gracecheung604 | write on time: May 2010

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Placeholder - Reminder - Self-Nagging

Must blog about the delicious food I had while I was in Maui last week (May 15-21).

  1. A bacon double cheeseburger that flew with me from YVR airport
  2. Instant Noodles with Spam and a fried egg (fried in Spam fat) servede with a side of bacon and tater tots. Strange combo, yes, but it works.
  3. A beautiful sunset wedding followed by amazing food.
  4. Brunch at Longhi's and the waiter with mad skills with the glasses.
  5. The first of two visits to the MacDonalds in search of Spam, we failed on the first try, thus the second attempt later.
  6. Luau: AYCE: poke, marinated octopus, salmon, and the pig!
  7. CJ Comfort Food boasting the best Maui Onion Gravy on their Loco Moco
  8. Shaved ice from Ululani, where we found a Boston hockey fan!
  9. Birthday BBQ at the hotel
  10. Cane and Taro, for more Loco Moco (seafood and traditional), SaiMin and a Deep Fried French Toast Sandwich, ugh.
  11. Army of Spam Musubi discovered, photographed and devoured lovingly.
  12. Duke's - round one, dinner of ribs so tender you don't need a knife and seafood risotto, eaten steps away from the ocean
  13. MacDonalds, second visit, Spam discovered! Traditional Deluxe Breakfast, who needs pancakes? Oh, and yes the infamous Saimin.
  14. Duke's - round two, lunch of calamari and chicken a rib Mixed Plate.
  15. Shaved ice - new flavours.

Lowered Expectations at Lin's

Lin Chinese Cuisine on Urbanspoon
Lunch at Lin’s was a disappointment. As with anything that is hyped, it’s never as good as the hype. We sat down at a table by the window, after they lost our lunch reservations, which they made out to be my fault. We had to ask for menus, tea, and permission to order. Nevertheless, I’ve had some good meals with bad service, so maybe this was what was in store for us.
We ordered the XLB (xiao loong bao) which was their claim to fame, some Beef Rolls, a bowl of Deep-Fried Pork Chop in Noodle Soup, as well as the Mui Shu Pork with Crepes.
First to arrive was an under-toasted Beef Roll…I’d never seen anything so pale before, either at Shanghai Wonderful or Ning Tu. It was as if they forgot to turn the oven on, or when you go to a fake and bake, and no one can tell! And although sometimes food tastes better than it looks, this wasn’t one of those times. I took one bite and the beef was so tough that it call came out at once. So after one bite, I was left with an undercooked pancake. Yuck. Managed to finish that bite, but although there were three of us, none of us went for a second piece.

The Mui Shu Pork and Crepes came next and they were a pleasant surprise. Priciest thing we ordered that day, but well worth it. Lots of unexpected ingredients, like wood ear and bamboo shoots. Way more stuffing than crepes, but it’d go well with some plain white rice too!

The XLBs were indeed the soupiest I've had in Vancouver, and I loved the way the left you a little nub (or nipple) on the top of the bun...making it easy for you to pick up with your chopstick. The weight of the dumpling was heavy, yet not too much so that the skin would rip.

I love Deep-fried Pork Chop Noodle soup, so was really happy to see a nice big bowl of noodles with the fried pork chop on the side. Super crispy, albeit a little bland. The portion was a good size, and lots of pork to dunk into the soup too.

I think I was underwhelmed, mostly by the service, but also the food. Perhaps the hype has hindered rather than help the restaurant. I’d likely go back and give their dinner menu a try. And my complaint about the service isn’t an abnormality, judging by some of the other posts that I’ve read from Urban Spoon.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Japadog - Opening Day

Japadog (Robson Store) on Urbanspoon
Headed to Japadog after work on May 28th, opening day! Planned to bring home a dog to enjoy pre-dinner, but ended up getting two. How do you choose between the terimayo and the tonkatsu (which was recommended by Sherman.
The tonkatsu isn't really a hotdog, as it's not a sausage. It is sausage shaped, but really, it's more like a pork patty, so it is more of a sandwich. Still yummy, I mean, it's pork, and it's deep fried. Memories of bacon come rushing back.
The other one is the Terimayo, their bestseller! Beef dog topped with mayo and teriyaki sauce. Sprinkling of fried onions and shredded seaweed complete the package. I added a bit of wasabi mayo to kick things up a bit, but it's actually pretty mild. I only did the top half of each, just in case it was too spicy.
They say "the way to a man's heart is through his stomach". When I tweeted this photo and asked if this would work, I received replies from both men and women. Yes!

