gracecheung604 | write on time: June 2013

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Modern City - Shanghainese in Kerridale

While I was in Toronto, I ate pretty good food, but most of them were European cuisines, such as Cafe Boulud (see more of my Toronto posts) with only Momofuku the notable exception. It was only normal that my first two meals out were both Asian, first Copa Cafe, and now Modern City.
2013-06-22 11.04.50 2 Sigh, spell check anyone? 
2013-06-22 11.21.55 
We ordered a total of four dishes intending to have some leftovers. Because many Shanghainese dishes are high in carbs, we decided to order something soupy for a light but comforting dish. This is the Deep Fried Tofu with Vermicelli Soup. There are large cubes of tofu, deep fried with a crispy crust but the tofu inside is super soft. The vermicelli is a nice touch and serves to make this dish just hearty enough, but never heavy. 
2013-06-22 11.31.05 b 
Another "must-eat" on my list for Shanghainese this Salted Sticky Rice. It's like a sushi roll, but instead of filled, it's filled with a Chinese Donut, topped with some shredded preserved veggies and pork floss.  It shouldn't be exploding like this, but in a way, this is helpful since it showcases the inside. Despite the presentation, this was good. Chances are, the rice was just too hot to hold together and broke apart as it was rolled. I would give this another shot on my next visit.
2013-06-22 11.15.36 2 
The heaviest dish we ordered was the Shanghai Style Rice Cake with Soy Sauce. This dish (~$7) was just a tad small for my expectations. However, what we did receive was delicious. The rice cake had a fantastic chewiness and bounce, and didn't not stick together, something that often happens when they are not made to order. The rice cakes are stir-fried with some shredded pork and spinach. The flavours were good, not overly salty and benefited from the touch of heat from the extra hot sauce I requested. My only complaint was that this dish was just a touch too oily...look closely at the bottom of the plate  (7 o'clock area) and you'll sort of see what I mean. 
2013-06-22 11.16.41 b And no Shanghainese lunch is complete without Xiao Long Bao, so we decided to try these. Alas, these were a disappointment. The best I've had so far is Dinesty. Of the six we had, four broke the minute you picked them up. Either the skin was too thin on the bottom or they didn't do enough to prevent them sticking to the paper. But the one I had that didn't burst was filled with a very flavourful broth. However, the top of each bun was overly thick, and took away from the overall enjoyment of the dish. If you need to order XLBs every time you visit a Shanghainese food, then you might not think this place is worth a shot. 

Take Note:

  • Lots of lunch specials for under $10.
  • Credit costs extra unless your bill is $35+.
  • Probably the only Shanghainese cuisine in the area, so they do get busy.
Modern City Chinese Restaurant 新上海酒家 on Urbanspoon

#JFTweetup - and the Sun Came Out Too!

On Tuesday evening, we were invited to the #JFTweetup at Joe Fortes. Although the forecast called for rain all day, as you can tell by the sunny photos, the sun couldn't help but shine on us on the patio! We sampled on some of their new menu items, some from brunch, lunch and dinner. JFTweetup This is a picture of the highlights of the food, as well as shot of Fred about Town with the general manger, Scott Garrett and the executive chef, Wayne Sych. IMG_3650b For a refreshing bite, we started off with Grape <Tomatoes and Mini Bocconcini. Drizzled with just a touch of balsamic, these skewers are as tasty as they are pretty. IMG_3649b This is anything but your average sandwich, these Lobster Rolls are stuffed chockfull of sweet and juicy lobster and shrimp. A touch of green and red onions gives a nice contrast to the mixture. And no complaints about the seafood to bun ratio here either. The house baked bread is soft but hearty enough to hold everything in. IMG_3644 And this is their amazing Seafood Tower, complete with crab legs, steamed clams & mussels, scallop ceviche, smoked sockeye salmon and poached jumbo prawns. This normally comes with oysters as well, but with their own shucking station set up, they were left off from the platter. We were very spoiled as these towers were refreshed frequently. IMG_3651b And if you think that Joe Fortes is just for seafood-lovers, you'd be wrong. Take this Beef Tenderloin on a Potato Rosti as an example. The beef is a perfect medium rare, with a nice crust and a red tender centre. The potato rosti is also amazing. The crunch on these were almost audible. It was a good addition to the mostly seafood menu. IMG_3640b Another non-seafood item is on the brunch menu. I haven't tried this before so I am so glad they served it as a sample today. This is the iconic Chicken & Waffles, a classic blend of savoury and sweet. The waffles had a nice crunch but were moist on the inside. The crispy coating served well to hold up against the breaded chicken breast. The topping isn't all sweet, with a touch of maple brown butter blended with a slightly spicy chili glaze. If you loved contrasting flavours and textures, this is a must-try. IMG_3648b And no tweetup is complete without dessert and the highlight for me was their Mini-Strawberry Shortcake. Little baked biscuits with a bit of creme anglaise and strawberry halves. Having these in little bites can be dangerous, after all, three bites of dessert isn't too much, is it?

