gracecheung604 | write on time: November 2011

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Kingyo Craze for just $19

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Have you tried Kingyo? I was invited by VANEATS.ca to try their latest package...$19 for amazing 5 courses! I was smitten when I watched the video, showcasing all the yummy dishes I was going to sample! 
The first dish we tried was their Sashimi Salad...loaded with salmon, scallop and amaebi. With organic greens and a light soy vinaigrette, this was a great palate cleanser to start the meal. The salmon portions were generous and the scallop was moist and sweet. The amaebi was head on...just the way I like it! 


We also added a Cha-Su Rice Paper Roll, it's like a Vietnamese Salad Roll, but loaded with diced pork and veggies. If you are looking to add something to your tasting, I'd suggest this because it's like nothing on the courses you will get. The pork is very juicy, and the rolls are stuffed to the gills! 
Next is the Chicken and Cod Spring Roll. Delicate chicken breast and cod rolled into a tight little cone, and then all deep-fried. Very nice crunch on the skin, and sliced chicken and cod were good and aplenty! The mayo soy dipping sauce is good too, adding some tanginess to the dish.
This is part one of the Mushroom and Tofu in a hot stone bowl. The deep fried tofu is topped with bonito flakes and okra. And yes, the bowl is insanely hot. 
And here is the second part of the dish, a bowl of mushroom broth. To complete the dish, you pour this saucy goodness into the stone bowl...and wait for the sizzle! 
And here is the completed dish. So great on a cold wintry day. Hot mushroom sauce ladled over fried tofu pieces. And the stone bowl ensures everything stays hot while you slowly enjoy the mushroomy goodness. 
Our last dish was the negitoro roll, a generous portion of 6 pieces. The toro really stands out and the green onion is pared back to let the fish flavour shine. I loved the sprinkle of tobiko on the plate, as well as the seaweed paste, eliminating the need for soy sauce. Another pretty adornment is the tealight candle housed in a turnip case. Definitely a first for me! 
See the yummy crispy lotus root chip? Yes, that garnish is present in almost all their dishes. So healthy and just a nice light crunch. 
And to round off the meal...a tiny Almond Tofu. Very smooth and creamy, this dish was a nice light dessert. Unlike the dishes at some Asian restaurants, the almond flavour of this is very true to form, and not the chemically almond "paste" some places use as a substitute.
The bill comes with two frozen grapes, just like at another Izakaya. Not sure why, but this was nice pleasant touch. It's always nice to get something for free when you get the bill, right?
For $19, you get everything I tried here, with the exception of the Rice Paper Roll. This is more than enough food for one person, and for $19, it's a heck of a deal! 
Kingyo Izakaya 金魚居酒屋 on Urbanspoon

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Tasting at Mahony's

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Mahony & Sons Burrard Landing on Urbanspoon
Mahony & Sons has been opened for a few months now, and I finally got to try them for dinner last week! It's an Irish pub with a huge variety of other cuisines. Would you believe they have Thai Chicken Curry and Italian Thin Crust Pizzas too? 

The day we visited was an insanely cold day, so we all started off with their French Onion Soup. It's a hot tasty concoction of Guinness (it IS an Irish pub after all!) & onion broth. There is also chunks of gammon bacon (made from the hindlegs/rump) in there, add extra depth and richness to the soup. And to top it all off, there is a crusty bread dunked into the soup and then smothered with cheese and broiled. This was really  good and perfect way to start the meal and warm the tummy!

Here is a shot of the Mahony Platter. It's loaded with tons of the usual bar favourites and also some things that are not your average Appy Platter. Sauces are Honey Mustard, Tzatziki and something that seemed more like sour cream than anything else. Feel free to mix and match! 

The Calamari is lightly breaded, and served with Tzataki and a sprinkle of red onion. The pieces are nice and small, a perfect bite-size portion. The calamari was cooked just enough, with a crispy breading and a nice chewy centre.

Next up were the ribs and wings. Now this is more like the appy platter you'd find at other sports bars. The wings were nice a spicy, with a cayenne rub. They were juicy and slightly wet with just a hint of stickiness. These were big meaty wings and drummettes, and really finger-licking good. The ribs were flavoured with a dry spice rub and cooked to a meaty crispness. A great meat-to-bone ratio here.

One unexpected favourite were the Fresh Cooked Potato Chips. I didn't really know what to expect, I think I was expecting potato wedges or chunky potatoes. But what came to the table was actually thinly sliced potatoes, deep fried to a crisp, but with a soft and tender inside. These were just lightly salted but that's all the flavouring it needed. I could definitely eat all of these, and more!  

Also on the platter is the Focaccia Parmesan Bread...sliced into triangles, and richly flavoured with the parmesan, this was chewy and yummy! The Chicken Tenders were breaded with Panko, making it very light. I really liked these with the Honey Mustard Sauce.

We also tried the Mahi Mahi Tacos...loaded with fish and greens, this actually seemed healthier than anything else we tried. This is a great way to eat light, and if you're looking to share something as an appy? One of these for two people would be great.

