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Month: July 2018 Page 1 of 3

Vietnamese Tea House

Today I was at yet another restaurant competing in the Vancouver Foodster iced tea challenge. This is a newer Vietnamese restaurant on Hastings Street, on a strip already saturated with numerous restaurants offering Vietnamese food. So what sets them apart? An owner hailing from Southern Vietnam, bringing with her authentic Southern Vietnamese cuisine, and slight differences we would learn through eating.

Previous to them moving in this was a sushi restaurant. The change of management brought about a renovation that included pink walls and purple painted detailing. They were a contrast to the homey red tables and matching cushioned chairs. And all the mismatched potted plants offering their green leaves as colouring. This all pointed to a family run business, something that was later confirmed by the owner herself. She spoke to the toils of having to lay the laminate underfoot themselves and the uneven paint job of non-professionals, all done while she was pregnant with her second child.

Other than that it was a nice setting, it was an open space, one that was comfortable to sit in, where many such restaurants try to maximize their dining area with one to many, tightly crammed together tables. Here things were evenly spaced allowing you breathing room and the ability to hold a more private conversation from the table to your right. Everything was also kept very clean.

Their ice tea entry was a pandan flavoured milk tea made with ground and steeped pandan leaves. These leaves were also used to flavoured the cups of water they served, although very mildly, and I wouldn’t have even notice, if this wasn’t pointed out to me. I won’t be going into the actual flavour of the drink here, as the competition is still running. Instead, I will invite you to check back on my blog after the competition has ended, to read my thoughts on each of the drinks competing.

Instead, I will move on to all the food we enjoyed. The “Green papaya salad with beef jerky” was a fresh start to our meal. Thin shreds of carrot and daikon with lettuce, cilantro, beef jerky, fried shallots, and peanuts. It was spiciest at the bottom, where the sauce pooled. Therefore to best enjoy it, you stir up, mixing everything together. Note, it is easier to scoop what you want, then pour the sauce over it. And you will go back for several scoops, as this made for a lovely palette cleanser with a nice cooling crunch. I didn’t notice any of the beef jerky though.

The “Pork spring rolls” were light, crispy, and pretty standard. We got exactly what we expected from this, and was able to dunk each third into plenty of fish sauce.

The “Garlic butter chicken wing” was delicious on first bite. You immediately got the promise of its buttery flavour, peppered full with garlicky goodness, that evenly coated each crispy wing. This was the most memorable dish that we had, and one what I would come back for.

“Lemongrass chicken on rice” is my guest’s go to for Vietnamese food. Whenever she is at any new Vietnamese restaurant, this is the dish she orders, which she then uses as a gauge of food flavour and quality. She liked “Vietnamese Tea House’s” version plenty, but I found the meat a little dry and the amount of ginger textured lemongrass off putting. More so when I was surprised biting into a piece of chicken decorated with it.

The “Chicken curry” was most memorable to my guest. This is the first time she has had a sweeter curry like this, She enjoyed the creaminess of it thanks to its coconut base. Milder curries like these are my preferred type of curry. This one was rich and creamy, with a hint of spicy heat. It is made with tender pieces of dark meat chicken, mashed tomato, and softened potato cooked in a blend of coconut and homogenized milk. You had the option of enjoying it with either rice or bread, we choose the later given that we had rice in the dish before. All this only to learn that the bread that would accompany our soup-sized serving of curry would be the same type of baguette used in their banh mi after. Here we would pinch off bits and use it to sop up liquid curry like a sponge. The bread is the only thing they don’t make from scratch here.

The “Chicken sub” not only used the same bread as above, but the same type of tender and juicy dark meat chicken above as well.

 

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.
A great destination for Vietnamese food. Everything was consistently prepared and I have no complaints, especially after learning that they focus on using only fresh ingredients and prepare everything themselves in house from the sauces and spreads, to all the pickled products. Not necessarily worth driving all the way for, but worth choosing before its neighbours. Don’t deny your cravings.

VIETNAMESE TEA HOUSE
2526 E Hastings, Vancouver BC, V5K 1Z3
604-620-5922

Sencha Tea Lounge

Today Vancouver Foodster’s Ice Tea Challenge brought me down to “Sencha”, a bubble tea house on West Broadway, also offering small bites.

On this warm day, the doors and front of the cafe was opened wide and inviting. It had a stone bar that crept up the wall, we would grab a couple of the wooden chairs by it, adjacent to the mirror on the wall.

Their menu showed the struggle they had trying to identify themselves. From nachos and onion rings, to Thai salad and marinated pork belly. I didn’t understand their theme, if any. What did they specialize in and what would they be better known for: pasta or rice bowls? When I asked our server this thoughts, he admitted that they were trying hard to cater to the neighbourhood. Predicting what their customers wanted and providing it for them on this accordion folded sheet.

Seeing as their ice tea was a classic bubble tea, I thought it best we’d pair it with some Taiwanese snacks. I won’t be reviewing the ice tea challenge contestants here, you’ll have to wait for the contest to end in order to read my take on each, as I don’t want to ruin the surprise. This is the “Honey Camellia milk tea” that tasted floral, like jasmine. It is one of the milk teas that comes regularly on their menu, a drink that they felt was worth featuring in this competition.

