Since I learned how to write, I’ve had a journal. When the Internet came around, my pen and paper moved to the digital medium. One fact remained constant, I’m terrible with consistency. Over the past decade, I’ve had livejournal accounts, lots of blogs, fansites and they’ve all fallen into the pit of “never updated” or “yearly updates only”. With that history, I’ve been pretty good with xiaoEats over the past two years.

I’m often asked, how do I stay motivated with posting and the truth is, it’s still fun. Regardless of the blog, I would still eat, and still take pictures of my food. With the blog, I get to share awesome food with others and hopefully help them find new food experiences, the same reason I read blogs. While my motivation for blogging hasn’t waned, there are blogger problems that I struggle with.

Blogger Problems I struggle with (and how I try to overcome them):

Problem: Content, content, content – Some weeks, I’m overwhelmed with reviews backed up from months ago, other weeks I’m looking for any excuse to eat out. My preference is a middle ground, having enough content (5-8 reviews) for the next 3-4 weeks, during which I find build a steady queue. After food events or a vacation though, I always find myself backlogged.


  1. I like to pace out my backlog, I draft the posts and then schedule them to be published when my local content is low. A content manager (ie. a simple Excel sheet or To Do List) works wonders.
  2. Other sources of content. One of the main reasons I started “Xiao Cooks” was to broaden my content scope, along with this oft neglected blog section and my Best Eats lists.

Winter/Summer Licious – A great event that always leaves me with a backlog of posts

Problem: Keeping it fresh – Speaking of backlogs, one of my biggest challenges is keeping my memory of a dining experience fresh in my goldfish brain. 


  1. Taking copious notes during the meal or immediately after. I find voice notes on my phone super helpful and always carry a thin notebook with an attached pen.
  2. If notes would ruin the atmosphere of a meal (ie. scribbling in the middle of a romantic date), I rely on the better memories of family and friends.

It took me 6 months to publish all the posts from my two week vacation in Maui

Problem: Writing style – My passion is creative writing, fiction, which I haven’t had the time to practice over the past two years. Blogging is a whole different style of writing, more journal writing and exposition than narrative. Restaurant reviews especially can be a dry read. I’m trying to convey facts to my readers, while being concise and descriptive at the same time. I don’t want to just state my opinion, I want to show my readers why I have that opinion and what drove it. When it comes to service, if nothing’s out of the ordinary, I struggle with using the same stale sentences and descriptors. There’s also the matter of effort. Honestly, at times I’ll spent hours writing and editing a review, other times I’m just trying to churn out a post.


  1. Reading professional food critics, reading recipes, watching food TV and learning from all of these sources how to describe food. I’m always learning.
  2. Writing a draft, leaving it and then coming back to edit. Like any piece of writing, I can spend hours changing and re-writing a single sentence. The most efficient method of writing for me is not to dwell on one line, get all the words out and then come back to the post with fresh eyes. Sometimes I’ll remember an additional detail, or have thought of a better metaphor, all improvements that come with time for the post to stew.
  3. Always edit/re-read a post. It should be before the post is published, but even after, I try to re-read my writing to catch grammar mistakes or awkward sentences. I often rope The Fiance or friends into the editor role.


On May 30th, I got married! Check out our hashtag #xiaoandstephen for pictures of the big day.


What this means for xiaoEats, is that I’ll be away from blogging for the next 5 weeks. Here on out, all posts have been scheduled and written ahead of time.

The hubby and I will be travelling around Asia for the next 5 weeks, eating and celebrating with our families. If you’d like to come along (there will be lots of food), follow me on Twitter or Instagram

We’ll be hitting up 7 countries:

  • Suzhou / Shanghai
  • Hong Kong
  • Bali
  • Vietnam
  • Cambodia
  • Laos
  • Thailand

Squirrel FishXiao Long Bao!


Love it or love to avoid it, Winterlicious is upon Toronto again. This year’s event runs from Jan 30th to Feb 12th (just shy of Valentine’s day). Participating restaurants will be offering set lunch ($18, $23 or $28) and dinner ($25, $35, $45) menus. Reservations have been open for a over a week and weekend spots are becoming hard to find, especially for groups bigger than 4. This year, the set price for lunch has gone up by $3.

