gracecheung604 | write on time: 2016

Thursday, October 13, 2016

TOY2016 - Provence Marinaside - October 13 – 27, 2016

Taste of Yaletown is sponsored by the Yaletown Business Improvement Association and is in their 12th year. This year, the event showcases 31 restaurants in the Yaletown area, with price points ranging from $25-45. Menus range from Italian, Vietnamese, Thai and West Coast, something for everyone. And as usual, YBIA will be making a donation to the Greater Vancouver Food Bank; they have raised over $11K since 2004!

Last night, I went for a tasting for the Taste of Yaletown preview at Provence Marinaside. Their menu for the two weeks is $45 with an extra $20 for wine pairings.

Their appetizer features three distinct different textures and flavours. Everything was good in their own way, but if I had to rank them, I'd say the House Smoked Ruby Red Trout was my favourite. It had a good hint of smoke and the trout was tender and smooth. 
The Pate was amazing as well, I actually ate my friend's portion, it was that good. So rich and creamy, it was really decadent. 
The Tomato and Bocconcini Salad is always a sure winner...I actually prefer bocconcini over burrata...I know, it's almost blasphemous. The Synchromesh Riesling was a refreshing wine to accompany this dish.

For the entrees, we got to try a tasting plate of all three choices. We started with the Dijon and Fresh Herb Crusted Lois Lake Steelhead Filet. This was served with a warm potato salad, some pickled onions and sautéed spinach. The fish itself was done perfectly but I found both the Dijon topping and the pickled onions a bit overpowering, but that's a personal comment. This was paired with the Vin Blanc by Evolve Cellars but it seemed a bit light with the rich flavours of the entree.

Our next entree was the West Coast Bouillabaisse, which I thought was the best dish of the night. There were prawns, scallops, clams and with, all served with a few fingerling potatoes. The best and most interactive part of the night was the crostini with gruyere and la rouille. When you're done with the yummy seafood, you make a little crostini topped with the cheese and the rouille (a reduction of the broth in the bouillabaisse). It's decadent and richly flavoured. Fun and delicious!

Our next dish was the Seared Bavette Steak. I have to admit I was a quite full at this point, but could still enjoy the beef. The little tartlet filled with zucchini and smoked tomato atop of the wilted baby kale was a great accompaniment. The warm mushroom made the dish even more earthy. The wine pairing of the Beau Vantage Cabernet Sauvignon was our only red wine of the night, a perfect pairing.

For dessert, we had a Lemon Tart (my fave!), as well as the Berry and Chocolate Clafoutis. There was also the Chocolate Cake and a Pumpkin Bailey Cheesecake.  

Disclaimer: This was an amazing dinner, graciously hosted by Taste of Yaletown. All opinions are my own. To make your reservations, please visit Provence Marinaside

Provence Marinaside Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tasting at Torafuku...

A few weeks ago, I went for dinner with some fellow foodies, Sherman, Nora and Jenn at Torafuku. The room is open concept with cozy booths and a long communal table. The vibe is very chill and is a great place for group get-togethers. We went on a Wednesday night, arriving as the doors opened. We stayed for three hours and by the end of the night, the room was packed with diners. The menu is eclectic loaded with lots of little appetizers and plenty of sharing plates. Be warned, this is one of my longest posts in a while!  

All the items have a very tongue-in-cheek'll see. We started off with “The World is Your Oyster”. Served individually in little jars. It's a shucked oyster with little bits of tempura for crunch, bonito flakes for flavour. I loved the edible flowers and there was a nice hit of freshness from the shallot and ginger salsa. This is a fun dish. When you open the lid, a wisp of smoke escapes and it's a very pretty presentation a well.

When you think of a sushi handroll, you don't think "pork". But that's exactly what “Get in My Belly" is! It's a sushi hand roll with juicy pork belly, pork floss and cucumber. It was seasoned with furikake, perhaps a bit overly so, since the dish was quite salty. Lots of pork, and even a bit of crackling too, and just a bit of rice, normally, there is a lack of filling, however, in this case, perhaps an extra bit of rice would have offset the saltiness. This was one of my favourite dishes of the night. 

