Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Smoke on the Water

Big Smoke Burger (previously known as Craft Burger)

1. Table 77
2. Menu and front counter at Big Smoke Burger
3. Vanilla Milkshake
4. Classic Burger and onion rings
5. Blue Burger

My best friend and I decided to go for a dinner and movie date. We ended up watching The Help and it was wonderful. When I got home, I finished the night off on the perfect note with a bit of strawberry ice cream. :)

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Review: Guu SakaBar pt. II

This is the continuation of my post earlier on Guu SakaBar (which can be found HERE).

After the first round of food arrived, we ordered another three dishes:
Maguro Tataki: seared tuna (picture 1)
This was fresh tuna sashimi that came with more ponzu sauce and garlic chips. (My companions agreed that a lot of the same ingredients are used over and over but they work well in each dish so I can't really fault them.) Once again, another well done dish.
Okonomiyaki: deep fried Japanese savoury pancake (pictures 2-3)
The okonomiyaki served here is made with squid. It was not the most memorable or outstanding dish of the night, but I still enjoyed it and it was good for what it was.
Kakimayo: baked oyster with garlic, mayo and cheese (picture 4)
Served atop of shells, this very rich dish came in a set of two (and I highly recommend sharing it). The best part of the kakimayo was definitely the creamy spinach and garlic mayo surrounding the oysters. I love cheese and there was lots of it on top of the oyster but some parts of it were overly salty. In spite of its shortcomings, I enjoyed the kakimayo overall.

At some point in the meal, I commented that I was very impressed because every single dish that was brought to our table tasted amazing. Unfortunately, I spoke much too soon. The final three dishes were a disappointment to me and I suggest avoiding them:
Hotate: buttered scallops (picture 5)
I'm not a big fan of scallops but these ones were overcooked too, which was a let down.
Tontoro: grilled pork cheeks (not pictured)
Coming from a household that eats similar pork dishes on a fairly regular basis, this dish was nothing special for me.
Gomaae: spinach with sesame sauce (not pictured)
The blanched spinach itself was fine albeit a bit boring despite being mashed into a ball. Unfortunately, the accompanying sesame sauce was much too salty.

THE VERDICT: Although it was busy, service wasn't compromised and all our food came within 10 minutes of ordering. In the end, not all the dishes impressed me but there were way more hits than misses. As an izakaya, the dishes are generally small and not the kind of place I would go to get stuffed. However, I still left feeling quite satisfied after sharing 10 dishes between 3 people. Overall, I really enjoyed this restaurant and it's clear from the steady turnover and line-ups of customers, I'm not the only one who feels that way. After all the great things I heard about it, Guu lived up to the hype and I look forward to future visits.

Thursday, 25 August 2011

I Got Lost in the Sounds

There are a lot of great dances that I've fallen in love with over the years but today, I rediscovered this sweet little gem. Enjoy!

Monday, 22 August 2011

Review: Guu SakaBar pt. I

Being a weekday night, we decided to head to Guu SakaBar (559 Bloor St W). It turns out that I've walked past this location multiple times but with the very small sign, I had completely missed it. Although it was a Monday, we still had to wait 30 minutes to be seated but it was well worth it. Upon arrival we were loudly and enthusiastically greeted by the staff before being directed to a table in the tatami floor seating area. The atmosphere is very busy, vibrant and loud which makes it a fun experience but a little bit more difficult to have a good conversation. Regardless, we got the night started with 4 great dishes:
Gyu Carpaccio: lightly seared beef sashimi (not pictured)
The gyu carpaccio arrived as thinly sliced pieces of beef lying in a plate of ponzu sauce with mayo drizzled on top. Although that may not sound the most appetizing, I found the beef to have a great texture and flavour. It was the first dish we got and I wanted another round of immediately after - it was a very promising start to our meal.
Takoyaki: deep fried octopus balls (picture 4)
This was only my second time trying takoyaki but it was much better than my previous experience. These bite sized balls had a crispy exterior with a soft gooey interior that contained the right amount of chewy octopus pieces. Most importantly, the flavour of the takoyaki was not overpowered by or secondary to the sauce/mayo.
Brie Cheese (picture 5-6)
With the Canadian National Exhibition in town, there has been a lot of talk of deep fried foods from deep fried cola to deep fried oreos to deep fried PB&J sandwiches. So when I saw deep fried brie cheese on the menu, I had my doubts about how it would turn out. However, I was pleasantly surprised. The pairing of the savory cheese with the sweet mango and blueberry sauces elevated this from being a gimmicky novelty to something I see myself ordering again in the future. It turned out be a rather delightful albeit gooey snack.
Saba: mackerel (picture 7)
I am not a big fan of mackerel but this was fantastic. It came with lemon, onions, and garlic chips. There were a few garlic chips on the gyu carpaccio but I actually tried some with this dish and loved the flavour and crunch they added. The mackerel was very light (both in terms of flavour and texture) with a definite hint of dill and grilled to perfection.

Sunday, 7 August 2011


Rodeo Spring 2011
Jenny Sinkaberg
Photography by Julia Hetta
Styling by Tekla Knaust

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Bill Cunningham New York

Although released much earlier, I only recently took the opportunity to watch this documentary on Bill Cunningham who is probably best known as a street fashion photographer for the New York Times. To be honest, I was not familiar with Bill Cunningham at all until he and the documentary on him were briefly mentioned on Fashion Television. Since then, I had it in the back of my mind that I would like to see the documentary as I was immediately struck by his humble nature and clear passion for what he does. As luck would have it, I dropped by one of the smaller theatres in the city and found the film was still playing there. It was an absolute pleasure to have this glimpse into the life of this man who many are acquainted with but no one really knows. The contrast between his own simple life and the extravagant fashions and people he photographs were fascinating. He, himself, was the real star of the film though. His humour, his enthusiasm, his modesty and his strong sense of morals and values captivated me. Like any good film, I found myself laughing and at other times, crying. There is something so deeply admirable about his dedication to his work yet so saddening at the same time because it comes at the expense of other aspects of life. However, he is clearly very happy with his life and is at ease with the choices he has made. In the end, I do recommend this film but it is probably best that one not be too familiar with Bill Cunningham prior to watching - a quick Internet search turns up a good deal of what is covered in this film. With that being said, this film is clearly not meant to be an exposé but it is a touching look into an extraordinary man's life.