- The Entree
- The Side
- The Atmosphere
The night before my sister and her boyfriend went on their epic post-grad Asia tour, the 6 of us (parents, and us two and our boyfriends) decided to be REAL BAD and not sleep at all before her morning flight. Eventually, we got a little hungry so we decided to go out for a little dessert at midnight. Tonight, we decided to visit a place we haven’t been to in a while – 31 Kitchen.
10 Ravel Road, Unit 1-2
North York, ON
Now this particular restaurant has gone through many generations of management in the past 6+ years. We’ve seen the good, the bad and the ugly (and boy was it ugly). We’ve seen the decorations go from classy to plastic stools and backyard tables and then back again. The place was once called, “Sugar”. At some point I even remember a green alien on the wall. Heck, I even found a rock in my wonton before.
But here we are, many years later, many iterations of terrible interior design later, and we are back where I remember it first started. Thank goodness.
Now please stop procrastinating and remove your Christmas lights (just kidding! kinda…).
Now you’re probably wondering, Denice, Miss Food and Nutrition, Miss Frou Frou fine dining… Why do you keep returning to a place that once served you a pebble?
Well, to be fair while they have kept the best parts of the menu all these years and the place feels like a different restaurant every time they change management and staff… and the honest truth is, it’s really hard to get a good variety of Hong Kong style desserts here in the GTA. This place, through all its evolutions, has always had a fantastic selection in their menu.
Tonight we decided to order some of our staple favourites and a couple new things – the house special, watermelon and grass jello, fried milk pudding, steamed rice rolls, takoyaki, and a taro bubble tea. Let’s start off with the weaker dessert first – the taro bubble tea. The taro bubble itself tasted great – nice and rich as it should taste but unfortunately the tapioca was both mush and klumpy. In fact, it was so klumpy that we couldn’t even drink it through the straw.
Next off we ordered the steamed rice rolls wrapped in paper with the skewers (as it should be, it’s just not the same without the paper). The soft, warm, slurpy rice rolls were covered in a delicious mixture of hoisin sauce, peanut sauce, and sesame. The idea is that everyone just grabs a skewer and digs in. Loved it. I would have loved it even more with a good dose of Sriracha hot sauce. You know? That hot sauce with a rooster on it? Yes. So good.
Then we thought, since we’re such hot shots… and we’re so BAD tonight… let’s order the stuffed hot peppers.
Hah. That chapter of our lives ended in tears, moans of pain, beads of sweat, and photographic proof of what can happen when you cross the path of a poorly scraped out hot pepper filled in chewy fish filling. My sister, once she gained control of her tongue again remarked, “I thought I was going to die. I thought I was going to die… FROM PAIN!”. My boyfriend remarked that only thing he’s had that’s more painful than this dish was the Armageddon wings at Duff’s. Need I say more? Ok, you can’t say I didn’t warn you.
Oh, did I mentioned we ate them all? Hah. Yeah, we’re bad.
Next we had the rather tame takoyaki and the fried milk pudding. Takoyaki is a lovely soft batter cooked in a metal circle mold that is continuously rolled around with chopstick to evenly cook it and to incorporate pieces of octopus. Creating this dish itself is an art form. If you’re interesting in finding out more about this very common Japanese snack, just do a quick youtube search. It’s really neat. On top of these little spheres is a nice drizzle of mayo, wasabi sauce, topped with seaweed and fish flakes. Now this is not a traditional Japanese restaurant so we weren’t expecting much from it. They were tasty but not fantastic. I wish they were a little less mushy and a tad firmer. All in all, not bad.
We all loved the fried milk pudding. We order it every time. How would I describe this dessert? Hmm, maybe a sweetened milk mixture that has a jello consistency that’s gently deep fried to give it a light crispy jacket. It is so good! We all thought that it was just fine without the dipping sugar they provided but you can try both to see what you like. I would highly recommend it.
Then came our favourite summer desserts. Watermelon with grass jelly and the house special. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this common Chinese dessert, the words “grass jelly” may conjure up images of a chef delicately picking at your backyard and throwing it in a pot. However, please trust me, it really isn’t that scary. It’s more like a jelly-fied tea concoction from a plant that is a member of the mint family and yes, it’s very refreshing when served cold with watermelon on a hot summer day!
Last but not least came my favourite summer dessert – the house special. This is a dish they have kept through all the iterations of the restaurant… and for good reason too. The house special consists of a base of their mango and pomelo cold dessert (it’s a liquid soupy dessert), topped with fresh watermelon, kiwi, diced mango, strawberries, honeydew, cantalope, young coconut (like the ones in your bubble tea and lychee jello), topped off with a delicious scoop of very fragrant mango ice cream. Oh. my. goodness. Quite frankly, if I had to choose 1 dessert to eat for the rest of my life it would probably be this one. Light, refreshing, perfect. A work of art.
Overall, would I recommend this restaurant? Yes, at its current state, I would say that it’s the strongest it has ever been. This restaurant has a great selection of desserts for anyone looking to try something a little more modern Asian. The food presentation was pretty good. The service was good and the staff were friendly. They kept our cups filled. The place is comfortable to sit and was kept very clean. If you’re worried about any language barriers, you’d be happy to know that you write down your own orders in numbers on little sheets and the menu is clearly translated in English. I love their house special and I can’t wait to be back. I am also happy to report that no pebbles were harmed during the review of this restaurant (I’m kidding, it’s a great place, just go).
The Damage: $51.02 after tax (not including tips)