Two sisters just blogging about their passion: halal food!


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Zem One Revisited- May 2016

You may remember our 2013 post on Zem One. Since our last review, the restaurant has moved to a new location with new management (but the same owner). It is the same great halal Japanese food, but with a new sushi chef on board and everyone we know has been raving about his sushi. We were in for a pleasant surprise.

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Located at 51 Village Centre Place in Mississauga, Zem One is a hidden gem in the Square One area but away from the hustle and bustle. We loved the quaint nature of the location, which had a nice brick patio and water feature.

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The inside of the restaurant had a serene ambiance, which we quite enjoyed. We liked how it was not as crowded and loud as some of the other sushi restaurants. The simple and well maintained decor contributed to the ambiance. It a perfect place for dinner with your special someone.

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Since Zem One is located in an area surrounded by executive buildings, it is quite busy during breakfast and lunch hours. We visited the restaurant for an early dinner and went for the All You Can Eat menu. If you have read our 2013 post, you may remember that we were not huge fans of sushi back then. However, all that has changed in recent years, and we can be found munching on Dynamite Rolls.

We started with Chicken Corn Soup, Hot and Sour Soup, and Tom Yum Soup. The Chicken Corn Soup is our all time favourite, and always lifts our mood. The Hot and Sour Soup had a a generous serving of chicken in it, and we loved the spicy kick it had. The Tom Yum Soup was hot and tangy, just the way we like it. The soup servings for the AYCE menu were generous, and quite filling.

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Next up for appetizers were Shrimp and Sweet Potato Tempura along with Edamame. We love anything deep fried, so tempura is always in our good books. The crunchy panko coated seafood and vegetable tempura, dipped in sweet sauce is a match made in heaven.

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Pad Thai is by far our favourite carbohydrate-laden food. Stir fried rice noodles with shrimp and flavoured with tamarind and fish sauce, this Pad Thai did justice to our taste buds. We would order this again in a heartbeat. IMG_1871

We also tried the Szechuan Shrimp, which had a rich sauce and generous amount of vegetables and shrimp. The chili paste and the use of Sichuan peppers made this dish spicy.

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Next up was the star of the night, sushi! We started with California Roll, Red Tuna Sushi, Salmon Sushi, Shrimp Sushi and Sashimi pieces. We found the seafood to be fresh and flavourful, and the sushi was devoured within minutes.

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Our absolute favourite is the Spicy Dynamite Roll, which has shrimp tempura, cucumber, crab and avocado, topped with spicy mayo. The combination of the spicy sauce with the crunchy shrimp and cool cucumber is what elevates the Dynamite Roll. We highly recommend this dish.

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The Torched Mississauga Paradise was the best sushi we had that night. It had spicy salmon, avocado, cucumber, crab, cream cheese topped with spicy mayo and teriyaki sauce. The use of the blow torch allowed the spicy mayo and teriyaki sauce to melt right into the sushi, and created a heavenly roll. IMG_1883

Check out the video we made of how this roll was made.

And because we can never get enough of sushi, we ordered sushi to-go. Pictured below is the Rainbow Roll, which had cucumber, avocado and crab, topped with tuna, salmon, butterfish and shrimp. We enjoyed this thoroughly for lunch the next day.

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We also ordered the Crunch Roll, which had cucumber, avocado, crab, shrimp tempura and topped with tempura flakes. This, again, was munched away the next day. IMG_1887

Given our sweet tooth, we couldn’t leave without dessert (although we were already in food coma). We ordered Coconut and Mango Ice Cream. These were the classics we love and provided a sweet ending. IMG_1895

The Tempura Cheesecake was hands down the best dessert ever! We are HUGE cheesecake fans, so imagine our delight when we had this deep fried cheesecake. It was everything our sweet tooth could have asked for and more. It was creamy cheesecake, dipped in batter and coated with tempura, and fried to perfection . We can’t even begin to describe the epic-ness of this cheesecake. A definite must try if you visit Zem One. IMG_1896

Zem One is one of the few Japanese restaurants in the GTA offering halal food, so kudos to them for this. The friendly service, freshly prepared food, and the cozy atmosphere allowed us to wholly enjoy our dinner at Zem One. Do we recommend this restaurant? Yes (and please take us with you)!

