gracecheung604 | write on time: April 2013

Monday, April 29, 2013

Dark Table - what the food really looks like!

There are lots of reviews for Dark Table online, but not very many with pictures. Here I am going to demystify the experience for you! But don't keep reading if you want to be surprised. Their menu changes frequently, and there are specials as well, so it's probable that the food you see below will not be the food you actually eat.

You place your order with the hostess outside and are then told to wait until one of the servers comes out to guide you inside. You place your hand on your server's shoulder and are led to your table. You are given a Bread Roll, Butter and water (they weren't licensed when I went, not sure if they are now). A knife and for are also at your table. This is where it gets interesting...try to butter the roll! We managed to put our fingers into the butter dish, getting more butter on our hands than on the roll.

You have a choice of two ($33) or three ($39) courses, and we decided on doing the three course version. The appetizer is a surprise, and it's the same or everyone. On the night we went, it was a Green Salad. Trying to figure out what you are eating, while trying to stab at little pieces of lettuce and arugula is very difficult! Several times, I would bring the fork to my mouth only to realize that I had nothing on my fork! No picture of this because I actually finished it.  IMG_1987This was their Surprise Entree, and it's actually a Stuffed Chicken Breast with some potatoes, carrots and some beets. The sauce was creamy and garlicy and quite rich. I couldn't finish it all. And no, the chicken isn't raw, that tinge of pink is from the beets. I would say that the temperature of the dish was a bit too cool for my taste, especially with such a creamy sauce.  IMG_1988This next item is a regular on their menu, and it's the Beef Tenderloin. Unlike the chicken, which was served more or less whole, the beef is sliced into bite sized pieces for you. The vegetables are a repeat of the ones accompanying the chicken. We asked for a medium rare, and it seemed a touch over, but certainly nothing to really complain about. In fact, because I couldn't see the steak, it made it hard for me to judge just how cooked it really was. The serving size was decent, but again, it arrived lukewarm. Perhaps it's a safety feature so you don't burn yourself while trying to eat in the dark. Hmm, wonder if they serve soup here?IMG_1989 The dessert was a Fruitcake and was quite moist, despite appearances. There were nuts and fruit embedded throughout but the flavour was more bland than sweet. Overall, it was interesting and gives you a short-lived glimpse of what it's like to be blind. Unfortunately, the food doesn't add much to the experience. It's something you might want to try as a novelty but I can't imagine there being too many repeat customers.  
Dark Table on Urbanspoon

Sunday, April 28, 2013

The Roof is Open!

On Wednesday, the doors of The Roof (at Glowbal Group's Black and Blue) were flung open and Vancouver got a glimpse into a new patio to party on!
Lights The Roof 
When you do go, be sure to ask them about the Josper Charcoal Broiler Oven by Wood Stone! It is amazing and they are so proud of its awesomeness, it's actually quite endearing. But what I actually admired was the lighting fixtures, yes, I'm a geek.  
Potato Blini The Roof
The first bite I had that night was the Ahi Tuna Blini, soft potato pancakes topped with creme fraiche and some tuna. These were a perfect little bite! Oh, and total props to Michael Moore and that ring!  
The Roof Bacon Wrapped Scallop
Next up? Bacon Wrapped Scallops! Perfectly grilled on the outside and super succulent on the inside.  
Meats The Roof Oh, but the star of the show was the Prince Edward Island Blue Ribbon steak was also a is a cut fresh from the grill! Black+Blue Rooftop Patio Opening 
Thanks to Kevin for this picture of Michael Moore and I!
Meat! The Roof
But the star of the evening is this! A whole Leg of Beef, grilled, bone-in! Served thinly sliced with mini Yorkshire Puddings, these soft fluffy puddings were a perfect holder for the beef. Add a bit of spicy horseradish and you've got a winner!  
Meat! The Roof
See how well seasoned this leg is? You can see the herbs, the garlic and peppers! The flavours of this meat is so complex and the beef itself is so tender. This is a must-try!   
The Glowbal Collection | Black + Blue Rooftop Party 
Here is a fun pic of me hanging out with Mr. Eligible himself, Rick Chung! Dessert The Roof And to finish things off! A plethora of desserts! There were Pavlovas, Mini Creme Brulees, a Lemon Bar as well as Apple Tarts! Something for everyone! The space is amazing and it's high time Vancouver got a new patio to rave about! This is going to be t he place to be seen this summer!
Black + Blue (& The Roof) on Urbanspoon

