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Month: December 2018 Page 1 of 2

Fable Diner

At my grandmother’s age she no longer likes eating Chinese food, so my family has introduced her to hamburgers, and she has taken to them it like fish in water. So to avoid another dinner at a chain restaurant serving her new favourite handheld, I suggested we try somewhere different. We all gathered at “Fable Diner”, where they too offer hamburgers.

“Fable” is what you would imagine a modern diner to be with laminate table tops, winter green upholstered booths chairs, round orbs of lights, and bleach wood finishings. The posted flyers and frosted plastic glasses gave things a casual feel. One that made us feel comfortable enough to linger amongst, well after our meal was completed and the bill had been paid.

When I think of diners I think of classic milkshakes made with ice cream and shaken in a metal cup, so when I saw their seasonal special printed on a chalkboard menu, I knew I had to give it a try. This is their “Winter nog shake” made with egg nog, vanilla ice cream, and a healthy drizzle of caramel. The chocolate spoon that topped the tuft of whipped cream was both functional and edible. And the candy cane crumb was a nice finish to balance out the sweetness with some minty freshness. It was so good that my mother took a sip from the extras serving in the metal cup and decided that she should finish the rest for me, to spare me the calories; all the while declaring how good it was.

For my entree I decided on something off their all day breakfast menu. The “Roast duck pancake” peaked my interest, as the most unique dish offered. This was you classic pancake topped with pulled duck meat and kimchi, topped with kewpie mayo, and a sprinkling of puffed rice and fried onion that they called “crispy business”. Naturally, to make it even more breakfast-y, I added an egg for $2. Sadly, all together, it looked better than it tasted. All the toppings were too salty and too tangy, with too much punchy flavour all together. The pickled kimchi was at battle with the spicy mayo. And the pancake absorbed all their run off juices like a sponge, it was soggy and lacked the fluffy sweetness that I wanted and expected from a pancake. And if there were two more rounds of it, they both would have provided the base that this meal needed for balance. Then there was the dry duck pieces that were over cooked and rough. At least my pricy sunny side up egg was good.

As planned, my grandmother got her burger, both she and my mother had the “Reno burger” with grass fed beef, pickles, tomato, iceberg lettuce, and their fable sauce. All their burgers are prepared medium well with your choice of sides between salad, fries, or soup. My grandmother got a side salad that lack dressing. As for the burger it was pretty standard, not the best that she has had, but good enough to finish without the addition of any condiments.

My father got the FD burger, which is basically the same as above, but with two beef patties instead of one. But the first wasn’t that good that you craved another. He had the fries as his side and wished they had an additional dip in the fryer, to give their soft centres some crispness.

 

Would I come back? – No.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
I would come back for a milkshake, especially if they continue to offer up seasonal creations, but as for everything else, this was enough of a taste to not have me coming back for another. Especially when there are so many other restaurants offering all day breakfast and burgers in town, just as good or better. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

FABLE DINER
151 East Broadway, Vancouver BC, V5T 1W2
604-563-3463
fablekitchen.ca
Fable Diner Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Beijiang Restaurant

Today I was hosting a Dumpling Trail tour on behalf of Tourism Richmond. I enjoy talking about food, getting to showcase my learned knowledge on it. And enjoy it even more when it is in the company of non-adventurous eaters, (as was the case today), where I get to help them eat outside of their comfort zone.

The “Dumpling Trail” is a self guided tour that helps you explore Richmond through food and the 20 restaurants vetted and vouched for by Tourism Richmond. It is the perfect spring board to trying new places and new things. The dumplings bring you through the door, and once within, there is so much more to explore. Dumplings are international, every cuisine has an interpretation of meat and vegetable wrapped in dough. And at “Beijiang Restaurant”, they offer theirs prepared in the Northwestern/Western Chinese way.

The rest of their menu is similar to that of fellow Richmond restaurant, “Silkway Halal”, but offered up in a much newer setting. A setting that felt foreign, decorated in Islamic accents. The bar was lined with golden oil lamps and lanterns, and they matched the golden teapot that our tea was served in. The walls were just as ornate with decorative plates hanging on display, and painted tiles depicting a scene of people dancing along side camels and elephants. But it was the giant mural of the desert scene with camels travelling through golden sands and blue skies that caught your eye.

We took our seat at one of the white cloth tables, paired with emerald fabric-wrapped chairs. And were immediately greeted with the aforementioned pot of tea and a small dish of seasoned peanuts. A spiced honey roasted mix with dried chilli flakes. Here, our server was tremendously helpful and engaging. It wasn’t until we opened the menu that we learned he was one of the three owners of this enterprise. And upon reflection, it showed. He spoke to the menu, offering up must tries, and directing us to add ons and dessert. And if this wasn’t our third stop, and if the group wasn’t already so full, we would have taken him up on his offer. So instead, he gave us each one of his cards and suggested that we come back for lunch or dinner at a special price. To be honest, I did end up ordering more then I had planned to, because of his outstanding service.

