Witch’s Brew

IMG_3564IMG_3571

Kombucha is pretty trendy in Vancouver, available at most health food supermarkets and vegetarian restaurants. But here in Toronto, this was the first I have never heard of it being on tap.

“Kombucha” is a variety of fermented, sweetened black or green teas. They are most popular for their intended health benefits. The clerk who ran the shoppe described the benefits of her tea drinks to me. They were great for the skin and for women’s health: reproductive and uterine needs. Having had some in bottles before, I knew what to expect. Kombucha reminds me of beer with the fizziness of soda pop, but also with the soothing flavour of tea.

I liked the name of the shop and found it to be the reason why I walked in, in the first place. Although I could see others avoiding it, not knowing what they would be getting into when reading the name, and not knowing what Kombucha is. Luckily the staff are very friendly and very informative. Plus they give out samples, and tasting their home brew, makes you want to try a little more of it. The drink makes a great guilt-free thirst quencher for summer.

There isn’t much to the shop. A counter with their tap and a shelf of organic ingredients. Goji berries, hemp hearts, and more I have never heard of. The physical tap was crafted from industrial plumbing pipes. Six handles allowed six different variations of their handcrafted Kombucha to flow one at a time. Their offerings rotated and today they had jasmine, lemonade, ginger & hibiscus, and dragon fruit & ginger on tap.

IMG_3568IMG_3573

You can either have your brew for here in plastic cups with lids and straws. Or as I did, to go, in their branded bottles. When filled, they looked like beer bottles secured with a flip top cork. I got the dragon fruit and ginger kombucha, it delivered on fruity sweetness, and follower through the light burn of a warming ginger.

 

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.
This shop is one of a kind, and I have yet to see anything else like it. And with so many health benefits in such a tasty package, I can definitely see myself coming back for their product time and time again, if I lived in Toronto. Shame, Vancouver hasn’t caught on to this trend yet. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

WITCH’S BREW
160 Baldwin Street #2, Kensington Market, Toronto Ontario, M5T 3K7
416-599-8925
thewitchesbrew.ca
The Witches Brew Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Panda Night Market

IMG_6299IMG_6302

My quintessential guide to conquering the Panda Night Market. Also known as, how you strategically visit 21 stalls and try 22 items between 4 people.

 

I have already been to the Panda Night Market this season, the original visit was during the first weekend they were open. So today I was back for a more comprehensive look at this year’s food fair.

This was the original Richmond night market, located by “IKEA” and “Home Depot”. It was once bustling, but the excitement has since dwindled, and along with it their food pavilion. From over four row of food stalls and food carts parked in place, down to just one lane way; a result from the popularity of their rivals night markets, I suspect.

Though with less bodies and more seating, this venue has its perks. A whole area that ensures those who don’t like to be shoved as they eat, or feel the stress to stand as they eat, can call a table and feast hands free.

Today our group, as sponsored by “Chinese Bites”, included Mr. Nosh & Nibbles. We would be visiting 22 out of the 50 plus stalls, to bring you a quick guide to savoury, sweet, and all the drinks at the Panda Night Market.

Disclaimer sponsored media sampling menu. Some size may not be as it is normally.

 

IMG_6435IMG_6420

But first, coming out of this four hour walking meal I have learned a few things. So below are my tips for dining at the night market. Forget just stopping by and seeing where the night takes you, I recommend having a game plan. Here, you are pushing and being shoved, you are lining up for hours, and you are paying exorbitant amounts for event priced items. So you might as well enjoy it all to its fullest, and below is how.

 

(1) Come early. We were the first patrons waiting by the entrance of the parking lot, to get in. They open at 6:30pm. We were lingering in our idling car at 6:15pm. They allowed vendors to enter to set up, we were asked to pull over and wait. Our patience was rewarded with a great parking spot within spitting distance of the entrance. The fee is $4 for the connivence, but the market is free to enter, so you save there. We strolled in as they were still inflating their air filled mascots that flanked the gateway.

We headed right to the food pavilion and were rewarded with our pick of the litter. As stalls began setting up, they were ready to serve as soon as we were ready to order. There were no lines, the food looked better as the vendors were able to take their time preparing things. And you get everything made fresh to order, seeing as it is still too early to start stockpiling cooked items, in order keep up with high demand.

And without the crowd at its peak, you have the room to eat. You are able to stand, undisrupted, in a group. Just facing each other in a circle, and bobbing your faces into your cardboard plates, like a bird drinking water. Or better yet you can enjoy your meal as a sit down, within the row of tables and chairs the next isle down. With this much available seating, no other night market can boast the same luxury.

And lastly, coming earlier gets you better photos. Less crowds equal less background noise: less faceless blurs and out of place heads and feet.

 

IMG_6303IMG_6306

(2) Come prepared. Bring what you would need for a single person picnic. Tupperware is not only great for storing that which you can’t finish, it also makes a more stable bowl and plate to eat off of. A mental fork has the right depth and strength for stabbing and picking, especially when compared to skewers offered in pairs to replace chopsticks. And napkins and hand sanitizers help for a quick clean up in between dishes. Although we discovered that lots without tents had unmanned sinks set up with running water. And there was no harm in us rinsing off our hands there.

Having experienced the above preparedness, thanks to the planning and execution of The blogger behind “Nosh and Nibbles”; I can safely say, that I have never had a more pleasant dining experience at any night market or any outdoor food fair. He and his guest cleverly came with everything we would need to share and eat several snacks between four. If possible, thanks them, I feel we won at eating tonight. And best of all we didn’t have any of it go to waste. We planned our courses well and tasted all 22 items we set out to try.

 

IMG_6553IMG_6551

(3) Prioritize your eating. The cost can rack up quick or you get full waiting in between servings and lines. Sharing can prevent you from spending $20 at one stall. You often come in hungry, planning to eat so much, but after a cup of curry balls and a styrofoam plate of squid tentacles you are considering what one sweet thing you can muster. Planning means you know your route and don’t waste time waking back or forth, or strolling with your back arched and your head swivelling from right to left.

And now that you are here early, make sure to take advantage of it by visiting those stands that typically have the longest lines, first. I suggest hitting up those with takoyaki, hurricane potatoes, liquid nitrogen anything, and meat on sticks first. Closer to the end of the night, these popular destinations become that last bite everyone wants.

 

(4) Divide and conquer. When possible, split up into teams and order a few things at once. This will save your time as a group. After you each claim your plate, gather back together and share the spoils of your combined plunder.

 

IMG_6584IMG_6583

(5) And lastly, use your drink strategically. Only add on a beverage when you get too thirsty and the food becomes too salty. This way you are more likely to finish it one sitting. Nothing is worse that eating and walking, having to hold a dish and eat with giant toothpick; while squeezing a plastic cup or hollowed out melon between your armpit, or under your breast, to free both hands.

And if you are in a group or a pair of couples, share the drink. Most places will accommodate by giving you a second empty cup. Realistically you aren’t going to be able to finish a drink yourself. Then when you don’t want to carry it around anymore, you end up throwing more than half of it out anyways. And if you managed to get down to the bottom of a cup it would be mostly melted ice awaiting you. Plus things are best when you only get a bit of it, just a taster to have you enthusiastic, not enough to grow bored of. So instead when you are thirsty: share a drink, enjoy a taste, dispose of the garbage, then eat more, and repeat.

Now that you have read over my tips, we are ready to embark on this food fuelled journey. Four hours between two banks of stands. Waiting, photo taking, eating, and repeating.

 

IMG_6324IMG_6342

We started with takoyaki, at the stall with the same name. Even as patrons were just strolling in there was already a queue. These balls are a night market staple for me, and it looks like many others too. I try the varieties, but keep coming back to the original as my favourite flavouring. Octopus chunks baked in a ball of dough with diced vegetables. Each is made using cast iron mould and a steady pair of mental sticks for flipping them over.

IMG_6344IMG_6347

The takoyaki did not disappoint and tasted as good as it always is and is everywhere. Chewy seafood, a melty doughy centre, the creaminess of mayo; and the joy of watching the pink bonito flakes wisp around from the steam, as if they are dancing. This is one of the only things that it is actually easy to eat with skewers. A poke and a jab, and you are in, ready to insert takoyaki from dish to mouth.

They also had their octopus balls available to be topped with green onion and soy, mayo, or ponzu. But this was a true takoyaki stand. They didn’t offer any variation to their base product: no vegetarian options, no ability to have shrimp or scallop instead of octopus.

 

IMG_6327IMG_6357

The “TW traditional snacks” stand gave us more options, which could be a bad thing. With all this choice we were debating amongst ourselves. Though when in doubt, video game rules apply, the most expensive armour is always the better armour. So we made our decision here by choosing what cost the most. The thinking is that the more that goes into it, the higher cost, and therefore making it the best. This strategy had us indulging in a another night market fan favourite, “Taiwanese popcorn chicken”. These were easy to poke and eat nuggets. Each was juicy white meat hidden under an even coating of crispy breading. Salted with pepper it was a spicy and zesty bite.

 

Their other Taiwanese snacks included sausages and stinky tofu, candied fruits and wheel cakes with various filling. The wheel cakes were sponge cakes filled with either red bean, custard, Oreo, or peanut butter.

 

IMG_6325IMG_6361

The “Sea Monster” stall offered deep fried squid in wholes or halves. Squid is their claim to fame, but they also offer deep fried eel and shrimp in the same way, and poached looking scallops.

