March 18, 2015

Fishman Lobster Clubhouse

Way back when, I read somewhere that Andrew Zimmern called Fishman Lobster Clubhouse the best Hong Kong style seafood restaurant in North America. It was game over at that point. I made it my mission to head up there for some HK goodness and ever since it's been a Thach Family tradition to come back yearly for mom's birthday.

The ordering system is a little weird and can get incredibly confusing. So, take your time and don't let the bossy servers rush you. 

They have a slew of combos you can choose from as well as ordering a la carte.  The first time we went, we decided to go with a lobster & crab combo for a little over $250 and upgraded to the shark fin, lobster two ways, & Vancouver crab combo (I think this was around the $350-$400 mark) on our second visit. This review is a combination of both visits.

Whatever you decide, make sure to get the Hong Kong style lobster (pictured below) - you can't leave without getting this item. 
When you're ready to order, the server brings out the live crab & lobster for you to examine. Make sure you get exactly what you want to pay for. They can get pretty aggressive with trying to up sell you on a larger lobster/crab. And they don't even bat an eyelash when you ask for a selfie with the live crustacean.  Papa Thach was all over that. 
The first course is usually soup if you go the route of ordering a combo. We had black chicken soup our first time and then shark fin soup our second time. For anyone who grew up in an Asian household -  black chicken soup is that one soup your mom made that you always hated. I mean absolutely despised, very medicinal and bland. The chicken is way too tough to eat so you're really just sipping on broth. I usually wouldn't mind a nice clear consommé but I couldn't get over the medicinal aftertaste. Not really my cup of tea.

On our second visit we upgraded to the shark fin soup combo. This was my first time having shark fin soup and I thought it was banned and assumed this was an "imitation" shark fin. Doing the research now, it looks like they over turned the ruling in 2012 so I will definitely not be ordering this again. 
Next came the star of the show.  The lobster and king crab. They were both prepared pretty much the same way. Lightly coated in flour, deep fried and then stir fried in garlic. The HK style comes with fried anchovies and chillies. This is oh-so-good. Honestly, the best way to prepare seafood in my opinion. The shell gets really crispy and salty, while the meat stays sweet and juicy. 

They are incredibly generous with the little bits of fried anchovies too. They're a lovely dish onto themselves. Mama Thach likes to take them home and whip up fried rice the next day. Both times I went, the lobster was just a bit undercooked, which I don't mind, just be mindful if this is a factor for you.

They do an excellent job of breaking the shells too, making it easier for me to plough through these two towers. They also offer plastic gloves if you're too afraid to get your hands dirty. On our second visit we ordered two towers of lobster. One with fried garlic and the other one HK style as well as Vancouver crab instead of King crab. I was more in favour of the king crab tower, not because it tasted better but because my lazy butt can get to the meat way easier. (king crab pictured below on the left)

The combo we ordered on our second visit came with steamed fish, abalone and sautéed pea shoots. Abalone for me is good but not mind blowing great. It's a little buttery, salty, and chewy - kind of like what tofu would be like if it had a baby with a scallop. You know what I mean? The steamed fish was nice and fresh and was a great contrast to all the deep fried dishes.

I wouldn't recommend coming here unless you have more than four people with you. The portions are pretty dinosaur like. Even with the five/six of us, we struggled to finish what we ordered. We ended up with enough left overs for a second dinner the next day - for the three of us.
A bowl of sautéed veggies, fried rice with roe and steamed crab also came with one of the combos. These were the perfect side dishes. Veggies at Chinese restaurants are always my favourite - they're light and flavourful enough to play side kick to the main dish.

Fried rice is my weakness so I was all over this one. It was my favourite side dish and it was the  perfect accompaniment to the seafood.  I would have been happy just having the rice and a few lashings of fried anchovies. Just kidding, gimme all the lobster! 
The last seafood dish was the crab legs steamed with eggs - something I've never had before. I couldn't figure out if I liked it or hated it. I ended up just using it as a palate cleanser in-between the  fried lobster and crab.  Much like the steamed fish on our second visit, it worked wonderfully that way. I could have done without the eggs though.
The restaurant itself is a little crowded - as per usual for Chinese restaurants. There are massive water tanks surrounding the dining area and the tables are super close together. Keep that in mind when traveling with large purses and baby accessories. The large tanks are a little intimidating, nothing like being watched by a family of crustaceans while you rip into their relatives.
I would highly recommend making reservations and bringing a few friends with you. I thought ordering a la carte would be better but the combos are just a better bang for your buck. The dessert that came at the end of the meal was repulsive in looks and only mildly edible in flavour - hence no picture.  I didn't enjoy it both times.  I would definitely go back again if I could round up enough seafood lovers.  Oh yeah,  they only accept dolla dolla bill$ (cash only). 

