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Month: April 2017 Page 1 of 4

L’Éclair de Génie

This late afternoon I was invited to attend the media opening of “L’Éclair de Génie”, the international patisserie’s first location in Canada. The official Robson Street opening would be the following day. And as Vancouver’s only eclair focused shoppe, it has already garnered much attention.

They are a narrow space with an all glass exterior that allows in much light and a good look from the side walk. The eclair counter greets you at a door. And its easy to navigate signs allows you to find the one for you, with its name in French and its description in English.

A neatly arranged display that had all their trademark pastry arranged in rows. Each puff pastry was decorated to represent the flavour of the cream within, and is branded by a chocolate round with the cafe’s signature in either dark or white. And despite them looking sweet, they were the perfect blend of flavour and sugar, great for dessert or a snack. Bite after bite, I found myself trying each of their 9 signature flavours and the one that was exclusive only to the Canadian market.

A pinkish frosting and fresh raspberries marked the vanilla raspberry eclair with white chocolate discs on top. The chocolate cream one featured chocolate three ways with its chocolate filling, topping, and garnish. One of my favourites was the vanilla pecan that had a mild vanilla bean filling and some crunch from the candied pecans that topped it. The raspberry passionfruit was a tarter option with orange icing and a fresh fruit presentation. They must love raspberry because the berry also found its way as garnish and filling to the pale green pistachio raspberry eclair.

I can see the salted caramel being a fan favourite with its wonderfully smokey burnt caramel flavour, gold flake icing, chocolate balls and nib topping, and the salt that enhances the flavour of all the above. The citron yuzu is one I would recommend for its unique representation of the tart citrus fruit, balanced by crispy meringue rounds on top. This is one that I can eat multiples of in one sitting. I liked the freshness and the crunch of the hazelnut over top the hazelnut cream eclair. And the matcha cream and white chocolate one is sure to be popular in the Vancouver food scene. Just like the maple cream one, easily identified with the “I <3 Vancouver” icing, thus making it very instagram-able.

They also serve a couple of baked goods in baskets; and equally neat rows of chocolate rounds, sprayed in metallic colours to differentiate them all. However, we didn’t get a chance to try either today. I guess that would give us all a reason to come back when they are officially open to the public. The pastries were fluffy looking chocolate, sugar, and plain brioche buns. Each as perfectly formed as its neighbour. And the chocolate gems included flavours like praline and caramel in milk or dark chocolate.

 

Today’s event also included an eclair cake on display and a photo booth at the immediate entrance. We indulged in both visually, while sipping on pink sparking wine.

And Chef Christophe Adam was on site to celebrate. Cutting up eclairs for sampling, advertising his new eclair cookbook, posing for photos, and snap chatting his adventure with a lively media and VIP crowd.

I was able to chat up the owner, with his exclusive franchising rights of “L’Éclair de Génie” in all of Canada: Marshall. We spoke about what he had in store for the future of this franchise, including new menu items and expansion. And given his success with the other international import: “Chatime” (he also owns the exclusive franchise rights to it) he knows what he is doing.

The future of “L’Éclair de Génie” includes the launching of sandwiches, ice creams, tarts, and more pastries. As well as sweet and savoury biscuits, that are like the eclairs in flavour and texture, but without the cream filling or the tube shape; and instead comes with a chocolatey base. And then there is aspirations of another location in Vancouver, possibly the Broadway area, along with another in Richmond. But for now the focus is here and their predicted success starting April 29th at 10am.

 

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.
For novelty and flavour I most definitely will recommend these tubular desserts. Enjoy a taste of France in Vancouver. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

L’ECLAIR DE GENIE
1210 Robson Street, Vancouver BC, V6E 3Y4
778-788-6623
leclairdegenie.com
L’Éclair de Génie Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Yook Korean Grilled BBQ & Bistro

I have been attending large scale media events lately, so today it was nice to be able to sit down with three other tell-it-like-it-is food bloggers to enjoy some Korean cuisine and conversation. I was invited by Sherman of “Sherman Food Adventures” to join “Grace Cheung 604“; Amy, ” The Food Queen“; and himself for the soft open of “Yook” on Nanaimo. This would be the only Korean representation in the highly trafficked area.

Getting to it was easy enough, and pin pointing the building on the drive to was even more effortless. They advertised with a large corner sign, and stood out with their all black exterior and newer finish, on a street lined by older buildings. And parking was a breeze with plenty of street side and back alley spots available.

Inside, the restaurant had a very modern look. All new decor and furniture from that of the Vietnamese restaurant that existed in the space once before. The setting was simple and clean with black chairs and white tables, a mirrored wall on one side and tiled panels on the other for decoration. There was no look into the restaurant, nor did you have the ability to enjoy the light from outside streaming in. You couldn’t see much through the black blinders, but they added enough mystique to have those passing by, popping in to see what this new addition to the area entailed.

Planters partitioned with real calla lilies, creating some cover and privacy between rows of longer tables. Each setting was equipped with a buzzer for the calling of staff. This was especially useful if you needed some help during a busier service, and it proved difficult to track down a server; as was the case a few times during our stay.

There were no table-side coils or ventilation fans above for the self grilling of marinated meats at each table. Something I assumed would be included when reading their subtitle: “Grilled BBQ & Bistro” on the restaurant’s door and on each of their menus. All the barbecuing would be done at the back of the kitchen, and then served to order.

The modern aesthetic of the place was furthered by top 40 pop songs in Korean and English playing overhead. It went from the bubble gum girl bands of k-pop to Beyoncé in a smooth transition. It also made the place feel more like a lounge, or an after dinner spot, instead of a restaurant where we would be able to enjoy a traditional Korean style meal. More a place for Chinese style desserts, bubble tea, or even tapas style small plates for snacking and sharing. We would later learn that we would be right in our first blush impressions.

As for the service itself, everything felt precise and exact. From the way the black stone dishes and metal chopsticks were laid out strategically before us, to how the server poured the tea into each metal cups and placed the pot gingerly at the end of the table for self serving after. There was even a perfectly polished, yet casual air to the general manager that received us. I liked how she and her staff made us feel in this comfortable and inviting space.

We asked for the general manager’s recommendations, but ultimately pooled our collective food blogger experience, to select a few dishes to give us a better understanding of what they offer. This would prove to be a wrong decision.

It is worth nothing that during our visit, it was only their second day that they were open to the public. And that they planned their grand opening to be on the day after. This is a rarity. Where most restaurants rather give themselves a month or two before entertaining any plans to advertise to the public and/or host media to review. As a new business you want to work out the kinks of the kitchen, service, and cuisine fully and you need time and experience to do this. Whereas the service was well run and the food came out in a timely manner, what we were served lacked excitement. Some more time collecting feedback and applying it would have helped in presenting a much more memorable meal today. None-the-less, let’s begin.

When it comes to a media tasting: plating and portion size may be gussied up and/or paired down, and the service will usually be top notch. Though I can at least paint you the most accurate image when it comes to the food and the setting, as how I interpret it. But as always, these are my opinions and you need not take them as fact. Unless you have my exact background, have lived my exact experiences, and we possess the same tongue; no one can truly taste and appreciate as you do.

