Looking for Some Fine Korean Food?

Try out Kimchi Korea House (149 Dundas St. W, Toronto, ON), a restaurant specializing in Korean food! Although their food might be pricier (around $13 – $30 per dish) than typical Korean restaurants, they have radical dishes worthy of raving about. I went with a friend of mine, and although we did take some time to order, they were very patient with us, even with a full house. There were six banchan (side dishes) served at the beginning which is the standard number (of side dishes).

Usually, a Korean restaurant has the occasional 3 types of bibimbap (rice dish topped with other veggies and a protein), but this restaurant has it all. From beef to eel, they serve 10+ different bibimbaps, which is phenomenal! Here are some pictures just to show.

[from left: kimchi bibimbap, tteokbokki, salmon bibimbap]

The food took around 10~15 minutes and, obviously, tasted amazing. Did I mention their extraordinary service? Yep, their service was amazing. When our cups were empty, they immediately came and filled them back up with water and checked up with us to see how we were doing every now and then. My total came up to around $30 with the salmon bibimbap and tteokbokki (spicy rice cake), and my friend’s came to around $20 (all including tips).

My rating:

Food: 8/10

Service: 8/10

Ambiance: 8.5/10 (Sat a bit too close to other customers.)

Utensils: 6/10 (Gave wooden chopsticks. I prefer the metal ones.)

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Dinner and a Game

Waterloo is one of those places where the population dictates what’s available. And the staples of the Waterloo diet is food (generally either free or Asian food), late nights, proximity to campus, and entertainment. Crossroads fulfills all of the above criteria.

Back in my first year at Waterloo, I went to Crossroads’ opening night. I still hold on to the stamp card from that night with pride. But over the years, Crossroads evolved. It went from just having appetizers and a menu written on paper to being a full fledged cafe.

Here’s your guide to crossroads.

First, check in on Facebook. If you look at the front page of the menu, they’ll give you a free scoop of ice cream if you do. Be sure to claim it.

Next, a few food reccomendations for vegetarians (as I am one).

First, they have a specifically veggie sandwich. It’s stuffed with veggies, cheese, and jalapeno aioli. Not a fan of spice? That’s fine. There’s also the regular grilled cheese or the tomato grilled cheese. The sandwiches come with chips (all dressed or regular) or a salad (in case you feel like being healthy. I didn’t. Lol.) and your choice of ketchup or chipotle. I personally love their chipotle. It’s both sweet and spicy, to just the right degree (in my opinion).

Not there to eat a full meal? That’s fine too. They have a bunch of appetizers and snacks. For a sweet tooth, try their candy bowl.

They can make it peanut free, or you can choose to add peanut m&ms. It’s the same price. Just do what works best for your playing group.

If you’re feeling more savoury, I reccomend their spinach dip and hummus platter and samosas.

Their cold spinach dip is great, and if not everyone in your group is feeling the dip, there’s roasted pepper hummus too. Choose whichever and split it amongst the group. You may or may not order more, prewarning.

As for the samosas, they come with a sweet yet spicy sauce, which you can choose if you’d like to try on your own. I personally reccomend it.

Next, let’s move to drinks. Their milkshakes are good, but let’s be honest. This is Waterloo, and they have bubble tea on their menu. Is it worth it? Yes. Bubble tea is always worth it.

They have jellies and tapioca. However it contains milk, so if you’re lactose intolerant, see what they can do for you before ordering.

And if you need caffination, my friend gave their approval for the hot drinks.

All in all, there is plenty to Crossroads, including good food with a side of games. 😉

Building My Spice Tolerance at Waterloo

Red, chili-filled, sludge ramen.

 

I’ve always had an appreciation for spicy food, but this was the year where I really pushed my limits. I’m sure many of you claim to love spicy food. But then again, do you REALLY love spicy food? Don’t tell me that your love for spicy food comes from that one hot cheeto you ate in your trip to the States, or the hot sauce packet that comes with your Popeyes takeout. Here’s my short journey to building up spice tolerance with actual, tongue burning, gut-wrenching spicy foods. Keep in mind, they’re listed in ascending order as well!

