Wednesday, 29 October 2014

The Flying Pig (Gastown): Tender Beef Carpaccio

There's no shortage of restaurants with happy hour in Gastown and tonight we visited The Flying Pig. They offer happy hour 4-6pm with appetizers $5-6 each and specified drinks at $4.

We arrived around 5:15pm before the rush. The bar and its surrounding floor tables were full by 5:30pm. I had heard great things about The Flying Pig and this inaugural meal confirmed those reviews!

We ordered five appetizers to share and they were all delicious.

Truffle Mac n' Cheese ($5): This Mac n' Cheese was a great blend of buttery, cheesey goodness. It was the most filling appie on the menu that night. Each shell was thoroughly coated and fragrant.

Truffle Mac n' Cheese
Short Rib Croquettes ($5): These deep fried croquettes oozed a warm blend of potato and fine short ribs. The meat was so finely shredded that you probably won't notice it much. If you're looking for meat this probably won't satisfy you but if you want to eat some serious, deep fried comfort food then give it a go!
Short Rib Croquettes

Steamed Clams ($6): Clams are perfect for sharing. They lay in a pool of broth that was too salty for drinking but contained all the seafood-fresh taste of the clams. Piled on top are fried potato sticks (think Hickory Sticks!) The sticks themselves were delicious and seasoned heavily with salt.

Steamed Clams
Beef Carpaccio ($6): I've tried beef carpaccio from Ebisu, Hapa Izakaya, Phnom Penh, and Joe Fortes. The Flying Pig one is my favourite so far. Thinly sliced raw beef were topped with arugula, crispy capers, parmesan cheese, and dressing. The toppings didn't overwhelm the freshness of the beef which was very tender. I especially liked the contrast of the crispy capers to the tenderness of the beef.

Beef Carpaccio

Smoked Salmon Salad ($5): Greens and cucumber slices tossed in olive oil were topped with slices and chunks of smoked salmon. A large dollop of sour cream added extra creaminess. This salad is not a must order but if you'd like some greens during happy hour then it's not a bad option.

Smoked Salmon Salad
The Flying Pig interior
Overall I had a great meal at The Flying Pig. Service was on point from the time we entered the door. Food came relatively quickly, our water was constantly filled and seating was comfortable. I'm looking forward to trying their main courses another time.

The Flying Pig on Urbanspoon


Saturday, 25 October 2014

Memory Corner: Basil Egg Roll

Memory Corner is situated across the street from the Richmond City Hall which should be a good location but it offers few parking spots. On a weekday afternoon there were spots in the parking lot behind the restaurant but several restaurants share the complex so the small lot will probably fill up quickly.

We were just looking for a snack and not a full meal so we ordered two appetizers. 

Chocolate thick toast: A generous coating of Nutella and chopped hazelnuts covered the thick toast. I liked the softness of the bread with the creaminess of the Nutella. This is great for sharing but a fair warning that it can get a little messy with the nuts falling everywhere!

Chocolate thick toast
Basil egg roll: Egg rolls were one of my favourite breakfast items when I was in Taiwan. I tried egg rolls at other Taiwanese restaurants in Vancouver but they disappointed. This one at Memory Corner came pretty close to the taste I was looking for! It's similar to green onion pancakes but with basil instead of green onion. It is then wrapped around a thin layer of fried egg, rolled up, cut and served. I wish they served a version with pork floss!

Basil egg roll

Memory Corner interior
Overall, I'd want to try actual meals and the bubble tea at Memory Corner but the two appetizers I tried were both good.

**UPDATE Nov 1, 2014**

I went back to Memory Corner to try the toast box. I called a day ahead of time to order it like they mentioned the first time I was at the restaurant. Turns out it made no difference because it still took a long time for them to prepare the toast box. Although the wait time was long, it was delicious!

There was an abundance of fruits, chocolate and ice cream. Inside the toast box, each strip of bread was coated in Nutella and chopped hazelnut. A lot of work was involved, that's why it took so long. Although I like Nutella, there was just a bit too much inside this toast box. It's still worth a try though!

Fruit Toast Box

Interior of toast box

Memory Corner 有香 on Urbanspoon


Monday, 20 October 2014

Yolk's: Long Wait Time

When I went to Red Wagon Cafe, we passed by Yolk's. Previously I didn't know that they had a restaurant in addition to a food truck, so when we were in the area again today I suggested we go try it.

We arrived at 11:15am on the weekend and were not seated until 12:00pm. We ordered our food quickly since we had so much time to decide what we wanted. We ordered Belgian waffles and the Fraser Valley Duck Confit.

The Belgian waffles came with four quarter slices, so essentially one round waffle, and two English bangers with mustard. I liked the bangers because it wasn't too oily and paired nicely with the mustard that included mustard seeds. The waffle was soft and did not embody any crunchiness which is something I look for in Belgian waffles. The texture and sweet batter reminded me more of pancakes than waffles. I probably would not order this again.