After a dredging in egg and flour, the raw squid gets dropped into a vat of oil for a crispy fried coat. When I had it during my first visit, there was no complimentary sauces offered, just a mayo or chilli at an extra cost. But today the sauce was free and you had your choice between six options, including sweet onion powder and Dijon mustard. I couldn’t really imagine the latter with squid, unless you looked at it like an irregular shaped corn dog.

I was thankful for the thick drizzle of spicy mayo we ordered, because the squid truly needing a dipping sauce, something to break up the deep fry. And nothing goes better with deep fried foods than mayo. The squid was tender, easy to pull and chew through. Although you get more deep fry breading then you do squid. We actually only had half a squid, not that you could tell. There was a lot of it wrapped in parchment and tinfoil, and stabbed through with a skewer. I was happy to have not have gotten more, as we would have our whole squid later.

IMG_6360IMG_6368

Trying to share and eat this it is where the forks and Tupperware came in real handy. We sawed the monster down to size and then were able to enjoy its manageable pieces, cut and ready to be eaten. Although I am sure the stand offers to cut the squid down to size for you; but no one takes it, because eating a squid whole like a bouquet is more enjoyable than doing so ring by ring, like at other stalls.

 

IMG_6316IMG_6370

I made sure that the Korean “potato twist” stall had to be one of our first stops. This usually ends the night with a long reaching line. Looking towards the back of their stall, you could tell they knew the crowd they would be expecting. There were buckets and boxes of peeled potato, skewered and fanned out across a stick that was thicker than a skewer, but smaller than a chopstick.

IMG_6371IMG_6375

They had begun frying the rods in pairs, the skewered potatoes started moving between vats of oil, and then onto a cooling pan. From here it is dipped in powder and coated with a sauce, both are of your choosing. Four types of powder and five types of sauces. Their station was set up to dab and drip. A lengthy dish filled with either white or yellow cheddar, sour cream and onion, or BBQ. After a solid coating of any, the excess is tapped off and the twist is brought over to their saucing station. Salted ketchup, spicy Korean, salt and vinegar, garlic mayo, or wasabi mayo. The skewer is sauced horizontal over a wire grate and paper towel. It is to catch any of the drippings that doesn’t make its way on to the potato. When done you are presented with a stick of twisting potato rings, double the height of your head.

IMG_6385IMG_6387

This one was also hard to share, but really, who can commit to a eating a whole potato in one sitting. Here is where we used the Tupperware as a dish again. We pulled the potato off the stick and ate it as softer potato chips. It was still tasty despite losing its novelty. Our chosen flavouring of white cheddar and garlic mayo was an amazing combination. I would have also liked this flavour pairing over popcorn. I live by the motto that anything that f*cks up your breath just tastes good. The potatoes were crisp at the edges and chewy like the scallop potatoes in the middle. This was definitely one of our group’s favourites.

IMG_6395IMG_6397

 

The “Twist Potato” stall also offered Korean fish shaped waffles at their “Korean Waffles” annex. This was at a separate, but ajoining booth; operated by a separate, but equally dedicated employee. Each waffle was pressed in a cast iron mould, but there was enough prepared ahead of time to be served right away. Kept warm by in a specially designed heated metal rack. This rack also allowed the waffles to stand upright, making for a better visual presentation.

IMG_6399IMG_6401

Available in Bavarian cream, chocolate, and the traditional red bean. The fish shaped waffle was still piping hot when we got it to share. We singed fingers as we ripped the waffle apart and milk chocolate filling oozed out. The waffle had a crispy exterior and a chewy fried middle, like the starchy sesame balls at dim sum. It was chocolate gave it its sweetness and dessert feel.

 

After trying “Twist Potato”, I could see why the other potato on a stick stall wasn’t as busy. It offered night marketers a second option, but now having tried both in one standing, I could not only taste, but see a huge difference between the two. Most people would never get one of each from both places, so would be content in having which ever one they lined up for.

Walking into the food area, the “J&J original hurricane potatoes” where the ones you come to first. However the “Potato Twist” had better real estate, and I could see them being chosen more often because of opportunity. They had the more prominent location on the corner by the stage, and their wares spanned three stalls. They also had more employees working to churn out sales, and a girl in a red apron passing out samples in the isle. And not to mention, the twists simply tasted better with well cooked potato fries, and an even coating of both powder and sauce.

Both vendors sold for the same price point at $4.50 each, or two for $8. Where the twist potatoes dedicated themselves to the perfecting of their one item, the hurricane offered more. Hurricane potatoes were forced to share the deep fryer and cooking area with fried chicken. They also have yam and zucchini hurricane options for a sweeter and more leaner vegetable. I would have liked to try these as well, especially if they can get zucchini dry enough and fried with a good crunch.

IMG_6323IMG_6449

“Hurricane potatoes” claimed they were the original concept, the first to do whole potato fries on a stick. Although I was less impressed with their set up and product. They offered five more seasonings and sauces than the other place. And they even had a laminated menu card to pass out to customers waiting in line, knowing what you want ahead of time speed up the process. You had your choice of two topping and it could even be two powders or two sauces. Different flavours like onion, dill pickle, hot sauce, ketchup in both powder and sauce, and even the option for cinnamon and sugar for a more dessert-like feel.

We went for the jalapeño powder with their spicy and sweet “tiger sauce”. Just looking at the potato skewer that came out of the fryer I knew it wouldn’t be the same. It was strung on unevenly with gaps, this would cause the potato to be fried unevenly with sections burnt.

IMG_6450IMG_6454

Then the powder and sauces were also applied unevenly. There was not enough powder in their trays. Being able to see the bottom of their tinfoil covered dishes meant parts of the hurricane felt un seasoned. It went similarly with the saucing, which they drizzled straight over the floor. They didn’t have a designated grate or a special area to catch any access or debris, so my worry was over healthy and safety, and what if an employee slipped on the pile of excess sauce that continue to gather throughout the night. And then the clerk only drizzled our tiger sauce on one side of the potato stick. Unless the intention was one vertical half had the jalapeño and the other the brown drizzle.

IMG_6456IMG_6457

Either way there was not enough of either and it tastes like we were just eating potato. Whereas the other booth heavily coated both sides with both flavours, and were better for it. This was a disappointing showing from the original version. They had such promise with so many additional bells and whistles.

 

IMG_6317IMG_6404

Liquid nitrogen and the show it puts on is all the rage, and at “Shake Shake Fries & Watermelon Drinks” they use it in their beverages for a little theatre.

Of note, I don’t think I actually saw anyone order fries for them, and other than in their name there was no mention of fries on their lean photo filled menu. Not that it felt like it was missing. They had plenty to offer between fruit juices in whole fruits, smokey drinks, and juices in lightbulb shaped glasses.

IMG_6410IMG_6417

We got a fresh watermelon juice with bo bo balls to share. The juice was available in its melon rind, a plastic cup, or bulb. We went for cup, not knowing we would be able to enjoy the whimsy of whisping smoke when dry ice meets wet water. This reaction happened in a separate clear plastic cup punctured with holes. The full cup of juice was stacked into it. The slits in plastic allowed the smoke to escape via four vents.

All their fresh fruit juices are blended then set with a skewer of two watermelon cubes. They also give you the option of adding aloe vera, coconut jelly, or bo bo balls to it; at no additional charge. The last option is juice filled balls that burst with flavour when bitten into. The same feeling you get from fish roe, but in a sweeter and more fulsome way. The water melon juice was fresh and chunky, a great refresher with the added sweetness and texture from the popping bubbles.

IMG_6508IMG_6510

I would later come back for another drink, just to be able to have it in a glass shaped like a light bulb. The bulbs even included the screw on metal bit and its end. You drank from the bottom, which perfectly fit one of those thick bubble tea straws. Outside of freshly blended watermelon and pineapple juices, they also offered clear soda juices in orange, fruit punch, ice tea, white calpis, and black calpis. These were the perfect clear coloured drinks that allowed the highlighting of the glass bulb’s hidden feature. Like a real light bulb, this too lit up. With a push of a button at its “bottom”, a blue coloured LED highlighted your beverage with an internal glow. I used this sparingly as the glow wasn’t visible in day light and there didn’t seem to be a way to switch out the batteries when they died. It was a feature best used at dusk.

IMG_6587

I choose the clear colour of the white calpis and some more orange bo bo balls, to best highlight the lights when I learned about it. The drink was tangy and the fizziness of it made the balls rise to the top. It was harder to drink them through the straw this way, but it was a great visual.

 

IMG_6315IMG_6422

And you can’t have some bubbles tea-like drinks without considering some bubble waffles. The “Ying Kee” dessert stall offered them in original egg, chocolate, or matcha flavour. We went for the green tea flavoured one and was able to watch the gentleman under the tented booth make our item to order. He poured the dyed green batter into the specially designed cast iron mould. He then flipped it 180 degrees, to create a capsule of dough with a hollow centre.

 

We got it warm and chewy in a paper bag. Each round was easy to tear, they had a bit of crisp to them before leading to an eggy centre. The green tea flavouring was mild, the bitterness of the tea balancing out the sweetness of the batter. It is most recommend for those who like a less sweeter egg waffle.

They also offered young coconut juice, though realistically you can buy it from any ethnic grocery stores for cheaper. Although here they do take the painstaking work of opening it up for you. And you get to enjoy the novelty of drinking out of a whole coconut, at an outdoor event, under the rays of a hot sun. It makes you feel sort of tropical.

