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

Month: January 2018 Page 2 of 4

Dundas Six-O-Pho

I, like many others, first came to “Dundas Six-O-Pho” for the novelty of their big bowl pho challenge. And many, like me, weren’t able to beat it. However, the quality of the noddles and the meat in the soup (that we got to taste), was good enough to having us coming back. A return trip, to see see what else the restaurant has to offer, and maybe this time in portions we can actually finish.

To read up on that visit, and to watch my vlog of the food challenge, visit the link below.

Dundas: #sixophochallenge

 

In response to their vegan and vegetarian customers, “Dundas Six-O-Pho” now offers a vegetarian menu. A one page list of nine unique vegetable centric dishes, prepared with Vietnamese influences. So today, myself and a group of bloggers came by to try them, and a few of their Vietnamese-style bar classics as well, during this media event.

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 restaurant toggles between being a traditional Vietnamese restaurant and a bar, but with none of the decor from either. Traditional recipes from the kitchen and a fully liquored up counter at the front. The corner bar offers local beers on tap, from a list written in chalk. The dining area centres around a row of starburst light fixtures, and the booths seats that are situated below them. Along the left wall is Vancouver’s city sky line, printed in a mono chromatic grey and used as wallpaper. The only outlier was the paper mache giraffe that stood by the doorway.

I liked how the wall’s wooden backboard is etched with their logo and restaurant’s name. A little touch that speaks to the pride in their brand and the owner’s side business. The owner of “Dundas Six O Pho” also does wood carving and glass etching. Which he uses to customize and brand his restaurant. All the beer glasses are etched, much like their walls, wooden tables, and wooden serving trays. They even have umbrellas, plastic take out bags, and tee shirts with this logo. The latter the staff wore as their uniform. It was cohesively done, and I was impressed by the detail of it.

I also really like the music they played. It was upbeat and fun, with hits off the top forty charts from the last two decades. It went from “Sky’s” “Some kind of wonderful” to “Benny Benassi’s” “Satisfaction” and “I love my sex”.

To start with, we enjoyed some modern drinks, along with the traditional.

The traditional Vietnamese style drip coffee with condense milk and ice.

A flight of beer served with their branded flight paddle.

And some flavoured sodas: pomegranate and hibiscus cream soda, ginger turmeric, and lemonade.

We began the eating portion of our afternoon with five of their new vegan options.

The vegetarian salad was composed of mixed greens, bean sprouts, fried shallots, fried tofu, tomatoes, and cucumber. It was generously drizzled with a tangy garlic sauce. It made for a good start, as a flavourful salad. I appreciated how they incorporated Vietnamese flavours into this with the use of beansprouts and fried shallots, I have yet to enjoy either in any other salad.

The vegan curry was hearty with a long lingering spice. A coconut base with mushroom, carrot, eggplant, fried tofu, and coloured pepper. Plenty of vegetables to give you plenty of interest.

The “Vegan bao sliders” were filled with minced tofu, lots of coloured onions, and pickled carrot. I am not a fan of this much onion as it, but even when I scooped them out, the slider still had a lot of flavour. This was thanks to the tasty gravy, that I could have just dipped the soft and chewy bao into, and eaten like fries and ketchup.

The “Veggie pho” was prepared with a simmered vegetable broth, it features more fried tofu, and plenty of seasoned vegetables like broccoli, baby bok choy, and carrots cut into flowers. It was a clean and tasty broth, not what I think of when I think pho, but a tasty soup base to lap up all of. The shallots were my favourite topping, they offered crunch and a nice zesty flavour.

The “Vegan Pad Thai” was my favourite out of all the vegetarian friendly dishes. broccoli, mushroom, carrot, green onions, and more fried tofu. This classic dish doesn’t need meat if they get the sauce and noodles right, and they did. Not traditional tasting with a lot of tamarind, or too tangy with a ketchupy flavour (to quote @dennispang). Just a nice sweet and salty flavour to enjoy over chewy noodles and crisp vegetables.

The “Deep fried wontons” are filled with vegetables, and served with their house special tangy sauce. The sauce looks like, but is not the typical Vietnamese fish sauce. But they do provide some acid to help cut away the grease of the fried wontons. You can enjoy said wontons crispy as is, with the sauce to flavour, or order them over your vegetarian pho like below.

Just be warmed, if you do, you have to eat fast as the wonton skins get soggy quickly, bobbing around in the broth.

Now we get in to “Dundas Six-O-Pho” house specials and a few of their more popular dishes with meat and seafood included.

The “Sizzling rice platter” is quite the spectacle. It is available in chicken, beef, or prawn. We had the chewy chunks of “Shaken beef”. The sizzling serving comes hissing on a hot plate with red and green peppers, onion, and plenty of black ground pepper. I liked how the rice on the side cooks a little more, with the bottom ending up crispier like fried rice.

Like the sizzling plate, they offer plates of rice served with your choice of protein. This is their “Lemongrass chicken rice”. Beautifully grilled chicken with a delightful char presented with a healthy serving of rice, raw cucumber and tomato slices, and a leaf lettuce salad with pickled daikon and carrot. Nothing much to say, except this was a Vietnamese classic done wonderfully, I would have this for dinner any day.

All their pho noodle soups are prepared with a chicken and beef broth. The broth is simmered for over 16 hours in star anise, cinnamon, roasted ginger and onion. The finished product includes rice noodle, cilantro, onion, fresh bean sprout, thai basil, and lime. This specifically is their “Pho sate”. It is made spicy with a spicy peanut and coconut broth.

