Last Stop: Athens

I realize that I never wrote about my last stop in Europe, which was to Athens, Greece. We flew there from the island of Santorini, which was only about an hour flight away. Warning: If you go to Athens in June, it is crazy hot. Many shops and restaurants close during the hottest hours in the afternoon (between 2 to 5 pm), which our Airbnb host described as a siesta-like period for Greeks.

There are many important historic monuments to check out in Athens, as well as cool flea markets and shops. As the capital of Greece and a major transportation hub, Athens is also a convenient place to do day trips from.

Here are a list of things to do (and around) Athens:

1. Acropolis of Athens

The main feature at the Acropolis is the Parthenon, dedicated by the Athenians to Athena Parthenos, the patron of their city. I highly recommend visiting this site in the morning, as it tends to be less hot since the sun hasn’t reached its full peak yet.


2. Take a ferry to Hydra

Athens is close to many islands, one of them being the island of Hydra, which is located in the Aegean Sea between the Saronic Gulf and the Argolic Gulf. There are short hikes you can do in Hydra to some beautiful beaches, where the water is as blue and clear as the sky. A one-way ferry trip to Hydra from Athens takes less than an hour.


3. Watch the sunset over the water

This is just one of those classic vacation things you must do in Greece. The photo below was taken while we were waiting at the dock in Hydra for our ferry back to Athens.


4. Visit the farmers market in Athens

It’s a little hard to communicate with vendors, who for the most part only speak Greek, but the farmer market in Athens was quite an interesting and fun experience. The produce here is really cheap; for instance, I bought a large bag of plump, juicy cherries (around 3 lbs) for two euros.


5. Explore Monastiraki

This flea market area is always buzzing with tourists and locals alike. There are tons of cool shops, cafes, bars, and souvenir shops to check out. I recommend trying a fish foot massage at Doctor Fish Athens, where you place your feet inside a tank and little fish nibble the dead skin off your feet. The sensation was really ticklish at first, but it soon became soothing and even nice. My feet also did in fact feel softer afterwards.


6. Buy some Greek sesame snacks & honey

We bought a lot of souvenirs, such as snacks and beauty products, to share with our friends back home. Most of the snacks we found in Greece contain either honey and/or sesame seeds. There were also a lot of olive oil products for sale in the markets; we bought cream and shampoo containing this ingredient, as well as some olive wood products.


7. Explore Coffee Shops

During the hottest hours of the afternoon (between two to five), many shops and restaurants are closed and it also tends to get too hot to wander outside – making it the perfect time to explore Athens’ coffee shops. There are tons of really neat ones around the city, my favourite being the cozy Little Tree Books & Coffee.


8. See the Acropolis at night

There are many restaurants with rooftop patios near the Acropolis of Athens, allowing guests to see the beautiful Acropolis light up at night. We visited Kuzina, as recommended to us by our local Airbnb host. This restaurant tends to get quite busy so be sure to make a reservation ahead of time.


9. Daytrip to Delphi

From Athens we took a day trip to Delphi, a famous ancient sanctuary about a two-hour drive away from Athens. The site is on the south-western slope of Mount Parnassus, overlooking the coastal plain to the south and the valley of Phocis. Showcasing monuments built by important ancient Greek city-statess, Delphi embodies Hellenic unity and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.



Must-Try Foods 

Not only is Greece absolutely beautiful, but the country’s cuisine is also phenomenal. From street souvlaki to grilled squid, everything I ate was incredible – and at prices that I know I wouldn’t be able to find anywhere else. Here are some dishes you have to try when in Greece:

1. Gyro and Souvlaki

Gyro is a special Greek delicacy consisting of meat, onion, tomato and tzatziki sauce served with pita bread. The gyro meat is cooked slowly on a vertical rotisserie and is served as strips or small slices of meat. Souvlaki is also a Greek dish, but is prepared as small meat cubes and grilled vegetables on a skewer. A great place to try these dishes is at Sfika, a restaurant that serves some of the best grilled meats in the city, according to our local host.


2. Greek Salad

Made with the perfect balance of feta cheese, crisp vegetables, and buttery croutons, the Greek salad at Kuzina Restaurant was absolute perfection.


3. Greek Frappé Coffee

The traditional frappé coffee is a Greek foam-covered iced coffee drink made from instant coffee, water and sugar. The frappé has become a hallmark of Greek coffee culture, and is available in virtually all coffee shops across Athens. I got one at Coffee Island, which sells a real strong traditional Greek frappé for 1.10 euros.