The “Bossom” came highly recommend to us. This is tender boiled pork wrapped in radish kimchi. Despite what the menu advertised, the meat and kimchi were presented separately. And without instructions when serving, we assumed we were to take the grey pieces of pork and wrap them with the thinly sliced rounds of pickled vegetable, and enjoy them with the other spicy pickles vegetable. It was just okay this way, but I much rather prefer each element eaten alone with one riding the flavour coat tails of the last. The colour of the boiled pork wasn’t the most appealing. It was salty and fatty, relying on the sauce dish provided in conjunction for flavour, and pickle on the side for freshness and the missing zing. All in all this was cold pickles and room temperature meat.

Theirs’ was a unique interpretation of Bibimbap, a popular Korean mixed rice dish. They had their rice and its toppings served separately, in separate containers; and no egg to pull it all together. “Gochujang samgyup bibimbap” with Gochujang marinated pork belly. The dish was bland with flavourless crisp vegetables and dry crumbles of meat. There was no way I could tell pork belly was used in this. Disappointing as I love a good rice dish.

At least I got some of the carb-y rich chew I wanted from the “Dduck mandu gook”. This was rice cake and dumplings in beef bone soup. The former two offered a nice chewy texture in the thicker murky broth. Although stuffed full, I wasn’t a fan of the taste of the overpowering herbs used in the dumpling’s filling. But, at least it offered more flavour where the soup they sat in fell short. I would have liked a brown salty and sweet sauce to dip everything in to, to treat the ingredients more like a hot pot.

Similarly, the “Ddook baegi haemul soondube jjigae” lacked depth of flavour. This soft tofu in seafood stew had the colour of spice, but its chillies only when surface deep to give you a tingle of spice. Each bite starts off and ends the same; one boring, tangy taste through out. And the chopped jalapeños added nothing to help.

The tables’ favourite was the only grilled dish we ordered. It came sizzling on a cast iron plate. The “LA Galbi” were thin cut ribs in a sweet soy. The meat was served in large bone it strips, and we were given cooking shears to cut them down to size ourselves. Points for presentation and making an entrance. In hindsight, considering the word “grill” is featured in their title, we might have been better off following the manager’s suggestion and only ordering the pork and beef off their “off the grill” section of the menu. It seems like their specialty. And everything above fell short.

And despite this being the best dish of our meal, I am still not without critique of it. I had three pieces, and each was dry and hard to pry meat from bone. Whereas the others found cuts that were more tender. And when I tried one that “looked tender”, it proved to be just flaps of fat in my mouth. So I gave up. The sauce at least tasted good, although I wanted more flavour and seasoning from it too.

With all of this we were also given a bevy of traditional Korean spicy, cold, and pickled sides. However I didn’t have much of any, and was told the kimchi, wasn’t all that exciting. Just as well, as I am not a fan of stewed cabbage any way. I was told by my co-diners that it was all pretty average.

After trying everything, I didn’t know what to go back for. I wasn’t excited for seconds. Sadly, nothing felt like it was worth revisiting, there was nothing I wanted more of. I struggled yet found myself still picking because there was still food in front of me. In short, I liked the newness of the space more than the food within it.

 

Would I come back? – No
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – No.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
As is, I cannot see myself returning. Not the worst, but below average. What we assumed would be traditional Korean style meal might actually be a listing of fusion Korean, given the way everything tasted. Softer approaches and milder flavours for those unfamiliar with Korean spices and its bold flavours. They certainly would make a great safe space for first timers to the cuisine, or those with particular palettes. Yet their menu didn’t cater to this, or speak to this experience. It was all written, each option came with its Korean names and a brief description in English. There weren’t high resolution photos to help a novice navigate the ordering terrain. Overall, have some work to do to align themselves and set up their business. The space would do better as a after dinner spot in my opinion, some thing the area also lacks. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

YOOK
2408 Nanaimo St, Vancouver, BC V5N 5E4
604-428-9292
yookkoreanbbq.com
Yook Korean Grilled BBQ & Bistro Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Pink Pearl presents 4 Decades of Dim Sum

Today I was invited to a Chinese Bites event meant to celebrate “Pink Pearl” restaurant’s 5th reopening anniversary. I was one of 50 other food bloggers and social media influencers invited to take a journey through the 80’s, 90’s, 2000’s and 2010’s, via dim sum.

As always, when it comes to a media tasting: plating and portion size may be gussied up and/or paired down, and the service will usually be top notch. Though I can at least paint you the most accurate image when it comes to the food and the setting, as how I interpret it. But as always, these are my opinions and you need not take them as fact. Unless you have my exact background, have lived my exact experiences, and we possess the same tongue; no one can truly taste and appreciate as you do.

“Pink Pearl” is one of the longest lasting Chinese restaurants in Vancouver, they have proven their staying power over the years by surviving a fire that threatened to shut them down. They are best known as one of the only places in the city that still serves dim sum with traditional push carts. Something that requires plenty of space and planning on their part, as well as more work for little gains. To consider the necessary distance between tables, in order to pivot carts, means less seating is made available, and therefore the decrease of profits. Then there is the need for preparations proper planning to ensure you make enough food and the right kinds of food to be picked up from your cart, while it is still hot.

Before we began there were a few welcoming speeches, including mention of their fundraising initiative. The restaurant is looking to support the food bank by offering a multi course dinner, where the money for the tickets will go to fund the food bank’s need for non perishables. The theme behind this would be “Four decades of Chinese dinners”, at Pink Pearl. Tickets are sold by the table. $568 for a table of 10-12, and the price includes taxes and gratuity. This was a nice touch and something that echoed this morning’s “4 decades of dim sum” event.

All the dishes that would be coming to us today were laid out on an informative card. Although they weren’t in order of the card’s listing, or even by decade. Which I think would have been a nice idea, along with a little speech regarding the history of each dim sum item, to educate us diners. The following is the order in which all the food arrived.

But to watch the evolution of dim sum in order of decades and on video, visit the link below.

 

From the 2000’s we had the ever popular dim sum classic of “steamed shrimp dumplings”. A solid, rounded, chunk of sweet shrimp within a shell of chewy starch.

We then jumped further back in time with the 1990’s “lotus wrapped stuffed sticky rice”. This was a bundle of sticky rice for everyone to share, served and made fragrant in its leafy wrapper. The filling was the most I have had in such a dish. Full pieces of chicken on bone, chunks of Chinese sausage, and a golden yolk.

Taking another decade back, before going forward again we had the “1980’s Duck-web wrap”. This is actually my first time having duck feet, the webbing throws me off visually. But wrapped with toes covered like this made things a lot easier to swallow, figuratively and literally. Each foot is wrapped up in a tofu sheet with taro, ham, and mushroom. It was all flavoured in the same sweet and starchy light gravy. I could have done with out the vegetable and ham, as I ended up unwrapping everything and eating it all piece by piece anyways.

Back in the 2000’s we had their “steamed sticky rice roll”. This one was new to me. They combined two dim sum favourites into one. Chewy sticky rice with bits of Chinese sausage and ground pork, stuffed into soft white buns. It was a blending of two textures I like with its taste coming from the seasoning of the rice. The rice was not un-similar to the one served in the bundles of lotus leaves above.