I would recommend “The Dundas Platter” for anyone looking to try a little bite of everything, or for sharing as a starter. It comes with one crispy spring roll, one fresh salad roll, a chicken satay skewer, a beer skewer, and plenty of cassava fries. All with a side of vinaigrette sauce, peanut sauce, and house special sauce to cater to your dipping preference. Another tried an true assembly of just good Vietnamese food.

The “Asia burger” was an interesting interpretation. This black sesame topped brioche bun sandwiches, bean sprouts, pickled slaw, jalapeños, a beef patty, a fried egg, and fried shallots. It is definitely one of those burgers you can’t put down, lest it falls apart, there is just so much in it. It is also the first burger I have ever had with beansprouts and fried shallots as toppings, which gave a few bites some great textural interest. And in my opinion, any time you add in a fried sunny sun up egg, you are in for a good time. Because the messier it is the tastier it is. And if that is not enough food, it also comes with a healthy side of fries and a sriracha aioli for dipping.

And my favourite dish of the day and certainly the one you have to come down for, because it is not available anywhere else: is their “Dungeness Dundas Nachos”. This is one of the most creative spins I have ever seen done to nachos. It uses golden fried wonton chips that they top with hand pulled Dungeness crab meat, a tofu scramble, tomatoes, olives, capers, pickled onion, cheese and jalapeños. All this is drizzle over with their creamy jappa mayo and sprinkled with chives. And still comes with a side of their house made fresh cilantro mango salsa and more even mayo for dipping. Every bite was a different experience, giving you many reasons to pick the plate clean. Words cannot do this justice, jut try it for yourself.

And for dessert we ended with their fried to order “Deep fried bananas”. You get a whole banana and a scoop of ice cream. The batter was fried to a light crisp, and not greasy, just airy. It generously coated creamy sweet banana, drizzled in a chocolate sauce for that extra decadence. Not to be missed as well.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
A really fun spot for Vietnamese fusion. The flavours you love, in a setting you want to share with your friends. And with a unique menu that will have you returning for more. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

DUNDAS PHO
2077 Dundas Street, Vancouver BC, V5L 1J5
604-420-1200
eatdundas.com

Lady Yum

I was in Seattle, doing some self guide sight seeing. Simply walking the streets downtown, allowing what will to catch my eye. And this detour was a newer champagne and macarons themed cafe. Their name brought me close, their dressy decor and quirky slogan of “macarons and mischief” brought me through the door, and their happy hour specials had me opening my wallet.

From Monday to Friday, 4-7pm they offer customers $1 off little bottles of sparking wine and $1 off select flavours of macarons. The flavours are on rotation, sadly the two offered were vanilla and chocolate, and not the usual interesting flavours I gravitate towards. Of note, these macarons are a little on the smaller side, each is made by hand and with that inconsistencies do arise. So instead of discarding them, they are are offered at a discount. A great idea if you ask me.

But instead of taking advantage of the discount, I paired my glass of sparkling wine with a dozen of their more unique macrons. A few such flavours included “princess torte”, “unicorn”, one that tastes like the pebbles cereal, and raspberry Chardonnay.

But that is not even my favourite thing about this place, the friendly and inviting staff are. They are genuinely happy to be behind the counter, making dessert dreams come true. They greet everyone with a welcoming salutation and offer suggestions and help any way they can. The gentleman assisting me today even offered to take photos of me against their ornate wallpaper and allowed me the privilege of stepping behind their counter to get a non reflective view/photo of their macarons collection. He even directed me to their washroom explaining how many of their customers work their way around their space taking advantage of their very Instagram worthy back drops. Like the black background with creeping leaves various wildlife holding props. A lemur with an accordion, a badger holding a cocktail, an otter with a paper fan, a squirrel with a banjo; and a blue parrot with a medal around his neck, perched on a hookah.

 

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.
A fun spot for a sweet treat and a great place for wall to wall photo ops. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

LADY YUM
2130 6th Avenue, Seattle WA, 98121
ladyyum.com
Lady Yum Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Mission Kits: $30 Dine Out 2018 menu

Dine Out is the two week long food event that offers dinner goers three course meals at reasonable set prices. It gives diners a chance to try something new, at somewhere new, whereas they might not otherwise get the chance to. It also brings those who have been avoiding spending money since winter out, and eating at restaurants again.

So on the first night of Dine Out, my guest and I ventured to “Mission Kitsilano”. This would be both our first times at the restaurant, so what a great way to see what they are all about with six plates between two people, at $30 per person.

It was a rainy night and the restaurant offered warmth with glowing lights and a romantic setting. The narrow space found additional room with sectioned off seating areas, thinner tables, and a bar to perch up on. As for the decor, the restaurant was simple and clean, just like the plates to come.

Between my guest and I we shared six dishes off their Dine Out menu with one upgrade for extra.

For appetizers you have a choice between three, with options for vegans as well. We pretty much much stuck to their $30 meal choices. So we didn’t pay $5 more for the “Braised Oxtail with parsnip and onion”, or $5 more of the “Sidestripe Shrimp Tarte with cured egg yolk, and salsify”. In hindsight I wish we did because I wasn’t a fan of the other two available appetizers at regular cost, that we did get.

