gracecheung604 | write on time: September 2011

Friday, September 30, 2011

Dinner at Charm - appies and more!

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Charm Modern Thai on Urbanspoon
I've been to Charm many times for their great lunch specials, but rarely make it there for dinner. Here is a post of the time I went this past summer. There were 4 of us, and none of us were really hungry, but definitely wanted to try a things. 
I've always loved the appetizers at Charm (perfect for grazing with friends over cocktails), so we decided to order the Appy Platter for 4.You get five different items in total. Top shelf were the Rock Pepper Garlic Prawns with a bit of papaya salad n the side. Second shelf were the Crispy Prawn Wontons with a plum dipping sauce. Also, we have their  drool-worthy Duck Sticks (no, not duck on a stick, they are duck confit spring rolls! Really tasty with the chilli sauce. On the bottom shelf, there are the Thai Spring rolls, vegetarian with a homemade carrot dipping sauce. The Chicken Satays aren't visible in this picture, but they are chicken breast marinated with lemongrass. They serve these with a cucumber & red onion chutney and also a peanut sauce.
The first of the main course was a seafood dish...it's their Chiang Mai Bouillabaisse. There are mussels, prawns, fish and some squid served with a refreshing cilantro and lime infused broth. The seafood was cooked just right, and the prawns were nice and firm.
My mom is a huge fan of their Pad Thai - it's the only thing she orders whenever she comes. They make this in the traditional way, with fresh tamarind juice! We had it with chicken this time, but you can choose to have it made with prawns instead too! 
And this is probably my favourite dish of the night (next to the Rock Pepper Garlic Prawns), their Thai Pappardelle. It's served with braised short ribs, in a Thai basil red curry. It's definitely got some heat to it, but the noodles work really well here with the beef and sauce. A very asian spin with the pappardelle. All in all, this was a well-balanced meal for 4 people, a little bit of deep-fried goodness, some seafood, some meats and lots of noodles!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Suika Me Silly! Oct 1-31st

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Suika on Urbanspoon
Suika is launching their #SuikaMeSilly promotion this Saturday (Oct 1-31) in conjunction with VANEATs.ca. I was lucky enough to get a sneak preview of the menu. You get 6 dishes for $16, there is a little bit of everything; meat, carbs, sushi, and yes, even dessert! This deal is a limited offer and you can only purchase it via VANEATs.ca. There is also a few chances to win this great package from their site too. The menu has been clearly designed to showcase the various cooking styles of the restaurant, and each dish was exquisitely executed.
This was my first visit to the restaurant, and although I knew I was there for the #SuikaMeSilly menu, the manager, Makoto, presented me with their regular menu, so I could get a good idea of all the dishes they had to offer. I have to admit, the above caught my attention...what exactly is "W" lbs of beef for $38, and really? You need 4 people to try...I will return to take on this super mega size steak! 
The regular menu is two-sided, one side features their starters, sashimi and salads. Quite a few of items on the #SuikaMeSilly menu is on this side. It also features Doraemon as the watermark. Too Cute! 
The second page shows their more heartier dishes, such as rice, noodles meats and seafood offerings. The one item that stood out here is the Tokyo Oxtail Ramen. I will be back for this! And its watermark is Doramo-chan, the sister of Doraemon! 
Before our food arrived, we took a look at the surroundings and fell in love with their Sake-Bottle Chandelier. My stepdad sells lighting fixtures for a living, and believe me, I'm sure he's never seen anything like this before! 
To accompany our meal, we selected a MomoKawa sake, a Junmai Ginjo Craft Sake that is creamy because it is only partially polished. After my Sake Tasting at Umi a few weeks ago, I've been trying more and more sakes lately. 
The first dish to arrive was their Beef Tataki. You get several thick slices of beef that were slightly grilled and marinated with a soy, mirin & green onions. Served on top of a bed of daikon and onion shavings, and a sprinkling of pea shoots, this was a great starter. 
Hot on the heels of the Beef Tataki was the Corn Kakiage. It's such a simple concept but the sum of the ingredients is really more than its parts. The corn is held together in a light batter with cilantro, soy and butter. Yes, corn and butter DO go together! I eat my corn on the cob on niblet at a time, and this was perfect for me, they did all the work! The sweetness of the corn really stands out, and the whole piece stays together until you tear it apart. Brilliant! 
This next dish was probably my favourite of the night, it's their Pork & Tofu Mochi! The picture doesn't do it justice, but essentially, they took a mochi rice ball, deep fried it until it has a nice crispy skin, then split it open and poured a slightly spicy pork sauce all over it. It's like nothing I've had before; the gooey mochi inside, combined with the crunchy exterior and the sauciness of the pork is a great twist on the Chinese Ma Po Tofu Rice. I've been warned that this could be salty, but I think they've heard the feedback and have adjusted the seasoning accordingly.
The next two dishes were both sushi, but boy, at this time, I was already getting a little full. The first of the two was the Negitoro Battera. It's a blend of tuna belly with green onions, with a touch of avocado, atop some rice. The soy and seaweed sauce they topped this with eliminated all need for wasabi. This pressed sushi highlights the gentle flavours of the tuna, and the avocado helps to give it a nice creamy texture. 
Here is a close up of the Negitoro. The sushi rice is in good proportion with the amount of Negitoro on top. It's a great balance. Three pieces might not seem like a lot for a serving, but hang on, there are another three pieces of sushi right behind it. 
So the last savory dish we had was the Aburi Shime Saba Sushi. It's their seared cured mackerel atop a small bed of sushi rice. Can you see the grill marks? The mackerel was marinated in a slightly sweet concoction, and the searing gave it a nice crust. They add a mustard soy dressing and a handful of green onion to finish up the dish. 

