Day Twenty-Six, Monday November 26th, Friends, Food and Four Free Samsung Flatscreen Televisions

Shinji Yamaguchi dropped in today to test his yakitori recipe. It was his signature teriyaki sauce, which will be featured on our Yakitori Top Chef menu with his Chicken Gushi Ball skewers, that made me pay attention to him when I stopped by his Dundas Street shipping container/street food resto, Gushi, last year. It’s all natural, of course, and the expression of flavours is second-to-none. It’s worth a trip here just to taste it. At $6.25, for a pair of skewers, who cares what came first- the chicken or the egg- let’s just call it what it is: a sweet deal. Renos are coming along, but the small awnings that will shield our McCaul Street windows will have to wait until city permits are approved. Waiting for a few well-known local graffiti artists to drop by and give me a quote on doing the wall. Will give them free G-rated creative license. People will pay attention to a wall because it rivets, not because you want them to pay for something. The bar shelves, using walnut barnwood, doesn’t work exactly as I would have liked with the black tiles behind it, but will have to do. The counter top overlooking the kitchen line will serve as our version of a standing “Chef’s Table”, street-food style. Thinking about using a “stand-up” 4-course omakase format, where the guest orders directly into the kitchen. Meanwhile, on that side of the line, much was going on today. We needed a vegetarian Duk Bok Ki mild enough to appeal to people whose tongues were not coated with fire-suppressing insulation like mine is- that would be most people. This did the trick at $6.95 per plate- anyone know how to say “are you joking?!” in Korean? Thick, slightly sweet, rice cake perfectly cooked. There was also this Japanese beef curry dish on rice that will only be carried at lunch. The flavours will instantly deliver you to the college campuses of Osaka, where this mildly spicy curry dish was made famously delicious. So if there is anyone reading this in Toronto who attended Kansai Gaidai University or Higashiosaka College, and yearning for a bit of home, wipe away your tears and get yourself over here.

Also, we worked on the infuriaring steam buns for our chasu pork, bulgogi beef and kara-age chicken slider. People warned me of how difficult it was to get these buns right, people I usually never listen to, like my mother. Proof again today that mothers, unlike most customers, are always right. May have to source this one…

Thankfully, we finished the menu sampling with the wildly-anticipated “JapaPho” I wrote about yesterday. Chef Shin re-interprets this famous Vietnamese noodle soup with a deeply flavourful beef and chicken stock, using Japanese ingredients. Up until last week, before I first sampled this soup, I used to be in love with Vietnamese pho. Today, I merely like it a lot. We’re friends now.  Your heart can only make room for one true love at a time. I think it was mom who told me that…

Okay, now to the contest. You may remember that the previous tenant-to-be was trying to open a chicken wing sports bar. That meant that they left two 70-inch and four 40-inch Samsung HD flatscreens behind. Brand new, never turned on. So, what to do with them? I chose to keep the big ones in the restaurant- how else are my guests going to get the full effect of PSY’s “Gangnam Style” video?- and give away the four “small” ones that retail at Best Buy for $449.97. It’s this one. The December contest rules are simple. Contest runs from Dec 1st to the 21st. Refer someone to the restaurant. After they dine here, they can request a “Referrer’s Card” from the server. It’s a simple form and, most importantly, your contact info has to be on it. “Jane referred me” just will not cut it. On December 22nd, we will count the submitted ballots. The winner- the one who has her name on the most referrer’s cards- will be announced on our website (still under construction), Twitter (not started) and Facebook sites, as well as this blog. We will also call you if there is a phone number handy on at least one of the cards. Finally, we will pretty it up for you and courier it to you just before Santa comes into town. Merry Christmas!

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