The “1990’s mini steamed pork bun” was another one I am very familiar with. Sweet honey glazed barbecue pork in a perfectly spongy white bun dough. This had a good ratio of meat to bao.

The 1980’s had “shrimp toast”, as another dim sum classic that I have never had. It was a whole shrimp embedded into a triangle of toast. Interesting in presentation and delicious in theory, however I found it far too oily to consume more than a bite of. There was too much butter and oil, causing everything else to be lost and drowning in it.

2010’s had “hand-made steamed shrimp rice rolls”. They were served undressed, but the dish of soy it came with was a necessity for flavour and kick. The rolls tasted absolutely fresh and the table at the plates clean.

So far everyone was thrown off by all the dishes from the 1980’s, and the feeling was furthered by this interpretation of the popular pork dumpling: siu mai; named “liver and pork dumplings”. It wasn’t the most visually attractive, sitting in a pool of glistening grease, and without the yellow wonton wrapper that many use as a visual cue for the traditional dish. And then there was the cut of liver that topped it, not many folks like the iron-y taste and sandy texture of liver. But for me and a handful of others, it represents childhood and being forced to eat such organ meats by your parents, who insisted that it is good for you. Having been socialized to it, I actually like liver prepared liked this and found it delicious. Cooked tender and not so overpowering in taste as to hide the flavour of the pork ball it balanced on.

But the next 1980’s dish I wasn’t as such a fan of. This was yet another dim sum item that was new to me. We each received a “pan fried half moon dumpling” served with a scoop of soup. The former is a two bite, fried pastry with a chalky shell. You can’t make out, let alone taste the specks of filling within it. Overall it was fairly dry and didn’t have much taste as is, so we figured it was meant to be dipped. The tangy light broth helped to balance out its oily texture. And it gave the dumpling a herbal yet citrusy flavour, not that it necessary matched one to the other.

We then jump back up two decades with the 2010’s “wok fried lotus root and fresh mushrooms”. This dish was served family style with celery, carrot, black fungus, and goji berries (which I will talk more about down below). The lotus root was served frimer than what I am use two, it had a starchy finish to it and required some back of teeth chewing to gnaw through. It matched well with the other crisp vegetables in this sticky, mild gravy. A good side, but felt incomplete as is.

 

The 2010’s “hand-made steamed beef rice rolls” were not unlike the shrimp ones we had earlier. Except here the filling was ground up beef seasoned herbaceously with ginger, spring onion, and I believe cilantro. This too required the sweet light soy sauce to make it pop.

We then transition to dessert for our last two dishes, although it is common to get the dim sum sweet served before or along side the dim sum savoury. This is because desserts are often prepared ahead of time, and are typically ready for serving before any other dishes are wok fried or steamed to order.

The 1990’s had this “black and white sweet sesame roll”. Diana from Foodology described its look best by calling them “film canisters”. A layer of black and white glutinous rice flour fused together and rolled up. The flavour of the sesame in the dessert was mild. The seeds sprinkled above it offered more of sesame essence, although I would have preferred them toasted for a nice smokey flavour.

And lastly we finished at our current decade with this 2010’s “gojoy gojiberries gelle”. It was a nice, light berry finish made with the goji berries in mind. The berries added a nice textural chew and gave pops of juice to the otherwise dry jello.

Today’s event was also sponsored by two local goji berry farmers from “Gojoy”. “Gojoy” is one of the first to farm goji berries here in Canada. Starting every June to the end of summer, on their acreage, you have the ability to visit them for “you pick”. This is where you get to pick your own fruit from their actual orchid and get charged for how much you pick. They attended this event today to showcase their goji berry smoothie mix before the event, along with bags of frozen berries you can take home and thaw out to use as needed. They also spoke to the application of goji berries in cooking as seen in the savoury lotus dish above and now this jello-like dessert. The berries are easy to tie in to Chinese cuisine, as it is already noted in Chinese culture for its medicinal properties. They are now scientifically proven to be beneficial for the eyes, liver, and kidney.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – No.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
I haven’t been back to “Pink Pearl” in years, until today. This was one of my parent’s favourite places for Chinese seafood dinners and dim sum, growing up. But I think we actually stopped coming in, after they burnt down and took half a year to rebuild. So to see them get back on their feet and continue to try and do new things, to bring in a larger, more diverse crowd is inspiring. This was a great event, offering a very unique way to showcase the familiarity of dim sum. Hopefully they do this and more of it, more often; offering a variation of today’s event to the paying public. It will not only bring in fans of Chinese cuisine, but even those unfamiliar and willing to learn through ingesting. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

PINK PEARL
1132 East Hastings Street, Vancouver BC, V6A 1S2
604-253-4316
pinkpearlrestaurant.ca
Pink Pearl Chinese Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Fatburger, North Burnaby

My partner is a frequenter of the burger chain, especially as they now have their: smaller size big taste options that range between $9.99-$10.99 for a whole meal. It comes with a smaller burger and less fries for less. Where as a regular burger is $9.99 and to make it a combo with drink and fries you are looking at $4.99 more.

Each location is a little different. The one in Burnaby, by our place included breakfast until 4pm, a specialty touch screen soda machine, and small television screens at the counter facing the window. We you eventually sit and wait for our meal at the latter.

Like any fast food joint you line up at the single till and order from their pictorial menu hanging above. They offered various poutine, wings, and salads along with their burgers. But considering “burger” was in their name, you’d figure that’s what you ought to get. This was my first time visiting any location, and having one of these burgers. And given the praise others have given it, I went in optimistic; yet still cautious in ordering the more regular bacon cheddar burger. The menu doesn’t actually list what goes into it, and you can only guess so much by the pictures. Like how the “California” came with guacamole due to the green mushy layer in its photo, or the ultimate BBQ burger came with onion rings that were shown as thick crispy breading. Luckily the clerks know to warn you of all the toppings and condiments in each and confirm it is what you indeed want. After all one of their advertised promises is that they make you “a burger you can’t refuse”. Along with them being “big, juicy, tasty. (Now that is a fat burger)”.

You pay at the counter and are given a table number with the warning that “patience. (Is needed as) Perfection takes time”. There is a necessary wait as everything is prepared to order and made fresh in their fry kitchen, made visible right behind the check out counter. And apparently what comes out is good enough to come back for as they have a stamp card for frequent diners. After your purchase 7 full size burgers you get any meal up to $7.99 for free

We spent this elongated wait time battling with the less than optimal soda machine. It was a struggle to select what you wanted from its touch screen, without spraining a thumb. You find yourselves poking is several times, increasing the line during a rush. We eventually gave up and my partner went for cherry Fanta when he wanted fruit punch. And I had lemonade when I wanted peach ice tea from it.

When our burgers came, my partner’s Cajun chicken that he ordered was not seasoned in the orange hue it should have been. When I brought it up to the clerk attention that our order was wrong, she denied responsibility. I reminded her of our exchange how both he and I asked for the Cajun burger. My partner ordered for himself, but after realizing the clerk had trouble understanding him due to his accent, I reiterated “Cajun” a couple of more times to be sure. The clerk’s excuse was that she listed chicken when she ran through the burger toppings and we didn’t say anything when she did (whereas if she meant Cajun, she would have said, “Cajun Chicken”). In my mind, why would I split hairs when she mentioned chicken? It was a chicken burger after all? So after the back and forth and my unwillingness to take no for an answer she accepted the basket with the burger and fries back. I sat down only to question what is it they would do to rectify the situation and would it just be her suggestion of sprinkling Cajun spices over the chicken fillet and adding yellow cheese?