Look, here is another closeup. As I was eating each piece, I noticed a strong hint of shiso throughout. Whenever I have sashimi and it is served with shiso, I'm the type that wraps the sashimi up with the shredded daikon in a shiso leaf. So when Makoto came by to see how dinner was going, I asked him about it. Turns out, they put shiso right into their sushi rice. Seems so simple, but what a flavour punch! 
So we're coming up to the dessert...it's a Matcha Brulee! I've always been a fan of Green Tea Ice Cream, partly because I don't like uber-sweet desserts, like lychee or mango ice cream. Green Tea desserts offer a slight bitterness to cut the sweetness of the dessert. So how they make this is really interesting; they make the whole matcha brulee, torch it, and then freeze the whole thing! Served with sliced strawberries and whipped cream, this was a really unique dish. Also on the plate is some matcha powder and a drizzle. I know you might think the drizzle is chocolate fudge, but it's not! Would you believe it's a red bean sauce? Yes, green tea and red bean...what a great combination!  
This six course dinner is only $16 for a limited time, October 1-31, and it's well worth a try.
I couldn't finish all my sushi, so I asked for it to go. They packed the pieces I had left over, and then gave me a napkin and two pairs of chopsticks. Can you believe the chopsticks they give you? Take a closer look...can you see the toothpick as part of the package?! Isn't that awesome???
So if you have been meaning to try Suika and haven't had a chance to, this #SuikaMeSilly deal for $16 is a great introduction. To learn more, take a look at this 30-second video

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Food Truck - Feastro

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Feastro the Rolling Bistro on Urbanspoon
On a week of food truck hunting, we found ourselves at Feastro, the Rolling Bistro is parked at Thurlow and Cordova, near the Olympic Cauldron. YOu can't miss the Purple Truck! 
As this was during spot prawn season, i tried their Spot Prawn Taco. It's pilled high with organic greens, and mess of spot prawns as well as some tortilla strips. The version above has a fresh mango salsa, however, it wasn't the one I wanted. 
This was the one that I wanted...still with Spot Prawns, but with their handcut salsa. Is it just me or is the second portion suffering from a lack of prawns? It was still good, but comparing the two now, it's evident the second one was a little malnourished.
We also tried their Fish & Chips with red snapper. I really like the fries and homemade tartar sauce, key to any good Fish and Cips. The batter was light, and fried so that it wasn't soaked with oil. There is a little bit of coleslaw hidden behind one of the pieces of fish, so it was a nice well rounded meal.
Mind you,, this stuff isnt' cheap...I don't remember how much my taco was, but I would guess about $8. The fish and chips were $12, so a bit more expensive than Fresh Local Wild just a few blocks away. Try both and decide for yourself which is better. 

