Mama’s Recipe: How to Make Homemade Shanghai-Style Wonton (菜肉雲吞)

*if you are vegetarian, have dietary restrictions, allergies, etc., any ingredient can be swapped or ignored*


DIY Homemade Meat & Veggie Wontons (菜肉雲吞):

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What You’ll Need:

  1. Bok Choy
  2. Pork Tenderloin *use fatty meat like ground pork for looser wonton texture
  3. Wonton Wrappers
  4. Salt
  5. White Pepper Powder
  6. Starch
  7. Eggs
  8. Sesame Oil
  9. Olive Oil
  10. Shaoxing Cooking Wine
  11. Cooking bag/ Cheesecloth
  12. Chicken Broth
  13. Scallion (Chinese Green Onion)
  14. Seafood Soy Sauce

Preparing Wonton Filling:

  1. Clean and boil the Bok Choy
  2. Chop the Bok Choy into tiny chunks
  3. Put the chopped Bok Choy into the cooking bag/cheesecloth & squeeze the excess water out
  4. Chop the meat until it becomes like a meat paste and sticks to the knife. *DO NOT COOK THE PORK* (if you use ground pork, skip this step)
  5. Mix the meat and the vegetable together.
  6. Add salt, white pepper, starch, eggs, sesame oil, olive oil, and cooking alcohol and mix.

I used 9 bags of bok choy, 2.3kg of pork tenderloin, 7 bags of wonton wrappers, starch (~3tsp), salt (~2tsp),  pepper (~2tsp), 4 eggs, sesame oil (1 circle around the bowl), cooking alcohol (1 circle), olive oil (1 circle). 

TIP: Make a wonton, cook it and do a taste test. (add more flavouring if necessary)

How to Fold Wontons:

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  1. Keep a bowl of clean water by your side
  2. Use chopsticks / a spoon to get a good amount of stuffing (refer to photo)
  3. Dip your finger into the water and draw a line across the wrapper
  4. Fold the wrapper in half
  5. Fold the ends together into a C shape
  6. Wet one end, pull the other end together and hold.

Cooking the Wontons:

  1. Boil water and put in the wontons
  2. Boil the Chicken broth
  3. Put ~1 spoon of sesame oil and seafood soy sauce each into a bowl
  4. Prepare the scallions & put it into the same bowl
  5. Strain the wonton once they are finished cooking (they float)
  6. Put the wonton in the bowl
  7. Pour the soup in.
  8. Mix and serve
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Dinner is served!

Storage:

OMGGG… I have extra wontons, what do I do? Just freeze them, they last pretty long.

Tip: Separate each layer on the plate with plastic wrap as you build your wonton mountain. Otherwise it’ll be impossible to separate the mountain once it’s frozen.

My mama always made these for me during exam period, so I could have a quick and easy meal while living away from home. Love you mama <3!

Tsujiri, a Matcha Lover Paradise

I’ve been to Tsujiri’s Dundas Square store 4-5 times in the last few months and I only have good things to say about their Matcha Soft Serve.

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For anyone who doesn’t already know about Tsujiri, it is a 155 year old chain dessert/matcha shop originating from Kyoto, Japan. Tsujiri has branches in Japan, UK, Canada, Singapore, Taiwan, China, Malaysia and will soon expand to Thailand, US, Australia and Indonesia.

**so the super confusing multi-price quote is dependent on both size and type of soft serve (matcha only vs. matcha & vanilla).**

I haven’t bothered to figure out which soft serve flavour is more expensive. I would assume it’s the matcha one that’s more expensive because more matcha powder is used.

Most to Least Favourite:

1) Yuzu Citron Float: [Price: $5.75 (s) /6.25(m) or $6.50(s)/7(m)]

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Yuzu Citron Float w/ Match Soft Serve

I loved the Yuzu Citron Float because it uses real yuzu syrup (NOT POWDER!) with tiny yuzu (柚子) bits. I like how that adds to the texture and flavouring of the float. The taste was exactly the same as some of the yuzu drinks I had in Japan, so I was really impressed by that. The matcha soft serve was smooth and rich, but not bitter. This is definitely my favourite out of all the menu items.

