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Category: Asian fusion Page 1 of 3

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

Black Rice Izakaya, summer menu 2019

Summer is in full swing, it is hot, you are sweating, and “Black Rice” is here to help. They are offering up another creative menu for this summer season, a few heat reducing dishes, served with Rosé.

The Rosé was great with our meal, but we had some soju to get us there. “Kashidaru” is Japanese soju aged in a whiskey barrel, exclusive to “Black Rice”. It is from one of Japan’s oldest sake breweries and comes with an interesting story. Their President passed away and they discovered this batch in his personal barrel room. And without any records they had to do some sleuthing to discover its vintage. This soju was aged for minimum of 13-15 years old. And after “Black Rice’s” four cases are done, and the other 10 left are gone, there won’t be any more, ever. And for $11 for 2oz or $120 for a bottle, I can see that happening soon.

As promised the menu served up temperature appropriate dishes, like chilled soup and cold fish to cool you down. And I can attest that this it did just that. I came in to the restaurant from under the sweaty sun, and left cool inside and out.

The “Spicy cold sashimi soup” is a common dish in Korea, and a nice way to start our meal. Cold spicy broth, seabass sashimi with salad. The lovely white fish was a nice compliment to the zing of the hot spice. There were perfect together, without overpowering one another. It would have been nice to have a bowl of rice or a handful of noodles to enjoy the rest of the broth with though, after all the fish is gone.

“Miso ceviche” in a miso broth with truffle oil, onion, peppers, and seabass. Served with taro chips that make for good scoops. It didn’t taste much like miso, but I appreciated the twist with the use of yuzu citrus instead of lemon or lime. I also made out the strong flavour of shiso leaves, which I didn’t prefer. This was another refreshing summer offering, but you were left with so much ceviche, and not enough chips to eat them with; and especially not enough fish roe to top each bite with. Without the chip it was just soggy fish salad.

“Teishoku D” is their cold noodle box option. Plain soda noodles, 3 assorted tempura, 2 pieces inari sushi, a side of tempura crumb, agedashi tofu, assorted oshinko, and green salad. You dip the noodles into the sweet sauce and slurp as you like. With a variety of sides, this makes for a fulsome lunch box.

Their “Pad Thai Yaki Soba” was another creative fusion dish. You take the idea and flavours of a shrimp pad Thai, including the tamarind; but instead of flat rice noodles you use buckwheat soba noodles. And the result is an extra tasty dish that has a great heavy starch chew from the noodles, and an extra kick from the korean bbq sauce, gochujang. Delicious, but a little watery.

The “Ika feast” was one squid two ways. Squid tubes sous-vide in butter and finished on grill, and its tentacles battered and fried in tempura. We were given a choice between two presentations and we all agreed that although the grill was a nice visual, the one without it would be more practical when serving. The hay set on fire in the grill creates smoke and a distinct fragrance that could effect everything else you eat to follow it.

As for the squid, I preferred it grilled, especially with the creamy and tangy sauce you dip it into to. The fried version was more like Greek-style calamari, especially with the cooling tzaziki it was served with. The sauces were definitely the highlight and what gave everything its flavour.

The “Soy chicken karaage” was classic Korean style street food, double fried. Juicy dark meat karaage, battered, powdered, deep fried, and then glazed in their house soy sauce. It had a medium level of spice to it, with the ability to adjust it more or less to your taste. A great tapas option, best enjoyed with one of their many specialty beers.

And since we were already there, we had to try some of our and their customer favourites. Like the “Unagi” roll, which always makes for a great show. A prawn tempura and cucumber black rice roll topped with eel, and drizzled with a sweet brown sauce. It is torched table side for some extra caramelization.

Their “Lollipops” are a great way to enjoy sushi, gluten-free with no rice. Thinly slices of radish are wrapped around sockeye salmon, bell pepper, tamago, oshinko, cucumber, asparagus, avocado, and spinach. I liked the novelty of holding it by the stick, but would have liked to dunk it into something. Some sauce to flavour, before I took a bite that had it crumbling. As is it was bland, yet was too much like a salad roll to dip into soy and enjoy.

My favourite and the must have, anytime you are here is either of their “Aburi platters”. 6 piece aburi salmon hako, 8 piece black mentaiko roll, and 4 piece chef’s choice aburi nigiri. You are asked to allow them 20 mins to prepare it all, and I can tell you it is worth the wait.

