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Category: Asian Page 1 of 16

Green Leaf Café

I enjoyed my visit to the Broadway location so much, that when looking for a place for dinner in Burnaby, I was more than happy to visit their original location. It is a larger space with a larger menu. Although, with so much on their menu worth exploring, I had to take in their restaurant twice, before writing this review.

The Burnaby location is definitely the largest property of the two. A restaurant that greets you with its bar, well lit in the form of their logo. Available seating spills over on either ends. I can best describe the whole as a cabin, with wood planked walls, wooden floor boards, and worn wood tables and chairs that match. Wooden clocks hang on the wall, wooden ornaments hang from light fixtures, and wood crates are repurposed as shelves. The latter of which is used to showcase a collection of rustic antiques, glass bottles, and faux plants as decor. They even serve you the bill in a wooden water bucket.

The menu is pretty straightforward. A list of omelette rices, fritters, meat on grills, “big fresh greens”, “rice house”, stuff from their raw bar, fresh oshi, aburi oshi, pasta + udon, “gimbal” (Korean style rolls), and “social sharing” platters. Self explanatory, but I still could have used a lot more photos, if any. Considering they are a fusion restaurant, it would make the ordering process easier. You also might order more, when being able to see what you will be getting before hand.

They are well known for their omelette rice, and not coincidentally I tried all they had to offer under this category. The “Tornado omelette rice” is available in a sweet and savoury demiglace or in a creamy jalapeño sauce. We got the former, taking in to consideration our server’s recommendation. It is a marvel how they are able to whip eggs this smooth, then churn it like spun fabric. The result, a unique texture that is both chewy and airy. Comforting with the familiar gravy and tender rice.

Similar in taste, but with a varying texture in it eggs is the “House omelette rice”. This too is served in a sweet and savoury demiglace, but with fried garlic flakes, tomato, and chilli. The flavour is similar to a sweet pasta sauce with the inclusion of stewed tomatoes embedded into the rice. Overall good, but I would have liked all it with a sweet Japanese curry sauce instead. Here, the eggs are beaten in to sponge-like consistency, it ate like tofu in the way it melted. But the highlight of the dish, was the crispy garlic chips that added a crunch and some depth of flavour.

The “Soufflé mushroom risotto”, applied a different technique to preparing its eggs. Foamy and light, it was well described as a “Cloud egg omelette”. With jalapeño, it sits over a creamy mushroom risotto. The cloud separated like meringue. It created a nice break, something light and refreshing to balance out the richness of the earthy mushrooms. Together, this made for another comforting dish to curl up with.

In a completely different direction, we had the punchy “Spicy crunch prawn”, under the “tempura” section of the menu. Five pieces of battered and deep fried tiger prawns, coated heavily in a spicy mayo and tangy brown sauce. It all sits on a bed of greens that functions like a mixed green salad. It tasted like the filling of a sushi roll that I have had before, and I wanted it like that again, with its slower burn. With all this flavour, it needed a base to even things out. It needed rice.

“Green Leaf” is also known for their “oshi”, Osaka style pressed sushi. The obvious choice is their flame-kissed aburi oshi in salmon. And although I am sure I would have enjoyed it, I had to order the most interesting of my options, which was the “Basil ebi tiger prawn oshi”. Tiger prawn, basil pesto oshi sauce, black olive, and Parmesan cheese. Not surprising, it tasted like a pasta dish, minus the black olive slice that over powered, and felt out of place. The whole bite left me wanting wanting garlic bread and a red wine, thanks to the pesto and parm combo. Overall, fun for novelty, but not one I would order again. It is probably best along side other oshi, and used as a break in between bites.

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.
Good food, familiar and comforting flavours, and a menu with plenty more worth exploring. Where else can you get eggs like this? Don’t deny your cravings.

GREEN LEAF
9604 Cameron St, Burnaby, BC V3J 1M2
(604) 444-9802
greenleafcafebc.ca

Kanpeki Teppanyaki, FEAST: Asian Dining Festival

“Feast” is the annual Asian dining festival that encourages guests to travel to Richmond and taste from a collection of its restaurants. Each of the participating establishments have created specialty menus that allow you to try their cuisine at a special cost saving price. And it is not just Chinese food, but restaurants serving Korean, Persian, Japanese, and Indian cuisine are included as well. From October 18th to November 18th, you too can visit over 30 restaurants to try something new, or something you might not otherwise want to, at full price.

