gracecheung604 | write on time: May 2012

Monday, May 28, 2012

Dinner at Shanghai Wonderful

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Although I've been to Shanghai Wonderful many times for lunch, this was my first visit for dinner. Their lunchtime service features lots of Shanghainese dim sum dishes but dinner is a whole different ball game.
Wor Bah 2
I know what you are thinking, are those rice krispies squares?? In short, they are probably the original rice crispy squares, made without marshmallows. It's chunks of crispy rice served with a thick soup on the side. You're supposed to pour the soup over the rice and listen to the Snap, Crackle, Pop, Asian style. The rice softens and soaks up all the soupy goodness. It's really fun and you can do it to the whole bowl, or grab a few chunks and do it in your own bowl.
xlb No visit to a Shanghainese restaurant is complete without Xiao Loong Baos (XLBs), soup filled pork dumplings. All you do is dip it in a little vinegar and bite off a little bit so you can suck up all the soupy goodness first. Or if you are patient, you can wait until they cool off a bit and pop the whole thing in your mouth.
rice cakes 2 We needed one additional carb dish and settled in the Shanghai Style Fried Rice Cakes. These are oval shaped "noodles" and mixed with cabbage or other greens as well as some shredded pork. Great flavour and I really do like the texture of these cakes, chewy and almost impossible to overcook.
peking duck In addition to the mandatory XLBs (for both lunch and dinner) my other must-have is the Peking Duck. It's a whole BBQ duck served two ways. They skin the duck and serve it as a taco filler. The key to BBQ duck is to slice the skin off without taking too much of the meat. Several of my slices were overly meaty, but the crispiness of the skin did help to mitigate that.
skin Okay, they are not really taco skins, more like quesadilla skins...steamed and piping hot, you spread this open on your plate, and then add some condiments to this. accompaniments2
What sort of condiments? Mostly cucumber and green onions, and a splash of hoisin sauce. People say this is like Chinese BBQ sauce, but it's richer and slightly sweeter than BBQ sauce.
lettuce wrap Remember how I said this was served two ways, right? So the second one is the the rest of the duck meat, shredded up with a blend of fried vermicelli, celery, carrots and green onions. I really liked how the duck meat was cubes, so you can really taste the meat. Most places shred the duck so finely that you can't even tell what protein you're eating. Definitely no filler here.  
lettuce Instead of using the same flour wraps, the duck meat are placed in leaves of lettuce. The crunch of the lettuce pairs well with the meatiness of the dish. Be sure to add some of the hoisin sauce as well. 
wo tip Last but not least, we ordered another dish off the Dim Sum menu, the Fried Dumplings. These were a little disappointing, both in the lack of flavour and the bland appearance. I could have skipped this and wouldn't have missed a thing.
everything 3 Our dinner at a glance. I'd recommend the Peking Duck and the Shanghainese Rice Cakes for sure. 
Shanghai Wonderful Restaurant 旺 on Urbanspoon

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Spotted! Spot Prawns at Ki!

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On last Friday, after the launch of Spot Prawn season, I was desperately craving some. I had heard that Ki was doing Spot Prawn two-ways and included them in my June column for Vancouver View. So off we went in search of these seasonal delicacies.   
Once we were seated and ordered, we were offered an amuse bouche from Chef Yoshi. I cannot remember the Japanese name (and if you know, please leave a comment below), but it is a fried halibut fish ball, in a fresh citrusy broth. It really served to whet your appetite. 
Sashimi Salad The first item to arrive was the Sashimi Salad, with 4 different types of fish and some fresh greens. The spicy dressing and some wakame are served in cups made with a crispy wonton skin. The waiter actually suggested that we just crush the cups and let the dressing and wakame spill over and make the salad nice and crunchy too! Great idea, but we just couldn't bar to do that with such pretty presentation!  
Spot Prawns 2