Their “Aburi Hakozushi platter” was a complete set of their 4 signature aburi rolls. Aburi salmon, aburi saba, aburi negitoro, and aburi scallop. A great one for sharing. A collection of textures and flavours for any sushi lover who likes their raw fish a little cooked, and their sauces creamy and warm.

 

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.
“Black Rice” continues to be one of my go-to’s for creative Asian fusion. They are so very thoughtful in their food offerings. Trying new things and catering to the season and their explorative clientele. If they keep this up, I will most definitely be back time and time again. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

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

M8 Restaurant

I found myself here with a handful of my fellow food bloggers, if it hadn’t been for the invite, I don’t think I would know to visit this newly opened restaurant. Lucky, many of them cover what’s new and happening in the food world, so I get to stay on the pulse when in their company.

Located by the water, in a less trafficked area, you wouldn’t find “M8” unless you knew where it look. As a result the restaurants that have held this space before, have come and gone in rotation. “M8” will have a challenge before them in keeping their tables full, outside of summer. During the warmer months (like it was the case today) the patio was seated with those looking for a cool glass by the marina waters. But those in the dining area were here to try their Asian fusion share plates.

The restaurant’s decor was certainly a draw in. A white marble bar with a green leafy awning serves house made cocktails and recreates the classics. Solid wooden tables offer seating for larger groups. And booths around the corner gave diners more intimacy. They were upholstered in a teal crushed velvet, set before a mirrored backslash that mimicked a city’s skyline with peaks and dips.

Our group sat under the most interesting art piece. Under the painting of a noble from ancient China, seated in a throne with overflowing robes. A radish covering his face and a celery stalk gripped in his hand like a sceptre.

Given the mixed reviews we read going into this, we played it safe, ordering a handful of dishes to see if we liked it before adding on a few more, when we decided we wanted to more fully assess their offerings. But first trying to order. The menu was aesthetically faded. Parts missing print for an intentional aged look. However we still managed to order off of it, selecting dishes that were more unique and distinct to them. A bridging of Asian flavours with French techniques.

Our group was the most excited for the “Crispy chicken skin”, that also ended up being our favourite of the night. But it set up the evening so strong, that everything after it was almost disappointed by comparison. That to come wasn’t as strong in their fusion flare. This was deep fried chicken skin seasoned in chilli oil, salty egg yolk, mustard seeds, and a balsamic glaze. The chicken skin was done right, crunchy with a snap that was like a thick cut chip. Each piece delicious and decadent with the yolk, but the whole order would be a lot for one person. And at $9 a plate this would be worth revisiting. I will be listing the rest of the prices as well, given the value in their appetizers, especially compared to the entrees. More on that later.

The Shimeiji mushroom tempura was a new way to enjoy the airy and crispy batter of tempura. A great presentation and a fun way to share. The mushrooms peeled off into sections and you were able to share it as such. Enjoyed with a burnt lemon aioli for dipping, a warm kale salad, and wakame. For $8 this is another one I would recommend.

We weren’t unanimously agreed on the “Crispy pork belly” with taro root, and pork jus. But at $7 a plate for two decent sized chunks we really couldn’t complain. The meat was slightly dry, furthered by the dry taro paste. Whereas with pork belly you want the gummy fat and a thick and sticky jus to coat it.

The “Beef cheeks” went for $11, ad one of the premium priced appetizers, comparatively. Served with aged blacked vinegar, Sichuan peanut, and lotus root. It had a very dark and and deep rich tone to it, followed by the tingling numbness from the Sichuan pepper corn.

The “Lamb belly” was the other $11 appetizer. Smoked lamb belly, mint salsa verde, and fennel carrot. This one was brighter, and rich in spice and zest. The meat was also better prepared.

“Beef and broccoli” is a Chinese classic, and “M8” elevated it with their take. 8oz ribeye steak, sautéed broccoli, fingerling potato, and beef jus. This was actually our second take on the plate. Where we asked for medium rare, the server took down “medium well”. The result, dry, overcooked steak. When corrected, the kitchen happily made us a better serving with pink centres. But you would think they would question the server and us as diners on our request for over cooked steak? Either way our second go was tender, but no better off given how salty it was. It was also flat in flavour with one note throughout. The broccoli was better prepared, but it too had too much soy. And at $38 a plate, you expect this closer to perfect.

The “Tagliatelle bolognese” was an interesting read off the menu. Asian fusion giving us something Italian in origin. Beef and pork ragu, shiitake mushroom, with a trio soy sauce. It ate like a great pasta dish, with the familiar salty and sweet pairing found in Chinese cuisine. The sweetness of the mushroom also offered a twist to the classic tomato based bolognese. But as a whole, I found the serving needed more seasoning.