In order to get me to a handful of them I was loaned the use of the 2020 “Subaru Ascent” for the week. And although Richmond is convenient to get to via the Canada skytrain, nothing beats a comfortable ride in a well build vehicle.

My first restaurant was “Kanpeki Teppanyaki”. Since I had to travel to Richmond to pick up the vehicle, I might as well stop at one of the restaurants for a late lunch. They are open at 3pm with an extensive happy hour menu, perfect for the after work crowd, or the ones trying to avoid rush hour traffic driving into Vancouver. But we were here to try their limited release Feast menu, and needed to save room for that.

$50 gives you 10 course and then some, which includes appetizers, a show on the Teppanyaki grill, and a dessert. Meant for one, we shared an order and found ourselves plenty full. Although if you didn’t, you could order off their regular menu after, and there certainly is plenty to consider. Premium wagyu beef, raw seafood towers, fresh abalone and uni, and plenty of sushi.

For our “Feast” feast, the first course was a mixed greens salad with an Italian dressing. I was impressed by the inclusion of fig slices amongst the shredded carrot, cherry tomatoe halves, cucumber, and leafy greens. However there was far too much dressing up top, and this took away from all of that. It is better to toss it first, which is hard to do in the small bowl it was served in.

The “Chef’s daily appetizer” varies so what I have might not be what you get. A trio of seafood forward tasters to help open the appetite.

The mound of crab meat was buttery with a sweet finish. I just wished it and the micro greens were sitting on top of a cracker to round out the bite more. A base to give you more texture to chew through, than whispy threads of crab.

The fresh oyster was satisfyingly crisp with the ponzu sauce.

And the “tako” (octopus) chunks were cut down to the perfect size, making them enjoyable to chew through. Each cube tasted refreshing with a light citrus dressing, accompanied by thinly sliced cucumber.

Our appreciation of the deep fried oyster was dependent on timing. My guest enjoyed it just fine, eating it right away. Although by the time I got to my portion, it was soggy with an unappealing sponge-like texture. It also didn’t taste great, giving me an out of place sour cinnamon flavour. In short, always eat the deep fried items first.

The “Seafood miso soup” had plenty to sift through; with clam and crab meat in shell, tofu, and seaweed. The soup was smokey and very flavourful.

Next came the teppanyaki portion of our meal, just as much of a show as it is dinner. Your food is prepared on the heated metal plate at your table. A trained chef tosses, stirs, and shovels with two metal spatulas. They don’t put on a performance here, like they do at other such dining experiences; no fancy egg cracks or onion volcanos. This is Hong Kong style teppanyaki, where the emphasis is on the food, and it showed today.

You are given a collection of sauces, though truthfully you won’t need them. A lemon sauce, a cocktail based one, and a sesame sauce; all made in house, much like the spicy xo sauce scooped to serve.

First to kiss the flame was a jumbo tiger prawn, caramelized in butter. This is one of the largest and juiciest I have had the pleasure of eating and it did not need any saucing.

The rest of the meat and vegetable were seasoned to our specifications. The “foie gras usuyaki” had the foie gras grilled with green and fried onion; then wrapped in a thin slice of beef. The excess oil from the foie gras is saved to be used to better flavour the fried rice to come. Here, is where the sauces above came in handy. The meat was bland and needed some salt and kick. I liked the spicy xo sauce with it the most.

I fully enjoyed the fried rice. It starts with a cracked raw egg, and to it rice and corn is added, green onion is folded in, then a handsome amount of tobiko to finish it off. The result, a very tasty fried rice that I wanted to enjoy alone. The foie gras drippings didn’t go unnoticed, and I enjoyed the mini pops the tobiko offered.

The “Angus beef tenderloin” was perfectly prepared to a medium rare. Seared with fire and cut into cubes for easy sharing. This too was incredibly well seasoned. Especially tasty when paired with the vegetables below.

The “Deluxe fried vegetables” were multicoloured peppers, cabbage, and carrots. Fried crispy with butter, this too didn’t need any additional seasoning.

