Monday, January 30, 2006

Shandiz Persian Cuisine

Shandiz Persian Cuisine
170 University Ave. West
Waterloo, Ontario N2L 3E9

I had to admit that the first time I stepped in the restaurant because all the "usual suspects" weren't open. It was in between terms; many restaurants in the plaza were closed. The menu was intimidating; combinations of English letters I couldn't quite figure out what they were. What was worse, someone was doing some wiring above the ceiling. All the lights were on, the kitchen was packed in action and the TV was on. Gas, plumbing, electricity, cable...I had to tell myself "ah...he is just hooking up broadband internet connection". (So lame that I can't even convince myself, I picked the table closest to the front door after ordering what I wanted)

OK, the atmosphere in the restaurant is not that intimidating; it must be the gloomy weather doing funny thing to my head. My impression of the restaurant changed especially after tasting the food. There are lots of items I don't really know what they are (can't pronounce them either), but the menu actually includes very detailed description. The staff was quiet but at least polite. And the food...I love the lamb shank (btw, it is one of the few items i could actually read out loud), the saffron rice also goes well with it. The meat was on the dry side but heavily flavored. After the first bite, I had the illusion that the original size of the lamb piece should be 4 times bigger. Just like red wine reduction, one bottle of wine being reduced to less than one cup. The flavor of the lamb was so intense, but not too salty nor "herbal-y". I also ordered the beef kabob combo for J. It was good, but the lamb shank was better. So no sharing ~

I would definitely go back for the lamb shank.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

China Legend

China Legend
160 University Ave. West
Waterloo, Ontario N2L 3E9
(University Plaza)

About 10 days ago, I went to Home Garden to order take-out. I noticed that "Grand China", adjacent to Home Garden, is now replaced by a new restaurant called "China Legend". So I went back the next day.

I ordered two items to go: Kon-pao-guy-ding (spicy hot chicken) and Taiwanese stew over rice. On my way home, my whole car smelled just like decent (casual) Chinese food - aroma generated by high-heat wok work. However, the taste was relatively disappointing. The spicy chicken was not spicy at all; there wasn't any Chinese chilly pepper in sight. The onions were too raw, almost as raw as sliced raw onions normally served on a burger. Originally I ordered "Taiwanese" stew because this restaurant is just next to Home Garden, one of the most authentic Taiwanese eatery in town. After having first bite...well, let's just say that it was a stupid decision.

I chatted with the lady (probably the owner?) while waiting for the order. She mentioned that they bought the restaurant from the owners of Grand China because they were planning to retire. With so many (Northern) Eastern Asian eateries crowded in University Plaza, they really need to improve significantly in order to stay.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Oscar's Family Restaurant

Oscar's Family Restaurant
835 Victoria St. North
Kitchener, Ontario N2B 3C3

There are several diners /family-oriented restaurants in town, Oscar is probably one of my favorites. I really can't explain why I keep going back. Their food portions are generous, some items are tasty and their servers are friendly. Still, I have enjoyed much better food and service somewhere else. After I finished half of the beef liver (and doggy bagged the other half) and almost full slice of butter rum cake today, the answer became clear. It is due to the satisfaction after having comfort food.

There was one period of time that J and I dined at Oscar a lot, back when we were "nesting". Before we purchased our place, this section of Victoria street was just the route to Guelph. It was quite a surprise to see so many home-furnishing-related stores on this block.

When I go to Oscar's, I tend to order the few items I have (again and again). Chicken parmesan, beef/pork/chicken souvlaki, burgers and beef liver. The beef liver is kind of an odd ball. When I first ordered it and actually enjoyed it, J stared at me in disbelief. It was a surprise to me, too. Although I love foie gras (sorry for all the animal-right advocates out there, but it is really tasty), but beef liver? The beef liver dish is HUGE (actually pretty much every dish at Oscar's is huge): liver coated in bread crumb and pan-fried, topped with sauteed onions and 2 slices of bacon, steamed vegetables and your choice of potatoes. If beef liver is not your cup of tea, you can also try their burgers or souvalaki.

The service is general quite good. When it is busy, the service might be slow but people are always friendly. Rumor has it that the Sunday brunch is the craziest time; the line-up can stretch into the parking lot. Maybe it explains why the entrance and exist are two completely opposite doors and separated by a glass.

Monday, January 02, 2006


3051 Vega Boulevard
Mississauga, Ontario L5L 5Y3

We’ve been to this chain several times. Last time we went there was on Boxing Day. When I first visited this restaurant, I was surprised that their food was better than I expected. In fact, I think this is probably one of the “better” chain restaurants out there. Too bad there isn’t any in Kitchener-Waterloo.

Milestone’s has quite a brunch menu. I’ve tried the shrimp and avocado Benedict. I won’t say I am absolutely loving it, but it is pretty good. The hollandaise sauce tastes creamy and not “artificial’. The avocado salsa is a nice touch. If I go out for breakfast/brunch, I tend to order egg Benedict whenever it is available. I must say egg Benedict from Milestone’s is better than some I had in some fancy restaurants/hotels. The shrimp is the weakest link of the whole dish; it is small and slightly soggy. Not knowing what “frittata” means, J ordered the Italian Frittata. It turned out to be an omelet, unfolded. We weren’t quite impressed by the toasted focaccia; it is almost flavorless. It is not too bad if treated as a thick slice of toast.

One thing I must mention is their curly fries.…so…GOOD. At the first sight the fries look like onion rings. They are crunchy and quite addictive. I am glad that they really mean it when they describe the amount of fries as “a mountain of curly fries”. It was enough to share with friends.

Speaking of friends, Milestone’s is definitely a great place for friends get-together. I would much prefer to go to Milestone’s than Eastside. Hopefully they’ll open one in K-W soon.