Fancy Dim Sum at Yu Seafood

Yu SeafoodLocation: 270 West Beaver Creek Road, Richmond Hill
Website: http://www.yuseafood.com/

If you have anyone you’re looking to impress with a fancier dim sum joint, you could do worse than Yu Seafood.  The restaurant itself is quite a bit more sleek than your average dim sum place, and the presentation of the dishes is a bit snazzier.

Yu Seafood

And of course, it also has the prices to match — it’s not outrageous, but it’s noticeably more expensive than the norm.

Yu Seafood

The food is all solid, though nothing quite blew me away.  I think pretty much everything was slightly (or more than slightly) underseasoned.

Yu Seafood

One of their specialties is the visually striking Bamboo Charcoal & Egg Yolk Bun.  It looks impressive and tastes pretty good, but the molten custard filling was broken; it was lumpy and oily.

Yu Seafood

Everything I tried was quite tasty — but given the hefty pricing, it’s not quite as amazing as you’d hope.

Dumplings on Wheels at FeasTO

FeasTOLocation: It’s a truck, so check their Twitter
Website: http://www.feasto.ca/

FeasTO is a very single-minded food truck: they serve dumplings, dumplings, and more dumplings.  It’s always a good idea to do one thing and do it well.

FeasTO definitely does it well.

I tried a couple of things: the Korean Chicken and the Chili Sesame Shrimp Wontons.

They were both quite tasty, though I think the shrimp was my favourite of the two.  They were basically like the shrimp wontons you’ll find in a bowl of wonton noodle soup, with a tasty sauce that adds some zing.

FeasTO

It’s nicely cooked; the thin wrapper isn’t too mushy, and the shrimp is perfect.

I didn’t like the Korean fried chicken quite as much, but there certainly wasn’t anything wrong with it.  It’s deep fried and crispy, and tossed in the type of sweet and spicy sauce you’ll find on Korean fried chicken.

The sauce is a bit more subtle than I’d like (or perhaps there just wasn’t enough of it) and the spice level was non-existent (this was an issue with both varieties), but I still quite enjoyed it.

Disappointment at General Assembly Pizza

General Assembly PizzaLocation: 331 Adelaide Street West, Toronto
Website: https://www.gapizza.com/

The last time I checked out General Assembly Pizza, I noted that the crust didn’t quite have the level of chew that you’re looking for; sadly, that issue has not gotten any better.  If anything, it’s worse.

Their current special is a TIFF-inspired pizza called the Pink Panther: “rose sauce, shrimp, lemon, red jalapeno, garlic, scallion, mozzarella.”

General Assembly Pizza

It’s not bad.  The flavours all work together relatively well, and the shrimp is perfectly cooked.  But it’s an off-kilter pizza, and unlike the off-kilter pies at a place like Descendant, I kinda wished I was eating something a bit more traditional.  Nothing about it particularly pops.

Still, it’s tasty enough — aside from the crust.  As you can see from the photo, it’s perfectly cooked, with a delightful amount of char from the hot oven.  But it lacks substance, and it’s kinda bland.  It almost dissolves in your mouth; you barely even have to chew it.

General Assembly Pizza

I also tried the General Bread from the Snacks portion of the menu, which is described as “aged mozzarella, grana, garlic, aleppo pepper, wild oregano.”  It had the same issues with the dough, but it’s loaded with enough cheese and garlic (not to mention the tomato dipping sauce) to overcome the crust’s deficiencies.  It’s quite good.

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.

A Unique (and Loud) Dining Experience at Grand Bizarre Supper Club

Grand Bizarre Supper ClubLocation: 15 Saskatchewan Road, Toronto
Websitehttps://www.grandbizarre.com/

I very randomly got an email about a month ago inviting me to the media preview of a new “supper club” called Grand Bizarre.  Anything with the word “club” in its name doesn’t particularly sound like my jam — but you know what is my jam?  Free food.  I quickly found a friend who was willing to go with me (the promise of the aforementioned free food made this an easy enough proposition), and I was off to the races.

Grand Bizarre Supper Club

The place is a bit odd; it opens once a week on Saturday nights, and it’s somewhere between a nightclub and a food court.  It’s an absolutely massive space, with several food vendors, a whole bunch of bartenders, and a DJ playing loud, thrumming dance music that makes it nearly impossible to talk (though thankfully, my dining companion and I were able to find a spot near the sushi bar that wasn’t quite as ear-splittingly loud as the rest of the joint).

