U of T Orientation Week

I just got back from my stethoscope ceremony and I’m really tired but I’m going to write this short documentation of my orientation week. I know that sometime in the future, I’m going to be going through periods of “hell on earth” (as the upper years call it) with the mass amounts of information I have to study, but it is experiences like these, spent with my colleagues and friends, that give me the motivation to push on.

Day 1: Awkward Greetings and Stethoscope Ceremony

“Hi, what’s your name? I’m __”

“What school are you from? Where do you live?”

“Do you have facebook?”

After an excited-anxious night of not sleeping properly, today was the day that I was going to meet my future colleagues. I knew from past meetings that the majority of my class was going to be from McMaster, Western, and McGill…so as someone from Queen’s, I was expecting to meet a lot of new people.

The morning was spent talking to my classmates and listening to our O-week organizers and faculty give talks. We also got our obnoxiously green backpacks that day and took a giant class picture.  Blue o-week shirts with green backpacks…looks very uh…environmentally friendly :)

Our big classroom fitting 259 students
Our big classroom fitting 259 students

That afternoon, we had our bellringer games. Everyone was split up into teams and we  were the ‘Levator Ani’ (aka a group of muscles that uh…opens your anus so the poop comes out). These games were like icebreakers but you’re forced to get uncomfortably close to the other people, such as passing a bagel or onion to the next person via your chin. We even had a chant that was kind of crude and went like: I like Levator Ani and I cannot lie/You other sphincters can’t deny/ When a poop comes down and you have to let it slide/ LA’s got your backside!

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That evening was our stethoscope ceremony at the classy Elgin and Winter Theatres. The line was huge to get in but it was a stunning place to have the ceremony and it felt like convocation all over again. The faculty gave their talks about the origin of the stethoscope from a French doctor who decided to use paper rolls to auscultate a patient’s heart and found it clarified the sound. Dr. McKnight gave a very memorable speech about the importance of humility in medicine. It is important to recognize that no matter how many times you’ve been told that you’re the smartest or the best, this does not make you better than your patients because one day you may be a patient and would want to be treated with kindness and respect.

The quote I remembered most clearly was:

“We have a stethoscope ceremony because you need two people for a stethoscope to work. You have to listen. The patient is ALWAYS first.”

I think this is really admirable and reaffirms my choice in school. All other schools I applied to use a white coat ceremony, but a white coat protects your clothes from getting dirty and though practical, it seems elitist to me to wear something that your patient can’t wear.

After the draping of the stethoscopes (I was draped by a family physician who did their residency in Toronto), we had to read the medical student oath and it truly impressed in me the importance of patient welfare first.

“With this oath, I vow to practice the art and science of medicine with passion and compassion, having regard to the interests of my colleagues, my community, myself, and, above all, my patients.”

Medical student oath

With that, I’m going to conclude for the first day and continue writing tomorrow!

Day 2: Dean’s Breakfast & Academy Orientation

The Dean’s breakfast was one of my favourite events of O-Week. Sitting in Victoria College’s beautiful Burwash dining hall, we sat with faculty members and classmates, listening to speeches given by the Dean, an Aboriginal elder, and community physicians. The message of caring for oneself first before you can care for others was a prominent theme throughout the talks and I think this was very important to convey in a profession where “patient welfare is first.”

One particularly poignant story I wanted to paraphrase here was about a physician’s experience working as a doctor in a homeless shelter.


Kiss Me Organics Green Tea Panna Cotta

Green Tea & Coconut Panna Cotta

Outside of going to restaurants, I also really enjoy cooking. Recently, I’ve been sent a packet of Kiss Me Organic’s Matcha Green Tea to try out. It came with a pdf of recipes (some typical, such as green tea lattes to wildly creative, like green tea pizza) and is conveniently placed in a resealable bag for future use. I wanted to try something that wasn’t included in the recipe book, so I made Panna Cotta.

The following recipe makes 4-6 servings.

Preparation Time: 15 minutes, Chill overnight before serving.

