Last year I was invited to a Catering Class by Toben Foods by Design (@ChefToben). So when I heard that they were launching a “TWISTED TFBD”, I was quite excited. For those that don’t know, Toben Foods by Design is a premier catering company in Toronto. They have created a delicious street style menu that will be popping up at festivals and events across the city in the coming months.

Last week I was invited to their Twisted TFBD pop-up restaurant at 2nd Floor Events for a preview of this street style menu. The Four Course tasting menu is inspired by global street style fare with a fair twist.

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Table set up for the evening:

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Bourbon-Ginger-Lemongrass Iced Tea

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Some of the finger bites of the evening to kick off the launch of their new street style menu.

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AMUSE:
Jerk Seared Ahi Tuna

  • charred corn-compressed watermelon salad, crispy plaintain

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Cucumber-Thai Basil Martini

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1st COURSE:
Tastes” of Heirloom Tomato

  • lemongrass tomato water – mango kim chi, pickled cucmber, radish, cashew, scallion pancake

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2nd COURSE:
Lime Leaf-Sesame Fried Chicken

  • with lobster mash, khao soy curry, bacon-apple heirloom beet slaw

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3rd COURSE:
Korean Braised Beef Short Rib

  • bibimbap dumpling, sweet & sour brasied cabage, fried henès egg, Scallion – Mint ‘Chimichurri’

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4th COURSE:
Green Tea Genoise, Coconut Tempura Peach, Chocolate Peanut Butter Shortcake 

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I thoroughly enjoyed most dishes presented to us of the evening. I particularly found the amuse and tomato salad to be quite delicious. I rarely opt for salads when I dine out but this salad had the perfect amount of dressing topped with some fresh veggies with cashews that gave the dish some textural contrast. From that evening, I also enjoyed the lime leaf sesame fried chicken – deep fried perfectly and found the khao soy curry to be quite pleasant on the palate accompanied with the lobster mash. All in all, some things were more enjoyable than others but generally speaking, it’s great to watch Chef Toben develop this twist to his catering menu over the past year.

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This meal was complimentary but Foodinthecitytoronto.com remains unbiased in our content

Say Hello to the first ever 2 story Aroma Espresso Bar (@AromaEspresso) located in the heart of Downtown Oakville! I just came back from their soft opening dinner service and was pretty eager to share my experience with everyone. Located near the intersections of Trafalgar and Lakeshore, this cute little cafe will be officially opening its doors to the public on Monday, August 18th!

I was invited to their Soft Opening earlier today and was pleased to find out that they are already serving everything off their full menu! So of course the foodie in me wanted to try a little bit of everything. =)

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Yup. Before you even walk in, you’ll see a large patio off to the side facing Reynolds Street.

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Their main floor occupies a few table space. More ideal for a quick grab and go…

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This is their second floor – which I found incredibly “homey” and comfortable. It’s a great place for a private function or even a quiet space if you to sit back and read a book or even study.

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Soup of the Day: Butternut Squash ($5.05)

  • served with bread and butter

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Tuna Sandwich ($4.50) – Personal Portion 

  • albacore tuna, aroma sauce, pickles, red onion, arugula on whole wheat

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Carrot Cake

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Steak Sandwich ($5.30) – Personal Portion 

  • steak, aroma sauce, sauteed onions, sauteed red peppers, swiss cheese on whole wheat

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ACE Sandwich ($5.30) – Personal Portion

  • Grilled chicken breast, arugula, avocado, aroma sauce

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Coconut Cake

  • Soft coconut cake, topped with a light dusting of sugar and coconut

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Medium Latte ($3.35)

  • espresso, warm milk, a splash of steamed milk (served at 70 degrees C)

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I highly recommend the ACE Sandwich – I actually haven’t noticed this sandwich at other Toronto Locations – So I’m pretty stoked its offered at this particular location. Highly recommend for any avocado lovers out there!

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This meal was complimentary but Foodinthecitytoronto.com remains unbiased in our content. 

Aroma Espresso Bar on Urbanspoon

When I first started this food blog back in 2012, never would I have imagined that one day I would be spending an afternoon chatting and making dim sum with one of the world’s most renowned celebrity chef – Susur Lee (@susurlee). Yes! as amazing as it sounds, myself and a few other bloggers were gathered one sunny afternoon at Chef Lee’s newest addition of restaurants, Luckee (@LuckeeTO).