Address: 

51 Village Centre Place

Mississauga, ON, L4Z 1V9

Phone: 

(905) 712-1615

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Uncle Tetsu’s Japanese Cheesecake

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After months and months, we finally decided to wait in line at Uncle Tetsu’s for their famous Japanese cheesecake. Uncle Tetsu’s Japanese Cheesecake is the latest craze in downtown Toronto and it is located just minutes from Ryerson University on Bay and Dundas. There is always, and we mean always, a long line up outside the shop. Typical wait time is about 1.5-2 hours. We were lucky to get our goodies in about 45 minutes.

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When we were finally inside the store, we looked around in amazement. There were numerous staff members working diligently at producing the desserts. The staff and the service definitely lived up to the gold standard of the Japanese work ethic that most of us are aware of.

Currently, the Toronto location only sells the plain cheesecake ($10 including tax) and the Madelines (4 for $7). The Madelines are basically vanilla/honey cupcakes without frosting. They are buttery, soft and have a hint of honey flavour. These were good but not outstanding. We thought they were a bit overpriced.

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The main attraction, the cheesecake, can be eaten warm (i.e. fresh out of the oven) or cold. When we tried it warm it was spongy and had mousse-like texture, that was not really to our liking. A bit disappointed, we put the cake in the fridge and tried it again after a few hours. The texture was more firm and at this point, it was very light and fluffy and we enjoyed it this time around. It is not comparable to the regular cheesecake you may be used to. It is not as sweet, or as rich as the New York style cheesecake.

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So was it worth the wait? We think so. It is something that we think people should try at least once.

Have you tried Uncle Tetsu’s Cheesecake yet? If so, let us know if you liked it or not.


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Anatolian’s Turkish Restaurant

Read our review of Anatolian’s Turkish Restaurant in Thorncliffe.

“Chicken Sauteed ($15.99) was an aromatic dish that had chicken breast, onion, green and red peppers, tomatoes and garlic, all sautéed in butter. The best part was that it comes sizzling to the table! It was served with white rice. If you do not like being too adventurous when it comes to trying new foods, then chicken sautéed is a safe dish to order. Although all the ingredients seemed basic, the way they were combined and cooked made this dish a family pleaser.”

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Click here for the full review.


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RaviSoups (Adelaide Location)

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It is officially soup season here in Canada. The best way to get through the frigid temperatures of January is by having a hot, hearty bowl of soup. A bowl of soup just makes us feel good all over. One of our favourite soups kitchens in Toronto is RaviSoups (Adelaide location). We had been notified by friends that this location serves halal meat and we were also told this by the staff at RaviSoups.

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The Adelaide location of RaviSoups has rustic decor. The unique wooden table makes for a great background for those soup photos you will want to instagram!

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Pictured above is the Roasted Red Pepper Soup with Tiger Shrimp, served with a cheese biscuit and red pepper dipping sauce. The roasted red pepper soup had a hint of sweetness but overall had a savoury flavour and aroma. The soup was topped with fried onions and cilantro. The soup had a grainy texture to it, which we actually kind of enjoyed.

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The Chicken Hot Pot Broth soup tasted just as good as it looked. The soup had coconut milk, lemongrass, kaffir lime, fresh noodles, bok choy, edamame, mango, pineapple, crispy shallots and fresh herbs. The fragrant lemongrass and kaffir lime gave the soup a Thai flavour, which was really delicious! There was a generous portion of chicken, bok choy and noodles in the soup to make it super filling. The fresh cilantro was  the cherry on top! The mango and pineapple chunks were surprisingly good additions to the soup.

We have also tried the Porcini Mushroom Wild Rice Bisque and Oven Roasted Veggie wrap in the past and both items were delicious. The Oven Roasted Veggie wrap is one of our favourite items on their menu.

Just to reiterate, the halal meat is at the Adelaide location of RaviSoups. They have three other locations in downtown Toronto and we are not sure if those locations serve halal meat as well. Your best bet is to call before you go.