We also tried two items off their Fall Menu...the first to arrive was the Truffle Mushroom Poutine. Ladled with gravy and cheese curds, this was an extraordinary poutine. I'm used to the usual cheese curd and "brown" sauce, but I have to admit, the addition of Truffles and Mushroom really elevates the dish. But be warned, this is definitely a main course meal, and not a simple side dish.

The other Fall Menu item I tried is their Paddy's Turkey Dip. This is Thanksgiving Dinner in a bun! There's stuffing, cranberry sauce with actual chunks of cranberries, all topped with slices of turkey (dark and white meat!) Oh, and you need to have that side of gravy for dipping! The bread really makes the dish, a nice yeasty and chewy bread quite similar to a baguette. You need a substantial bread to hold all this goodness in, and this one is up for the job!

One dish we were given to try was their Seared Jumbo Prawns. There are two versions of this available, one is a Thai curry sauce, but the one we tried was topped with a Moroccan style seasoning. You really do taste the cumin and turmeric spices in this dish, and they are heavier than in Middle Eastern cuisine, but that's the way it should be. 

They have a Mahony Sundae Sampler...we started off with the Strawberry Cheesecake Sundae, made with vanilla gelato and topped with yummy strawberries! This was refreshing and very good

Another sundae we tried is the Chocolate Sundae, with the same vanilla gelato, but this time, topped with a Frangelico chocolate sauce, more strawberries , nuts and even some caramel for good measure.

The last sundae I tried was the Coconut Mango Gelato Sundae. I'm not a fan of coconut but I'm a huge fan of mango...and in gelato form? Oh yes, you bet I'm trying this. The sundae is topped with pineapple and some pecans. Nice and light, this ended up being my favourite dessert of the night! 

Here is a shot of all three sundaes together and yes, those are our leftovers behind them. We totally over ordered, as usual. Funny thing? We polished off the desserts though!  So next time you're in the Coal Harbour area and looking for a casual bite, give Mahony and Sons a try. They have a large menu and with a wide variety of items suitable for groups!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Dim Sum at the Prince

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Prince Chinese Seafood 王子海鮮酒家 on Urbanspoon
After a week on the Allure of the Seas, one of the things we were craving was DimSum. Not wanting to head into Richmond, we opted for something closer to home. 
Talk about going back to basics...we just wanted plain comfort food dim sum, so we started off with the Har Gow (蝦餃). We loved it because it was the first real Chinese food we were eating in about 10 days. In reality, it was filled with plump shrimp but the skin was a bit thick, and not as translucent as some higher end places. 
Another staple at dim sum is Chicken Feet (鳳爪) - fried, boiled and marinated. These were really good...richly red and nice and bony, just the way I like them!
The highlight of the lunch was the Eggplant - four pieces of stewed eggplant stuffed with deep-fried shrimp paste. Lots of shrimp and really tender eggplant. The flavours of the eggplant were fragrant, and the shrimp paste had a great bite to it. It was sweet and served to set off the eggplant perfectly. One of the best versions of this I've had in a long time.
As is my habit, I always try to try something new at every dim sum lunch and this one was no different. They had a sticky rice dumpling on the menu and I decided to give it a try. Since they are cartless, you order off a menu sheet, not knowing what you're going to get exactly. I imagined a sticky rice dumpling wrapped in a bread-like dough. I was surprised when it arrived as a dumpling, wrapped in a Sui Mai dough. 
Once I took it off the dim sum basket, I dissected it to see what was going on inside. I was greeted with the usual sticky rice with dome shitake, dried scallop and various preserved meats. But be warned, this is a heavy dish. You eat one of these babies, and it will ruin your appetite for anything else...best to save this for last! 
So although Prince isn't the best dim sum in town, it's a decent place for an afternoon lunch. I've heard that service can be slow, but if you stay the course and order the usual dim sum dishes, you'll be just fine. 

