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Chatime

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Chatime is a Taiwanese franchise bbt chain, and has over 800 stores worldwide. The company opened their first location in Toronto back in 2011, and that spot today is still very popular. Chatime has an extensive menu with lots of different drinks; signature milk tea, fresh tea, mousse, tea latte, QQ jelly drinks, smoothies, and more. It may not be the cheapest place for a cup of bubble tea, as it's a little more than $5 for a drink. However, I'd say that the quality of the products are definitely not lacking and the drinks are good. Customers are able to customize their order(s) to their liking as they're able to choose both the amount of sugar, and ice they want. The toppings are an extra charge (price varies) but they have a good selection of toppings from pearl, grass jelly, coconut jelly, red bean, aloe vera, rainbow jelly, pudding and malt. 

One of my favorite drinks has to be their Chatime Roasted Milk Tea (large is $4.70) with grass jelly. The drink itself is flavorful without being overwhelming strong. I often opt for the chewy tapioca balls, but I have come to like grass jelly quite a bit. I have been to both downtown locations, and I prefer the Annex one over the Dundas location. The one on Dundas (near Chinatown) is always bustling with customers, sometimes it's even through the door. The Annex location has much shorter lines, and the space has more seating.


Chatime Bubble Tea on Urbanspoon

For those who like collecting points and rewards cards; Chatime has their very own loyalty program. They have partnered up with Vicinity Rewards Program and you can pick up the card at any Chatime locations. For every drink that you purchase at a participating Chatime location, you would get 1 point. For every 10 points earned, you can redeem for one free regular sized drink with one complimentary topping.

Chatime Annex on Urbanspoon

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Boneyard Grill

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Boneyard Grill is a casual BBQ restaurant on Avenue Road; nearby Shoppers Drug Mart and Pusateri's Fine Foods. The new space has less seating than their original location, but the restaurant retains its family style seating. I attended the opening of Boneyard Grill's second location a couple of months ago. They treated a handful of bloggers to a variety of menu items that night.

Boneyard Grill offers the same standard BBQ fare as other similar restaurants serving BBQ and bar food. However, there were two items that stood out to me that I really liked a lot. First off, their coconut shrimp was absolutely delicious. The jumbo sized shrimp was covered in crispy coconut shavings, and served with the tangy and sweet mango and plum dipping sauce. This was probably one of the best coconut shrimps that I have had in a while. Secondly, I really liked the ribs that were available at Boneyard Grill. They were seriously tender, and the meat just fell off the bone. I'd say that judging from the quality and flavor of the ribs; they are worth the re-visit for me. A ½ rack is $18.95 and the full rack is $26.95. All of their ribs and combos are served with coleslaw, and one choice of either fries, signature sauteed vegetables or onion straws.

In addition to ribs, their menu offers a large variety of starters, salads, burgers, sandwiches, and wings. I love chicken wings a lot so I wanted to try the wings. I was not displeased with the flavor of the wings, as I thought that they were decent. However, there was nothing about them that would differentiate them from other establishments offering wings. One of the last items served was the pulled pork sliders, which I tried as well. Since the one on the menu is a full sandwich, I am not too sure of the amount of meat stuffed between the bun. However, there was plenty of pulled pork stuffed into the sliders that were available that night. Overall, this is a good place to check out if you're craving some BBQ. 







Classic Burger - We get it! You like the simple things in life! No problem. Our no fuss Classic burger is perfectly simple and serviced with lettuce, tomato, pickles and red onion ($11.95). This was just a sampler; the burger described on the menu is much larger.



Pulled Pork Sandwich - Open wide! Slow roasted pulled pork tossed in our signature Louisiana style house made BBQ sauce, stacked with our crunchy onion straws ($11.95). This was served as sliders; the sandwich described on the menu is much large in size.


Coconut Shrimps - Delicious lightly coated shavings of coconut, on scrumptious jumbo shrimps, served with a mango and plum dipping sauce ($9.95). 


Boneyard Baby Back Ribs - Our famous finger-licking, fall-off-the-bone baby back ribs, baseted in our signature Boneyyard sauce. A 1/2 rack is $18.95 and the full rack is $26.95. 


