Food Adventures

Yunshang Rice Noodle x SickKids

Sometimes I get caught up in the daily grind of things and forget just how lucky I am to be here, to be healthy and to be surrounded by some truly amazing people in my life. 

I had a lot of health issues when I was a kid. I still remember being in and out of the hospital with my mom and how scary all the wires and machines were. I was fortunate enough to have access to great medical care and I’m now able to enjoy all these food adventures and explore the world, one restaurant at a time.

SickKids is an amazing hospital that not only takes care of the kids, but they also provide comfort and support to the parents and family of the kids going through treatment. 

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The founder of Yunshang Rice Noodle is a regular donor to SickKids. His son was only one year old when he was rushed to SickKids to receive treatment. He was able to make a full recovery thanks to the incredible team at SickKids. The founder is committed to giving back to this incredible organization and is passionate about bringing awareness to the important issues plaguing the health of children, and becoming educated in helping an organization that does so much for children and their families.

On July 7th 2019, the beloved Chinese rice noodle brand, Yunshang, will launch a “Pay-What-You-Can” campaign in support of SickKids to build a new hospital!

An exclusive “Support-SickKids Menu” will be available at all Yunshang locations in the GTA on July 7th. Guests are encouraged to come to any Yunshang store, order whatever they like on the menu, and pay what they can. 100% of the proceeds collected that day will go to support SickKids Foundation. Besides helping to provide children with access to high quality healthcare, this campaign will hopefully end hunger in the city even if it’s for one day. 

I’m such a fan of the rice noodles and the different broths here (the tomato soup is my favourite).

The broth itself is made from scratch daily with Canadian sourced ingredients. It’s simmered for at least 12 hours with pork, chicken AND beef bones to really get the flavourful broth without the use of MSG.

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Each noodle set comes with a variety of sides dishes that are served in a cute little bento style box. I love the quail eggs and the fish tofu. The noodle set really is a full meal once you add in all the side dishes.

This exclusive “Support-SickKids Menu” at Yunshang offers a cold dish/appetizer and a drink in addition to the rice noodle set. An amazing meal for an amazing cause!

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Yunshang stores open at 12PM and this campaign is for dine-in only. Remember to come early on July 7th and celebrate the day for a good cause!

For more about this great causes check out: http://yunshang.ca/sickkids_en.html

Sakura season at Cheese Garden

It’s Sakura (aka cherry blossom) season at Cheese Garden! 

Sakura’s actually one of my favourite flowers. I love the subtle pink (my favourite colour) and the cute little petals. It’s a symbolic flower of Spring, which is also my birthday season. Needless to say, when I heard Cheese Garden came out with their Sakura Spring Collection, I just had to try it!

Featuring Japanese Sakura from Kanagawa, this beautiful Sakura dessert set comes with:

1 Sakura Fraise Cheesecake

2 pieces of Sakura Yakigashi

1 Sakura Raindrop Cake

1 exclusive Sakura spoon and Sakura bag as free gifts (SO cute!)

I love the different layers of the Sakura fraise cheesecake. The cake consists of the following layers: Sakura mizu yokan, custard pudding, Sakura jam, no bake strawberry cheesecake and matcha sponge cake. The matcha sponge cake and the strawberry cheesecake go so well together! I like that the Sakura wasn’t over powering so I got to really enjoy all the different flavours.

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The Sakura Yakigashi is my favourite from the dessert set. This Sakura and cranberry cookie bar is as yummy as it is beautiful. The toasted pistachios adds a nice crunch and the marshmallows gives it a nice chewy texture and added sweetness.

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If only raindrops can be as beautiful as Cheese Garden’s Sakura raindrop cake then maybe I’d enjoy rainy days more. The texture of this raindrop cake reminds me of jello and it has a very distinct Sakura flavour. I can’t get over the beautiful flower sitting perfectly in the “raindrop”. It’s almost too pretty to eat!

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This new and limited Sakura Spring Collection is only available from now to May 12th!

Only 50 Sakura Spring Collections are available per day at each location and limited to 1 set per customer (no reservation, first come first serve).

Available at all Cheese Garden locations: 

 📍5291 Yonge St

📍Unit G120 - 3250 Midland Ave. 

📍B58 - 4300 Steeles Ave. E (Pacific Mall) 

📍Saks Fifth Ave. Pop-up store, 176 Yonge St.  

