Thursday, 19 September 2013

La Notte: Pasta Tuesdays!

La Notte is an easy bus ride from UBC on Dunbar Street and offers pasta Tuesday special! All pasta on the menu is $8.99 each on Tuesdays.

The ambiance of La Notte is nice as it is dimly lit and there is a grand piano in the corner. While waiting for our food, we were given a basket of complimentary focaccia bread with vinegar and olive oil. The bread was so tasty because it was crunchy and tasted great with the olive and vinegar. Or maybe I was just really hungry.

Complimentary bread
Linguine alla Crema: Scallops and baby shrimp in a white wine cream sauce
I ordered this pasta because I was craving for white wine cream sauce. There was probably 1.5 scallops in my pasta and plenty of baby shrimp. The sauce was buttery and in good proportion with the pasta leaving my craving completely satisfied. I only wish that the baby shrimp was replaced with prawns instead because they weren't fresh and were mushy.

Linguine alla Crema
Overall, La Notte is a great place to come, especially on Tuesdays!

La Notte on Urbanspoon


Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Kirin (Richmond): Durian Mochis

Kirin is an award winning Chinese restaurant in Vancouver so everyone has to make reservations when eating here or else you don't get a seat! On a weekend morning, we arrived at Kirin Richmond right when it opened and there was already a crowd waiting at the reception area. The past few times we ate here, the hostess' was not that great but once seated, the staff are quite friendly.

We ate more things than I photographed below but I will just post some of the more noteworthy things.

Shrimp dumplings: Shrimp dumplings are one of those dim sum dishes that are at every Chinese restaurant so you can really compare the good from the bad. The shrimp in the dumplings were large and had the fresh bouncy texture. They were some of the best shrimp dumplings I've had in Vancouver.

Shrimp Dumplings
Steamed Pork Ribs: The steamed pork ribs were actually just normal and what one would expect from any dim sum restaurant.

Pan Fried Radish Cake: The radish cake was yummy with its soft texture in the middle and crunchiness on the outside from being pan fried. There was a small dish of XO sauce which was great paired with the radish cake.

L: Radish Cake; R: Pork Ribs
Durian Mochis: Durians are definitely not everyone's fruit but if you eat it then you will definitely enjoy this dish a lot. Durian or not, this is one of the best desserts I've had at a dim sum place! These delicate mochis have a very thin skin that encompasses a large dollop of durian and whipped cream. Each bite is so soft, fragrant and creamy. Winner.

Durian Mochis
Kirin's Awards
Overall, just remember to make reservations before eating at Kirin! The service (by the hostess) might disappoint but the food certainly won't.

Kirin Seafood Restaurant 麒麟海鮮酒家 on Urbanspoon


Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Crystal Mall Foodcourt: Wang's Shanghai & Cherry Fruit Juice Icy Bar

If you're shopping at Metrotown, take the extra 5 minute walk and eat at the Crystal Mall food court instead! There is a good variety of food that is better value than the Metrotown food court.

Wang's Shanghai Cuisine: The past few times I ate at the Crystal Mall food court, I ordered the xiao long baos (steamed soup dumplings) from Wang's Shanghai Cuisine. You can see the ladies making these dumplings from scratch to ensure freshness. There is a lot of juice inside the dumplings and the skin is thin which is why I like them so much. For the food court price, these xiao long baos are great value and comparable to ones sold at restaurants.

Xiao long bao
Cherry Fruit Juicy and Ice Bar: The dessert on the left is the Mango and Strawberry shaved ice topped with vanilla ice cream and the dessert on the right is red bean with tang yuan (glutenous rice balls). The shaved ice dessert was pretty good with its fresh fruit and ice cream. The dessert on the right was good too but personally I prefer more thoroughly cooked red bean. I've also had their bubble tea before which I like!

L: Mango & Strawberry Shaved Ice; R: Red Bean & Tang Yuan
Overall, I don't ever go to Crystal Mall to shop but to eat then YES!

Wang's Shanghai Cuisine on Urbanspoon

Cherry Fruit Juice & Icy Bar on Urbanspoon


Soho Tea Room: Honey Toast Box

Soho Tea Room was all filled up even on a weekday evening, so we had to wait around 15 minutes before we were seated.

