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Real, raw, & relatable me. Enthusiastic food & lifestyle blogger living in Vancouver, BC!

Mr. Japanese Curry

Ever since I had my first taste of curry in Japan, I have been obsessed. The mix of sweet and creamy with a little heat, is unlike any other of its kind. So when I learned of a new little spot in Vancouver offering Japanese curry, I wanted to not only try their offerings, but support this new restaurant venture as well. A restaurant trying to make a name for themselves in this unprecedented time. Opening just before the onset of Covid-19, in a shop that use to host donairs.

The name informs you of exactly what you will be getting. And if there is any doubt, you can smell what’s cooking a block away, or take a gander at the collection of detailed plastic curry on display, in the front window. During my visit their food was only available for take out. A soft opening and test run, accepting orders online, and opting for the delivery of them.

Mr. Japanese Curry is dedicated to providing authentic homemade curry in either beef, chicken, or vegan sauces. Each option also includes a bevy of toppings to choose from, to best customize each plate to your tastes. Every serving comes with their Super Premium Short Grain Koshihikari white rice and a sprinkle of fried onions. Having tried one in each category and being able to see and taste the difference between all three, I highly recommend doing the same. Trying all the different curry sauces to get the full experience, and finding the one you like the best is half the fun. Each is a recipe unique to the restaurant, learned from food technicians in Japan.

Ordering is easy off the overhead menu, with its coloured photos. And if and when dining in reopens, you are able to serve yourself at their cutlery and drink station.

The following is what we had, in the order they came up, starting with their vegan curry. They are proud to offer a tasty plant based curry, in collaboration with the popular and very local “Vegan Pudding Co.”. This was a rich and creamy curry despite the lack of milk products being used. Served wonderfully with fried mashed Japanese pumpkin patties. It was delicious, you couldn’t tell that this was made without cream or butter, nor did it have the overwhelming flavour of coconut milk. The sauce is so tasty that you need only to enjoy it with their perfectly prepared rice. And the fried onion sprinkle offers a nice little crunch in between. In actuality, you don’t want to fill up on rice, but it just goes so well with everything, that you don’t waste a single grain.

We continued to work our way up to heavier with a more flavourful curries with the “Tonkatsu Curry” next. This is their chicken based curry served with a breaded and deep fried pork cutlet, sliced up for easier consumption. This was a curry that was just as light as the vegan option above, but with very different savoury notes. In terms of flavour, this was my favourite of the three, the pork cutlet being the highlight. Each piece was tender and a little fatty for a juicer bite.

The heartiest of our three plates was their signature “Mr. Curry” platter. A beef curry that they referred to as “Stamina Curry”, served a piece of fried shrimp, thinly sliced pork belly in a homemade garlic sauce, a hard boiled egg, and melted cheese. There was plenty going on here to keep you interested. You could mix and match ingredients, curating the perfect bite. The crispy shrimp, the tender meat, the fragrant onions, and the creamy cheese sauce that pulled it all together. It has a stew-like quality to it: comforting and filling.

Overall, a great option for Japanese curry in a neighbourhood, offering something different in the area. Order all three because each is different and worth trying. Great as family food; or late night, drunk eating. This is a flavour I will crave again, and a hidden gem with nothing else like it in Vancouver.

Mr. Japanese Curry
446 W 8th Ave, Vancouver, BC V5Y 1N9
(604) 879-4400
mrjapanesecurry.com

Kokoro Tokyo Mazesoba, Lougheed Town Centre

The latest location of Kokoro has opened in Coquitlam, giving me easier access and more reasons to enjoy their unique saucy udons. Their physical seating area is still closed for dine in due to the pandemic. However, with the nicer weather and plenty of benches and ledges to sit on in their vicinity, you can easily take your order to go and perch up nearby to finish it, while it’s still warm. I found myself visiting twice in the span of a month, and here is that recap.