So I headed back and on my second trip up, I dipped behind the counter and was able to address, who I assume was the manager as she spoke with knowledge and a better understanding of customer service. She explained how the burger is made and what she would be doing to salvage it. I told her that I would let my partner try it and if it didn’t measure up I would be back. He comes often and this is his regular order, so he has an expectation in mind and expects it to match all the other Cajun chicken burgers he has had with them in the past. When he finally took a bite, it obviously wasn’t as expected. But he isn’t the type to make a fuss, so kept it. I took a bite and not knowing what to expect found it either bland or overwhelming with spice, due to the uneven peppering of the Cajun spices. But at this point my partner was too hungry and didn’t want to have wait another 10 minutes for them to actually make us a burger that we “couldn’t refuse”.

The kitchen (manager) later sent a server to come check in on us and how the burger was. When asked, my partner was honest, it isn’t what a Cajun burger should taste like, but he was unwilling to wait. She took the feedback away and later came back with a voucher for a free burger to make up for the disappointment and the experience, I assume. This was a good way to salvage the interaction.

As for my bacon cheddar burger, for what it was it was good. The patty was a touch on the dry side but the healthy mix of ketchup, mustard, and relish over top, it was easily masked. The candied bacon was the highlight with its thicker strips. And fries were also really nice and crisp too, but this is no wonder considering they also make their fries fresh too order with their burgers.

 

Would I come back? – No.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
I am not upset about their being a mistake made and them not wanting to waste food by trying to “fix” the burger above. What I am upset about was the clerk arguing with me on what I said and asserting that this was what I wanted. Especially as I had to repeat “Cajun” a few times, and if she didn’t understand it is up to her to clarify, not for me to accept what she understood to be true. I know it may seem like a small thing, but when you choose to dine out, it is not only for the food, but you also take into consideration the atmosphere and the experience. And given the hype of this better burger chain and as it was my first time here, I unfortunately didn’t get that right away. Although I will not be writing them off for this fact, but instead because I have tried similar burgers, set at similar prices, also catering to that market of a step up from the burger of fast food chains; this just doesn’t measure up to my favourites in the category. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

FATBURGER
4461 Lougheed Highway, Burnaby BC, V5C 3Z2
604-568-5179
fatburgercanada.com
Fatburger Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Chicken Parmie Challenge at Moose’s Downunder

I have been to “Moose’s Downunder” before. And during that first time visit I made note of their chicken parm challenge, and today I saw out my intention to attempt it.

To read up on my original visit to the Australian bar visit the link below.

Moose’s Down Under Bar & Grill

This is 1 kilo (cause Australian) of food to be eaten within 45 minutes to earn you success. It breaks down to four large pieces of flattened and breaded chicken, coated gently in a tomato marinara sauce with carrot chunks and onion slices, and then topped with a thick layer of melted mozzarella cheese and a healthy sprinkle of Italian herbs. The cartoon version of it on a few of the posters, that hung on their walls seemed friendly enough. It had us optimistic of the feat before us.

My guest and I left work promptly at 5pm and rushed downtown to meet our 6pm reservations. When I made the appointment I was warned that we had to be in our allotted seats on the dot, as Wednesdays are particularly busy for them, due to their popular trivia night. When we arrived the bar was mostly left unseated, however every table was reserved with cards that either read names and how many there was to their party, or it claimed the table in the name of a group, like “moose knuckles” (this is an actual team name, and yes, I know what it stands for in slang)

We were originally given a table all the way at the back. It was one four top adjacent to a lengthy table? that was sat by a large group. They had finished eating and most of them were now standing around and mingling with one another in the open space. Agreeing to this table meant having to battle to be heard, and trying to enjoy being in the shadow of a body, where you had their behind within your eye line. And seeing as we came with the intention to film our escapades, this wouldn’t be the best arrangement visually or auditorily. So we inquired about a seat where we didn’t have to yell at one another to be heard. Our server gave us space at the bar to accommodate, but I was still unsatisfied. Truth be told, had I known this would be our seating arrangement, I would have made the reservation and the trek down on another day. Luckily learning that we intended to film our meal today, the manager herself directed us to a full four top table at the front of the restaurant. Here, we agreed to eat quick (it is also a requirement to beat the challenge anyways) and leave right after we were done. This was not a problem for us.

When the food came it needed a three person procession. It was literally a plate full of chicken and potatoes the size of a full pizza. Each server held one and needed two hands to do so. Another server came to take photos of us before the challenge began, and the manger returned to state the rules.

You had the finish your plate clean in order to win, and you had 45 minutes to do so. In that time you cannot leave the table. Winning earned you the $35 plate for free, a tee shirt to commemorate your victory, and a celebratory squeeze of their golden rubber chicken. We were even shown the latter as a extra push of encouragement. In general the entire bar staff was super supportive of us embarking on this quest. Many of them stopped by to give us tips before we started, like eating all the fries first as it is the hardest to get through later. And many more stopped by just to cheer us on. That in itself if worth trying the challenge just to experience. We also earned the attention of many customers and their admiration for even trying such a challenge.

To watch our attempt and get more detail in the play by play, visit the link below.

But when it came down to it, this would not be a success for us, a lesson we knew going in. There was just too much of the same one toned taste. Not even through the first chicken cutlet we were done with the taste, and beyond repulsed by the texture. And with this much food there is no way you can finish it all while it is still warm. Therefore the cheese hardens and the once crispy breading becomes dense and soggy from its own condensating sweat. The fries ended up being the one element on the plate that holds up from first to last bite.

Where we thought we had ample time to finish, the trick is to actually eat as much as you can as fast as you can, focusing on the ticking time bomb that is the chicken. Apparently the record holder completed his plate in 17 minutes. I cannot even fathom it. And the math doesn’t add up, did he even chew?

 

None-the-less this was another one in the books, and another food challenge that I am happy to have tried. I left my plate having eaten a little over a quarter of what I had to. My guest did better at more than half, although in order to get as far as he did he had to strip a chicken of its cheese and breading. Which turns out is a very bad idea, considering that if he was to complete this challenge he would have to eat spoonfuls of soggy breading as it was.

And although we felt bad for not packing up what we couldn’t finish to go, the thought of having anymore and having to carry it home was not at all an appealing one. Luckily our server was sympathetic, saying she can’t even finish a normal parm, let alone dare attempt what we did.

For those that dare, try and beware. And don’t deny your cravings.

 

MOOSE’S DOWN UNDER
830 W Pender Street, Vancouver BC, V6C 1J8
604-683-3300
moosesdownunder.com
Moose's Down Under Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

HomeSkillet

I was the plus one to my friend’s bi-weekly trip down to the states. A couple of hours he zips across the boarder into Bellingham to take advantage of the budget grocery outlets here. With a Nexus pass and inexpensive gas this regular run is well worth it for $2 cheeses and 50 cent packages of non perishables.

