gracecheung604 | write on time: 2017

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Sen Pad Thai at Granville Island

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So after visiting Maenam last month, I was in the mood for Thai again and went to Sen Pad Thai in in Granville Island with Sherman. Don't worry, there is more than just Pad Thai here. 
menu
So I'm sorry for the fact that you can't read the menu, but if you zoom in, you can see all the goodness they offer. Or just keep reading and you can see what we decided to order. To get your food, yYou order at the counter and get a buzzer that alerts you when the food is ready. This gives you a few minutes to wander the shops at Net Loft
sauces
And on the counter, they have sauces for you to enhance everything they serve. The Dried Chilli is great to pump up the spice. The Chilli with Lime Juice and Fish Sauce is a perfect combination of spice, citrus and savory. And if you get the Pad Siew, they have a Chilli Vinegar for that!  
Pad Thai Goong
Since it's a pad thai joint, we got one, specifically the Pad Thai Goong ($15), a pad thai with shrimp. Despite the rather bland colour, it had huge flavour! My biggest worry was that a "food court" place couldn't have huge wok flavour (鑊氣) but I was so wrong. The noodles weren't drenched in a gooey sweet and sour sauce (whew!) and the addition of the green onions and bean sprouts gave the dish a fresh kick. Add dried chilli flakes for some extra heat. 
Pad Siew
Our other noodle dish was the Pad Siew with Pork ($12). The rice noodles were perfectly cooked with a slight chew but tender and moist at the same time. Normally, restaurants tend to load you up with carbs (which are cheaper) and skimp on the meats. This was the exact opposite. We both loved the noodles and ended up with a boxful of leftover pork. However, this dish had the same heat as the pad thai, smoky and fragrant. It was my favourite out of our three carb dishes. 
Khao Pad
Our last carb dish was the Khao Pad ($10). Oh my, out of the three dishes, I was most surprised by this one. I've had fried rice before, but this was lighter than any I've had before. The sausage is tangy and the hot chewy rice had a strong flavour of fish sauce, strong but not overpowering. Each grain was coated with flavour, light and fluffy.
Papaya Salad

This fresh Papaya Salad ($8) is a great way to start your meal. But, what we did was to eat the hot stuff first. So when we got to this, we felt it was a bit bland but likely due to the amount of spice we had added to the previous dishes. Don't get me wrong, the elements are all there, crunchy papaya and carrot. However, it seemed a bit simplistic compared to the previous dishes. 

Crispy Wings
And because we had the wings at Longtail Kitchen, we had to reorder and do a comparison. Alas, these were the most disappointing of all the items. The wings were crispy as expected but the pale colour is indicative of their flavour. However, it did come with a sauce which gave these wings a new life. I guess they didn't want to sauce the wings to avoid getting the wings soggy but it could have used a sprinkling and additional sauce served on the side.  
So here are all the dishes we had and the total was $53 + taxes. It's a bit pricey considering it was a "serve yourself" place, but the food was good, I'd definitely have the Pad Siew and Khao Pad again. Truth be told, if this was a standalone restaurant and the food was plated properly, I'd say it was worth it. 

Two items that I will likely go back and give a try are their Oyster Pancake and Roti & Curry. Heck, I could make a lunch just out of that!

Sen Pad Thai Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Saturday, July 08, 2017

A revisit to Mr. Red Cafe...so much more than just a bowl of pho!