The fried chicken pieces were delicious. Fried to a crisp that lasted, heavily coating the juicy nuggets of dark meat chicken.

I was surprised and delighted by their baos. They weren’t the regular white dough buns, but baos flavoured in black sesame with a grey and black speckled exterior. We tried two flavours and both came with a side salad of green drizzled in a miso dressing.

The “Classic Pork” bun was their most popular bun and my favourite of the two. It was fatty pork belly baked crispy in a sweet sauce, with fresh cabbage and cucumber, all dressed in a thick crunchy peanut sauce that ties it altogether.

The “Kimchi Beef” was spicy coleslaw, barbecue sauce, and pickles. The meat was chewy and plenty saucy, with a good amount of hot spice, and a nice texture.

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.
This is just a little too far to go for okay food. I would recommend it for those who like “bao-wiches”, given the unique flavouring of theirs. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

SENCHA
3468 W Broadway, Vancouver BC, V6R 2B3
604-779-2918
www.senchatealounge.com

Deighton Cup 2018

The older I get and the more landmark occasions I cross off my list, the less reasons there are to dress up. Luckily the Deighton Cup comes around once a year, giving folks like my self, a reason to purchase a new outfit and the opportunity to wear it amongst others in their finery. This year is the Cup’s 10th anniversary, celebrating their notoriety as “Vancouver’s most stylish day at the races”.

This is only my second year attending the Cup, and having experienced the grandeur of the year before, I came a-guns-a-blazing for 2018’s shindig! Whereas last year I went for a more funky look, 2018 brought about a more chic appearance. My goal, to throw my hat into the ring for the best dressed. Although walking into Hastings Racetrack, and eyeing everyone else in their assembles, I dared not. I guess that will be a goal for 2019! I better start shopping for my outfit and accessories now!

As the 10th anniversary, today’s festivities were bigger and better than in years past. The estimated number of attendees was five thousand. A collection of who’s who’s, here to socialize and look fine, whilst enjoying a full day of derby action at the racetrack. Really, half the appeal of attending is dawning your finest and critiquing others in there’s. The drinking is just a bonus, and most attendee don’t even pay attention to the horse races. Although, it is all three pieces together that makes this one of the most celebrated events in the city. One of summer’s can’t misses.

 

We would take in the sights and embrace the day with multiple drinks and a cigar or two. To take it all in with us, check out my latest vlog on my YouTube channel: MaggiMei. Or continuing reading for the highlights.

Last year the entire event was catered; where, if you wanted to eat anything, it would have to been at one of their stands. However, this year, event organizers invited several local restaurants to set up shop and feed the masses. Yale Saloon had beef jerky, Riz offered up poke doughnuts, and there was gyoza, salads, noodles, and oysters for purchase as well.

We ended up at Earls, getting 2 out of the 3 options available. A tuna poke bowl and teriyaki chicken rice bowl. Lighter options with plenty of juicy vegetables, ideal for keeping full and cool under the sun. I just wished both weren’t pre-dressed for you, so that the rice stayed firm and you could choose how much salty sauce you actually wanted.

In hindsight I wished I explored more and tried more of the food available, however I ended up pooling majority of my available resources into alcohol. There were so many bars to turn to and so many vendors promoting their own bottles and labels. However my guest prefers to stick to one drink and today it was a white from the main bar.

We ate our light lunch on the track side patios. Enjoying the gala vibe corralled behind white picket fences with white benches and black and white cushions; all under the shade of large red golf umbrellas.

Here a bucket of bubbly and packs of red bull were waiting for us.

And with drink service on the patio, you didn’t have to leave the comfort of this track side oasis. We mixed Ciroc, the event’s vodka of choice with cranberry juice and redbull. Although the bars are worth travelling to.

At their main event bar, sponsored by “Rebel Yell”, three dapper bartenders offered up mixed creations with spirits and punch. After avoiding it last year, this year I splurged on a mint julep served in their “Deighton Cup” pewter cup. Rebel Yell bourbon, ice, and mint. A great drink and a cute keep sake the cherish the memories with afterwards. I was later able to reuse it for another one of their cocktails. The “Rebel’s Punch” with bourbon, oolong tea, lemon, and bitters.

The event is also known for their collection of fine cigar and the ability to buy one to smoke track side. I may not like cigarettes, but for some reason a cigar does appeal to me.

There was so much to see and do that it was hard to take it all in, especially wading through the crowds as the day progressed and the fashionably late arrived. There was live music on the main stage, with the ability to dance along. Cars were lined up for admiring and an inflatable lounge allowed you to relax in the shade. There were artists creating on location and oyster shucking competitions, not to mention the horse races you could bet on. The track employed individuals to teach first time betters how to place a wager. What a great way to engage an untapped demographic into this sport and its gambling history.

