Sea Fun and Seafood at Frutos Del Mar (in Luxury Bahia Principe Akumal)!

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Being by the sea at a beach near the Mayan ruins of Tulum had me dreaming of all the seafood that was going to be offered for dinner that night at the Frutos Del Mar restaurant.

After Raj and I celebrated our one-year anniversary at Maiko restaurant, it was time for his sister and her husband to celebrate their ten-year wedding anniversary there the following night. While they were enjoying dinner at Maiko, Raj, his parents, and I took their kids (Raj’s niece and nephew) to dinner at Frutos Del Mar. It was great that this was a seafood restaurant, because we all were craving seafood after spending the day by the sea at a beautiful beach near the Mayan ruins of Tulum. Seafood can be a great source of lean protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and minerals. If you are a big fan of seafood and are staying at the Bahia Principe Riviera Maya resort, then you definitely must check out the Frutos Del Mar restaurant. Here is a recap/review of my dining experience there…

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I loved the nautical decor of the restaurant.

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The apéritif was a refreshing and lightly sweet cocktail. I cannot remember what was in it, but it tasted like a light and fruity dessert wine. Also, I loved the star fruit garnish, which reminded me of a starfish.

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The appetizer menu and a portion of the main course menu. For the appetizer, you could choose one of the starters or one of the soups or their seafood buffet. Since I prefer plated service over buffets, I opted for a starter (as did Raj and his parents), while his niece and nephew chose the seafood buffet to start.

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Look at the incredible variety of seafood dishes at the appetizer buffet! Some highlights include various ceviches (scallop/salmon/tuna), slices of seared tuna steak, prawns, crab legs, and a variety of caviar! As wonderful as this seafood buffet was, I was glad I opted for a plated starter for my appetizer instead, because I would have been so overwhelmed with all the choices! I would have tried a bit of everything and spoiled my appetite for the main course. This spread was beyond an appetizer buffet. You could have just ordered this alone and been more than satisfied.

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Raj’s niece and nephew ordered the buffet for their appetizer. I found it so funny that the first item his nephew eagerly reached for was a fruit salad amidst all the succulent seafood options! Ha ha ha. The kids loved all the fresh fruits that were available in Mexico at this time of the year and I cannot blame them.

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“Sea Scallops Carpaccio – with Porcini mushroom duxelle, mustard vinaigrette, Piquillo pepper and tangerine foam.” The scallops were succulent and fresh and I loved the flavourful minced mushrooms underneath. The mustard vinaigrette and tangerine foam did not overpower the delicate flavours of the scallop carpaccio. Instead, the condiments highlighted the flavours of the scallop carpaccio beautifully. I also ordered a glass of semi-dry sparkling white wine to pair with my seafood courses since I ordered very light seafood dishes.

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The other portion of the main course menu and the dessert menu.

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“Whisky Shrimp – with vegetables macédonie and celery cream.” I ordered this dish without the celery cream and I still loved it! The shrimps were large, juicy, and perfectly cooked. I especially loved the crispy beet chips (those red string-like things on my plate). I wanted an entire plate of those beet chips! My only criticism was that the portion was too small for a main course. It was essentially only six pieces of shrimp with two pieces of asparagus. On a positive note, this was the perfect excuse to order dessert and not feel guilty!

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“Impossible Cake – Kahlúa sponge cake and cottage cheese crème caramel.” When you order a very light appetizer and a very light main course, I think you are entitled to order whatever your heart desires on the dessert menu! This dessert was highly recommended by our server, so I ordered it. Although I loved it, it was too heavy and decadent for me. I only managed two bites with the fruit and chocolate garnishes. If you enjoy rich desserts and love coffee and caramel, you would definitely love this dessert!

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I thought I would share and end with this cute picture. After our dinner at Frutos Del Mar, we bumped into Daffy Duck and Donald Duck! They were both super nice. 😉

All in all, the food was great and everyone had a blast that night. The quality of the seafood was exceptional. I highly recommend this restaurant to anyone who loves seafood. I also highly recommend visiting the beaches by the Mayan ruins of Tulum, if you are in the area. The water, sand, and views are spectacular!

XOXO,

Addy

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Our One-Year Anniversary Dinner at Maiko Japanese Restaurant (in Luxury Bahia Principe Sian Ka’an)!