Website:  http://www.cheesegarden.ca/ 

 

Tsujiri Patisserie

Location:  596 Yonge Street, Toronto, ON, M4Y 1Z3

Website:  https://tsujiri-global.com/

Grand Opening Promo: This iconic Japanese Matcha brand will be celebrating their very first Tsujiri Patisserie store in downtown Toronto by offering FREE matcha ice cream lava cakes for the first 88 customers on March 30, 2109, starting at 12:00PM!

Tsujiri is just one of those dessert places that never goes out of style. There’s a reason why there’s still so much hype about this 155 years old Japanese matcha brand. I have been such a fan ever since I had my first bite of matcha soft serve. 

The store itself is bright and spacious with a very minimalist design. There are lots of seating available so it’s a perfect spot to catch up with friends over some matcha appreciated treats (I couldn’t resist... My blog post is not complete without at least one pun).

Tsujiri Patisserie offers unique items such as their beautiful dessert platters. Perfect for indecisive individuals (much like myself) because these platters offer a variety of treats selected by the pastry chef. 

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The crunchy eclair is filled with a generous portion of Tsujiri’s delicious matcha cream. I absolutely love this combination of a crunchy eclair shell and a creamy matcha filling. These eclairs are made fresh to order, meaning the matcha cream is piped on the spot once an order’s been placed. This helps prevent the crunchy eclair from getting soggy.

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The matcha ice cream lava cake will have you coming back for more! There’s a mountain of Tsujiri’s famous soft serve sitting on top of a fresh out the oven hot and ooey lava cake. I mean you really can’t go wrong with a dessert like this! So much care’s been put into this one dish. From the made to order lava cake, to the beautiful platting and the yummy mochi and chestnut, this dish is definitely a must try at Tsujiri Patisserie! 

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I was lucky enough to check out a few of the Tsujiri locations when I was traveling in Japan. I can honestly say that the quality here really does match the quality of the matcha treats served in Japan. Food is always able to magically trigger specific memories for me and this lineup of matcha desserts brought me back to my adventures in Japan. Now if only it can literally bring me back!

Yunshang Rice Noodle

Location: Unit 5 - 5285 Yonge St, North York, ON, M2N 5R3

Website:  http://www.yunshang.ca/

Grand opening: March 15, 2019

Grand opening promotion: FREE Yunshang Bridge Rice Noodle sets on March 15th and March 16th starting from 6pm for the first 100 customers!!

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Full disclosure, I love my noods and I can’t get enough of it. When I heard about this “Yunshang Bridge Rice Noodle” set I simply had to try it. It was everything I ever imagined and more. Based on a popular Chinese fable, this “crossing the bridge” rice noodles symbolizes affection, endearment and admiration. This is definitely a dish made with love and care. I mean, just look at it!

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This instagram worthy “Yunshang Bridge Rice Noodle” set is not only esthetically pleasing, it is equally as pleasing to the tastebuds! The amount of toppings provided here almost reminds me of hot pot (which I also love). This noodle set comes with: various seafood offerings including a Canadian Atlantic lobster tail, fresh French Kiss oyster (sourced from Diana’s Seafood), sea scallop, shrimps and crab sticks. Other accompanying ingredients, such as quail eggs, beef slices, fish cakes, ham, enokitake, Chinese lettuce, and egg tofu, are also served with this epic wooden bridge. 

The broth itself is made from scratch daily with Canadian sourced ingredients. It’s simmered for at least 12 hours with pork, chicken AND beef bones to really get the flavourful broth without the use of MSG. My personal favourite here is the tomato soup but there are a variety of soup bases to pick from if tomato is not your thing. 

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Fun fact: The pots used to serve the broth is not your average pot. They are specially made in Japan and are able to retain heat to keep everything hot for at least 30 mins! That’s more than enough time for a foodtography session and still be able to enjoy a steaming hot bowl of rice noodles. 

The regular noodle set here also comes with a variety of toppings (10 small side dishes to be exact) PLUS unlimited rice noodle refills!

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With various locations in Vancouver, Montreal and even New York, Yunshang Rice Noodle is the largest Chinese rice noodle chain in North America and it’s continuing to grow. Keep an eye out for more more grand opening promotions in the future! As for the “Yunshang Bridge Rice Noodle”, it’ll be available for purchase at this new North York location from March 17, 2019 - March 31, 2019 for only $19.99 (limited quantity per day). 

