Judskii

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Tag: sushi

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

Joey Eaton Centre

There is another Joey restaurant in the GTA a bit further north from me in the Don Mills area that opened up in 2009, but the Joey Eaton Centre location opened up just this summer on the south west side of the Yonge and Dundas intersection. I remember watching it being built every time I walked past the area last year, and finally, in July it opened up, and boy was it slick. A black exterior with their name plastered out front in glossy black metal, their huge front windows open up on warmer days so it’s like an interior patio.

Inside, you can choose the quiet dining area or the bar/lounge area with high chairs and tables. It’s a posh kind of bar-lounge that looks like it’s perpetually happy hour for the next new media gurus of the downtown area. The ceilings are incredibly high, making the space seem huge, and although there are a lot of people and it gets pretty noisy, dinner here always feels relatively intimate.

The waitresses are cookie-cutter beautifully formulaic women, but they’re so friendly. The first waitress we had gave us the above drink samplers for free, which really brightened up the evening. I’m sure it was just a little tactic to get us to buy drinks, but I’m going to pretend that she was just really nice.

Either way, it worked, and we both ended up ordering the “Stiff Lemonade,” which is a lemon slush with blue caracao (one of my favourite alcohols) and probably some vodka as well. They’re really big though, so I couldn’t finish mine.

The red drink was another sort of slushy drink, except this time with a peach slush. Yum! If I recall correctly, the red was rum with grenadine.

Pictured here is another Stiff Lemonade as well as the drink of the day, made with vodka, cherry cola, and a splash of lemon slush. I also tried a kind of beer that they serve as a special on Mondays called “Gringo” but it was a bit too limey for me, and after a few too many nights of a few too many Coronas, I couldn’t quite get it down.

Their caesar salad had funny little parmesan shavings, but I’m not complaining since they’re actually parmesan shavings and not the dusty things that some restaurants try to serve you. Other than that, it tasted like any other caesar salad, but it was a little light on the dressing.

I’d never had fish tacos before, so in a bit of an adventurous bout, I went to try these ones. I don’t know what other fish tacos taste like (oh ha ha. Yes, laugh.) but these tasted wonderful. The battered fish was crunchy and crispy with a not too overpowering fishy taste. The cilantro and lemon were great, the hot sauce wasn’t too spicy but it had a sweetness that complemented the salty fish quite well.

Also, they had guacamole on there. I loooove guacamole.

Their mushroom and cheddar burger. The patty was thick and so incredibly juicy. Juicy, juicy flavour. They even ask you how you like your burger done (medium rare) which always gets huge huge thumbs up from me. The mushrooms were spilling over, laying thickly on top of the cheese, on top of all the other toppings. The bun was not overly bready (such a killer for me), and not too hard that you scrape the roof of your mouth. The boyfriend, who is not at all a big fan of burgers, craves this one all the time, so that’s saying something. I’m not going to lie, this might be on par with burgers from Grover’s Bar and Grill.

Not pictured was a side that we got called crispy mashed potatoes. I was expecting a pile of wonderful mashed potatoes put in the oven to crisp up the top, but what we received was unexpected but just as good, and it gained points for being so darn creative. The crispy mashed potatoes are mashed potatoes rolled up in crispy spring roll paper and then deep fried so that when you bite into the flaky spring roll, you get this lovely contrast of the softness of the potatoes. Never seen or heard of anything like that before, and the flavours of the spring roll paper and the mashed potatoes complimented each other surprisingly well.

We also ordered a roll of sushi. This one was the Rainbow Roll. At first, it seemed to taste like a regular rainbow roll, nothing too extraordinary, but then I realised that the inside of the roll was made with a kind of tuna salad. Strange indeed, and you would expect it to be an unpleasant mix, but it was actually quite nice.

Deep-fried calamari with “vegetable tempura.” The vegetable tempura was just asparagus and onions, so not what we were expecting, but not terrible. The calamari was a little small but nice and crisp, and they provide a nice honey dijon dipping sauce which is a pleasant change from the usual marinara.

