Restaurant: Congee Queen (Thornhill, Ontario, Canada)

I always talk about Asian cuisine after going to Toronto. Its usually the closest place with good Chinese cuisine in particular since to be honest, Montreal has a lot of great restaurants but Chinese cuisine itself is a bit lacking. Its why I tend to avoid it whenever given the option. Sad, because I do truly love Chinese food. I mean, its not hard to imagine seeing as I am Chinese and my mom makes about the best Chinese food in town or its my best friend who also is a master in the kitchen.

Not surprising that the rare time that we all end up in Toronto for a wedding, we meet up for a dinner the night before to hang out. We never do double dates much seeing as we all have funky work schedules and commitments so this was a great time to catch up and have fun.

We lived at the Courtyard Marriott in Thornhill and right next door was the flagship store of Congee Queen. Let’s check it out!

Congee Queen

Congee Queen

Dinner Selections

Congee Queen

Crab Meat & Vegetarian Shark Fin served with Conpoy Rice in Chicken Broth

My best friend was the one who ordered this meal. She wanted to give this a try mostly for the vegetarian shark fin. It actually had a really  nice flavor. The textures are all there and the chicken broth was nice. I was originally worried that it would be too strong like on the salty side as broth sometimes tends to be, but it wasn’t like that.

Congee Queen

General Tao Chicken Rice

My husband mostly focused on eating this meal. General Tao is very much non-traditional Chinese food however, I don’t usually fuss over these things. My husband thought it was good although he did end up not eating all the huge pieces of chili peppers because those were really intense.

Congee Queen

Snow Pea Leaves with King Mushroom

One of my choices for the evening was this snow pea tips with oyster mushrooms. I think my description is the correct one but the one in the description is the one that is shown on the menu in case you ever want to get it at this restaurant. The season for snow pea tips is a little bit past so it was expected that they were more old in texture so it was more stiff and chewy. The mushrooms are always a nice alternative. I actually eat more of these types of mushrooms in Goodfood boxes and I really like them a lot. This veggie plate is a win. If we had it back in April when the snow pea tips were in season, then it would have been perfect.

Congee Queen

Pork Rib with Onion on Sizzling Hot Plate

The second dish that I picked was pork ribs. This is a pretty traditional dish at least for myself when we went to Chinese restaurants when I was younger. I don’t go to Chinese restaurants as much mostly because Montreal cuisine isn’t great but Toronto is a different story so I was excited to see how they would prepare this. This one was okay. I think we all agreed that it tasted okay but it was nothing too fancy and felt a little overpriced.

Congee Queen

Fried Eggplant, Minced Pork with Spicy Sauce

My best friend’s second choice was this dish which is an uber traditional Chinese dish. I was pretty full so I didn’t eat a whole lot of this one but it was fairly good. I’m not a huge eggplant eater but I do appreciate its health properties so I try to eat it more often and learn to appreciate it. This one was slightly spicy also.

Congee Queen had some pretty delicious meal. It does some cool dishes and sometime switches up some traditional meals to something of of a fusion of sorts. I do think that for the experience, it is a little bit more pricier than I would want to pay. I don’t mind so much paying for good food if there is something original but for the portion size and the price of some of the very common dishes, it definitely felt not exactly equal. Luckily, I am visiting and I don’t like Montreal chinese food so I didn’t mind it so much.

With that said, I am aware that for a congee restaurant, I didn’t have congee. We did have dinner but next time, if I was going for brunch or lunch, then that would absolutely make an appearance. Suffice to say, despite little things, Congee Queen is a place that I would go again when I head down to Toronto again.

Advertisements

Toronto Haul – August 2018

I go to Toronto more than I actually should. Actually this year was the exception to the equation. I usually just go about once a year or something unless something else comes up and well, something else came up. This past weekend was my best friend’s wedding. Her husband is from Toronto so they ended up holding their wedding there. I honestly think I’ve been to more wedding outside of Montreal than in Montreal. Its a weird thought and shows how many of my friends have moved away, I guess.

Either way, it was a really fun weekend. We ate some awesome food, tried out some new places: two of which I’ll do a restaurant overview for during this week. I’ll show more of the wedding stuff in the next Weekly Adventures, mostly because well, it seems we may have skipped the last one. I know I did and it was deliberate.

Before I jump off onto another tangent, let’s check out some stuff I got in Toronto.