Sugar Rush in Ottawa

Ottawa, the city where I discovered the magic of toe warmers. Winter in Ottawa really is no joke!

Ottawa has a reputation for its brutal winters but one of my favourite moments from this trip was actually lining up with my friends in the freezing cold for beaver tails and hot chocolate at the Byward Maket. In that moment I realized the true meaning of friendship. I mean, not many people would freeze their faces off just to help me satisfy my beaver tail craving! Even Ottawa winters can’t keep me from food adventuring!

This was my 2nd time visiting Ottawa and food baby enjoyed both visits thoroughly. I was hesitant about the food scene in Ottawa at first but there are actually lots of yummy places and hidden gems!

I love discovering a city through its food scene so I ate and I ate, and then I ate some more. I wanted to share my top 3 favourite dessert places because if there’s anything I love more than actually eating, it’s to force feed people the food that I love. These places are definitely worth checking out!

3. Art-Is-In Bakery 

📍250 City Centre Ave #112, Ottawa, ON K1R 1C7

This spacious, almost warehouse like, bakery offers a wide variety of baked goods and beverages. The cronuts are a must try! I just about licked the plate when I was done. I paired it with the earl grey tea latte and it was the perfect breakfast combination in my opinion!

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2. Suzy Q 

📍969 Wellington St W, Ottawa, ON K1Y 2X7

These doughnuts are as yummy as they are pretty! So light and fluffy. They look humongo but I can easily polish it off by myself because it’s so airy!

I love the large selection of flavours, including their “healthy” version of doughnuts like the carrot one in the picture. I love it when bakeries help me consume my daily recommended dose of vegetables. Suzy Q cares!

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1. The Cupcake Lounge  

📍6 Byward Market Square, Ottawa, ON K1N 9B8

This is actually a place that I stumbled across from exploring the Byward Market. I’m so happy I did! The cupcake is moist and baked to perfection. The frosting itself is not overly sweet and the cupcake to frosting ratio is just right. I came in this cute little bakery with the intention of just having a cupcake for breakfast (yes, I eat cupcakes for breakfast). Let’s just say I ended up eating a lot more than just one!

The earl grey cupcake is my favourite! I actually got an extra one to eat on my way back to Toronto.

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Over all I really enjoyed my time in Ottawa. How can I not when there are so many food places for me to eat at when I need to escape the freezing cold. The winter may be harsh but ice skating on the Rideau Canal is a pretty fun experience! But maybe next time I’ll visit in the summer time so I don’t freeze my face off.

Until next time Ottawa! I’ll be back for more food adventures!

Cheese Garden

Location: Unit G120, 3250 Midland Avenue, Scarborough, ON, M1V 4W9

Website:  http://www.cheesegarden.ca/

There are currently 3 locations you can go to pick up some of their amazing treats. My go-to is the Midland location in Scarborough since it’s closest to my place and the service is always great.

I love Japanese desserts and Cheese Garden never disappoints when I’m craving a good Japanese cheesecake. They use quality ingredients and it shows in their beautifully crafted treats.

Cheese Garden’s Japanese cheesecakes are baked fresh daily. They are light, airy and full of flavour. I like to describe it as a hybrid of mousse cake and sponge cake - exactly how a Japanese Cheesecake should be. 

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I love my matcha so when Cheese Garden came out with this matcha tiramisu I just had to get my hands on it. You can never have too MATCHA tiramisu and trust me, I’ve had my fair share. This matcha tiramisu is made with premium Uji matcha powder. The cream is rich and fluffy. The “lady fingers” is actually a Hokkaido chiffon cake and it’s light, not overly sweet and balances out the creamy filling.

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The 5 inch baked cheese tart is basically a tart filled with ooey gooey molten cheese in a perfectly baked tart shell that is buttery and flakey. This is one of my many favourite treats at the Cheese Garden, I guess you can say that it stole my tart. Okay, that was the last pun I swear! The cheese tarts are best consumed when they’re fresh out the oven. However, for the people out there with more self control than me and won’t stuff their faces with this beautiful tart in a single sitting, Cheese Garden does provide a little pamphlet with instructions on how to store and re-heat this tart.

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I saved the best for last, the double fromage cheesecake! It comes in 2 flavours, original and matcha. It’s literally 2 layers of cheesecake (one frozen and one baked) sitting on a layer of sponge cake. I can’t get enough of this double fromage cheesecake! It’s the best of both worlds, a combination of a cheesecake and an ice cream cake. The size is perfect for sharing but once you get a bite of this you’re gonna want to keep it all to yourself.

