Sushi Rock (Toronto)

I walked into this restaurant wanting to try one of the many good and interesting restaurants in the Yonge and Eglinton area. Someone told me their friends had been here in the past and had enjoyed it. My best guess is that they got the name of the restaurant wrong because I can’t imagine anyone would go out of their way for it.

As soon as we walked in I noticed the lack of decor, white walls with a few of the exact same small piece of art and a bamboo decoration in the back, where no customers were seated. It was dinner-time on a Saturday evening and there were only two tables occupied apart from our own. We were quickly seated by the staff who barely spoke more than a few words to us.

I was handed a menu that seemed to have been left out in the rain then dried overnight. It was poorly organized for the most part, with some menu items referencing others, and no description of quantity for many dishes. After stifling the desire to simply walk out I decided to give the food a try, rather than judging the book by its cover.

Miso Soup ($1.50):
Like the rest of the food arrived cold- slightly warm but still as if left out and forgotten for a time before being served. Did not have very much taste and toppings in the soup were limited.

Garden Salad:
Didn’t order it, but came for free alongside miso soup- unsure if this was intentional or not. Drenched in a sweet miso dressing, which on its own tasted quite pleasant, but was so excessive that whatever flavour the lettuce and cucumber would have had was overwhelmed and impossible to recognize.

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BBQ Eel Appetizer ($7.49):
Six very small pieces of BBQ eel with a good amount of sauce. Again the fish was cold, as if left out for a while before being served. Nice presentation. Very little bang for your buck.

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Rock Roll ($9):
Roll was cold and mushy. Cream cheese overwhelmed all the other flavours to the point of them only adding texture (I enjoy cream cheese in my sushi but at this point I might as well have been eating cold cream cheese out of the container). Wasn’t fresh- seemed like it had been left out for hours such that it turned cold and the rice had begun to harden.

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Lychee Martgarita ($6.50):
Staff seemed very uncertain when I ordered it, I witnessed and hear a few scrambling around asking each other questions, as if no one had ever ordered it before. Was very watered down. Poorly crushed ice with large chunks floated atop a watered down somewhat lychee-tasting liquid. Came in a small martini glass that would have been acceptable if not for the terrible quality of the drink. Very overpriced.

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For the first time in years I found myself unable to force myself to finish the food I had paid for.

While quick, the service was very indifferent to us- they barely spoke. The dishes were all cold, not fresh, and overpriced. It was as if no effort had been put into any aspect of the restaurant- the food, the menu, the decor, the service. A major disappointment.

I would highly recommend avoiding this restaurant. Toronto has many good sushi restaurants to offer and it would be a shame for anyone to limit themselves to a place like this.

1.5/5

If, despite this review, you would like to try Sushi Rock for yourself:
2359 Yonge St.
http://www.sushirocktoronto.com/

Cheers,

FP

P.S. Although it may be better to go multiple times to see if it is truly such a bad restaurant, in most cases I am unable to do so. While it is unlikely, I may return to this restaurant in the future, and if I do I will certainly update this review with positive comments or simply ones that reinforce what I have already said.

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Realistically Healthy Eating

When you’re at university and classes start to pick up you may find yourself sacrificing health in favour of having more time to do work. But you still need to eat, and in all likelihood you will still procrastinate, because that’s what we do as students; it’s no secret.

It’s also not a secret that most university students, in a time of stress, will resort to McDonalds and other fast foods, microwave meals, oven pizzas, and more instead of foods that boost brain power and keep their bodies functioning. I’m not an expert on food science, but I know enough to lead you away from the bare minimum and toward a better solution, that can be realistically achieved given the stresses of student life.

In my experience there are a few types of procrastinators: 1) Study for a bit, use Facebook for a bit- usually 10 minutes of one then 5 minutes of the other, more or less. 2) Procrastinate A LOT then do work last minute- pretty common. 3) Do a few hours of work, take a short break, do another few hours of work- pretty uncommon. Regardless of which of these categories you fit into, you still waste a lot of time and, more importantly, you still need to eat.

Cooking doesn’t need to be complicated. It can be very simple and take minimal effort. But it can also be an excellent way of productively procrastinating, all the while helping yourself stay on track when it comes time to actually getting the work done.

The best way of maintaining a relatively healthy diet while avoiding unnecessary binge eating and snacking, is to make a weekly meal plan. By doing so not only can you plan ahead so you can control exactly what you’ll be putting into your body, but you can also actually save time later by being able to get everything in one shopping trip.

I hope this helps.

Cheers,

FP

Kasa Moto (Toronto)

Located in Yorkville, Kasa Moto attempts a new approach to Japanese Cuisine. It offers a variety of typically creamy dishes with the same heavy garnishes and has a strong focus on presentation. Like many restaurants in downtown Toronto, you hardly get any bang for your buck.

Upon arriving we were taken to the upstairs patio where we had made our reservation. There were about 20-30 square tables, each with an umbrella over it- which came in handy later in the evening when there was a bit of a light rain. There was also a bar area that had a handful of people standing around it sharing drinks and a Robatayaki grill off to the side.

I was here last week with a group and we ordered nine dishes between the four of us, which wasn’t as filling as I would have hoped.

Goma-Ae ($8): creamy, hint of sesame, great presentation, good portion size.

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Tuna Tataki ($19): creatively served on top of a daikon radish, one bite pieces that blend together in a medley of quality tuna sashimi and a light ponzu sauce, sweet, a bit crunchy from the vegetable combined with the melt in your mouth texture of the tuna.

