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Tag: japanese

Charlie’s Chopsticks Grand Opening

Charlie's Chopsticks Logo

My little brother got the chance to be a part of the creation of a new fresh take out restaurant! How very exciting. I got the chance to go in and sample everything and share my experience with you.

If you have passed 970 Upper James (right near the Linc) recently, you may have noticed this little shop open up in the sex shop plaza. Leading up to their grand opening, they have been giving out samples of all their menu items for everyone who walked in.

Charlie’s Chopsticks is a custom asian open concept kitchen that caters to those who want to eat well, healthy, and quickly.

Sushi Cut

Charlie’s Chopsticks offers three main items: Rolls (Sushi & Summer), Rice Dishes, and Drinks. When you walk into the store, you’ll immediately see the counter with the main ingredients that you can choose to customize your meal.

Sushi roll charlie's chopsticks

The first thing I had was the sushi roll. I really like how you really just get to choose whatever you want to make your own custom sushi roll just the way you like it. I think you can have a maximum of 5 items, which is a ton to fit inside one roll. I chose to put my favourite items: salmon, crab stick, cucumber, sweet egg, and mango. It was pretty cool to watch them roll my sushi.

sushi cutter

This blew my mind the most. They put the sushi roll into this machine and it cuts it all up for you. WHAT?! So cool. Where do I get one for my house? My carrots would be such even sizes.

Charlie's Chopsticks Sauces

This is the part that gets really interesting. In addition to the soy sauce that you usually get with sushi, you have a range of other sauces you can try too. Their spicy mayo is particularly interesting. It’s not just the Kewpie Mayo (or baby mayo, as we call it in my house) & Sriracha combination that you basically get everywhere else, but this has a great hint of ginger to it as well. I loved it. One of the workers encouraged me to try the wafu sauce as well, which is a Japanese sesame dressing, and I’m glad I did because that tasted great with the fresh sushi. I don’t have anything else to compare the wafu sauce to though, but it was great.

There is also a few secret sauces. The two of my favourite being Honey Peach and my absolute favourite: Maple Ginger. I just could not get enough of that Maple Ginger. Just the right amount of sweetness and savouriness.

Custom Summer Roll Charlie's Chopsticks

The next thing I tried were the Summer rolls that they offered. Patrons of Vietnamese restaurants may know them as fresh rolls. They are basically any ingredient you like, wrapped up in a rice paper wrap. It’s light and yummy. Traditionally, in my home, we add vermicelli into it as well, but this way you get more fun stuff and less filler. I had mine with lettuce, mango, sweet egg, cucumber, avocado, ginger beef, and a little slice of clementine, which the employee strongly suggest. I never would have guessed to put the clementine it, but the sweet burst of flavour was a great enhancement.

Charlie’s Chopsticks even offers traditional Vietnamese nuoc mam, or fish sauce. Please don’t let the name scare you away because it tastes NOTHING like fish. It is a fish sauce mixed with garlic, lemon, and a few other things that I don’t know because I haven’t asked my mother how to make it yet. But seriously, this sauce is a staple in Vietnamese cuisine, and the salty lemony garlicky flavour compliments these rolls like nothing else. I think it’s the greatest compliment when I say these rolls taste just like we make them at home.

I won’t lie. I stood there and tried a few other rolls, a few with strawberries for colour, and of course, fresh bacon. The owners order many of the veggies local and the bacon come straight from Mennonite farmers in Hamilton’s Farmer’s Market.

I have never had bacon this good.

I don’t know what it was about it, but dang. It was just crispy enough with a bit of chew, my perfect texture. The taste was beyond anything else. Damn, I was just about ready to hop off the bacon train, but that piece of bacon in one of my many fresh rolls was just BEYOND.

meat dish

Lastly, I tried the rice dish. You get to choose your meat: chicken, beef, or pork, and then you have the piece of meat basted with whatever flavour you like (I got chicken with maple ginger, and beef with teriyaki). It goes through the oven (though I think they might be replacing that with a grill), and gets served with a bowl of rice and your choice of veggies. Again, I highly recommend trying the fish sauce with this dish.

