gracecheung604 | write on time: October 2012

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Ghost Chili Peppers: #HotterThanHell at Mucho Burrito

A few weeks ago, someone from Mucho Burrito's PR company contacted me and said that they will have two limited time burritos. The feature of these burritos is the use of Ghost Chili Peppers. Don't know what the big deal is? Here is a snippet from their Press Release. And for a girl that doesn't eat much Mexican, this would be twice in a week, see my post on Patron Tacos & Cantina
"With a Scoville rating of 1,000,000, the ghost pepper is one of the hottest peppers in the world, with only one other pepper ranking higher. In comparison, well-known peppers such as the Habanero have a Scoville rating of 350,000, while the Jalapeno has a rating of 8,000. The ghost pepper has a slow-building heat that increases with intensity as time passes. It was rated the hottest chili pepper in the world by The Guinness Book of World Records."
mucho burrito 6
Armed with a $15 gift card, i headed over to their downtown location to pick some up. I got both versions of this burrito, the Hotter Than Hell and the Wimpy. The total was was $18.10 so I had to pony up some change for the pleasure (or pain) of trying these, not a bit deal. Both have ghost pepper bacon, ghost pepper infused fig marmalade, spicy Mexican rice, salsa and a choice of meat, all wrapped in a fiery red tortilla. The only difference is that the Hotter than Hell Ghost Pepper Burrito gets a few squirts of Mucho Burrito’s hottest salsa and pure Ghost Pepper sauce.
mucho burrito 3 
Preferring trial by fire at home, we brought these babies home to eat. The bag was really heavy. In fact I weighed them when I got home and the two combined were over two pounds! Here I am, just about to take the big bite...and yes, this is the Hotter Than Hell one!
mucho burrito 2
After a few bites, I could feel the heat. My nose was sweating, my eyes were watering and my tongue was burning. It was definitely spicy and it does build up on you. After about 4 bites, I had to take a break. I was actually just eating the tortilla, without any of the filling, and found it strangely soothing and sweet. The wine I was drinking had completely lost its flavour too. 
Can you see how packed this burrito is? This was a big burrito and I definitely needed two hands to keep it together. Oh, and I did give the Wimpy a try after, but to be honest, I couldn't taste any heat there at all, not after a few mouthfuls of Hotter than Hell.
It's hard to believe, but someone in Toronto at SEVEN of these in EIGHT minutes. Don't believe me?
Check out these photos on Mucho Burritos Facebook Page
Screen shot 2012-11-01 at 1.23.51 PM Dare to give it a try? You're in luck. Originally, the expiry for these burritos was supposed to be on the Day of the Dead, but it has now been extended to November 30. 
Go get one and tell me what you think...I dare you!

Mucho Burrito on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Dinner now available at Chez Meme!