2) Matcha Mochi: ($5/ piece)

(no photo … I was too busy chowing down)

This matcha mochi was really good because the mochi itself had a very thin “skin” (for lack of a better word). Mochi is made of glutinous rice and the inner filling of this one had green tea cream. The mochi I’ve had in Canada are generally made with really thick skin and are super chewy, and I don’t like that kind of mochi texture. For me it also depends on what kind of filling is inside. A slightly thicker skin would be nice for red bean paste filling, but for fruit or cream fillings I prefer thinner skin. **Do not try to buy this and leave it overnight in the fridge, it’ll be hard as a rock the next day. MUST BE CONSUMED FRESH!*

3) Tsujiri Sundae: (Price: $7/ 7.50)  -one size

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Tsujiri Sundae

The Tsujiri Sundae had a base of roasted crunchy brown rice topped with matcha ice cream, a sweet dango, chestnut, and a cherry blossom cookie. I didn’t actually like this sundae for various reasons. Most people come for the matcha soft serve anyway, so the rest of the stuff is just an add on. The matcha was good as usual, but I didn’t like the brown rice and the aftertaste that remained. The dango was chewy and didn’t have much additional flavouring. Some places like to add yuzu flavoured sauce to their dango when it’s eaten alone, but Tsujiri probably chose not to because the dessert would have been too sweet. As for the chestnut, I didn’t really taste anything and it was just more of a textured lump. I think the cherry blossom cooking was a sugar cookie, but I could clearly identify sprinkles of salt in it. There was no distinct cherry blossom taste and it could have been because the matcha already overpowered everything else.

4) Chiffon Cake Sundae: (Price: $7/7.50) -one size

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Chiffon Cake Sundae

I had the Chiffon Cake Sundae and I was honestly expecting the chiffon cake to be soft and moist, but it was quite dry. I’ve never had chiffon cake before so I can’t really do a fair comparison to other chiffon cakes. The matcha soft serve was good as usual. The red bean paste was overly sweet, but the paste was well made and had good texture. I didn’t understand the purpose of a layer of corn flakes. If you ate this too slowly the corn flakes would get soggy. It’s just expensive for a cup this size to have an entire layer of corn flakes. Either make the cup bigger or put fewer corn flakes. It just annoyed me that I can get a box of corn flakes at Wal Mart for $5 and 1/3 of this cup was just corn flakes.

Overall:

This place is honestly a pretty average matcha dessert shop compared to the available selections in Asia. It’s also pretty expensive for the portion size and the things they give you, but I considering we’re in Canada and we don’t have that many options… you better be prepared to pay for quality matcha. I’ll still come frequently since my school is a few blocks from here, but I definitely won’t be getting any of the sundaes. I’ll probably just stick to the yuzu float or the matcha cones. As for the line up, I haven’t ever had more than 3 people in front of me because I usually drop by during work hours on weekdays.

 

 

Summerlicious #3 -Bymark

I went to Bymark on Thursday for lunch with 2 of my friends and we all had a pretty good time here. We were happy with all three courses and the portions left us feeling pretty full, which isn’t typical of Summerlicious Menus.

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Appetizer:

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Albacore Tuna Conserva 

This entree was lovely and all three of us chose the same one. We loved how well all of the ingredients combined with the fish. The lemon peel and the dill made the appetizer especially delicious and tied everything together very well. I will say however that the crostini could have been softer. I know baguette-styled bread is usually quite hard, but it made the appetizer hard to chew. Other than that, we loved everything about this appetizer & it had us craving for more.

Entree:

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Duck Confit Pappardelle
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Roasted Pork Loin

I had the Duck Confit Pappardelle and my friends had the Roasted Pork Loin. Everything in the Duck Confit Pappardelle was well balanced without being too dry or too saucy. The vegetable add ons were appetizing and they didn’t distract you from the rest of the meal. The duck was nice, but it didn’t stand out on it’s own. Overall however, the pasta came together very well and it was quite delicious.

The pork loin was surprisingly moist and tender. Usually I’m concerned about ordering large chunks of meat at restaurants. At some, the meat becomes really dry and chewy in the cooking process. My friend really liked the risotto because the sauce from the pork loin soaked into the risotto. She also liked the inclusion of corn and zucchini in the risotto. The sauce had a sour/lemon taste which complemented the flavour from the smoked pork.