I liked one half of the “Crispy duck” offering. Aged duck breast, confit duck leg, soybean, and preserved mustard greens. The duck breast was lean and juicy, not perfect but not bad compared to the dry confit, made ashy with the side of gritty beans. The Sichuan pepper made a sneak peak here too, but its mild numbing effect didn’t add anything to the mix.

The “Tiger prawn bucatini” was bland. I didn’t taste any of the pesto, and the corn only added marginal sweetness. The prawns were the best part with the most flavour, but there weren’t enough of them to go around when sharing.

We considered dessert, but after hearing it was either a slice of green tea ice cream cake or regular creme brûlée, we deemed both not exciting enough and passed. It would have been nice to have had their fusion approach to the dessert menu as well. Although their website does claims they are not fusion. I feel they should embrace it, to help market their food and make it more approachable.

Worth noting is their individual washrooms. A different tropical theme for both plastered in paper. Cheetahs on the prowl and banana leafs in full fan formation.

 

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? – Yes.
I wouldn’t necessarily make the effort to come back, given the overall average meal. But for a different patio idea, and a creative appetizer menu with good value, they are worth checking out. Fine dining details and dressing puts a twist on Taiwanese street food. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

M8
1010 Beach Avenue, Vancouver BC, V6E 1T7
604-620-9586
m8yvr.com

Ton Ton Sushi

Today I was on the South Cambie restaurant strip, checking out a new sushi addition. There really isn’t anything any visual that has this place standing out, inside and out. My decision to visit was based on an invitation.

They have been open since January of this year, and there really hasn’t been much of a buzz surrounding their opening. Although the restaurant was steady with locals on a Tuesday. They were cleverly catering to the neighbourhood, offering approachable Japanese tapas and sushi with North American twists.

The menu was a novel, 10 pages of small plates, combos, and drinks. With so many possibilities to siphon through, having high resolution photos were helpful. In my case, I allowed my guest to do the ordering.

We started with their raw oysters, which unlike at other places, come dressed. At $1 each during happy hour we did a dozen. Twelve Fanny Bay oysters of various sizes, half dressed in soy, the other six in sweet Korean chilli. The flavours were good, but they fully hid the oyster, so I can’t actually review the quality of them.

Similarly, the quality of the fish used in the “Italian seasoned tuna tataki” was hidden behind the heavy handed Italian spices. This was an interesting interpretation, one not need repeating. It overpowered the fragrant tuna with the flavour of salt, tangy, and capers.

However, I finally got to appreciate the quality of their seafood with the “Ituna and ikura”. A lean fish with a creamy finish, topped with roe that popped in your mouth.

Similarly, there was nothing to hide behind with the sea urchin. Served as a two bite nigiri with seaweed. Serving smaller pieces, they combined three to create enough for one. Once again another quality product. Slightly sweet, completely creamy, melt in your mouth uni.

The “Sushi pizza” was another fusion offering, a concept that had been done, but this the “Ton Ton” way. Just looking at it you can’t tell it was meant to be presented as a pizza. The very thick slabs of tuna and salmon covered the crispy and chewy brown rice patty base. And there was much more of it, where for pizza the crust typically is the platform. The flavour was good with the creamy and spicy dressing, but I wanted the pizza easier to eat. The fish chopped up into cubes, and slices you can hold and take nibbles from.

The crispy wings were a spicy pub-style wings. Tasty enough, but really not what I would recommend ordering from a sushi place, given all the fresh seafood they have to offer.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
They offer quality for those looking for raw and fresh fish. And familiar flavours for those who need some fusion to edge them in. Not a destination, but a good option if you are in the area. And with everything at reasonable prices, I can see why the neighbourhood came out for dinner tonight. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

TON TON SUSHI
4018 Cambie Street, Vancouver BC, V5Y 2H5
604-428-2742
sushitonton.com

Yuu, traditional Japanese tapas

It feels like summer in spring and one of my favourite fusion Japanese tapas place is reminding us that they have a unique way for you to stay cool while still enjoying the deliciousness of ramen.

I have been to this restaurant a few times before, but thanks to their ever evolving menu there are plenty of reasons for me to return time and time again.