A few weeks ago, I took my parents to Chez Meme for lunch for the very first time. I know their French Onion Soups are amazing, and there sandwiches are just the best, having been there last year. 
IMG-20121012-00070 Since these are their two most solid items, I decided to get the French Onion Soup and the Jambon sandwich. I like the little extra mustard they give you on the side, and the crusty bread is perfect to soak up the melting brie. I had heard that they were now opening for dinner (Tues-Sat) so we made plans for a revisit. 
My stepdad decided to follow my lead from lunch and ordered the French Onion Soup to start. I can't help but notice that the lunchtime one was cheesier and even a slight bit fuller. The flavours were the same, so I'm guessing that the broth was the same as lunch but the topping of bread and cheese were done by different people.
But what we were really there for was the Parmentier, only available for dinner. Every table had one of these cute little red pots loaded with various meats and topped with a layer of creamy mashed potatoes. This is the Morue with cod and a garlic potato topping. I found the dish a tad too fishy for me, probably because that was all that was in there. I think the addition of some vegetables to break up the flavours a bit. Nonetheless, the dish was a success since my mom polished off the whole thing, which she rarely does when we dine out.
The other parmentier we had was the Pepe, which was a mixture of braised beef, mushrooms and some caramelized onions, all topped with the creamy smooth mashed potatoes. The filling had good flavours and the meat was braised to a tender juiciness. The mushrooms gave the dish an earthy flavour, and the caramelized onions helped to sweeten everything. 
As we ate the dish, you can see how densely packed the little container really is. Normally, with these types of pie, as you eat through the filling, you are left with lots of liquid but that's not the case here. It's exactly as described, just meat and potatoes. Serving this in a container helped to keep the meal nice and hot, so you could really take your time to enjoy every mouthful.
IMG_0854 And to lighten things up a bit, I decided to get the Salade de Campagne, with cucumbers, ham, swiss cheese, tomatoes and egg. The ham was sliced into ribbons and was nice and salty. The greens were plentiful and perfectly bite sized. I like the swiss cheese because it gave the dish a mild touch of sharpness. The eggs were freshly cooked, and I always notice this, because I really don't like eggs in salads where they got a greyish tinge to them from being cooked earlier in the day.   
And one more indulgence for my mom, Pommes Frites! We had no intention of ordering this until another table did, and it came right past us. They just looked so good, golden and they smelled good too. Just a touch of salt really is all you need. We managed to polish off every last one between the three of us.

Take Note:

  • Call ahead for reservations
  • Wine list is very reasonably priced
  • Some baguettes and tartines are also available at dinner time. 

Chez Meme Baguette Bistro on Urbanspoon

Monday, October 29, 2012

Mexicana at Patron

Before catching a comedy show by John Pinette at The Centre, we stopped by for a quick bite at Patron nearby. I hadn't been before and was ready to get some Mexican goodness in my belly before laughing the night away. For those of you who don't know John Pinette, here is a clip of his from YouTube. To be honest, I don't eat a lot of Mexican food, the last meal was probably Cartel Taco.
Now I don't know if the decorations at the entry is due to Halloween, or if this is something they do year-round, but I thought this was pretty good for the atmosphere of the night.
First off, they serve you Salsa and Chips on the house. The chips are made in house as is the salsa, which was more of a wetter version. As you can see, there aren't a lot of chunks in there. I do prefer a heartier salsa, but this had a good taste even if the texture was lacking. Not hot enough for you, you can always add heat to this with some Habanero sauce.  
These are the Huaraches, which I've never had before. It is a corn dough bread topped with your choice of chorizo, poblano stew, beef of chicken. Each order comes with two, so we got one with chorizo and one with beef. It's then topped with some black beans, onion and sour cream, as well as some lettuce and lots of feta cheese. The beef was the better one here with a better texture than the slightly too-dry chorizo. These are filling so we only had about half of each. We were saving room for the next item from the Platos Fuertes section.
This is the Parrillada Patron. It comes with Arrachera Steak, Prime Rib, Garlic Prawns, Chorizo as well as lots of peppers, onions. The plate serves 2 and it's a lot of food. The prime rib was quite fatty as you can see from the picture above. I thought the arrachera steak (flank steak) was better and it was very tender. The prawns were surprisingly good and not overcooked at all. The fillings for the tortillas was perfect, not too wet or oily. 
You also get a platter of sauces, with as Pico de gallo, Sour cream, guacamole, salsa. I think the brown sauce in the above picture is a type of mole but I'm not 100% sure. 
These are the corn tortillas that come with the meal, but there were only 6 in the serving. With the amount of meat we had, we could probably have used another 6 tortillas. These were very fresh and I loved the presentation of it in the tortillas in a Mexican scarf. 
And as we were leaving, I noticed the Jack-o'-Lantern they had at the bar. Very neat, and you  can see the Habanero sauce I mentioned earlier too.

Take Note:

  • Items from the Platos Fuertes are good for sharing
  • Wide range of Tequila, available as shots
  • Limited wine selection. 

