Raise a Macallan whiskey tasting


The older I get and the more I watch drama series catered to my age, the more I see characters drinking, and the more I wish to immolate them. I long to find a spirit that I too can sip on without making a face at. That is why I am happy that I got to attend the Macallan whiskey tasting and find just that bottle to do the above with.

My guest got an invitation to their tasting event and brought me along as her guest. I wondered how I would be able to get on such a mailing list? She didn’t even know how or why they contacted her, but we both went along with the opportunity, happily. I suspected she got chosen because she likes whiskey and has had enough whiskey sours to tell a good spirit from a bad.


The evening was hosted at the “Railway Club”. Not exactly what I pictured when I read “club” and walked through the building’s lobby with pine garlands, shiny baubles, and glowing lights. Winter was in full swing. We weren’t the only ones attending this function so followed the crowd, making note of the signs. I felt under dressed in my business causal attire of jeans and button up dress shirt, where a few guests were in gowns and suits. They offered a coat check by donation. So after making a contribution and relinquishing our layer we checked in at their reception table. There our RSVP-ing was acknowledged by the scanning of an email attached QBR code. We then moved on to the adjacent table where we were given rubber wrist bands and a metal token to redeem for a cocktail. I would later figure out the bands were option and more to endorse their brand, as a posed to their intended use as entry markers.


We were then ushered in to a room on the second floor to mix and mingle. The carpeted stairs to climb were like the ones you would watch a debutant make her debut on. At the entrance of this reception area we claimed a “gold n’ apricot sour” cocktail in exchange for our token. There we waited for the main event to begin, building tolerance by snacking on appetizers like seasoned chicken on sticks and crispy spring rolls with a sweet and sour sauce for dipping. Around the room were tables to lean against and posters advertising their brand. They also had a handsome bar display with their various whiskeys on promotion.


When time we were invited to a banquet room, back on the main floor. It was beautifully done with a vaulted ceilings overhead, red and gold regal-printed carpet underfoot, crystal chandeliers, and crisp clean table cloths under polished stemware. The bright lights were the only thing distracting from a more intimate and sophisticated evening.


Each seat and every table was set with a specially created plastic sheet signifying all the Macallan brands. Each bottle’s name and its photo, paired with its scent and taste notes listed in a circle. Over each description was its corresponding beverage. Two to three sips served in a wine glass. We cleverly chosen a table that wasn’t completely seated and reaped the benefits in extra sample servings that went unclaimed.

This was the first spirits tasting I have been to, but I recognized the process and parafilnelia as it related to wine tasting. Like the bucket to spit the liquor into after you tasted it, in order to not get too intoxicated. Though looking around everyone did as I did, swallowing every last drop and shooting a few down in one gulp.


I appreciated the presentation and the walk through of each of the five Macallan whiskeys we would try. First a quick presentation played and showed the use and advertising of Macallan on television shows. I was sold when I saw “Harvey Specter” of “Suits” sipping on some golden brown Macallan. It was a good hype up to the tasting. On a podium, in front of a microphone, one of the brand ambassadors spoke to the label. He joked how his job is to drink on the job and get others to join him. Our host began to walk us through the process of drinking to taste. First you breathe your drink in with mouth, doing so with lips apart, just over the rim of the glass. You savour the scent and take your time with it, before you let it further linger on your tongue.

As we sipped we learned that we were having a single malted barley whiskey from Scotland. And tonight we were tasting the 1824 series that was made with small stills for a heavier liquid. They are so exclusive with their spirit that only 16% of the cut is used, where typically it is closer to 23%. Their goal is to bring you the best of the best with help from some of the finest barrels. After the first glass I wasn’t able to keep up with the speed of presentation to my the speed of my sampling. Luckily we were allowed to linger after and converse about what we liked and would want to buy.


I would like to attend more tastings like this. Not only did it gave me a new found appreciation for whiskey, but it gave me a new name to order at the bar. As I mentioned earlier, I have been trying to find a good spirit that I can just sip straight up. I think I have found it in the “Macallan Amber” with notes of raisins, apples, vanilla, toffee, candy floss, caramel, etc. If you randomly get an invitation for a similar tasting, I highly suggest you take advantage of it. Not only was it informative, but I left with a good buzz. Don’t deny your cravings.

The Blackbird Public House & Oyster Bar


This was a Donnelly Group restaurant, I knew what to expect going in. We weren’t looking for a great meal, we just wanted to take advantage of happy hour, so this was as good an option as any.


The restaurant was on the second floor and required a climb up an ascending staircase to get there. The flags jutting out from the building exterior marked the spot, in case you missed it. The room was expansive with two different bars and plenty of areas for mingling and more for sitting. There weren’t any obstructive decor elements, just some really unique features. Like a row of lamps that drew a line down a lengthy share style table. They looked like miniature street lamps, each with its own two set of studded faux leather arm chairs on either side.


The main bar combined modern and traditional for a sleek look. Rounded counters and golden bag hooks lit from below. Neatly stacked glassware and parallel taps reflected the light from two television sets. It was just the right amount of dim, to allow for un-remorseful day drinking without shame.


We chose a quite section where the main bar wrapped around. Here the light fixture was in the shape of a star. An octopus with eight arms jutting out and each, ending in a bulb. The area was also equipped with a full sized pool table. We went to a corner and grabbed seats at a step up booth and adjacent high chair. The wall next to us used a map as wallpaper. On the wall, portrait after portrait in frames. Faces from different eras captured in different times.  I really liked the layout of the place the most. The way the seats diversified around the room and the energy that surround them. I would come back and recommend it just for the above.


Happy hour at “The Blackbird” meant $5 wines, beers, and highballs. And seeing as today was also Tuesday, and there were $2 beers on special. We went with wine to pair with our pizza below.


