gracecheung604 | write on time: March 2012

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Angkor - the Phnom Penh of the East Side

I've heard a few things about Angkor and it's hard to miss the constant comparison with Phnom Penh. So one Saturday, we decided to check it out for ourselves. 

First thing to come to the table were the cooked sprouts and lime. I like having the sprouts cooked, I feel like it's more sanitary than raw, wet sprouts coming to the table. 

And we only got the sprouts because we got noodles, to be specific, the first one we got was the Dry Mix Seafood Noodles. It's shockingly similar to the Phnom Penh Dry Mix Noodles, but I don't believe they have a seafood version. This one came with fish balls, some shrimp and squid as well. I could have done without the pollock, but alas, there they were. These were saucier noodles than Phnom Penh's and the texture of the noodles were just a tad better.

I was craving beef brisket so I decided to get their Beef Brisket & Tendon noodles. In a rich tomato broth, this was just the right amount of spice. Again, the noodles were of a great consistency, but alas, I couldn't say the same for the brisket. The tendon was nice and soft, with a mild chewy texture. The brisket, on the other hand, was slightly underdone. The pieces were very large, about 4 bites to a piece. I think chopping them smaller would have made the whole thing cook faster and resulting in a much tenderer piece of meat. I would probably return to try it again, hoping that I might have just caught the chef on a bad day. Also, we were there early, so maybe going a little later in the day would be better?

One of my favourite things at Phnom Penh is the soup they always serve with their dry egg noodles. See their version here. Buy my, oh my, this soup bone beats anything I've ever been served there! Not only was there plenty of meat on the bone itself, there was marrow inside as well. I was in heaven. 

Now I know I've gushed quite about the noodles so far, but what about Phnom Penh's famous chicken wings? Well, they have nothing to worry about. Not to say that these wings are bad, no, not at all, but just not a replacement for the famous Phnom Penh ones. I also liked how the wings were served in two sections, not drum/wing/tip like they do at Phnom Penh. I think the difference is in the breading they use...flour, cornstarch, something about it gives it a nice colour, but the crunch is less crunchy and the flavour is just a bit milder. And they do need to put more pepper in the lemon juice dipping sauce.
So to sum up, if you are in the mood for noodles but not in the mood for the inevitable lineup at Phnom Penh, Angkor is a safe bet. But if it's those wings you're lusting after? Suck it up and wait in line. 
Angkor Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Monday, March 26, 2012

Sushi Garden > Kita Sushi?

I've gotten takeout from Kita Sushi practically once a month for the past several months. Needing a bit of a change, I decided to check out Sushi Garden instead, and I'm sure glad I did. 
I love that their Chicken Wings are ALL wings, not a drummette in sight! Due to the fact that this was take out, the crispiness had to be revived by my Breville toaster oven, but 5 mins at 450 degrees with the convection on, and you're golden. Well, the wings will be golden too! 6 pieces for less than $4. I'm sold. Note: it's call Chicken Karaage on the menu, no mention of wings.
And the other cooked food we got to go with our sashimi was their Ebi Gyoza. They don't use ground up shrimp as filling, as with most places. These are whole prawns with a bit of pork wrapped around them, and then the whole thing is placed into a lovely gyoza skin and pan fried. I've read other people's complaints that dishes here are served quite hot enough, and I would have to agree. But I set them next to the wings in the toaster over and they came out perfectly! If I was eating at the restaurant and the food came out lukewarm like this, I would have been annoyed too. 
This is the Deluxe Assorted Sashimi, thickly cut and most items in triplicates, this is good solid sashimi, but these is a lack of refinement when the tuna slices are that thick. Nevertheless, the sashimi is fresh and I really liked the abundance of daikon they give you. Kita gives you a Amaebi with the Deluxe Assorted Sashimi, but it's head on and much bigger than the ones you see here.
All this for about $30, not a bad deal. Next time, if I were to plan it better, I would probably order the cooked items from Sushi Garden and head over to Kita for the sashimi. 
Sushi Garden (Lougheed) on Urbanspoon

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Banana Leaf, and yes, they do serve their rice in it!

My stepdad suggested Malaysian food for our regular Sunday dinner and since he rarely voices his desires, we had to indulge him. His two choices were "Malaysian on Broadway" or "Boathouse in New West". Two totally different choices, but nevertheless, that is what he wanted! 

