All posts by Crave Stu

Best Toronto Poke

Where to Find Toronto’s #1 Taste of Summer

After taking the US by storm last year, we suspected the immensely tasty, superbly healthy, and undeniably trendy Hawaiian staple would make its way to Toronto in a big way.

That’s why on the first day of summer we proclaimed “poke” to be the #1 must-try taste of summer.

Since then, poke-exclusive shops have opened and it has been added to menus across the city.

Big Tuna Bloor Streetan outbreak of poke bars is set to happen in Toronto

Traditionally poke (pronounced po-kay) is made with raw tuna or salmon, onions, sesame oil, and soy sauce over rice. Using this basic recipe, Toronto chefs have been creating the most remarkable dishes of summer by adding their own unique ingredient touches.

Top 5 spots for poke

  1. Big Tuna Poke Bar, 599 Bloor Street.

Poke

This new Annex spot offers signature poke bowls with Asian inspired flavours or the option to customize your dream bowl. The light and crunchy taro chips are a highlight. Portions are small for $13.

  1. Big Crow, 176 Dupont Street.

BigCrow Dupont

The outdoor Dupont BBQ spot makes salmon poke with chili, ginger, soy sauce, and peanuts they serve it with chips. The peanuts add a unique crunch and flavour but don’t justify the $16 price.

  1. Shameful Tiki Room, 1378 Queen Street W.

Shameful Tiki Bar PokePhoto by @feedmyphone

Tiki bars and poke go hand in hand given their Hawaiian backgrounds. This one combines ahi tuna, honeydew melon, chilies, almonds, mint, cilantro and hibiscus sesame oil. The melon adds a sweet and refreshing twist ($16).

  1. Seven Lives, 69 Kensington Ave.

Seven Live Toronto PokePhoto by @joannecola

 A generous portion of salmon sashimi is served with hot fresh tortilla chips instead of rice and a big scoop of creamy guacamole to make this one of Toronto’s best at only $10.

  1. Miss Thing’s, 1279 Queen Street W.

Miss Things Poke

This trendy tiki bar in Parkdale makes their poke with rainbow trout, salmon eggs, radish, mushrooms and ginger over coconut rice. The sweet rainbow trout and fragrant coconut rice make it our favourite poke in the city ($12).

Banh2

Has Banh Mi Boys Lost Its Way?

Ever since Banh Mi Boys boldly entered Toronto’s food scene at the end of 2011, offering a twist on the traditional Vietnamese sandwich only blocks away from the city’s best banh mi in Chinatown, the three Chau brothers (owners) have become the city’s undisputed banh mi kings.

With rave reviews and lines of customers, the brothers expanded to capture the demand for their fresh, flavourful and cheap creations. Along with two new locations has come an unexpected compromise in flavour and quality for many customers.

Banh Mi Boys Review

Dry meat, overcooked meat, too much salt, bland flavour, poor quality meat and cold bao buns are some of the apparent results of the expansions, not to mention this Yelper who received no meat in their sandwich.

Banh Mi Boys Blog RevieSomething has been missing at Banh Mi Boys

Consistent quality is a common challenge for expanding restaurants

Richard Mulley, owner of Rashers who recently expanded to Ossington Ave, says “the key to consistency between restaurants is well-trained staff and not jumping the gun on opening new locations.”

Konrad Droeske, co-owner of Otto’s Berlin Döner, is planning to open a second location and “will centralize the prep work between restaurants and train the team extremely well” to address the challenges of maintaining consistent food quality and customer experience.

RELATED: Burger’s Priest had major challenges when it first expanded.

With so many new Toronto sandwich shops popping up, Toronto foodies have more options than ever. Lets see if the brothers can turn things around.

Banh Mi Boys did not respond to our interview request.

CraveTO Colouring Book

Toronto’s New Colouring Book Now Available

It has arrived! While we recover from all the tacos, cervezas and colouring from our launch event, we couldn’t be prouder of Toronto and our book.

BookPartyTacos El Asador is featured in the book and hosted the launch event

Launch1

If you couldn’t come to the launch to grab a copy, not to worry, the book is now available in limited stock through downtown Toronto stores that support Toronto art:

Juxtapose: 430 Bloor Street, 416-324-8333

Spacing Store: 401 Richmond Street W, 416-644-1017

Kid Icarus205 Augusta Ave, 416-977-7236

CraveTO Colouring Book

Casey2

5 Toronto Artists for You to Discover

Toronto’s most iconic food institutions drawn by a Toronto Artist are featured in our new colouring book, so who better to invite (other than you of course!) to the launch event than other kick-ass Toronto Artists?