“Funghi pizza” with marinated wild mushrooms, shallots, garlic confit, spinach, goat cheese, and basil. The pizza crust was average, the toppings were what made it stand out. I could have done without the large sections of shallots, but appreciated the whole cloves of roasted garlic. Partnered with the salty goat cheese it was the right kind of richness to partner with drinking.


Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – No.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
I am still doubtful of the food, having dined at other Donnelly group projects and being disappointed. But here, the setting is what will bring me back on a return trip. Then, I would like another go at the bar menu before I make a comprehensive decision on the place. Not o mention, we really didn’t explore the seafood aspect of their name. Don’t deny your cravings.


905 Dunsmuir Street, Vancouver BC, V6C 1A8
The Blackbird Public House & Oyster Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Copa Cafe


A Hong Kong style cafe serving western and Asian classics, for those who like pasta and sandwiches made for the Asian palette.



Looking for relief from the rain we came to Cambie Street in search of Chinese food and hot soup. My guest suggested “Copa Cafe”. I haven’t visited in a while, so was questioning whether she preferred somewhere else with a nicer setting. Little did I know, the place looked better than how I remembered it. The walls had a fresh coat of paint and they invested in decorative wall and ceiling features. Donuts rings surrounding the lights, stripes of coloured blocks, and multi-sized polka dots covered the walls. It was cartoony and fun, like their mascot. He was in a jolly chef with puffed up hat, an up curled moustache, and a cherry red tomato nose. He graced the awning and was pictured in an Andy Warhol spoofed painting by the front door.


We grabbed a booth and settled into exploring their extensive menu of Chinese flavours fused for a North American palette. A lot of it claimed to be French style, using the tag “cafe de Paris” in its title. Buttered mussels with a Caesar salad side, Spanish style baked rice, Russian style linguini, baked linguini in bolognaise, salmon carpaccio which looked a lot like smoked salmon, a creamy looking lobster bisque, white bread sandwiches, and French onion soup. The full picture menu helped me weed out the entire selection of “French” and Italian” like dishes; and the ones listen under “western style dishes”. I wouldn’t think to come to a Hong Kong style cafe to have either anyways. I flipped to the back of the menu and was content at choosing from the list of “Asian style dishes” that included various fried noodles and rice, stir fried chicken and/or tofu, vegetable spring rolls served in a glass goblet, and yellow curry.


As I was craving soup and the warmth that a portion may bring, I went for “Hot and sour soup”. This was suppose to be a small, but as you can see this bowl with a handle portion looked more like a large. This was a good indicator of the sizes of the dishes to come. As for the flavour, it was exactly as I expected it to be. That distinctive sour and tangy flavour to offset the hard strips of bamboo and carrot floating in the broth.


For my entree I got my usual. Something I knew I would enjoy, as I didn’t want to take a chance on anything else. “Sautéed beef fried rice noodle with Swiss sauce”. It could have used more flavour overall. The meat was overcooked and the noodles bland along side it. Nothing exciting, just a nostalgic childhood flavour.


My guest got something off their “Chinese double boiled soup combo”. You choose a dish from a list and it comes with a serving of steam rice. She went for the “Braised eggplant with salted fish and green onion hot pot” as it is not something she can prepare herself. The dish arrived at the table still sizzling, the sauce continued to bubble. The segments of eggplant were tender, coated evenly and generously in a nice, salty brown sauce. It’s flavour wasn’t too sour or too sweet, but it needed the rice to balance the dish.


The soup actually came first. I was most impressed by the white and blue single serve container it was presented in. The soup itself was a warming herbal soup with stewed chicken meat. I would have liked a soy sauce or dip to take with it.

When it came time to pay we had to do so at the register, they didn’t have a portable machine for guests to use. They also only take debit or cash, and no VISA purchases under $30. As was the service at this part of our interaction, the service in general was all pretty cut and dry throughout. They were prompt to take and deliver our food, and quicker to identify our needs. I would describe it as being efficient, like at many Chinese restaurants. They just didn’t check in on how we found the food, but I guess that is expected and not necessary.


Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – No.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
It isn’t a place I would visit often or even crave food from again. Such places are a dime a dozen and I know a few with more consistent dishes. Though I was in awe of the value for price, each plate had on it enough food for two servings across two meals. Don’t deny your cravings.


4030 Cambie Street, Vancouver BC, V5Z 2X8
Copa Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Score On Davie


This one has long been on my list of places to try, because it has one special thing I have been meaning to try. Those who know me know that I like things larger than they normally are, smaller than they are typically, and more extreme than they ought to be. So they have this caesar…


“The Score” seems like a hot spot on Davie. I have often passed by and have always seen their patio full when available. Their black and white sugar sugar skull logo was like a beacon marking their outdoor seating area. An area where strung up bulbs and white panels create an escape from the bustle of the sidewalk. But winter was approaching, the patio was closed, and the warmth of indoors beckoned.


The space was kept dim for ambiance, with the bar as the main source of light. Across from it was plenty of seating between two rooms. We were given a large group table in the corner of the second. It was at the end of a long line of booths, closest to the window. It gave us space and those around us peace from our chatter. So big groups are definitely welcomed.


I was captivated by the wall art. Practically each surface was covered with interesting nods to pop culture. Another sugar skull with the name of the restaurant spelled out across its two front teeth. A painting of young boy swallowing a live octopus, with the octopus’ tentacles squirming out of his gaping mouth. One wall was papered with a pattern of thin birch trees, it was aptly mounted with a skull and moose antlers. On another wall, framed works hung: an artist sitting on a throne of brushes holding a paint roller, a human plugged in the back with several jacks, and a woman crouched wearing a gas mask. Though sadly it the light of several flat screen television sets that attracted most of the attention.


