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Warren Shea

Archive for the ‘Restaurants & Food Events’ Category

Jiro Dreams of Sushi – Review + Profession Introspection

Friday, June 8th, 2012 at 10:01 pm

Jiro Dreams of Sushi trailer

Went to watch Jiro Dreams of Sushi last night. It wasn’t what I had expected. While it’s about sushi, it’s so much more than that. It’s about legacy, dedication and hard work, and improving yourself. It takes you into the mind of an unlikely genius and you get to hear his unique thoughts. It was way deeper than I thought it’d be, leaving me with many things to think about.

To try to equally compare myself to someone of Jiro’s character would be arrogant but I can’t deny there are some similarities in our personality.

He discusses 5 things that you need to become a great chef. I found, as he was listing these, how similar his thoughts were compared to my reliability and passion thoughts in the workplace.

His 5 things where:
1. Take your work seriously.
2. Aspire to improve.
3. Maintain cleanliness.
4. Be a better leader than a collaborator.
5. Be passionate about your work.

This is to be a chef. Mine 2 items re: reliability and passion are for how to excel at your job.

Looking at his points, I think they all apply to becoming an artisan of your craft (in Japanese, they have a term for that – Shokunin: mastery of a profession)

While watching this movie, it definitely inspired me. I’m at the point in my career where I think I understand what I want and where I’m going. And I think that’s critically important. I’m surrounded by people who don’t know what they want to do in life. Some who aren’t good at their jobs. And that’s all fine if that’s what they’ve chosen and they accept it. But not everyone is happy with where they are. And the first rule about being happy in life is that if you’re unhappy, change something.

I want to be an artisan of my craft: web development. It’s limited to front-end expertise and back-end familiarity and I want to be an expert in both. I still have much to do.

As I watch Hell’s Kitchen, and listen to some people at work, all they can talk about is money. They want to be rich. There are contestants in HK that want the prize money. And there are contestants that say that “this (cooking) is all they have in their life. What they’re born to do. They’re in Hell’s Kitchen for the experience to work with Chef Ramsey”. And that’s how I feel. While I don’t want to be poor, I think I live by the experiences. That I would take a job that doesn’t pay well if it will help me learn and grow in my path to becoming a professional.

I think Jiro’s 5 rules are something I need to live by to become a Shokunin. I believe I’m partially there:

1. Take your work seriously. – I only half do this. At work, I take my work pretty seriously. But I’m not learning as fast as I should, I don’t dedicate enough time to my craft outside of work
2. Aspire to improve. – I believe I have this aspiration, I’ve always had it.
3. Maintain cleanliness. – I believe I have this and it shows in my clean and organized code.
4. Be a better leader than a collaborator. – Unfortunately, I must be a collaborator…but the points in the movie are valid: leaders move faster and pull others along. Collaborators waste time going in different directions. As a leader, I have to do what I believe is best, despite everyone else. This is not always the case for me…but sometimes it is. That’s why I can be such a jerk.
5. Be passionate about your work. – I believe I have this as well.

So I’m kind of there. But I’m not as studious as I could be. Unfortunately, that’s always been my problem. That, and arrogance :P

Anyways. You can see that Jiro Dreams of Sushi left quite an impact on me. I’d like to rewatch it and take notes or something next time. I feel there’s much I can learn from Jiro. rates – Jiro Dreams of Sushi – 10/10!

Mezza on 2 – Dinner – Review

Tuesday, May 10th, 2011 at 1:10 am

Website : Mezza on 2

Menu : Menu Page 1Menu Page 2

I had a Groupon to use for this place. I had no idea it was Mediterranean. If I did, I likely wouldn’t have gotten this Groupon. And I likely would have missed out on this fantastic dinner. Seriously, this was the best dinner I’d had in a while…and here’s why:

FOOD: Overall 9/10

(Click on the pics for larger pics)

Chicken Kebab – $5
4oz seasoned marinated fire grilled Chicken.

Beef Kebab – $5
4oz seasoned fire grilled succulent Beef.