Monday, November 14, 2011

Cheesy Goodness at American Cheesesteak

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The American CheeseSteak Co. on Urbanspoon
The American Cheesesteak Company held a media event this past Tuesday and I was one of the first ones to arrive. Knowing how great their sandwiches are, this was an easy invite to accept. 
I was early, arriving at 4pm, and the place was fairly calm. They asked me what I wanted to try, actually, Anthony Sedlak asked me what I wanted to try. He loves the whole menu but told me to pick two that really appealed to me. Once my mind was made up, meat got thrown onto the grill and we were rocking away! The sandwiches are all made to order, so onto the grill went the thinly shaved meat. In less than a minute, the meat was cooked and passed onto the "dressing station".
What you see here is The New Yorker, one of the "traditional" items on the menu. While many of the Specialty sandwiches are served with sauteed veggies (onions, mushrooms & peppers), this is one of the few that come with fresh veggies, so I had to try it. It's made with their shaved prime centre cut prime rib, loaded up with some sauteed mushrooms & peppers, but add some fresh shredded lettuce and sliced tomatoes. The gooey sauce you see there? House made roasted garlic mayo. 
This was a big sandwich, and super messy. I think sauce was dripping down my arm at one point, but oh, was it ever tasty! The fresh lettuce, the melted cheese whiz (yes, I went for the whiz), and the freshly cooked prime rib came together like magic.
The other one that I was really interested in trying was Le Bifteck...it's one of the Specialty sandwiches, and they had me at Double Cream Brie. Again topped with fresh arugula, this was made with caramelized onion compote and a smidgeon of dijon. The cheese melted so well, it honestly became part of the sauce. The arugula helps a bit to cut the richness, but in a duel between arugula and brie, the victor will be brie! 
Another of the Specialty sandwiches was The Cowboy and this was made with the usual shaved prime rib, this baby was topped with bacon mayo, fried onion strings, cheddar cheese and a sweet & spicy bbq sauce. Yeah, this was like a BBQ on a bun.
The other sandwich I sampled was their Chicken Milanese...for you non-red-meat-lovers, this is a great option. The chicken breast is breaded and thinly sliced, and then topped with the tasty trio of grilled mushrooms, onions and peppers. For this sandwich, they chose the fontina cheese, which was rather mild but allowed the flavours of the tomato sauce to come through.
Oh, and you can't have a sandwich without fries...can you? I tried the ACC Fries, which are tossed with garlic and topped with shredded parmesan and some parsley. I decided to forgo the usual ketchup here, and instead opted for the Truffle Aioli Dip...you can see the specks of truffle in there. That was heavenly. 
While I was chatting with Anthony, Omni TV showed up and he made a sandwich for them on the spot. Talking as he was cooking, it's easy to see his passion for serving up fresh food and ingredients at affordable prices. Check this place out next time you're hungry...and oh yes, they're licensed! 

Tasty Bites at Terracotta Van!

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Terracotta Modern Chinese on Urbanspoon
I was lucky enough to win a gift certificate to Terracotta a while back and decided to come try out their food. I'd been there before "just for drinks" and have sampled their dishes at various events where they catered some of the food.
The first thing we ordered was the Szechuan Green Beans. Tossed in a spicy sauce, these were tasty but the presentation left something to be desired. I am used to the traditional serving of veggies in noodle houses, where each stalk/bean is placed uniformly against each other. I get that theses beans were tossed in a wok (instead of boiled or steamed) but I can't ignore the fact some of the beans were literally falling off our plate. Aesthetics aside, these were done nicely, not overcooked and there was a good heat to the dish.
These little deep-fried nuggets of Chicken Knees are common in Taiwanese tea houses, and these were a pretty good version of them. Chicken knees are mostly cartilage, so that batter served to enhance the crunchiness of the dish. I was pleasantly surprised by the lack of greasiness here, as is too common with most deep-fried dished.
They also had dim sum on the menu, so we tried their Siu Mai. It's made in house with a combination of pork, prawn and mushroom. Chewy and meaty, I really liked them! Though I probably would have asked for hot sauce instead of the sauce that it came with. I'm not sure why they served this with a mayo/tartar like sauce, but the dumplings themselves were done well. 
As a huge fan of duck, I had to get their Barbeque Duck Wraps. I found this the greasiest of all the dishes we had. Yes, even more so than the deep fried chicken knees. I think they used more of  the fatty duck skin instead of the leaner meat part, and so the whole thing became quite greasy. Served with the obligatory hoi sin sauce, these were also wrapped with green onion and cucumber. However, the wrapper itself seemed a little off, almost as though it wasn't cooked through properly. 
I would return to try other items, but would probably skip the Duck Wraps next time, despite my fondness for duck.  They aren't serving traditional Chinese dishes, they are doing it in a whole new fusion style. I found the prices fair when compared to a regular dinner out. If you want to try traditional dishes with a spin, then you'll find it here at Terracotta.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Hidden - Great for Pre-Event Meals

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Hidden Tasting Bar and Social Lounge on Urbanspoon
If you're in the downtown area for a show at The Centre, Rogers Arena or BC Place, check out Hidden for a great pre-event dinner. Located in the Westin Grand, Hidden really is hidden! Serving up tapas that are tasty and great for sharing, this place is worth a visit.
We started off with their Inukshuk Onion Rings, and although not stacked like an actual Inukshuk, these were crunchy rings with a light batter. I found them a little oily, but then aren't onion rings supposed to be? What I really liked was the smoked ketchup that these little rings came with, and I found myself double dipping quite a bit! 
We also tried their Steamed Mussels which were done in a smoked paprika-tomato broth. The mussels came with and andouille sausage and plenty of bread for soaking up the broth. I found the mussels plump and meaty but the best part was the slight heat from the sausage.
We also tried their Baby Back Short Ribs, which were doused on a honey & knob creek bourbon glaze. These were really tender and truly falling off the bones. Served on a bed of Fraser Valley fingerling potato salad, this is a whole new way to enjoy Meat & Potatoes!
I know it doesn't look like there is a lot of meat on the plate, but the three pieces that you do get are so good that you just need a little bit!
For some reason, most of the tapas that I observed other people order were also in "trios". If you're dining with just one friend, you should each try one of whatever appy you ordered, and then choose your favorite so you can have one more of what you liked.

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