 

IMG_6318IMG_6431

At the “Shanghai special” stall we had the “pork schnitzel”. “Schnitzel” is meat pounded into a thin sheet with the use of a meat tenderizer. It is then coated with flour, eggs, and breadcrumbs, before being fried. It originated in Austria, so was a little off to find it here at a Shanghai themed stall. Another anomaly was their combo offering their breaded chicken fingers with a side of poutine. Though garlic dry ribs, crispy wontons, and spring rolls did make more sense.

I have never liked schnitzel. I like my meat juicy, and this is suppose to be on the drier side with an equally dry, but very crispy breading. Also pork tends to be a drier red meat if not prepared well. So it tasted like how it should, but it just isn’t for me. It also didn’t help that the sauce that came poured over it was strong with vinegar. I would have preferred mustard and horseradish with pickled vegetables to go with this, more of the traditional German condiments. Though, only after did we finished our portion did we realize that they had a tray of help yourself condiments to dress your food as you liked. This would have come in handy for me.

The physical booth is worth mentioning. The customer facing presentation included a net strung with seashells, despite not having any seafood on the menu; and the counter used the love-ability of the minions to attract attention. I responded better to the reassuring thumbs up of the Chinese chef in uniform on their awning.

 

IMG_6308IMG_6441

The roti at “Be Fabulous” was some of the best I have had. It was traditional Malaysian style with a crispy light grilled dough, you pulled piece by piece. Taking a chunk, you dip it into a thimble full of curry. Though I guess given the sun and the heat you really didn’t want that much more. It was a sweeter curry with a growing after note of spice. I could have eaten a whole plate of roti and curry. And at $3 for one, this was one of the more inexpensive items at the market.

 

As a whole they had one of the most affordable booths. And even more so when they marked everything down to $3 a plate. This included their BBQ meat balls, bacon wrapped pineapples, Indonesian corn cake, and a whole grilled quail. If I wasn’t getting full I would have also gotten myself a quail. And if you wanted a dessert from them, they can make a sweet version of their roti filled with fruit.

 

IMG_6319IMG_6439

It was only at the “Be Toasty” stall that I realized, how many booths sold more than what their name advertised. And in this case, more than half of their offering isn’t even in the same wheelhouse as their title. Here they had only two options for toast: a sweet custard and a savoury tuna French toast. They also offered Swiss style chicken wings (not quite sure what that is), deep fried bananas, and whole deep fried prawns on a skewer. Although, as interesting as the prawns looked, skewered through from head to tail; I don’t think I would have the patience to de-shell them in this stand up and eat setting. Though I guess since they are deep fried to a crisp, you can probably get away with eat them exoskeleton and all.

We had the Hong Kong style sweet French toast and it took a while to come. We watched other patrons order and get their snacks before we did ours. And when it finally came, we were a little disappointed. It was one and a half slices of bread used to make mini triangle sandwiches, that oddly cascaded in size. The slices of bread were smeared with sweet custard before taking a dip into the deep fryer. They was served with a side of condense milk for dipping. This helped give it some flavour where the custard was hidden and the eggy nature of fresh toast was missed. Although this is Hong Kong style French toast, and I guess they do it differently.

 

IMG_6309IMG_6446

“Pie pie okonomiyaki” offered Japanese savory style pancakes in chicken, pork, squid, beef, or veggie. It was a one woman show behind the counter, so luckily it wasn’t that busy. It gave her time to chop our order of chicken into tiny cubes, pan cook it, then add it to the her premade pancake batter. The batter is cooked in a separate pan and comes out the perfect circle.

Each variation is dressed the same with mayo, finely diced dried seaweed, sesame seeds, and bonito flakes which comes from fish. The pancake ate more like a pizza, cut into triangles and heavy with ingredients. It tasted like takoyaki but less gooey and more fluffy like a buttermilk pancake.

 

IMG_6332IMG_6465

I was pleasantly surprised by the meat skewers at “Halal BBQ”. I have had many dry meat skewers at many markets over the years. Most of the time, there isn’t time and care put into cooking of these. Especially when the goal is to collect as much money, and churn out as much product, to not keep your customers waiting. I guess in the long run overcooked meat is better than raw, undercooked meat. But this would be the first time I did not have overcooked skewers at a night market. In fact I would also consider this some of the best meat on sticks I have ever had, period.

IMG_6484IMG_6483

We shared two kebabs of chicken and two of lamb. They were flavoured the same, and each piece of meat was as juicy and as tender as the one next to it. My only issue was that the amount of spices used was overwhelming, although that is more to do with my own personal preference.

The stand drew a crowd. Not only was the grilling done right up front, but the fan they used to blow away smoke from the grill, helped to spread the scent of it across the food pavilion. You would follow your nose back to their offerings. The staff also wore unique sequinned hats to unify them and spoke into microphones to broadcast their wares and announce when orders came to pass.

 

IMG_6335IMG_6480

There were two competing “BBQ Squid” booths with the same name. What set this one apart was the possibility of a squid barbecued whole and the matching aprons each employee wore. Red and blue homemade coverings featuring a red cartoon squid on the front.

We went for whole squid, but were disappointed that it wasn’t served whole. Out of connivence, once cooked they use scissors to cut the squid down to manageable pieces. It did help us to share and eat it later. But as a visual eater I was happy to have been able to captured some photos of it in its entirety, turning a deep reddish colour over the fire of the grill.

IMG_6490IMG_6496

Although if just to order and eat, I would get the “squid mix” plate next time. This is an order that included deep fried and barbecued squid together. Although considering that we already had half a deep fried squid I was happier to have more of the chewy BBQ texture that I prefer. It was well sauced with salted soy and a sweet and spicy chilli sauce.

 

IMG_6334IMG_6503

The “MangoHolic” banner claimed them dessert specialists. Their orange coloured booth was the shade of ripened mangoes. It featured their house mango shaved ice and their fresh mango slush. We ended up getting the former and lapping it all up. Ironically, if you were at this stand and didn’t want anything to do with mangoes, they also had strawberry substitutes and red bean ice cream shaved ice.

This was a heap of shaved ice, like an Asian snow cone, flavoured with condense milk and topped with sweet mango cubes. It was easy to eat with melted ice cream, that towards the end it drank like a watery milkshake and quenched our thirst going down.

 

IMG_6505IMG_6518

Chimney cakes are a newer dessert trend to reach Vancouver. And tasting the ones from the “Top Dough” stall, I can’t believe they are not more popular. “Chimney cakes” or “Kürtőskalács” (their original name) are a cake specific to Hungarian-speaking regions in Romania. It is also referred to as a “split cake” as you are able to peel the layers of this treat apart, ring by ring. To get it this way, the dough is divided into strips and then spun/wrapped around a truncated cone–shaped baking spit. The cake is coated in granulated sugar and roasted over charcoal, while being basted with melted butter. This step is is done until its surface cooks to a golden-brown. During the baking process the sugar stuck on each tube of dough caramelizes and forms a shiny, crispy crust.

IMG_6507IMG_6516

It was quite the show to have them spinning before us. The original is served bake with its hollow interior smeared with Nutella. This resembled more of a piece of tubing, equal in diameter through and through.

IMG_6523IMG_6522

We went for the upgrade chimney cake that was shaped like a cone. The narrow end is plugged up with a dollop of chocolate; and after a smearing of Nutella, the cone is filled with whipped cream and topped with a strawberry. Shame the fruit was so tart in comparison to everything else. The pastry was good on its own, I don’t think it needed the chocolate, and certainly not the whipped cream. I would however have liked to see it used as an ice cream cone with your choice of soft serve. The cake was crisp on the outside with crunch from the layer of sugar. An it was almost flakey on the inside, but with a bread-like texture. I would definitely like to visit their standalone store for a full experience of this. At $5 for the hollow and $7 for the cone I could see the price equating the value and workmanship of each authentically baked piece.

 

IMG_6555IMG_6556

The most original tonight was the cheese tarts from “Simply Original tarts and shimmery beverages” stall. The tarts had a required baked time so we were left waiting for a fresh batch of them, and they were well worth it.

They didn’t look like much behind their glass shield. A pool of yellow or purple in a crust of pastry. But what hid behind this dull appearance was two bites of tasty. The yellow was their original cheese tart. It wasn’t savoury as I imagined the cheese to be, or eggy like the tart as a whole reminded me of. Instead the yellow filling was a melding of creamy cheesecake and luscious custard in one, set the backdrop of a buttery tart. The purple was their summer lavender flavour. Lavender in colour, and not enough in flavour. It was light and floral, but lost all its sweetness and cheesiness in flavour. I still enjoyed it none the less. So much so that I wondered what other flavours do they offer and if they had a store front to sell them from.

 

We started getting into dessert territory and snacks you would find at a carnival or country fair; with deep fried Oreos, giant pretzels, and mini doughnuts. And the best part is, anything we couldn’t finish from here on out, was relatively easy to doggy bag, and decent to have the next day.

IMG_6467IMG_6500

The deep fried Oreo cookies were from “CoCoRo” booth. They declared themselves the “heart of Japan”, as they offered various popular Japanese street foods. Gyozas, Japanese seafood pancake (okonomiyaki, like the one we had earlier), takoyaki, fruit blended frozen yogurt, and deep fried ice cream and chocolate bars

The Oreos came in a group of four with your choice of having it with or without bottle chocolate sauce. I was expecting something crunchy on account of the deep fry. But this was cakey. The heat from the hot oil melted the cookie middle into more of a cream. It filled the breading like a deflated doughnut with cake batter.

