gracecheung604 | write on time: February 2013

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Pigging out at The Flying Pig

A few weeks ago, we headed to Yaletown for brunch, and visited The Flying Pig. With nothing but time on our hands, we decided to settle in for a long leisurely brunch. 
2013-01-26 12.29.07 
I can't think of more appropriate beverages than Mimosas and those are exactly what we ordered. They have a lot of daily specials, but arrive early, they do sell you can see, the last item on the board is no longer available.  IMG_2344 Lots of places give out little treats upon arrival, like the little donuts or smoothies from Glowbal Group and the Bread with Lobster Oil from Joe Fortes. Here, they give you Baby Cinnamon Buns. I haven't had a cinnamon bun in years, but the small cute pastry beckoned me. They were still warm! What a great way to start brunch. IMG_2347 The first entree to arrive is Chef Erik’s Croque Madame. We were a little disappointed, because we had hoped for a proper version of the item in a sandwich form with the egg and cheese on top of everything. The ham was nice and lean, and the cheeses were buried underneath the two over easy eggs. I think the combination worked, but the presentation was the letdown. We wanted to see an abundant of cheese over a closed face sandwich, with the eggs on top of it all. 2013-01-26 12.42.27 TWe also got the TFP Burger, which seems have to been replaced on their menu by a Steak Sandwich...but the burger was amazing. The bun wasn't toasted, which I would have liked, but the burger itself was gooey and loaded with cheese. And on the side? A bone marrow poutine!  IMG_2350 Can you see how yummy this burger is? Complete with a bit of bacon and lots of cheese, three different kinds to be exact! Should this creep back up into the menu, ask for them to toast the bread, and hold the sauce to eliminate sogginess! IMG_2349 Oh, and the Bone Marrow Poutine has been replaced as Cheezy Bread, but this is so much better! I really hope they bring this back. The cheese was gooey enough, and the fries were crunchy enough so as not to be overly soggy. The broiled cheese is probably the best part.  IMG_2353 And if you are in the mood for a side dish for the table to share, be sure to give the Hashbrowns a try. The crispiness is reminiscent of a latka, and the serving size is more than generous. The topping of mushrooms and onions are a good savoury complement to the hashbrowns, but even without it, this dish is a Must-Try!

Take Note:

  • Call ahead for reservations
  • Must have the hashbrowns
  • Have heard amazing things about the drummettes, can't wait to try! 
> The Flying Pig on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Bo Laksa King's Bubbles & Bits - Finally!

I have not been living under a rock, but for some reason, I didn't actually try Bo Laksa King until late last year. I was shocked at how small the place was, and how quickly it filled up! There were two things I knew I wanted to try, the roti and the laksa. So the first item we got was the Roti. 
roti 2
The Roti was just a bit crunchy on the outside with nice chewy layers inside. I dunked the roti into the curry sauce and immediately regretted it. The sauce was really watery and it had a really weird tangy (tamarind-like) flavour to it. Needless to say, we did not finish this up.  pad thai 2The next dish to arrive was the Shrimp Pad Thai. This was loaded, packed with shrimp, tofu, eggs, chives and sprouts. I liked that it was not as wet as other places, and the noodles stayed nice and not clumped together. The little wedge of lime is a nice touch, and I would recommend using it to give the dish a lighter feel. This was not spicy at all though, so be sure to ask for hot sauce if you like it that way.  butter chicken  2
I did not expect them to have was Butter Chicken but we decided to try it anyways. It comes with naan and rice, along with some pickled vegetables. The butter chicken seemed quite mild at first, but after a few bites, you can definitely feel the heat kick in. The rice was definitely needed, and the veggies did help to cut the heat a bit. 
The most disappointing thing on the plate was the naan, but it really shouldn't even be called naan. It was doughy, hard and almost biscuit like. Again, we left it and concentrated on the stuff we liked. 
Please accept my apologies for the angle of this shot of the Rendang Beef, even more so because it was probably the best dish of the day. The beef was super tender, but there was a strong hint of clove, which didn't seem to fit. There wasn't much heat, but that was to be expected. There was a lot of sauce, which was great because it went really well with the roti!laksaAnd of course we had to get a Laksa, and between the vermicelli and the yellow noodles, I picked the yellow ones. I find that the vermicelli is often overcooked and becomes clumpy. Vermicelli also absorbs the soup too fast, and gets progressively soggier as you keep going. The yellow noodles are harder to overcook and are not nearly as absorbent. I did like the plentiful ingredients, with fish balls, shrimp, chicken and tofu. 
There was also a hard boiled egg, but the yolk was grey/green and almost ruined the dish for me. Good thing I had pulled it out of the soup to slice in half. The rest of the ingredients were more than enough, and the chilies, onions and sprouts gave the dish great texture. The broth isn't too spicy, and is a lot less spicier than it appears in the image above, trust me.

