My day got off to a great start: I picked up a smooth, creamy mocha from Pilot Coffee's pop-up shop in Union Station's Great Hall on my way to this year's ProFusion, and then witnessed the busy terminal gradually come to a hush to honour and remember our country's brave veterans during a moment of trumpet-accompanied silence.
For the common commuter, making a trip to the East End is no easy feat; fortunately for me, as well as the many others that frequent Union Station, Pilot is now serving their fragrant, caffeinated creations within a few minutes of the bus/train platforms. By no means an expert, I couldn't quite describe the flavours present, but I can conclude that the Mocha utilized a rich and somewhat chocolate-y bean to compliment the addition of steamed chocolate milk.
Lunch was also an event I had been anticipating. The original idea of afternoon tea in Mississauga was promptly ejected as soon as I was notified of my friend's drastic transit delay. But it was nearing 2:00 PM, and I was famished. And to my dismay, it looked like I'd be continuing to lug my weighty backpack around for the day.
Nearby was Khao San Road, a highly-recommended Thai restaurant that I've been itching to try the entrees of since witnessing the insane level of lunchtime activity on an earlier visit for Thai Iced Tea.
I decided to deal with my luggage, that is, until she informed me that hidden hooks were actually installed underneath the bar for the exact purpose of hanging personal belongings. Relieved that I wouldn't have to strangle my bag during the entire meal, I gladly hung it up and began to take a look at the menu.
Solely based on its description, I expected Pad Gra Prao to resemble some sort of spicy fried rice. But alas, the plate that arrived took on the appearance of minced meat on rice served with a side of precipate-filled, spicy dipping sauce. Instead of the soft, oily properties of Taiwanese Minced Meat on Rice, the dish contained a higher degree of texture, as well as a diverse blend of spices and seasonings. It's a bit difficult to pinpoint the focus of the flavour profile; nonetheless, the dish was satisfying and unique to taste.
By golly, this was heaven-like. The mild yellow curry was creamy, exuding an ever-so-fragrant coconut-y aroma; the crispy noodles added a lovely crunch, and were tasted even better when partially submerged. As for the egg noodles (that largely resembled Chinese flat rice noodles), they proved the carbs required to stay satisfied.
To call the dish delightful would be misleading - it was a masterpiece. With three varying textures and intense depth of flavour, I continued to munch on even after curbing my hunger. And adding in the juice of a lime wedge heightened the taste even more! Had I been able to withstand an even spicier curry, I may not have had to sip on my Thai Iced Tea (its icy sweetness allowed for another perfect pairing!) after every few bites to cool my tongue. Regardless, Khao Soi is a dish I can undoubtedly guarantee I shall be ordering again.
After foraging for sustenance, I finally met up with said delayed friend in Chinatown.
Echo employs the same song selection system as ten23, just in a less pleasant environment. The sofas were rather cramped together, the screen was on the grimy side, and an peculiar odour oozed out from certain areas of the room. The germaphobe in me also prickled at the fact that they did not have mic covers available.
Our bill came to a total of $12.50 each, which meant that tax and a gratuity fee of 10% had already been included. Little did we realize this until afterwards, as we both tipped an extra dollar. (Oops! Well, in our defence, the young man managing the karaoke box was very friendly.)
Having digested our late lunches, we headed to STAY Cafeteria afterwards for dessert.
We decided to share a Mango Shaved Ice, which turned out to be a small bowl of snow ice drizzled with concentrated mango syrup, sweetened condensed milk, lychee popping boba, and topped with a few mushy chunks of mango plus a handful of toasted rice. The mint leaf was purely inputted as a garnish, but was an oddly irrelevant addition in my opinion. The overall appearance resembled tropical mango sticky rice - far from the extravagant towers of layers I was used to seeing at zenQ and Cha Me. Cha.
Based on social media - namely Instagram - it seems that their savoury noodle dishes and Oreo Mochi Toast (carbs on carbs on carbs) are the next two popular items on the menu. STAY isn't situated in a particularly convenient location for someone who frequents the Entertainment and Financial Districts, but may be worth giving a second chance with a commuting schedule that's a little less restricting.