I have been craving Malaysian food for a few weeks now, and so off we went to Banana Leaf. I know there are lots of rotis in a variety of cuisines, but one of my favourites is the Malaysian style of Roti Canai. These little bundles are delicate and simply layers upon layers of yummy dough. Served with a side of mild curry sauce, they are the perfect vessel for sopping up the saucy goodness. 

Another famous Malaysia dish is their Hainanese Chicken. Now this might take some getting used to since the plate is served "cool". Not cold so that the fat is congealed, but also not hot to the touch. It's also deboned and every bite is full of meaty goodness. The peanuts add a nice crunch, but the best part are the sauces on thee side. The chopped ginger is amazing and makes the chicken really flavourful. Like a bit of heat? Then dip your chicken into the red chili sauce. It's tangy and sweet, but with enough heat to give it a punch. 

We tried another a milder noodle dish called the Ipoh Noodle. It's a piping hot dish made up of flat rice noodles, but they add lots of toppings, such as pork, squid, fish cake, shrimps & vegetables.  The gooeyness factor is achieved an oyster gravy egg sauce.  The richness of this dish means that it's definitely a sharing dish. Try to eat this all on your own, and you'll see just how rich this is. 

We also got the Malaysian Seafood Noodle, with a load of seafood such as scallops, prawns, fish and squid. Made with egg noodles and coated in a sauce made with tamarind, galangal and turmeric, this dish is very rich in flavour, but not blow-your-head off spicy. 

No visit to Banana Leaf is complete without their Satays. We opted for both chicken and beef...four of each. These had a nice grilled flavour to it and just a hint of curry. It's a fun dish, especially for groups and it's a great way to add some meat to your meal, if you're sharing other entrees with vegetarians. Hey, they can have the cucumbers on the side! 

To accompany the Hainanese Chicken, we got an order of regular rice but also an order of Coconut Rice. I loved the presentation, lovingly wrapped in a banana leaf! Once you open up this bundle, the fragrant coconut milk really hits you. The rice is steamed to perfection and not overly sticky, thank goodness! 

Although we don't normally order dessert at these family meals, we felt like we wanted to try something while we were here. We ordered the Kuih Dadar, which is a sweet coconut crepe. The bright green colour comes from the pandan leaves. there is also palm sugar and grated coconut in the batter, and it's delicious. Not heavy, not too rich, but just the thing to end the meal, so save room!
Banana Leaf (Fairview) on Urbanspoon

Simple Lunch at Hawksworth

One day when we were fed up with the lineups at various food trucks, my co-worker and I decided to forego the lines and headed to Hawksworth instead.

They had a Special of the Day, a Clams and Spaghetti dish. What I enjoyed about this dish is how the cherry/grape tomatoes were sliced into thirds, rather than halves. It's this kind of detail that I go out to eat for. If you're going to half a tomato, well, I can do that too. It takes much more patience to cut them into threes. Another noteworthy attention to detail is the lack of shells on the dish. I'd rather had a plateful of shelled clams rather than a big display of clam shells, all of which are empty.  

We also got the Hawksworth Beef Burger. I have to say, this was amazing. And I'm not just talking about the juicy burger, which was cooked to a perfect medium rare. The toasted bun was speckled with black and white sesame seeds, and you get  some butter lettuce, to make it worth your while, they slip in a few slices of bacon too! What's NOT to love! And OMG, the fries are out of this world. The thickly cut fries are divine, deep fried to a golden crisp on the outside, and totally soft and mashed on the inside, these were decadent. 
The only downside was that there were only six of them. I could have had another six. 
Hawksworth on Urbanspoon