Chicken Wings - Sometimes plump is perfect! Hot, BBQ, or Honey Garlic Sauce ($9.95)


Sweet Potato Fries ($4.95)

Address: 1554 Ave Rd Toronto, ON, M5M

Disclaimer: The food provided in this post was complimentary. However, all of the opinions expressed in this review are of my own.

Boneyard Grill on Urbanspoon


Boneyard Grill on Urbanspoon

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SpiritHouse Toronto

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** Mini Review **

After finishing up dinner at Beast (review coming soon), a couple of us decided to go to SpiritHouse Toronto for some drinks. It was a Saturday, and the place was completely packed. Since we didn't have a reservation, we were asked to wait at the bar area until a table opened up. Four of the guys decided to try out some of the Whiskey flights. Since I didn't partake in this, I cannot review the individual whiskey but my friends seem to like them. After waiting around for a while, a table opened up and we were quickly seated.

SpiritHouse Toronto is a trendy bar offering reasonably priced food, and an extensive selection of drinks such as whiskey, craft cocktails, beer, etc ... Overall, it's a good place to go on the weekend to relax with some friends. They also have some specials for their weekly "Cocktail Hour" featuring $7 Tall Drinks, $10 2 Classics, and $3 Tacos; perfect for after work.



Beef Sliders - mustard crust, smoked cheddar, bread and butter pickles ($15)


SpiritHouse Nachos - confit duck, taro and corn chips, pico de gallo, scarmorza ($16)


Crispy Calamari - tequilla lime creme fraiche, cilantro ($13).


Churros - tequila dark chocolate and bourbon caramel dip ($5)

Address: 487 Adelaide West Toronto, ON, M5V 1T4 

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Han Ba Tang

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Han Ba Tang opened up earlier this summer, and is one of the latest additions to the Yonge and Sheppard area. The name translates to meaning "one full round" in Korean and is like a Korean-styled izakaya (or pojangmacha). I was invited to their bloggers' media tasting to preview some of their menu items. The three of us were happily greeted by the owner and a few of the organizers and staff before being shown to our table. 

The restaurant may be unsuspecting from the outside as there is no signage. However, there is a large bright sign inside the restaurant and it kind of illuminates from the outside. The reason for the no signage is that the owner, Chae, wanted to preserve a rare Vitrolite tiling which was uncovered during the removal of the previous establishment's sign in the construction period. There's an industrial feel to the place with its unfinished wood floors, chalkboard menu, communal tables, and wooden decor which lends a welcoming atmosphere to the space. Rather than being a traditional Korean restaurant; Han Ba Tang strides to bring Korean-Asian fusion influences to their everyday menu while still providing affordable prices.


The cocktails are brightly written on the blackboard located at the front bar; each are priced between $8 to $12.


Kandy Crush ($8) - strawberry soju, triple sec, raspberry sour (left) and Ocean Popsicle ($9) - blue curacao, raspeberry sour and southern comfort (middle).
 We started the night off with the chilli shrimp ($8) - lightly battered shrimp dipped in sweet chilli sauce, which arrived in four small dishes with 3-4 pieces each. It was dipped in a chilli sauce that tasted both sweet and spicy at the same time. I'd say that it had a very similar texture of sweet and sour pork as the shrimps weren't super crispy.


The lobster - steamed lobster with a house salad, is one of their new items that is on their winter menu. For an appetizer dish, there was a generous amount of lobster meat that peels right off the shell.


I am a huge fan of Korean kalbi, so I was thrilled to see kalbi tacos and spicy pork tacos - grilled kalbi or spicy pork on a bed of shredded cabbage with red onions and a light house aioli, on the menu.


My favorite dish of the night had to be their kimchi fries ($8) with bulgogi (+ $3) - extra crispy fries topped with kimchi, aioli gravy, sizzling bulgogi and green onions. The small portion is $10 while the larger portion is $15. If you'd like to add bulgogi to your kimchi fries then it's an additional $3. The one that we got was the small and it was more than enough for the three of us to share. I loved how the fries managed to retain its crispiness even though it was topped with hot gravy and bulgogi. Additionally, there was a generous amount of fries and bulgogi, and in my opinion, worth the price. 