4. Asian Greek Fusion at Mr. Dim

This may sound almost silly, but this Greek Asian fusion shop called Mr. Dim served one of the best bao creations I’ve ever tasted. The tender, juicy gyros meat worked so well with the flavours of the Chinese sesame bao; even my Asian parents adored this fusion dish.


5. Grilled Squid

I highly recommend the grilled squid at Smile Restaurant, a local family-run business. I normally don’t love grilled squid because it tends to be too chewy for my liking, but the texture of this one was amazing and grilled to perfection.


6. Moussaka

This traditional Greek dish is either eggplant- or potato-based, and is layered with ground meat in a fashion similar to that of a lasagna.


7. Koulouria Thessalonikis

These giant sesame bagel-like treats are sold everywhere on the streets in Athens for typically less than one euro. They’re deliciously chewy on the inside, and carry a fragrant toasted sesame taste – perfect for breakfast or an afternoon snack.


Happy traveling!


Coldplay in Toronto

Last Tuesday, I went to go watch the Coldplay Concert at the Rogers Centre in Toronto. I’ve heard amazing things about the band’s concerts last summer, so I was excited to go – yet I wasn’t too excited since my friends and I had bought the 500 row seats (basically the seats furthest away from the actual stage, all the way at the top of the dome.) The tickets were the cheapest we could find ($40) and we figured that we would still be able to hear the music anyways.


After we arrived to the Rogers Centre and climbed an eternity of staircases to get to the our seating area, one of my friends happened to see her friend who worked at the Rogers Centre and walked over to talk to him for a little. Five minutes later, she comes back over and gushes, “I got us floor seats!!” Turns out that the people who previously bought those floor tickets got promoted to even better seats, so they were just extra tickets waiting to be given out.

If I am being completely honest, I wasn’t even sure what floor seats were (I usually cap the amount I’m willing to pay for any concert at $50.) But sooner than later, I realized that floor seats are basically where I can stand and lean close enough to touch Chris Martin’s arm.


The concert was absolutely surreal, one of the best that I had ever been to. The band sounded amazing live, and I loved the graphics that went along with the different songs too.


The best part was that they gave each attendee a wristband that lights up in coordination with different songs. Looking around and seeing all the wristbands twinkling all throughout the arena was absolutely captivating.


I still can’t believe that it’s possible to randomly get promoted to floor seats from the 500’s, and I am so, so grateful for that guy whom I know nothing about except his name (THANK YOU NATHAN). Coldplay gave such a phenomenal performance; next time I will surely be willing to spend more than I had previously planned to on their concerts (haha).

August Favourites

My birthday is in August, making it my favourite month by default. I also find that the long weekend in August is also a good time for my family to get together for trips. This year, we went to the Tobermory and Collingwood (Blue Mountain) area to do some hiking, picnic lunches, and boat riding. Here are my favourite products that I’ve encountered throughout this month:



  • Carrot Rewards App: Linked to a user’s Aeroplan, Petro-Points, More Rewards, or Cineplex’s Scene, the Carrot Rewards App allows a user to complete surveys about health and fitness for reward points. This app has recently been subsidized by the Canadian government in hopes of promoting better nutrition and fitness among Canadians. Use the code jasmineh5166 to redeem bonus points when you sign-up!
  • Ritual: With a large number of restaurants on the app, Ritual allows users to conveniently order food for pick-up. Every order collects points, which can be used to redeem discounts or special offers. Use this link in your mobile browser to get $10 off your first order.



  • Kiehl’s Mango Lip Balm: My lips became severely chapped after hiking in the sun during the August long weekend. After a day’s use of the Kiehl’s lip balm, I could see significant improvements in repairing the damage of my skin. This product is more expensive than regular lip balms ($12), so I would only strongly recommend it if your lips are severely chapped.



  • Fitness Leggings by FableticsThe material of these leggings is comfortable, breathable, and most importantly, opaque. Some leggings on this site also have outside pockets to store your phone/iPod, which is ideal for jogging. New members of Fabletics also receive special discounts, including workout leggings for 2 for $24.  I’ve searched around and trust me, getting two pairs of such high quality for less than $25 is an amazing deal. 