Guilty as charged...i twitter...

I know it can be annoying to hang out with me when I'm always on my phone, but it's an addiction.
Pity me...

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Another lunch outing...

I can't believe that a short week feels so long! It's only Thursday but really feels like Friday. The only bright side, lunching with the BFF @ The Keg today. After overindulging the day before @ Joe Fortes, I decided to take it easy today and settled on a salad. She got the Sirloin Salad and I got the Grilled Chicken Salad. And since our intention on getting together was gabbing, I wasted no time in taking pictures, so you'll just have to imagine the healthy goodness we had for lunch. Had plans for an early dinner with two gorgeous boys, but didn't know where to go. In fact, not going to eat at all if I didn't get in a good workout first. Luckily, my disciplined self forced my feet to walk to my gym, where I "ellipticalled" for a good 35 minutes, burning enough calories to justify yet another meal out. We ended up at Congee Noodle King where I satisfied my BBQ Duck craving, and the boys satisfied their Jook craving...Fish Jook at that. I alo wanted a little deep-fried goodness, and ordered a small plate of Chicken Knees, deep fried and sprinkled with hot chilies and garlic. No excuse for the lack of photos here, except that my BBQ Duck arrived first, and I just dug right into it! Hey, I just finished working out! Promise more photos of food will follow...hoping to hit Lin's sometime this weekend, so watch for the review to come soon!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Blue Plate Wednesday?

Joe Fortes Seafood & Chop House on Urbanspoon
Back from Maui and Back to work. Only way to make this week right is to head out for lunch as frequently as possible. Didn't get the break I wanted on my first day back, but today, I managed to head over to Joe Fortes for a quickie...lunch, that is.
Though their $9.95 Blue Plate special was what drew me there (their Wednesday special is the Grilled Salmon Caesar), I didn't feel like a salad once I sat down. First of all, I was pretty hungry. But second of all, it was a rather dreary wet day, and definitely demanded something more soothing to lift the spirit. So, we both ordered their Two-Course lunch special for $14.95.
I decided to get a small Caesar Salad anyways and he got the soup, bless him, so I could try it. And actually, I was in the mood for soup. The soup came piping hot, which was great, because too many restaurants now serve room temperature soup. Loaded with clams, and super tasty, it was really good! I kept dipping my bread into it to get some more.
My salad was perfect, with a generous portion of parmesan cheese, unlike the epic failure of the three-cheese blob that the Keg tries to pass off. I followed up my salad bigtime, with a 5oz rare Sirloin with mashed potatoes. He opted for a less artery-clogging choice of the Fresh Shrimp Linguine.
My sirloin grilled perfectly rare, and nestled on a bed of pureed potatoes that were so smooth you could drink them. Off to the side were some corn niblets, tomatoes, and pearl onions, I love pearl onions!
His pasta was good, loaded with lots of fresh shrimp, not prawns, but not exactly baby shrimp either. Nice tangy sauce, but there is an herb in there that I'm not a fan's the same thing that's in the Swiss Chalet sauce...oregono? tarragon? thyme??? All in all, a great deal for $15...great food, great service.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Maui - departure and arrival

