As some may recall a few weeks ago I reviewed my first Winterlicious restaurant of 2014 (click here) with some disappointment and the one that will be reviewed today will hopefully be its redemption. I went from the most expensive menu you can have at Winterlicious ($45 dinner) to the cheapest ($15 lunch). A more of a random pick than anything, I decided to try the New Orleans inspired restaurant Big Daddy’s Bourbon Street Bistro & Oyster Bar on King Street in Toronto. I came into this restaurant with really no expectations at all as I haven’t really heard much about it before, but excited as well that my 3 course lunch menu will only be costing me $15.

The restaurant is located underground so as you come across the big logo of their restaurant on street level you will have to walk down a flight of stairs to enter through their doors. As mentioned before, this restaurant is New Orleans inspired so their recipes specialize in cajun/creole southern cuisine. You immediately feel that atmosphere as soon as you walk into their restaurant because their decor is a direct reflection of what they are aiming for. With the dangling lights on the ceiling, to the bright red table cloths on the tables, and the plants hanging from the walls you really get the sense that you just got transported to the city of New Orleans. Even though it is located in a basement, the decor makes it seem like you are outside on a patio somewhere and to me it works. I appreciated the extra effort they put in dressing up what could have been a dark and dingy basement and the decorations didn’t feel tacky at all.

As this was going to be their Winterlicious lunch menu, I was going to have a set appetizer, main, and dessert all for $15. To start the meal off I chose their appetizer Popcorn Shrimp. The other two options were their soup of the day or a salad so the obvious choice to me that would best reflect the creole/cajun flavours was this. As the dish was fried the skin could have been a little bit crispier but all in all I enjoyed it. Their homemade pepper dipping sauce complimented the popcorn shrimp well and the portion size was very generous. The random piece of lettuce on the plate seemed out of place but it did add a splash of colour to the plate which is what I think the chef was going for in its presentation.

Popcorn Shrimp with Pepper Dipping Sauce - Cost $15 Set Menu

Over the years I’ve heard about a dish called Jambalaya but have never had a chance to try it. I really didn’t even know what it would look like so when I saw it on their lunch menu I knew I had to get it as their main course. Jambalaya traditionally is made of three parts: meat, vegetables, and completed by adding stock and rice while being slow cooked in a slew of different spices. My first impression was that it’s not the most pleasant dish to look at. As this was the Louisiana version of Jambalaya, shrimp was also added into the mix of ingredients. I was expecting tons of flavour and spice in this dish but it felt a little bit on the bland side. As this was my very first Jambalaya, I don’t have anything to compare it to taste wise so being a little naive I was still really satisfied with the dish.

Shrimp, Sausage, Chicken, Tomatoes & Spices - Cost $15 Set Menu

To finish off my 3 course meal I chose their Apple Crumble for dessert. It’s the typical crumble many people are used to eating so the dessert definitely wasn’t an inspired or innovative dish by any means. The presentation again looked a bit sloppy but to be fair most apple crumbles do look this way as well. All things considered there were no lows on this baked apple treat, but no highs either. The dessert tasted good enough for what it was.

Served Warm with Vanilla Ice Cream - Cost $15 Set Menu

For the price that I paid for this meal I felt that even though the food was not the best I ever tasted and the presentation of the dishes were not the best I’ve ever seen, for $15 it is really hard to find any complaints. Unfortunately there were no oysters on the Winterlicious menu so I would definitely want to try their fresh oysters if I were to come again as it seems to be their house specialty (it’s in their name, it’s got to be good right?). The waitress was very nice and welcoming and I didn’t have any problems with their service. The restaurant was surprisingly not very busy on a Saturday afternoon so our food came out relatively quickly. In this day and age a fast food combo can amount to almost what I paid for here and to get popcorn chicken, jambalaya, and an apple crumble all for three $5 bills made me happy. Value certainly triumphed taste at this restaurant during Winterlicious but sometimes that’s exactly what the Everyday Foodies need once in a while.