Happy Eating!

Fishman Lobster Clubhouse
680 Silver Star Blvd
Toronto, On
Fishman Lobster Clubhouse Restaurant on Urbanspoon

December 31, 2014

Persimon Glazed Ham

Two things put a smile on my face this time of year: Toffifee on the shelves and a box of persimmons on the counter. I alway make sure to stock up on both these beauties when they're in season. 

This year, I was introduced to Persimon - a special variety native to Spain. They're larger and longer than most persimmons, which really just means there's more of it to love. Unlike the other larger varieties, these don't need to be ripened before consumption. They're ready to eat when they're firm to the touch. I personally prefer my persimmons this way - still crunchy and firm. If you've never had one before - picture a peach and a mango making love; and what you get are these juicy babies. 
With a box of Persimon at my disposal, I had them each and every way I could imagine. From my morning smoothies, charcuterie platters,  to my Christmas dinner and even a post Christmas salad. They hold up quite well paired with cheeses and salty meats. Once they get sugar freckles (brown spots that appear when fruit ripens - think bananas) they're perfect for smoothies. 
For Christmas this year I made a honey & Persimon glazed ham. This was definitely one of my favourite lazy girl recipes.  

All you need is :

  • small sauce pot 
  • pealed & diced persimmons
  • one stick of cinnamon
  • a few splashes of OJ 
  • honey to taste
Boil it all down, adding more honey or OJ to taste - then using a hand puree (after you've removed the cinnamon stick), blend it all up.
I bought a bone in smoked ham from Denninger's, scored the top fat layer and slathered that Persimon compote all over that little piggy.  The ham is already cooked so you're just looking to heat it up -  this recipe is a serious no brainer. Make sure to just score the top fat layer and bring the ham out to room temp before you throw it in the oven. I basted the ham with more compote every 10 - 15 minutes. A few times I basted with just honey.  I'm one of those peeps who likes my ham sweet and sticky. 300 degrees, bottom rack, 40 minutes (ish) and then 15 minutes (ish) on broil to caramelize the honey a bit - but watch it closely, the sugar will burn quickly. 
You can't mess this one up. The ham is already cooked so just make sure not to over cook it. You're really just looking to warm it up so pull it out sooner rather than later. 

To serve, I sliced half the ham and left the other half with the bone in unsliced. I couldn't be bothered to debone it. It's the holidays, why make your life harder than it has to be? I left a carving knife nearby and guest were free to slice as they please. #LazyGirlEntertaining 
After that feast, how bout we lay low with an even easier recipe I got from the Persimon website. 
  • 1 Persimon sliced thinly
  • handful of blueberries
  • ½ cup  pomegranate seeds
1 tbsp  lemon juice
  • sprigs of fresh mint, roughly chopped
  • 2 tbsp  liquid honey
  • 1 cup  Greek yogurt 

Throw the Persimon slices, blueberries and pomegranate seeds in a large serving bowl. Drizzle with lemon juice and honey. Sprinkle with mint and a dollop of greek yoghurt. I used cherry yoghurt below. 

That's it. 

I know. 

Pretty sweet eh? I omitted the blueberries just cause they were out of season. I ate this like it was chip & dip.

Of course, when all else fails, just slice these bad boys up and enjoy! Brings me to tears these Persimon are only available in Canada till mid January - so gobble them up while you can.

Happy Eating! 

*I was given a box of Persimon for this article. Find out more about this variety of persimmons at  and enter to win a trip to Spain. Follow them on twitter @persimonsays #persimonsays

December 30, 2014

Not One of Those 2014 Recaps

So where do I start? First off, I'm trying to make THG happen - like when Puff Daddy went to P. Diddy, I'm transitioning into THG. 

Just Kidding.

The Hungry Gnome has taken a bit of a back seat these past few weeks.  Why? Hmm getting a new kitty isn't exactly what you want to hear so how about we act like that little break never happened and we get back to regular scheduled blogging? Sounds, great - thanks for understanding boo.  
So, the last few months I've been on a bit of a seafood binge. I could eat seafood all day everyday but I'm also a big cheapie so I love finding a good bang for my buck without compromising my butt, if you know what I mean.