  • 1 tbsp Matcha Green Tea Powder (from amazon.ca)
  • 4 cups (approx 2 cans) Coconut Milk
  • 2 tbsp Gelatin Powder (I used Knox Gelatin Powder from No Frills)
  • 2 tbsp Coconut Flakes (from any Asian supermarket)
  • 3 tbsp Honey or Sugar
  • 1 strawberry for garnish


  1. Pour coconut milk into pot and turn to medium heat.
  2. Add in honey and stir with a whisk.
  3. Take 1 cup water and dissolve the gelatin powder, pour into the heated pot. Adding more gelatin powder will make it closer to a jello consistency rather than a pudding consistency as shown in this recipe.
  4. Gently dust the mixture with matcha powder by shaking it from the spoon, putting it in all at once will cause clumping. The powder itself is very concentrated, so 1 tbsp is enough!
  5. Whisk until the mixture has turned a light green colour and there are no clumps of powder. Put in 1 tbsp coconut flakes and mix for 10 minutes.
  6. Ladle out into individual ramekins or sherbet glassware, put in refrigerator overnight.
  7. When solidified the next  day, take 1 tbsp of coconut flakes and dust across the top. Garnish with a slice of strawberry.

And that’s all folks! If there are any recommendations or variations you have tried, let me know so I can try it too :)

Skyview Fusion Cuisine

Skyview Fusion Cuisine

Genre: Chinese

Price Range: $2.80 (S), $3.80 (M), $4.80 (L), $5.80 (XL) dim sum | $11 – 30 regular menu

Rating: 7/10

I noticed this restaurant across the parking lot from a Costco that I went to and decided to go with my mom. When we walked in, dinner service just started and we thought we intruded on a wedding because the inside was so ornately decorated.

We got the Pineapple and Ginger Chicken ($15.99) which I didn’t like very much because each ginger slice was so thickly cut, I mistakenly ate some thinking it was pineapple. My mom thought this dish was quite overpriced but crudely made given that the ginger taste was too overbearing.

Ginger and Pineapple Chicken ($15.99)
Ginger and Pineapple Chicken ($15.99) – the pineapples and ginger look the same

We also ordered the Beef and Rice Noodles ($15.99)  which was disappointing as well. This dish was so salty on account of it having so much black pepper and it was glistening with oil. The beef was cooked well and was tender. Though the dinner options at this restaurant were expensive, the quantity was quite large. The bowl that the beef noodles came in was as big as a fruit bowl.

Beef Noodles ($15.99)
Beef Noodles ($15.99) – too much black pepper and sauce

Although I might not come here again for dinner, I came here again to try the dim sum. The dim sum costs $2.80 for small, and increases by $1 as you go up a size, up to XL. We were a group of 7 and our mistake was not making a reservation on a Sunday morning. There was a lineup for 30-40 minutes because the place was packed.

Long Lineup
Long Lineup

During the waiting time, we picked up the ordering sheet and already decided on what to order before we got in.

From Top: Bean Curd Sheet/Preserved Egg with Lean Pork Congee (L), Deep fried squid tentacles with white sesame (XL), Steamed Chicken Feet with fried gluten (M), Siu Mai with shrimp (L) and Apple pie with Shrimp and mayo filling (M)
From Top: Bean Curd Sheet/Preserved Egg with Lean Pork Congee (L), Deep fried squid tentacles with white sesame (XL), Steamed Chicken Feet with fried gluten (M), Siu Mai with shrimp (L) and Apple pie with Shrimp and mayo filling (M)

Everything was pretty standard for what you would order for dim sum. Of note is the congee, which was larger than other places I’ve been to and the Apple pie tarts, which I would define as true ‘fusion’ food. These tarts had a crispy exterior like a pineapple bun but the inside had a sweet and savoury filling of shrimp, apple chunks, and this mayo-based paste.

From top left: Pan Fried Lotus Seed Paste & Green Tea Softed Cake (M), Pan Fried Turnip Cake (S), Steamed Rice Noodle Rolls (M), Deep fried Shrimp roll in Bean Curd Sheet, bottomm: Steamed XO’s Stomach with Fish ball, Radish, and Fried Pig’s skin (L)

The food came pretty quickly, at our second round of delivery, I would highly recommend the Pan Fried Lotus Seed Paste & Green Tea Cake (M) which was absolutely delicious and something I’ve never tried at a dim sum place before. The outside glutinous rice pouch is crispy and not too oily and the inside lotus paste had a fragrant green tea flavour to it. I would definitely order this again.