But seeing as we woke up early to avoid the traffic and would be down here anyways. We made breakfast a must stop on this trip. Besides, as everyone knows you never do groceries on an empty stomach.

To watch the video recap of our trip, including breakfast and our grocery shopping excursion visit the link below. We share a breakfast with enough food for three between two. And seek out most of what you can only find in the states, that has us Canadians missing out.

My host choose our brunch destination based on a couple of trips he has taken in the past. Plus for the purposes of writing, this would be an interesting one given the restaurant’s sense of flare that travelled from the owner’s all the way to decor, menu, food, and staff. It was also featured on the Canadian restaurant exploring show, “You Gotta Eat Here”.

Located in an industrial area their popularity has made them a destination. Easily identified by its oversized mascot chicken and its rainbow painted exterior. A pop of colour surrounded by rusting chain and greeting metal.

The day was cold, wet, and windy; something we were all too familiar with in Vancouver, and something we didn’t let stand in our way of this weekday brunch today. But despite the down pour and in between traditional breakfast and lunch times, there was still a wait to be seated. You push your way through and write your name and the number to your party before heading back out. There isn’t enough room to stand and keep warm inside, so your are told to stand outside with the door closing behind you. One of the servers invited those wanting, the ability to wait under their covered patio until their names would be call.

The patio was still closed for the season. A lengthy covered area adjacent to the actual restaurant itself. It is decorated and lined with cooking skillets, each painted on with cartoon eggs and bacon. And a walk in closet, marked with our favourite Christopher Walken pun.

Despite the ability to seek refuge from the wet on this patio, no one budged. We were all content with waiting in the cold and letting the wind and rain whip at our faces as we waited for entry. In fact a couple of customers decided to pull a patio umbrella free of its holder and use it as a shield from these elements. And when they were called to be seated, another couple took their place and shade.

Inside it was just as ornate, your eyes were forced to turn every which way. On your right their bar side with high tops. And as busy as it was, no one objected to a seat here just to be able to eat and go.

We, however were able to get a table to the left. One of many decorated in acrylic paints. There were patterns of painted corn in its husks, a white polka dot pattern mingling with eggs and chickens, purple beets and red cherries. We made the one with fried sunny side up eggs our home for the next 30 minutes. We, like everyone else was encouraged to eat and leave for the benefit of the restaurant. It as a smaller business with its smaller seating capacity. It was a fair request for them to make on card stock. Just like they ask of parties no more than four, knowing the kitchen would not be able to keep up. They only have 6 burners and a 2′ by 2′ griddle, and lone chef cooking every dish to order. They went on to explain this in much more detail on their website.

The staff were all pretty vibrant. Our server in particular was pretty funky. She was outgoing and talkative, much like the restaurant itself. She spoke to us like friends, sitting down beside my host when taking our order.

As for the menu, there was so much to sort through, enough for us to want to order four dishes to share. However, we were deterred in doing this by the server. This was the first time me ordering less wasn’t a suggestion, but a non negotiable. She was frank in saying that the one man kitchen would not be able to keep up with 4 dishes to a table of two. The chef had help with prep and plating, but from what I figured, was the only one behind the stove top.

So we made our choice wisely.

I started off my taking our server’s suggestion of either a mimosa or Bloody Mary. I went with the later, as a prefer a Caesar and the use of Clamato juice instead of just tomato. They had a few of mimosas, more than just orange or grapefruit with sparkling wine. I naturally, wanted to try what I left was the most unusual. This was their “Dry cucumber mimosa” ackead drink that would have been for fragrant of gin was including. It was a refreshing drink, more cucumber water than bubbly anything.

The “Homemade biscuits an gravy with two eggs” came highly recommended by host, this is his go to during each visit. You have a choice between traditional sausage gravy or a spicier chorizo gravy. My host remembered the sauce being pretty spicy as is, so suggested against the chorizo gravy, as to not put it over the top. And we had no regrets, it was a real luscious gravy, definitely the highlight of the dish. Although the biscuits were a close second. They were perfectly salted and wonderful cheesy. A great chalky meets crumbly texture that gets some creaminess from all the gravy that generously coats it. I just wished some biscuits were left undressed, so I could enjoy them as they were, as they were pretty tasty. And the eggs seemed to just add colour and make it more breakfasty.

We of course had to try one of their homeskillet, given that it is their namesake dish. We choose the “Meaty Homeskillet” which is bacon, ham, and sausage over home fries, scrambled eggs, and cheese. The pork fat coating the crispy potato was delicious. While the chunks of meat added a nice saltiness to the mix. Add in a rubbish egg yolk and some tangy home made ketchup and I had myself a great hash served in a cast iron skillet.

Cause one potato dish is not enough, we also ordered the “Pulled pork tater tots hash-n-eggs”. The menu warned that this one would take longer to get the ideal caramelization the chef wanted over the crisp bites of potato and tender pork. The flavour of it grows on you to have you coming back for more.

However seeing as each alone is the one dish with no sides to mix things up with, the bucket of sauce they also bring out is a good to turn to. Although snacking like this between three plates, had me feeling like I didn’t need to. Everything was just so flavourful.

The washroom was just as ornate and colourful as the rest of the place. A homage to clowns with a shrine of them behind the porcelain throne, photos of them plasters on all the walls, and with a few dolls hanging from the ceiling. You felted watched as you went. I just question the handful of paper popcorn bags made available by the toilet paper roll.

 

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 is a great breakfast joint, one that I would definitely return to, even knowing a wait would before me. And maybe I will come back later in the season to enjoy that backyard patio of their’s. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

HOMESKILLET
521 Kentucky Street, Bellingham Washington, 98225
360-676-6218
homeskilletinsunnyland.com
HomeSkillet Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Nomad, Happy Hour

This Easter Sunday brought us to Main Street, out to enjoy the sun. We walked up and down the block looking for a spot to pause at, until we decided to give “Nomad” a try. Which turned out to be a great place, considering my guest had a traditional big Easter brunch hours before and was looking for only a light snack now.

Given the time we arrived (after lunch and before dinner) we found ourselves in an empty restaurant, with perfect timing for happy hour. Having never been here before and not having the regular menu to compare it, I am not sure how much we were saving by eating at this time. But the emptier setting was perfect for our group of two adults and one toddler. Our 0.5th member was able to walk along the cushion seats and push chairs around on the floor, with out distracting anyone. And all the staff even humoured her, they smiled and waved in the hopes that she would interact back. As far as family friendly service goes, this was tops.

The space is as chic as industrial can get. The all window front allows in so much natural light and the vaulted ceiling makes the space open up before you. Concrete floors and walls, wooden detailing and tables; and potted plants give it that urban garden vibe, that Vancouver is so fond of. The green creeped down high ledges, sat in mason jars at every table, and were even present in balcony railing planters that hung off the ledge of the mezzanine. Overall the simplicity of the space is definitely one of those places best enjoyed on a bright and sunny day.

Their abbreviated happy hour included drink specials. My guest went for a pint of their cider for $5.50, and I a cocktail at 50 cents more. The “Femme fatale” was a great breakfast drink along the lines of a mimosa but much more sharp, with more lip puckering citrus. It tasted like the lemon flavour from a meringue pie. Lavender vodka, lemon juice, ginger syrup, essence of rose, and sparkling wine. My favourite bit was the cherry that sunk to the bottom of the murky glass. It was a perfect last bite to the drink, sweet and full of the liquor it absorbed.