The beef was alright…cooked at a medium? Nothing too special. It gets a 7. The Chicken however, was up there with the best Chicken I’ve ever had in my life. It gets…an 11 (/10)! which averages to a 9/10 :)
Seriously, I don’t know what else to say except the Chicken was ridiculously awesome. That reason alone is reason enough to return….

Shrimp Linguini – $21
Jumbo black tiger shrimp sauteed with cappers, garlic and tossed with our white win, garlic cream sauce.

This was my entree. I also give this…hmm, 9! Pasta was cooked PERFECTLY. Taste was PERFECT. Shrimp was AWESOME. Deducting 0.5 points for the salty cappers I couldn’t eat, and 0.5 points for the shell on the shrimp, making the shrimp tough to eat. Still, this pasta was near perfect.

Penne a la Vodka – $17
Traditional Penne a la Vodka served with Chicken Breast.

This wasn’t my entree…I don’t remember too much about it. It was great, pasta was cooked perfectly as well. The taste had a little kick in it, the vodka was noticable…and it came with chicken. It was a great dish in itself and I would be happy to have this….if not for the Shrimp Linguini.

SERVICE: 10/10

Waiter was very courteous, nice, prompt, everything. To be fair, there were only 4 people (2 tables) in the restaurant, including us. And one of the tables left half way…so it was just us :) I would be very disappointed if our service was bad :) He gets a 10…honestly, because I can’t find anything wrong at all.


No problems with this either, I had a GREAT view of the intersection people, it was awesome to people watch. Saw lots of cute little doggies, dirty men, not-so-attractive women. It was quiet…mostly because we were the only people in the restaurant. Unfortunately, I was put off a bit by the music, but that’s part of the atmosphere I guess. Still, points off for this…I guess :/

COST: 8/10

$48 total…but with a $40 Groupon (which I bought for $20), it was only $28 :) Not too shabby! Even at $48, for two people…not bad. Especially for the quality of food we got.


Food comes first, and it was great! Some things were perfect, some things were close to perfect…it gets the rating it deserves. I would definitely recommend trying this place out…make sure to get the Chicken :D rates – Mezza on 2 – Dinner – 9/10!

Guu – sorta review…

Friday, April 22nd, 2011 at 9:04 pm


I went to Guu last night. Guu is an example of Traditional Japanese Tapas (Izakaya). We ordered 8 dishes…and here they are! You’ll notice that…it’s somewhat expensive for the food you get. You have to remember that this place is a quality > quantity thing…so don’t go if you’re starving and want some all-you-can-eat thing.

This was good…salmon, raw egg, seaweed….you mix what’s in the bowl, wrap a spoonful in seaweed and eat. It’s good! My seaweed broke and I made a mess when I ate it….but that might be a personal failure

Deep fried squid tentacles. Better than the tentacles at like, a chinese restaurant. Salty enough and not as heavy as it could be…

I imagine this is pretty bad for you…as there’s a lot of butter. Presentation was coolest though, a seashell…Love it!

This might have been one of the best dishes we ordered…raw tuna, but the crunchy garlic chips make it taste awesome.

These were simple…the prawn were huge! Like eating…well, a huge shrimp tempura with spicy mayo.

Better/more interesting than the Okonomiyaki House that I’ve been to…this one comes with yakisoba noodles so it’s the “filler” dish…good for fillign up your stomach!

MMmmm…deep fried chicken…’nuff said

This was Z’s favorite but I didn’t care for it. That much cheese…regardless of being deep-fried…didn’t really do it for me. I guess if you like a good chunk of warm, somewhat melted cheese.