Located inside Toronto’s SOHO Metropolitan Hotel, Luckee offers traditional dim sum but with a deliciously modern twist. Luckily enough for me, we sampled a few items and attempted to make dim sum + dessert inside the Luckee kitchen!

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Love the design and modern twist in the decor. Plenty of seating in both areas of the venue. One side with lots of natural lighting while the other room you can get a pretty clear view of the kitchen. Another room on the right leads to your not so typical lounge of a dim sum restaurant. But hey! its Susur Lee and if he wants to plant a lounge/bar area in a dim sum restaurant then that is what’s happening!

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Chef Lee started off the dim sum workshop explaining the concept behind Luckee and where his inspiration came from. It was pretty amazing listening to Chef speak about his experience and influences. We unexpectedly were also able to provide Chef with some our knowledge regarding all the different types of social media and the blogging world!

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CHICKEN CHEUNG FUN (脆米豆腐雞肉腸)

  • Rice Roll with with tofu, ginger, green onion & soya juice

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CURRY SHRIMP SPRING ROLL (咖哩蝦春卷)

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HAR GOW (薑味蝦餃)

  • Shrimp Dumplings

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After sampling a few dishes here and there, we were invited back to his kitchen to make Siu Mai and sponge rolls. All the ingredients and everything was pretty much prepared. Chef Lee was patient and encouraging while showing us how  to recreate his dishes! As hard as we tried to impress chef, our attempts were of course no where near to his creations!

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Chef Lee steaming our finished products! He looks so proud of us!

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After eating our siu mai creations, we went back into the kitchen to make Chocolate Custard Steamed Sponge Rolls. I had such a fun time rolling these little sponge rolls!

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Our creations after Chef Lee steamed the sponge rolls!

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After all the hard work in the kitchen (lol) Kai Bent-Lee – Luckee’s mixologist shared a few tips on preparing cool summer sips. Kai showed us the behind the scenes of how to make his version of a sangria. NOT your average sangria as Kai uses about 20+ ingredients to produce his version.

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What a wonderful experience that I will never forget! Thanks for Chef Susur Lee & Cassie for inviting me to take part of this Dim Sum Workshop @ Luckee. For those curious about more of the DIM SUM offered at Luckee, you can click HERE =) 

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This workshop was complimentary but Foodinthecitytoronto.com remains unbiased in our content. 

Luckee on Urbanspoon

Over the years, I’ve had plenty visits to different coffee shops but NEVER once have these coffee shops make their hot chocolate as unique as Aroma Espresso Bar (@aromaespresso). Something about this particular drink has drawn me back over the years – but had never gotten the chance to trying their food. And so when Loren from Aroma Espresso Bar found out my love for breakfast/brunch items, she sent me some Aroma Cash to check out their all day breakfast!

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Aroma Power Breakfast Combo ($11.10)

  • The Aroma Power Breakfast was created to fuel you all day! Breakfast includes two eggs any style, mixed greens, tomato, cucumber, carrot, olives, feta cheese, cream cheese, avocado spread, and a side of our freshly baked bread with butter. Add 1.50 for 12oz hot drink or soft drink.
  • The power breakfast can feed two people. The portion is crazy such a healthy breakfast to start the day

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Hot Chocolate (Medium)

  • Their hot chocolate is made by straight up melting chocolate pieces in a cup of frothed milk.
  • It’s one of my favourite items ALL year around.

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Shakshuka ($9.60)

  • Shakshuka Two sunny-side up eggs, on top of a rich warm tomato and pepper sauce. Served with Tahini and your choice of freshly baked bread.
  • For both of my visits to Aroma thus far, I’ve ordered the Shakshuka each time. Honestly, you can’t get enough of it. It’s quite the hearty item and although it may be rich and filling but really – you don’t usually find a Shakshuka on a breakfast menu so why not?

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Egg and Cheese Croissant ($5.30)

  • Egg And Cheese Croissant 1 egg, any style, wrapped with cheddar in one of our freshly baked croissants.
  • Although the sandwich looks very simple, it was incredibly tasty and super super buttery.

