gracecheung604 | write on time: June 2012

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

$18 VANEATSca Deal at Thai House

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The awesome guys at VANEATSca have done it again. This time, they have paired up with Thai House Kitsilano to deliver an amazing 5-course dining pass for $18. 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.
lychee coconut drink with yellow tail We kicked off the meal with some beverages, namely, a lychee coconut cocktail and a glass of Yellow Tail for me. 
Wings and Lettuce Wrap 3 The first two courses arrive together. On the left, you have the Chicken Wing appetizer and on the left is the Lettuce Wrap. The filling was piping hot, and the lettuce was large enough to envelope the whole thing without spilling over. The beef can be substituted with tofu if you want. As is, the beef is mixed with onions, peppers, basil and some kick ass chilli sauce. This is listed as spicy on the menu and it did have a great heat to it. A highlight of the meal.
Boneless Stuffed Chicken Wing 2 Here is a close up of the wing cross-section. See how it's packed with veggies and glass noodles? And the dipping sauce accompanying this is a little tangy, great flavour combination.
Stir Fried Rice Noodles 2 There are a few VANEATSca exclusive menu items, and the first one is the Stir Fried Rice Noodles. This is a mixture of beef, basil, veggies in a mild fish sauce based seasoning with fresh rice noodles. The taste on this was a bit mild, but probably because it came on the heels of the spicier Lettuce Wraps. It's a nice change from the usual Pad Thai, and is a good change of pace.
Mango Chicken 4 Another VANEATSca exclusive is the Coconut Curry with Mango and Chicken. It's your average yellow curry but elevated with a seasonal element, such as the fresh mango slices you see here. Also milder in taste, this is a good starter curry for those who've been hesitant to give it a try.
Thai Beef Salad 3 As with other VANEATSca packages, I always want to try more of the restaurant's menu and this was no exception. We decided to try the Thai Beef Salad or Yum Neua as it is listed on the menu. It's a Sliced Grilled New York Beef mixed with Thai chili and lime sauce. It's not your traditional salad since it is served warm, but the freshness of the ingredients is definitely similar to a salad. And this was spicy, spicier that the Lettuce Wraps and worthy of the four chillies next to it on the menu. If you like your food with more of a zing, try this.
Thai Omlette Another item that looked intriguing was the Thai Style Omelette. The description of this sounded so good that we had to try it. The filling consisted of minced pork, shrimps, onions, green onions with a spicy sauce. That's some omelette!
Thai Omlette 4 And as you can see after we sliced it open, it was jammed packed with filling. We couldn't finish everything and I have to say, this was as delicious the next day for lunch.
Deep Fried Banana & Ice Cream 2 The dessert included in this five-course dinner is the Deep Fried Banana and Mango Ice Cream. Crunchy on the outside with a creamy warm center. Add another dimension with the mango ice cream and it's a trio of interesting textures and tastes. A really good way to end the meal. So if you have been meaning to try Thai House and haven't had a chance to, this deal for $18 is a great introduction. To learn more, take a look at the VANEATSca website. Or click below and check out their video now. 
Thai House (Fairview) on Urbanspoon

