Apple Pie and an impromptu Mixed Berry (with hidden marshmallows) also received astounding feedback.
Group activities are decidedly uncommon in my neck of the woods. So when a certain prehistoric creature extended an invite to a DIY sushi get-together with the promise of mahjong, I was more than thrilled to get going on the 401 early Sunday morning.
The day prior could be summarized to outright helter-kelter: in between weekend work shifts were "grosho" runs, and in between those were intermittent preparatory procedures for gathering-ready baked goodies. Without a doubt, I was worn to the core by the end of my sixth workday, especially given that badminton and laundry were the customary terminal tasks of the day.
Nonetheless, there was no shortage of enjoyment in presenting Chocolate Buttercrunch Cookies - made possible with the acquisition of fraktals from the Seasons Christmas Market at the table.
Apple Pie and an impromptu Mixed Berry (with hidden marshmallows) also received astounding feedback.
After being acquainted with nigiri-wrapping and shari-tossing techniques, we cleared the table and proceeded with the next order of business: Mahjong, with a side of mild alcohol.
The rest of the group guzzled Asahi while I had my taste at MacKinnon Brothers' Red Fox Ale; it was, regrettably, bitter and not reminiscent of amber ale in the slightest.
The Indian Roti House along Queens Quay was visited for a quiet weekday lunch, with our roti ordered online in advance for pickup.
A Mango Chicken Curry Roti - made mild (with special instructions for further mildness) - was shared amongst a party of two. Presented in an aluminium foil tin was a rectangular parcel, and within it a sweet-savoury mix of tender chicken bites and occasional strands of spinach. Its cloying properties were likely owed to canned mango concentrate, which yielded a degree of sugariness that would have paired optimally with higher notches of spice. Nonetheless, it was a highly enjoyable dish and ideally portioned for two.
The pick-up process was swift and effortless; the hair net-donning cashier was also incredibly amiable.
With each passing year is incremental desensitization to the infamous New Year resolution buzz. Perhaps it is the coming of age, or maybe the progressively surging workload as a full-fledged human in the workforce. Our growth as mortals is somehow proportional - linearly or exponentially is for you to decide - to the daily task count that must be accomplished by day's end. And with that, we lose sight of the specifics of daily activities. A routine is adopted thoughtlessly, and time slips through our fingertips as do grains of sand on a Malibu shoreline.
As extensive as this collection of visuals may be, it merely serves to convey my early 2020 observations at a very high level.
Java is the notorious propellant of all Monday activities, in addition to majority of weekday morning happenings. To be graced with the smoothest espresso on the planet, one heads to Pilot. A decadent Mocha and exquisite Flat White soothed our fatigued souls from the evening prior.
Later in the afternoon was a second boost. Marked by a lunchtime walk about St. Lawrence (and prompted by the St. Lawrence Market's weekly closures) was a stopover at Balzac's. The two-part partitioned coffee shop was a cozy endeavour in the historical, parking-scarce neighbourhood: brick walls, wooden floorboards, and seedling-and-coffee-pot-embellished wallapaper contributed a certain zen-ness to the established environment.
The clock was ticking, so we chose our items to go: a Brewed Coffee for the prehistoric creature and a Ginger Mollasses Cookie for myself. My treat was chewier than it was crunchy, and not nearly spicy enough. The prominent presence of molasses was pleasant, though the tacky texture of the flat round left much to be desired. A slight gripe was also emitted at the absence of the ginger candy centrepiece adorning the surface of every other unit in the stack. Unfortunately, the specimen had been shoved into a paper bag swifter than the blemish could be diagnosed.
Upon the mention of Hub, I can summon forth only memories of definitive quality. And while it's been brought to my attention, on several occasions, actually, that across from platform emerged their sister location, I had yet to find a chance to visit.
Immediately before MiKi's doors was a similar parking situation to Daldongnae - an access permitting entry via right turns only - and a scarcity of spots much like Katsuya's original uptown location. The interior was, in fact, a tad tinier than the famed cutlet eatery, though adopted a similar format to Hub. With a maximum capacity of thirty seats in the forms of four- and six-seaters, raised communal tables were in absence.
The floor layout was compact with a sushi bar that faced the dining area and washroom stalls at the back of the restaurant. Spotted within one of the two individual, gender-separated stalls was a multi-tier shelf, complete with air freshener, just like Hub.
A reservation was originally made for their opening time of 11:30 AM, however was later postponed due to collective tardiness amongst the group. Finding parking was my initial concern, but thankfully all three personal vehicles under consideration were able to be accommodated without issues.