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 2 dinners and 1 lunch planned.

Where I’ll Be:

  1. Auberge Du Pommier; – $45 Dinner / French / The “fancy” dinner
  2. Cluny – $35 Dinner / French / The “casual” dinner
  3. Marben – $23 Lunch / Spanish / The “group” dinner


  • Lunch – I’m looking for tantalizing menus that are similar or even more appealing relative to the dinner menu
    1. La Societe – $23 Lunch / French / I would order 3 Oysters, Oven Roasted Salmon and Grand Marnier Creme Brulee
    2. Tabule (Past Review) – $18 Lunch / Mediterranean / I would order Lentil Soup, Kefta Kebab and Gelato
    3. Canoe – $28 Lunch / Canadian / I would order Smoked + Potted Salmon, Alberta Beef Brisket and Osprey Bluffs Honey Panna Cotta
Winterlicious 2015
  • Dinner – I’m looking for great atmosphere, interesting menu items and best value
    1. Los Colibris – $35 Dinner / Mexican / I would order Empanadas de Tinga, Ropa Vieja and Helados y Nieves
    2. Cafe Boulud (Past Review) – $45 Dinner / French / I would order Digby Scallops, Cumbrae Beef “Pot au Feu” and Pear Chocolate Gateau
    3. Luma (Past Review) – $35 Dinner / Canadian / I would order Cauliflower Salad, Lamb Ragu Cavatelli and Lemon Posset
Winterlicious 2015
  • Good for Groups – I’m looking for a variety of choices, easy parking/access and a spacious dining area
    1. Marben – $23 Lunch $35 Dinner / Spanish / I would order the Steamed PEI Mussels, John’s Burger and Nutella Creme Brulee
    2. Habit Gastropub (Past Review) – $25 Dinner only / Canadian / I would order Beef Carpaccio, Habits Burger and Cheesecake
    3. Ganzi Osteria (Past Review) – $25 Dinner only / Italian / I would order the Winter Caprese, Homemade Fettuccine and Tiramisu
Winterlicious 2015

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



2014 was a great year for my belly. Looking back through this year’s archive, it was tough to narrow down just 8 amazing meals. Between trying some great new restaurants and discovering established classics, 2014 was a delicious hurdle to my wedding diet (worth it). In no particular order, here are my favourite eats of the past year.

01. Fresh Burger

Rating/Price: 4.5 $
Why? Great burger, loose patty, good poutine
Must Order: Prime Fresh Burger
Good For? Burgers, quick meal

02. The Fry

Rating/Price: 4.5 $$
Why? Crispy, juicy, well spiced Korean Fried Chicken
Must Order: Half/Half KFC Combo
Good For? Big groups, beer and fried chicken

03. DaiLo

Rating/Price: 4.0 $$$
Why? Innovative menu, authentic Asian flavours, sickasianfood
Must Order: Big Mac Baos, Whole Fried Trout
Good For? Big groups, dates, late night bar, snacks and cocktails

04. Bar Isabel

Rating/Price: 5.0 $$$
Why? I wanted seconds of everything on the menu
Must Order: Roast Bone Marrow, Whole Sea Bream Ceviche
Good For? Dates, small groups, cocktails, late night meal

05. Yasu

Rating/Price: 4.0 $$$$
Why? Unique dining experience, refined atmosphere and hard to find sashimi
Must Order: Omakase
Good For? Couples, small groups, special occasions, sashimi enthusiasts

06. Gourmet Malaysia

Rating/Price: 4.5 $
Why? Rich authentic flavours, buttery roti
Must Order: Crispy Butter Prawns, Curry and Roti
Good For? Big groups, family dinners, casual meal

07. The Stockyards Smokehouse and larder

Rating/Price: 5.0 $
Why? Darn good fried chicken
Must Order: Fried Chicken Dinner Platter
Good For? Takeout, small groups, quick meal, comfort food

08. Emma's Country Kitchen

Rating/Price: 5.0 $
Why? One of the best buttermilk biscuits ever
Must Order: Buttermilk Biscuit, Pancakes
Good For? Small groups, brunch, breakfast

Honorable Mentions:

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

Last Updated: 12/30/2014