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Sunday, April 17, 2016

Noodles at Bubble Waffle Kerrisdale

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Bubble waffle Another Chinese Bites dinner! I had just finished my review of our last one at Boiling Point, and here we are off again! No complaints though, I wanted to give this new Kerrisdale location of Bubble Waffle Cafe a try. Bubble waffle First to come to the table was the namesake of the restaurant, Bubble Waffles! We tried quite a few different flavours, including Matcha, Oreo, Chocolate, Cheesecake and of course, original, which was my favourite. The edges were crispy and the insides were appropriately chewy. Yup, this hit the spot.
Bubble waffle
This is their Fish Sui Mai, and it looks like they were cooked on a skewer. I wished they have served it that way. The texture was really soft, almost mushy, but there was a strong fish flavour to each one. I could have had a bit of chili sauce here too. Bubble waffle Anyone who's been to Chinese Night Market should know this, Takoyaki. I am not usually a fan of this, but for some reason, I enjoyed these here, and the bits of octopus were plentiful. I can't get enough of katsuobushi either! Perhaps it was because I didn't have to eat it standing up? Or because it wasn't drenched in mayo? In any case, this was pleasant and I'd order it again. Bubble waffle More seafood in the form of balls, Deep Fried Shrimp Balls. I enjoyed these...balls and a stick...hmm. The outer coating had a good bite to it, and the inside was piping hot, juicy and although it had good shrimp flavour, it was rather one note. One tip, to eat balls on a stick, use two sticks to anchor the ball; trust me on this one.
Not much explanation needed here...where there are balls, there must be Sausages, right? Not much to say about these...a bit on the sweet side, sort of honey ham like flavour but with the texture of dry Bavarian sausage. 
These are the Taiwanese Popcorn Bites, essentially chicken nuggets. I liked these, they weren't too oily and had a good crunch. It's not something I would not order myself, but I'd definitely steal one or two if someone else orders them!
Laksa We all got to choose our soups, some of opted for spicy, which they have various versions of, from Thai, Laksa, and even Sichuan! The one above by Sherman includes tripe, quail eggs and fish balls. Traditional MissVancouverPiggy ordered the traditional House Soup, a fish based soup make with halibut heads. We all tried the soups prior to placing our order and this was one of my favourites. It had a mild fish flavour and a creamy texture. Century Egg
I ordered the Preserved Egg and Cilantro soup with fish, beef, fish ball and fresh bean curd. My only regret is that I didn't get some quail eggs too! This was loaded with chunks of the egg, and the flavour of cilantro permeated the soup, it was delicious! Century Egg 2 NomNomYVR ordered the same soup and loaded it with different toppings. The enoki looked too as does the fried fish cake.

If you enjoy customizing your own food, then this place is perfect for you. On a cold and rainy Vancouver day, this place would be one of my top three spots for dinner.

Incidentally, this place serves bubble teas as well. It's done in the Pantyhose Style, with a sheer filter, made to order, and the pulling action is to incorporate air and body into the teas. The tea they use is actually a blend of five different types of Sri Lankan teas. Try it next time you're there and see if you can tell the difference from other tea houses!
Bubble Waffle Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Thursday, April 07, 2016

Hitting the new Boiling Point in Surrey!

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It's not exactly peak of Hot Pot season (I save that for the depths of winter), but since I received an invite to Boiling Point's new Surrey location via Chinese Bites, I was definitely game! 
  Boiling Point 
In addition to the various choices of Hot Soup Pots, Boiling Point also has various Bubble Teas. There are teas, juices, milk teas as well as slushes. Add-ons include Boba (Pearls), Pudding, Aloe, and Lychee Jelly. I opted for the plain Milk Tea with Boba; you can also customize it with the level of sweetness as well as the amount of ice.Boiling Point 2 What's in Store! Can four people (Rick, Diana, Sherman and I) really do eight hot pots?! Why the heck not! Boiling PointBefore the pots arrived, we were treated to two new appetizers, introduced just this month. The first one being the Kimchi Tofu. The tofu was smooth and cool and the contrast of spiciness of the kimchi gave the dish a nice balance.Boiling Point This Garlic Pork Belly was the better of the two appies though. The garlic flavours really came through and the belly was soft and tender. I found it a bit overcooked, but with pork, I guess it's better to be safe than sorry. Boiling Point We were given an opportunity to be one of the first people to try out the Pomelo Hot Pot, soon to be introduced to the public on May 1. The pomelo sauce comes from Japan and is quite unique. Despite the mild-looking soup, this was really tangy...almost sour. The kamaboko (fish cake) and tofu were gently cooked but the soup itself was just a bit too intense. All pots come with your choice of rice or vermicelli. Bear in mind that many of the pots already come with ramen or vermicelli. Many of the pots are also customizable in terms of heat.  Boiling Point 3 Our next tasting was the Korean Bean Paste Hot Pot. This one has an innate heat due to the Korean bean paste. Those of you that have been to their Burnaby or Richmond location might be more familiar with the Kimchi Hot Soup, this is their new incarnation of that. Loaded with sprouts, veggies, kimchi and mushrooms, the proteins came from the pork belly, kamaboko and filets as well as a lobster fish ball. The greens on top are crown daisy and give the dish a very earthy taste. It's also available as an add-on, if you're looking for something other than the napa and cabbage that accompanies most of the pots. The wok noodles as well as the rice cakes give the soup a hearty feel. Boiling Point 3 The next one we tried is one of the most popular items on the menu. It's their Beef Hot Pot, and it come loaded with lots of napa cabbage, enoki mushrooms, tofu and tofu skin. One thing I didn't care for was the imitation crab stick, but I did enjoy the beef and beef balls. This would be excellent with the flaming spicy heat if you're up for it. Boiling Point 3 On to the next! We're halfway through!! This is the Thai Flavour Hot Pot and it's one of the three larger pots. There are three on the menu and they are larger than the other lower priced ones. (hint: great for sharing). It's loaded with seafood, such as Fuzhou fish balls (made from cod or haddock with a minced pork filling), shrimp, octopus, cuttlefish, clam and crab. There is also a bit of cabbage, taro as well as enoki mushrooms, and a few pork slices. This would be a good one to have with the vermicelli. The soup is more sour than "tom yum", which I was expecting. Add some heat and make it your own!   Boiling Point 4 We opted to go a bit spicy with our Lamb Hot Pot, and I did find it had a good amount of heat. The egg was bit lost in the pot as we bursted it and it just served to thicken the soup. This is the second soup that contained Maitake Mushrooms, and I really enjoyed them; the flavour is mild but the texture has a good chew to it. Oh, and just a heads up...there is pork blood in this dish...not something you'd expect in a "lamb" hot pot.  Boiling Point 4The Japanese Miso Hot Pot (larger pot) was mild compared to all our previous pots. This would be a great one for the kids, with lots of easy to eat ingredients, such as fish filet, mushrooms and udon. All kids I know just love noodles so this is a really child-friendly dish. The soft tofu is soothing and the Fuzhou fish ball and fried tofu skin give a good variety of textures. Untitled This was our second to last hot pot, the Curry Fishball Hot Pot. Served with sliced pork, fried tofu skin and various veggies such as enoki mushroom, mountain yam and string beans, there was also plenty of fish balls. The soup was more watery than I wanted, but let it boil at the table to reduce it a bit. Incidentally, this pot is no longer offered in the US, so it's a Canadian exclusive.  Boiling Point 6 We made it! The final pot is the Taiwanese Spicy Hot Pot (a larger pot), and it's not for the faint of heart. It's available in Flaming Spicy only, so buyer beware. It also has some interesting ingredients, such as pork intestine, pork blood, along with some beef and tofu. This left my mouth burning and almost a slight adrenaline rush. Not sure if it was primarily due to the soup, or the fact that we had eaten eight pots!
One thing to note is that all the pots can be customize with optional add-ons, such as quail eggs, fermented tofu and instant noodles too.   
Boiling Point 5Now to cool off after all the hot soups, the polar opposite in the form of Snow Cubes. They are perfect to cool off the palate and come in various flavours. We had the strawberry, taro, pudding and matcha. My favourite from a previous visit at the Burnaby location was the strawberry. 
This place is fun and makes for a nice leisurely lunch. The smaller pots are just $10.99 with the larger pots at $14.99. 

Friday, April 01, 2016

ChangAn

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Last month, I was fortunate enough to give Chang'an a try, courtesy of the ChineseBites group. The meal was complimentary but all opinions are my own. The restaurant has taken over the scenic location of the old Stone Grill, with a great waterfront view. Eats Jan/FebWe started off with some Pita Bread, and it reminded me of an homage to traditional Western restaurants, where they start each meal with bread.It's definitely the first time I've been served bread as a starter in the Chinese restaurant. The Guo Kui Pita 鍋盔 itself was kind of plain but the bean spread, with just a punch of heat, made it much better. And I do like the spun sugar garnish! Eats Jan/Feb For the Appetizer Platter, we tried the following: Tossed Cilantro, Scallion & Red Peanut Salad 陕西大拌菜, Marinated Mushroom 迷你小香菇, Crispy Beef Tongue 脆皮牛舌 and Honey Grapefruit Spare Ribs 西柚蜜汁糖醋排

Here are my three favourites. I've always loved cilantro and when it's the key ingredient in any dish, I'm sold. The mushrooms were so tiny but packed with flavour. The one thing I couldn't get enough of was the spare ribs. Sweet with a touch of citrus from the grapefruit, the acidity definitely tenderized the meat. What I didn't really enjoy was the tongue, it was too heavily breaded and the texture of the tongue was lost. We then started on the first of our two courses of Chang’an Roasted Duck 長安炙鴨.Eats Jan/Feb Eats Jan/Feb Our first glance of the Chang’an Roasted Duck 長安炙鴨 - doesn't that look so good? The skin looks crispy and juicy, and I couldn't wait to get my hands and mouth onto this! Eats Jan/Feb We then started on the first of our two-course Chang’an Roasted Duck 長安炙鴨. The skin was served with sugar...something new to me. The blend of salty and sweet was interesting.  Eats Jan/Feb We also had the Chang’an Roasted Duck 長安炙鴨 meat with the traditional pairing of crepes and hoisin sauce. This was succulent and very satisfying. Another pairing was with pears and a homemade strawberry jam (sorry the pic got cut off on the right). The salty and sweet was again, intriguing, and I was glad to have tried it.  Eats Jan/Feb The Imperial Hot & Sour Soup 回坊酸辣湯 was probably named that because of the regal serving apparatus. The soup was definitely more hot than sour, but the consistency was nice and thick...the prawn in the middle of the urn was a pleasant surprise. I don't think I've ever had a Chinese Donut with soup before (congee yes, soup no), and it was unexpected. The donut itself was rather dense, but when you dunk it into the soup, it does soften up. It wasn't needed, but an interesting touch. Changan part two The presentation of the House Special Fried Chili Lobster 香辣龍蝦 is quite unique. I loved it. It was ornate and unique.   Changan again This is the actual House Special Fried Chili Lobster 香辣龍蝦 portion that we ate. There were fried cauliflower, lotus roots and what appears to be McCain's French Fries. The spicy flavours were pronounced and texture was light and tender. However, for a table of 10, the serving size was a bit light. Changan part two This was the Szechwan Peppercorn Sliced Beef 鮮椒木桶肥牛, served with enoki and tofu noodles. Rhe presentation reminded me of a traditional tofu dessert, but no...this was anything but sweet. We had a few more dishes to go! It was actually tongue numbing...but in a good way. I loved the spice and although the beef wasn't too tender, the enoki and tofu skin present were, and they absorbed the juices wonderfully. Changan part two This is the Chang’an Gourd Chicken 長安一品葫蘆雞 dish. Battered and deep-fried whole, the bird was super juicy. The carved it for us after presenting the bird as whole. Perhaps it was the batter, but in any case, even the usually drier white meat was tender. The flavour was a bit mild, so the serving of wok salt on the side was much appreciated and enhanced the dish greatly. Eats Jan/Feb The Braised Sea Cucumber 長安蔥燒海參 was next. Just remember it by numbers...$50 (cost), 48 hours (braised) and 20 (spices used). The texture is gelatinous but with a slightly tougher outer layer. The sweet and salty blend of flavours works really well since the sea cucumber isn't rich in flavours on its own. However, not everyone is a fan of the texture, so I ended up eating an extra half from someone who didn't quite love it. Thanks, Sean!! 
Changan again 
The next dish Sweet & Sour Lychee & Prawns 貴妃荔枝蝦球 were supposed to be sweet and sour but ended up being sweet and sweet. The sweetness of the lychees overpowered the sour flavours, and the crunchy honey-roasted cashews added additional sweetness. 
Changan again The next up was the Qin Style Roast Lamb Leg 秦味烤羊腿. The leg was more like pulled pork but was a bit dry. The chunks were generous and since I love playing with my food, this was an easy sell for me. Oh, and take a close look at the crispy pockets! I love sesame seeds and they did not disappoint! The smokienss of the lamb was definitely intensified with the buns.  Changan part two This is the Pork Belly Mini Sliders 老陝臘汁肉夾饃, the pork is stewed in slow heat in the aged sauce consisting of over 20 spices (20 seems to be a theme here) with clove, ginger and cooking wine. This is another take on "meat and bread". The meaty and fatty pork was shredded nicely and had good depth of flavour. I thought it was good, but the buns were a bit on the dry side. I like fluffly buns and these fell a little flat. Changan again The next course was a Braised Whole Chili & Spring Onion Cod 蔥椒魚 was a nice and spicy! I loved the creaminess of the soup, and the spice of the whole chilies. Further adding to the freshness of the dish was the copious amounts of green onions, sure to brighten any dish. The fish was tender and sweet, and cooked perfectly, not mushy yet flaked easily with a gentle push. 
Changan again This King Mushroom Casserole 石板菌菇 was interesting...simple and impactful.  I find that most braised mushrooms are rather bland and watered down, due to the liquid coming out of the mushrooms themselves. However, this was not like that at all. The flavours were intense and the texture had a good chew to it still, no mushiness in the mushrooms!
  Changan again This was the last savory dish I had, the 5 Spice Duck Ribs 椒鹽鴨架. The bones were crispy and crunchy, but unfortunately, there just wasn't enough meatiness to them. The spices were good, but I'd probably choose the other option of Noodle in Duck Soup the next time. 

There were two other noodle dishes but there was no way I could eat and enjoy them. Photos and descriptions are posted below for your reference but no commentary from me, because I didn't really try them. Changan again Biang Biang Noodles 油潑辣子麵 Changan againThree Sauce Noodle 三合一臊子扯麵Changan again This was the dessert which finished our meal. Yellow Bean Cake, Red Bean Cake 豌豆黃, 紅豆年糕. Both were quite mild in flavour and not at all cake-like in texture...more like a stiff pudding. 
Of all the dishes that we had, I would say that dessert is not the strong suit. Serving sizes are also a hit and miss, but the duck and sea cucumber were definitely highlights. 
Chang'An Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Trying the Classics at Longtail in New Westminster

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Despite all the hoopla about Longtail, I'm ashamed to say that I haven't made a trip out to New Westminster to give them a try. Well, I finally rectified that recently. Because they are a bit far for me, I made sure I was starving so I could sample as much as I could in one go. I think we made a good dent in the menu...we spent close to $80 in total, since Sherman paid, I guess the next meal overload is on me!   
Longtail 
As suggested by everyone, I had to try the Chicken Wings, which has been compared to Phnom Penh's and proclaimed just as amazing. They were delicious but aren't comparable at all. 

The ones from Phnom Penh are garlicky, salty and crispy with a deep-golden fried goodness. These ones are fried with a light crispy coating, but there the similarities end. The ones here are less fried, so lacking a bit of crunch (though they did reheat well the next day in the toaster oven), and there was a lack of garlic flavour. Also, the light sprinkle of sugar gives the wings a whole different flavour profile. 

I didn't really use the sauce since I like to keep my wings crispy but after eating the skin, I did try it with just the wing, and it did have a very pleasant tang. I can see why people say this is a "must-try".       

Longtail 
In continuing with the deep fried theme, we decided to get the Crispy Oysters with Nam Jim Sauce. These were juicy, with a nice crunchy exterior. I didn't care much for the sauce but it gave the oyster a tarty perkiness. I prefer to eat oysters raw, but this is probably the only other way I would eat it other than the Giant Oyster Pancake from Phnom Penh.
Longtail
After the two deep fried starters, we decided that something healthy would be in order...how can you go wrong with Stirfry Gailan (er, with Pork Belly). Truth be told, there wasn't a whole lot of pork belly in the dish, but its contribution was noticeable in the slightly overly oiliness to the dish. The gailan was sparkling with the pork fat, and the pork tucked within was flavourful with a nice briny saltiness. The crispy garlic chips helped too!  Longtail Now, onto the carbs! The Chinese Sausage Fried Rice is reminiscent of the Phnom Penh version, but this one had a lot more Chinese sausage. The rice was nice and loose, showcasing the hot fiery wok-styling of the kitchen. Add a fried egg to make everything creamy and you've got a definite winner. The heat from the wok was unmistakeable, even after the few minutes it took for us to take the pics. Despite the Thai cuisine being featured at Longtail, I keep finding myself comparing their dishes to a Vietnamese restaurant...I'll stop now.   Longtail Our next carb dish was the Pad Se Ew with Beef. I do love me some flat rice noodles. It's a classic Hong Kong cafe dish, however, there was a different flavour profile here...not as salty as the Chinese version, and less saucy. My biggest complaint about rice noodles usually is that they tend to be overcooked; it was the opposite here. They were slightly undercooked when I actually would have preferred it softer to serve as a complement to the beef. Nevertheless, this dish was good; this was one of the few dishes we polished off.  Longtail Let's keep going with the carb fest! We tried Mama Cheung's Laksa. This was really good. I'm not usually a fan of coconut but it was very subtle in this dish was pleasant. There was plenty seafood to make it worth the price and the noodles were a bit more well done than in the Pad Si Ew...probably because it was still cooking in the coconut broth. At $12, I'd say this is a solid lunch choice. You might even have leftovers. Longtail Okay...we're getting to the homestretch now...Our final dish was the Chiang Mai Noodles with Beef. I was so full at this point, I don't know if I had meat sweats or carb overload, but all I could do was to take a few sips of the soup, and a few bites of the noodles, the beef seemed overwhelming. The red curry broth was spicy, but not mindblowing. The noodles were better than the laksa...not sure why? And according to Sherman, the beef was tender, but I didn't actually try it myself...well, there's always next time! 

If you are ever in the area, it's definitely worth a visit. It's a casual food court atmosphere and the staff are very friendly. 

Longtail Kitchen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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