Friday, October 18, 2019

Chancho Tortilleria

Chancho Tortilleria Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato Casual walk-in to Chancho Tortilleria tonight to catch up with a friend. If it looks like it's got a line-up, don't be daunted -- go in and see if there's actually a wait for seating or if it's just the lineup to place your order at the counter.

This is diner-style: Place your order, find a table. There are napkins at the table but if you're sharing with friends you probably want to look for a plate and fork as well.

Guacamole ($9)
  • Appys are always more expensive than mains, so you can't expect that much for price for portion.
  • This was okay-tasting. At $9 I'd pass if I went again.
Vegetarian Tortillas ($18 for half pound) - Mixed Potatoes and Vegetables. All orders include condiments: Pickled red cabbage, whole pinto beans, salsas, freshly made Chancho tortillas, and limes.
  • The best part here is price for portion, especially if you are in a group of 3-4 people and order one pound. 1/4 pound is recommended as being enough for one person.
  • We got a 1/2 pound of the mixed, and the potatoes really help to make it a filling meal. So for a casual yet filling meal downtown Chancho is a pretty good option weighing in at around $9-$10 for the veggie option (around +$1 for the meat option).
  • You get enough tortillas that you don't have to ask for more. This is really convenient.
  • DISCLAIMER: I'm not vegetarian. But I was with a friend who in a pescatarian phase so I went with the veggie option. Taste-wise, it was just okay and the condiments didn't elevate it at all.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Atlas Steak + Fish

ATLAS Steak + Fish Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Yelp's making me work really hard this month, with yet another Yelp Elite Event. This time at ATLAS Steak + Fish at the Grand Villa Casino for a weekday lunch. Atlas is open for lunch now and they're introducing it to us obviously to get the word out.

Restaurants in hotels often have a rough go and you see renos and a new name in the same spot every few years. However Atlas has apparently already made a name for themselves, and some of our members attested to having had excellent company functions and catered events through them.

DISCLAIMER: We got free stuff. Not just a sample of their lunch but a gift pack of two steak knives and a 30%-off-lunch coupon. That said, if we come back to use the coupon (maximum party size of six) I'm sure they'll have made back their investment easily. And the steak knives look like the same ones diners use, so they are probably replacement stock they have on hand anyway.

D├ęcor is not super-wow but for lunch it was bright, airy, and upscale. It doesn't quite have that magical something that elevates places like Black + Blue or Notch8 or Glowbal, but you won't be embarrassed bringing anyone there for fine dining.

Of course with the ambiance you can expect that the menu will come in at the higher end than your mom and pop restaurant for lunch, but hovering at around $20, the premium you pay for the ambiance is more than made up in the food, which I felt had good attention to the senses -- taste of course, but especially sight (presentation) and smell. Apparently they really like their Josper Oven and the results in their smoked mushrooms and chicken is clear and bold in flavour and aroma.

