ZOMATO IN TORONTO

When I start researching a place to eat, I have two go to websites. One is for blogger reviews, while the other is for restaurant information and recent pictures. Both sites have their pros and cons with room for improvement. This is why I’m excited for a new major player in the world of restaurant reviews. Introducing Zomato.

The Basics:
Founded in 2008, Zomato is an online and mobile restaurant search and discovery service that originated in India. Users are able to search for restaurants, add their own review, rating and pictures. Today, Zomato employs 800 people across 17 countries and provides detailed information about over 270,000 restaurants. Toronto is Zomato’s first foray into North America and the company has invested a substantial dollar amount into their Canadian expansion.

Zomato in Toronto

My Experience:
With both the website and app, Zomato is beautifully designed with drool worthy images and simple to use navigation. I’ve been using the app to “check in” to restaurants over the past month on my phone and the app has found every location so far. Their database is impressive in it’s breadth and depth of coverage. There are franchises, mom and pop shops and all the trendy new spots around town. Adding reviews have also been easy and there is still so much functionality in the works like conversations directly with restaurants and easy payments through the app. Integration between Zomato and all other social media networks to allow for easy sharing.

Zomato - CollectionsZomato - Restaurant Listing
What I liked:

  • Collections – Zomato uses themes and curates a collection of restaurants in the city to fit that theme. For example “Achin for Bacon” or “Healthy Eating”. Looking through the collections, restaurants included are all ones that I would recommend or want to try and fit each theme perfectly. This is a great way to discover new restaurants.
  • Instagram integration – Including the hashtag #zomato in an Instagram post automatically pulls your picture into the Zomato food porn stream that’s featured on the front page
  • Menus – This is huge! I love that Zomato actually has a team in each city that goes to each restaurant, takes pictures of the menu and updates them regularly. When choosing a restaurant, the menu is always the first piece of information I look for and Zomato does the research and leg work for their users.
  • Again, the fact that Zomato made the investment to have a team in Toronto that organizes community events, physically visits restaurants themselves (not just relying on their user base) is a huge plus for me and makes me buy in to the app.

Zomato - Restaurant ListingZomato - Search Results
What could use work:

  • There are still a few bugs. When rating a restaurant, even when disabling the send to Twitter function, a tweet is generated with your rating. This causes me to spam my Twitter every now and then when I’m writing reviews.
  • The feedback form for editing a restaurant information is very general.
  • Currently the homepage feed only shows reviews and activity from people I’m connected to, I’d love an option to read/see reviews in general from all users.
  • A page highlighting new restaurants would be great.

TL;DR: Zomato is a restaurant discovery and review service that has launched in Toronto with a slick design, the resources and potential to win over users.

BEST XIAO LONG BAO IN THE GTA

Technically, none of these restaurants are in “Toronto” but if you’re looking for authentic xiao long bao, north is the way to go. Xiao long bao, or soup dumplings is a native street food from Shanghai and one of my favourite foods in the world. I binge eat trays of the steamed baos filled with savoury soup whenever I’m in China. In Toronto, while more and more restaurants are offering the dish, some do use pre-made, cooked from frozen baos. To get the handmade, fresh baos head to any one of these restaurants.

1. Yu Garden


Rating/Price: 4.0 / $
Why? Amazing xiao long baos, thin, chewy texture, plenty of soup
Must Order: Shrimp and minced pork xiao long bao
Good For? Families, lunch, quick meals
 

2. Shanghai Dim Sum


Rating/Price: 4.5 / $$
Why? Thin wrappers, juicy filling and perfectly steamed
Must Order: Xiao Long Bao original filling and with crab
Good For? Families, lunch, quick meals, big groups
 

3. Ding Tai Fung


Rating/Price: 3.5 / $
Why? Central Markham location, fresh made baos, great filling
Must Order: Xiao Long Bao, Egg white with seafood
Good For? Families, dinner, dim sum
 

4. Xiao Long Bao


Rating/Price: 4.0 / $$
Why? New restaurant, less busy than Ding Tai Fung with great XLB
Must Order: Xiao long bao with crab, Beef brisket noodle
Good For? Dim sum, families, quick meals, large groups
 

Honorable Mentions:

  • N/A

Still TBE (To be Eaten):

  • Mother’s Dumplings
  • Chinese Traditional Buns
  • Asian Legend
  • A La Kitchen
  • 369 Shanghai Dim Sum
  • Dumpling House
  • Lee Chen

Did I miss your favourite restaurant? Let me know in the comments.