A fusion dish that we got to tried was the black squid ink pasta - squid ink pasta, mussels, with a house made gochujang cream sauce topped with Korean beef cake. The briny flavor of the ink pasta pairs rather well with the mussels, and the gochujang cream sauce added the Korean flavor to the dish


The spicy chicken with fondue ($9 + $3 for fondue) - grilled chicken in a sizzling plate with a mix of rice cakes, onions, and carrots with a side of creamy cheese fondue, was not the most innovative dishes of the night. However, it was still good as the chicken went really well with the hot cheese when mixed together.


Personally, I have never heard or tried spoon pizza ($8) - mashed sweet potato crust with vegetables, tomato sauce topped with cheese and bacon or kimchi, before and I am glad that I did. Instead of a hard crust; mashed sweet potato is used as an alternative and works as the base for the pizza. You'd need a spoon to scoop up the sweet potato crust that is layered with cheese and vegetables. It was an interesting dish!


The spicy seafood soup ($10 for small) - a spicy seafood soup with shrimp mussels and crab with Korean ramyun, kind of reminds me of a fusion styled bouillabaisse (one of my favorite classic French soup). The soup base was rich in flavor, and the spiciness added a lot of kick. The portion contained a fair amount of seafood, and it's a perfect soup dish for this cold weather. The chef forgo the Korean ramyun (as it would be super filling) for the tasting, so I am not sure how it'd taste with the soup.


Lastly, we were served a decorative slice of dried persimmon cake with whipped cream for dessert. 


In addition to having various cocktails on their drink menu; they also offer in-house made infused soju. The jars of soju are beautifully displayed at the front, and the flavors rotate weekly. You can order a Soju Flight ($15) which comes with four shots, and you can choose the four flavors. 

 

Soju Flight - cinnamon apple, pineapple, and strawberry soju.

The upper Yonge area is one of the quintessential haven for traditional Korean food. However, Han Ba Tang is a welcome addition to the area as they offer a more modern take on Korean food, and is sure to please the younger crowds looking for late night eats and drinks. Thank you to both Acorn Communication and Han Ba Tang for the wonderful media tasting.

Address: 4862 Yonge St Toronto, ON, M2N 5N2
Website: http://instagram.com/hanbatang
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/hanbatangON
Instagram: http://instagram.com/hanbatang

Disclaimer: The food provided in this post was complimentary. However, all of the opinions expressed in this review are of my own.

Han Ba Tang on Urbanspoon

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Fresh Burger

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 Fresh Burger has built quite the following in Richmond Hill, ON, with their no frills burgers menu. They were the recipient of the 2014 Yelpie Award for "Favorite Burger Restaurant"; an annual award run by the people of Yelp. They have now expanded to their second location and it's located on Church St in downtown Toronto. A couple of weeks ago, I was invited to their launch party where guests were given the opportunity to try out their burgers and poutines. Additionally, they were also giving away FREE burgers that night to celebrate their grand opening, and it bought out a lot of people.

** Photography by Steve Blackburn from YYZ Events **


 The burgers at Fresh Burger are made with 100% fresh premium quality meat which they grind on-site daily. Although, the simplicity of their menu only offers a few choices, they do offer quality burgers - without the high prices that are all the rage these days. You can check out the rest of Fresh Burger's menu at http://www.fresh-burger.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/menu-web.jp.


I opted for their freshburger (4 oz) combo which came with fries and drink ($8.85). If you'd like to upgrade your fries to a poutine; it's an additional $2.99. All of their burgers are dressed with cheese, lettuce, tomato, and Freshburger sauce. You can also request them to add onions and pickles for no additional charge. Other toppings that you can add onto your burger for an extra $1 each is bacon, caramelized onions, sautéed jalapeño, mushrooms or cheese ($1.50). I liked the soft bun and how the burger patty was lightly seasoned. They lightly seasoned their beef patties with salt while it's on the grill. It was a tasty burger and I'd definitely come back to check out the other items on their menu.




I really liked their poutine ($2.99 to upgrade combo or $5.99 individual), and the portion was more than generous for its price point. Additionally, the fries are cut freshly cut judging by the large sacks of potatoes located in the kitchen. The poutine also contains real cheese curds with a generous helping of gravy to provide an authentic poutine experience. 






