A traumatizing Wednesday had thankfully been met with a somewhat speedy recovery, albeit not to my usual capacity. I awoke to rumbling in the abdomen and a churning stomach; the mild pains transformed into diarrhea - repetitive counts actually. While I had regained the ability to form sentences and operate a motor vehicle, physical health had not returned.
I managed ingestion of Salted Pork Congee and a small banana before departing, willing myself to be freed of any unforeseen digestive issues over the hour-long commute.
Visiting on a Saturday morning with a tight timeline was absolutely frazzling. Reservations were permitted neither via OpenTable nor the Yelp waitlist during peak times, so I had merely hoped for the best (in that weather conditions would deter like-minded brunchers) and pulled up outside the restaurant for a waitlist check. Amazingly, I was informed that was no wait at all!
When I eventually made it into the restaurant, the interior was found to be absolutely bustling, with all seating observed as occupied. Verifying my understanding with the West Coast duo, I learned that crowds had quickly flooded inwards after our arrival. We had just made it in the nick of time!
Skimming the offerings on the laminated menus laid before me, I was again overwhelmed with the same sense of disinterest experienced the previous evening while looking at the web version. There was no appetite to be found, and only a sense of foreboding should I dare challenge my unstable digestive system.
"I'm not really a fan of tomato sauce." the 99-liner admitted. She opted instead for the Eggs Benedict Florentine, remarkably the first item to be listed under the "Breakfast" header. Meanwhile, orderlyblue took to the Farmer's Breakfast.
Our entry into the space had been made around the 11 AM mark, with all members of party congregating by 11:15 AM. Orders were taken with swiftness, yet sustenance was nowhere to be witnessed until long after 11:39 AM.
My eyes had widened at the portion size of the dish, however orderlyblue appeared unfazed, gradually depleting the entirety of the spread - minus the pita. The golden runniness of the yolks were an aspect to marvel at, along with the occasional bites of pita and tahini. "It tastes healthy, and refreshing!" She remarked, while digging into the chopped salad.
The 99-liner ate almost silently, thus I barely caught sight of the cross-section of the eggs before their elimination. On the contrary, she worked through the potatoes with sluggishness. It wasn't until nearing the end of the meal that I noticed she had peeled away the skin and brushed out the insides for consumption.
"Oh, I didn't know you could eat them." She appeared genuinely surprised, much to my shock. "It's okay. I've already come this far." And she continued with her peculiar method.
It was, regrettably, a waste of crunchy, well-seasoned potatoes.
My order comprised of a single Hot Water, which was sipped slowly out of caution. Bathrooms were located between the dining floor and commercial unit access/elevators to the parking garage: one stall per gender plus a spacious accessible stall. It was clean, but I wasn't entirely sure of its functionality. The door appeared to lock, but did not open with the press of a button, and instead required manual twisting of the handle.
- Butter Cream & Marmalade Soufflé Cake
- Hot Dog Bun (and an exceptionally pricey one at that!)
- Black Sesame Mochi
Traditional Korean rice cakes from LUNA Bakery was the main item on the agenda. At around 12:35 PM, we pulled away the glass door to reveal their shelves fully stocked. What a pleasant surprise versus last time!
Interestingly, no Financiers were spotted. (That said, I prefer the traditional French version anyway.) Familiar faces such as Dacquoise and the Nutrition Bean Sweet Rice Cake were omitted from my selection; the latter had been tasty with its inclusion of honey, though the black beans a bit too crunchy for my liking.
- Coconut Walnut Pumpkin Sweet Rice
- Mugwort Fig Sweet Rice Cake
- Brown Sugar Snow White Rice Cake
- Strawberry Rice Cake
- Chocolate Rice Cookie
Originally, I wasn't sure if the beverage was offered hot, since it had been listed on the menu as being "Iced". But a quick re-entry into the shop, followed by a friendly "Welcome back!" allowed me to confirm my inquiry.
The nutty concoction was exempt of espresso yet preposterously potent. Impressively nutty and flavourful from the first to the very last sip, I showered the Injeolmi Latte with terrific praise, in spite of its steep $6.95 price tag. Thoroughly enjoyed was this velvety, aromatic creation.
Venturing close to Finch, I proceeded to point out a few more uptown favourites: Pastel for crepes and M Brand for my K-Beauty needs.
I've read positive reviews about this one and can declare in earnest: Do not be fooled by the subdued baby pink hue! The Strawberry Rice Cake smells amazing, like freshly puréed strawberries, securing both flavour and fragrance in one delightful package. Its texture is a bit tacky, given that it is 설기 (seolgi), and quite filling, but otherwise a good snack.
Topped with a dainty moon reflective of the bakery's name, this white rice cake (백설기) comprised of mostly rice cake with not much brown sugar encased within. The filling was reminiscent of hoddeok filling (minus the cinnamon and pine nuts), which succeeded in exuding a cozy aura, but was an inadequate amount by personal preference.
Seemingly excluded from their fixed range of offerings via a handwritten product label, the Coconut Walnut Pumpkin Sweet Rice Cake was an intriguing pick, though not one I'd aim to revisit. The 찹쌀떡 product was coated liberally in unsweetened, untoasted coconut shreds, and sliced into three strips, each measuring roughly 1 cm in width. It had a peculiar first bite: subtly savoury and laced with the fishy essence of pumpkin. Candied walnuts topped the creation: they were sweet without much a toasted warmth.
This visit marks my first purchase of the Mugwort Fig Sweet Rice Cake at the bakery's new location, as well as the third purchase overall. Previous visits saw a thinner texture and darker hue, whereas this round would exhibit a less uniform consistency with bits of white intertwined within. Nonetheless, the 찹쌀떡 square was tasty, with crunchy fig seeds persisting as the highlight. Admittedly, the glutinous rice product was a bit damp from being sealed within.
In fact, it was observed that the rice cakes are now sealed entirely in tear-away packaging instead of being wrapped in cellophane at their previous location. My hypothesis is that this packaging is easier to handle for mass production, and assists in preserving product integrity in areas of high foot (and hand) traffic such as Yonge and Finch.
I had previously read mixed reviews regarding the Rice Cookies and had my reservations, but, honestly, it was amazing! The chocolate rendition was flavourful and delightful, neither veering too far into face-wrinkling bitterness nor gag-worthy sugariness.
The Rice Cookie isn't overly buttery, like our annual Christmas cutout cookies, but has a good snap with craggy ending notes, like fine bits of puffed rice. Each cookie rings in at the steep price of $3.95, though is undeniably scrumptious. I shall be anticipating the other flavours in future runs.
In other words, arriving early in the day is one's best bet to securing the freshest, most popular tteok.