This was the “Dumpling Tour” so naturally we had to try some. They offer four different types of dumplings here, different fillings all wrapped in the same doughy skin and then steamed to cook. Carrot, leek, lamb or beef. We had the beef as our filling, which had a stewed texture to it. The vinegar, soy, and garlic dipping sauce offered a pop to help highlight the beef’s natural flavour.

A dish that comes highly recommend are the lamb skewers served on sticks, which are also available on metal skewers; although for photos and originality, you definitely want to try the ones skewered on a tree branch. The piece of wood is specially flown in from China. The lamb meat is cooked on and flavoured by this branch of wood, giving it its own distinct taste. Available in hot or mild, I went with the latter and loved the fattier pieces. The meat was tender and chewy, and you best like the flavour of lamb, because it is very pronounced here.

We also got the classic “wok fried green beans”, it was prepared with minced lamb and flavoured with chillies. The freshness of the vegetable helped with breaks from the flavourful lamb above and the short rib to follow.

“BBQ beef on teppan plate”. They arrived still sizzling on the cast iron plate. covered in tin foil. I am guessing the tinfoil was to help keep things clean, but it took away from the presentation of this $$$ ranked restaurant. Not to mention, it also took away from the extra grill the meat could have gotten as it continued to cook at our table. The beef was super tender, but far too peppery. A bowl of rice would have been nice as a side to balance this out.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – No.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
A great option for a nicer Chinese meal, unique plates eaten in a unique setting. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

BEIJING RESTAURANT
8111 Leslie Road, Richmond BC, V6X 4B3
778-297-6656
Beijiang Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Vinum & Cibus Italici Consortium wine tasting

Today I was invited to a very unique event hosted by the “Vinum & Cibus Italici Consortium”. We were all gathered at “Wildebeest” restaurant, where the newer consortium was showcasing a few of their bottles of wine. This was done through a narrated wine tasting, focusing specifically on the Veneto region.

A “consortium” is an association of two or more individuals, companies, organizations or governments; created with the objective of participating in a common activity or pooling their resources for achieving a common goal. (According to Wikipedia). In this case it was a group with 30 plus years of experience, coming together as of 2015. Their goal, to penetrate international markets with their collective of wineries and agri-food producers. Today we were gathered to drink and fall in love with their wines, their first step at really representing within the Canadian market.

We were all greeted with a welcoming glass of sparkling wine. It was bagged up and the tasting was blind, this would be the same for the wines to follow. The goal was for us to taste and try, to fall in love before judging the wine by its bottle. This was a clever idea, and it really helped to exemplify the reveal. Unfortunately I won’t be able to recreate the same experience for you through my writing, but I can at least describe the wines that we had and the food that paired with it. Both well planned and well presented.

A sumptuous spread of meats and cheeses were laid out and ready for everyone to pick at with fresh crusty bread and cheesy crisps. Thinly sliced prosciutto, spicy sausage, grainy and smooth mustard, sharp blue cheese, creamy brie, green Greek olives, sticky honey, candied nuts, and a rich chicken liver pate.

There was also a bright beet salad to nibble on. Red and yellow beets with carrot, Parmesan, oats, and a spicy granola for crunch.

Servers came around with devil-ed eggs filled with fois gras. They were a creative way to dress up boiled eggs, offering up tangy and salty notes.

The “Tuna tartare” was served on little sheets of deep friend wonton. The fish was light in texture, seasoned in sesame and garlic, and the chip offered a crunch to follow.

 

The presentation portion of the afternoon began with a short video highlighting the grapes we would be tasting today, and the region of Italy in which they come from. As I mentioned earlier, the tasting was focused on wines from the Veneto region, solely Verona to Venice.

As we tasted and tried, our experienced sommelier and host walked us through the sensations, tacking on tidbits of information. Facts like how prosecco originated from the mid 1900’s, but back then it wasn’t filtered like it is today. Therefore this “natural wine” was murky. Fast forward, its popularity increased to the point that there are over five million bottles produced a year!

Admittedly, I drink for the feeling and less for the taste. So it was nice to be able to learn more about what it was that I was actually having. On top of guessing what kind of wine it was and where it was from, we were each given a sheet of paper to jot down notes on aroma and taste, then told to guess how much the bottle would be worth, or rather how much we would pay for it.

As per proper tasting set up, each place setting was also given a spit bucket and a glass of water to help taste and cleanse between sips. I hate spitting of any kind, so didn’t. Plus I don’t like wasting good wine. But at the same time, I couldn’t help but cringe at those who did. Everyone was drinking to taste, and here I was, drinking to digest.