Located in a busy out door plaza, it is easy to get to with free parking available. And with plenty of seats and staff at the ready, getting a table is as easy as walking in and pointing to one. The staff are all attentive, rushing to you with the slightest eye contact. Ready to answer questions and take your requests from a very easy to navigate menu. There are plenty of coloured photos to point and order from. A collection of Japanese favourites and a handful done with North American twists. Like their new ramen to go cups that you shake up like you would a salad. These were 100% customizable and include topping choices like kimchi, crispy fried onions, and crushed up hot cheeto dust.

As tempting as that was, my guests were visiting from London and were more keen on a traditional Japanese dining experience so we had a collection of tried and true favourites.

We had the popular street snack “takoyaki”. Octopus dough balls dressed in okonomiyaki sauce, shredded seaweed, and bonito flakes. These were soften globs of dough with a chewy chunk surprise inside. A classic snack that tastes just as you’d expect it to and no different from the last set you tried.

Their gyozas are made in house, pan fried and served sizzling on a hot plate. Crispy dough covering chucks of pork meat, that are great for sharing. They are so good that they have earned themselves a coveted spot on Tourism Richmond’s “Dumpling Trail”. A self guided tour that highlights and recommends where to get the best dumplings in all of Richmond.

The deep fried tofu in house special is another popular Japanese appetizer. Crispy tofu in a light soup-sauce, slightly salty but more on the sweeter side. This made a great option for the vegan of our group. But sadly it was only one of two menu items that met her dietary restrictions. (The other was a teriyaki vegetable hot plate.)

I really liked their mentaiko (pollock roe) udon for its flavour and texture. Pan fried noodles generous coated in a creamy white sauce with plenty of fish eggs. The latter offered up small pops and a unique texture to accompany the slippery, thick strands of noodle. And the various mushrooms and onion embedded offered some chewiness and some freshness to the mix. Overall this left me with a great feeling in my mouth.

We also ordered one of their Japanese hot pots, wanting to experience the traditional set up; which included a pot equipped with a towering spout sticking out from its centre. But sadly the menu misinformed and they didn’t actually have any such pots available. None-the-less the stewed root vegetables, fish cakes, seafood balls, and tofu bobbing in the soy flavoured dashi broth was still delicious. As a whole this dish was warm and comforting, a clear broth that was deceptively tasty. This is something I would love sick and would crave on a rainy day.

We also had some of their deep fried, crispy, boneless chicken as a side to their novelty “beer ramen”. The juicy chicken came to the table hot, coated by a crispy breading.

They made great side and contrast to the cold ramen in bonito broth with white egg foam top. The latter simply added a sweetness to the broth, and finished off the imagery of a foamy beer. You pulled long noodles out from the stein and slurped them up just like that, or were able to top your noodles with accompanying edamame, pickles, green onion, wasabi, and seaweed.

“Yuu” is also known for their fun drinks. Like the “Grapefruit mojito”, sans alcohol. Grapefruit, soda, and fresh mint. Served in coloured layers, you stir everting up for a sparkling beverage.

But one of their most popular is their slushes garnished with a syringe. This is the “calpis melon shot slush”. The melon syrup looks toxic with its neon hue, but is super refreshing with the icy yogurt slush base.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
I only wish they were closer to my home and easier for me to travel to more regularly. I love their traditional dishes and adore all the fun they have with their food. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

YUU
1111-3779 Sexsmith Road, Richmond BC, V6X3Z9
604-214-7722
yuutapas.com

Mr. Black

I don’t visit Richmond often, so when I do it is typically for a good restaurant, and today my guest brought me down to Aberdeen Centre to try one of their newer ones. Whereas Western malls are not known for their quality restaurants within, it differs greatly when it comes to Chinese malls; such is the case for Aberdeen. The ends of this three storey mall is home to several restaurants in a row. And I must admit, it is hard to choose between them all.

“Mr. Black” is a fusion restaurant, offering Japanese cuisine prepared using Chinese ingredients with a twist. It stays true to its name with a predominantly black decor and its feature dishes all covered in black. The chefs prepared plates behind a black island counter, guests were able to watch them on black stools, posted up against the black bar. We ordered off of blackened menus, as sat at black tables outfitted with black dish ware, eaten out of using black chopsticks. It was edgy, moody, and really drew you in.

I allowed my guest to order, with her familiarity of the cuisine. She made sure to pick out the more unique and interactive dishes for my sake and the sake of my writing.

We started with a dish of edamame beans. But these green pods were hiding a secret. They were dusted in Szechwan pepper that is often referred to as “numbing pepper”. The result is a tingle of the tongue and the increase of salivation in your mouth. My guest liked the flavour, whereas I found it grew slower on me. The more you eat it the better it tastes. It was a weird sensation, one worth trying, your tongue doesn’t know what to make of it.

I was most excited to see and try the “Mr. Black chicken wings”. They were coated in a crispy black breading, and the menu was vague in describing from where the “black” came from. What I thought would be soya sauce, which actually liquorice. I have never had anything seasoned like this before. And although I liked the novelty of colouring meat like this, I wasn’t completely sold, given my dislike of the root with its medicinal tone. Although, the creamy side sauce did help to mask most of this flavouring for me, as well as offering a nice creaminess to the solid crispy finish of each wing and drumlet. This was a fish roe based sauce, where the fishy flavour was prominent.

There is also a wagyu version of this available, but we decided not to chance it, in case we didn’t like the flavour, plus didn’t want to pay more for the premium beef. And now in hindsight, I am happy for our decision. Instead, we had our wagyu, as is, over a grill. We found this the best way to highlight the meat.

This was the Wagyu beef set for $28.99. Although good, given what little we got and how fatty the meat was, we didn’t feel it was worth the price asked. Especially as the menu mislead with a much larger serving in their high quality image. The meat was unseasoned and bland on its own, it needed a heavy dip in the mentiko yuzu sauce for flavour, thus forcing us to mask the natural flavours of the beef.

I did like the presentation and the interactive portion of this meal though. Battered and flashed fried, each slice of wagyu is served slightly raw. You further cook it to your preference, table side; doing so on the heated cast iron slab that is mounted on a pedestal. This was their speciality coal heating apparatus, that was flown in from japan.

With rice, soup, and salad as sides, they helped to make this a more fulsome meal. Each offered ways to brighten up bites and change textures, thus elongating the serving. I was surprised by how much I liked the salad. Wonderful mushrooms, blueberry, Brazil nuts, walnuts, and yellow pickled radish. The refreshing lemon custard cream that topped it really made it something special. Imagine the flavour of a lemon square as a dressing. The side of raw and shredded cabbage also came with a sauce, but sadly the luscious peanut sauce arrived too late for us to fully enjoy the food together.

I wasn’t a big fan of the “Salmon and mentaiko korokke”. Within these breaded and deep fried balls resembled a potato salad, and they ate like whipped mash. Another interesting idea, but the salmon was too dominating of a flavour. The house made spicy miso sauce was mild in spice. Good on its own, but I didn’t find that it complimented the fried ball all that much. Instead a tangy plum sauce would have been a better compliment. Regardless, I really didn’t want more than one of them anyways.

 

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.
Everything was deep fried, but it didn’t feel like it, all that we had wasn’t greasy, and we didn’t leave feeling heavy with weight. Overall, lunch was more of an experience, than that a satisfying meal. It was great to be able to sample all these creative concoctions, and I enjoyed trying all their fun, in house made sauce creations. However, I won’t necessarily crave for any of it nor would I want to order any of it again. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

MR. BLACK
2790-4151 Hazelbridge Way Richmond BC
604-295-6612
Mr Black Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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

Dundas Eat + Drink revist

I have recently visited “Dundas Eat + Drink” to take on their newest food challenge: a giant vegan serving of their authentic Vietnamese noodle soup: bun bo hue. To see what that is all about, check out my vlog where I go head to head with this 3lbs of deliciousness.

 

However, today I was back at “Dundas” for a regular meal. You can’t really tell from their name, but they serve a full menu of authentic and delicious Vietnamese dishes; all made by their chef, a mother who has raised her lucky children and family on such fare.

 

Given the area and the want to drive local customers through their door, the more generic name does make sense. They have branded themselves as an eatery in order to appeal to their neighbours and those driving out of downtown. However, it seems like such a miss to not make note of the fantastic Vietnamese restaurant that is at its core. And how it is family run with their matriarch behind the stove.

Similarly, the decor doesn’t really speak to the cuisine, although this was for the better. The posher setting had you appreciating the value of the menu carved in wood, that laid before you. Everything was reasonably priced, you’d expect it to cost more given the decor and how good the food was. It had the flavours and the comfort of street food, but crafted with the aesthetics of casual plates, worthy of photographing.

But then there was the chalkboard bar in the corner, with beers on tap and the game splashed across three flat screens. All this made more sense under their “Dundas Eat + Drink” title. Giving it a well branded, sports bar feel; even more so with the banner outside, advertising that they broadcast all UFC matches. This, instead of fostering the more familiar hole in the wall, Vietnamese restaurant feel.

Their interwoven logo found its way onto the wooden planks of the dining room walls, and on a couple of the tiles in the washroom. Logos were on each carved and torched menu, on every paper napkin handed out, and etched on each glass candle holder that provided ambience light. I guess cohesive and literal branding is one of the perks of also running a print shop, where you can do all the above for yourself.

As for the food, they offer an extensive vegan menu with over 15 different options to choose from. I thought about exploring this a little more, and really focusing this post on how it stands up against its meat-full versions. But instead, followed my stomach and sought out some of their more authentic Vietnamese flavours.

But not before trying their “avocado fries”. Sliced up pieces of avocado, breaded and deep fried for a nice crunch. Each crunch, hiding a centre of creaminess. The house made chilli mayo for dipping was a nice balance for all the heavier flavours. It was tangy and bright, giving each bite a further whipped sensation and another level of complexity.

To match with our deep friend veg we also ordered a pound of their fried chicken wings, with 6 flavours to choose from. We went with the most popular, their “house special”, which had a variety of textures and flavours. A good crispy coating with chunky bites, mildly spicy and fairly peppery. It was best dipped into their house made blue cheese sauce that came with it. Tasty enough, but I felt like I would have enjoyed either one of their classic wing flavours or their Vietnamese focus ones more. Spicy buffalo, tamarind, garlic butter, honey garlic, and salt and pepper.

We thought a great way to try a handful of their more meaty offerings was to customize an order and build our own rice dish. You basically choose main proteins or a handful of them, like we did and have them with jasmine rice, cucumbers, lettuce, pickled daikon and carrots. All topped with fried onions, and a healthy dose of their Vietnamese vinaigrette sauce. What started as lemon grass chicken, now included beef short ribs for $4 more, a spring roll for another $3, and a sunny side up egg for a toonie.

The blackened grill of the chicken was a tad acrid, but under the burnt skin was juicy dark meat. We don’t get much lemongrass flavour, but it was still a tasty piece of meat. Although I much prefer the short ribs, they were so tender and so easy to pull meat from bone. The spring rolls were tasty, in hindsight we should ordered two so that we didn’t have to share. And the sunny side egg just rounded out the dish off, adding an additional texture and some sauciness to the rice with its runny yolk.

The “Sate beef”, specialty noodle soup came highly recommend by our very knowledgeable server. She pointed out that she has yet to see the following offered in beef or chicken anywhere else, and on any other menu but their’s. This was reason enough to give it a try, and it ended up being my favourite dish of the night. Rare beef in a spicy peanut and coconut broth. It was like curry and pho melded together in delicious harmony. Creamy and buttery, it reminded me of satay. Great if you love peanuts and bold soupy flavours. When we got it, the meat was already fully cooked, whereas I would have liked to see the beef red and raw as its description promised. But overall I was very impressed by this and how generous they were with the thin slices of beef.

We were full, but had to try a couple of their desserts. They all weren’t traditional Vietnamese sweets, but special in that the same chef who prepared all the dishes before makes all their desserts the day of as well. Impressive as most restaurants tend to buy out, for their cheesecake and chocolate cake. Even more so if their chef isn’t a trained pastry chef. We were not disappointed.

The “Dundas cheesecake” was a New York style cheesecake with berry toppings. And it was everything that my guest and I like in a cheesecake. A whipped creamy texture, but still fluffy. The raspberry topping was the perfect amount of sweetness and tang to pair with the saltiness of the cheese. I just wanted more graham cracker crumb crust and less cheesecake for a more even ratio of the two per bite.

The “Mango n sticky rice” is a Thai dessert topped with coconut milk, therefore a great option for vegans looking for a little sweetness after their meal. There were familiar flavours, ones that I wanted more of in varying degrees than what I got. I found it a tad too fragrant with the flavour of the toasted sesame seeds, maybe less of them, to balance this out, could help. I liked the faint flavour of pandan and wanted more of it from the rice. It was wonderfully intertwined with the silky coconut milk, and the fresh mango side offered some sweetness to the lot. I just wished it was in season. This is a dessert I would come back for more of. It paired well with the green tea and pandan brew they were offering with the meal.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
I am hooked, after this visit I have several reasons to want to visit again, and soon. They make for a great spot to meet up with a friend for a good cost effective meal. Half way between city and my home. Coquitlam versus west end. I would go out of my way to “Dundas”, despite the distance from my work or home, for either a bowl of their sate beef or their vegan bun bo hue, should the right craving arise. That and be sure to follow it with one of their pandan desserts. They are also really good for drinks, $5 for a 6oz glass of the house red or white, any time of day. All served by friendly staff who engage in your party and are very welcoming. They love their food and are able to speak to it. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

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

Giant Vegan Pho Challenge at Dundas Pho

The restaurant that brought Vancouver its first big bowl pho challenge is back with another!

