gracecheung604 | write on time

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Cotto Enoteca - Revisited

Now that it's a bit wet and cold here in Vancouver, it's a good time to go and revisit Cotto Enoteca for some comfort food. Pasta and Pizzas from a wood-burning oven...what better to warm you up, right?!Cotto Polpette - Cotto Enoteca Starting off with an appetizer of Cotto Polpette, our hunger was immediately satisfied. The house made meatballs are smothered in a tomato sauce, and served with a few pieces of baguette. I liked it better when these were served with pizza bread, but it will do for now. Affumicato - Cotto Enoteca In no time at all, our Affumicato pizza was delivered! A slightly crispy crust and a chewy base, this pizza was topped with both mozza and gorgonzola cheese. The meats were speck bacon and sopressata, which made each slice a bit too salty for me. But that's the nature of cured meats. I sprinkled on some additional parmesan as well as some chili flakes and really enjoyed it afterwards. Tagliatelle Frutti di Mare - Cotto Enoteca We also ordered a few pastas to share as well. For non-meat eaters, this Tagliatelle Frutti de Mare is perfect. As you can see, there are large chunks of salmon and halibut, as well as plenty of prawns and clams. It's a bit rich due the cream based alfredo, so it's best to share. The portion shown here is a "small" portion, but trust me, it's enough to satisfy!Pappardelle Carbonara - Cotto Enoteca
I am definitely a fan of long pastas (as opposed to penne, farfelle or fusilli) so I just had to reorder my all time favourite, Pappardelle Carbonara. I order this every time I come, from the first "soft opening" to now, and have never been disappointed. The noodles are thick and slippery, flavoured by the clingy cheesy and eggy sauce. Bits of pancetta and garlic studded the dish, and the Dessert - Cotto EnotecaAnd for a sweet finish, the Budino. I'm not normally a sweets person, but this light butterscotch pudding was really good, not overly sweet and when combined with a layer of chocolate mousse, it had a very light airy feel. I do love the honeycomb crumble, and actually, I love lots of honeycomb. The one savory flavour in this was the salted rosemary caramel, which was highlighted by the fresh sprig of rosemary. It's perfect for sharing and goes well with an espresso, or maybe glass of grappa...
Cotto Enoteca Pizzeria on Urbanspoon

Sunday, February 08, 2015

Penang Delight-FUL!

I've been wanting to try Penang Cafe every time I visit Kimura on Rupert. It's always packed and the aromas wafting out whenever the door opens is amazing! My mom is a bit hesitant to try new places, but my stepdad is more than willing treat his tastebuds to new things. So with my mom visiting my sister in Hong Kong, I kidnapped my stepdad and we headed to there for a new taste experience! Penang Delight - Hainese ChickenWe started off with the basics...their Hainanese Chicken. The chicken is flavourful, with a bit of soy and some sesame oil as well. The chicken is deboned and makes it easier to inhale. I'm not a fan of chicken skin and the steaming method of cooking makes it so easy to peel the skin off. It's flavourful (yes, I snuck a few pieces in) but I just can't get over the texture of the skin.
Panang Delight - chicken_coconut rice And if you get Hainanese Chicken, it's almost de facto that you partner that up with rice...and Penang Delight offers both Coconut Rice and Chicken Rice Because we couldn't decide, we opted for one of each. The Coconut Rice on the left is fragrant with coconut milk, and although you might worry that the rice comes out "sweet", it doesn't. The aroma is sweet but the rice itself has be bit of salt in it to make it as savoury as you'd expect. The Chicken Rice is rich...instead of making rice with water, the liquid used for this is the chicken broth from the poaching of the chicken. Yes, it's a bit fatty, and thus, the colour of the chicken rice, just a bit darker that you'd expect. The flavours from stir-frying the rice with some garlic and ginger before adding the stock make the rice perfectly toasted and so rich.Penang Delight - Hokkian Mee Another classic dish is the Hokkian Mee, sorry the KL Hokkian Mee (KL=Kuala Lampur).  It's reminiscent of a classic Shanghainese dish. Thick noodles smothered in a rich sauce made with oyster sauce and soy sauce, tossed with veggies, pork, chicken and a few shrimp. It's not rocket science, but it's one of those things that is truly "greater than the sum of its parts". Add a bit of sambal chili paste to it for a kick and it's perfect! Penang Cafe Bak But TehAnd after all the rice and noodles, we decided to scale things back with a nice mellow soup, Bak Kut Teh. It's a slow cooked pork bone soup that is meaty in flavour but surprisingly light in texture. As you can see, there are a few bits of veggies, tofu and mushroom added to the mix, but the star ingredient is the pork bones. Ask for a bit of soy sauce on the side to dip these meat morsels in, you'll love it. The soup is hearty, rich and flavourful...a delightful way to end your meal.
I do need to revisit this place soon as I was remiss in not ordering their Roti Canai, which I love, and many have told me that it's a "must try". Perhaps I'll just do a takeout order next time I'm in the area!
Penang Delight Cafe 馬來檳城美食 on Urbanspoon