 

IMG_6497IMG_6493

The “Freshly Squeezed Lemonade” stand would be our second drink break, it is also available at fairs and outdoor events. Their drink comes in three sizes and costs a dollar more to move to the next size up. $4 for small, $5 medium, and $6 large. They of course had the regular lemonade, but also used syrups to pump a little extra flavour into your beverage. Passion fruit, lime, cherry, and we had strawberry. It’s acidity made a great palette cleanser and quenched our thirst without making us more full.

 

IMG_6326IMG_6527

“Mr. Pretzel” sold soft pretzels that were hand rolled. They were moulded and folded behind glass for those passing by to watch. And in my opinion, such show features are my favourite part of street food, that and their portability. They had both savoury and sweet pretzels. The savoury included salted pretzels, ones topped with sesame seeds, and Parmesan cheese. And if you wanted something more hearty they also used their pretzel dough to wrap hot dogs for a different bun and wiener pairing. The list of sweet pretzels had cinnamon and sugar, Nutella, and caramel.

We shared a savoury “Neapolitan” pretzel with Parmesan cheese and Italian spices. Not to be confused with the brining together of strawberry, vanilla, and chocolate ice cream flavours as one. But both Neapolitan ice cream and pizza refers to the food originating from Naples, Italy. The pretzel was what I expected from a top notch baked bread product. Salted tough skin, revealing a chewy yet fluffy centre. Half the fun of eating a pretzel is working your way around the knot.

 

IMG_6320IMG_6546

Mini doughnuts are the hallmark outdoor snack. You find them at carnivals, circuses, car shows, and sports rallies; so it’s no surprise that they make an appearance here. What is a surprise is the fact that they are done up with more than just a sprinkling of cinnamon and sugar. Although I did make sure to get a bag of the regular to take home. They aren’t as good a day old, but manageable after a whirl in the microwave.

IMG_6540IMG_6539

$5 for a dozen of their mini doughnuts in cinnamon sugar or icing sugar. $3 more a dozen of their speciality doughnuts with toppings like “Oreo”, “birthday cake”, and “Reese’s pieces”. The “Oreo” was a drizzle of icing sugar and a sprinkle of ground up Oreo cookies. The “birthday cake” was icing sugar piped over the doughnuts, and then the whole thing dusted with rainbow coloured sprinkles. It seemed like a novel idea, but after trying the embellished doughnuts, I wouldn’t want more again. The classic tasted the best and the extra sweetness and crumb of cookies seemed unnecessary. It didn’t add value to something already so tasty.

 

Another easy to travel and take home treat from the night market is bubble tea. The perfect way to wash down all the food, and clean the palette to a more neutral state.

IMG_6330IMG_6530

“Totoro bubble tea” had your typical extensive list of bubble drinks. Surprisingly they just stuck to selling drinks and had no snack options. Not that anything else was needed, and not that their menu was considered small by any means. Green tea, milk tea, black tea, specialty milk teas, and slushies. About 16 options under each heading, 80 possible drink choices total. But I think when it comes to bubble tea most people have their top three favourite flavours and stick to it.

We got their “House green milk tea” that used powder. It was as expected. The thing about bubble tea is, you order what you know so know what you get. And they don’t often mess drinks up, unless it’s too sweet or not sweet enough, or if they give you pearls when you asked for coconut jelly.

 

IMG_6310IMG_6549

Similar but different was the list of drinks at “Orr Street”. Their menu was a shorter tally of slushies and milk tea; with a larger emphasis on their fruit flavoured teas. We got the one thing that stood out as a difference between the two: the “Mango lassi”. Lassi is a popular traditional yogurt-based drink from the India. It is a blend of yogurt, water, spices and sometimes, fruit. The traditional version is a savoury drink, salty and sometimes flavoured with ground and roasted cumin. The sweet lassi, like this one, contains sugar/fruits, instead of spices. The mango was a refreshing note in this creamy drink. It reminded me of the “YOP” yogurt beverages, but with the consistency of an ice cream made milk shake.

And thus ends our time at the night market. This was an amazing sponsored event hosted by @chinesebites.

IMG_6524

 

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 will most definitely be back to the market this summer. I enjoy the novelty of the experience and the cheap jewelry and socks they boast. And when I return, I undoubtedly will swing by the food pavilion again, so I undoubtedly will see myself having some more food then. Maybe I will hit up the handful of stalls I have yet to experience on this trip. Including a hot dog vendor, one selling Indian curries, a dim sum stand, and a booth offering cotton candy spun before your eyes and and old fashioned ice cream. It would be a crushing shame to see them close down anytime soon. I know they have some steep night market competition, but no one likes a monopoly and everyone wants options. This is the night market vibe in a smaller volume, within more manageable setting. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

PANDA NIGHT MARKET
12631 Vulcan Way, Richmond BC, V6V 1J7
604-278-8000
pandamarket.ca
Panda Night Market Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Momofuku Milk Bar

IMG_3291IMG_3289

After having lunch at “Momofuku’s Noodle Bar”, I stayed in my seat for dessert. Located in the same building, is their together, but separate “Momofuku Milk Bar”.

I was as excited about their dessert as I was with their ramen. The well known “Milk Bar” is under the same umbrella, and it too had its own cookbook. They served the “Milk Bar” soft serve ice cream for dessert and had a shop of sorts on the second floor. I would shop their cookies and cakes like a kid in a candy store, then take my cup of soft serve to go.

IMG_3287IMG_3303

Located on the second floor is their store, marked by their trademark neon pink “Milk” sign in script. It is the only thing on this floor, aside from the additional, unsat stools from the noodle bar and its washrooms. From this height you get a great view of the space below, but it was not practical for the servers to deliver great customer service having to trek up and down the stairs to get to you.

IMG_3301IMG_3302

The “Milk Bar” is a self serve shopping experience with a chalkboard tutorial. The colourful chalk listing directs you on how to proceed, and what they have available. The shop room is a refrigerated glass box with several shelves. On each: a flavour of cookie, cake, truffle, or baking mix. The labels on the packages were pretty clear, but in case, it was also written on little chalkboard sign markers. I got one of each kind of ready to eat treat, focusing on the most popular or what I left was more unique.

IMG_3297IMG_3298

I picked up the “corn cookie”. It used corn bread and as a result promised a buttery colour and texture. They also had a “blueberry and cream” sugar cookie with dried blueberries and milk crumb. A vegan and wheat free maple, coconut, and pecan cookie. A “compost cookie that had pretzels, potato chips, coffee, oats, butterscotch, and chocolate chips. And their newest was a double chocolate cookie with chocolate in chocolate. It was a cakey cookie that definitely reminded me of corn bread. The more you eat it, the more you taste the cornmeal in it. I almost made out the distinct flavour of coconut as well. It was a light and buttery cookie as promised, with a great chewy texture.

IMG_3296IMG_3294

For their truffles they had pink strawberry and lemon and a chocolate malt cake. I got their most popular: the “birthday truffle” with rainbow sprinkles. So popular that they also sold this in a box of twelve. Rainbow cake, white chocolate, and rainbow sprinkles. Like a cake pop in texture, but without the stick. Doughy, crumbly, and almost raw. Sweet and doughy with the crunch of sprinkles.

IMG_3292IMG_3293

And with its name alone, the “crack pie” could not be missed. A pie of toasted oats with a gooey butter filling. It was similarly to a butter tart in creamy centre and melt in your mouth filing, on top of a crunchy base. I found it a little oily and a lot too sweet for my taste, but wonderful in small bites.

IMG_3306

All the above went it to my bag and I left with one of their soft serve twist cups to go. The soft serve is dispensed from a machine on the ground level, right by the door. You have your choice of “cereal milk”, “fruit soft”, or both as a twist.

IMG_3310IMG_3308

I went with the twist to be able to try both, to I added cornflake for an extra cost and an extra crunch. I didn’t find either flavour all that different from one another. A little tangy and not that sweet. The crunchy homemade corn flakes almost seemed to be sweeter. This was a great end to a rich meal like ramen. I could see them being busier during summer and would have liked to have the ship more accessible on the first floor for a pop in, take out and go process.

 

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.
It is trendy for a reason, I can definitely see myself return again during my next trip out. For novelty and because both Momofuku Noodle and Milk Bar deliver on taste for price asked. Plus, it is one thing to have read and admire the cookbooks. It is another to experience and taste the cuisine as it was intended, for yourself. Another one checked off the foodie bucket list. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

MOMOFUKU MILK BAR
Second Floor
190 University Avenue, Toronto ON, M5H 0A3
647-253-8000
milkbarstore.com
Momofuku Milk Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Momofuku Noodle Bar

IMG_3276IMG_3277

This is one of those restaurants you see pop up on your social media feed and aim to one day try for yourself. I was happy to stumble upon in Toronto. Having gone through their cook books, I knew what I was in for. Restaurants with cookbooks are better right? The food is so good that customers want to replicate their recipes at home?

It was also cold and rainy, I needed something to warm me up ,and shelter to ride out the drizzle. They had ramen, it was a perfect day for ramen. And best of all, I was quickly learning, being just one allowed me to forgo reservations and be seated right away. I wonder why I don’t eat alone more in Vancouver?