212 King Street West, Toronto, ON, M5H 1K5

(416) 599 5200

Hours: Monday and Sunday (11:30am to 11:00pm); Tuesday to Saturday (11:30am to 1am)

The Everyday Foodie Report Card

Atmosphere: 8/10

Service: 7.5/10

Food: 7/10

Presentation: 6.5/10

Value: 10/10

Overall: 78% Everyday Foodie Satisfaction

GUU IZAKAYA (now known as Kinka Izakaya)

After years of hearing about this restaurant, I’ve finally had the opportunity to see what it was all about. Originating from Vancouver, Guu Izakaya first opened its doors in Toronto in 2009 and have since opened a second location in 2011 under the name Guu Sakabar. It is a Japanese tapa style restaurant meaning that the food is served in a variety of small plates whether they are snacks, finger foods, appetizers, or just a small portion of a special dish. It is a great way to be able to try an abundant of different foods at once as usually many tapa-style dishes are ordered and shared amongst everyone at your table. 

It’s wise to make a reservation before hand as Guu Izakaya is always packed especially on weekends. Unfortunately for me it was a spur of the moment decision one night and a reservation was not made so I had to wait for around 35 minutes for my table. The first thing you will notice if you are waiting to be seated is that there is no waiting area indoors. You are forced to stand outside in the pitched up tent (pictured above on the left) where you are greeted by the wonders of what mother nature has to offer you on that day. This is probably a non issue during the warmer months but something to be aware of for anyone coming here during the colder seasons.

As soon as your table is ready and the host walks you through the door, you are immediately greeted by loud cheers from the staff and even some of the patrons who are joining in on the fun to welcome you. You will quickly notice that this is not your everyday restaurant you go to. It is a party atmosphere from the moment you walk in to the moment you step out and everyone that comes is here for the good food and to have a good time.

After being seated the waitress asked our table if it was our first time here in which we responded that it was, so she quickly gave us recommendations on the most popular tapas served at Guu. We took her advice and ordered all 3 of the top dishes she pointed out with the first dish being Maguro Tataki. If you do not like the taste of raw fish than I would stay away from this, but if you are familiar with eating sashimi than this tapa is a must try. It was one of the best cuts of fish I have ever tasted and the B.C. tuna was incredibly fresh that it just melted in your mouth. The tuna is thinly sliced and seared briefly, marinated in ponzu vinegar, and seasoned with some garlic. I will definitely order this dish again the next time I come back.

Seared B.C. Tuna Sashimi with Ponzu & Garlic Chips - Cost $7.30

The second most popular dish that we ordered was Karrage. I can see why it’s so popular because it’s basically everyone’s favourite comfort food, fried chicken. It was a satisfying dish as the chicken was extremely crunchy and well seasoned. Their home made mayo sauce added a nice “zing” to your bite as you dunked it in the sauce. I will say though that this dish wasn’t special enough for me to want to re-order it again but I’m glad I did get to try it at least once.

Deep Fried Soy Sauce Marinated Chicken with Garlic Mayo - Cost $6.80

The third most popular dish as recommended by our waitress was the Kakimayo. It’s two gigantic oysters that is baked in the oven with cheese over top of it. I’m sure like many of you (including myself), topping an oyster with cheese seems really odd and I would have never put the two together but it was a home run. The layer of melted cheese at the top of the oyster tasted amazing and as you dug deeper to find the actual oyster underneath you were treated to something that truly tasted wonderful. I would categorize this as another re-order for sure.

Baked B.C. Oyster with Mushrooms, Spinach & Garlic Mayo topped with Cheese - Cost $7.50

We ran out of the top 3 tapas to order so we took a gamble and chose a dish ourselves. The last tapa we ordered was BBQ Pork and it was personally the worst dish that we ordered. I guess that is what happens when you play it safe. I was just very bored with the look and taste of the pork. Nothing interesting that really caught my attention whether it was the taste or the presentation and I was left with wanting more. This is a dish that could be easily replicated in many other restaurants so a definite pass on this from me.

B.B.Q Style Pork with Yuzu Honey Soy Sauce - Cost $6.50

Like in most Japanese restaurants, green tea is a common ingredient to their food so it was no surprise that two of the desserts they were serving had a common theme to it, green tea. The first dessert I tried was their signature Green Tea Cheese Cake. Cheese cake is already one my top favourite desserts of all time so I knew I had to try it. Mix in another favourite ingredient in it, green tea, and this cheese cake was just superbly sublime. The texture was very smooth and the green tea was not overpowering but you could certainly notice its presence in the cake. No complaints on this dessert at all.

Baked Matcha Green Tea Cheese Cake - Cost $5.50

After tasting one of the best cheese cakes I’ve ever had, I didn’t think anything could top it. But it did! Enter the Green Tea Brulee. This dessert is a must get for anyone that comes to Guu and from what I have heard Guu does not always have this on their menu, so if you see it, without a doubt get it! The green tea infused custard was extremely decadent and delicious and the scoop of Black Sesame ice cream on the side was just as good. This dish goes to my top 2 desserts I’ve had of all time. It is just that good!

Green Tea Creme Brulee with Mango Sauce and Black Sesame Ice Cream - Cost - $6.50

My expectations coming to this restaurant were high just because of all the buzz and hype I’ve heard about this place and I am happy to say that those expectations were definitely met and even exceeded in some areas. One thing I was worried about coming in to a tapa-style restaurant was the price and even more worried that I was not going to be full after paying that hefty price tag. At the end of the meal when the bill was split, I only paid a little over $25 and that is already covering taxes and tip. I left with a full stomach and the satisfaction that I ate some quality food.

As we left our tables and walked out the doors, we were greeted with some more cheers and applause from the staff. Their Japanese hospitality was very much appreciated as you are treated like rock stars from the moment you walk in to the moment you step out. Everyone who works there really seems to really love their job and are having the time of their lives with every new table they serve. Their energy is infectious and I cannot wait to go back.


389 Church Street, Toronto, ON, M5B 2A2

(416) 977 0999


Monday to Friday (11:30am to 2:00pm) - Lunch Hours

Monday to Friday (5:00pm to 11:30pm); Saturday to Sunday (4:30pm to 11:30pm) - Dinner Hours

The Everyday Foodie Report Card

Atmosphere: 10/10

Service: 10/10

Food: 8.5/10

Presentation: 8/10

Value: 8.5/10

Overall: 90% Everyday Foodie Satisfaction


Toronto’s favourite culinary celebration, Winterlicious, was upon us again a few weeks ago and I was lucky enough to have booked another table at an exquisite and extremely popular restaurant during their dinner service. For the people who do not live in Toronto or are not familiar with the concept of Winterlicious, it is a food festival in Toronto held semi-annually. During this time major restaurants across the city offer a prix fixe 3 set-course menu (appetizer, main, dessert) at a discount compared to their typical prices. It offers a chance for everyday foodies like myself who cannot afford their culinary creations normally to indulge and experience their food during this two-week time.

My first of two Winterlicious adventures I went on this year was to the fine dining restaurant Auberge du Pommier. It is owned and operated by Peter Oliver and Michael Bonacini who since 1993 have created a Toronto empire of luxury restaurants that span from the likes of Canoe, Jump, Luma, O&B Canteen, Biff’s Bistro, and Bannock. Michael Bonacini is currently also a judge on this year’s first season of Masterchef Canada.

When I called to make a reservation, the receptionist said I took the last spot for their dinner service throughout the full 2 weeks of Winterlicious so as you could imagine I was pretty excited to take it. The expectations I had were extremely high since this was going to be the $45 dinner menu that I would be eating (Winterlicious restaurant participants will either offer a set dinner menu priced at $25, $35 or $45). My first impressions were completely met when I arrived. The restaurant itself is breathtakingly beautiful.

Auberge du Pommier is a French restaurant with cozy wood burning fire places in the winter and lush garden terraces in the summer. The waiting area pictured above is situated where their 500 label wine selection is beautifully displayed. You feel like you’ve stepped into this French palace as the dining areas are split up into many different rooms down these very rustic corridors. It makes you feel you’ve been invited to dinner by the French King and Queen themselves at their home.

Now getting down to the important stuff. The food! My appetizer that I chose to start off with was the Gnocchi a la Parisienne. I was surprised that gnocchi was offered as an appetizer as most of the time it is usually offered as a main. My first thought when I received it was that it was lukewarm and that the presentation of the dish looked a little sloppy. The appetizer came out at a lightning fast speed after I placed my order so I feel the dish must have been prepared in bulk before and then quickly re-heated to create a quick turnover of dishes to meet the onslaught of tables that were coming in.

Bacon and Escargot Hache, Spinach, Garlic Butter - Cost $45 Set Menu

My main course I chose was the Duck Confit. As you will see in the picture below, the skin was REALLY burnt. For a fine dining restaurant I was surprised they were even allowed to serve that. The presentation on this dish though was better than the appetizer and besides the burnt duck skin, the taste of it was great. The duck was incredibly moist and the meat would easily fall off the bone once you cut into it. The toasted barley had a nice hearty flavour to it and was seasoned very well. It really could have been a home run type of dish if not for the charred skin.

Toasted Barley, Root Vegetables, Spiced Duck Jus - Cost $45 Set Menu

To end the night off, I chose the dessert Cardamom Creme Brulee. I’ve had many creme brulee’s in my life and the one very unique thing about this creme brulee was that it was not served in a ceramic bowl. I don’t think I have ever eaten one served so vulnerable without the encasing of a bowl so I applaud the chefs for being able to accomplish that. The vanilla custard base tasted wonderful and the hard layer of caramelized sugar was very delicate and sweet. The one thing I will point out that is not seen in the picture below is at the very end of the plate, there was also one random slice of tangerine and grapefruit. To me the small pieces of fruit seemed very out of place as if they had some left over ingredients they needed to get rid of at the end of the night and just plopped them alongside the creme brulee.

Vanilla Streusel, Grapefruit Gastrique - Cost $45 Set Menu

Service wise our table had a very nice and attentive waiter. The only small issue we had was with the bread. At these fine dining restaurants normally after you order, the waiter will bring out some complimentary bread and butter for the table. We saw it at other tables but not ours and even after our appetizer had come, the bread was not there. In the end we took the initiative to ask the waiter if he could bring out some bread and he of course politely agreed. For some reason though he somehow served our bread to the table beside us and we had to ask him a second time before we eventually got ours. Nonetheless, if anyone comes here I would definitely recommend getting the complimentary bread and butter because it is to die for even if you have to ask for it yourself. It is well worth it!

There is also underground parking available to all customers. It is paid parking and you will need to get a ticket once you enter the lot. Be sure to take that parking ticket with you up to the restaurant because Auberge du Pommier will pay for the full fare. Just present your parking ticket when paying your bill and it will all be taken care of for you.

One last point to touch on that I wish I had known before was the difference between the Auberge du Pommier $25 set menu and the $45 set dinner menu. The $25 lunch menu serves 2 out of the 3 appetizers on the $45 menu, 1 out of the 3 main courses on the $45 menu, and the exact same 3 out of the 3 dessert courses on the $45 menu. I honestly felt a little ripped off after finding that out because with a $20 difference I felt we deserved a better offering of dishes. I was lucky and I unknowingly picked all the choices at dinner that were not served at lunch (besides the dessert), however a very unlucky person could have chosen all 3 of the lunch offerings and paid $45 instead of only $25. This is a lesson I have now learned thanks to this experience which is to always look at their lunch and dinner menu together before choosing which Winterlicious or Summerlicious restaurant to go to. In hindsight, the $25 lunch menu would have probably been a better choice in terms of value.

With anything that you place high expectations on, you are also bound to sometimes feel disappointment when it does not live up to those high hopes you set out. Auberge du Pommier was unfortunately a victim to that disappointment as it really did not live up to my expectations of it being one of the best fine dining restaurants in the city. Part of the blame probably has to go to the whole Winterlicious process and how the restaurants are thrown into this whirlwind of packed houses everyday. Should that be an excuse for them? No. Do I understand maybe why the food was lukewarm or the skin was burned or that our bread was not delivered? Sure. But when I pay $45 for my dinner I expect something a little extra ordinary, but unfortunately I only got the latter.


4150 Yonge Street, Toronto, ON, M2P 2C6

(416) 222 2220


Monday to Friday (11:45am to 2:30pm) - Lunch Hours

Monday to Thursday (5:30pm to 9:00pm); Friday to Sunday (5:30pm to 9:30pm) - Dinner Hours

Sunday (Open to Private Events)

The Everyday Foodie Report Card

Atmosphere: 10/10

Service: 7/10

Food: 7/10

Presentation: 7.5/10

Value: 6/10

Overall: 75% Everyday Foodie Satisfaction


Ramen has been growing quickly in popularity over the years and especially in Toronto a slew of ramen restaurants has taken over the food industry bringing this Japanese noodle soup dish to western cultures. Years ago it was the instant noodles craze that took the world by storm. It was a big hit for anyone that needed to eat something quickly as it could be prepared in minutes. You would just pour hot water on the noodles, let it simmer for a few minutes and the meal would be ready. Ramen to me is an evolution of that. It’s a more refined, more elegant, and to me a much more tastier version of instant noodles. It also hasn’t lost the feature of it being a quick eat. As seen on CBS’s hit TV show, Shark Tank, the “Rapid Ramen Cooker” is trying to capitalize on ramen’s easy and quick preparation time of its advertised 4 minutes.

As I was around the neighbourhood of Dundas Square in Toronto, I decided to go try the restaurant Santouka Ramen as it has already been rated as one of the top ramen places to go eat in the city. It’s also very popular with university students as this restaurant is just steps away from Ryerson University. When trying to find it I almost missed it as I walked straight by it on the street since from first glance it does not look like what you would think a successful restaurant would be. It’s a run down, red-bricked building with its logo graffitied on the outside walls. Big giant windows allow pedestrians to peer inside the small restaurant where a bunch of fake ramen bowls are also displayed to try to entice hungry onlookers to come inside and grab a quick bite to eat.

Don’t be surprised if this place is packed. I arrived at around 12:30PM to try to find a table and the hostess had to take down my name as there were about 5 other parties already ahead of us waiting to be seated. Being already a very small building, the waiting area was even smaller and I felt a bit crammed in this tiny corner where around 10 people including myself were all standing. Thankfully it only took maybe about 10 to 15 minutes for me to get seated as the turnover was very quick. Ramen dishes are relatively fast to make and typically the customers who come to these places don’t linger in their tables for too long.

Their menu is quite small in terms of selection of Ramen which is great for me as I can be very indecisive when trying to pick a dish off of an overwhelmingly large menu. I opted to get their Miso Ramen while my friend went with their Kara Miso Ramen. They are both exactly the same dish except that the Kara version adds hot spices to the soup base which will appeal to someone who enjoys spicy foods. Every bowl of ramen is served in their regular size which costs $10.95. However you are able to upgrade to a large size if you add a dollar to the base price, or get a smaller version that will cost a dollar less.

Often times in ramen, the soup base becomes the star and is what differentiates a great ramen dish from a bad one. I loved my soup base as it had a miso flavour to it and it wasn’t too salty to drink alone. The flavours meshed beautifully together from the pork to the narutomaki (formed fish paste), to the diced onions and the mushrooms. The wheat noodles were also cooked to a nice firm and chewy texture which is how it was meant to be eaten. With all the ingredients being marinated together inside the soup base, this ramen dish really sings in terms of flavour, flavour, flavour!

Pork broth seasoned with miso (fermented soy bean paste) - Cost $10.95

I went here with a friend who had ramen for the very first time in his life. How did he like it? A week later he went out to buy the ramen ingredients at his local grocery store to try to re-create the dish he had at Santouka Ramen at home. That is the impression this restaurant and the food left on him. A ramen convert? Check!


91 Dundas Street East, Toronto, ON, M5B 2C8

(647) 748 1717

Hours: Monday to Sunday (11am to 11pm)

The Everyday Foodie Report Card

Atmosphere: 7.5/10

Service: 8/10

Food: 8.5/10

Presentation: 8.5/10

Value: 8/10

Overall: 81% Everyday Foodie Satisfaction


Sushi is one of my favourite things to eat and I’m always looking for a new place to try when it comes to AYCE (All You Can Eat) sushi. A lot of these type of AYCE restaurants are very similar to one another in terms of the food they offer as well as the whole ambiance of the restaurant so trying to find a sushi restaurant that offered a more unique experience is quite a challenge to find.

To meet this quest I was on, I was lucky to stumble upon this AYCE sushi restaurant, Spring Sushi. It is located at the heart of downtown Toronto (Yonge and Dundas), the “Times Square” of the city as many draw comparisons to the one in New York with all the bright lights and large billboards surrounding that area.

Spring Sushi is located on the 4th floor of the complex where it shares the same vicinity as the Cineplex movie theatre just steps away from the restaurant entrance inside. Earlier when I was talking about trying to find a more unique experience when it comes to sushi restaurants, Spring Sushi offers one special feature that most other sushi restaurants in Toronto don’t have. iPads!