Steak & Blue Cheese Wedge Salad ($22) grilled beef tenderloin, chimichurri, iceberg, blue cheese buttermilk dressing, smoked tomato, pancetta
  • Don't forget the chimichurri. It was strangely missable as plate decor but you can definitely dab some of it to give extra kick, such as on the iceberg lettuce.
  • Meat very nicely done. Tender and flavourful.
  • Blue cheese found in sprinkled crumbles which you can carefully miss if you don't like it. I personally find too much of it or if mixed into an unavoidable dressing to be off-putting.
  • No thanks to my tablemates I totally missed trying the pancetta.
Tuna Nicoise Salad ($20) seared ahi tuna, confit potato, egg, green bean, mixed greens, potato hay
  • Didn't get to try the egg but it looked like just hard boiled egg.
  • Potato hay added fun crunchy texture and potato chip flavour.
  • Overall this seemed well-prepared but didn't strike me as anything particularly special. Good portion of meat here (plus the egg) gives it a good chance of being a filling meal.
Vegetarian Rice Bowl ($18) crispy tofu, sushi rice, josper smoked shiitake, pickled vegetables, edamame, kizami nori
  • There's a bowl of rice here so it looks deceptively small. That plus the tofu can actually make this a decently sized meal.
  • You could mix it but I recommend against that. If you do mix it, don't mash the crispy tofu into it.
  • I don't normally like too much tofu because of the inherent bitterness but they've done a good job of making it more than merely palatable. There's still some bitterness but it's very much subdued thanks to the seasoned batter exterior that is quite tasty. So as a meat/meatiness substitute here it does very nicely.
  • That smoked shiitake really has a bold, smoked flavour and aroma.
West Coast Cut Striploin - 7oz Certified Angus Beef ($21) frites, baby kale salad, chimichurri sauce
  • It's hard for me to evaluate steak. For me, steak is steak. This looked like a very nice medium-well-done. Nothing wrong here.
  • They use frites here and it's so thoroughly deep fried that it's crunchy all the way through, but not oily tasting fortunately.
  • I have to admit to being slightly suspicious of the choice of frites here instead of fries, especially in the range of colours. With frites you could throw old fries back in the fryer to heat them up and no one would be the wiser because they're completely crisped anyway. It'd just come out a bit darker for the extended bath.
Mushroom and Smoked Chicken Garganelli ($22) josper smoked chicken, shiitake mushroom cream sauce
  • The pasta portion was excellent with the smokiness and makes this a winner. Pasta all pre-tossed in the sauce and therefore you also didn't have excess sauce puddling at the bottom.
  • The chicken part... I'm not so sure. I got an end piece so I don't know how the middle portion looked or tasted like. The end piece I got had good smoky aroma and flavour but was of course dry. Not sure I'd go with large pieces of dry chicken here. Maybe if they had cut it into thinner and therefore more tender slices (to avoid calling attention to the dry toughness), it would have been better.
Baked Alaska
  • For dessert they had a tableside Baked Alaska, with a meringue shell that wafted a coconutty aroma once it was lit. Other than that, it was nothing to write home about.
Imperial Pear ($8 single, $11 double) light flavours of pear, sake, vodka, and a fizz with soda
  • I gave away mine because I don't drink alcohol, but the Yelp Community Manager insisted on getting me a virgin version to try.
  • Overall it was refreshing and made a nice palate cleanser. Also not that much ice. And curiously, my virgin Imperial Pear came in a larger tumbler than the alcoholic one.
Given the nature of the function (a Yelp Elite event), it's probably not fair to really comment on the service.

Unchai Thai Restaurant

Unchai Thai Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato Squeezed into this tiny space for a get-together with friends. They did accept a reservation, but get really anxious if your party does arrive on time and they clearly have people waiting to dine-in. It's a really small space so every customer is precious.

TIP: Don't be late! And expect to be asked if it'll be okay if they take away seats if not enough of your party shows up on time.

Rather interesting that they've dropped baby corn as an ingredient.

Roti with curry sauces ($4.99)
  • It's a Thai restaurant offering a Malaysian/Singaporean staple. That's ominous to begin with but I'm a sucker for roti so of course I had to order it.
  • The roti looks like it got fried into a crunchy crisp here and cut too large (plus it's now too stiff) to properly fit into the little cup of coconut flavoured curry.
  • You're ordering roti in a Thai restaurant, so be prepared for something different. If you need your roti to be close to the Malaysian or Singaporean style, go somewhere else for it.
  • Also price per portion is atrocious. Watch those 99 cents and just round up to the nearest dollar.
Fried Chicken Wings ($8.99)
  • Price feels atrocious. It's more than a dollar a wing.
  • If you can somehow overlook the price though, the seasoning and crispiness make this a winner. Even when it's cooled down to room temperature later, there was good crunch to it.
  • Sweet-savory seasoning makes it tasty, plus it was still juicy inside. Try a bite before you dip it in the unnecessary sauce.
Pad Thai Tofu with shrimp ($11.99 +$3 for shrimp, crispy pork, or chicken) tofu, egg, chive, bean sprout, peanuts, salted radish
  • "Shrimp" turned out to be prawns, not baby prawns. Not champion-sized tiger prawns either, but respectable enough to be called prawns.
  • Taste is okay. Like a lot of other things we ordered at Unchai, it hovers around mediocre to good and is therefore disappointing because of the portion of carby stuff compared to other Thai restaurants that just stack on the filling-ness with rice and noodles.
Boat Noodles Soup ($13.99) Pork meat, pork balls, pork blood, coriander, green onion, bean sprout, celery.
  • Not overly sweet but it continues the everything's sweet theme.
  • Pork blood is dissolved in the soup rather than the boiled chunks.
  • Taste is okay. More of a novelty than a must-try.
Pad Si Ew (Chicken or Pork, $12.99) rice sheet noodles sitr-fried with gai lan, egg, white onion
Unchai Curry Chicken ($14.99) Red Thai curry based in Unchai style with gai lan, long bean, Thai eggplant, bell pepper, Thai basil
  • Not spicy at all and on the sweet side like pretty much everything we ordered. 
  • If you need your curry to be spicy-hot, better call ahead and ask first.
  • With the rice this is probably your best bet for bang-for-your-buck filling meal dinner, passable at $15 for the tastiness.