Sunday, 31 March 2013

Lucky Tao: King Crab Galore

It's king crab season! We came to Lucky Tao after I read Lindsay's post on eating here. I'm glad we picked this restaurant because I heard unsatisfactory experiences at other restaurants where the price was lower but the crab meat was described as 'mushy'.

We had a great experience and were completely full because only four of us shared a 12 pound king crab! Usually a standard round table at Chinese restaurants seats 10 people and they would all share one crab. We had it made 3 ways: steamed, fried, and made into fried rice.

There was an overwhelming amount of garlic steamed with the crab and each piece was juicy and hot. At first I wondered why they didn't give any soy sauce but soon I found out that it wasn't necessary because the crab itself was plenty flavourable. There were two plates of steamed crab legs.

Fried king crab is much better than fried normal crab. The crab is deep fried then mixed in with garlic and spices in the wok. It tasted great hot out of the kitchen.

The last way to eat the crab was fried rice served on its shell. Although a bit oily, I found it quite delicious. There is a thin layer of 'skin' (not sure what it's called) inside the king crab shell that is slightly chewy. This piece of skin was pulled out of the shell, chopped into square pieces and incorporated into the fried rice. I've never been to a restaurant who did that before because the skin is usually left alone since it is extra work to remove it.

Overall, I was surprised by how much I liked this dinner. Lucky Tao is not a fancy Chinese restaurant but their food is solid and dim sum is very reasonably priced. The only problem is limited parking space.

Lucky Tao Chinese Seafood Restaurant 陶陶居 on Urbanspoon

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Joe Fortes: Raw Oysters & Fish Tacos

I've been curious about Joe Fortes since I saw it on the Dine Out Vancouver website so I did not hesitate to take advantage of their lunch special for the month of March. This post compiles photos from two visits: lunch and happy hour.

There was complimentary baguette with lobster oil and sweetened vinegar. My friends and I all agreed that the lobster oil reminded us of XO sauce!

Complimentary bread
The Salmon Cakes was a carb loaded dish with its buttery mashed potatoes and squash plus all the buttery oils in the cakes themselves. Unhealthiness aside, this was a great dish! Each bite was smooth and effortless comfort food.

Salmon Cakes
I believe last summer was the first time I've tried fish tacos and now every time I go to a restaurant and see it on the menu, it is my immediate choice. The freshly deep fried tempura style fish strips smelled so good as the dish was placed in front of me. I also appreciated how there was plenty of chipotle aioli, guacamole, sour cream, and pico de gallo because some restaurants only give a very small amount of sauce for their dishes. Don't forget the tortillas in the top left corner to wrap it all together! The dish made four tacos and I was happily full after the second one.

Fish Tacos
The Ling Cod and Chips was made with the same crispy, light batter and served with tartar sauce, ketchup, and coleslaw. The size of the piece of fish definitely outcompetes any fish and chips I've seen before!

Ling Cod and Chips
Now onto the Happy Hour menu items. These are just appetizers that you can order during restaurant hours but during Happy Hour (4-6PM) they are 50% off. Our server for lunch was very friendly but our server for Happy Hour was more dismissive. I couldn't help but think that it was because our bill total was lower with the discount so that was why the service was inconsistent.

Anyways, onto the food. This is the first time I've had raw beef and I'm happy to say that it was a delicious experience. The Beef Carpaccio included grainy mustard, roasted garlic, grana padano and crispy capers. The beef slices were very tender with absolutely no tough veins and a great match with the spinach and cheese.

Beef Carpaccio
I didn't catch the name of the raw oysters but they sure were fresh. I've had raw oysters before at an oyster farm where the fisherman opened it in front of us almost directly from the sea. Those were very salty from the sea water.

Raw oysters
The Tempura Prawns were fried as nicely as the fish tacos and ling cod above. There was an excessive amount of togarashi mayo on the side considering that there were only three prawns.

Jumbo Tempura Prawns
Overall, the food at Joe Fortes is definitely worth the hype and even better with their promotions. Since I use social media often, I like that Joe Fortes engages in good social media use to answer customer questions and release news. For example, I learned about their lunch special on Twitter.

Joe Fortes Seafood & Chop House on Urbanspoon


Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Shiang Garden: Yum for Dim Sum

This is going to be a photo heavy post on Shiang Garden. I came here for dim sum twice in one week and left happy both times. On weekdays there is no tea charge and you receive 20% off your bill if you order before 11am. The latter deal applies on weekends as well.

I like that their menu has many informative photos so even people who can't read Chinese are able to navigate the menu fairly easily. However, for some dishes there is a discrepancy between their photographs and the actual product. Take a good look at the buns photographed in the bottom left hand corner of the menu.