Despite being geographically furthest, I was first to arrive and nabbed the table just short of the clock striking noon.
As I awaited the arrival of the others, FANCY played overhead; videos of orangecane's favourite septet cycled through on a small screen above, remaining consistent for the entire duration of our visit. The playlist blaring above, annoyingly persisted with more behind-the-scenes tunes, in the same manner, interrupted only by a few bursts of BLACKPINK and (G)I-DLE.
< Pictured above and below: Salmon Pressed Sushi, Tuna Pressed Sushi, Unagi Kimchi Donburi, Over the Rainbow, and Legend Dynamite >
The group was guided through the menu, with emphasis on their tried-and-true offerings. Aburi pressed sushi and wacky Special Rolls possess unwavering appeal to first-time diners, as did the positively irresistible Unagi Kimchi Donburi (well, to the vast majority at the table anyway).
The coming of a new year has seemingly lost its meaning with each iteration. Too fatigued for subzero photography excursions amidst the masses, I've mainly taken to celebrating the national event from the comfort of my home and cable television. Last year's had been spent exporting a painfully tedious compilation captured on the East Coast, whereas this year's proved even more mundane: recovering from a potential case of food poisoning.
Maintaining their presence is orangecane's adorable sugar cookies; though the Maple Nutmeg bears didn't lack in the visual appeal category, the plain, full-body Santas were my personal fave.
New to the collectives are: Thai Tea (!!!), Peanut Butter Stout, and a scrumptious coffee-laced choco bar from starsnpigs.
2020's arrival stirred up quite a bit of noise, for it marked the landing of a new decade - a fact that raised awareness of time and space (aka AGE). Frankly, it's never been a habit to recap the happenings of the past 365 (and sometimes plus one) days. But sometimes, just sometimes, it's important to look back, just to see how far you've come, or how far you've retreated.
There are those that rarely leave their hibernation zone even at the allure of their favourite restaurant. In my case, it isn't food but rather the promise of a visit to Playdium or The Rec Room. Because games and friendly competition never fail to make for an enjoyable time.
"You busy today?"
"One is never 'too busy' for Rec Room" I cocked an eyebrow while submitting my response.
Prior to arcade games was dinner at Onnuri, complete with my chauffeur of the evening urging makgeolli intake.
It was apparent that few diners ordered the rice wine, for it separated several times over the course of the meal. Moreoever, neither the traditional Stainless steel tea pot nor drinking bowls were provided to us. Ceramic tea cups were utilized instead.
We took to Ttedokmandu-guk and Unagi Dolsot Bibimbap, otherwise known as Man Doo Hyang and Hub's respective specialties. The latter was oddly delightful, even in the face of the uptown contender's more superior rendition. Despite being egg-less, sesame oil-less, and tobiko-less, it fared far better than expected of the Korean comfort food joint.
My chauffeur had been more than generous in bringing along a pair of old skates for me to use, while also lacing me up and steadying the numerous rounds along civic centre grounds.
Amusing was the very fact that I, as a local resident, hadn't ever completed a lap here in my two-point-five decades of existence, whereas the out-of-towner had glided across on more occasions than able to be recalled. I was thankful for the experience, for my last time donning skates was likely five years prior at Nathan Philips.
At 7:15 AM, Morning Flower sprawled itself out within the compact crate that was my room. Catching a groggy glimpse of the undisturbed darkness outside, I began to prepare for a day filled with activity. Odd to think that I'd be rising sooner than the sun on a statutory sleep-in day.
starsnpigs followed up on her end of the deal, revealing herself on my doorstep just after 8 AM, pan and eggs in tow. A rushed baking operation then commenced.
The stovetop portion of the recipe concluded just as the next item on the itinerary begged our attention. Swiftly, and, admittedly, a little aggressively, we zipped along the 403 towards HUF.
Upon arrival, we were handed waivers. Mid-signing, I informed one of the staff members that we had called in advance to secure an orientation ("beginners class") with one of the trainers with the intention of joining the 12 pm class. The man began to deny my thrice-confirmed appointment with utmost certainty.
"We don't have any classes for today. We tried to tell you, but you hung up and we didn't have your number."
His voice boomed, overbearing with the intention of instilling fear, but the contents escaping his mouth couldn't have been further from the truth. This was especially so considering that the girl who had answered my call had noted down our names in addition to providing the name of the personal trainer who would be assisting us for the beginner session.