The first glass that we were greeted at the door with (our welcome sparkling) was by Anna Spinato, Prosecco Brut Organic 374769. It is available at any BC Liquor for $17.99. Looking at it, with its neon green wrap and its cartoonish label, this isn’t a bottle I would naturally gravitate towards. It doesn’t look as prestigious as the other bottles of sparkling that would surround it, nor is it one that you would gift to impress. But tasting it like this, really has you surprised. It tasted like a clean and fresh bubbly wine that is triple the price, and it is organic to boot. I definitely won’t hesitate to pick up a bottle of this in the future.

Based on the matching labels, you can tell that this one is also by Anna Spinato. Spumante Brut Rose Organic 623306 at any BC Liquor, for typically $15.99. This too was an organic, another sparkling, in rose.

The third glass, was the Canella 2016 Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore 675785, available at “Everything Wine & Marquis Wine Cellars” for $30.49 + tax. It was drier with more body and sweetness. Aromatic with orange peel and florals. This was a pristine sparking wine, made in a predominately red wine region.

Our fourth glass and first red was deep and fragrant. A smooth clean drink that had good acidity. Our sommelier suggested chilling it beforehand to help showcase its pops of fruit. Cantina Negrar 2014 Valpolicella Classico (1.0L) 74963 at Marquis Wine Cellars for $14.69+ tax.

The following wines are classified as Valpolicella, and lucky for us, our host is the only Canadian Valpolicella wine expert. For this designation, corvina is the one grape variety that must be 95% of the blend.

Cantina Di Negrar Verona Corvina 59919 available at “Everything Wine” for $18.99 + tax. It is more fragrant and woodsy, with the flavour of berries being central. Another smooth bottle that our host suggested we chill first.

Glass number 6 was the Cantina Negrar 2015 “Le Roselle” Valpolicella Ripasso 292250, available at “Marquis Wine Cellars” for $28.61 + tax. This was 100% corvina grape, and its bouncy, sour cherry notes took centre stage. This was a sharper red, fuller bodied with more tannins. “Tannins” is a textural element that makes wine taste dry. This was a “boozier” wine that snaps back at you, it tasted as lip puckering as it smells, with spicer notes and more acidity.

Our final red was the Amarone Classico – Negrar 2015 44784, available at BC Liquor ON for $42.99. This was naturally the strongest of our tasting, which is commonplace as their tends to be a build up during wine tastings. It was heavier with a 16% alcohol content, amped up with more aged fruit like withered grapes and dark cherries.

And to end our afternoon, we finished with a white, something fun and light. The third of Anna Spinato’s sparkling collection: Moscato Spumante Dolce Organic 266437 available at BC Liquor ON for $15.99. A sweet organic dry Prosecco with cider notes and aromatic florals and fruitiness. Our host turned us on to the idea of using this as a way to “rinse with bubbles”. This is an off dry wine with a high residue of sugar. The balanced acid offers a nice palate refresher, and a jolt of caffeine, pairing perfectly with the sharpness of blue cheese or dessert.

In conclusion this was a wonderful introduction to the Vinum & Cibus Italici Consortium. And this wine tasting format was a great way to introduce value. Each bottle is affordable and you might not necessarily gravitate to it because of its budget pricing or vivid label. So this was a lesson on not judging a book by its cover, and that the most expensive thing on the shelf might not necessarily be the best or suit your needs the best. Look out for the best value for what you are tasting, something that you might not get from reading the label alone.

I enjoyed my experience and hope my recap gave you something to consider the next time you visit your local liquor store.

#venetowines

The Boss

I haven’t been here in ages, and within the first few mins of our visit, it all came back to me as to why. “The Boss” has been a Metrotown staple for years now. A quick and dirty Hong Kong style cafe that focuses on speed and customer turnover versus service and the customer’s experience. I found the lack of communication insufferable and how they delivered drinks and utensils with a drop, rude. My guest reassured me that this was common place in such diners, and that it’s all about efficiency. But I didn’t feel like being rushed through a meal I was planning on sitting and enjoying with a friend.

I should have known it would be a rough service when they seated my guest in a 2 foot wide booth, and when she asked for one with more space she was given attitude for her request. Our server was displeased, and tried to reassure her that she could fit all her bags and shopping on to the narrow bench beside her. Though she insisted on relocating, and the result was the wait staff making fun of her in Cantonese, not realizing she too spoke and understood the language. I wasn’t present during the whole scene, otherwise I would have stood up for her and walked out. And it wasn’t like we would be missing anything from the meal below.

Our request for water, napkins, and another fork (so that we both got one) was met with a look of intolerance. Like I was burdening them with my request to have the tools I needed to eat my meal. What they didn’t hesitate on was any mention of the bill. Our server asked us twice how we would be paying, together or separate, as she took our order. And later our billed showed up when my guest still had food left in front of her.