I love corn, butter and popcorn! This “Miso Corny” starter had all of the above, talk about a homerun. The buttery grilled corn was highlighted with miso flavours and a sprinkling of togarashi. So good! I could have had the whole thing all to myself! 

You might not expect tacos at a Japanese restaurant, but give the “Taco Time” a try! Filled with pulled pork hock braised in miso, and topped with pickled onions, shallots, strips of nori and salsa verde, this is an explosion of flavours. Just a bit too salty, and I could probably use the double taco help balance everything out.

Buns...oh “Bun Me”...Chinese steamed buns are quite the rage at the moment, and there's a good reason for it. The buns are soft, supply and comforting. The beef brisket was tender, but the sheer size of the portion made it a bit difficult to eat. Just a few cuts and this would have been great since the cabbage and BBQ sauce gave the entire bite a good balance. It was more of a texture issue versus flavours. 

And now onto one of my favourite dishes of the night, the “Quack Addict”...BBQ Duck Spring Rolls. The meat was very tender and the addition of the carrots and enoki make for a great mouthfeel. The crispiness of the skin was great, and the plum sauce made each bite juicy and rich. 

The next dish was a challenge for me. I like my ramen hot and this "Lucky Tiger Ramen” was a bit off the beaten path for me. I'm not familiar with cold ramen (zaru soba, I'm good with), but this was definitely different for me. The noodles were cooked perfectly, with a good bite and loaded with cucumbers, sprouts and radish. And the soft boiled egg added a nice richness to the bowl. It's not something I'd re-order, but others at the table really enjoyed it. 

The next dish was awesome! I love these “Rye So Messy Chicken Wings”. If I didn't have to share, I think I could have eaten the whole, not really. The rendered skin held up against the zesty rye and gochujang marinade and didn't get soggy due to the mango glaze. The crispy ramen noodles gave the dish extra crunch too. It was a fun dish and I'd definitely order it again! 

As with all restaurants...they have to provide gluten free options...and they did this with the "Calamari The Way I Like It". The batter is gluten free and stayed crispy and crunchy. The squid was slightly chewy, good mouthfeel, flavoured with "angry tiger sauce". It wasn't spicy at all, just a hint of heat. I did like the corn served with it, as well as the pretty mushrooms, beans and edible flowers. 

Despite us saying that we didn't want any "veggie" plates, they surprised us with the "Veggie Tales", and I'm so glad they did! The pappardelle is made in-house, and it's topped with kale, mushrooms and cherry tomatoes. The texture is enhanced by toasted hazelnuts and the richness comes from the parmesan and yuzu butter. It's also available as a gluten free option. You really don't miss the meat here at ALL!.

I'm not really caught up in the whole poke craze but we also did try the
"Dr. Octopus and Mr. Tuna". I had a small bite and I did like the spicy sauce and pickled veggies, and the rice was amazing. But since I'm not a huge fan of poke, I have little to offer in terms of comparison. 

Okay, this was another one of my favourite dishes..."Give a Dog a Bone". I love bone marrow and I also love beef luc lac. The combination of these two on a single dish was heavenly. I would have preferred a few bits of baguette to sop up the marrow, but I ended up using the buns from the bun me for that purpose. The flavours were astonishing rich and the marrow was so creamy. Must have. 

If you prefer fish, then do yourself a favour and order the "Don't Be So Cheeky". These halibut cheeks are super tender and done just right. The sake marinade and the veggies (mushrooms and apple) are a perfect complement. They don't overwhelm the dish but provides great texture to the dish. This would be perfect for my mom because she's just not a red meat eater. 

Next, we had another one of their housemade pasta, this was their "Unicorn". There was tasty, although the uni was just a touch less than what we expected. Thankfully for my friends, I'm not a huge fan so they managed to split the portion into thirds quite easily. I liked the pasta along with the clams, corn and fresh tomatoes.

The dessert was a mix of their offerings at the time and that menu changes frequently. We all thought the coffee flavoured one was excellent as was the cereal inspired version. These are delicate and best eaten quickly. 