For those with big appetite, there's a double prime burger (12 oz) burger which is $10.95 on its own or $14.60 for a combo.

Fresh Burger is open Mon-Sat from 11 am to 10 pm and Sun from 12 pm to 7 pm. For those who take the TTC, the restaurant is only a few minutes walk away from Wellesley Station. Additionally, Fresh Burger is currently offering some coupons until the end of Jan 2015 for their Church location so check out their Facebook for them.

Address: 542 Church St Toronto, ON, M4Y 2C6
Website: http://www.fresh-burger.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Fresh-Burger/557111641000196
Twitter: https://twitter.com/freshburger2

Disclaimer: The food provided in this post was complimentary. However, all of the opinions expressed in this review are of my own.

Fresh Burger on Urbanspoon

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Holy Chuck

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Over the past few years, there has been an abundance of gourmet burger joints opening up in Toronto. One of the burger joints that made an impact since they opened up in late 2011 was Holy Chuck. A couple of my friends and I decided to meet up for dinner one afternoon at their St. Clair location (there are two locations) a couple of months ago. Some of my friends ordered the same burger, so I didn't take photos of any duplicate orders. Anyway, we were greeted with a large wall-mounted menu with an extensive list of burgers with pretty novelty names at the front. The order system is pretty straightforward, you order at the cashier, and they'll call your name once your order is ready.

I opted for their signature burger called The Holy Chuck, and they do not allow any additional toppings on this particular one. I am not sure how stringent they are with this policy as I didn't bother to ask for any toppings. I also got to try out the You Fat Pig as well, so it was nice to taste test two different ones. All of their burger meats are ground in-house so it's fresh daily, which is great. There are no additional fillers in their burgers and they guaranteed that their meats are "the absolute highest quality". While eating the burgers, I could definitely taste that the meat was freshly made and it was juicy. However, I found the You Fat Pig to be slightly too salty for my taste buds. Salty enough that I needed to order a milkshake to go with my meal which I will get to later. Usually, I am not a fan of onions on my burgers, but the caramelized onions here enhanced the flavors a lot, and I really enjoyed it.

Holy Chuck's fries are hand cut in-house daily and they use only trans fat free oil. The fries are crispy without being overly oily and had a decent amount of salt on them. Now onto the milkshake that J and I got to share since it was a pretty good size for the both of us. Some of the flavors of the specialty shakes stood out to me, but I decided to play safe, and got their strawberry cheesecake. Imagine my surprise when actual chunks of strawberry cheesecake came through the straw. The milkshake was creamy and thick, and wasn't overly sweet. This particular shake is probably one of the best milkshakes that I have had in a while now, so I highly recommend it.

Their burger prices can be a little steep as I saw one for $29.99 but it was topped with seared Quebec foie gras. However, most individual burgers are priced between $9.99 to $14.99. If you add any fries and drink to your burger order, you'd save 85 cents. It may costs you about $15-$20 for a combo, but Holy Chuck has established themselves as a gourmet burger establishment from the beginning so the higher prices are expected.
 


Are you up for the Go Chuck Yourself Challenge? If you can finish the "Go Chuck Yourself Burger and any specialty shake" in 6 minutes, then you'll get your picture taken on the Wall of Fame, exclusive contest t-shirt and bragging rights. The burger is crazy as it's six patties, six cheese, triple bacon, caramelized onions and stacked between three grilled cheese sandwiches ($21.99).



Big Chuck Fries - special sauce, lettuce, onions, pickles and sesame seeds ($6.99).


 The Holy Chuck (signature burger) - double cheeseburger with bacon and caramelized onions ($9.99).


The Farmers Threesome - one lamb patty, one beef patty, one all bacon patty, triple cheese, bacon and caramelized onions ($12.99).


You Fat Pig - two 100% all bacon patties, triple cheese, crispy bacon and topped with our homemade creamy bacon dressing ($11.99).


Specialty Shake - strawberry cheesecake ($5.99).

Address: 1450 Yonge Street Toronto, ON, M4 T1Y7 

Holy Chuck on Urbanspoon

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