Since this place is incessantly busy, the downside is that sometimes your order might be incorrect as they gave us only one plate of turnip cakes when we ordered 2 and they forgot one of our orders.

Overall, I would just come here to treat my relatives to dim sum next time. The decor is extravagant, the tables are crowded together and loud, and all staff are busy – just the way my traditional aunts and uncles like it!


Akira S. Zhou

Skyview Fushion Cuisine on Urbanspoon


Ginger & Onion Cuisine

Genre: Chinese

Price Range: $10-15

Rating: 8.5/10

Across the parking lot from Pacific Mall is where Ginger & Onion Cuisine is conveniently located. When a friend from Ottawa came to visit, we decided to take her there so she could visit this large Asian mall. We went on a Thursday evening, so it wasn’t very crowded, but another time when I went for dim sum, there was a 30 minute wait without reservation.  What makes G&O so popular is that you can get good food at a reasonable price.

I would recommend going for dinner instead of lunch because it comes with a free soup and free dessert. It was a pork bone soup with carrots and daikon. At lunch, this isn’t available yet because the soup takes the whole day to simmer.

Free Soup
Free Soup

We ordered the Peking Duck Dinner for 4 ($42.95) because this is one of our favourite things to try at Chinese restaurants. This is also a good combo to get because it comes with several things: Sliced Duck cooked 2 ways, stir fried baby bok choy, and deep fried pork loin with chef’s special sauce.

Peking Duck Dinner for 4

A waitress will come with a whole duck and slice it in front of you. Though it doesn’t look like there are many slices, we actually had a couple pieces left over. The pancakes are smaller than what I’m used to as they are only as large as the palm of my hand, but the sesame seeds added to the dough gives it a good flavour.

At most Chinese restaurants, when you order the Peking Duck, it comes with several “rounds” – up to 3. It’s so that all parts of the duck gets used up through different means of cooking it. In our case, the leftover meat was used to make Chopped Duck with Special Soya Sauce. This came with the option of lettuce wrap, which I would recommend getting for an additional $5.

Chopped Duck and Lettuce wrap (at back) and Deep Fried Oysters (at front)
Chopped Duck and Lettuce wrap (at back) and Deep Fried Oysters (at front) ($16.95)

My grandpa really liked the Deep Fried Pork Loin with Chef’s Special Sauce because he said it was tender and the sauce wasn’t too sweet.

Pork Loin (front)
Pork Loin (front), Chopped duck with lettuce (back), Fried Rice with Shrimp and Pork (background) ($8.95), Stir Fried Baby Bok Choy (at back)


G&O is also very generous with their shrimp dishes – they don’t skimp out. For seafood, we got Fried Shrimp with Cashew Nuts ($10.95) and Sauteed Three Kinds of Seafood ($13.95). 

Sauteed Three Kinds of Seafood ($13.95)
Sauteed Three Kinds of Seafood ($13.95) – scallops, shrimp, and squid


Out of the shrimp dishes, I would recommend the 3 kinds of seafood dish. I liked the addition of snow peas, which were sweet and fresh.

Fried Shrimp with Vegetable ($10.95)
Fried Shrimp with Cashew Nuts ($10.95)

Though not pictured, we also ordered Beef with Ginger & Green Onion ($10.95) which I would  recommend. It’s served on a hot plate and comes sizzling to your table. Given that this restaurant is called ‘Ginger & Onion’,dishes cooked with these ingredients are what it’s known for!  Another beef dish (pictured in the header) is the Beef Braised with Turnip ($10.95). The beef cartilage was a little chewy and should be more tender. Otherwise, it was still quite good.

For dessert, you had a choice of 3 free sweet soups: (1) Green Bean soup (2) Sweet Silken Tofu Soup (3) Black Sesame Soup. Since I went with a large crowd, I got to try all three. I found the Silken tofu soup to be extremely sweet. I would recommend the other two, they were the right amount of sweetness and thickness.

Overall, G&O Cuisine doesn’t look like the cleanest or trendiest place I’ve been to, but if you want the genuine Chinese food experience (even including the loud conversations in the background), then this restaurant is definitely recommended!


