Everyone Has a Real Chance

A new type of knife is sweeping across the nation these days, the victorinox knives are some of the best I have ever seen in my time as a chef, which is really saying something considering I am a world renowned chef and own over three hundred different restaurants across the world. When a head chef tells you that your knifes are something special the rest of the world takes notice. But with this power comes a great deal of responsibility, you get the power to shape the way other chefs buy their products, but you need to make sure that you stay honest so that you do not end up supporting a bad product. As soon as you end up supporting a bad product you lose all of the support of your peers and may end up losing a lot of your fan base if you make a bad endorsement.

The reliable, home-style tastes of Koko Kitchen

Posted on September 10, 2013 by Marissa Wong

I’m a regular at Koko Kitchen. Not that they know who I am when I come in for lunch or when I ask for yet another minute to stare down their huge white board menu that hangs above the front counter.

I am one of many frequent faces. At some restaurants, the faces have names and relationships, while at others, customers are known by the name of the dishes they frequently order. On the TV show “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” Larry David is affectionately called “Chicken Teriyaki Boy” by the staff of his favorite Japanese restaurant. My nickname at Koko Kitchen would be “Chicken Katsu Girl.” However, the staff is far too nice to say anything so silly.

I didn’t think to review the place until a friend asked why not. Good question. Koko Kitchen serves relatively affordable home-style Japanese food. After a while, going there kind of becomes a rote action, like Sunday dinner with the family. It’s not something you add to the iCalendar. You just go.

And like family, Koko Kitchen can provide comfort through food and mood or they can frustrate you with their idiosyncrasies. But more often than not, my dining friends and I like them enough to come back another week.
Yes, there’s sushi on the menu. The rice is nicely seasoned and textured and the crab they use doesn’t start with a “K.” Like other rolls, the caterpillar ($14.50) and California ($7.25) rolls are served large-scale. Decent, but nothing to shout about to your sushi snob friends.

They serve home-style food, nothing fancy, with the possible exception of bento lunch boxes (a veritable self-contained meal with pickles, noodle salad and rice, $13.95). But they also serve hot, filling food, such as pork chops and chicken tenders, which are just right for this transitional season where the idea of nigiri is about as appealing as a thin silk camisole on a cold day.

Sometimes, the flavor is spot on, as in the Koko special ribs ($9.50). Anyone familiar with Korean barbecue will recognize the house version of thinly cut short ribs in a soy-based marinade. Beefy, aromatically sweet from the oil and tender by its cut, this is a hearty comfort food.

But sometimes, the flavor is not so good. The ramen ($8.50-$12.95) dishes are standard, filling and hearty for starving college students; less satisfactory for ramen aficionados. The best ramen option here is the charsu (barbecue pork) version, with a deeper broth and dark meat.

The house miso soup ($3.50) is more substantial, thanks to the addition of chopped root vegetables with the traditional tofu, but only whispers of the savory umami flavor that should be present from this flavorful fermented bean paste.

But then again, the shy flavors might make it ideal for kids. I realized this as I watched my friend’s 2-year-old grab one vegetable croquette ($1.45-$1.65) with his slick fingers (he had just finished pan-fried gyoza, $5.95), take one bite and then proceed to stuff the entire fried mashed potato ball into his mouth. Grown-ups wanting to repeat this trick should try the curry croquettes, which have more flavor.

You read that right: curry. Thanks to a bit of colonialism, cultural intermingling and Western influences, Japan developed a taste of Indian-style curry, and over the years adapted it for their less-pungent palates. For kids growing up in Japan, this is their spaghetti and meatballs, and the spice mix is what you taste in the croquettes.

Koko Kitchen’s curry entrées are made from squares of curry paste (which resemble milk chocolate), melted into vegetables and sometimes meat. It’s lovely with tonkatsu (breaded fried pork chop — $7.25-$10.45) or chicken katsu curry (breaded and fried, $6.95-$10.15), delicious gravy for crunchy, succulent meat. The latter as an appetizer skewer ($1.95) is addictive. That is, when you can get it while it’s still hot.