Things I Bought Because I Was Forgetful..
Scarborough Town Centre – Yves Rocher & Walmart

Cosmetics and Lotion

First stop on Friday in Toronto was the hunt for everything we remembered that we forgot during packing for the wedding stuff. For myself, it was not exactly all forgot but I don’t use make-up a lot so a lot of mine had expired and I needed to get some new stuff. Nothing heavy since I don’t do eye make-up because it causes eye infections for myself so just some simple concealer to do the job and seeing Fantasia and work destroyed my sleeping schedule, I’m currently rocking some puffy panda eyes and I had forgotten my eye cream. A trip to Yves Rocher was in the stars and the closest we could find on the way to the hotel was at Scarborough Town Centre. I’ll share the eventful moment there in the Weekly Adventures but one of the great things was the great service at Yves Rocher but a lovely lady who gave me some really fantastic suggestions and actually suggested that I changed to the other skincare line as my skin had changed and its why I was having all the blemishes I’ve been having lately. I didn’t get the skincare line seeing as I was away and didn’t really want to spend so much just yet but I loved the service of just sharing the knowledge of it all. So I got some body lotion and the eye care gel at Yves Rocher.

At Walmart, I got a concealer and some nail polish. I actually ended up not painting my nails for the event but I did also pick up this interesting product called a blur stick which I’m still exploring whether its something I could use or not as it felt really oily. I’m not sure the texture works well for my skin type, so I passed on using it and am still researching. If you all know what it is and have any suggestions or dos and don’ts, please do share with me.

T&T Supermarket (2 Trips)

T&T Supermarket

Most of the snacks and such were bought on the first stop. We didn’t think that we would go back but we did end up going again on Sunday. Friday was to pick up a late lunch of dimsum, which I didn’t take pictures of. We stocked up on drinks which I also didn’t take pictures so and they are all consumed. I can tell you that I was on a semi caffeine detox since March where I cut tea out of my life completely. I don’t drink coffee so its a given, I suppose. Either way, this weekend, I drank all the tea that I didn’t drink in the last few months or at least it felt that way. However, the Vita brand which usually is known for its lemon tea and such actually has this Green Tea and Japanese Green Tea which both tastes fantastic and its unsweetened so its the legit ones. Going back to the picture, look at these flavors, its like a world tour of Lay’s flavors.

T&T Supermarket

During the first trip, we saw these pokemon Ocean Bomb sparkling water. Actually when we went back in the second trip, we saw one new one and lost two so I guess I shouldn’t procrastinate so much in buying stuff. Either way, that was a spontaneous purchase although I’m still fairly unsure about trying the Pikachu Cucumber flavor. We also saw this KIM brand drink for bird’s nest drink. I’m not sure how many people know about bird nest’s drinks. Regardless, the happiest purchase here is the black sesame stuff because I love black sesame paste. Its my favorite dessert. I’ve never tried this brand so hopefully it’ll be good. I ended up sharing the bag with my mom.

Big Apple & 401 Brewery

Big Apple

Our always must-stop location is The Big Apple. I love to grab a pie and strudel and my husband loves the brownies. It is quite amazing to see how this location as grown in size and variety of what they offer. I remember stopping there the first time and it was still known but not quite as popular as it is now. I kind of miss the quieter days but they have really diversified and made it a truly Canadian experience with what they offer also.

401 Brewery

In the building, they have the store for 401 Brewery. We’ve never had anything from there before. Seeing as we didn’t manage to pick up anything at LCBO this time, we decided to grab some ciders. We picked the traditional apple cider and then a peach cider and a pear cider to try. We also saw a sparkling oaked cider which seems like it could be a nice smoky taste sort of experience. We are looking forward to trying it out eventually.

That wraps up this shorter Toronto haul as I get things into order!

My Weekly Adventures #62 I’m 32!

Weekly Adventures

Welcome back to this edition of My Weekly Adventures!

This post comes a little later than usual. To be honest, I was just taking it easy since I took today off to relax and enjoy my birthday. I am getting older and this past week has been busy with new project launch and lots of catch up on stuff to be more on track and organized. Its been an uphill trek after being functional again a few weeks ago with the new PC. Luckily things are going very well now and I’m hoping it will go that way. Although, the last few days, the stats were absolutely meh but after so many years of doing this, I love just sharing what a little bit of everything so the stats don’t bother me anymore. Maybe its the enlightenment of getting a little older. 😉

This is going to be a really short one since there honestly isn’t much to recap. I was looking back and realized that the last two weeks didn’t have much going on. I debated about posting today but hey, why not! A little bit of something is better than nothing, right?

Getting Ready For Running Season…Very Slowly

The snow is melting away in our yard and I can see the tulips starting to come out and the strawberries are sprouting some new leaves as well as some other plants here and there. Which means that as the weather gets a little more stable and mild, I’m getting back to running season. I haven’t ran in a year. In fact, working out has been so sparse in the past year and a half that I really need to get back on track to just basic exercises. With that said, I started scheduling in little improvise workout programs for myself at home, just like 30  minutes of Zumba routines from Youtube 2 times a week. Its going okay…can’t say that I’ve been incredibly disciplined but working out is definitely always in the back of my mind and I make a solid effort to get even 20 minutes in when I have the time.

I’m hoping to start actually running somewhere like mid to late April depending on how much overtime I have at work and how that affects my own calendar.

The Husband’s Birthday Weekend

My husband, better known now as a contributing factor of Game Warp as Stunt Gamer had his birthday last weekend. Yes, our birthdays are a week apart. You haven’t heard the weirdest part yet when it comes to coincidences and our families other birthdays. Either way, for his birthday weekend, he got to relax like crazy and over the Saturday and Sunday, I made it a full day of meals pretty much, there was a brunch, a dinner and a birthday dessert. I posted last week about the dinner HERE. And well, above are the cupcakes (because the cake version of this would be crazy) that I made for him. It was a Chocolate Cupcake with Nutella Filling topped with cupcake icing and a Ferrerro Rocher.

I’ll share the next two recipes very soon. We also went to go see Tomb Raider for his birthday and while the theatre experience has me really angry, the movie itself was pretty fun. I’ll have that review going up very soon as well. Lots of upcoming stuff, right?

New Project: Movies & Tea Podcast

If you missed it this week, my awesome Game Warp co-host Elwood and I started up a new podcast and the debut episod went live this week. We apparently hate free time. Thats our running joke. Between us, we have too many projects and who are we kidding…we love it! Movies & Tea sparks from the idea of each season looking at a different director and their movies. Of course, some will have more than enough movies but we will pick a selection or batch together a few so that the season will be about 6 to 8 episodes long. Right now, we are looking at releasing on a biweekly or once every three weeks or something. We are pretty flexible with the schedule. This is a fun and casual project since we love talking about films off air during production meetings and stuff.

The kick-off director is Paul W.S. Anderson and this episode looks at his directorial debut full length feature, Shopping.

You can follow us over at the blog where you can catch all the episodes HERE.
Like us on the Facebook page HERE.
Thanks for listening!

Turning 32!

How about that? Time sure does fly and I’m 32! Honestly, I don’t really feel that different. If anything, with all the projects going on, its making me feel very energetic and youthful like never before. I kind of have to be since it is the gaming scene and embracing new stuff and new game ideas and same goes for the movie industry and whatnot. I feel like the past year, I’ve grown a lot as a blogger and podcaster among many other stuff that I love to do. With that said, I usually don’t like to make a big deal of my birthday so its just been a relaxing day with my husband. We headed for a little day trip out to check out the Dreamworks Animation Exhibit in the Canadian Museum of History before it ends next weekend. Its a ton of fun since other than that exhibit, there’s some permanent ones there about the full Canadian history and its like 4 floors of stuff to look at and its paired with the Children’s Museum as well as includes a Dreamworks film which we missed since we got there too late and it was a decision between seeing exhibits or seeing the movie and just one exhibit. Plus, the movie was Shrek 4 and I stopped watching Shrek after the 2nd one so it wasn’t particularly intriguing. With that said, the exhibit was very unique and I loved seeing the art work and all the sketches and music and more. Super cool stuff.

No worries! I’ll do a coverage/recap post some time next week. More upcoming…

Cute Kitty Pic

That’s it for this Weekly Adventures!
Hopefully, I’ll be reporting back with some more exercise progress next time (if work hasn’t drained me).
You already know whats upcoming for the next week or two with all that I talked about up there. 
What have you been up to?

Toronto 2018: Meals Recap!

Toronto is the closest haven for good Asian food. Of course, after last year’s success with Asian Legend for Drew, I started thinking up some spots to go to already. There were some changes in plans but in general, it all tastes pretty awesome and we had a few nice chats and some great drinks.

Lets check out where and what we ate!

Day 1 Dinner: Kinton Ramen, Markham

Kinton Ramen

Hogtown Ale, Sake Mojito and Bamboo

Kinton Ramen

Chicken Ramen

On the day we arrived in Toronto and even the day after, we had still some snowfall and what beats winter like eating some hot ramen. It helps that my husband was so excited to go. And when we got there and they had the whole Yakuza game soundtrack sort of music blasting, it was super good for everyone’s mood.

Day 2: Moxie’s Grill and Bar at CF Fairview

Moxie's

Moxie's

Starters: Sushi Cones

Moxie's

Half rack ribs

Hunger after a long day at the zoo and then some shopping took us to a more convenient location at the mall. We have had Moxie’s before in Markham and Vancouver and both experiences either left us with a sour taste from bad service or kind of average food for the price tag. The one at this Fairview mall however gets a thumbs up in both categories. It had some delicious food and pretty decent drinks.

Day 3: Korean Grill House in Markham

Korean Grill House

Cherry Blossom (Gin + Orange Juice)

Korean Grill House

Special Bibimbap (Spicy)

Korean Grill House

Chicken Bibimbap

The original plan was to do the whole Korean grill experience since my  husband hasn’t tried it before but since we were all fairly tired after EGLX, we ended up just going with some bibimbap. I personally love it a lot but wasn’t feeling quite as hungry so just took the chicken bibimbap. In the afterthought, I probably should have gotten beef but it still tasted fantastic. There was a choice to add on the spicy sauce but I didn’t take any. My husband on the other hand took the special bibimbap which had chicken, shrimp and beef and also added in one spoon of the spicy sauce.

Day 4 Brunch: Ding Tai Fung Restaurant

Ding Tai Fung Markham

Soup-filled Steam Dumplings

Ding Tai Fung Markham

Fried Rice

Ding Tai Fung Markham

Ding Tai Fung Markham

Ding Tai Fung Markham

Fried Pork Buns

To wrap things up, we went for a lovely little brunch at Ding Tai Fung for a little dim sum. Of course, there was no denying the soup-filled steamed dumplings because they are my faves. We also ordered a few other dumplings and such from the menu as well as a fried rice to wrap it all up. Everything still takes very good. I haven’t been here in 2 to 3 years and its nice to see the food quality still very much the way I remembered it.

Overall, a great foodie trip (as much as it was everything else)! 
We had some nice chats and tried some nice cocktails and beers.
Awesome company usually makes it even better!

Toronto still has lots of great food that we’re going to be trying out soon (or next year)!
The recap of our two main highlights of the trip are coming up!

Alight at Night (Upper Canada Village, Ontario, Canada)

Back in October, we went to the Pumpkinferno event in Upper Canada Village, you can check out that post here. When we went there, we picked up the combo that included their winter event called Alight at Night. In the rare organized times, we set up the date with friends for this event. Granted there was no snwow when we went on the opening weekend, the city still brought a lovely holiday mood to everyone.

Alight at Night is different than Pumpkinferno. For one, this one leaves the exploration up to the visitor so you can wander outside and in the backyard of buildings and its  city maze in itself for this town transformed with lights. Aside from that is the obvious, its all different lights decorated instead of pumpkins. There was the Santa mansion and then the church had a live performance of a singer and her piano accompaniment that took song choices from the audience and performed them. You could watch the bakers make the bread on the spot. There are also shops and restaurants to eat. If you fancied, there are also horse drawn wagons to take you for a tour. If you choose to walk, just make sure to stick to the side of the path as to not step on anything you don’t want to. It took us about 2 hours to walk through (what we think is) everything.

Being the fool that I was, I forgot to charge the battery for the DSLR camera so only used my phone for these photos. I apologize for any bad quality and blur in advance.

alight at night

alight at night

alight at night

alight at night

alight at night

alight at night

alight at night

alight at night

alight at night

alight at night

alight at night

alight at night

alight at night

That’s it for this beautiful event recap!
If I were to go again, I might have liked it after a light dusting of snow to give it an even more festive atmosphere.

Hiking: Thousand Islands National Park #Canada150 #DiscoveryPass #hiking

I realized that we’ve been having a ton of movie reviews lately. So, for my sake and anyone else who drops by here not for reviews, we’re having a review-free day! During my vacation, we headed off to Thousand Islands National Park to take advantage of the Canada 150 Discovery Pass to do some hiking.

Thousand Islands is wildly known for its cruise around the beautiful Thousand Islands area to see all the lovely residences on the different islands scattered about and eventually for the longer cruises and those with passports can head on to see the castle. We’ve never been to the castle but its on our bucket list however, Thousand Islands National Park was somewhere that popped up on our radar to check out. We ended up heading into the park and while one of the three locations to go hiking were closed, we ended up going to check out the other two trails locations.

The Visitor’s Centre is located at the Mallorytown Landing Trail area which is kind of like walking around in someone’s backyard as a good bit of the beginning and end rounds around some houses in proximity. However, the trail is pretty nice and easy. Its mostly flat and goes up a small hill in the back roads.

Thousand Islands National Park

It turns out I did take some pictures but nothing was quite as memorable as finally seeing the toilets here which were in little cabins like this and had this Phoenix composting system or something. It said to close the lids on the toilets when people were done but of course, no one does so as I was in there, I kept imagining that the whole Snakes in the Plane scenario would happen or some frog would hop out at me. Stupid since its crazy deep but hey, overactive imagination can be a curse sometimes.