I started off as any respected beginner with the Spicy Ramen Challenge. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, a quick Google search will do. Samyang’s spicy ramen looks like any other instant noodle package and should be available at any Asian supermarket.  Finish an entire bowl of this Ramen without water or milk in between, and you should be good. Over time, this wasn’t a challenge because even though it’s tongue-numbing spicy, the Ramen sauce is wonderful and I ate the noodles on a regular basis.

I had overcome the Spicy Ramen challenge, but was I ready for more? Next, I moved on to the Kenzo Level 3 Spicy Ramen Challenge. Find any Kenzo’s noodle restaurant, ask for Level 3, and you will be met with warnings. I do recommend doing the previous levels beforehand unlike me, who went in expecting a surprise. This ramen is not for the faint-hearted and will definitely take time getting used to. The soup was a toxic and red sludge of pure chili, and the actual noodles were my only solace. If you have done the Spicy Ramen Challenge before, the Kenzo’s Level 3 would be 2.5x spicier in my rating scale. Be warned.

Folks , here is a gem. Kismet Restaurant in Waterloo, Ontario has one of the spiciest dishes I have ever eaten. The server really wasn’t joking. I suffered after Kenzo’s, but the Kismet Chicken Bangalore was what I would call “God Tier”. Your throat crackled and burned with every dip of your naan into the spicy chicken curry. One could build a tolerance to it, but this curry is DEFINITELY not for the spicy beginner. I’m keeping my experience short because if you do feel brave enough, it’s worth experiencing yourself.

Now, the unique moment I’ve been waiting to share: trying the spiciest chocolate in the world. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get down the brand because a friend had ordered it online but if you are curious, please let me know! The tiny chocolate bar was a rectangle about half the size of my phone screen. It was cut into even more tiny squares which really screamed: “YEAH THIS IS POTENT!”. As soon as I put a tiny 1cm x 1cm piece in my mouth, fireworks went off. It had the taste of Kismet’s curry times ten but packed into a tiny piece. If I had mistakenly taken a bite out of the whole chocolate bar
well, I don’t want to go there. Either way, this is the spiciest item on my list and I only recommend a tiny piece. The only relief was that it was a chocolate bar and I could still taste a hint of sweet amidst the spice. Right after eating the chocolate, I drank a whole glass of milk and had to run my tongue under cold water under the faucet.

I plan to add much more to my list as I don’t see my love for spice ever going away! All I can say is, stay tuned.

A Purely Matcha Restaurant?

 

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Tsujiri is located in the heart of Downtown Toronto and can be summed up as a matcha lover’s dream. The chain is 155 years old, starting as a Japanese tea brand from Kyoto. They finally opened their first North American store in Toronto (surprisingly the U.S. isn’t first for once). I had seen my fair share of Instagram posts of pretty green-coloured desserts so I definitely had to try it out.

Things I really recommend:

  • Matcha soft serve
  • Any lattes

The store atmosphere was adorable and dainty. It was a small shop but the best part was the low traditional Japanese table at the back where you could sit on the tatami mat (shoes off of course). As expected, the menu entirely revolved around matcha: drinks, cakes, pastries, ice cream
 anything you could think of. We tried 3 things to review: a matcha cookie, a latte, and yuzu matcha tea.

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Everything tasted pleasant. My matcha palette was not refined enough to distinguish between the good matcha and bad matcha, but the latte definitely surpasses Starbucks standards. It didn’t take too much to impress me. The matcha cookie was not much of a surprise. It was a puffy pastry with gooey (you guessed it) matcha ice cream inside. The drink that I really enjoyed was the yuzu tea: matcha tea with a slight lemon taste. It turns out the tea is made with yuja, a fruit similar to lemon.

