gracecheung604 | write on time: November 2010

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Oysters and Sauces...and Sauced...at Rodneys

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In an attempt to not regain all the weight that I had lost recently, I decided to avoid meat for a few days...I could eat seafood and veggies. What better way to not feel as though you are sacrificing meat, you have to make sure you eat some decadent seafood. Oysters pretty much fit the bill. Off we went to Rodney's in search of some of the freshest oysters around, and very wide selection too.
Having been here several times, I know that the pile of shells grows fairly rapidly...here is how it looked when we first sat down, obviously, their night was just beginning.
We had barely plopped ourselves down and our server brought out some freshly warmed bread. The slices are thick, perfectly suited to the rustic-ness of the bread, full of herbs and grains.
Decided to get a dozen to start...half of the Kushi and half Kumomoto...the larger ones are the Kumomotos. They are larger, but not the grotesquely large ones that make you gag. The Kushis are tiny little things...but full of flavour of the sea.
Okay, because I had time while my friend was checking in on his pregnant wife...I managed to write down all the names of the sauces...and tried each on on its own. Hey, I just found a new use for the bread!

  • Johnny Reb's Espanola Hot Sauce - very Caribbean in flavour, garlicky and mustardy
  • Seawitch Sauce - kind of like salsa, but with a devilish touch
  • Shallot Vinaigrette - very French...a little mild but very traditional
  • Back from Hell - Grace Noel's (I should have this name) Grenadian pepper mixture 
  • White Boy Soul Sauce - little hotter than Hotter than hell, and it's a spicy hot...fire-like heat
So this is the close-up...the Kumomoto is on the right, and the Kushi is on the left.
Very green...reusing their coasters...very commendable
Hands down my favourite...
We were only here about 45 minutes...look at the pile of shells grow! And I love the freshly grated horseradish. The restaurant is always busy, so if you don't have reservations, don't balk at sitting at the bar...it's a great place to catch the action. And if you sit at the bar, when they grate it they cover your wine with a coaster, so you don't end up wit spicy wine - how considerate. Rodney's Oyster House on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Hapa - Quick lunch

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One sunny afternoon when I was all alone in my department at work, not a boss was stirring...I snuck off for a quick lunch at Hapa Izakaya in Yaletown. This is their only location that is open for lunch and I was eager to try their food, sans the alcohol!
Started the meal off with two of their Chopped Scallop Cones. Normally, I hesitate to order hand rolls, because usually stuff the bottom with rice and just give you a bit of sashimi at the top. Well, there was a lot of chopped scallop at the top, so much so that the cone is very top heavy. Pick it up from both ends if you don't want the filling to end up all over the plate!
I was really happy to see large chunks of scallop and not an overdose of mayonnaise. And to their credit, there was scallop bits right down to the bottom. Yes, I know, I should have taken a picture of that, but as I was too busy musing out loud at my delight of the goodness at the bottom. Next time, promise.
Now, I love hot stone bowl rice, doesn't matter if it's Korean, Chinese or Japanese, but I usually have to have meat in it. My all-time favourite is their Ishiyaki, which is their stone bowl rice with pork, chives, lettuce, egg and garlic chips. To take the road less travelled, I varied from the tradional and got their Kinoko Meshi, which is made with mixed mushrooms and seaweed seasoning, sort of a vegetarian option. It's so you, you don't miss the pork at all, and this from a meat-lover! The motion in this is from the server, who mishes and mashes the rice and toppings tableside, sizzling goodness at its best.
When they are finished, the spread the rice onto the walls of the bowl, that's why you can see the bottom of it in this photo above. The reason? When you let the rice climb the walls, everything that touches against the wall gets nice and crispy. The longer you wait, the crispier it gets...but it's hard to wait!
I mixed up the rice again so you can see just how full the bowl really is...easily enough for four people to share as a small side. If you like it spicy, as for some hot sauce on the side...but you don't really need it. It's perfect comfort food for a cold day! If you don't see this on the menu and aren't a vegetarian, get the Ishiyaki, you won't regret it.
Another dish that I wanted to try was their Pork Belly lunch special. It's slow cooked pork belly with some veggies, mustard and steamed chinese bun. If you're a frequent reader, you'll know how much I love to play with my food.
Topped with loads of green onions, the pork is so tender, reminds of the stewed pork you get an some Asian restaurants, complete with the huge chunks of so-bad-for-you but tastes-so-good fatty bits!
These buns are just like the buns that you get when you order Steamed BBQ Pork Buns at Chinese bakeries. Semi-sweet, soft and pillowy. This is obviously Hapa's version...Be sure to use some of the mustard they give you, just a touch though, it's pretty potent stuff.
Two sides accompany the BBQ Pork bun, the cold side was the Salad. I was so full from the cones and rice, but I still made myself eat some of the greens. I'll probably skip the dressing next time though, I like my greens sans creamy dressings.
And the ubiquitous Miso Soup. Despite having been to all the Hapa locations repeatedly, I have never actually tried their miso soup. It's just not something I would order, I guess.
Oh yes, and the finished product of me playing with my food - yummy fatty pork, lettuce, mustard all wrapped in a soft chewy bun.
Note: I'm not sure if this is still on the menu, but a close substitute is the Pork Belly Lettuce wrap...read the review here.
Hapa Izakaya (Yaletown) on Urbanspoon