Overall, these 8 dishes, with a beer, cost about $60….pretty expensive for a dinner but a good, fun experience. Due to it’s proximity to my place, I’ll be sure to go again… :)

Lee – Winterlicious – Dinner

Saturday, February 12th, 2011 at 2:36 pm

$35 Dinner plus taxes and gratuity

Cheese burger spring roll – Pickles & smoked chili mayo in lettuce wrap
Szechwan hot & sour soup – Shredded vegetable & Chinese doughnut fritters
Peking Cucumber salad – Crushed cucumber, roasted sweet onion red pepper, mint, feta & Asian vinaigrette

Fresh Ground green curry chicken – Sweet pea polenta, butter almondine, sundried tomato jam oven dried pineapple, chili mint chutney
Pan roasted Salmon with spicy Chinese sausage – Winter melon broth
Spiced Slow Braised Beef – Romano bean puree & daikon puree

Crème caramel
Panna Cotta
Tong Yuen

FOOD: Overall 8/10 (Click on the pics for larger pics)

Warren Zena

Cheese burger spring roll

Pleasently surprising considering its name and immediate WTF thought. It is advisted to eat the Spring Roll with your hands, after wrapping it in the lettuce. I ate some of the roll w/o the lettuce and it tasks exactly like a cheeseburger, it was great. Wrapping it in lettuce makes it taste more like a cheeseburger even. A cheeseburger with a nice crunch. Very tasty.

Peking Cucumber salad

This salad was pretty good as well. Though I’m not a great salad evaluator, to me it was a salad with a thai/peanut buttery vinaigrette. It was pretty good though, definitely not a fusion I would have expected.

Spiced Slow Braised Beef

This was pretty good as well but I’ve had better entrees (and the portion wasn’t great). The puree was great but I just may not be a fan of braised anything. As I ate this, it felt similar to the Braised Lamb I had at Didier. I mean, the meat was incredibly tender and soft, it just didn’t do it for me.

Pan roasted Salmon with spicy Chinese sausage

While this wasn’t what I had chosen, this was exceptionally good. The taste was spectacular, mixing salmon, chinese sausage, and turnip…turned out to compliment each other incredibly well. Even if you had the salmon and sausage, without the turnip, its a completely different taste that combining the three together. I wish I had ordered this.

Tong Yuen

Not knowing what this would be, it was a nice surprise. For about 1 or 2 seconds upon putting this in your mouth, it feels like a soft oreo. But as you bite in, you get an incredible number of different flavours, sesame seed, oreo, coconut, peanut…the taste changes every moment but it’s an overall a great dessert.

Crème caramel

This was really good, a liquidy caramel on a soft custard. Very refreshing itself, or with the whipped cream it came with. While I would order this, I think I made the right choice with the Tong Yuen because it’s less likely to get something like that elsewhere. At least, the fusion version of it.

Overall, out of the 6 items, I thought all of them were good, worth getting or trying. I think I found 4 to be exceptional though (not the salad, or the slow braised beef). I would definitely like to come back and order some of those again.

Waiter wasn’t great…I dunno. For what we were paying, I would have expected a little more…professionalism? No…courtesy? I dunno…just seemed a tad unwelcoming. I think the appetizers came in at 6:40, even though we were seated at 6:00. And I don’t believe we took that long to order. Also, our table was really close to others, beside us. Like, it was tough NOT hearing 2 other conversations. One of the best parts though is that with every dish they brought out, they described exactly what it was, and often provided tips on how to eat it (Cheeseburger Spring Roll). I don’t think I’ve been anywhere that does that…when the food comes, I just wanna eat it so it’s tough waiting that 30-45s for them to talk about the dishes. But it’s good to know…I enjoyed that. Extra marks for that.

COST: 8/10
35/person = 70 + Tax/Tip was about $95. Damn, I just realized that we put a 22% tip…because I calculated tip based on the total (cost+tax = 79) rather than just the cost (70). Damn, I miscalculated. I was thinking that for a 70 cost, before tip and tax, 95 was a lot…Well, if I did at 18% tip, it woulda been like, 92 so not that much different. Ah well. Compared to other Winterlicious places, the cost to food ratio is good. At least for Z. For me, I think I was still a bit hungry after…I woulda enjoyed being stuffed like Wildfire rather than looking for McDonalds after (which is sorta what I did except I didn’t get anything). But I mean, this was one of the cheaper Winterlicious places so again, that ratio was accurate. rates – Lee – Winterlicious – Dinner – 7.5/10!