With no visible signs or sandwich boards it was hard to spot. Unless you knew to look for the metal tree and bird sculpture in a pool of water out front. That was eye catching. The restaurant had two floors and looking through the window you could make out its name signed within. Their entrance also had their peach logo carved in wood, but sadly the neon sign above this door was burn out.

Past the heavy wood doors the room opened up with simple wood furnishings and fixtures. This was a noodle bar setting in an open space. Flat, heavy wooden benches, share style tables, and stools by the window. Not comfy, not meant for an extended stay, but ideal for an eat and go affair.

IMG_3304IMG_3286

I was situated right by the door, and from by seat I could make out the exposed kitchen. Towards the back you could see chefs in white with their ball caps of blue.

On each table, utensils were offered as a self serve from a wooden caddy. Disposable chopsticks and layers of napkins.

The menu was a solid offering for those who like Chinese and Japanese flavours: I did. They had three types of ramen varying by broth: chicken, pork, or mushroom. And three types of Chinese style sauced noodles like spicy and peanut sauce. For snacks and sides they had two bite steamed buns and rice cake, Japanese pancakes, and pickled vegetables.

IMG_3280IMG_3282

To not be overwhelm by choice, I went for their signature ramen and it came surprisingly fast. “Momofuku Ramen” with pork belly & shoulder, fish cake, poached egg, seaweed, and scallions. There was an orange paste I was unable to identify, but it gave the already flavourful ramen broth an extra punch of spice and salty cream. I ended up just stirring the lot of it in. The noodle and broth were my favourite part. The perfect chewy texture with a rich, but not too oily soup. I didn’t need any of the additional elements, but it did add some adventure and option to my dining. From the tender stands of shredded beef to the melt in your mouth fat from the pork belly. The crispy then sogginess of the submerged seaweed, the freshness of the green onions, and the perfect poached egg that was the line between liquid and solid.

I could have eaten more, but wanted to save room from their dessert option. “Momofuku Milk Bar”, which is reviewed in its own post.

 

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.
It is trendy for a reason, I can definitely see myself return again during my next trip out. For novelty and because both Momofuku Noodle and Milk Bar deliver on taste for price asked. Plus, it is one thing to have read and admire the cookbooks. It is another to experience and taste the cuisine as it was intended, for yourself. Another one checked off the foodie bucket list. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

MOMOFUKU NOODLE BAR
Ground Floor
190 University Avenue, Toronto ON, M5H 0A3
647-253-6225
noodlebar-toronto.momofuku.com
Momofuku Noodle Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Alibi Room

IMG_5282IMG_5294

This modern tavern is one of my favourite places for beer in Gastown. They offer over 50 on rotating tap. To the point where their paper menus get numbered as they are updated so often. So what better a place to kick off our afternoon of drinking?

Located on the outskirts of Gastown you might miss their cast iron exterior if you didn’t know what to look for. Black on black with polished wood tables out on its narrow sidewalk patio. It was left unseated this crisper afternoon.

Inside, moving pass the closed door foyer is its bar and drinking hall. You are greeted by the hostess, and the combined murmur of low chatter and higher pitched laughter as it resonates across the open space, bouncing off vaulted ceilings. Set up like a cafeteria, seating is row after row of share style tables. As a result, they make a great place for larger parties and those wanting the energy of a crowd to egg their drinking on. They also have additional seating in the basement. A spiralling staircase brings you down to a nook of sorts. Darken corners with serval tables and barrels surrounding you. I got a good look at it from my trip to the washroom. The facilities consisted of several single person stalls, as it is a necessity when you plan on drinking and are forced to break the seal.

IMG_5284IMG_5290

I like beers of all sorts, from lagers and ales, to stouts and sessions, I am not picky so their detailed menu helped with my decision making process. It was an easy to navigate, typed out listing of their sessions, pale, imperial India, bitter strong, b. wine, stout, and cider offerings. Arranged by type, including the brewery, the beer’s name, the type of brew, the percentage of alcohol content, and it’s hoppiness as indicated by hand drawn “hops”. Though the sketches looked like acorns or berries. The menu also illustrated drink sizes from 6oz to 26oz, and all the ones in between, across various shaped glasses.

IMG_5286IMG_5288

With so many things to consider, I couldn’t help but go for the ones with the highest alcohol content, wanting the best bang for my buck. I would make a lousy connoisseur. Similarly, I ordered a flight to be able to get a tasting of each. This included Persephone’s 2015 barley wine at 11.9%, Brassneck’s inertia imperial stout at 9%, Parkside “dusk” pale ale, and “After the jongleur”, Powell street’s Belgian witbier with ginger and cardamom.

To snack on we had some Mediterranean style, vegetarian tapas. Both my guests where vegetarians and I would be the one to accommodate them. Had I my pick of the menu, I would have leaned towards their “Free-run chicken wings” with sweet chili garlic sauce or the “Charcuterie plate” featuring their daily selection of meats and cheeses paired with house condiments and warm breads. As both tend to be on the saltier side and pair real well with beer.
Their “crispy pork belly sandwich” with kimchi mayo and pickled veg or their “Jalapeño chicken sandwich” with buttermilk fried chicken tossed in jalapeño hot sauce would have been runners up if I wanted something more hearty.

But instead we had the “Holumi” and the “Mezze Plate” from their “fresh sheet”. The fresh sheet was a “while available” listing of items, limited in number, and served from 5-10pm Sunday to Thursday and from 5-11pm Friday and Saturday.

IMG_5296IMG_5297

The “homemade halloumi” included heirloom tomatoes, sundried tomato bread, pesto, tomato cream, and balsamic. This was the perfect summer salad, the kind you could eat two servings of and still love yourself for it. The kind that cools you down from the heat outside; and gives you just enough food to fill, but not stuff. A nice fruit salad-like texture and sweet taste. The halloumi offered some substance along with the bread, satisfying that filling carb craving when you are hungry. “Halloumi” is unripened brined cheese made from a mix of goat’s and sheep’s milk. It has a higher melting point and so is often the cheese used for frying or grilling. In this case it was grilled to a smokey char. The heirloom tomatoes tasted like regular hot house mild tomatoes, but with some beautiful colours. Yellow and a splotchy red. But it was the pesto and cream that pulled it all to together.

IMG_5298IMG_5299

The “Mezze plate” was an assortment of hummus, marinated peppers, housemade pickles, olives, goat feta, falafel, flat bread. A great of mix and match of flavours you scooped up and ate with your hands. Smokey and salty, meets creamy and crumby. The plate covered all your flavour and textural needs. I just wished that there was more pita to enjoy everything with, and that the red peppers were served warm like the everything else. The golden beets where my favourite. They were juicy like fruit and tender like poached eggs, they made the perfect refreshing bite between plain hummus and briney olives.

Other current and interesting fresh sheet options worth checking out is their “crispy duck and asparagus salad, with their house hoisin sauce. It sounded like an interesting take on a Chinese classic. The “Oceanside west coast clams” were steamed in beer with garlic, and sounded like a winning group of ingredients. And then there were the more traditional “housemade meatballs” in tomato sauce and chimichurri flavoured “grilled chicken skewers”.

 

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.
Great drinks and good food in a lively environment. What more do you need? Not a stand out, big definitely a stand up place. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

ALIBI ROOM
157 Alexander Street, Vancouver BC, V6A 1B7
604-623-3383
alibi.ca
Alibi Room Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

LIK N2 Ice Cream

IMG_5637IMG_5659

Vancouver now has its first two liquid nitrogen ice cream shoppes. Both opened around the same time (the beginning of this summer), with similar concepts. However, what has “Lik” standing out is their use of a medical syringes as decoration to top their sundaes. Such plastic syringes are typically used to dispense a specific amount of medicine/antibiotics, but here they are used to store syrups and sauces on the side. Inserted into each sundae, it offered a unique way for each individual to pick and choose, how much or how little topping they wanted on their quick to freeze ice cream sundae. It’s photo worthy appearance certainly had me clamouring for a visit.

The sun was out early in the day and there wasn’t a drop of rain in sight, so it was no surprise that the place was packed this Friday night. The opened front spilled out on to the sidewalk, making the place fairly easy to spot from a distance. It’s fun and cartoony sandwich board out front helped too. Cow plus fizzy beeker equals ice cream cone!

IMG_5667IMG_5668

The menu is a dry erase listing right by the entrance, you practically stand out the door reading it, while lining up at their counter to order and pay. There isn’t much room to move about and much less to sit with your treat. A row of booths offered some rest and the free standing tables some more, but not enough for the bodies that were buying ice cream today; yet enough that they needed and had a single stalled washroom for patrons to use.

Luckily their cups are fairly portable, though I did find that the cream melts fast and the wooden paddle meant to eat your treat with doesn’t help to scoop liquid from cup to mouth. I ended up drinking half my ice cream like soup, you don’t waste ice cream in my book.

There are so many great flavour combinations to choose from. Each easy to sift through with a drawn diagram. A sketch with arrows indicating the ice cream flavour, topping, and what’s in the syringe. The original was “the classic”, their vanilla bean ice cream topped with honey glazed corn flakes and waffle pieces, then stuck with a chocolate ganache filled syringe. The “rocky road” was chocolate and marshmallow ice cream, topped with whipped cream and candied pecans, then finished off with a caramel sauce syringe. The “blueberry crumble” is blueberry and balsamic ice cream with blubbered and an oat crumble, topped with whipped cream and a syringe of blueberry ganache. “Sesame street” was the clever name for the black sesame ice cream sundae topped with whipped cream and a sesame snap biscuit, it’s syringe was filled with condense milk. Many of the sundaes had condense milk as its drizzle, it just goes with so much, without overwhelming anything. .

