's harbour, the Pearl has a more upscale feel than the dim sum places I'm used to. They do offer cart service, but if the dining room isn't very full (like when I was there) they ask you to order off a menu. The food quality is definitely a step up from Chinatown. Everything tasted fresh and homemade. The price ended up being a few dollars more, but totally worth it. 
From top to bottom: haam siu gok (glutinous rice dumpling stuffed with pork); har gow (steamed shrimp dumplings); crispy deep-fried squid tentacles; bbq pork cheung fun (rice noodle roll); siu mai (steamed pork and shrimp dumplings); steamed black bean spareribs.

Pearl Harbourfront
207 Queens Quay W.


penrose fish & chips

Penrose Fish & Chips is my kind of place. A family-run, old school, hole-in-the-wall fish and chips shop with small booths, a couple of tables and the smell of deep-fry permeating the space. It's not fancy by any means, but they serve some of the best fish and chips in the city. The fish is fresh, hot and crispy. The fries are thick-cut and oh-so tasty. The secret? I'm not sure, but I think it has something to do with the fact that they fry everything in beef drippings. Yup, beef drippings. And surprisingly, the resulting fish and chips are not greasy at all. 
This is as simple as it gets. Just a perfect portion of haddock and chips and a bowl of tangy coleslaw. And don't expect homemade tartar sauce, they serve the packaged kind, and that's fine by me.

Penrose Fish & Chips
600 Mt. Pleasant Rd.


solo sweet

Sorry for the impromptu hiatus. I'll be back next week, but for now here's a special indulgent treat from Nadègethe C3: a dome of caramel mousse filled with coconut mousse, chocolate cremeaux and a chocolate fleur de sel biscuit. Perfectly light and airy. No need to share.
Nadège Patisserie
780 Queen St. W



As someone who loves tacos and good Mexican food, I've had Rebozos on my radar for a long time. Last week I was finally able to cross it off my list.  
I mostly came for the lengua (beef tongue) tacos. Beef tongue may sound scary, but, if cooked properly, can be the most tender piece of meat. It's the perfect cut for tacos. 
I also tried one of the specials of the day: chicharron in salsa verde tacos, basically pork skin simmered in a tomatillo salsa. The chicharron was mega-porky and gelatinous in texture—definitely not for everyone, but I thought it was pretty tasty.
And finally a chorizo tostada. Crumbled Mexican sausage, refried beans, shredded lettuce and sour cream on a crunchy tortilla. A little hard to handle and messy, but a nice mix of crunchy, spicy, cool and creamy.
With so many good taco spots opening up shop downtown (La Carnita, Grand Electric, Seven Lives), I probably wouldn't make the trip all the way up to Rebozos, but those tongue tacos did inspire me to try to make my own. I'll be posting about that experience soon.

126 Rogers Rd.


montreal-style bagels

I've been making these homemade bagels about once a month and absolutely love them, but I decided to try a recipe for Montreal-style bagels and compare the two. I actually prefer Montreal bagels with their crisp exterior and dense, sweet interior.
I used this recipe by Marcy Goldman and, while they tasted (and looked) ok, they just weren't great. Definitely not as flavourful as the Montreal bagels I'm used to and the texture wasn't the same as the ones made in wood-burning ovens. Back to my old reliable recipe I guess.


ding tai fung

Ding Tai Fung specializes in Shanghai-style dim sum and whenever I find myself in Markham, I always stop in for a quick meal. I'm not a dim sum expert, but I think that Shanghai style consists of mostly steamed dumplings along with some pan-fried versions (not a lot of deep-fried items like at regular dim sum places). And there is no cart service since everything is steamed/fried to order.
Always go for the xiao long bao or soup dumplings. These are the most popular and for good reason: they are really, really delicious. Be warned though, they are scalding hot inside. Use your chopsticks to gently pick one up and place it in your soup spoon. Nibble a little hole into the skin, slurp out the soup, then chow down on the rest of the dumpling. I like to dip mine in a mixture of vinegar, soy, chili oil and fresh ginger.
The sticky rice shu mai are ok, but seriously heavy. The sticky rice is mixed with a small amount of pork and mushrooms then wrapped in dumpling skin and steamed. One or two is usually my max.
The fried chicken soup is another one of my faves though not on the dim sum side of the menu. The dish is composed of two parts: the soup (pictured above) which has noodles (I think they are handmade), greens and pork, plus...
...A plate of toppings: soy sauce boiled egg, seasoned soybean sprouts, fermented chopped vegetables and a very crispy boneless fried chicken thigh. I throw everything on top of the soup and season it with a bit more chili oil, vinegar and soy. So utterly comforting on a cold day.
Ding Tai Fung Shanghai Dim Sum
3235 Hwy 7 E. 
Markham, ON.


the works

This past weekend, Joe and I stuffed our faces at the new-ish (to Toronto) burger chain, The Works
Instead of regular glasses, the sodas come in measuring cups. 
Our waitress pointed out that all of the burgers are made to order, so they take about twenty minutes to cook. We decided to get started with their Tower-O-Rings, a big, crispy stack of onion rings that come with your choice of two dipping sauces. We went with the Beechhouse (a creamy veggie and garlic mayo) and the Hotter Than Hell (not really that hot, but still delicious). I was real happy with these crunchy, non-greasy rings.
For burgers, Joe chose the BT Breakfast Burger topped with mayo, a fried egg, tomato, cheddar and bacon.  
I got the Beach Boardwalk Burger topped with an onion ring, Beechhouse sauce, brie, havarti and gouda. It was huge. I ate about half before calling it quits. I also got the spicy die-cut chips (not spicy at all) as my side—they were awesome dipped in even more of that Beechhouse sauce. 
Was this a good burger? I would say yes. It was juicy and hearty. Considering I could barely move after this meal, next time I'd probably split a burger rather than attempt to eat a whole one on my own. Plus, then maybe I'd have room for their deep-fried dill pickles. This city needs more deep-fried pickles.

The Works
888 Danforth Ave.