A. S. Zhou
Ginger & Onion Cuisine on Urbanspoon

Beef Udon ($10)

Green Grotto Tea Room – Markham

Genre: Taiwanese, Chinese

Price Range: $5-15 (Lunch only – hours are 12pm to 5pm)

Rating: 8/10

Green Grotto Tea Room is a great place to catch up with friends or study. I arrived at 12pm on Canada Day and it was still open, though I was the first customer. My guest was 30 minutes late due to traffic so I was thankful there was free wifi and a free bowl of popcorn!

Green Grotto’s newest Markham location is conveniently located within a plaza with T&T and Shoppers Drug Mart nearby. The most noticeable thing when walking in is a tree in the middle of the cafe setting. There are shelves of magazines and dark wood decor, making the inside feel very zen-like. Even their menu looked like a magazine!

Mango Slush ($5)
Mango Slush ($5)

Since Green Grotto is more well-known for their drinks, my friend got a Mango Slush (~$5) and it was pretty good. The mango flavour is quite strong and he couldn’t even finish it.

This place also has Formosa, which I’ve only tried in China because I never saw it here before. I’m not too sure what exactly goes in Formosa (because it varies) but it’s a dessert that has flavored shaved ice, assorted boba, red bean, sometimes peanuts, all mixed in.

I was very impressed with the lunches here. Although I didn’t get the lunch discount (because it was a public holiday), the regular lunch was pretty cheap and the quantities were huge. I think with the regular day discount, for $9, you can get a milk tea with your lunch combo.

Black Pepper Chicken ($9)
Black Pepper Chicken ($9)

I ordered the Black Pepper Chicken ($9) and it was crispy and not too salty. The bowl of rice was huge and it came with a couple of sides which included gai-lan, daikon, bamboo shoots and a triangular tofu. I was stuffed by the end of it.

Beef Udon ($10)
Beef Udon ($11)

My friend ordered the Beef Udon ($11) – according to the menu, this was the most popular lunch menu item. I didn’t try any, but it was big enough that he couldn’t finish it all. The side was some sort of pickled vegetable.

I would definitely come back to this place because of the wide selection of Asian desserts and affordable food. Hopefully I can try some more next time!

- Akira S. Zhou
Green Grotto Tea Room on Urbanspoon

The Med Backpack Unveil!

Amongst all Canadian medical schools (except Ottawa), free backpacks are given out to students every year as a tradition to welcome the incoming class. With last year’s med backpack colour being bright orange, the med backpack tradition is one way to recognize other med students no matter what province you’re from. Not only that, just as Calgary medical students have a “class animal”, the class backpack colour is something that ends up defining that class.

For my year (class of 2018), I found out this morning that it’ll be lime green! I thought it would be turquoise because that was what a lot of people voted for, but I think the colour has grown on me. What do you think?

2018 Med backpack



Genre: Japanese

Price: $15 Lunch (Summerlicious)

Rating: 8/10

Given the chance to try a high-end restaurant at lower prices, my friends and I went to  Momofuku Noodle Bar for Summerlicious. There was a prix fixe menu with appetizers, main course, and dessert. Going with a bigger group, I was able to try more of the items.

Summerlicious menu
Summerlicious menu

Out of the appetizers, my friends got the Salmon Crudo and I got the Inari. These come in small portions – they are appetizers after all – but I enjoyed the Inari more because I felt the Salmon Crudo was basically just raw salmon.

Salmon Crudo: habanero, green papaya, nori
Salmon Crudo: habanero, green papaya, nori

On the other hand, the Inari was a fried tofu skin wrapped around a handful of rice that tasted like kimchi – it was slightly spicy. On the top, there was mayo and urikake, which gave this appetizer a rich flavour.  Having some melted swiss cheese on top was a nice touch.

Inari: urikake, kewpie, swiss
Inari: urikake, kewpie, swiss

We also got the Chunjang Noodle which came with this black bean sauce and egg that you mix together with the noodles. This was probably my favourite item on the menu because the sauce was very savoury and the ingredients were fresh.

Chunjang Noodle: black bean, smoked tofu
Chunjang Noodle: black bean, smoked tofu

I was thirsty so I got the Summer Ramen and I enjoyed the soup with the sweet corn. The flavours weren’t overbearing and I found this ramen refreshing and filling. The noodles were also chewy and I liked the salad on top, it tasted very fresh.