The most interesting installation was actually their washroom. The pop culture theme continued into the shared, gender neutral washroom. Two doors labeled with an imagine of a man and a woman leading in to the same facility. Similarly inside, stall doors were labelled with gender specific images of women or men. Though the rule of thumb was, if it had a toilet you could use it. The urinal was clearly marked for male use with a long haired rocker. Even inside the stalls there was fun artwork to look at as you went, like a storm trooper and a pixelated wolverine. I was amused.

The menu had lots of pub favourites like tacos, burgers, and fries; with plenty of variety to keep things interesting. A Brie stuffed burger, a chicken burger with maple Jack Daniels bacon, fried chicken marinaded in a mango hot sauce, wild smoke salmon with cream cheese sliders, and a jerk chicken poutine. And best of all, I liked that this list was rotating, as communicated by the seasonal listing on the top of the menu. “Fall/winter 2015”.


Our large group shared a platter of nachos. The menu was correct in describing this as a “heaping pile” of corn tortilla chips, nacho cheese, roasted corn, olives, green onions, jalapeños, and tomato. Served with guacamole ensalada, sour cream, and fresh salsa. It had more than the basic nacho toppings and with multiple layers of cheese between chips. Set on a wooden plank it was an impressive amount of food for the asking price of $11. And you weren’t even charged extra for the dipping sauces on the side.


The “authentic quesadillas” were three corn tortilla shells stuffed with Jack and cheddar cheese, onion, peppers, and avocado. There was an option of having it with pulled pork, pulled chicken, chorizo, or the ability to mix and match all three. However the vegetarian ordered it with extra veggies instead.


The menu knew how to tempt me, but I had a goal and knew what I was going to have coming in. Checking one off the check list with the “Checkmate Caesar”. This was a 4oz Caesar topped with a whole rotisserie chicken, a mini pulled pork burger on top of a full sized cheese burger, onion rings, hot wings, a Mac & cheese pulled pork hot dog, and a chocolate chip brownie with whipped cream for dessert. The glass was served with two hands, it was that heavy. The final touch, was the spray of canned whipped cream, swirled on to the brownie. It immediately started to melt and drip on to the table without us feeling the need to catch it.


Sundays are for Caesars and there is none better than this one in my books. Just judging on presentation, selection, and cost according to value I was sold. Having it made us feeling like the bell of the ball amongst our table mates. (I definitely recommend sharing this one with a friend or two, it’s a lot of food for one person.) It certainly impressed and sought commemorate photography at $60 a cup. There was so much value in the variety. It was like a share platter, but with its different elements suspend from multiple skewers. As for the actual food, it was good overall, but nothing amazing that we had to have again. It was more the novelty of having it presented like this. The caesar itself was made better with the warm chicken grease dripping into the mix. It made the cocktail more savoury and even more flavourful, if you could get past the splotches of grease floating on the surface. It certainly helped to balance all the pepper used in the brew and all the pepper on the glass’ rim.

The cheese burger was tasty, but it’s patty was distinctively dry. But after a beer or two later, it doesn’t much matter. It was all good, just like the mini pulled pork burger that sat atop of it like garnish. The pork was tasty with barbecue, but dry from an extended wait in the oven. The pork seemed juicier within the buns of the hot dog, especially accompanied by a juicy sausage and tender cheesy crusted elbow macaroni. The onion rings were breaded and fried to a gold brown. They were a good balance between crispy crust and fragrant onion. The hot wings were more mild, but with plenty of meat on bone to keep you satisfied. I preferred it over the rotisserie chicken at the base of the drink. The bird was smaller than most and noticeably dried at its ends. We found the most effective way to eat it was poking fork into bird and pulling meat from bone. And lastly, but much appreciated was dessert component. It was a moist, chewy square embedded with chocolate chips and made further decadent with what was left of the melted full cream. Like I said, the food wasn’t the best, but it was impressive enough in presentation to have me raving and recommending.


For those who can’t commit to a caesar with a full meal this size, they have other crafty Caesars to entice and excite. Snack sized versions of the above: like their chicken waffle caesar, their macaroni and cheese caesar, the caesar topped with chicken wings, or the one with a grilled cheese sandwich cut into triangle. It was all about what you would be getting as a garnish with your clamato. They certainly deserved the full colour menu page that they were given.


Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
I was impressed. Their gimmick was creative and it won me over. They took a Canadian classic and made it all the more indulgent, they made it more fun, and certainly picture worthy. At this point they are known for their caesars, and if the others were as exciting as our masterpiece, they are certainly worth trying during another visit. Don’t deny your cravings.


1262 Davie Street, Vancouver BC
Score On Davie Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Mamalee Malaysian Delight

I have been here a few times, but today would be the first visit with a guest of Malaysian descent. Someone more familiar to the cuisine than myself, and trying plates I otherwise wouldn’t have ordered. We also brought with us two others who were complete new to the cuisine.


I allowed the expert to order for the group. It made me happy to see his excitement, as evident on his face. He went through all the pages like a familiar book. Reading names in the perfect pitch and tone. Admittedly I only knew a handful of items and would only order a handful of items. So decided to write this post to commemorate dishes that I would not think to order myself. Dishes I only got to try because he ordered them. Dishes I liked but may not order again. Dishes that were good, but they just don’t hold the same childhood nostalgia as some of the other ones did for me.


I describe Malaysian food as being on the sweeter side. The full contrast to other Asian styles of cooking. Where Vietnamese dishes balance sour tones, Japanese cuisine toggles salt, and Schezwan cooking highlights spicy peppers. The best example of this sweetness in savoury was with their “Roti Canai”. “Roti” is an Indian influenced flat bread. The Malaysian equivalent of naan, served similarly with curry. But here the curry is more watery, and sweetened with coconut milk. The first timers liked it, but I was disappointed by it. The flatbread was not as fluffy as I have had it and not as buttery as I would have liked it. But having nothing to comparing it to, our guests were happily satisfied. They devoured three servings worth, leaving only flaky crumbs on the plate.