Another downside about Koko is inconsistent pacing. To be sure, the Bannai family who own and operate the restaurant aren’t lazy, and offer some of the friendliest service in the state. But their energy and the kitchen line could be channeled into more efficient approaches so that lunchgoers aren’t racing against the clock.

When you have more time, the service seems less agonizing. When the weather is nice, you can wait for your order with a cold Sapporo beer ($3.95 or $6.95) out on the back patio. The best table is next to the bamboo patch where neighborhood cats sometimes come out to say hello.

Inside, the main dining room is just beyond the sliding glass doors, where you’ll find the sushi bar. The tables are arranged to accommodate a young couple out on a date, academics talking about the semester ahead or a boisterous Chinese clan ready to slurp some noodles.

Looking around, it appears most of us in the dining room aren’t Koko newbies. We know to bus our own tables and where the ice cold water is. We probably have the same gripes and the same raves. And for one reason or another, we all keep coming back.

Catering for Big Events in Toronto Minus the Hassles

Catering in Toronto When hosting big events in Toronto, the most common mistake most hosts would make is to wait until the last minute to call Toronto caterers. You should start looking for the perfect caterer for your party at least 3 weeks in advance prior to the event. For caterers, planning would take time and good decision-making strategies to ensure that everything would go well. Here are 5 huge mistakes to avoid when catering for big events.

The first important thing that you should consider when planning a catering event is the budget. Knowing in advance exactly how much you’ll have to spend will save you time in exploring out other options. It is important that you should know budget planning. For example, menus can be informal for birthdays and anniversaries. You can include finger foods, buffets, and interactive chefs. For corporate events, menus need to be exotic and have gourmet meals. In short, the type of event will decide upon the catering budget.

Second, you should know the importance of setting a goal in mind, that is, you should have a vision of what the end result would eventually be. You can visualize if a particular party is suited as a black tie formal event or if it would be more appropriate as a casual party. If it was the former, then it requires a more lavish preparation and includes full catering services such as waiting tables, gourmet chefs, and event organizer. If it was the latter, then you can have a more laid-back atmosphere as food can be served in buffet style maybe with additional services from baristas.

Third, you should sample the food before deciding to book the caterer. It is a surprising fact that many people call up a caterer and book an event without tasting the food. This is very important because you, the host, will look bad in front of your guests if the food is not what you would expect. People will always remember the taste of the food first before what particular event they had celebrated. A catering service will always make a statement with the quality of the food that they serve.

Fourth, you should ensure the food amount calculations. Running out of food is the biggest catastrophe for any party or event. It will not only make the caterer look bad but also the host. Knowing if it is too much or too little is an important aspect of catering. Only experienced caterers can calculate the exact amount of food needed for a specific number of guests.

Fifth, you should make sure that you have a contract. The contract should include the menu, date, price, and venue. This will ensure that you will get what you paid for. If you do not have a contract, then there is nothing binding Toronto caterers to perform the required job. You should also find out what are the services included such as are they staying until the end of the party and cleaning the venue or are they staying just through the meal?

Best Vegetarian Restaurants

A vegetarian is someone who lives on a diet of grains, pulses, nuts, seeds, vegetables and fruits with, or without, the use of dairy products and eggs. A vegetarian does not eat meat, poultry, game, fish, shellfish or crustacea, or by-products of slaughter.

There are different degrees of vegetarianism which may be what causes confusion with caterers. The four most common forms of vegetarianism are:

  • Lacto-ovo-vegetarian. Eats both dairy products and eggs. This is the most common type of vegetarian diet.
  • Lacto-vegetarian. Eats dairy products but not eggs.
  • Ovo-vegetarian. Eats eggs but not dairy products.
  • Vegan. Does not eat dairy products, eggs, or any other animal product.

Southern California offers a diverse range of vegetarian restaurants, with enough variety to ensure a satisfying meal to fit any price range. No matter what you are looking for, Southern California has it all — from California cuisine and raw organic meals to Japanese fast food or home-style comfort foods.

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In West Hollywood, be sure to check out Real Food Daily. The fully-vegan menu is sure to make your mouth water. The lentil-walnut pâté makes for a tasty appetizer, and following it up with the Salisbury seitan and mashed potatoes will ensure a flavorful and satisfying meal.