ColourArt2Resurfaced overlays photos onto wood and metal surfaces

Finding unique local art is challenging because how do you even discover new artists? Not to mention tracking down their work.

aveLAPTOP 2Ave Mariabell designs minimalist Toronto skyline decals for laptops, phones and walls

 Toronto artists will showcase new Toronto themed work for you to browse and even take home at Wednesday’s free colouring book launch event!

Art-ChristopherChristopher Rouleau hand draws custom letters to create stunning Toronto area maps

Maybe a Toronto skyline decal for your laptop? A set of Toronto landscape coasters for you table? A Jays game overlaid on a sheet of wood for your wall? You will have access to all of these and other unique Toronto pieces.

ColourArt3Daily City Train coasters feature Toronto photos on ceramic tile

 Much like the food establishments featured in the new colouring book, these artists are shaping Toronto culture. You will be able to see what’s new and inspiring in Toronto art for yourself this Wednesday.

ArtCaseyCasey O’Neill paintings explode with Toronto colours

 Food, drinks, friends, colouring and now shopping will all be yours- Get your ticket here.

ColourInsta

CraveTO Colouring Book Launch

Be the first to add a splash of colour to 14 of Toronto’s favourite food institutions.

The first CraveTO colouring book is set to launch July 27th and you’re invited to enjoy food, drinks, local art, and of course colouring!

ColourPoutini

NEW VENUE Located in the heart of Koreatown at 690 Bloor Street Tacos El Asador will host the free launch event. Grab a cheap taco and beer to go along with your colouring book which will be available in limited quantities for $20. Event goes 5:30pm – 10:00pm

SmokeyOneThis authentic Mexican eatery will inspire your creativity while you colour TO

Tacos El AsadorEl Asador’s famed tacos will fuel your colouring- only $3.55 each

We’ve invited 5 kick-ass Toronto Artists to be part of the event so you can peruse their art and event take home one of their Toronto pieces.

??????????Local Artists will have their works on display and for sale July 27th

Make the most of your summer weeknights: spend the evening of July 27th doing something new with friends- Invite them to the Facebook Event and get ready to #ColourTO

Until then, print the first page of our colouring book and practice up! 19+ event. Cash only.

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Toronto Sandwiches of Instagram

Last month we told you about Toronto’s hottest food trend… the mighty sandwich!

Since then many of you have been discovering your new favourite sandwich at the new shops we let you know about.

Our favourites from Instagram:

s1@hrtlesgirl – Bacon and brie: Rashers

s2@todelicious – Crispy calamari and shrimp: Brock Sandwich

s9@the_wanderin_foodie – Soy glazed pork belly: Teara Lab

s10@fred.bk – Pulled rotisserie chicken: Flock

 

s3@feedthebearblog – Pho burger: Dac Biet Burger

s4@foodwhoretoronto – BBQ pulled pork: The Stockyards

s5@wakeupeatthis – Pork belly and duck confit banh mis: BanhMi Boys

s6@spoilthatbelly – The Beastwich (fried chicken, pimento cheese, pork sausage, fried egg): Beast

s7@a.radcliffe – New York style pastrami: NU Bügel

s8@feastmode_to – Cornbread and buttermilk fried chicken BLT: Porchetta& Co.

Which sandwich do you want to try? Let us know below.

ColourTable

Toronto Gets New Colouring Book

When you get home from a day at work, you want to relax. Maybe grab a drink, watch some Netflix, scroll Instagram, hit the gym if you still have any energy.

But are any of those things really relaxing?

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Finding something that unwinds the stress of the workday is tough. To help you, we’ve been working on a new non-digital project.

Add a splash of colour to your favourite city!

Unwind with our limited edition colouring book, and your creativity will emerge.

RELATED: 7 Benefits of Colouring.

Colour7illustrations drawn by Toronto artist Raven Lam

Featuring 14 of your favourite Toronto establishments like Moo Frites, The Rolling Pin and Sam James Coffee, you can find it at these stores:

Juxtapose: 430 Bloor Street, 416-324-8333

Spacing Store: 401 Richmond Street W, 416-644-1017

Kid Icarus205 Augusta Ave, 416-977-7236

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5 Must-Try Summer Cocktails

There are few things more pleasing than sipping an ice-cold taste-filled summer beverage.

But don’t get caught sipping last year’s drinks, new cocktail programs at many Toronto bars and restaurants are on the cutting edge of mixology, and their new creations are ready to be tested.

Get started on your summer cocktail adventure to find your new summer drink!

Top 5 Cocktails of Summer

#5 Tame Impala: Track and Field, 860 College Street.

TrackCocktail

This tequila based drink is served on tap.  Featuring cucumber, lime, ginger beer and chai tea, it will power you through rounds of bocce ball and/or dance floor shenanigans.