Wildfire Steakhouse & Wine Bar – Winterlicious – Dinner

Tuesday, February 8th, 2011 at 12:21 am

Regular Menu | Winterlicious Menu

FOOD: Overall 9/10 (Click on the pics for larger pics)

Warren Zena

Grilled Calamari

This was good, I think I would have preferred breaded calamari, I didn’t notice it was grilled when I ordered it -_-; I just saw calamari. I went with this over the salads and soups (of course!) as well as the shrimp cocktail…but I’m not sure if I made the right choice.

Escargots Provençal

This was much better than the calamari, the bread + garlic butter was awesome. If I returned, I would get this.

Sterling Silver® New York Striploin

I ordered mine Rare and let me tell you, this may have been the best steak I ever had. More on this later…but it was awesome, I was so satisfied, it was a great feeling :)

Wild Mushroom Risotto

I also had at least 6 mouthfuls of this, it was great as well. I personally wouldn’t get it because it has no meat! :D but it was really great. I would order this for what it was….but not over the steak.

Pecan and Chocolate Tart

The most disappointing part of my meal. I enjoy pecans, and chocolate but I realized after eating this that I don’t enjoy their flavours together. It wasn’t as sweet as I would have liked for a dessert, the crust really diluted the sweetness.

Chocolate Mousse Dome

This was really good, I only had a bit though. Z wouldn’t share >:( If I went back, I would choose this.

Overall, out of the 6 items, I was pretty pleased with 4 of them, and would definitely order them again. The Calamari and Pecan items were okay but compared to Z’s choices, they were a disappointment. So the food, overall, gets a 9/10. Points off for the Pecan dessert but extra points for the epicly good steak.

I would give them a 9, the waiter was very courteous, attentive of our water (they refilled often). I deduct 1 mark because our reservation was for 6:30 and we had to wait until 7:10 for our table. Ouch. But once we were seated, everything was all good. We were seated at 7:10, they took our order and probably by 7:20, we had our appetizers, which was awesome. I guess they have tons ready but still…that was nice. Also, as soon as we finished our appetizers, they gave us our entrees. The wait time for food for the appetizer and entree was very little. The wait time for the dessert was a bit longer than expected but Z and I were both stuffed so we could use the eating breather :)

COST: 8/10
45/person + $20 for 2 Martinis + 8 Side order of Back Back Ribs = 118 + Tax/Tip was about $160. Hmm, it was about the same cost as Didier. While I found the food a bit more exotic at Didier, the food was definitely done well. I enjoyed my steak at least 3 times more than my Didier lamb (but I’ve since discovered that lamb might not be a taste for me). I mean, for Winterlicious, the price was pretty good considering for the amount of food we got. rates – Wildfire Steakhouse & Wine Bar – Winterlicious – Dinner – 8.5/10!


Let me tell you. At this point in my life, I’ve never enjoyed anything as much as a good steak. As a child and teen, I would eat steaks well done. I don’t know, I had some fear of red, uncooked meat, instilled by my parents I believe. When I was going out with Z, 6.5 years ago, I was still eating well done steaks. And I hated them (big surprise). She introduced me to medium steaks and I loved them. But I’d often get overcooked steaks, receiving medium-well to well when I ordered medium. So I started under-cook-ordering. I would ask for medium-rare but would often/always get medium or medium-well.

And there is nothing worse than a bad steak. By bad, I mean over-cooked. You can’t really take it back or get a new one cuz you’re hungry. Wait, what’s worse than an over-cooked steak is paying a lot of money for an over-cooked steak. And that would often happen.

Even when I visited a steakhouse (I can’t remember the name) for a medium-rare New York Striploin, I received it medium-well. It was so sad :( I was so hungry too, I didn’t time to get a re-fired one or something else, so I just ate it.

Anyways, earlier this week, Z made me rare steak. I don’t think I’d ever had rare. While it was too rare for her it was absolutely perfect for me. I realized rare steaks are the way to go.

So I ordered my steak rare at this steakhouse…and oh. my. f*cking. god. It was so good. I’m totally craving a good, rare steak now…even though I just had one.

My mouth is watering as I write this….


Though Sidecar’s Over Roasted Chicken will beat Bacon, that place might be the only place where chicken >> bacon.