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Month: November 2019 Page 1 of 2

“The Corridor” with Yew + Sidecut, Cornucopia 2019

We were here for the first weekend of Cornucopia 2019, Whistler’s fall food and drink festival. This is my first time attending the illustrious event. With two week long seminars, tastings, and dinners to attend, it is hard to choose your favourite.

We started the weekend off with a fantastic dinner at the “Four Season Whistler’s” restaurant, “Sidecut”. The restaurant featured several large wooden stumps refurbished into furniture. It gave it a polished rustic feel, alongside the wood floors and stone pillars. We grabbed a seat on one of their high top tables in the lounge. We were early so took the time to take in the bar’s offerings by way of a couple of their custom cocktails. Your drink options are attractively displayed on their elegant menu. High resolution photos of beverages and glasses that told a story through ingredients and presentation; arranged by geographic area.

My guest went “Northeast” for the “Fujisan Highball”. Jonnie Walker Black, yuzu and green apple, Cascade celery bitters, balsam fir and soda. Its glass is decorated with pine and a feather held in place with twine. Inspired by Japan’s flora landscape, the refreshing cocktail is finished with two spurts of pine scent. And with it came the ability to breathe in the drink before tasting it.

I went Southeast with the “Peak me up”, inspired by South Africa’s soil and its ability to grow quality coffee, bananas, and spices. The very crops that found its way into this cocktail, with great depth. Spiced Bulleit bourbon, artichoke amaro and banana, coconut flowers, cold brew Tanzanian coffee, and Moondog Latin bitters. Great for coffee lovers with the smooth bourbon in tow. Spiced with warmth and finished off with a beautifully sweet caramelized banana slice. So easy and enjoyable to drink, that it felt more like dessert.

We followed both up with a shot of their house gin. Made unique with its blue hue derived from butterfly pea flower. Distilled exclusively for the “Four Seasons Whistler’s”, by “Okanagan Spirits”. An easy drinking gin that went from blue to purple with the addition of tonic water or a squeeze of citrus.

When time, we transitioned to a reception in the dining room. Where, we joined all the other diners here for dinner. We greeted one another and spoke to the excitement of things to come. Clinking glasses of “Fort Berens” sparking rose. For each course to come, the perfect bottle of “Fort Berens” wine came with it.

When time, we all took out seats. Nothing is assigned so it’s first come first served. But those who found their way to the centre of the room were treated to a front row view of our hosts of the night. We were introduced to the Chefs of “Yew” and “Sidecut”, each explaining what course they were bringing to this dinner. Executive Chef Eren Guryel from “SIDECUT Modern Steak + Bar”, and Restaurant Chef Evan Morgan from “YEW seafood + bar”. This would be last collaboration between the two properties, seeing as the Vancouver location will be closing down next year.

Named “The Corridor”, the menu was a journey up the Sea to Sky Corridor (the very route that we took to get us to Whistler today); from Vancouver to Lillooet. And it promised to “take you through 163.13kms of taste”.

We began with a Kusshi Oyster from the oceans around BC, topped with Northern Divine Caviar, as our amuse bouche. A single, perfectly shucked raw oyster sitting of a bed of seaweed, smoky from liquid nitrogen. Quite the presentation, it is just a shame that the smoke was lost under the dim lights.

To pair with it we enjoyed the “Fort Berens” Reserve Riesling 2018. This was a dry white with an beautiful intensity. During its production, the temperature is dropped low, giving it a distinct petroleum nose.

For our next course came another Réservé Riesling. The 2017 vintage was very different due to the warmer weather that year, and the little crop that they yielded. The grapes were very ripe, so the wine turned out with much intensity and an increased sweetness.

Our second course was a single “Dungeness Crab Raviolo”, so good that it left you wanting more with its celeriac cream and Golden Ears Neufchatel. A firm round of stuffed pasta, sitting in a sauce that ate like a creamy chowder. Beautifully done.

Our next glass was a Chardonnay Réservé, that they called “White gold”. 100% of it was made in oak barrels through natural fermentation, and not by artificial yeast. The result is oaky with a rich nose, but not in an overwhelming way.

The Chardonnay elevated the “Lightly Smoked BC Salmon”, which brought our food journey to Howe Sound. An enticing plate with White Dashi, Charred Cucumber, Puffed Grains, Ginger Oil, and Winter Greens. It was a deliciously caramelized sashimi-like salmon with a spicy mayo cream and crispy bites to round out the mouth feel.

Next in our glass was the “Fort Berens Red Gold 2014”, the name, a nod to Lillooet and its connection to gold rush. It is made by drying grapes for weeks in a drying shed, where it lose 30% of the moisture, and it begins to slowly ferment. A medium bodied red, perfect with the steak it was paired with.