For first timers they recommend their best seller, the “Niku Mazesoba”. Slow braised pork chashu, spicy minced pork, half a soft boiled egg, minced garlic, green onion, seaweed flakes, ground Saba fish, chives, and sesame; all over their in-house made multi-grain noodles. Like all their other variations, this one is jam packed with flavour, strong garlics and seasonings that leave you with a rich bowl that I can never seem to finish, and a mouth in need of brushing. Although when the craving for something comforting like this hits, only this would do. But be warned, for those who don’t like the flavour of anything seafood related, the Saba fish flakes are pretty prominent. And I personally can do with less green onion and chives, (though they do make for a great presentation), and more of the noodles instead. You are often left with so much more toppings than chewy strands. They offer up complimentary scoops of white rice to sop up the excess with, but why not just give more noodles to begin with; so that way it wouldn’t be as rich?

The “Curry Mazesoba” has the same flavour base as the “Niku” above, but with the highlight of a spicy Japanese-style curry. A growing heat and plenty of garlic had me stopping 3/4 of the way. Spicy minced pork, half soft-boiled egg, seaweed flakes, spinach, minced garlic, ground Saba fish, green onion, onion, and sesame; with a healthy serving of Japanese curry over their house made multi-grain noodles. A different way to enjoy this flavour packed bowl, but once again I wanted less green onions and onions and a lot more noodle to help balance things out.

I find the best way to refresh your palette and elongate the meal is to accompany the above or the below with one of their “Tokyo iced milk teas”. Brewed with 100% organic black tea, and served in an easy to carry along, plastic, ziplock drink bag. A twisty straw aids in the drinking process. It offers a refreshing, cooling sip that makes for a perfect break in eating.

The “Cheese Mazesoba” is exactly the same as the curry, but exchange curry for a good amount of cheese. But be warned it does congeal quick, and when it does, it doesn’t add the same nuance of stringy pulled cheese. Although overall, you don’t really get much of the cheese’s flavour past everything else.

The “Tan Tan Mazesoba” I liked for its peanut butter flavour, otherwise it is once again just like all the other variations above with spicy minced pork, half soft-boiled egg, seaweed flakes, spinach, minced garlic, ground Saba fish, green onion, onion, and sesame; over their house made multi-grain noodles.

Overall a great addition to the Coquitlam area, offering something unique and specialized out of downtown. Plenty of parking, with delivery and takeout options a-plenty, they are making it easy for you to visit.

Kokoro
531 North Rd #109, Coquitlam, BC V3J 1N7
(604) 917-0719
menyakokoro.com

ChiMec Fried Chicken & Burger Vancouver

During these uncertain times, one thing remains the same: the need for comfort. And for many that includes food. Foods that delight, foods that bring back memories, and foods that never seem to fail you. And for most fried chicken ticks off all the boxes. So when I new fried chicken place opens up in Vancouver, and will not be left behind.

Located on Denman Street, this little corner restaurant isn’t the most convenient stop for me. Although if you live downtown and are in the area, I do recommend stopping by to give them a try. I walked in thinking they did Korean style fried chicken, but the menu and mural of iconic artists, song writers, and influential leaders spoke otherwise.

They are currently only offering take out, with a 10% discount if you do. The menu hangs above the counter; similar in look and feel to that of a concession stand. It lists their signature burger, chicken pieces, chicken tenders, wings, sides, and drink. We came on the right day, because starting today they are running a promotion where if you spend $20 before tax you get a $10 gift card. And if you spend $30 and get a $20 gift card. We ended up getting enough for a $10 gift certificate, that I will be using towards their burger in the future. And there is no rush to redeem because it expires in October of this year, and may be by the time I return, I get to enjoy it in their space as a dine in meal.

We ended up getting a good collection of their menu to enjoy in a nearby park. Our order included a choice of sauces, pre-poured into individual dipping cups.