These Pan Fried Shanghai Pork Buns are the same ones photographed above in the menu. The real life version is much smaller and less round. They still tasted good with a juicy centre of pork and crispy pan fried bottom in contrast with the softer floury bun texture on top.

Pan Fried Shanghai Pork Bun
The BBQ Pork Pastry is very filling with its buttery outside and meaty inside.

BBQ Pork Pastry
The Peanut Crepe doesn't photograph very nicely but was one of the favourite things I ate. Crepe is probably not the right word to describe this dish. It is chewy and crispy (slightly like green onion pancakes) wrapped around a mixture of finely chopped peanuts and sugar.

Peanut crepe
The shrimp in the Shrimp Dumplings were fresh with that bouncy texture but the clear skin encompassing the dumpling was too thin and tore easily making it hard to pick up from the steamer.

Shrimp Dumplings

Vegetable shrimp dumplings
The Fried Scallop with Portuguese Sauce definitely looks better on the menu (top right hand corner photo). The inside is curry and meat encased in a blended taro paste, topped with a piece of scallop then deep fried. Yum!

Fried Scallop with Portuguese Sauce
Chinese doughnut rice roll
Pan Fried Raddish Cake
Overall, with no tea charge and 20% off I would come back again for dim sum! However, not in the near future because their dim sum menu selection is not that large.

Shiang Garden Seafood Restaurant 敘香園海鮮酒樓 on Urbanspoon


Sunday, 10 March 2013

Vivacity: 2 Way Peking Duck

The last few times I ate at Vivacity Restaurant was for dim sum in the morning but last Sunday we came for dinner. The three of us sat at a table for six because there were many open tables at the restaurant.

We ordered the peking duck. Our server brought the whole roasted duck out and proceeded to skinning the crispy skin off.

Peking Duck Crispy Skin
Flour wrap
Green onion, peking duck skin, topped with hoisin sauce (seafood sauce) all concealed in a steamed flour wrap makes for a crunchy bite. I love eating peking duck this way but you have to make your wraps fast because once the flour wraps are exposed to the cold air, the edges harden quickly. These wraps were pretty good at Vivacity but I've had much crispier and better cut peking duck at other restaurants.

After the duck is skinned, it goes back to the kitchen where the meat is de-boned and made into a stir fry for lettuce wraps. The cool lettuce leaves and warm, flavourful centre filled with stir fry duck meat is something I would want to eat any summer night.

Lettuce duck wraps
Alongside enjoying an entire duck, we had fried oysters. The oysters were fried then cooked in a garlic mixture sauce making it not very fresh-breathe friendly. They were pretty good and I appreciated that there were some vegetables on the side.

Fried oysters in sauce
Most Chinese restaurants offer complimentary dessert at the end of a meal. The one at Vivacity that night was red and green bean sweet soup with clear tapioca pearls.

Red and green bean sweet soup
Vivacity Restaurant 名都海鮮酒家 on Urbanspoon


Saturday, 2 March 2013

Lin Chinese: Beef Sesame Roll

Eating at Lin Chinese Cuisine and Tea House was an interesting experience because for the first time in my dine out experiences in Vancouver, we were the minority in a Chinese restaurant! As in, we were the only one of two tables of Asians at the restaurant that evening.

With that said, the food was all right and the menu items were more catered toward non-Asian diner's taste.

Xiao Long Bao: pork and soup inside of these steamed dumplings

Xiao Long Bao

Beef and green onion
 Rice cakes to me are like Chinese pasta. Each piece is so chewy and soaks up the flavour of the sauce. So of course the sauce makes a big difference on rice cake dishes, this sauce was probably a mixture of soy sauce, oyster sauce, and corn starch.

Shanghai rice cakes
The Beef Sesame Rolls rolls look like Subway sandwiches in the photo but they're definitely not. The "bun" part is actually a flaky pastry and the inside are cold cut slices of marinated beef and some green onion. I prefer beef rolls with warmed beef inside but this one was still pretty good.

Beef Sesame Roll
 The House Special Fried Rice was a bit on the oily side (for me) but there were actually more ingredients in it than I expected: mixed vegetables, shrimp, chicken.

House Special Fried Rice
After dinner, we headed to UBC's Chan Centre for Arts Last Lecture 2013 featuring Michaelle Jean. I was surprised by the number of people who didn't know who she is when I told them I was going to hear her speak. She was Canada's former Governor General and shared her life story from a child in Haiti to moving to Canada and building her career. As a Quebecois, she spoke French at the very beginning and throughout the speech, too even though all the French speakers in the room could also understand English perfectly fine. Well, that's Canadian politics for you.

Michaelle Jean
Lin Chinese Cuisine and Tea House 林餐館 on Urbanspoon