The restaurant is known for their “Hainanese chicken” so I continuously find myself ordering it upon every visit. This chicken requires very special preparation. It is described as a “delightful marriage of Chinese tradition and Malaysian complexity”. Hainanese Chicken uses the art of boneless-chicken cooking. The process involves the selection of quality meats, a delicate boiling process, and complex sauce-making. We ordered a regular “Hainanese Chicken Rice + Soup”. The bowl of soup is boiled from chicken bones, it’s clear broth was served first. As I have already learned, this chicken isn’t for everyone, as its colouring and temperate can be off putting. Especially to those unfamiliar and those who are use to only eating their meat warm. This was the case with our guest who liked the fact that the chicken was so juicy and so tender that almost melts in your mouth. Though she would have liked it served as warm as the rice it came with. The yellow garlic oil rice, the green onion spread, and red chilli sauce were flavours everyone enjoyed.


I keep forgetting that their “laksa noodle soup” isn’t worth getting. The menu describes it as a “rich and attractively spiced affair with tasty Tropical ingredients”. Their glossy description over sold this as did their factoid that this is “the crown jewel of Malaysian Cuisine adored by food-lovers around the globe. In 2011, it was honored by CNN as one of the world’s 50 most delicious foods”. Reading the entire description only got you more disappointed. The soup’s texture was rich from the curry and coconut, but other than that, this version lacked anything that identified it as being any more than neon yellow-orange soup. It was bland, the chicken in the bowl was as flavourful as it looked. It was disappointing to me, as I knew what to compare it to. I didn’t have the heart to make the others aware of this.


“Oyster Sauce Gai-Lan Vegetable”. “Gai-lan” is also referred to as “Chinese broccoli”. It’s stalk is crisp like that of regular broccoli, but instead of florets it has leaves and unsprouted buds. “Malaysian vegetarian cooking emulates the Chinese tradition of not over-cooking the vegetables so their freshness and original texture can be captured”. As a result the vegetable remains crunchy with an enjoyable and easy to chew through texture. The garlic topping was the best part.


“Bak Kut Teh”. I don’t usually order soup, and even more so anything that would look like this. (I am a very visual diner) However this one got my Malaysian guest so excited that it quickly became a must try. It is an herbal soup with pork and mushroom slices. It is boiled and served in a clay pot. The several chips and dings on the containers rim spoke to its age and frequency of use and reuse. My guest highly recommended enjoying the soup over rice, so ordered a bowl of yellow rice for each of us. It was good, but I preferred the soup as is, watery; and the rice as is, dry I remembered eating many half soup half rice plates growing up, he must have done the same. I never liked Chinese broth soups, but there was something warming about this one that I did like. A unique pungent taste, but in a good way. A taste like no other, one that I was grateful for trying, but one so specific that I cannot see myself craving for. Though at the same time I might order it again just because I forgot what it tasted like. The meat was tender, but bland. I would have liked a small dish of garlic and brown sauce to dip it in to and have with the yellow rice.


Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes
There aren’t many places offering Malaysian cuisine and this is the only one in this area, therefore I do foresee returning in the future. Though I probably won’t write about it, as I have already done so many times in the past. And always done so documenting the same things I always get. I need to come by more often to be able to grow tired of my favourite dishes and to instead long to try something new. To be willing to gamble on an unknown dish, that very well could be not as good as what I would have usually gotten. Don’t deny your cravings.


3144 W Broadway, Vancouver BC
Mamalee Malaysian Delight Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Grain Tasting Bar


When they no longer carry something listed on the menu, due to quality issues.
Our night of hotel bar hopping ended here, and there was no better place for satisfying snacks after several empty cocktails glasses later. Located at the Hyatt Regency Hotel by Burrard skytrain station. It’s location made them an easy drinking destination and its title lured you in. Therefore, it’s not surprising to see that their drinks menu was extensive. But not just beer, like their name suggests, but they also had plenty of wine and cocktails to choose from too.


The restaurant entrance is through the hotel doors, at a sharp right. The glow of the spotlights past red tinted glass was alluring. The 360 degree bar anchored the space. And around it, tables circled the perimeter of the room. The high tops that looked out on to the street below have thanks to tall windows. It was quite the spot for people watching and for those on the street to spot you. We helped ourselves to one of the booths against the wall. The faux leather seats made for a comfortable stay. Similarly upholstered was the lounge sectionals between us and the bar. They definitely accommodated larger groups for longer stays. And with the ample space between seating options, you had the comfort of limited privacy from your table to the next. This would be a great after dinner group option, or a nice setting to meeting and mingle at. They certainly offered enough alcoholic beverages to fuel it.

The drink menu had plenty on it that peaked my interest; but as our last stop of the evening, I was six cocktails deep and knew i had to draw the line at only one more. Though there was plenty to keep me seconding guessing my choice. There was a cheery basil margarita and the “ruby Tuesday” came with fresh strawberries. The “Java the nut” combined cold brew coffee with hazelnut and coconut liqueur and walnut bitters. The “Vancouver fog” combined steamed milk with earl grey infused whiskey and earl grey infused vodka. And they claimed that “the perfect gin and tonic” included wallflower gin, fever free tonic, and orange essence.


Lots to filter through, but true to form I insisted that we went for the most unique. “Ginger pear martini” with odd society vodka, Okanagan spirits pear brandy, sweet and sour, ginger of the indies, and fresh pear. It delivered on its promise of pear and ginger. A light, yet heated cocktail that warmed with sweet pear. The “Curious Georgia” had me curious. It was with odd society vodka, banana liquor, SOS cold brew coffee, and house made peanut butter syrup. Reading the ingredient list you expected a dessert, and you got it with every sip. It was like a grown up peanut butter cup with an air of ripe banana. It was rich and fragrant, a great dessert to end our drinking on. Though as good as it was, this wasn’t one to have with food. It was definitely a stand alone drink. When I cut myself off and stopped drinking, our server was nice enough to come and ask if the cocktail was ok and to my satisfaction, as it was pushed to the side.