As I was about to argue the inconsistency in information, a man walked through the doors and was immediately greeted by the counter staff. Undeterred, I began to press further, but was then immediately interrupted. The pompous one retracted his statement and then, towards the new occupant of the space, expressed relief towards his appearance. "We are short-staffed, but Dan is here now."
"Dan" was delegated with the task of familiarizing us with the gym. Had he not appeared though, our trip would have likely been in vain, forcing us to return in absence of perspiration. The programme materialized as planned afterwards, though I can't help but be extremely bothered by the arrogant actions of the other member of staff. Shifting the blame of a business towards the customer is not an unseen tactic to remove liability, however the twisting of truth is unforgivable and further displays a lack of credibility.
Changerooms were clean and colourful: individual washrooms and shower stalls occupied one portion, while lockers were positioned by the entrance. Weight-lifting apparatus were observed throughout the facility; past the counter in a separate room were boxing rings, a more expansive selection of exercise equipment, free weights, and sport-specific training tools.
The trainer began the session by inquiring about our existing activity levels, and whether weightlifting and/or other athletic pasttimes played a part. We were slowly eased into footwork fundamentals - otherwise known as our "box" - then the names of various punches. Maintaining one's centre of gravity was of utmost significance, as was protecting the "crown jewel" of our "house". As with any combat sport, defeating one's opponent is the ultimately end goal, and, supposedly, the chin was the body part capable of causing instant collapse upon impact. Consequently, chins were tucked and hands were raised into fists by the jawbone.
When Kinka first reared its head by the waterfront, most had assumed Kinton would be operating in unison.
"December" we had been told. "The wallpaper is going up now."
A fruitless first foray into the chain's eleventh location later, our team agreed to arrive early to beat the rush. And, as proposed, the group assembled at the ramen joint's storefront at exactly 11:27 AM. Coatless, and supposedly pitiful-looking, we were ushered inside by the staff after less than ten seconds of shivering.
The wooden tables were a familiar sight, as was the textured wall finishing. Light fixtures reminiscent of Kinka's bamboo sake were an unforeseen finish. Backless stools with bag compartments were neatly arranged at each table; a two-level coat rack stood by the entrance.
The menu was consistent with the other locations, aside from the December special of the Yamitsuki Curry-men.
Two pitchers of Sapporo were the team's original intentions, but upon being informed of their establishment's lack of a liquor license, soft drinks and ice water were requested instead.
Shortly after orders were placed, a basket of lightly salted edamame was circulated about the table. This straw basket didn't succeed in making a second round, however, as a member at the far end opted to devour its contents in place of the Chicken ramen he inadequately chose.
Our party was mighty fond of their picks - be it the Original or Spicy Garlic. My own Karaage Pork was undeniably rich, resulting in feelings of satiation well beyond the seven-hour mark. A composition devoid of eggs, chashu, and veggies of any sort, the there was little substance beyond the thin noodles and crispy fried chicken morsels.
Individual washroom stalls were found towards the back of the eatery, past the fume-filled open kitchen. Such spaces were stocked with sufficient toiletries and satisfactorily maintained.
I had forgotten all about the convention until two days prior, when my favourite fangirl forwarded the program schedule to me in image form.
The first of its kind, KPOP NORTH was introduced as a convention aiming to bring more K-Pop artists north of the border, hopefully one day achieving the same degree of recognition as KCON in the States. And with its organizers fluent in the Korean language, the promise was far greater than Pop! Goes The World and their shady empty promises.
We had purchased GA+ tickets just after the fifty percent price slash, then later learned of the complementary Hi-Touch pass. Unlike the infamous Mnet-run KCON though, the passes were not distributed randomly, but rather online via Google Forms registration on a first come, first serve basis. Both of us selected The Rose without hesitation, though it wasn't until later that I discovered she had also purchased additional benefits such as Photo Op and Hi-Touch passes for other artists.
Taking place in the North building where ProFusion had occupied five weeks prior, the convention grounds were as simplistic (read: barren) as could be. There wasn't much of a dealer's alley, and even smaller a selection of instant nourishment. At the west end of the upper floor was the concert stage, uncarpeted, with overhead spotlights and an LCD screen acting as the sole production enhancement tools. (Might I add that this screen was repeatedly disconnected, revealing the VLC Player logo and cognate inadequacies of the stage team.)
Coat check incurred a four-dollar drop-off fee and an unnecessary amount of hassle. Consequently, I took to leaving my winter gear (and pre-packed dinner) elsewhere. The trek wasn't particularly lengthy via The PATH, however the frequent trips soon fatigued my calves, which were already engaged throughout the standing shows.