Take Note:

  • Joe Fortes has an amazing patio, and it's a perfect spot to soak up the sun in the summertime.
  • They have an amazing Happy Hour menu, 4-6pm everyday, yes, even weekends.
  • For weekday lunch, their $9.95 Blue Plate Special is a great deal for downtown! 
Joe Fortes Seafood & Chop House on Urbanspoon

Monday, June 24, 2013

Brunch at Cafe Boulud - Toronto

Ah, Sunday brunch at the Four Seasons in Toronto, it's almost a tradition for me whenever I come into town. Last year, while the hotel was being renovated, I ended up at the Ritz Carlton instead. But I was glad that Cafe Boulud has since opened up, and served brunch on weekends!
menu at boulud 2 I like how his name is in a bigger font than "Cafe". No ego there, right? 
over easy at bouludFor me, brunch is all about eggs...and yes, there is egg as part of this cocktail. In fact, I'll be having eggs three ways for this brunch. To start, we have the Over-Easy, a gin-based cocktail with cointreau and fresh lemon juice, a touch of honey syrup and foamy, frothy egg whites.. I prefer this tart, so I asked them to go easy on the honey, but I did like the fact that it wasn't simple syrup.
crispy duck egg at boulud 9 Okay, onto actual we have the infamous Crispy Duck Egg. If you've had Chinese preserved duck egg before, trust me, it's nothing like that. They take a duck egg, and soft-cook it in hot water so that the whites are cooked but the yolks are still runny. Then they gently peel the shell off, batter it and deep fry the whole thing. The egg is dusted with some salt and pepper and then placed atop a few slices of Jambon de Paris (lower in nitrates than regular prosciutto according to our waiter), a few spears of asparagus, and a grainy mustard dressing that I could drink. 

The mustard complemented the ham very well, and clung delicately to the asparagus. Once you spread the duck egg yolk everywhere, the creamy yolk just binds everything together. I think the presentation might have been cuter if the top of the egg (which they clearly lopped off) was served as part of the dish as well. 
Farm Egg Carbonara housemade pepper bacon, poached egg parmesan at Boulud And now, to complete the egg trifecta, this is the Farm Egg Carbonara. Housemade fettucini pasta, in a creamy truffle and parmesan sauce with housemade lardon and a huge slab of house smoked pepper bacon. The noodles were perfectly al dente, and instead of being tossed in the sauce, they were placed delicately atop the sauce. 
Farm Egg Carbonara housemade pepper bacon, poached egg parmesan at Boulud 3 Once you burst open the poached egg, the sauce gets another layer of silkiness that you just can't beat. Each noodle is coated in the runny yolk and each mouthful has a rich feel to it unlike anything else. The salty lardon serves to give you another flavour punch, adding just enough saltiness to every bite. The smokiness of the bacon is almost too much. 

This was a great dish, and at $38 for the two dishes, I felt that the pricing was fair. It reminded me of the Linguine Carbonara from Cotto Enoteca, but this was definitely richer. I couldn't finish this and packed most of the bacon and half the pasta for a late night snack. And yes, it was still good the next day. cheese and charcuterie at boulud 6 Another two-course option for brunch starts with their Charcuterie & Cheese Board. There is a wide variety of cured meats, all pork based. The five pork selections are a Pork Sausage (a bit too fatty for me - purely personal preference), Pork Pate, Pork Hock Terrine, a  few slices of Jambon de Paris and a bowl of Pork Rillette. The rillette was my favourite and I could have made myself a sandwich out of it. 

The cheese on the plate included a Leicester Cheese and a very interesting Ash Covered Goat Cheese. It's off in the upper right corner and I regret not taking a closeup of it. When you cut into it, you can see two distinct textures of the cheese, the outside being a bit firmer and the inside centre is almost brie-like. Served with fresh warm bread, this was an amazing first course. I also loved the pickled mini root veggies strewn throughout the board, the acid was a nice contrast to the heavier flavours of the meats and cheeses. 
merguez sausage with poached eggs at boulud Another second course offering on the brunch menu is the Tunisienne Merguez Sausage. Served in a little skillet, this reminded me of a hash, but instead of potatoes as the starch, the dish is lighted up by the used of chickpeas. There is a generous helping of slow-cooked spinach as well as some peppers, but the star(s) of the show is clearly the giant link of Merguez Sausage and the two perfectly poached eggs. The eggs were a bit more done than in the carbonara so the yolk didn't spread all over the sausage, rather it held it's own. The sausage had a bit of heat to it, and the skin was nice and crispy, doing a great job of keeping all the fatty juiciness inside. This dish was just a touch too salty, and although it come with any bread, the warm slices from the charcuterie stepped in nicely to mediate some of that. 

