Saturday, 20 September 2014

The Cheesecake Factory - Las Vegas

Location: Forum Shops at Caesars, 3500 South Las Vegas Boulevard, Las Vegas, NV 89109, USA

I was so exhausted from the drama yesterday that I just passed out at the hotel after watching the Kà Cirque du Soleil show. The next day I was ready to eat my way through Vegas! Starting from The Cheesecake Factory of course. This location was actually the first Cheesecake Factory I've ever been to and it made such an impact on me that I've obsessed about it ever since (and I always make an effort to see if I can include it on any trips I make to the US).


20140920_132156 
It looks so pretty - it's even better than I remember. 

Beer Mugs of Water and bread basket
Southern Fried Chicken Sliders and Crispy Crab Bites
I seriously love American portions; we paid an appetizer's price for a meal really. The Southern Fried Chicken Sliders were pretty good! I loved the customizable toppings on the side and the chicken was pretty crispy and full of juicy white meat. The crab bites were really good too! Delicious little morsels of crab meat with a nice tartar sauce on the side and a lemon wedge. Yum! 

But the real highlight was this:
   20140920_140420 
Caramel Pecan Turtle Cheesecake and Mango Key Lime Cheesecake  
The caramel pecan turtle cheesecake was made with Pecan Brownie and Caramel-Fudge Swirl Cheesecake and topped with Caramel Turtle Pecans and Chocolate. The mango key lime cheesecake was a mango key lime cheesecake topped with Mango Mousse on a Vanilla Coconut Macaroon Crust.
The caramel pecan turtle cheesecake was really rich and decadent - definitely on the heavier side, but a great balance of the sweet caramel, nutty pecans and luscious cheesecake. The mango key lime was something I was really looking forward to since I've been obsessing about key lime and I love mango, so I thought this would be an interesting combination to try.  I loved the cheesecake portion of it, but it was the Vanilla coconut macaroon crust that made it fall short of expectations for me. Still delicious cheesecake, but not very good crust. 

Overall: I love the Cheesecake Factory! They have big portions, good food, amazing cheesecakes, fast service and best of all - reasonable prices!

Friday, 19 September 2014

Chef Jimmy's Bistro and Spirits - Denver Airport

Location: Denver International Airport, 8500 Peña Boulevard, Denver, CO 80249, USA
Before I go into my blog entry for Chef Jimmy's Bistro and Spirits in Denver Airport, I just wanted to rant about Air Canada Rouge. 
I had the WORST experience flying Air Canada Rouge, which is Air Canada's low cost carrier. So since they're competing with other airlines to offer no-frills flights, they obviously take away certain things to make things cheaper. Here's the list:
1) The seats are incredibly cramped with a lot less leg room and a smaller seat space.
2) There's no TV screen on the back of the chair in front and instead you have the option to "rent" an Ipad for $10 for inflight entertainment.
3) The next cost cutting measure is no complimentary food.
I would say these are pretty important things to have for any reasonable person to enjoy their flight. I mean come on! Even Westjet and Porter (which are lower cost carriers in Canada) offer more leg space, seat space, inflight entertainment (even just music) and some kind of snack. I feel like they took all the joy out of flying to your destination because now not only are you uncomfortable sitting, but you also don't have anything to distract you from how miserable you feel on the flight (whether it's food or entertainment).

Going back to my story about my flight: halfway through the 8:50am EST direct flight to Las Vegas, the pilot comes on and informs us that one of the engines died and "although it's safe to keep flying, we have to make a detour to Denver". When the plane landed on the runway and stopped, a fire truck immediately came onto the scene on the tarmac and they lifted the bottom cover to the engine. That was when we could see the black smoke billowing out from the engine. So we taxied into the gate and waited for instructions on how to proceed to get to Vegas. It took them half an hour to decide how to proceed and the captain eventually tells us that Air Canada headquarters will be flying another plane from Toronto to pick up all the passengers in Denver and fly them to Vegas, but the plane won't arrive until 5pm MST. At this point, it was already 11:30am MST (around 10:30 PST which was my original arrival time in Vegas) and we finally disembarked into the Denver Airport. As an apologetic gesture, Air Canada gave out $20 meal tickets to all passengers waiting for the next flight, but we all had a lot of time to kill. I checked in with the service desk around 2pm MST and I was told that the plane was delayed and the earliest it would get to Denver was at 7pm MST. I was a little upset at this point since I wasted a day in Denver when I really could have been enjoying the Pool parties in Vegas, but there's nothing I can do.
Ultimately, we ended up flying out at 7pm MST and I arrived in Vegas at 8:30pm PST, but at that point, my early morning direct flight to Vegas turned into a 12-hour disastrous ordeal.