We started with their 3 piece chicken tenders and fried chicken and leg, only to get 6 of the former and 4 for the latter. The fried chicken caught me off guard. I was impressed by how crispy and juicy they were. I found it comparable to popular fried chicken chain, Churches; but with a more fine gauge crispy skin, with some of the juiciest dark meat I have ever had. I had liquid dripping of my chin as I slurped tender and flavourful meat. I naturally clean the bone of my chicken, and it would be hard to not with theses.

The chicken tenders on the other hand were very disappointing. It tasted frozen and flashed fried. They were bland and dried; a sensation only worsen by how great the chicken above was.

And sadly our choice of sauces did nothing to help or remedy this. They all weren’t as expected. Instead, a sweeter version of each. The honey mustard was the best out of the three we had. If given a second chance I would have simply asked for regular ketchup.

The plum sauce was not tart and tangy, like you know plum sauce to be. It was sweet, with a soap-like quality, my guest chimed in.

I expected the Korean sauce to be a spicy little number, with plenty of punchy and loud flavours. This was chunky and sweet like a jam, not necessarily something I want to pair with meat.

Overall the sauces were more enjoyable with the onion rings. The rings I had, had a great onion to batter ratio, perfect for those like me, who don’t actually like the texture of onion. It was a nice airy batter that retained its crunch, even after they cooled.

In short, ChiMec is a great addition to the fried chicken game if you like dark meat.

ChiMec
835 Denman St, Vancouver, BC V6G 2L7
(604) 331-0058
chimec-fried-chicken-burger.business.site

The Nomad Chef, Cannabis Spring Menu 2020

This week there are talks of restaurants reopening to the public. Customers are once again able to head out and grab a drink or dinner at their favourite establishment. Though now with new Covid sensitive rules in place.

In light of that I explored the private dining option with an intimate dinner for one, hosted by The Nomand Cook, also more commonly known as the “Cannabis Chef”. He is a self taught chef that stepped away from his suit and tie, management job in pursue of his passion: Cooking. And with his time on “Master Chef” Canada under his belt, he has climbed the culinary ladder and has found his niche with cannabis products, themed dinners, and even a cookbook in the works.

Starting mid May, when gathering restrictions loosen up, he will be hosting the follow four course dinner with cocktail and tea pairings Thursday to Sunday, every week. They will be held in a furnished apartment, redecorated to accommodate a small group of 6 or 3 parties of 2. An ideal size for an intimate party, or a creative new way to go back to date night. With each sitting running approximately 90 minutes in total.

And for those looking for a more safe and private environment, The Nomad Cook is available for private dinners prepared at your very own home as well. He will come in, set up and prepare a feast for you and your friends, to your specifications. Both this and the set dinner are being offered at prices barely above cost. A welcome back introduction to the dining scene, and a way to get our chef doing what he loves again. The following menu is available for the next three months, where he can accommodate any allergies with advance notice. And there is a plant base alternative menu as well. Given the season, this would include spot prawns.

Dinner is served on smaller tables covered in white cloth, they help set the mood for a causal dinner. From where you sit you get to enjoy the green of the indoor herb garden, and/or the green of the trees and grass below, from this 7th floor condo. The space makes the service more cozy and the conversation more intimate. You can’t help but chat up the chef or even the table next to yours. Given the lack of socializing thus far, I suspect people will be clamouring to converse with new faces and subsequently discuss the pandemic that has gotten us to this point.

The table is set with the necessary cutlery, a small stack of napkins, and a carafe for you to self serve. Everything within arm’s reach to minimize the need to have contact. Although our host/chef will be hosting in protective mask and glove to help further ease any uneasy-ness.

In the carafe is chilled tea from “Zteep”, a Toronto based tea company. The founder began making his mother tea with CBD in it to help with her injury and soreness, sustained in a car accident. But in this setting it helps to loosen the guests and their lips, apparently. It makes you more comfortable and chatty.

The food menu is spring and summer inspired, featuring lots of new techniques our chef has learned during his time in quarantine. All while still focusing on cannabis as a super food. Consuming it to rejuvenate the body, while maintaining its original flavour.