This is a great place for a leisurely meal with a group of friends, and I'd go again to sample their constantly changing menu! Oh, and the drinks are fun and fabulous too! 

Disclaimer: Our meal (food and beverages) was complimentary. However, all opinions are my own.   Torafuku Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Saturday, September 03, 2016

Vital Supply Trial

Dinner made easy tonight! Thanks to @vitalsupplyco #vitalreset Chorizo and Kale stuffed Porchetta and the Short Robs with seasonal veggies. Oh, and the Stanley Park Bar is dessert!
I was invited to try Vital Supply Co as part of their Real Food Reset, which is a food delivery service designed to kickstart a healthier diet through eating clean and feeding your vitals. This Reset provides three meals and a snack for a full 20 days, with various options of entrees and snack as well. Other customizable plans include 10 days of Vital as a trial for new customers, as well as shorter term plans (5 days), such as Foundation, Evolution, Acceleration and Vital Life.

As per the website, "Vital meals are strategically crafted to deliver ample energy and taste. Our food refuels your body with the nutrition necessary to heighten performance and increase alertness."

The meals can be customized for your food preferences such as paleo, vegetarian, vegan and pescatarian options too. Meals include breakfasts, salads, mains as well as snacks. In addition to those choices, all food are prepared fresh, gluten and dairy free and sourced locally and organic when possible. As someone who is a bit OCD, I loved that the nutritional information is available on their website. 

The reheating instructions are super easy. If you are in a rush, you can just microwave it for 2 minutes or for a more home-cooked feel, you can put it in your oven for 10 minutes. I heated it up in the oven and the results were great. Being too lazy to do any dishwashing, I kept it in the original container and it was a no-mess cleanup! The container is    
Untitled One of the two entrees I decided on was the Short Ribs with Seasonal Vegetables. The beef didn't get overcooked and the yams were heated through. The au jus was delicious and the meat was quite moist! For my tastes, I took the short rib out after 8 minutes and let the sides keep going for another two. I was ridiculously full from this meal, and actually saved one piece of the short rib and half the yam for lunch the next day.
Untitled My other entree was their Chorizo and Kale Stuffed Porchetta. (Note: this seems to be off their menu for now, but I hope it returns). The sides were the same but the portion was just a bit smaller. The porchetta was nicely rendered and not too fatty. There was a mild hint of heat from the chorizo and the kale was barely noticeable. I finished this entree but I was stuffed. 
Untitled For a snack, I chose the Stanley Park Nutrition Bar, made with dates, raisins, oats, almonds, hemp hearts, dried coconut. coconut oil, chia seeds, cinnamon, all organic. The bar was a bit crumbly, but had a good mouthfeel and was quite satisfying.

If you are looking to eat a bit healthier and are just too busy to plan, shop and cook, this is a worthy option to try. They deliver to registered offices and other partners. You can also go and pick up the food at their Powell St. location. 

For more information, please visit the website at

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Chinese Bites - Dim Sum at Kirin (Richmond)

I honestly do not remember the last time I had dim sum, primarily because my family prefers Cactus and similar chains to Chinese food. So I was eager to give this Dim Sum tasting a try. These are the dishes that we enjoyed courtesy of Chinese Bites and Kirin Seafood Restaurant (Richmond).

Sui Mai, 燒賣, another #dimsum staple. #latergram #instagood #instafood #instayum #foodporn #foodpic #foodspotting #foodgasm #potd #gastropostvan #instapic #Foodie #VancityEats #604food #vancouver #huffpostfood #dailyhive #604yvr #whentheyfindus #igfood #ig We had 15 dishes in total, some were ordered in multiples and some were larger shareable dishes. The first was one of the more ubiquitous dim sum dishes, the Steamed Prawn and Sakura Farm Premium Pork Dumpling Topped with Flying Fish Roe 安康豬鮮蝦燒賣. Or as most of us know it by a more common name, the Sui Mai. I hadn’t eaten since lunch the day before (24 hours) so I devoured this. I could have eaten the whole basket by myself, but etiquette requires that I share. These were juicy, plump and were larger than I expected. Add a bit of hot sauce and this dish is a great way to kick off lunch.

