Event: Taste of Toronto
Location: 250 Fort York Boulevard, Toronto ON M5V 3K9
Located in Fort York, Taste of Toronto has became a well known event for foodies and restauranteurs. Although Taste of Toronto has been running for 2 years now, this year was the first time I got to attend the event, and I was able to find restaurants that were worth a visit!
For food and drinks from restaurants, you will need to use Crowns as the official currency at Taste of Toronto. Some vendors will allow you to purchase their items by using cash/credit, but overall all stores will accept Crowns. Do note that 1 crown = $1, and all items range from $8 to $10.
If you don’t know how much you should load your card, I strongly recommend you to check out the menu beforehand and pick dishes that you would like to eat. I say you should load $30 as the starting point, then you can reload later on at the event.
I got coconut with my friend as our drinks for the day. It’s funny because most people don’t realize you can eat the “meat” inside the coconut, my friend and I were frantically looking for a spoon to eat the meat lol. Unfortunately this is still a young coconut so there wasn’t much meat inside :(.
Other than restaurants, there were also local vendors that sell everything from Ontario Wine to Maple Syrup. Likewise, throughout the day there were various entertainment activities and cooking shows hosted by chefs, such as Lynn Crawford and Alvin Leung, so you will definitely not be bored!
I got a picture with Alvin Leung! Despite the nickname as the Demon Chef and his harsh critiques on Master Chef, Alvin is actually very nice and funny in real life! Initially he was only checking the cooking stations of the show’s participants, until some fans asked to take pictures and he actually walked over to us!
Below is the list of restaurants/vendors that I tried:
1. The Drake – 3.5.5
The lobster roll was a bit disappointing. The hot dog bun was cold and not lightly toasted in butter. While the lobster meats were tender, there was too much dressings/coating of mayonnaise and it masked that natural sweet flavor of lobster.
C and I preferred this over the lobster roll. Both clams and fish were not greasy, and the haddock fish had a thin coating of batter and seasoned perfectly!
2. Oliver & Bonacini restaurants – 3.5/5
The ahi tuna was not as good as I expected. There was only 3-4 tiny pieces of tuna and I couldn’t taste the coffee or coconut, all the ingredients didn’t work together.
On the other hand the duck poutine was really good. The pieces of duck were juicy and flavorful with a rich and delicious gravy. The cheese curds help to tone down the saltiness of other ingredients. I guess they were trying to mimic the original duck poutine pizza at Bannock with the flat bread, however I felt it was unnecessary as the flat bread quickly became soggy.
3. Richmond Station – 5/5
Psh I took this picture because the male chef who was shucking the oysters was cute lol..
C and I both got the oysters and damn, we didn’t expect to receive 4 oysters in one order. You can tell these were fresh and very sweet, super delicious! There were 3 condiments and I enjoyed the spicy sauces, not so much the mignonette, but that’s a personal preference.
Side story: Chef Carl Heinrich of Richmond Station was at Taste of Toronto, but he spent most of his time at the back making food. I’m a huge fan of him since Top Chef Canada season 2 and I have been wanting to go to his restaurant for so long. When I saw him at the event, I basically froze LOL I was too shy and couldn’t approach him for a picture and sighs 🙁 now I’m regretting every moment of it…
4. Morimoto Toronto – 5/5
Morimoto is opening a restaurant in Toronto in 2016 and I can’t wait! I got the Toro tartare and it was one of the best dishes of the day! After a while I have fallen out of love with Japanese cuisine, and this dish reminded me of why I loved Japanese food so much.
It’s hard to describe the flavor of this dish, but what I can tell you is that the moment you take a bite, it gives you this calming and zen moment (if that make sense). The tartare was tender, delicious and delivered a true umami experience. Overall it’s a must try dish, very simple and delicate, yet had a complex flavor.
5. Little Sister – 5/5
My friend was raving about this restaurant so I decided to get the last two dishes from them.
I didn’t enjoy the salad as there was too much vinaigrette, and it seemed to be a very simple dish for 6 crowns. In my opinion the heat and tartness from the sambal vinaigrette brought down the sweetness and refreshing factors of a watermelon salad.
With that said, the roasted pork belly was incredible. Seasoned nicely, crispy skin with a melt-in-your-mouth texture. The fresh chili sauce complemented nicely with the pork belly and gave just right amount of kick to the dish. The picked bean sprout and red onion salad was a nice palate cleanser :).
Overall I thoroughly enjoyed my experience at Taste of Toronto. The event was well organized, lines up were civilized and due to staggered entry times, Taste of Toronto isn’t as busy as other Taste of __ events. With that said, the event can get expensive as you have to pay the entrance fee, then food prices and if you end up not using all the crowns in your card, there is a $3.50 refund fee. Next year I would probably attend again, but I do wish the entrance fee was a bit cheaper or maybe lower food prices as most of the portions were relatively small.