Take Note:

  • Cash Only
  • Very small, so come at "off-peak" times.
  • Closes early on Sundays

Bo Laksa King's Bubbles & Bits on Urbanspoon

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Establishment in Kits

Late last year, we ventured over to Establishment in Kitsilano. Chef Bongo focuses on creative tapas, made with fresh and local ingredients.  IMG_2109 They have an extensive beverage menu, featuring cocktails, beer and other liquors as well. IMG_2123 Because we wanted to try a variety of things, we opted first to get the Appetizer Platter. This dish normally comes with five things: African Chicken Peanut Soup, Shrimp and Lobster Cake (second from right), Bison Slider (far left), Malaysian Chicken Satay and Black Truffle Saccottini (far right). However, due to a peanut allergy, we had to switch out the peanut soup for the Lobster Bisque (below) and the chicken satay for a Wild Mushroom Risotto Ball (second from left). The staff was quite concerned to ensure that the dishes we had were all allergen free. IMG_2111 Here is the Lobster Bisque, they actually served us two bowls, as they knew we were sharing. As you can see, there are little clusters of lobster meat on the soup, and plenty more inside. The lobster flavour was very apparent and had a light hint of smokiness too. IMG_2118 Our Bison Slider was fairly large and quite easy to share. The meat was very moist and I liked how the bun wasn't slathered with too much sauce. The cheese melted to a nice gooey consistency too. The bun was soft but firm enough to support the party. And I liked the olive garnish too. IMG_2121 Up next was the Wild Mushroom Risotto Ball. I couldn't really taste much mushroom flavour but the risotto was piping hot. The coating was nice and crispy too. The marinara sauce and the parmesan rounded out this appy. IMG_2119 Our third appetizer is the Shrimp and Lobster Cake. There wasn't too much filler here and there was a nice crust on the outside, but I found the flavour a bit lacking. And i have to say that it was a bit too greasy for me.  IMG_2120 We saved the best for last, this is the Black Truffle Succotini Pasta and it didn't disappoint. The pasta is filled with some black truffles and then tossed in a light cream sauce. There is also some sweet pea puree and bit of pancetta and some herbs on top. The pasta was cooked to a perfect al dente, but the pancetta had more flavour than the truffles did.  IMG_2126 For entrees, we tried the Prosciutto Wrapped Lobster Stuffed Chicken Breast. It's a pounded out chicken breast stuffed with lobster and mascarpone cheese. There is also some fennel and apples for texture. The sauce is tarragon-based. The chicken was very tender and juicy, which I was really surprised by. The vegetables were really good to complement the moist chicken and I was really happy with this dish. The lobster flavour is unmistakeable and gave the dish a well-rounded richness. IMG_2132 Establishment has a variety of Flatbreads on the menu, and we gave their Smoked Duck and Brie version a try. What sold me was the white truffle cream sauce. This was then topped with smoked duck, brie and some leaks. The pears were a refreshing touch, and the gruyere was the perfect topping.