My only complaint? The prices. I wouldn’t drop by here on a regular basis but it is nice to treat yourself. The quantity you get is not justified by the price, but Tsujiri still gets points for being unique. My final thoughts? Definitely worth a visit; I mean, there aren’t that many matcha dedicated cafes in the GTA and the atmosphere along with the food is photogenic.

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A Student’s Guide to the Nearby Sushi Buffets

As a UWaterloo student, I have two options for nearby sushi buffets: ​Itamae & Sushi 168. Of the two, each has its strong points, weak points, and unique dishes. And so, that leads us to an issue… Which do we go to? This conundrum leads to the necessity of a guide.

And here we are!

Let’s start with Itamae. Itamae is closer to Laurier, at the King/University intersection. It’s right behind Starbucks. When compared with Sushi 168, Itamae has:

  • Fresher veggies in their sushi
  • Better quality desserts
  • More veggie sushi options
  • Their iPad also leans on the table, which is better ergonomically
  • Nice presentation of their dishes
  • Better ordering system for workers

That last one is key for the employees. While Sushi 168 has an iPad ordering system too, the servers have to come to your table to confirm your order; whereas in Itamae, they can confirm your order remotely. This makes service faster and easier (supposedly).

Downsides:

  • Doesn’t properly season their food – this applies mostly for dishes other than sushi/rolls. There just isn’t any salt.
  • Some of their dishes are overcooked. For example, their spinach is left bitter.
  • Their different dishes don’t stack well. Another hardship for the employees, but thankfully they don’t stay around long enough to have to stack too much.
  • It’s harder to order if you’re vegetarian or have allergies – their menu lacks item descriptions and any indications of whether or not it’s vegetarian or has an allergen.
  • Some of their dishes don’t compare – in my opinion – to Sushi 168. For example, their seaweed salad.
  • For people who like alcoholic beverages or mocktails, there are fewer paid drinks available.
  • The iPad, although ergonomic, is in the way once dishes start coming.

One unique dish that they have that I’d recommend trying is their hash browns. The hash browns look like sushi pizza, but are actually fried mashed potatoes with veggies inside. It’s actually pretty good, though it looks different from what you’d expect. In case you order both this and sushi pizzas, it looks like them, but is harder to grasp.

Moving on to Sushi 168, this buffet is closer to UW than Laurier. It’s just in Westmount plaza, so it can be walked to from campus with relative ease. Compared to Itamae, it has:

  • A better system for recognising allergies and dietary restrictions. They will ask you for any allergies ahead of time, and there are symbols on their menu telling you if a dish has peanuts, if it’s vegetarian, and if it’s spicy.
  • They also have more international cuisine types.
  • They have a buffet for salads, soups, and some of the desserts, which makes it faster for you to get those things and choose how much you’d want.
  • They also have more choices altogether, both in food and drinks.
  • The restaurant is also more spacious.
  • Their dishes also stack well, unlike Itemae. But that’s because they are more uniform in shape.
  • They have a washroom that looks like it belongs in a 5 star hotel.

Downsides:

  • They often have slower service than Itamae.
  • Their sushi has veggies that are not as fresh as that Itamae offers.
  • They have less veggies in their dishes – but they’re working on that.

Proof:

One unique dish on their menu that I’d recommend trying is their deep fried rice cream. It’s ice cream in a deep fried sweet coating that tastes like cornflakes. It’s covered in chocolate syrup and is generally delicious.

Now that you know the ins and outs of the two all-you-can-eat chains nearby, go on and make an informed decision.
Enjoy!

Foodie Fruitie: is it filled with goodies?

I’ve been on a quest to eat at every restaurant in the plaza, which for me includes the places in Linden Square at the intersection of University and Lester. Foodie Fruitie is an Asian restaurant with a large menu, including skewers, sushi, ramen, rice dishes, tea, and more. I like to come here for late night snacks and filling rice dishes for lunch.