Address: 

22 Adelaide St W.,
Toronto, ON M5V 1R1

Phone:

(647)435-8365

Website: 

http://ravisoup.com/index.php


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Chef Aleem Pop-Up at The Midpoint

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Halal upscale ethnic street food is what Chef Aleem Syed is serving up at The Midpoint from Thursday-Sunday in downtown Toronto. This is in anticipation of the launch of his food truck “The Holy Grill” in February 2015. Chef Aleem came to greet us in person and invited us to come take a look at his menu. With each and every customer that came in, he went over the entire menu in detail, explaining all the components of each dish. Rarely do we get to interact and chat with the chef himself, so this was a pleasant surprise for us. Chef Aleem is passionate about his food and is really excited about his new venture. He knows exactly where his food comes from. He places a great emphasis on using local ingredients and supporting local farmers.

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Chef Aleem has worked for reputable restaurants in Toronto including Canoe, North 44, and Terra, before a spinal cord injury put him on a wheelchair. His extensive culinary training and experience was evident in the way he ran the kitchen and how knowledgable he was about food.

The menu changes up every week and most items are under $10, which is great! Chef Aleem recommended the burgers, so we ordered both of them and also got poutine.

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Mom’s Butter Chicken Poutine ($6) was a poutine with a South Asian flare. It was a combination of fries smothered with butter chicken curry, topped with cheese and garnished with chopped vegetables. It was a savoury dish that explained in one bite what Chef Aleem meant by ‘ethnic street food’.

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The Cheese Burger ($9) was one of the best cheeseburgers we have ever had. We were pretty stoked by the bun alone that everything else was a just a bonus. For the big, mean meat patty, this soft and hearty bun with a distinct sweetness did justice to the burger. The halal bacon and cheese completed the cheeseburger and made it perfect.

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The Big Diesel ($9) was our absolute favourite dish of the evening. We mean, just look at it! Does the picture not force you say Mashallah, TabarakAllah? This burger was heaven. The toppings were a marriage made in heaven: sweet and tangy sauce, a fried egg, pickles, halal bacon, cheese, crunchy bits on top of a juicy beef patty. They may just bring tears of joy to your eyes!

Two disclaimers for Muslims visiting The Midpoint: Chef Aleem only rents the kitchen from the owner of The Midpoint. The Midpoint does have a full-service bar but Chef Aleem’s menu doesn’t offer alcohol. Since a diverse population visits to try Chef Aleem’s food, some customers do order alcohol. However, all profits from the bar go straight to the owner and aren’t affiliated with the pop-up. Furthermore, the ambiance with loud music and dim lighting may not be to the liking of some customers.

Address:

1180 Queen Street West, Toronto

Website: 

https://www.facebook.com/kravebistrotoronto

Chef Aleem featured in:

http://www.torontolife.com/daily-dish/restaurants-dish/2014/11/21/pop-pick-paralyzed-chef-aleem-syed-gives-sneak-peek-menu-new-halal-food-truck/

http://globalnews.ca/video/1742479/young-paraplegic-chef-to-open-his-own-business


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Burrito Planet

On a rainy, stormy weekday night in downtown Toronto, we stumbled upon Burrito Planet located on 181 College Street. It is located conveniently on the UofT St. George campus and if you are a student there, you have probably visited Burrito Planet more than once.

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We really liked the simple menu: Burritos and Sides. The last thing we want at a takeout place is an enormous and confusing menu. This place was perfect for a quick bite. The burritos come in chicken, steak, lamb or veggie and can be regular or large in size. They also have specialty burritos such as the Beef Bolognese, Tiger Shrimp, Atlantic salmon, and Planet Hybrid. We decided to get the regular size Chicken Burrito ($6.95). Although we wanted to try the Planet Hybrid, which has beef, chicken and shrimp, we were too burnt out that day to be in the mood for experimenting.

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We really liked the neat and clean service and prep area. If you know us you know that cleanliness makes us uber happy. We also found the customer service to be friendly and helpful. These two things helped us forget about our wet shoes and wet hijabs from the rain.

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Customers have the choice of white or whole wheat tortilla. Rice and a beans are spread on the tortilla. Next, customers get to pick their toppings (all of which looked super fresh). We got all the toppings: lettuce, tomatoes, salsa, corn, cheese, jalapeños and sour cream. The spice level of the burritos range from mild, medium or hot.