Where our meal lacked was the ice cream for dessert, available in either green tea or mango. Everything was so amazing and uniquely them, so to end on store bought ice cream, with ice crystal chunks embedded with, left the set at a lower standing.

Overall this was a delicious meal, where the value is in the ability to watch it being assembled before your eyes. This was very much so a show that got you hungrier for what was it follow. A nod to the charming staff who delivered on this, with light conversation and a warming invitation to enjoy what’s before you. The service was great, my tea was never cold, and our setting was well looked after. And at $50 for the full experience, I highly recommend this opportunity if you have never had teppanyaki before!

Once again this $50 Feast menu is only available until November 18th, so best to take advantage and order sooner then later. For the other participating restaurants and what they are offering during this festival, visit the link below.
https://asianfeast.ca/

KANPEKI TEPPANYAKI
8351 Alexandra Rd, Richmond, BC V6X 1C3
(604) 821-1323

#asianfeast #subaru #subaruBC #richmondbc
@feast_asian, @docksteadersubaru, @subarucanada, @wolfesubaru @wolfesubaruonboundary @richmondsubaru_bc, @jpsubarunorthshore, @jpsubarucoquitlam, @jpsubarusouth

New Town Bakery & Restaurant

“New Town” is a Vancouver staple, a hub for locals and tourists in Chinatown. Better known for their steamed buns and pastries, and now one of the restaurants disguised as another in Ali Wong’s, “Always be my Maybe” Netflix movie. I, myself frequent “New Town” for their steamed buns. If in the area, I go out of my way to grab a couple. Having tried many in and round the city, theirs is the best in my opinion, but more on that below.

The shop and restaurant are easy to spot with a giant plastic bamboo steamer filled with steamed white buns on the awning, and the regular line and gathering of people at the threshold. For those looking to grab and go, you pull a number and wait for your it to be broadcasted above the check-out counter.

Options and prices are listed across three flat screens, but it is much easier to simply point and choose. On top of steamed buns they have plenty of golden brown baked buns, plastic wrapped cakes, and dim sum dessert favourites. The baked buns come in a variety of toppings and sweet and savoury fillings. I also like their honey sweet barbecue pork and chicken buns. But if I had to choose, I will always go for their “Dai Bao”. And I did just that once we were seated in the dining area, towards the back.

Themed in orange, you can tell the restaurant recently had a face lift. Orange backsplashes, orange upholstered seats and booths, and orange branded button up shirts for all the staff. The restaurant’s real age was reveal by a visit to the washroom. The cracked tiles and overall unkept condition of this single stall was off putting. An inevitability given its location and its regular clientele. But I digress, because I still think they are worth visiting.

In the dining area you can order anything from the front of house to enjoy here or take to go. “Dai Bao” is a large white bun filled with a little bit of everything: chicken, bbq pork, ground pork, ham, and a salted egg yolk. I have been enjoying this for so long that I remember it being only $2.50, but now with inflation, it was $3.70 today. And despite the increase, I still think it is worth the price. With all the dough and plenty of filling, it eats like a meal. I want one now just writing about it, and can’t help but compare all other steam buns to this one on its pedestal.

With it I got a bowl of “Hot and sour soup”. Just reading it on the menu I wanted its familiar taste in mouth; one that I like and haven’t had in a while. Unfortunately this wasn’t my favourite rendition of the popular soup. There was too much going on, lots of ingredients to chew through, and not enough syrupy soup base to enjoy it with. Shrimp, wood ear mushroom, tofu, peas, mushroom, carrot, bamboo, beef, and chicken. The peas were a new addition to me, and despite really liking peas, I didn’t here. The soup was thick and hearty and ate more like congee.

My guest had the “fried egg and ham with ramen in soup”, knowing full well that she was essentially ordering instant noodle. Chicken flavour soup broth with a fried egg, thick slice of ham, and plenty of lettuce. It was a nostalgic bowl of noodle soup that she fully enjoyed. But making instant noodle regularly for myself, I cannot justify paying $8.25 for this bowl. Plus I don’t like the flavour of the lettuce rubbing off into the broth.

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
A historic Vancouver staple, the best steamed buns in the city, and a great go-to for home style Chinese food at a fair price. With 8 full pages of familiar dishes and specials, there is plenty to keep you gong back for more. Don’t deny your cravings.