Friday, April 26, 2013

Dishcrawl - Silk Road on Commercial Drive

I attended my very first Dishcrawl event last week after being invited to it by the new Vancouver Dishcrawl ambassador, Yana Kim

I didn't know what Dishcrawl was, so I did some research and found out that they guide you to four restaurants in a cool part of town over the course of an evening.

To add an aura of mystery, we were not told where to meet until 48 hours before the event began. Our event was themed Silk Road, and all we knew was that we would visit four restaurants within walking distance, all on Commercial Drive but that was about it!
aloo tikki, Baingan Bharta, saag, naan
Our group of 30 met at Siddhartha's for our first tasting. We sampled traditional Indian fare, such as naan, aloo tikka and more. Read the review here.

Merguez Couscous

Next stop? A short stroll to Carthage Cafe for some Tunisian and French cuisine. We had salads, something called Fatima's Fingers (!), and amazing merguez sausages. Read the review here.


The third stop took us to Famoso Neapolitan Pizzeria, where we were served an amazingly rich tomato bisque and a refreshing Caprese Salad. Read the review here.


Our final stop of the nice brought us to Italy in the form of Caffe Calabria, where we helped ourselves to a trio of sorbetto in fun decorated space. Read the the review here.

All food, taxes and tips are included in the price, but any additional beverages are subject to extra charges. To learn about future Dishcrawl events, visit:

Caffe Calabria - Dish Crawl - Last Stop!

Final Stop of Dishcrawl Vancouver: Silk Road Tour - Caffe Calabria! Cafe Calabria What stands out most about this cafe is the decor. It's totally over the top; with statues and paintings completely filling out the space. There's something every where you look!  MurdocCafe Calabria Murdocco co One the the sons of the Murdocco family gave us a brief history of the space. Although we were at the end of our Dishcrawl journey and only had room for dessert, it is interesting to note that they had panins and other savoury items too. Sorbetto The trio of Sorbetto had lemon, raspberry and orange as well. The flavours were really rich and the texture was nice and airy. It was creamy without being heavy.

Other stops on the Silk Road Dishcrawl: 

Go back to the Dishcrawl summary.
  Caffe Calabria on Urbanspoon

Famoso Neapolitan Pizzeria - Dish Crawl - Third Stop

Third Stop of Dishcrawl Vancouver: Silk Road Tour - Famoso Neapolitan Pizzeria
Famoso After all the meats and coucous at Carthage Cafe, it was a relieft to go for a short walk down to Famoso Neapolitan Pizzeria for our next stop. Walking past the kitchen, you can see the Caputo flour they use, as well as a peek of the bell oven. 
CAPRESE SALAD/FIRE-ROASTED TOMATO BISQUE Despite having an entire meal already, we went backwards upon arrival and started with appetizers all over again. No complaints though both these items were amazing! On the left is a simple Caprese Salad, with fresh tomatoes, mozzarella and basil. i appreciated the thick slices of the mozza the most. A simple balsamic dressing let the freshness of the ingredients shine through. 
CAPRESE SALAD/FIRE-ROASTED TOMATO BISQUE On the right is their Fire-Roasted Tomato Bisque. The heady flavour of these cooked and pureed tomatoes is unmistakable  And the bit of feta melting on top gave the soup a rich and salty flavour too. Pure comfort food! Dip some of the pizza bread into the soup for added heartiness! MARGHERITA Our main course was the Margherita Pizza. Simple with tomato sauce, basil and some fior di latte. I had expected more of a char on the crust, akin to the pizza bread from above. However the toppings were nicely melted into the pizza and despite a lack of blistering on the crust, the rest of the pizza was not soggy. The best part of the pizza has to be the tomato sauce, it's fresh, crisp and very light.