My birthday this past October was the perfect occasion to 1. get all the Belly Monsters together & 2. gorge on seafood. Spoonful - 499 Main St South | Brampton | Spoonful By Imperial Buffet on Urbanspoon  is one of the best seafood ayce joints I've seen within a driving distance. We went on a weekend and there was a fantastic spread of raw and cooked seafood from conch, crab, scallops, oysters, shrimp - you name it, they had it! My trick with seafood ayce joints is all in the sauce . Obviously with a buffet you can't expect supreme quality but with a few squeezes of lemon or  a few lashings of  diy seafood sauce - you've got a pretty banging  meal. 
I also used my birthday as an excuse to finally check out the brunch menu at Aberdeen Tavern - 432 Aberdeen Ave | Hamilton Aberdeen Tavern on Urbanspoon  which I am happy to say is finally being served on Saturdays. More restaurants need to follow their lead, I'm looking at you Ancaster Mill! The croque monsieur was heavenly - nice and rich, but not too heavy and was surprisingly the best dish out of the lot. I realize it's just a bougie ham & cheese sandwich, but sue me, I got a little fancy pants in me.  I would go back and order that any day. 
Other October birthdays also provided me with the opportunity to finally check out the Ritz Carlton brunch. It cost me $103.48 - so you better fricken believe it when I say, there is most definitely going to be a blog post about this one! Just drool over the food porn for now and I'll fill you in on the details later. K, girlfriend?
And of course I had an actual birthday gathering - aka, come over and hang out in your pjs and eat all of my favourite things. This is pretty much how I like to spend my birthday's every year.  I go for dinners leading up to the big day and the actual day is spent at home, with a top knot bun, eating the whole fridge.  This year we had kalbi salad wraps, giant fruit platters, a tower of donuts, and a pound of Rapscallions infamous chicken liver creme brûlé. Muchas Gracias to Erin for gifting me with one of my favourite things off their menu. You think this stuff taste bomb dignity at the restaurant - wait till you try it at home, in your pjs, over the sink. ERMAHGERD. I can't even describe the mouthgasms I was experiencing. 
I also ventured out to some new digs - like the new Hakka Chinese place - 239 York Boulevard | Hamilton. To be honest, this place is a total dive. But don't let that scare you away. We walked in on its first week of business and was greeted by a lovely gentlemen working the counter. Turns out he was the server, cook, and cashier. A renaissance man, this guy. 

I have absolutely no experience with Hakka food so, thank goodness for the Chub Squad. They did a beautiful job of ordering and we also asked Mr. Renaissance Man what his recommendations were. I would recommend sticking to the Indian side of the menu - the kebabs & spicy chicken were a personal favourite. A few of the Hakka items - manchurian beef/chicken as well as the fried rice was fantastic. Oh! The garlic naan was out of this world as well. Fresh chunks of raw garlic basted in oil - and it was made fresh to order, in house son! As my fellow Belly Monster, Justin would say - gawdlike. We couldn't help but keep ordering basket, after basket.  There will definitely be a more detailed post on this place as well! 

And of course can't forget the old classics, like Memphis Fire BBQ. Don't bother getting the hot dog though - just stick to their BBQ, what was I thinking? 
I also squeezed in a quick trip to Vegas with the Sisters and a few friends. We spent four days eating and competing in a professional Bingo Tournament. Oh yeah, you read that right baby, we killed it at bingo.
More Vegas eats coming up in a later post. Besides eating out, I managed to squeeze in some time to butcher a lamb, more birthday celebrations, gobbled up an all duck burger from Novemburger, discovered that Demetres now serves ice-cream sandwiches - can you believe they finally changed their menu? It's a little kitschy but I can't say no to those waffles. Wait, those were all times I went out to eat - I need to get a life.

I also went out to SB Prime - 390 Brant St | Burlington | SB Prime on Urbanspoon for some nibbles and drinks with a few other bloggers. It was nice to get out and see some familiar faces and nosh on these beautiful appy platters. I was familiar with them through Taste of Burlington but it was nice to enjoy the food in its natural setting. The restaurant space was pretty intimate with an open concept kitchen but a very quaint private dining area in the back. 
There was a very, very, short period of time before and after Christmas where I attempted to "eat clean" - see persimmon, pomegranate and mixed berry smoothie cup above as proof, but of course, once Christmas rolled around, it was out with the skinny jeans and in come the stretchy pants. 

What can I say? My people know how to feed me - and this was only half the table. 
Our last big dinner of the year was my moms annual birthday dinner at Fishman Lobster Clubhouse - 680 SilverStar Boulevard | Scarborough Fishman Lobster Clubhouse Restaurant on Urbanspoon. I'm sure my parents wait all year for this meal and you, my dear, will have to wait for the complete review as well.  Sorry! 
Did you see what I just did there? I tricked you into reading an entire post of "this is what I ate, and then I ate this - and I ate this" ...suckah Thanks for sticking around, thanks for reading the Hungry Gnome, and thanks for all the love and support. Can't wait for new foodie adventures come 2015.

Happy Eating & Happy New Year!