Summer Ramen: sweet corn, sunflower hozon, smoked egg
Summer Ramen: sweet corn, sunflower hozon (the paste to make the soup)

For dessert, there were 3 kinds of truffle: Strawberry Lemon Cake, Birthday Cake, and German Chocolate. The truffle was quite small but I found it tasted pretty good, not too sticky and crumbly. I tried the Birthday Cake, though the Strawberry was popular among my friends.

Strawberry Lemon Cake Truffle
Strawberry Lemon Cake Truffle

I would definitely come back here again. I have read a lot of reviews about the portions being too small for the price, but part of what you’re paying for is the beautiful setting and the creativity that goes into the ingredients of your dish.

I have also received a recommendation for the Cereal Milk Ice Cream. I hope to try that next time!

- Akira Stephanie Zhou

Momofuku Noodle Bar on Urbanspoon

Korean Grill House

Korean Grill House – Yonge & Dundas

Genre: Korean, All-You-Can-Eat

Price Range: $9.99 Adult (lunch) | $16.95 Adult (Dinner) | Non-AYCE menu $5-15

Rating: 9/10

When my friend said that she was really hungry and wanted to eat “so much food right now”, I immediately suggested Korean Grill House. Walking over from a trip to Eaton’s Centre, this KGH location was about a 5-10 minute walk away.

KGH is pretty nicely renovated and is next to a hotpot restaurant called Made In China. I think both are from the same chain because to get to the washroom, you have to pass through the neighboring restaurant.

There was only one waiter on staff and he quickly brought over many plates of appetizers and set up the grill for us.


My friends liked the fried tofu and potato appetizers the most. We were also given a paper to write more orders on and I think we got thirds of those.

Meat and fish selection
Meat and fish selection

There was also a huge selection of meat and fish: Asian spiced sausage, marinated beef, Kalbi (short ribs), pork, chicken, salmon, tuna, calamari…Ox tongue was also written on the order sheet, but they ran out that day, so I couldn’t try it.

The funniest thing about coming here with other med students is how much they bring up anatomy class. When we ordered the liver, none of them wanted to eat it because they saw the little pores in the liver and made remarks about portal veins and hepatic arteries.(Thanks, very appetizing.)

Korean Grill House

My recommendation would be the marinated beef and pork, I found these tasted the best.  Though the beef was a bit fatty.

I also enjoyed the experience of cooking the food yourself, although for some items, I think we overcooked it. When we were at the second round of ordering meat, the waiter also changed our hot plate.

Korean Grill House

At the end, I think we ordered 2 rounds of everything and 3 rounds of certain appetizers. We could probably have ordered more but we were pretty full by the end of it. I have only been to one other korean grill place in Chinatown and it was located in a lower/basement level area.  Compared to this place, KGH is not only cleaner, but also the meat didn’t taste too salty and over-marinated to mask the non-freshness.

Only one negative side – depending on how you perceive it: If you’re coming with a smaller group of people, like the four of us, you might end up sitting very close to other patrons as the tables are connected. We just happened to sit with a big group of guys who ended up being drunk and rowdy. But, if you like the close quarters and find it exciting, then by no means see this as a bad thing!


Akira Stephanie Zhou

Korean Grill House on Urbanspoon

Standard Breakfast ($5.50)

Our Spot

Genre: Local, Diner

Price Range: <$10

Rating: 8/10

This is a great brunch place to go to when visiting Kensington Market. As a local establishment, Our Spot serves all-day-breakfast at cheap prices and it’s popular with the typical hipsters and young families you might see wandering around Kensington.

I decided to come here for brunch with a group of friends and we were seated near the front door. The place has cherry yellow walls and outdoor seating at back.

The menu is pretty typical of a local diner – breakfast and sandwiches. I ordered the Standard Breakfast ($5.50) and my friend A did the same. I liked the option of having lima beans or home fries because I’ve never tried the former before. I also liked how they gave fruit and salad, which made me feel less guilty of having high cholesterol foods for breakfast.

Standard Breakfast ($5.50)
Standard Breakfast ($5.50)

My other friend got the same thing but meat tends to cost extra. He got the additional sausage for $2.25. Personally, I think the meat might be a bit overpriced. He also got their coffee, which comes with 1 free refill.