Other stops on the Silk Road Dishcrawl: 
Go back to the Dishcrawl summary.

Famoso Neapolitan Pizzeria on Urbanspoon

Cafe Carthage - Dish Crawl - Second Stop

Second Stop of Dishcrawl Vancouver: Silk Road Tour - Carthage Cafe!
Doigts de Fatima, tunisian salad
I have been to Carthage Cafe before after they were featured in the Vancouver Courier a few months ago. See my previous review. For our tasting, we started off with Doigts de Fatima, served with a side of Tunisian Salad. This spring roll style appetizer was filled with a blend of cheese, tuna, and boiled eggs. The mixture is held together with more eggs. I found the texture more spongy than crispy, though I was surprised by how light the wrapper was. The filling was rather dense as well. I did enjoy the salad, which had a refreshing mix of apple, tomatoes, and bell peppers in a tangy vinaigrette, served on a butter lettuce leaf.
Merguez Couscous The next dish was the Merguez Coucous and I really enjoyed this one. The sausages are a blend of lamb and beef and were surprisingly juicy. The mixed vegetables were plentiful and completely hid the huge portion of coucous underneath. The bed of coucous absorbed all the flavours and juices from the sausages and vegetables above, and it was sensational.
To be honest, this was already quite a bit of food, but wait there's more! Here is the Lamb Tagine! This place is a meatlover's heaven! 
Lamb Shank Tagine Inside the tagine was large chunks of Lamb Shank, and again, lots of mixed vegetables, all slow roasted together. There was also an interesting addition of raisins and olives to the mixture. And although you can see that there are lots of juices in the dish, the lamb itself was a bit tough and a touch dry.
There was lots of food at this stop and I couldn't believe there were two more stops! 

Carthage Cafe on Urbanspoon
Other stops on the Silk Road Dishcrawl
Go back to the Dishcrawl summary.

Siddharthas - Dish Crawl - First Stop

First Stop of Dishcrawl Vancouver: Silk Road Tour - Siddharthas
siddarthas You can't miss this place...with a giant gorgeous mural on one side, it beckons you to come inside and visit.
chef siddarthas On the right is our ambassador, Yana, and front and centre is Chef Siddartha, telling us about the origins of the restaurant, as well as what deliciousness awaited us! 
aloo tikki, Baingan Bharta, saag, naanOur appetizer consisted of a few pieces of Naan, warm and fresh from the kitchen. On the side of that is the Baingan Bharta, a roasted eggplant dish with all the traditional spices, such as garlic, ginger, chilies, coriander, cumin and garam masala. This dish was light, but very flavourful. 
Then we moved onto the Aloo Tikki, a potato croquette. The potatoes are boiled, mashed and then mixed with some simple spices. Once combined, the patty is then pan fried to a nice golden crispy outside and a tender and moist inside. 
Another vegetable we received as part of the appetizer was the Saag, a spinach dish that usually is served with cubes of fried paneer cheese. With this version, the paneer was absent, but there was still a richness that resulted from the cream that was used. 
And in the centre of it all was their Butter Chicken sauce. This went really well with the naan, so well that we had to ask for more naan, not wanting any of the sauce to go to waste!

Other stops on the Silk Road Dishcrawl: 

Go back to the Dishcrawl summary.

