Tag Archives: Toronto restaurants

20171101_135938

Foodora photo shoot @ Isaan Der, Toronto’s coolest Thai restaurant

Yesterday, the lovely folks from Foodora.ca home delivery service dropped into ISAAN DER Thai Restaurant in Toronto’s Junction neighbourhood, to take photos of the exquisite dishes available for delivery (or personal pick-up) via their website. Here, photographer Melissa sets up her shots….20171101_141613 20171101_143524Foodora account manager, Dana, was on hand to help direct the shoot and talk with owners Donald and Chef Ko about the fabulous menu now available to a wider online customer base. Just take a look at these dishes – you could almost eat the photos, yes?20171101_145157 20171101_151249 20171101_151944 20171101_151938Online foodie influencer Cindy of @wakeupeatthis (below) also dropped in to cover the shoot, after which we all feasted on this magnificent spread…burp!20171101_150229(0)

Click here if you’d like to order online via Foodora:  https://www.foodora.ca/restaurant/s4jx/isaan-der-thai-food

And to visit the restaurant in person, Isaan Der is located at 2961 Dundas St West (between Pacific & Keele), Toronto.  www.isaander.comlogo

 

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A Thai feast fit for a King….and I!

So apart from the bad grammar (s.b. “and me”) the headline here really does tell the story of Toronto’s small but mighty ISAAN DER Thai restaurant and its equally small but mighty queen of the kitchen, Chef Ko (pictured below).Chef Ko 2I was recently turned on to this snug and beautifully decorated dining establishment located in the heart of Toronto’s Junction neighbourhood by fellow foodies and owners of No. 7 Hot Sauce, Carlos and Sandra, who told me about the incredible food and lovely people who run Isaan Der. Chef Ko, along with her Canadian husband Donald, run the place like clockwork, juggling take-out and home delivery orders with quiet aplomb as they and their servers offer personal but discreet table-side service to their guests, many of whom are neighbours and regular/repeat diners.20171018_183950Attention to detail is key at Isaan Der – just look at these cute elephant hooks for coats or purses located behind every table for diners’ convenience.20170829_184227I recently spoke with Donald and Chef Ko about their journey from Thailand to Toronto and the fabulous food they serve to hungry fans Tuesdays thru Sundays.

Chef Ko, what first inspired you to become a professional chef?  Having had the opportunity to travel around Thailand as a journalist for Channel 7 news, I have discovered that it’s not all Pad Thai and Tom Yum Goong. There are lots of delicious dishes from every part of Thailand. 20170525_121454Did you study under any well-known chef or in a professional kitchen?  I studied at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, which is also a 5-star hotel in Bangkok, in their Professional Thai Chef program as well as at Kasesart University to learn about the origins of some of our well known dishes.

You specialize in traditional fine Thai cuisine at Isaan Der– how important is it that you use fresh, locally sourced ingredients for your menu?  We only use the freshest of ingredients for our food and every dish is made à la carte, meaning every dish you order is made specifically for you. We do NOT have anything pre-made so dishes might take a few minutes longer getting to your table….but the wait is worth it!sataysDonald, since opening Isaan Der in Toronto’s Junction neighbourhood in March , how have you seen your customer base grow?  Since opening, we’ve seen tremendous growth; from 3 people in the kitchen to now more than 8 dealing with the volume which we handle with great care and efficiency. It’s our loyal customers with whom we have had table-side conversations, educating them on the many differences in Thai food. We are certainly no better than any other Thai restaurant, but we do know that we are ‘different’.IMG_20170321_030403_608received_159738710362409620170320_20050620170320_200409Donald, any exciting news about menu or service you’d like to share?  Here we grow!  We recently changed our menus adding several new items to replace those we have “retired” for now. We cater to everyone with dietary restrictions such as celiac, vegan, food allergies as well as likes/dislikes. We can do it all as our dishes are made for you…any way you like it!

We’ve seen a tremendous increase in our Doordash delivery as well as personal take-out with our online ordering. Thanks to our brand new ordering app (for both iPhone & android) we’re able to streamline the dining experience for those dining at home. Easy-peasy with a simple click, click and done! We no longer take phone orders so we’re able to focus on personal table-side service in the restaurant.  But if people have questions about our menu we are certainly available via phone queries. See below the special promotion for 1st time app orders:July 2017454

Isaan Der is definitely one of my favourite Toronto restaurants and I’m especially fond of their Shrimp Roll appetizer – I frequently construct a meal by combining 2 orders of those with a salad. I love the little noodle ribbons and bows tying them up (see below). The handcrafted chili dipping sauce is super deelish, too.20170829_180825You MUST try the Golden Bags and Spring Rolls (below)….
17155630_1495954417121699_3390928405222378590_n 20170525_110821And each Wednesday is “Wine Wednesday” with $3 off your glass of featured wine…..20171018_184058…followed by “Beer Thursdays” when your favourite brew is only $5!20171018_184024Located at 2961 Dundas West (a few blocks W of Keele) there’s lots of parking (on street and in the green P lot behind) and prompt bus transit (take the #40 from Dundas W subway stn). Check out their menu, hours of operation and directions here: www.isaander.comlogo

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JOIN ME AS I “EAT TO THE BEAT” – attending annual fundraiser to raise breast cancer awareness