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Cheese Garden’s decor is simple and elegant (much like their baked goods). They also have lots of windows and natural light which makes this the perfect spot for a foodtography session.

Keep an eye on their website and social media - they release seasonal products for limited time only!

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Sponsored tasting - while the cakes were complimentary, opinions are my own. 

I heart Singapore

This year I decided to celebrate my birthday by treating myself to a vacation in Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan. Each place is beautiful and unique in their own way but for this post I’ll just limit myself to gush about the amazing Singapore.

Singapore is such a beautiful country. As a solo female traveler I felt extremely safe, even when I was out and about late at night. Someone described living in Singapore as being “cautiously happy” because of the strict rules, but I guess that’s what makes this such a safe travel destination.

I highly recommend getting a transit pass to avoid the lineups at transit booths and to allow for spontaneous bus trips. I do a lot of walking when I’m traveling, I think walking is the best way to really explore and get a feel of the city. However, Singapore is HOT and humid. It’s the “I think I’m actually melting” kind of hot. A couple of times I ended up taking the transit just to get out of the sun. I honestly think that’s why there are so many shopping centers around, it’s so people can get out of the sun when they feel like they’re about to die of heat stroke. 

There were so many “wow” moments during my time in Singapore. It’s hard to pick just one so I’ll just go ahead and fangirl about my top 3 favourite moments as well as my top 3 favourite food adventures!

Favourite Moments

1. Gardens by the Bay

I was so happy that they allow re-entry at the Cloud Garden and the Flower Dome. I definitely took advantage of the re-entry stamps at both places. 

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I actually ended up spending a whole day at the Gardens by the Bay because if you wait until 7:30PM there’s an amazing light show at the Supertree Grove. The lights on these “super trees” were synced to the music perfectly. It was just such a fun and beautiful show. I didn’t want it to end!  

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2. Marina Bay Sands (MBS)

This was a huge splurge for me. It was a $400/night stay! This is the iconic 3 tower building with the big “boat” like structure sitting atop the 3 towers. I decided to stay here because only hotel guests have access to the infinity pool. 

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Yes, the infinity pool was definitely worth the splurge. The view up on the 57th floor was amazing. The infinity pool itself was so refreshing in the 40 degree weather and the food/service at the poolside was top notch. It was such a fun experience overall. I would’ve loved to stay here for another night if I had unlimited travel funds (I’m available if anyone wants to be my travel sponsor). 

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MBS is practically a mini city, there’s a mall with some amazing restaurants attached to the hotel. The MBS lived up to the hype and definitely did not disappoint!

3. Future exhibit

As a MBS hotel guest, I got a discount on tickets to the exhibits at the art science museum. I actually went through the Future World exhibit twice because it was just so beautiful and relaxing.

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I found myself taking a gazillion photos trying to capture that “perfect” shot. I always have to remind myself to really be in the moment when I’m traveling, instead of seeing everything through the lens. With the awesome MBS discount I was able really experience the exhibit the 2nd time around. I’ve never seen such an interactive art exhibit before. I was able to download an app on my phone which allowed me to control the different light settings. It was so immersive and well done. 

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Favourite food adventures

Not gonna lie, I totally travel for the food. My trips are usually planned around where I want to eat and everything else is just a bonus.  The food in Singapore was amazing. I had a really hard time narrowing it down to my top 3.

1. Brother Bird Softserve Co. 

This is definitely one of the most memorable desserts I’ve ever had. It was as delicious as it was beautiful. I looked around the restaurant for other people’s reactions to see if they were freaking out about the dessert as much as I was. It was one of those times that I actually wished I had a travel buddy to share the moment with. 

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A perfect swirl of refreshing strawberry basil sherbet sitting on top of a fresh out the fryer mochi doughnut. It was the perfect balance of hot and cold/soft and crunchy. 

2. Non Entrée Desserts

Such a creative way of serving this match lava cake. I loved the presentation and the matcha lava cake itself was so yummy. It’s sitting on top of a caramalized sugar crisp and in the glass is roasted green tea gelato on a bed of crunchy almond nougatine and chocolate “soil”.

Bonus: there’s azuki beans inside the chocolate lava cake! Such a yummy flavour combination. Can’t go wrong with matcha and red bean! 