Reading the description, I didn’t realize that the “Sunchoke with black sesame, fresh cheese, mint, and black garlic” was a plate of stewed vegetables. I am not a fan of leafy greens, so to be honest I cannot review this well, as I didn’t try most of it. It is definitely vegan friendly. According to my guest, all together tasted like a refined version of Asian green vegetables, in the way it was seasoned with salty and sweet notes, just more delicately so.

I preferred the “Black Pudding with toasted sourdough, salted cherry puree, and brown butter”. But would have liked more of the cherry purée flavour, in order to balance out the meaty spread. The black pudding had the texture of a whipped hummus, finished by a dark and savoury lingering note. It was gummy and rich, and had me looking for a base to smear it on. Some starch to mellow it out, seeing as there was not enough scattered chunks of toasted sourdough croutons to use, but luckily we got some bread.

The way bread was offered to us, made it seem like it was complimentary. Our server asked us if we would like to start with bread, after she took our three course order, and we turned down her suggestion to add on additional sides for extra. Something we would learn was not the case, but only after our bill came. When I pointed out the $6 charge that came as a surprise, she thanked me for pointing it out so that she could present it differently the text time. Great, but it didn’t help me, especially as I wasn’t a big fan of this either. I liked the “bread” more when I thought it was free.

This was one chewy pita round cut into four, stuffed into a wooden box, and served with a dish of whipped butter and oil. Once again, it was helpful in giving us a base to enjoy the meaty black pudding with, but a baguette would have been ideal. It had the chewy texture of French bread and an bubbly centre of an English muffin. I found it a little too oily to be served with more grease and oil.

For entrees once again you had four choices, two were part of the original menu and the other two came at an additional cost.

We got the vegan “Celery Root with creamed kale, vadouvan granola, and soccarat”. I was not excited to share more leafy greens, but was able to salvage my portion by simply eating the two patties made of vegetable over it. The celery root patty had the texture of potatoes but with some crunch from its crispy edges, and the nut granola that topped it. I would enjoy both together for a healthy vegan breakfast any day.

We passed on the “Slow Roasted Lamb Ribs with granola, birch, and barley ‘risotto’” because my guest doesn’t like lamb meat, shame as I think I would have liked it more than the fish we did get. And I regret not paying $8 more for the “Roasted Elk with mole, winter squash, and zucchini”. It caught my eye and looked delicious, as it was being delivered to our neighbouring table.

However, my guest is more partial to fish so we got the “Wild Pacific Salmon with horseradish cream, kohlrabi, and mushroom”, paying $5 more for it. The salmon had a strong flavour, battling for taste supremacy with the creamy sauce that nuzzled up beside it. However the sauce was the only thing flavouring the salmon. But together, both had me searching for some freshness from the kohlrabi florets. Thinly sliced into ribbons, the kohlrabi offered a more rigid chew. The mustard seeds that topped them gave something for your tongue to enjoy, helping to balance out the flavour with some acid. But overall I didn’t find the dish harmonious, and even a little too salty. It needed some rice or noodles, some sort of starch to even it out and make it feel more like a fulsome entree.

During our visit the kitchen was running behind on dessert, so in order to buy time, they offered us some complimentary house made ginger tea, to prolong our stay and pass the time. Not a yes bag, but natural ingredients boiled together for a fragrant digestive. Grated ginger, fresh lemon, honey, and bitters. It was strong. It had one of those flavours that you knew you were improving your health just by smelling it in. We both finished every last drop knowing it was good for us, not necessarily because we enjoyed it. The last sip was the strongest as the ginger pulp pooled at the bottom of your cup.

There were three options for dessert. We passed on “Selection of Farmhouse cheeses, crackers, and seasonal fruit”, both preferring to end on sweet. However, they ran out of the dessert I was most excited about. By 8pm they were out of the “Almond and Apple Pudding with maple and hazelnut. So instead we were offered the cheese platter again or their dessert substitution. Considering that this was a last minute pull together I was very impressed by how their “apple and watermelon sorbet” turned out. Having just heard it, I was worried that it was going to be one scoop of sorbet, but there was much more thought put into this. The not too sweet and not too tart sorbet went well with the slices of poached apple slices it sat on. And the raisin, peanut and sugar, and meringue shards that topped it added texture and a change of taste. This would be my favourite of the two desserts, but sadly you would not be able to try it.

“Chocolate and Peanut Butter Creme fraiche ice cream with peanut brittle”. Not being a big fan of chocolate, I found the luscious mousse a little too much for my liking, but appreciated the way it was presented. It was better balanced with a similar sized scoop of tangy creme fresh, however there was not enough of the cream to pair with the chocolate 1:1. So I simply had the peanut butter drops and the super sweet brittle shards as it. I could have just eaten a whole box of the brittle and called it dessert.

Of note, I liked the honestly of our server. She admitted her mistake, taking our feedback well. I even overheard her apologizing to the table next to her, when she kept them waiting for their first course, because she failed to put their order in. Though most of it couldn’t be help. First day of Dine Out on a Friday, it was naturally packed, with all tables and the bars seated, and larger groups to tend to.