Grand Bizarre Supper Club

One of the main gimmicks is that instead of paying cash for the various foodstuffs, you buy “Bizarre chips,” which look like poker chips and which act like currency to buy food.  I believe you still have to pay regular cash for the drinks, though I’m not entirely sure — it was an open bar during the media preview, which made me super glad I drove there instead of taking public transit.  I did, however, manage to have several free soda waters, so who’s the real winner here?  (please don’t answer that.)

Grand Bizarre Supper Club

They gave everybody nine Bizarre chips, which is worth 30 bucks, and which was enough to get a decent amount of food.  I managed to try a few things.

The first thing I tried (and easily the highlight of the night) was the fried chicken bao: “pimento cheese, bacon onion jam, pickled carrot slaw, bacon onion jam, steam bun.”  It cost five Bizarre chips, or about $16.50, and comes with a side of potato chips.

It was a solid sandwich.  The only real issue (though it was a big one) is that the fried chicken patty was way overcooked, and had clearly been sitting out for a while.  It was tasty, with a nice crispy exterior, but the meat was dry and lukewarm.

Grand Bizarre Supper Club

Everything else was quite good, with the amazing bacon onion jam easily being the star of the show.  It was an absolute taste bonanza, with a perfect combo of sweet and savoury.  I want to buy a big jar of this so I can eat it on everything.

Between the rich pimento cheese, the vinegary bite of the slaw, the spice of the jalapenos, and the sweet/savory combo of the bacon onion jam, it was a great balance of tastes and textures.

The bun was interesting.  It was somewhere between a Chinese bao and a hamburger bun, and was actually quite good.

If the chicken were fresh and not overcooked this would have been a fantastic sandwich, but even as it was it I enjoyed it.

Grand Bizarre Supper Club

Next up: the sushi area was selling a few dim sum classics along with the raw fish.  We tried the har gow (shrimp dumplings) and siu mai (chicken dumplings); each order came with four, and cost three Bizarre chips.

They were both horrifically bad.

The shrimp, I guess, was the better of the two.  It had obviously been sitting in a warming tray for way too long, because the wrapper basically disintegrated in my mouth, and the filling was off-puttingly squishy, with a few rock-hard shrimp bits.  The whole thing was absolute mush through and through (aside from the tiny little shrimp bits).  The flavour was fine, however.

Grand Bizarre Supper Club

The pork, on the other hand, was flat-out disgusting.  It was dry and tough and took a distressingly long time to chew.  And something about the flavour was just off.  I’m not gonna lie: it was barely fit for human consumption.

They’re also hilariously overpriced.  Each order was three chips (or ten dollars in human currency) for four pieces.  That’s more than double what you’ll pay for an infinitely better version of these at literally any dim sum place in the GTA (seriously: they’re the worst version I’ve had of both dishes by far).  So please: do not order these.  They’re bad and they’ll make you feel bad.

There were a handful of other savoury options (pizza, sushi, salad, etc.), but at this point we moved on to dessert.  We only had two Bizarre chips left between the two of us, so we found the one thing in the whole place that cost two (pretty much everything was between three and twelve chips).

Grand Bizarre Supper Club

I can’t remember what it was called and I forgot to take a photo of the menu at this particular area (I’ll bet they’re really glad they invited me to create this quality content), but whatever it was, it was fine.  It was chocolately, with a texture somewhere between a brownie and pudding.  It was a bit too gluey, but it had a nice chocolate flavour and some interesting spices that gave it an almost gingerbread-like taste profile.

There was also an area selling Cheesecake Factory cheesecakes and cupcakes that were free during the media night, so of course I had a slice of cheesecake and a cupcake.

Grand Bizarre Supper Club

This was actually my first time trying the cheesecake from the Cheesecake Factory, and it was fine, I guess?  Even by the standards of boxed cheesecake it wasn’t that great (I think President’s Choice is better), but it was cheesecake and I ate it.  It was tasty enough.

The cupcake was about in line with the cheesecake.  There wasn’t anything blatantly wrong with it, but it’s safe to say that the cupcakes at basically any bakery will be tastier.

Grand Bizarre Supper Club

And that was that.  As I mentioned, the whole format isn’t really my thing, and the food wasn’t nearly good enough to make me ever want to come back here again.  But if you’re into nightclubs and you’re also hungry, it’s a thing you could do, I guess?