And the star of the show, the beloved Spot Prawns....can you see their spots? Served on a bed of ice with a big of diakon, this was elegant, simple and exquisite.  Spot Prawns and Salad To give you a sense of how big these prawns are, check them out next to the sashimi salad!    Spot Prawn and Heads One of the best things about Spot Prawns are their heads. Here at Ki, they take the heads, trim them and then put the on the grill. This is better than simply deep frying the heads, since it still stays moist and tasty.  Peppered Drummettes 3 Speaking of the grill, we also got some items from the kushiyaki menu. We tried their Seven Spice Chicken Drummettes with a custom Ki barbecue sauce. You get eight drummettes per order and these babies have a great grilled flavour to them. The outside is a little charred and burnt, but the inside stays moist. You can really taste the spices and the BBQ sauce doesn't overwhelm at all.   Pancetta Wrapped Unagi Another yummy kushiyaki is the Pancetta Wrapped Unagi. It sort of goes along the lines of bacon goes with everything. The unagi is grilled after being marinated in their signature sauce. The flavour is very sweet, borderlining on overly so. However, after adding some daikon and then being wrapped in pancetta with a grilled green onion garnish, the whole thing becomes a delectable dish. It's a great blend of sweet and salty. It's one of my must-haves whenever I come. Lunch 2 After we polished off the salad, here is the rest of my meal. Truffles 2 They presented us with lovely truffles to round off our meal, the one on the left is a "plain" truffle and the green one on the right is a matcha flavoured one. Both were rich, decadent and not expected of a Japanese restaurant. truffles We really enjoyed the entire meal and loved the Spot Prawns the best. I'm so glad we came here instead of staying at our original planned destination of Tableau Bistro, which had been pumping their Spot Prawn Festival BIG TIME on twitter. The dates were May 17-20, so since was the 18th, we thought we'd be safe. Their platter looked good and we thought sharing that and a French Onion Soup would be perfect for lunch. When we arrived and were seated, the first thing the waiter said was that they were out of the French Onion Soup. He proceeded to go through the day's specials and then when we asked about the Spot Prawn Platter, he said they were out of spot prawns! Good thing we left and came here instead!   
Ki Modern Japanese & Bar on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Mother's Day at Seasons

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My mom isn't a great fan of traditional Chinese food, so for Mother's Day, I had to go with something Western. She does love seafood and really enjoyed a previous meal at Coast with Chef Dennis Peckham. So when I found out that he is now running the show at Seasons, it was a no brainer! 
Bread We arrived at 7 and the sun was shining beautifully into the room. The buns were the first to arrive, and they are just perfect little pillows. My mom is a huge carb fan so this was pretty much all hers. 
Crab Cake We decided to try some of the new appetizers on the menu. And the first one we got was the Dungeness Crab Cake. This was really tasty...lots of crab and the whole cake held together nicely. Having tried to make crab cakes at home, I know how hard this is to do. My mom loved the amount of crab in this and the little bit of arugula on top made the dish very vibrant. 
Ribs Normally, when we have dinner as a family at more casual places like Earls, we always get the Dry Ribs to share. Well, they had on the ribs on the menu here, but these are totally different. Sweet and Spicy ribs were slathered with delicious barbecue sauce and then cooked to a falling off the bones consistency. Totally delicious and very juicy, this was one of the best ribs I've had in a while.
Prime Rib xBeing a total meatlover, my stepdad took Dennis' recommendation and went with the Prime Rib, cooked to a medium rare. With just the right amount of fat, the marbling on this was amazing. The little yorkshire pudding on the side helped to complete the meal, along with a creamy horseradish. Great suggestion from the chef! 
Halibut As mentioned before, my mom is a fish lover and Dennis recommended the Halibut as the Catch of the Day. Well, she absolutely loved it. The grilled fish arrived with a broiled tomato and some broccollini...simple, fresh and perfectly cooked. 
Surf and Turf
I honestly couldn't decided on what to order, so I asked Dennis to just "make me dinner" What I got was an amazing Surf and Turf dinner. The lobster tail was so juicy and meaty, it really rivalled the filet in terms of texture. The filet was juicy and tender, but the portion was just too big for me. I ended having to take half of it to go...the little bit of mashed on the bottom was amazing too... I love creamy mashed potatoes. It's pure comfort food! 
With the amazing view and the revamped menu, I would highly recommend Seasons for your next special celebration.