We started with the “Roasted Sesame & Wasabi Pea Crusted Lamb Lollipop”. My favourite dish of the entire night and a real bold start. This was a perfectly prepared New Zealand lamb served with a colourful rainbow carrot salad in a balsamic soy dressing. The salad had a stiffness to it that helped to further highlight the tender lamb meat that pulled off the bone. Dehydrated cannabis flower was used, but the THC does burn away. You weren’t able to make out any of its flavour here; the result, simply a really solid starter that you would expect at any casual dining establishment.

With it we sipped on a wonderful gin, and cucumber cannabis cocktail. Made with Hendricks gin, a simple syrup with lime and cucumber, and a mint foam topper. The presentation was spectacular and the flavour even more impressive. I could sip on these all night. I didn’t really taste any of the cannabis in this one, it was more refreshing as a classic cocktail.

We then moved on to a bright “Spot Prawn Ceviche”. In truth I thought this would have been a better start, as a lighter flavour palette. The dish spoke to spot prawn season with fresh seafood and sharp flavours: Grapefruit, Scallions, Pomegranate Seeds, Radish and toasted coconut for crunch. Made with olive oil infused with orange, lending itself to a citrusy cannabis oil. You get the freshness of the cannabis as a peekaboo; it doesn’t overpower, but ensures you don’t forget its there. Not to mention you can smell a faint hint of it in the dish.

Next on the docket was a “Crispy Skin Salmon”, with Asparagus, Shimeji Mushrooms and a Mint Pea Nage. Here, our cannabis flower found itself puréed in the latter. Its herbaceous flavour spiced up the greens well, a nice accent to the wonderfully pink fish. The plate as a whole was kept fresh and light with the crisp asparagus, earthy mushrooms, and peppery greens.

And for dessert The Nomad Cook didn’t pull any punches. A homemade pistachio and cannabis essence infused ice cream, made using the industrial Paco Jet ice cream maker. The impressive appliance sat atop his counter, offering the cream a final spin before serving. Its sweet and creamy consistency paired well with the white chocolate matcha cookie and blueberry gastrique. It acted like a sauce for the tougher and chewier, slightly bitter cookie.

In short this was a great dinner and a fun way to get better acquainted with cannabis, if you aren’t already. A comfortable setting with a knowledgeable and enthusiastic guide. Four courses for $100 a person. A Covid discount of $50, to help us slowly acclimate to dining out again. Worth noting is that this is dine in only, so if you think you will need to doggy bag, bring your own containers.

Once again, for something more intimate, you can also hire The Nomad Chef to cater your next small, maximum 6 person soirée. An occasion that starts off with a charcuterie or canapés and leads into a menu you help create. For more details, visit the link below.

thenomadecook.ca

Kin’s Market Signature Farm Box

With the inability to dine out at a restaurant, and the need to stay at home; many like myself have looked to cooking to pass the time and feed ourselves.

Admittedly, before the pandemic, I ate out more than most. Therefore, when it came time to follow recipes and make new things, I struggled. I didn’t know where to start or what to buy. The possibilities were endless and daunting.

So I looked to Kin’s Market and their grocery box for $63 after tax. This is a collection of fresh produce that gave me the foundation of popular fruits and vegetables to help kickstart my cooking journey. I would use this as a catalyst in finding the perfect recipe to follow. Everything I made would utilize a great deal of what was before me.

A collection that included 2 broccoli crowns, 3 cooking onions, a 2lbs bag of carrots, 2 long English cucumbers, two hot house tomatoes, 6 Yukon potatoes, a bunch of asparagus tips, 1lb of jumbo white mushrooms, 6 bananas, 2 lemons, 5 blue jay oranges, a 2lb bag of snap dragon apples, a jumbo avocado, 5 orri mandarins, 2 Manila mangos, and a bunch of muscat grapes from Chile.

The following is a showcase of what I was able to make using the above.