Belgian Waffles ($9.75)
The Fraser Valley Duck Confit consisted of a free-range poached egg, housemade marmalade, spinach, hollandaise, two pieces of English muffin and crispy duck. I liked this much better than the waffles. The egg was perfectly poached and oozed yolk onto the well-toasted English muffin piece. The buttery hollandaise mixed with the sweet marmalade worked nicely against the crispy duck. I especially liked when I got a piece of crispy duck skin.

Fraser Valley Duck Confit ($11.75 for one egg, $16.75 for two eggs)
However during the time we were dining, there were always quite a few tables empty. Yolk's seemed to be adequately staffed and there was a continuous crowd waiting outside. From the perspective of a diner it can be frustrating to wait for so long when you can clearly see empty tables inside the restaurant. Perhaps a change in practise can help increase the restaurant's efficiency so diners won't be deterred from coming back due to the long wait.

Interior of Yolk's
Exterior of Yolk's
Service was not especially attentive and the tables were slightly sticky. Hot water cost $1. Overall there are many excellent brunch options in Vancouver that have an advantage in location, pricing, and wait time over Yolk's.

Yolk's Breakfast Restaurant and Commissary on Urbanspoon


Sunday, 19 October 2014

Red Wagon Cafe: The Super Trucker breakfast

Red Wagon Cafe is a small corner breakfast joint on East Hastings. On the sunny Sunday morning when we went, there was already a line up outside. We arrived around 10:15am and had to wait about 20 minutes before we were seated.

I liked the ambiance of Red Wagon with its wooden tables and relatively closely spaced tables. It seemed like a favourite among neighbourhood residents. Service was also efficient and friendly.

Pictured below is only half the portion of the Super Trucker. I'm glad we decided to split it because I could barely finish my half portion! The Super Trucker consists of two eggs, two pulled pork pancakes, crisp pork belly, potato, toast and we added their specialty, the Jack Daniel's maple syrup for $2.75 extra.

Half portion Super Trucker ($15)
This is definitely comfort food and I enjoyed it very much. The pulled pork was thoroughly marinated and paired perfectly with the fluffy pancakes. The JD maple syrup is not necessary but definitely added a fun element to the meal compared to the typical maple syrup taste. The pork belly was probably the highlight with its layers of fat and meat enveloped in the crunchy goodness of the burnt edges. Every part of the meal added together to form the ultimate comfort food combo.

Be prepared to wait to eat at Red Wagon, especially on a sunny weekend morning, but the food is worth it and I'd like to try the BBQ Brisket next time.

The Red Wagon on Urbanspoon


Saturday, 18 October 2014

Butter Baked Goods and Cafe: Cute Ambiance

I came to Butter Cafe hoping to try high tea for the first time but turns out they discontinued it already! I immediately liked the ambiance of Butter Cafe with its pastel green and floral scheme and small round tables. My first impression was that it reminded me of La Duree but much friendlier. La Duree gives off this feeling of being fancy but Butter Cafe gives off a friendly vibe.

So instead of high tea we each got some treats to eat. The baked goods were $2 to $5 a piece and tea was $3.50. They also serve breakfast and lunch like croque monsieur and quiche.

I tried the Coney Island Bar and the Cookies n' Cream macaron . I chose the Coney Island Bar because I wanted to try the house-made marshmellows on top. It was a deep fudge with crushed up walnuts and fluffy marshmellows on top. House-made marshmellows are much spongier than store bought ones and I definitely like the texture better. The fudge portion was very filling with rich chocolatey goodness.

Left: Coney Island Bar ($3); Right: Cookies n' Cream macaron ($3)
This is the largest macaron I've had and quite sweet. The cookie part was crunchy but wasn't chewy like how I enjoy my macarons. The filling inside was very creamy and sweet with small pieces of chocolate cookie bits which was interesting. If I were to go back I'd want to try the cookie sandwich!

Cookies n' Cream macaron
Below are what my friends ordered which they also enjoyed very much.

Raspberry cake ($5)

Left: The Dunbar ($3); Right: Vanilla bean macaron ($3)
Convenient bus stop outside Butter Cafe
Overall Butter Cafe is easy to access by transit with a bus stop right in front. I would like to visit again and try the other treats.

Butter Baked Goods on Urbanspoon


Thursday, 16 October 2014

Marulilu Cafe: Matcha Latte and Waffle Breakfast

I've spotted Marulilu Cafe before and thought it was a coffee joint but they actually serve all day breakfast as well! Its convenient location by the 99 bus stop and Broadway City Hall Station is definitely a plus.

To be honest I wanted to try Marulilu because of the matcha latte I saw on their menu online. The presentation was pretty with the heart shaped pattern. It was mildly sweet with matcha powder and mostly consisted of frothy milk. I wouldn't go to Marulilu just to drink this again but it was a good accompaniment to my breakfast.

Matcha latte
I tried the breakfast plate with waffles which included two eggs, two hashbrowns, four pork sausages, and a waffle. The hashbrowns and sausages are store bought so they will probably taste similar to some other breakfast joints.