Maiko was my favourite restaurant at the Bahia Principe Riviera Maya!

Maiko was my favourite restaurant at the Bahia Principe Riviera Maya!

After a family night dinner at Le Gourmet and a girls’ night dinner at Arlequin, it was time for Raj and I to have a just-“Raddy” dinner together, celebrating our one-year anniversary. Since Japanese cuisine is my favourite kind of cuisine, Raj (the thoughtful boyfriend) made reservations at Maiko, one of the only two Japanese restaurants on the Bahia Principe Riviera Maya resort. Unlike Mikado (the other Japanese restaurant), Maiko is located in the Sian Ka’an area, which is my favourite area on the resort and adult-only. This dinner at Maiko ended up being my absolute favourite dining experience on this trip! It had the best menu selection, the best food, the best apéritif cocktail, and the best service. Raj did a fantastic job at selecting a restaurant for our one-year anniversary dinner. Here is a recap/review of my special dining experience at Maiko

When Raj made the dinner reservation, he informed them that it was our one-year anniversary celebratory dinner. When we arrived, they surprised us with the best window seats in the restaurant and rose petals all over our table! What fabulous service! We were definitely impressed.

When Raj made the dinner reservation, he informed them that it was our one-year anniversary celebratory dinner. When we arrived, they surprised us with the best window seats in the restaurant and rose petals all over our table! What fabulous service! We were definitely impressed.

They also surprised us with a complimentary bottle of sparkling white wine! This Chatonier Brut sparkling white wine from Spain, which was only 10% alcohol, tasted drier than what I normally prefer, but it was not too dry for me. It arrived chilled in an ice bucket and our server popped open the bottle for us. What a nice, festive surprise! Thank you, Maiko!

They also surprised us with a complimentary bottle of sparkling white wine! This Chatonier Brut sparkling white wine from Spain, which was only 10% alcohol, tasted drier than what I normally prefer, but it was not too dry for me. It arrived chilled in an ice bucket and our server popped open the bottle for us. What a nice, festive surprise! Thank you, Maiko!

I was so excited to look at their menu and see what kind of Japanese cuisine would be offered at a Japanese restaurant in Mexico. I was distracted for a bit by all the beautifully scattered rose petals on our table. Ha ha ha.

I was so excited to look at their menu and see what kind of Japanese cuisine would be offered at a Japanese restaurant in Mexico. I was distracted for a bit by all the beautifully scattered rose petals on our table. Ha ha ha.

Before we could open our menu, we were surprised once again with a complimentary apéritif. This cocktail was called "Shanghai" and it was THE BEST cocktail we had on the trip! Unfortunately, no other bar on the resort managed to recreate this cocktail exactly during the remainder of our trip. :( This cocktail tasted like a delightful blend of tropical fruit juices in your mouth. We absolutely loved it!

Before we could open our menu, we were surprised once again with a complimentary apéritif. This cocktail was called “Shanghai” and it was THE BEST cocktail we had on the trip! Unfortunately, no other bar on the resort managed to recreate this cocktail exactly during the remainder of our trip. 😦 This cocktail tasted like a delightful blend of tropical fruit juices in your mouth. We absolutely loved it!

The appetizer menu.

The appetizer menu.

Before any food came out, we were each given this assortment of condiments to accompany all our savoury courses. From left to right: a sweet sesame sauce, soy sauce, and a spicy mayonnaise sauce. The sweet sesame sauce tasted like a lightly sweetened tahini sauce and it was my hands-down favourite of all three condiments! I added some to every course except dessert. The soy sauce was definitely sushi-grade and not the lower quality cooking-grade. The spicy mayonnaise sauce was just a mixture of Sriracha chili sauce and mayonnaise, so it was not anything unique or spectacular.

Before any food came out, we were each given this assortment of condiments to accompany all our savoury courses. From left to right: a sweet sesame sauce, soy sauce, and a spicy mayonnaise sauce. The sweet sesame sauce tasted like a lightly sweetened tahini sauce and it was my hands-down favourite of all three condiments! I added some to every course except dessert. The soy sauce was definitely sushi-grade and not the lower quality cooking-grade. The spicy mayonnaise sauce was just a mixture of Sriracha chili sauce and mayonnaise, so it was not anything unique or spectacular.