I juiced the tomatoes, cucumber, oranges, apples, and grapes; along with other produce for a collection of colourful juices that fuelled me through my work week.

The grapes and mango played a part in topping a New York style cheese cake finished with raspberry syrup. Truthfully, the rest of the mango I enjoyed as is because it was delicious.

The potatoes found their way into a poutine and as mash for bangers and mash.

Apples, grapes, and cucumber became part of a healthy lunch for the week.

And the asparagus, mushrooms, carrots, and onion were featured in a hearty Irish stew of red wine and Guinness stout. Served warm in a homemade Irish soda bread bowl.

In short, I hope everyone is able to make the best of their quarantine, trying new things, eating well, and doing their part to keep themselves and others safe.

Chinatown BBQ, take out

When craving Chinese style barbecue meats there are two main options across the Lower Mainland. Two, that pull out ahead as the ones to visit. And if Richmond is too far of a drive out, Chinatown is the one to head towards.

From the exterior you wouldn’t think this is a restaurant, if not for reading the name and noting all the signs out front. You walk in and are greeted by an additional all glass facade. A stunning evergreen frame with gold lettering and red characters, illuminated by multiple glowing yellow lights. It all stands out against the black and white checkered floor, the green booths with red chairs, and the floral table tops stacked up for non-use. The walls speak to the restaurant’s history and authenticity, displaying a multitude of black and white portraits and Chinese paint brush paintings of waterways and landscape. I wish I knew about the decor sooner, as it would have gotten me down here earlier. But alas, all I could do now was appreciate what I may get to experience one day. Instead I shifted my attention to the glistening pieces of meat that hung in their internal window.

The set up is much like all the other Chinese BBQ places in the vicinity, but a lot more well maintained. It is a shame that this isn’t the view from the store front. I’d imagine they would get a lot more attention if that were the case. A showcase like this I would lure you in and close, as you watch meat juices and savoury oils drip and pool in a tray underneath.

You order off of their red and white menu, kept in place under the glass top of a table. A collection of dishes featuring their prized barbecue, served along side rice or now noodles.

Decor aside, the meat was less impressive. Maybe it was because by the time I got to it, it needed to be reheated. Or maybe because the pieces I got were not the best cuts. But overall I found myself thinking it dry and fatty. The duck was bland, which had me reaching for plum sauce. But there wasn’t any included, which meant I had to settle for Thai sweet chilli. And let me tell you, it isn’t the same. Similarly, the pork belly fell short of my expectations. There was more fat than meat. The skin lost its crunch, and the flavour of what little meat I got was more salty than smokey, as one would expect. However, having said that I did finish it all sucking meat from bone; because let’s face it, even the worse Chinese bbq is better than no Chinese bbq. And this is my no measure the worse. Good in a pinch, a easy meal on rice.

Chinatown BBQ
130 E Pender St, Vancouver, BC V6A 1T3
(604) 428-2626
hinatownbbq.com

Tacomio, Mexican Family Box takeout

With no end in sight to our new pandemic reality, more and more restaurants are starting to reopen and offer take out. Perfect timing considering families are less excited about cooking for themselves, and then eating together, after spending the entire day together, at home. So when restaurants like Tacomio offers up family share style meals, it is a reprieve. A change in the day to day, and the ability to not have to cook or clean up after.

Their 2 other locations in North Vancouver and at UBC have now shuttered, leaving only their pick up window in Strathcona open and ready for takeout. Today I picked up their “Mexican Family Menu” for, 4 and took it to the beach for a picnic. The set came packed in a box, labelled with a card explaining who packed it and at what time. Each element is individually packed in styrofoam, all for you to uncover and assemble as you see fit.

The sides and toppings are predetermined, but you do have your choice of fillings. Any 3 from a list of 7; of which are 3 different vegetable options, for those who are vegan or vegetarian. These are the roasted cauliflower, roasted bell peppers, and beans.