Sweet & Sour Fish Meal: I ordered the sweet & sour fish meal which came with a bowl of white rice and two side dishes. The fish dish was pretty flavourful but a little bit too sour for my liking.

Sweet & Sour Fish Meal
Honey Toast Box with Condensed Milk: This toast box tasted better than What8ver. Each piece of bread inside the box was coated with honey and bread mixed with ice cream was delicious. The dessert wasn't too sweet and there was lots of it to share!

Honey Toast Box
Chocolate Lava Cake: This lava cake was baked too thoroughly, causing the middle to be only mushy and not melted chocolate lava. Despite the lost lava texture, the cake came hot and tasted strongly of ooey-gooey chocolate served nicely with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Chocolate Lava Cake
Overall Soho Tea Room serves pretty good food, especially the desserts!

Soho Tea Room on Urbanspoon


Monday, 16 September 2013

Bellaggio Convention: Baggio Pizza

I think I ate one of my favourite pizzas in Vancouver at Bellaggio Cafe, the Vancouver Convention Centre location. I say think because I don't eat a lot of gourmet pizza.

The restaurant is a nice location and has a nice view looking out on Coal Harbour. They accommodated our large group very well and were attentive.

Baggio pizza: olives, sun-dried tomatoes, goat cheese, parmesan, garlic, fresh basil
The pizza was 12 inches and sold as an individual portion but could easily fill two nicely. The crust was fresh and nicely bubbled from the oven providing crunch and some chewiness. I loved the small piles of goat cheese (white spots in photo) distributed over the pizza which added a punch of flavour and made the pizza even more delicious. YUM!

Baggio Pizza
Overall, the ambiance and food of Bellaggio Cafe would bring me back which is why I'm surprised the ratings on Urbanspoon is so low.

Bellaggio Convention on Urbanspoon


Sunday, 15 September 2013

Las Margaritas: Cantina Platter and Fish Tacos

On a weekday evening, Las Margaritas was pretty crowded with diners but we were seated quickly by the hostess.

While waiting for our food, we were given a basket of complimentary tortilla chips with salsa. I liked these chips a lot because they seemed to be freshly fried and the salsa was a good consistency.

Salsa and chips
Cantina Platter: mini chimis, flour chicken flauta, chicken wings, cheese quesadilla, jalapeno peppers, chilima sauce, chipotle dip
This was a shared appetizer platter for two and filled us up well. All the items came hot but started to taste similar after awhile because there was a lot of fried tortilla. I didn't prefer the cheese quesadilla much because it was very plain without dip and the chicken wings were a bit overfried.

Cantina Platter
Fish Tacos: Each taco had two pieces of tortilla holding a piece of fried fish with beans and salad on the side. I really like fish tacos and have ordered them at many restaurants before. This one tasted good but definitely not the best I've had. There wasn't much flavour to the fish.

Fish Tacos
Overall, it was a solid meal at Las Margaritas albeit not very memorable food.

Las Margaritas Mexican on Urbanspoon


Saturday, 14 September 2013

Stuart's Bakery: French Opera Cake

I don't think I have ever left the Granville Island Market Place without trying some type of dessert! This time I went to Stuart's originally intending to try their blueberry cheesecake but saw this French Opera Cake which I've never had before.

Stuart's cake box
The cake was too sweet for my taste and had layers chocolate, almond sponge cake and coffee buttercream. However, I can see this as a favourite for chocolate lovers.

French Opera Cake
Next time I'd probably try Stuart's cheesecakes, tarts or macarons instead!

Stuart's Bakery on Urbanspoon


Friday, 13 September 2013

Deer Garden (Alexandra Rd): DIY Noodle Soup

Haroo changed their lunch hours again, now only open Friday to Sunday for lunch so when we went on a Wednesday afternoon it was closed. We walked next door to Deer Garden for lunch. All the tables were full when we were there but it didn't take too long until we were seated.

I ordered the noodle soup where you can choose the soup base, noodles and ingredients. The meal also comes with a complimentary drink which I added $2 to upgrade to a Red Bean with Vanilla Ice Cream drink. 

Here are the contents of my noodle soup:
Soup base - tomato and pumpkin
Noodles - udon
Toppings - fish fillet and beef slices

Overall, it was a large flavourful bowl of soup and the service was quick and efficient.