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3. Soya Chicken 

The fact that I’m posting a savory dish is a testament to just how much I loved this placed. I’m still amazed at how affordable this soya chicken is considering that this is a Michelin Star restaurant! I must’ve eaten here at least 3 times during my time in Singapore. The sauce is flavourful, the chicken is tender and the portions are reasonable. This is all for just $3.80! I like how they kept the integrity of the hawker center style and price even after receiving the Michelin Star rating. The lineup is pretty insane all throughout the day but it’s definitely worth the wait.

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Singapore exceeded my expectations in every way and I can’t wait to go back again! 

Golden Bubbles

Bubble waffles always bring me so much joy. They make me reminisce about a mini me in Taiwan lining up with my mom for a freshly made bubble waffle.

I find that when it comes to my childhood snacks I tend to gravitate towards what I’m familiar with, the flavors I grew up eating - the “classics”.  But there are so many amazing options to pick from at Golden Bubbles that I’ve been getting everything but the original bubble waffle. Golden Bubbles managed to take a simple snack like bubble waffles and turn them into these extravagant desserts with unique flavours.

So matcha goodness in one cup!

So matcha goodness in one cup!

The slightly crunchy shell and the light and fluffy center is exactly how I like my bubble waffles! You can build your own combo by selecting a bubble waffle, filling and toppings, or pick from one of their signature bubble waffles. The portions are definitely generous and a “small” is plenty to fill my belly.

O’Canada - it keeps you coming back for more! 

O’Canada - it keeps you coming back for more! 

Who knew cheese would go so well with bubble waffles?! I need to take a moment to gush about this amazing creation. The mac & cheese itself is creamy and cheesy with a generous sprinkle of bacon bits at the top. Mac & cheese is one of my favourite food to eat and Golden Bubbles created the perfect mac & cheese and bubble waffle hybrid! 

Ooey gooey mac and cheese bubble waffle

Ooey gooey mac and cheese bubble waffle

There’s a large variety of bubble waffles, fillings and toppings. It’s hard to pick a favourite because they’re all so yummy. At Golden Bubbles you really can’t go wrong!

 

Icha Tea

Name: Icha Tea

Location:  235 Spadina Ave Unit 4, Toronto, ON M5T 2E2

Website:  http://icha-tea.business.site/

A hidden tea shop located by what is quickly becoming one of my favourite places to explore, Kensington Market!

The store is divided to 2 parts. The front of the store doesn’t have much seating, it’s more of a takeout kind of situation and they offer bubble tea and other specialty drinks. Icha Tea uses fresh milk instead of powdered creamer in their milk teas. The quality ingredients really does make a difference in the taste! 

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The back of the store is surprisingly spacious with lots of seating. This is where they serve the more traditional teas at the tea bar. The whole process is interesting and I always have fun here! There’s a pretty large selection of teas to choose from and the tea is brewed right in front of you at the tea bar. The teas are from China (except for the matcha which is from Japan) and they are aromatic and refreshing. The staff members are knowledgeable and helpful when it comes to selecting a tea. There’s a large selection of white teas, green teas, oolong teas, black teas and dark teas.

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After the tea selection you get to pick your own tea cups! There are so many cute cups to choose from. I’m an extremely indecisive person and when given so many choices I tend to get very flustered. Needless to say, this was a very long process for me. It took me longer to pick my tea cup than it did for me to pick the actual tea. The cups are just so little and cute! 

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Once you’ve selected your tea and tea cup, just sit back and enjoy the “show”. They make the tea in front of you at the tea bar. It’s almost like a little tea ceremony each time they brew a fresh pot. Instead of the tea being brewed directly in the teapot, the tea is actually brewed in a separate cup/bowl which is then transferred to your tea set. The first batch of tea is actually poured out and not served. This is because the first batch is meant to “wake” the tea leaves up.

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As far as desserts go, they don’t have much in terms of selection. However, everything is made fresh and in house. I highly recommend the sesame tofu cheesecake. I was nervous about the tofu part but I couldn’t taste it at all! The cheesecake itself is not too dense (it’s light like a Japanese cheesecake) and has a really flavorful sesame taste.

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The tea bar area is really peaceful and it doesn't get too noisy. It’s a perfect place to catch up on some reading and de-stress. 

 

Little pebbles

Name: Little Pebbles

Location: 160 Baldwin St. Store #4, Toronto, ON M5T 3K7

Website: http://little-pebbles.com/


This cute little cafe is located at the Kensington Market and it offers amazing Japanese desserts. There's not a lot of seating here but they do have super cute take out containers which, in my opinion, make up for the lack of seating.