I had one of the two chicken options, the spiciest of the two: the “a la diabla”, with arbol chilli sauce, shaved cabbage, fresh pico de gallo, and cilantro. All of the above is divided into their own individual containers, so you can further customize, leaving out the chilli sauce completely, so should you choose to. I just wished that the chicken meat was shredded thinly, much like the “carnitas” (pork) was in its sour orange confit. The meat was tender and well flavoured, but surprisingly the filling I liked the most was the roasted cauliflower with its chipotle hummus, shredded cabbage, cilantro, and lemon vinaigrette dressing. A nice firm crunch that added a great texture to my taco, as well as a smokey pronounced flavour.

The uniform toppings for all the orders are a mild, medium, and spicy salsa, refried beans, seasoned rice, pickled vegetables, red onion, and jalapeños; all to be loaded and folded in a corn tortilla. Of which you get plenty, stacked high and kept warm in tin foil. For those sharing there are enough for your party of 4 to have 4-5. If dining alone you can double up on your soft taco shell to ensure it doesn’t break through as you bite in. Each tasted exactly as you filled it. So the fun is in trying each element and combining it fun pairings.

Of this set, I especially liked the sides. The two types of handheld snacks offered a break between tacos and something to crunch on as you crafted. The thick corn chips were a familiar classic, but the frituras were the ones worth noting. They looked like bicycle wheels and ate like crispy foam, in a good way. Light and airy, it was a great texture to chewy through. The taste: slightly salty, but nothing that lingered.

And if you are thirsty, be sure to grab their new vegan horchata made with coconut milk. A tasty and creamy beverage to help wick away the heat, or a treat to end your meal on like dessert.

In short, Tacomio takes the work out of taco Tuesday! Not only was this a delicious meal, but a fun activity all in one. A great way to get the family together, and doing something different. And when we are all stuck indoors all day, this is a great treat any way you look at it.

Tacomio Pick Up Window
1245 Glen Dr, Vancouver, BC V6A 3M8
(778) 868-7041
tacomio.com

OK Crush Pad, virtual wine tasting

As we are looking at the end of our second month of quarantine, more and more people are hankering for some normality. Any way to let lose and have fun, while still maintaining a substantial distance from everyone else; in the safety of their own home, of course.

So in comes OK Crush Pad with their virtual wine tastings. As a winery that did not start with a tasting room, it makes sense they be one of the first to take the plunge into cyber space. They are offering wine bundles off of their website with the ability to purchase them, and a tasting with one of their skilled sommeliers. Be aware, there is a minimum purchase of 4 bundles for a tasting for 4, which is also their ideal number of participants. However, they have gone as high as 8 in order to accommodate a wine club. (Side note, how do I join a wine club?).

The bundles feature wine from their three main labels: Free Form, Narrative, and most notably: Haywire. The bundle basically has you choosing between Narrative’s baby bottle of rosé bubbles or Haywire’s. I went with the latter for myself and my other three tasters; as naturally you all must choose the same set. The bundle in question then gets delivered to your front door, touch-less style.

After you decide on your bundle, you pick a day and time, and which platform you wish to teleconference on. Then your sommelier reaches out to confirm the details via email. From there you log on and enjoy a 30 minute session which involves background on OK Crush Pad, education on the wines, a question and answer portion, and light hearted batter as a bonus. Basically you dictate the flow of your session, like you would at a regular, in person tasting, in a physical tasting room. With our group, we logged on with Kelsey, who hosted us from OK Crush Pad‘s bottling room. There, she was able to reference the barrels and concrete jars behind her, as she went through our wine selection pouring bottle into glass.

Although this is the new method of congregating now, and there are many great platforms to consider when trying to convey what you need; I still find it cumbersome. Especially if everyone is on different internet speeds, and you end up talking over one another. Meaning conversations get lost in translation, as five try to discuss one topic, seconds apart.