Standard Breakfast with Home Fries
Standard Breakfast with Home Fries and Sausage side order ($5.50 + 2.25)

My third friend got the Chicken Club ($5.45) which looked pretty good. She asked for no bacon and many other modifications to her sandwich, and the waitress was nice in accommodating.

Chicken Club
Chicken Club ($5.45)

Overall, I would recommend coming here again; after all, the prices are so cheap anyway! I think this might be the cheapest place I’ve reviewed so far.

Happy eating!

A. S. Zhou
Our Spot on Urbanspoon

Bhalla Chaat Papri with Pani Puri at back

The Host Fine Indian Cuisine

Genre: Indian

Price: $14.50 lunch buffet

Rating: 8/10

When my grandparents came to visit, my mom suggested we go to The Host after having gone for the dinner buffet before. We went to the Richmond Hill location, conveniently situated in a Sheraton hotel with lots of parking and a shopping centre attached.

I don’t eat Indian food that much, so this would probably be the third Indian buffet I’ve been to. I’ll try my best to give a helpful review of this restaurant compared to the others I’ve eaten at.

So, for my first plate…

CCW from the Tandoori Chicken:
CCW from the Tandoori Chicken: Bhindi Amchuri (okra), papadum with mint yogurt sauce, samosa with tamarind sauce, potato wedges with tamarind sauce, Kaju Matar Paneer (looks like tofu), Amritsari Choley (with chickpeas). Back: Rice cakes with lentil sauce


 This restaurant definitely has the most plentiful selection of curries compared to other places I’ve been. This was probably my first time seeing rice cakes and the crispy Papadum at an Indian buffet before.

CW from the butter chicken
CW from the butter chicken/ Murgh Makhni: Lamb Roganjosh, more tamarind sauce, and Dhabe da Meat (goat).

On the website, the Butter Chicken/ Murgh Makhni is considered award winning and I thought it was quite good. The sauce had a strong tomato taste and the chicken wasn’t too dry. I ate this with the Naan, though I thought that the Naan here wasn’t as soft as the kind I tried in Vancouver because it was sitting at the buffet for a while after it was freshly made.

Assorted Salad Platter
Assorted Salad Platter with Rice Pudding and Mumbai Bhel Puri in the back. There is a refreshing cucumber yogurt sauce in the centre.

One thing I would definitely recommend getting seconds is the Rice Pudding. I think they add rose water to it which gives the milk a very distinct, fragrant taste. There are also raisins and pistachios inside. This would be my favourite dessert.

Bhalla Chaat Papri with Pani Puri at back
Bhalla Chaat Papri with Pani Puri at back

Standing in the back corner of the buffet are two cooks who made these appetizers in front of you. This was my first time trying Bhalla Chaat Papri, which tasted like biscuits covered in tamarind, mint, and yogurt sauce. I liked this more than the Pani Puri, which were these thin crispy, hollow bulb-shaped snacks that had beans and chickpeas inside, and were soaked in mint water. The taste was certainly interesting, I’m not quite sure if it was good or bad, but I would definitely recommend you to try these Indian street eats for yourself!

Desserts: Gulab Jamun (the ball), Jalebi (spiral), rice pudding, and mango custard
Desserts: Gulab Jamun (the ball), Jalebi (spiral), rice pudding, and mango custard with fruit inside.

Alongside my second or third bowl of rice pudding, I also ate more than one Gulab Jamun. I’ve tried these popular Indian desserts at other restaurants before and they are really sweet but delicious. Gulab Jamun  is a dumpling made from curdled milk and deep-fried, then soaked in some sweet syrup water.

The Jalebi was prepared on the spot by another chef in the corner and I watched him squeeze batter into spiral shapes in a pan filled with oil. When taken out, he placed them in sugar or honey water. I was surprised to learn that these were an Indian dessert too because my Iranian friend had brought a box of these at the end of Ramadan (they are called Zulbia in Iran). These tasted chewy and really sweet as well.

Overall, I enjoyed my experience very much here. While eating, I had no idea how to pronounce anything and I was trying a lot of things for the first time, so writing this blog post led me to search up what all the menu items were and research their origins. The selection of Indian food offered by The Host was not only gastronomically pleasing, but gave me a lesson on culture as well!

Until next time,

Akira S. Zhou

The Host Fine Indian Cuisine on Urbanspoon

A blog about food, art, and philanthropy


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