Charlie’s Chopsticks will be serving bubble tea (with choices of grass jellies, fruit jellies, tapioca) and fresh fruit smoothies.

All in all, while the food is not gourmet or out of the box, it is good, wholesome, fresh food, which is definitely hard to find in today’s fast food industry. Their prices are awesome for a quick lunch, or a light, healthy dinner. The best bit is that they’re open late every night (past midnight on Fridays and Saturdays) and they do delivery as well. Who HASN’T sat there thinking, oh, I could totally do sushi right now, but balked at the time, drive, price of sushi restaurants? And who really wants to put pants on to go buy some crappy day old grocery store sushi?

Charlie’s Chopsticks officially opens TODAY (!) October 18, 2014, at 11 a.m. and the first 88 people in the doors will receive a voucher for 30 free items. Spread the word, #hamont, the new take out is here.

Facebook – Charlie’s Chopsticks

Instagram – @CharliesChopsticks

Guu

Guu is located on Church Street between Gerrard and Carlton. They just opened up a new location on Bloor a few months ago, I think.

I’d heard of this place from a few different sources, all of them singing praises, except for the part where the wait times can range anywhere from 45 minutes to 3 hours. Yeah, apparently it’s worth the wait, but I’m not the kind of person that’s willing to wait that long to eat dinner.

That being said, this place was unlike any other restaurant I’ve ever been to, because I’m not the classiest person ever. It seems like the place that trendy 20-35 year olds would go to, because it is a very fun place, well decorated, with a great theme. The place itself, from the outside was made of an unpolished granite with wooden accents. The wood, well done as it was, was able to avoid looking cheap and rustic. There was a giant wooden door, easily over 10 ft high, and when you enter, every worker there (probably over 20 people) turned to greet you in Japanese. Exuberant hellos and smiles. That’s just a warning for first time visitors because I was definitely caught off-guard.

Luckily, our wait was less than 5 minutes because we were meeting some of my cousins and friends there, a total group of 7 people.

This place specialized (or rather, only really served) Japanese Tapas. Small Japanese dishes, meant to be shared. I didn’t get to take a lot of pictures, because my phone was dying and the place really didn’t look like a place that I should be taking pictures at. Also, because I was with people that I didn’t really know too well. I digress. These little plates, deceiving as they are, pack so much flavour and food into them, by the end, we were rather full. Or I was at least. But we did order 26 plates in total, plus a pitcher of Sapporo.

Some of the dishes that stood out were the Unagi (freshwater eel) on rice, beef udon, tuna thingy, black cod, bacon wrapped mushroom. They even had amaebi (sweet shrimp) which isn’t available at a lot of places. Oh and the avocado with shrimp and salty stuff. Man, there were so many dishes that I don’t even remember them all. They were mostly very good though, and even the ones that weren’t good, weren’t bad at all.

Everything was very well presented, the food was amazing. The menu and their brand identity were great. Very illustrative and expressive brush strokes that identify with the Japanese culture. However, some didn’t like it because it was a bit difficult to read, albeit not that much. But then again, these were the same people that preferred Comic Sans.

._.

In the end, our total came up to about $200 + $20 tip, so about $30 a person. Well worth it. Great atmosphere, great food, great company.

Tako Sushi – Teppanyaki

El Chefo

Salad starter.

Miso and Sushi appetizer.

Vegetable dish that I was too much of a hurry in to eat to take a picture of.

Jumbo shrimp and scallop.

Teriyaki chicken and bean sprouts.

Flank steak

Beef fried rice.

Green tea + Red bean ice cream for dessert.

Food actually rather good, big portions, many courses. The teppanyaki chef was kind of funny, very skilled. He was flipping eggs and bowls and things just all over the place. The fried rice as amazing. Sooooooo good. It was moist, flavoury, yummy yummy yummy. I asked for the flank steak medium rare, but it came out pretty well done, so next time, I’ll just ask for rare. Still, it was rather tasty.

So, all that food, and how much was it? HOW MUCH WAS IT?!

$18.03 tax included.

OMG.

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