Friday, 27 February 2015

Meat and Bread: Roasted Lamb and Porchetta

Meat and Bread is a place I have wanted to try for a long time and each time I went it was either closed or I didn't have enough time to queue. Now I've finally tried it! On a Saturday afternoon there was a queue out the door (of course) but it moved along pretty quickly and we were even lucky enough to get a seat by the window.

Roast Lamb
The special that day was Roast Lamb with fennel chutney, romesco sauce, and shaved cabbage. On the side is quinoa salad. The lamb was tender and I liked the romesco sauce, a nut and red-pepper based sauce, which is surprising since I usually don't eat red pepper but I wasn't able to distinguish it from the sauce. The quinoa salad was refreshing with crunchy cubes of carrot and celery all dressed in a semi-sweet dressing.

Roast Lamb and Quinoa Salad
Porchetta
This is the famous sandwich and while watching them assemble it in the queue, I looked forward to the crackling of pork skin that they incorporated into the meat. However, when I was eating the sandwich there was barely any of the crunchy pork skin. I suppose there just isn't enough to share among all the sandwiches! The pork itself was juicy and the salsa verde added more flavour in addition to the rub that the pork is roasted with.

To be frank, I didn't really like the bun. It was dry and on the tough side though I suppose it is good for keeping in all the ingredients and soaking up juice. I repeatedly dipped the bun into the mustard not because the sandwich lacked flavour but because I wanted to moisten up the bun.

Porchetta
Take a look at that yummy roast and the attached pork skin! It's a great view while queuing because it rumbles up your appetite.


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Thursday, 26 February 2015

Dinesty (No. 3 Rd): Hot Xiao Long Bao

I was craving for xiao long bao so I suggested to go eat at Dinesty. The restaurant was full on a weekday at lunch hour but the service was so speedy that we were seated within 10 minutes. This is a restaurant where you will feel ushered and rushed so don't expect to be able to relax and slowly enjoy your food. However, it is great if you prefer quick service and to get your food fast.

Beef tendon - This is an appetizer and most pieces were thoroughly marinated to the softness that tendons need to be. A few of the bigger pieces were a bit chewier and could use about half an hour more cooking. This savoury dish has a hint of sweetness and can be quite oily. Since tendons take awhile to make at home, it is probably easier to just eat out.

Beef tendon
"Small Yellow Fish" - I am translating this name directly from Chinese. The fish is deep fried and sits in a pool of Chinese cooking liquor, probably rice wine. Despite being deep fried, this is a cold dish and I did not like it much. It was hard to chew and not especially tasty.

"Small Yellow Fish"
Dan Dan Noodles - One of my favourite things to order at Shanghai food places is Dan Dan Noodles. The soup base I've tried before are seriously peanuty with sesame oil and slight spiciness. This bowl was a bit diluted in the peanut department and lacked any spice (if that's what you're looking for). I would've appreciated chopped up pieces of peanuts to add more texture, though the cucumber did add some freshness to an otherwise oily dish.

Dan Dan Noodles
Xiao Long Bao - Finally, these small steamed soup dumplings are what we came here for and they did not disappoint. The abundance of folds with its thin wrapper contained pork and juicy soup. They were hot but did not burn the tongue. It's personal preference but more soup inside the dumplings would have been even more ideal.

Xiao Long Bao
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Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Heirloom Vegetarian: Stuffed Grilled Cheese

It was a lovely weekend afternoon when we went to Heirloom Vegetarian for brunch and was seated by the window with sun rays shining through. It definitely felt like spring time despite being February. My friend is vegetarian and luckily Vancouver offers many options including Heirloom Vegetarian.

The menu was decently big but not overwhelming. I chose a lunch instead of a breakfast option by opting for the Heirloom Grilled Cheese. I was a bit surprised that the grilled cheese came with different fillings, so it was more like a grilled sandwich with cheese.

Heirloom Grilled Cheese
Between the sourdough bread was aged cheddar cheese, grainy Dijon, tomato and arugula. On the side was a green salad thoroughly and sweetly dressed. The portion was pretty large and I found the meal very filling and satisfying as everything tasted fresh.

Service was friendly and they constantly refilled our water. The interior is bright and spacious with free WiFi. It is definitely a great place to catch up with friends or enjoy a solo brunch.

Heirloom Vegetarian interior
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Sunday, 15 February 2015

Patisserie Fur Elise

We arrived early for the 3:30pm high tea seating at Patisserie Fur Elise but were quickly seated. It is located in a Vancouver heritage home and the ambiance is clean and quaint. High tea seatings are two hours long and include tea, savouries and sweets.

I went with darjeeling for my choice of tea. It is a black tea that is slightly bitter with floral undertones. We were frequently asked if we wanted to refill hot water in our teapots which was great as I like my teas hot.


After the tea came the blueberry panna cotta adorned by a piece of gold foil. I enjoyed this cooling dessert with the creamy texture and sweet blueberries on top. 

Blueberry Panna Cotta
Next came the salad. Usually when people say "salad in a cup" they're alluding to green juice, the blended smoothies with green veggies. This is probably the smallest salad I have ever had but it looked so adorable in the tiny glass. The mixed greens were accompanied by candied walnut and a cherry tomato. I think I would have preferred this salad to be completely savoury (aka regular walnuts instead of candied) because the high tea portion contains many sweets.

Mixed greens with candied walnut
 This is our two-tiered high tea with savouries on the bottom and sweets on top.


There were four types of savoury items of which only three were sweet-free. Starting from the right in the square shape is the avocado and egg sandwich. It was a one, possibly two-biter between white bread without much taste.

Next to the egg sandwich is the prosciutto, brie, and basil croissant sandwich. I liked that the croissant was freshly baked, warm and flakey. This was my favourite of the savoury items as the salty prosciutto provided enough flavour and I personally love brie.

The salt and pepper shrimp with a piece of dill was underwhelming. The shrimp wasn't especially fresh and the bread underneath was slightly soggy, which is understandable but would feel more pleasant if the bread stayed dry.

The last savoury item is a scone with almond streusel served with strawberry confiture. It was also freshly baked and buttery but I enjoyed the strawberry confiture much more than the scone itself.

Right to left: Avocado and Egg Sandwich, Croissant Sandwich, Shrimp with dill, Scone with Almond Streusel
I enjoy desserts so I was looking forward to the sweets tier. To be honest, none of them wow-ed me. They weren't bad but there are many amazing patisseries in Vancouver to compete with. The sweets included a honey madeleine, a small lemon tart, a strawberry macaron, a cube of strawberry mousse cake, and a petite chocolate cup.

At the bottom level of Patisserie Fur Elise there were rows and rows of colourful macarons on display so I expected their macarons to be good. However, the shell was not crispy but soft and the inside lacked any chewiness.

Right to left: Lemon Tart, Honey Madeleine, Strawberry Mousse, Chocolate Cup, Strawberry Macaron
Overall, the ambiance and friendly service made the visit pleasant. It is a place to have good conversation with friends but not one where you find the best desserts in town.


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Monday, 9 February 2015

East is East (West Broadway)

We were going to try Neverland Tea Salon but they didn't have space for us without a reservation so we walked down the street and found East is East. I have passed by this restaurant before, not quite understanding what cuisine it is. Even after eating here I can't quite pinpoint it but the menu said it's cuisine from the East.

Upon entering, we were given some chai to try which was made with milk and spices. They asked us which side of the restaurant we wanted to sit at because one side was brighter and one side was darker. We opted for the brighter side but it wasn't quite as bright as restaurants usually are for lunch hour.

I ordered the Mango Butternut Squash Rice Bowl with brown lentil rice. The first few bites of my rice bowl was delicious with chunks of butternut squash and a sweet mango puree sauce. When I got halfway through I found it hard to finish because it was like eating dessert (much too sweet!)

Mango Butternut Squash Rice Bowl
My friend ordered the Wild Salmon Rice Bowl with basmati rice. She had the opposite problem where her rice bowl was too salty. I suppose the food is just more heavily flavoured  here.

Wild Salmon Rice Bowl
All in all, it was a cool experience dining here with its unique ambiance.



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Sunday, 8 February 2015

Teahouse in Stanley Park

Teahouse in Stanley Park is located by Third Beach with a gorgeous view over the water. We went for Dine Out 2015 dinner which was $28 with the option of upgrading to a $38 menu. Parking was free after 6pm.

Appetizers - Tuscan Salad with sherry vinaigrette and Roasted Butternut Squash Soup. The salad was mediocre with a mix of greens and an overly sour dressing. The warm and creamy soup was the better choice of the two appetizers.

Tuscan Salad

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
 Mains - Almond Herb Crusted Pork Tenderloin, Pan Seared Steelhead Salmon, 10 oz Prime New York Striploin

The pork tenderloin was accompanied by pan fried gnocchi, ratatouille and a garlic rosemary sauce. I liked that the meat retained some juiciness and wasn't overly dry and the gnocchi was great to soak up the sauce.

Almond Herb Crusted Pork Tenderloin
The salmon was a pleasant surprise as it was more delicious than I expected with the skin pan seared to crispiness. The roasted potatoes made it a heartier meal.

Pan Seared Steelhead Salmon
The 10 oz striploin was an upgrade to $38 from the $28 menu. The smokiness of the grill added great flavour to the meat. I thoroughly enjoyed the sides of fried onion rings and thin cut fries as well.

10 oz Prime New York Striploin

Desserts - Raspberry Sorbet and Blonde Brownie

The sorbet was creamy and fruity without all the seeds that come in raspberry frozen yogurt which is great!

Raspberry Sorbet
The Blonde Brownie actually contains no cocoa despite it's brownie name. It is made from butterscotch and drizzled with an orange marmalade.

Blonde Brownie
All in all, the ambiance of the restaurant is beautiful and service was quick and professional. I definitely recommend coming here for special occasions!


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Saturday, 7 February 2015

Sushi California (Burquitlam)

Sushi Cali is a small but very popular sushi joint in Burquitlam. I've heard about their great value and long queues so I was glad that we got seated right away when we went at about 3pm (though it filled up quickly after that).

Crispy Avocado Roll - The amount of avocado in the roll made it creamy which was nicely balanced out with the crispy tempura flakes. The chipotle mayo added flavour and more creaminess to the roll.

Crispy Avocado Roll
 Spicy Salmon Sashimi - I remember seeing the chef put this dish up on the sushi bar and thinking, "Wow that looks good, wish we ordered that." To my pleasant surprise, that dish was headed right for our table! The cubes of salmon and cucumber were generously tossed in a spicy sauce that was slightly hot for my low spice tolerance. This yummy dish really expands your appetite to eat more.

Spicy Salmon Sashimi
All in all, service is quick and no-nonsense here. The only slow part was paying at the register with the take-out orders and sit-ins all queuing up for one cashier.

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