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Although I had been to Mr. Red Cafe before, there were only two of us and the items ordered were lacking in variety. However, with my sister in town, we made a return visit to sample more of their offerings. 
This was a dish that I had last time, the Pate Ga. The sticky rice with mung beans and chicken, pate and fried shallots is a mouthful of textures and flavours in every bite. Chewy rice, juicy chicken and crispy shallots. As I mentioned in my previous post, "this is like an open-faced Chinese jong ()". 
This is the Bánh bot loc lá chuói (please forgive me for the missing accents) as it arrives. The banana leaves hold something delicious inside!
And now, the reveal...these pork and shrimp dumplings are wrapped in tapioca. They are super moist and have a luxurious mouth feel. It's not sticky, it's more like chewy but in a comforting way. I did use a bit of the chili oil to give it a bit of a kick.
Since my mom doesn't like beef, we had to get the Phô Gà, a chicken noodle soup. The broth was clear and slightly sweet, but the shredded chicken was a bit dry. The noodles were cooked just right though, and this was a healthy portion, more than enough for one person. 
And this is a dish we had last time too, Chef's Special, Bún chả giò thịt nướng. Essentially, it's an avalanche of pork, deep fried tofu, crab spring roll (which make is special), and the traditional mint, basil, cucumbers and cilantro atop a base of vermicelli. Add the nuoc nam (fish sauce), some of the chili oil and give it all a toss. I prefer to take the crab spring roll out first though, to keep it nice and crispy. The tofu is a nice refreshing respite from the potential spiciness that could happen from that extra sprinkling of the "cock" sauce. "Get your mind out of the gutter, please." 
Ah, yes, here is another serving of the aforementioned Crab Spring Roll (Bún nem cua bé). I think you should be able to see the crunch of the spring roll skin from the pic above.
Here's a close up of the spring roll, and yes, the Thai bird's eye chili is there to provide some heat...actually maybe it was a bit excessive. The cucumber helped to douse the fire in my mouth.
We ended up getting a dessert, the first was the Mung Bean Pudding with Coconut cream. I'm not a dessert fan (that's my sister's domain) so I found it very sweet. In addition, I was quite full, so barely touched more that a spoonful of it. I don't go to Vietnamese restaurants for sweets so I wouldn't count this against them.

The rest of the meal was amazing and I will make another revisit to try their chicken wings, the Bún Bò Hué and their papaya salad. If you've tried, I'd love to know what you thought of them. Please comment below.

Mr. Red Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Friday, July 07, 2017

Brunch worth waking up for - Seasons In the Park

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Ah, summer is finally here and it's time for some al fresco dining. On a sunny Sunday, we woke up early and decided to head to Seasons in the Park for brunch. 
Once seated, we were served warm bread with a very generous slab of butter. Yum! I washed it down with a light cocktail, their Aperol Spritz. It's my favourite accompaniment to brunch, since it's just prosecco, aperol topped with soda.
Okay, this was a bit decadent and not at all representative of my normal breakfast (which is just a tea). Smoked Salmon Benedict with red onions, arugula, and fried capers with some creme fraiche layered inside. All this sits on top of a fried potato cake and then drenched in hollandaise sauce. I loved the greens and the bit of fruit as well. 
And this Italian Sausage & Eggs is exactly as advertised. A slightly spicy sauce with some scrambled eggs. There is a rustic charred pepper puree, slightly tangy and perfect for the corn bread. 
When mornings start like this, the day can only get better!

Seasons in the Park Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Thursday, July 06, 2017

Tasty treats at My Shanti

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My sister has been visiting from Hong Kong with her son these past few weeks. We've been eating out lots, but one cuisine was missing...Indian food. As luck would have it, I was invited to Taste Canada Awards event at HBC a few weeks back and Vikram Vij was one of the presenters. We had chatted briefly and I made a mental note to give My Shanti (which translates to My Peace) a try. So off to Langley we went!
 
Located at Morgan's Crossing, this is the wall that you're looking for, shimmering in all its glory. You simply cannot miss it! 
I wanted to start off with a cocktail, and this is the Devdas. It's mixed with a chai masala syrup and comes with a cinnamon bark. Very smooth...maybe too smooth!
 
For appetizers, we got the Samosas, made with a blend of ground chicken, lamb & beef. Spices include cumin and turmeric and are served with some fruit chutneys. Piping hot, and with a crispy skin, the filling to wrapper ratio is very generous. An order comes with two, and it's definitely meant for sharing.
 