In support of “Movember” they had a special menu where $1 from every specific drink or dish ordered went to support men’s health issues. We wanted the bison balls, but went for the spicy version to support the cause. It was aptly named “Balls on fire”. This was red currant and juniper berry glazed spicy bison meat balls, served along side a drunken cherry and pear mostada. “Mostada” is an Italian condiment made of candied fruit and a mustard‑flavoured syrup. This sweeter sauce balanced out the spiciness from the Indian spices of coriander and cilantro. It was a zesty and hearty one bite mouthful. A great snack to have along side a cooling pint. Although we were the only ones ordering food, I was still amazed at the speed in which the kitchen pushed out our dishes.


Meat and cheese is also a great snack-able item after heavy drinking, so we went for a “charcuterie and cheese board”. A great choice to causally pick at, without the need to worry about it cooling down. It would just as good 20 minutes after it touches the table top. The price was determined by serving: two, three, or four meats paired with two, three, or four cheeses. Served with toasted baguette, candied walnuts, cornishons, grainy mustard, honey, and fresh berries.

My guest has dietary restrictions so we had a double serving of the “Elk chorizo”. The rest were hams or made from a hybrid of meats; including pork, which she can’t have. Like duck breast with pork shoulder and jowl, or bison with pork. I cannot describe the chorizo better than the menu does, “lean elk cured and seasoned with paprika and mixed spices, rendering the sausage with a sweet, deep smokey flavour”. Cut thin, it was the perfect light slice, that wasn’t gamey or too salty. You could eat it as is and be able to enjoy all the above mentioned seasonings. It perfectly accompanied the salty and creamy cheeses and the sweet and crunchy sides.

With the cheeses, once again the menu did justice in describing it in vivid detail. I have never read such an informative menu. It laid out and gave me exactly what it promised. The “La maison alexis de portneuf” is a “Vegetable ash covered, soft, surface ripen goat cheese. It has a smooth ivory body enveloped by a marble textured rind. Fairly strong, acidic, and slightly sour in flavour”. If you really take your time to taste it, you can make our the sour and smokey notes. The “Natural pastures Buffalo Brie” was an “exotic twist on their world champion comox Brie”, made with “rich water buffalo milk from the island.” In general, you can’t go wrong with a buttery, creamy Brie.


The plate as a whole fit together perfectly. We just needed more bread to use as a base to eat it all with. But that was easy enough to order more of.


I was impressed that the Chef brought out our charcuterie platter himself and took the time to explain each of the elements to us. When I pointed out that we didn’t get actually get what we asked for, but weren’t actually fussy about it, the chef insisted and brought out a sample of their Camembert cheese. This would be a new cheese added on to the menu, rotating something that he didn’t quite like out. This was something that wasn’t on the menu yet, that we got to try ahead of time, at no additional cost. I was impressed by the extra step he took to add joy to our time here.

It was a similar case for the “marinaded charred octopus”. I had my eye on this appetizer, but was informed that they currently didn’t carry it. They withdrew it from the menu because the chef wasn’t behind it 100%. I was disappointed to not be able to get want the menu offered, but at the same time appreciated the caring and the attention to the craft of cooking. The chef invited us to return again and often as the menu is always being updated and improved with each change. Based on his knowledge I will assume he is head chef.


Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
I definitely want to explore several facets of this restaurant more. I was impressed by everything. From walking through their internal entrance, to sitting at one of the well spaced booths, to exploring the menu, and conversing with the staff. It just seemed to get better with each interaction. There is just so much I want to try, and I would also like to keep my word to visit again. Don’t deny your cravings.


655 Burrard Street, Vancouver BC, V6C 2R7
Grain Tasting Bar - Hyatt Regency Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Yew Seafood


You can always tell the quality of a hotel and its restaurant by its lobby and that did not disappoint.

The restaurant is on the second floor of the Four Seasons Hotel, kitty corner to their front desk, sandwiched by hair salons and high end boutiques. A school of carved wood fish swam towards you at the divide between hotel and restaurant foyer. It was a thoughtful reference to the fresh seafood they offered.

Walking in I was impressed by the vaulted ceiling of the establishment. Nothing makes you feel more little than a room that engulfs you. Nothing is more impressive than a room that has so much going on aesthetically, that it forces your head to jerk in swivels. This was that.


The first area is their lounge. Its backdrop, a bar the height of which was double that of any regular top shelf. The top tier of this scaffold-like shelving unit was used to showcase clay barrels and glass bottles in artistic display. In a similar fashion, the light fixtures drew your eyes and focus upwards. They were these large blocks suspended in mid air. Cubes that glowed yellow with vines of black creeping up its side, like veins. One after another, they lead up to and sandwiched the fireplace that stood solid in the middle of the room. The cobble faced fire wall was a barricade of glass and stone diving the open dining area into two. From either sides you were able to watch the orange flames dance.


We were led to the heart of the dining room and given a seat in one of their cubicle booths against the right wall. Here a canopy of wood surrounded you, it helped to create the feeling of privacy; a separation between you and your guest and the rest of the diners. And it all overlooked the open kitchen. Chefs in white smocks and matching caps paired with black aprons worked surrounded in stainless steel. I find the ability to watch your meal being prepared with such honestly reassuring, as does it give me confidence in those that are toiling over it.


In addition to the visual aspect of above, I was also most impressed by the individual place setting at each table. The napkins were held in a roll with a fish shaped tag. It was a classy accent that reminded you of which restaurant you were dining at.


