Genre: Canadian

Price range: $10-30

Rating: 9/10

I’ve been to so many restaurants these past months but haven’t posted in a while because school has been very busy. I will be flying to Europe tomorrow so I will try to get a quick post in.

Bannock is definitely a more popular place for lunch but I went there for dinner. They are part of the Oliver & Bonacini chain of restaurants so the trendy decor and higher-end food was expected.

I tried one of their drinks A Canadian in Manhattan ($10) and I found it quite strong. At first I thought it tasted like cough syrup but I got used to it and it tasted okay. If you like strong drinks, then this is for you.

A Canadian in Manhattan ($10)
A Canadian in Manhattan ($10)

I also shared the Poutine Pizza ($18), which was quite large and filling (10 inches). I highly doubt someone can finish it on their own.

Poutine Pizza ($18)
Poutine Pizza ($18)

The Poutine Pizza was really good, my guest said it was his “new favourite pizza”. In addition to the poutine, there was also duck as the topping. Other than dim sum, I would rate this as the second best hangover food because it was so rich.

I’ll definitely be back again to try some of the other items!



Bannock on Urbanspoon

New Zomato Profile

Hello fellow foodies!

I would like to introduce you to this new food website that I’m now a part of called Zomato. Over the summer, I met up with one of the representatives from Zomato to talk about the expansion of this food website and app into Toronto.

Before Toronto, Zomato was the go-to food review site in India (where it was founded), Sri Lanka, Indonesia, UK and 14 other countries around the world.

Featuring a clean and warm website, Zomato helps you choose what to eat based on ‘Collections’ such as ‘Terrific Thai’, ‘Date Night’, and even ‘LGBT Friendly’. I think this is quite a great idea for the restaurant goer who tends to be more ‘undecided’ in what they want to eat, as the Collections are like a picture-book of suggestions.

Zomato CollectionsCompared to currently popular restaurant sites like Urbanspoon and Yelp, Zomato is quite similar with their restaurant profiles – pictures of the menu, food, costs and highlights are all there. However, I do think that the makers of Zomato did a great job in gathering pictures of what the restaurant looks like on the outside, and getting professionally taken photos of foods they have sampled. Judging by the food photography on Zomato alone, it exceeds that of the typical cellphone photos of Yelp and Urbanspoon.ZomatoIf you get a chance to explore Zomato further, you’ll notice some bloggers have a blue star next to their profile. In order to become a verified food blogger for Zomato, one of their representatives will meet with you in person to make sure your reviews are legitimate and trusted. After all, one bad review by an angry diner may not accurately reflect the quality of a restaurant, but for a small-business restaurant, that review can often have negative consequences.

So what critiques do I have about Zomato? Since Zomato is still in its early stages of its proposed $10 million expansion into Canada, it’s too early to say. I think that Zomato currently doesn’t have as large of a restaurant database as some other sites. Also, the Food Collections idea is still under-developed as I would like to see collections of Indian food or Sushi. However, as Zomato acquires more users, I’m optimistic that it will be a useful site!

– Akira Stephanie Zhou



What I Learned in the First Month of Medical School

Hello there!

I haven’t posted anything on this blog in September at all because I’ve just be so busy with studying. I really should be studying for anatomy right now but I just finished my embryology exam today and I could use a break.

So here it is,10 things I learned in the first month of med school:

1. On the first day, I had 5 anatomy lectures back-to-back. It sped by so fast that I retained nothing. I have minimal anatomy experience from undergrad so I was typing like crazy. That night I went home to review, I got through 1 lecture in 4 hours – such productivity (sarcasm).

2. Anatomy labs are life-saving. If you’ve read any studies about group work and how much it facilitates learning, it’s definitely true. So despite point 1, it didn’t seem too bad after all.

3. In 2 weeks, I knew how to identify half the stuff in my Rohen’s Atlas. Before, I didn’t even know what a gubernaculum was (it becomes the scrotal ligament)

4. Sleep is the best thing ever

5. So much free food – lunchtime seminars and workshops, evening presentations, interest groups. I had an entire week where I didn’t cook dinner because of free food. 50% of the time it’ll be pizza, 25% will be shawarmas, and 25% will be sandwiches/wraps.

6. Even though you’ve kept up with lectures, you will still end up cramming because of the sheer volume of anatomy. Not only do you have to identify everything, you have to know what nerves, blood vessels, and muscles are associated with said structure. And you have to know what it does. There was an entire week where I literally was Eat, Sleep, Anatomy.

7. Spend time with people outside of your class – like family, friends in other programs, and significant others. They will keep you sane instead of reminding you of anatomy minutiae that you didn’t study (cue panicked flipping through notes).

8. Non-didactic experiences are really refreshing. Recently, I went to community placements at an elementary school to teach kids about health and observe kids in low-income areas. I also did Day-of-the-Doctor, a shadowing experience in the hospitals.

“Whoa look there are Chinese people!” – A kid at the elementary school

“Are you 40? You look like you’re in your 40s!”

9. I think I’ve started checking facebook like every 5 minutes. So many of our class events and info are on facebook. If I didn’t check facebook for an entire day, I’d have 20 notifications.

10. Even though the pass cutoff is 70, which is higher than other med schools, I passed my first exam and did surprisingly well :) There are some keen students who will calculate how many questions you can get wrong in order to pass and I think that offers some comfort too. But at the end of the day, as long as you work hard and can power through a 120-question bellringer like you can power through MMI stations, then you will be fine.

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. This really makes patient-centered medicine a key message to remember for the rest of my career.

After the draping of the stethoscopes (I was draped by a family physician who did her residency in Toronto), we had to read the medical student oath.

“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 ate 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.”

That afternoon, we went to the hospitals we were all placed at and met our groups for this clinical skills course called the Art and Science of Clinical Medicine (or ASCM for short).

Day 3: Academy Challenge on Centre Island

One thing I find cool about U of T is that there are 4 academies ( I guess we have this because are class is so big) and each of these academies correspond to different hospitals we’re placed at for our ASCM course. Many people have likened these academies to the 4 Harry Potter houses and we all compete against each other for house points.

According to D, one of my upper year friends:

1. Wightman-Berris Academy is the largest academy and placements are at the UHN hospitals. D thinks it’s Slytherin because it’s full of “snakes and gunners”. As D is from Fitz, I’m going to dispute that – WB is actually full of nice people :) So I’m going to say WB is more Ravenclaw because it’s close to all the major academic centres.

2. Fitzgerald: the smallest academy and one of the most close-knit. They like the think of themselves as Gryffindor.

3. Peters-Boyd: Either Ravenclaw or Slytherin (honestly, nobody wants to be Slytherin). But since they won the Academy cup 3 years in a row, all the other academies are kind of jealous so I would dump the Slytherin title onto them.

4. Mississauga Academy of Medicine: Hufflepuff, mostly because they’re so far away and we don’t hear much from them.

Day 4: CN Tower Formal

The CN Tower Formal was definitely the most memorable event of the day. Like any social during orientation week, we all had a delicious dinner at the CN Tower’s 360 restaurant (best mashed potatoes I’ve ever tasted). I think I will do a blog post dedicated entirely about the food I ate there.

Day 5: Financial Stuff and Hart House Farm

The day was spent mostly at MAM where we got to ask questions about the financial options available to us in terms of where to get our line-of-credit. This was followed by more bonding sessions.

Later that afternoon, a bus took us to Hart House Farm where we could go camping and other activities (err….let’s just say there was a keg there too). I didn’t stay overnight because I was just too exhausted and covered with mosquito bites by then.

Day 6: Last Day of Exhaustion

O-week was definitely exhausting and I think by day 5 my throat was already hurting, I could feel a cold coming on. I also stopped taking pictures because the bags under my eyes were getting more prominent as the week wore on. Since most days this week, I got home at 1-2am and I woke up at 7am, I was pretty exhausted so I spent the day sleeping.

That evening, we had a Speakeasy social where we went to the Twist Gallery (which was quite far away) and everybody dressed up in 1920s style clothes. I decided to go since it was the last event of O-week and it was an open bar so why not!

Overall, I got to meet so many of my wonderful and talented classmates during this week. It was way better (and more expensive) than my undergraduate frosh week. I’m glad to have gone through this experience but for now, I just really want to sleep.

– Steph

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
  • 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

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

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

"Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food." Hippocrates


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