Take Note:

  • Servers are very attentive and considerate of food allergies
  • Bison Slider is a winner
  • Some of the large plates are prices a bit high
Establishment Lounge on Urbanspoon

Monday, February 11, 2013

Dineout #4 - Yaletown l'antipasto

For this year's Dine Out Vancouver, we purposely chose restaurants that were new to us. The first was Fishworks in North Vancouver, and the second was Saucisse, also in North Vancouver, and our third one, Oakwood Bistro in Kitsilano with Yaletown L'Antipasto being the last. I have to admit that upon arrival, I was not at all impressed. 
The entrance is hidden and the tiny alcove was packed. Our table of five was seated three across with two other flanked on the end. Now this wouldn't have been that bad were we not facing a steaming window that looked out onto the street. I dine out (no pun intended) with family and friends because I want to see and engage with them, but this set up made that premise largely impossible. So if there wasn't going to be conversation, then the food had better be damn good.
clams and mussels Yaletown L'antipasto And they were one of the restaurants that served ONLY the Dine Out Menu, which they neglected to mention on their website. For starters, we got the Saute di Vongole, Manila clams in a sauce of extra virgin olive oil, white wine, garlic and chillies. As you can see, the clams were done perfectly, and the restaurant was starting to redeem itself.
Braseola Yaletown L'antipasto On their $38 menu, they had a carpaccio, and on the $28 version that I tried, I chose the Bresaola, which was sliced super thin and served with arugula and parmesan. The portion was decent and the textures were bang on. There was also a little citrus imparted by some lemon extract, this dish was very good.
Risotto Yaletown L'antipasto For our entrees, we one of each, the first being the Risotto alla Pescatora with an abundant mix of shellfish. The risotto was cooked to a perfect al dente and the seafood was nice and bouncy.  The shrimp was the highlight here, but everything came together very nicely. 
Pasta Yaletown L'antipasto The second entree we tried was the Gigli Primavera, a pasta shaped just like a lily, with a bit of simple organic tomato sauce, and a healthy portion of burrata mozzarella cheese imported directly from Puglia. My mom fell in love with the shape of the pasta but the cheese was a bit heavy handed. Perhaps serving it in a smaller portion would have been less daunting for her. The flavours were fresh and light, perfect for my mom's tastes.
Papparadelle Yaletown L'antipasto Our last entree was their Pappardelle Rosse, in an organic tomato sauce with a multitude of meats, a ragu of beef tenderloin, some boneless shortrib, a bit of chicken breast and some Italian fennel sausages. Yes, truly a meatlover's dream. The pasta, though not made in-house, is fresh and very good texturally. The blend of meats is good, with some being very tender and some having a good bite to them. This was the clear winner for me tonight.
Creme Brulee Yaletown L'antipasto For desserts, we tried both with the first as a Creme Brulee, with hints of lavender. The crust was just as you would expect, with a definite crust and crunch.
Tiramisu Yaletown L'antipasto The second dessert wasn't as amazing, it was a Tiramisu that just fell a little bit flat. The flavours were okay, but the presentation was a bit bland.
Bill Yaletown L'antipasto 

All in all, I would say that the food was good, but the seating arrangement (at least during Dine Out) left a lot to be desired.

Take note: 

  • Seating is not ideal due to the limited size of the location 
  • Service is good and empathic towards negativity 
  • Pastas are amazing

