We commenced the day with a few errands, stopping by Hillcrest first then the Ho-View Plaza (好景商場) on Hwy 7.
The Korean-ran restaurant was rather tiny, and seemed to focus primarily on takeout orders. Nearly all of their twelve-or-so tables were occupied at our time of arrival, but merely one middle-aged lady and two visible members of kitchen staff were tending to making orders and tending to the floor.
Two Lunch Specials had been selected: L5 Sushi Box and L12 Unagi Don Box; the bentos were priced at $9.99 and $12.99 respectively.
Glass noodle strands were swollen - a sign of being overcooked - and lacked the rigidity needed to maintain its length. The fine pieces were difficult to pick up with chopsticks, but, moreover, devoid of the sesame oil and sesame seeds observed in other establishments' renditions; not to mention: the only other component were julienne carrots and almost indiscernible strips of zucchini.
The assorted nigiri from L5 was disappointing beyond belief. Not only were the slices far from fresh, they were essentially inedible without the heavy dunking of wasabi-laden soy sauce. L12's measly bits of sticky, bony unagi was even more depressing given its price tag. While even T&T serves up plump strips of marinated cooked eel in entirety, Akane had taken the cheapest route possible with crummy bits of limp protein.
Might I also add that neither order came with miso soup, side salad, or banchan. Napkins were scarce, if any, and no more than two pairs of disposable chopsticks had been included. Disposable spoons were not to be found either
The location itself wasn't the convenient of places, especially as members of suburbia. Moreover, its proximity to the Yonge and Eglinton intersection and its ongoing Crosstown construction meant migraines for drivers and commuters alike. On a more positive note, there was ample free parking in the nearby residential region during off-peak hours, and meter parking along Mount Pleasant Road should one wish to refrain from trekking back to one's vehicle solo after sundown.
We were quick to request recommendations prior to discussing potential orders, which the server was more than happy to provide. Narrowing down our picks from the exotic selection wasn't difficult, since the complete online list had been perused in advance, though it did take him a short while to come over and note down our choices.
Also consisting of three components, the starter was of a substatial size but very meat-heavy (read: easily satiating for those unaccustomed to a high meat intake).
Personally speaking, this element was the least attractive out of the trio. However, it attained the top spot for my partner-in-crime who had suggested the destination.
The stout cylinder of elk and other meats was presented with a few sprigs of partially withered mint leaves. (Oddly enough, any dish that utilized mint as a topping and/or garnish employed softened and slightly withered variations as opposed to the vibrant fresh ones.) My dining partner claimed the trifle to taste like a specific brand of beef jerky, whereas I found the texture to lean more towards a braised then re-shaped circular mound of lean protein. Chewy as it was, the dryness of the dish, as well as its colossal internal heat content had me setting my fork down after a few timid scrapes.
Elk Loin adopted the form of filet mignon-esque mounds and was topped with edible flowers. Served alongside were sweet, crunchy snow peas, roasted beets, and baby carrots. All components sat afloat a semi-viscous, savoury sauce with a prominent strip of creamy veloute.
The elk had claimed to be cooked to medium rare/medium. In spite of its outward appearance being representative of this declaration, its texture was not quite as spectacular. Tough to slice and dry to taste, we deemed this the less formidable of the two mains.
The braised onion purée was an understated addition: its presence was far from prominent, though this may have been owed to a strong sense of cohesion to the caribou.
The side of duchess potatoes was the only regrettable aspect of the dish. Gritty and dense, I couldn't help but recoil in shock at the initial bite. "Cold fries" was the descriptive term we agreed on.
Complimentary Cedar Tea was provided to use as dessert options were depicted. The steaming cups were unlike any other blend I've ever tried. Fragrance-wise, it emitted the very essence of strolling through an empty forest on a crisp, fall morning. Even at an arm's length away, the captivating aromas radiated and slowly drew me in.
Its profile was peculiar: the top notes resembled herbal, its base oolong-like, and the lingering impressions green. To find a tea that is both invigorating and comforting is far and few between. The beverage paired exceptionally with desserts, though I wish we had ordered it earlier in the evening to compensate for the surge in internal heat.