Deer Garden Signatures 鹿園魚湯米線 on Urbanspoon


Thursday, 12 September 2013

Trees Organic (Gastown): Blueberry Cheesecake Goodness

Trees Organic is known to some as the best cheesecake place in Vancouver which enticed me to try when I passed by it while in Gastown. The little shop's tables were all full with customers all eating their cheesecake.

I tried the blueberry cheesecake with high hopes and Trees Organic did not disappoint. This was a cheesecake texture that I have not tried before. It was more dense than Cheesecake Etc. but less firm than the typical New York Cheesecake. It was like firmer mousse cake which made it easy to consume. The cream cheese flavour was just right but the crust could be improved as it was too delicate and crumbled when the spoon hit it. Just personal preference that I like crust that supports the cake and stays together.

Blueberry cheesecake
Overall, although a bit pricey for one piece of cake I do like the cheesecake here and would visit again when I want to treat myself :)

Trees Organic Coffee on Urbanspoon


Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Hapa Izakaya (Robson): Raw Oysters at Hapa Hour!

We went to Hapa Izakaya on Robson during their Hapa Hour (5:30-6:30pm) and had such yummy food with great service! All the items on the Hapa Hour menu were under $5 including $1.5 each fresh raw oysters.

Beef Tataki: Lightly seared AAA beef, sesame chili sauce
This was like a Japanese version of beef carpaccio and tasted good in its own way. The sesame chili sauce was flavourful and mixed well with the fried onion pieces and raw beef. There is no cheese like in beef carpaccio.

Beef tataki
Ebi Mayo: tempura prawn, spicy mayo sauce
There were 6 prawns fried to crunchiness and generously covered in mayo sauce that wasn't that spicy. Very yummy appetizer to share with friends.

Ebi Mayo
Hanabi Roll: Spicy tuna, cucumber, wasabi tobiko, spicy miso
The Hanabi roll was one of the most fun dishes on the Hapa Hour menu because when it came, the server took a torch and blasted fire at our sushi dish! It didn't make the sushi hot like I thought it would but just added some crunch to the top pieces.

Hanabi Roll
Joyce Point Raw Oyster: Cortes Island BC - mild, sweet, briny finish
There were three dipping sauces that came with the oysters - sweet, slightly spicy and savoury. The oysters were plump, cleaned well and tasted refreshing!

Joyce Point Raw Oysters
Spicy Pork Ishi-Yaki: Rice, minced pork, flower, chives, egg, tomato,lettuce, spicy miso, served in a hot stone bowl
When this stone bowl came, it reminded me of Korean bibimbap but didn't taste like it at all. Our server mixed all the contents of the bowl thoroughly for us then told us to wait for a minute to let the rice harden on the edges of the bowl which will taste crunchy later. It was a hearty bowl of rice that was quite wet with the sauces and ingredients.

Spicy Pork Ishi-Yaki
Overall, I'm glad that I found out about Hapa Hour here and ate all this good food during dinner time for the price of a lunch meal. Will come again!

Hapa Izakaya on Urbanspoon


Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Piroshky Piroshky: Smoked Salmon Pate

On the same day that we went to Le Panier, we also visited another famous bakery at Pike Place called Piroshky Piroshky. It is a Russian bakery and I've never tried that before.

On the way to the bakery, I saw this impressive street performer who was balancing a guitar on his chin while swinging two hula hoops around his waist!

I chose the Smoked Salmon Pate which reminded me of buns from an Asian bakery. The bun was soft bread filled with a creamy smoked salmon filling. The filling was well blended and you do not feel the texture of salmon flakes, only creamy salmon mixed with cream cheese, dill and onion.

Smoked Salmon Pate
Piroshky Piroshky on Urbanspoon


Monday, 9 September 2013

Le Panier: Cutest Chewy Macarons!

Evening though it was pouring rain that afternoon, there were still lots of people at Seattle's Pike Place. When I learned that there was macarons sold at Le Panier in Pike Place, of course I had to go try for myself!

There was a bit of a line up when we arrived but service was quick and we got our goodies in no time.