Bags are packed, and we're finally on the way to Maui...flight is at 5 but we don't get there until 9ish, so must bring dinner with us on the plane. When travelling, your best options are probably Starbucks, Tims or one of the three fast food giants, McDs, Burger King or A&W.
As I walked to our gates, I didn't want Starbucks and a Tim's sammy had no draw for me at all. But as we kept on walking, we passed a Burger King and I was drawn to it...I admit my shame...Bacon Double Cheeseburger...and Fries...but a DIET coke.
Fully intended to eat it while I was enjoying my InFlight Entertainment...only to discover, when we were boarding, that our flight had none. We were on the one plane that Air Canada didn't equip with seatback televisions. I guess they figure you don't need it if you are heading to Maui? The movies being shown on the Big Screen were Invictus and The Firm (yes, the old one with Tom Cruise).
Needless to say, I was glad I brought my DS - Cooking Mama...take me away! Scrabble has its competition now. After a rather uneventful flight, the four of us arrived into OGG and went in search of a rental car. Scored ourselves a nice little silver Dodge Calibre.
An hour later, we arrived at the Honua Kai resort at Kaanapali Beach.
The room. Home for the next few days. 
The kitchen drawer. I find it insane that they have everything laid out so neatly. Making me feel very inadequate.
The oven. Seriously...were we the first person to take this condo? How is there not on iota of splatter on the oven base? Whoever cleaned this needs to come to Vancouver and do mine.
The bed. Ahh...a king I've missed you.
The bathroom. Dual sinks...must take turns spitting into both.
And suddenly, I realized how hungry I was. Digging into my carry-on, I discovered my BDC! The fries were inhaled during the flight, but the burger escaped unharmed, but no more.
Popping the sandwich into the microwave, I was ready to devour it! *actually, I did before I even took a picture of a 6-hour old burger...thank me later.* Since others had arrived earlier in the week, they shared some of their leftovers with us, namely a roasted chicken carcass. We also ventured into the grocery store and scored some proscuitto, and lots of chips, including a weird Shrimp chip concoction as well as spicy cheetos. The cheetos served as a side to the chicken carcass.
Settled in for a quick meal to settle the stomach before having a few drinks. We bought a bottle of Absolut Citron on to the plane and proceeded to finish the bottle with the rest of the group.
Something new I tried tonight...cigars...real Cubans...probably lost on me though since I have no frame of reference for good versus bad cigars. Ciggies I'd know, cigars I'm not so good with.
One thing I remember from Miss Yu...why would i want to keep sucking on something that gets shorter and softer the more I do it?

Sunny Saturday

Finally finsished the loads of laundry I needed to do in order to pack for my trip. I think I've brought what I need, and probably stuff I don't need. I don't remember packing being this hard, but I guess if the reward is sunning on the beaches of Maui, I can overcome. Having leftovers from last night's dinner at The Keg (review to come, bad review to come) for lunch and then calling it quits.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Terrific Tuesday

Corner Suite Bistro De Luxe on Urbanspoon
Had a nice surprise when a friend dropped by downtown and we headed out for lunch. I've been meaning to check out The Corner Suite Bistro on Thurlow for the past three months since they have been opened, so that was where we headed.
Despite my 2.5" heels, I decided to walk over to the restaurant instead of getting a ride. Thankfully, it was closer than I expected.
The room is gorgeous, with simple lines and a strong blue and black colour scheme. Another nice touch is the cut-out table, featuring a holder for your dinner (or lunch) napkin.

Had a nice pinot grigio to start, and settled in to check out the menu. My friend decided on a Jack and Coke, but waitress said they didn't have Jack. After a few minutes, she came back with her suggestion of Johnny Walker Black Label instead. And then a few minutes later, she came back and had discovered Jack while she was gone.
As I looked over the menu, the pages upon pages of cheese made me completely distracted. Settled on the Croque Madame, though there were a few other things on the menu that tempted me.
Their $24.07 special is a steal...featuring an appy of the day along with a chef's special main. Unfortunately for me, the special feature concentrated around scallops, which I am not too fond of. The CM is a toasted sammy loaded with Gruyere cheese and ham. A sunny side up egg sits on top, and is served with buttermilk onion rings and a tossed green salad. Hard to believe I actually finished the whole thing.
For those of you who just want a nibble, try the Croque Mademoiselle which is the same sandwich, but only one-eighth of it. A perfect appy to go with another of their mains. Instead of using a chicken egg, the sammy is topped with a fried quail egg!
My friend opted for their spot prawns (now in season) with their crispy pork belly, which came with some yummy fava beans. the prawns were juicy and sweet, and the skin on the pork belly...done right and super crispy!
Despite not having any room left for dessert or cheeses, I had to review that cheese list again. They have Epoisses, my all time favourite cheese from my meal in Paris at Alain Ducasse at the Plaza Athene. They also have my second favourite cheese, the munster (from France, not the American version). I know I am going to be back.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Monday's Mayhem