 

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.
Everything tasted fresh, where every element seemed to be prepared in house, from scratch. Like the ginger tea and peanut brittle. As for the food itself, it was interesting, but not really in my wheel house. None of it is something I would crave again, but I appreciate the execution. Each dish presented before me made me think, I was questioning each bite that I took. “What is this?” Though mid way through our meal, we realized how healthy everything we had was, so in that aspect they were successful. It even had us drinking three full glasses of water each. (Whereas I typically don’t even get half way through one during a meal.) Plus they had plenty of vegan options for those tired of just having to settle with soup or salad, or a carb dish prepared without meat; when a restaurant can’t accommodate your dietary restriction. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

MISSON
2042 West 4th Avenue, Vancouver BC, V6J 1M9
604-739-2042
missionkits.ca
Mission Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The Bimini: $20 Dine Out 2018 menu

“The Bimini” is my favourite Donnelly group public house, like with all the others you are guaranteed a great time if you are looking to drink. However, because it is out of the down town core, “The Bimini” has a more laid back vibe. There is still plenty of drinking to be had, but with less people around, you really get to enjoy the atmosphere of it more. Especially with the restaurant’s unique layout. It is a space of layered floors with plenty of places sit, stand, and lean against, all within eye shot of a television screen. There is an entertainment room housing arcade games and a pool table, and an array of seating to choice from between rounded booths, share style high tops, and multiple bars.

To read more about “The Bimini” and it’s layout in detail, check out my first visit post, where I came to them from brunch.

The Bimini for brunch

 

However, this evening we were here for dinner. They (and all their sister public houses) are one of the only destinations, participating in this year’s Dine Out festivities, where you get to watch a Pay-per-view sports match with your $20 set menu dinner.

The investment the Donnelly team have put into their food over the last year shows, gone are the days I use to only venture into one of their establishments for drinks. This year’s Dine Out Vancouver dishes were created by chefs Alvin Pillay, Chris Stewart, and Sarah Stewart in order to showcase the latest evolution of said menus. And truly, I don’t think you will find a better $20 Dine Out menu than this. (Note each of their public houses have their own menus, with variations, so you can visit a different one each day for its three courses of comfort, for only $20).

I came with a guest, so we were able to try majority of the menu between us, along with some of the recommended wine pairings.

The “cauliflower & brie soup with chili oil” has a thick consistency and a taste that reminded me of poutine gravy with its pepperiness. It was a warming soup. The chunks of Brie bobbing about gave the soup drinker a nice surprise to bite into. With its chew and sharp flavour, it gave the serving some depth. You definitely don’t expect to enjoy something this refined at a bar. Although I highly suggest getting the truffle cheese toast for $3 extra, and adding on some more substance to the dish.

My guest and I both preferred the “Fried buttermilk chicken bits” out of the two appetizers. These little balls of white meat chicken came in a cast iron pot, mixed together with jalapeño slices, coloured pepper, and onion; all in a drizzle of chilli and honey. The gravy on the side was tasty, served warm for dipping. However the chicken was already plenty well seasoned, and even more tasty when enjoyed with the seasoned vegetables around it. Even the kale had a nice texture and taste, and that is coming from a person who isn’t a fan of leafy greens.

There was no wine pairing for the soup so I had a glass of the Gehringer Cabernet Merlot, as suggested by the menu, to go with the chicken.

You had your choice of entrees between three options. We passed on “yam falafel bowl” with fresh & pickled vegetables, chickpeas, orange tahini, and feta. And instead went for the two non vegetarian options.

The “green chili beef mac & cheese” came topped with roasted tomato, garlic breadcrumbs, and plenty of provolone cheese. The tender noodles were the perfect base to highlight the unique earthy flavour of provolone. The baked crumb topping added a nice crunch, and the tomatoes gave the dish some freshness. This was another classic comfort dish done right, and done better than at most places.

With it I paired a glass of the Desert Hills Cactus Red.

The “roasted chicken & bacon stew” was a thick gravy of carrots, potatoes, celery, squash, and sage. Presented with a baked warm buttermilk biscuit on the side. I don’t recommend following the soup with this stew, as it’s just too much liquid. So just get the stew because it is delicious, like drinking gravy. It tasted homemade, where the chunks of root vegetables were cooked to the perfect tenderness. They matched the juicy chunks of chicken breast, and there was plenty of it to have the perfect ratio of meat and vegetables in each spoon. The only way to improve this cold weather classic is dipping the cheese and sage biscuit in, for a great biscuit and gravy mash up. I also really enjoy the extra sprinkling of the fried shallots over top.

For dessert the suggested pairing was whiskey instead of wine. I had the “Glenlivet founder’s reserve”, that went wonderfully with the chocolate dish below.

The “chocolate praline bar peanut butter” with sweet cream was a rich dish. Ideal for those who love their peanut butter with chocolate and would enjoy a sip of whiskey to balance it out. It was so decadent that I wasn’t able to finish it all myself. So I highly suggest sharing it with your dining companion, so that you can try both of the desserts (as they are both worth sinking your teeth into).

For my tastes, if I had to choose one of the two dessert, it would be this “coconut panna cotta” with peach compote and ginger cookies. It was a great end of meal palette refresher with the coconut flavour. It reminded me of a tropical drink, but in pudding format. The compote offered a change of taste, with large chunks of fruit and the bottom and a nice chunky jam texture on top. But the best part were the ginger cookies offering a perfect pairing of heat to the sweet. Each chewy bite ending with a wonder powdery sugar sensation across your lips. Brilliant.

