Izumo Sushi – KINGSTON, ON

Izumo Sushi on Urbanspoon

This small gem in Kingston is one of the few places where I was wowed. I came back from a trip where I got to try beef sashimi for the first time, and I was hooked. I searched relentlessly for this dish in Kingston, only to find that Izumo Sushi was the only place that had it. I called up a friend to see if she wanted to go for dinner at Izumo and we finally set a date to go.

Izumo Sushi is only open for the summer from 5-9, so the first time we went they were actually closed cause they went on holidays. No matter, we were just gonna go down the street and come back another time.

We finally came back two weeks later. The place is very small, with probably just about 20 or so seats. The atmosphere is cozy and parking is not a hassle to find. I was seated first because my friend hadn’t come, and the service off the bat was very friendly.

The menu is extensive and they offer many different options for dinner. Bento boxes, special rolls, and hot dishes mostly made up the menu. I knew I was going to try the beef sashimi and I had the beef yaki udon as well. I was not disappointed.

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The beef sashimi was presented very well and it was DELICIOUS. Dip it in a bit of soy sauce and I could eat this for days. It was served cold, which was fine because it really plays well with the raw beef that you’re eating. For $9, it’s a bit of a reach but hey, it was worth it for me!

izumo udon 2

I also tried the beef yaki udon as my main course. They cook it with what they say is a “special sauce”, and let me tell you, it really is special. I’m not sure what the mixture is (maybe soy sauce with something else?) but it’s very good. It’s savoury and cooked with the udon and various vegetables, it tasted fantastic. The beef was tender and not overcooked, and the presentation itself was beautiful. I was really happy with my meal here.

My friend ordered the dynamite roll and she was pleased with her meal. You can kind of see the picture of it in some of mine 🙂

Overall, we would definitely come again. The service was great and the ambiance allowed us to feel comfortable. There was no one else in the restaurant, so our food came fairly quickly. They even gave us two slices of watermelon at the end 🙂

Price range for dinner is about $15 per person (give or take), but it is definitely worth a try!

-Sam

Green Tray – KINGSTON, ON

Taiwanese Braised Pork

Green Tray on Urbanspoon

Green Tray is a popular spot for students since it’s close to campus, quick, and relatively cheap for those on a budget. I’ve been here a few times and I have to say it’s as good as what you pay for it. The decor is simple, very urban and modern but the seating is quite limited. You literally get everything on a ‘green tray’, hence the name.

This restaurant is extremely casual. You order first and pay, then the food is brought out to you. Or if you’re in a hurry, you head to their “express” line, where you pick two items and rice or noodles for 8.49 (this may have changed). It’s a good system, which is why I always see a lineup when I get there.

I usually order their bubble tea because I find it’s the best in Kingston. I’m a bubble tea addict, so i’ve been searching in Kingston for the best original milk tea. Classics tea lounge was a bit disappointing since they changed owners, and Mekong doesn’t have it there. So, this was the next best bet. I tried it, and I wasn’t disappointed.
Although the choices are more limited, I find it very tasty and at a good value (for Kingston of course). However, they use powder and proudly show it, which kinda takes away from the “tea” portion but hey, it tastes pretty alright. The pearls they use could be cooked more thoroughly so it doesn’t taste as hard when biting into it.

I ordered the Taiwanese Braised Pork (pictured above) with noodles. This, along with Taiwanese Beef Noodle Soup, are basically Taiwan’s most popular dishes that you can get at any Taiwanese or Asian restaurant that offers Taiwanese cuisine. Their pork is well flavoured, and goes well with the noodles. They also add in some broccoli with some hoisin or oyster sauce on top. Good tough, since this dish needs a little green in it. Although this dish is usually made with rice, I opted for the noodles cause i’m not too fond of Green Tray’s rice. I was fairly happy with my meal, and it was also a pretty big portion that I couldn’t finish it all. At a value of under $10, I was content with this meal.

Now, I frequent Green Tray quite a bit, especially with my family so i’m constantly ordering several dishes for everyone. The one thing that I have to complain about is that they never have all of their appetizers or dim sum in stock. And this isn’t just on one occasion, but many. I’ve wanted to order the green onion pancake (which my little sister adores) but they didn’t have it. Another time I wanted Shao Mai, but again didn’t have it. So it’s a bit disappointing to have a craving for something and see that it can’t be fulfilled.

Overall, it’s a good place for a cheap meal that offers a fair to large portion. Service has always been great for me so i’ve never had a problem with that. They do occasionally mess up orders or don’t bring out all of the food at once, but I don’t mind as much. Good place to chat, socialize, and have some bubble tea!