Taking us to Pemberton/Cache Creek was our fourth course: “Organic Grass Fed Beef Striploin” served with Pemberton potatoes, and a Cabernet Franc Jus. It was a perfectly cooked, medium rare steak. Juicy and lean with a little bit of fat at either ends. The vegetables with it were hearty and buttery, ideal in rounding out the plate.

Our last glass brought us back to white. The “Light Harvest Riesling” had great acidity, well balanced with sweetness. Its honey notes were akin to our final course: a honey themed dessert.

A “Honey tart” with Honey cremeux, peach jam, pistachio-honey financier, chai crust, peach-Hydromel sorbet, and bee Honey tuile. This marked the end of our Corridor journey at Lillooet. Each element of the dessert featured honey from Lillooet, a milder honey that wasn’t too sweet. This was a fresh dessert with gingerbread-like spices and soften peach. It was a well crafted, and engaging to pick though. I especially enjoyed pulling the almond wings from the candy bees.

Our meal took us from “ocean to alpine” and was immensely well executed. Diner’s definitely got their money’s worth from this. Nothing disappointed and I was sad to see it end.

The experience had me wanting to return to taste from their regular menu. And making plans to do so sooner because “Sidecut” will be introducing their winter menu the first week of December, and it will include a savoury apes ski high tea tower. They worked with an local artists to build a special display to showcase the likes of beef sliders and truffle fries, anything comforting you’d want after a great afternoon of skiing. And all well paired with an outlandishly decked out Caesar.

Worth also noting is the hotel property’s court yard. Here, you can gather around their roaring fire pit and toast some marshmallows on sticks. All while make-believing that you are camping with their own camper in tow.

Both only added to my desire to come back to whistler soon, and next time stay at the “Four Seasons”. And apparently if you do so in one of their residents suites, you have the option of ordering their crockpot dinner. You choose between beef, lamb, or chicken which includes all the accompanying vegetables. You simply order it on the hotel’s app, and it will be waiting for you in your suite. The rich smells of a slow cooking stew greeting you, and offering you a unique, homely touch.

In short this was a great event, one that I would recommend, along with a visit, if not stay at “Four Seasons”. But for more on Cornucopia, and how you can attend next year’s occasion, visit the link below. https://whistlercornucopia.com/

For the vlog version of this event and the recap of our weekend drinking, check out my latest video, now upon my YouTube Channel: MaggiMei.

Potters Christmas Store

This year I am especially excited for the up coming winter season! Christmas is right around the corner and what better way to kick off the festivities to come, than with my first ever visit to “Potters“. “Potters” is a garden centre and nursery located in Surrey BC. But this time every year, they are better known as Western Canada’s largest Christmas store. With over 28,000 square feet of display space and seasonal merchandise for sale, there is something for everyone. Gifts to give and decorations to buy.

Open now through to Christmas Eve, the store is only around for 9 weeks. Which is plenty of time to get your tree up, and head back if you end up needing something else. So scroll through to know what to expect, but I highly recommend coming down yourself. To be able to fully appreciate the work that went into this transformation.

The following is only but a smigin of what they have in store. So for more Christmas, check out my vlog of two hours spent amongst the aisles, now up on my YouTube channel: MaggiMei.

“Potter’s” curates their collections by shopping the world for all things Christmas. They focus on bringing back items that are both “tasteful and unusual”. Knick knacks and trinkets that they hope you won’t see elsewhere.

With over 60,000 themed ornaments, you are sure the find the perfect one to represent that perfect someone. Gift them an bauble representing their profession, hobby, spirit animal, or even favourite dessert snack.

And with over 30 decorated and themed trees you can see these ornaments spin and sparkle in action. Take inspiration, or simply make it for your own. “The entire store is an Christmas adventure”, and the staff have definitely achieved their goal to wow-ing their customers the minute we walk in the door. Half the fun is roaming the nooks and crannies, exploring the towering aisles, and taking in all the details and workmanship that is put into their displays.

There is a section just dedicated to a literal “white Christmas”. Egg shell coloured snowflakes, pearlescent white angels, and creamy white feathered birds. For a little more colour go for the rose gold and/or pink winter decor items adjacent. Here is where you find ballet dancers, Christmas flamingoes, and pink poodles.

The entire showroom is set a little darker to evoke a feeling of mysticism and magic through Christmas lights and lighted home décor. Animated paintings, twinkling snowflakes, and a variety of novelty string lights glow. “Paw Patrol” and “Snoopy” for the kids, and moose shaped cups with antlers or a leg lamp for the classic Christmas movie fan.

“Potter’s” also carries giftable items like fruit flavoured candy canes, boxes of cookies, and tins of sweets. Grab a couple of their artisan preserves and box of crackers for your next dinner party. Bake a batch of cookies for Santa using one of their chocolatey spreads. Or stir up some fun with one of their novelty packets of hot chocolate powder.

