gracecheung604 | write on time: March 2011

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Cafeteria - another Durbach invention

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I met up with a fellow tweeter for dinner at another Durbach creation. Their menu is ever changing and on the night we went, they had two amazing main dishes that caught our eye.
She got the Prosciutto-Wrapped Scallop, served on a bed of corn and pea risotto, surrounded by a pool of carrot jus. Accompanied with broccolini and some roasted peppers, this was a light but well-rounded dish.
I didn't try the scallop, but looking at the crispiness of the prosciutto and the obvious juiciness of the scallop, I knew she would have zero complaints.
I was in an indulgent mood, and got the Crispy Roast Chicken. I had hear that it was a sizeable portion, but I figured I could get it to go if I couldn't finish. At first glance, when it arrived, I didn't think it was too overwhelming. But once I moved the half chicken aside...
I saw the pile of olive oil mashed potatoes, laced with rosemary and garlic, along wit baby carrots, peas and some brussel sprouts. This was a much bigger dish than I expected! Oh boy, but the skin was so crispy, it was the first thing I devoured. I am always hesitant with chicken breast, since they usually get very dry but this place was different, the juiciness was still there! Needless to say, I inhaled this dish...
For dessert, V got the Pannetone Bread Pudding with a boozy custard (their words, not mine)...it looked amazing but way too decadent for me. 
I love restaurants that have rotating features, but I don't think you should be changing the whole menu on a regular basis. As a patron, I'm going to a  restaurant because there is something there I love, so it would be best if they had some "standbys" and then added new items to their rotation. What do you guys think? 
Cafeteria on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Lunch Options at Joe Fortes

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Have you been to Joe Fortes lately? If not, you really must give them a try, especially for lunch. They have blue plate specials for $9.95 as well as a Prix Fixe for just $14.95.
Fresh bread with Lobster Oil and Balsamic Vinegar
Clam Chowder - yeah, the white kind!
Prawn Linguine - part of the Two-Course Prix Fixe
Lobster and Shrimp Sandwich
Greens on the side of the Sandwich
Side-view of the sandwich - so good!
Joe Fortes Seafood & Chop House on Urbanspoon

Snacks at Hapa Yaletown

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While my mom was away in HK, I decided to take the stepdad down to one of my favourite spots for some snacks and to catch the Canucks game. Along with the traditional Ebi Mayo and Ishi Yaki, (which have been photographed numerous times) we also got some of their more unique dishes. 
This is the Sticky Rice Dumplings, we ordered it without know what to expect. When it arrived in a steamer basket, we were still unsure. I guess I had expected Shanghainese-style dumplings, where meat and sticky rice are mixed together, and then wrapped in a doughy skin. Not sure why I would have expected a Chinese interpretation at an izakaya, but there you have it. 
Delicately picking on of these up, I dipped it into the provided soy sauce. Slicing it open with my chopsticks, I discovered that the sticky rice "was" the skin, and nestled inside was the pork. Taking the dumpling in two bites, you get a bit of rice and a lot of pork. It's not always on their menu (part of their fresh sheet) but if it is, you should give it a try! 
Another out-of-the-ordinary dish for us was the Renkon Gyoza. Instead of using dumpling wrappers, the minced pork is sandwiched between two slices of renkon lotus roots and then dipped into a tempura batter.
The whole thing is then deep-fried. With the renkon as the "wrapper", and the tempura blanket protecting the whole dumpling, the minced meat inside is amazingly juicy. If are looking for something different, you've found it. 
Have you been to the other Hapa locations? Check out my other post of Hapa Robson.  Take a gander and let me know what you think. 
Have you tried something out of the ordinary at Hapa? What was it and How was it? I'm always looking for new ideas. 
Hapa Izakaya (Yaletown) on Urbanspoon

Sunday, March 27, 2011

AYCE Brunch at Thai House (Kits)