Seasons in the Park on Urbanspoon

Friday, May 18, 2012

Land Tasting Menu at West

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I had heard that the tasting menus at West was worth a try, and although I've been for brunch, I've never actually tried their tasting menu. So last month, we decided to head over and give it a try. They have three, Sea, Land and a Vegetarian one. Not thrilled with all the options of the Sea one, so we both opted for the Land. Bread Not your average baguette slices here, instead it's a combination of Olive, Caraway and Pumpkin seed rolls with some butter and oilve oil for dipping. I love that the crusts are little bit crunchy, and also liked that fact that this was served warm. Oh, check out the plate that the bread is on...very cool. Tuna Confit The first dish to come out wasn't part of the "Land" tasting menu, rather just an amuse bouche. It was a Tuna confit, done in a croquette style with a dollop of lemon emulsion on top. Really crunchy and hard to believe how much flavour they packed into this thing...it was just about the size of a ping pong ball. Foie 4 Our first dish from the tasting menu was the Foie Gras Pate, but I believe it is now done as a Chicken Liver Pate. Done in a mousse like fashion and shaped into a loaf, we each got generous slices of this. with some freshly baked warm brioche. Foie 3 The pate was surrounded by some apple jelly and topped with some apple slices. The jelly was amazing and totally reminded me of apple pie, complete with the cinnamon and nutmeg flavours. The pate had a very creamy consistency and was served cool. The toast points were warm and the pate spread quite easily. I found this to be a big portion of pate, and given the amount of bread, we piled our pate on quite high. It's not something you can eat on its own.
Quail 
The next Land item was the Grilled Thiessen Quail. I am not a huge fan of sliced beets, so I was really happy that these beets were served in a puree, almost tartar like style. The tarragon vinaigrette was very tangy and definitely helped cut the sweetness of the beets. But the best part of the whole dish was the quail, crispy skin on the leg was great. Mushroom Risotto with Veal Tongue 2 After two courses, this third course was the "Pasta" course, and it was the best on so far. The Foraged Mushroom Risotto with Veal Tongue. As a kid, I'd eaten "baked ox tongue with rice" quite often and expected it to be similar. Boy was I wrong on this one! The risotto was creamy, smooth and very mushoomy! The veal tongue was sliced so thinly it practically melts in your mouth. And the feathery parmesan melted easiy onto the whole plate. If this is available a la carte, get it. Elk 4 And now for our final savory dish, we got the "Meat and Potatoes", or rather, Peace Country Elk with Potato Gratin (this has now changed to potato pave).
Elk 
I know the elk looks a little under, but it's not, it's the meat, it's just that red! Also, the meat itself doesn't have much fat, so cooking it more than this would really toughen the meat. And the crust is made with blackberry, although you couldn't taste much of that.
Potato Gratin? 
The one thing I found disappointing on the plate was the potato. It was just weird, a little rubbery and gummy, and rather bland. And I'm pretty sure I only got one smoked shallot. Oh well, the smallest thing really, but seemed off compared to the excellence thus far.
Pineapple passion fruit sorbet with pink grapefruit 
For our "pre-dessert", we were treated to a palate cleanser of Pineapple & Passion fruit Sorbet with a segment of Grapefruit. Super fresh and fruity. The pink grapefruit was great for colour as well.
Chocolate cake, raspberry, ice cream with concensed milk and caramel sauce & chocolate wafer 2 
Our main dessert was a Chocolate Cake with raspberry ice cream made with condensed milk topped with a caramel sauce. A tiny chocolate wafer completed the dish. This was a great contrast of hot and cold. In fact, I think the chocolate cake was the hottest thing we had all night. Truffles 2
Rounding out the meal were some homemade truffles, and assortment made with hibiscus, rhubarb and almond too! If you are shopping on Granville and in the mood for a fancy dinner, give their Tasting menu a try. However, they do have more casual plates available too, and the bar scene is quite big here. It was standing room only when we left around 10pm.
West Restaurant + Bar on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Golden Lake - North Burnaby Dim Sum

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For dim sum in Burnaby, I would say the options are a bit limited. Sure there are pricey options such as Kirin (Starlight) and Grand Dynasty, but for your average price range, you're left with the less than satisfactory Happy Valley  Ergo Noodles So you can imagine my excitement when I discovered this place on Hastings, by Boundary. The first thing that caught our eye was the Stif-Fried Chinese Rice "Dough" with Shredded Meat and Vegetables. I love these ergonomically correct noodles, so easy to pick up with chopsticks. The texture was good, not overcooked as in commonly the case. Little bits of prok and vegetables were mixed throughout. I found the dish a bit bland, but you can probably tell, there's just not that much seasoning here. And not really worth the $6.95. Black Bean This next dish is the Crystal Noodle in Hot Pot with Spare Ribs.These noodles are like rice flour sheets rollups. The black beat spareribs are good, if just a bit fatty. But it's a good sized portion for $5.95 and the rollups soak up the sauce very nicely. Chicken Feet Don't be scared, but yes,these are Chicken Feet. You either love them or cringe when you see them. I happen to love them, and love them here too. Juicy stumps of skin and cartilage. If you are curious, give it a try, afterall, you get five or six pieces for just $3.75. Shrimp Dumpling And no dimsum is complete without the ubiquitous Prawn Dumplings. Plump and filled with pieces of shrimp, the skin on this is great, thick enough to hold everything together but thin enough so you don't have a mouthful of dough. Give it a shot for $4.25. Sticky Rice Roll Here is another dish, the Traditional Style Stick Rice Roll. So instead of a leaf wrapped sticky rice as seen at Kirin on Cambie, they wrap it in a Chinese bun dough. Sort of like a weird quesadilla. The rice was a little bland, and the dough was a little too thick, so I wasn't a huge fan. But at $3.75, it's worth giving this a shot to see if they have improved.  Steamed Canelloni The next dish is the Rice Flour Rolls Wrapped with Chinese Donut with Pork Floss. I actually expected the pork floss on the inside of the roll, not on top. This was a little weird for me since the whole point of pork floss is to be loose and fluffy. By putting the soy sauce over it, the floss got soggy and a touch too salty. The actual roll was good though, if you brush the floss off to the side. Not a bad dish for $4.25. All Together Now All this was $30.50 and is definitely more than enough food for two people. I don't think it's worth a hike into Burnaby if you're not in the area, but if this is close by, it's worth a shot.
Golden Lake Seafood Restaurant 湖濱海鮮酒家 on Urbanspoon

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