We were just looking for a quick bite, so didn’t order anything too elaborate, simple meals for cheap, as to not disappoint. I deemed my slightly more expensive $12.95 meal more worth the cost given how more complex of a meal it was. This was a baked dish that I couldn’t just as easily make for myself as I could my guest’s choice below. “Baked seafood on fried rice with cream sauce. It was actually pretty good. Comforting in its creaminess, but once again, there was nothing much to it. I just wished that there was a warning that it would take much longer to come, or maybe the consideration of them making both dishes so they arrived on time. But I guess that isn’t efficient… the result, I watched my guest eat and she watched me after.

My guest had the “Breakfast combo A and B” for $2 less. But whereas my combo came with a drink, my choice of coffee or tea; my guest’s did not and she paid the $1 more for her lemon ice tea.

From “box A” she was able to choose one dish and another from “box B”. She had her option of an omelet and went for the shredded chicken filing. Grey chicken and green peas in a fluffy egg wrap. They were pretty bland on their own, so found their way into my seafood cream casserole as additional flavour and texture.

This came with her choice of a dinner roll or a slice of bread on the side, with a sealed mini tub of butter. Pretty basic.

Oddly, she chose more shredded chicken, but this time in instant noodle. And it tasted as bland as it looked. It was flavoured with sesame oil, but still lacked so much seasoning. This was left uneaten. There were other options like satay beef and beef brisket, vermicelli or macaroni; and yet she chose a packet she could get herself for $1.90 at any grocery store. At least now she knows, I guess.

 

Would I come back? – No
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – No.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
No cards accepted, no care given, and no flavour had. A cheap solution, but the food court is only a few steps away. But if you want a more calming place to sit and possibly an even faster dining experience than at any foodcourt with its lengthy lines, I guess this is an easy solution. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

THE BOSS
Metropolis at Metrotown
4720 Kingsway, Burnaby BC, V5H 4J2
604-438-2677
The Boss Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Nicli Antica Pizzeria

My partner saw a photo of their pizzas online, and that they have recently opened a new location in North Vancouver, so decided he wanted to give the original brick and mortar a try, himself. He liked the way the crust looked and how easily it folded, it reminded him of a slice he had in New York many years ago. The one he had then and there, is currently the best tasting pizza he has had to date. And that was more than enough of a reason to visit.

The neon “pizzeria” sign outside marks your destination. A stone block facade that continues into a modern bistro with an aged brick wall, is after it. Clean and sleek with white tile, a crisp white coat of paint, structural archways, and tilted mirrors on the ceiling. Depending on where you sit, you can watch yourself eating in the reflection of the mirror. Or check out your date’s back side, as you also look into their eyes, at the front. I sat looking in the other direction, at the aged brick wall, and found the red backdrop behind by date a more calming view.

When it came time to order, The menu included salads and platters of cured meat, but we both wanted our own different pizza, so decided to just go for that and skip the appetizers. But not the wine to start.

My partner ordered his usual “Margherita pizza” with pomodoro, grana padano, fior di latte, and fresh basil. It was served whole, along with a pair of shears for cutting out your desired slice. He ended up cutting his portion into bite sized chunks that was easily picked up and placed into his mouth with a fork.

Upon the first snip my partner knew he would enjoy the crust. It with its light doughy-ness made it on to his list, as one of the best. The cheese also stacked up, it too was similar to some of the freshest he has had on pizza. Where this pizza fell short was in its marinara sauce. It didn’t have a bad taste, it was just that it had no taste. The pizza was bland, and considering it was already a simple “Margherita”, the sauce is/should be the focal ingredient, but it fell short and lacked seasonings.

I just so happened that I turned the one page menu and found their “secret pizza” listed on the back. A single menu item that was alluring in its elusiveness. Naturally I had to get it, even though it read as being spicy, and I am not a fan of tongue-tingling heat.

The “sneaky devil” with pomodoro, grana padano, mozzarella di bufala, basil, roasted green chillies, local soppressata, arugula, and chilli oil. It tasted like everything was thrown together on the rising crust. There were just many flavours combating one another. You had pops of heat from the pepperoni, the distinct taste of the grilled pepper, and the freshness of basil vying for the spotlight. I had the opposite complaint, this one was too salty, too tasty, a little too much. Although at the same time exciting because each bite is so different depending on what toppings make it into your mouth. My pizza was also a little over done. Parts of the crust side down was moderately burnt, the result an acrid flavour that came through unpleasantly.

And in tune with the theme, our bill was served on a little magnetic pizza paddle.