NEW TOWN
148 E Pender St, Vancouver, BC V6A 1T3
(604) 689-7835
newtownbakery.ca

Hot Star Large Fried Chicken

My guest and I met up and started our meal with dessert, so now after four cakes we were both craving for something savoury, salty, and hearty. Her mind went straight for deep fried chicken, and lucky for us, Richmond has a new one.

Made popular in the lower mainland by the Richmond Night Market; and the ability to pose with a slab of chicken, larger than the size of your head. That was “G-Star”, a replica of “Hot Star”, originating from Taiwan. My guest believed that someone saw how well “G-Star” was doing and decided to bring the original rendition to Canada, as this franchise.

The restaurant is pretty straightforward. A row of tables on either side. On the wall on the left was a series of photos presenting the extent of their menu. Easy to entice, easy to order. Photos of their chicken in its various formats, and a couple of their drinks.

On the right hand side, a visual instruction on how to eat their chicken. The recommended first bite, where to watch out for bones, where the meat is the juiciest, and which pieceto end your meal on.

You walk up the the back counter and order from there. Which might be intimating when the restaurant is empty and they have 3 employees behind it, and two more visible in the kitchen, awaiting your decision. The menu is splashed above the counter, a series of drinks, followed by their specialty chicken steak, more chicken served different ways, and the sides. The latter was interesting, not just your typical fries and slaw with chicken, but spring rolls, corn on the cob, rice, and even fried buns.

However, it was disappointing to see that parts of the menu was listed as “coming soon”, with menu images obscured by the declaration. Disappointing, because I wanted to try their melted cheese stuffed chicken, and their regular take on fried chicken.

Nonetheless, we ordered to dine in, but they don’t have any plates, plastic or otherwise. They suggest eating off the paper bag, over the plastic one, you receive with your order. It was too hot and too hard to eat holding it, so knife and fork over plastic it was. And needless to say, it wasn’t an easy or great dining experience.

Having tried the large steak from “Big G’s” I can’t help but compare the two now. And right away, I can tell you they aren’t the same. Two completely different products with the same premise. A hammered out and flattened piece of dark meat chicken, battered and fried with a series of available seasonings. This seasoning mix and their textures is where they differ. I found “Hot Star’s” salt and pepper original cutlet more saltier and more tangier for starters. And the meat juicier at “Big G’s”.

What looks like a lot of meat is actually, 40% bone and you are left scraping what little meat there is left to better satisfy. I had the “Korean large fried chicken”, but didn’t taste much or any of the sauce. I felt it was stickier in texture because of it, and did make out the sesame seeds that were stuck all over it. But it didn’t taste much different than the regular below.

My guest got the “Original large fried chicken”. Available in salt and pepper, seaweed, spicy, plum, and curry. She enjoyed the former the most. Once again, not much different than mine, just more of its gritty crusty texture coming through.

Things did get salty, so it was nice to have a drink and side to help change the taste. I found their soda the perfect palette cleanser, especially my “Blue curaçao yogurt” drink, its creaminess cut through the deep fry easily. My guest enjoyed her “Grapefruit mojito” just as much.

But the real star of our meal was the “fried king oyster mushrooms”. They weren’t too dry or too chewy. The mushrooms popped with juice and gave the meal some freshness.

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – No.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
I wouldn’t go out of my way to avoid a revisit, but they won’t be my first choice for fried chicken in Richmond. Don’t deny your cravings.

HOT STAR
1623-4791 Mcclelland Road, Richmond, BC V6X 0M5
(604) 370-1955
hot-star.ca

Green & Oak Malaysian Restaurant

My guest and I were looking for Malaysian food for dinner. And after a quick Google search, we were happy to find one by our homes, in Burnaby. Based on the building’s roof detail, we surmised that this use to be a Greek restaurant. But the rainbow spotted wall paper and light weight, bleach wood furniture had the interior looking more like a bubble tea cafe. Similarly, the name didn’t really speak to what was on the menu.

We were originally seated by the back exit, on a convertible table. However, as soon as a table by the window opened up, the host that originally showed us in (who I think is also the owner), kindly re-sat us without us having to ask for the better table. All the while she had her young 3 year old son in tow, helping to drop off menus and deliver diner’s their bills. It gave you an “Awww” sensation and spoke to this being a family run business.