 

#4 The Repo Man: Parts and Labour, 1566 Queen Street West.
PLcocktail

Ease your mind after a busy day with this imaginative summer cocktail featuring tequila, vermouth, Aperol, ginger, lemon, and black tea wormwood bitters.

 

#3 Mint Stroman: Make your own.

This Marcus Stroman approved bourbon cocktail served at May’s CraveTO event was a refreshing way to kick off summer for many.MarcusStromanInsta

Garnished with a fresh sprig of mint, it was the popular companion to the gorgeous skyline view.
MarcusStro

Get yourself a proper cocktail shaker, and play mixologist to re-create Mint Stroman:

  • Pour 2oz bourbon, 2oz lemonade, 1oz blueberry syrup and a handful of ice into shaker
  • Shake for 10 seconds
  • Strain into highball glass half filled with ice and garnish with sprig of fresh mint and fresh blueberries

 

#2 Open Windows: El Rey, 2A Kensington Ave.
ElReyCocktail

This newly opened Kensington Market bar highlights the smokey mezcal (tequila is a type of mezcal) liquor. “Open Windows” also features tequila, lime, pineapple gomme, chili, celery, and Mexican spices. The spicy and smokey flavours are cooled down by the pineapple flavour and cucumber garnish, best enjoyed on their patio.

 

#1 Royal Oak: Northwood, 815 Bloor Street.

Northwood

A strong, yet summery bourbon cocktail made with Italian aperitifs and fresh grapefruit. Enjoy this slow sipper on their patio.

Whether you’re playing mixologist with your new cocktail kit, or enjoying drinks with friends, let us know with #CraveTO

cider draught

10 Must Try Tastes of Summer

Summer is finally here.

There would be nothing worse than not seizing the limited number of summer days, and missing out on what makes summer your favourite season.

To help you seize the days, we found the top 10 tastes to make your Toronto summer the best one yet.

#10 Nitro cold brew coffee

Pilot

It’s cold brew coffee but better. Infusing coffee with nitrogen gives it a silky creamy feel similar to Guiness. Get the refreshing new boost you need on a hot day at Crafted or Balzac’s.

 

#9 Japanese shaved ice

tjuri

A light option when you aren’t up for ice cream. Get it at Tsujiri or Sugar Marmalade.

 

#8 Fight of fresh Toronto beers

beerfli

Try Muddy York , Left Field, Great Lakes and Rainhard brews all in one sitting on the patio or AC at Liberty Village’s Craft Brasserie.

 

#7 Paleta

paleta-ice-pop-popsicle

Mexican popsicles are putting Kensington Market on the foodie map! Try them at Paleteria or Wrestlers.

 

#6 Re-imagined Gelato

Death

Death in Venice offers flavours that will floor you: Thai peanut soy fish, ricotta rosemary lemon and pistachio baklava are highlights.

 

#5 Cold cider

ciders

 

If 2016 is truly the summer of cider, there are a few you’ll want to sip on this summer. Her Father’s and Bar Begonia have the most impressive selections.

 

#4 Mezcal cocktail

mezcal

Choose from 4 different mezcal (tequila is a type of mezcal) cocktails at the newly opened El Rey in Kensington Market. The patio is sure to be filled most of the summer.

 

#3 Gourmet sandwich

Tearo

Sandwich spots are popping up like beautiful tulips. Try Teara Lab for a Japanese fusion sandwich or San Cosme for a massive Mexican sandwich.

 

#2 Thai rolled ice cream

RolledI

Thai rolled ice cream? We were confused too. Lighter and fresher than regular ice cream, this stuff is delicious and watching it being made is just as fun as eating it! Newly opened Arctic Bites has it.

 

#1 Poke

Poke

This new food trend took the US by storm last year and its hit Toronto. Raw seafood marinated with Hawaiian flavours served over rice is the perfect picnic food. Pronounced “po-kay”, try the #1 taste of summer at the just opened Big TunaFish’d (as part of Adelaide Place Pop-up), Seven Lives Tacos or Miss Things, and keep an eye for North Poke opening later this summer.

Which of the 10 tastes are you going to try first?

SneakyOut

Sneaky Dee’s Unveils New Nacho Creation

Sneaky Dee’s has been a cultural staple for decades, and became Toronto’s go-to spot for sharing a massive plate of nachos with friends along the way (if you’re Drake you phone-in pickup).

Could there be greater bragging rights amongst your friends, than having that shared plate of nachos named after you?

Sneakys

“Northern Blues Nachos”  named after a song on long-time customer, and musician Dallas Green’s latest album, feature house-made tortilla chips and mounds of toppings: Diced steak, bacon, cheese, guacamole, sour cream, pico de gallo, mixed peppers, green onions, jalapenos and Dine Alone Foods Northern Soul BBQ sauce ($22.50).

What Toronto food creation do you want named after you?