Last Updated: 01/06/2016

BEST SPLURGE (EXPENSIVE) DINNER IN TORONTO

My favourite gift to receive is a splurge meal. Be it a birthday, anniversary or any celebration, a good meal with wine, shared with family and friends is how I love to spend my evening. These Toronto restaurants are currently my favourite spots for a special meal.

1. Jacobs & Co Steakhouse


Rating/Price: 4.0 / $$$$
Why? Intimate, impeccable service, beautiful aged steaks and a wide selection of wine
Must Order: Jacobs Caesar Salad made table side
Good For? Romantic dates, couples, anniversaries
 

2. JaBistro


Rating/Price: 5.0 / $$$$
Why? Best sashimi in the city, hidden entrance, great patio
Must Order: Fresh Sashimi Platter, Aburicious
Good For? Small groups, couples, birthdays
 

3. Bar Isabel


Rating/Price: 5.0 / $$$
Why? Delicious food, complicated cocktails and perfect for sharing
Must Order: Whole Sea Bream Ceviche, Bone Marrow
Good For? Small groups, couples, special dates
 

4. Yasu


Rating/Price: 4.0 / $$$$
Why? Fantastic sushi, intimate atmosphere, unique dining experience
Must Order: Omakase
Good For? Adventurous date, special event, small groups
 
Honourable Mentions:

Still TBE (To be Eaten):

  • Le Cafe Michi
  • Lai Wah Heen
  • Hiro Sushi
  • Los Colibris
  • The Carbon Bar

Did I miss your favourite restaurant? Let me know in the comments. Last Updated: 04/28/2015  

SUMMERLICIOUS 2014 TOP PICKS

Summerlicious is upon us again. One of my favourite food events in Toronto, it is a perfect opportunity to try a new restaurant, indulge for a great price and overall, eat some great food. This year’s event runs from July 4th to 20th. Participating restaurants will be offering set lunch ($15, $20 or $25) and dinner ($30, $35, $40) menus. Personally, I find reservations are easier to make today with many restaurants using online systems but if you’re aiming for a popular venue (ie. Canoe, Auberge de Pommier), calling on the day reservations open is still a must. Every year, I aim to eat at one “fancy” restaurant to add to my list of restaurants for special occasions, one casual “dinner” for a night out with friends and one restaurant that caters to large groups. So far this year, I have 3 dinners set and one lunch still to be planned.

Where I’ll Be:

  1. Cafe Boulud – $45 Dinner / French / The “fancy” dinner
  2. Ganzi Osteria – $25 Dinner / Italian / The “casual” dinner
  3. Jump – $35 Dinner / Italian / The “group” dinner

Recommendations:

  • Lunch – I’m looking for tantalizing menus that are similar or even more appealing relative to the dinner menu
    1. Weslodge – $20 Lunch / Canadian / I would order Scotch Egg, Seared Sea Bass and Instant Cake
    2. Bosk (Past Review) – $25 Lunch / Canadian / I would order Seared Albacore Tuna, Roasted Flat Iron Steak and Citrus Cake
    3. Quince (Past Review) – $20 Lunch / Mediterranean / I would order Gazpacho Soup, Capunti Bianco and Warm Chocolate Brownie
Summerlicious 2014 Top Picks
  • Dinner – I’m looking for great atmosphere, interesting menu items and best value
    1. Auberge du Pommier – $45 Dinner / French / I would order Watermelon Gazpacho, Salmon & Peas and Ice Cream Sandwich
    2. Bent (Past Review) – $35 Dinner / Asian / I would order Gazpacho, Asian Marinated Stirploin and the Dessert Trio
    3. Luma (Past Review) – $35 Dinner / Canadian / I would order Tossed Octopus Salad, Broiled Pickerel and Chocolate Parfait Sundae
Summerlicious 2014 Top Picks
  • Good for Groups – I’m looking for a variety of choices, easy parking/access and a spacious dining area
    1. Parts & Labour (Past Review) – $35 Dinner only / Canadian / I would order Steak Tartare, Pappardelle and Lemon Pie
    2. Destingo (Past Review) – $15 Lunch, $25 Dinner / Italian / For dinner I would order the Grilled Calamari, Rack of Lamb and Tiramisu
    3. Paese (Past Review) – $20 Lunch, $35 Dinner / Italian / For dinner I would order the Chilled Soup, Ravioli and Lobster and Cioccolato
Summerlicious 2014 Top Picks

Check out all of my past Licious event reviews for more ideas and recommendations.