The two sided laminated menu listed a bunch of familiar plates, and I fully indulged in this edible walk down memory lane. The following are a must order when I see them on any menu. However I had a preconceived idea of how each dish tasted, and therefore I was left unsatisfied. The food was good, and I would have enjoyed everything more had I not compared it to my mother’s cooking or that which I had growing up. It was simply a different rendition of Malaysian cuisine. My guest on the other hand enjoyed everything in full, taking a take out menu to go, along with our leftovers.

“Roti-canai”, fresh made Malaysian flatbread, grilled and served with their own curry dipping sauce. The dough was chewy and flaky, the perfect vehicle to sop up chunks of their curry. The curry here was the exact same one served in their “Malaysian curry rice”. A coconut curry made with lemon grass, shallot, and onion. I wanted a richer curry, finding it a little flat for a dip. I also wanted some more peanut and sweetness to it, to better play off the salty roti.

The “Hainanese chicken” was my favourite of the night. Steamed chicken cooked in rich chicken stock, served with a red chilli and ginger dipping sauce. This is the set meal with both white or dark meat, but for $1 extra we could have had our choice of all dark or all white meat. It was just as I remembered it. Tender chicken, served slightly chilled, with a flavour that is clean on palette, ending in a faint soy flavour that lingers. As a set menu it comes with a neutral soup (compared to everything else we ordered), a tasty chicken stock flavoured steamed rice, and a mild chilli and ginger oil sauce for additional seasoning.

My guest’s favourite dish was the “Penang tofu”. Deep fried tofu topped with onion, cucumber, and a sweet chilli sauce. This version was good, the sauce was on point, but we wished the tofu was crisper and that the deep fry had more of a freshness to it.

The “Laksa soup” was disappointing. A runny curry based soup with tofu, bean sprouts, egg, lemon grass, lime juice, and hints of coconut milk. It wasn’t as flavourful or as rich as I know laksa to be. We had our choice of vermicelli, egg noodle, rice noodle, mixed or no noodle. We went for the egg noodle, but had we selected for the finer gauge, traditional, rice noodle we might have liked the bowl more. See a whole reminded more more of a sour tom yum soup, than the rich curry based soup I was hoping for.

I was excited for the “Belachan fried rice” with dried shrimp, chilli pepper, pork, shrimp, egg, and soya sauce. This was a flavour that isn’t known to many, a unique fishiness with good umami. I just wished it wasn’t so greasy, leaving a sheen on our utensils and lips.

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.
Once again, the food was good enough, but it just didn’t satisfy because of the expectation I had going in. Not traditional Malaysian fare, but a unique interpretation when in Burnaby, to discover. Don’t deny your cravings.

GREEN OAK
3760 Hastings St, Burnaby, BC V5C 2H5
(778) 589-2668
greenandoak.com

Liu Yi Shou Hot Pot Restaurant

Despite the seasons, Chinese-style hot pot tends to be a consistently popular destination for those wanting a little more involvement in their meal. You cook up your own dinner, customizing it from which broth base you use to what ingredients you put in. And at “Liu Yi Shou” they offer a few more options to make your experience even more interactive and personalized.

For the tutorial on how to maximize your hot pot experience, check out my latest vlog, now up on my YouTube channel: MaggiMei.

First “Liu Yi Shou” has happy hour, plenty of wine and beer on special. I suggest sharing a pitcher with your friends. With all the spicy and flavourful ingredients, beer makes for a great in between sipper. They also have plenty of can sodas and fruit pops available, and even coconut water you drink right out of the fruit. So start with this as you explore their very extensive menu.

And while you work out your order, or wait for it to come and boil, you can start nibbling on their “Cheese fondue”. This is a new menu item, and one that you don’t often see at a hot pot restaurant. Not just melted cheese, but their fondue is mozzarella flavoured with tomato. It is served with a board of hot dogs, celery, and chicken wings for dipping into. I really liked the flavour of the cheese dip, it had a comforting, gooey tomato soup feel to it. But despite the lit tea light under the individual fondue bowl, it does cool quick. Although it doesn’t congeal, so you can come back to what you don’t finish in between your hot pot, as a flavour changer.