Friday, June 15, 2012

Red Rock Malbec Launch

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Red Rock Malbec Last week, I had the pleasure of attending the BC launch of the Red Rock Malbec. The top-selling Californian Malbec in BC paired perfectly with a fantastic culinary experience. In homage to the winemaker, many of our foods were prepared on hot stones. The event was catered by A Moveable Feast and the food was top notch.  the view The setting was an idyllic waterfront property in West Vancouver, with amazing views, and an infinity pool that just blew my mind. The scene was peaceful and serene. And the sun came out for us, despite this being the coldest June we’ve had in Vancouver for 40 years. chips in a cone 2 The first bites to greet us were these chips, reminiscent of Terra chips, but these were fresh and so prettily displayed. All the food you see here was prepared by A Moveable Feast people, amazing caterers with great attention to detail and to excellence.   DSCN0798 We also got to sample some flatbreads, some with chicken, some with mushrooms and all very delicious! skewers 6 These are the platters of raw meats that will be cooked on the hot stones. Meats and veggies, something for everyone! skewers 4 There were Venison skewers, all cut to uniform sizes to ensure even cooking. When cooking on the stones, you have to remember that the heat is only coming from the bottom, so you have to make sure the portions are thin enough to be cooked through.skewers 3 And the S stands for Sirloin...boggles my mind the amount of time it took to make all these skewers. They remind me of an army of meat! skewers 1 And the final meat dish was the Lamb skewers. All these meats, although slightly gamey, does pair really well with the Red Rock Malbec. Getting it done on the grill Onto the Stone! These stones are heated to upwards of 500 degrees and slowly cook the food to order. You won't see grill marks but you do hear the sizzle. It doesn't take long for these thinly sliced meats to come to a nice medium, you do have to flip them, since the heat is only from the bottom. the spread The Appetizer Spread was amazing. Such fresh dishes and presented so prettily. I almost felt like it was summer!  proscuitto asparagus 2 The first one I sampled was the Prosciutto Wrapped Asparagus, a little bundle of asparagus wrapped with a paper-thin slice of prosciutto. The pairing was better than the variation we had at the Joe Fortes Tweetup, where I found the beef a touch too think. I really enjoyed this.  pork cones There were also some cones topped with a ground pork mixture. It was a fun play on a dessert-looking dish but actually being a savoury one. The cones were wrapped in a gold foil that further elevated this appetizer. tomato & boccocini Another wonderful appetizer was the Classic Tomato and Bocconcini salad. Skewered with a bit of basil for ease of eating, and drizzled with a touch of balsamic, this was another playful twist on an original.
parm caesar cups 2
The appetizers were all a great spin on your traditional appies, and the next one, the Caesar Salad in a Parmesan Cup was no exception. It's your classic Caesar salad but served in a cup made with parmesan shavings. Heated in a cupcake mold, these were the perfect receptacles for this dish.
Spaghetti Spoons The next yummy bite we got was another variation on the classic Spaghetti and Meatballs, this one was a simple meatball with a twist of spaghetti served in a Chinese soup spoon. I love how the spoons were set in a bed of peppercorn to prevent them from sliding around. Pure genius. bacon & gruyere And I know all the the food that we've seen has been spectacular, but no party is complete without bacon, and they certainly didn't disappoint. Check out the amazing Bacon and Gruyere Grilled Cheese sandwiches here! I know they quartered these so we wouldn't overindulge, but I may or may not have had four of these. my plate So after describing everything, here is my plate, a bit of the hot and cold items. The meats were served with a chimichurri like sauce and a spicy barbecue sauce. The Spaghetti and Meatball disappeared too quickly to be photographed. And the bacon and gruyere sammies too.  fruits And don't make the mistake of thinking that these stones are just great for meats, try using them with  peaches and any non citrusy fruits. These were really good and the heat really brings out the natural sugars. pineapple I've never been a fan of warm fruit, but these Grilled Pineapple slices were some of the best I'd ever had. The heat really caramelizes the sugars and if you don't like warm fruit (like me), wait for these to cool and enjoy them, but they will benefit from the heating process.    brownie We also got some non-stone cooked desserts, such as the Cranberry Brownies seen here. These are little bites of sweetness with a touch of tartness, a great dessert with a good variety of flavours. truffles And the last plate we had was their Homemade Chocolate Truffles. Rich and moist with a creamy centre, I was very glad that I saved froom for dessert!  Red Rock The Red Rock Malbec is a Malbec but with hints of Petite Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon, giving the wine a very interesting depth of flavour. With a price point of $16.99 at BC Liquor stores, this wine is well worth a try. A Moveable Feast Cafe on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Tweetup at Joe Fortes

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Yesterday, Joe Fortes hosted a tweetup of eipc proportions with the hashtag #JRtweetup. The event had so much buzz, even trended on Twitter! I have been a huge fan and just recently did a post on their Happy Hour. tower The first look of the food was the amazing seafood tower, loaded with oysters, clams, mussels, prawns and crab legs. There was also a scallop ceviche. It sure was hard to decide where to start. the spread In addition to the tower, hot appies were also passed around. Many of the items are from their Bar Menu, which are half priced during Happy Hours, daily 4-6pm. There are sliders, beef wrapped asparagus (not part of the appy menu) and some delicious chicken satay skewers. beef wrapped asparagus These were really good and a great idea for finger foods, but I found that you either had to bite through really hard in the middle or unwrap the beef from the asparagus first. first plate My first plate consisted of the prawn tempura, an oyster, a lovely crab bake lollipop, and the asparagus. My favourite was definitely piping hot prawn. Not too much batter with a really good crunch. frenchie and me And I couldn't resiste taking a picture with the face of Joe Fortes to many, Frenchie. sablefish This is not part of the appy menu but it's delicious. This sablefish is amazing and sits on a small bed of coleslaw. I could have had three of these, easy.
 Joe Fortes Seafood & Chop House on Urbanspoon