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Soba Noodle Salad ($11): very very creamy, thin stringy carrots mixed in with the green tea infused soba noodles. Was tasty but nothing special.

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Wagyu Beef ($15): sweet, very tender, a bit of fat, excellent glaze that helps bring out the flavour of the beef without overwhelming it, fairly small portion but otherwise not at all disappointing.

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Rock Shrimp Tempura ($16): very very creamy, light batter, a bit spicy but just enough to notice not too much- added a bit of tang, sweet, good portion size.

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Kinoko Salad ($13): a variety of wild mushrooms which make up most of the dish and have a salty and slightly sweet taste, heavy garnish.

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Kasa Moto Roll ($22): Worth a try at least, their one and only attempt at a unique roll on the menu (still not very special), rice was a bit mushy, melted in your mouth- good medley of flavours, small portion.

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Spicy Tuna Maki ($12): Nothing special, mushy blend of spicy tuna, very small pieces of maki, mushy rice, was disappointed- have had better spicy tuna maki at cheap AYCE sushi places.

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Chicken “Two Ways” Futatsu No Aji De ($22): first way was small piece of chicken surrounded by dry flaky breading- could barely taste the chicken, interesting looking but not very tasty. Second way was medium sized cubes of chicken in very creamy sauce with a hint of spice, bad blend of flavours, chicken was a bit mushy. Good portion size.

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Kasa Moto is a great restaurant to go to if you want to be served some unique dishes that are often more fun to look at than they are to taste. While it does have some unique and flavourful interpretations of dishes it depends heavily on cream and a lot of garnish which at times can overshadow the dish itself. The sushi is far from creative with only one unique item (the Kasa Moto roll). Furthermore, sushi prices were absurd and the quality did not help me forget that- for example only 5 or 6 pieces of California roll (a very common and basic maki roll) for $12.

The service was excellent and lightning fast. The dishes were brought one at a time with little to no time in between so we were never left waiting. Staff members were all very knowledgable and well informed on all the dishes and drink options.

You hardly get any bang for your buck but its worth a try for their robata menu items and if you enjoy a good presentation with your meal. The service made the experience very pleasant despite the shortcomings of some of the dishes. Not a good place for sushi so stick to their other menu items or go somewhere else if that’s what you’re looking for.

3.5/5

Try Kasa Moto for yourself:
http://www.kasamoto.ca/#about
15 Yorkville Avenue

$20 Grocery Plan: Rice

I’m going to level with you here: this is not a good idea, nor is it really realistic student eating in the same sense as my usual posts. It remains realistic in being able to keep you fed and fulfilling all the major food group requirements, but it is by no means realistic to expect a student to eat like this every week for a month, and especially not any longer. If you can, I commend you, with the commendation of consistent boring eating.

Now at this point you’re probably yelling “Rice isn’t all the major food groups you moron!”, and you’re right, it’s not. The other components of this grocery plan are: large packages of frozen veggies (peas are typically cheapest), fruits, and two chicken breasts. I am currently at home where I rarely buy my own groceries, but once I return to university I’ll be updating this list with exact prices:

$20/week, $80/month Grocery List:
Large Bag Frozen Veggies, ~$2-4/week
7 Pieces of Fruit, ~$3-5/week
2 Chicken Breasts, ~$8/week
15lb Bag of Rice: ~$10-12/month

You can minimize spending by buying the cheapest fruits and veggies.
If you have any suggestions on how to make this list better, or just want to rant about how boring of a diet this would be, please leave a comment below.

Cheers,

FP

P.S. I always cook my rice in a rice cooker, which you can buy for about $20-30. But while much easier, it’s not necessary, nothing wrong with just using boiled water or steaming it, or cooking it however you usually do.

Kenzo Ramen (Toronto, ON)

I visited Kenzo Ramen twice within the last week and a half and it has quickly become one of my favourite places to get a quick cheap bite. And when I say quick I mean very quick.

Kenzo Ramen is a small restaurant that seats about 30. Most tables are for 2 people (although they do have accommodation for larger groups). There is a bit of Japanese decor on the walls and the tables are metal but provide decent seating. There are usually a small number of staff on hand but the restaurant always runs quickly and smoothly, even when it is packed to the brim with a line out the front door.

I ordered the Tonkatsu Ramen ($10.95) when I was there last Sunday. The other time I visited I got the same but with double toppings (an extra $3 charge).  The meal was very filling, even after having skipped lunch earlier in the day.

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Tonkatsu Ramen

The noodles weren’t anything special- more or less standard ramen noodles, perhaps a bit hard (but certainly not inedible). The garnish was three small slices of pork, some fish cakes, half an egg, some onions, and beansprouts. Again, none of the toppings were anything special.

The broth was excellent. It was a creamy sweet and slightly salty pork bone broth. I usually don’t finish the broth when I go out for ramen but in this case I ate every last drop of it. If I knew how to make this broth I’d probably be making it every day (barring the likely health risks of doing so).

Tonkatsu Ramen with Double Toppings ($3 extra)
Tonkatsu Ramen with Double Toppings ($3 extra)

The service is impeccably fast. I got my food and drink (matcha iced latte, $3.95) within four minutes of ordering each.

Kenzo lacks in its small variety of menu options, coupled with OK noodles and expensive matcha drinks. Whereas you can certainly get a quick and pretty decent meal (which is what keeps me coming back), what you gain in fast service you lose in menu options and quality.

3.5/5

Try Kenzo Ramen for yourself:
http://www.kenzoramen.ca/index.php
372 Bloor St. W
or
4860 Yonge St.