But the highlight was definitely the fashion show and the competition for the best dressed. And standing shoulder to shoulder with so many dressed so well. I am already planning ahead and looking forward to next year’s must attend, fashion forward event!

Where else and when else can you do your day drinking under the sun, while smoking a cigar, and placing a wager on your favourite horse? This is the optimal day drinking setting and event. For more details check out their website. Make sure you subscribe to their mailing list to purchase your tickets early to save, and to ensure you get in before they sell out!

 

DEIGHTON CUP
deightoncup.com

Heritage Asian Eatery

“Heritage Asian Eatery” is a well known boutique eatery offering up popular Chinese fare, done with a modern twist. It would be my first time within the cafe. I was visiting with two others who have been prior to, therefore I let them order at the counter, as I grabbed one of the few available seats and took in the setting.

The restaurant is a small open space. The furniture is functional and the decor minimal. There were shelves on the wall showcasing Asian artifacts: a swinging bell, a rusted scale, china printed urn, and a wood abacus. The centre piece is a bar of dangling lights over the long family style, share table. A cascade of varying lengths of wire and an assortment of bulbs.

You claim a table, then order at the counter. Their overhead menus reminded me of movie listings: Black block letters against a bright white light box. Everything sounded so good on it, so we ended up getting it all.

The “Pork belly bowl” sounded promising, until we saw that it only came with three pieces of pork belly, and that we would have to share between three. It felt stingy, given how much rice and sides you are eating in lack of meat. You ate like you were rationing your bites, to elongate the main between scoops of taro chips, green salad, pickle, and egg. Although it was a good mixture of tasty and hearty, it just needed more pork belly to be properly deemed a “pork belly bowl” for $13. I didn’t feel the value.

The “Chicken wings” were a little disappointing. They are fried dry, and only slight crispy, with a slight aftertaste of medicine, a couple of the wings were a tad acrid. And then they were also on the smaller side. So for $6 for five, it felt like another loss.

The “Dan Dan duck udon” was my favourite dish of the afternoon. It was full of saucy and chewy textures done right, and delicious with a slight spice. It was wonderfully peanut and supremely buttery. Although things did get slightly too salty with the extra sauce pooled at the bottom of the bowl. An easy remedy and wish was to have more noodles to properly use up all that sauce.

We then ordered one of each of their protein-full baos.

The “Duck bao” had a strong herbaceous-ness to it. Tangy in flavour, but overall too salty. The pickles gave things a weird after taste. Not necessarily bad, just not familiar or comforting.

The “Pork belly bao” was far better in flavour, it was had less aggressive pickling, meaning the belly meat was the highlight.

The “Cotechino bao” was one of today’s specials, made with house made sausage, watercrest, pickles, spicy mayo, and crispy onion. The sauce added interest, giving the tongue a slight burn, though overall I found it fairly bland.

One of the dishes they are best known for is their “Matcha mantou”, a dessert that eats like a snack with hints of saltiness from the deep fried white dough bun. I liked the concept of the dish, but it lacked dip, the half saucer of matcha given was not enough sweet condense milk to eat with your otherwise plain bread. Though, it is at least a nice bread with a crispy golden brown crust. Overall, this was a milder way to end our meal.

 

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.
It is a fun enough space, offering tasty Asian eats at affordable prices. Not my first choice given the ratio of hits to misses mentioned above, but they are a unique enough restaurant that I would refer up to others. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

HERITAGE
1108 West Pender Street, Vancouver BC, V6E 4J6
778-737-1108
eatheritage.ca
Heritage Asian Eatery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Personas, summer menu

There aren’t many exciting spots in Burnaby, not many places to spend the night drinking at. So when I was invited to Burnaby’s only casino, to check out “Personas” the new summer menu, I jumped at the chance to discover more about its night life and hidden patio. As is the case with all casinos, there are many dining options within, but for a good time with live music and unique cocktails, “Personas” is definitely the one you want to visit.

Given its location they are definitely a hidden gem. The view doesn’t give you much, but you are here for the white loungers, the glass and stone fire pits, the palm trees, and the running water feature. It is an oasis surrounded by tall buildings and concrete. There is even an island bar on deck, with built-in ice moat to keep drinks chilled. I would love to return one night when it is staffed. Living in Burnaby they are definitely my favourite option for a night of drinking with a girlfriend, and best of all the taxi ride to and from equals one cab ride downtown.

Our night was off to the right start. It began with and would end with two cocktails unique to them.

We were welcomed in with their “Personas LIT”, a clever name for their long Island iced tea. topped with lemon slush. It was a great summer drink, or just a great ice tea, alcohol or not, you couldn’t taste it.

But it was soon forgotten when a round of giant “Bulldogs” came out. This “Double Down Bulldog” has two Coronas bottles flipped upside down in a salted rim margarita. There was enough liquid to fill two servings of this specialty glass, a goblet the side of your head. It came with four straws, meaning this one is for sharing, so you have to bring your friends if you to try this for yourself.