Patron Tacos & Cantina on Urbanspoon

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Tea at the Fairmont

When someone asks me out for High Tea, my first question (before I even answer) is "Was there a daily deal?". And lo and behold, the answer is usually yes. The only exception I can think of now is the time I wanted to try out the Moon Festival Tea at Urban Tea Merchant (and was sorely disappointed). Serves me right, I should just wait for a deal. Fortunately, my BFF got the DealFind offer of Tea for Two for $38 and wanted to share with me!
setting 5 Luckily, I arrived ahead of her and had a few minutes to play around with my new camera. I really love the fine china they use, even for the milk and sugar. Oh, but wait, how long has that milk been sitting there...? I've had tea before where they bring you warm milk after serving your tea, so that the tea doesn't get cold as a result. Even Urban Tea did that at my first visit. But for $38, I didn't think we would have a little carafe of milk that was just sitting out, long before I got there. 
set 3
Shortly after we ordered our tea, the Traditional Afternoon Tea tray arrived. As you can see, we have some Raisin and Butter Scones on top, then a layer of Sweet Pastries as well as a layer of Savoury "Petit" (aka crustless) Sandwiches
savory 3 Here are the Savoury Sandwiches and honestly, that's all I'm really looking forward to here. For once I can say that the curry-looking sandwich is actually curry (chicken salad, in fact) and not a problem with my camera!
salmon & cucumber 2 The first two I tried was the English Cucumber & Whipped Boursin on White Bread. This is what I always start with, since it usually is the mildest of all the offerings. The cheese is very thin and the cucumber slices were impeccable. Flavour-wise, it's light and kind of starts your meal off. The next thing I had was the Smoked Salmon & Asparagus Pinwheel, made with a Rye bread. The salmon was quite plentiful and I liked the asparagus in the roll for colour and texture. The bread was a bit dry on the outside, almost as if it had been prepared ahead of time and left out to await delivery. I understand the work that goes into the sweets (icing, layering, etc) but I felt that the sandwiches should have been made to order. 
egg & chicken 3 The other two sandwiches left were the Curried Chicken & Walnut Salad on Walnut Bread and a Hen & Quail Egg on Sourdough. The Egg Salad was very bland, but there was a freshness to the egg as well as the crepe. Unfortunately, the same can't be said for the Chicken Salad. 
The top layer of the bread was completely dried out, as if it had been left out for hours. And yes, we turned it upside down and sure enough, the bottom slice was completely different in texture from the top slice. And the curry flavour of the chicken salad was overpowering, as if cumin was the only guest at the table. 
If you do come and try this, here is the order I would recommend you to eat the sandwiches, Egg Salad, Cucumber, Smoked Salmon and the the Curry Chicken. If you ate this in reverse, you wouldn't taste a thing afterwards.
scones And after the sandwiches, we went straight to the top of the tiers for our Butter and Raisin Scones. Complete with a Devonshire Clotted Cream and and a Blueberry Preserve, this was a good bridge between Savoury and Sweet. The clotted cream is amazing. Smooth and slightly sweet, it makes anything you put it on "British". It's not the flavour that blows you away, it's the creaminess and the silky texture, this makes butter obsolete. 
dessert 4For the Sweets, there were five offerings. On the far left, there is an Opera Torte, and then a Raspberry Tartlet next to it. And then you can see the Mocho Eclair as well as the Macaroon. And in the front, is the Lemon Meringue Tart. Of all the things on this plate, my downfall is the Lemon Meringue Tart. I guess after all the savoury sandwiches, switching to sweet would be too much for my tastes but a little sourness never hurts!   