Dessert:

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Margarita Tart 
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Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

My friends had the Margarita Tart and thought it was tangy and sweet. The tart itself was a bit hard, so it was difficult to cut into. I had a bite and thought it was very refreshing as a finale to the meal. In comparison to mine, I much preferred the Margarita Tart because mine was a heavier dessert. My Pineapple Upside-Down Cake was moist, but there wasn’t anything particularly special about it.

Overall:

Overall, while taking everything into account I enjoyed Bymark the most compared to Canoe and Auberge du Pommier. Their wait staff were friendly and provided great service, but I do have to say their reception was not as organized or courteous as the ones at Canoe. Everything from their presentation, food quality, flavour, to portion size was very satisfying, so Bymark is definitely a place I would visit again.

*SIDE NOTE* We were perfectly seated at two Pokestops with lures! YES, GOTTA CATCH ‘EM ALL!

Summerlicious #2 -Auberge Du Pommier

Today I tried the Summerlicious Lunch Menu from Auberge Du Pommier, located just north of Yonge and York Mills. I’ve wanted to try ADP for a long time, but I never got around to it.

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*To be fair… this review is more comparative in nature since it’s my second summerlicious review*

Okay, so this time I remembered to try a bite of everything so I can give a better review of the food!

*Excuse the photos! I would have higher quality ones, but this was all I could get short of using flash.*

Appetizer:

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Chicken & Leek Terrine
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Summer Fruit and Melon Gazpacho

I had the Chicken Terrine while my friend had the Gazpacho. My first thoughts when getting the Terrine was that it tasted very strongly of chicken, chicken breast to be specific. Other than a dense chicken-y cube, I can’t describe this in any other way. The sauce they used to pair this with had a somewhat sour, picked taste and it wasn’t enough to blend or mask the strong taste of chicken. I don’t like Terrine or Pâté to begin with, but I chose this because I wanted to be pleasantly surprised. I think of food in a very experimental sense and when dining at restaurants that are normally much more expensive for a 3 course meal, I wanted to take risks and choose dishes I wouldn’t normally choose. However, I wasn’t pleasantly surprised by the Terrine, so I’ll continue disliking Terrine.

I tasted my friend’s Melon Gazpacho and it tasted mostly of one kind of melon (watermelon). I will say I didn’t have a very thorough taste because after the initial test, I already knew I preferred the one from Canoe’s Summerlicious Menu. I wasn’t really interested in trying further. My friend did mention it to be too sour for a watermelon soup.

Entree:

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Coulotte Steak
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Pan Roasted Atlantic Salmon

So I had the Coulotte Steak and I found it to be quite chewy and hard to cut. Considering that it’s cooked to rare, it was still hard to cut. I had to ask for a steak knife in order to cut through the muscle fibres. This was definitely a cheap cut. I mean I understand considering it’s a Summerlicious Menu pricing, but it was just a very average cut of meat. The sauce was paired well with the beef and it tasted good, but I definitely wouldn’t say the meat was very flavourful. They included Chinese brocolli (Choy Sum) with the entree, which was soaked in the sauce used for the beef so I liked that.

I had a piece of my friend’s salmon and it was moist so I was happy with that. However, it also wasn’t very dynamic in flavour beyond tasting like salmon. I distinctly recall thinking I wished there was some lemon juice to bring out more flavour. I didn’t try anything that the salmon rested on, but in any case the salmon itself should have some additional sauce or flavouring to compliment it.  My friend did say that she’s usually very skeptical trying fish, but she enjoyed that the salmon was moist and well seasoned.

Dessert:

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Panna Cotta
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Clafoutis

I liked both of the desserts! The Panna Cotta was nicely complemented with mango gelee and coconut streusel. I don’t recall the Panna Cotta having a strong pineapple taste but it came together really well. I think the Panna Cotta could have done without the Meringue. I generally don’t like stuff like Meringues or Macarons because I just find them to be random chunks of sugar with nothing special (*Note the bias).

As for the Clafoutis, I really liked the texture of it. When I first bit into it, the blueberry compote hit me as the first flavour and I would have loved the dessert if that was the only flavour. I didn’t like the addition of lavender because I’ve always disliked lavender (*again with the bias). My friend also mentioned that the Clafoutis was too sweet for her liking, but she liked that it had a strong custard/ egg flavour.