The Wiiiiindy City 2013

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Travelling is one of THE most exciting things that I think anyone could ever do. The sheer feeling of going someplace new that is far different from where you’re from gives me something to look forward to. This year, I had the most amazing time in Chicago during my Reading Week break, and it was one by far one of the best trips i’ve ever gone on.

As a student, I don’t get to travel much. Especially while living on a student budget, travelling is just something I don’t do or think about. So when my boyfriend surprised me with a trip to Chicago for a week, I was ecstatic. He’s the type of person that loves to surprise me, and this was one of those times he went all out!

Chicago is an amazing city. It has such a contrast of rich and poor, modern and old, and a LOT of bustle and hustle. It has such a history behind it and the architecture around the downtown is amazing. We had a list of places to go and things to see.

The first night, we arrived in the afternoon so we decided to just tour around the area where our hotel was. We stayed at the Sofitel, a four-star and a half star hotel located in the heart of downtown (http://www.sofitel.com/gb/hotel-2993-sofitel-chicago-water-tower/index.shtml)

This hotel is amazing. The decor is so modern, everyone who works there is SO nice and we couldn’t have asked for a better stay. Not to mention the location is ideal – close enough to walk everywhere, yet quiet enough to have a peaceful night in. Perfect for couples 🙂

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We went around downtown (Michigan Ave) and oh my gosh, there are so many stores.. it’s a shopping HAVEN! We stopped to take pictures; Chicago is so scenic and we got some pretty amazing photos.

We went in the middle of February, and you know what they say about Chicago.. it’s called the Windy City for a reason. Our first night was surprisingly very mild (only -1 degrees C!) so it was really nice to walk around with a fall coat.

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The Bean - Cloud Gate

One of the most famous landmarks that we wanted to see was “Cloud Gate”, aka “The Bean”! I’m sure you’ve seen it in many movies (Dear John, anyone?) When my boyfriend and I turned the corner to see The Bean, our jaws literally dropped. The reflection of it on the city was one of the most beautiful things i’ve ever seen. It’s such a simple design, but it truly leaves a mark in my memory. Above is a day and night shot taken by my boyfriend and I.

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This is the view from the John Hancock Observatory. Isn’t Chicago so beautiful?!?

Skydeck

Another popular tourist spot is the Skydeck. If you’ve been to the CN Tower in Toronto, it’s like the glass floor that they have there but much higher. Willis Tower (or the Sears Tower) is the second tallest skyscraper in America! I almost peed my pants when I was forced by my boyfriend to step onto this….

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Us on the Megatron… we’re in the back with the camera and pointing up! LOL

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And WHAT trip is complete without taking in a basketball game or two?! We travelled by bus to Indianapolis to see the NY Knicks and the Pacers play. What an awesome arena! We also saw Miami vs. Chicago… what a game. Four awesome teams that made it to the playoffs this year, so many All-Stars.. a great ending to the trip!

This is just a snippet of my Chicago trip this year! Hope you enjoyed it!

-Sam

Harper’s Burger Bar – KINGSTON, ON

Sliders

Harper's Burger Bar on Urbanspoon

Burger joints are becoming really popular here, with three of them opening in the last year JUST in the downtown Kingston area! My friend and I decided to go check out Harper’s Burger Bar, located downtown on Princess Street.

The menu is mostly made up of fresh local burgers, with some hotdogs, salads etc. We went there specifically to try the burgers though.

We both had the sliders, so we got to order 3 different kinds of mini-burgers. They had 19 types, so it was cool that we got to sample a bit of their menu at once. I got the #1 Classic (secret sauce, lettuce, tomato, red onion), #2 Easy (black river cheddar, bacon, no mushrooms) and the #13 Yum! (goat cheese, local bacon, sundried tomato pesto and no mushrooms). Also got sweet potato fries as the side.  The presentation was simple – came in a metal tray and was neatly organized. I tried them in numerical order – the #1 was very simple. Buns are toasted and the sauce is very good, which adds to the juicyness of the patty. Next was the #2, which was also good – simple, crispy bacon and cheddar cheese, nothing more. Then onto the #13… this was by far my favourite. The tomato pesto and the goat cheese are great together. The crispy bacon and the toasty bun offsets the softness of the pesto and the goat cheese and they just went so well together. I definitely recommend this one. Sweet potato fries were also really good – didn’t have that greasy feeling and there was plenty to fill you up while not overloading you. (I also recommend asking for a side of the white truffle mayo.. delish!)

The one thing I love about Harper’s is that they try to do alot of local ingredients, and since they are located so close to Springer Market Square, they have access to of the fresh ingredients from the farmer’s market.

Rating

Atmosphere: 4/5 – inside is really nice, clean, with cute booths and chalkboards to tell you the menu. Loud but comfortable.
The Dish I had: 4/5 – the #13 made my meal.
Price Range: Around $10-15

A definite recommendation for burger lovers.