Anyways, onto the food!
20140919_124039
Lunch time rush

20140919_115403 

 20140919_120239 
 Chicken Enchilada Pasta
Grilled chicken with enchilada cream sauce, black beans, corn, tortilla chips, lime, cheese, tomato, fettuccine, cilantro and green onions
I was feeling a little adventurous and decided to choose the most unique item on the menu. You definitely don't see chicken enchilada pasta anywhere.
 20140919_120432 
 I really liked it! The enchilada cream sauce was delicious and the dish was so tasty. I love the big portion of pasta too! The tortilla chips added a good crunchy texture and the tangy lime added some zest to the dish.

 20140919_122554 
Salted Caramel Cheesecake
After the terrible day I had been having, I decided to treat myself to dessert. I was originally planning on going to the Cheesecake Factory in Vegas for lunch today, but since I got stuck in Denver, I got the next best thing - a slice of decadent, sweet and creamy cheesecake. So good!!! I love the graham cracker crust and the cheesecake was divine!

Overall: Great quick service restaurant in Denver Airport! The food was good, hearty and filling and the cheesecake was excellent! 

Chef Jimmy's Bistro & Spirits on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

L'Opera French Desserts Cafe

Location: 5291 Yonge Street, North York, ON M2N 5R3, Canada
If you've been following me for a while, you probably know about my huge sweet tooth.
Since I've walked by L'Opera a few times before, I decided to go in and grab a mid-afternoon snack.
L'Opera

Chocolate Roll 
Chocolate Roll
Of course the thing that sold me on this was all the pistachios! Unfortunately, they didn't have any pistachios inside the actual chocolate roll - it was just for decorative purposes. It tasted okay, but nothing spectacular.
 

Monday, 1 September 2014

Chi Star House

Location: 9021 Leslie Street #5, Richmond Hill, ON L4B, Canada
September 2, 2013
Chi Star House opened in May 2013 and it's already pretty popular.
IMAG3452
A lot of people come in for the Hong Kong Style Cafe food:
IMAG3446

IMAG3447
Baked Chicken spaghetti with cheese and corn
The ketchup sauce can't compare to Macau Portuguese Food's ketchup sauce or Hong Kong's ketchup sauce. This ketchup sauce was a little too sweet and ketchup-y. However, the chicken was pretty tender and quite tasty.

IMAG3450
Pork Cutlet with Fries
We didn't expect the pork cutlet to be this huge...it's like the size of a schnitzel. It was coated in panko crumbs and fried - the inside was a little dry, but the tartar sauce helped balance it out.

IMAG3451
3 kinds of Seafood Stir fry with Vegetables
Squid, fish and shrimp were three seafood meats used in this stir fry and there was chicken as well.
This dish was as good as the one at Maple Yip! (which is my favourite Chinese restaurant in Toronto). The fish was cooked perfectly and had that great tender and flaky texture, the squid wasn't too chewy or tough and the sauce was great.

IMAG3448
Chi Star Specialty Tea Set B $7.99
It comes with potato salad, fish filet cutlet and tartar sauce, chicken burger, fries, a drink and a dessert.
A pretty good deal for less than $10 (including tax). The chicken burger was tiny, but I think it was a good portion considering how much other food came with the set. The fish filet was coated with panko crumbs and fried, but it wasn't very oily and the tartar sauce was salty, tangy and normal! (A bit of a relief after eating sweet tartar sauce in Malaysia). The potato salad was a little heavy on the mayonnaise.

IMAG3449
Chef's dessert was a mango pudding with condensed milk and my lemon tea
Cute and sweet dessert.