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Food Truck - Coma Food Truck

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Coma Food Truck on Urbanspoon
Back in August, Eat Street was in Vancouver to tape some footage for their Food Truck show, and one of the places they were showcasing was Coma Food Truck. I hightailed it downtown and grabbed a few co-workers with me. All food photos are of half eaten food, because we were more concerned with eating than taking pictures of the food. 
The first item we dug into was the BiBimBap, hot rice mixed with julienned zucchini, carrots, daikon and slices of cucumber. There are also piles of Korean bbq beef, a bit of spicy kochujang, topped with a sunny side up egg, and then topped with a drizzle of sesame oil. This was delicious, filling and comforting. There was quite a bit of meat and the yolk was nice and runny...once you break the yolk, it makes a nice sauce for the rice bowl. Oh, and the sprinkle of sesame seeds is a nice touch too.
The second item we tried was their Korean BBQ Burrito. It was loaded with cheese, onions, corn, tofu, Korean beef, all wrapped up in a tortilla. This was massive, and definitely a two-hander. It was piping hot, and a great blend of sweet and spicy. Every bite offered something different, definitely a winner.
We also tried their Stuffed Seaweed Roll, basically a spring roll filled with vegetables and potato noodles and then rolled in a sheet of seaweed. The roll is then battered and deep fried. It is a little oily but the insides are healthy, I mean, it's veggies, right??
We were interested in trying EVERYTHING on the menu, so the last item on the menu was their Kimchi Quesadilla. It's filled with veggies, kimchi and cheese...lots of cheese. The kimchi was more on the mild side, but the quesadilla was nicely fried on both sides, and the cheese was melted into ooey gooey goodness.
Of all the dishes we tried, my favourite were the burrito and the bibimbap. Enjoy either of these and you'll be more than full enough for an afternoon back at the office...

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Carvery Lunch at Pacific Rim

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Lobby Lounge at Fairmont Pacific Rim on Urbanspoon
We decided to use the Carvery Lunch Social Shopper Coupon that the BFF had bought a few weeks ago. With BFF's little one in tow, we set off for lunch at the Lobby Lounge at the Fairmont Pacific Rim
Since he couldn't partake in the carvery lunch, we ordered Spaghetti with Tomato sauce for him...Although this was a kid's portion, I still found it quite generous. Love the melted parmesan on top, along with the basil leaves as a garnish. I like how they don't dumb down the food just because it's for a child. I really like that.
So here's what you get for the Carvery Lunch, regularly $19.95, we got it at 2-for-1 due to the Social Shopping coupon. The plate was so big it was hard to fit two on the table, along with the Spaghetti & Tomato Sauce.
We both started with the Caesar Salad, your usual blen of romaine, parmesan, cherry  tomatoes, garlic and croutons. We both got the dressing on the side, and were glad we did, since the greens themselves were refreshing enough. The anchovy-caper dressing was nice, but a touch too tart for our liking.
Here is the star of the show...a pile of prime rib loaded onto a crusty sour dough bun...topped with horseradish. The prime rib was cooked to a medium rare, and the horseradish was spicy but not blow-your-mind hot. And the meat was tender enough that you could actually eat this as a sandwich, no knife and fork needed! 
There are four toppings that you get to enhance your burger, the horseradish was great, as were the peppers. However, the beef jus was a syrupy cool concoction that tasted like nothing. The grainy mustard was good as well, but more grainy than mustard-y. I would ask for extra peppers and have them hold the beef jus next time. 
The fries are supposed to sea-salt dusted but I didn't get any salt on mine. They were nice and crispy, as evidence by the BFF's munching down of most of hers!  
It's really way too much food for one person...I ate all the salad, half the sandwich and most of the fries. But then again, I wasn't crazy hungry to begin with so maybe that was part of the problem. Go hungry and enjoy! 