Take Note:

  • Service is excellent, not overly assuming, but there when you need them
  • Great art (a cool one of Michael Jackson) adorns the walls, homage to Studio Cafe, perhaps?
  • Mildly pricey but worth the splurge, you do get a lot of food 
Cafe Boulud on Urbanspoon

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Breakfast at Copa Cafe

Returning from a Toronto trip last week, one of the things that I was really hankering for was Asian-Style Breakfast. Don't get me wrong, I had some good food in Toronto (such as Cafe Boulud, Edulis and Hapa Izakaya) but sometimes, you just crave the simple things! 2013-06-21 09.00.07 Wandering into the King Ed and Cambie area, we ended up at Copa Cafe. Sure I've been here for lunch and dinner, but never for breakfast. I was delighted to find out that they served both a traditional HK-style breakfast, as well as Western-style breakfast. The first of the HK style? This is the Century Egg and Pork Congee. It's hard to take a good picture of congee.
2013-06-21 09.02.19
Once served from the larger bowl though, the fixings are a bit more evident. This Century Egg & Shredded Pork Congee was super smooth and almost creamy. I have never made a congee like this, despite hours of trying. The rice kernels seem almost blended, though they aren't but the texture of this is ultra silky. And there is an abundance of shredded pork and century egg, more than you would expect from the first photo. Add a bit of white pepper and you're all set. This is Part A of the HK Style breakfast, and you can get it for just $5.25. But, if you don't think this is enough, you can add a supplement (Part B) for just another $2. 2013-06-21 09.06.55 So for the second part of my HK Style breakfast, I got one of my favourites, the Steamed Rice Noodle Rolls. I was especially pleased when the manager informed us that these would take a bit longer, as that implies that they were steamed to order. These tender little rolls were steamed to perfection. How do I know? 
As anyone who has had dim sum with me would attest, one of the things I love to do is to unroll these in my mouth (sort of like trying a cherry stem with your tongue). Once they are overcooked or reheated, this becomes much harder to do. This was not the case here, I was in love (and in shock)! Two amazing dishes for just $7.25. Better than White Spot any day! But if you want something crazily decadent, give The Flying Pig a try!  2013-06-21 09.08.05 So there is a second style of breakfast being served here, the Western Style which starts with Two Eggs with your choice of ham, sausage, luncheon meat and bacon. As you can see, we picked sausage. These eggs were done well as sunny-side up, and they weren't oily at all. 
And the bigger shock? The sausages were actually really good, tasty with a nice punch of saltiness and not oily at all. I would have liked to see more grill marks on them, but at only $5.25, I can't really complain. So for another $2 (as with the HK style breaky), we got another entree to complement our breakfast.   2013-06-21 09.05.25 And as part two of the Western Breakfast, we picked Veggies with Shredded Pork in Vermicelli in Soup. Yes, I know it doesn't sound Western, but if for some reason, the folks at Copa do, and I'm not about to argue. The bowlful of noodles wasn't as aplenty as the congee, but it was still a larger portion that you would expect. And the pork was marinated well and very tender. In short, if you are looking for comfort food, this fits the bill.

Take Note:

  • Extra charge applies for Visa/MC/Amex if bill is less than $25
  • Opens early for breakfast
  • Parking lot in the back gets full day or night, aim for street parking
Copa Cafe 高柏餐廳 on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Lunch at Rogue

Over the Victoria Day long weekend, in addition to the wonderful meal on Sunday at The Roof at Black and Blue, I also had a chance to visit Rogue on Broadway. Prior to this, I had only been to the Rogue in Gastown.   IMG_3305 One of my favourite items there was their Mini Corn Dogs, and fortunately for me, they had them here too! Here is half a dozen of the little guys, deep fried to a golden brown, soft and moist on the inside. Say what you will, but eating a corn dog on a stick really brings the kid out in all of us, even my mom!  IMG_3310 Speaking of my mom, she was feeling particularly ambitious today, and decided to go for their Half Turkey Sandwich and Soup Combo. This was a great deal, since it also came with a side House or Caesar Salad, all for just $12.99. You can choose from either a Tom Kah Thai-style soup or a Seafood Chowder. My mom went for the chowder and the Caesar Salad, and was impressed with both. 

