Thai Tapas at Sabai Sabai

At home, I’ve made my own versions of Thai food. Think pineapple fried rice with tons of cashews, green curry with chicken, and ketchup-y pad thai. That’s the kind of stuff that I see in a lot of Thai restaurants in Toronto too. But, that’s not the case at Sabai Sabai (owned by the Khao San Road folks). The menu is made up of unique Thai tapas including an entire vegan selection.

Order a bunch, and share it with your friends like we did with our buds, Andrew and Alison.

Sabai Sabai Squash Fritter Papaya Salad OurTorontoLifeSabai Sabai Grilled Fish Grilled Pork Rice Khao Soh OurTorontoLife
Sabai Sabai Thai Food Toronto OurtTorontoLifeSabai Sabai Taro Egg Dessert OurTorontoLife

Sabai Sabai Cyrus Judy Alison Andrew OurTorontoLife

1) deep friend freshly grated squash fritters,$7 I did not expect them to look like this, and they were really good! Ask for extra sauce.

2) fresh green papaya salad, $5 Colourful, and pretty but it was probably my least favourite. The papaya wasn’t quite ripe so it had a raw taste to it.

3) massaman curry with braised flat iron beef, $9 Tender just the way it should be.

4) grilled northern thai pork skewers with spicy nam chim dip, $8 These remind me of the Singaporean-style skewers, and they were pretty good!

5) crispy fish with housemade sweet & tangy tamarind reduction, $8 Order this, I only wish that the portion was bigger. Yeah, I know they are tapas size so I can’t complain.

6) khao soi, egg noodles in coconut curry gravy with shrimp, $9 My favourite! The perfect, homey noodle bowl with creamy broth and chewy noodles.

7) taro egg custard, $5 Not too sweet, and everyone really liked it. I might have liked it even more with condensed milk (I like my desserts to be sweet).

Not pictured because they were gone in 60 seconds: crispy shrimp chips with tamarind dip and slushy Thai iced tea.

Plus, this place has a great vibe and kitschy decor accents. So I’d give up your ketchup-y pad thai for this place, 100%. Thanks for the recommendation, Andrew…and the fun 2 thumbs up picture.

SABAI SABAI KITCHEN AND BAR 
225 Church Street
Toronto, ON
M5B 1Y7

Sabai Sabai on Urbanspoon


How to make a Vietnamese avocado shake

Cy and I love going for pho especially as a post-ultimate meal. Usually, we get the amateur’s pho with rare beef and meatballs. If we treat ourselves, we split an avocado shake.

Avocado nerd-alert fact: “Avocados contain no saturated fat or cholesterol and are virtually the only fruit that provides good-for-you mono-unsaturated fat.” via missavocado.ca.

So, there we have it. Vietnamese avocado shakes are kind of healthy. Here are the easy instructions to make one at home:

ingredients for vietnamese avocado shake #luvmexavocado ourtorontolife

Throw this all into a blender, then blend it on high for about 1 minute until it is smooth. DONE!

vietnamese avocadeo shake luvmexavocado ourtorontolifeIt’s the perfect summer drink! Smooth, cold, and creamy.

#luvmexavocado ourtorontolife

P.S. We were asked to take part in the #luvmexavocado project with missavocado.ca, and we was compensated for the ingredients. However, all opinions are both Cy and I’s.


How to make homemade butter

Last week, our friend Say invited us over. We came with empty stomachs because he subscribes to the theory, “go big, or go home”. A fully stocked fridge, several loaves of banana bread, bacon and MORE is what we expect and have come to love.  Italian was the theme this time. There was gourmet coffee, pasta with simple tomato sauce (also an interesting curry alfredo sauce), affogato, tiramisu, Italian waffles, G for Gelato…and bruschetta served on a baguette with homemade butter. I had to ask, “Say, you made butter?”

Mason Jar Whipping Cream Homemade Butter OurTorontoLife

Let’s get started!

Mason Jar filled with Whipping Cream Homemade Butter OurTorontoLife

Say Pouxai JudyeLee Cyrus Making Homemade Butter OurTorontoLifeAfter 15-20 minutes of shaking, you will hear a “POP!” and the butter will have separated from the buttermilk. You will see two distinct entities in the jar: butter and buttermilk.

Homemade Butter Homemade Buttermilk OurTorontoLifePour the buttermilk into another container, and you will be left with butter. It will be a soft, room-temperature butter. Mix in a bit of salt, and that will bring out the sweet and creamy flavours of the butter.

Serve it on bread, bake with it, smother it on corn on a cob, and/or whatever you do with butter! Just make sure to store it, and it can last for about a month or so (get rid of it when you see fuzzy mold).

Your turn, try it!


Sunday Dinner at Rock Lobster

I dare you to disagree with this statement: Ossington and Dundas (Little Italy/Portugal Village) is a hot bed of delicious eats. Because it’s true! A few restaurants that Cy and I have tried in that area include: The Saint, Salt Wine Bar and Pizzeria Libretto (all really good).

Recently, we tried Rock Lobster. Our friends have been raving about this seafood restaurant because it is both amazing and affordable.

Affordable seafood in Toronto Rock Lobster OurTorontoLife

Guess what is on Rock Lobster’s menu?

Rock Lobster Caesar at Bar OurTorontoLife

We started at the bar with some drinks. Take a look at that drink; it’s not an ordinary Caesar. Look closely, and you’ll see a half lobster tail. I kindly requested that Cy order it so that I can try it. You see, I don’t really drink but I like the idea of drinking interesting concoctions. Of course, I couldn’t resist this one and I ended up drinking at least half of it. SUCH A GOOD DEAL – a full lobster tail is $12 on the menu, and here you are getting a drink + a half lobster tail.

Rock Lobster Mac and Cheese Lobster Roll Jerk Crab Shrimp Steak Tartar OurTorontoLifeThe run down of our meal shared with C and D:

Lobster Poutine – $13 Crispy fries with a generous portion of savoury gravy. Topped with lobster, of course!

Lobster Roll – $14 This was everyone’s favourite! The bun was toasty, and there was a generous amount of lobster coated with a creamy dressing inside. It was hard splitting it 4 ways because we wanted to have more.

Jerk Crab + Shrimp – $13 Spicy! I liked the shrimps better than the crab because the flavours really penetrated into the shrimp meat more.

Steak TarTar + Lobster – $12 You have to be into steak tartar to like this, and luckily for me…I am. And, it went really well with the chips.

Next time (and I hope this is soon), we will have to order the famous Mac n’ Cheese and Lobster Supper (try it on Sundays, it’s $25 instead of $39).

To be honest, we were craving more food by the time we were done. So, we head off to the closest McDonald’s for a light and unhealthy snack. Sometimes, you just have to.

Rock Lobster
110 Ossington Ave, Toronto, ON M6J 2Z2

Rock Lobster on Urbanspoon


G for Gelato: Fall In Love with Your Food

WARNING This is a heavy post with lots of food pictures. You might just get hungry!

You’ve heard of the term, food tastes better when it’s made with love? It’s true. I think about the Chinese soups (“tong” in Cantonese) that my mom would carefully prepare, and boil with care. My family enjoyed those soups almost every day. They were full of goji berries, red dates, and other “healthy” things.

Contrast my mom’s soup to ours. When Cy and I hit T&T, we would buy the pre-packaged soup packages. I’m telling you, it’s not the same as my mom’s! It’s not as flavourful, and if I don’t get a second bowl of soup then I’m not crying a river.

Love makes food into a passionate affair that makes your mouth tingle, your cravings lusting after satisfaction, and it transforms your eating experience into a story that you will share with friends. This is our story of the passion that is behind the restaurant, G for Gelato.

Quattro Stagione G for Gelato-OurTorontoLifeCy and I had the pleasure of meeting someone with a passion for food, people, and marrying food with people. That someone is Shant Behesnilan who is professionally trained in frozen desserts (so cool, pun intended), and he runs G for Gelato on Jarvis Street in Toronto.

I have a back-door theory that the “G” in G for Gelato really stands for gastronomy. Trust me, this isn’t just a gelato place. Shant and his team craft pizza (voted as one of the top pies in the city – the Napoletana and Quattro Stagione that we tried were good especially with their house-made chili oil), pasta, soups, paninis, gourmet coffee, and gelato! Plus, they are licensed.

Italian Food in Toronto G for Gelato-OurTorontoLife

Look at the full deli selection.

Cyrus Mochaccino G for Gelato-OurTorontoLife

Cy really liked the mochaccino. It was almost like liquid dessert!

Shant Behesnilian G for Gelato-OurTorontoLife

This was my favourite part. I asked Shant if it was too late to try the gelato since I noticed that they were packing it up. He said, “it’s never too late to have gelato!” It gets better, he firmly believes picking a gelato flavour is like picking the perfect pair of shoes. You have to  try a lot of them before you make you final selection.

We started with the fresh sorbets:

mango, raspberry, blueberry, blood orange, kiwi, strawberry, passion fruit  chocolate banana, strawberry, lemon, dark chocolate, strawberry/pineapple, ricotta pear, and mixed berry.

Then, we moved into the rich gelatos:

coconut, ruffino (his version of Baskin Robbin’s Mocha Almond Fudge, his family ‘s favourite ice cream), peanut butter, oreo cookies & cream, chocolate & cherry, cheesecake, salted caramel, ferrero rocher, hazelnut, baileys, G signature, mint, pistachio, lavender vanilla, avocado, chocolate, ginger cocoa, and cappuccino.

Everything tasted as if you were biting into the food itself.

CYRUS’ FAVOURITES Hazelnut and Ferrero Rocher.
JUDY’S FAVOURITES Mango, Blood Orange, Lemon (even though I have a slight intolerance for it), Lavendar Vanilla, Salted Caramel, Mint, Pistachio, and Ginger Cocoa.

For more (and better) pictures of the gelato etc., check out Casey’s blog post.  We bumped into Casey and his wife Sarah – they dined there just before we did!

Shant Behesnilian Judy Lee Cyrus Yeung-OurTorontoLife

We had so much fun chatting and chilling with Shant. He was a good sport when it came to answering some of my silly questions:

Q: If you had to pick one, would you pick a really good pizza or a really good gelato?
Shant: Gelato. I would have gelato for breakfast, lunch and dinner. (Shant went on to tell us about a “pop tart” that he makes by sandwiching a scoop of gelato between sweet bread- then toasted for 30 seconds! YUM.)

Q: Favourite flavour of gelato?
Shant: Ferraro Rocher.

Q: Favourite pizza? 
Shant: Calabrese. When I was a kid, I would always eat sandwiches with spicy meat and cheese!

Q: Do you ever eat at Pizza Pizza?
A: Never.

Q: Do you ever eat at Dairy Queen?
A: It’s been awhile. I used to like the vanilla-dipped cone.

What’s not to like about this guy?! You can tell that his passion is in his food and work, and both Cy and I appreciated it. Not everyone in the business has that spark, and when they do – it’s special.

Try G for Gelato for yourself.

G for Gelato
75 Jarvis St
Toronto, ON M5C 2H2

PS. I don’t want to fake you out. As affiliate bloggers for Buytopia, we get to try deals that we are interested in, and “test” them out. We write about it, and we aren’t pressured to write things that don’t represent who we are and aren’t. In this case, it was a $7 for $14 Buytopia deal. Shant was kind to comp our entire meal and we were able to enjoy the food, his stories, knowledge and company – and that was priceless.

G for Gelato and Espresso Bar on Urbanspoon


Date Night at Masa Sushi

Vegetarian Date Night at Masa Sushi-OurTorontoLife.com

Look at dem married folks on a Wednesday date night! Hey, just because you are married doesn’t mean you can’t date. It’s easier without kids in the picture. This time, Masa Sushi was our spot of choice, and we took advantage of a special Buytopia deal ($10 buy for a cool $20 spend – you won’t be sorry)!

The restaurant has been under new management since early January, and I can tell that the owner Michael and his staff have been busting their butts to present the best version of the place. It was immaculately clean, and setting was so warm with so many comfortable seating arrangements (good for groups too). Most importantly, the menu is impressive. Here comes the Vancouverite in me, I’m judge-y Miss. Picky when it comes to my fresh, melt-in-your-mouth sushi. There were lots of great amateur sushi items (dynamite roll and the like), and some neat specials (japan salmon salad roll – see below)! Also, there were lots of vegetarian options.

YES, Cy and I are on a VEGETARIAN diet. We’ve been meat free (except seafood) for 5 consecutive days now. Call it an experiment inspired by the documentary “Forks Over Knives”, and we are hoping to see if it is feasible for our lifestyle and health.

So, this is what we ordered with some special recommendations from Michael:

fresh salmon salad roll gindara grilled black cod-ourtorontolife.com

I’m drooling in my mouth now.  Japan Salmon Salad Roll is like a pop of refreshing summer in your mouth! Fresh cucumber around salmon, avocado and shrimp. while the Gindara – grilled black cod was butter-y with a distinct Teriyaki flavour.

urajiro mushroom stuffed with mushroom-ourtorontolife.com

Order this. The Urajiro is a Japanese mushroom, and I’ve never ever had it like this. The exterior is light and crisp, and the piping hot inside was full of flavours that blended so well together – all that mushroom, shrimp, and green onions.

fresh mango salmon roll spicy tuna roll at masa sushi with buytopia-ourtoronfolife.com
Who said that Vancouver was home to the best sushi in the world? This is pretty good, and you know this for several reasons. Melt-in-the-mouth fish that is velvety and absolutely no fishy taste or aftertaste. The flavours of the fresh mango salmon roll were so fresh with the sweet mango. While the spicy tuna roll was great with the crispy tempura bits and spicy kick of a sauce.

pan fried soba noodles with vegetables-ourtorontolife.com

By the time the soba noodles came, we were nearly stuffed. But, both Cy and I managed to take in a few mouthfuls of this. There are lots of grilled veggies in this one!

green tea icecream-ourtorontolife.com
A girl doesn’t say no to dessert! At least not this one. Green tea ice cream is one of Cy’s favourite ice cream flavours.

We have got to do food night, I mean, date night more often! Masa Sushi left us both full and happy. Thanks again to the hospitable Michael and his staff!

Try it out for yourself and maybe your special someone or friend? And, make sure to get the Buytopia deal – I’d hate for you to not save money on that AYCE, teppanyaki, or à la carte sushi!

MASA SUSHI
15 Charles Street E., Toronto (near Yonge and Bloor)
TEL: 416-920-3388
FAX: 416-920-2288

Masa Sushi Japanese Restaurant on Urbanspoon


Lacey Black Forest Cake Cupcakes Soaked in Cherry Ice Wine

Black Forest Cupcake-OurTorontoLife.com

Vanilla Buttercream-OurTorontoLife.com

Filling Black Forest Cupcakes with Applewood Black Forest Cherry Ice Wine and Bing Cherries-OurTorontoLife.com

Variants to Black Forest Cupcake-OurTorontoLife.com

My shtick is more cooking than it is baking. The reasons are pretty simple:

  • Cooking allows far more room for experimentation. I don’t like following recipes; instead, I take a bit here and there from inspirations in pictures, food eating experiences, Food Network shows, and YouTube shows.
  • While I loved the end product of baking, that didn’t mean that I had to bake. There are tons of places that I could get my fix like Dufflet. It’s the kind of bakery where they make everything delicious.

However, I am becoming ever so slightly domesticated. Recently, Cy and I bought a loaf pan, muffin pan, and cookie sheet. Then, I get all my inspirations from my friends who bake so well (Telisha, Janela, Maia, and Say to name a few friends), and monkey see, monkey do. The key to get me started is to think about what I want to eat, and to make it fairly quick and painless. Less ingredients means less dishes to wash for me.

Back to this blog post, it’s all about the Black Forest cupcake! There was no real recipe, and I used a Betty Crocker’s cake mix. How did I do the rest?

Black Forest Cake Cupcakes soaked with Cherry Ice Wine

Cake ingredients: Devil’s Food cake mix (plus 3 large eggs, oil, and water)

Filling: Bing cherries in a can, and Applewood Black Forest Cherry ice wine

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting ingredients: 3/4 cup of butter, 1/4 cup+ of whipping cream, 4 cups of icing sugar, 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract, and 1 drop of red food colouring (optional)

Here’s how I did it:

  1. Bake the cupcakes according to Mrs. Betty Crocker. Wait for the cupcakes to cool.
  2. Next, the idea is to add some ice wine and a cherry to the middle of the cupcake. Use a butter knife to cut a quarter-sized hole in the middle of the cupcake, and remove the cake “lid” carefully because you will need it again. Pour a few drops of ice wine in the cake hole, and then drop a bing cherry or two inside before placing the “lid” back on.
  3. Frosting time! Beat down the butter to make it a fluffy consistency. I don’t have a mixer, but if you do – then use it. My weapon of choice? Chopsticks! You can use those things for everything and anything.
  4. Add the icing sugar and whipping cream in 3 and 2 different additions to the butter (start with icing sugar, and rotate with the whipping cream). You might need to add more whipping cream if you want the frosting to be thinner.
  5. Add the vanilla extract and food colouring.
  6. Take a baggie (Ziplock or clean plastic bag), and throw some icing in there. Squeeze the icing to the tip, and twist the bag. Then, cut a small hole at the tip. This is your amateur cheapie piping bag!
  7. Pipe the icing on the cupcake starting at the middle, and go ’round and ’round! Have run with it, and try different doily and/or flower designs – see Cy’s cupcake on the bottom with the “maze” on it. You can even top it with a cherry!

Enjoy them! I just ate two of these cupcakes, and my second dessert stomach is so happy! My next baking quest might involve some kind of mint chocolate chip creation (inspired by one of my favourite ice cream flavours) or matcha (inspired by one of my favourite bubble tea flavours). Food inspired by food, go figure.


Cheap Eats: 5-Course Meal for $15.99 at Ten Ren’s Tea Time

Ten Ren - OurTorontoLife.com

Looking for cheap and delicious?! I am loving Ten Ren’s Tea Time (Ten Ren) for being that niche combo of cheap and delicious. FYI: It is a tea shop that serves both traditional and bubble tea in GTA. You might have seen Ten Ren at Yorkdale Mall (look for that long line up near the Indigo/Rainforest part of the mall), Chinatown or Fairview Mall.

Only a few of them serve food, and the one on Times Avenue in Markham does. After a spin around Vaughan Mills mall, Cy and I went for dinner this past Saturday with our good friends, C and D.

This is what I ordered from the $15.99 Dinner Special menu:

Course 1 –  Green Tea Salad Simple salad with raisins. I don’t like raisins (except in Glosette form)!

Course 2 – Wonton Soup Lots of cabbage and 3 meaty wontons in hot soup. It comes in a cute bowl, and the server whips off the lid when he/she puts down the bowl.

Course 3 – Steamed Veggies with Garlic It doesn’t look like much, but this is really good. Watch out for that garlic breath!

Course 4- Crispy Duck with Taro I didn’t bother with my rice because this dish is so filling. Taro is all starch! The duck was on the dry side, but it still adds that nice, oily duck flavour that I love.

Course 5 – Egg Pudding Just when you thought your set meal was done, you get a mini dessert. The liquid topping is a sweet syrup, and the egg custard is nice, flavourful and smooth.

Drink  Litchee Yoghurt Slush (premium drink, so it was an additional $3.xx charge): This is why I come to Ten Ren. I’ve never had a bad drink here, and this was no exception. The Litchee and yoghurt combo is good (believe it or not) with no powder-y aftertaste.

I’m already dreaming about what to order next time. Yes, I dream about food…

Get your meal on at Ten Ren’s Tea Time:
111 Times Ave #101, Markham, ON L3T 0A2

Ten Ren's Tea Time on Urbanspoon


Birthday Breakfast: Pulled Pork Pancakes

Pulled Pork Pancake 2 - OurTorontoLife.com

I was inspired to make an over-the-top breakfast for the birthday boy, Cyrus. Pulled pork with BBQ sauce in between fluffy buttermilk pancakes topped with maple syrup! It was my less fancy spin on Vancouver’s Red Wagon’s version as featured in Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.

All it took was 3 ingredients:

1) Pork tenderloin, BAM!
2) Entire bottle of BBQ sauce, BAM!
3) Buttermilk pancake mix, BAM!

INSTRUCTIONS Put pork tenderloin in the slow cooker with an entire bottle of BBQ sauce on the low setting for about 7-9 hours.

Take out the pork tenderloin and tear it with forks. Re-incorporate some of the BBQ sauce – use as much as you like.

Follow the instructions on the pancake mix box. I made large and small pancakes, and then I stacked them with the pulled pork from big pancakes to small pancakes on top.

>>Eat and keep it fun. You can even add a candle on top!


Only at IKEA: GODIS SKUM

Ikea Godis Skum - OurTorontoLife.com

Check out this Marshmallow candy from IKEA. Cy noticed it while we were lining up for a hot dog and soft-serve frozen yoghurt. Doesn’t the Swedish name throw you off?

Saving grace? Maybe they taste good.