Friday, November 12, 2010

#HDLTweetup at R.TL

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Last Tuesday, I headed to the #HDLTweetup hosted by @HotDealsLive. There were over 20 tweeters in attendance! It was amazing to meet everyone IRL. Attendees included @cwistal, @fit_tobe_tied, @Raincitybikes, @donovanpee, @hairbykatierose, @lindseyblunt, @adrianeden, @jennymduncan, @goodnews_weekly, @iamruby, @lev_ivy, @the_bradford, @natashacarpio, @karinkits
The first course of our six-course tasting menu was the Beet and Goat Cheese salad. Tender slices of bright red beets, mixed with fresh greens and sprinkled with goat cheese. A good mix of tangy from the dressing, sweet from the beets, and pungency of the goat cheese.
Our second course was a Quinoa based dish, mixed with corn kernels and diced peppers. Really refreshing, and so healthy!
Our third dish...Chicken Skewers! Yay, meat on a stick. The sauce looks rather mild, but be careful, there is a bit of heat to it that hits you maybe two seconds after you take a bite. If you're scared of the heat, the chicken is great without the sauce, juicy and lightly grilled.
Our fourth course, Proscuitto Wrapped Dates...and more meat on a stick! I didn't think I would like it, I'm not a fan of "warm fruit as food", but it was surprisingly good. The sweetness of the date was a great complement to the charred and salty proscuitto.
So surprisingly good. I may have to revisit my whole "fruit as food" theory based on this little morsel right here.
Our next dish was a carb-lovers delight. Mushroom Risotto...slices of mushroom, hint of truffle oil and gently cooked risotto. So good and comforting, just like a warm hug! Smooth and really creamy...so rich, so good.  
Our last dish was the Sliders. You can't go wrong with grilled bread, topped with a little patty, some bacon and a dollop of blue cheese. This was a great and very satisfying end to a delightful meal.
If you've been to R.TL, you'll know what I've been talking about. If you haven't, you need to go! R.TL on Urbanspoon

Monday, November 08, 2010

Pretty Hot and Tasty...

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In my continued attempt to expose my mom to foods within yaletown and downtown Vancouver, I took her to Pretty Hot and Tasty a few weekends ago. It has become our Mommy and Me tradition, brunch/lunch on Saturday. I had heard about PHAT for a while now, but haven't had a chance to try. When I realized they had brunch specials as well as flown-in Montreal smoked meat, I knew I had to go.
My mom had been hankering for a Tuna Melt for a few weeks now, but has always been too lazy to make it for herself. When I lived at home, it was one of the things I would make on weekend for breakfast. I guess she missed it. It's served with a small cup of coleslaw and a giant pickle.
Normally their Tuna Melts are served on a bagel, but to accommodate my mom, they agreed to do it on rye bread instead. How nice!
The special touch here is that they use both mozzarella and cheddar cheeses in their sammy. They put the cheddar down first, load up some tuna on top, and then smother it all with mozzarella. When the whole thing melts, you get the flavour of the aged cheddar, but the gooey-ness of the mozzarella. Brilliant!
I had to get the Montreal Smoked Meat sandwich...no coleslaw here, just a pile of meat and a pickle.
Made the traditional way, it's about an inch of shaved smoked meat, piled between two slices of marble rye (cue Seinfeld episodes memories for those born pre-90s). You're asked if you want mild or hot mustard with it, but other than that, take it as it comes. They know what they are doing.
To give you context as to how thick the meat is, here is my very healthy (post-Friday night drinking) beverage of V8. It might look like a lot of meat, but I managed to finish my half. The other half went to my non-meat loving (thus the tuna melt) mom, and she inhaled it too! Both of us appreciated the fact that the bread wasn't toasted. The softness of the bread along with the thinly sliced smoked meat were a perfect combination. You just didn't feel like you were eating a pile of meat...more like a fluffy combination of meat and bread.
As we were sitting there, I perused the rest of the menu. I leapt off my chair when I saw that they had Latkes! I haven't had those in years. I went inside to order, but there was a lineup...of course. I flagged a server down and asked for an order of latkes...he graciously offered to whip them up for me, and I could just pay later, instead of waiting in the lineup. The portion you see here is the side order...they have one double the size if you want a full order. It comes with a small side of sour cream, which I didn't use, but my mom thought was a nice touch. The best part about then is that they come piping hot...as all latkes should.
This was another successful outing for my mom to yaletown. I know it is a true success when she says, "we have to bring your stepdad here!". So PHAT, we'll be back!
Phat on Urbanspoon

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Lunch at Shangri-La - work related...

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Time for a treat with a co-worker. We decided to head over to market by Jean-Georges for lunch as a rather indulgent treat (well, I decided for us). It's his expense account, and we were there to talk about work...of course. We went with the $32 prix fixe...two courses (an appetizer and a main) plus dessert. Lots of choices, but this combination we got is the best one yet.
I started with the Steamed Shrimp Salad...huge prawns perfectly steamed, not overly cooked and really meaty. There are loads of greens tossed in a light champagne dressing. It normally comes with half an avocado, sliced, but not being a fan of avocado, I asked for mine without.  
I made my co-worker order the Black Truffle Pizza, just so I could have a slice. Good thing he's obedient! This pizza is amazing...I know, not much to look at, but definitely amazing when it arrives. It just smells SO good. They use fontina cheese, so nice and mild and doesn't overpower the truffles. A smattering of greens covers the entire thing. It's not huge, maybe 8" in diameter, but so rich!
I decided against getting the Market Burger this time around (dieting, you know) and settled on the Grilled Tuna Burger instead. What a great choice! The burger comes open faced with tiny pickles and greens on one side, and a thick grilled tuna patty.
I love the nicely grilled bun as well. The patty has a bit of a kick to it...it's really mild, hard to place, but if you glance at the menu, the secret is shiso! It's minced into the burger and gives it that something special.
My co-worker decided to go even healthier that me, and went for the Simply Cooked West Coast Red Snapper. Sitting on top of creamy mashed potatoes, the fish was gently poached and lightly seasoned with salt and cracked pepper. The greens were slightly warm and wilted, complimenting the mild flavour of the fish. I didn't get to try this, but I believe the swirl was Truffle Foam...how yummy!
And the perfect way to end this meal...chocolate pudding with gently whipped cream, and topped with crystallized violets.
But I have to warn you, this is rich! The whipped cream is light, but you almost have to dig through it to get to the chocolate pudding. It's worth the dig, but whoa, you probably hit daily your sugar quota with this little dessert. Market By Jean-Georges (Shangri-La Hotel) on Urbanspoon

Dinner with an out of towner at Hai Phong

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A few months ago, a friend of mine stopped by en route from Toronto (Markham) to Shanghai for work and had a day in Vancouver. We decided to head out for pho, just something simple and nothing too exotic. It's sort of comforting when you're boarding a plane for an 10+ hour flight.
Craving a little bit of grease, we decided to get an order of spring rolls to share. Perhaps we should have clarified that we only wanted 2, since they come in servings of 2, 4 or 6. Oh well, lesson learned. They are yummy though, and I like how they cut it into thirds instead of halfs. I always feel half is too much, and a third is just right.
I ordered my usual Pho Tai Sach..I just love my tripe. They don't serve the beef on the side here like Song Huong, but that's okay...it's still nice and rare. I had a hard time finding the tripe. The broth is really good, not too salty. To get really good flavour, squeeze some lime juice on it.
My ex-coworker was craving rice, so instead of pho, he got their barbecue chicken on rice...with a fried egg. It comes with a side of pork bone soup...which is just really soothing. I didn't try it, but I do like the crispy edges on the fried egg...  
Hai Phong Vietnamese on Urbanspoon

Tims, the BELT...every Friday

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So I've decided to eat a BELT every Friday. Call it a treat, call it a food fail, but it hits the spot.
October 1...basic BELT on a sesame bagel.
Open - faced.
October 8 - BELT - sesame bagel, double toasted, no butter.
MMM...bacon...and that's a lot of egg.
See the difference from the Oct 1 bagel? The tomato and the lettuce are stacked together.
But the first one had the tomato on top. Interesting...
October 15 - BELT, again double toasted, no butter, but with a sausage patty, and a side of Bieber.
October 17 - I know, it's a Sunday...but it's perfect food for flying.
They didn't have sesame bagel, but they did have the "everything" bagel, even has poppy seeds!
October 29 (yup, I missed the 22 edition), no Tims in Palm Springs.
Had it with the sesame bagel, again with sausage, and a generous helping of cheese and egg.
Our company's social committee also doled out treats for halloween. Yum!
Okay, I have to tell the truth, I don't actually eat this every week.
Sometimes, I just inhale the bacon and sausage aroma, so good...mmm...bacon.
Tim Hortons (Royal Centre) on Urbanspoon

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