food, life, toronto

Omakase @ YASU

Had my first full fledged omakase at Yasu in celebration of my birthday this month.  Omakase means chef’s choice set course, and this is the only menu offering available at Yasu. At  $135 per guest for a 2 hour seating, the meal consists of 20+ items. The menu mostly comprises of nigiri sushi, but we also had a few appetizers throughout the meal, and a dessert at the end.

It was an outstanding meal where although there were so many pieces, we never felt rushed or too full. They also offer to reduce the size of the rice in the sushi if you start to feel full. Their only dining time slots are 7:15pm and 9:15pm – be sure to make reservations well in advance as seating is extremely limited.

Highly recommend to try Yasu as personally, it is the best sushi I have ever had (and I have been to Tsukiji, albeit not the most popular spot) . Price is on the higher side but well worth it for a special occasion! There were 3 other patrons celebrating their birthdays the same night as me 😂

Full Listing of menu items (can vary):

  1. Smoked bonito with ponzu sauce
  2. Shirako 
  3. Shima aji
  4. Uni from Boston vs. Hokkaido
  5. Fluke / flounder
  6. Snow crab with crab liver
  7. Ocean trout
  8. Lobster with yuzu dust
  9. Fish broth miso soup (not pictured but very very delicious and rich)
  10. Tuna trio – akami, chuutoro, ootoro (served to be eaten leanest to fattiest meat)
  11. Monkfish
  12. Kanpachi
  13. Salom roe and negi toro rice
  14. Scallop
  15. Saba topped with daikon
  16. Anago
  17. Tamago fish cake
  18. Black sesame ice cream (also not pictured, they add a candle for your birthday)
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canada, desserts, events, food, friends, life, toronto

October 2018

This month I really loved being able to easily access anything in the city. It felt refreshing to be able to walk out for dessert or grab drinks on a whim (without worrying who the designated driver is!). This is such a novelty for me as I lived in Markham for probably 15 years, where going anywhere required driving.

Here’s my October round up:

Continue reading

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canada, desserts, events, food, friends, life, toronto

September 2018

Moving downtown has been a big change for me, one that I embarked around mid-August. The adulting aspect of it is gruelling and I dislike walking and taking public transit…but I am really enjoying living in the city core. Toronto just has so much to offer – there is always something happening and new each and every week. My plan is to do a monthly log to share some cool finds to fellow Torontonians living either downtown or uptown to check out.

Here’s my September round up of discoveries. Continue reading

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asia, food, Malaysia, travel

1 Day in Kuala Lumpur

As I had 3 days in Singapore, I took one to do a quick day trip to Kuala Lumpur. It was an admittedly rushed trip packed with catching flights, trains, and buses, but I did manage to check off a few things. Here’s what you can do over a short layover.

1) Explore Batu Caves (and climb its 272 steps). May not sound like much of a challenge at first, but their giant size and the scorching KL heat sure made it difficult. After the feat, however, you can reward yourself with a coconut. Note for girls: Remember to bring a cover-up of sorts as shorts are not allowed for entry.

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2) Shop at Central Market. Skipped this due to public transportation detours and delays, but supposedly is a great spot for souvenir shopping.

3) Feast at Lot 10 Food Court. There are lots of street food in the Bukit Bintang area but if you want to stay indoors Lot 10 has many vendors for you to pick and choose from. We created our own 3 course meal by food stall hopping – Chili Crab ($20 CAD), Duck Egg Kway Teow ($4 CAD), and Mango Shaved Ice ($2 CAD) Delicious! And not to mention cheap.

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Chili Crab

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Char Kway Teow

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Mango and Lychee Shaved Ice

4) Catch a glimpse of the famous Petronas Twin Towers – just to say you’ve seen it.

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My favourite part of Kuala Lumpur has got to be the Lot 10 Food Court. It was a bit of a struggle to do all the activities under 10 hours and the public transportation issues and hot weather did not help one bit!  I do think it is definitely doable within a day, but a full day and night would probably do it more justice.

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asia, fashion, food, Singapore, travel

2 Days in Singapore

Singapore is both a country and a city-state which is small enough in size to be easily be explored within 1 or 2 days. Here’s my schedule with the goal to see the most that I could within 2 days. Unfortunately, as I got sick partway during the trip, I was not able to complete it myself, but happy to share it nonetheless.

1) See its most iconic symbols – Merlion and Marina Bay Sands.