For food we shared two of their not-so-small appetizer plates. The “Smoked local pork belly” came with two cuts of pork belly, served with an apple fennel mustard and house made pickles for $8. The thick and fatty chunks of pork were tender. They were only lightly salted, so the extra briny tang of the pickled carrots and onion were a great little kick. And the pepper mustard offered some additional dimension.

But more impressive were their Sunchoke “wings” for $15. These were sunchockes (a cross between a potato and an artichoke) seasoned and prepared like chicken wings in a honey barbecue glaze that was the perfect kind of sticky, lick your fingers good. The chunks of sunchokes were served with alfalfa sprouts, celery sticks and dried apple chips. They added texture and another flavour that paired well with the house prepared ranch and hot sauce dressing it all sat in. All together it made a very dynamic plate, all the flavours matched and not one element overpowered the other. Once again I was surprised at how good this tasted, it will be one I crave for again and one I have no problem recommending.

 

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.
Given how great this small tasting was, I would like to come back for an earlier dinner to try more of what they have to offer. Returning early in the evening to enjoy the fleeting daylight and the wonderful respite the setting provides, all before the rush of a busy dinner service. Or even brunch for more of the “femme fatale”. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

NOMAD
3950 Main Street, Vancouver BC, V5V 3P2
604-708-8525
nomad-vancouver.ca
Nomad Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The Orchid Conservatory at Majestic Hotel

High tea at the Orchid Conservatory within the Magestic Hotel

 

Here in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia we bullied our way into the orchid room at the Majestic Hotel. Apparently enjoying a service here is so coveted that reservations during the weekday require a month in advance wait and a reservation during the weekend is three months in advance notice. And here we were strolling in just before the 3pm seating and being given a seat right away.

My host had made a reservation the day before and was greeted with a “yes”. However when we arrived today we were told we would not be seated and that their staff had made a mistake. That reservations could not be taken over the phone, but instead are only available to be made online. A seat for the same tea service was then offered to us in any of their other areas: the lounge, dining room, or parlour. I refused and stood firm on our first choice and they were able to accommodate us with a no show reservation. We were very lucky.

Wanting to be surrounded by orchids was the only reason why we were out here today. The orchid conservatory is the hotel’s green house. A climate controlled room set to a brisk chill, ideal for the growth of all their orchid plants. The room is set up to showcase the hanging garden and orchidscape within this glass atrium. It’s claim to fame includes being the only botanical wonder in the country, featuring a seasonal range of phalaenopsis orchids, and successfully housing thousands of stunning large-petaled blooms displayed in a re-creation of their natural habitat. As the seasons progress, so do the variety of orchids on display. They also have several tropical carnivorous plants, including the pitcher plant that traps insects in its petals, shaped like a pitcher. The benefits to dining here is not only the aesthetics, but for the scent all the flowers provide as well.

 

To experience the beauty of the orchid conservatory for yourself, click the link below to watch as our experience unfolds.

Our service began by choosing which type of tea we wanted. Then there is the show of removing it from its wrapper and setting it to steep, all completed as an exhibition before our eyes. A specific procedure performed carefully by the hands of one of their prim and proper staff. They wore uniforms and preformed with grace and ease.

A sand timer was turned upside down, and the amount that spilled from top to bottom indicated the completion of the tea brewing process. The bags were then removed ceremoniously with tongs and side plates. And then the tea pot filled with perfectly steeped tea is poured into our decorative porcelain cups. The rest is kept warm over the light of a heated pedestal.

 

Our tea for two came on a round display unit, instead of the tiered towers I am more familiar with from tea services in Vancouver. This was three tiers of shelves, and on each flat surface a glass dish or a shot glass. There were enough of the savoury items to give us one of each, but for the desserts we were meant to share.

And interestingly, our tower included a copper bento box of warm items to start. Two of each of the following fried items. Fried rice and mushroom croquette, scotch eggs, and a chicken drum with its end wrapped in tinfoil for your eating consideration. They were served with a side of creamy mayo and tangy plum sauce for dipping into.

The finger sandwiches included a cucumber and cream on white bread, chicken salad and lettuce on focaccia, and shrimp with alfalfa sprouts on a seeded bun.

The middle layer featured three scones, two plain and one with raisins, each buttery and light. They also made a serving of blueberry jam and clotted cream available as a spread for them.

The dessert course crowned the presentation unit. A roti-like bun topped with a creamy peanut butter whip and tart raspberry chocolate disc, and filled with luscious custard. A fresh fruit tart with zesty cream and a buttery crust. And a New York style cheese cake bite with a strawberry jam topping, accented by a pink leopard printed chocolate square. I liked the raspberry jam panna cotta with fresh blueberries and crunchy meringue bits the best. And appreciated the texture of the chocolate mousse over flaky pastry.

 

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.
When else can you enjoy a tranquil tea, set in such unique surroundings? Don’t deny your cravings.

 

ORCHID CONSERVATORY
Level 2, The Majestic Hotel, 5, Jalan Sultan Hishamuddin, Tasik Perdana, Kuala Lumpur 50000
03 27858000
majestickl.com/orchird-conservatory.html
The Orchid Conservatory - The Majestic Hotel Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Myst

“Myst” is a Taiwanese restaurant defining themselves as an Asian fusion eatery. Here they prescribed to the belief that more is more.

Their fullsome menu matches their large restaurant space, their longer hours; and their ability to cater to various appetites from 7:30am breakfasts to late night snacks at 1am. The only thing out of sync with this was their parking situation out front. They shared their lot with another fairly large restaurant and there just isn’t enough stalls to go around. Therefore the one way road easily becomes anything goes, in order to get a coveted spot (this blogger is speaking from experience). Although, given the right time of day, curb side spots are available as well.

The restaurant is all new and it shows with clean lines and simple symmetry. Wooden beams flowed parallel to the squared floor tiles, and all the tables and booth seats ran in between both. Frosted glass with linear criss cross etching created extra separation between seating arrangements. And an all window front gave the place all the day time lighting it needed. However, when the sun sets and night falls, they are able to attract the vision of hungry diners passing by, with their neon blue lights. The LEDS trim the ceiling and bathes the room in a mechanical blue.

Today I was one out of a handful of food bloggers and media influencers that was invited to taste and try some of their signature dishes, before their grand opening the day after (April 21, 2017). As a Chinesebites event. And judging by the steady of traffic of this Thursday evening, and the wait at the door for a table during this soft launch period, I believe they will do just fine. Especially given their offerings below.

 

As always when it pertains to a media event, plating and portion size may be gussied up and/or paired down, and the service will usually be top notch. Though I can at least paint you the most accurate image when it comes to the food and the setting, as how I interpret it. But as always, these are my opinions and you need not take them as fact. Unless you have my exact background, have lived my exact experiences, and we possess the same tongue; no one can truly taste and appreciate as you do.