If you are a Hollywood tourist, take a break from sightseeing and enjoy Thai food at California Vegan on Sunset Boulevard.

The San Fernando Valley offers vegan drumsticks and spinach noodle soup courtesy of the Garden Wok. Or check out any of the four Native Foods locations, with their tantalizing menu of organic offerings such as the Rockin’ Morrocan – vegetables and soy “meat” marinated, skewered and charbroiled.

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Mother’s Market and Kitchen is a full-service health market and vegetarian deli, Mother’s has a lot of choices to sink your vegetable-loving teeth into. Replacing meats with soy turkey, beans, tofu, and “fakin’ bacon,” you can get many of your favorite meals made in a vegetarian and organic-friendly style. Some menu items include the Tahini Fusion Wrap (made with tempeh), the California Club, and the soy “chicken” taquitos plate which includes organic beans, organic basmati rice, and fresh salsa. For friendly service with raw and gluten-free options, try Mother’s in Costa Mesa, California.

If you miss your meat days and crave some of your old meaty favorites, The Veggie Grill may be the spot for you. Featuring sandwiches and burgers like the Chipotle BBQ, Carne Asada, and Grillin’ Chickin’, you’ll feel like you’re cheating even though all of the items are meat-free. The hottest menu on the item may be the sweet potato Sweetheart fries, which are given in generous portions to those who order. Look for this resto in Irvine, Ca.

For vegetarians who are travelling with omnivores in tow, you may want to choose Rutabegorz as a compromise. Featuring vegetarian dishes like veggie enchiladas and meat dishes like garlic chicken salad, Rutabegorz can keep everybody happy. The salads are extremely large and the staff is friendly. Available as a vegetarian or meat option is the Mexican casserole, a dish with zucchini, olives, cilantro, mushrooms and rice topped with onions, cheese, and tomato, with chicken or shrimp optional.

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LGR Tells All: The Secret Sauce Behind Our Chinese Food

We’ve all seen this before: you’re in an argument with your partner over who’s the better cook, and you finally decide to check each other’s pantries to see who’s packing the pro-ingredients. Well, one way to assess the cooking talents of your partner is to check out the contents of their fridge. If it’s a bit on the bare side and are empty drawers, bulging full of take-out menus, it’s a sure sign that they love Chinese food delivery (or one of their roommates does).

Sometimes (and in many food markets, all the time, Oriental cooking trumps everything else, no contest. The French can claim le soup de jour, Mexican may have its moments, and pizza might sometimes feel like just the right fast food delivery, but the good old Chinese standard set dinner for one, two, three or even families of four or more has much to offer that other ethnic foods lack.

The range of dishes – from traditional dim sum finger delights, to rice and noodle dishes of tremendous variety – can provide a family feast that is ideal for sharing. The Chinese view the sharing of a meal as almost a communication of love, and boy we do love to chow as well.


one stop shopping with delivery


The rise of the oriental restaurant was a response in the 19th century to the needs of male migrant workers from China, who got their upstarts by settling in the west and trying to make a fortune in trade markets. Before long, westerners were also joining in on this cheap and delectable fare, opening thousands of restaurants in major cities of the western world like San Francisco and Los Angeles.

In the wake of this surge in demand, other dishes started to spring up in restaurants across the globe, many of which were adapted to suit western tastes. We would not have the classic favorites like sweet and sour pork if it were not for this culinary diaspora of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Even the beloved fortune cookie and its modern iterations was not, strictly speaking, something that could be said to be traditionally Chinese.

An anonymous restauranteur in the 1950s came up with the idea of a cookie containing containing a message to amuse diners whilst they waited to be served. The idea quickly caught on with populations mesmerized by the mystique and fortune-fate lure of Oriental culture, and the novelty has lived on to this day.

Though the big take-out craze did not really start until the 1950s, oriental restaurants were doing it at least 60 years before then. Home deliveries were made in the 19th century – but these consisted of elaborate arrangements, using the best china and silverware and delivered almost exclusively to private homes by experienced butlers and waiters.



