gracecheung604 | write on time: August 2011

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Dim Sum at Peaceful Cafe - and someone stole my food!

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Peaceful Restaurant (West Broadway) on Urbanspoon
After a great dinner with @vanessa_chu and @onehundredfeet @BonetaVan, they recommended we give Peaceful Restaurant a try for Shanghainese dim sum. So the very next day, that's exactly what we did! 
The picture above is the first time I've used instagram on my iPad to take a picture, so apologies for the less than stellar photo. The Beef Pancake Wrap was really good, light flakey rolls of green onion pastry rolled with some more green onions and very tender and thinly sliced beef. Enough hoi sin sauce to keep it all together, so salty, sweet, flakey and chewy.
Beef Roll
Yes, definitely a successful execution here. I think we got a total of 6 pieces here...or was it 4? Either way, it was fair for the price $6.95.
No visit to a Shanghainese place is complete without the Xiao Long Baos (XLBs), little bundles of pork soup dumplings steamed to doneness with the soup bursting as you bit into it. These ones were good, not the best I've ever had, but definitely good and soupy. I found the skin a little too thick, but the balance of soup to meat within the dumpling itself was good. This was a good deal too, at 8 for $6.95. 
Sorry for the aerial view of this Lettuce Wrap, but I was testing out the iPad's camera and this was the best I could do. This was by far the most expensive item from our lunch at $13.95, and it was also the most disappointing. It was loaded with chopped veggie fillers such as celery, and even when we did find pieces of chicken and ate it on its own, there was no way we could tell it was chicken. I would easily order another XLB instead of this next time. 
We also ordered a Shanghai Pork Chop Soup Noodle, a great value for $7.95. Only thing was, we had to wait 30 mins for it. No, it wasn't that the kitchen was slow, it was due to a server error and they brought it to the wrong table, in fact, the table next to us. And they just started eating it...and then we heard the waitress come and tell them that they didn't even order that dish!? Who does that...when I get food served to me that I didn't order, I refuse it, I don't just start digging in! Who knows if there was something in there I might be allergic to!? The dad at the table even said...Thanks for getting us to try something new. I was so livid...GRR!

They make their noodles in house and the guy who does it is quite the ham...posting for shots midway too! They can make long thin noodles similar to spaghetti, but we got the "knife cut" ones, which means they slice it through into shavings of noodles, each one different from the other, with a richer mouth feel that your average noodle. 

I would definitely come back here to sample other dim sum and noodle dishes, but will keep a close eye on where my food is being brought. Oh, and I'd probably skip the lettuce wrap.

Interestingly enough, they had signs posted the day that we went, saying they would be closed the following Tuesday and Wednesday, because Diners, DriveIns and Dives with Guy Fieri would be visiting them. How cool is that! Will need to go again before the episode airs, because then, the lineups will be interminable.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Supping at Sanafir

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A few months ago, I tried dinner at Sanafir on Granville. It's one of those places you tend to have a few drinks in, but never really have a sit down meal. So this time, we decided we were going to go for it. Their menu is broken up into Tapas and Ceviche, a few more substantial items in the Mezze section, and then rounded out with a Mussels and Clams section, a few Curries, and finished off with Larger Plates. We kicked things off with the Grilled Octopus from the Mezze Section. 
For ~$8, you get a smattering ofgrilled octopus, but also some potatoes, musssls and chorizio, and chillies! Oh, yes, this had a kick to it, not overwhelming, but definitely heated! 
The next dish to arrive was the Large plate of Vegetarian Mushroom Risotto. This was made with farro, so not your usual aborio rice. I actually enjoyed this better, since this gave the dish an added depth of texture that you wouldn't normally expect. There was a variety of wild mushrooms, so you could get something different in every bite. Oh, and yes, fresh peas! I never realize how much I like them until I get them, but yes, definitely a nice spring touch! 
Now here is where my camera gets a little stupid. The food isn't nearly as "yellow" as it comes across...these were NOT the Yellow Curry Mussels, even though it may look like that. In fact, we ordered the Roasted Garlic and Tomato Clams. 
These clams were really good, every clam still sitting pretty in its shell. Lopped with lots of chorizo, this was another mildly spicy dish. Good thing they werve it with some grilled naan bread. Perfect to soak up the sauce! 
We were treated to a dessert from the staff and it was a labour of love...times three! 
I didn't take notes of the dessert, but from what I can remember, this was a chocolate ganache with crispy rice. I remember it being really rich and I don't think the two of us even finished it! 
The second one (and my favourite) was the chocolate cake...the mint was a nice light touch compared to the heaviness of the cake...dark, chocolate cake...and dense, almost like a really rich brownie.
For the life of me, I can't remember which one this was...if you've had it and recognize it...please comment below! 
Sanafir Restaurant and Lounge on Urbanspoon

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Dim Sum at Grand Dynasty

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Since I'm off work on Wednesdays during the summer, I try to make all my friends take the day off (cough, cough) so they can come eat and play outside with me. A few Wednesdays ago, I headed out for a dim sum lunch in my hood with one of my besties! We checked out Grand Dynasty, where I had been for dinners, but never for lunch. 
We started off the meal with a fried goodie - this one isn't much to look at, but wait until you hear what's inside! There's taro paste, duck and enoki mushroom. This was my favourite by FAR! One thing about dim sum is that it allows you to sample without having to make a meal out of something. But boy, I could have 6 of these and call it a day! 
We also tried their Baked BBQ Pork Bun. I know, on the outside, it's a little boring looking, but don't let that fool you! The bun is a steamed Chinese bun with a crumbly topping. And inside, there is a load of BBQ pork. If you don't like the traditional steamed BBQ Pork Bun they have at Kirin because it seems too plain, or the overly sweet baked BBQ bun at other places, this is the one you must try! It's so good you will wonder why they haven't made something like this before - a perfect hybrid.
Next up was their Deep Fried Bean Bead Curd with crab meat - loaded with crab and deep fried, this was good for you and bad for you at the same time. 