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Dim Sum at Golden Ocean

I know most of you probably head into Richmond for Dim Sum, but sometimes, fighting the "L" & "N" drivers on a Saturday morning just isn't my cup of tea. So instead, one weekend morning, we decided to check out Golden Ocean in Kerrisdale. Now I'm probably going to regret this, but they do take "phone-ahead-line-up", so if you know you're heading down, it's best to call ahead. They will still make you wait, but it's a different line that the "walk-ins". Another great thing about this place is that it's one of the few places that still have the carts! So although you can still order what you want from a waiter; sit there long enough and someone will "drive" by with something to tempt you with a dish that doesn't jump off the order sheet.
The first item we got was the Deep Fried Bean Curd Roll, and it's stuffed with diced shrimp and veggies. The top one had the most crunch, seemingly having spent the most time being deep-fried. The other two on the bottom were good as well, but missing the browning of the top one. The filling is good, after the crispiness when you first bite into it, you are then biting into tender shrimp mixed with some Asian veggies. So a little oily, but the inside is nice and piping hot. 
So, after the slightly overly oily first dish, we flagged down a cart carrying Steamed Spare Ribs. The serving was a healthy portion, but I'd have the say that one piece at the 6 o'clock position bothered me. And, overall, it was a bit too bland for my taste. For those of you who don't appreciate black bean, this could be your dish, since it's mildly flavoured with garlic and not much else. You'll always get some fatty pieces along with the meaty pieces, but I found the ratio to be good overall.   
I've never been a huge fan of Spring Rolls, probably because most are stuffed with ground pork and way too greasy. The only thing that makes them palatable is the Lea & Perrins you dip into so as to cut the oiliness down. However, I wanted to try these ones because they were filled with shrimp, sans the mayo dressing that most shrimp ones come with. Yeah, deep-fried shrimp and mayonnaise isn't my thing. 
I'm glad I gave these ones a try, because as you can see, they aren't overly greasy and stuffed with a fair amount of shrimp meat. Oh, and judging by the flakes all over, they were sort of nice and crispy too! 
One my my go-to dimsum dishes is the Sticky Rice in Lotus Leaf. When you order these, you never know if you're going to get one "big" one or three "mini" ones. I personally prefer the mini ones because I always find the Big ones to be very poor in terms of Meat vs Rice ratio. They stay nice and hot in the wrapper, so take your time trying out other things before opening these babies up. 
Unwrap these and you're rewarded with a meat filled rice dumpling. The rice should cover the filling entirely, but I don't mind if the filling spills over a a bit, like the one here. The filling is usually a mix of ground pork/chicken, chinese sausage, shitaake mushrooms and the yolk of a salted duck egg (my favourite part and I always leave this to the end), with an oyster sauce based concoction. These were nice and saucy and great meat to rice ratio. No complaints here! 

After the Bean Curd and Spring Rolls, we decided to go the route of less fried greasiness. One of my comfort food as a child is Rice Noodle Rolls. So we got one with shrimp (whole shrimp, not shrimp meat/paste). I loved to play with these as a kid, unrolling the noodle, dipping the shrimp in hot sauce, and then rerolling it. Yes, it was labour intensive, but it was good! The shrimp here kept falling out of the roll when I picked it up with my chopstick, but it didn't stop me from engaging in my childhood past-time. Steamed and splashed with some soy sauce when they bring this to your table, this really lets the ingredients shine. I liked it quite a bit. Oh, and there were three rolls with the order, I started playing with one before remembering to take the photo! 
And no, it's not that I don't like the traditional "Har Gow", but since we'd already had a few shrimp dishes, we decided to go with the other must have, the "Sui Mai". I've always liked the fish roe topping on these little open-face pork dumplings, but wow, they really spread it on unevenly here. Not sure if that is because these are made in-house, but I have to say, I grabbed the two with the most roe on top! Poor other soul who was left with a rather naked dumpling.
So if you're in the mood for dimsum and want to try a few new things...head to Golden Ocean and their push-cart style service. At least you can take a peek at what you're getting rather than ordering it off an order sheet! 
Golden Ocean Seafood Restaurant 金海閣海鮮酒家 on Urbanspoon

Cheesy Goodness at Burgoo!

I've only been to Burgoo twice, and always at their Main St. location. Last year, a few days after my accident and in serious need of comfort food, I ventured out to their Point Grey location. My mom opted for their healthy Soup and Sandwich combo. It's a fairly good deal at $15 a pop. Sandwiches are $12 so you're not paying that much more for the soup. 
I, on the other hand, was in serious need of comfort food, so I went straight for the Macaroni & More, which is your average Mac & Cheese, but bumped up with the addition of Cheddar, and bacon. Yes, bacon. They toss in a bunch of peas, sprinkle on a layer of seasoned breadcrumbs and bake the whole thing into a gooey dish of yumminess. 
And in case the Mac and Cheese wasn't cheesy enough, we also got their Decadent French Onion soup. There are ribbons of slow roasted onions sitting in a really robust beef broth. All topped with chunky croutons and then slow baked with three Gruyere, Emmenthal and Mozzarella to make it extra gooey!
Special Thanks to CeCe for sharing her Groupon! :)
Burgoo (Point Grey) on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Lunch with the Office Gang at Tableau