Keepin’ it Fresh at Lee Garden

Something of the history of the early oriental restaurants still exists in the tradition of having set meals, and numbered items on the menu. This, apparently, was to help assist in the communication problems of ordering a meal. To this day, many people who have had (ahem.) a few too many beers still have a communication problem and often favor the system of number ordering when ringing from home.

Chinese food has come on leaps and bounds since the middle of the 19th century, even despite the many dishes that have been fully adapted to suit western tastes. The beauty is that many oriental restaurants cater for all sorts of Asian food tastes and will even look after your special diet concerns: great examples of this are Gluten-Free Ghengis Rolls and MSG-free Mao Rice. When it comes down to it, there is really no contest between Chinese food delivery and the other home delivery restaurants of the world.

Now what are you waiting for? Pick up the phone, call Lee Garden to get some in, chop chop!

The Readers Have Spoken – The BEST Chinese Fusion in Toronto

Why, Lee Garden of course!

But to be fair, we present the list of the Reader’s Choice 2012 Top 10 Best Chinese Food Restaurants in Toronto, as measured by speed and quality of service, customer satisfaction, and affordability.

Chinese Food in the [dot]

Toronto is one of the fastest growing and most culturally diverse cities in the world. Because of this rapid growth of this explosive melting pot, there are a variety of tasty, ethnic restaurants around the city.

Regardless of your mood or your preference, there’s a great many options to choose from in Toronto. Here are some of the best restaurants to go to when you’re in the city.


chinese restaurants TO

Chinatown in Toronto is the world’s biggest.

The List

      1. Hiro Sino-Sushi. Hiro is a top-rated Sushi restaurant for 3 years running, blending traditional Japenese and modern Chinese cuisine in a unique and delicious display of color and taste. It’s located in the heart of downtown on King St. East. Famous for its in-house mandarin-soy sauce, this also boasts a glass kitchen where diners can see how their mouth-watering meal is prepared.
      2. Bella Vista. This family owned Chinese-Italian fusion restaurant offers the best combinations of Italian and Chinese food on the same menu! The entrees are served in a relaxed and comfortable atmosphere by native Chinese speakers. Offering both contemporary and classic fare, you’ll enjoy both the food and the selection from the extensive wine and tea list. Dine inside, in the temple, or on the patio.
      3. The Sultan’s Tent and Cafe Moroczhen. This award-winning restaurant offers the best in fine dining and belly-dancing. The Sino-French-Moroccan cuisine will tantalize and embellish your taste-buds and the talented belly dancers are sure to keep you entertained. Offering a unique atmosphere that pulls design elements from all 3 cultures, this is one restaurant that is an absolute must on any local’s or visitor’s to-eat list.
      4. Red House Dim Sum. Dim Sum is available in menu form, or cart form; other traditional Chinese fare is also available. Classic, tradition-to-the-core good-ole-fashioned Chinese food. You know what to expect here, and you get it.
      5. Kamasutra Restaurant and Wine Bar. A mix of Indian and Chinese dishes that will satisfy those lovers of the Asian sub-continent. Offering the exotic and tantalizing tastes of the Far East, this Indian establishment will be one you won’t soon forget.
      6. Corner House. This Sino-French restaurant is one of the most romantic spots for you and you signifiant other, with traditional Cantonese harps playing delicately in the background ambience.
      7. Blue Mountain Bisto. If you are in the mood for Chinese with a hint of Caribbean fusion, there is simply no better place than Blue Mountain.
Chinese food and Avatar Mountains

Blue Mountain has beautiful murals on the wall.

      1. Ouzeri. This family-owned chain of Sino-Greek dining establishments will have your taste-buds tingling with traditional Chinese-Mediterranean blends. Get there early if you want to sit on the patio and enjoy the romantic alley of white washed stucco walls – they don’t take reservations for patio seating.
      2. Eddy’s Steak House. Simply the best place for a choice cut of steak from the mountains of Southern China, littered with a wide seafood selection a la carte. Wash it down with a glass of sweet Riesling from their extensive wine list.
      3. Master Fushen’s Oyster Bar and Grille. Great ambience and rich in history, this little gem in the heart of the city will have you coming back for more with every visit.

Whаtеvеr cuisine you’re craving, Toronto іѕ ѕurе tо hаvе а restaurant thаt meets уоur tastes.