Sam James Coffee Bar


Address: 297 Harbord Street, Toronto, Ontario Canada

Phone: (647)341-2572

Hours: Mon-Fri 7-7, Sat 8-6, Sun 9-5

My love affair with good coffee began when my friend Nick introduced me to Abraco in New York City and I started realizing how good a cup of coffee can be. I have since turned into a coffeeholic, not a 3-4 cups a day kind of coffeeholic but more of an I-want-the-best coffee-wherever-I-go kind. So for my very short trip to Toronto, I decided to check out Sam James Coffee Bar, which says serve the best cappuccino in town. Another reason why I picked Sam James Coffee Bar over the rest? The owner and barista, Sam (the guy in black t-shirt) is the Canadian Central Regional Barista Champion! Got to try the best!

The aroma of coffee beans immediately awoken my senses as soon as I walked into Sam James' cute 1930's inspired coffee bar. The stylish barista made me a deliciously smooth cup of cappuccino and I was a very happy girl. One of the best cup of cappuccino indeed. Since there were not many people that day, we were able to chat with Sam for a bit and have more photos ops! Excellent coffee and service with a smile, I'm starting to like this town!

one fine cup of cappuccino!

Service with a smile =)

Sam with my yaokui partner in Toronto
Sam James Coffee Bar on Urbanspoon

Lai Wah Heen

Address: Metropolitan Hotel, 108 Chestnut Street, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Phone: (416) 977-9899

New York has one of the biggest Chinatown, however we don't really have outstanding dim sum places like those you can find in Hong Kong or Canada. Which was why I had to check out Lai Wah Heen when I visited Toronto last week.  There are actually quite a number of good dim sum restaurants to choose from but I picked Lai Wah Heen because it's high end dim sum and Toronto's own rated it as one of the best dim sum restaurants, and I can see why!

 deep-fried roll of mixed vegetable and exotic mushrooms
 steamed bbq pork bun - char xiu bao

My friend and I ordered some "Lai Wah Heen Famous dim sum" such as steamed bbq pork bun (char xiu bao), crystal shrimp dumpling (har kao), sticky rice wrapped in lotus leaf, and "Chef Terrance Chan's innovative dim sum" such as deep fried roll of mixed vegetable and exotic mushrooms and steamed lobster dumpling. Char xiu bao was definitely good, but the crystal shrimp dumpling and sticky rice in lotus leaf were just amazing! The chef's specialty dim sum, deep fried vegetable rolls were memorable as well, so crispy and flavorful. Steamed lobster dumpling in a lobster shape was just too adorable (and delicious too!)

Sticky rice filled with assorted seafood and meat, wrapped and steamed in lotus leaf
Steamed lobster dumpling stuffed with shrimp and finely diced vegetable flavored with butter and garlic

Dim sum experience at Lai Wah Heen was definitely a memorable one, wished I can go back to Toronto more often to try the other dim sum places. It's really that good. Now, can someone please open a really good dim sum place in NYC, please??

Lai Wah Heen on Urbanspoon

Lunch @ Midtown

Ever since I started working in midtown Manhattan a few months ago, I've been exploring the lunch scene there tirelessly, checking out interesting food trucks/food carts and restaurants around the area. My midtown food experience has been wonderful, not good for my waistline, but I can diet when I'm done trying most of the places. My favorite food at this point are the buttery kati rolls from Briyani Cart, everything at Cafe Zaiya, kurobuta (black pig) katsu at Katsuhama, korean soup at Cafe Duke and quality salad at Chop't. Like most people working in midtown, I follow my favorite lunch trucks on twitter to find out their schedule, and to find out new places for food.

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Here are some of the places/carts/lunch trucks I have tried:
1) NYC Cravings Truck - fried chicken thigh/fried pork chops over rice, chinese zhong zi (rice dumpling)
2) Schnitzel and Things - pork schnitzel with potato salad
3) Briyani Cart - kati roll, briyani rice with chicken
4) Katsuhama - kurobuto katsu (breaded pork cutlet) with rice
5) Rickshaw Dumpling - chicken and basil dumpling with peanut sate dipping sauce wasn't my favorite, will have to try the pork and Chinese chive dumpling with sesame soy dipping sauce next time
6) Aunt Kim's lunch cart - fried fish over rice or bulgogi over rice @ 46th street and 6th ave
7) QBA lunch truck - cuban steak and plantains
8) Maze at the London NYC
9) Margon Restaurant - Serving good Cuban/Latin American food
10) John's Shanghai- xiao long bao (soup dumplings)
11) Cafe Zaiya - one stop Japanese lunch place - bento, sushi, bakery etc.
12) Wu Liang Ye - solid Szechuan dishes
13) Burger Joint - at Le Parker Meridien Hotel
14) Topaz Thai - Thai restaurant near 56th and 6th/7th Avenue
15) Cafe Duke - Korean deli with massive selections o salad, hot food buffet, sushi and sandwiches
16) Chop't - expensive but good quality salad
17) Pret a manger 
18) Chipotle
19) Monster Sushi - "monster" size sushi
20) Korean noodle soup cart - champong seafood noodle soup
21) Bulgogi and Kimchi street cart - I didn't like the spicy chicken and bulgogi beef over rice here

Some places near Midtown West thatI still need to try:
1) Ma Peche
2) Wafle and Dinges
3) Shake Shack Times Square
4) 53rd and 6th Halal cart
5) Hallo Berlin

Even though my lunch option has expanded tremendously, I'm starting to miss the limited but excellent lunch choices in Jersey City, especially Milano's Italian Deli, Krave Korean BBQ lunch truck, Louisianaa Spice truck, Taco truck and Grandma's Pizza. I'm also missing my yaokui lunch buddy, Gan; it would be even more exciting if he is there in Midtown to explore the lunch places with me!