  • AYCE Sushi at KaKa: I love All-You-Can-Eat (AYCE) sushi dinners every once in a while. My visit to KaKa this month was actually my first AYCE this year, and it was incredible. The restaurant has an impressive range of items, as well as specialties including torched sushi, pressed sushi, spring egg soup, and takoyaki balls. I absolutely love the taste of torched fish, so having an AYCE experience with it was amazing.
  • Black Sesame Ice Cream at Kekou Gelato: I’ve tasted quite a number of black sesame ice creams before, but the one at this gelato shop was impressively creamy and rich in flavour. Kekou also has many other interesting flavours, such as Vietnamese Ice Coffee, Oolong Tea, and Whiskey Green Tea.
  • Cornish Hen at Peoples Eatery: This unassuming restaurant in Chinatown Toronto always seems to be buzzing with people, and for good reason. I finally tried eating here this month with some friends and loved it; everything from the atmosphere to the food was amazing. I would highly recommend trying the Cornish Hen, General Tso Tofu, and HDB (sashimi salad). I shared these three dishes among four friends, and it left us all completely full.

Post-Move Post

Since my travels to LA, I’ve moved to a condo in the King West area in downtown Toronto. I am really happy with the location; it’s close enough to walk to work (yet not too close), but also close to many cool restaurants, shops, and bars. I’m currently brainstorming ideas to decorate my room, which is small but cozy.

My family also went on a trip to the Tobermory area during the August long weekend. We based ourselves in Owen Sound, and did day trips to hike around different national parks, including the one on Flower Pot Island. It was a lot of fun, and it was definitely nice to do a family outing altogether.


I realized that I quite enjoy hiking through forests; it’s much more fun that running on a treadmill. The ground is also uneven, so you must always remain relatively alert to avoid tripping on any branches that happen to be sticking out.


I also turned 22 this month! On my birthday, I went to Medieval Times for the first time. It was lot of fun, and I have to say, I was very impressed with the jousting and overall show. The food was also much tastier than I anticipated, and the portions much larger. I swear they had served me an entire chicken.


I also had a small gathering that weekend. I made white sangria for the party, and I followed this recipe, which only required two ingredients. It was absolutely delicious, although I did add a few shots from a tiny lime vodka sampler, which came with a bottle that I had bought to make a spiked jello cake. It was a good time, with mostly me trying to deny the fact that I was turning 22. (Earlier that day, I had spent the day at Wonderland, only to come to the sad realization that I am turning quite old, as demonstrated by my growing fear of fast-moving-upside-down-going roller coasters).

So here’s to adulthood and moving downtown Toronto (AND to a location that’s less than a 10-minute walk to one of my favourite gelato shops ever)!!


Side Note: If you go, you have to try the black sesame gelato.

Dine LA at Erven

I used to love Toronto’s Winterlicious and Summerlicious, two culinary events where restaurants across the city offer a fixed price menu for a limited period of time, with prices ranging from $15-25 for lunch and $25-45 for dinner. I remember back in high school, my friends and I even had lunch at the CN Tower for $25 (lift included) during Winterlicious, an experience typically worth at least double that amount. Over the years, however, I found myself becoming more and more disappointed with these culinary events. Rather than featuring their best dishes from their usual menus, restaurants started creating lower quality menus just for Winterlicious/Summerlicious. Portions seemed smaller and the ingredients of lower quality; my overall excitement for these annual events hence diminished.

That’s why when I heard about Dine LA, a similar event in Los Angeles where restaurants across the city offer fixed price menus for a limit\ed two-week period, I was skeptical. I skimmed Eater’s list of “Best Dine LA Dinner Restaurants” and found one, however, that I was quite interested in trying. Erven Restaurant in Santa Monica used to be a strictly vegan restaurant until just recently, when it added a few meat and dairy products to its menu.

I was also impressed that unlike most restaurants during Toronto’s Summerlicious, Erven’s menu for Dine LA featured items on its regular menu. In fact, the main courses on its Dine LA menu were typically worth more than $20 each – making the three-set course for $29 a great value. I booked a table for the last Friday of this culinary event.

I liked the vibe of Erven. It was a nice restaurant, yet didn’t seem pretentious. The waiter offered us complimentary white sangria upon our arrival, and promptly seated us to our table. The white sangria didn’t taste like typical sangria; it was sweeter yet lighter in the fruit taste. We liked it so much, we ordered a carafe to share ($12).