After placing our orders from the menu, they surprised us yet again with a complimentary amuse-bouche. I loved this palate teaser! These thin, bite-sized slices of tuna steak were seared to perfection (thin cooked crust on outside, but still completely raw on inside). The outer cooked crust was so flavourful and it tasted like it was seasoned with shichimi tōgarashi (the Japanese seven-flavour chili pepper spice mixture). The tuna was so fresh and not fishy at all. Also, the presentation was beautiful! I am not sure what the three drizzled sauces were, but when you coat the tuna slices in all three sauces and then put it in your mouth, it was such a wonderfully balanced mixture of salty, sweet, and spicy flavours!

After placing our orders from the menu, they surprised us yet again with a complimentary amuse-bouche. I loved this palate teaser! These thin, bite-sized slices of tuna steak were seared to perfection (thin cooked crust on the outside, but still completely raw on the inside). The outer cooked crust was so flavourful and it tasted like it was seasoned with shichimi tōgarashi (the Japanese seven-flavour chili pepper spice mixture). The tuna was so fresh and not fishy at all. Also, the presentation was beautiful! I am not sure what the three drizzled sauces were, but when you coat the tuna slices in all three sauces and then put them in your mouth, it was such a wonderfully balanced mixture of salty, sweet, and spicy flavours!

For the first course, I ordered a vegan version of the "California Sushi". I am not vegan by any means, but that is what I felt like having that night. So instead of having "tempura shrimp, cream cheese, cucumber, and sesame" in my maki roll, they just put fresh cucumber and blanched carrots in my roll and then they topped it off with thin mango slices. As a self-proclaimed "sushi snob", this does not make my top-five-vegan-maki-rolls list, but it was definitely better than what I was expecting for sushi in Mexico. I enjoyed the nice balance of sweet and savoury flavours in this roll, which I had with soy sauce and the sweet sesame sauce, of course.

For the first course, I ordered a vegan version of the “California Sushi”. I am not vegan by any means, but that was what I felt like having that night. So instead of having “tempura shrimp, cream cheese, cucumber, and sesame” in my maki roll, they just put fresh cucumber and blanched carrots in my roll and then they topped it off with thin mango slices. As a self-proclaimed “sushi snob”, this does not make my top-five-vegan-maki-rolls list, but it was definitely better than what I was expecting for sushi in Mexico. I enjoyed the nice balance of sweet and savoury flavours in this roll, which I had with soy sauce and the sweet sesame sauce, of course.

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“Misoshiro Soup – with tofu cheese, seaweed wakame, scallions, and Somen pasta.” The “tofu cheese” was just plain tofu pieces and completely dairy-free. This miso soup was not anything spectacular, but it was good. It was not too salty and contained a good amount of tofu pieces and seaweed. I was glad that there were only a few strands of Somen noodles, because that kept this dish nice and light for an appetizer.

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The menu for the teppanyaki, main course, and dessert. You could order a teppanyaki dish along with your main course before dessert, but Raj and I opted to order just a main course and dessert since we did not want to overindulge.

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“Seafood with Curry – sauce made with eggplant and onion confit.” My main course was absolutely delicious! The coconut-milk-based curry sauce was so creamy and flavourful. Also, there was a generous amount of seafood (mussel, shrimp, scallop, fish, etc.) and it was all so fresh! This seafood curry was served with a small bowl of short-grain white rice and the rice was perfectly cooked. My only criticism is that I wish this dish was spicy, because I like my curries quite spicy! I would reorder this dish as is though. It was just so aromatic and tasty!

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“Halo-halo – tapioca and lychee with coconut cream.” Halo-halo is a Filipino dessert that is mainly shaved ice and evaporated milk topped off with fruits, sweetened boiled beans, jello, and/or other sweets. That was what I was expecting, but instead, this halo-halo was more like a Thai coconut tapioca pudding. This dessert was mainly made of small tapioca pearls that were suspended in thick, sweetened coconut milk. I could not taste any lychee. Although this was not your traditional Filipino halo-halo, I enjoyed this gluten-free dessert, especially with the scoop of coconut ice cream on the side.

I ended up having only a small bite or two of that halo-halo dessert since I wanted to save my sweet-tooth splurge for the Sian Ka'an bar lounge next door. It is all about moderation. At the Sian Ka'an bar lounge, I channeled my inner Carrie Bradshaw and ended my fabulous night with a Cosmopolitan and some dancing. What a fun night!