Thousand Islands National Park

Thousand Islands National Park

Here are two shots that I liked of the Mallorytown Landing trail.

Just down the road for about a five minute drive was our next location with a network of over 2 hours worth of trails if you really wanted to do it and it was the Jones Creek Trail. We headed over there and figured out a way to at least reach the other side of their boardwalk and the lookout spot and then head back. The trails have all these animal names and it was pretty cool. For those looking for those trails, you can find the map HERE. we started on the eel and kept going right to follow Turtle which keeping right lead to Heron which leads to the Boardwalk and we did a part of Snipe to the lookout point and headed back. The trails are marked pretty well with the colors of the trails on the map so its easy to just spot where the trail is by looking for those little tags hung on the trees. The trails were relatively easy and its mostly lookout points at marshlands.

Thousand Islands National Park

Thousand Islands National Park

Thousand Islands National Park

Thousand Islands National Park

Thousand Islands National Park

Thousand Islands National Park

As much as it was a flat course, it was still really comfortable to walk in. The trails were nice and it still had the nature trail that the trails weren’t always really defined so the hunt for those colored signs happened at times. Some of the lookouts aren’t exactly great but its still a milder walk which turned out for the better since we don’t get the chance to hike as much as we’d like.

Thousand Islands National Park is a decent spot. There are some nice scenery around. Although, you should definitely go for the cruise if you are in the area. As for us, we’ll probably see if the leaves are still around and hunt down another location to hike up in the mountains to catch some leaves before the weather gets cooler and we only go hiking in the spring after the snow has melted and/or when the parks open up again.

Pumpkinferno 2017

We went back to Pumpkinferno this year at Upper Canada Village. This year, we had a pretty decent group with a lot of family and friends. Our group ended up being 6 adults and 6 kids which is a pretty sizable group. One advice I do have is that if you have a choice to not go during Thanksgiving weekend. It goes without saying but there’s traffic to go into the parking lot and the parking is packed solid so its a great distance to walk to the entrance. Second, is to buy tickets online before going because you won’t have to do the incredible line-up just to buy tickets to go in. My husband and I ended up buying the combo package for the winter event called Alight at Night also, so look out for that in December. We already planned out tentative days to go with some friends who are also interested. They didn’t come with our group for Pumpkinferno but apparently, they did a LONG traffic line-up to get in (like an hour or something).

This week is our vacation as we’ve taken last year also because its our wedding anniversary and we like to spend time together. This event came at a great time also since this is one of those events we discovered together as a couple back in 2012 or something. I posted that one back then and it is one of my posts that did the best and still get views every year. Its pretty sweet!

Anyways, this one was great. They had dragons and windmills. witches brewing, and Jailhouse Rock, and Coins from around the world and historical events as well as astronauts and snow activities as well as Dia de los muertos (if I spelled that wrong, I’m sorry).  Check it out and yet again, my Samsung Galaxy S6 does a great job at taking pictures but it still doesn’t do the exhibit justice…keep that in mind if you think it looks meh.

Pumpkinferno

Let’s start!!

Pumpkinferno

Heading to the start of the trail

Pumpkinferno

After some funky pumpkins (not shown here), its time for some dragons…

Pumpkinferno

And migratory birds

Pumpkinferno

Witches are brewing

Pumpkinferno

And Dia de los Muertos is also happening

Pumpkinferno

Jailhouse Rock is going on with Elvis and Marilyn and Audrey (see below for Instagram video)

Pumpkinferno

And we see coins of the world..its Canada 150 so here’s some Canadian coins

Pumpkinferno

Then we get to test our knowledge of Canadian provinces with their trees and provincial flowers.

Pumpkinferno

There’s even an art gallery and Mona Lisa is of course there.

Pumpkinferno

Not pumpkins but near these windmills, we get a nice shot of the beautiful bright moon

Pumpkinferno

Astronauts floating in space

Pumpkinferno

And one of the most beautiful exhibits of snowflakes in the trees

Pumpkinferno

Ending with some iconic snow activities like hockey games and dog sledding!

This is really just a fraction of  Pumpkinferno. If I added more pictures, it might take a millions years for anything to load on the page. I’ll probably post some other photos over at Avenue of Daydreams later in October. Before you go, as promised from above, here’s the Instagram video of the Jailhouse Rock exhibit. Its pretty awesome!

That’s it for today’s Halloween post!
It felt a little inappropriate to talk about the Saw franchise today with the wedding anniversary!
Everything resumes tomorrow and man, do I have a ton of reviews to write up!