There was so much food at this event. Therefore, as a double edged sword, in order to be able to try it all, I wasn’t able to have much of many and therefore my review won’t be as thorough as it normally is. Similarly there are some dishes that I would have otherwise deemed good, but when compared to others that stood out so much more, I couldn’t help but rank them less by comparison. As a result, I strongly suggest taking what I have written in quick summary with a grain of salt. And simply visit yourself, and try anything that you read below that deemed interesting enough to do so.

Their fusion Asian cuisine was pretty much 80% Taiwanese, featuring Hakka style with nods to Japanese cooking. The dishes that follow are in order of which they came to us.

“Preserved cabbage with shredded pork fried rice cake”. I really enjoyed the chewy texture of the rice cakes sliced thin, however found that the strands of bitter pickled vegetable took away from it. Definitely an acquired flavour.

The “Myst delux marinated pork with rice” was listed under traditional rice combos. There was a little too much going on in this for me. Between the strong salty flavour of spicy sausage, the sweet fluffy texture of the pork floss, the briny flavour of the preserved vegetable, and even stronger tang of the yellow oshinko pickle. I would have liked the bowl more simple, or at least more rice to offer a better base. I would have ordered it just with the minced pork in gravy over rice, topped with the runny egg, and accompanied by the spongy shrimp roll.

By comparison, the “TaiNan style egg noodle soup” was a little bland. It has a nice fishy broth with sweet noodles and shrimp, to enjoy as a lighter meal.

There are several marinaded items, available for you to pick and choose, to construct your own cold appetizer plate. Selecting more than two out of the nine options earns you 5% off. Ordering three or more varieties gets you 10% off. You paid for each item, and each varied in price. They were seasoned fairly similarly so you are pretty much choosing each for its texture. Here it was the chewy cartilage of pork ear string, the thick gelatine-like chew of thick cut seaweed, and the squeaky crumble of dried tofu.

One of my favourites was the “Assorted deep fried basket” with salty peppery squid tentacles, crispy fish cake, and earthy rice cake. This was yet another dish enjoyable for its medley of textures. Thankfully of flavour on its own, as I can’t really think of a sauce that would go well with any of this.

The “Myst beef noodle soup” was disappointingly salty, a noticeable point even after the first slurp. And there wasn’t a good beef to noodle ratio. More of the latter when you wanted more than two pieces of stomach, two gelatine-like tendons, and two smaller chunks of stringy beef.

Another one I really liked was the “Shanghai steamed sticky rice dumplings”. Flavourful rice wrapped in a package of nice chewy dough. It equated to the perfect union of carbs wrapped in starch, a good way to be for me.

The “Taiwanese style fried rice vermicelli” was a stir fry of textures. Thin noodles meet julienned cuts of carrot and lettuce, and thin strips of beef. It was very similar to what my mother made for us growing up. Homestyle.

The “House special spicy lamb hot pot” delivered on its promise of heat. The pot arrived on its own pedestal, kept boiling by a crackling candle light. There was a lot of assorted meat and seafood along with the lamb; like imitation crab, sausage, and tofu. And to make it a full meal it came with some garnished rice, a dish of preserved salty vegetables and some seasoned meat and nuts for crunch. I found the red broth of the pot a little too hot personally, but Diana from Foodology was not shy to take the entire portion left behind home for meals to come.

The “Chives, shrimp, and pork dumplings” were nice. Flavourful without the sauce and better with. It was exactly as expected.

“Delicious sandwiches” were their name an not so much my description. They were your typical Taiwanese style sandwiches with meat, egg, and vegetables stacked between three toasted layers of white bread. What stood out was the sweet mayo used and how it was quick to liquidity with the condensation of the fresh tomato and cucumber. You would squeeze the triangle and pools of white fluid would run. I could have used less of this and a second layer of ham, or some spam (like how my mom use to prepare it) for an increased meaty presence.

The “Deep fried ginger flavour chicken whole wings” was another favourite of mine. Crispy skin, juicy dark meat, and plenty of flavour throughout. This is definitely one to go back for.

By comparison the “Fried chicken in chili pepper” wasn’t as dynamic. Less flavour and more chilli spice. There was also what seemed like more bone per chunk of chicken.

The “Pan fried beef pancake” is a Taiwanese classic. Beef flavoured by a sweet and tangy sauce, rolled up in a salty green onion pancake. It tasted as I expected it too, but I found it too salty to have more than one bite of.

The “Chive and shrimp spring roll” was pretty unspectacular as well. They were under stuffed and over fried. Too oily to the touch for my liking.

 

And the most memorable dish for me was the “Golden sand prawns with salted egg yolk sauce”. Having only had egg yolk over seafood once before in Malaysia, I vowed to find a representation of it in Vancouver; and here I have. I didn’t bother peeling back the shell of the prawn and ate it as is, sans the head and tail. After all that’s where all the seasoning was. It had the texture of melted sand, an enjoyable kind of graininess with that distinct rich yolky flavour. Truly one of a kind, and one I really recommend trying.

The “Myst Japanese style egg fried rice” was a nice rice dish. Airy with seafood and the distinct Japanese combo of sweet mayo, spicy seaweed, and toasted sesame seeds. It made a great base to enjoy along with a few of the other dishes.

For the skewers each order comes with a minimum of three. They had the traditional chicken, lamb, and pork available. But we were given a more exotic mix of fishcake, chicken gizzard, and pork intestine. They had a nice char to them, but a little on the dry side. A mild sauce to dip them into would have been nice. Especially with the after taste of the more gamier organ meats.

“Fried green beans with minced pork” is another Taiwanese classic that I gravitate towards. They were pan fried fresh and crisp, with a sweet and salty meat sauce. This was a way to get your vegetables in, between all the carbs and meat available.

And the “Japanese style takoyaki” was as expected in flavour and texture. More melty dough then squishy octopus. Though I could have done with less of the brown sauce, as it was fairly salty with it.

For dessert we were given a mix of traditional and modern Asian style desserts. For the former the “Myst jelly” was a unique offering. Apparently it is a winter melon jelly. But more like jello, accept a lot more firm. It tasted like molasses and cane syrup and was a lot too sweet for me. It would have been nice to have accented the flavour with some coffee, to balance out the sugar with some bitter. But that would no longer be tradition I guess.

And none of us were prepared for the “Hakka style sweet rice cake”. It is normally served looking more like a roll cake. Here it is a sweet dessert sticky rice in a bowl. The cut up dates embedded within overpowered with a sharp medicinal flavour that battled against the sesame seeds. Not one I would recommend, unless you have had it before and know what you are getting yourself into.

Everyone was much more receptive of the Myst taiyaki. This is an ice cream sundae served in an edible sugar cone bowl with matcha ice cream, red bean sauce, and sticky rice balls. And the taiyaki acts more like a side. A chewy sweet dough pastry hiding more gooey red bean. It would have been best enjoyed warm, instead of left to cool at room temperature and made to match the cold of the ice cream. Okay together, but better separate as two distinct desserts.

But what really got the cameras flashing was the smoke from the dry ice accenting their “snowflake ice” desserts. This was flavoured shaved ice available in mango, green tea and red bean, and cookies and cream. We received the pink strawberry one. The fruit was tart, but like the ice, sweetened by the scoop of artificial strawberry ice cream and the drizzle of condense milk. But it was a little too much strawberry on strawberry action for me, I would have liked the ice flavoured like condense milk or lychee instead, to balance things out.