I ended up having only a small bite or two of that halo-halo dessert since I wanted to save my sweet-tooth splurge for the Sian Ka’an bar lounge next door. It is all about moderation. At the Sian Ka’an bar lounge, I channeled my inner Carrie Bradshaw and ended my fabulous night with a Cosmopolitan and some dancing. What a fun night!

If you are visiting the Bahia Principe Riviera Maya resort and are at least 18 years of age with no kids (or have someone to babysit the kids), I highly recommend having dinner at Maiko and then hitting the Sian Ka’an bar lounge afterwards for post-dinner drinks. This night out was definitely the highlight of the trip for me. Thank you, Maiko (and Sian Ka’an)!

XOXO,

Addy

Girls’ Night at the Luxury Bahia Principe Akumal: Arlequin Restaurant Review

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Excited for a girls’ night dinner at the Arlequin!

For our second dinner dining experience (if you have not seen the first one, go here), the men (Raj, his dad, his brother-in-law, his brother-in-law’s dad, and his nephew) went to La Gran Tortuga-Rodizio restaurant to indulge in a buffet of Brazilian grilled meats. Meanwhile, the ladies (Raj’s mom, his sister, his sister’s mother-in-law, and his niece) and I went to the Arlequin restaurant for fancy French cuisine. I loved this restaurant and this meal was one of my favourites during the trip! All of my courses were very flavourful, well presented, and perfectly portioned. I will recap of one of my favourite dining experiences on this trip, but first, I cannot resist sharing the little bit of monkey fun I had during this trip…

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Some monkey fun before dinner!

After some monkey business, the ladies and I were finally ready to head out for a girls’ night dinner…

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From left to right: Raj’s sister’s mother-in-law, his sister, his mom, and me. On our way to get ready for our girls’ night French dinner!

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From left to right: me, Raj’s mom, his sister, his niece, and his sister’s mother-in-law. Gorgeous ladies!

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The appetizer menu.

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The complimentary apéritif. I did not get a chance to jot down what was in it, but it tasted like a light sparkling dessert wine, which I absolutely loved! The maraschino cherry added a pretty and festive touch.

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The complimentary amuse-bouche. This was a bite-sized rice cracker that was made in-house and topped off with some kind of sauce. Although the presentation was beautiful, the taste and flavours were not very memorable. It was okay.

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“Smoked Salmon Paupiettes – with mushroom duxelle and caviar trio vinaigrette.” Although the smoked salmon was not of great quality (you can even tell by the pale pink colour and lack of marbling), the pile of sautéed minced mushrooms underneath made up for it. The mushrooms were so flavourful and hearty that the smoked salmon could have been omitted from this dish.

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“Lobster Velouté – with shrimp and sea bass quenelle” (before pouring).

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“Lobster Velouté – with shrimp and sea bass quenelle” (after pouring). I LOVED this soup even though there were no actual lobster pieces, the shrimp was mediocre in quality, and the sea bass quenelle was just alright. The creamy and extremely flavourful broth tasted like lobster and prawns and it was perfectly seasoned! I am not ashamed to say that I was literally licking my bowl afterwards.

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The main course menu.

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“Sea Bass Supreme – with sautéed vegetables instead of creamy rice, mushroom confit, and gravy.” While the seafood in the appetizers (the smoked salmon in the salad and the shrimp in the soup) were not great, the sea bass fillet in this main course was spectacular! It was super moist and flaky. Also, the sautéed vegetables were perfectly cooked al dente. Not only was this dish super tasty, but it was also super healthy and paleo-friendly!

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The dessert menu. Macarons are my favourite dessert. Since Arlequin is a French restaurant, when I saw stuffed “macaroons” (cookies of Italian origin made with desiccated coconut) on the menu, I knew that it was a typo and that they were actually referring to “macarons” (the French cookie sandwich). I did not even bother asking if it was a typo and just ordered the “Trilogy of Macaroons stuffed with Mocha and Salted Caramel Ice Cream”.

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“Trilogy of Macaroons stuffed with Mocha and Salted Caramel Ice Cream.” I was right! “Macaroons” was a typo and they were really referring to “macarons”, which are my favourite dessert! I was so thrilled! The macarons tasted heavenly! The meringue cookie parts were perfectly made and the filling was divine. The macarons were so wonderfully made that I did not even touch the ice cream, because I did not want to ruin what was on my palate with anything else.