It has been a year since “Dundas Eat + Drink” gave us their 6lbs “Six-O-Pho” challenge. And with the colder weather upon us, they’ve reckoned its time to launch another. This is their 3lbs “Vegan Bún bò Huế” challenge. It is 100% plant based, meaning this opens the doors for a lot more competitors.

 

And once again, I am honoured to be able to be the first one to attempt this challenge, and to road test it for them. To check out how I faired, and to get an idea of what’s it like to take on an eating challenge, visit my YouTube channel: MaggiMei.

 

Bún bò Huế is a popular Vietnamese soup containing rice vermicelli and beef. The dish is best known for its balance of spicy, sour, salty, and umami flavours. This version is as tasty as its reputation suggests; made with deep fried tofu, king oyster mushrooms, and vegan Vietnamese ham. All the above gives the bowl plenty of taste and texture; along with the rice noodle base, and the mix of raw green onions, red onions, and cilantro for topping. But truly the star of this dish is the spicy vegetable broth. Despite its red hue it is actually not that spicy, more of a medium-mild on the heat meter. Delicious and great for chugging, which is helpful considering the challenge requires finishing the entire bowl, including the broth, down to the very last drop.

So now that you know how delicious this serving is, how can you try it for yourself, and better yet beat it?

The challenge is running all through December, it started on the 1st and “Dundas Eat + Drink” continue to host customers until the 31st. Each competitor pays $25 to play, win of lose the price is set. If you finish the entire bowl in under 20 min, you will win an instant prize! Then the 5 fastest contestants will be invited back for round two. This is a winner’s table where all 5 will face off against one another, in the hopes of winning the grand prize, valued at $500!

As they did last year, the extra large bowl of noodles will continue to be available for order after December 2018, although the price will increase to $30. To reminisce over last’s year’s meat heavy pho challenge, click on the link to watch my attempt video.

 

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

The Rise, revisit

My original visit to “The Rise” wasn’t very favourable. (I will include the link at the bottom, for those curious and wanting to compare.) Luckily I didn’t let a quick open and a first assessment steer me clear of this modern asian fusion restaurant. Out of convenience I have found myself at their threshold for a handful of meal. I work in the area and find lunch with them is quick and tasty. They have taken feedback, grown, and improved since their grand opening introduction and I can finally say that it is time I do a revisit post, and paint a more accurate picture of what it’s like to dine with them, almost a year later.

In truth, my visit today was in a different capacity. Today I was here as a judge, one of three, ranking this year’s Vancouver Foodster’s Sangria challengers. But I won’t be covering my thoughts of their drink here, instead I invite you to try them all for yourself and help judge in the people’s choice category. And be sure to check back here to read my full recap of the challenge, including my thoughts on each and how I voted.

Whenever I visit “The Rise”, should the weather permit, I like to dine on their patio out back. There really isn’t much of a view, as their wood barricade with artificial greens mask the scene of the alley below. But this cloistered off deck gives you an oasis in the city. A quiet spice to linger at, with heat lamps and warm blankets should the temperature turn.

The following is what I had on this day, plus a recap of a handful of meals I have had over the summer season.

I have been meaning to try their “Wheel of nosh”, for a while now. This was a creative way to serve a sampling of either appetizers and/or desserts. And today I not only would get to try one, but both their savoury and sweet sets. When the name says “wheel”, it literally means wheel as these small bites are served in little glass bowl sitting in a wire rounded Ferris wheel in either rose gold or silver. Each wheel has 8 bites, a set of four for two people. So best to share this one with a friend. There are no changes to this one, they don’t offer the wheel for one with 4 savoury bites and 4 sweet. I asked. The collect varies from day to day, each, a selection of Chef Dan’s d’oeuvres.

Today I lucked out as I was able to try and fall for these savoury macarons. I have never heard of, or would think to do savoury macarons in cumin and carrot or tomato and basil. Both had the perfect crisp bite meets luscious cream centre that is a tell-a-tale mark of a great macaron. Your eyes can’t believe what you are tasting: you get the quality of a fine macaron with the flavours of a fresh salad and/or seasoned pasta.

