These second floor cafes maintain a steady customer base consisting mainly of teens and students, so it's no suprise that a speedy, reliable Wi-Fi connection takes priority over accessibility.
A year ago, I chanced by Miss Rushka and Thinknu while attending an event in the downtown core. While expressing admiration for their most recent photoshoot at the time, my was piqued at their choice of venue. It occurred to me that while I had dropped by both Soban and Cafe Bene for bingsoo and desserts, there was one spot that I had omitted.
While I had been instructed to keep anticipations to a minimum, I couldn't help but remain
inquisitive about this old-comer. On the date that a friend and I had planned to watch Fabricated City, I suggested squeezing in a quick bite at the cafe to test this theory.
Location-wise, Cafe Princess is more than convenient for commuters and drivers alike. Those heading to Finch from York Region and east/west ends of the GTA will discover that it's only a few minutes from the bus terminal. The TTC subway exits on Yonge are even closer. Drivers have the option of parking in the ex-Scotiabank or CoCo parking lots and trekking over, if street parking generates anxiety.
The menus placed before me were laminated sheets bound together with flimsy notebook coils, edges peeling away and stained with grime. At the least the covers featured shrewd-looking "princesses" for amusement.
To be fair, the layout of the pages it housed adopted a far better appearance than Soban. Images were available for reference and prices were clearly stated. It was also noticed that the cafe imposed a 2-hour seating limit as well as one minimum order per person, though I cannot comment on whether either was strictly enforced.
A steaming cup arrived shortly in a white ceramic cup accompanied by a tiny spoon. Two spots were lightly damaged (ie. chipped) but otherwise free from any other age-indicating traits. For $4.58 though, I expected a little more than a heaping spoonful of yuzu concentrate dissolved in generic multi-packs.
Cakes, as witnessed in the refrigerated display case, were provided by La Rocca - the same wholesaler that supplies Green Grotto with its merchandise. Board games were also available, but for an additional charge of $2.50 per game. The boxes were already rather weathered from what my eyes could discern, but I suppose this was irrelevant since I rarely ever participate in such games.
Having been to Pastel further south of the intersection, I'd have to admit that it outdoes Cafe Princess in all aspects except service - both establishments offer equivalent levels of friendliness though the more senior is a tad less attentive to details. A girl donning bright fuschia blush served us with speed and precision during our stay, but for the most part, Cafe Princess was a limited service spot.
I can proudly announce personal conquering of the "starter cafe"; that said, it is now time to move onto bigger, signficantly better things. (Farewell, Cafe Princess. It seems that I'm just not fit for your type of royalty.)
Given the mild spring weather, I suggested popping into Formocha to grab a drink for the movie (soft drinks aren't my thing).
The shop is impossibly tiny with only a bar seats in a cramped L-shaped counter, so it's reasonable to assume that their emphasis is placed on takeout and delivery orders. Further proving this hypothesis, a lady waltzed in not even two minutes after our arrival to pick up two heft bags of bubble tea through Uber Eats.
We were finally spared a blank-looking glance from the girl behind the counter at this point. Completely disinterested in earning orders, I resisted the urge to recoil in sheer disgust when she spat out my order confirmation. Her attitude was downright dreadful and degrading. I also winced when she attempted to strategically dodge direct questions by providing willy-nilly answers.
"How much is it?" I responded in a neutral tone.
"(It's a) fifty cent difference."
The menu provided the demanded specifics faster.
When asked for a bag, she ducked behind the kitchen to produce one of the oddest cardboard carrying contraptions I've ever witnessed for bubble tea. Despite the size being an optimal fit for the drink, the fact that I wouldn't be able to discreetly stash it away was an emerging issue.
"We don't have plastic bags." she flatly responded.
"Didn't she just hand that lady two large bags?" my friend later reminded me.
From this date forward, Formocha is officially shunned for abominable service and mediocre drink quality.
A complete commentary on Fabricated City can be found HERE .
Sans-lineup, a total of ten minutes passed before she addressed my gradually encroaching presence. More confusion took place as she rummaged through order slips and bags to locate my prepaid cake.
All factors taken into consideration, the 7-inch Japanese Cheesecake is a decent alternative to the cult favourite at Bay and Dundas. Similarities in price ($10 plus tax) and consistency render it a suitable cure for curbing cheesecake cravings. Personally, I would found further enjoyment in more cheesiness, higher levels of efficiency, and a more convenient location.
Comparisons between the two restaurants are inevitable, but I shall comply by making strict correlations only between the dakgalbi dinners.
Where the Bloor Street restaurant was primarily filled with young Korean professionals, Joons retained a balance of local residents, Chinese students, and Korean families. Four-person tables filled up quickly come dinnertime, but I can't be sure whether this is because the staff members occupy one of the large group tables by cooking dakgalbi over a tabletop gas stove.
"Even the sweet potato slices are few." Our waitress piped up, "There are only three pieces." An implied instruction to add extra everything reverberated towards my ears.
The final decision came to adding one portion's worth of shredded cheese (for $2.00) and a bowl of steamed rice (for $1.75). Banchan of semi-cooked broccoli, butter-infused potato salad, kimchi, and pickled radish slices arrived shortly after, again, with each container containing a single person's portion.
Joons' was far spicier than Hancook: the chicken bits had been tolerable with spoonfuls of rice/potato salad/radish at Hancook, but this pan was simply a red-hot glowing abyss of torture. I couldn't taste any other seasonings beyond gochujang at all.
Points worth noting though was the size of the two-person platter, number of side dishes, and accompanying prices. Instead of providing a tabletop gas stove to keep the contents of the pan warm throughout the meal, Joons' version was merely served on top a sun-shaped silicon mat and allowed to cool to room temperature. The pan was larger than of Hancook's, but the amount contained within was still evidently lesser. Both banchan and toppings were meager, especially considering the cost difference. Service was almost nonexistent as the evening progressed due to a sudden influx of hungry customers.
All meals were paid for at the cashier area outside the kitchen; on the counter ledge were business cards as well as individual squares of gum for post-dinner minty freshness.