The dressing for the salad wasn't too heavy and the croutons had a nice crunch to them, and the generous sprinkling of parmesan didn't hurt. But as I had predicted, she didn't even touch the sandwich. And that was probably the best part, piled high with turkey, this version of BLT featured a nicely toasted bun and lots of turkey. Perfect for a second meal. IMG_3311 We also tried the Chorizo Hash, with was large skillet of Spicy Chorizo sausage, tossed with bell peppers atop of some potatoes. And to top it all off, there were two poached eggs and healthy dollop of hollandaise sauce. The fresh tomatoes were appreciated, but seemed a little out of place. IMG_3313 In an effort to eat a bit healthier, we opted to share two of the lighter entrees, the first being their Salmon Cobb Salad. This was really good, with a rather large sized piece of grilled salmon. The salad had a healthy serving of avocado (which I promptly pawned off to my mom) as well as some roma tomatoes. The greens were topped with just a touch of goat's cheese. The soft-boiled egg helped to give the salad a nice creamy texture too. For those of you who enjoy your salad dressed, this might seem a bit bare, but as you can see, there is plenty of dressing on the side. IMG_3314 Without intending to do so, we found ourselves ordering another non-meat dish, the Baja Fish Tacos! You can have your choice of two or three, but since we were eating family style, we decided more was better. The basa was lightly floured (not a full-on batter) with some Cajun spices, and then served in a flour tortilla with colesalw, some salsa and a bit of avocado cream. Fortunately, the cream was really mild and you could barely taste the avocado. These felt really healthy and were quite filling too. IMG_3309 And last but not least were their Fish and Chips. Yes, somehow, we managed to order less meat than usual without really missing it! This was one of the pricier item on the menu, at $19.99 for two pieces. But then again, they were Beer-Battered Halibut, and not some generic white fish. I actually really liked the batter, even though I took off half of it, as is my usual habit. 
The tartar sauce had a nice tang but not enough crunch, coming off more like a salad dressing than a dip, but what I really liked was the coleslaw, fresh and crunchy, this lightened up the dish for me and I really wished there was more. The fries were okay, but I think more care was paid to the Yam Fries we had with the Fish Tacos.

Take note:

  • Good variety of choices, something for everyone
  • Parking in the area can be hard to find
  • Portions are larger than you'd expect

Rogue Kitchen & WetBar on Urbanspoon

Sunday, June 02, 2013

Broken Rice

I have heard lots about Broken Rice from people in my neighbourhood, with mixed opinions, so I decided to give it a try myself. They have updated their menu from the original version, and now have eight different types of pho versus the one deconstructed offering they used to have.2013-05-17 19.23.58 We started off with the Phnom Penh Salad Roll ($5.95). There were two reasons why we tried this, first was the name, anything named Phnom Penh has to be good, right? After all, Phnom Penh is a classic in Vancouver. The other reason was the ingredients...they use Chinese Sausage in these! Well, they were executed properly, wrapped tightly with a good combination of vermicelli, romaine (instead of the usual iceberg), shredded carrots and thing slices of Chinese sausage. Unfortunately, the sausage is a bit tough to bite through, and you end up pulling the whole piece out with your first bite. The concept is good, but instead of sliced sausages, maybe juliennes of them would work better. 2013-05-17 19.39.35 We decided to share one pho, so that we could order another item for variety. This pho is their House Special ($8.25), with beef balls, flank, brisket, tripe and some rare beef, served on the side upon request. There is a healthy dose of bean sprouts, basil and some hoisin and sirarcha sauce. The broth was really clear, free from the murkiness seen in other places. It's also not fatty or oily at all, just great, clean flavours. The thin noodles were cooked to a nice al dente and were not clumpy at all. Really well executed.2013-05-17 19.40.46 The other item we tried was the Saigon Crepe ($12.95). Sadly, this most expensive but also the most disappointing item of dinner. The crepe has some tumeric and a hint of coconut and is made with rice flour (which makes them gluten free and egg-free), and envelopes a blend of shrimp, pork and a lot of bean sprouts. They serve this with lettuce and some more basil so you can wrap it yourself, sort of like a lettuce wrap. Unfortunately, the crepe itself was really bland. There wasn't much flavour, and the few shrimps we did have were completely overwhelmed by the abundance of bean sprouts. It's a great concept, but I've had better versions of it.

Take Note:

  • Service is excellent, prompt and friendly.
  • Lots of other menu items and I will return to try (Clay Pot Rice, Shaken Beef).
  • The pho is solid, so if that's what you are looking for, it's a great option.
Broken Rice on Urbanspoon


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