You can also order their popular marinade appetizer dish. This is an assorted platter of quail eggs, bean curd, pig’s ear, and pork hoc marinated in a soy sauce blend. It is enjoyed cold or at room temperature. This you eat more for its textures of squishy, spongy, chewy, and rubbery.

Today I was dining with hot pot experts and they made sure to order the most unique of all the option, plenty of which are exclusive to “Liu Yi Shou”, starting with their tri-soup pot. You can enjoy 3 different flavours of broth, altogether in one pot. Ideal for those who get tired of a one flavour boil; or for those who can’t take their food spicy, dining with those who only like it spicy.

We had the chicken with coconut soup base, the wild mushroom soup base with Chinese herbs, and the spicy and numbing hot pot. The latter was extra special, it came with a block of tallow shaped like their cow mascot. “Tallow” is saturated beef fat, it is higher in calories than butter, but healthier and better tasting! The hotter it got, the quicker he melted, and soon he was face first in a pool of chilli and peppercorns. Not only does this make the soup more indulgent, it also help to cut into some of that hot, hot heat. And if you order the chicken and coconut soup base, you get a plate of raw chicken complimentary, to cook within it.

In an effort to save table space, our platter of finely sliced lamb and beef is served on a wooden ring, that fits perfectly around our hot pot. From here it is easy to pick up a slice and dunk it into any broth. Both cook up relatively quick, and after 5 dunks you are ready to eat it.

But as waited for all the soup broths to boil, we made our way to the back of the restaurant, to their help yourself sauce bar. At some hot pot places I find I get bored of the taste, that everything is boiled up the same, and has only the one flavour throughout. Here, you can customize your own sauces and curate the flavour, so that anything you don’t like is on you. Mix and match from sauces and oils like spiced vinegar, oyster sauce, sesame oil, satay sauce, mushroom paste, and bean curd paste, etc. Toss in some minced and chopped dry ingredients like sugar, green onion, toasted soy bean, mashed garlic, preserved turnip and peanuts; for texture and chew.

And while we were busy mixing and creating to our heart’s content all our ordered ingredients began arriving one platter after another. The beautifully plated, raw food comes out quick here.

A wooden box of leafy greens and various mushrooms.

Fish paste moulded into two hearts. This you scoop and drop into the broth for it to boil up and harden into a solid ball.

A platter of shrimp, cuttlefish, pork and beef, pre-formed balls.

An interesting one were these tubes of bean curd that you dip into the pot for 3 seconds. They act like sponges, soaking in the broth and offering a distinct ribbed chew.

For the adventurous you can order a platter of intestines and organ meats, for a more traditional hot pot experience. Pig’s blood, beef tripe, ox aorta, and goose intestine. I would also consider this, one that you order more for its textures, each with its own unique chew or gelatin-like consistency. The aorta had the same chew as squid rings, the tripe was so tender and easy to bite into, the intestine required more jaw work; and the savoury pigs blood had the texture of pudding and jello combined.

But the highlight and feature of our meal was definitely “meat Barbie”. A Barbie doll repurposed. She was dressed in strips of angus beef that you peel of her torso or cabbage base and add into your soup. At her feet is a garden of raw seafood. Shrimp in shell, fish puff, mussels, fish, and sticks of imitation crab. A visual treat, as well as a tasty one.

And for those who actually still have room for more, “Liu Yi Shou” does have dessert, offering something sweet to end on. Like their red rice cakes that you dip into condense milk or a sweet syrup. I did try one, but after all the food above, I felt ending on anything rice related or starchy a little much.

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 like their creativity and the broad offering of their menu. They aren’t just a place for hot pot, but serve as a stop for happy hour as well. Cold drinks and small snacks or dessert. They offer regulars and occasional customers reasons to return with plenty of variety to try and taste. And as the first hot pot place to have franchises all over the world, there are many locations for you to get your fix at. Don’t deny your cravings.

LIUYISHOU HOTPOT
1542 Robson Street, Vancouver BC, V6G 1C2
778-379-3977

Shiok Singaporean Cuisine

Today was my grandmother’s birthday, so I took her and my parents out for lunch to celebrate. I have been wanting to visit the new Singaporean restaurant “Shiok” after learning about it from @pickydiner. Their small list of offerings was my childhood. Names of dishes and lists of ingredients I remembered so long ago. So what better company to see if measured up to memory than with the ones that introduced me to the cuisine.