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2) Dine at a Hawker Center. Maxwell, Chinatown Complex and Telok Ayer were my top picks but we ended up only going to Satay by the Bay (near Gardens by the Bay), Albert Centre, and Bugis Food Street.74185f61-4fda-4170-ac2d-2cbacbaee4f0

3) Hang out at Haji Lane. So many chic cafes, restaurants, shops and of course, graffiti.

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4) Enjoy the history at Clarke Quay. Missed this activity and the secret bar we had in mind nearby – 28 Hong Kong Street Bar.

5) Take a breather at Gardens by the Bay. Admire the Supertree Grove both in the day and at night. They have a light show every evening.IMG_1982

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6) Try one of the cheapest Michelin starred restaurants.We went to Hawker Chan in Chinatown opened by one-Michelin starred Laio Fan Soya Sauce Chicken. Quite overrated in my opinion.

7) Admire the Singapore skyline from above. Bars of choice were Ce La Vi (at Marina Bay Sands) and 1-Altitude. But as it was a rainy night, rooftop bars were out of the picture. Our Singapore expat friend brought us to Club Street instead where we got to try a Singapore Sling.IMG_3203

8) If I had a 3rd day, I would go to Sentosa!

The weather in Singapore is very hot and humid. Sunscreen, water, and electrolytes highly recommended! Public transit is quite easy to get around, and not to mention inexpensive, we used one of their ez link cards to commute on the MRT easily. It even connects directly to the airport for a cheap fare.

Let me know what you enjoyed in Singapore, and if you haven’t been – please enjoy!

 

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Tanzania, travel

Safari in Tanzania

Back in August 2017, I took on the challenge to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro with my friend Alicia. And our adventure did NOT just end there! We spent another week in Tanzania visiting a local town to see their various co-operatives, a Maasai village, and the most anticipated of all for me – SAFARI.

If you’re interested in such an adventure, here’s some information on my experience which was one in a small group and living at the safari park campsites. Experience will be vastly different if you have either a private guide, or you live in the resorts.

The Tour Company: Gadventures

The Tour Package: Kilimanjaro – Lemosho Route & Serengeti Adventure  (Safari only options are available on the website)

The Duration: 3 half day game drives, and 1 full day game drive (spanned over 4 days)

The Group Size: 14 people split 7 per car (honestly not the most ideal as we had to take turns with the back middle seat which would have no window access)

The Parks:
1) Lake Manyara NP
2) Serengeti  NP
3) Ngorongoro Conservation Area

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The Animals: All of the African Big 5 are in Tanzania – lion, leopard, rhinoceros, elephant and cape buffalo. These species made the Big 5 list based on the level of difficulty that would be required to hunt them and also based on the degree of danger that would be involved – not based on their size.  I got to see all except for the rhino which are extremely rare due to all the poaching.

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The Ride: A land cruiser type car which has a pop-up roof so you can take pictures from the windows or in the space given when the roof is up.  Probably only meant to be used for us when the car is stopped, but there are handles to hang on to that we managed to stand and look out while the car was on the move. Quite windy and dusty though.

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The Day: The main times for game rides are at dawn and at dusk when animals are most active. As such the morning game ride would start around 7am (wake up would be 6am) and end around lunch, and then an afternoon game ride around 3/4pm until dinner time. Game rides are about 3-4 hours long so it’s quite a long day as it surprisingly takes a lot of energy to try to spot animals (usually the guide finds its first) and then photograph them well. We even got up at around 5am once to photograph the sunrise – worth it!

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The Guide: Our driver was great – very knowledgeable and talkative (Sampson from Gadventures). He was also basically our tour guide and animal expert too. We were lucky he was extremely patient and always stopped for us each time we saw something interesting. He also tried his best to bring us to the best spots or to wherever he hears information that there is a more ‘rare’ animal from other drivers (ex. cheetahs, leopards, lion prides on the move).

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The Living Accommodations: Something in between glamping and camping. The tents itself were huge for just 2 people like a small room, we had mattresses, a pillow, and even a fleece blanket on the colder night to go along with our sleeping bag. But the shower facilities were not the best as you would need to bring your own toilet paper and sometimes the showers did not work, or the water was cold. As I spent 7 days hiking where the washroom situation was worse, it was a major improvement and I couldn’t ask for anything more.

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The Food: Food was always delicious and plentiful. They always ensured we had a balanced meal consisting of soup, rice or pasta with some sort of protein, vegetables, and fruits. Hot drinks were always provided as well as popcorn as a snack.

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The Camera: Canon Powershot G3X. I had an iPhone 5S at the time which was definitely not the best camera out there, but overall I believe having an actual camera would be best for the optical zoom. I picked this camera specifically for this trip and it worked well for me as I was able to zoom quite in (further than most in the group) and it being digital made it easy as I did not have to change lenses. The downside, however, would be the weight of the camera as the superzoom lens is attached. I did use a polarizing filter and a hood to help counter the strong sunlight.

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The Feedback: For me, 4 days was a bit too much since game rides last about 3-4 hours each. I was getting quite tired on the last day from the early mornings, long hours in the car and late nights (I slept at 7 or 8pm the entire week prior during the Kilimanjaro hike). As the days went by seeing the animals became more lackluster unless it was a new species we did not come across before, and there were only so many photographs you can take of a lion. On our last game ride where we tried to search for a rhino, I even fell asleep!

Overall though I thoroughly enjoyed being able to witness animals in their natural habitat and much more up close than at any zoo. It was a great feeling to be able to enjoy them without being too involved and affecting their environment. However truth be told, with the number of safari vehicles going through each day, especially at popular parks like Serengeti, we are definitely still making an impact on their lives. At more special sightings such as a pride of lions attempting to catch prey, there would be about 30 cars parked along the road to catch a glimpse. But still, a bit better than them being held captive I suppose?

Advice on if you are unsure if this trip is right for you: As most of the trip is literally sitting in a car trying to scout for animals, and then spending a lot of time taking photos of the animals from inside the car, I would say you have to be either really interested in animals or really interested in (animal) photography. At times we spent up to 30 minutes to an hour at one spot as we wait for something interesting to happen (ex. pride lions going after prey)  which can end very anticlimactically, or simply because we are waiting around to get the ideal spot amongst other safari vehicles. If that is not really what you are interested in, I would definitely suggest a more private tour so you have more control of how your day goes, or just 1 game ride.

Every Sunday I share an image from my safari adventure on my Instagram – check it out!

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canada, food, montreal, travel

5 Days in Montreal

Montreal is a popular long weekend destination for us in Toronto since it’s only a 6 – 7 hour drive away. I visited Montreal for the first time as an adult over the Canadian Thanksgiving holidays. Here are some of the cool things I did during the 5 days. 

  1. Live in an awesome Airbnb. Although your stay indoors might be short, a great accommodation does make a difference.  LeQube was chosen for its reasonable price, walking distance to a subway station, beautiful interiors, and let’s not forget to mention a rooftop jacuzzi.IMG_0432
  2. Indulge even at brunch. At Le Passe Compose they serve foie gras eggs benedict – where else can you get that? And it is as delicious as it sounds. From this trip, it was hands down my favourite meal. Be prepared to spend over 30 minutes in line though.IMG_0442
  3. Take in the beauty of Montreal Botanical Garden. I was lucky enough that my visit coincided with their annual Lantern Festival and it was definitely magical!IMG_0380
  4. Dine at the famous Au Pied de Cochon. 4 words: Duck in a Can. As cliche as this restaurant may be as a Montreal staple, it lives up to its name and hype. Remember to make a reservation as they get fully booked fast!

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    Definitely not the most photogenic, but that doesn’t affect the taste!

  5. Squeeze some sort of exercise in by hiking up Mont Royal.  Quite an easy hike as the trail is a slow gradual uphill. Since it was fall, a beautiful view of the city and the changing colours of leaves could be seen.IMG_0507
  6. Discover a secret bar. Atwater Cocktail Club – swanky interior, interesting drinks, and as a bonus you can order snacks from the restaurant Foiegwa that it shares a kitchen with.IMG_0497
  7. Have a semi-romantic date on The Montreal Observation Wheel. A giant Ferris wheel that gives a panoramic view of Old Montreal and St. Lawrence River. My experience was semi-romantic because we had to share the car with others.IMG_0492
  8. And most importantly, do what must be done in Montreal – poutine at La Banquise. It’s open 24 hours so there is no excuse.IMG_0501.JPG

It was interesting to re-visit Montreal as an adult to appreciate the sights of its landscape and architecture. And of course being able to choose where to dine was a definite plus. Whether you will be in Montreal for a weekend or even just a day, these are some locations that I would recommend to consider for your next trip!

 

Bonus of places I also dined at but did not make the “favourites” cut:  L’avenue, Ganadara, Bar Darling, Farberge, Cafe Falco, La Diperie, and Nos Thes.  I also ate at MAIS which was delicious and quite reminiscent of La Carnita in Toronto.  However, I didn’t have any photographs of the food and as the meal was treated by the owner/chef  I am admittedly biased. Do check it out though if you are at Mile End doing some shopping!

 

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