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Dineout #3 - Oakwood Bistro

For this year's Dine Out Vancouver, we purposely chose restaurants that were new to us. The first was Fishworks in North Vancouver, and the second was Saucisse, also in North Vancouver. And this is our third one, Oakwood Bistro in Kitsilano with Yaletown L'Antipasto being the last. Many restaurants are only serving the Dine Out menu during this time and it's a shame, because I tend to order a la carte even if Dine Out is going on. But nevertheless, we managed to find something to please our palate from the Dine Out Menu.
ravioli For our appetizers, we tried the Pork Ravioli. The sauce is an apple wasabi butter which I found a little too bland. The pork was plentiful in the ravioli and it had a pulled pork-like tenderness. However, I have to say that I think the pasta was a bit undercooked. If you took away pasta, and just concentrated on the pork this was good. The pork rinds were a fun touch, but unfortunately, they were more chewy than crunchy. tuna Our next appetizer was the Albacore Tuna, mixed with a white bean puree and served with charred crostinis. Mason jars are totally overused, being a vessel for food, dessert and even cocktails, but putting that aside, this tuna was really good. We could have used a few mores slices of bread as we dug deeper into the jar. The texture was creamy and the tuna itself was nice and chunky. It is part of the regular menu and I would recommend giving it a go.  
sablefish 3 As a meat lover, I was tempted to add  the $15 to the Dine Out menu and go for the 16oz rib eye, but my principles just wouldn't let me. Why not serve an 8oz (already more than the recommended serving by  Canada's Food Guide) and not charge people extra? It felt opportunistic and I didn't want to fall into the trap. So instead, I went meatless and got the Maple Smoked Sable Fish. I have to say, I was really happy with my choice. The fish was seared perfectly on the outside and flaked off cleanly on the inside. The two cod brandade croquettes accompanying the dish was light and fluffy, but with a distinct flavour of fish. The other accompaniments were pretty but honestly didn't add much to the dish. lamb shank sAnd as a meat lover, I then had to try the Sous Vide Lamb Shank. I love my lamb but I'm so used to having grilled lamb that I honestly didn't know what to expect from a sous vide shank. The dish was rounded out with a confit  mash, tomato sauce, and topped with some pickled cabbage. Well I have to say, the knife that the waitress brought over was pretty much untouched. The tenderness of this lamb was amazing. Talk about falling off the bone! And the mash was just rich enough to pair up with this lamb. And lucky for you, this is part of their a la carte menu, available outside of the Dine Out timeframe. brussel sprouts pAnd because we thought we didn't have enough food we went ahead and ordered a side, Brussel Sprouts and Cauliflower, these  are deep fried and should have been really good. But I think the oil just wasn't hot enough and we ended up with a soggier version than my favourite place for this dish, Tudor House nanaimo bar So coming towards the end of dinner, the two choices both seemed interesting so we opted for one of each. The first to arrive was the Nanaimo Bar Custard. Yes, not a Nanaimo Bar per se, but a custard version. This was way too sweet for me, with an overly sweet vanilla custard and a rich coconut walnut ganache. The crust was barely there and the coconut flavour was overpowering. crumble But the second dessert was amazing, the Apple Crumble was light and fresh, with a plentiful amount of both gala and granny smith apples. The crumble was nice and crunchy, all topped with a vanilla cream.  
And in case you can't believe how tender and falling off the bone the lamb shank was, here 's a pic!

Take Note:

  • From their Dine Out Menu, the Tuna, Lamb and Apple Crumble are on the a la carte menu as well
  • Tables are fairly close together, get ready to make friends with your seatmates
  • Chef Michael Robbins is only 28 and from East Vancouver 

 The Oakwood Canadian Bistro on Urbanspoon

Thursday, February 07, 2013

Eclectic Menu at Sen, from the Chef of Lin's!