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I almost always order the rice sets at Foodie Fruitie, which are combos that include rice, soup, and salad. The portions are pretty big and I usually can’t finish it and have to take some home. One favourite of mine is teriyaki salmon. The rice set is nine to ten dollars before tax which is good for what you get. I’ve tried a few sushi items from the menu which were decent, but not so good that I’d recommend it over the other sushi restaurants in this area.

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Foodie Fruitie offers a variety of tea- and juice-based drinks. I’m not too familiar with their drinks since I’ve only ever ordered one drink, the watermelon juice. It was decently fresh and there was no sugar added. I probably won’t order it again because the portion is a bit small for me. If you like beer to go with your meal, there are some common brands available here (I had Sapporo here which I liked with sushi).

One thing that I like about this place is the complimentary food you get. There’s seaweed salad before every meal. I came here with a group and we got complimentary takoyaki. You should get free ice cream at the end as well, although I had to ask for it when I was eating by myself.

Now on to what I dislike about Foodie Fruitie. The service isn’t great here, especially when it gets busy. Sometimes it’s hard to even get someone’s attention to be seated. It almost always takes a while for a waiter to pick up your order.

I’ve tried one of the ramen items here once and I would not recommend it at all. I remember it tasting of salt and nothing else. I’ve also heard only bad things from my numerous friends who have tried the ramen at Foodie Fruitie, so it isn’t just my opinion. Try to avoid the ramen no matter how good the menu pictures make them look.

 

Grace & Healthy Dumplings: Is there Healthy Food in the Plaza?

I’ve been on a quest over the years to eat at every restaurant in the UW plaza. After much trial and error, I can safely say that Grace & Healthy Dumplings is my favorite restaurant in the plaza. The food here is tasty and healthy at a reasonable price: I spend only $13-$15  here each time for a filling meal.

Grace & Healthy Dumplings sells… you guessed it, dumplings, but there are some other options as well, such as congee, buns, and appetizer dishes. “Healthy” is right in the name, and the dishes Grace & Healthy Food do taste healthier than your average plaza food. Nothing is overly salty or greasy. I find that there is a healthy balance of meat, vegetable, and grains on the menu. Grace & Healthy Dumplings is MSG free and their meats are grass fed and local.

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The Dumplings have a range of different stuffing. My favorites include chicken and zucchini, chicken, napa cabbage and chives, and pork and kimchi. However, there is a vegetarian dumpling as well. On the pricier end of the menu, you can get stuffing that includes seafood and lamb. For portion sizes, you can buy 12 or 16 pieces, boiled or fried. You can also buy some frozen dumplings for about a dollar cheaper and take them home to cook.

The side dishes all taste decent and they’re not too pricey – I order them at around 2 dollars each. What really impresses me is their organic congees. If you haven’t had congee before, the plain ones here are a good place to start. I really like the one with sweet potato and The congees at Grace & Healthy remind me of the staple congees that my parents make at home, which is no small feat.

In addition to the original dumplings and side dishes, Grace & Healthy Dumplings has been adding items to their menu such as noodles, wonton, and rice dishes. They have good portions and taste well enough, but I rarely order them because the dumplings taste much better.

IMG_0843.JPGThere are things that I don’t like about Grace & Healthy Dumplings as well. Sometimes service can be slow, especially at peak hours. I’ve also had to ask for things like tea or water or spoons many times. Items such as congees and buns are sometimes sold out later on in the day.

Overall the food at Grace & Healthy Dumplings is healthy and delicious, so give it a try if you haven’t yet!

First time at The WORKS!