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The Thai House location brought back their All-You-Can-Eat Brunch on weekends sometime in January. We checked it out last month and got to sample quite a few dishes. 
One all-time favourite is their Larb Gai aka Lettuce Wrap - as someone who loves to play with their food, it doesn't get much better than this. Tender morsels of chicken tossed in Thai spices and mixed with veggies and fried vermicelli. It's definitely one of the highlights here.
Next up - Por Pia Tod aka Spring Rolls! While I rarely order these either at Dim Sum or at other places as an a la carte option, I find them irresistible at #AYCE joints...I know I inhaled quite a few of these at the Chilli House Thai Bistro buffet a while back too. I usually skip the sweet/sour sauce, preferring to keep the crunch factor high. 
And for some reason, chicken wings keep popping up at AYCE too. These aren't their famous Boneless Stuffed Chicken Wings (stuffed with vegetables and glass noodles), instead it's simply marinated and deep-fried, served with the same sweet/sour sauce as the spring rolls. 
One of their all-time popular dishes is their #19 - Cashew Chicken. We ordered this as well, and the dish is loaded with veggies, chicken and crunchy cashews.
We also tried with Beef Rice Noodle, which is actually made with their pad thai noodles, as opposed to the wider rice noodle you would expect. Again, lots of veggies here, carrots, broccoli and even baby corn! 
And seeing as we were in a Thai restaurant, we had to order their one of their curries to try, so we got the Green Curry with Chicken.  This was fairly mild, with just a hint of heat (but I can eat really spicy foods). The sauce was fairly thin, so just ladle some into your bowl of steam rice on the side. 
Needing just a bit more, we decided to go for a bit more veggies. Simply tossed and coarsely chopped, it was a good accompaniment to the green curry. 
This is their traditional Pad Thai and I really enjoyed it. Loads of noodles, topped with shrimp and mixed with a not too sour sauce. I also liked the fact that it wasn't orange, as you find in some other places. This is a must-try. If it isn't spicy enough for you, get some sriracha on the side and you're all set! 
All this and dessert too? Yes - we got their mango ice cream and their chocolate ice cream as dessert. Nice way to end the meal. For $16.95, I'd say this was a good #AYCE deal. Only available at their Kits location and only on the weekends! 
What are some of your favourite All-you-can-eat buffets? Share your idea so I can try them too! 
Thai House (Fairview) on Urbanspoon

Friday, March 25, 2011

Poor Italian with mom and stepdad

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Another lovely meal with my parents, this time at Poor Italian. We have been here several times and have never been disappointed.
The bread basket is always amazing, with a large selection of flavours and textures. But be careful, don't fill up on the bread, lots of yummy pastas to come! 
Just a perfect swirl of butter to enhance the freshly heated bread. It's room temperature, so you don't tear apart your bread trying to get some on it.
I picked the wine tonight, and we went with a Petite Syrah - Bogle. A bit too rich for my mom, but my stepdad and I both enjoyed it. Pairs well with our dishes too. 
My mom wanted something light (as in non-meaty) so she ordered their Gnocchi with Wild Mushrooms. Well, done with brown butter sauce, this wasn't exactly a light dish. Topped with some pecorino and sage this was a real comfort dish. But it was heavy, so she ended up taking half of it home,  
My stepdad and I decided to share the lamb, and it was a generous portion as well. Lots of potatoes and grilled veggies accompanied the dish. Had we known that this was such a large meal, we probably wouldn't have ordered the other dish below.
My all-time favourite pasta is Tagliatelle with Pappardelle being a close second. Their tagliatelle was in a gorgonzola cream sauce, which was too rich for me. Their Pappardelle was with Braised Veal Cheeks an in a fresh thyme and red wine sauce. We have a winner! 
Here is my half of dinner, a little veggies, a lot of lamb and a nice pile of pappardelle!  
We had asked for the lamb to be done medium rare, and it was. Juicy on the inside with just a little pink, but nicely grilled and charred on the outside too.   
Poor Italian Ristorante on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Benkei Ramen - slurp

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As seen on...

