gracecheung604 | write on time: September 2012

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Chinese Bites: Golden Ocean Seafood Restaurant

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This Chinese Bites dinner found us in the heart of Kerrisdale, at Golden Ocean, where I had only frequented for lunch/dim sum. I was very excited to try some of their signature dishes, though we would also be treated to some Dim Sum as well. Joining us today were Rick, Janice, Sherman, newcomers Sean and Amy, as well as Diana, Alvin, and of course, Raymond of Chinese Bites.
Eggplant and Shrimp Mousse Dim Sum for dinner? I don't see why not! This is the Shrimp Stuffed Eggplant, and it's a dish that I used to hate as a child. I recall eating the shrimp paste and then pawning off the eggplant to my sister or mother. Over the years, I have grown to appreciate the dish in its entirety. The Shrimp mousse was plentiful and had a good sear on the outside. Once you bite into it, you get a nice bouncy chew from the shrimp itself. The eggplant was cooked to a soft pulpy consistency, which is what I really like. 
Tofr and Shrimp Mousse Another shrimp stuffed dish was the Deep Fried Tofu. As with the first dish, the shrimp mousse was generous with a great texture. The sauce accompanying this dish had a bit of a tang to it, giving the otherwise blander tofu a punch. 
tofu and eggplant with shrimp mousse 2 Slicing both of the dishes in half, you can see a good Stuffing Eggplant/Tofu ratio here. They definitely didn't skimp on the toppings. 
Shrimp Dumplings For our final Dim Sum offering, Golden Ocean presented us with their Shrimp Dumplings. Wow, three shrimp dishes in a row. Could this be a theme? As mentioned, I've been here for dim sum before and have had these many times. The dumpling skin is thin and delicately nestles the abundant shrimp filling within. This was no different than the other times I've had it here.
Tofu with seafood 3 Now, onto the dinner time dishes. First up was the Steamed Tofu with Egg White and Seafood. Loaded with shrimp, scallops and mushrooms, this dish was is a classic. The tofu and egg are steamed to a creamy velvety texture and the seafood is mildly seasoned to accompany this delicate dish. It's saucy and creamy, and a mild way to really kick off dinner. 
Crab 2 The next dish I tried was the Crab in Signature Sauce with Egg Noodles. Although you can't see it below the crab, there is a bed of noodle under there, soaking up all the delicious juices from the crab and the sauce.  This dish was as visually stunning as it was tasty. The noodles are a bit clumpy, but persevere and you'll be rewarded with a bowlful of well-seasoned noodles. Coated in the sauce, half the pleasure of eating the crab came from gnawing on the shells themselves. Yes, feel free to use your hands, they have plenty of wet napkins for you to clean up with later.
Beef with Buns 2 Our next dish was Stir Fried Beef with Steamed Buns. Considering how large our portions were with the Steamed Tofu and the Crab, this dish seemed a bit light on the beef. The beef was well marinated and cooked to a nice tender morsel, along with some peppers, onions and green onions. Considering they gave us steamed buns though, I would have thought that the dish could have been saucier, so as to help keep everything moist. 
Honey Garlic Ribs with Shrimp Mousse Balls 2And yes, more Shrimp. This dish was a rather oddball combination, with Honey Garlic Spare Ribs in the middle and a ring of Deep Fried Shrimp Mousse on the outside. As with the earlier incarnations of the Shrimp Mousse, these were good, obviously from the same batch. The spare ribs are lightly coated in a batter with a gentle honey garlic glaze. Not a standout in my books but nothing inherently wrong with it. 
Fried Fish Our next dish was seafood again, but this time, it was a Deep Fried Sole. The head and tail are kept and served as part of the dish, with the body having been filleted and deep fried separately. Then everything is reassembled with a ring of broccoli around it. This looked quite pretty, but the fish itself was just a touch overly oily. Either they didn't drain the pieces properly or they didn't cook it long enough, something was amiss. 
Pea Shoots 2 After all the deep fried goodness and the many dishes of seafood, we had a simple vegetable dish of Pea Shoots with Enoki Mushrooms. The lightness of this dish was welcomed after all the different flavours we've already had. The whole garlic cloves on top were really sweet and gave the dish a deeper flavour profile. 
Taro Duck 2 Our final savoury dish of the night was the Deep Fried Duck in Taro. This dish is very similar to the dish we had at Grand Dynasty, but there, it was with Chicken (versus duck) and the topping was Sticky Rice (instead of taro). The taro was light and fluffy, and the duck was meaty. Surprisingly, this dish wasn't as oily as the fish, and I really enjoyed it. The taro and duck is a great combo. 
Honey Dessert 2 We were served a few desserts at the beginning of this meal, and this Deep Fried Pastry with Coconut Sprinkles was one of them. I found this to be a little too sweet, and the honey glaze made everything just a bit too soggy for my tastes. 
Egg tarts Ah, the Egg Tarts, though these looked good, I was really too full for desserts. From comments around the table, the pastry was a bit tough, but perhaps it was because it had been sitting out for our entire meal.
Sesame Dough Balls One interesting dessert that I couldn't resist was the Fried Sesame Paste Dough Balls.
Sesame Dough Balls 2 Although the Martian Green is quite striking, what was inside was worth breaking into. The sesame paste was smooth and piping hot, and not too sweet. One thing though, these were a bit oily, but I used my napkin to soak up some of the excess oil and it was just fine after that.
Tofu Dessert The other dessert was the Fresh Soy Pudding. Unfortunately, because this was made earlier in the day, the texture was a bit dry. The pudding itself should be wet throughout, with a bit moisture as each layer is removed. Unfortunately, this isn't the case here.
Baked Tapioca Pudding One final dessert followed, the Baked Tapioca Pudding which is an irresistible classic. Hot and creamy, this is like having oatmeal for dessert.
I enjoyed trying some of the dim sum dishes that I hadn't tried before, but the dinner seemed oddly Shrimp-centric. I really enjoyed the Signature Crab dish and will definitely be back for that. The Taro Duck was also a homerun, so those two dishes would be on my To-Eat list for sure.
**Golden Ocean hosted Chinese Bites for this tasting but my opinions are my own.**