Each year, I’m honoured to accept the invitation to cover EAT TO THE BEAT issued by friend and PR colleague Peter Ashworth of Ashworth Associates Inc. and last night, I enjoyed all sorts of edible treats and drinks courtesy of 60 of Toronto’s leading female chefs. Raising awareness for breast cancer support with the Canadian Cancer Society as well as the $s is the focus of this annual event held at Roy Thomson Hall, and this band of happy volunteers greeted us at the front door, all dressed up to put smiles on our faces (below).20171017_190601

20171017_190633Thanks to KitchenAid who came on board as a sponsor this year – they donated so many wonderful kitchen gadgets for the silent auction (below)…who knows, this non-cook might just win a closing bid (am waiting for a phone call as I type!)20171017_193922(0)So instead of me prattling on with text about the show, I think I’ll let the photos speak for themselves. Be prepared for some major mouth-watering reading, and be sure to visit the restaurants of those chefs who donated their time and food to Eat to the Beat – I’ve listed them all at the bottom of the blog.20171017_19093720171017_19101520171017_191024I always look fwd to finding the lovely ladies of Succulent Chocolates – below – they always have such fab sweet treats!20171017_190837 20171017_201559

20171017_191231 20171017_191414 20171017_19144020171017_19153320171017_19164420171017_19173720171017_19222720171017_192703 20171017_192245 20171017_194401I really liked this locally-produced Scotch (below)…mmmm, good!20171017_203025Below – Pumpkin soup anyone? So deelish!20171017_200103I love me some savories! Although there were lots of sweeties, I headed straight for the meat and seafood!!20171017_19265620171017_19275320171017_19510820171017_195203The crowd moved thru Roy Thomson Hall’s outer lobby in an orderly fashion, although some tables offered samples that just drew ’em in in droves…20171017_202425….like these awesome and spooky Halloween mini-cupcakes from Lolli Cakes.20171017_202028 20171017_202055So many tastes and sights to take in….it was sensory overload!!20171017_195558 20171017_192703 20171017_19365320171017_19492920171017_19534320171017_195405(0) 20171017_201937 20171017_194043Then all of a sudden, it was over – another successful event done and dusted!20171017_201824Congratulations to event organizers and their amazing team of volunteers, and especially to the participating chefs and restaurants (see below). Bravo, everybody!!July 2017456

 

70 DOWN RESTO-LOUNGE BRINGS AFGHANI-FUSION CUISINE TO YORKVILLE (TORONTO)

When I learned about the exciting, exotic and super-tasty menu on offer at the 70 Down restaurant/lounge in Yorkville, I couldn’t wait to go try for myself. Previously a late night lounge, the venue, located at 70 Yorkville Avenue, just W of Bay St, was recently transformed by owners (and brothers) Alex and Wali Seddiqi, who brought in two experienced chefs to completely renovate the kitchen and menu to showcase their family’s heritage dishes – Afghani classics with a twist of Greek and Mediterranean. www.70down.ca6_large[jPD6]Wanting to push beyond the conventional ethnic restaurants they encountered in Canada, the Seddiqi brothers created 70 Down as a hub for patrons of diverse cultures to feel comfortable and at home.

My brother and I had this great idea of one day opening a fine dining modernized Afghani cuisine restaurant, Alex recently told me. We were inspired by the great history of our country and noticed there was nothing like it in Toronto; the demand and opportunity was there as the city is known for its diverse and multicultural community.5_large[MLPr]This unique approach to food, ambiance and art/decor all contribute to creating a sense of modernism while retaining the essence of the Eastern/Afghani heritage the brothers brought with them to Canada. Appreciating the growing movement of healthy lifestyles and sustainability, 70 Down consciously integrates local and organic food into the menu.7_large[LAdc]

As Alex goes on to explain: We are totally blessed to have a fusion between two totally different types of chefs. Chef Hamayuun has been in the industry for more than 25 years and highly experienced in the culinary field specializing in traditional authentic Afghani food. Chef Sebouh is a highly skilled Armenian chef specializing in Greek cuisine. So we get to blend old school and modern style cuisine for our diners.

There’s a stunning patio fronting onto Yorkville Avenue providing great people-watching opps, but discreetly sunken slightly below street-level so that you’re not bombarded with traffic noise and exhaust from passing cars. It’s truly a perfect oasis of calm and serenity for sharing cocktails and nibblies with friends…or that special hot date!20160421_190627On Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings, 70 Down presents live entertainment courtesy of some of the city’s most exciting jazz, soul/R&B and Latin singers and musicians. Starting at 7:30pm each  night, the shows run until approx. 10pm and there’s never a cover charge!  20160422_200223The servers and bar staff (below) are friendly and eager to please, and able to make recommendations for your appetizer and entree choices (I always recommend the hummus…the best I’ve had in years!)20160422_202742The late night club life returns to 70 Down Thurs. through Sat. nights when the venue turns into a hot dance cave and hangout where the millennials blow off steam from their heavy work week. 70 Down offers VIP table & bottle service with special packages available for groups – details can be found on the website. 4_large[60H4]70 Down is ideal for private functions, corporate events (they can host up to 160 for cocktail receptions) and celebratory soirees. Send your enquiries to info@70down.ca or call 416-323-369670DownYorkville_Logo-2

www.70down.ca