All this food and I can see them being more popular for just their drinks. Their drink menu was just as extensive and as varied as their food one. From favourite bubble tea flavours, to all the trendy colour changing, cookie topping, towering creations available elsewhere.

I made claim to one of their flavoured slushes after confirming that this towering high creation would be indeed coming to me with marshmallow eyes. A few others placed their order for this too, however their slushes were either too watery, and its top half didn’t make it to the table, or dropped just as it landed. Mine was made last and at a much smaller scale, and therefore survived. I later added straw arms for novelty sake. This is the green apple and was accurate in flavour.

The following are what others at our table ordered.

The “Potted milk tea” was a milk tea topped with ground up Oreo cookie crumbs, and finished off with a real green leaf for ornamental sake. It gave the drink the illusion of a potted plant, hence the name.

The “Mousse green tea” similarly had a topping above its drink. This was a thick foam that you could stir in to sweetened the cup.

And they also offered the regular kind of milk tea with your choice of pearls, grass jelly, or other bubble tea toppings.

Uchikinoki ice cream smoothie

Calpis butterfly pea flower Tea and the Strawberry lemon butterfly pea flower tea.

 

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.
They seem almost like a one stop Chinese food stop. Lots to try, something for everyone. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

MYST
#2 6400 Kingsway Burnaby BC, V5E 15C
604-364-6400
myst6400.com
Myst Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Buffalo Wild Wings

My partner had business in Tacoma, Washington. He wanted my company for the ride down, so to earn it he promised me a lunch in Seattle and a post to blog about. However us leaving late, getting caught in traffic, and then being stuck in rush hour turned lunch in Seattle to an early bird dinner in the city of Federal Way.

When I comes to eating out with my partner, I am no where near as particular as he is, so long as it isn’t somewhere I have been before I am happy. So we originally turn off the high way, with him eyeing the “Jack-in-the-box” that the road signs advertised. But ended up at “Buffalo Wild Wings” instead, when we couldn’t find it. He likes wings, so was sure to find something off their menu he’d like.

It is an easier to spot building with its larger size and all tan facade. A black and grey awning marks the entrance with the restaurant’s descriptive name in a submarine yellow. Their logo is a coloured in black buffalo floating, thanks to the white angel wings on his back. This was an easy to decode rebus puzzle that symbolized their speciality.

Inside it is your typical, chain sports bar to a tee. Seating is either across their lounge or dining room. There isn’t much of a difference between the two, minus the physical bar at the end of the former and the need to check for ID because of it. Both sectioned off spaces were lined with television screens across all four walls. Though there weren’t any major match ups being broadcasted, so country music was playing instead. All members of the staff wore restaurant team jerseys in their trademark colours of yellow and grey. Although oddly each personnel had the same number of “82” on the back of their shirt and no last names present above it. Thus making the uniform reusable. They were not surprisingly smaller and more fitted for the women members of the team.

The staff were all super friendly. We were given “hi’s” all around and some of the most attentive service I have ever gotten from a bar.

We arrived in time for happy hour, but didn’t take advantage for their $4 shareable menu given our hunger and unfamiliarity of the place. Though I did think long and hard over their street tacos, fried pickles, and mozzarella sticks, and how if I had ordered them all they would make up quite a substantial meal. But instead I opted for something more meaty.

Although I did enjoy $1.50 off a pint of their draft beer happy hour special. They have over 50 beers on tap, so you are sure to find your favourite brand or two.

The “Screamin’ nacho burger” seemed like an interesting concept. It is a chipotle BBQ seasoned burger stacked with tortilla chips, pepper jack cheese and a southwestern ranch dressing. And instead of the traditional lettuce, tomato, onion, and pickle burger fixings they have jalapeños and pico de gallo instead, to follow through with their nacho theme. The burger also comes with a side of fries, which ended up being what we liked the most between our two meals. They were crisp and light in lengthy sticks. I enjoyed them with their house branded ketchup. A bottle that was already at our table, that I had the pleasure of unsealing.

As for the burger it was a good idea, but poorly conceived. First of all there was just not enough flavour, let alone be tasty enough to earn the use of “screamin” in its title. It was mild at best, with a flat flavour that wore me out quick. The burger patty was well cooked enough, but I didn’t taste any of the chipotle, BBQ, or ranch dressing that its description advertised. Just as well, considering I expected to taste more nacho cheese and ground beef anyways, as this was a burger meant to mimic a plate of nachos. The actual chips were the closest they got to that theme, but at the same time, the most confusing thing about the burger. They just added some crunch, but only until the watery salsa had them soggy, fast. They would have been better crushed up tortilla shards or shells, or even smaller curls of corn chips. They offered no flavour as well. Here is where a healthy pump of stadium style liquid cheese would have done this burger wonders. The flavour you were looking for in “nacho burger” with enough sauce to add moisture to a drier bun. The translucent jack cheese also was a poor representation of cheese over nachos. The salsa was a nice idea, but in reality was no more than minced tomato, cucumber, and red onion. And it too had no flavouring of its own. You basically just tasted a beef patty and jalapeños. I would not order this again, and now looking back wonder how honest our server was when she said that she liked my choice.

As for my partner he got some of their wings. Seeing as it is mentioned in their restaurant name, they are definitely worth trying, and certainly couldn’t be as flat as my burger, or so we figured. Their wings are available in snack, small, medium, and large sizes; with a choice of boneless chicken or the traditional drummlets and wings. The former charged you more for less effort exerted to eat on your part.

But unlisted is how much you get in each serving or the fact that you are able to mix and match any two flavours. Our server was kind enough to point out that for each order you can choose two different flavours from their list of 21. 21 different flavours between their signature sauces and dry seasonings. A handy colour coded chart on the menu made choosing base on heat level easy.

My partner went for a mix of their sweet BBQ and honey BBQ, which ended up being pretty much the same. Each order comes with celery and carrots sticks, and either blue cheese or ranch dressing for dipping. This is the latter.

The wings and its sides all came in their very own little cardboard bowls. It was a confusing presentation that would have been more impressive and diner friendly as a platter. However at least they were larger wings with plenty of meat on bone, and each flavour was marked with a sticker for easy identification.

As for the wings themselves, each lacked their promised flavour and we found them all very dry. It would have been better to order them as a dry rub and have the barbecue sauce on the side for dipping.

My partner also added on a side to his meal for extra. This is just a scoop of their Mac and cheese, bland in colour and look. The only highlight and reason why I continued to eat from its paper cup was for its texture. It was a nice chew that my tongue asked me to go back for more of. This is disappointing considering they also have a “Buffalo Mac and cheese” on the menu. It listed crispy buffalo chicken with a rich and creamy aged cheddar cheese sauce, oven baked with a crunchy bread crumb topping. This was nothing close to that. I hope that this is a completely different recipe all together.

 

Would I come back? – No.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – No.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
I cannot see myself returning, and would even deter others from visiting themselves. The food was average, even as hungry as we were eating it. And worse of all it cost us over $60USD for something so unsatisfying. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

BUFFALO WILD WINGS
2005 S 320th Street, Federal Way, Washington 98003, USA
1-253-529-7862
buffalowildwings.com
Buffalo Wild Wings Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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