For starters, we ordered the beets with peas, pistachio, rose and strawberries, as well as the charred California avocado with macadamia tahini, chili-garlic salsa and pomegranate seed. The beet dish played a lot with temperature; there was this green foam that resembled frozen gelato.

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The charred avocado was amazing, and unlike any other avocado dish I had ever tasted. I normally don’t like avocado much, unless it’s in sushi, but the sear on this one was amazing. The tahini and pomegranate seeds paired with the avocado also contrasted well with its rich taste.

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For our mains, we got the salmon with chorizo, corn chowder, basil dumplings and smoky tomato, as well as the vegan Thai-style burrito. The salmon dish was one of the best-cooked fishes I’ve ever eaten, and that’s saying a lot about Erven, considering that it used to be a completely vegan restaurant.

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The Thai-style burrito was quite interesting; it was stuffed with fried rice, tempura sweet potato, lime cream, peanuts and tom yum gravy. My only criticism would be that the wrap itself was a bit too thick, almost overpowering the taste of its stuffing.

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I was already full by the time the two desserts came, but there’s no way I would have left them untouched. We had ordered the cheesecake with roasted plums, corn nut crunch and goat cheese ice cream, as well as the vegan chocolate bread pudding, made with peanut butter, fluff and banana.

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I’m not too big of a fan of savory ice creams, such as goat cheese ice cream, but it was interesting. The chocolate bread pudding contrasted with the rich peanut butter and light marshmallow fluff was absolutely delicious.


I was highly impressed and satisfied with my Dine LA experience, and I would recommend it for those who are in Los Angeles in time for it!

July Favourites

I like the month of July – smack in the middle of the summer, when you know you still have one more month afterwards before reality strikes again in September. This month, I’ve been busy studying for my GMAT, catching up with friends and family, and traveling to LA for two weeks. Here are my favourites that I came across in July:



  • Black romper from Oak and FortI am in love with anything that looks like a dress but actually hides a pair of shorts (and bonus points if there are pockets too.) I found this black romper during Oak and Fort’s Summer sale, where it was discounted by 40%. It’s a breezy piece that can be dressed up or down depending on the occasion.
  • Long beige-rose dress from Oak and FortI also got this piece (photo above) during Oak and Fort’s sale period; my favourite part of the dress is the small slit on the left side. The slit allows for extra leg movement, but isn’t excessively high that you would have to worry about accidentally revealing too much.



  • Coffee Tomo: Tomo serves the best pretzels in Los Angeles (try the sweet potato & cheese one) and has a great seating area for studying or catching up with a friend.
  • Cafecito Organico: Not only does this coffee shop in Silverlake serve an amazing almond milk cold brew, but it also has a gorgeous backyard patio ideal for studying, chatting, or just hanging out.



  • Dark Chocolate Almond Milk by Silk: This is the perfect way to fulfill your chocolate cravings while meeting your daily calcium needs. It’s rich and nutty, but not too sweet since it’s made with dark chocolate.
  • Caramel Cookie Crunch by Talenti Gelato e SorbettoSold in small tubs at local grocery stores, this gelato is so heavenly – layered with smooth caramel and morsels of cookie bits. I finished a whole tub in one day (with a bit of help).
  • Mint Mojito Iced Coffee at Philz: I wasn’t too sold on the idea of mint leaves in my iced coffee when I first heard about this famous Philz drink, but it turned out to be absolutely delicious. The mint leaves added a refreshing twist to my usual morning beverage, and weren’t overpowering in any way.



  • Cinespia: I highly recommend this event for anyone in LA during the summer. Cinespia is an outdoor movie screening inside the Hollywood Forever Cemetery (yes, a cemetery). People bring their picnic blankets, a bottle of wine, popcorn, and other snacks to enjoy a chill night out. Get here early to reserve a good spot!
  • Dodgers Game: I didn’t think I would like watching baseball, but it turned out to be a lot more fun that I thought it would be. For ten more dollars than a regular ticket, you can snag a seat in the Coca Cola Pavillion that has all-you-can-eat nachos, hot dogs, soft drinks, popcorn, and peanuts!



  • Camel Hydration Packs: This is essentially a backpack with a built-in hydration system, as it can hold large amounts of water in a reservoir (made of light plastic material) with a built-in-hose to allow the wearer to drink hands-free. I wore one when I was biking from Santa Monica to Manhattan Beach, and it was great at allowing me easily drink water without stopping since I’m not the best at biking hands-free. My pack also held up to 2L of water so it helped ensure that I stay hydrated all-day!