Siddhartha's Indian Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

King Crab and more at Prince

Ah it's King Crab Season. I totally missed out on this last year and I am determined to make sure this doesn't happen again. So we headed to Prince in East Vancouver to take part this season. 
crab We ordered an 12 pounder for our Alaskan King Crab dinner and the staff placed it on our table for the photo op. I didn't dare to try and  make it stop moving for a picture. 
duck 4 So with the crab in the kitchen, we decided to order a few more classic dinner dishes. First up was the Peking Duck, done in two ways. Here is the first one just the skin with a bit of fat still attached. The accompanying shrimp chips, cucumber, green onions and hoi sin completed the dish. duck 3 Simply take a thin wrapper, add some hoi sin sauce, a sliver of both the cucumber and green onion. Top the pile off with a piece of the Roasted Duck. For added crunch, throw a shrimp chip in there too! 
duck The second dish from the duck was was the rest of the meat from the duck. A Duck & Jicama Stir Fry, served with lots of iceberg lettuce to wrap it all it. There wasn't too much of the deep fried noodles usually populating this dish, but the crunch was supplied by the jicama.   xx
crab 5 And now, the star of the show. The first of three ways to eat Alaskan King Crab, simply Steamed with Minced Garlic. The best part about King Crab (to me) is how the preparation of the crustacean itself makes it really easy to eat. I always dread eating crabs in Chinese restaurants because of the work involved. Here, there is zero effort, you just have to gently coax the meat out of the shell. The minced garlic brings out the sweetness of the crab, and their natural juices ensure a moist tender result. 
crab 4 There was so much crab we actually got two plates of this deliciousness. No complaints here. 
crab Our next version was made out of the body. It's simply Deep-Fried with Rock Salt. But if these aren't the legs, then is this the body? Nope, these are the joints where the legs connect to the body. There is a lot of meat in each of the pieces, but you have to work at it a bit. The deep-frying process fuses the shell and meat together. But the spicy salt is flavourful and encourages you to keep digging for those sweet morsels of crab. I liked how this was a bit more flavourful than the minced garlic, so that these flavours seem to build on the previous dish. Mind you, there is another way to have these joints and the crab is then fried with garlic, scallions and chilli peppers (Typhoon Shelter). That one would leave your lips burning, but it's so worth it! 
pork After the Peking Duck and the first two courses of King Crab, we opted for some more common dishes. The first one is an all-time favourite, the Sweet and Sour Pork. I only tried one piece of pork from this dish, but I really like the peppers. They made sure not to overcook them and it gave the dish a freshness that is often missing, usually due to an excess of the sweet and sour sauce. Another surprise element was the lychees used in the dish, instead of the usual pineapple chunks. 
lamb stew Ah, another favourite, this is their Clay Pot Lamb Stew. Loaded  with chungs of bone-in lamb, with lots of bean curd skin and a slew of vegetables, lamb doesn't get much more soothing than this. As it is bubbling away, the lamb softens up even more, the bean curd skin and vegetables soak up the sauce. Fortunately, the mushrooms and water chestnuts maintain their integrity and texture despite being heated throughout. I could eat just this and a bowl of rice and be very happy!
green beans Now, you may wonder what sort of vegetable dish we were going to get. How about some Spicy Green Beans with Minced Pork? These weren't as spicy as I would like, they did have a good heat to them. And there was a healthy dose of pork as well, making this dish much more than just a vegetable dish. 
fried rice 2 And for the finisher! We went for the three courses with the King Crab and thsi is what the final course was. A fluffy and light King Crab Fried Rice, loaded with fresh vegetables, egg whites and the rest of the crab meat. The presentation was really nice too. We couldn't finish the rice so I asked for it "to-go", they were nice enough to pack the shell for me too! Now, what to do with an empty king crab shell? Ideas welcomed! 
 Prince Chinese Seafood 王子海鮮酒家 on Urbanspoon