Mmm, doesn’t that look great? It’s one of their flatbread selections. Tiny white shrimps paired with sun-dried tomatoes, fresh basil, some sort of sweet and spicy sauce (spicy mayo?), and wonderful wonderful pesto. I’m a HUGE pesto fan. The bread was crispy, sinfully delicious. I wasn’t a big fan of the shrimps, they tasted undercooked, but even that was masked by the wonderful flavours of everything else. I was about to eat about 60% of the flatbread before deciding that it started to taste a little too salty, so I took it in a doggy-bag to bring home. I’m told they tasted wonderful the next day.

For dessert we had the strawberry shortcake (sorry, no picture) but oh my golly, this dessert was so well-presented. It was like strawberry shortcake mixed with creme fraîche mixed with crème brûlée mixed with whipped cream mixed with custard. Now, not all of those were in there, but that’s the feeling I got when I ate the cake. It had this sugar wafer thing on top of the bread that tasted just like the top of crème brûlée. Then there’s the cream and the moistness of the cake. To die for. I was so glad that it wasn’t overly sweet, as most restaurant desserts are, and it was big enough for two to share!

Overall, we had a wonderful meal with great food, and the prices are not even too high. Each plate ranged from $10-$25 depending on which one you got, but the prices are so fair for the quality of food. The fact that it’s so close to where I live (a mere 3-4 blocks) means it’s very dangerous for my wallet.

🙂

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You can follow me on Foursquare to see some of the restaurants and places I go to about my day-to-day life. I check into all restaurants I go to, so if you’re looking for somewhere to eat, you can look into there as well. 🙂 I’m just sad I didn’t start doing this a long time ago, all those lost stats, it’s really unfortunate.

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EDIT:

So, we went back to Joey Eaton Centre recently and had the most fantastic meal. However, my phone was out of commission at the time, so no pictures.

For our appetizer, we had the Killer Ahi Tuna Tacos. These were SO much better than the fish tacos I had up there. The Ahi Tuna Tacos are an appetizer whereas the fish tacos were an entrée. Mmm. One of the most interesting and delicious things I had ever tasted. They had a super rare, seared piece of tuna on top of a mountain of garlic coleslaw (you know how I loove my coleslaw) in a nice crispy taco shell. On the side, there was a wasabi aioli with toasted sesame seeds in it that you’re meant to dribble on top. The aioli wasn’t at all spicy, which is nice, because I don’t particularly like the burning sensation, but instead it was sweet with a hint of the smokey sesame seeds.

These tacos were AMAZING. Y’all don’t even know. I thought that was the highlight of the dinner already, but, moving on.

The boyfriend had the restaurant’s version of the surf and turf, which is the same rainbow roll we had above as well as a 7 oz. steak. Since we’ve already discussed the rainbow roll, let’s talk about the steak.

Basically, don’t order the steak at Joey Eaton Centre. I don’t know if the cook was having a bad night, or maybe the steaks are just like that all the time. We asked for the steak to be medium rare, and at least it came out right. Except the sear wasn’t much of a sear as it was a char, and the meat was downright chewy. I couldn’t enjoy the flavours because all I could taste was burn. 🙁

I am at least glad that wasn’t my meal, but the boyfriend had the rainbow roll to comfort him so it wasn’t too bad, but it was a lesson learned.

Now, my meal. One of the greatest things I’ve ever eaten. I ordered the lobster ravioli, just so, well, I can say that I’ve eaten lobster ravioli. It was soo decadent, soft pillows enveloping the lobster mixture within. A layer of nicely grated aged parmesan covered the top and roasted cherry tomatoes highlighted the edge of the bowl. The whole thing was covered in a lovely lemon-dill sauce.

One bite was all it took. I ate it all. It was so lovely, the flavours melding together, the softness of the dough, the tenderness of the lobster. The cheese wasn’t at all overpowering, but instead just accented the lemon-dill sauce. Mmm. And I love lightly roasted tiny tomatoes. They just pop in your mouth and they’re warm, but still taste freshly picked. Mmm! Best meal. 🙂

A Day In Photographs

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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