February 28th, 2009

artlebedev poster, 2006-03-17, 2189

Toronto, the Japanese version

Was in Toronto yesterday. The drive to the consulate was pretty fun, although there was a huge pile of cars just before Gardiner Express off from 427. It's really difficult to use the GPS in the downtown, the directions are almost always wrong, the reception must be terrible due to the towers. I had the same complaint back in September on my trip to another consulate, IIRC (although for that time I don't recall realising to blame it on the reception, blaming lack of appropriate directions on outdated maps instead).

Parked at Toronto-Dominion Centre, 5 CAD for each 20 minutes, daily maximum of 28 CAD. The consulate was just in the adjacent tower (as it turned out), so at least I didn't have to juggle around too much like I did back in September (although this time I was slightly less prepared as far as directions go and didn't even know where the consulate is, or where the nearest parking is). The thing is -- after browsing through the street with all the consulates in London, my mind was set to assume that it would be the same in Toronto, and everyone would know where each consulate is; in reality, in Toronto consulates simply rent a floor in one of the towers, with no signs of the consulate from within the busy streets of the city.

Unlike the French, the Japanese don't require one to sign-up for the appointment for the visa application, and are open 09:00/12:00 and 13:30/16:00. I showed up around 11:50 or 11:55. Should this have been the Russian consulate, I shouldn't have even bothered showing up during the latter part of the specified hours; but it's not, so we're fine. :)

Paid 10 CAD for parking, and went to the free parking lot at Wal-Mart on Dufferin St, the same place I landed during my previous trip. Now it's the time to walk around the city!

Took a long walk on the College St until Sushi on College, the same place I had a lunch last time. Green tea, soup, a few rolls of sushi and deep-fried banana... Nice... A few more hours of walking, and it's supper time! Already had plans for the supper since the lunch -- a different sushi restaurant right back there on the College St -- Jun Jun Sushi. Had a Japanese Dinner Box. IIRC, this must have been the first time I had a Box.

The thing about Toronto is the great food at excellent prices. Soup, 3 pieces of salmon roll and 3 pieces of cucumber roll preceded the Box for my supper, and the Box itself has Salad, assorted tempura (2 prawns, 1 broccoli, 2 sweet potato slices and 1 eggplant slice), 2 segments of an orange, rice and teriyaki chicken on top of some vegetables. And, of course, as with any reputable Japanese or Chinese restaurant, a complimentary tea is served throughout. This time the tea didn't taste like the green tea, though. At first, I didn't realise what kind of a tea it was; but then it struck me that it's the white tea; I tried it once again, and white tea it is! The waitress seemed pleasantly surprised when I asked if it was the white tea, confirming it was. Don't recall ever having white tea at any restaurant, only at home. Anyhow, back to the prices. 7,25 CAD on the menu, 8,17 CAD after tax. In the real money, that's 6,43 USD after tax. For a great dinner during the supper time. Unbelievable! BTW, for some reason the credit card receipts didn't have a place for a tip at this place, strange; no surprise the waitress was slightly upset when I placed my card on top of the bill; I did have a few bucks of change, so I left two loonies, since I really enjoyed the meal, but paying a tip with a credit card seems like a much more natural thing to me. The optional tipping seems to be official at the place, though -- a couple was waiting for their takeaway at a table next to mine, and the girl briefly mentioned about the tipping being optional in the establishment, although much appreciated. Still, the missing "tip" field on the receipt is strange, especially considering that at many other places that don't even do any kind of table service the field is almost always present on the receipts.

Anyhow, walked probably for at least 5 hours, College, Spadina, St. Clair up to Forest Hill South, and then back. I decided to never turn off the GPS, and unfortunately, the battery went down during my lunch, so I was kinda mapless for the rest of the day. I still didn't get lost much, though; in fact, I arrived through a different route right to the same spot on the College Street from which I've started. The Dufferin Mall closes at 21:00, although the Wal-Mart remains open; I got some stuff in Wal-Mart, drove around the city for a while, tried checking out some waterfront, and went back to N2E. A very enjoyable trip.