This year they are proud to announce over 200 stocking stuffer options. Find the perfect stocking and then fill it up with toys, accessories, and personalized keepsakes.

Be warned, you will want to carve out a large chunk of time for this trip. To fully take in and enjoy the sheer volume of holiday product that surrounds you. The following are a few additional photos of things that I found worth noting. Like the “Frozen” castle and “Whosville”.

 

POTTERS
19158 48 Ave, Surrey, BC V3Z 1B2
(604) 576-5011
https://potters.ca

Saving 50% off at Restaurants with “First Table”

There is a new way to save big on your next meal out! Winter is approaching and the most expensive season of the year is around the corner. Meaning the need to save is real and doing so, if and when you can, is on top of most people’s mind.

In comes “First Table” to help. They are a platform that offers diners 50% off the food portion of their bill, when they book a table through their website. The principle is much like saving on last minute hotel bookings, but with food and more leeway. How it works is “First Table” sets aside specific time slots and tables at local restaurants and watering holes. These available tables come with the ability to get half off meals. Unlike other apps that help to fill last minute seatings, you can actually reserve your spot as far as a week in advance. Therefore booking early guarantees you a table and the coveted discount. But be warned there is a $10 booking fee. This is to guarantee that you show up to your reservation, as well as help to offset this never-before-seen steep discount.

The restaurants participating have also been vetted by “First Table”, meaning they have taken the guess work out of choosing your next dinner destination. A few restaurants participating in this program include “Ancora Waterfront”, “Cibo”, “Fable Diner”, “La Mezcaleria”, “Papi’s Oyster Bar”, “Mamie Taylor’s”, “Nicli Pizzeria”, “La Terrazza”, “Cascade Room”; and where we were today: “The Greek by Anatoli” in Yaletown.

Tonight, a group of local food bloggers and myself, gathered for dinner at “The Greek”, to be the first to experience “First Table” in Vancouver, a night before. They officially make their North American launch tomorrow, November 14th, 2019.

I am already a fan of the authentic Greek Restaurant, so to be able to enjoy its romantic string lights and modern decor, with the ability to indulge was a treat. As I mentioned earlier, the discount is not the typical 10-25% off (which doesn’t do much when tax and gratuity alone is more that). Diners who use their services get a whopping 50% off all food items. A discount so steep and flashy, that I have never seen anything else like it. A discount so good that we found ourselves fully indulging, and ordering more than we planned to or thought we could finish. The following is what we feasted on.

To start, I got my appetite going with the “Anatoli Caesar”. There aren’t discounts given on this, but with a grilled prawn garnish and rosemary infused gin, this Cesar is worth trying. Made with tomato juice, greek spices, and a celery salt rim, it was salty and spicy and drank like a gazpacho.

The “Dip taster” allows you to try 3 dips for $10. Which means you get to try 3 appetizers, (which includes two pieces of grilled pita), for only $5, after using “First Table”.

The “Homous” is chickpeas, tahini, garlic, lemon juice, and parsley. A tasty rendition, but the citrus was a little strong.

The “Taramosalata” was described as a
“tangy caviar spread, but it didn’t look like it. I expected it fishier and more pasty. Instead, I found myself confusing it with the hummus below in colour and taste. Good, but I would have liked something different to compare and contrast alongside the other spreads.

I liked the “Tzatziki + Avocado” dip the most. Although I don’t think I got much avocado mixed in with the cucumber, onion, garlic, yogurt, and herbs. Tangy and refreshing, this served as a great bite in between some of our heavier morsels. Much like the salad below.

My favourite salad is a Greek salad, and this might very well be my favourite version of that. It eats more like a meal, than a side to rice and potatoes. Fresh tomatoes, cucumber, peppers, onions, feta from Greece, capers, and olives. It elevated what I knew of the salad, and gave it more character. I especially loved the texture of the thinly sliced cucumber, it offered a more enjoyable eating experience, than that of the large chunks I am use to. I can see myself recreating this at home, or at least the vegetable prep portion.

I typically don’t like spanakopitas because of their spinach filling, but will make the exception for these. Dare I say, this might be the best spinach stuffed, baked filo pastry I have ever had. The spinach leaves are minced into an enjoyable paste, made fresh with mint and feta, you don’t get any of the wilted leafy vegetable texture I dislike so much. I just wish it wasn’t so oily, but at least it stayed crispy well after we dung into it. I also found it tasty enough that we didn’t need the dip it was served with.

Their calamari is also really good. The popular seafood appetizer is served as thick slices of squid that are well breaded and genuinely enjoyable to chew through. Crispy and light with the balancing zestiness of tzatziki, this is one you went back for.