As for the service, despite it being a UFC fight night, I have never had such attentive service on a Friday night. Our server came to us multiple of times. She did so for check ins and small talk. We noticed the frequency, but it was never to the point of annoyance. She engaged, and never left us waiting for her or courses. She seemed genuinely happy to be working here, making me wish that I did too in my youth. She was most excited when I told her that I liked the food, and even more when I took pictures of it. This put me at ease as the diner, making my visit all the more comfortable.

 

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.
I cannot believe the quality of food and the level of service coming out of a pub, and all for $20, as part of set menu! I don’t think you can get a better three course meal for that price anywhere else. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

THE BIMINI
2010 West 4th Avenue, Vancouver BC, V6J 1M7
604-733-7116
donnellygroup.ca/bimini

Kamamarui Ramen & Don

I have finally gotten my partner into ramen. So when we spotted what we thought was a new ramen shop by where we live (the Burnaby Heights area), we immediately made plans to go. Although, it turns out that this has been a long standing location, with two years and a strong following.

The little shop is marked with bamboo curtains over the window and a single red glowing lantern. We came in at 5pm on a Sunday night and were the first ones in. We were quickly seated only to have the tables around us fill up right after with lone diners and four person families.

Inside, the dimly lit restaurant is narrow, so they cleverly utilize their space saving tables with matching stools that easily tuck underneath. Along the grey stucco walls are red and black hooks that look like the behind of dogs. You hang your coat and bags on their tails in order to create more space in between seats, with the ability to fit more patrons, more comfortably.

My only critique is with the mellow folk music they play overhead. It created a somber tone for the restaurant’s guests, an environment where you either ate in silence or spoke in whispers. Where the food and it’s flavours are more fun and you want to more jovial when embracing it.

Not only do they offer ramen, but their menu gives you a variety of Japanese comfort foods. Udon, rice bowls, agedashi tofu, gyoza, kimchi; and the possibility to have them as a combo with your ramen.

My partner had their “Tonkotsu ramen” with a regular pork based broth. It came with two slices of chashu, half a soft boiled egg, and as much bean sprouts as there were chewy yellow noodles. Lucky for me, he doesn’t actually like most of the toppings so my serving gets double of everything.

He made this meal a combo my adding a “mini chicken flame” rice bowl to it. Our food came out relatively quick, but that maybe because of the microwave that I heard. I suspect it was used to heat up this chicken dish as the meat was fairly tough and dry. The microwave opened and I heard the clanging of a dish against the spinning glass plate. And as soon as the ding of the bell went off, our food came out. The rice bowl was ok, it had a dull spice to match its flat, salty flavour; whereas I would have liked a bit more sweetness in the sticky sauce used.

For myself, I took our server’s recommend of their “Black ramen”. She declared it their most popular dish, the one that customers continue to come back for and say that they like. It too had a pork soup base, but to it they added roasting black garlic oil for extra flavour. And then I got it even more decadent with their rich broth option, instead of just regular, like above. In my bowl there were plenty of the following, but not enough noodle to pair with it all. Green onions, bean sprouts, tree ear mushrooms, half an egg, seaweed, and two slices of chashu pork. The serving was rich as promised, but not overwhelmingly so. You could still use the table side sauces to add heat or change the flavour mid way through.

I too made mine a combo my adding on their “bombs”. They are two round rice balls speckled with grilled seaweed and sesame seeds. I really liked their chewy texture and fragrant flavour. They were the perfect change of taste in between rich ramen bites. It the end I found this the most memorable dish of the meal and the one I would come back for.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
A great option for great ramen in Burnaby. I will be back to try their other flavours and maybe more of their combos. Just be warned they are a debit and cash only establishment. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

KAMAMARUI
4219 Hastings Street, Burnaby BC
778-379-8077
Kamamarui Ramen & Don Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Red Truck Beer x Tacofino Beer Dinner Series

Today I was treated to a taco and beer lunch, in celebration of “Red Truck Beer” being part of next week’s “Tacofino Beer Dinner Series”, as the kickoff brew of choice.

“Tacofino” will be partnering with a six of local breweries at its Hastings location, in order to host a monthly series of five-course beer focused dinners beginning on January 25 and continuing through to spring and summer. The goal is to pair “Tacofino’s” popular west coast tacos and burritos with a variety of beers from said participating breweries. The series will kick off on Thursday, January 25, 2018 with a custom, five-course menu in collaboration with “Red Truck Beer Company”. Tickets to this and each dinner run at $50 per person. The cost includes tax, gratuity and ticketing fees. They are two seatings at 6pm and 8:30pm on listed days.

For the kick off you can expect the following tacos and Red Truck beer pairings.

Scallop Taco: grapefruit, rukola, chipotle mayo, cilantro
Paired with Red Truck Wicked Smaht IPA

Smoked eggplant taco: squash, queso fresca, sriracha, cilantro
Paired with Red Truck Blue Santa Cask

Steak taco: pineapple, black chili mayo, pickled carrots, daikon
Paired with Red Truck Dark Lager

Braised Wild Boar: brussel sprouts, cranberries, feta, serrano peppers
Paired with Red Truck Imperial stout

Milk Rice: pudding, berries, cinnamon
Paired with Red TruckBlackberry Bourbon Ale

For tickets visit the link: http://bit.ly/RedTruckTaco

The other dates for their beer dinner series are as follows:
Thursday, February 22, 2018: Tofino Brewing Company
Thursday, March 29, 2018: Steel & Oak Brewing Co.
Thursday, April 26, 2018: Strange Fellows Brewing Company
Thursday, May 31, 2018: Four Winds Brewing Co.
Thursday, June 28, 2018: Port Moody Brewers Row (The Parkside Brewery, Moody Ales, Yellow Dog Brewing Co. and Twin Sails Brewing)

But as I mentioned earlier, as a teaser of what can be expected. I got to enjoy some “Tacofino” steak taco paired with the entire assortment of “Red Truck” beers that will be featured at the beer series. As expected the steak was cooked tender, full of flavour with the lightly picked carrots, pineapple, and daikon adding freshness and tang. And the generous coating of black chilli mayo rounding it out with some saucy goodness.