 

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.
I liked the novelty and the feeling of cutting into our pizzas. The crisp sound of the scissor’s two sharp blades coming down on a firm, yet smooth motion to cut the dough. As a whole, for the ambience and the quality of the cuisine, “Nicli” certainly bares revisiting, and with so many varieties in their pizza toppings, I am sure we can find a combination that we actually like. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

NICLI
62 E Cordova Street, Vancouver BC, V6A 1K3
604-669-6985
niclipizzeria.com
Nicli Antica Pizzeria Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Sweet Jesus ice cream

I have visited the “Sweet Jesus” ice cream parlour in Toronto once before, so knew what to expect when our very own in Vancouver popped up. Therefore, I didn’t rush down when they first opened, but instead made them my “seeing as I am here” treat, if I had an errand to run at Metrotown. So tonight, this was the night.

This is the city’s newest ice cream sweetheart, all piled high with its own handheld drop tray. The are known for their large cones and cups, served high, drizzled, and dipped in a mix of crunchy and crispy crushed toppings. They opened late fall, and thanks to their safe and warm spot, within the city’s largest mall, their ice cream is still enjoyed this colder season. The location is great as shopping folks tend to indulge in a sweet treat when running around, and more so when the mall is as hot and as stuffy as it was tonight.

Their brightly lit white and teal blue shop was an eye catcher, along with their glowing neon sign; drawing you in like a moth to a flame. Their name alone beckons you near, reading it gets you stepping closer, close enough to read one of their two menus. Either the one above the counter to order, with an ingredient break down. Or the one off to the side: the poster size panel that includes photos along with their catchy name. I preferred the latter method of ordering, as half its allure is its presentation. So typically I would make my choice based on looks, but today it was actually seasonal availability.

But narrowing down the choices weren’t easy. There were photos of pink and blue cotton candy lined, raspberry syrup topped, vanilla soft serve towers to consider. And freeze dried raspberry coated, mango syrup drizzled, rainbow sprinkled topped wonders to ponder over. The possibilities and combinations were endless. And if all that sounds too much you can simply order their soft serve as is or in a twist with chocolate and vanilla, or mango and coconut.

I visited with a friend, and as her first taste, I directed her towards their signature coated cones, we both went for a waffle cone, justifying the extra cost with taste. She ordered a small and I got myself a regular. I wanted to see the size difference, but found there wasn’t much of any. In hindsight my regular cone was a scoop too much ice cream. I should have saved the $1.53, and gotten a kids size as well.

My guest got the “Hella Nutella”. A chocolate and vanilla twist gets a Nutella hazelnut chocolate drizzle from a squeeze bottle. And is then rolled in a coating or Nutella wafer crumbs, corn flakes, and crushed pistachios. She loved the flavour, appreciating the crispy and crunchiness of the topping mix. She didn’t find it too sweet, and that each bite had her going back for more. The flavour was good, but I wondered why they didn’t go for a hazelnut crust instead of the pistachios? I felt it would have made for better flavour symmetry with the use of Nutella spread.

As I mentioned earlier, my choice was based on seasonal availability. I went for their “Gingerbread house”. Vanilla soft serve drizzled with cream cheese icing, then rolled in a tray of crushed gingersnap cookies, candy cane shards, and sprinkles. In contrast my chosen cone gave me many strong flavours, salty cream cheese, minty candy cane, and punchy cookie crumbs. Altogether it was best on the first few bites, but the flavour grew out fast. Luckily most of the coating sloughed off and fell on to the floor or across my lap.

We were given a plastic cup for our cones. It not only keeps your hands clean from runny ice cream, but it also catches most of the toppings you drop. Toppings that you can later salvage with a spoon.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – No.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
Fun for the novelty and the ‘gram, but a little too indulgent for me as a treat. If I returned I would opt for a spiral of soft serve in a cup instead. A cleaner flavour on the palate and one that I can see myself finishing through to the end. Although there are many other soft serve options in the mall that I prefer and would recommend instead. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

SWEET JESUS
Metrotown
4700 Kingsway, Burnaby BC, V5H 4M1
604-423-4280
sweetjesus4life.com

Popeyes Chicken

My partner is a fan of fried chicken, he eats chicken almost every day, and has it deep fried 2-3 times a week. Therefore when “Popeyes”, the Louisiana style chicken and fast food restaurant opened up, he wanted to see if he found a new place to enjoy his favourite protein, his favourite way. And to see how well this new edition to Port Coquitlam stacked stacked up against his favourites.

With it just recently opening, and online food publications doing a great job to promote this import from across the border, the restaurant was busy. It was 8:30pm on a Tuesday and the line wrapped around itself. Despite how many employees were behind the counter and how fast they worked, people continue to join the back of the line, thus it didn’t look like it was actually moving. And seeing as there wasn’t a drive through window, despite patrons taking their chicken home in boxes and styrofoam wrapped in paper and bagged in plastic, it was still tightly packed within.

But once you ordered and pay, your entire meal comes out pretty quick. But then there is the challenge of wanting to eat in and there not being enough tables for the high surge of people wanting to dine in too. This made our turn to sit and dine less enjoyable with groups hovering around, in order to be the first to sit after we get up.

