Sunday, 14 September 2014

Chef Tony: Bitter Gourd Rice Noodles

Chef Tony Seafood Restaurant stands where Hon's Richmond used to be before it closed down. It is now a Chinese restaurant with higher menu prices and fusion interior design.

Deep fried fish flakes and radish ball: The presentation of this dish reminded me of takoyaki balls with the fish flakes on top. The balls are made of shrimp paste and shredded radish so you get the texture of soft radish between the chewy shrimp paste. I quite liked this and wish there was a dipping sauce to go with it.

Deep fried fish flakes and radish ball
Almond sticks: I don't remember the English name on the menu but direct translation from the Chinese name is Almond Sticks. It was oval balls of pork meat covered in almond slices and fried. The almond created a nice crunch and the pork retained its juiciness inside. This is a unique dish that I've never seen at other dim sum restaurants.

Almond sticks

Shrimp and matsutake dumpling: They say that you can evaluate if a dim sum restaurant is good by its shrimp dumplings. Although the previous two dishes were good, this shrimp dumpling was nothing special. The wrapper broke easily and the shrimp didn't have the bouncy texture of fresh shrimp. 

Shrimp and matsutake dumpling

Bitter gourd and chicken shreds rice noodles: This was another dish that fell flat. The rice noodle roll is made with bitter gourd juice so it tastes slightly bitter. It was over-cooked in the steaming process and broke easily. A well-made rice noodle roll would not break when holding it up with chopsticks and retain a smooth texture when you eat it due to the oil used in the steaming process. The dish seems to be creative but not well executed.

Bitter gourd and chicken shreds rice noodles

Baked egg white and cream buns: These buns are really good if you ignore the filling. The outside with the sugar and egg white coating is baked to crunchiness coating a soft layer of bun underneath. The filling of the bun is this white blob-looking custard that is bland. The coating outside offers the only taste for this bun which is slight sweetness and it was not even sweet enough.

Baked egg white and cream buns

Chilled osmanthus jelly pudding: This dessert looked the most different from its menu photo. The photo featured alternating layers of clear beige osmanthus jelly and opaque white jelly. As you can see in the photo below, it arrived as a much brighter yellow and there weren't any opaque white layers. Osmanthus (a flower) is fragrant and tastes excellent in jelly. However, this jelly offered only a mild osmanthus taste and slight sweetness at best. If it was more sweet it would taste more like a dessert.

Chilled osmanthus jelly pudding
Overall there are some unique dim sum dishes that you can try out at Chef Tony but at a similar price point to Kirin I would go to the latter for consistency in quality.


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Thursday, 11 September 2014

Coast: Cocktail Hour Buck-a-Shuck

Coast offers happy hour or as they call it "Cocktail Hour" from 3-6pm daily. Appetizers are 50% off , some oysters for $1, and selected drinks are $5.

This promotion drew quite a crowd on the weekday evening I went and we were told we had to return the table within 1 hour and 45 minutes.

While waiting for our server to take our order, we were given a complementary dish to try which was like a fried dough ball with some shrimp paste inside. 

Complementary dish
The oysters were pretty fresh though I did feel some bits of shell in some of mine. There were no shell bits in the raw oysters I tried at Joe Fortes or Chewies. The sauce variety was lacking and weren't flavourful.

Raw oysters
The dungeness crab cake served with fennel salad had shredded crab meat and wasn't deep fried which I enjoyed. It was a bit delicate and broke apart easily under the fork but wasn't too salty like some crab cakes I've tried.

Dungeness crab cake
The garlic fried calamari with fresno chillies, cilantro and lime aioli reminded me of squid I'd eat at Chinese restaurants. The chillies added a hint of flavour without making the calamari spicy at all. Each piece was thoroughly battered and fried to crispiness. It's great for sharing!

Calamari
The bill came to $40 before gratuity and the seafood was pretty fresh. The dining atmosphere during Cocktail Hour was very rushed with our server forgetting to collect our menu after taking our order and having the oysters arrive last after the hot food. Overall I may visit again for the raw oysters and its convenient location.

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Thursday, 21 August 2014

Save on Meats: Build Your Own Burger

The storefront of Save on Meats may not stand out if you're just walking past it but the name is fairly well known for Vancouverites with it being featured on TV and social media. Prior to coming I didn't know that the restaurant works with local organizations to help those in need in the downtown east side.

On a weekday early evening there weren't many people in the restaurant. I believe it was renovated not long ago with the cracked seats on the booth benches being one of the few giveaways that the restaurant is much older. 