For those who have never visited “The Greek”, I highly recommend trying their “Octopothi”. It showcases the grill and char flavours that this restaurant is well known for. Grilled octopus and crispy potatoes seasoned in olive oil and a lemon caper dressing.

I was less enthused with the “Rabbit Kalamakia”. For presentation it won top marks, but as for the taste, it was missing something. Three popsicles of rabbit loin and lamb sausage, wrapped in bacon. With the creamy mayonnaise based sauce, the fresh tomatoes. and the strong salty flavour of bacon, it reminded me of a BLT. And had me wanting a starchy base to complete that mouth memory. This one is for sharing, bold and salty, it is a flavour that wear one you, after one skewer. Best with the rice pilaf in our platter below.

Great for sharing, their platters come served in a metal tray: your chosen meat with herbed rice, roasted lemon potatoes, and grilled seasonal vegetables. Our “Pidakia Platter” featured perfectly prepared, flame grilled lamb chops. Well flavoured, each had you pulling meat from bone with your hands and teeth. The perfect bite with a spoon full of jus soaked rice, and soften carrots, zucchini, tomato, eggplant, and okra.

What seemed like a lot of food was so good that we finished it all with no problem. Leaving enough room for desserts. And with “First Table”, these too are 50% off.

We shared two desserts, one vanilla based and one chocolate. I choose the “Ekmek” thinking it was a lighter offering, but found it rich in its own way. Vanilla custard with shredded kataifi crust, whip cream, and pistachio. What we got was not what I expected, reading the description. It was mostly whipped cream, I didn’t get the luscious custard I had envisioned. The shredded crunchy shards and the chopped nuts at least gave it some textural interest.

I found the “Chocolate Mousse” too bitter, however I am not a fan of chocolate to begin with. It is wonderfully presented as two towering scoops in a deep fried filo cup, drizzled with plenty of caramel sauce. The crispy shell offered some crunch, but both left me wanting some fruit like strawberries to cut into its richness.

In short, thanks to “First Table” we were able to feast at a great restaurant like “The Greek by Anatoli”. And not only did we order our favourite menu items, but we also selected a few new one we might not otherwise get to try, if we had to pay full price for it.

For more information on how you can sign up and take advantage of these savings visit the link below. On top of the 50% off, in celebration of its North American launch, “First Table” is offering new members a $5 credit, until November 30th, 2019. Use the promo code “FIRSTTABLECA” to start saving! And do it soon, because at prices like these, I am sure available seating will be booked up soon.

https://www.firsttable.com/ca

 

THE GREEK
1043 Mainland Street, Vancouver BC, V6B 5P9
604-979-0700
thegreekbyanatoli.com

Judging Vancouver Foodster’s Fried Chicken Challenge

The Vancouver Foodster is inviting Vancouverites to warm up this fall with some some fried chicken. His annual competition is back for another year, and three competitors have their eyes on the title of “best fried chicken” in the city. And this year, I have the honour of being one of the judges. Meaning, I got to visit each participating restaurant, to try their chicken; and judge each based on taste, originality, and presentation.

So my guest and I endeavoured on a chicken marathon, with the goal to try all three in one day. We wanted to be able to compare and contrast, each creation. But only learned how different each restaurant and their seasoned chicken was. This one is definitely subjective. Your chicken of choice is absolutely based on preference. Each a recipe and flavour all its own, chicken that your would gravitate towards for different reasons and occasions.

First stop was Steveston’s “Win Win Chicken”. They were serving up their classic fried chicken as a two piece combo with your choice of two sides. We had one leg and one thigh, with their Filipino sweet style macaroni and homemade gravy. The judging doesn’t include the sides, but they offered a great balance and way to round out your chicken meal.

We caught them at a good time, and our order of chicken came fresh out of the fryer. From the first bite you can tell that they are using quality chicken here. Served hot throughout with a crunchy skin, and juicy dark meat under it. It had a great consistent season to it, the meat just as flavourful as the chicken skin and batter. And we were impressed by how little grease there was to this, the drippings at the bottom of each box was jus, not soon-to-congeal fat. They were cooking with high heat and good oil, and you tasted it.

WIN WIN CHICK-N
12160 First Avenue, Richmond BC
778-297-5818
winwinchick-n.com

Next we hit up the 24 hour fast food chicken joint, “Hi Five”. This was my first time visiting the chain. They currently have two locations, one in Burnaby, and their Marine Drive one; which we were visiting today. They too were serving two pieces of fried chicken with two sides. One giant drum and thigh with a side of potato wedges and coleslaw. Everything is made in house.

The chicken was very crunchy, with a thick breading. You got an audible sound when you sunk your teeth in. Their spicy version didn’t look spicy, you only knew that it was when the creeping heat built up. Overall, the meat was incredibly juicy, and we found ourselves comparing it to and liking it more than “Churches”.