We decided to try a variety of things to get a full assessment of this popular chain, for our very first taste. Three combos with our choice of three sides to go with it. The side options we didn’t choose were mashed potatoes, coleslaw, herbed beans and rice, corn on the cob, and cajun poutine.

I considered the cajun poutine, which would have cost me more as an “upgraded” side, only to learn that it is just cajun seasonings over your standard gravy and cheese over fries. Although it would have been nice to try their gravy as it is only available as part of the above or over mashed potatoes. They didn’t offer cups of it on the side for dipping, or maybe I just missed out the opportunity to get it as such.

Just as well, the fries were nice enough that you wanted to taste them. They didn’t stay crispy for long, nor were they the kind that you go back for more of. They simply had their own flavour with their special mix of cajun spices, and offered up nice breaks from everything else. Especially when enjoyed with some tangy ketchup, to help change the taste of your palate.

The fries were the side to their “Deluxe chicken sandwich”. Creole, cajun, or deluxe were your burger options. It was so loud that we couldn’t hear our clerk behind the counter when she explained to us the differences. The sandwich was centred around their breaded white meat chicken breast, a garlicky aioli, lettuce, and tomato, all on a chewy Portuguese bun. The chicken was was crunchy, you could taste the quality of the meat being used, with some lingering spice to it.

We had more of their chicken as is in their “3 piece combo”. All dark meat. The thigh, drum, and wing, each still steaming hot through and through. But whereas the thigh was good and the drum juicy, the wing sad and small. The seasoning doesn’t taste like any other, and again they used great quality chicken here too. Juicy meat hiding under a robe of crunchy goodness. I considered it good fried chicken, but not something I could only get from them. There are other fried chicken options out there, similar in quality, that I couldn’t get else where, more conveniently. The seasoning in the batter didn’t stand out enough to crave again, and just as well, as I wouldn’t travel the distance for it any how.

For its side we had some onion rings. They were crispy with a good amount of batter. Better than many other fast food restaurant’s attempts.

Sadly, I didn’t know that each combo comes with a biscuit, so I ordered one additional. They were buttery, you bit in and it flaked under the pressure. Cheesy and cakey, best enjoyed warm.

For our last combo we had their popcorn shrimp, because no other fast food chain offers such a thing on their menu. Sadly what I imagined, wasn’t the reality. The shrimp were tiny. So little meat that you get a 1:1 ratio of breading and shrimp, whereas you wanted more juiciness from a thick curl of shrimp. It was like eating bits of deep fried batter. No real taste on its own, luckily you get your choice of dips to accompany it. Tartar, buttermilk ranch, blackened ranch, Mardi Gras mustard, Sweet heat, barbecue, bayou BBQ, or cocktail sauce. I got the mustard and was surprised by how strong it was, enough had me feeling it’s zestiness in my nasal passages.

Here, we paired it with the most bland Mac and cheese I have ever had, based on its unappealing taste, I think they use American cheese that has no sharpness to it. The noodles were also cover-cooked, to the point that the elbow macaroni was swollen and too soft. The creaminess of it was nice, and at least it was helpful as a neutral base. A scoop with the spork to have in between bites of deep fry and salt.

 

Would I come back? – No.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – No.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
Glad to have tried the buzz, and glad we got enough of the menu to give it a fair assessment. So in conclusion I can confidently say “Popeyes” did not make it on to my list of favourite fast food joints, nor it is one I would go out of my way to visit again, even if they opened a location closer to me. Don’t deny your cravings.

POPEYES
110–2190 Hawkins Street, Port Coquitlam BC, V3B 0G6
778-941-3681
popeyeschicken.ca

Cacao 70 Dip Shop

I have been to one of their other locations before, and having been so unimpressed then, I haven’t been back to any of the handful that have popped up since.

But today their sandwich board was affective in luring is in to their “Dip shop”. They advertised their limited edition churro doughnuts dipped in their signature melted chocolate dips and we wanted a taste. Normally their sweet dips are served over waffles and/or soft serve ice cream cones, and the doughnuts offered a fun twist for the season. For those interested, they are available from December 10th to the 24th, 2018.

This was a cute stop, a fun spot for some quick sweet treats. The setting is nice, modern meets fairytale home with black and white tiled floors, marble counter tops, their menu listed on ornately carved boards; and wonderfully whimsical wallpaper: Lush green banana leaves set to a baby pink background. It would double nicely as a high tea salon.

I liked the idea of dipping desserts into flavoured vats of sauces, but just wished that they made everything in house. After seeing our doughnuts get a spin in the microwave, I asked if the ice cream or their waffles were at least made in house, as they are offered all year round. The answer was no, that the work of baking the products and churning the creams are outsourced, shame. But at least the dips were made by “Cocoa 70”. A factory prepares plenty, enough for all their locations, and they get parcel-ed out as needed.