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Classic Breakfast ($5.30)

  • Breakfast On The Go You’ll want to find time for this quick breakfast! Two eggs any style, two slices of our house-baked Aroma bread (choice of white, multigrain, or whole wheat), and a side of butter and jam.

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French Toast ($7.80)

  • French Toast Classic battered French Toast, topped with fresh fruit, homemade whipped cream, and drizzled with maple syrup.

DSC_0156DSC_0157  Aroma Espresso Bar has a great selection from their array of beverage selections, all day breakfast items and sandwiches. They swing the healthy option and by all means a great way to kick off your day by going down that route! Don’t underestimate their power breakfast!

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This meal was complimentary but Foodinthecitytoronto.com remains unbiased in our content

Aroma Espresso Bar on Urbanspoon

After visiting Shibui Robata Bar (@ShibuiRobata) for the first time at their opening launch party few weeks ago (see blog post here) – I just couldn’t wait to be back! Since they only recently opened, I was totally ecstatic to find out they were taking part in Summerlicious (July 4-20) this year! There’s not much to say as the pictures pretty much speak for itself. My friend and I thoroughly enjoyed each course from the salad to the maki’s and wow the lamb I opted for my main was amazing! Cooked perfectly – a little bit fatty but melt-in-your mouth good!

5 Courses for $25? Totally crazy!

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STARTERCrispy Rice with Salmon/Tuna

  • pan seared sushi rice

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STARTER: Kinoko Salad (vegetarian)

  • Soba noodle, Japanese mushroom, ponzu dressing

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SUSHI ROLLPirikara Ebi Maki

  • crispy fried shrimp, asparagus, cucumber, chili mayo sauce

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SUSHI ROLL: Shibui Salmon Maki

  • spicy salmon, tempura flakes, salmon on top

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ROBATA GRILLED PROTEIN: Lamb Chops

  • spicy Korean miso glaze

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ROBATA GRILLED VEGETABLESSweet Potato (vegetarian)

  • red miso sauce

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ROBATA GRILLED PROTEIN:Scallops

  • yuzu garlic aioli

ROBATA GRILLED VEGETABLES: Cremini Mushrooms (vegetarian)

  • teriyaki sauce

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DESSERTPetit Gateau (Chocolate Cake)

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DESSERT: Passion Fruit Mousse (vegetarian)

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Do yourself a favour and check this place out! Amazing deal for what its worth!

Price: $25 + tax + gratuity

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Shibui Robata Bar on Urbanspoon

So just when I thought there couldn’t be possibly any more restaurants opening in the distillery district – BOOM! Cluny Bistro & Boulangerie (@ClunyDistillery) suddenly open its doors to the Toronto crowd among the many restaurants in the Distillery restaurant family. Truthfully, it makes sense to open a modern French Bistro. The Distillery District (@DistilleryTO) practically satisfies any crowd whether they’re craving for Mexican, Italian, Seafood or even grabbing a simple beer.

So last week, I had the opportunity to attend Cluny’s Opening Media Dinner. It was probably one of the most memorable tastings I’ve ever attended & not just because it was a 12 course tasting. But simply because each course was really well prepared and thought out. The menu is creative and adventurous. I managed to try an item or two that I never thought I would be eating.

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The decor is gorgeous. It takes the past French tradition and adds a creative and modern approach. When I first walked in… all I could think of was how “grand” this restaurant was.

Cluny - Venue Shot 2Cluny - Raw Bar 1  Cluny - Venue Shot 5

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BREAD TO START

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1st Course: Tuna Tartar “Nicioise”

  • Egg, French beans, white anchovy, Nicoise olives
  • The tuna tartar was great on the palette. I rarely have tartar with large chunks of beans but this totally worked for me.
  • Bread was a bit too crunchy for me

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2nd Course: Roasted Duck Poutine

  • Duck fat fries, duck gravy, Etorki cheese, and sunny side duck egg

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3rd Course: Qualicom Bay Scallop Crudo

  • Watermelon, chili, peanuts, cilantro
  • This was hands down one of my favourite dishes of the evening. Served cold, the scallops paired so well with the refreshingly cold watermelon pieces. The addition of peanuts gave the overall dish a bit of a textural contrast. Topped off with cilantro – yum!