HI FIVE
203 SE Marine Drive, Vancouver BC
604-327-4898
hifive24.com

And we ended our night at “J&G” on Robson Street, for some Taiwanese style fried chicken. Their combo came with three pieces of chicken: 2 drums and 1 thigh, served with sweetened hand cut yam fries and deep fried mini buns with condense milk as dip.

This was fresh chicken marinated in five spice, sesame oil, garlic, and soy sauce. Then dipped in their special formulated wet batter to give the chicken a thin and crispy coating. Each piece is guaranteed made to order so that it is served up piping hot and juicy. For added flavour you can get it spicy in varying degrees with their chilli power. This had a very unique flavour to it, one I haven’t had until here and now. Deep with a layered umami flavour.

J&G Fried Chicken
1706 Robson St, Vancouver BC
604-423-2870
jgfcwest.ca

I won’t be actually ranking our scoring the fried chicken competitors here, as the judging and the event continues until November 30th. And for those who want to try their hand at judging, you too can try each offering, and then vote for the people’s choice favourite. But be warned, it won’t be easy choosing just one to come out on top.

For more details on this fun way to try new and different fried chicken spots, visit Vancouver Foodster’s website with the link below.

Vancouver Fried Chicken Challenge

Bartholomew Bar

Hearing that a new charcuterie place has opened up in Yaletown, my girl friend and I flocked downtown to check it out. It is named after “Bartholomew the Apostle”, the patron saint of butchers. A fitting reference as they boast a collection of thinly sliced cured meats, as well as fine cheeses that you can use to curate a customized charcuterie board.

The narrow space creates a cozy setting. Modern with old school charms. Warming blue walls, leading to one of wine bottles on display. We came in time for happy hour between 4-6pm so took advantage of their menu. $5 beers, $7 6oz glass of house wine, and $9 feature cocktails.

We started off with two glasses of wine. My guest liked her white just fine, but I wasn’t a fan of the red blend I got.

So for my next drink, I switched to their feature cocktail of the day: the “Martinez”, featuring gin and vermouth; with more of the latter for a sweeter finish.

By this time happy hour was over, so I ordered my next drink off the regular menu. “Artemisia’s Garden”, described as an herbaceous daiquiri with Artemisia absinthium, rum, lime, cucumber, and cardamom. It was very refreshing, although it tasted more like pickle juice than the liquorice I was expecting.

As for food, between 4-6pm you can try a charcuterie set for $15, otherwise it is $7 for each item, regularly. And if you can’t choose, you can get all the meats and all cheeses for $200. This is properly named “the baller board”. My guest doesn’t eat meat, so being able to choose what is included in the meat portion of our charcuterie was helpful.

This was our board at $15, with all three of the non-pork meat options. The “Chicken liver pâté” was a fat capped chicken liver mousse with layers. Not rich, as I was expecting. “Bresaola”, air dried beef eye of round, thyme, juniper, and red wine. A very lean meat, dry and not oily. “Torchon of foie”, rolled foie gras in brandy and spice. For this luxury item, it will cost you $7 more, a point I missed when we were looking for pork-free. A miscommunication that led to the manager covering the costs of this luscious meaty paste. He admitted to assuming I knew it would be an extra charge.

For cheese our collection was predetermined from a list arranged by type of milk used. The options included sheep milk cheeses, cow, and goat. From the former, we had the “Lamb Chopper”, a nutty cheese with sweet caramel notes. The “Brilliant-Savarin” is a triple creamed brie that is light and buttery, made with cow’s milk. And the “Manchego” is another sheep’s milk cheese that is tangy, fruity, and nutty.

All delicious, but it would have been nice to be able to compare cheeses by the milk used, and get one of the goat’s milk variety as well. I would have also liked more crackers as well. We had plenty to spread and not enough surface to do it on. These crispy wafers were thin and nutty, filling but didn’t distract from the mildness and subtleties of the meat and cheeses. We ended up ordering more for an additional cost.

If you are looking for more options to snack on? They also have happy hour toasties for $6: meat, fish, or a vegetable mix. For something more fulsome, they have tartare, carpaccio, duck, and bone marrow menu. Salad, sausage, and the vegetables came highly recommended as well. And for dessert, they even have a chocolate charcuterie.

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.
They have plenty of food and drink options that I want to explore further. I will have to come back with a larger group to work my way through their more exotic menu items, like the sweetbreads. Don’t deny your cravings.

BARTHOLOMEW
1026 Mainland St, Vancouver, BC V6B 2T4
(604) 423-4131
bartholomewbar.com

Sip Bowl La Mian

It was a cold night, and after a few hours in the light rain we needed some thawing out, so headed indoors for some warming noodles in soup. This one has been on my guest’s list for a while now, since their opening, the first half of the year.