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More reviews available here for Signature Dishes Tour Dinners. 



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Saturday, September 29, 2012

Chinese Bites: Grand Dynasty Seafood Restaurant

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Yay, another Chinese Bites dinner! This would be my third official Chinese Meal with the gang. Having been to Grand Dynasty numerous times, I was excited to try some of their signature dishes this time around. With us today were Rick, Janice, Sherman, newcomers Anne and Dave from MePlusFood and Raymond of Chinese Bites. Empty Wine Bottles Interesting decor...lots of empty wine bottles. Not quite sure what they were going for here, but there it was. Prawn - Salted Egg 2 We each got a Tiger Prawn to start, but there were two variations of the same dish. The first one I tried was the Salty Egg Tiger Prawn, where the coating is made with a salted egg. This is quite strong in flavour and you either love it or you hate it. In my case, I was in love. I could have had even more of this pungent coating, but it's not for everyone. Prawn - Spicy tomato The other variation of the Tiger Prawn was a Spicy Tomato Tiger Prawn. The sauce was not spicy enough, but it seemed to have flavoured the prawn better than the Salted Egg one. This was the winner of the two in my books. Lobster 3 The next dish was a Lobster Soup, but unlike any I had before. The body of the lobster is prepared sashimi style, with some beans sprouts on the side. Some of the claw meat seems to have been precooked, but the tail was definitely raw. Lobster 6 So after showing us the "before", this is the after. They have a little stove on the side where they heat up some broth and then carefully ladle it over the lobster to slowly cook it. We were then served individual bowls of this tableside. It was impressive to see, that's for sure, but the flavours were rather mild. I do like the headless and tail-lessness of the sprouts though. As someone who has done this at home, it's a painfully slow process. Chicken with Sea Cucumber The next dish to arrive was a Braised Chicken in Hot Pot. We were all taking bets as to what was inside the bird, nestled amongst all those veggies. I had thought it was rice, but I was wrong, so very wrong.  Chicken with Sea Cucumber 3 Who would have guessed that it was Sea Cucumber? But there you have it folks, sea cucumbers. Chicken with Sea Cucumber 5 Definitely new to me and actually really good as well. The chicken was deboned for us, and the meat inside was super juicy. The skin was also very flavourful, no doubt due to the slow braising process. Ling Cod 3 Our next dish was another hot pot dish, this was the Ling Cod Hot Pot. There were nuggets of roast pork and whole garlic within the dish. The few bones that were in there was very easy to pick out, but I really like how crunchy the breading stayed while in the pot. Squash, Melon and Tri-Mushrooms Onto a more vegetarian friendly dish, this was a Three Mushrooms with Squash and Winter Melon. This had shitaake, oyster and button mushrooms in a very rich wine sauce. I would have liked some rice to sop up all the juices. Chicken with Rice on top 6 The next dish is a variation of Deep Fried Duck with Taro, the version we have here is Deep Fried Chicken with Sticky Rice. So instead of taro layer, we have a layer of crispy rice instead. The chicken is cut up into small pieces and it's a great way to have a carb dish without loading on carbs! The crunch of the rice is really satisfying too.  Chicken with Rice on top 5 To show you what I mean, here is the dish with a few pieces of chicken removed. Can you see the layer of rice? And yes, the chicken skin is still crispy from the fryer.  Lobster & Rice After the lobster soup from earlier, we were brought back a new pot of Lobster Soup. This was was made with the shells of the lobster and will be served tableside yet again. Lobster Soup 2 The soup is piping hot, so we each help ourselves to a bowlful. As pictured above, there is also a bowl of crispy rice presented as part of this dish. The toasted rice is meant as a garnish to the soup. Lobster Soup 3 Put the two together, and there is your final dish of the night. The sweetness of the lobster broth is very strong, and the crunch from the rice is a nice textural touch. Coconut Tart 3 Ah, Coconut Tarts! To be honest, I didn't have this for dessert because I'm not a huge fan of coconuts, but even I couldn't deny that the scent of the coconut coming from these tarts was amazing. Fresh out of the oven, I bet. Coconut & Sesame Dessert The other dessert that I did try was the Jello, the black one are Sesame and the white ones are Coconut. Two guesses as to which one I tried? The sesame jello had a good flavour to it and the firmness of the jello was just about right, jiggly but not watery. It was hard to keep myself from taking more! 
Many of the dishes we tried aren't something that we would normally order at a family gathering. However, the standouts would be the Braised Chicken with Sea Cucumbers and the Fried Chicken with Sticky Rice. **Grand Dynasty hosted Chinese Bites for this tasting but my opinions are my own.**