It was an immediate excitement for me to know that the ordering system was going to be done through an iPad as I have never experienced anything quite like it. Instead of the usual practice where you look at the menu and ask the server to come over to take down your order, in this restaurant the menu is in the form of an iPad and you literally just touch the screen to pick which dish you want.

You can adjust the quantity of each dish you order within their interface and the great thing about using their ordering system is that there is a picture of every dish they have so no one has to guess on how the food will look like. If you do not know what their Las Vegas roll is, that’s ok just take a look at the picture on the menu. Another great benefit I found with this ordering system is that you can keep track of which dish you ordered and also which ones still have yet to come out to your table. Since the iPad stays at the table, you can always look at the list of food you ordered without having to rely on your memory on what you told the waitress 20 minutes ago. Once you are happy with your choices, you can touch the continue button at the bottom and a waitress will get notified to come to your table and send your order off to the kitchen.

Service was really fast as the food came out of the kitchen in what felt like only 5 minutes after I placed the order. This could also be due to the fact that I got to the restaurant at around 9PM on a Wednesday so it was not very busy at the time. The selection of the food was enormous. I’ve been to many other AYCE sushi restaurants and I can say that this place offers the most selection of food in their dinner service I’ve been to. Like most other sushi AYCE restaurants, the lunch menu here is smaller than their dinner menu so certain dishes will only be offered at night. Some of the things I ordered were: spicy salmon and salmon rose sushi, seaweed salad, miso soup, red dragon and rainbow rolls, jumbo shrimp tempura, sirloin steak with spring onion, chicken terriyaki, chicken fried rice, thai curry, coconut shrimp, croquette, takoyaki (octopus ball), ramen, tiramisu, among some others. As you can see, this restaurant not only offers Japanese food but Chinese and Thai food as well.

As much as I Ioved the quantity of choices they offered in terms of food, I found the quality of each dish to be quite average. The sushi didn’t taste very fresh and the dishes that had a fried batter over it such as the tempura tasted soggy and didn’t have that crunch I would have liked. One of my favourite dishes I had there was the coconut shrimp as I have a weak spot for anything coconut. The crispy batter (one of the exceptions) on this was much better than the ones they had on their tempuras and sushi and the coconut just exploded in your mouth. My least favourite dish was probably the Takoyaki (octopus ball). I felt adventurous at the time since I never saw any other restaurant offer this type of food so I felt obligated to try it. I may understand now why this is not offered anywhere else because it did not taste very good. The weird texture of it just leaves a bad taste in your mouth after eating it.

Me and my friend also paid an extra $6 to try one of their teas. Instead of the green tea usually served at Japanese restaurants we saw their strawberry tea on the menu and opted to try it. It certainly has a strong strawberry flavour to it and I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed it. It’s served in a clear tea pot and very small tea cups that almost looks like a shot glass. I would definitely recommend the tea for anyone interested in trying something else besides the “green.”

If you’re looking for a unique dining experience at an AYCE sushi restaurant, than Spring Sushi certainly does offer that at the expense of some quality tasting food. Many of the uptown sushi restaurants I’ve been to have better tasting dishes, but the use of iPads for their ordering system will make your experience a memorable one. The location of the restaurant is also great as it’s located right beside the Dundas subway station. If you are able to get a window seat you will have a great view of Dundas square below and at night when all the lights are on the view is superb. The iPad experience may become old and lose its fun factor after several visits here, but for anyone who has never experienced this restaurant yet, I would recommend them to come here at least once. If not for the food, at least you can say you had fun ordering it.


10 Dundas Street East, Toronto, ON, M5B 2G9

(416) 596 6866


Monday to Saturday (11:00am to 3:30pm); Sunday (12:00pm - 3:30pm) - Lunch Hours

Monday to Sunday (3:30pm to 10:30pm) - Dinner Hours


Lunch - $15.99 (Monday to Thursday); $16.99 (Friday to Sunday)

Dinner - $23.99 (Monday to Thursday); $25.99 (Friday to Sunday)

The Everyday Foodie Report Card

Atmosphere: 8/10

Service: 8/10

Food: 7/10

Presentation: 7.5/10

Value: 8/10

Overall: 77% Everyday Foodie Satisfaction