The suggested beer pairing with this is the “Red Truck” dark lager, but I will let you in on a little secret, all of their beers taste great with any hand held like this. I truly find that “Red Truck” makes compatible beers. They take a drinking occasion and produce their beers to compliment it. They are easy to drink and enjoyable for beer enthusiasts and weekend drinkers alike.

This taste is enough to have me looking to attend the actual event. I can only imagine the food fresh and having the beers ice cold; along with sharing the restaurant space with a rambunctious and like minded crowd – how fun!

 

RED TRUCK
https://www.redtruckbeer.com/

Science of Cocktails 2018, preview

After the winter season, the next drinking occasion I look forward to is the #ScienceOfCocktails event held at Science World, the beginning for every year. For 2018, this night of drinking in the dome will be held on February 8th.

For those who have never had the pleasure of attending, or who have yet to hear about the event; it is basically one night where the “Telus World of Science” gets transformed into a huge lounge. Adults of legal drinking age, gather together in their cocktail attire to sip spirits and sample snacks from booths spread across Science World’s multiple levels and various zones. You are able to visit each one, then head back for your favourites for seconds and thirds. It is a ticketed event that typically sells out, and it already has for 2018, so if you haven’t done so already, I suggest getting yours for 2019 now! Here is the link to do just that!

https://www.scienceworld.ca/cocktails/tickets

General admission is $159 and the VIP access is $289. Ticket proceeds raise funds for the Science World’s Class Field Trip Bursary Program for underserved schools. The program helps to send thousands of kids from underserved schools to Science World on class field trips. In previous years they have been able to send over 8,000 students. And this year they hope to surpass that number, with your help.

General admission grants you access to the over 25 open bar stations, serving unique cocktails crafted by award-winning bartenders. As well as access to a variety of special cocktail-inspired science activities, hands-on demos, and other Science World programming. There are also hors d’oeuvres prepared by locally renowned chefs, for some substance in between drinks; and a tax receipt for the maximum allowable amount of $50.00.

VIP access gets you all of the above (regular ticket holder perks) plus one hour earlier admission; with first come, first served valet parking. You also get exclusive access to the World Class VIP Lounge and the premium cocktail offerings prepare within, by World Class Canadian Champion bartenders. Here you schmooze while servers pass out VIP canapés for your to nibble at; and watch a stage show, with a specially themed take-away gift. You also get a tax receipt for the maximum allowable amount of $150.00.

But today’s event was a literal taste of what is to come. A two hour, quick gathering at “Showcase” restaurant; who also happens to be one of the participants, offering both drinks and food tonight and during the actual event. Within their foyer, a handful of other drink and food stations that will be participating the night of, as well as some science demos we can expect to see more of. Like it is with the actual event, you are able to roam the area freely, stopping at any booth and engaging those tending to it. They typically have an activity for you to participate in or a story behind the creation of their food/drink. Below is a quick snap shot of those in attendance tonight.

This is the “reverse pina colada”, a cocktail made using fats and oils by Grant Sceney, presenting on behalf of “Diageo”. Its creation centres around the concept of how soluble ingredients, oils, and alcohol interact together. Instead of the traditional frozen slush drink, this familiar tropical cocktail uses Ron Zacapa rum with coconut oil, Maillard pineapple cordial, citric acid, and a lactic acid solution. All this gives you all the sensation (smell and taste) of a pina colada without the chill of it, perfect for a colder night in January.

Diana Claxton and JS Dupuis (Tableu) were representing “Showcase Restaurant & Bar” with their “Yuzu Sake-Tini” made with molecular caviar pearls. The latter was prepared before our eyes using a calcium bath and molecular mixology. With a squeeze of a syringe liquid drops of yuzu juice turned to squishy pearls for a cocktail that required a little chewing. The drink itself was made with Prime Vodka, sake, and simple syrup.

Brice Peressini (The Victor, Parq Vancouver) and Andrea Civettini (Clough Club) manned a table where you took part in making your own “Southern Ginger Belle” cocktail. First they gave you an empty cocktail shaker to practice with. To it a monitor was zap-strapped, that gauged how fast your shakes were. The goal was too shake as fast as you can, as fierce as you can, as many times as you can. They recorded the results to later announce the winner of the night. Naturally I shot my hand up to be the first to test my skills. At 125 I held the recorded for the longest time, until I was beaten out by 127.

After you are all warmed up they mix together Southern Comfort, lemon juice, ginger juice, simple syrup, and orange marmalade; and have you shake it in a real cocktail shaker with no judgment attached. Once you are confident in your mixing, they pour it out, for you to enjoy the fruits of your labour.

The “Old Fashion” prepared by Gez McAlpine (Bruichladdich) and Cam Brown (Clough Club) featured Remy Martin, a sugar cube, a dash of bitters, water, and a few raisins for garnish. Tonight they were served as is, but on the night of the actual event they will be done so from a laminar jet stream. This is a tank of water with neon lights and a curve stream of water shooting over it. Tonight it was only set up to show you what you can expect.