I enjoyed dinner at the Arlequin more than dinner at Le Gourmet the previous night. My favourite dinner on the trip, however, took place the following night at a Japanese restaurant. Not only was it Raj’s and my one-year anniversary dinner, but that restaurant had the best food and service! I will share that dining experience in the next post, so stay tuned!

XOXO,

Addy

Luxury Bahia Principe Akumal: Le Gourmet Restaurant Review

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“Raddy” is back! Raj and I recently returned from our one-week vacation at the Luxury Bahia Principe Akumal all-inclusive resort in Riviera Maya, Mexico. We had a blast with his family and we managed to dine at five of the several à-la-carte restaurants there. Although this resort seems very popular (I have several colleagues who have visited this resort and we met many fellow Torontonians there along with many other Canadians, Americans, Europeans, Asians, and Australians), there were not many recent online reviews of the à-la-carte restaurants and their menus to help us decide which restaurants would best accommodate everyone’s dietary restrictions and preferences. So Raj booked all the dinner reservations blindly prior to the trip, hoping there would be something for everyone on the menus.
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While I was there, I made sure to take pictures of all the menus and of everything I ordered at the à-la-carte restaurants, so I could share them restaurant-by-restaurant on this blog to help future visitors with specific dietary restrictions and preferences decide with which restaurants to book dinner reservations. Let us start with the French restaurant, Le Gourmet

Wonderful ambiance.

Wonderful ambiance.

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Menu for the first two courses.

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The apéritif was lightly sweet and refreshing. It was a great way to prep the palate for all the food that followed. I cannot remember what was in it exactly, but it was alcoholic. There was a non-alcoholic version, which was also sweet and refreshing.

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Like the apéritif, the amuse-bouche was also a pleasant surprise and not on the menu. The salad and sauces were refreshing and tasty, but the gelée was too bland.

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“Fresh Salmon Salad – with a crown of shrimp in a citric vinaigrette, caper mousse and a mango emulsion.” This was not what I was expecting based on the description. I was expecting a bed of leafy greens with either slices of smoked salmon or chunks of freshly cooked salmon. Instead, there were no leafy greens and the salmon tasted like canned salmon flakes mixed with mayonnaise. The salmon and mayonnaise mixture was sandwiched between slices of avocado and then topped with shrimp. I found this “salad” to be too creamy and heavy for a first course.

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“Cream of Almond Soup – with a Serrano ham brunoise.” Raj’s mom and I ordered this, because we have never heard of an almond soup before and we were so curious. It was very tasty and smooth. It almost tasted like a cream of cauliflower soup with fine granules of almond throughout. Although I enjoyed it, I regretted not ordering the Shellfish Bisque soup like Raj did. I tried his and it was way tastier. His bisque tasted like a very flavourful prawn broth with a richer consistency and texture. I made him swap bowls with me for a bit, because his bisque was just that good!

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Main course menu.

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“Garden Vegetable Millefeuille – vegetables layered in thin leaves of pastry with fresh coriander and a smooth tomato coulis.” Once again, Raj’s mom and I ordered the same menu item, because we both were not in the mood for meat that day. We were both very disappointed in this dish, because we were expecting much more pastry for a “millefeuille”, which translates to “a thousand layers” in English. Instead, there were just two small triangular sheets of phyllo. However, the vegetables were perfectly cooked (al dente) and the tomato coulis added a nice touch of tangy sweetness.

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I forgot to take a picture of the separate dessert menu, but I ordered the papaya tart. It was layers of very thin papaya slices, which were lightly soaked in some kind of sweet syrup. The papaya slices were layered over a very thin pie crust and this was served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. I did not have any of the vanilla ice cream, but the papaya tart was decent.

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My supplementation protocol was very different in Mexico. Instead of vitamin D being my must-have supplement as I was out under the sun so much, digestive enzymes were my must-have supplement with all the delicious food on the resort.

Even though I indulged more than usual at the resort, it was a vacation after all and, as you will see, I kept all my dinners at the à-la-carte restaurants on the lighter side. Digestive enzyme supplements were definitely crucial to surviving this vacation, but at least I got the majority of my vitamin D during this trip via sunlight instead of supplementation. 😛

Stay tuned for the other four à-la-carte restaurant reviews!

XOXO,

Addy

Healthy Dining at Cluny Bistro & Boulangerie

Cluny Bar

While we were waiting to be seated, we each enjoyed a glass of NV Champagne Piper Hiedsieck Brut in the bar area near the entrance.

When people think of French food, many think of fattening foods such as baguettes, croissants, cheese, butter, foie gras, French pastries, etc. So when my friends and I were invited to the soft grand opening of Cluny Bistro and Boulangerie, I was expecting mostly rich and indulgent menu items. I was pleasantly surprised to see a variety of light and healthy dishes (besides salads) on their menu. Here is a recap and review of the lighter and healthier menu items we tried…

Cluny Interior

The interior decor and ambiance are gorgeous. Cluny even has a raw bar and seafood counter off to the side of the dining area (bottom right picture).

Our Server (Penny) & Gazpacho

LEFT: Our awesome server, Penny! RIGHT: Spicy Chilled Watermelon and Tomato Soup with Firm Tofu, Basil, and Oven-Dried Tomato ($9).

The first dish was the Spicy Chilled Watermelon and Tomato Soup (with firm tofu, basil, and oven-dried tomato), which ended up being my second favourite dish of the night. I loved the flavour balance between the sweetness from the watermelon and the tang from the tomato. Although this vegan dish is technically not a gazpacho since it is made with oven-dried tomato and not raw tomato, it was just as refreshing! This chilled appetizer would be even better during the summer. However, as a big fan of spicy foods, I do wish this dish was spicier. Next time, I will ask them to add extra chilies or chili sauce in mine.

Scallop Ceviche with Watermelon

Qualicom Bay Scallop Crudo with Watermelon, Chili, Peanuts, and Cilantro ($14).

My hands-down favourite dish of the night was the Qualicom Bay Scallop Crudo (with watermelon, chili, peanuts, and cilantro). It was also my favourite dish presentation. The colours of this dish were so vibrant and the flavours complemented each other so well. Like in the soup, the level of spiciness from the chili was very mild, but I enjoyed it in this dish, because the flavour of the raw scallops was so delicate. Also, the textures of this dish were so enjoyable on the palate. The texture of the raw scallops balanced well with the slight bite from the watermelon and the crunch from peanuts. This dish was perfection! I highly recommend it.

Tuna Tartar

Tuna Tartare “Niçoise” with Egg, French Beans, White Anchovy, and Niçoise Olives ($17).

The next dish was the Tuna Tartare “Niçoise” (with egg, French beans, white anchovy, and Nicoise olives). With the anchovy and olives, I was worried that this dish may be too salty for my taste buds, but it wasn’t! This was a delicious French twist on the classic tuna tartare. The tartare itself was creamy enough that I didn’t need the white cream sauce that was provided on the side.

Moroccan Stew with Couscous

Moroccan Chickpea and Sweet Potato Stew with Couscous, Harissa, Almond, and Apricot ($18).

If you are vegan, you will enjoy their only vegan main course, which is the Moroccan Chickpea and Sweet Potato Stew (with couscous, harissa, almond, and apricot). This was such a hearty and comforting dish that I didn’t miss meat at all. Before digging into this dish, I recommend mixing the couscous with the stew and letting the couscous absorb some of that delicious stew sauce. It was so yummy!

Housemade Bread

There is a bread bar in the middle of the restaurant and it is fully stocked with a variety of breads that are baked daily on site!

Also, there is a bread bar in the middle of the dining area. It is fully stocked with a variety of their breads, which are baked fresh daily on site by Head Chef Paul Benallick. Unfortunately, there are no gluten-free options yet for those sensitive or allergic to gluten. My favourite bread was this one containing small chunks of apple in it. I really enjoyed that small touch of sweetness in the bread.

Me & G Post-Dinner

When the food is so delicious (and light) that you just want to jump up with delight post-meal!

All in all, it was a very enjoyable night filled with great friends, great conversations, and of course, great food! Our server, Penny, was very knowledgeable about the menu and very welcoming. I highly recommend this restaurant for romantic date nights, especially since it is located in the heart of the Distillery District. If you are looking for great modern French cuisine in a beautiful French-inspired setting, then you must check out Cluny Bistro and Boulangerie!

XOXO,

Addy

Healthy Asian Dining with Raj and My Parents

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Trying to order healthy at Asian restaurants can be hard, especially when their menus are typically very extensive and overwhelming. However, I’ve come up with a few tips that help me stay on the healthy track. A few days ago, Raj, my parents, and I went to a Chinese restaurant called Asian Legend. Their menu was very large, but I managed to pick out some healthy dishes for everyone using these guidelines:

1. When it comes to vegetable dishes, opt for minimally cooked ones that are lightly dressed with light sauces. Raw, pickled, blanched, steamed, and lightly stir-fried vegetables are more nutrient-dense than stewed, boiled, and deep fried ones. Just make sure they’re not drenched in sauces. We ordered their “Sweet and Spicy Cucumber” salad (slices of raw cucumber lightly dressed in a light sweet and spicy sauce). So good & refreshing!

"Sweet and Spicy Cucumber" salad - This is my new favourite Chinese vegetable dish! The raw and perfectly marinated cucumber slices are such a nice change from the usual  stir-fried vegetables at Chinese restaurants. So refreshing!

“Sweet and Spicy Cucumber” salad – This is my new favourite Chinese vegetable dish! The raw and perfectly marinated cucumber slices are such a nice change from the usual stir-fried vegetables at Chinese restaurants. So refreshing!

2. Request for less oil, less salt, less soy sauce (low-sodium soy sauce, if possible), and no monosodium glutamate (MSG) in your dishes. If you like your food spicy, kick up the flavour with extra spice instead! For instance, we ordered the “Steamed California Bass” with chillies, less soy sauce, less oil, and no MSG. It was still full of flavour and it turned out to be my favourite dish!

"Steamed California Bass" - One of my favourite Chinese dishes that my dad makes is actually a very similar variation of this. It tasted just as delicious as my dad's version, so it ended up being my favourite dish that day! The fish was perfectly cooked!

“Steamed California Bass” – My dad actually makes a very similar variation of this that is one of my favourite childhood dishes. It tasted just as delicious as my dad’s version, so it ended up being my favourite dish that day! The fish was perfectly cooked!

3. Opt for lean proteins that are prepared in light sauces and not battered. My dad was craving their battered, deep fried, and sugar-laden “Sweet and Sour Chicken” that day, but instead, we ordered the “Jellyfish Salad” along with the steamed fish. After our meal, he was glad we went with the lean seafood dishes that are high in protein and healthy fatty acids, because he didn’t feel heavy or weighed down afterwards.

"Jellyfish Salad" - It was our first time trying jellyfish. Like tofu, it doesn't have much flavour on its own and relies on marinades/dressings for flavour. Also, it has a very unique texture that is somewhat similar to that of seaweed salad. I liked it and would reorder this dish.

“Jellyfish Salad” – It was our first time trying jellyfish. Like tofu, it doesn’t have much flavour on its own and relies on marinades/dressings for flavour. Also, it has a very unique texture that is somewhat similar to that of seaweed salad. I liked it and would reorder this dish.

4. Rice is a staple in the Asian diet. So if you must have rice with your meal, opt for plain steamed rice instead of fried rice.

5. Watch out for the condiments! If you are using soy sauce as a condiment, be aware of how much you are using and ask if a low-sodium soy sauce is available. Also, the chili sauce condiment that Asian restaurants provide are typically heavily oil-based. Ask if a vinegar-based chili sauce or red chili flakes are available instead.

6. Stick with water or tea for drinks. Avoid the sugary beverages, which are full of empty calories and inhibit optimal digestion.

7. If you’re sensitive or allergic to gluten, avoid mock meat as it’s likely made of wheat gluten.

8. Soups at Asian restaurants are generally high in sodium and may contain MSG. Since they are prepared ahead of time, chefs cannot reduce the salt content or remove the MSG that they may contain. Thus, if having soup, enjoy in moderarion (perhaps as a small appetizer).

Everyone digging in and Raj impressing my parents with his chopstick skills!

Everyone digging in and Raj impressing my parents with his chopstick skills! I devoured most of that fish!

These tips were written with Asian restaurants specifically in mind, but they can be applied to any kind of restaurant. We had a wonderful time at Asian Legend and the food was amazing! Thanks to my parents for selecting that place for Raj and me. Hopefully, you found at least some of these pointers helpful. Happy dining!

XOXO,

Addy