8 LA Things to Do

There are some things in life you can only ever experience in Los Angeles, such as movie screenings inside a cemetery, or a food market where people line up for almost half an hour to eat deep fried shrimps from the inside of a pineapple. Either way, here are some things that I think are worth experiencing while in La La Land.

1. Cinespia

Cinespia is an outdoor movie screening in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery (yes, a cemetery). The shows almost always sell out every week, and people often get to Cinespia right when gates open to reserve a nice spot for the movie. Visitors bring either their lawn chairs or their picnic blankets, as well as some wine and snacks. I even saw some people with a full-out buffet-style picnic spread.

A movie in a cemetery – I really don’t know where else you can find this.


2. Rockin Roe Bowl at The Korean Mkt.

Poke has become a growing trend recently, but only in LA have I ever seen it taken to the extreme – filling rice bowls with colourful fish roe instead of the usual raw fish. I highly recommend this bowl (if you like roe), which is available at The Korean Mkt in Sawtelle. Everything else at this small shop is delicious too.


3. Throwing exploding rocks on the ground in Chinatown

As we were strolling through Chinatown one evening, all we could hear was the sound of tiny explosions. They were too quiet to sound threatening, yet frequent enough to raise mild concern. We realized that a lot of children here had bought popping rocks – tiny bundles that make a small explosion noise when thrown on the ground – and were continuously smashing them on the ground all around the streets. We bought a small pack too ($0.25) to play with, since all the cool kids seemed to be doing it.


4. Smorgasburg

This is basically where people get “instagrammable” food; lineups for the most popular vendors tend to have wait times anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes. To be fair though, the two items that I tried (passion fruit strawberry shaved ice and Hawaiian shrimp pineapple rice) were both really delicious.

The Smorgasburg market is also in NYC, understandably.


5. The Getty Center

Entrance to this stunning garden and museum is free and iPhone audio guides are also free for use. Many gardens that I’ve visited before had an entrance fee, so take advantage of this free opportunity!


8. Buffet at The Dodgers Stadium

For ten more dollars than a regular ticket, you can opt to sit at the Coca Cola Pavillion at the Dodgers Stadium, where there are all-you-can-eat nachos, popcorn, hot dogs, peanuts, and bottomless soft drinks. Although the Dodgers lost the night I went, the buffet made it all worth it.


Other places worth mentioning are the Santa Monica Pier on Thursday evenings for its Twilight Concerts, By Chloe for its amazing vegan “fast food,” Sqirl for its locally-sourced creative brunch dishes, and Fly Wheel, a cycle class that allows participants to compete by keeping track of their progress on a scoreboard at the front of their room.

Happy exploring in Los Angeles!

California Dreamin’

Despite it being my third time going to LA in the span of twelve months, I still love the city so much and am always able to find new things to do or new places to check out. Although I have to study while I’m here (GMAT cramming), it’s also become a good excuse to check out different cafes around the city.

Here are some of the places that I’ve visited over the past week:

On my first day in LA, we went to Melrose Avenue, which starts at Santa Monica Boulevard, at the border between Beverly Hills and West Hollywood, and ends at Lucille Avenue in Silver Lake. There are lots of cool shops, restaurants, and coffee shops all along the street, as well as cool graffiti (and the infamous pink Paul Smith wall). We went to Alfred’s Tea Room to try their Earl Grey boba tea, then settled down at Alfred’s Coffee to study for awhile.


The next day, we went to Malibu Wines, a small park with nice seating area and booths selling wine tastings and bottles. Entrance is free, and visitors are welcome to bring in their own snacks. We tried a white wine flight; it’s always fun trying to decipher the different flavours of various wines. It’s not on the menu, but you can also order mimosas at the central booth in the park.


After church on Sunday, we ate lunch at Smorgasburg, a market that only happens every Sunday in the DTLA area. It features really creative food vendors; we tried the Hawaiian Shrimp and a passion fruit shaved ice. Be prepared to wait in long lines at Smorgasburg!


Afterwards, we studied at Verve Coffee in DTLA. This shop offers juice tasting flights, which is the ideal solution for people like me who can never decide on just one thing to order.


In the evening, we went to the Grand Central Market, and ordered Thai food at Sticky Rice. This unassuming stall makes one of the best Khao Soi dishes I’ve ever had, and their portions are also quite large for the $10 price tag. We strolled around the area afterwards, and came across the majestic Walt Disney Concert Hall. 