Take note:

  • $38/person so it's not a deal (unless you have a deal)
  • Add a glass of champagne for $20, or a glass for wine for $10+
  • Kid's tea also available for $19/person (12 and younger) 

900 West Lounge (at Fairmont Hotel) on Urbanspoon

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Testing out Kaya, a Malaysian Bistro

I've always been fond of Malaysian food, so when I found out about a new place called Kaya at Broadway and Oak, I decided to give it a shot. There is another similar place close by called Banana LeafThey had been open for about two months, so growing pains should be at a minimal. I was looking forward most to the Roti Canai and the Murtabak.  Salad 2 The first one we ordered was their Papaya and Mango Salad. Most places serve one or the other, or both, but I've rarely seen both fruits in one salad. Made with papaya & mango mixed, the salad sits on a bed of season greens with some jicama root, carrot and onion. The dressing is a house chili dressing and there is also a bit of mango puree as well. This fell flat for me since you couldn't taste any chili at all. The flavours were rather bland and nothing like the salad I had at Salad King or Pok Pok.
IMG_0773 Another popular dish is their Stuffed Chicken Wings. I've had wings stuffed with glass noodles before, but this version is stuff with sticky rice, pork & some vegetables. I've never tried to debone chicken wings and from the instructions I've found on the net, this isn't hard to do, but it's hard to do well. They certainly did that here.
IMG_0774 The skin was very crispy, and the filling was quite plentiful as well. I really liked the juiciness of the stuffing. the wings were a good sized and the portion was just right for an appetizer. The plum sauce was good too, but could have used a bit more heat. There's a theme here, I think.  
IMG_0775 This is the Murtabak filled with chicken and wrapped in a Whole Wheat Roti. The chicken and vegetable filling was excellent, but the roti was a bit disappointing. It lacked the layers needed in roti, and as a result, it was way too dense. Perhaps it was the fact that they were deep fried with the chicken, but in any case, this wasn't the roti I expected. They served this with a mild curry sauce and some undressed mixed greens. The presentation was a little weird, why a salad without dressing? 
IMG_0777 And here is the Roti Canai, a traditional bread made with flour, butter and water. Here is a video of it actually being made at Ebo Restaurant, by my friend John Chang of JC Roti Factory. The version served at Kaya is a bit different in the sense that the outer layer was crispy, almost too crispy. Either the flat-top was too hot and cooked the outer layer too fast, or the chef left it on there too long. The inside still had lots of layers, perfect for soaking up the curry sauce it came with. Now I sort of understand why they served the Murtabak with some greens, because this dish looked a little lonely sitting there all by itself. 
IMG_0779 Although I love Hainanese Chicken, I know the appearance can be off-putting for some people, considering the lack of colour and the crepey looking skin. Because it's deboned and steamed, this is the way it comes out looking and is the traditional way that this chicken is served. However, at Kaya, you can ask for the same chicken to be roasted instead of steamed, which give a bit more colouring to the skin and looks more like soy sauce chicken. The chicken was cooked to perfection, tender and juicy, even the white meat, which tends to get dry. Pair this with some Chicken Rice and it's amazing. Ask for some extra minced ginger and chili with garlic sauce. It's all you need to complete the dish.  
rendang beef 2 And for the final dish of the night, this is the Rendang Beef. I'm not a huge curry fan, but this is one of my weaknesses. Having much more flavours than just cumin or tumeric, this coconut based curry is loaded with herbs such as galangal, ginger, garlic, lemon grass and more. The meat absorbs all these flavours over a slow and long cooking process, and the sauce is perfect with either rice or more roti!. There are some potatoes in the dish, but they were actually less tender than the meat!

Take Note:

  • Open for lunch and dinner daily but menu limited at lunch
  • Things aren't spicy, sobe sure to tell them you want it hot if you like that
  • Daily Drinks Specials, Sundays = $5 off half litres of wine