Overall:

Overall, the meal was good but it wasn’t mind-blowing by any stretch of the imagination. I also found that the meal seemed to be more inspired by Canadian dining rather than French. There were many similarities between the Summerlicious Menus served at Canoe and ADP, however Canoe did it much better and I was more satisfied with my Summerlicious experience there. I’m definitely willing to try ADP again, but I won’t be going back to the Summerlicious Menu.

In terms of service, I really appreciated that our server repeatedly refilled our glasses. My parents visited ADP the weekend before, for the Summerlicious Dinner Menu and they complained about poor service from their waitress and lack of water refills, so hopefully it was just an isolated incident. I will say that service feels more attentive at Canoe, while it seems more chill at ADP. They’re both Oliver & Bonacini Restaurants so I expected their management styles to be similar. It didn’t bother me, but it was just different.

 

L’Occitane Almond Shower Scrub

 

After using the shower scrub from L’Occitane en Provence, I noticed a huge difference in my skin. My arms were the smoothest they’d ever been and I was getting compliments from some of my friends for having such smooth skin.

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I’ve always been really self-conscious about my arms because I’ve had tiny bumps (keratosis pilaris) on them since high school. The shower scrub helped to noticeably decrease the amount and size of the bumps on my arms. I’ve used a wide variety of shower scrubs before but none have been as effective as this one.

The first shower scrub I used up from L’Occitane was the Roses et Reines Shower Scrub, but for some reason they don’t seem to sell shower scrubs from that collection in Canada. I ended up purchasing the Almond Shower Scrub because it was the only collection with a shower scrub. There is essentially no difference between the two collections other than the scent, so it didn’t bother me. I also never use body lotions and after using this shower scrub I didn’t feel like I had to apply any additional creams to stay moisturized (Of course you can if you want!). I also love this packaging because it uses a twist cap and you can squeeze the shower scrub out from the tiny hole at the base. I don’t like shower gels with flip caps or ones where you need to remove the entire cap because I always end up breaking those when I drop them or it just gets dirty. This 200mL shower scrub sells for $29 in Canada. Even if you don’t have issues with keratosis pilaris or have dry/flaky skin, I still recommend scrubs over shower gels because it helps to buff away dead cells for a healthier glow.

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Rating: 4/5 (Love it and it would be 5/5…BUT “Polyethylene” is a listed ingredient, which means the presence of microbeads.)

*As much as I love it, unless Polyethylene is removed from this shower scrub I will likely be moving on to another product. I didn’t realize it contained polyethylene until I made this blog post, so now I’m feeling super conflicted and disappointed. I’m still going to keep this post up because as consumers we can really come to love a product without understanding it’s harmful effects and I think there’s value in bringing awareness when deciding what to use.*

For those of us who don’t know about microbeads, they’re harmful substances which pollute our water systems because water management facilities cannot filter out these substances.

Beat the Microbead is an international campaign supported by 83 NGOs from 35 countries, committed to phasing out the use of microbeads in cosmetic products. L’Occitane’s Almond Shower Scrub is listed in their “Products containing microbeads” update from May 2016.

Summerlicious #1 -Canoe

Today I tried out the Summerlicious Lunch Menu from Canoe, an Oliver & Bonacini restaurant. It was my first time here and after hearing so many good things about this place, I was super excited to try it out and it didn’t disappoint.

Located on the 54th floor of the TD Tower, it is steps away from Union Station in downtown Toronto’s financial district.

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Entrance to Canoe

So at this point the vibes are good. We were promptly greeted by a hostess and guided to our table for 2. The Summerlicious Menu consists of a 3 course meal at $28 CAD with an option for wine pairing at an additional $32.

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Summerlicious Lunch Menu -Canoe

Appetizer: 

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Smoked Georgian Bay White Fish (PC: Phoenix Shum)
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New Farms Cucumber Gazpacho

I had the New Farms Cucumber Gazpacho and I was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked it. Typically, I shy away from anything and everything that has cucumber. I just can’t stand that distinctive and overpowering cucumber taste. Knowing full well that I hate cucumber, I wanted to see if Canoe could surprise me. The soup was very refreshing and light (perfect for a hot summer day), while harmoniously combining notes of cucumber and various herbs. I especially liked that they chose to incorporate tiny squares of honeydew, perfectly balancing the soup.