Recently, I wrote about Benkei Ramen on VancityBuzz - the food porn photos are here.
The Shoyu - light!
The Shio - add corn to make it better!
I've written about Benkei before, see a previous post here. Do you have a favourite ramen place here in Vancouver? Tell me because I'm always on the lookout for new spots! 
Benkei Ramen (Robson) on Urbanspoon

Beyond Disappointing

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Last week, my work's Social Committee organized an event that was billed as a Comedy Night, preceded by dinner. So suffice it to say, dinner was "not" the focus. The comedy lounge we selected was the Comedy Mix, in the Century Plaza Hotel, this meant that our event included dinner at Beyond Restaurant and Lounge.
Dinner was supposed to start at 6:30, so I was worried when I arrived at 7pm. Well, I didn't have to be ~ turns out, they only took drink orders for the first half hour. Whew, so I didn't miss a thing! 
We are had set menu, where the options were a Sliced Organic Greens Salad or a Seafood Bouillabaisse with sablefish, wild salmon and mussels.  I decided to go with the Bouillabaisse. 
And there you have it...two mussels, and three dice-sized cubes of salmon, in the wateriest broth you could imagine. Simply mix a package of ketchup with a cup of water, sprinkle in green onions, and there you have it. Beyond disappointing. I tweeted this photo at the time it arrived, and I got two very appropriate responses:
1) Is that someone's leftovers and 2) Are you at a friend's place? Sadly, neither were true.
So, after I devoured my entire appetizer in about 3 minutes, I had about 45 minutes to kill because that's about how long it took for them to bring the entree. 
The entree options were Grilled Vegetable Penne, Roasted Half Chicken with Waffles or Fraser River Wild Sockeye Salmon Filet with potato fondant & aubergine puree. Since I didn't want to carbo-loadup with a bowl of pasta and I can't have chicken during Lent, my only option was the salmon. Since it took so long to arrive, I had high expectations for it. I don't think I've had potato fondant before, and was really curious.
And so it arrives...the yellow sauce around the plate is the most likely candidate to be "potato fondant, infused with saffron", but in reality, it's more like the lemon curd you would get on a side of lemon meringue pie. Totally weird. 
There are some steamed veggies and two (again) dice-sized cubes of potatoes. On the outside, it looked great, but when I bite into it, it wasn't cooked through. The salmon, on the other hand, didn't suffer from the same problem, no...it was very overcooked! There are only two ways to ruin salmon, overcooking and oversalting...two for two here. There was one good item on the dish, it was the aubergine puree, and I don't even like aubergine
The only way you could be satisfied with your experience here is if you really lowered your expectations. I know the restaurant is located inside the Century Plaza Hotel, and that's probably why expectations are heightened, but you've been warned. 
Beyond Restaurant & Lounge on Urbanspoon

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Doing the big G

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In a rush? A shorter version of this review can be seen on...

Last week, I decided to have lunch at Giovane Cafe (Day 2 of Lent) so meat was out of the question. Upon deciding to come here, I reviewed the menu online and discovered quite a few veggie friendly options. I was interested in the Pizzas, and they had a few Paninis that piqued my interest too.
After getting parking, we found the restaurant easily by looking for the big yellow G. You can't miss it. The pizzas aren't on display because they are being made-to-order in the back. You simply place and pay for your order, grab a table and bring your sign to your table. Once the food is ready, a server brings it to you.
The amazing Funghi Misto Bosco is loaded with truffled forest mushrooms and tallegio, one of my favourite cheeses! There is also the unmistakeable flavour of leeks throughout, and you can see the bits of thyme that are scattered throughout the pizza.
I really wanted to try their Bianca pizza, loaded with mozza, fontina with garlic and rosemary and topped with a light sprinkling of rock salt. Sounds so simple but tastes so good when the ingredients are fresh and the focus of the dish. I love how the cheese bubbles and gets just a bit charred and puffy. Because the tastes are so simple, you get a bit of the rosemary and garlic in each bite. 
Although I gave up coffee for Lent, B got an espresso purely for this photo-op. This is probably the first time I'm have a pretty design on my drink. But now, having seen this for myself IRL, I think I'm going to be a fan of coffee art from now on!
There are tons of other things that I want to try here...namely the Diavola Pizza (cappicoli, basil and garlic) and the Charcuterie (soppressata, prosciutto, genoa salami, peperonata and fontina) Panini. I will be back once I can indulge in meats again. I might even bring B back when he's allowed to have sweets again, so we can try their famous Sugar Bun (filled with vanilla pastry cream).
Giovane on Urbanspoon

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