For food the crowd favourite was the “Char Sui pork rillettes” with yuzu pearls, miso sesame emulsion, rice cracker, togarashi, and a perilla leaf. This was prepared by Jesse Hochhausen of “Showcase Restaurant & Bar”. Its featured yuzu pearls were made with yuzu juice thickened with agar agar. And the perilla leaf was quick frozen and mulled with liquid nitrogen.

The “Pink Flower Roll” prepared by Takayuki of “Hapa Izakaya” was as pretty as it sounds. Sushi rice, asparagus, albacore tuna, fried egg, and shiso leaves. And instead of seaweed he used white radish sliced thin and dyed with beet juice for the pink hue.

Kyle Baker represented “The Keg” with his “Chilled jumbo shrimp” served with a martini cocktail sauce. They were most impressive with their size.

For the more science focused portion of the night there was a table set up where you could craft your own light up led hair clip, necklace, bow tie or pin. You choose a colour of LED light and made your own circuit to light it up. There of course was an expert to help you cut, twist, and tie should you need it.

The “Ping Pong Cannon” attracted a lot of attention from the sound it produced alone. Air pressure is used to propel a ping pong ball within a sealed plastic tube over 700km/h. At this speed it is fast enough to puncture straight through the side of an aluminum can. The end result, a thunderous crack through the air and both the can and ball shattered to the point of destruction.

Truly it is fun to be able to combine science with drinking, and no other event does just that then the #ScienceOfCocktails. I hope you have found my preview useful and I hope to see you there.

 

#ScienceOfCocktails
https://www.scienceworld.ca/cocktails

#GiveWarmth, #ChewingForCharity series

Tonight I was taking part in a new philanthropic new dining series hosted by Tangoo. “Tangoo” is a restaurant marketing agency based in Vancouver. For their first #ChewingForCharity series, they found a way for the tech-savvy modern diner to do good by doing what they do anyways. They can give back to local charities by taking and posting photos of delicious looking food on Instagram and tagging #GiveWarmth.

From January 10th-19th they have invited foodies to visit one of three restaurants, and by ordering a specific dish, help donate to “A Better Life Foundation”. “A Better Life Foundation raises critical funds towards providing quality food security to women, children, and those in assisted living.” Each participating restaurant has put forward their most Instagram-worthy dish to help spread this awareness and interest in its ordering.

So we gathered a group of foodies and made a crawl out of the occasion, visiting each restaurant in the order listed. And in doing so filled our bellies and helped to fill those who need it as well.

From “Robba Da Matti” in Yaletown we had their “Pasta Saporita” with pancetta, porcini, sun-dried tomatoes and Gorgonzola cream. I loved the texture of their thick cut and extra chewy noodles. They were heavily coated in a creamy sauce, with a mild flavour that you wanted to go back for.

From “La Mezcaleria” in Gastown we had their “Orange Blossom Crème Brûlée ice cream”, served with a roasted pumpkin seed wafer. This was a creamy egg custard ice cream with the distinct flavour of orange peaking through. Orange blossom is a traditional flavour in Mexican cuisine, using it spoke to their restaurant and its influences. Instead of using torched sugar like you would in a traditional crème brûlée, they went with a burnt caramel drizzle instead and topped with with a rosemary ash. The pumpkin seed wafer offered texture and a nice crisp with buttery richness and nutty notes. Overall there was enough to keep the dessert interesting and different spoon after spoon.

From “Eight ½ Restaurant Lounge” in the Mount Pleasant area we wrapped up the night with their “Delicious Mussel Hearts”. A healthy bowl of fresh Salt Spring Island mussels soaking in a bath of warm curry bisque. Served with house naan. The curry was potent, it had a warning quality that ended with a longer spice. By itself it was a tad too salty for my tastes. But the mussels benefited from their soak, coming out with tones of flavour. Whereas the naan only made things saltier with its extra seasoning sprinkles.

For those interested in doing the same as we did, there is a contest to thank you for your philanthropic efforts. For each of the dishes you order, take a photo and post it on Instagram with the hashtag #GiveWarmth, while tagging @tangooyvr + @[Restaurantname] for a chance to win 2 tickets to the Greasy Spoon Diner supper series. An exclusive dinner where some the best chefs in the world collaborate to create a monthly four-course fine dining, diner experience. You only have until January 19th, 2018 to do this. And once again proceeds from every signature dish sold will be donated to the Better Life Foundation!

@tangooyvr
#GiveWarmth
#ChewingForCharity

The Gray Olive Cafeteria

After visiting “The Gray Olive” for the first time during a “Vancouver Foodster Tasting Plates” tour in the Burnaby Heights area, I knew to come back when my partner wanted some all day breakfast near our home. We wondered in at 2:30pm, and being the only ones to dine in at the time, had the pick of the place.

You order at the counter, after deciding what it is that you want, from the menu that covers the wall to your left. Weekday breakfast and lunch options are available all day, with some specific brunch specials only available on weekends and during holidays. We came in wanting breakfast, but ended up ordering sandwiches off their weekday lunch menu instead.

