The Viva BRT along Highway 7 is revolutionary for northeast GTA, though its kinks still leave much to be desired for regular transit-riders. For weekend travels, and Sundays in particular, it proves insufficient in guaranteeing a stree-free commute with up to thirty-minute transfer gaps; for this very reason, the transition between GO Transit and local YRT would be rendered more troublesome than necessary.
One would have believed that a stretch of underground and abundance of asphalt would be more than capable of meeting the parking demands of Markham's driver-burdened population. Great disappointment found its way toward me, as this was not the case: frustration was thoroughly felt after making several loops around the underground lot with little luck. Eventually, a lone spot was secured at the edge of the exterior lot and the trek was made in the direction of the air-conditioned building duo. We climbed up the snail-like escalator - actually, I just hiked up the single flight of fifty-or-so stairs - and came face to face with the ridiculous crowd at Kiu.
Thankfully, small groups were easy to accomodate. The hostess was pleasant and offered to seat us at the sushi bar to fulfill my request for ample natural lighting. The lower level bar seating was actualy far more superior than the boxy booths and wooden tables: Noise levels were lower along the perimeter of the restaurant, the corner spot permitted plenty of space for storage of belongings, and the seats provided a clear view of the sushi chefs at work.
The scene tempted me to try their Aburi Sushi. My dining partner, who exclaimed that majority of their offerings were too pricey, took to the White Sesame Shio Ramen. As Kiu operated in partnership with Ramen Isshin on College, half of their menu had been allocated towards ramen bar items.
Orders were collected by a waitress with slicked back copper treads and dusty white complexion. Ice water and a dish of soy sauce followed up shortly after.
Artificial slate would have added points for visual appeal, but instead a rectangular slab of chipped, substandard wood was used to support the seven microscopic pieces of Aburi to our table - er, bar seats. (The lacquered plank made even Sushi Tei's more economic goods appear refined!)
My first reactions comprised of aghast shock and disappointment; these emotions were then overcome by biting bitterness and sheer sadness for my wallet.
The highlight of Aburi is, without a doubt, the fattiness of the fish. Its technique intends to activate the natural fatty acids embedded within the fish, nixing the need for soy sauce or any other condiments. Jalapeno slices are occasionally used to cut slickness while leaving the remainder of the specimen untouched.
Kiu's abomination foiled my plans. I was none too happy with that, but attempted to salvage the puny portion anyways.
A sliver of yuzu adorned the barely-torched, flavourless amaebi, while sodium-packed Jalapeno sauce camouflage most of the ebi oshizushi. Creamy seared toppings shrouded the natural flavours and consistencies of the fish, causing me to believe that it was intentionally added to yield the illusion of depth of flavour and/or mask the lack of freshness in the chosen sea species. Similarly gaudy ornaments decorated the rest of the pieces, all falling short of providing compensation and aggressively offering doses of monosodium glutamate (read: MSG) instead.
In the off-white container sat a pool of beige-toned broth that was neither viscous nor runny, but merely a bit thicker, richer, and cloudier than canned chicken broth. Three slices of chashu-style pork, black fungus, bamboo shoots, scallions, and a ramen egg topped off the mountain of chewy, wavy noodles.
The diminutive portion of noodles vanished within minutes of their arrival, although I found it unlikely a result of formidable taste but rather a consequence of unfulfilled hunger.
An objectionable visit with only brief bursts of smiley service to redeem itself, the establishment has earned itself a negative ranking in my books for eternity.
In all honesty, I'm fine with it, since lineups, terrible drivers, and at-capacity parking lots aren't my cup of tea either.
Cafe Bene and Yorkdale swapped spots on the itinerary.
Truthfully, The Cups would have been my first choice if it was open. Unfortunately, I am reminded of their Sunday closures every time I attempt to plan a visit on my days off.
Mango jelly, synthetic mango syrup, and rock-hard chunks of frozen mango weren't exactly the most exemplary of toppings for my fellow first-time bingsoo-taster. Thankfully, the snow ice was still fluffy and resisted disintegration until the final few frosty bites.
My initial suggestion was Foodie North, as Egg and Chive Pancakes have assumed a spot on my cravings list as of late. Our entrance was met with hoards of famished families and apparently endless wait time. The chaotic atmosphere prompted me to take my business elsewhere within two minutes of standing pressed against the fronts, backs, and sides of others.
The day's adventures wrapped up with a humble supper at Macey's instead.