The next morning, we went to Santa Monica Beach, and I studied on the beachfront at Perry’s Cafe. It was nice being able to enjoy the hot weather and dig my feet into the warm sand while studying. Afterwards, we strolled down Abbot Kinney Boulevard, a nice street by Venice Beach with neat shops and cute cafes. A great place for ice cream on Abbot Kinney is Salt and Straw, which has really unique flavours, from olive & feta cheese to black tea & coconut stracciatella. The TOMS Flagship Store is also a great studying spot, as the back door of the store leads out into a grand patio with outdoor seating (and free WiFi).


On Tuesday, we checked out Coffee Tomo in Sawtelle, which has the most amazing pretzels in all of LA. They bake them fresh, and the pretzels are so soft they almost resemble like a croissant on the inside. I recommend the sweet potato & cheese flavour, which oozes with sweet cheese and a taste of condensed milk.


Afterwards, we went to Jimmy Kimmel Live in Hollywood. It was my first time attending a live filming of a TV talk show, and it was so exciting to see it all being carried out. The show has a “hype guy” who never actually appears on the show, but he’s in charge of hyping up the audience and making sure that the audience is clapping and shouting as loud as they can. By the end of the taping, my cheeks hurt so much from laughing, and my hands hurt from clapping excessively hard, but it was so much fun, and I’d definitely love to attend another one. We had to book the Jimmy Kimmel tickets a month in advance. Although the tickets are free, they run by a lottery system, so try entering for as many days as possible.


In the evening, we went to the Comedy Store, which featured comedians David Spade, Tiffany Hadish, and Howie Mandel for the night. I didn’t think I could laugh anymore for the day after Jimmy Kimmel, but the comedy store was really, really good. I’d recommend it for a fun night out with some friends.


With its perfect weather and endless list of things to do, Los Angeles is definitely up there on my list of favourite places in the world.

Packing Tips

Packing for LA this time around, I’ve realized that I had become a lot faster at packing and that my suitcase was far less jammed than it had been the last time I went to LA. I guess I did learn a thing or two from my weekend travels around Europe for five months. Here are some of my tips and tricks around packing:

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  • Whenever you stay at a hotel, take the complimentary mini shampoo bottles home. You can use them for your next trip, since the containers are travel size. Even if you don’t like the hotel’s shampoo, keep the containers to refill with your own shampoo for your next trip.
  • Don’t risk bringing any products that are over 100 ml. Even if a 200ml bottle of face cream is half empty, it’s the bottle size that matters, not the actual content. You can buy empty travel-size containers at the dollar store.



  • Opt to do laundry rather than to overpack, especially if you are backpacking. If you plan to stay at an Airbnb, always filter to look for accommodations with a washing (and drying) machine. Otherwise, paying for laundry at the hostel/hotel or even finding a laundry facility outside is better than overpacking, especially if you are backpacking.
  • For girls, pack more skirts than dresses; skirts tend to be more versatile and can be worn in different ways.



  • Keep a list on your phone of the things you must remember to pack. A few days prior to my trip, I’m always randomly remembering to bring certain items, and I always jot it down on my list on my phone so I don’t forget. If you have items that you can’t pack until the morning of (e.g. toothbrush, phone charger), also make a separate list of them to check before you leave the house on the day of your departure.



  • If anything, remember to bring your passport, phone, and wallet.
  • Bring snacks for the airport/airplane so you don’t feel tempted to buy the their overpriced goods.
  • Earplugs are so key, especially if there are any crying babies on the aircraft.
  • Eye masks or Sunglasses are also great for creating your own “nighttime” on the plane if you want to take a nap.

Best Foods in Toronto

One of the things that I appreciate most about Toronto is the diversity of foods available. From Thai to Cuban, I can probably do a world food tour in this one city. I used to have a “one time restaurant” rule, where I would try to go to a restaurant only once so that I could try more places. However, I’ve recently found myself wanting to return to some restaurants in Toronto, just because of the great food and service, and I’ll know what to expect walking in. Here’s a list of some of my favourite places to eat around the city and what to order.