Kaya Malay Bistro on Urbanspoon

Friday, October 26, 2012

Grand Opening of Fish Shack

On Wednesday, Glowbal Group introduced Vancouver to their latest creation, The Fish Shack. Located on Granville at the old location of Sanafir, this place has been completely transformed. 
entrance Walking into the room, you can tell that a lot has changed. The candle wall from Sanafir days are gone, as are the beds on the second floor. Instead, there are now TVs strewn throughout and lots of touches that conjure up the ocean.
I love the area above the bar/shucking station, the ropes and knots help give this room a very nautical feel. 
shucks With a daily promotion of "Buck a Shuck Oysters" from open until 5pm, these two will be kept busy for sure! 
ryan And Bar Star Ryan (aka @MartiniSlinger) awaits to serve up one of their four signature Caesars. At just $8 each, order yourself up a few dozen oysters and give them all a try. I can't think of a better way to spend a Saturday afternoon! 
menu 2 And for those of us who need a little more information on the various types of fish on the menu, well, here you go. This gives you the run down on the size of the fish as well as some interesting tidbits too. Who knew there were 144 species of Anchovy!?
So these are the fresh oysters that they are serving today, but this will change as seasonally. Okay, enough with the decor, let's eat, er,rather, let's drink! 
caesar 2 
This is the The Fish Shack’s Very Own - one of their four Caesars. Made with vodka, both clamato and tomato juice and the regular fixings of tobasco, and worcestershire, there are also a few new other flavours, sich as lime juice ,their own caesar mix as well as mustard. The garnish is pretty amazing too, with a long pepperoni stick and a jumbo prawn. This is almost a meal in itself!
oysters And to the Oyster Bar we go! These were cleanly shucked, which was impressive given the speed with which they were pumping these out. No shells fragments were present, and the oysters themselves were not slashed or mangled in the process. These were really well done. 
white chowder
If you're like me, when ou think of clam chowder, you instantly know which one you like, either the New England one (white) or the Manhattan (red). And it's always a struggle for me to remember which restaurants have the one I like. Well, The Fish Shack has solved this problem by serving both. Here is the New England version in a sourdough bread bowl. The soup was really mild, and it was hard to pick out various flavours or seasonings with such a small bite. 
red chowder And here is the Manhattan version. I'm not a big fan of this but the tomato/clamato based broth had stronger hits of flavour, compared to the New England one. I might have to come back and do a head-to-head competition between the two. 
This is a miniature of their Dungeness Crab Cocktail, and I really liked it. The crab was sweet and juice and the mixture of the greens on the bottom helped to make use of the cocktail sauce. A nice light healthy bite.
Another variation of the Dungeness Crab Cocktail is the Shrimp Cocktail. Take note, this isn't a prawn cocktail so the shrimp are much smaller. But it's about half the price of the Crab version, so you get the same idea with less of a hit to the wallet.
Oyster Po Boy This was probably my favourite of the night, a Kentucky Fried Oyster Sandwich. The fried oysters on this was spot on, great crunch in the well-seasoned breading, with a juicy oyster on the inside. The juices practically bursted out when I bit into it. It was damn good. 
Snapper The other burger we tried was the Blackened Snapper Burger with a tomato salso and a lime mayo. The bun was really fresh and soft and really contributed to the whole dish. There was a bit too much dressing on this for me, but the fish was done perfectly. I liked that fact that this was a healthier option, without a heavy batter and not deep-fried. I'd probably ask for the salsa and mayo on the side, or at least an "easy" serving of both. 
boil And this is the star of the show. Although I didn't get a chance to sample this, it will be what I'm ordering on my first visit, along with the two clam chowders. This is The Fisherman's Catch. There are are two options of this available, at a $20 price point and a $30 one.  For the $30, you get: lobster, dungeness crab, snow crab, mussels, prawns, calamari, crayfish, potatoes, corn, chorizo. They bring it to your table, give you a bib and slice the whole thing open for you to attack. You get a mallet and whatever other tools you need to get at the food, but this is the key to their motto: Hook it and Cook it. 
the crowd The party was a lot of fun and allowed us to get a good sense of the revitalization of the old Sanafir space into the newest seafood shack in town! 

Take Note:

  • Buck a Shuck daily from open until 5pm
  • $19.95 Lobster or Crab every Sunday
  • Weekend Brunch available 10:30am-3pm

The Fish Shack on Urbanspoon


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