I was first drawn to Little Pebbles by their matcha lattes and chiffon cakes. They continue to add new and delicious creations to their menu. I was so excited when I saw the black sesame latte on their menu! Definitely worth a try if you're a fan of black sesame (I recommend having it sweetened though).

The matcha chiffon cake is my go-to dessert here. It’s so light and fluffy it’s like biting into a fluffy cloud (at least that’s what I imagine a cloud would taste like). I’ve gotten the matcha chiffon cake for a birthday before and it was so spongy I thought the candle was going to bounce off when we put it in the cake! It’s definitely my favourite cake here and it never disappoints!

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The strawberry rolled cake is refreshing and the cream itself is not too sweet. I really like the fresh strawberry chunks in the cake, it balances out the sweetness and adds a nice texture to the cake. The fresh strawberries also helps justify having that second slice of cake. Thought process: there are fruits in the cake —> I’m eating the fruits —> conclusion: I’m having a healthy snack!

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Ever since I had my very first Mont Blanc dessert in Paris I’ve been on the lookout for a delicious Mont Blanc in Toronto. There's a little twist to the Mont Blanc at Little Pebbles. It’s a strawberry sakura Mont Blanc! The pretty pink purée is sakura (aka cherry blossom) flavoured and there’s a full strawberry on the inside covered with a custard cream. I love aesthetically pleasing desserts and this is just so beautifully done. It was almost too pretty to eat (not that that’s ever stopped me before).

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Little pebbles also offer cakes for pick up (pre-order 48 hours prior to pickup). 

Sasaki Fine Pastry

I’ve always been a fan of Japanese desserts and Sasaki Fine Pastry just happens to make some my favourite Japanese snacks (daifuku and dorayaki!)

Before I start gushing about my love for the yummy daifuku at Sasaki Fine Pastry, I’ll just briefly explain the difference between Mochi and daifuku. For the longest time I didn’t know the difference between the two and thought that they were the same thing. Now that I’ve finally figured it out I shall pass on this very important knowledge. Sharing is caring and caring is fun!

Mochi vs Daifuku

Mochi is best described as Japanese rice cakes. It’s made by pounding steamed glutinous rice until it’s soft, smooth and chewy. I find that mochi, by itself, is actually quite bland as it is not naturally sweet. 

Daifuku is basically a large Mochi stuffed with a sweet filling. I find the most common filling to be red bean, but when I was in Japan I came across many fruit filled daifuku (some were even stuffed with a whole strawberry!)

Sasaki Fine Pastry offers a pretty large selection of daifuku flavours. They rotate some seasonal flavours as well. I’ve tried their matcha, chestnut, sesame, houjicha, mango, strawberry, and cream daifuku. My top 3 are the sesame, houjicha and strawberry.

Bonus: both the strawberry and the houjicha daifuku have red bean filling inside as well!

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The Mochi itself is so soft, chewy and not too sticky. There’s a very generous amount of filling too. It’s the perfect daifuku!

The dorayaki here is on point. Doraemon (a robotic cat from the future) was one of my favourite anime characters when I was a kid. So naturally I also love his favourite food, dorayaki! 

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Dorayaki is like a red bean pancake sandwich. Sasaki Fine Pastry added their own twist by adding cream with the red bean filling. They also have a red bean with matcha cream dorayaki that is amazing.

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Daifuku $2.60/each

Dorayaki (classic) $2.50/each

Dorayaki  (red bean + cream) $3.00/each

Duo Patisserie & Cafe

Warning: this place will make you want to order one of everything!

I’ve been to Duo many times and each time I leave here with an extremely happy food baby.  

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My favourite danish here is the strawberry rose. I’m always hesitant to eat floral flavored treats because they’re usually too overpowering and end up tasting like perfume. However, this strawberry rose danish is perfect and the flavors go so well together. The danish itself is so buttery and flaky - just how I like them!

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After taste testing the many delicious cakes here, I’d have to say the Yuco (coconut, yuzu cheesecake, yuzu mango confit on a crispy crust) is my go to cake at Duo. It’s so light and refreshing and the yuzu is not too tart. 