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Oru - lunch and dinner

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Oru at Fairmont Pacific Rim on Urbanspoon
After having a really great lunch at Giovane Cafe (reviewed for VancityBuzz) a few months ago, I had always wanted to return to try Oru at the Fairmont Pacific Rim. I managed to convince a few co-workers to join me.
Click here for the AYCE dinner post
Heading out for lunch with a few co-workers and we all decide to indulge in a non-alchoholic beverage, the choice today? The Oru kaffir colada, made with pineapple juice, lime and sparkling soda water. It was topped with a coconut foam and a kaffir lime leaf. So refreshing!
Their lunch menu is pretty substantial, but the best deal is their Set Lunch for $26. You get your pick of Four Courses...a cold appy, a hot appy, a main and a dessert. Since this was our first visit, we figured this was the best way to get a taste of everything. What you see above is a cold appy of the Oru Sockeye Salmon Sashimi, a hot miso soup, their hot entree of butter chicken and a dessert of mango cheesecake. The sashimi was amazing, thinly sliced and richly red...the butter chicken was nicely flavoured and the basmati rice was fluffy. It was a great dish, but alas, it wasn't mine.
The four-course deal that I got was completely different...I started off with the Thai Lettuce Cups, I just like food that I can play with. It helped that it was loaded with prawns, pickled vegetable, basil and a tamarind-lime vinaigrette. It was a great starter and really primes the palate.
The lettuce they chose was your basic iceberg, but butter lettuce would have been better for wrapping. However, the iceberg did give it a nice crunch. 
For my entree, I got the Hoisin Glazed Beef Short Rib Panini, with pickled red onion, apple smoked cheddar. This was a generous portion and sweet and savory at the same time. I really liked how tender the short rib was too!
Another co-worker also got the miso soup and sashimi to start but decided on the Masala Poached Prawns Salad for her main. Loaded with greens, raisins, cashews, & prawns in a light lemon-yogurt vinaigrette. I sampled this and wow, was it ever tasty. Very light and the prawns were perfectly poached!
You don't get a lot of prawns, but the trio you do get are well done. 
This mango dessert isn't on their menu anymore, but it's no great shame, since none of us could really get any mango flavour from it. 
Here is a closeup of the sashimi...perfectly red, thinly sliced and served nice and cold as I like my sashimi. This was definitely a win. An as an appetizer, the portion was fair. 
The trio of pork wontons as part of the hot appetizer was really good too. A little darker than I normally like, they had a good meat to wrapper ratio so no complaints here. The dipping sauce was a little oily for me, so I didn't really enjoy that. 
AYCE Prawns, Crab Legs and Oysters!
Since I had such a good experience for lunch, I decided to bring my parents there for their wedding anniversary. They treated us to some sparkling wine, but check out the slice of strawberry...with a little heart cut-out! Such attention to detail...gotta love it! 
This dinner took place in the summer, when they had their Seafood Buffet, and has been extended until end of October, so go check it out before it's gone! Check out the pile of shrimp...and they don't let that thing go lower than this pile...jumbo prawns, cooked to juicy  tenderness and then peeled for your eating ease. What a treat. 
Oh, and it's not just prawns that are in huge abundance...there are crab claws too! 
And see how they make it really easy for you to eat? All the extra shells are removed for you, with just the "handle" remaining! All you need to do is dip into their cocktail sauce and you've got yourself a meal! 
Oh, and did I mention oysters? Yes - all you can eat oysters. I think I've died and gone to heaven. I was eating them as fast as the poor shucker could shuck! 
There was some hot food too, like this butter chicken above. Surprisingly, the rice was fluffy, quite unexpected in a buffet, but the same as in our lunch previously. The chicken itself was slightly spicy, but not overly pungent. The raita accompaniment was light and paired with the richness of the butter chicken sauce nicely. 
We finished off the meal with a great blend of desserts, including home made marshmallows dunked into their chocolate tower. There was also cheesecake bites, chocolate and red velvet cake and a coffee mousse too. So whether you're enjoying lunch or dinner here, you'll be treated to a wide variety of dishes, in generous portions and all tastefully done. 

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