We began with an overview of OK Crush Pad. A husband and wife run winery that started off as a retirement plan, turned into a romantic dream. With both co-owners coming from a marketing background, they lacked knowledge of the wine industry, so sought the guidance of other established vineyards. The result: a custom crush facility and an opportunity to help other small and establishing vineyards. OK Crush, offers up their equipment and facility to others, wanting their own startup wine dreams. Therefore, what might seem like a “personality disorder” (given their featuring of so many different labels under one banner), actually speaks well to their winery’s concept and theme of bringing people together.

Each aforementioned wine label has been established with a specific concept in mind. I will be highlighting a few facts as we go through the tasting notes.

Haywire’s 2018 Baby Bub is purse sized, and full of red fruits like strawberry, raspberry, and watermelon. It is a fruit driven sparkling that is youthful and fresh, making it ideal for a day on the beach.

Haywire winery is know for their use of concrete tanks. (The very tanks we got a good view of from behind our screens with Kelsey). The belief here is that wine is alive, living, and changing. So why do you want to put it in a dead vessel like stainless steel? On the other hand, they don’t want to add any flavour to the wine, like you would get by using an oak barrel. So for a pure expression of fruit stripped down the team at Haywire went with concrete, giving you more character than what you would get from stainless steel.

In a similar fashion, Narrative wants to accept the fruit as is, on its own. To showcase it by itself and to bottle it on its own. They do this by fermenting and aging it only in concrete and stainless, with the latter retaining the most aromatic and fruit notes. Thus giving it a more complex mouthfeel, as with our 2018 Viognier. In this taster we got oily and viscous stone fruit, pineapple, lemon, and even banana. I am not typically a fan of white wine, but was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked this one.

And then there is Free Form, known as their “Nature wines”, which has minimal intervention. They practice a hands off approach with this label, having as little to do with it as possible. Basically it goes into a tank, and then the bottle it is sold in. They further speak to this natural approach by using a ground stone paper label that is made eco-friendly and made without the use of water and paper.

The grapes for the wine itself is grown in Keremoes. The town being better known for ripening red grapes, like the 2017 Cabernet Franc we were tasting today. This red was fermented in clay terracotta pots from Italy. They are a more porous vessel, meaning more oxygen gets into the wine, and it softens in a shorter amount of time. These pots too, don’t contribute to the flavour of the wine.

I am typically a red drinking, but this wasn’t my favourite. It was a smooth wine with lighter tannins. Most memorable for its savoury body, giving you herbs like sage and rosemary.

 

In short, barring the ability to travel to the Okanagan during these times and most definitely not having the ability to attend a tasting there, this virtual platform is a great alternative. It offered a different way to interact, enjoy wine with friends, and learn something new in the safety of your own home. I highly recommend signing up and having something to look forward to with this one, you are going to buy wine anyways. For how you too can have your very own at home wine tasting, visit the link below.

https://okanagancrushpad.com/

Smith’s Bagelry

I have had Turkish bagels once before: during my last visit to Toronto. I was drawn in by their larger shape and their heavily sesame seed encrusted exterior. So when I passed by “Smith’s Bagelry” on a whim, I had to go in. I knew what to expect, having seen their goods featured on a few foodie’s feeds.

You walk into the now empty shop (with the inability to stay and linger), and simply order based on sight. A collection of golden brown baked goods from a showcase kept safe behind plexiglass. Savoury and sweet buns spread across various platforms and plates, well signed with prices and a brief description.

Naturally I had to try their signature sesame bagel. A large loop with an insane amount of sesame seeds that leave you wondering how they stuck them all on there. And best of all, majority of them stayed on as I ate, whereas other bagel brands would loose their seeds to the floor. You can enjoy your twisted bagels with your choice of filling at home, or having them craft it into a sandwich for you here. A feta, tomato, and cucumber option, one with Montreal smoke meat, one with hummus, and even a vegan option with Daiya cheese. I went for the classic choice: the “Aspendos”. Smoked salmon, cream cheese, tomato, and red onion. All as fragrant and as fresh as the handmade bagel that they sat within.