The “Ebi prawn” was tempura prawns dressed in Japanese mayo, bonito flakes, and black sesame seeds. I liked the starchy coating on the prawn, although they are quick to get soggy. Therefore it is best to eat this one as soon as you get it. Each crispy prawn was heavily coated in their spicy and creamy mayo sauce, given some fishiness from the bonito, and some depth with the black sesame seeds. Over all decent, but it felt like it needed some thing more to finish off the flavour. Some tang in between prawns maybe? Like pickled ginger or vegetable.

I really liked the presentation of their “General Hao’s Chicken”, and how clever its name was. Lightly breaded bites of fried chicken meat, finished with a toss in their lemon chilli sauce. I found the breaded nugget a little doughy, but a good snack to pair with beer given how flavourful it was. It was also great to have the ginger and raw vegetable included for balance and a palette cleanser.

I really liked the “Cheese & Honey” flatbread with caramelized onion, dates, mozzarella, Parmesan, and goat cheese. It was a perfect merging together of textures and flavours. I just wish there were more dates, it was definitely the bite I was looking forward to most. Its chewy sweetness with the sticky goat cheese, and the drizzle of honey to bind them together was amazing.

Only by comparison I found the “Tropic Thunder” pizza a little flat. Grilled chicken, Alfredo sauce, grilled pineapple salsa, bacon, cilantro, chilli thread, and a drizzling of their sweet and tangy barbecue sauce. I really like the barbecue sauce and pineapple pairing here, I just wished it was less overpowered by the barbecue sauce, maybe mixing it with mayonnaise to water it down would be the trick?

The “Sticky ribs” coated in a galbi sauce had plenty of meat around the bone, easy enough to pry off. Definitely a notch up from any bar serving I have ever had.

And this is the prettiest salad I have ever had. “Falafel wedge salad” with crispy garbanzo beans, sun-dried tomato, cucumber, homemade pickled turnip, sumac, and a lemon tahini dressing. I am not a fan of salad in the first place, and even less so when a 1/4 of it comes served still as a head. But the colours were just so amazing, it attracted me like a bee to a flower. Vibrantly bold hues and the flavours to match, each ingredient was complimentary to the others. It was like if you were to take a falafel and make it into a salad; crispy and fresh, with the taste of dill.

They had a decent poke bowl, but I wouldn’t get a poke bowl at a restaurant, when there are so many poke shops that specialize in the stuff. None the less, if you find yourself here cause your friends wanted to go, but you wanted poke, this is what you would order. Ahi tuna, cucumber, edamame, spicy mayonnaise, gochujiang chilli dressing, and kizami nori. It ate more like a rice bowl, but with not enough tuna, although this seems to be the case of most pokes, anywhere.

But if your prefer your seafood cooked there is the “California sushi tacos”. Crab, avocado, nori, cucumber, togarashi mayo, wasabi, and sushi rice spooned in a gyoza taco. The beige coloured crab meat didn’t look all that tasty in the beige gyoza shell, although the avocado and seaweed that topped it gave things some needed colour. Sadly I missed trying this one, so won’t be able to review it for you here. But I love a good reinterpretation of a classic, so would have absolutely ordered this to try it.

The “Bourbon St. Blackened chicken” was lack lustre. This was a blackened double breast of chicken, topped with a bourbon maple jus, over brown rice and seasonal vegetables. There was a substantial amount of of spice coating the chicken, but sadly none of it actually penetrated into the white meat. Bland.

This is their “Personas Burger”. They pride themselves on using real ground beef, which they mould into a ball with their hands, then cook up on their grill, with a weight used to flatten the patty. Therefore no patty comes out quite the same shape. It made me like them more, but not as much as I could, as the burger I had was slightly on the over cooked side. However, the flavour and seasonings were great. 100% AAA ground chuck, lettuce, tomato, pickle, red onion, and garlic aioli on a brioche bun. Doing it again I would pay the extra to add in bacon, mushroom, and cheddar and make it over the top! The curly fries were the best accompaniment. I would get the burger combo just for the fries, another great bar classic they do well with.

I liked the “short rib pappardelle” although strategic eating was required for this one. I loved the perfectly chewy texture of the thick cut ribbon of noodle, although as is they weren’t all the seasoned. Each bite needed the toppings: toasted pine nuts, wild mushroom ragout, sun dried tomato, goat cheese, virgin olive oil, and grilled garlic croutons. Collectively they made the dish. The only thing I would add is a light sauce to coat the noodles with, giving the dish some moisture. And some Parmesan for its cheesy saltiness, just as how I ate the leftovers at home, which was delicious. Although the toasted pine nuts didn’t fare too well a day later.

And lastly, a dessert you drink. Their showstopper and what they are best known for is their “cotton candy cosmo”. Typically a pink tuff gets spun and the speared on to the straw. Then you either enjoy the cotton candy as is, or you let it melt, sweetening the beverage under it. Today we were lucky enough to have our cotton candy in green and flavoured like sour apple.

 

The ability to spin my own cotton candy had me getting creative with all that power! Which led to my latest YouTube video on my channel: MaggiMei. Check out my impromptu cotton candy challenge below.