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More reviews available here for Signature Dishes Tour Dinners. 



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Friday, September 28, 2012

Apothic White Launch Party

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Earlier this week, I attended the Apothic White launch at 319 Main, hosted by Dunn PR. This was the first time that the wine was being poured in BC. It's a blend of Chardonnay, Riesling and Moscato. To showcase the wine, A Moveable Feast (which catered another wine launch earlier this year) provided catering to pair with both the White as well as Apothic Red.
P1020668 This was a logo in front of the DJ's booth, very chic and the lighting of the logo was perfect for the event space.
table is set And this really should be how all dinner parties start...lots of wine, some candles and a mask, of course! 
Fred  Fred About Town was the host of the evening and got us all excited to taste and sample the wines and yummy treats. He encouraged us to go to the Sensation Booth to see if we could pick out the subtle notes of peach, pineapple, honey and vanilla spice in the new Apothic Red. smoked trout Lots of appetizers were being passed around and the first one that I got to sample was the Smoked Trout. Little cups of smokey goodness, quite a nice light bite and paired well with the wine.
Crab & Scallop Next was the Crab & Scallop puff pastry. These were piping hot, with a creamy filling. I could have had about a dozen of them.
appies Also available were two huge platters of cold cuts such as mortadella, salami, pastrami & pates, with an assortment of some of the larges olives I've ever seen.. 
appies In addition to the meats, there was also platters of cheeses as well, with brie, blue, cheddar and many more. 
appies To accompany the meats and cheeses, there were assorted crackers and some delicious rye bread as well.
desserts And oh, the dessert table...this side showcase all the dessert that pair best with the Apothic Red.
desserts Chocolate Mousse Cups, these were so rich and creamy. They might look tiny, but they really pack a punch.
desserts Next are the chocolate cones, These are so pretty and elegant, almost too pretty to eat!
desserts These Sweet Treats were airy, and the Roasted Hazelnuts were a good match the the Apothic White. 
dessert As with the Red side, there were little creamed filled cones, but this one was more like a nice fresh whipped cream, a lighter version than the chocolate for sure.
mango chocolates 
But the one treat that works with both the Apothic Red and Apothic Red? These insanely delicious Chocolate Dipped Dried Mangos! Why hasn't this been done before, or at least, it's the first time I've seen them. I am so getting this for my next chocolate fondue party! Brilliant! Another successful event from the people of A Moveable Feast.
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