Next, I went for one of their stuffed bagels. The same dough and sesame coating as the bagel above, but shaped like a stuffed football with your chosen filling. The options were olive and mozzarella, sausage and mozzarella, and Turkish sausage and mozzarella. I went for the familiarity of the former most. This was best when toasted for a crispy exterior and chewy centre. Although for the promise of being “stuffed”, it lacked filling in either of its pointed ends.

I had a better time with the blueberry stuffed soft bagel. A nice cakey dough with a dollop of blueberry at its centre. Just wish there was once agin more filling to enjoy with the dough edge to edge.

Overall a great treat. If you get the chance, it is one that I suggest you try. I definitely prefer their texture to that of any grocery store bagel brand.

Smith’s Bagelry
191 W Broadway, Vancouver, BC V5Y 1P4
(604) 423-3434

Dosanko, take out

As we move on to week 5 of quarantine and the need to shutter many non essential businesses, many popular restaurants are trying to find some routine in these forever evolving, uncertain times. Dosanko is one such establishment, who have remained open for take out the entire duration thus far. They have been offering limited menus, keeping what little staff they can employe. Slowly adding more to what’s available, which now includes seasonal offerings.

With cherry blossom season in full swing, Donsanko has brought back their Sakura onigri. A pink rice ball with the look and taste of cherry petals, a popular food trend and flavour in Japan during spring. Its photogenic and rare nature was enough to have me making the drive down. And since I was here, I decided to make lunch out of it. The following is from their lunch menu, in lunch-size portions.

The onigris are a great snack option. Hand moulded and kept solid, bundled in wax paper. Each labelled, each with perfectly prepared sushi rice and a strip of seaweed hiding the centre of your choosing.

The cherry blossom did not disappoint, it was as glamourous as I had hoped, and tasted better than I thought it would. It was bright with the freshness of the shisho leaves. There was a little tang, coupled with floral notes from the blossoms. But the real treat was the surprise filling that I discovered upon the first bite in. As much sweet crab meat as they could stuff, while maintaining the iconic triangular rice ball shape. I highly recommend this one.

I also grabbed a couple of their regular onigris, but sadly they didn’t measure up to the above. They were good, but with unseasoned rice and just the protein to carry them through, it fell flat.

The “Spicy Tuna” is lightly seared albacore tuna with their house made spicy mayo and nori bundled up. The fish is very mild, I wanted some more spice in this or some sauce for it. Plus some additional seasoning in the rice and some additional texture to maw through would have been nice. But overall, they do make a nice snack. The rice is served at the perfect temperate, so its best to eat it quick, before it gets too warm and sticky.

The “Zangi” is Chicken Karaage, aka fried chicken with a sesame sauce. Like the fish above, it left like it was lacking something. Additional seasonings and some kick to have the filling stand out against the moist rice. This was quick to fall apart, its flavour better suited in the sandwich below.

The “Tonkatsu & Curry Plate” gave me the bold flavours I was looking for. House made Japanese curry that wasn’t the sweet kind I was expecting. It was savoury and rich, with a slight spice; best balanced by the tangy pickled vegetables served on the side. Each element was perfectly prepared. The pork was tender with crispy breading, it had the right amount of fat for a nice juicy bite. I appreciated the extra ground meat in the sauce, enough for all the steamed rice. You could taste it over the curry that didn’t overpower.

But my favourite out of my order was the “Cheese Crusted Oyako Sandwich” with fried chicken, egg salad, greens and parmigiano reggiano cheese. All the deliciousness above, packed in tight between two buttery sweet slices of toast. Everything in perfect balance of one another. Crispy chicken, tangy sweet mayonnaise, and a luscious egg salad. I could do without the lettuce that became wilted by the time I got to it.

In short everything was so good that I want to go back again soon. Back to support them, and back to try more off of their comfort menu.

Dosanko Restaurant
566 Powell St Unit #100, Vancouver, BC V6A 1G9
(604) 251-2020

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