I opted for the build-your-own burger option where you can choose between meat or veggie patties, toppings, sauce and a choice of side. I opted for beef patties (it came with two pieces), cheese, cucumber, tomato, lettuce and pickles all with the SOM Smear. The SOM Smear is their in house sauce that includes a few sauces like hot sauce. My side salad was dressed with thousand island dressing.


I had heard great reviews about this place and their burger is famous so I suppose my expectation was very high. In general it was similar to burgers you can find at other restaurants. The beef patties may be more fresh than restaurants that don't use local ingredients but it didn't make a huge difference for the burger as a whole. The burger did taste good just not rave worthy. 


Overall this visit to Save on Meats checked off one of the restaurants I've been wanting to try for awhile in Vancouver but I don't think I'll think of this place first when I want burgers. 

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Hakata Ramen: Mediocre food

Hakata Ramen is located diagonally across the street from the Richmond Public Market which is generally a pretty busy area. But the restaurant space itself has turned over many times over the years and its most recent tenant is Hakata Ramen.

There was a promotion for a free takoyaki if you spend at least $25. The most expensive ramen cost $10.95 so to claim the deal you'd need a few people. The takoyaki itself is only $4.95 though so you can always purchase it as a side.

The curry ramen tasted like instant ramen broth. I was expecting it to taste more like Japanese curry but this broth was closer to the kind of curry broth you'd get from Indomie instant noodles. There were pieces of bamboo shoot and a good amount of pork slices. However the pork wasn't fresh and had a defrosted aftertaste.

Curry ramen ($9.95)
There are combos to choose from where you pick a ramen and add a few dollars for a don (rice bowl). We got the Pork Rib Ramen with Ikura Don. The ramen broth wasn't rich or aromatic enough. There was one large piece of pork rib that was marinated thoroughly.

Pork Rib Ramen ($10.95)

The Ikura Don consisted of Japanese mayo, egg slices and fish eggs on top of a bowl of white rice. It was bland tasting and honestly not very attractive.

Ikura Don (with combo $3)
We ordered an agedashi tofu to reach the $25 mark. There were four pieces and it was mediocre. It didn't have that great agedashi tofu quality where when you eat it you're amazed by the crunchiness of the outside, the softness of the tofu inside and the good balance of sauce. This tofu didn't taste bad but it didn't amaze.

Agedashi tofu ($2.95)
Lastly, the takoyaki came with six pieces and each ball had at least one piece of octopus. It tasted similar to night market ones. There was adequate mayo but I would've preferred if there was more takoyaki sauce because otherwise the batter itself is quite bland.

Takoyaki ($4.95)
Overall there are so many great ramen locations in Vancouver like Marutama Ramen that I won't be visiting Hakata Ramen again. 

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Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Smokes Poutinerie: Perogy Poutine

Going for a snack we went to Smoke's Poutinerie and tried their perogy poutine which was listed as selling for a limited time only.

The perogy pieces were deep fried and there was a dollop of sour cream and sprinkled bacon on top of the poutine. The perogy pieces weren't anything special and were similar to ones you can find in the frozen section of the grocery store. The gravy for the poutine wasn't that thick but flavourful and there was an adequate amount of cheese curds. Although there was probably a lot of sodium in this, it didn't taste too salty which was good.


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Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Uncle Lu: Three Cup Chicken

Uncle Lu is famous for their pork trotter but I ordered the three cup chicken meal instead. I did try a piece of my friend's pork trotter and it had a jelly-like texture with a soy sauce-like marinade.

There was a lot of chicken in my meal and I liked that they were cut into small enough pieces for easy eating. The chicken was flavourful and cooked on very high heat because some pieces were crispy.

Not pictured was my milk green tea with pearls that I really enjoyed. The milk was frothy with a hint of matcha flavour and the pearls were chewy.


Overall I may want to return for more bubble tea and this Taiwanese joint seems less catered to youth than some other ones because there were more adults eating here when I went for dinner. Though that it just a guess.

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Monday, 18 August 2014

Leonidas: More Macarons!

Macarons are some of my favourite things to try because they're small and difficult to make. We went to Leonida's at Waterfront and was pleasantly surprised. The small shop only has a few small tables. They sold an assortment of macarons, baked goods and chocolate.

Each macaron is $2 each and they were chewy, not overly sweet and contained the same flavour as the name. I've tried some macarons at other places that didn't taste anything like their name before.

Light pink: rose water; brown: hazelnut; cream: coconut; blue: earl grey; purple: cassis; green: green tea. My favourites were the coconut, rose water and green tea. These had the freshest flavour to me and made for a great dessert snack.


Overall Leonida's is a good location looking out on the cruises docked outside the Pan Pacific and their macarons are delicious!

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