Monday, April 15, 2013

Gordon Ramsay - Steak

Our first dinner in Vegas was at Gordon Ramsay's STEAK. Located in the Paris Hotel, there is a kitschy entrance from the hostess's stand, a tunnel that is supposed to be representative of the Chunnel, taking you from Paris to London. Thankfully, it's only a few feet long, but I felt sympathy for the hostess who had to explain that to us with a straight face. IMG_2619 The other thing our hostess explained to us was on the ceiling. Apparently, this is an artist's rendering of Gordon Ramsay's hand movements when he cooks. Who knew? But instead of just having this vision hanging over your head, the have incorporated this wild movement into other parts of their decor as well.
They've reused the same symbol on their menu. I asked the hostess who the artist was, and she drew a blank. Does anyone know?? IMG_2620 b Once seated, we were presented with an iPad which showcased all their cocktails. Tap a cocktail and you'll presented with the ingredients of each. This definitely adds a cool, hi-tech feel to the evening.
With an iPad in hand, we decided to order two cocktails, a South Side on the left with a Sidecar on the right. The South Side is just gin, lemon juice, sugar and some mint. I thought it was fun that they served it to us with the strainer, instead of straining it for us. The Sidecar was a nice potent beverage probably because of the cognac. There is an orange liqueur, something like GM and a touch of lemon juice. Both of the drinks were amazing, just potent enough but flavourful so that you don't feel like you're boozing it up. 
There is a Limited Tasting Menu available for $145/person. However, I am not a fan of desserts and it just seemed like a waste to pay for a 5-course dinner, knowing full well that I wouldn't enoy one of the courses. And then there was the Beet Salad, again not a huge fan. 
Making the decision a bit harder was the temptation of an autographed picture of Gordon Ramsay himself. But in the end, we opted for a picture of the autograph and decided to order a la carte. 
IMG_2637 Once we decided forego the Tasting Menu, our waiter brought over the Wheel of Fortune of Meat. This was insane, complete with mirrors to show you the meat from every possible angle. The meats are real, from tenderloin, ribeye, porterhouse and t-bone and so much more! How to choose? Well, we did, stay tuned for our choice! IMG_2646 For the complimentary bread, we actually got a selection of four different types. On the right, we had a Lemon Thyme Foccacia bread. Next to them were two bread rolls. One is a Truffle, Mushroom and Pancetta Roll, and on top of it, there is a slightly sweet roll that seemed to have a hint of Chocolate to it. And then the baguette we had was infused with flavours from walnuts. And to the far left, there is a creamy butter, called English Devonshire, with a neatly placed line of Volcanic Sea Salt. But don't fill up on bread, the best is yet to come!IMG_2655 Instead of ordering a few appetizers, we decided to go for the Shellfish Platter. Because the Smoked Mussels didn't really fit onto the platter, they brought this out first, along wit the sauces, such as the champagne mignonette, a citrus soy glaze as well as your traditional cocktail sauce IMG_2654 Then our waiter brought over this...a gigantic octopus. Apparently, our shellfish platter would be placed on this octopus. I can't wait!! IMG_2658 So this is the Shellfish Platter. It's about $75 for two people and there are tiger prawns, shelled king crab, fresh Kusshi and Malpaque oysters, and lobster as well. I've had shellfish platters before with the dry ice for effect, but I've never had one where the gigantic blocks of ice IS the plate. This was amazing and more impressive than I expected. There was a lot of food and they make it very easy to eat, shelling everything for you.  IMG_2675 2 So, what did we pick for our entree? At the suggestion of our waiter, we chose the Porterhouse for Two. At 32oz, bone in and for $105, we knew we were going headlong into a food coma. On a porterhouse steak, you get both the striploin as well as a tenderloin. Sort of the best of two worlds, plus a bone to chew on as well!  IMG_2680 Man cannot survive on meat alone (well, I tend to disagree), but we opted to get a few sides to complement our meal. This is the Sauteed Mushrooms and I have to say, it was interesting. I liked the mushrooms but was a bit weirded out by the bonito flakes on top. I think the bonito threw me off.  IMG_2681 Because we didn't have anything "carby", we decided to go for a Baked Potato, but not just a potato with some butter, hell no! This was loaded with a smoked gouda bechamel (super creamy), some slices of lardon and a sprinkling of chives.IMG_2684 This was my plate with both cuts of meat. The mushrooms are hidden and the potato is off to the side. 
I was a full and very satisfied girl! 

Take Note:

  • Even if you have a reservation, the staff will act quite confused by it all.
  • Go through all the cocktails on the iPad, it's a wide selection.
  • Unless you love everything on the tasting menu, it's wiser to go a la carte.

Gordon Ramsay Steak on Urbanspoon

All my Vegas eats are listed on this page. They include:

Spago - Spring 2013
Gordon Ramsay STEAK - Spring 2013
Wicked Spoon Buffet - coming soon
Nobu - coming soon, 
Bouchon - Spring 2013
I Love Burgers - coming soon 
Carnevino - coming soon


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