At this point “Shiok” has only been open for 6 weeks. They are still going through their soft launch period, where they are taking in suggestions and tweaking their recipes. Speaking with the owner, he explained that this is his wife’s hobby and passion project. Their goal is to figure out how to make their customers happy, while still keeping their food authentic to Singaporean flavours. Flavours that aren’t as salty or spicy as Chinese or Indian cuisine, but have similar dishes and similar execution. The restaurant’s name means “satisfying” in Hokkien, a Chinese dialect that my family is well versed in. And we certainly left with that sentiment in mind.

It was busy right when they opened, with a steady flow of traffic.They are a partial service restaurant. You order at the counter where you pay right away. Dishes are brought out to you, and you are kindly asked to bus your own table after you are done. Clearing the used trays, and plastic cups of help yourself water. And discarding food waste, garbage, and cans and bottles in the right receptacle.

You seat yourself at any of the barstools by the window, or around the corner in their dimly lit seating area. Like their exterior the interior is pretty simple, a wood bean ceiling; wooden tables, benches, and chairs; and a few photos of Singaporean scenery clustered together on their all white walls. The most ornate part of the restaurant is the tiling under foot. A pattern of two tonal grey flowers repeating.

Excited over everything on their shorter menu, I pretty much ordered it all and all their daily specials. In fact, it is actually easier to list what we didn’t have. Which was the tofu appetizer in a sweet and spicy rojak sauce, their hot chicken porridge only available from Wednesday to Saturday, and the chilli squid and prawn. We ordered so much for four people that we had plenty of leftovers, and we filled up 8 out of the 10 spots on their introductory stamp card. You get a stamp for every $10 spent here, and after you collect 10 you get one menu item for free. It is pretty easy to accumulate points considering the portions are on the smaller side and majority of the appetizers are $5, and the entrees, $10.

The “Chicken Wings” came out piping hot. Deep fried crispy in a prawn-spiced seasoning. Although I didn’t taste any of the mentioned seafood flavour on them. They just tasted like regular, salty, deep fried wings with a juicy centre. Good, but not something that I can’t get else where.

We all liked the “Roti Prata”. Flaky Indian flatbread served with a chicken curry gravy for dipping. The roti was light and chewy, not overly oily, its sweetness paired well with the tone of the curry.

It is best to eat the “Satay” sooner then later. The more they were allowed to cool, the tougher they got. Each order comes with four skewers, and four smaller chunks of meat per skewer; in your choice of either beef or chicken. Served with their paste-like peanut sauce. This wasn’t my favourite rendition of this. The beef and chicken were equally dried and things didn’t improve when dipped into the minced peanut mix. I would skip this one next time around.

We had to try their “Laksa”, as Singapore’s famous curry noodles with slices of fish cake, shrimp halves, tofu puffs, and hard boiled egg. You have your choice of either white or yellow noodles. I was given a choice of both mixed, which I opted for, however we needed up only receiving the yellow noodles. Whereas traditionally, vermicelli is the noodle of choice here. The laksa has some heat to it, but only enough to heighten the flavour, and not enough to burn your tongue or take away from the layered broth. Overall a good take, not one that necessarily stood out, but one to satisfy if you are craving laksa in the area.

Now the “Boneless Chicken Rice” is one worth blogging about. This is their traditional Singaporean take on Hainanese chicken rice and I have never had a more delicious version here in Vancouver. The chicken was extremely tender, even the white breast meat slices were succulent. And when paired with a dab in their sweet soy sauce, and coupled with their flavoured rice, this was perfection. My favourite dish of the day, and the one I would come back for.

It came with a side of chicken soup that was just as fragrant. Made with stock from the bones of the chicken we were enjoying boneless.

The “Mee Siam” isn’t one that I grew up on, but one I enjoyed being able to try today. A sweet, sour, and mildly spicy rice vermicelli topped with shrimp, tofu puffs, and egg; all served in a tamarind-base gravy. It had a unique flavour, unexpectedly tangy, and reminiscent of pad Thai thanks to its use of tamarind.

My father’s favourite dish was the “Nyonya Chicken Curry”, a fragrant Peranakan coconut chicken curry. He liked how sweet it was with the generous use of coconut milk. The chicken was so tender that the meat flaked off the bone, and the chunks of potato just melted under the pressure of your spoon. We confirmed that this was the same curry as what we had to dip our roti into above, although I found this one more savoury, and the other sweet.

My mother’s favourite dish was the “Beef Rendang”, slow-cooked spicy curried coconut beef served with rice. The pulled and mashed meat had a dull heat and specific tang to it. I found it a little too salty and sharp for my tastes, and that the pieces were inconsistent, from super soft to over cooked and hard. The latter only worsened when paired with the hard side of rice.

Not on their regular laminated menu were the following “specials”, a few offerings written in chalk by the counter. The “Mee rebus” is a boiled noodle dish. Yellow noodles in a thick potato-based gravy, sprinkled with tiny dried shrimp and chilli. It was saucy. You could takes the shrimp, but I didn’t like the flavour of the cooked lettuce coming through with it. (This is more a person thing.)

The “Seaweed chips” where a nice snack to start on. Seaweed and wonton shards fried for a nice crispy crunch. I would rather a bowl of these than potato chips any day.

And for dessert we had their pandan cassava cake for $3. I found the price point fair for the taster. I got the flavour of pandan from this soft and chewy slice and not much texture from the shards of coconut, which I don’t like. A nice gentle end to a more flavourful meal. Seeing as their desserts seem to rotate, I would love to try more of their pandan creations.

And to drink they had Singaporean style coffee and tea called “Kopi” and “Teh”. It is typically served with condense milk, but you can also order it black (kopi/teh-O) or with evaporated milk (kopi/teh-C). I had my teh with condense milk for a sweeter beverage and my grandma enjoyed her kopi-o with evaporated milk for a more healthier option. She found it authentic and not too bitter.

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.
It is worth nothing that I am definitely bias here, these were my childhood meals, and a walk through memory lane for my family. We enjoyed being able to taste and try so many nostalgic dishes together. My grandmother loved everything and both her and my parents told the owners they would be recommending them to their friends and families. And once again we all left with the sentiment, “Shiok”. We were satisfied. Don’t deny your cravings.

SHIOK
1716 Kingsway, Vancouver BC, V5N 2S4
604-423-3838
shiok.ca

Big G Fried Chicken Steaks

This popular Richmond night market treat now has its own store, so that you can have giant pieces of chicken all throughout the year. Located in Union Square in Richmond, they serve as a quick lunch or snack spot, frying up chicken and other sides.

Set up like any fast food restaurant. You order at the back, reading off the menu above the counter. You pay first and when ready your number is called and you take your tray to any available table. It is worth noting that they except debit, whereas many of their neighbours run a cash only business.

On the right side of the restaurant are photos of their combos and menu items on display, serving as inspiration on what to order. On the left, their trademark photo of a woman holding up a piece of chicken, showing you how it’s larger than her head. A popular pose that many have imitated and used on their own social media channels, myself included.

Although there is plenty to order, chances are you will be having the “jumbo chicken steak”. Available in original, seasoned with salt and pepper; or in a bevy of flavours like bbq, Cajun powder, jalapeño powder, seaweed powder, hot sauce, and even coated in mozzarella cheese.

The original is so flavourful that you don’t really need additional sauces or seasonings. It is my pick. A piece of chicken breast pounded down and stretched out to achieve this elongated length. Though half of it is bone. It tastes like the Taiwanese style popcorn chicken you get at bubble tea places. Just as crispy and salty, with more coated skin than meat. The flavours penetrate the batter and skin through to the actual chicken.

If you are looking for more chicken in a different way they have options in various sizes and shapes. Chicken strips, nuggets, and popcorn. And plenty of deep fried sides to go with it like potato, yam, tofu, oyster mushroom, shimeji mushroom, squid balls, and fish cake. For something more fresh grab a coleslaw or radish salad. And for a more fulsome meal their chicken is available as a combo with rice, noodle, or noodle soup. Enjoy it with a fountain pop or bubble tea.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – No.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
Good, but there is something more enjoyable about having one at the night market versus sit downing in a fast food setting. A convenient snack, but not a destination. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

BIG G’s FRIED CHICKEN STEAK
8338 Capstan Way #1231, Richmond BC, V6X 4B5
604-278-9661

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

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