Each of our doughnuts were dipped in a vat of the above mentioned chocolate. There were specific flavours and pairings pre-set, but I guess you can choose any that you like and ask for any topping that you want. Chocolate dips like milk, dark, white, maple, matcha, coffee, peanutbutter, praline, black sesame, chai, and earl grey. And to help you choose between them all, they give out samples. Clean wooden stir sticks get a quick dunk in and you get to lick them clean. I was most interested in trying the chai and the earl grey, and they delivered well on their flavour promise.

I had the matcha churro doughnut that came topped with shaved coconut slivers and dried cranberries. I ordered it because it reminded me of little Christmas wreaths. I waited, but the creamy dip never harden, and thus made eating this handheld treat a task in having to clean up after myself. The fruit gave pops of flavour and added some crunch and chew to the light and cakey doughnut ring. Although if it is going to be an authentic churro it needed a lot more sugar in its crust. It would have also been nice if the ring was fully reheated, the centre was still cold.

My guest got a dark chocolate dip churro doughnut, drizzled over with streaks of white chocolate. Although it tasted more like Nutella spread. I also agree with her suggestion of having it be double dipped for a thicker coating of chocolate. Good, but not great. I tried it and don’t need another.

 

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 fun place with a fun idea, but I just wanted more from them. Made to order waffles, soft serve made with their dips in mind. Seasonal flavours like candy cane and gingerbread. And maybe another way to enjoy their concept. Like giving you the option to dip things yourself, with more selections for dipping. Like a chocolate fondue, but with a split pot for more dipping flavours to play around with. There is just so much more potential that they are not tapping in to. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

CACAO 70 DIP SHOP
433 Abbott Street, Vancouver BC, V6B 1R3
604-428-5799
cacao70.com/en/our-locations/gastown

Shaughnessy Restaurant at Van Dusen

Today we were here at “Shaughnessy Restaurant”, enjoying a late brunch and killing some time before the Van Dusen light show at 4pm. The former is conveniently located in the latter, and right by the entrance to the show. Thankfully with large windows, this well lit space was comfortable to linger at. The restaurant is lovely, set to the backdrop of the garden, although it is much more eye catching during a lush summer than this barren winter. Similarly, the interior didn’t give you much to look at either. Decorated with winter festive paraphernalia, centred around their main lighting fixture: a mass of bulbs that branches off and leads to others.

I had the “Chorizo skillet”, a chunky hash served in the still hot skillet that it was prepared in. Two eggs, onions, red peppers, arugula, potato, and yams, all drizzled in a spicy hollandaise. It was as dense and as heavy as it looked. Salty and hearty with the spicy hollandaise, the zesty sausage, the punchy peppers, and the wilted arugula’s pepperiness. All together I found it all too overwhelming, to the point that I ate to not waste, and not to enjoy. The potato base wasn’t enough to help buffer and balance the flavours, although the eggs did help to brighten the dish. Sadly I disliked the tough chorizo the most and left them all on the side.

My guest had the “Hot crab and shrimp croissant”, upgrading her meal with a side of clam chowder instead of salad. It didn’t look like much on the plate like this, but each individual element held up on its own.

The soup came highly recommended by our server. It was a thick and creamy serving, chunky with seafood and vegetables.

By comparison the croissant, although buttery and flaky with cheese, was light for a sandwich. The fresh seafood filling was fragrant with the use of dill, and the crunch of celery, made for a nice textural chew to gnaw through.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – No.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
The manager took the time to check in with every table, and our server was very personable. We felt welcomed and took advantage by enjoying a few extra glasses of sparkling wine therein. Although, as it is out of the way for me, I cannot imagine myself traveling back just for a meal. I would do again what I did today, if looking to attend an event at Van Dusen, I may make a reservation for brunch before or dinner after, just to round out a fun night. Don’t deny your cravings.

SHAUGHNESSY
VanDusen Botanical Gardens
5251 Oak Street, Vancouver BC, V6M 4H1
604-261-0011
shaughnessyrestaurant.com
Shaughnessy Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Black Rice revisit

I appreciate a restaurant that continues to evolve and grow. One that offers menus to entice people to come back and often. And this is the main reason why I am not a fan of chain restaurants and their stable staples. Whereas smaller restaurants and one of’s, like “Black Rice” continues to put out dynamic and playful plates that are as delicious as they are photogenic. And today I was invited to try the newest round to hit their tables, as well as being treated to a few fan favourites.

Black Rice Izakaya

For the original visit review, and more detail on the decor and setting check out the link above.