They don’t skimp on their ice cream flavours and they don’t cheap out on toppings. How was I to choose when they all sounded so good? Luckily, I came with a few friends and were able to try a several flavours between us.

IMG_5656IMG_5657

The “bounty” got its name from its similarity to the coconut filled chocolate bar. Coconut ice cream mixed with toasted coconut, topped with whipped cream and a coconut macaroon cookie, then finally finished with a chocolate ganache syringe. It was a lovely coconut milk flavour light and aromatic. The chocolate was not needed, but a nice add on for those who needed their chocolate fix, and for those who wanted the flavour rejuvenated mid way.

IMG_5650IMG_5651

The “mango extreme” was mango on mango with a condense milk syringe. Mango ice cream with freshly chopped mangoes. It was great for the mango lover, but I found they could have have sweeter fruit since the ice cream was already so sweet. Though that is where the condense milk came in handy to even things out.

IMG_5648IMG_5649

The “Cookie Monster” seemed like the fan favourite. It certainly was the most photogenic with bold blue colour. Vanilla ice cream mixed with crushed Oreo and a chocolate chip cookie crumb, dyed like our favourite Sesame Street monster and name sake. It is then topped with more crushed Oreo biscuit and a freshly baked whole chocolate chip cookie. It’s syringe was a chocolate ganache. But don’t like the colour fool you, it was essentially a cookies and cream sundae, and that isn’t a bad thing.

IMG_5652IMG_5653

I had the “Vietnamese coffee” ice cream with condense milk drizzle from the syringe. It was true to its name in taste and body, I was not disappointed. The Oreo crumb that topped it added a nice crunch to my bites.

IMG_5654IMG_5655

The “tropical sunset” was seasonal selection they referred to as a “pop up”; along with their “strawberry lemonade sunrise”, which came with a lemon strawberry sorbet and fresh fruit. The “sunset” was a melding of strawberry and mango in ice cream, fresh fruit, and sauce. The syringe contained both flavours releasing a surge of red strawberry syrup, then a stream of orange mango sauce. It was fruity and colourful as its name promised.

IMG_5661IMG_5638

All these great sundaes, and sadly it was a little too crowded to get the full experience tonight. The point of liquid nitrogen ice cream is to be able to watching your dessert come to life. From a milky soup to a solid of cream. But it was far to busy, and there were far too much noise to fully watch and appreciate your ice cream being frozen right before your very eyes.

IMG_5645IMG_5647

The staff stationed, added liquid nitrogen from a thermos into a metal bowl of flavoured cream. This bowl is slotted underneath a stand mixer. Then with goggles, they flip the “on” button and watch the machine whirl and its chemical reaction unfold. From behind the sneeze proof glass, I was able to watch a plume of smoke arise and bubble over the mixing bowl, frothing over the counter and creeping towards the floor. This visual display happened for each serving, it was like a fog consuming everything in a cloud. Though I wished l could appreciate the magic without the pointed elbows and backs of other patron’s heads blocking my view.

I felt like we paid more, to see a show we missed out on. Whereas we could have gone to another ice cream or soft serve spot to enjoy such unique flavours, without the bustle. The point is to see the ice cream being made, but it was just too crowded. Although it isn’t the shoppe’s fault that they are so popular. Though once the buzz of a new place dies down, I am sure they won’t be so crowded, after all Vancouver has so many different themed ice cream, soft serve, and frozen yogurt places to choose from.

When the fog clears and the ice cream is scooped out and dressed accordingly, you pick up your order from the side counter. From there you take it to your table (if you managed to grab one), or can easily head out into the warm summer’s night with your handheld dessert. Napkins and spoons are a self serve affair. As I mentioned earlier, they used bio degradable wooden spoons, branded with their logo. The kind you felt nostalgic from using. It reminded me of sports days and elementary school lunches; having small cups of ice cream of chocolate malt.

IMG_5644

I didn’t take a picture of my treat or a selfie in front of their red neon “I got lik’d in vancity” sign. Though I thought it a great attention grabber and the perfect advertisement in social media photos, and for tourists to mark their visit.

 

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.
This was a fun experience. I recommend it if you want your dessert with a show, with great ice cream flavours to follow. I would like to go back to try all their sundaes, surprisingly there was none I would avoid. I would also like to keep tabs on them, to see their upcoming seasonal pop up creations, if they are anything like their original line up, I will not be disappointed. Green tea, ube, or milk tea perhaps? Vancouverites do have their favourites. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

LIK
320 Robson Street, Vancouver BC, V6B 6B3
778-728-0672
LIK N2 Ice Cream Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Spaghetei

IMG_5977IMG_5978

The name explained a lot, without giving it all away. Japanese spaghetti, Spaghetti for the Japanese palette, Italian noodles with Japanese seasonings. Not knowing what to expect, I advise coming in with an open mind.

The afternoon was warm enough that their front exterior was wide open and inviting. A wall with shutters like a cabinet, opened right on to the sidewalk. We grabbed a seat at this threshold. A table and chairs with the comfort of being in doors, partnered with a cool breeze across your arms and sunshine against your back. And luckily it was far enough from the hub of busy Robson street, that we had peace as we ate.

The restaurant is Japanese owned, and its kitchen is run by Japanese chefs. Its concept was established in 1975 in Japan, where such cuisine is considered home style cooking. They are known for their Italian pastas dressed with Japanese ingredients, for a Japanese flavouring. Apparently a taste profile so popular, that Japanese grocery stores stock Japanese spaghetti seasonings and sauce mixes that you can make yourself at home, with their powdered packets. Though what is common in Japan, is considered fusion here. These noodles use foreign ingredients, like Shisho leaves, with the flavour of mint; cod roe (fish eggs); and teriyaki sauce. Everything was finished with a sweeter tang, when compared to the savoury plates of North American pastas.

IMG_6010IMG_5979

The setting, like the food was not offensive. I wasn’t overwhelmed by anything. Red checkered tiles on the wooden separators and a series of red painted canvas art. It was clean and simple, like how I would describe the dinner below.

We were too late to take advantage of their happy hour specials and $9.80 pastas, whereas regularly it is $11-13 for a plate of spaghetti. Although you have your choice of plate size for each dish, and this is where you can save a dollar. The small being $1 less and the large $1 more. We ordered everything in the smaller sizes. One small serving would have been a large enough portion size to fill me, but instead we shared four noodles and a pasta salad; wanting to try more. And I am glad we did so. The noodles were interesting, but I don’t think I could have committed to one whole serving. This was best tasted and tried as you split everything with others.

The menu was hard to decipher. A listing of ingredients in English and Japanese. But it didn’t tell you what you were to expect. Added adjectives like spicy, salty, fishy, or milky would have helped in the decision making process. Though luckily, the menu also came with “recommended” tags lines and colourful photos to help you navigate with your eyes.

IMG_5985IMG_5986

We started with the very original “Mentaiko tofu”. “Mentaiko” is the marinated roe of pollock and cod. It was used as a cheesy cream dressing to top slices of plain tofu, and as the sauce for their signature pasta dish. It looked better in person than in the washed out photo the menu presented. A creamy pastel-peachy colour. The tofu looked like Brie and together with the salmon coloured sauce, it tasted like it. I would recommend trying it, just to say that you have; but I myself didn’t know what to make of it. It was salty, tangy, and fishy all rolled in to one. Though it still felt like it was missing something. The crunch of a nice solid base, like the toast below. I ended up eating both together and wondering why they didn’t offer this on the menu like a flatbread or as a crostini.

IMG_5981IMG_5982

All spaghetei orders come with a piece of their basil, garlic bread with honey. It was a sweet and garlicky spread that I would have liked to remake at home. Each slice was crunchy like garlic bread; and like garlic bread, they made great sides to break up flavour, or to sop up extra sauces with.

IMG_5989IMG_5990

The “Salad Spaghetei” took all the health benefits out of eating a leafy green salad. It was more like a chilled pasta salad featuring lettuce. You enjoyed it with a squeeze bottle of their homemade dressing on standby. The dressing was light and citrusy, making it a great summertime option. And if you couldn’t taste enough of it, you only need to squeeze on more. Though I wished for less noodles and different vegetables. Less lettuce which really didn’t match with the starch of the noodles; and more cucumbers, tomatoes, and peppers that did. The salad portion left you feeling light, but the pasta had you full.

Each of the Spagheteis was a hybrid between Asian style noodle application and Italian pasta. Either soupy noodles that sat in a puddle of juice, or a thin sauce that better adhered to individual strands. All the noodles tasted just fine, and each severing was prepared el dente. Although I would have liked more/other options with the noodles, not just spaghettini, but other sting-like pastas. Fettuccine, or Asian noodles like rice noodles or udon. Any thick and chewy carb would have paired well with all that we ordered, and maybe even better. Though I understand that spaghetti was their namesake, and if they offered what I am suggesting, it will no longer be a restaurant serving their iconic Japanese spaghetti. This was me just trying to make sense of the dish. To change it and make it either more Italian or more Japanese. But once again, I had to replay the mindset that a dish like this is so different that you can’t compare it to any Italian pasta, but should just enjoy it for what it is.