 

If you’re an upper-year student then you’ve almost definitely heard of The Works, a burger joint in uptown Waterloo. However, as a first year, I had never been there until last weekend and boy was it an experience! The Works has an industrial theme from the “cups” to the food to the washrooms, everything just captured your attention. When I first entered, I noticed that there was a literal fence separating the tables and the entrance and that the washrooms were referred to as “waste disposal” sites. Then when they brought in water, instead of cups they served it in measuring cups. If you think that’s crazy, wait till you hear about the menu!

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Ordering a burger works a little differently at The Works. You get to choose a patty and bun but the biggest decision is choosing a style of gourmet burger. These range from the “Getting’ Piggy With It” burger which features Canadian bacon, smoked bacon, cheddar, smokey BBQ sauce and crunchy onions to the “Fire Station #6” which comes with avocado, salsa, sour cream, and fresh jalapeno peppers. Some of their other crazier burgers include the “Trudeau Burger” and “Born to Brie Good Charity Burger”. Do keep in mind that most if not all of these burgers have more than one thousand calories and probably aren’t the best for your health even if they do taste amazing!img_20170124_121955

The burger that I had was the “war pig” with sautĂ©ed mushrooms, smokey BBQ, cheddar and thick cut maple bacon. I don’t want to “boar” you with the details, but it was “porky” good (I’ll see myself out). I even switched it up last time by trading the regular patty for an elk patty (which is four dollars more expensive). I ended up really liking it since elk meat is lighter than their regular patty and is also healthier. The burger was really well put together and definitely one of the best burgers I’ve had recently. I also ended up trying one of their Oreo cookie shakes since at that point I was beyond trying to salvage my health. I was initially confused since the shake was served in a literal measuring cup but luckily for me, the shake ended up being just as good as the burger. Overall, the meal was delicious and I see myself coming back hungry for more.

The Works is in uptown Waterloo on 92 King St South. I definitely recommend it, even if it is slightly on the pricey side for a burger joint. However, if you do end up going, be prepared for one crazy experience!

Waterloo’s Drunk Munchies: Cheeses Murphy

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Imagine you spent your night having fun in uptown Waterloo. You may have just stepped out of Beta or Night School and you are hungry for some good drunk food! Smoke’s poutine is quite a walk and you just may not feel like pizza. Luckily just down the street there are people lined up inside Princess Twin cinemas. This is where the late night pop-up grilled cheese shop Cheese Murphy resides.

 

In my first year I found this place while out with some friends. They heard about a grilled cheese place from an upper year UWaterloo student. Homing its Waterloo location in the princess café, 46 King St N, Waterloo, ON N2J 2W8 from 12a.m-3:30 am on Friday and Saturday nights, this grilled cheese place is usually filled with hungry party going university students.

On a sober Saturday night, I ventured to uptown Waterloo at 12:30am to re-visit the drunk food spot, Cheeses Murphy, once again. Now-a-days Cheeses Murphy has 4 base sandwiches: The Classic, Cheeses Murphy, Cheese & Chong, and Jalapeno Popper. This year they have added the jalapeño popper, the inception, the tower of terror and a daily special. This visit I ordered the Cheeses Murphy.

The Cheeses Murphy sandwich is a grilled cheese made up of white bread, cheddar cheese, and bacon jam. The bacon jam may scare some people away but it is worth giving it a try. It’s both sweet and savory with the ooey gooey melted cheddar and crisp buttery toasted bread. Although I have not tried all the new sandwiches, currently this is my pick out of the lot of them. The Cheese and Chong, which is ground beef, cheddar, cilantro, and chipotle sour crĂšme, is my second choice, although it can be very heavy and the cheese is overpowered by ground beef. Personally I find that the Classic is waste of money, I would say go buy your own bread and cheddar cheese and make it yourself , it’s not worth the money unless you are seriously desperate for a plain grilled cheese.

Admittedly late at night when you are hungry, grabbing a grilled cheese from Cheeses Murphy is incredibly enjoyable, but it does have its downsides as well. For starters they have a cash only policy, but worst case there are some ATM’s in the surrounding area. The cheapest grilled cheese, which is the classic, is $4. Everything beyond that is $6 and up. So  it’s probably a good thing it’s only open two nights a week because it is a little on the pricier side. But can you really put a price on drunk food? There is no seating for Cheeses Murphy, which means you will either wait to walk somewhere warm to eat and stand outside and eat. Although I can honestly say that my grilled cheese could and has never lasted the walk to somewhere else, only because it had already been devoured. The only other factor which people should consider before you head over is the atmosphere. In my experience the employees have a good system and are pumping out grilled cheeses at a fast rate. However, for those who want to give it a try Cheeses Murphy as sober food rather than a drunk food, you should expect that you will be surrounded by people who are intoxicated, although it will only be for a short period of time.

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So next time you are in uptown Waterloo late at night on a weekend and need that drunk food fix pop by Cheeses Murphy. Take a pic and tweet it to @uwaffleclub telling us what you think or where your favorite drunk food fix place is. I would love to see what you think and find out what the tower of terror grilled cheese looks like!

Happy Munching!

The Waffle Kid

The Best Looking Hot Pot in Waterloo

Even though Morals Village just opened at the plaza, I still consider Mad Chili (侉捁摳) to be one of the best hot pot restaurants in Waterloo. For those who aren’t familiar with what hot pot is, it is basically a Chinese cuisine style where customers get a bowl of hot boiling soup on the table (can be single flavour or multiple flavours), and the customers select the toppings they would like to have, then boils the food in the soup. Usually the hot pot is in all you can eat (AYCE) style, which means you can order as many times as you want.

Environment:
The restaurant is located at 465 Philip Street (Philip/Albert). The plaza is pretty secluded (you most likely won’t happen to walk by) and the store front doesn’t really draw your attention.
The interior is nicely renovated, considering they were recently opened in Fall 2015. One complaint that I have is that the ventilation is really bad, I wear glasses and it was completely covered in fog when I walked into the restaurant. Also, due to the poor ventilation, your clothes would mostly likely smell like hot pot by the time you finish eating. Seating wise, the largest group you can get to sit together is comfortably is 6 people. You can probably squeeze in 8, but it would be a little crammed. And, it’s not possible to move around the tables, since the bowl has to be cooked on the stove top.


Food:
This is an AYCE hot pot restaurant and when we were here they didn’t set a time limit for us, which is unusual for AYCE. We ended up eating for 3 hours.
To begin, you order a large bowl of soup for the entire group. You would need to pay extra if you want a dual flavor pot ($6 extra, split with the entire table). Beverages are also extra as well. You get to choose from a wide variety of meats, vegetables, noodles, and sauces. There are also 4 choices of premium food items, which costs $2 extra per person (all you can eat).
I really like the lamb, boneless chicken feet (premium), beef stomach, water crest, tofu skin, and lotus root. However, The beef meat too lean which made it super hard when fully cooked. Also, the meats weren’t the freshest, as some were still frozen when they were served to us.
The one thing that makes this restaurant unique is their presentation of the food. After you place your order for the toppings, they would assemble the meats in a blooming flower pattern, which looks amazing in picture. I have friends who come here just to take pictures.
Service:


The service was slow. It was actually painful waiting for our orders to arrive. On the day I was there, they only had 2 waitresses and 1 kitchen helper, and that was the only staff around. It took them half an hour for each order, and by the time we got to the second order we were already done with the first order and  hungry again. This explains why we stayed for 3 hours.
I appreciate that the staffs were really patient with us and they had come to apologize when they messed up our order and gave the food to the wrong table. But honestly I wish the owner would hire more people or schedule more staff.

Pricing:
If you use Wechat and share their restaurant you can get $3 off of your bill. Ours came down to $28 per person, which I think they forgot to charge us for some other stuff (we had dual flavor pot, premium meat, and some beverages). Overall it was a good experience and I would probably come back again.

 

By: Linda Viola Li