I was immediately impressed walking into this little shop. The decor took you away and spoke to the would-be authenticity of the restaurant. To your left a collection of blue and white plates, faced out for presentation value. To your right, a mural flowed down the length of the restaurant, depicting traditional city life, in China long ago. A scene with villagers gathering water from the river, neighbours visiting homes with bamboo shingles, and people carrying out their day to day lives in traditional garments. It spoke to the heritage of their cuisine.

We were seated on one of the heavy wooden benches branded with the restaurant’s name and logo. For those with bulky bags and coats, wicker baskets were placed at your feet to store such belongings in. We sat breathing in the scent of fragrant and spicy cumin, as we made sense of the menu. You begin by choosing the width, depth, and type of noodle. 7 options with diagrams and descriptions, and 7 ways you can have them in broth.

The thinnest noodle is “hair thin” at 1mm. It is described as having a “super thin texture”. The 2mm noodle is “soft and tasty”. But the most popular choice, and not coincidentally, the one recommend by the staff is the “normal” noodle at 4mm. But we would be extra with our noodle gage.

I ordered their “Sipbowl signature la main”. With my choice of beef shank or brisket, I went brisket and paired it with the thickest noodle that they offer. At 25mm this is essentially just a sheet of dough before you cut it down to strips, to make individual noodles strands. The novelty of them wore thin fast, after the photo. You work so hard to bite it down to manageable chunks that it almost feels like you are getting less noodle in your bowl. Not to mention an uneven noodle to soup ratio, and the sensation of working too hard for dinner. It is like biting off a piece of cooked lasagna noodle, then taking in a scoop of the tomato sauce and beef bite by bite. As for the broth, it was rich yet clear. It had a herbal flavour to it with the 5 spice, helped along with some freshness from the multitude of green onion sprinkled over top. It was still missing something though, so I added some of the garlic and chilli oil from the condiment containers on the table.

Although with barely any of either left, it didn’t look all that appealing. My guess is that this aren’t regularly restocked, or looked at between diners. Be warned, “Sip Bowl” does not make any of their noodles broths spicy, so if you want heat, you can only get it with the chilli oil here.

But at least when you pack it to go, (and you will because the noodles are so doughy and so much, that you will need to take a break from them), they won’t get soggy. In hind sight, I should have read the menu more thoroughly and ordered the triangular shaped noodles that is the hardest to make. Its special shape is said to lock in the soup and its flavour.

My guest had the “Beef and sauerkraut la main” choosing beef shank and the second thickest noodles, the “flat” ones at 15mm. I liked the broth of this one much more. It was well developed, with interest from the tanginess of the sauerkraut, and a deep beefy flavour. Eating either of the two bowls gave you the kind of warmth that makes your nose run. Having tried a couple of their rich clear broths, I think the scallion one would have been ideal; so if/when I return that is the one I will be ordering.

Worth noting is their take away packaging. For anything you can’t finish, you get a special plastic bowl that allows you to separate your noodles from its soup. This ensures that your noodles don’t get too soggy in the mix.

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.
A great place for some authentic noodle soup. And with all the variations on their house made noodles, you can mix and match to craft your perfect bowl. Don’t deny your cravings.

SIPBOWL
2255 W 41st Ave, Vancouver, BC V6M 4L3
(778) 737-3999
sipbowl.com

OneZo Tapioca 丸作

After dinner we were looking for something sweet to end the night on. My guest has been meaning to visit this bubble tea shop in Burnaby for a while now. And she hasn’t until now, given the long lines and its original opening popularity.

We arrived just in time to beat the rush. With limited seating, you are lucky to be able to grab one of their two tables, or row of bar seats facing the wall.

This bubble tea cafe is better known for their house-made pearls. They don’t deal in the regular black tapioca balls, but smaller pearls flavoured in a variety of popular Asian ingredients and seasonal flavours.

You place your order at the counter, and like most other bubble tea cafes, you can choose your sweetness and amount of ice by percentage. They had all the familiar milk teas and slushes; as well as the new trendy dirty brown sugar tea series, fruit blended green teas, real taro smoothies, and even a collection of “healthy teas” which included honey and sesame teas.

Next, you pick your pearls. The “crystal” tapioca is white in colour with no distinguishing flavour. Purple tapioca is taro, black is black sesame, and yellow is mango. Only the black sesame tasted like it promised. I barely got any mango, and had even less from the taro. They also have a rotating seasonal flavour, on this visit it was “cactus”. I would have liked to try such a unique offering, but they only have their seasonal pearls available during the weekends. Instead I got their “Onezo tapioca”, three of the above flavours mixed together. Seeing as it is all pre-mixed, you can’t choose which three you get. They also don’t offer you samples of their pearls, so you take a chance on not getting what you want, or a flavoured pearl that might not compliment your drink. As for the pearl itself, I found them small, and the chew less desirable as a result, but still very fresh. However, the mix of pearl flavours I wanted to try, ended up taking away from my drink.

I had the “Jasmine green tea milk tea”, which is one of their most popular drinks. I ordered it as intended with 80% sugar and 100% ice. I liked how I was able to enjoy it as a smaller cup, which gave me a better ratio of pearl to sip-of-drink.

My guest, the bubble tea fan, went for the “oolong milk tea” with 50% sugar, 25% ice, and the crystal tapioca. She found that the white ones tasted like sesame.

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.
Another bubble tea option in Burnaby, giving you a differing reason to visit them, instead of their competitors. Don’t deny your cravings.

ONEZO
4929 Kingsway, Burnaby, BC V5H 2E5
(604) 423-4929
onezotapioca.com

Manis Restaurant

We were in Surrey this evening and seeing as we made the trip out, we decided to take advantage of our locale by visiting “Manis”, a Pan Asian restaurant in Whalley. My guest learned about it from another trusted blogger’s review: Sherman of @shermansfoodadventures. And I am always down to try any restaurant that celebrates food and the cuisine that I grew up with, hailing from South East Asia.

Tucked away amongst high rises, on a slower street, it isn’t easy to spot; you need to know of it to know where to go. The inside of this two storey property is set up fairly cozy, like a local cafe. Artificial vines wrapped around the room and vinyls of leaves adhered, helped to round out the woodsy theme. Empty walls were filled with framed photos of their menu items; this I found to be an easier way to order, than simply reading off their written menu with a few scattered photos. With only a few diners and no music overhead, you eat to the sounds of a humming fan and whizzing machinery. Not the type of place you want to linger and enjoy at. More eat and go, or take out.

Seeing as ”Manis” was Sherman’s recommendation, we also ordered what he suggested, like the “Singapore laksa”. This was a little too bland for my tastes, I grew up with laksa having plenty of fermented shrimp paste. Shrimp paste not only gives the broth spice, tang, and kick; but it also uplifts its accompanying ingredients as well. I didn’t get it here with the rice vermicelli, chicken, shrimp, tofu puffs, boiled egg, bean sprouts, and shrimp based coconut cream soup. The soup was creamy and the flavour nice, but this was not my favourite rendition of the popular noodle soup.

I liked the “Beef nasi lemak” more and found it more authentic. Malaysian rendang beef curry, coconut rice, egg, pickled vegetables, peanuts, and anchovy samabl. A choose your own adventure in a meal. You pick and curate your perfect bite, balancing the tough beef with fragrant coconut milk infused rice; or the spicy pickles and fresh cucumber, with tangy anchovy.

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 wouldn’t drive all the way to Surrey for this. Nor would I necessarily go out of my way to try more of it when the area. It was home style cooking, good but I can’t help comparing to my mother’s cooking that I grew up with and prefer. Don’t deny your cravings.

MANIS
10768 Whalley Blvd #116, Surrey, BC V3T 0B7
604) 497-1778
manisrestaurant.com

The Taco Factory

We had a bad experience with the taco restaurant that it was before, so was curious to see how this reincarnation fared today. And to be honest if it wasn’t for the new staff, my partner wouldn’t have ventured in for the first time in years, and then come back with me in this post.

Located in New Westminster this place isn’t necessarily a destination, but a nice option for Mexican cuisine in the area. Their slogan is “Where authentic is created” and with the Spanish music and the mother and daughter team working front of house and kitchen, I was optimistic.

This was furthered along by the very enticing menu. Everything was listed with vivid photos and well written descriptions. You choose your foundation from tacos, tortas, tostadas, burritos, gorditas, quesadillas, flautist, and sopes. Then you pick your desired protein from the list off the back. Carne asada, pollo asado, carnitas, chorizo, al pastor, and pescado. Or flank steak, grilled chicken, slow roasted pulled pork, Mexican sausage, pork marinated with onion and pineapple, and battered deep fried basa. They also have slow roasted chicken meat and chunks of lamb listed, but both were not available today. You can either keep your platter protein consistent, or mix and match 2-3 within your order. For example, if you get 3 tacos, you can have each one be different: a beef taco, one in chicken, and the last with pork. Meaning between our two orders we were able to try all the available above, minus the fish.

My partner had the three 4inch tacos, in soft shell corn tortillas. The regular order is garnished with white onion and cilantro, however he requested the without. This is the edited version, and despite mentioning no onion and cilantro due to dietary discomfort, our server forgot to mention it to her mother/chef. So she had to bring the tray back to the kitchen and had both picked out, and then brought back to us. What came back was grilled chicken on a tortilla, slow roasted pulled pork, and pork marinated in onion and pineapple. They didn’t look like much without its greens, luckily it came with two sauces.

You get your own carafes of sauces to use as sparingly or as excessively as you wish. The red was hot, it came without a warning, but I guess the colour is telling. The green was tangy and mild, it gave the tacos some kick. But not enough to hide how bland the chicken was. The pulled pork was better, it had a nice char to it. But my favourite of the three was the pork with pineapple, and its tangy barbecue-like sauce.

Similar, but with two 6 inch corn tortillas fried and piled high, were the tostadas that I had and preferred. Here, I also had my choice of proteins, but a lot more toppings along with it. I had the flank steak cut up into small cubes, and the ground Mexican sausage with some heat. The chorizo was more fulsome with chunks of potato, and the steak hard and over cooked, with less flavour. Topped with sour cream, lettuce, cilantro, and fresh cheese. All together it had the texture of a hard shell taco, and tasted more like tex-mex with the cheese and sour cream. It was everything I liked about “Taco Time”, but elevated and grown up.

I just questioned the side of fries that came with both orders, they felt out of place with or without ketchup. A side of dirty rice or seasoned potato chunks would have been more complimentary and more authentic, like their slogan advertised. Although they did add to the great presentation on the boards.

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.
Not my first choice for tacos, but at their fair prices, and with use of quality ingredients, I won’t shy away from a return visit either. A viable quick meal option when in New Westminster. Don’t deny your cravings.

TACO FACTORY
418 E Columbia St, New Westminster, BC V3L 3W9
(604) 553-0334
thetacofactory.ca

Koyuki Ramen, Japanese Tapas

Today I was invited down to “Koyuki” to check out their Japanese fusion tapas menu. Located just off robson on Jervis street, this hole in the wall specialized in Sapporo style ramen.

The restaurant utilizes chalk boards to walk you through the history and heritage of their authentic Sapporo style ramen. Like how they use three types of miso to flavour their soups: red, white, and “mix”. And how it authentic, hailing from Sapporo city, which is also referred to as “ramen kingdom”.

Given this testimony in chalk, we had to order one of their bowls. Their “Tonkotsu ramen” had a pork based broth with Chau-shu, green onion, garlic chips, half a soft boiled egg, and your choice of noodle thickness between thin or thick. We got the latter in this nice simple broth. Which was mild in flavour, compared to all the other dishes below. My guest liked how you were actually able to make out the smokiness of the seared pork within the creamy broth itself, but found the meat dry.

As for their smaller share plates, there were so many creative things to try on their fusion menu. Familiar items I liked, combined together to form something new. Like their specialty, the “Curry poutine”. The curry was a deliciously rich, Japanese style sweet curry, it almost had the consistency of gravy, (like there would normally be in a poutine), and included melted bits of cheese. I could have done without the addition of the pork chunks. They were hard and dry, and really didn’t offer much to the dish. The fries were also quick to go soggy for a mealy potato texture. Although I still enjoyed the dish, and now want their curry over other potatoes like a baked potato, or some that are mashed.

The “Pizza tempura” was another two becomes one for some fun. Frozen pizza (I am only guessing because it tastes like some that I have had from a grocery store), deep fried in tempura batter and served with ranch dressing as a dip. I liked the idea and the extra crunch the tempura gave, but I found it too oily. It would have been nice to find a way to blot some of the greasy off, or to choose a lighter pizza to tempura. Maybe a simple cheese, instead of the deluxe toppings, paired with the classic tempura sauce to dip into for a cleaner dish. Although after a few drinks in, having this as is on the menu, sounds like it would hit several spots.

Similarly, the chicken wings were also oily. From four different flavours I choose the Japanese bbq with melted cheese and mayo. The addition of cheese and sauce over wings were a novel idea, but the cheese was greasy, and its oils pooled on the plate. The weight of the cheese took away from an otherwise crispy wing. I would have liked the melted cheese and mayo as a dip instead.

Their “Japanese pancakes” is one that is highted as being “popular” on the menu. Good enough, but it wasn’t my favourite rendition of this Japanese street snack. It was overly salty with too much sauce. Whereas, I wished it was doughier, with a more satisfying chew.

And my favourite dish of the night was the “Tonpei”. A fluffy egg omelette wrapped around slices of pork and shredded cabbage. It was messy, hard to cut into, and harder to share, on its small plate. But once you were able to dig in, it was a tasty dish offering a variety of flavours and textures to comb through. The pork was chewy, the egg spongy, and the lettuce refreshing with a nice crunch. And it was the sauces brought all together with a tangy creaminess.

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 spot for some great eats. Creative tapas to try and share, best enjoyed with a beer; because it does get salty and greasy at points. But that is just my own doing in ordering. Don’t deny your cravings.

KOYUKI
795 Jervis St, Vancouver, BC V6E 2B1
(604) 695-9177
koyuki.ca

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