Next up? The Gunpowder Prawns in Bombay style. These are whole prawns cooked in a sweet and sour masala. These are mild and a good option for those who don't like a lot of heat. The appam that it's served on is edible and is quite similar to dosas. It's made with rice flour and coconut milk and makes a pretty vessel for the prawns.
 
To accompany our mains, we ordered the regular Naan. These were hot and pillowy, and to be honest, a steal at $2! Their Kheema-stuffed naan is only $4.75 and is on my "to eat" list for the next visit.
 
From the Garam Maas sections, we got the Lamb in Kashmir style, which was done Mughlai-style. Flavoured with cloves, black peppercorn, cardamom, mace and cinnamon in a stew with fenugreek, the meat is amazingly tender and moist. Eat with your hands! That's what the naan is for.
 
Our other meat dish was the Chicken Korma in a Rajasthan style, one of my sister's favourites. The large morsels of grilled chicken were served with a creamy cashew garlic sauce. Served with a flavoured basmati rice, this was a well-developed curry, fragrant and rich. The serving may appear small, but it's so decadent that you'd have a hard time finishing it. We ended up packing both the lamb and the chicken.
 
Dining on the patio was amazing, I didn't even remember that we were next to an outlet mall! It's a great place to give yourself a little taste of India. I'll be back...that Duck Biriyani is calling my name! 

My Shanti Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

First Peek at St. Lawrence

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So this was a complete accident...I wanted to go to Makayoshi for dinner, but since they were closed for the Canada Day long weekend, I couldn't make a reservation. Fortunately, the boy thought ahead and made a reservation at St. Lawrence, so here we are! Rising from the ashes of Big Lou's Butcher Shop amongst a scandal involving one of the founders, St. Lawrence is helmed by J-C Poirier, from Ask for Luigi fame. The restaurant serves classic Quebec dishes that reflect the chef's roots and upbringing.


But first things first, the boy decided on the vino of the night while I snapped pics of the menu. See below..."pour commencer" and "les légumes et les plats". Menus evolve, so what you get might be a bit different.


For starters, there are a few tasty choices. La Terrine du jour popped out at me. But I was quite intrigued by the Langue de Bison as well.


And there are more delicious choices for Les Légumes & Les Plats. Does something jump out at you? Decisions had to be made, read on to find out what we ordered!



So the chef started us off with La Terrine du Jour and a grainy mustard, served with a hearty portion of warm rustic bread. To be honest, as a "non-carb lover", I LOVED this. Creamy and rich, but not overly decadent...it was a perfect starter.

 

For our appetizer, we opted for the Steak Tartare, chèvre noire & pomme gaufrette. Chef J-C Poirier started making this two seconds after we ordered, seriously fresh. The chips were warm and crispy, becoming a perfect vessel for the creamy tartare. The cheese gave a punch of flavour to the tartare and we polished this off in about 5 minutes, greens and all.

  

Our next dish was the Vol-au-vent au Champignons & Sauce Mornay. The various mushrooms were earthy and juicy, sitting atop a light and buttery puff pastry pedestal. Despite the small size of this dish, the mornay sauce was rich and made the dish a heavy hitter in terms of flavour. 

  

Our first main was Ballotine de canard, pomme dauphine & sauce a l'érable and it was stunning. The forcemeat was wrapped around the tender duck and served to keep everything moist and juicy. The potatoes had a nice crisp on the outer edges, but the inside was buttery smooth. I would definitely order this again.

 

And this was our other main, Côte de porc, fromage Oka & sauce charcutière. The bone-in pork chop was recommended by the chef and it was a great pick. The meat was super juicy due to their bath in a brine. The Oka cheese flavour is really strong and pungent, and if you're a cheeselover, put this on your "must-eat" list! The potatoes are smooth as butter and it brings the dish over the top.