  • La Cubana: This Cuban diner offers a refreshing cultural take on the classic idea of brunch, serving Cuban sandwiches, rice dishes, and smashed plantains for a deliciously hearty meal.
  • Maha’s Fine Egyptian Cuisine: The wait line for this popular brunch spot tends to be ridiculously long, especially on weekends, yet still justified by the amazing (and value) Egyptian dishes. The food is as colourful as it is delicious.
  • Saving Grace: This homey restaurant is the Saturday morning spot to get a good home-cooked brunch in a warm, cozy setting. They have daily features as well as classic morning staples, including banana pancakes, French toast, and egg scrambles.
  • Starving Artist: Everything at this joint is served on waffles, whether it be eggs benedict on miniature waffles or bacon sandwiched inside a warm square waffle. The creative dishes here combine unconventional flavours, yet still turn out delicious.



  • Jacob’s Steakhouse: Renowned for its steak, Jacob’s has an impressive range of cuts available, and the chef here is sure to cook the steak exactly the way it’s been requested. Their Caesar salad also makes for a great starter, and it’s prepared table side.
  • Trattoria Nervosa’s Capensate: Four juicy seared scallops are served on top of a chickpea puree and kale salad, dressed with an artichoke vinaigrette and sprinkled with pistachios. The large scallops are cooked perfectly and their taste contrasts nicely with the earthy complements.



  • Gusto 101’s Mafalde ai Funghi: This complicated-sounding pasta features portobello, porcini, crimini, oyster mushrooms, parmigiano, truffle paste, and a light cream sauce. It’s rich and creamy, and although it did have a strong fungi taste, it wasn’t overwhelming.
  • Mama’s Dumplings: This unassuming restaurant in Chinatown makes the best fresh handmade noodles and dumplings. Try the beef noodle soup and veggie dumplings.
  • Momofuku Daishō Rice Cakes: Their rice cakes are pan fried, forming a crispy exterior while remaining soft and chewy on the inside. They’re mixed together with spicy pork sausage, Chinese broccoli, and tofu.
  • Pai’s Khao Soi: Khao Soi is my favourite Thai dish, ever. It’s a thick curry-based soup with egg noodles and meat, topped with more crispy egg noodles. I also recommend trying the squash fritters and Thai milk iced tea at this restaurant.



  • Lee’s Singaporean Style Slaw: This massive salad features 19 different ingredients; the flavours are explosive and complicated, yet work delightfully well together.
  • Piano Piano’s Chopped Salad: This salad is made of many different ingredients but still maintains a good flavour balance; it consists of of salami, olives, feta, brussel sprouts, oregano, crisp polenta, and dandelions.



  • Jabistro torched sushi: The torched sushi here is done perfectly; Jabistro’s fish is extremely fresh and contrasts well with the slight seared taste.
  • Japango Butterfish Sushi: True to its name, the butterfish is so fresh it literally melts on your tongue like butter.
  • Miku torched sushi: This restaurant by the waterfront is famous for its torched sushi. I would recommend getting the Miku set course dinner to celebrate a special occasion; it’s pricier but worth it for what you get.



  • Bang Bang Ice Cream: The cookies and ice cream here are made in-store, and feature fun, creative flavours like London Fog and burnt toffee. I recommend getting an ice cream cookie sandwich so you get to try both the cookies and the ice cream here!
  • Canoe’s Butter Tart: The ‘deconstructed’ presentation of the butter tart here is a creative twist on the classic favourite, and the view from this upscale restaurant isn’t half bad either.
  • Emma’s Country Kitchen Donuts: This homey brunch spot features creative weekly specials for donuts, with flavours from maple bacon to lemon meringue.



  • El Catrin: This eccentric restaurant in the Distillery District makes the best fish tacos I’ve ever had. The cod is lightly battered, crispy, and oozes with fresh fish on the inside. El Catrin also features the option to add fried crickets in an order of guacamole; I’ve never tried it… but hey, maybe one day.
  • Seven Lives: This iconic spot in Kensington Market serves some of the best tacos in the city, as demonstrated by its wait line that always seems to be trailing out the door. I recommend trying the Gobernador and Baja fish taco.



  • Doomie’s: This “vegan junk food heaven” serves burgers, fries, poutine, and even delicious deep fried mac & cheese balls.
  • Fresh Restaurant’s Quinoa Onion Rings: These humongous onion rings are coated with quinoa and battered to a deep golden perfection.
  • Kupfert & Kim: I’m not vegan, but I enjoy going to Kupfert & Kim quite regularly. Their salad boxes are filling, tasty, and pair nicely with kombucha.