 

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 is definitely a destination worth travelling to. THE place in Burnaby for a good time. Ideal for a couple of drinks on their patio, with great classic bar food to nibble on. And best of all, they have live music on Fridays and Saturdays, trivia nights, and now with Vancouver’s latest giant cocktail coming to its menu there is even more to come in for! Don’t deny your cravings.

 

PERSONAS
Grand Villa Casino
4331 Dominion Street, Burnaby BC
604-453-0811
mypersonas.ca

Long’s Noodle House

I have read somewhere that the way to define a good Chinese restaurant is a worn down exterior with matching interior, lots of Chinese people dining within, and a grumpy cashier. Well, this well known stop for noodles on Main Street has all three.

It is one of those cash only, hole in the wall Chinese restaurants. It is community fuelled, where regulars make them a part of their routines. And for good reason: the food comes fast, it is tasty, and affordable for day to day eating.

I found everything tasty and as I expected it to be. I grew up eating so much Chinese food, and with some many variations on my favourite dishes; I really can’t separate good from great. This was delicious, we ate it all down greedily, though at the same time, I wouldn’t need to drive all the way down for more, as there are other equally good Chinese restaurants, closer to my home. I did like how it was smaller and had a more casual feel though. You wouldn’t necessarily feel comfortable walking into one of those large dim sum in the morning, seafood restaurants at night, large enough to host a wedding reception at restaurants.

“Rice cake with preserve vegetable”. I love the chew of these slices and really eat it more for that then the flavour. In fact, I even avoid the slivers of green from the vegetable.

The “Tan tan with meat sauce” is one of my favourite noodle dishes. With a thick sauce and plenty of ground meat, the noodles walked away with plenty of flavour.

We rounded out our meal with even more carbs: the classic “Xiao long bao”. These were made in house, by a woman behind the front counter. They were plenty tasty, with a tangy dip in the vinegar. The meat was tender and the dough chewy, I just wish there was more soup within each bundle, enough to have the liquid gush and hit you in the back of your throat when you bit down.

 

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.
It was good, we ate our fill and had no leftovers. I will crave such flavours again, but don’t necessarily need to satisfy them back here. Overall, I am neutral on this one. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

LONG’S NOODLE HOUSE
4853 Main Street, Vancouver BC
604-879-7879
Long's Noodle House Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Peanuts Bubble Tea

We came to the Richmond Public Market to have a meal in their food court. After a hearty carb-o-loaded sitting, we wanted to end our lunch with something sweet.

And a stand well known for that in the market is “Peanuts”. The are known for their bubble tea with real fruit and powder options in your favourite flavours. I had the papaya milk tea with pearls. I found it pretty standard. Tasty, thick, sweet. All flavours I expected.

I also grabbed four of their fresh made “Che lung bing” (wagon wheels), it was 4 for $2.75. They are available in both salty and sweet varieties, with flavours like red bean, chocolate, and radish which is salty.

Given their name I got one of their peanut filled wagon wheels and it turned out to be the best of the four. It has a great crunchy texture with crushed peanuts and coarse sugar. The cream one was luscious and light, really allowing the flavour of the breading to come through. The white chocolate was a little too sweet for my liking.

And the cheese was the most fun, how it stretched as we split the circle in half. This was my second favourite flavour of the batch. I would definitely have these again, shame they are so far to get 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.
A little far to travel for snacks, but it is a great little something to pick up when you are already there. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

PEANUTS
Richmond Public Market, Level 2
2130-8260 Westminster Highway, Richmond BC, V6X 1A7
604-278-9372
Peanut's Bubble Tea Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Fairmont Chateau Whistler

A girl’s weekend in Whistler, BC~

My girlfriend invited me to Whistler this weekend, a way to get away, and a different setting to drink at. She went all out with her hotel choice, going with the Chateau Fairmont as our overnight stay. We were given a room on the 10th floor, just one below the penthouse.

 

To skip the reading and watch the drinking version of this recap, check out my latest vlog on my YouTube channel: MaggiMei.

We shared a king size bed, in a spacious suite that included a living area and a tiny balcony to look down and over the hotel’s outdoor pool and garden terrace from.

We were also welcomed to our stay with a platter of chocolate covered strawberries. The ideal accompaniment to our bottles of “Fat Bastard” wine in Chardonnay and Syrah.

Sadly it rained on the night of our stay. Where originally we intended to explore the village, bar after bar; we were now bound to the hotel. Luckily there were five restaurants within to choose between, including room service. Sadly we didn’t consider irregular opening hours, so was bound to spending our time and having majority of our meals at the “Mallard Lounge”, as the one open the longest and latest. Our night would start and end at Mallard.

We grabbed a couch and coffee table in their lounge area, looking out at the rainy patio. We would be able to enjoy it once the rain cleared, later that night.

Here we started with some complimentary bar snacks. A dish of salty snack mix and one of nuts: Brazil, macadamia, cashew, and almonds. They made for great nibbles as we drank.

