Featured image: Shrimp and crab meat siu mai and braised pork belly on rice @ Tuk Tuk Canteen. Photo credit: Aaron. Lighting credit: Galvin.
We had to go down to Toronto a few weekends ago to pick up Aaron’s new love, the Tesla Model 3. We took an early morning flight and landed in Toronto with just a slight delay. The location to pick up the car was just a quick 5-minute drive away from the airport, at the International Centre, so we were able to make our 9:00am appointment without any issues. This venue seems to be a large multi-purpose centre for various events. At the same location this weekend was a cannabis event as well as a leather event. It turned out to be quite the random collection of activities in one place.
After checking in, we were just told to wait around. There were refreshments, including granola bars, water, tea and Tesla-branded coffee. There was also a new owner orientation given every 30 minutes to teach users the basic functions of their new electric car. Various Tesla models were showcased, including the amazingly futuristic Model X. What was truly entertaining was when someone activated the Christmas-mode and the car started playing Christmas music and flapping its wings.
Soon after, a friendly staff member came over, brought us over to the “nursery” to see our car for the first time and we were given the chance for a photo-op with the car. Afterwards, paperwork had to be signed on their specially designated tables. To our disappointment, they were not able to do electronic funds transfers (contrary to what Aaron was told by his agent in California), so we had to make a quick trip to the bank to get a bank draft instead. After handing over the deposit, we waited around some more for them to prep the car/bring it outside to the parking lot. It got pretty busy by this time and many people were just waiting around with their Tesla-branded coffees. Finally, we were guided to the car by another friendly staff member. This is where we are given the chance to inspect the car, and have hands-on experience learning about some of the basic features to get going. After some adjustments and saving of settings, we were off!
There are some obvious differences with driving this car right away. Firstly, is how quiet it is. It’s hard to tell if it’s on or off. Secondly, the regenerative breaking takes getting used to. As soon as you let your foot off the acceleration, the car uses the momentum to recover that energy. As good as it is for energy efficiency, it does feel like your car is braking even if you haven’t actually pressed on the brake. Without practice, this can make the drive very jerky. For those who are not a fan of this feature, there are options to turn this down in the settings. Also of note: there is no dash board, with all the settings (including the glove box control) found in the built-in tablet system arranged in the center of the front console. This takes some getting used to as the speedometer is no longer directly in front but on the right side of the driver’s peripheral. The climate control is another fun feature, allowing you to program according to driver profiles as well as having an auto-mode working like a thermostat so you don’t have to make any adjustments manually. The car itself is beautiful with a tinted glass ceiling which lets in some but not a blazing amount of light. Of course there are still many interesting features we have yet to discover.
We were getting hungry, so we headed to Burger’s Priest, the famous Toronto burger joint. I had the California Classic. It was a cheeseburger with sautéed onions, buns which have been buttered and pressed, topped with their secret sauce, lettuce and tomato. It was pretty amazing. I’m a fan of basic cheeseburgers which this is with amplified flavours. The most distinguishing part of the burger must have been the butter buns! Aaron, on the other hand, decided to be adventurous. He ordered the High Priest – basically a Big Mac; however, he opted for the “keto bun”, which really looked like fluffy cardboard. The texture on bite was actually not as bad as I thought. It felt like I was just eating multigrain bread. But let’s be honest. I would choose my buttered bun over this “keto bun” any day. We also shared the cheese fries, which was literally fries with shredded cheddar cheese on top. Nothing too special in my opinion.
We were really close to a supercharger station, so we headed over for our first charge. It was pretty straight forward. We found a spot alongside fellow Teslas and pressed the button while waving the charger near the charging port and the cap will lift itself. We just plugged it in and then waited. It shows on the display how long it will take and you can adjust how much you want it to fill to. Of note, Model 3 owners do not get complimentary credits, so it’s pay-per-use. The rate is lower when the battery is less full, than when it is more full. We were at over 80% already so our charge for only about 15 minutes came out really expensive at around $3.50 and only gave us an extra 40km.
After our charging adventure, we headed downtown to check into our hotel and rested a short while. Then we took a nice walk towards the Distillery District passing by the Entertainment District and Financial District. We also walked through St. Lawrence Market, where Aaron had a pasta sample which he was extremely impressed with combining marinara, alfredo and pesto sauces!
Shortly after, we reached the Distillery District, which reminded me a lot of Vancouver’s Gas Town. There were so many old buildings with lots of character. There were many hipster coffee shops and boutique fashion shops as well. We stopped by Arvo Coffee, for some “Hoppy Cold Brew”, which was literally cold brew made with the hops used to make beer. The colour of the coffee was a little cloudy, which is not from any cream or milk but from the hops itself. Even as a non-black coffee drinker, I found this quite nice. We then came across Greg’s Ice Cream, which was highly recommended by one of my friends from Toronto. She said we had to try the roasted marshmallow flavour, which is what we did. It was absolutely delicious and definitely one-of-a-kind! I was worried it would be too sweet but it was perfect. We sat and listened to some live performances while we enjoyed our ice cream and coffee. We wanted to stop by Balzac’s Coffee Roaster just to look inside but they were closed for a private function.
Time flies as it was time to head over to Tuk Tuk Canteen to meet our friends for dinner. Two of my friends have been to Cambodia before (check out their YouTube Channel @ Galvin and Katie), so I was hoping they would be good judges of the food here. I found this restaurant on several Toronto food blogs so I had high expectations. It is located slightly west of downtown Toronto in the neighbourhood of Roncesvalles. It really gave us Vancouverites a sense of Commercial Drive in Vancouver with its hip vibe. The restaurant itself was cozy, so we made sure to make reservations. The chef is a first-generation Canadian whose parents were from Cambodia. This dishes were influenced by Cambodia cooking but not necessarily authentic Cambodian dishes. One over-arching theme of his cooking is fish sauce, which is one of our favourite South-east Asian ingredients. You ordered as you would at certain dimsum restaurants by ticking boxes on a piece of paper. The dishes are meant to be shared.
We started with some good old peanuts covered with various South-East Asian spices. We also had their crispy tofu salad on a bed of crispy fried glass noodles. It was quite an interesting combination of textures. Then we tried their chicken wings, fried and covered with copious amounts of palm sugar, fish sauce and lime. It was tasty but if I had to compare, I like Phnom Penh chicken wings in Vancouver more because it was more dry and crispy compared to this, which had a bit too much sauce for my liking. Perhaps they can try putting the sauce on the side too, like at Phnom Penh.
Next, we had their shrimp and crab meat siu mai, which had an explosion of flavours. It is made with a bunch of South-asian herbs including lemongrass, lime leaf, galangal, ginger, garlic and turmeric and of course, fish sauce. We also had their braised pork belly on rice, which you can’t really go wrong with.
Of course this was not enough food, so we ordered more chicken wings. As well, we ordered the fried chicken on rice which we found out was different than the fried chicken wings. This was more like a cutlet-styled fried chicken, nicely flavoured on top of white rice – a very comforting dish. Next, we had the squid, oyster sauce and red curry on rice, which was my favourite dish of the night. The red curry was sweet and tasty and the squid was perfectly cooked.
Overall, I quite enjoyed the dishes we had here and would consider returning in the future; however, given the incredible number of restaurants in Toronto that I have yet to try, it may be a while before we return. It has been a long day of car and food-fun, so we decided to call it a night.
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