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Duo has a bright and minimalist interior design with a very relaxing atmosphere. I love coming here early in the mornings to write and stuff my face with yummy pastries (yes, I eat cake(s) for breakfast). To be fair, I do try to get the fruity pastries so I can get my daily dose of fruits.

My top 5 hot chocolate places in Toronto

Things I love about winter: fresh snow, skating, cute mittens and most importantly, hot chocolate! 

This blog is all about my favourite hot chocolate places around the city. There's nothing I love more than to warm up to a nice cup of hot cocoa after being out in the cold. I remember when I was a kid I always had to get a cup of hot chocolate from Tim Horton's after being on the ice for a long time. I've come a long way from those Timmies days - I've now graduated from a small hot chocolate to a 1/2 hot chocolate 1/2 coffee! 

There are so many amazing hot chocolate places in Toronto. I came up with my top 5 favourite places after an extensive hot chocolate tasting all around town.

5. Maman

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Sometimes all you need a nice cup of hot cocoa. There`s no gimmicks here and it`s not flashy - the drink speaks for itself! A classic hot chocolate with the perfect steamed milk to cocoa ratio. They serve 3 types of hot chocolate: classic hot chocolate, matcha white chocolate and lavender hot chocolate. 

4. Short and Sweet

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The most beautiful and extravagant hot chocolate I've ever seen! I got to try their s'more one and their oreo one. As much as I love all things s'mores, the oreo hot chocolate was the winner here. The chocolate is melted into warmed milk and the mountain of toppings added an extra sweetness to the hot chocolate (which I love). This "loco cocoa" is a hot mess - in the best way possible!

3. Sweet Jesus

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I believe hot chocolate and marshmallows go hand in hand. From the massive amount of marshmallows in this hot chocolate I think it's safe to say that Sweet Jesus agrees with me! I loved every bit of the marshmallow topping and I was just as impressed with the actual hot chocolate once I finally dug my way through the fluffy marshmallows. 

2. Teddy Story

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Teddy Story is an adorable cafe and they serve delicious hot chocolate too! The hot chocolate here is creamy and decadent. They have a pretty large selection to pick from. My 2 favourites are: the toasted marshmallow hot chocolate and their original dark chocolate.

1. Lindt

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I love going to lindt for their hot chocolate (and the free chocolate samples). The hot chocolate here is perfect for all Lindt lovers. It's like they literally melted their chocolates into a drinking chocolate. It's thick and rich and just pure perfection. For the coffee lovers, I recommend their mocha - they are on point.

Dear & Fro

A cute and comfy place to enjoy some bingsu!

Bingsu is a Korean dessert made with shaved ice and a variety of different toppings. Dear Fro uses milk in their bingsu which gives it that velvety texture and a creamy taste.

Dear Fro offers all the classic bingsu flavours such as injeolmi, strawberry, mango and matcha. The ice is so finely shaved it just melts in your mouth. It's creamy, fluffy and refreshing!

The classic injeolmi bingsu is my favourite. Injeolmi is a type of tteok (Korean rice cake). It was described to me as mochi and it makes sense cause I love it very mochi!

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I love how the flavours are mixed in the shaved ice so each bite is so flavourful. 

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Dear Fro also serves honey toast! It is perfectly toasted and sweetened with honey. It comes with a scoop of matcha ice cream and a scoop of black sesame ice cream too! I personally think that it's never too cold for bingsu, but sometimes you just need to warm up with one of these toasty treats!

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Cluny Bistro & Boulangerie

Such an amazing French restaurant located at the distillery district

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I've been a fan of Cluny ever since I discovered their chocolate croissants. This time I decided to try their brunch menu. I had such an amazing experience I actually contemplated moving to one of the condos nearby so I can eat here every day! Apparently all it takes is good food/mimosas to make me relocate.

Everything from the decor, music, service, and most of all their delicious food, remind me of France. Even the waitress addressed me as "mademoiselle". I half expected my cutlery to start singing "be our guest" (this may have been the effects of the mimosa).

In the dining section there's a whole island of just fresh bread and an assortment of pastries. I had to resist the urge to grab one of everything! The garlic rosemary bread is definitely my favorite and I highly recommend it! 

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For brunch, I tried the baked vanilla and chocolate french toast (emphasis on the chocolate - they definitely did not skimp on the chocolate part). I love the vanilla and cinnamon combo in the french toast. It felt like I was having dessert for breakfast which just happens to be my favorite kind of breakfast.