Sticky rice...#nom We always seem to get the Sticky Rice with Pork and Dried Scallop Wrapped in Lotus Leaf 荷香瑤柱珍珠雞, but we never actually seem to finish them…it’s a great to-go takeaway item for lunch the next day. The one from Sun Sui Wah was better simply because it had a salted egg yolk, but this one was still decent. It had the requisite meats, Chinese sausage as well as some shitake mushrooms.

Untitled One thing I remember as a child but haven’t seen in a menu in recent times is the Deep Fried Prawn Dumpling Served with Consommé 上湯煎粉粿. It might seem counterintuitive to dunk a deep-fried dumpling into the soup, but trust me, it works well together. Just don’t soak it for too long to maintain the slight crunch. The filling was sweet and juicy, and it’s not commonly available, so I’d say this is a must try.

Untitled The first rice noodle we tried was a more traditional rice roll, but it was steamed with liver, not your usual BBQ Pork or Shrimp. These Steamed Pork Liver Rice Roll 黃沙豬潤腸粉 can be a bit overwhelming to novice dim-summers, but if you’re in a group, and everyone is game, give it a try. The liver was a little overcooked and made for a tough texture against the rice rolls, but given that this is a rarity, I’d still go for it.

Untitled We also had the Steamed Green Onion and Chinese Donut Rice Roll Topped with Bread Crumb 蔥花金糠炸兩腸粉, this is more traditional and will likely be enjoyed by all at the table. The donut stayed crunchy and gives a good texture profile to the dish.

Untitled We also had the Deep Fried Minced Fish and Chinese Mushroom Bean Curd Roll in Steamed Rice Roll 脆竹魚茸香菇腸粉. This was interesting but I found the fish to be a bit mushy; but I will say that the filling to noodle ratio was bang on.

Untitled Another really good dish is the Deep Fried Tofu with Minced Pork 西施肉心豆腐. It’s another item that isn’t commonly available, so if it’s on the menu and you like tofu and pork, it’s a nice little parcel of both, and it’s deep fried!

Untitled Ah, the classic! Steamed Prawn Dumpling 麒麟水晶鮮蝦餃, these were moist with a thin skin and loaded with tasty shrimp. Enough have been said about this dish so I’ll save my breath, you know what it is and trust me, this is a good one. I did find it cool that the steamers are straight from HK...note the HK phone number stamped on the baskets!

Pan Fried Bun stuffed with Pork Belly and Preserved Veggies! Loved the sweet bum and crispy top and bottom! If you think fried steamed buns is an oxymoron, you should give this one a try. It’s the Pan Fried Pork Belly and Preserved Vegetable Bun 五花腩梅菜生煎包. The buns are steamed to cook the pork thoroughly and to keep its juiciness, but then it is panfried to give the buns its nice golden crust. It’s quite rich though, thanks to the pork belly, but the preserved veggies help to lighten the heaviness.

Untitled Our next dish was the Steamed Tofu Puff Stuffed with Minced Fish and Dried Shrimp 鄉蒸釀. Unfortunately, it was cool by the time we got to trying it, so it was hard to really tell if it was good. Ultimately, the flavours were still good but it was a bit too mild and texture-wise, not my favourite. It’s not something I’d normally order as there are so many other items with more intense flavours.
Ah…everyone is doing these now (XLBs), steamed Pine Mushroom and Pork Dumpling Filled with Consommé 野生松茸小籠包. These were juicy, and the broth was quite mild in flavour. However, the skin was prone to tearing…so perhaps a bit too thin?

Untitled These buns threw me for a loop. I expected BBQ Pork Buns, but actually, these were Steamed Abalone and Chicken Bun 鮑魚雞包仔. There was ample filling and the bun was nice and doughy…if you are averse to pork, then this is an excellent alternative.

Untitled We also tried for something a little off the beaten path… Braised Assorted Cow Offal in Chef’s Special Sauce en Casserole 麒麟牛雜. Now I know this might not appeal to everyone (it didn’t at our table), but if you are a fan of this type of food, an assortment of lung, tripe, spleen (my favourite) and intestines, you will be satisfied. The flavours are quite mild but as long as you can overlook what it is you’re eating, the textures are amazing.

Untitled Our last savoury dish was the Sparerib in Black Bean Sauce on Steamed Plain Rice Roll en Casserole 豉汁排骨腸粉. Many of you have had spareribs before, but the addition of the rice rolls pushed this dish to the next level. The rolls absorb all the sauce and is a great complement to the dish. They are just soft enough to soak in the flavours but were light enough so that they were gummy or mushy. I definitely liked this one.

Untitled Our last dish was dessert…the Thousand Tier Cake 鳳凰千層糕. This isn’t a super common item, Egg Tarts are usually the drug of choice at dim sum, but give this a try. The layers are steamed bun and also some sweetened salted duck egg yolk. I know it sounds “iffy”, but if you’re looking for something that isn’t totally sugar-laden, give this a try.

Overall, I did enjoy this lunch, and was happy to try some of the items off the beaten path. I hope you embark on innovative dining adventures of your own soon! If the order of items seems a bit random, that's to be expected at dimsum. Things come as they are ready!

If I had to pick favourites, I’d choose the Braised Assorted Cow Offal in Chef’s Special Sauce en Casserole 麒麟牛雜, Sparerib in Black Bean Sauce on Steamed Plain Rice Roll en Casserole 豉汁排骨腸粉, Deep Fried Tofu with Minced Pork 西施肉心豆腐 and the Thousand Tier Cake 鳳凰千層糕.
Note: I am assuming you will order the Steamed Prawn Dumpling 麒麟水晶鮮蝦餃 and Steamed Prawn and Sakura Farm Premium Pork Dumpling Topped with Flying Fish Roe 安康豬鮮蝦燒賣 anyways.

Disclosure-As a Chinese Bites participant, the meal was gifted to us by the restaurant and Chinese Bites, however, all my opinions are completely my own .

Monday, June 06, 2016

Poor Italian isn't just for dinner, try it for lunch!

Poor Italian It's been a long time since we have been to Poor Italian, and I decided that I was due for a revisit. We started off our lunch with an appetizer of Calamari Fritti. The deep-fried calamari was paired nicely with a mild Mediterranean salsa. Just add a squirt of lemon and you're set. I would have liked the calamari to be a bit more crispy, but my parents enjoyed it, just the way it was. Linguine Alle Vingole @thepooritalian #latergram We couldn't decide between the various pastas so we decided to share a few of them. My mom prefers seafood, so for her, we picked the Linguine alle Vongole. The sauce of white wine, garlic & EVOO was light enough for the delicate flavours of the clams. My mom loved it. Paccheri con Salsicca @thepooritalian #homemade pasta Their housemade pasta of Paccheri con Salsiccia was my stepdad's choice. Large tubes of housemade pasta were tossed with mild sausages, San Marzano tomatoes and peppers. It was all topped with fresh basil & some sundried tomatoes, and made for a very well-rounded dish. The pasta was done perfectly, with a good bit of toothsomeness. It turned out to be my favourite. Pappardelle al Ragu L'agnello. #pastalover
I picked the Pappardelle al Ragu D’agnello because I was craving a good lamb ragout. This was a simple dish with just noodles tossed with a San Marzano Tomato sauce and braised lamb. The pasta seemed a bit overdone here, but the flavours were good. Because the pasta is a bit thinner than the paccheri, it might have been done just fine, but just more tender that I would have preferred. Poor Italian Now, we normally don't do this, but we were having such a nice time together that we decided to stretch out the luncheon just a bit longer with dessert. I'm not a sweets fan, so we opted for the Lemon Ripieno, which is just a lemon sorbetto in a lemon shell. My mom loved the sorbet and the tanginess was just perfect. Although we normally come here for dinner, but for a leisurely lunch, this is a great option too.

Poor Italian Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


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