The carrot and cumin tasted like soup seasoned in Indian spices. I would have liked this served warm to mimic that hot soup feel, it would have also added another layer to the dish; and/or change the texture and/or experience of it. The tomato and basil ate like a salad with dressing or red sauce pasta. I would have liked a garlic bread macaron to go with it.

I really liked the “Truffle honey chicken drumlets”, this one taste would have me going back to order a plate full of these crunchy bar snacks. Often I am complaining that I don’t get truffle when it’s mentioned in the name of a dish, but here there was no missing it. It was fragrant, but also well balanced by the sweetness of the honey.

The “Shrimp with house made XO sauce” was nice. Large and juicy shrimps seasoned for a tangy meets garlicky flavour.

This was a clever way of presented a spicy tuna tartar with guacamole and freeze dried corn kernels. The waffle cone was sweet, it mimicked the sweetness of the corn. Although I wanted more of a vinegar and cream flavour from my tuna tartar, almost like a poke with a rice cup. The aforementioned cream would have also given the bite some moisture.

As a new seasonal main, my guest was very excited to see “Beer belly”. She does not eat pork, so knows not the love between a foodie and her pork belly. So to be able to try a close proximity of that sensation was something that she relished this night. House smoked sterling beef belly, braised cabbage purée, crispy coleslaw, pickled cucumbers, and house ipa mustard. This was a vey well balanced dish. Despite all the fattiness of the cut, the neighbouring veg and mix of textures helped to break the fat and grease down for a less overwhelming bite. Fresh leafy greens, tangy pickled cucumbers, and the clever idea of deep frying shredded coleslaw and using it for some crunch. All framed by the fragrant mustard that made for the perfect binder, bringing it all together.

Given the heaviness of our first course, we decided to take it lighter with the seafood in the “Gone fishing”. Grilled scallops and tiger prawns over a zucchini and carrot rice pasta, dressed in yuzukosho cream. The cream was made from fermented yuzu, giving it a more full bodied flavour and a new experience for me. The prawns and scallops were cooked perfect, the latter easily melted against the pressure of your teeth. And the noodle and vegetable mix made the ideal base. It gave the dish some heartiness, while still keeping things light, allowing the fresh seafood to shine.

As mentioned earlier, for dessert we had a sampling served on another Ferris wheel. If you had to choose between the two “Wheel of nosh” versions, I recommend the savoury appetizer one. By comparison dessert wasn’t as creative. Good, but not anything you couldn’t get from else where. Where was the whimsy that we got from all the other dishes?

The warm green tea cheese with tart freeze dried raspberries was the best out of the four different desserts on the wheel. It was tasty with a nice crunch, a flaky buttery crust, and creamy centre. This two biter was enough that I would consider getting the full sized version of this dessert in the future.

The raspberry macaron was very standard, it was at least very fresh and I could tell the raspberry flavour was coming from the pureeing of the actual fruit. Here I would have liked this to be made into a raspberry pie macaron, or have a scoop of ice cream dolloped on top; something to elevate your normal macaron.

Similar was the marble mini cheesecakes. It was good, there was enough crust to enjoy the cream with, but how were they making this their own?

I liked the vanilla and blackcurrant cream puff. At least the addition of black beret made this the restaurant’s own. It was served chilled, whereas I would have liked to have the puff dough warmed, thus making the vanilla cream a little more runny, like a “lava” puff. The addition of the chocolate at bottom gave the overall bite a nice flavour and crisp.

Overall, these wheels were a nice way to present share platters and small bites. However after the novelty of trying it once, you need not revisit it for whimsy, but instead as a full sized dish, if the taste won you over. Given its purpose, I wanted more variety in the sampling, instead of two of each, give me 8 different bites, although it is economically harder to do so.

Now, here are some of the dishes I have had a few months back.


The “schmaltz stir-fried rice pilaf” with chicken confit, sous vide free run egg,
chicken crackling, and the salad du jour.

“Shroom 2.0”, a vegan full and gluten free side, that was filling enough to eat as a meal. A gluten-free spaghetti served with a mushroom medley, smoked tofu, silken tofu cream, and cashew parmesan.

 

 

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
I got my wish, through their ever evolving menu, they have reinvented their dishes and have come into their own. They are the most/only unique offering in the neighbourhood, and shine because of it. You will continue to see me frequenting the space: enjoying the puns in their names and the novelty of their interactive cocktails, and for their delicious ramen renditions. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

RISE
3135 Granville Street, Vancouver BC, V6H 3K1
604-559-8280
theriseeatery.com

For the original visit and review, click the link below.

The Rise Eatry

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