My friend stuck to her drink of choice: sparkling Prosecco. I sought out something more unique in their “PBJ Sour”. A strong cocktail flavoured with peanut butter oil infused Knob Creek bourbon and blueberry preserve, with a hint of lemon. Both drinks don’t normally come topped with edible flowers, but it can happen with a simple request to have your drink more “dressy”.

To match my guest’s cocktail, and to keep the meal light, for more drinking ahead we ordered the chilled seafood platter. It included Atlantic lobster, prawn, cracked crab, oyster, mussels, and clams over ice. Enjoyed with cocktail sauce, Marie rose, and mignonette for dipping; and served with a basket of bread and crackers including butter. It was tasty and fresh enough, but the seafood became waterlogged and watered down fast. Where the mild sauce was not much help in adding flavour.

After we ate our fill, we headed back up to our hotel room to crack open a bottle of wine. We choose the Fat Bastard Chardonnay and finished the bottle. ‘Cause drinking at the bar can get costly, fast.

Our original plan was to visit “The Grill” for second dinner, but we walked up to it at 9pm, only to learn that is when they closed, as was the case for “Wild Flower”. So instead we walked out of the hotel and found ourselves at the bar across the way from the Fairmont.

Our intended destination was the supper club next door to it, however my girl friend was lured into “Fitzsimmons” pubs, thanks to the wide eyes of a puppy. Frankie the dog, single handedly filled the bar after us. We would stay for a drink by the bar. Here, I grabbed a beer flight, given the locale. My friend got a glass of wine from the tap.

From here we got hungry, so headed back to the hotel and “Mallard Lounge”. We grabbed a seat on their patio, keeping warm by the fire with some sparkling wine.

But it soon got cold and we retreated into the warmth of the lounge for some nachos and live music. Maybe it’s all the drinks we had, or maybe it was because we were so hungry. But this was one of the best platter of nachos I have had. It had plenty of cheese, across several layers, so you were often never without. Crispy cheese thoroughly coating every yellow, red, and blue chip. Served with the classic accompaniments of salsa, sour cream, and guacamole.

From here our age caught up with us and we found ourself retiring for the night. Our plan to drink a few more bottles of wine, was left dissolving, melted like the ice in our ice bucket.

The next morning we woke up early to a gorgeous day. Check out was at 11am, the same time “Portobello” would stop serving breakfast, so we packed up and headed downstairs to catch both.

“Portobello” was an artisan market, deli, bakery, and cafe all rolled into one. We ordered our meal and retreated to their patio to enjoy it. We grabbed a couple of beach chairs by their fire pit, with flame lit. In the shade it was enjoyable, but in the sun with the wind blowing the flames your way, it became too hot and too intolerable.

The “not so dirty bowl” was breakfast in a bowl: potato, scrambled egg, mushroom, and turkey sausage. The “dirty” version included pork, which I feel like it might have be tastier with the extra grease and fat. The turkey sausage was the only ingredient giving the bowl any flavour, and if I weren’t sharing it with my friend, I would have coated the lot of it in ketchup. The fresh baked biscuit on the side was the best part. It was cheesy and crumbly, you could tell it was freshly made on the day.

 

Given how much our hotel receptionist raved about it, I couldn’t leave without trying their doughnuts. We had to wait a little for them to come fresh out of the oven, and they were well worth the wait.

The creme burlee doughnut was a yellow round, topped with burnt sugar. It was filled to the brim with burlee custard creme, almost too much. But tasty with the fluffy pastry. It had a slightly different texture than that of a regular doughnut.

The blueberry lemon doughnut had the same texture as the one above, but topped with burnt meringue and filled with a sweet blueberry compote and slightly sour cream.

The weekly whistler farmer’s market was open today and we decided to walk it. We explored the booths of artisan wares and sampled from the food vendors.

Next, we visited the Audain museum, to take in their newest exhibition: Pop! With the children’s festival running this weekend, majority of the tourists and their families were there, meaning we had the entirety of the museum to ourselves. We were able to talk as loudly as we wanted to and were able to take as many posed photos as our heart deserted. The following are few of my favourite shots.

Part of the Pop! Exhibition included a children’s play area. Here, we coloured our own Campbell’s cans to hang on their wall and posed in front of an interactive photo op.

And thus ended our weekend at Whistler. We headed back to Vancouver early, in hopes of beating traffic.

Vancouver Foodster’s Tasting Plates: North Vancouver

Normally North Vancouver is a little far for me to travel to, seeing as I live in Burnaby. So it would have to be more than just one dinner to bring me out that way, or in this case Vancouver Foodster’s tasting plates!

“Tasting Plates”, is the most well known food tour in Vancouver. It gives diners an opportunity to try something new within a neighbourhood that they might not otherwise be familiar with. Each stop on the self guided tour is curated by the man running “Vancouver Foodster”. He vets each restaurant and works with them on preparing a tasting plate that best highlights their establishment. These are all restaurants he frequents and fully endorses, so he takes the guess work out of trying somewhere and something new, for you.