Saturday, February 07, 2015

Cattle Cafe

It was late and I wasn't really hungry, but I did have a craving for something sweet. I was sick and tired of the old tried and true, Earls, Keg, and Cactus Club. Deciding to go for something Asian...Cattle Cafe was calling me...
Curry Fish Balls - Cattle Cafe Curry Fish Balls, a night market staple, and now, available in Burnaby...way too close to my place. I don't really like the presentation, I prefer them in a bowl so as to keep them warmer. The balls had a good bounce, but the curry sauce could have been spicier...I expected an even dozen, but as you can see, we only got 11...weird, right?
Mango Shake with Grass Jelly - Cattle Cafe Now this isn't something I would normally order, but the Mango Shake with Grass Jelly was actually really refreshing after the fish balls. Creamy, cold, sweet with a few chunks of jelly. It's so refreshing and I have to say, it's a decadent treat...just once in a while...Fish Noodles - Cattle Cafe This was a new treat for me...Sliced Beef Satay Hand Squeezed Fish Noodles. Even though it's noodles made of soup, it's actually not fishy at all! The texture is a bit chewy, almost al dente. The satay soup was spicy, but not hot, flavourful and really right. The beef soaked up the soup and made the meat super tender.
Turnip Cake  - Cattle Cafe One of the things I like about Cattle Cafe is the fact that you can add little snacks to their soup noodles to round out your meal. This was my add-on for the night...Pan-Fried Turnip Cake. With just a bit of onions and some spices, these cubes were crispy on the outside and soft and tender on the inside. Flavours were a bit mild, but good enough as a snack...
Bubble Waffle - Cattle Cafe Ok, so remember at the beginning of the post, when I said I had a craving for something sweet? So...everything I ate up until this golden Bubble Waffle showed up was just gravy. This was the whole point for the entire visit. And yes, it was worth it. Just a little crispy, soft and chewy on the inside...I really should just get this to go next time and avoid all the noodles and snacks! Nah, who am I kidding, the dessert is totally worth the wait!
Cattle Cafe 牛仔餐廳 on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

1st Time at Mr. Red Cafe

Hi again! Thanks for revisiting my blog, which I have shamefully neglected for the past few months. I've been working a few jobs and I just couldn't find the time or energy to return to blogging. However, in the past few months, I've figured out how to balance everything and I am going to make this blog a priority again. I might not post daily like the totally dedicated Sherman, but I endeavour to blog at least once a week! Not a bad start...
Even when I wasn't blogging, I was still eating and continued to take photos of all the meals that I've enjoyed. It's these photos that I will be featuring for the first few posts. Enjoy!

I've been hearing great things about Mr. Red Cafe and I finally had a chance to try it for brunch. Every review I've read says how different they are from your everyday pho places...and boy, were they right! IMG_2683 We started with their Pho Cuon, a delicate rice noodle roll filled with stir-fried beef, basil and basil. The rice noodles had the cutest pattern on them, and the filling inside was even better. The beef was cooked perfectly so as not to be chewy and the herbs really added a level of freshness to the roll. Instead of dipping the rolled into the sauce, I spooned it onto the roll in my bowl so as not to miss out on any of the filling. Oh, and it's a deal for just $5! IMG_2678 Before the next "food" dish came, we decided to check out the various sauces they had available on the table. They have the usual "cock" sauce and the chili seed oil, both favourites of mine. The one new item for me was the vinegar with chilies and garlic...spicy, tangy and so tasty. IMG_2685 Next up was another new item for me, (boy, have I been limited in my Viet food culture), and it was like nothing I've very tried before in a Vietnamese restaurant. It's called with Pate Ga, and is a pretty good deal for $7. It's hard to understand at first, but when you mix all the textures and flavours together, consisting of a layer of sticky rice, topped with mung beans, layered with some chicken chunks, pate, and deep fried shallots, it sort of dawns on's an open-faced Chinese "jong". The flavours and fillings are similar, just in a brand new presentation! Despite my need for heat, I actually didn't feel the desire to put any sauces on to this dish. I wouldn't recommend it as a main course for one due to the mildness of the flavours, but it's definitely fun to share as an appetizer. IMG_2689 We also tried their Chef's Special, Bún chả giò thịt nướng, (yes, I had to take a pic and transcribe it). But it's amazing, albeit a little pricey at $13.50. However, it is LOADED with stuff. Atop a healthy serving of vermicelli, there is a crab meat spring roll, deep fried tofu, grilled and crispy pork, not to mention the usual suspects of cucumber, sprouts, mint and cilantro. Add a bit of the nuoc nam, give it a toss and make your tummy happy. The noodles gets a salty flavour with the sauce and still have a bite to them. The tofu and spring rolls both maintain their crunch, and the pork provides just the chewiness you're craving. IMG_2691 Another dish that is often bastardized is the Bun Bo Hue. I have to admit, I do like my pork hock and am always disappointed when various establishments serve theirs with Vietnamese ham, pork tendon, flank and the occasional beef ball. They just make the soup base hot with chili oil and serve it with "spaghetti-style or lai-fun" noodles versus pho noodles and hope you'll be happy. But this place is pure authentic...complete with pork hock and pig's blood! I had to pass on the pig's blood, it's a bit too foreign for me, but every other ingredient of that dish was devoured very happily, even though my lips were burning, just a bit from the heat of the soup. And I only put three of the vinegar-ed chilies in my soup! IMG_2693
I guess after all that, it's best to cool off with a nice Iced Vietnamese Coffee...too sweet for me, but I could do a sip or two. Next time, I'll ask for half the condensed milk... Service here is great, very patient, friendly and super helpful if you're not sure what you want. Best tip? Take a look at what other people are eating and if you think you'll like it...just point and order! I'll be returning soon to try their dumplings, as well as other goodies, like their chicken wings!

Mr. Red Cafe on Urbanspoon

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Homer Street Cafe

Prior to the Lionel Richie concert earlier in May, we decided to pop into Homer St. Cafe for dinner. I had been previously, but only for brunch and was eager to try their dinner offering. 
20140529_191011 We decided to start with something slightly healthy, their Feature Salad. Fresh greens, croutons, and just a bit of quinoa. Not enough to be filling but definitely a great accompaniment to our next plate. 20140529_191020 We decided to go for the whole hog, or rather, the whole chicken...Rotisserie Whole Chicken. Half costs $26 and full is $32, so for me, this was no-brainer. Twice the meat for $6 more...c'mon. The skin isn't as crispy as I would like, but the meat is tender and juicy, even the white meat, which I am always hesitant to indulge in. I did like the thigh and wings just a bit better. The secret to happiness is finding an eating partner that likes the parts you don't! I do wish the skin was crispier though.  
20140529_191034 Four sides, we got the Pee Wee Potatoes, lovingly slathered in chicken drippings and a bit of sea salt...We also got some slaw, but they were more to satisfy appearances than to actually enjoy. 

Take Note:

  • Brunch was better than dinner
  • Close proximity to Rogers Arena, great for pre-game dining
  • Make reservations or just sit by the kitchen

Homer St. Café & Bar on Urbanspoon

La Cigale Bistro - French Eats in Kits

A few months ago, we tried out the new incarnation of Bistrot Bistro, now named Le Cigale, located in Kitsilano. I hadn't been to the old restaurant, but have been on a bit of a French cuisine kick lately, so I decided it was time to give it a try. 
IMG_5630 Instead of the usual bread and butter, dinner kicked off with little pastry puffs, sprinkled with sesame. These was delightful, flakey and just a hint of saltiness.
Loads of cheesy goodness, melting lovingly over the vessel, the French Onion Soup does not disappoint. It was all I could do to refrain from slurping it up at the danger of burning my mouth. I always get a teaspoon with my soups, I find this helps to slow me down, just a bit. It's also a great utensil to scrape off all the luscious cheese. The broth was dark, sweet and loaded with caramelized onions. It's definitely a rich dish, but if you are a fan of French Onion Soup, this is one of the better ones in Vancouver. 
IMG_5648 This is their Lamb Shank, love meats that are served on the bone. And this was literally falling off the bone. The veggies accompanying the lamb were super tender as well. The flavours are mildly Moroccan but my favourite part was gnawing on the bone. I eat with my hands, and not ashamed. 
IMG_5642 This is another "on the bone" dish...the Duck Confit, but it's one of their specials and not part of their regular menu. Call ahead if you want to ensure it's there the night you go. the skin is crispy, not crazy crispy, but has enough of a crunch. I really enjoyed the casual chop on the potato too, it's French food without being fussy. 

Take Note:

  • Weekend Brunch available - and yes, French Onion Soup is on the menu
  • Dinner seems to be better than lunch for food and service
  • $32 3-Course Prix Fixe menu available Sun-Thurs.

La Cigale French Bistro on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Mahony & Sons - Stamps Landing

Last month, I was lucky enough to be invited to a media preview for the newest location of Mahony & Sons. Their first location was at UBC and the second location was at Coal Harbour with a great view. It's popular with those working in the heart of downtown. Now, they have opened a new location by Granville Island, taking over the old Monk McQueens location at Stamps Landing.
IMG_6287 This is the only Mahony location that offers an Oyster Bar. The new waterfront location was probably the inspiration for this. Although most people think a crisp white wine with some oysters, the brothers say that a pint of Guinness is a good accompaniment too! 
IMG_6280 Order up a platter and treat yourself after a long day at the office! 
downstairsbar The Downstairs Bar is welcoming and features lots of whiskey choices and lots of beer on tap as well. This is the largest of the three Mahony & Sons, at about 10,000 square feet! 
IMG_6292 This is a shot of the Upstairs Bar, again with a large variety of beers and spirits. Both floors seat 150 inside and another 300 on the patio. 
IMG_6290 Ah, yes, the Patio. The views are nothing short of stunning. There are semi-private patios, a double-sided fireplace, banquettes and hightops, pretty much everything you need to enjoy a fantastic sunset. 
Throughout the restaurant, there are hints of the ancestry of the Mahony family. For example, this is a homage to the brother's great, great, great grandfather Barney, who bought and operated The Good Woman Pub in Australia in the 1870s. 
IMG_6298 Also upstairs is a Semi-Private Patio. The 12-seater table would be great for small birthday parties, intimate family dinners and so much more.
Executive Chef Paul Ngyuen presented us with four amazing courses, each showcasing the wide variety of flavours on the menu. In addition to traditional Irish fare, you can also find items that truly reflect the cultural diversity of Vancouver.
Up first was the Scallop and Beet Salad. It's very lightly dressed, which I loved, and tossed with some Arugula and Goat Cheese. The key to the success of this dish is the Scallop...and it was perfectly seared. The beats were sweet and there were lots of them. Goat cheese is a classic pairing and this dish was a success overall. 
IMG_6305 The highlight of the night for me was their Pacific Coast Chowder. The chowder was pleasantly light with hints of lemon, with lots of seafood. The garlic buttered crouton was perfect for dipping. What really made the dish for me was the fresh seafood, which included Salt Spring Island mussels, chunks of salmon and cod, as well as some prawns, very West Coast!
IMG_6312 For a heartier entree, we tried out the Lamb Dip. The sandwich was loaded with shaved lamb, and the fennel jam was very noticeable. The dip is natural au jus with hints of lemon. The pretzel bun is a nice touch too, giving the sandwich a pleasant twist.
IMG_6315 And for something completely unexpected item, we were served a Thai Penang Curry. The chicken was moist and tender, and the curry flavours were mild and complemented the jasmine rice perfectly. I'm not an avid curry fan, but the presence of lemongrass, lime and chilies made this a winner for me. 

Take Note:

  • The patio(s) are breathtaking.
  • Valet is only $7.
  • The Mahony Platter is great if you're with a group.

Mahony & Sons on Urbanspoon

Saturday, July 05, 2014

Japanese Eats in Arbutus Ridge - Zest

Now I realize I'm a little late to the Zest fanclub, but I have to consider myself a card-carrying member now! We checked this neighbourhood favourite last month, during spon prawn season. 
20140523_200611 This picture needs no introduction as these Spot Prawns are well known to all of Vancouver during the month of May. Super sweet and with a firm texture,  these prawns are a favourite of mine. Just a bit of wasabi to bring out the sweetness is all you need. 
Prawn Heads Another treat of the spot prawn is the Deep Fried Spot Prawn Heads. They are crispy little nuggets of golden prawn heads. They are crunchy and pretty tasty. You can eat almost the entire thing, almost like old school prawn chips. 
Sashimi salad We also tried the Sashimi Salad, which is a load of greens and seaweed, accompanied by salmon, tuna, surf clam in a light ginger soy dressing. This was a great blend of textures and flavours, with the salmon being the standout for me. 
Sable FishWe also decided to get a "hot" dish, and settled on Wild Sable Fish. The fish is perfectly cooked and flakey, while the seared skin has a hint of smokiness and a touch of crisp. The kale and beets are all there to highlight the sweetness of the fish. It was my second favourite of the night and I highly recommend this. 
Roll Perhaps the most disappointing dish of the night was the Zest Roll. The contents are albacore, sockeye, salmon skin (a la BC roll), along with some cucumber & one of my favourites, tobiko! What ruined the roll for me was the soft (almost chewy) seaweed, and the lack of flavour overall. The salmon skin was soft too, and just added to the general sogginess of the whole thing. The fish was fresh enough, just the execution of the roll was a bit lacking.
They are also affiliated with Shu Raku in downtown Vancouver, which I have yet to try as well!

Take Note: 

  • It's situated in a strip mall along with a Starbucks but the prices defy this humble settling. 
  • Courses are served one at a time, so you can enjoy each dish as it comes. 
  • Get a seat at the sushi bar and chat with the chefs!

Zest on Urbanspoon


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