Overall: Great food at Chi Star House and for really reasonable prices! The only downside was the service: there were 3 or 4 waitresses, but it seemed like only 2 were actually working. Therefore, the service was very slow.

September 1, 2014 
 The service has definitely improved since the last time we were here! 
The waitresses were a lot more attentive and responsive.

 Chicken and Taro 
 Chicken and Taro bowl with rice
This is definitely one of our favourite dishes here! The chicken is all bone-less and the cream sauce works really well with the taro.

 Chi Star Set C 
Chi Star Set C: Pork chop bun, crispy fish fillet, smoked salmon salad and fries
Pork chop bun was pretty good! The cucumbers, tomato and lettuce were fresh, the bun was all nice and buttered and the pork chop was yummy! The fish was really flaky and had a light crunch. The smoked salmon salad had quite a bit of salmon considering the size. All for $7.99! Pretty good deal (and there's a drink and dessert too)
Chi Star House on Urbanspoon

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Shinobu

Location: 3403 Yonge St, Toronto, ON M4N, Canada
July 28, 2012
After hearing about this Japanese restaurant from a friend, we decided to try it out. 
Luckily, they were open for lunch on Saturdays and offered four set lunch specials on top of their regular menu.

Beef Yakiniku Set $9.80
What a great meal! You get beef yakiniku (grilled beef) with cabbage and lettuce in a tangy soy sauce along with a sesame dressing salad, tofu, eggplant, some vegetable rolls, rice and miso soup.
 It was evident that each one of the dishes were carefully prepared and artfully presented because everything was fresh and oishi (delicious).

Sashimi set $12.90
The sashimi set had the same sides as the beef yakiniku set. 
The chef served salmon, mackerel, squid, white fish and tuna. Yum!

Chicken Tempura Set $9.80
Egg white and mayonnaise sauce with the crispy chicken tempura was a great combination.

Overall: Shinobu is definitely a great Japanese restaurant: everything was meticulously prepared and delicious. The service can be a little slow, but the food (and the prices) more than make up for it!

Update: February 2, 2013
Shinobu has a board with some daily lunch specials and we decided to order some of the specials to try them out. 
IMAG2197 
Nasu Dengaku (miso sauce eggplant)
This appetizer is off their regular menu (they serve the eggplant with the special sets), but we liked it so much that we ordered more of it to share. It's sooo good! The miso sauce has a grainy almost paste-like texture and it's full of flavour and the eggplant is a little mushy on the outside but still relatively firm on the inside. 

IMAG2198
Deep Fried Halibut with ponzu sauce
Crispy and delicious bite size morsels of halibut in a really lovely ponzu sauce topped with shredded radishes and green onions - once you start eating one, you just can't stop - so good!

IMAG1657
Baby Lobster Tail Roll
I thought this was so cute with the baby lobster tail shell on top.
The lobster tail was delicate and soft and the other ingredients were crisp and fresh which made a nice combination of textures.

IMAG2199 
Green Tea Cheesecake
I'm usually not a big fan of matcha because I find it a strong and bitter taste. This cheesecake definitely had the matcha taste, but it was a little more diluted due to the cheese content. It was lightly spongy and soft. A nice treat!

August 30, 2014
It's been a while since I've been able to eat at Shinobu for their Saturday lunch specials!
And they had a lovely surprise for us today! The chef had toro (fatty tuna)!
Toro is probably the most delicious fresh fish you can possibly get. It's smooth, silky, delicious and just melts in your mouth with flavour. (and it's also super expensive usually)
Toro Roll 
 Toro Roll and Scallop sashimi
So yummy! Chopped up toro meat with some spring onions and wasabi all tightly wrapped with seaweed and rice. You've got to try this! The scallop sashimi was also really delicious and so fresh!

 Beef set 
Beef Yakiniku Set
The beef set is still as delicious as I remember! They're really good with keeping up with standards because everything still tastes amazing!

 Chicken set 
Chicken Tempura Set
I still love the mayonnaise with the chicken tempura (I should totally ask the chef for the recipe!) It's so good!
Shinobu Restaurant on Urbanspoon