So excited that BFF is back at work, after her various leaves and business trips. We caught up with each other for lunch at Cafe Joyeaux (yes, it's supposed to be spelt wrong). As with the last time there, even though we ordered at the same time, my food never arrives alongside hers. She was almost done her meal by the time I received mine.
Their excuse? We couldn't find her, so we just brought it back to the kitchen. My reward? Lukewarm #2. Sigh, good thing the conversation made up for it. I didn't take a picture of the food because I was starving but I did snap a picture of the condiments...a strange assortment.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Mom's Day at Campagnolo

I’ve been trying to take my mom to Campagnolo for months now, but she’s always vetoed me at the last minute, usually in favour of something closer to home. Well this time, for Mom’s Day, I decided to surprise her (along with my stepdad) and brought her there for a late brunch. Eager for a chance to do a second review. When we arrived at 12:30, the restaurant was serving lunch as well. Between the three of us, we knew that we’d be having at least one pasta and a pizza. The third dish stumped us, and we resolved our differences by ordering two pastas! I had tried the Tagliarini just a few weeks ago, but have not tried the second pasta, the Arlecchino pasta sheets with sausage & kale. I knew what pizza to order too, the Margherita, but it seemed just a touch on the plain side, so we ordered it with prosciutto on top.
Both my parents had a coffee to start, and both commented on the richness of the flavour and body. They were shocked to not get a refill though, oh well, but they would probably be buzzing after any more of those.
We were given a plate of chili flakes, along with some dried oregano (?) and shredded parmesan cheese. It’s perfect for people like me who love to spice things up and to play with my food. It wasn’t long before the pizza came out, still piping hot from the oven. The thin slices of prociutto just blended perfectly into the cheese.

All conversation stopped as we munched on this slice of yumminess. My mom said that the crust was perfect…thin and crispy on the bottom to support the topppings, but the edge had a very satisfying mouth-feel. The cheese and tomato sauce blended together nicely, and the prosciutto gave the whole pie an extra zing of salty kick.

Just as we were polishing up the last of the pizza, the Tagliarini and Arlecchino pasta sheets arrived. I LOVE their Tagliarini. As the waiter said, this has been on the menu since they opened and it will stay on there menu forever. I had ordered the full portions of both pastas, because I remembered the half portion was nowhere near enough for me, and to have to share with my parents, nuh-uh. I love the texture of properly done fresh pasta. Add that together with a pork ragu that stands right up to the noodles, you know you have a good marriage. The generous sprinkling of finely grated parmesan cheese was appreciated too. For a non-meat-craver such as my mom, she loved the proportion of the meat to noodle ratio. I, could have used more ragu, but then again, I’m a carnivore at heart.
The Arlecchino sheets were amazing too. Perfect little diamond shaped sheets with sharp edges. The fennel sausage was mildly flavoured, so that fennel lover (mom) could taste it, but not so strong that a fennel hater (me) would spit it out. Despite the listing fennel in the description, I knew I was going to order this because of the perfect pasta accompanying it. Both my parents were pleased that there was some kale thrown into the mix, to make it a little lighter and healthier. Because the pastas arrived when we were still eating the pizza, we made the mistake of allowing the pasta to cool. I found the sheets clumped together a bit when I tried to serve them; the sheets had to be pried apart to be shared. That said, I was delighted that the sheets stood up to my prying them apart, I didn’t get any torn sheets or sheets that refused to part.
We’re not usually dessert people, but decided to have something sweet this time, just so my mom could have another cup of coffee. We ordered the Biscotti, Meringue and Cookies dessert. There were fennel biscotti, hazelnut cookies, and shortbread as well. The little white meringues are about the smallest I’ve seen, but still light and airy. As I said, I’m not a huge fan of fennel, but it works in a biscotti…there were definitely fennel seeds here!
I was intrigued by something on the menu called Resentin. I had never heard of this before, and had to ask the waiter what it was. 