Breakfast plate
 On the other hand, the waffle was made in-house. I prefer my waffles to be crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside but this waffle was simply soft throughout. It came with maple syrup and two large dollops of whipped cream - plain and chocolate. I've never had chocolate whipped cream come with my waffles before so that was a nice touch. Actually I exclusively used the chocolate whipped cream.

Waffle with breakfast plate
 Overall, the service at Marulilu was good but their breakfast plate was only okay.

Marulilu Cafe on Urbanspoon


Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Toe Dam Korean Fusion BBQ: Lunch Sets!

Toe Dam Korean Fusion BBQ is located in a plaza with H-Mart and many other restaurants. Kim Yuna ate here when she was in town for the Olympics! On a weekday afternoon the small restaurant only had another table occupied besides ours.

We ordered a set lunch and an off the menu beef soup which was plenty of food for two people. The Marinated Pork with Spicy Tofu Soup set lunch came with banchan and two bowls of rice. The pork came piping hot which I enjoyed and was slightly sweet and mildly spicy. The plain rice tasted awesome after soaking up the sauce from the pork.

Marinated Pork
 The tofu soup was not that spicy either and came with cubes of soft tofu. I suppose it tasted underwhelming compared to the beef soup.

Spicy tofu soup

The beef soup was very hot (temperature wise) and pretty spicy for my low spice tolerance but it was delicious! There were glass noodles, strips of beef, egg and vegetables. It was a meal in itself with the amount of noodles in the soup.

Beef soup
Next time I really want to try the BBQ at Toe Dam because that is what they are famous for!

Toe Dam Korean Fusion BBQ on Urbanspoon


Friday, 10 October 2014

Pearl Castle (Richmond Centre): Green Lattea

Sometimes I don't want to eat at Taiwanese restaurants because I know that I will want to order the fried chicken (which is temptingly delicious). I did just that when we went to Pearl Castle at Richmond Centre the other day. The fried chicken thigh was battered and flavoured with simple spices then deep fried to a crunchy goodness without losing the juiciness of the meat.

Fried chicken thigh (approx. $5)
Instead of traditional milk tea bubble tea I ordered the green lattea which I love. It is called different things in different restaurants but essentially it is tea with a layer of frothy cream on top. I added pearls to my drink which was green tea based. It is so delicious! You can drink it separately with a sip of tea and a sip of cream or mix it all together.

Green lattea ($4.95 excluding pearls)
All in all, Pearl Castle at Richmond Centre is often crowded and isn't a great place if you want to sit and talk for a while but it is definitely convenient.

Pearl Castle Café 圓香生活餐飲 (Minoru) on Urbanspoon


Thursday, 9 October 2014

Cumpari's Gelato and Caffe: Nutella Cheesecake

Cumpari's Gelato and Caffe is across the street from Lougheed Mall. The interior is bright with round glass tables well spaced out on one side and an assortment of gelato and cake on the other. I don't drink coffee so I can't really comment on it but Cumpari's seemed to serve a good variety.

There were many cheesecake choices from mango to strawberry to pistachio. I finally chose a slice of Nutella cheesecake. The cheesecake was topped with a thin layer of chocolate and chopped hazelnuts. There was a graham cracker base and in between was the fluffy cheesecake. I enjoyed the texture of this cheesecake because it wasn't too heavy but you will definitely feel full after.

All in all it's a good place to enjoy dessert and catch up with friends, which many of the other customers were doing.

Cumpari's Gelato & Caffe on Urbanspoon


Friday, 3 October 2014

Catch 122: The Dirty Breakfast

Enjoying brunch is supposed to be leisurely and the atmosphere at Catch 122 Cafe & Bistro captures that with its spacious floor and wooden tables. The service was friendly and the food was delicious just like all the positive reviews I read online.

The Dirty Breakfast: Bit of a funny name for a brunch meal but it caught my attention and it made my taste buds happy. It included duck fat toast, duck confit, sunny-side up eggs, house-made maple beans, and yukon nugget potato hash. The potatoes were crunchy on the outside but soft on the inside and I really enjoyed it compared to chopped potato wedges. The duck fat toast with duck confit on top was savoury with the toast absorbing the flavours. The only thing I didn't like was that the maple beans were too sweet for my liking. Albeit it is made with maple but the sweet taste stood out too much amongst the rest of the savoury foods.

The Dirty Breakfast ($12)
Braised Short Ribs Eggs Benedict: The hollandaise sauce is probably the highlight of this eggs benedict. It was the most buttery, smooth and aromatic hollandaise that I've tried in awhile. This dish included braised short ribs, poached eggs on english muffin and yukon nugget potato hash. Only one poached egg was successful as the other had a fully cooked yolk. That aside, everything on the plate was delicious.

Braised Short Ribs Eggs Benedict ($12)
Overall Catch 122 is a great place to dine with friendly service, comfortable seating, and delicious food. Plus the brunch portions are large enough to fill you up right through lunch.

Catch 122 Cafe Bistro on Urbanspoon