The Rose was the first act of the afternoon. It was an unexpected choice by the organizers, for rookie groups such as VERIVERY generally assume the roles of show-starters.
Needless to say, I wasn't particularly punctual, and my actions served to place me outside the GA+ crowd, nestled behind those sporting pink GA wristbands.
With the band being my primary reason for ticket purchase, I shall admit disappointment towards being unable to capture the quadret clearly. On the less regrettable flip side, I will also profess that I took to experiencing their voices and instrumentals on a more human level, free from the distractions of technology. The Rose's energy was as spectacular as their studio releases.
I had never been too familiar with the members prior to this day, though one thing is certain: trench coat-shedding Jaehyeong definitely made my heart skip a beat.
The fangirl and her posse opted to plaster themselves by the barricade even after The Rose had concluded their performance, in spite of VERIVERY's pending segment. During this forty-minute break, I took to visiting the handful of merchandise vendors, bumping into a few familiar faces along the way.
The Kpop Random Dance was likely the most interesting panel event.
Commonly heard throughout my undergrad were the following three pillars: Sleep, Studies, and Social Life, and how maintaining equilibrium between them was an unattainable task.
Post-graduation, the S-trio has undergone metamorphosis, yielding Health, Interpersonal Relations, and Financial Stability as its final form.
- Health encompasses both physical and mental well-being, be it concerns over insomnia or the simple act of
engaging in everyday joys (such as fangirling).
- Interpersonal Relations takes into account family matters, friends, and the general presence of a social circle. These intangible ties are often neglected when the latter grows dire.
- The most self-explanatory of them all, Financial Stability is a gauge of survival capability - the distinction between struggling for fundamental means and cruising comfortably through 401 congestion.
Without elaborating into an otherwise arguably philosophical approach to human existence, I shall plainly state that these pedestals of continuance are impossible to acquire in harmony. The inevitable has finally befallen, and it seems that circumstances are likely to persist for a while longer.
Weekend work and errands were succeeded by a Big Mac and a terribly tedious wait at Pearson.
Reluctantly inching into Monday, I saw blue skies, a Matcha Latte, and the slow-but-steady advancement of CIBC Square.
Oh, and The Krys. The Golden Thai Milk Tea - at Light sugar and no ice - may be the sole item of delectability at the waterfront bubble tea shop. Whitewater Brewing's Peanut Butter Shake was nothing short of tremendous either. Good on you, Ottawa Valley!
Behold: Triple Threat Sulley.
Fancy socks are commonly incorporated into my closet to offset my otherwise monochromatic (and allegedly monotonous) ensembles.
Since mid-October, my weekly KDC sessions have repeatedly been supplying me with new perspectives. As much as dance is a form of exercise, it is also a medium of expression, surpassingly so.
Despite being an amateur at "feeling the groove" while memorizing a sequence of movements, the classes were always a blast, and always a portal to absorb new information. Contrary to my initial belief, the choreography introduced did not have to be reproduced identically. Rather, it seemed that both participants and instructors preferred slight modifications, such that the moves aligned with one's original style.
I grasped the core meaning of "community" - a space free of judgment and brimming with absolute freedom, a collective of positive vibes and mutual encouragement.
KDC classes bridged the gap between Intermediate and Advanced levels, which was, admittedly, still too advanced for the likes of me and my lack of practice. Years of recreational badminton have honed my hand-eye coordination, yet left my sense of rhythm stagnant. The ability to move my body with grace was impaired. I was but a zealous concert-goer unaccustomed to the complex steps of urban dance.
However, the more experienced attendees did not bat even an eyelash. Many were more than willing to lend a helping hand - or arm, or leg - in assisting newbies like me learn a new move.
The term concluded with a double class: the first incorporating b-boy vibes and the second fluid attitudes à la house and ahgase's very own Hit The Stage champion.
One Beginner class and two KDCs later though, I was more than ready to call it a day. The team at the nearby McDonald's was apparently aware of this as well, for I lucked out with a triple-sized Vanilla Cone due to worker error.
This single serving was sufficient in compensating the dissatisfactory swirls of the past.
In review of the rest of the week was an incredulously lengthy baking session, which, in turn, resulted in a decent batch of gingersnap cookies and a not-so-spectacular dual-toned pound cake.
Who Am I?
I'm the one that talks fashion and K-Pop randoms behind Quirky Aesthetics, the one who contributes honest opinions about commercial beauty items on Review Junkie, the one that obsessively shares photos of food on Pinterest, the one that loves her DSLR more than her own being and the one that wants to work in the transportation sector for a living.