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Brunch tip: restaurants are not legally allowed to serve alcohol until 11:00 AM. Don't make the same mistake I did and try to order a mimosa before 11:00 AM. Luckily I had a non-judgmental waitress and I still got my mimosa (after 11:00 AM that is).

Can't wait to come back and try more from their menu!

Guschlbauer

Austrian cheese buns. Where have you been all my life? 

Words cannot express how much I love these perfectly light and cheesy buns. They're basically a sweet bun stuffed with layers of melted cream cheese. There's no seating area in this tiny bakery but these buns are perfect for snacking on the go. Or maybe they knew that these buns would be devoured so fast there's no need for seating!

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I have not stopped gushing about this place! But to be fair, these oozy cheese buns deserve to be gushed about. I've been stuffing my face with these yummy buns almost every day since I discovered this place. 

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I tried 5 flavours: original, chocolate, sweet potato, strawberry and mango. The mango is refreshing and there are actual mango chunks in the cream cheese filling. It's hard to pick a favourite but if I have to choose, my favourite is the chocolate cheese bun. The chocolate is so rich and I love the chocolate chunks. It's perfect for any chocolate lover!

Guschlbauer also have cream puffs stuffed with the same cream cheese filling.

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Who would've thought that cream cheese filled buns can bring so much joy?!

Dazzling Cafe

Beautiful & delicious food = happy food baby!

I first fell in love with Dazzling Cafe during one of my trips to Taiwan. The elegant decor and giant desserts made this a high priority food adventure spot on my food map (yes, I have a food adventure map for different cities).

Some people say a specific scent can bring back certain memories, but for me it's food. Certain foods/flavours can bring back a lot of memories for me. In this case, the honey toast really made me reminisce about my visits to Taiwan, however short my visits are each year. The honey toast is just as delicious and beautiful as I remembered.

The lava chocolate crispy toast was unique and oozed chocolate! I don't know how they do it but the center was still crispy even with the chocolate "lava".

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I enjoyed the honey toast very MATCHA! This stack of toast is actually hollowed out and filled with mini pieces of crispy and buttery toast, ice cream, whipped cream, matcha sauce and red bean. I've tried multiple items on their menu now and the honey toast is still my favourite. It never disappoints. 

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Normally I'm hesitant about floral flavoured beverages because it always tastes like perfume to me. But I liked the subtle hint of rose flavour in the rose latte. So yummy and perfectly sweetened. 

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So happy that Dazzling Cafe is in Toronto now and with multiple locations. I've only been to the Markham location but I always leave there with a happy food baby!

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Can't get over how cute the bunny ears are on the chairs!

Royaltea

The most aesthetically pleasing bubble tea place!

The light bulb bubble tea is actually the reason I wanted to try this place. I've always been one to fall for fancy marketing and pizzazz. It doesn't always work out, but this is not one of those times! The bubble tea is as yummy as it looks! The tapioca here is cooked just the way I like it - chewy and not too sweet.

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Ice cream + tea = milk tea!
Such a creative way to make milk tea. I would recommend getting it less sweetened. Even with my sweet tooth, I found that the ice cream made the drink a little sweeter than the average bubble tea.

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When there is dessert on the menu I simply cannot refuse. Especially when the dessert is bubble waffle stuffed with ice cream! I got the matcha bubble waffle with a scoop of green tea ice cream and a scoop of black sesame ice cream. Normally I love all things green tea/matcha, but in this case the black sesame ice cream was the winner.

It was definitely a bubbly night!

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Royaltea currently has 2 locations in Toronto. One in Scarborough and one in Chinatown (Spadina and Dundas).

Apple picking

I'm happy to report that my first apple picking experience was a success!

Being a vertically challenged person, I was a little hesitant about how I was going to actually be able to pick the apples. Luckily all the trees at this orchard were pretty short so no ladders were needed!

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I learned quickly that apple picking is actually quite simple after a demonstration by one of the staff at the orchard.
"Eye to the sky and twist" - point the bottom of the apple (the "eye") to the sky and do a quick twist. If it comes off the branch easily then it's ready for picking! Pulling it off the branch before it's ready may damage the branches for next year's harvest.

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With that quick lesson in mind, I was able to pick my 12 pounds of apples! The rest of my time at the orchard was spent stuffing my face with their delicious baked goods.

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It was relaxing to get out of the city for the day and to be surrounded by all the greenery. The yummy apple pies were an added bonus!

Check out Pine Farms Orchard!