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Next the freshly grilled chicken was added. Here is a picture of our chicken burrito before it was rolled up and grilled.

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Here is a picture of how the burrito looked while we munched on it. Sorry for the horrible pictures but we were so hungry that we pretty much inhaled the food. We absolutely loved the smoky flavour of the chicken and wished there was more of it in each bite. The vegetables were crisp and overall the burrito was filling. We had picked medium for the spice level but next time we would go for hot to satisfy our South Asian taste buds.

Should you check out Burrito Planet? Most definitely! The burritos are great bang for the buck and we found the food to be flavourful and filling.

Visit their Twitter account for more pictures: https://twitter.com/burritoplanet


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Paramount Butcher Shop – Fine Halal Meats

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Summer is almost here in Toronto and we are sure you are ready to fire up your BBQ. The one place you need to check out this BBQ season is the Paramount Butcher Shop. Not only is this a gorgeous shop, it has a wide selection of meat and related products.
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Shiny displays, excellent customer service, free coffee and best of all, 100% halal and hand-slaughtered. This shop really is any North American Muslim’s dream come true. 
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They have marinated chicken, beef, lamb of various cuts.  Although these were all raw, the displays were drool worthy!
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We regularly buy shish tawouk, chicken shawarma, and kabobs from here. 
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They also have a wide selection of deli meats. 
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The beef counter. We were amazed at the selection and various cuts of meats that were available.
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Be sure to check out this wonderful store this summer and let us know what you tried!

Address:

4646 Heritage Hill Boulevard

Mississauga, ON

L5R 1N4

Phone: 905-890-1700

Website: http://paramountbutchershop.com/

 


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Intense Poutine Craving

 

We had the biggest poutine craving a few weeks ago. What triggered our craving were our blog stats, which kept showing people searching for “halal poutine Toronto”. The problem was, we didn’t know where to go. We wanted GOOD poutine; a poutine that would be worth the calories. For someone living in the east end of Toronto, we were surprised that we had such a hard time finding a place. Our options were:

– Crown Pizza

– Affy’s

– Flavour’s Cafe

– Big Moe’s

All three options were a bit of a drive so decided against them. That is where our list ended.  We were certain that there must be more places to grab poutine at but nothing was coming to mind!

After a lot of thought we remembered that Sizzling Skillet has decent poutine. Since we live a few minutes away, we hoped this place would satisfy our craving.
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One word for the poutine: awesome! It doesn’t get any better than waffles fries smothered in gravy and cheese. They sprinkle red pepper on top which really elevates this french fry dish.

So the next time you are in the east end and are craving poutine, visit Sizzling Skillet.

Address: 

2290 Markham Rd

Toronto, ON M1B 2W4

Phone: 

(416) 321-9991

Website:

https://www.facebook.com/sizzlingskillet


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Momofuku Milk Bar

Momofuku Milk Bar is located on the second floor of Momofuku Noodle Bar beside Shangri-La Hotel in downtown Toronto. The Milk Bar is tiny. To give you guys an idea of how small it is, it can be best described as a walk-in fridge. A maximum of 5-6 people can fit in there at one time. You grab a basket outside the Milk Bar, pick your goodies, and go downstairs to pay for them.

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We tried the Compost Cookie, B’day Truffles and the Crack Pie. photo 3

The Compost Cookie had interesting ingredients such as pretzels, potato chips and coffee beans along with the regular ingredients such as oats, butterscotch and chocolate chips. One of us liked the cookie and the other one not so much. The cookie had a strong coffee flavour, which masked everything else.
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The B’day Truffles had rainbow cake, white chocolate and sprinkles. They were scrumptious and melted in our mouths. They are very similar to cookie dough based desserts.

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The Crack Pie was the most amazing treat ever! It is a toasted oat crust with butter filling. It sounds very simple and it is indeed simple, but the taste is out of this world. It is very sweet, so it may not be liked by everyone but it is definitely worth a try.

If you happen to be in the downtown Toronto area, drop by the Momofuku Milk Bar and give yourself a treat!

Address:

2nd Floor
190 University Avenue
Toronto, ONM5H 0A3