Le Panier box
Macaron flavours: Hazelnut, Coffee, Pistachio and Raspberry
The macarons had a crispy shell and chewy inside, much like the Thierry ones. They weren't too sweet and the flavours were pretty prominent. I liked the hazelnut one the best because it reminded me of Nutella.

Raspberry, Hazelnut, Pistachio, Coffee macarons
Overall, this was a cozy French bakery to avoid the rain with its self-dispensed water tap and little tables for customers.

Le Panier interior
Le Panier on Urbanspoon


Sunday, 8 September 2013

Ho Yuen Kee: Try the Lobster!

Ho Yuen Kee is a restaurant that I hear about frequently on the Chinese radio but have not visited in awhile. Since we were hosting a friend from out of town, we decided to go eat some trusted yummy Vancouver Chinese food.

Lobster with sticky rice: We had to order Ho Yuen Kee's famous dish, the lobster and added the sticky rice on recommendation by the server. The lobster was fresh and juicy with the rice soaking up all the juices underneath. The sticky rice just seemed like the texture of normal rice actually and wasn't sticky at all. There were corn pieces mixed into the rice.

Lobster with sticky rice
Bok Choy with Tofu: Cooked bok choy surrounded a plate of soft tofu drizzled in sweet soy sauce. Have to get our dose of veggies!

Bok Choy with Tofu
Beef Brisket & Tendon pot: I really enjoy eating beef brisket and tendons when dining out because it takes a long time to marinate and cook it to the perfect tenderness. This dish was delicious with the brisket and tendons completely soft and marinated thoroughly with the sauce. Great comfort food.

Beef Brisket & Tendon pot
Tofu pudding: Another famous dish here is the tofu pudding. The texture is delicate and smooth while retaining a semi-firm form. Adding a bit of sweet ginger syrup makes this a perfect dessert to end the meal.

Tofu pudding

Heart shaped syrup in tofu pudding
Be sure to make a reservation before eating here because there aren't many tables to fill all the eager customers! We were seated almost straight away with our reservation but I saw some people wait for 15-30 minutes for their table.

Ho Yuen Kee interior
Ho Yuen Kee Restaurant 何源記 on Urbanspoon


Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Ebisu (Broadway): Beef Carpaccio and Gyutan Ox Tongue

Ebisu on Broadway is a little hard to find since the front door is not on the sidewalk but it is only a short walk from the Canada Line and even closer to the 99 bus stop.

I went on a weekend evening with a large group at around 8pm and the service was slow. The server was not rude but everyone was inattentive and I had to ask twice before I got my cup of tea. The food also took more than 50 minutes to come. With the slow and inattentive service, I wasn't expecting great food from Ebisu but fortunately it turned out good.

Happy Hour menu is 7 days a week starting at 8:30pm. I wanted to try the raw oysters but they were out. We ordered three things from the Happy Hour menu: gyutan saikyo, dynamite roll and spicy tuna.

Gyutan Saikyo (not pictured): This dish was thinly sliced grilled ox tongue and it was only $4.95! Although the best ox tongue I've tried in Vancouver is still Maruchu, the one at Ebisu is a good deal and tasted pretty good. The meat was chewy and the sauce was buttery.

Dynamite Roll (not pictured): I think every restaurant makes dynamite rolls differently. At Ebisu, it was rice and seaweed wrapped around tempura shrimp and thin cucumber slices. The presentation was nice. I guess that's why the food took so long to come because the chefs were backed up on making the food look presentable.

Spicy Tuna: The tuna was chopped into small pieces and mixed with chunky spicy sauce over lettuce and julienned radish. It's a refreshing appetizer.

Spicy Tuna
Beef Carpaccio: Thin sliced beef Tataki and mixed spring greens, wonton skins, fresh mango, tomatoes served with carpaccio sauce

We ordered the Beef Carpaccio off the regular dinner menu because it looked so good when I saw it on a counter in the restaurant. The yellow heap on top are fried wonton strips, underneath is a pile of spinach and the raw beef surrounded it all. I enjoyed this dish with the raw beef texture, crunchiness of the wonton and freshness of the spinach all soaking up the carpaccio sauce.

Beef Carpaccio
Overall, I might visit Ebisu again on a weekday but definitely not during its busy hours where I will have to wait an hour for my food.

Ebisu on Urbanspoon