 

But first, we celebrated the occasion with some sparkling sake. And all I can say is, how have I not explored this subsection of sake sooner? You get the fragrance of sake all coated in bubbles for a nice fizz. Our bottle to share was served with shot glasses placed within a branded wooden box. The use of the box signifies the intention to over pour. Basically when you see this, you know you are getting a fat shot. The glass is filled to the brim, and whatever runs over becomes available to sip right from the squared cup under it.

“Salmon Candy” is a salad that I would order. Bite size chunks tossed together for a choose your own adventure of beet cured salmon, pickled pearl onion, and feta cheese. Served with an herbed avocado puree. Together, this made for a nice and breezy start to the rich meal to come.

I liked how the “Menchi Katsu” looked visually and even more how it tasted. Minced Prime Angus beef patty and Mozzarella, deep fried inside a panko crusted shell. Crunchy and gooey, one of my favourite texture pairings. The ability to stretch and pull the cheese into lengthy strands spoke to the quality. Delicious.

I loved how saucy the “Spicy Grilled Chicken” was. Sous vide spicy marinated chicken thigh finished on a charcoal grill for nice crispy edges. I only wished for some rice to enjoy it with.

The “Beef tongue carpaccio” was sliced sous vide beef tongue with fried onion, ponzu and mushroom puree. The meat was buttery smooth and extremely tender, a nice chew with salty and saucy undertones. And the fried topping gave things some needed crunch.

They also showcased two new vegan rolls. One with avocado and cabbage over rice, the other pico de gallo over rice. They were simply guacamole rolls that lacked the pizazz of the other dishes before and after. They were as simple as it sounds, and in much need of some seasonings. I don’t know why I like avocado rolls, which are pretty much the same, much better.

They had two different table side cooking apparatuses to serve their “Prime Angus tenderloin steak”. Sous vide then grilled to finish, served with asparagus and shiitake mushroom, topped with a house-made black truffle butter. One was heated stone, the other a burner under a grill rack. Sadly our photo shoot and the time we took cost us the meat, as the beef ended up being over cooked, forced to sit and sizzle. So be sure if and when you order this one, you eat it as soon as you get it, when it is still pink in the middle. The truffle flavour was prominent thanks to the butter; although I would have preferred it on the crisp grilled vegetables for an extra pop instead. As to not take away from the natural savouriness of the beef cubes, that were flavourful on their own.

The “Aburi platter for 2 was a delectable serving of 6 spicy salmon halo pieces, 8 black mentaiko roll, and four of the chef’s choice aburi nigiri. I liked the sauciness of the lightly torched sushi pieces. I found the fish tender and the flavours fulsome. No need from a side of soy when you have spicy jalapeño and chilli cream.

The “Aburi Hakozushi platter” is their original and most popular Aburi assembly. A complete and shareable serving of their four signature Aburi sushi rolls: Aburi salmon, Aburi Saba, Aburi negitoro, and Aburi scallop. There is a warning that an order may take 20 minutes to roll and torch for that semi cooked, slightly charred flavour that is indicative of a good Aburi. Creamy and saucy like the 2.0 version above. A cohesive assembly with similar flavours that went well together. The stand out for me were the sprouts, adding a new element and some textural depth.

I really liked the “Mentaiko udon” for its creamy and chewy texture. Fully coated in the unique flavour of cod roe, it was rich and full bodied. The fishy after-notes were balanced by the saltiness of the bacon pieces. This was a flavour you couldn’t put your finger on, but at the same time managed to grow on you.

“Beef and enkoi stone bowl”. A mix of tender beef, chewy mushrooms, and fresh vegetable over steamed rice. It is served sizzling in the headed stone bowl, and continues to cook as you toss them all together. The result, a crispy fried rice that is still moist with sauce. It was savoury with the meatiness of the mushrooms really coming through.

By comparison, the “Bacon and shrimp stone bowl” was a lot sweeter, much like a toned down teriyaki sauce. Both offered a nice base for a few of the small plates, as well as giving you heartier morsels to share.

Another customer favourite is “Black Angus Nigiri”. Served gently sous vide with further cooking from a handheld torch. They were luscious slices of beef that were well highlighted by the beds of rice each sat on. A must try.

And the showstopper of our meal was definitely their sashimi seafood platter. It was like a Japanese seafood tower served raw over crushed ice. Horse mackerel, Sea urchin, Button shrimp, Golden eye sea bream, Red sea bream, Halibut, Yellow tale Amberjack, Greater Amberjack, and Seared sockeye salmon. This one went quick within our group, and I wasn’t able to try all of it. But what I did have was fresh and fragrant, and enough to recommend this for presentation and taste, just make sure you share it between 2 individuals and not 10.

 

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.
Delicious and fun dishes that feed your eyes as well as your belly, and all at reasonable prices. Worth checking out for some of the creative stuff that they do and their menu that keeps evolving and delivering. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

BLACK RICE
782 Cambie Street, Vancouver BC, V6B 2R5
7781379-0416
blackrice.ca

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