  

My regular readers know that I'm not usually a dessert fan, but this was a gift from the restaurant and I was a grateful recipient. This Rice Pudding with a splash of salted caramel wasn't overly sweet and it eradicated all my negative notions of rice pudding, and I would gladly order this again.



And yes, we did order a lot of food...so some of it had to come home with me...and Charlie had a helluva treat the next day. I think he'll become a Canadiens fan now.

Saturday, July 01, 2017

Wander Lust Led Me to Nomad

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Although I first came to this place for just a few cocktails, but a quick look at their food menu told me that I'd be back to sample some of their dinner items too.   But first, to the cocktail...I chose the Satan's Whiskers and as you can see, it's gin based, with vermouth and curacao. It's as tasty as it looks with just a bit of tang...but really packs a punch. The name is very appropriate. We decided to eat light and decided on the Wild Pacific Lingcod. Sounds like a heart healthy choice right? That was until we read further and realized that it's wrapped in Chicken Skin. What? Yes, we went ahead and got it anyways...because there was also a bit of Nettle Gnocchi, Hakurei Turnip and a tasting preserved orange butter. The fish was delicately cooked and the chicken skin kept the whole thing tender and juicy. A whole new way to use chicken skin, if you ask me.  I was definitely in the mood for meat, so we had to make a hard choice. We could have each had Smoked Organic Beef Brisket or Roasted Wild Boar Rack, but we decided on the 10oz. Dry-Aged Organic Beef Ribeye, to share. Not too heavy on the carbs, there were just some rosemary fried baby potatoes and veggies. The beef was tender and when you have a good cut of meat like this, the less you do to it, the better. 

Since we were fairly good with dinner, we decided to treat ourselves to dessert. The picture didn't quite turn out, but give their Ginger Pumpkin Panna Cotta a try. Lemon thyme jelly and port meringue, need I say more??

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Tasty Thai at Maenam

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I feel as though I've been eating at the same old places lately and dining on the same old types of cuisine. Well, I decided to break out of this funk and go for something new. I decided to head to Maenam, since I saw Angus An on Global TV this morning talking about Sen Pad Thai. Yes, I am very susceptible to TV advertising. grilled Thai sausage and crispy rice salad
We started off with a Grilled Thai Sausage and Crispy Rice Salad. The sausage is house fermented pork, which was reminiscent of Chinese lap cheung (臘腸). There's also some crispy curried rice puffs (think savoury Rice Krispies), all tossed with coriander, lemongrass, ginger, fried shallots, oyster mushrooms, holy basil, and fried garlic. The saltiness of the pork is quite sharp, and the crunch from the rice puffs are perfect for texture. The flavours from the spices are very traditional Thai. This is about half the serving as I was dining with a non-foodie, whose chivalry at serving me beat me to the "phone eats first" mantra that I live by. A whole portion would serve two people nicely as an appetizer. hot and sour soup of halibut cheek
This was another appetizer meant for sharing, it's their Hot and Sour Soup with Halibut Cheek. The heat isn't blow-your-mind hot (but I do have a fairly high tolerance for heat, so beware, my friend thought it was HAWT), rather it's a lingering slow burn. The tartness compliments the spice quite well, and the halibut was cooked perfectly...still tender but not falling apart. And the oyster mushrooms soaked up the soup as well, making every mouthful super tasty. 
8 spice ling cod
So this was my favourite dish of the night, their 8 Spice Ling Cod. It was truly amazing. The ling cod was super crispy, and topped with a lightly caramelized palm sugar and tamarind sauce. The ling cod stayed crispy under the drizzle of the sauce, and the sprinkling of deep-fried Thai spices and basil was fun. 
grilled striploin beef

Our final dish was our only curry, the Gang Kau, a Tumeric Curry of Grilled Striploin. Tender slices of beef cooked to a perfect medium rare, in a vibrantly yellow and fragrant curry, paired with some kale. The shredded ginger and shrimp paste were the top notes in the curry.  
This was a surprisingly good dinner. I had high expectations since Maenam was named Restaurant of the Year in 2016, Best Thai in 2009-2016 by Vancouver Magazine and ranked 26 in Canada's Top 100 Restaurants in 2015. And all those accolades are well deserved! If you like Thai, do give this place a try.  Burdock & Co. Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

