Quality Korean Shaved Ice at The Cups

The CupsLocation: 3235 Highway 7, Markham
Website: None

The Cups is a little dessert shop in the First Markham plaza that specializes in bingsu, a tasty Korean shaved ice dessert.

I generally liked shaved ice, though sometimes, it’s a bit watery.  The Cups has a fairly ingenious solution for this issue: they use milk instead of water for their ice, which gives the dessert a much richer, creamier consistency.

The Cups

I ordered the mango bingsu, which features mango chunks, cheesecake chunks, condensed milk, mango sauce, and whipped cream.

It’s quite good.  The mango pieces are ripe and sweet, and the ice-to-stuff ratio is pretty much right on point.  Plus, the aforementioned milk ice ensures that the whole thing has a satisfyingly creamy consistency.

The Cups

On another visit, I tried the red bean, which features soybean powder, mochi cubes, almond flakes, red bean, and a scoop of vanilla ice cream.  I think I might have liked it even better than the mango, though the ice-to-stuff ratio was a bit off.  It needed a bit more red bean (I don’t think there was any in the middle).

Stellar Dim Sum at Dragon Boat Fusion Cuisine

Dragon Boat Fusion CuisineLocation: 160 East Beaver Creek Road, Markham
Websitehttp://www.dragonboatfusioncuisine.com/

Dragon Boat Fusion Cuisine is a dim sum joint that does well.  We showed up at around 10:40 on a Saturday, and the place was seriously crowded.  By the time we left, it was even more packed, with a crowd waiting for tables almost going out the door.

Dragon Boat Fusion Cuisine

Eating the food, it’s easy enough to see why.  Some highlights:

Dragon Boat Fusion Cuisine

The char siu was sweet and incredibly tender.

Dragon Boat Fusion Cuisine

These fried seafood-filled tubes were nice and crispy on the outside, with a fishy (but not overbearing) flavour.

Dragon Boat Fusion Cuisine

The fried dough noodle rolls were probably the best version of that dish that I’ve ever had, with a surprisingly complex flavour and a very satisfying contrast of textures between the chewy noodle, the crispy fried exterior, and the soft interior.

Dragon Boat Fusion Cuisine

I really should have taken a picture of the interior of these salted egg buns, because they were absolutely crammed with an oozy, sweet custardy filling.

Dragon Boat Fusion Cuisine

There were only a couple of weak dishes — surprisingly, they were the dim sum standbys that you’d think they’d work especially hard to get right.  The har gow featured an overly thick, almost gummy wrapper encasing overcooked shrimp.

Dragon Boat Fusion Cuisine

And the pork buns featured a filling that tasted a bit too leftovery.

Still, they were only two mild weak points in a meal that was otherwise quite stellar.

Outstanding Noodles at Mei Nung Beef Noodle House

Mei Nung Beef Noodle HouseLocation: 3255 Highway 7, Markham
Website: None

Though there are a ton of amazing restaurants in the First Markham plaza, you’re going to have a hard time topping Mei Nung Beef Noodle House, which specializes in Taiwanese beef noodle soup.

The beef and beef tendon noodle soup is where it’s at.  You can choose from rice noodles, glass noodles, or homemade noodles, and the choice is clear — you’ve gotta get the homemade noodles.  They’re thick and hearty, with an amazingly satisfying level of chewiness.  They’re so good.

Mei Nung Beef Noodle House

But then everything about this bowl is so good.  The broth is ridiculous: it’s beefy, zippy, and immensely flavourful.

You think it can’t possibly get any better, and then you add a spoonful of their wonderfully smoky chili oil, and lo and behold — it gets better.

Mei Nung Beef Noodle House

The chunks of beef are super tasty and enormously tender, though the tendons are the real star of the show.  They’re so perfectly cooked that they’re essentially like meat butter.  They’re soft and unctuous and amazing.

They’re also super tasty; they do an impressive job of absorbing all of the seasoning in the soup.  They’re squishy, melt-in-your-mouth flavour bombs.

Mei Nung Beef Noodle House

It all adds up to a bowl of noodle soup that’s easily one of the best in the GTA.  I challenge you to find a substantially better bowl of beef noodle soup — even with a plane ticket to Taiwan.

Delicious and Unique pasta at Shiso Tree Cafe

Shiso Tree CafeLocation: 3160 Steeles Avenue East, Markham
Websitehttps://www.facebook.com/ShisoTree/

Italian/Japanese fusion might sound odd on paper, but aside from the fact that Italian restaurants are actually quite popular in Japan, Shiso Tree Cafe is amazing.  All you need is one bite of their food to put any doubts to bed.

Shiso Tree Cafe

I tried a couple of starters: the tera-goma tebasaki (perfectly cooked chicken wings with a crunchy exterior and an addictively sweet glaze) and the tarutaru fries (amazing fries with homemade tartar sauce for dipping).  But their pasta is the real reason to come here.

Shiso Tree Cafe

I had the nori tsukudani: “braised nori sauce, onsen tamago, ikura, scallops, mentsuyu.”

It was so good, with the vibrant Japanese flavours making it really stand out from your average bowl of pasta.

The braised nori sauce tasted exactly how you’d hope it would: like nori, but in sauce form.  There’s something a bit odd (and very delightful) about taking such a familiar flavour and putting it in a new context.

Shiso Tree Cafe

And the onsen tamago (which is kind of like a silkier version of a poached egg, with a white that’s just barely set) was the perfect compliment.  It essentially liquefies into the pasta, coating the noodles and giving them an eggy richness.

The sweet, perfectly-cooked scallops match really well with the seaweed-infused sauce, and the greens add crunchy pops of freshness.  The pasta itself is, as you’d hope, perfectly al dente.

It’s certainly an unusual bowl of pasta, but it’s one where all of the flavours have been so perfectly considered.  It’s amazing.

Shiso Tree Cafe

I finished with the chestnut creme brulee, which was a fairly ingenious spin on a classic dessert; the rich chestnut flavour complimented the custard perfectly, and the crackily torched sugar on top was as satisfying as ever.

Satisfying Eats at Running Pig

Running PigLocation: 3636 Steeles Avenue East, Markham
Website: None

Running Pig is a no-frills take-out joint that serves various meat options and veggies on top of rice.  It’s not the best thing you’ll ever eat, but it’s a hefty amount of meat and rice for $7.50; it’s hard to go wrong there.

Running Pig

I got the pork knuckle bento, which comes with a generous pile of pork knuckles (one is missing from my photo — I dug right in then realized I forgot to take a picture), a hard-boiled egg, tofu skin, and a variety of veggies on rice.

Pork knuckles can be mostly collagen without a whole lot of meat (particularly the way they’re cut here); if it’s not properly rendered, it’s going to be rubbery.  And while these were mostly okay, they definitely could have braised for a little bit longer.

Running Pig

The various veggies and tofu were all tasty enough, and combined with the rice, it makes for a solid meal.  Nothing here particularly stands out, but it’s cheap, quick, and satisfying.  Sometimes that’s enough.