I can’t comment on the white fish because I didn’t try it. I generally don’t like white fish at all, so I steer clear of that. However, my friend did say the white fish was well seasoned and she really liked it.

Entree: 

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Hanover Beef Bavette (PC: Phoenix Shum)
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Leo’s Cavatelli

I had Leo’s Cavatelli which is a pasta in broth combined with various vegetable elements. I really enjoyed this flavourful onion broth, but I did find it to be slightly on the saltier side. It wasn’t excessively salty, but the salt could have been toned down a bit. The pasta was perfect in terms of texture. Overall I enjoyed this very much, but would have liked to have a bit more pasta in the dish. However, I do understand that portions are smaller considering it is a Summerlicious Menu.

I did have a bite of the Hanover Beef Bavette and I was quite impressed by their striploin. Normally, I don’t try steaks at restaurants I haven’t been to simply because I’m afraid of the quality of their beef and their ability to cook it. I was impressed by how tender and flavourful the medium-rare striploin was.

Dessert:

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Niagara Stone Fruit Millefeuille
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Everbearing Strawberry Semifreddo (PC: Phoenix Shum)

I had the Niagara Stone Fruit Millefeuille which I really enjoyed up to the first half. There was just a lot of peach cream, so once I got past the fruit, I was kind of bored of the bottom half. The presence of fruit at the top made it much more pleasant and light compared to the bottom half which had nothing to compliment it. I would have preferred if a second layer of fruit was included halfway down the cup. I did find it slightly more sweet than I would have preferred, but I did still enjoyed it.

I only had a tiny bite of the Everbearing Strawberry Semifreddo so I can’t say if there was anything I disliked. However, I really liked the pistachio mouselline which stood out among the other flavours and I found it very delightful. I will say that when comparing the two desserts, I did prefer mine.

Overall:

Food: I wasn’t disappointed at all by Canoe. It met and exceeded my expectations especially considering it was a Summerlicious Menu. I’m excited to try out their regular menu next time.

Service: I was really impressed by Canoe. I didn’t expect to be impressed because I’ve been to too many restaurants with frankly disappointing service. Food is important, but service is equally important. If I don’t feel comfortable eating somewhere, no matter how good their food is I won’t go again. Management is definitely doing something right at this restaurant!

First: The hostesses were very professional, well trained and delightful. I also appreciated that they were wearing the same “uniform”, because they are the first visual point of contact with the restaurant and the message I got is that this is a chic and classy establishment.

Second: I liked how well staffed the restaurant was and that there were separate people to serve, collect and wait the tables. Often times servers double as the people who bring you food and collect it as well. I don’t like that setup because you’re often left wondering when your waiter will appear again or they just seem like they’re in a rush and they’re not so happy, so it adds to a stressful dining environment. Also, I noticed every staff in the restaurant paid close attention to their attire. Even the waiters were impeccably dressed and maintained the restaurant’s clean, crisp and chic image. The wait staff were all very polite and respectful, which I don’t often find in classy restaurants. Halfway through the meal, I made a point of commenting to my friend on how impressed I was and I am not easy to impress.

Will I come again? Oh yes, there will most definitely be a next time! 

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Super happy me after an awesome meal! (PC: Phoenix Shum)

Let Them Eat Cake

Yes, the title is a lame Marie Antoinette reference.

For my dad’s birthday we pre-ordered cake from his favourite cake bakery at J-town. Bakery Nakamura was the first Japanese bakery to open in Toronto in 1993. We pre-ordered for pick-up on a Saturday but ended up eating the cake on a Sunday and it was still very fresh. It wasn’t soggy or dry, which are typical of cakes left overnight. It still retained the perfect amount of moisture. Bakery Nakamura doesn’t use preservatives or additives and their goods are made fresh daily. 


We ordered an 8″ Strawberry-Mango  Shortcake and it cost $45, which is slightly more than other asian bakeries in the area. This 8″ perfectly served all 8 people in our party without any leftover. Their cakes come as single slices, 6″,7″,8″, and 9″ and you can check out their pricing & a full list of bakery / cake selections at their website. As with all asian places, the later you go the fewer items there are to choose from.

Overall this cake was pretty delicious and moist with fresh fruit. I like that this bakery actually puts in very fresh fruit whereas other bakeries put in fruit that’s not as fresh.