Saturday, June 09, 2012

Jade in Chinatown

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Chinatown. It's where I went to elementary school, it's where my grandmother went to buy fresh veggies for our dinner, before the Richmond boom. But I am ashamed to admit, once I didn't "have" to go to Chinatown, I didn't. Well, just like Gastown is having a resurgence, I think it's time for Chinatown to enjoy the same. There is a restaurant that has reinvented itself and deserves a mention. They serve all the variety of foods you would expect in Richmond but in a slightly different setting. Spring Rolls Because they do a strong dimsum service, we decided to try one of their dim sum dishes, not all dim sum items are offered at dinner, but some are. Throughout the dinner, I noticed many of the walk-in customers ordering from the lunch menu. So we settled on the spring rolls. These were a good way to start our dinner, a crispy and crunchy bundle full of pork and shrimp, served with some Lea & Perrins, a staple at most dim sum places. These were a touch oilier that I would prefer, but the ample filling made up for it.  Peking Duck One of my all-time favourites for family dinners is Peking Duck, served two ways. Here is the first one, where they slice the skin off the duck. And the skin here is perfectly crispy, not too meaty nor fatty, just the way I like it. Can you see how thinly sliced the skin is, with just a touch of fat and meat? That's the way I like it. And I love how it's not greasy. The skins So how do you eat the skin? With these crepes! You put a piece of the skin into the crepe and roll it up! These crepes were good but I'm not used to them being served this way, they usually appear in steamer baskets. Also, they were a bit paler in colour than I am used to, but presentation aside, these wraps were good and did the job. They stayed pliable and didn't crack when you rolled them up. I hate it when that happens.    The accompaniments Normally, you put some green onions and maybe some sliced cucumber (see my Shanghai Wonderful post for details) into your wrap, but here, they served it with carrots and celery! I found the crunch was too hard to go into the wrap with the Peking Duck, but they were good to munch on as a snack.  Snake Soup 2 One of the delicacies served here is their Snake Soup. The texture of the soup is quite thick and reminds me of hot and sour soup, but the flavours are completely different. Not spicy at all! However, it is loaded with much of the same ingredients too, such as shredded woodear, chicken, lemongrass, mushrooms, bamboo shoots and of course, the snake meat!  Snake soup This restaurant serves many of the dishes with a fun accompaniment of crunchy bits of fried dough. Throw some into your soup for added texture. The snake is shredded quite a bit so that the meat is tender, and with a deeper flavour than chicken, but a similar texture.  Lettuce wrap with duck Here is the rest of the duck that we saw earlier. The meat is chopped up and stirfried with celery, carrots and some green onions. What I liked most about this dish is that the duck wasn't diced into little bits and then stirfried, which tends to dry the meat out. See sample from Grand Dynasty post here. These were chunks of duck, and the size made them stay nice and juicy. I really enjoyed this one.  Fatty Pork Another dish that I rarely eat is Braised Pork Belly. It's a whole pork belly braised for at least two hours, in a sauce made with soy, fermented bean paste with some Chinese rice wine and sugar. Other flavours you can taste are star anise, sometimes fennel and five-spice powder as well. Once you cut into it, the serving is roughly half meat and half fat. So no, this isn't a "healthy" choice, but hey, eat some of the broccoli and make yourself feel better. Despite being half fat, the feeling isn't greasy, it's more creamy and juicy. You can eat this dish with rice to soak up the sauce or you can have it with some steamed buns. Buns for Fatty Port The buns are slightly sweet and are meant to be pulled apart and stuffed with some of the pork belly. It's like an Asian Pork Belly sandwich, and oh, it's good. The inside of the bun is porous and does a great job of soaking up the sauce. And because the buns are so soft, the texture of the pork belly is actually enhanced by this lack of contrast. Baby Bok Choy with enoki and soy bean skin 2 To round out a meal of Duck, Snake and Pork, we had to get a vegetable dish, we went with the Braised Baby Bok Choy with Bean Curd Skin and Enoki. This was a lighter dish and was a great complement to the oilier foods we had earlier. For those unfamiliar with Bean Curd Skin, it is also called Tofu Skin or Yuba. It is the film produced when boiling soy milk. These skins are collected and folded into the skins you see above. They are slightly chewy in texture and in other preparations, it even produces a meat-like texture. Sesame Dessert No meal is complete without dessert and we treated ourselves to some Deep Fried Doughballs filled with sesame paste. These are then rolled in some black and white sesame seeds before being served. A nice crunch from the frying process, but the dough and sesame paste are gooey on the inside, it's an Asian zeppole of sorts. 
Fatty Pork 3 Baby Bok Choy with enoki and soy bean skin 3 Now I rarely take pictures of my leftovers, but I was really impress with the way they packed these two dishes. They could have just swiped everything into the box, but I really appreciated the extra care they took to present these dishes as best as possible, even though we were "just" taking them home.
This place is better known for their dimsum, but if you are in the Chinatown area in the evening, I'd say it's well worth a visit!
Jade Dynasty 玉龍軒海鮮酒家 on Urbanspoon

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