So you start with a strong espresso, to which you add a little bit of brown raw sugar. Give it a quick stir and drink as usual. Once you are near the bottom of your cup, you pour the grappa shot (0.5 oz only) into the espresso cup and you stir again, before drinking it quickly. I convinced my stepdad to have one with me. I had the espresso & ½ oz. Grappa di Brunello and he had the espresso & ½ oz. Grappa di Prosecco.
Our parting gift was a small package of macaroons for mom (and luckily, a small package for me too). Can’t wait to try the salty caramel one. We also received a gift certificate to ReFuel for brunch…time to check out that menu now…
Campagnolo on Urbanspoon

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Sunny Saturday

After pigging out at lunch at Phnom Penh, we all decided to go for a walk to burn some of the rich calories off. Headed to English Bay and wandered around by the water.

Visited the Laughing Men statues again, and realize that they are actually more menacing in the light of day than in the dark of night.

Also shopped along Denman, but didn't end up buying anything. Well, do Beard Papas and cigarettes count? I guess there is my super healthy dinner!

Sat down on a bench and just soaked up the sun…it’s the first nice day of the season (since the Olympics) and people were out to enjoy themselves.

Wings, Dumplings, and more...

When deciding on what to have for lunch and the only limitation is “no burgers”, so many things come to mind. Sushi? Ramen? Pho? And then brilliance struck…Phnom Penh! Ever since I had the wings a few weeks ago, I’ve been craving to return. I brought two PP Chicken Wing Virgins with me…one had tried them long ago and one was from NYC. I knew this was going to make me look like a foodie superstar!

As we waited patiently for a table, (it was 12:30 on a Saturday), we planned our meal. For sure we are getting the Chicken Wings. I am so used to getting a half order that this time, I was so excited that we would get a “real” order! They are also well-known for their Butter Beef, so I pushed for that as a novelty we must try. One person really wanted Dumplings, so we ordered the Trieu Chau Steamed Dumplings, written up as part of a review that was posted on the wall. It is a great way to kill time while waiting for our table too. Next decision, rice or noodles? The best rice is the Lu Lac Filet Beef on Rice with Egg, but we didn’t want to overdose on beef. We settled on another favourite, the PP Egg/Rice Noodle (Dry). Three people, four plates of food, sounds about right.

First to come were the noodles, accompanied by a bowl of Old Fire Pork Bone Soup. The bone is delicious and tender, after hours of simmering. There were both egg and rice noodles in the bowl, as well as thin slices of pork, liver, ground pork and a few shrimps. A generous sprinkling of green onion, fried garlic and cilantro finishes the dish. Note: If you don’t like cilantro, tell the server right at the start, because they sprinkle it over everything…you’ll see. After doling out some for everyone, I added a bit of the blanched bean sprouts and a squirt of hot sauce to my serving and dug in. It was so good. Perfectly cooked noodles and a nice mix of sliced and ground meat.
Just as I finished my noodles, the Chicken Wings came. With a few springs of cilantro and the token tomato and cucumber slice. The crunchy exterior and the juicy ultra-hot interior, it’s perfection every time. Just a quick dunk into the lemon/pepper concoction is all you need. If you over-dunk, it will get soggy (and overly tangy) on you.

The Butter Beef came next, and as I said before, if you don’t like cilantro…you’ve got to tell them. It is essentially thinly sliced marinated rare beef, sprinkled with a mixture of lime juice, soy sauce and fish sauce. More cilantro and more fried garlic complete the dish. Cut it as if it was a pizza, slicing it up into individual portions. The marinade can be a little overpowering if you are not used to the fish sauce flavour, so be sure to mix it up with the less coated sections near the edges.

The final dish was the Steamed Dumplings. Having eaten here for over 15 years, I have never actually ordered this. It was filled with Chinese Sausage (very fatty), mushrooms, jicama, chunks of a hard boiled egg, and firm tofu with yet another sprinkling of the cilantro and garlic. It was really good but I’m glad it came at the end. If you had that first or just after the noodles, you’d be a little overwhelmed by the wings and beef afterwards.
All in all, it was a great meal. When you head to PP, it’s always better when there are more people so you can order more dishes and try new things. When you only go with one other person, you each have your favourites and before you know it, you’re ordering the same darn thing every time. Phnom Penh on Urbanspoon


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