One other item we ordered was the Chicken Wrapped with Fish Maw and Bamboo Pith. I've had this dish before in variations, usually with the chicken and fish maw totally wrapped in bamboo and hidden from sight. But this was a delightful surprise! Not only did they use black silkie chicken, the fish maw was the actual wrapping. Delightful to look at, but one out of the three pieces here was really dry. Not sure if that is how silkie chicken is supposed to be? Anyone out there know? 
And to round of the meal, we also got the Fried Steamed Bun. Essentially it's a XLB you'd find at Chen's but with a denser skin and they fry the bottom after it's been steamed. So beware, yes, there is still soup loaded inside. Eat with caution.
As this restaurant is close to my home, I will be back. They have a lot of interesting things on the menu so it's best to go in a large group so you can sample the variety.
On and there is one thing weird about the presentation/garnish on three of the five dishes here...can you tell what it is?

Grand Dynasty Seafood Restaurant 金殿皇朝海鮮料理 on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Food Truck - Fresh Local Wild

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Fresh Local Wild on Urbanspoon
Last month, during a week of Food Trucking, I managed to try Fresh Local Wild's new location and truck! I first walked by the truck and recognized it a few months ago, but it's got some add-ons now! Something about it being carbon neutral because it runs on used frying oil? And Chef Wolfe added a little patio on the side, so you can dine somewhere instead of the stairs of the building nearby...but yeah, um...but how does the food taste? 
We tried two items, with a side of fries...the first one you see above is the Chicken Club, the guy from Sausage a Trois recommended it to me, and hey, from one food truck to another, it's high praise indeed. (Yes, same owner, but I liked the fact he didn't just say "everything is good there". Lightly toasted and stuffed full of marinated chicken, hand cut bacon and fresh lettuce and tomatoes, this was an excellent sandwich. Getting it whole and uncut is the best way to do it, it gives you more leverage to hold everything in, and believe me, the way they pile the toppings on for this sucker, you need it! I was really hungry  that afternoon, and managed  to eat half of the sammy before passing it over to try the Tuna Melt...
I am a sucker for Tuna Melt. It's one of the few indulgences I allow myself for breakfast on weekends. However, my version with canned tuna and a slice of cheddar pales in comparison. There is just so much albacore on here, it's insane. Chunks of tuna and loads of smoked cheddar. I honestly could not say which one I liked more. I know we finished both sandwiches but we did sacrifice some of the bread in favour of the fries.
Boy, I look like I ate both, don't it...I swear, I didn't, I had help. :) And I just had to post this shot...we got a seat on the cherished patio! Thanks @ChefWolfe! You can also follow them @FreshLocalWild. The next time I go (and soon since it's 5 mins away from my office) I am going to try their Fish and Chips, and the Poutine if they have it. Can you share your favourite Fish & Chips (salmon, coho, halibut or cod) and if you've had poutine there, what's a great one to try?

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Pre-Concert Dinner at Chambar...

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Looking for a spot for dinner before an event at Rogers Arena? Try Chambar out. We went pre-Katy Perry Concert and loved it. Just a short walk to the stadium afterwards, it is quite the ideal location. Dinner started off with a yummy bevvy called the The Blue Fig. The name says it all, figs are oven roasted and then steeped in gin. Freeze the concoction and there you have it. Why Blue? Well, they serve it with a side of Danish blue...don't put this in your drink, but just nibble and sip. The sharpness of the cheese mellows out the sweetness of the figgy gin.
The other pretty drink at the table is their Pura Vida Punch, made with 5-year old rum, chartreuse, cinnamon and shaken with pineapple juice, then a splash of prosecco on top to finish it off. If you're a fan of tropical cocktails, here is one you should try.
Below are some great words to live by...just leave your day at the door. 
We started off with their scallop appetizer, which is simply seared scallops, with some smoked kurobuta pork cheek, thinly sliced cheese all sitting on a bed of pickled green beans & drizzled with a horseradish vinaigrette.
Three to an order, I took one portion and have to say, this combination of salty, tangy sourness with a bite of sweet really made me happy. I'm not a huge scallop fan, but they do it well here, so if you are a fan, you're in for a treat.
Oh yay, bread! This is the second place I've been to in as many weeks that charges for bread. See my other post for Hawksworth. Warm and served with paprika butter, this was quite good, and at $3 dollars, it seemed like a worthwhile deal. Afterall, you can't have mussles with bread to soak up the juices with, right? 
The next dish to arrive was the Canard et chevre, a roasted duck breast with a healthy dose of goat cheese & tarragon gnocchi. There's a smattering of julienned apples along with sauteed scallions, and a hazelnut sauce to round out the dish.
And then, the moment we were waiting for, the Coquotte! A big ole bucket of mussels steamed in a white wine cream sauce. 
Once opened, you see the smoked bacon lardons and spring onions. Oh boy, I forgot how much onions there were until I just looked at this picture again. But hey, I'm a fan of bacon and green onions, so load my mussels up, I can take it! 
Don't mind me, I'm just going to help myself to a little bit. Perfectly cooked musssels, most in their shell, little flecks of bacon and freshness from the spring onions. Yes, this is a good bite indeed. Be sure to save the bread to soak up the white wine cream! 
And yes! Frites are included...nice crunchy exterior and a soft middle, these runs give McD's a run for the money, but they are definitely less liberal with the salt here.

Given its close proximity to Rogers Arena, I'd highly recommend this place for your next pre-event dinner. They do take reservations via Open Table, something I'd recommend just to be on the safe side. 

Chambar on Urbanspoon

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