IMG_5996IMG_5998

The “Mentaiko” was a fish roe sauced pasta topped with shrimp, mushrooms, and dried seaweed. The inclusion of the roe changes the texture of the noodle. It is what sets the pasta apart, with the tell-a-tale popping of juice filled eggs. It had the same cheesy, salty, and fishy taste as the tofu above, but better paired with a nice starchy noodle strand. Definitely an acquired taste, and I have had nothing else like it.

IMG_5992IMG_5994

The “Clam Spaghetei” also included the cod roe for a unique texture. It the most photogenic, with a good amount of calm to noodles ratio, and plenty of assorted mushrooms mixed in. Everything was dressed in their own homemade ginger soy sauce, then topped with dried seaweed. There were many layers to this, plenty of rich flavours that were somehow made more muted in this medley. Together they came for a unique flavour grouping I would like to have again. Though out of all the flavours, the shisho mint was the most pronounced. An herbaceous flavour with floral notes. It was unexpected if you didn’t know what you were getting into. Like tasting hand soap, not so bad when you know what you are getting. Though I would still suggest chopping it into the finer pieces, in order to taste, not consume. It’s like cilantro, some like it and some don’t. Without the shisho, the dish was predominantly fishy, going in the same direction as the salted calm.

And if you didn’t want to taste any of these very distinct Japanese ingredients, they also have more North American palette-friendly spaghetei options. They tasted good, but being prepared with Asian cooking styles, they were still very different from any Italian spaghetti I am familiar with.

IMG_6007IMG_6009

With the “Chicken peperoncino”, the chicken was definitely the star of this dish. I could have eaten a plate of this grilled dark meat by itself. It had a great peppery seasoning, and was grilled crispy with a juicy, tender centre. It gave flavour to the otherwise plain asparagus and broccoli over a light butter spaghetti. Though the shaker of Parmesan cheese presented with it, did help to rejuvenate the taste. This was definitely a safe bet for those not looking for anything too adventurous. I on the other hand would have preferred all of this deep in a white cream sauce, as is the common practice for chicken, broccoli, and asparagus in pasta.

IMG_5999IMG_6001

The “Neapolitan spaghetei” was an unusual one, it starred ketchup instead of having it play a side character like it normally is. And ketchup is what gave this dish its distinct sweet and salty, tomato paste flavour. You definitely need to like ketchup to appreciate this one. And with the chicken, peppers, bacon, and sausage, it was only a few chillies sort of tasting more like a jambalaya.

Overall the pastas are interesting. Your eyes are confused by what your mouth tastes. You set yourself up for a flavour and don’t get it, so your brain can’t decide whether you like it our not. Therefore I suggest visiting with a large group, so you need not commit yourself to a whole serving. Sampling and comparing flavours was good enough for me, and it made for a fun conversation and dining adventure.

IMG_6012IMG_6029

Their desserts however more firmly hit the spot. Who can say no to a good creme burlee, with its creamy texture and cracked sugar top. This one was flavoured with vanilla bean and topped with fresh fruit. It wasn’t too sweet, a solid rendition of the French classic; but unexpected on this fusion focused menu.

IMG_6021IMG_6019

But as good as it was it failed in comparison to their snowy treats. Apparently they are well known for their “Powder snow milk syrup”. These are snow-like frappe: made with shaved frozen milk. I wondered why haven’t I heard of them sooner. They were indeed amazing, leading me to wonder why they weren’t better advised. Why weren’t there sandwich boards outside or a poster recommending this as a must try. I would come back just for dessert, just for this. Available in red bean, matcha, and strawberry; also I wish they offered more flavours and more combinations I could try. But I guess they weren’t a dessert place and this wasn’t meant to be the lure into their restaurant.

Though given how they tasted, they certainly could have competed with the likes of other more popular snowy dessert places. Where they lacked in presentation and fruit topped embellishments they made up in sweet milky flavour. Not to mention the great flavouring of the red bean and matcha we had, and the ability to mix both together. They were light and fluffy, and what you’d imagine eating snow to feel like on the tip of your tongue. And best of all, all this with no lines, a reasonable price, and plenty of spacious seating. Only $4.50 for the one bowl.

The staff were friendly and attentive. Two servers were working and neither of them were zoned, they helped when and where needed, sharing the all work between them. We were given the option to have our plates and cutlery changed out regularly, as to not mix the flavours of each dish. I definitely felt the home style cooking reflected in the accommodating service.

 

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 an unpretentious home cooked meal in a chill environment. An easy stop, eat, and go shop. Great on warm days with chilled spaghetti salads and shaved milk; and great on cold nights with hearty heaps of noodles. Everything is mild with flavours that you can have every day. Nothing you would crave, but everything was easy to take down. Not greasy like Italian pasta, and don’t you would feel bad for cleaning off your plate. I will definitely be back just for the desserts, I wish there was a way to take each powdery mountain to go. They would make a great beach side treat. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

SPAGHETEI
1741 Robson Street, Vancouver BC, V6G1E1
604-428-1014
spaghetei.com
Spaghetei Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Mother’s Dumplings

IMG_3447IMG_3454

I decided to visit Toronto’s Chinatown today and found it was similar in offerings to the one in Vancouver. This included empty malls, you wonder how they are still open, considering they don’t see much traffic. Fruit merchant hawking their produce via shouts, whole barbecue fowl handing in butcher windows, and souvenir shops selling Canadian pride tees and shirts for tourists.

IMG_3477IMG_3478

Looking to snack I ended up at “Mother’s Dumplings”. Their back story was that these were traditional style dumplings, made using the owner’s mother’s recipes. It couldn’t get more authentic then enjoying Chinese dumplings, in Toronto’s Chinatown. They even had their home made dumplings frozen, and available for take home at a 10% off. All dumplings were made in house, as seen by the women behind sneeze proof glass. They stood with their own station kneading the dough, filling it with meat and vegetable; and then pinching each closed to be either steamed, baked, or fried.

The decor was Chinese undertones, with modern art on the walls and classical music playing overhead. A red curtain of strings hung by the door, red walls highlighted the first half of the room, and traditional Chinese style figurines surrounded it. A craved wooden fish, a stone statue of bok choy, an elephant bamboo planter, and lanterns; just to name a few.

Their menu included a timeline and the history of dumplings. The earliest known dumplings being made over 1300 years ago, they were a traveller’s food of choice on the Silk Road. Later Marco Polo discovered them from China and adapted them into what we know as ravioli today. Similarly, Ivan the Terrible’s troops discovered dumplings and that is how perogies came to be.

“Mother’s Dumplings” had a bevy of dumplings available. Various doughs meets various fillings, that are cooked in various styles. Boiled, steamed, or pan fired; the possibilities seemed endless. Each order included 6, 10, or 12 pieces. I wanted to try a few, but each individual order was too much for one person, let a lone multiple orders for one. I wished they had an assorted dumpling platter, like they did with dessert. A sampler that allowed an individual, or a group to taste a few. They also offered other Chinese dim sum and small plate entrees, but given the name I thought to stick with their claim to fame.

However are looking for more than just dumplings, they also serve noodles, rice and congee, stews and soups; and sides like spring rolls and marinaded boiled eggs. You order what you want by referencing the menu with photos, and then checking it off on their checklist order sheet.

IMG_3459IMG_3467

I ended up getting the “lamb shui mai”, a unique spin on a classic dim sum dumpling. Where other dishes in the steamed category, gave you the choice between six or ten to an order. The lamb ones only came in a serving of 6, they were also the most expensive at $9 for the lot. I choose them because I liked the way they looked, I have never had dumplings bundled like these little parcels before. Plus the thought of lamb instead of pork or beef was appealing. It took a while to come, I suspect it was because of the filling and the steaming, everything is cooked to order. My steamed “lamb shui mai” did not disappoint. Each bundle was warm throughout. Juicy with one bite, where liquid pooled out. They were flavourful, but one tone in taste. However, the table side sauces of soy and chilli oil helped rejuvenate bites.

IMG_3471IMG_3472

For dessert, I got an order of their “assorted sweet steamed buns”. Eight buns, three different shaped and coloured buns filled with various creams and custards. This allowed you to try a little bit of everything. It didn’t arrive as it was advertised in the menu, but at least it looked just as amazing.

I was planning to take what I couldn’t finish to go, but seeing what came to the table, I knew the tapioca ones would not travel well or be any good cold. The purple yam was a semi sweet paste that filled a bubbly tapioca shell. The yellow custard had a similar jelly-like coating as above, except for the addition of shredded coconut overtop. The peach shaped buns were my favourite. I appreciated the additional embellishment of edible leaves. They were fluffy and filled with a mildly sweet red bean paste.

IMG_3474

And the meal ended with a fortune cookie, and in my case, an accurate fortune.

 

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? – No.
A stand up place for some great dumplings. I would have loved to do what the other patrons did, stop by with a large group of friends and together order multiple steamed trays of buns to share. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

MOTHER’S DUMPLINGS
421 Spadina Avenue, Toronto ON, M5T 2G6
416-217-2008
mothersdumplings.com
Mother's Dumplings Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Terroni Adelaide

IMG_3038IMG_3045

I came to this one on a recommendation from a local, via Instagram. I truly appreciate how social media and the Internet has brought people closer, and has made such suggestion giving easier. You don’t need to meet anyone face to face to ask them for help, or to even consider them a friend.