Their burgers and sandwiches don’t come with sides so my partner got their “G.O.” potatoes in a smaller serving, to accompany his “chicken bacon club”. This was a traditional club made with quality ingredients. Tender white meat chicken breast, thick cuts of bacon with a crispy caramelized coating, crisp lettuce, and a juicy tomato slice. But in place of a classic mayonnaise spread, they had a roasted garlic aioli. I didn’t really notice it, and found myself missing the tang mayo would have brought to the brioche bun instead. Overall, it was deliciously light with all its freshness. Good, but the breakfast potatoes out shone the sandwich given how good they were and how much more flavour they had in each cube. Each had the perfect crispy texture to them, a thick battered shell hiding a nice soften centre.

I went for their “roast chicken” sandwich, pairing it with a cup size of their “tomato bisque” soup. The soup was one of two soup specials for the day, I made it my side at an additional cost. Pulled chicken, pea shoots, pickled red onion, harvarti cheese, black pepper aioli, crackling, and gravy. It was like a chicken dinner between a toasted baguette, with some of the best tasting chicken I have ever had (and here I thought the sandwich above was impressive). You could taste the quality in everything from the first bite. The toppings added texture with the crunchy crackling and freshness with the green shoots. The red onions offered some tang, but I wanted more for my appetite. Maybe some sweet pickles on the side or a sharp mustard for contrast. I liked the idea of the gravy as a dip, but it only made an already rich sandwich denser. Instead we used it as a dip for the potatoes above, replacing the typical ketchup pairing. It was a light gravy, thick and slightly peppery. It did not mask or overwhelm anything it coated.

As for the soup, it made a great warming start. It had a nice and thick, only slightly lumpy consistency to it. Although I wished it more creamy, where the first sip reminded us of pasta sauce given the spices used.

The restaurant well reflected the food. It’s decor matched in how it was modern and trendy. Light Hearted and simple, you had everything you need and no extra flash. The space was brightly lit, with bleached wood and white furniture, it almost felt like a warm spring day within. Warmth from easy listening music and the that sprouted by the door and above the counter.

My only critique would be how they call themselves a cafeteria, but their food quality and prices are far from a mass assembly of food left to keep warm under a heat lamp. Given that we paid for it, the leisurely meal we enjoyed above, would be nicer as part of a full sit down service. To not order and have to pay before you eat, but to have your order taken at your table. Although they do deliver your meal to you on a metal tray, and bus it all away after; and you also get check-ins as your meal progressed.

 

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.
This, hands down was one of the most freshest meals I have ever had, and one of the healthiest servings I have ever enjoyed. When it all came the portions looked small, but reality was, this was a lot of food and we couldn’t finish it all. My partner got full fast and was sad because it tasted so good and he couldn’t finish it all. And unfortunately none of it would travel all that well as leftovers packed up to go. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

GRAY OLIVE
4190 Hastings Street, Burnaby BC, V5C 2J4
604-566-9664
thegrayolive.com
The Gray Olive Cafeteria Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Umaluma

My friendly had recently changed his diet, dedicating himself to a dairy free lifestyle. So when looking for an after dinner dessert spot, our options were severely limited; whereas before, he had an as curious and vicarious appetite as myself. Luckily I heard about “Umaluma”, a new dairy-free ice cream shop that opened, right by where we were dining tonight. So we bee-lined it there for dessert.

They are doing a great job filling the void and the need for vegan/dairy-free ice cream in the city. And as a self prescribed lover of ice cream and the milk that goes into it, trust me when I say, that this was surprisingly delicious stuff. Dare I declare, better than most ice cream options from other shops within the city.

The dairy-free ice cream parlour is easy to identify. Its name that rolls off your tongue is brightly lit like a beacon. Shining in neon blue, above their high arched windows lined with green fronds, in front of their own branded patio umbrella and single white bench.

Inside, the shoppe feels like an 80’s glam rock diner. Beige and neutral wall colouring and trim, punctuated with bold pastel splotches. Patterned upholstered benches that weave around the room, situated behind dark wood tables. And a lot more greenery to give the place some lively energy. We would later grab a couple of stools by their bar. Stools against the speckled granite counter, situated across from their refrigerated ice cream cooler.

All their current and rotating flavours are printed on cardboard cards that slide into place on their wall menu. Although I found it easer to order by sight, choosing base on the colour within a white pail, and ordering it by its name displayed underneath.

Given their small batch operation, 16 familiar and unique flavours is plenty. You get the ability to sample before you buy. Avocado honey, coffee toffee, lemonade poppyseed, banana chocolate flambé, a mojito flavoured ice cream and one that tasted like a pina colada; were available when we visited.

My guest and I went for double scoops to top handmade cones. He had the “Drunken cherry” made with actual bits of nut, fruit, and jelly; and a scoop of matcha. The latter had a bold flavour that wasn’t too sweet, it made a great pairing with the bolder cherry scoop.

I had the “Lavender” ice cream with a pretty and light flavour to match its hue. It tasted like the flower, but not in an aggressive or an overwhelming way, just refreshing. And the scoop of mint under it had actual chopped up mint leaves. The green specks looked like chives, which I found distracted from what would be a nice creamy mint flavoured ice cream.

 

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.
A great place for ice cream, never mind no milk products, they were just as creamy and delicious without, and I bet a lot healthier too. What a great lactose and vegan free option to add to the food-scape of the city. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

UMALUMA
235 E Pender Street, Vancouver BC, V6A 1T1
604-559-5862
umaluma.com
Umaluma Dairy-Free Gelato Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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