After a busy RRSP season at work, a few of us decided to head out for a "Thank God It's Over/Celebratory Lunch" and chose Tableau for its proximity to our office. I have been several times before at their previous Voya at the Loden, but have yet to try this new incarnation.
Even though it was lunch time, the warm bread arrived while we were perusing the menu. Since I didn't have breakfast, we quickly devoured the soft chewy bread and decided on lunch. 
One of the choices was their Pappardelle and Mushroom with leeks and pine nuts. Although this looks like a very light sauce, it really served to showcase the mushrooms and pasta. It's a good meatless option. 
One of the lighter eaters of the group decided on the French Onion Soup. It's your usual gruyere laden cheesy goodness, broiled and bubbly. But because I didn't try it, I'm not sure how the broth actually was. Considering my co-worker finished it, I am going to say it was a good one! Just the look of the cheesy goodness won me over.
I was the porker of the group and decided to have one of the "Les Sandwichs". There is a veggie option with tomato, bocconcini and basil, as well as a BBQ Pulled Chicken with cheddar. But I decided to go with the Beef Brisket, sauerkraut and gruyere. 

I decided to get my sandwich with a salad, although you can choose frites or soup.  The salad was a bright mix of greens, carrots, radish and cheery tomatoes. This was a nice light start to the meal.

The sandwich was amazing. So rich, so perfectly stuffed with brisket, sauerkraut and cheese, I was amazed. I also loved the grilled bread, but boy, was it rich. This is one half of the sandwich and I think I had about a third of it before calling it quits. I think this would be enough for two people, maybe with another side salad to balance things out. 
They have daily feature, and I really want to go back on a Wednesday, because it's their Duck Confit lunch! 
Tableau Bar Bistro on Urbanspoon

Ebo - A Pleasant Surprise and Close to Home!

Although I live just a few minutes away from Ebo, I didn't try them until just last month. I was told by a co-worker that this place was surprisingly good, as well, I have heard good things via Twitter. So one night, we decided to check it out and I was certainly glad I did. 
First to arrive was their bread basket, and yes, this delighted me very much since the bread was warm...this little touch makes me so happy! I liked the bread as well as the parmesan crisp. Lots of flavour and texture. We were off to a good start. 
Since we had a child with us, we let him order his dinner first and a Hot Dog and Veggie side was his choice. I was happy to see that even though "Kids Eat Free" at this place, they didn't get lazy with the preparation. The bun was slightly grilled and the hot dog was grilled as well, not simply boiled (the easy way out). The veggies were fresh, and a step away from the normal with bell peppers added to the usual celery and carrots 
The adults were next and the first dish to arrive was the Seafood Linguini with a squid ink linguine pasta. There were a ton of seafood on the plate, including some pieces of smoked salmon, a few prawns, one big scallop and some clams. A white wine cream sauce held everything together. The flavour was quite mild, but the whole dish fit together quite nicely. 
Another entree we tried was the Scallop and Short Rib, This been was braised for 48 hours, and served with a Roasted Scallop. There was a ton of asparagus spears as well as a really delicious bed of potato puree. The one snappy punch in this dish is their green onion really lightens the heaviness of the beef and creaminess of the scallop. This was a winner in my books. 
For my main, I indulged and got the 12 oz AAA Prime Rib Eye. Not, this isn't prime rib, it's a prime rib eye. Like other steakhouses, they serve their steaks with a pat of truffled herb butter. And yes, for veggies, there are some sauteed mushrooms and the same asparagus as with the Scallop & Short Rib. There were some potatoes on the side, and really, that was my least favourite part of the dish. I think I would have rather have the potato puree instead. The steak was prepared very well. My medium rare had a nice ring of grilled crust, along with a red tender centre. I was surprised at how good it was, to be honest. 
We were treated to a plate of White chocolate truffles. These were rich and a good ending to our dinner. Although not a fan of white chocolate (they look like soap to me), these were appreciated and devoured quickly. 
Because the child was so good during dinner, we decided to treat him to a dessert, so we got him a little brownie. Or so we thought. When this arrived, we were all taken aback by the artistry of the dish, as well as the size of it. I made a note to save room for dessert on my next visit, and yes, I will be back! 
EBO Restaurant on Urbanspoon


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