Last week, I attended a media dinner at Sen Bistro, brought to you by the owner and chef of Lin's. Although Lin's is most celebrated for their Xiao Long Baos, Chef RuLin Zhang is definitely trying something different here. The menu includes dishes like Celery & Dried Scallop Salad, Flambe Salmon, Braised Pork with Pumpkin. Oh, and they also have Sukiyaki, likely a homage to the location's previous occupant, Posh.  
cumin lamb When we arrived, the waitresses were passing around platters of Cumin Lamb Cubes. These had just the right amount of heat and the cumin flavour was well-infused into the lamb. The meaty morsels were tender and perfectly bite sized for an appetizer. 
spring rolls The other hors d'oevures was a Beef Curry Spring Roll...again part of a Southeast Asian flavour theme. The filling was moist and the skin was nice and crispy. I didn't get much of the curry flavour here, but it could be due to the spiciness of the lamb I already had.
IMG_2362 For the cold starter course, we had a selection of Pickled Lotus Roots, Shredded Chicken with a Spicy Peanut Sauce (which we hung onto like grim death for the rest of the meal, right +Rick Chung?) and a Celery and Dried Scallop Salad. All the dishes were really refreshing and prepped our palate for the other dishes to come.
IMG_2363 This is the Shredded Chicken with some cucumber, topped with a healthy dose of the peanut sauce. It's reminiscent of a sesame based shredded chicken dish I've had at other places. I found the chicken surprisingly moist despite the fact that it was mostly white meat.
IMG_2364 Do you know the dish most Chinese restaurants have, the Scallop with Vegetables Stir Fry? This is a clever rendition of the same thing, but instead of using fresh whole scallops, they use Conpoy and Celery, a dried cured version of scallops. The conpoy is rehydrated and stir fried with thinly sliced celery. Because conpoy has a much more pungent and salty flavour than scallops, this dish didn't need much in the terms of seasoning. The crunch of the celery was the highlight here. 
IMG_2365 We also got something called a Broad Bean and Sherchai (preserved vegetables) Mash...this was nice with the shredded vegetables, but the mash itself was a bit doughy. 
IMG_2367 So each of us, we tried a bit of everything and I have to say, I loved the colours on the plate. Fresh, vibrant and very appetizing. 
IMG_2370 First of our three Hot Appetizers was the Chicken, Enoki and Shitaake Soup. Served up individually instead of family style, these little bowlfuls had a clear broth with a good amount of chicken and mushrooms. What really stood out for me here was the light lemony note in the broth, which made me think of snake soup, where they add lemongrass.
IMG_2375 In more of a dim sum style, our next dish was the Lormi Xiaomai (Sticky Rice Dumpling). The sticky rice ahd good flavour and was quite tender but the dumpling skin was a bit too thick and made the dish much denser that expected. I ended up eating the sticky rice itself and leaving the shell alone. 
IMG_2376 Probably the best of the hot appies was this Salt & Pepper Deep Fried Tofu. This was spicy, crispy, and very well-seasoned. If you love bite sized fried goodness, you'll love this dish. The tofu is smooth and is a great contrast to the flavourful crispy skin. The little chillies will be perfect if you love heat! 
IMG_2384 Our first entree was the Flambe Salmon, yes, Flambe. The chef went around to each table and lit up each of the salmon with a blow torch. It was impressive to behold but impossible to photograph! If they knew they were going to torch the salmon, I think they should have served it skin-side up, because I do love a crispy sear on my skin. Alas, this was not to be. But the salmon it self was juicy and the king mushrooms were a meaty side dish. It certainly isn't what you would plan to order at a Chinese restaurant, but if you saw the table next to you having it, you might just want to give it a shot too.
buns and crepes After the excitement of the salmon, there was a bit of a lull as we were served some Steamed Buns and Fried Crepes. We knew the buns were to hold the upcoming Braised Pork so we debated on whether or not to dig into the Fried Crepes. I eventually gave in and tried them. As expected, they were a bit oily, but the flakiness was definitely present. I would have liked a bit of green onion or some other herb in this, but texturally, this was bang on. 
IMG_2397 This Braised Pork is the dish that we were waiting for to go into the steamed buns. There were slices of pumpkin here with the pork and the sauce was a rich soybean paste. This had a bit too much fat for me, but that is how it's supposed to be. I removed some of the fat and made myself a braised pork slider. This was good and saucy. Our buns were a touch too cool by now, but I expect that was a function of cooking for a large group. If you were dining in a small group, I would expect the buns and pork to land at the same time.  
IMG_2398 And for the second of our seafood dish, we got the Double Prawns Delight. On the left is the Wok Fried Prawns in a Garlic Chili Sauce and on the right, we have the Golden Honey Prawns. Although both were good, I would say that the Garlic Chili one was the winner, for two reasons, I like my prawns shell on, and I like my food spicy. The coating on the honey prawns was nice and light, and several other people preferred the shelled prawns too. I liked that we were served both though. 
IMG_2405 And now onto the desserts  The first is called Pumpkin Sticks. I had envisioned breaded pumpkin, deep fried with a sugary sauce, but what arrived was completely different. We had a pumpkin pudding with a filled mochi ball, and the stick? It was a Pocky stick. If you like pumpkin, you'll appreciate this dish. I liked the pocky and mochi better. 
IMG_2410These other Lormi-zhi (dough balls) were filled with a black bean paste that was just a bit too sweet for me. The texture of the skin was good though, I loved the chewiness of it.
All in all, I think we had a wide example of the dishes that Sen has to offer and despite some misses, I would head back to try their other dishes. They have Sukiyaki as well as Stone Hot Pot Rice, two things I really enjoy and have had a hard time finding good versions in the city.

Take Note:

  • Individual Hot Pot Lunch Set available
  • Lunch specials are $8.95 daily
  • Closed on Tuesdays
Sen Bistro on Urbanspoon


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