The locations are relatively close to one another, maybe a few blocks from one to the next, but seeing as I drove, I made commuting from one destination to the next easier on myself. And best of all I didn’t have to pay once for parking, there was enough spaces to pull into without having to loop around the area, this is enough of an incentive to visit North Vancouver.

Check in was at Londsdale Quay, where we were introduced to a new addition to the market place. “Butter Lane Bake Shop” was certainly the cutest store in the plaza. With its sleek white and baby pink motif with garland of matching balloons, it was easy to spot simply walking past.

Here we were treated to three miniatures from behind their glass showcase. An earl grey donut made with leaves steep with their very own “Louise & Louise” fine teas. Their famous scones with clotted cream and jam made with European churned butter, already spread on was my favourite. And the gluten free carrot cake topped with a cream cheese buttercream was a great one bite for those with or without a gluten intolerance. All three were a great representation of the baked goods they offer. It would be worth returning to try their macaroons, stuffed cookies, or maybe a whole cake for an occasion.

Butter Lane Bake Shop & Tea House
3022 Mountain Hwy, North Vancouver BC, V7J 2P1
604-990-5263

 

From here, we crossed the street to “Cafe by Tao” where I had some of the most exciting vegan food, I have ever had. Their little shop was in a great location, with a lovely patio. Inside, they offered more than just a hearty vegetable based meal. They also have grains, spices, cookies, and bars available for purchase, like a connivence store.

I had to buy some of their the vegan chocolate, only because they were shaped like little dinosaurs: a baby T-Rex, a little triceratops, and a head heavy brontosaurus. They had a close resemblance to regular chocolate in taste, but melted just with one touch.

As for the tasting plate it was a collection of little vegan bites: mango salsa quinoa bowl with falafel and sauerkraut, “Rawin’ Pizza”, “Rawsagna”, and lucuma parfait.

I would have liked more mango in the bowl as there were more grains than the vegetables and fruits giving them flavour. I liked the texture of the falafel enough, but felt the sauerkraut lacked tang. Overall it was bland, nothing a little creamy cashew sauce couldn’t fix, or some soy.

The “Rawin’ Pizza” was like eating a loose leaf salad over limp flat bread crust. It was missing the spices of a herby sauce to tie all the raw ingredients together.

I liked the “Rawsagna” for its texture. Served cold in layers of raw squash and minced nuts. It ate like lasagna texturally. A fresh rendition with the tomato flavour you’d expect and the crumbliness of a thick and coarse cheese sprinkled overtop. On a hot day like today, eating this cooled us down.

But what I enjoyed the most were the crispy kale chips used as garnish. I could have eaten a bowl of these and found them better than regular chips. In hindsight I should have asked for a bag to go.

The dessert was thoughtfully included. Creamy like clotted cream, chewy with a hint of honey, and some fruit for freshness. I just wished the granola had more crunch to it, or the coconut was toasted more for a finer crisp.

Truly, if “Tao” was closer to my work, I could see myself frequenting them more often for a healthy lunch.

Tao Organics Inc
260 12th Ave, Vancouver BC, V7M 1A3
604-971-5108
taoorganics.com

 

Next we stopped at “Coconama”, the Japanese chocolate company, operating here in North Vancouver. I have tried their chocolates before, but have never been to the kitchen space that makes them. Here, our visit began with some background on their company and what sets them apart.

We learned where their cocoa comes from, and got to try concentrations of it in their award winning chocolate bars that are prepared with in 80%, 90%, and 100% cocoa. The owner is one of the individuals that helped to develop the recipe for popular Japanese chocolate brands “Meji” and “Melty Kiss”. They specialize in Japanese style chocolate truffles, little cubes known for their creative flavours and melt in your mouth texture. The have flavours like milk tea, earl grey, black sesame, sake, various fruits and even some vegetables. We were able to try a few such flavours today.

But it was the salmon and sour cream one, specially crafted and first made available to this food crawl, that held my attention. It was sweet like chocolate but with the finish of their promised ingredients. It was magical and definitely worth trying. I liked it so much that I bought a container of it to take home.

Coconama Chocolate Co
264 E 1st St North Vancouver BC, V7L 1B3
604-770-1200
coconama.com

 

To continue with our alternating between savoury and sweet foods, our fourth stop was “Alberello Pizzeria”, a pizzeria who prides themselves on using all natural ingredients. Here we were seated on their patio laid with imitation turf and hung with flower planters.

Here, each person was given two smaller slices of pizza and a meatball bobbing in thick marinara. The “Verde Noce” is pesto sauce, walnut, roasted pepper, oyster mushroom sautéed in garlic oil, caramelized onion, mozzarella, fresh goat cheese, and basil. I really liked the combination of salty and sweet on this pizza, and all the textures brought together. Chewy mushrooms, starchy goat cheese, and gooey cheese and plenty of it.

But I much more preferred the “Salsiccia” their homemade classic tomato sauce pizza topped with fennel sausage, mozzarella, caramelized onion, and roasted red pepper. It was saltier, heartier, and best with a dunk in the tomato sauce below.

As is, the meat ball was soggy and one dimensional, but together with bites of pizza it elevated both. Every one of our bowls were wiped clean with pizza crust.

They were so busy on this Wednesday with dinners dining in and patrons taking out, that I was compelled to grab a pie to go in the classic marinara flavour.

Alberello Pizzeria
115 15th Street West, North Vancouver BC, V7M 1R7
604-770-4484
alberellopizzeria.com

 

We then rounded off our night at “Welcome Parlour”, the cutest little ice cream shoppe nestled in a lovely community. They certainly did well to welcome guests with doors opened wide and patio furniture waiting to be reclined on.

Inside, the parlour was a mix of old and new with a cash vintage register, black and white photography used as decor, reclaimed wood and metals crafted counters, and even shelves of classic candies for purchasing.

Here, “Welcome Parlour’s” “taste” was a cinnamon bun ice cream sandwich, done in collaboration with “Bad Dog Bread”. I am surprised that this is the first time that I have had such a combination. But sadly once cut in half, the buns didn’t hold their shape, it would have been nice to get two miniature buns and sandwich a dollop of ice cream between those two, instead. The dough was a little dry and the cinnamon flavour a little strong. B luckily the sweet cream was a nice milky ice cream to attempt to mute some of the cinnamon spice. I also wished that this was served with a glass of milk on the side, although the water fountain was helpful in this regard.

But instead, I got one of their new floats to quench my thirst with. I took the clerk’s recommendation and combined a cherry cola with a scoop of mango ice cream. They went well together, I only wished that I asked for two scoops instead of getting the standard one.

I would definitely come back for more of their ice creams on rotation, if only they were cities closer to me.

Welcome Parlour Ice Cream
277 E 8th Street, North Vancouver BC, V7L 1Y9
604-408-7481
welcomeparlour.com

 

And thus ended a great Vancouver Tasting Plate, where I was able to explore North Vancouver, learning more about an area I hardly get a chance to visit. Tonight I discovered some new restaurants to recommend, and some to visit the next time I am in the neighbourhood.

For those whose interest I have peaked, you can learn more about Vancouver Foodster’s Tasting plates and all the other fun food focused activities he runs by visiting his website: http://vancouverfoodster.com/

The next tasting plate will be on Commercial Drive on August 22. To purchase your tickets, visit the link: https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/tasting-plates-commercial-drive-tickets-46988352427

Xi An Cuisine

This is my first time to the “Richmond Public Market”, and maybe my last given how troublesome parking was…. The narrow lanes, tight stalls, and reckless driving makes the trouble hardly worth it. And that’s a shame because the food from their food court is some of the most authentic, and our lunch spot is well known in the community as having some of the best noodles in the city. Delicious noodles in a time where instagram is littered with #noodlepulls, and individuals are striving to find the best bowl in the city.

Here I was, having never heard of “Richmond Public Market”, only to learn “Xi An Cuisine”
has been called the market home for over 20 years. The owner use to be an electrician, but has since decided to pursue his passion in making hand pulled noodles, and can be seen doing just that almost every day.

He began this journey by experimenting on noodle recipes and making his own at home. His recipes come from the ones from Xi An, but the ingredients are different, because he uses what is available to him in Richmond. Apparently it took him six months to work out the perfect recipe, before opening this stall to the public.

Our group of four ordered four bowls, featuring four different hand made noodles and shared each betwixt us. We were able to watch such noodles being prepared from behind the sneeze proof glass. Strands being pulled then tossed, balls of dough being cut.

The “Noodle with fried pork and chilli” had a good amount of heat paired with tender shreds of pork and chewy noodles in a flavourful, orangey broth.

The “Special cold noodles” used mung bean to achieve the texture of their noodles. I liked the thickness of the strands and how their smooth surfaces paired well in contrast to the crisp cucumber and bean sprouts. The sauce was plenty flavourful and I liked its flavour, I just wish it was thicker in consistency and served over warm noodles. I guess I don’t like my food cold all that much.

The “Fried noodle with lamb and vegetable” was my favourite. This is one of my favourite Chinese dishes and “Xi An Cuisines’” interpretation of it is one of the better. The julienned shreds of vegetable offered some crunch, and the lamb meat was absolutely delicious; I just wished there was more, for a more even noodle to tender lamb meat ratio.

The “Noodle with beef tendon in soup” was my least favourite, I found it a little too herbaceous for my tastes, but did enjoy how warming the slippery fragment of noodles was in the broth. I was also pleasantly surprised by how flavourful the meat remained after its soak in a clear broth.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
I appreciate a good success story, and the work and pride individuals put into perfecting their craft. It makes me appreciate what I am eating even more and gives a seemingly simple bowl of noodles some character. To see it come to fruition from dough, to noodles pulled, then boiled to cook. Don’t deny your cravings

 

XI AN CUISINE
Richmond Public Market, Second Floor, Food Court
2370-8260 Westminster Highway, Richmond BC, V6X 1A7
604-279-9727
Xi'An Cuisine Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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