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4th Course: Spicy Watermelon & Tomato Soup

  • Firm tofu, basil, oven-dried tomato

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5th Course: “Buffalo Fried” Sweetbread

  • Smoked blue cheese dip, heirloom carrot stick

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6th Course: Ginger-chili fried frog’s legs

  • Pickled celery, Vietnamese dipping sauce
  • Your average menu doesn’t serve frog’s legs but yes I finally tried frog’s legs for the first time and yes I will say it tastes somewhat like chicken.
  • Since it was deep fried, I couldn’t enjoy the full texture and flavours of the legs.
  • Anything deep fried just makes it taste that much better =P

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7th Course: Paillion Noir Roquefort 

  • Fresh figs stuffed with warm Roquefort, honey, toasted black pepper

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8th Course: Veal Meatball “Tomhawk”

  • Tomato braised, Parisian gnocchi
  • The veal meatball was quite hearty – seasoned perfectly. The gnocchi had a powerful garlicy flavour but not over powering

Cluny - Veal Meatball 'Tomahawk'

9th Course: Moroccan Chickpea & Sweet potato stew

  • Couscous, harissa, almond, apricot

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10th Course: Passion Fruit Souffle

  • Pistachio financier, vanilla creme anglaise
  • I LOVED this souffle! When our server poured the vanilla creme anglaise from atop – it was love at first sight and bite

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11th Course: Bittersweet Chocolate Truffle Bar

  • Cotton candy, marshmellow, raspberry sorbet

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12th Course: Macaron to go!

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From the ambience of the restaurant, down to the wonderful service – all aspects of our dining experience was pretty on par. The ingredients and flavours in each dish were well thought out and truly embraced the spirit traditional french cuisine with a modern twist.  I think a future visit is imminent…

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This meal was complimentary but Foodinthecitytoronto.com remains unbiased in our content

Cluny Bistro on Urbanspoon

Behold Toronto’s FIRST EVER Robata Bar! That’s right! – debuting on Adelaide in the heart of Toronto’s entertainment district, Shibui (@ShibuiRobata) brings a twist to the Toronto food scene with the city’s first authentic hot charcoal robata experience.

Now what exactly is Robata? Robata refers to a method of cooking, similar to barbecue, in which items of food on skewers are slow-grilled over hot charcoal. (Wikipedia)

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Linked to Copa Cabana, Shibui is a Japanese venue designed by Ralph Giannone. This restaurant evokes a stunning combination of Japan’s beauty with an urban twist. The decor is quite modern and chic.

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Luckily enough for me, I was invited to Shibui’s media launch party. The party was held on their lower level in which we got to see the robata bar – open kitchen concept.

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Loved the presentation of the fresh assorted sashimi

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Chef’s doing their magic in the kitchen!

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So all night long, we were passed along quite a few different canapé for sampling:

キノコと蕎麦のサラダ Kinoko Salad

  • Soba noodle, Japanese mushroom, ponzu dressing
  • The salad was one of my favourite items of the evening – The salad itself brought out its A game. the citrus tasting ponzu dressing on the salad was well balanced. Soba noodles were incredibly fresh and cold. Quite a refreshing salad

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薩摩芋 Sweet Potato 

  • Red miso sauce

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玉蜀黍 Corn

  • Yuzu butter sauce

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餃子Dumplings

  • Chilean Sea Bass

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ぴり辛鮭と焼きにぎり Crispy Rice Spicy Salmon

  • Pan seared sushi rice

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ぴり辛海老巻 Pirikara EBI Maki

  • Crispy fried shrimp, asapragus, cucumber, chili mayo sauce

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子羊の辛味噌焼き Lamb Chop

  • Spicy  Korean miso glaze

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Ending the night with one of my favourite proteins.. lamp was incredible! Shibui Robata bar has a lot to offer whether its items coming from their robata grill or their simply amazing maki rolls. And conveniently Shibui is participating in Summerlicious 2014 (July 4-20) My reservations has already been made.. what about you? =)

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This meal was complimentary but Foodinthecitytoronto.com remains unbiased in our content

Shibui Robata Bar on Urbanspoon

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