I was thrilled to have taken his advice just by how the restaurant looked. This was some fancy Italian. This would be the nicest restaurant I visited during my stay in Toronto, and I would say, nicer than most restaurants I have visited in Vancouver. The decor could be best described as artisan bodega. Things you would find from your local mart, stacked as if it was on sale.

The entry in itself was an experience. Set with its own flags, it was like walking into an gallery with stone columns and a bold arch way. Reading online, I learned that “Terroni Adelaide” is inside the historic York County Court House. This court house served the city court from 1852-1900.

IMG_3039

And if you thought the exterior was impressive, the interior would blow you away. With camera ready I took captures 360 degrees, everything was noteworthy. Just inside the front doors is their enoteca. An “enoteca” is literally “wine repository”. It is used to describe a special type of local or regional wine shop that originated in Italy. This term perfectly described their coffee and wine bar. It was so extensive that the labelled bottles went all the way from the counter to the ceiling.

IMG_3081IMG_3046

The pantry had the same style of dark wood shelving, and just as much piled up high. Classic Italian ingredients on every shelf level, it made a great display and was reassurance of what went into your food. Baskets of oranges and lemons, tins of coffee, bags of pastas, jars of preserves, and all the accoutrements needed to prepare a handsome meal. There was even a family style wood table ready to serve, it was set with chargers, cutlery rolled up in cloth napkins, and several glasses; dependent on your beverage of choice.

IMG_3083IMG_3071

But what truly drew my breath was their in-house butchery, where in back lit fridges hung chunks of meat. Pork carved and suspended by rope, tied at its bone. Wrapped in parchment and tagged, each piece had its own characteristics and name. I didn’t think to ask, but I wonder if you were actually able to shop from here and take home any of the canned and dried goods from the pantry. The butcher’s scale affixed to the counter led me to think you could. However I have also seen a restaurant go through lengths for a cohesive theme, buying realistic props, and replicas such as this. Either way this was doing it for me and it made me all the more excited for the dinner to come. I made a mental note to order something that would come from the butchery.

Everything was so grand that my description just doesn’t do it justice, neither does my photos, or the little booth I ended up seated at. I would recommend visiting just to be able to enjoy the foyer and ask to be seated there. This, instead of the more generic dining area, with the typical two top table and booth, or chair.

The only thing that distracted me from enjoying the feeling and end hey of the place, was the live DJ and the music they decided to play this Saturday. I get that the music was meant to set up a party vibe; but where the theme takes you to Italy, the music brings you back, and reminds you that this is Toronto. 90’s pop, rock, and then modern hip hop; the music got harder as the night progressed, and further from the intended Italian feel. “Backstreet Boys”, “Alanis Morissette”, and the worst was the dance version of a “Smashing Pumpkins” hit.

I was so excited by the restaurant that I didn’t further take the advice of the person who recommended it to me. He strongly suggested checking out their menu first. I didn’t, and as a result, I was not prepared for a $$$$ rating. Instead of leaving with my tail between my legs, I decided to snack on appetizers and to enjoy some wine. I rather spend more on a carafe of nice Italian wine, than a full plate of pasta always; it only seemed right, having seen their enoteca.

IMG_3051IMG_3053

The wine that was recommend was a $10 for 5oz. And with so much body, it was the perfect Italian red to go with my Italian starters.

Luckily my appetizers for dinner would start with a complimentary serving of bread and olive oil. This, and my two small plates were more than enough to keep me full for the result of the night. When you think of real authentic olive oil you think of this. It is dense with a slow growing flavour. When it hits the back and bottom of your throat you truly taste its natural essence. It was deep like a good scotch, which then finishes strong and pure. The bread no doubt was shadowed by the oil. It was cold and chewy with a crisp crust, it simply made a good base to highlight the olive oil with.

IMG_3059IMG_3062

Remembering the butchery I had the “Prosciutto e melone”, which was Culatello paired with fresh sliced cantaloupe. It was just meat and fruit for $16. But you pay for the quality of meat, and the skill of having it cut this fine. I was actually surprised that the order was this large. I was actually expecting the one piece of melon and a few pieces of prosciutto. In total it was half a melon with six pieces of thinly sliced meat draped over each. I thought this was totally worth the price. Each slice of fruit was even partially cut from the rind for easily removal. I made quick work of this, using a steak knife to cut chunks down to size. Sincerely, this was the best prosciutto I have ever had and have ever seen.

IMG_3057IMG_3068

Looking for another appetizer that would be a tad more filling, I went with the “Crocchette di patate”. They are deep fried potato and prosciutto croquettes, served with a basil pesto that is made with pine nuts. I liked the prosciutto so much that I wanted to try it in another application. This was a French style croquette based on the whipped nature and texture of the potato within. The Italian influence came from the basil dipping sauce. It’s flavour was so well pronounced with the nuts and herbs. As for the croquette, it was incredibly crispy outside, with a soft pillowy filling; the perfect texture. Although I was not able to taste the prosciutto, or make out any of its pink within. Though truth be told, it wasn’t needed.

IMG_3072IMG_3076

Given the lavishness of this place, I was disappointed by their washrooms. Like with many other, older Toronto buildings, the facilities were in the basement. It required a trek through a winding labyrinth, only to reach a dinghy hold. What baffled me was how large the restaurant space was, to only have two narrow stalls in the women’s washroom. I bumped into the wall trying to escape one. But at least it was wallpapered nice.

 

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.
This one came highly recommended by an Instagram friend. It was a decent distance from my hotel, but definitely worth the trek. It has the best Prosciutto I have ever had to date, and nothing disappointed. Everything I enjoyed was well worth what I paid. And if you like good food but are short of funds, just get a taste from their appetizer menu; it is more than enough for a sample of the good life. Truly one of the best Italian restaurant I have been to. When I return to Toronto, I will definitely be a stopping by this one again, and this time I will save plenty to indulge in lots. And best of all they have several locations within the Toronto area to meet all your cravings. Although I don’t know if the others will be as nice as this one. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

TERRONI
57 Adelaide Street East, Toronto ON, M5C 1K6
416-203-3093
terroni.com
Terroni Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Congee Noodle House

IMG_5151

We came from a small plate, pricy tapas place and were still hungry. Seeing as this would be our second meal in the span of 15 minutes we wanted more food for cheaper. I find Chinese cuisine always checks off those boxes for me. And this was my guest’s favourite late night go-to. It was like the Chinese equivalent of a greasy spoon. Fast food, big portions, cheaper prices.

It also opens late and is convenient to get to on Broadway and Main. This Thursday was proof of that. A large table was sat with players from a volleyball game, couples who walked off the street needing a place and some food to sober up, and here we joined after our aquatic workout, taking a seat anywhere.

IMG_5154IMG_5152

The restaurant was nothing fancy, nothing worth taking notice of. Tiled ceilings and a tiled floor, yellow bulbs, and splotchy table surfaces. The typical Chinese bar was by the front door and the live fish and crustaceans had their own tank by the kitchen’s entrance. The king crab was especially impressive, it’s long legs towering high over the regular crabs, who were flattening themselves at the bottom of the tank. You could see dishes come up to the pass and the servers scurry to retrieve them for tables.

I was surprised at the speed in which we were able to order and in which the food arrive. Although it is worth noting that they would soon be closing, and a want to leave on time can compel anyone to move in a hurry.

IMG_5157IMG_5156

As this was my guest’s staple restaurant, we had her regular order. “Deep fried white minnow fish with spicy salt and chilli”. You ate these little guys like chips, if you could get past the fact that you were eating a whole tiny fish. Although the breading did help to hide that fact, but you could still see them staring back with their black beady eyes, as you drew each closer to your mouth. They were easy to eat and you couldn’t have just the one. It went well with the congee below, but I could imagine enjoying a bowl at a pub with beer; like you would peanuts or edamame beans.

IMG_5158IMG_5159

The “Green string beans with pork” is one I like and order regularly too. A delicious way to get more green into your diet. They were crispy beans that had a great chew. Each was tasty as is and too made a great accompaniment with the congee.

IMG_5162IMG_5165

My guest claimed they were a consistently good congee place. She has had a few of their variations, but with me leaning towards nostalgia, we had the “Dried oyster, preserve egg, and shredded pork congee”. It’s been a while since I have had preserved egg, aka century egg. You typically enjoy it with porridge and I haven’t had porridge in a while as well. “Century egg” is a Chinese delicacy made by preserving duck, chicken or quail eggs in a mixture of clay, ash, salt, quicklime, and rice hulls. This is done for several weeks to several months, depending on the method of processing. The end result is a black egg, with translucent “white”, and a grey gradient “yolk”. It gave the porridge a distinct salty and ashy flavour, and a rubbery texture with chalky after notes. It was one of those things you had to be growing up with in order to crave and appreciate. Just seeing it for the first time as an adult could put you off. It is essentially a rotten egg so bad that it’s turned black. I made the mistake of scooping up the egg and missing the ground pork at the bottom all together. The end result was the last few bites being over salted. The congee, like the other sides, was great on its own, but also went well together.

 

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.
My guest was right, this made for some quick and easy Chinese comfort food. A dime a dozen, but it holds up and will have me returning for connivence. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

CONGEE NOODLE HOUSE
141 East Broadway, Vancouver BC, V5T 1W1
604-879-8221
Congee Noodle House Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato