gracecheung604 | write on time: September 2010

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A good start to my Wednesday!

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Today is Raise a Reader Day across Canada. Members of the Vancouver Canucks were outside my work hawking The Vancouver Sun. I managed to snag a photo with #14 Alex Burrows, fresh from our win over the Fins last night.
Back to work post photo-op with #14 of @VanCanucks & Free... on Twitpic

Sunday, September 26, 2010

CSK and Miku

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So, Vancouver is trying to do their thing and match the good foods of other world-class cities when it comes to street food. I dropped by Chinese Skewer King (CSK). The meat choices were limited at this late hour, only pork available...instead of the lamb, beef and tofu that were listed. There was a girl ahead of us who ordered a tofu skewer, and instead of telling her that they were out of tofu, the vendor made and gave her a veggie skewer instead. When she said that she asked for tofu, he laughed and said that this was their vegetarian skewer, almost the same. She balked, walked and asked for her money back. Needless to say, this was bad form on behalf of the owner/vendor.
I decided to ignore this and order the pork skewer. $2.50 for one, $5.50 for three. Since we had planned for dinner at Miku, we passed on the three. Turns out my friend isn't a fan of meat on a stick, so I inhaled the whole thing on my own. 
The meat was grilled well, but the seasoning...blah. Loads of cumin and tumeric and way too salty! They also offer their skewers with a side of bread...this probably would be the way to go, something to dilute the saltiness.
Headed down to Miku on an unexpected venture...it was with an out-of-town friend who was travelling en route from Shanghai to Toronto. Deciding on where to eat was easy...I had two criterias that had to be satisfied...patio and Japanese, well, Ikura, to be specific. I know that Miku downtown has both, so I hightailed it there. The first dishes we ordered were the Miku Roll ($15) and the Cruncy Scallop ($10) roll.  
Both were amazing. The miku roll is a MUST-TRY! It's got salmon, snow crab meat, cucumber and tobiko, and for the first time in my life...Ikura. In a roll. Brilliant.
The scallop roll is exceptional too...fresh scallop, with a bit of sweet mayo, as with most places. The thing that sets this apart is the toppy...a mixture of tempura bits and dried nori. Whoa...it almost tasted like crushed up chips. The nori added so much more flavour to tempura bits...everyone should do this. It's such a cheap fix, but so good!
One thing that I always order at new places is their Tako Sunomono. I like to know what they can do with simple vermicelli, seaweed and tako. This place does their sunomono so differently. First off, there is no vermicelli. But, oh, there is so much more that you don't even miss the noodles!
The sunomono is packed with two types of nori, loads of crunchy goodness right there. The red seaweed was the best I've ever had. So fresh, so "ocean-y". The ebi and tako that came with this were spectacular, nothing to distract from their seafoodiness. Lightly dressed...perfect...Definitely worth the $7.
Next up was the Premium Aburi. For $23, you get seven pieces of their signature Aburi Sushi.
The first three you see here is the tuna, ebi and himachi. Each comes with their own sauce, and grilled perfectly.
The net three is the salmon, hotake and saba.
Final piece was another piece of tuna. You really need to try this dish. I know it's a bit pricey, but for each piece to have its own topping and sauce...really shows the dedication of the sushi chef.
This is the first time I've seen Wagyu Beef on the menu, as a sushi. And since my whole plan for tonight was ikura, we ordered that too.
You can have the Wagyu raw ($8) or you can have them aburi it for $.50 more. Taking the advice of our waiter, we got it aburi-ed. 
The topping was delightful...it tasted like the ginger/green onion that you get with Hainenese chicken. I think wagyu beef is best eaten as a huge gigantic slab...the way Glowbal Grill serves it, grilled, charred, and thick. The thinness of the beef is frustratng here, not enough for flavour or texture.
The ikura is amazing though...not too expensive at $3 per piece, the sushi here is really good. It's something about their rice...fresh, soft and not hard at all. The nori is crispy...these babies are made fresh to order...that's for sure.
Despite the sunomonos, the two rolls, and the wagyu and ikura, I was still hungry. We asked the waiter what his favourite dish was, and he revealed the highlight of our night. Can you tell what this is? It's a vegetable, simply grilled and topped with a miso sauce.
Here...a close up...does that help? Post a comment and I'll let you know what this "secret ingredient" was! Oh, and it's cheap...only $1.50...
Miku Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Thursday, September 23, 2010

100 Days - Round 4

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After a delicious meal at Rodney's, I had to meet up with my friend, best known as Vodka Truck. Although I had intended to come to 100 days for dinner earlier tonight, I decided to go to Rodney's instead, since I would have been here four times in 16 days. Alas, Vodka Truck decided to meet for drinks at 100 days.
After having my first shot, more sustenance was required. We got an order of their Sauteed Prawns. $9 for these deliciously prepared prawns. They were crispy on the outside, and so plump and juicy on the inside. Way better than expected for a side dish!
After another shot...more grease was needed. So despite the best intentions to NOT have anything other than seafood, we caved and had fries made with kennebec potato. Needed something to soak up the Goose...enough said.
100 Days on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Dining at Diamond

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I live in Gastown, by choice.
Those who are unfamiliar with its particular allures are entitled to wonder why.
We first showed up at 5, walked up the stairs only to find that they weren’t open yet…floor mopping and table setting, I assume. So we headed down to Cork & Fin first. Around 6ish, we returned and they welcomed us with open arms!
First thing we ordered was the wine, but they didn’t have any reds on their recently revamped wine list. Turns out they DO have red wine; it just fell off the list. No matter, we got a bottle of Rioja ($32) and settled in to peruse the menu. I’ve heard that they have pretty decent subs, and have read reviews raving about the gyozas.
For food, we ordered the Pork Gyozas. There were half a dozen and it was only $8. I found them a bit too salty, but maybe the combination of soy and mirin were a bit much?
One of my favourite foods is Xiao Long Baos, and if you like them too, then you'll know that part of the process of eating them is to find a way to place the vinegar and ginger shreds onto your spoon to eat them all together. Diamond has solved this dilemma by putting the ginger shreds into the pork gyoza. Truly ingenious. Made with Sloping Hills organic pork, shitake mushrooms and bits of cabbage, it was a filling nibble. I liked how they served it crispy side up…nicely charred from the sitting in the frying pan.
Our next dish is the Red Snapper Ceviche ($11). Thinly sliced snapper, marinated in a sesame oil dressing, toosed with tobiko. Truly delicious.
It was topped with pea shoots and white sesame and a sprinkle of black pepper. The snapper was sliced thick enough so that the dressing didn't over-cure the meat.
The pea shoots were really fresh and just tossed in the dressing, raw and natural. With a touch of lime and chili oil, the flavours were fresh and bold.
Another one of their infamous dishes is their Duck and Chicken Sub ($9). Reminiscent of Vietnamese subs, we had to try it. Since my friend was out of town, he had no idea what a good Viet sub is...a la Au Petit Cafe. Well, this was his introduction to the delicacy.
The bread was panini like, but not enough grill marks. The filling was a combination of duck and soy chicken. Inside, there were also Asian pear slices, raisins, pickled carrots and cucumber, with a light touch of mayo.
Despite everything that's inside, the highlight was the duck, game-y and perfectly cooked. Succulent and juicy, good size chunks. Oddly enough, the chicken was sliced much thinner but still managed to maintain its juicy goodness too.
The pear was a really great touch, and although you don't notice the raisins as you are eating, both fruits really add a nice sweetness to the sandwich. Everything comes together really nicely.
The Diamond on Urbanspoon

Pho Comfort

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In the past few weeks, the weather has turned decided colder in Vancouver. It was time for some Pho comfort. Having been closed for renovations a few weeks ago, it was nice that Song Huong reopened in time to satisfy my craving!
This place is always reliable, and one of the few places that actually serves the beef on the side. That's one of the reasons I keep coming back. I got tripe with mine too...my old reliable Pho tai sach. Yum!
Since it was lunch and since it's been a while since I've had Vietnamese food...I caved and got spring rolls too. I have to admit, the pho kicks the rolls ass...

Song Huong (Vancouver) on Urbanspoon

Coping at Copa

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Met up with the BFF and BFF'B for a yummy lunch a few weeks ago. We wanted something Asian, but her boy could never sit still long enough for the two of us to have a leisurely dim sum lunch. So we ended up going to Copa, because they are pretty kid-friendly. Lots of kids abound there on Saturday afternoon, most of them screaming for no reason at all, randomly.
I have to say, even though Copa isn't a BBQ restaurant, it does served one of the best BBQ Duck Noodle in Soups that I've had since being back in Vancouver. You get loads of duck, and real veggies (not just a sprinkle of green onions), and noodles that aren't overcooked.
BFF was enamoured with their photo of the Pork Chop Ramen on the menuand ordered that instead. Since the pork comes separately, her boy could have the noodles and soup. So cute! But the pork chop was really crispy...actually, crunchy! But it was gigantic...no way it's meant for one person!

Copa Cafe on Urbanspoon

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Looking for the lyrics? Here.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Monday, September 20, 2010

Chowing Down at Cioppino's

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Sometimes, work dinners can be good. This time, we headed to Cioppino's as a reward for some extra work that I've done for another department. Hmmm...let's see what I should get?
I think they would frown upon me going for the Australian Premium Wagyu Beef "Diamond Label"...for $300! Oh, and you can get Caviar served with it too...are you kidding me?
Good thing the waiter brought over some bread on a silver platter...uniform slices...still warm. I love warm bread. Love watching the butter melt on it...so simple, but so many restaurants give you cold bread, yuck!
I decided on the Beef Carpaccio...so good! Thinly slices of beef, with a mustardy dressing, and sprinkled with arugula and mozzarella. The cheese and the mustard were perfect with the beef. Not too heavy so that it took away from the flavour of the beef, but heightened it perfectly. Yeah, this was good.
Instead of embarrassing myself by taking pictures of everyone's food, I discreetly took photos of my neighbour's appetizer. She ordered the Foie Gras which was delicious too! I got to sample half of one chunk...so sinful, so decadent, it's not something I'd order, but it's something I'd sample!
My Veal Chop was gigantic. When I ordered it, the waiter took the time to explain to me that it was bone-in, which I was okay with. Then he told me that it would be complete with fat and gristle, again, I was okay with it.
Can you see how thick this chop is? I'd also never had meat served with a lemon half before...
I like how they grilled the lemon, which made it really juicy. I decided to squirt the juice on the meat, despite my initial hesitation. If Pino thinks that the veal will be better with lemon juice, who am I to disagree. I was shocked...it actually made the chop tastier.
She got the Ossobuco...complete with a bone filled with marrow. Oh wow. Accompanying her dish was a saffron risotto. The veggies and sauce were a little bit sweeter than expected, but the dish came with a very healthy serving of veal. Funny how we both ordered veal. The saffron risotto was flavoured with parmesan cheese, and creamier than any other risotto I remember. Boy, I'm spoiled!
Since my friend wasn't a fan of "stinky cheese" (yes, she thought parm was stinky!), I ended up with the best takeout of the night. Half of my veal chop came home with me, as did most of her risotto.
So the following night, this was my dinner. I poured myself a glass of red, and sat down with a book that a friend lent me months ago. Yes, a good night that carried on through to the next. I love my job.
Cioppino's Mediterranean Grill on Urbanspoon

Town Hall - this time with cheese!

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On a rather dreary Friday, a friend decided to drop by downtown for a quick lunch. Not knowing what he was in the mood for, but knowing what I was in the mood for, I made reservations at Town Hall through Open Table. Worst case, I'd call the restaurant and cancel.
One of the things that I was craving when I made the reservation was their Gooey Cheese Pot with toast. It arrives in a pot with the lid on and some toasted garlic bread slices. I'd seen it on previous visits, but never ordered it...why? When it came, all I could think was "Oh wow".
We took the lid off and the steamy cheesiness hit us full on. All gooey cheddar and bubbling. Yes, this was a good choice.
Another signature item here is their Grilled Chicken Wings. I'm not a fan of the dipping sauce, but the wings are always excellent.
I love how they don't bread them or dice them up or toss the tips off. It's a whole wing, simply marinated and grilled. Slightly Asian in flavour, this is what a good grilled wing should be. They don't need to bread it because the skin is crispy on its own. Delicious!
Although it doesn't seem like a lot of food, the two of us had two wings leftover. Probably due to the Gooey Cheese..so filling but so simple!  
Town Hall on Urbanspoon

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