We were here to celebrate my guest’s birth, and thought some drinks would be a good start. I asked what their signature cocktail was and was informed that they are all good. But at the same time warned that with some it would be two sips and done. This made the decision making process all the more difficult. There were so many unique mixes across a multi page drink menu. So on our server’s recommendation we had a couple of their “Perfect time” cocktails made with Absolute pear, Plymouth gin, lemon, pear, and cane sugar. It was delicious, and full of sweet pear juice flavour. The real pear slivers as garnish was a nice touch as well.


Our meal started with a basket of Nori (seaweed) and lemon biscuits, served with a side butter. With four total, we each got one of each flavour. I got the saltiness of seaweed, but not its fishy flavour. Though the citrus of the lemon biscuits really came though.

The menu tempted with plenty of seafood options across small plates, dishes created featuring their lobster tank, whole fish, and even three “non fish” options. I was tempted by the bevy of lobster dishes, but at the same time felt it a waste of lobster’s natural flavour when you have it hidden with Mac and cheese with lobster, lobster tacos, lobster meat balls, tempura lobster, or lobster croquettes.


Plus, their “tackle box” special was too good of a deal to pass up. It was like a share platter, it gave you a taste of several popular items, served chilled. You choose either five or seven options out of nine, at $69 or $99. My guest doesn’t eat shellfish so we passed on the oysters and clams. We were more than content with the steam lobster, raw albacore tuna, Wei Wei Kai scallops, steamed Dungeness crab, and poached selva shrimp. It was an awesome collection, but I longed for more in terms of presentation. Maybe a tower or an actual tackle box?


The “steamed lobster” was sweet lobster meat coated in tangy cream, fragrant seasonings, and fresh avocado.


It was just the dip to pair with the bowl of deep fried wonton chips, that accompanied the ice filled casserole dish. They offered a good base with the crunch you craved, having tried each bowl of chilled seafood without it first.


The “steamed Dungeness crab” was just like the lobster above in seasoning and therefore flavour, it too came with mashed avocado. However, the thread-like crab meat offered a different texture.


The “Wei Wei Kai scallops” were not for me. I have never had a raw chunk of scallop like this before, and it’s rubbery texture was not one I enjoyed. Its flavour was bland as well, considering the hint of citrus and the drizzle of thick cream.


I liked the the “poached selva shrimp” and the “raw albacore tuna” the most, as both were the most familiar. The shrimp were some of the largest I have had, and we got five of them in this one portion. Where as at other places I have had less shrimp at a steeper cost. Overall this combination was surprisingly filling without weighing you down.


Seeing as this was a birthday, I sought to order my guest a cake-like dessert and stick a lit candle in it. But nothing tickled our fancy so we asked for the bill. Though instead, our server delighted the birthday girl with a plate of sweets. The kitchen threw what they had together to craft this tasty and visual threat. Chocolate squares and truffles with Passion fruit and chocolate macarons, over a bed of pink chocolate curls and foam-like freeze dried strawberries. It was pretty in pink and fun to eat with your hands. We enjoyed the pink strawberry flavoured chocolate curls the most. We threw them back by the handfuls and they practically melted on your tongue.

Each interaction with our server was a delightful one, he spoke with perfect enunciation, describing food and dink with a convincing passion. He definitely added to the experience with his presence.


Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
This was definitely a location that impressed. One that I wouldn’t necessarily go to often, but one that I would often recommend. I suggest “Yew” for a more formal occasion or to curb a longing for all things seafood the right way. Don’t deny your cravings.


791 West Georgia Street, Vancouver, BC, V6C 2T4
604-692-4939 (4YEW)
YEW Seafood - Four Seasons Hotel Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Hiro Sushi


Almost a year later, I decided to give this place a second try, after a most disappointing first and a note to not return. All this only to get an upset stomach during my second attempt.


I have passed by and looked in on occasion. They are never full, but always have at least one table seated and someone coming in for take out. I have been here once before, but it was take out and the rolls didn’t travel well. So out of connivence now I came back for lunch. I attend physiotherapy in the neighbourhood and use the gap between it and work to enjoy a stop here. I thought this time would be different as I would avoid their specialty rolls and instead go for something more traditional.


The restaurant itself is most iconic with its out of place murals. The ceiling to floor paintings sandwiching the dining area have survived the various reincarnations of this space. On the right was a country side with stucco buildings, tall mountains, and green shrubbery. A female in red was steadily walking towards it all. Across from this was a scene of rolling hills and running waterways. All more fitting for a Italian restaurant or a Spanish tapas place.


The Japanese points in homage to the cuisine, were more prevalent with and surrounding their sushi bar. Red lanterns, bamboo shoots, cloth flag printed with patterns of fish, and a picture of a smiling geisha in the corner. The bar itself was plastered with high quality photos of the rolls they served and some of their more beautiful dishes to tempt you.

The menu was a page turner, 12 photo filled pages of Japanese appetizers, sushi, rice, noddles, etc. They had over 25 different specialty rolls. Most of which is quite typical in the Vancouver fusion sushi scene, if not by name, then by filling. They also had some pretty great sushi and bento box specials, but I am not a fan of California roll and both had it included with an extra charge for any substitutions.


I instead went for the “all day super special” on the second page and stopped flipping through the menu after I made up my mind. It was $9.25 for miso soup and the ability to choose any three items from a list of 88. If you wanted to make any of it spicy, you could add 25 cents to do so. There were so many possibilities to go through. I didn’t know where to start and what pattern to dine in so went for what I thought would be the most value in each category.


A very full bowl of miso soup came quick. I am sure it was pre-made. It was salty and made with plenty of seaweed and tofu.


I went for “small chicken teriyaki don” from the list of “appetizers”, but given its portion size, it was more like a smaller full entree. It came as quick as the soup. Odd, as you would think the cooked component of my meal would take the longest to make. All I could think was “that’s why I heard the microwave open and close after my order was registered”. Shame as they were slow enough, with hardly any customers to have the time to make it from scratch. It was pieces of tender chicken over a mound of steam rice and a handful of bean sprouts. The broccoli floret on the side was a little raw, as is typical. Overall okay and nothing varying from the expected standard.