A little bit of a lot of things - Burdock & Co

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A few months ago, I went to Burdock & Co for the first time and had an amazing meal. But...I FORGOT my Phone! So needless to say, a repeat was necessary...can you imagine a food blog post without pictures, and just rather decent writing? No, neither can I! And they added new items so that made it even better!
Since it's Spot Prawn season, it's a no-brainer that I would be getting some. And of course, the heads are essential to the whole experience. Just flash fry them and you can eat them just like chips!  
Roasted Knotweed with White Prosciutto - Duck Hollandaise I've never tried Knotweed before but here it is, Roasted Knotweed with White Prosciutto and a Duck Hollandaise. It had a texture like hollow asparagus, but chewier. (In fact, one of the botanical names is Fallopia japonica named for Gabriello Fallopia, an Italian anatomist who “discovered” fallopian tubes. Creepy, I know. *Source: Eat the Weeds) The hollandaise was on the lemony side and gave it a refreshing flavour. And who can say no to Prosciutto?
Miso Caramel Glazed Duck leg - garlic mirin glaze
The next dish was amazing, a Miso Caramel & Garlic Mirin Glazed Duck Leg. This was amazing. It had a slightly crispy skin, and the glaze was deep and complex. But the meat inside stole the show, it was falling off the bone and so juicy and tender. The three of us polished this off, so so good. I'd definitely have this again, and again, and again. 

Fettucini with Sea Urchin Butter Sauce - shiso green plum, cured yolk
For just a touch of carbs, we tried the Fettucini with Sea Urchin Butter Sauce with some shiso green plum topped with a cured yolk. The sauce was creamy, and when you pop the yolk, it just gets even better, so rich. The portion again was perfect for three people sharing. The pasta was cooked to an al dente and holds the sauce nicely for a perfect bite.
Our final savoury dish was their Striploin. It's not on their menu currently, but if it's available as a special the night that you go, please do yourself a favour and order it. The meat is so well-marbled and the each slice is juicy. It's not exactly "melt in your mouth, but it has a good chew to it. You know you're eating meat.
Kumquat and Messor's Olive Oil Cake - Coconut Cream
So with the main dishes done, it was time to ponder dessert. Since there were three of us, and there were three desserts, the choice was easy. One of each! This was the Kumquat and Messor's Olive Oil Cake with Coconut Cream. I don't think I've ever actually tried an olive oil cake, the thought just didn't appeal to me. They always looked dry and crumbly, not like a moist cake made with butter. But this one was different. The texture was so moist (ugh, hate that word), and the kumquat flavour was subtle enough to let the Messor's come through. The nuts and coconut gave the dish some needed texture. 
Chocolate Pot de Creme - caramelized cocoa nib, gingerbread cookie
And for you chocolate lovers out there, I'd recommend the Chocolate Pot de Creme, with caramelized cocoa nib and a gingerbread cookie. It was velvety smooth and bursting with chocolate flavour. The cocoa nibs have a nice crunch and the gingerbread cookie was a perfect addition to the dish.
Meyer Lemon Curd Shortbread Meringue, Milk Gelato
And talk about saving the best for last, this is their Meyer Lemon Curd Shortbread Meringue, with a silky smooth Milk Gelato. Think of it as a deconstructed lemon meringue pie, one of my all-time favourite desserts. The curd was tart, the meringue was sweet and the milk gelato was chilled. Everything came together wonderfully. If you put the lemon curd on my arm, I'd chew my arm off...

All in all, this was a great meal. Their sommelier has developed a well-balanced list and anything from the digestif list is a great way to end your meal. Oh, and they are also open for brunch on the weekends. And I think I'm going to give it a try soon!

Burdock & Co. Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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