From the list of “nigiri sushi” I choose “chopped scallop with tobiko”. The cream and tobiko hid my ability to taste and tell the freshness of the scallop. It was tasty though. But be warned it requires eating all in one bite, the seaweed was too tough to saw through with teeth.


And from the “cone/roll” category I had the “B.C. Roll”. This was filled with cooked BBQ salmon and its skin, lettuce, and cucumber. It was coated in a sticky sweet brown sauce. The roll was warm from the cooked fish. I didn’t hear any barbecuing so can safely assume this was premade and microwaved as well. The salmon’s pungent taste was overwhelming, you could also taste the char of the oil off the fish’s rough skin. This would have been a good option for those who don’t like their fish and sushi raw. But for me, I prefer the raw salmon and didn’t like this all that much. I learned never to order this again.

I chose one item from each of their three categories, but you can actually choose any three from any category.


Would I come back? – No.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – No.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
Hopefully I keep the word of my post this time. They had a good variety of food, but nothing I would return for or want to take another crack at, an interesting deal or not. I felt full and within minutes later found myself clutching my abdomen in pain. My stomach was not happy with what I had and I am currently scared away from sushi, teriyaki sauce, and salmon. Don’t deny your cravings.


3701 Hastings Street, Burnaby BC, V5C2H6
Hiro Sushi Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

UYU ice cream

IMG_9143IMG_9178Social media friendly soft serve ice cream.
I finally tried the soft serve parfaits at “UYU”. “UYU” is Korean for milk, and it makes for a fitting name as it is the base for everything they make. They use only organic milk and fresh ingredients to make their soft serve. I have been seeing them grace the pages of my social media feeds since they opened and now I got to try them for myself. Though I couldn’t bear to post a picture of our treats in front of their white cut out wall of criss cross lines. At this point, it has already been done. But at the same time it is a good way to indicate where you were without saying it. Like a logo, a part of their branding.

The room felt sterile and neat. Still a newer space with clean lines and crisp furniture. A white counter without any nicks or dings, glossy signs, and stainless steel machines. I was impressed, I just wished there was more of a seating area to linger and enjoy it all in. All there was were two lengthy benches to sit and lick your treat at. Though I guess you don’t really need much more for a hand held dessert that takes 10 minutes to finish.


Your journey begins waiting in queue. They are fairly popular, so I can imagine a line at all times of the day. Plus their location makes them a great spot of an after dinner dessert or mid day snack. You follow the signs above their counter. The first asks you to choose your soft serve flavour. What was available was written in chalk on a little board by the cash desk. It even had a end date so you could coordinate a return if you wanted more. Organic milk, tiramisu, and black sesame.


You pay and your soft serve is swirled into a cup or a cone. We wanted toppings so the cup with a spoon made more sense.


Next you select your toppings. The price changes with how many toppings you want. A look past glass at tubes built into the counter tells you what is available. Each is labelled on a small card next to its corresponding bin. They didn’t have your regular sprinkles or candy. Instead they offered more wholesome options like fruit and nuts. Freeze drying the fruit allowed them to last longer: raspberry, orange, strawberry, and banana. There was also toasted coconut. And roasted and sugared coated nuts like pecan, roasted crushed peanuts, almond slivers, and pistachio bark. They did also offer something sweeter in the form of chocolate covering nuts and honey glazed granola. It was the pumpkin and sunflower seeds that threw me off. This was something I never thought of putting in my ice cream, but given the more health conscious demographic of Vancouver, its appearance made sense. What I found most interesting was their use of small spoons and long tweezers to gingerly place each topping piece by piece. Strategically placing topping by topping, as if for a photo (which is often the case, given how many folks took pictures of their ice cream). They really took care in delivering an optimal presentation and I appreciated them for it. Though I am not sure about the guests waiting after me in line.


Or you can forgo the selection process and simply have your soft serve drenched in real chocolate.


For that extra decadence, the last step is a drizzle of any sauce. There were squeeze bottles at the ready. Their flavours weren’t listed anywhere, but the employee behind the counter was more than happy to share what they had. Caramel, strawberry, chocolate, black currant, raspberry, passion fruit, and condense milk. With a shake of the bottle it is swirled round and round over your peaked iced cream.


The tiramisu soft serve included the cake’s icon lady fingers. One finger snapped into two and carefully placed in the cup. The fingers were dry and crusty, they needed a good soaking, but was helped along by the quickly melting soft serve. This one was with freeze dried raspberries, dark chocolate almond bark, toasted coconut, and a caramel drizzle. You definitely got the chocolate flavour of a traditional tiramisu, but unfortunately missed the coffee that should of accompanied it. The ice cream was smooth and creamy as expected. The raspberries were sweet and crispy, the chocolatey slightly bitter, and the coconut gave it all some texture. The caramel made the most sense with this assembly. And surprisingly, all together this dessert wasn’t too sweet, although it sure looked like it would be. Instead, it was the perfect light, after dinner palette cleanser.


The black sesame was with freeze dried orange and strawberry pieces, crushed peanuts, and a condense milk drizzle. I questioned my selection as the girls before us all got their black sesame soft serve with black sesame powder. I wish I went in this direction as a posed to the very tart orange segments. It had the texture of toffee sponge and took away from the sweetness of the ice cream. Seeing as the ice cream wasn’t all that flavourful it even masked the intended toasted sesame flavour. I liked the ice cream the best alone, but it also made a good base.


I liked what they offered and what they have done. I just wished you could sample the flavours before committing to one. We asked and were denied. It would also have be nice to have some pre-determined combos to order. No need to choose the topping or the drizzle, just point and call out a number. A good complimentary mix for a certain flavour. Though this would have to rotate along with their bi-monthly flavours. That’s a lot of signage and it would take a lot of work to update this time and time again. It would also be nice to have size options, a larger option to allow for five or more toppings, so you don’t have limit yourself to the hard decision of only three. I was also disappointed digging in to realize that my soft serve mound was hollow at its centre.


Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
We didn’t know want to expect from the taste, but was very happily surprised. Although there isn’t much soft serve ice cream around to compare them to, they definitely fare better than the likes of “Macdonald’s” and “Dairy Queen”. The only gourmet soft serve in town with unique flavours and a fun topping bar to enjoy it with. Don’t deny your cravings.


433 Abbott Street, Vancouver BC
UYU Ice Cream Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tuc Craft Kitchen


I go into detail as to why I dislike a two table at any restaurant.
My guest recommended this one. I have heard that they do a great chicken and waffles brunch, but we were here for dinner.

I walked in at 6pm on a Wednesday without reservations. The room had only two tables sat, and they had plenty of seating across two floors. Though I was told that because our party was only two we couldn’t have a booth, or something not in the middle of the room. In retrospect the policy made sense seeing as how quickly the rest of the restaurant filled up after 7pm. This arrangement ensured no party was left standing, but I still hated hearing “no” when I asked for a booth seat against the wall. I really dislike an isle two top table and if I could, would always ask for anything else. Anything is better, except the bar when I am eating. I rather not have the bartender watching me wolf down my meal. On a two top, you feel like you are in everyone’s way, with no safe corner to put your back towards. These tables are often narrow to create ample isle space on either sides. Therefore there often isn’t enough space for all your dishes, yet you are often left leaning across it to speak with your guest. This is not an arrangement meant for a lingering stay. You want to just eat and leave because you are so uncomfortable, which very well may be the intention. But at least they were consistent with this messaging, they told the couple that came in after us the same thing, and everyone else the same after them.


The room had a worn factory feel to it: with cold concrete floors, worn paint planked walls, and rickety chairs. The creaky steps leading to the additional seats on the mezzanine and the slightly rusted chains across the bar added to this grit. Above the bar it continued with the overturned boxes and dusty jugs scattered on purpose. Altogether it matched well the general vibe of the Gastown area.

They boast a seasonally changing menu that takes inspiration from around the world. Though all the ingredients are sourced from local suppliers. They pride themselves on working with vendors who share their vision and beliefs: “a care for their harvest and the earth”. Scanning the menu, I am not ashamed to admit that many of the listed items beguiled me. For many I understood the feature ingredient, but what accompanied it would be a mystery. So I didn’t know what to expect with anything, and ended up ordering things because I liked the main ingredient or thought it interesting. Like oxtail, fish from Haida Gwaii, and pea meal. I was pleased with it all as I didn’t what to expect I was pleasantly surprised.


“Oxtail Rillettes” with fried panissa, za’atar, and olives. “Rillettes” is a preparation of meat similar to pâté. The meat is chopped, salted heavily, and cooked slowly in fat until it is tender enough to be easily shredded. It is then cooled with enough of the fat to form a paste. This preparation is normally used as spreads on bread or toast. In this case the oxtail meat is meant to be spread over a chickpea stick. The whole is seasoned in Lebanese spices and salty from briny olives. I was however disappointed by the portion size, though given its flavour and its acquired taste, this was more than enough. The chick pea sticks were gritty, and with the stringy shredded beef I longed for some crunch. The former was a little dry and on the salty side, but seeing as I can’t compare it to anything I can only deem it good for what it was.


The “Pacific Ling Cod” was specifically Haida Gwaii Ling Cod. It was coated in a charmoula sauce with a chickpea confit, wilted pea shoots, and green garlic. “Charmoula” is a marinade used in Algerian, Libyan, Moroccan, and Tunisian cooking. It is usually used to flavor fish or seafood, but can be used on other meats or vegetables as well. Given the description I was right to expect that the seasoning would be zesty and full of spice. The fish was cooked perfectly to a tender flaky finish. The skin was salty thanks to its crisp breaded coating. The bitter of the fresh greens really helped to balance everything all out.


The “Pea Meal Pork & Jam” was a surprising favourite. I didn’t know what to expect with ground peas, but all this just worked together. Gelderman farm pork loin breaded in a pea meal crust served with fingerling potatoes, a green pea puree, and quince bourbon jam. I usually shy away from pork because it often comes out dry. This pork was cooked well, juicy throughout, especially closer to pockets of fat within the pork steak. Potatoes are always a great accompaniment to a chunk of red meat. Both definitely needed sauce to moisten each bite. The green purée added some tang and lightened things up with some freshness. All together, all the elements complimented in colour, texture and taste. I was very impressed by how much I liked it.


For dessert we had the “Tuc Seasonal Galette”. This fall it was filled with blueberry and apple. The flat pastry was topped with a honey lavender sorbet and served with a spiced rum caramel sauce and ricotta cream drizzled in the shape of a heart. This presentation is certainly something worth writing about. It was like an open faced pie, freshly baked and flaky with real butter. I liked the lavender sorbet the most. It was fragrant and flowery, so good that I rather-ed it as was, separate. Also, it was stronger in flavour and really didn’t compliment the heavy pastry, in fact I found that it actually clashed with it.

Our server was very attentive. He checked in with us often. More than the standard first few bites after each course. He even took the time to make pleasant conversation and share insights through comments as he passed by. Though it was a struggle to keep our small glasses of water full especially, having to stop someone, anyone just to do a refill. I guess the food must had been salty, we downed over eight glasses of water each.


Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
The food isn’t something I would crave often, but it is definitely worth having a taste of. I suggest bringing a larger group in with you, so that you get to try a little of everything interesting they have to offer. Most of which you can’t find anywhere else. Don’t deny your cravings.


60 West Cordova Street, Vancouver BC, V6B 1C9
Tuc Craft Kitchen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato