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Category: Asian Page 1 of 15

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

Guu Davie, #ChickenWingsChallengeYVR

Today I was at “Guu’s” newest location on Davie street. A great space with plenty of seating, but one that is hard to find. It has been 4 months since they have opened and I am only realizing now that the former “Speakeasy” bar that held the space is a thing of the past.

The glass covered walk way does little to draw you in. The sandwich boards advertising their izakaya and their $1 oyster deal is lost. You miss both, unless you rotate your head 90 degrees. And when you find the entrance, you question if it is the right one. Walking in feels like a journey, as you travel half the length of the restaurant just to be able to hear the hostess at the very end.

Past this corridor the restaurant does open up with seats by their sushi or liquor bar. And a second floor with additional tables by the patio. They currently have artificial turf on their patio, but this space remains empty.

My guest and I choose seats on one of their Japanese style tables. The ones that simulate eating on the floor, and requires you to remove your footwear. In bare feet or socks you walk over, and climb on to your cushioned seat. And for the sake of convenience, if you need to move around or use the washroom, they have communal sandals you can slip on easily for the duration of your stay.

I like they style of their menus, with Japanese kanji in bold and the English descriptions and pricing printed neatly under it. We started off with some drinks. I was immediately drawn to their “Wasabi Caesar” for $8.80. I don’t normally list the price of dishes, but am doing so here, as I really found their small plates to be at reasonable prices, allowing you to try more.

This was a Smirnoff caesar mixed with soy sauce and wasabi; and garnished with sun dried octopus, kelp, and a boiled egg. From looks alone you have never had a caesar like this before. They really sold me with the toppings. The egg was perfectly soft boiled, the seaweed nice and chewy. But the octopus tentacles were hard as a rock and impossible to chew off. Thought my guest was content with nibbling at its suction cups. As for the drink itself, it had a great, warming heat thanks to the wasabi, but other than that, the caesar lacked spice and seasoning, and there was no spice rim to help.

By comparison, the drink to get is the virgin “Hanayori Dango” for $7.80. This was basically a dessert for sipping. Matcha ice cream, warabi mochi, black sugar sauce, milk, fresh strawberry, and whipped cream was listed on the menu. Although I did not see any black sugar sauce or whipped cream. I could only and barely taste strawberry in the soda used, so it wasn’t fresh. And there was definitely no chewy mocchi. None-the-less, this served as a great summer refresher.

Seeing as we were between 3-6pm and in time for Happy Hour, we took advantage of our timing by ordering the “ebi mayo with chilli mayo” at a discount. 3 pieces for $5. I liked the size of the prawn, but other than that this was pretty standard. A fluffy, deep fried batter coating, hiding a mushy prawn, sitting in a flat, and slightly spicy mayonnaise. We took one each and didn’t even bother with the third.

We much more preferred the “Dessert style oden”. “Oden” is a traditional Japanese dish made by simmering various ingredients together in a single pot. Together, they slowly simmer becoming soft and flavourful. Their Warabi mochi version went for $4.80. It lacked a flavour enhanced broth, but it did nail the soft texture part, with the deep fried battered oden tofu. It was topped with vanilla ice cream, black sugar sauce, and roasted soy bean power. The folded tofu had an interesting texture, similar to a thin mocchi: chewy with a doughy-like quality.

The “Shlokara” we ordered out of curiosity, and even though we hated it, at $4.80 a dish, no real tears were loss. This was an acquired taste, one that lingers and that we couldn’t get rid of. This was raw squid cut into string-like noodles, which is the marinated in salt and squid guts. It was incredibly salty, with a gamey quality to it. A lip puckering sensation with a raw egg yolk-like texture. It didn’t have a great mouth feel, and its flavour comes back up to haunt you. Thankfully they offer mouth wash in their washrooms to help in this regard. More on their washroom later.

When we brought up how much we hated the raw squid to the server, she was quick to mention that not many people like it. Here, it would have been great to get this tidbit prior to ordering it.

And lastly we had their “Gyoza wings”. Deep fried chicken wings stuffed with gyoza ground pork. 3 pieces at $7.80. They were completing in this year’s Vancouver Foodster’s “Chicken Wing Challenge”. Ans I was one of the judges, here to try their contribution, and to eventually crown 1 out of the 5 contestants winner; based on originality, taste, and presentation.
It was an interesting take on stuffed wings, but it was more gyoza meat than chicken. You only got bits of chicken skin with the wing tip. Like they grafted a half eaten wing together with a gyoza, but left out the best part: the wrapper. It tasted good, but was a little salty. Though the pickled vegetable and the crunchy chip were most helpful in balancing out the dish.

I like izakaya washrooms for their fully stocked counters. Here they had wet wipes, cotton swabs, tooth picks, and mouthwash to keep you well groomed and your breath minty fresh. And best of all they have Japanese toilets in each of their stalls. The ones that have heated seats and a bidet function. I enjoyed the former, but passed on the latter. I don’t like something being so intimate to me in public washroom.

 

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.
At the end of the day I am always glad to have tried something new, and in this blog I will always order the weird stuff, so you don’t have to. But at “Guu”, I can do both without a hefty price tag. Our meal may have been hit and miss, but that’s half the fun of trying something new. So round up your most adventurous friends, and why not try raw squid guts for yourself? “Guu” has already proven themselves successful with a hand full of busy locations, and now you have a new one to consider when you are craving their traditional style izakaya. Don’t deny your cravings

 

GUU
1239 Davie Street, Vancouver BC, V6E 1N4
604-687-8890
guu-izakaya.com

Richmond Night Market 2019

I eat and drink from 33 new and returning favourite stalls at this year’s Richmond Night Market.

It’s that time of year again, the weather is better and the crowds are flocking down to the Richmond Night Market. With so many more food vendors this year, let me help you plan your visit by highlighting some of the new and noteworthy at North America’s largest Asian themed, outdoor market.

 

For the vlog version, check out my latest video now up on my YouTube channel: MaggiMei.

The following is a accumulation of all that I have tried across my first 5 visits of the season. First the favourites that are back for another year.

“Chef James” continues to be a fan favourite for meat on a stick. The charismatic chef dawns a white coat and a microphone, inviting passerbyers over to try the market’s tastiest skewers. Deliciously seasoned meat and seafood on sticks flamed kissed on the grill.

Here we had a sampling including lamb, beef, chicken, shrimp, and pork seasoned in cumin. And doughy buns drizzled in a tangy brown sauce.

Their grilled and unseasoned sweet corn is also very popular.

“Big beard” also serves up bbq meats on sticks. And their skewers are also served in a branded paper cup, just like at Chef James’ booth, but I found them less seasoned and even bland by comparison.

I was a fan of their deep fried squid drizzled in a sweet chilli and mayo. Chewy tentacles that are just as fun to eat as they are tasty.

For even more squid “Squid Feast” offers up deep fried squid whole on a stick, or as chopped up tentacles. Be warned, the line is long and the squid could be over cooked like this serving. The sweet chilli drizzle I asked for did help give it some moisture and layered interest.

All this fried food makes you thirsty, and I really like the fresh juices from the “Sugar cane juice stall”. Pressed on location, this sugar cane drink hydrated and satiated. Not to mention the plastic heart shaped cup it came in, with matching heart shaped nib was precious.

Spiral-ed potatoes deep fried and coated in dry and wet sauces and seasonings of your choice, are still very popular year after year. But now, for those who want a single serving, or to not have to eat a whole giant potato in one sitting, they offer mini “rotoatos”, at the booth with the same name. We had our’s dressed in sour cream and roasted garlic pepper.

“Itofu” returns after having won the best tofu category from Van Magazine, a new category that seems like it was made for them. Here, we tried their parfait with coconut jelly, red bean, and pearls. And naturally it was a subtle dessert with the tofu as the focus. Refreshing and light for those who don’t like an overly sweet dessert. But basic and bland when competing against the likes of the condense milked flavoured shaved ice below.

“Mango Yummy” is a market favourite, especially their mango mochi shaved ice, which is exactly as it sounds and oh so tasty. A sweet and cold treat that almost tricks you into thinking you are eating healthy because of the fresh cubes of mango that tops it.

Similar in the ice cream, fruit, and flavoured ice department is “Icy bar”. For variation we enjoyed their “summer special icy” with fresh strawberries, mango, basil seed (chia seed), strawberry puree, coconut milk, and tapioca sago, served over shaved ice. I enjoyed it more like a drink once the ice cream melted down and I stirred things up.

Speaking of stirring, the “Mango” stall offers slushes. We ordered their “summer rainbow”, a drink that is different in colour and flavour from layer to layer. It was fun to navigate your straw up and down, landing on their purple grape, yellow mango, red berry, or green kiwi; and drawing in a sip. I thought it was be interesting to see what would happened if I mixed all those layers together, the result: a less appealing, and less easy to drink cold beverage.

You can get even more fruit and ice cream from the “Teapresso food truck”. Their elegnat parfaits served in plastic champagne flutes are great to look at, but impossible to eat. The ice cream melts and with no where to pool, this drips down your hand. The ice cream itself is available is matcha, vanilla, or a twist of both. We then latter because why have just one when you can have it all.

Light bulb shaped bottles are still making their way around the market. At “Rainbulb” you choose your beverage by its colour, and they glow thanks to a little LED light blinking at the bottom. Each hue is a different fruit flavour, and you are encouraged to choose by colour. Tonight it was purple, a berry fizzy soda.

“Mamak La” is a night market staple for Malaysian fusion. They put on a show, hand flipping their crispy and fluffy roti. Then stuffing it with familiar comfort foods like Mac and cheese, pizza, and even banana and chocolate.

It is like a quesadilla but with better dough. The made to order roti makes all the difference. The Mac and cheese is a great satisfying snack, and best enjoyed warm while the dough is crispy and the cheese gooey.

Their new dessert option gives you salty dough and sweet chocolate, a winning combination and a new way to enjoy the classic banana and cocoa pairing.

“Asomi mochi” with their whole strawberry stuffed mochi balls are back. Available in matcha, purple yam, chocolate, double strawberry; and now a cheesecake filled option. The regular is my favourite flavour and having it filled with a graham cracker hinted cheesecake cream, instead of the regular red bean was a switch up I fully enjoyed.

“Fries and Things” serve up the easy to eat and fun to share fries with a variety of game changing toppings. Melted cheese, buffalo sauce, and Japanese mayo. But their claim to fame remains the pho fries. Crispy sticks of potatoes topped with green onion, bean sprouts, ground beef and a tangy brown sauce. It tastes exactly like pho, the same sauce and topping over potato instead of noodles.

“Fish sticks” is exactly as it sounds. Battered and fried pieces of fish, skewered and seasoned. Choose from flavours like lemon pepper and spicy salsa. We had the classic tartar sauce paring, a zesty garlic dusting, and the Japanese influenced sweet mayo with shredded seaweed. Easy to eat, and best eaten fast before they flake off the skewer. Served on the stick you don’t a dish or plate to eat over and off of.

“Okonomi Bites” is once again serving their Japanese style poutines. Your fries, gravy, and cheese, but with traditional Japanese ingredients. Like the Japanese pancake with the name of the stall. And the vegetarian Agedashi tofu that has chunks of fried tofu sprinkled over top. We ordered the pork tonkatsu that had pieces of pork cutlet chopped up, and covered in sweet mayo, bonito flakes, and green onion. All great add ins, but I don’t feel like they really adding anything to the serving of fries.

“Mr. Crabzy” is back with their deep fried crispy crab balls on an actual claw. Not only does the claw look great, but it also serves as an easy way to get a grip on the crab cake for hand to mouth eating.

We also got a taste of their more regular looking deep fried shrimp balls. But if given the option, I would choose the claw every time.

And with all this fried and salty foods you are probably looking for something to wash it down. “Milk Cha” offers their blue based, butterfly pea flower teas in a bevy of flavours and if you get their split cups you can try 2 different ones in one serving. Winter melon and Thai black tea and Papaya and Taro. The colours look bold and rich, but the flavour fell short. Using powders they taste artificial and almost watered down. I would have liked them creamier as a milk tea.

Like with “Yummy Yogurt”, a new drink booth to the market. A thick sip of tangy yogurt flavoured in peach, mango, or strawberry. They made for a great palette refresher, full of probiotics to help in digestion after all that you eat. We tried the purple rice which was the mildest and our group’s favourite. The strawberry was on the sweeter side, with more fruit than dairy. And the “secret” flavour we discovered with a nice fragrant honey dew.

The last stall above and the following below are a handful of the new ones worth checking out this year.

“Zzim drumsticks” offers up Korean braised chicken, bringing attention to the fact that there is more than one way to prepare chicken in Korean cuisine, than simply frying. Available in hot or regular, it is best enjoyed by dawning plastic gloves and eating it with your hands. I personally find using your hands makes the food more enjoyable.

The chicken is so tender, and the mix of rice cakes and vegetables in the cup makes it more fulsome. The sauce is also so rich and tasty that you want to drink in like soup. Be warned, the spicy version, does deliver the heat.

“Tuk Tuk’s” Thai inspired panna cottas are quickly becoming a Night Market favourite. Cups of coconut milk, Thai tea, and Thai green tea panna cotta topped with a made to order fried dokjok (a Thai biscuit). The process to make them is fascinating to watch.

The panna cotta is a little too rich on its own, slightly overwhelming with the creaminess of coconut, and the bitterness of the green and Thai tea. But each is best enjoyed with chunks of the cookie that tops it, they help to balance things out. I would come back just to buy a box of them. If I had to choose one flavour it would be the coconut panna cotta with the squid ink cookie, the ink doesn’t add any flavour, it just has a nice contrast with the white dessert.

“Say! Cheese” is the booth offering gimmicky goodness this year. They are the stall giving us rainbow coloured grilled cheese sandwiches that you can stretch ear to ear. For the best results do your cheese pull slowly and as soon as you get it hot off their grill. As for taste they are more than just mozzarella cheese on white bread. With a condense milk drizzle and ricotta chunks they have elevated the grilled cheese, for a sweet and salty snack.

Looking for a lighter sandwich? New to the Richmond Night Market is “Salty’s”, offering mounds of fresh lobster dressed in cream sauce with celery and dill, stuffed plentiful into a toasted buttery bun. A little on the pricey side, but we are talking about the premium product that is lobster. They are brought to you by the same owners of the now shuttered “Crab Park Chowdery”. I advise getting just a half order, a full is plenty of the same taste, plus there are so many more stalls to try.

Because you definitely want to save room for dessert, and “Fluffy Soufflé’s” Japanese style jiggly pancakes. Light and fluffy eggy batter, meets breakfast food extraordinaire, turned dessert with fresh fruit and sweet creams and spread. To be honest I liked them as is, but can’t miss out on ordering them with the colourful toppings, and one by one, I tried them all but chocolate.

Like the sour and tangy topping of the sweet grapefruit.

The slightly bitter matcha with sweet red bean and mochi.

The salty and sweet crushed Oreo crumbs with salted cheese foam.

And the strawberry, pretty in pink with a more artificial strawberry flavour. But the fresh berries topping it makes up for this.

At “Afghan Yum” we were treated to their mantu, a popular Afghan street snack, similar to tortellini stuffed with meat. A saucy bite with nutty and creamy notes from the sauces and pops of freshness from the pomegranate.

“La Meza Grill” is serving up Filipino fusion, and one bite tacos served up in fried wonton cups. Lechon tacos, pork and tofu sisig, pork and chicken bbq. Each cup is full of bold flavours and easy to eat, perfect in a crowded market setting.

“Macc Shack” offers up a variety of Mac and cheeses, hence the literal name. But sadly we only tried the 4 cheese version, instead of their kimchi, taco, or pulled pork; which sounded a lot more interesting. This was a pretty standard serving that I wouldn’t gravitate towards, given everything else surrounding it.

From “Fusion Wrap” we had the Kimchi Beef. A green onion pancake topped and rolled up like a burrito. A little watery, but plenty tasty. I would crave a taste like this again, out of preference.

I also really liked “Nori Express” and their savoury offering of sushi built like tacos. The seaweed is battered and folded as the shell, the sushi rice is loaded in first and the fish of your choosing follows it. I fully enjoyed the “sushi noritaco”. Made with yellowfin tuna, eel sauce, and vegetable. It was full of flavour and textures. I especially liked the crunch of the fried seaweed. The spicy Alaska sockeye salmon, spicy mayo, vegetable sushi taco was good too, but I preferred the tuna and its ponzu seasoning more out of preference.

“2 sweet guys” are battering and deep frying fruit and sweets, topped as you like. We had the deep fried cookie dough to start. Balls of cookie flashed fried then drizzled in condense milk and topped with rainbow sprinkles and Oreo crumbs, (as we wanted). Other topping options includes a chocolate or raspberry drizzle, and mini marshmallows.

The deep fried watermelon was an interesting concept, one I was excited for, but did not enjoy. The fruit was warm and cooked, and in comparison to the batter not sweet and even bland. An odd sensation that need not bare repeating.

At “The Taco Tigre” they offer Asian inspired street tacos, reinventing the way you enjoy popular flavours like banh mi and beef pho. We tried one of each of their chicken banh mi taco, their 5 spice pork belly taco, and the beef pho taco. Each tasted like its promised name. I especially liked the bean sprouts from the pho taco. I didn’t really get enough of a taste of them, so wouldn’t mind going back for another trio.

Not new to the Lower Mainland, but new to the night market is Bella Gelateria. Serving up their trademark creamy and stretchy gelato out of bins. With an impressive selection to boot. Matcha green tea, coconut, chocolate sea salt, lavender, black sesame, and earl grey tea to name a few. We dug into a double scoop of yuzu citrus and Akbar Mashti.

There was a stand offering mitten crab roe topping either rice or noodles. And with each serving it is made further indulgent with the sheen of gold flake. I wanted more meat and sauce over this serving of plain noodles, you don’t get a lot for the price. The gold gimmick was nice, but ordering it was confusing as the booth doesn’t have a name and majority of it is left in Chinese.

And if you are done eating, or looking for something different to do, the market does offers new games and attractions to keep you or young ones entertained. Bouncy pony rides and a rainbow net to climb on, at a cost. Performers on stage, spinning rides, and arcade games with oversized prizes. Plus plenty of assorted goods vendors to shop from.

Each visit is always a delicious time. But be warned they are getting busier and more popular so the crowds are getting more concentrated and the lines will you waiting longer. So go early, get a zoom pass to skip the line and move briskly. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

RICHMOND NIGHT MARKET
8351 River Road, Richmond BC
604-244-8448
richmondnightmarket.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

Fairmont Pacific Rim Lobby Lounge, Omakase

This one has been a long time coming. My friend is a big fan of sushi and when she saw the Omakase menu from Fairmont Pacific Rim’s Lobby Lounge, she immediately reached out for us to dine with her. Unfortunately it is only available for lunch during the weekdays, with limited quantities available. This meant we all had to book a day off to enjoy this fresh seafood feast. So we three gathered together on a Thursday between 11-4pm.

In my opinion, this is one of the nicest hotel lobby bars in the city. Past the comfortable lounge with live music and glass fireplace is a bright space. All white with clean tables and stools, in front of a small sushi bar. We were given a spacious table in front of the three sushi chefs, who would be crafting our assembly to come. It was set with a couple of books and a couple of artificial potted plants.

Once again this feast is by reservation only, there isn’t even a listed menu, it is what ever is on hand on the day, and at the whim of our chef. Previously there was a 4 person minimum requirement to your party, but they have since been more flexible on this rule. It is $50 per person, served all together family style, but with the ability to divide servings evenly.

To start with, I decided to indulge in a cocktail flight. A limited edition trio that pays tribute to the four vintage and couture Versace dresses and jumpsuit that they currently have on display in the lobby. At $45 you are paying $15 for 3 smaller drinks, made with premium ingredients. The cost also included the lovely flight sheet with each cocktail’s descriptions and sketches of the fashions they took inspiration from.

The “Bombshell” was a light and fizzy glass on the sweeter side, but with pops of punchy liquor. It was finished off brilliantly with a tart cherry at the bottom. The cocktail was as bold in flavour and full of complexity as the pop art details of the jumpsuit it drew from. This was a fashion silk print of Andy Warhol’s Marilyn Monroe and James Dean.

Like the ruffled silhouette, the “High noon” too took its inspiration from the “Great American Cowboy”. Smokey, full bodied, and easy to sip with rich notes of sarsaparilla and all spice. It promises to keep you warm throughout the dark winter nights.

The “Pop art cosmo” takes inspiration from the 60’s, just like its dress pairing. Pop art graphics and bold colours. This twist on a cosmo includes cranberry and a hibiscus vodka. It is accented with mezcal and black raspberry liquor, giving you a deep and more alcohol forward beverage with tart pops.

As for our Omakase feast we started with their sablefish miso soup with pork belly, tofu, seaweed, and green onion. This was certainly the most luxurious miso soup I have ever enjoyed. With plenty of ingredients it ate more like a stew than soup. It was sweet and smokey, along with the regular salty and fishy flavour of miso. Although, I could have used a touch less oily grease per spoonful. Nonetheless I drank the bowl clean.

Next we each had two raw oysters in shell each. Typically they go for $5 per, and I can see why. These were some of the plumpest oysters I have ever had. Tasty and fresh. My guest said, “they were on steroids!” Served with tiny bottles of tabasco and the typical tomato and lemon vinaigrette, plus plenty of fresh horseradish to ladle on.

The following dishes were all presented on a long serving board, propped up on two wooden blocks. Everyone was given a taste of the following, grouped together before us. Four appetizers, four nigiri, and six various specialty sushi pieces. The following is the order in which we enjoyed them, doing so from lightest to heaviest.

The seaweed salad was a hearty mix with two clams in shell, two pieces of juicy shrimp, and a chunk of light sable fish.

The tuna tataki and spinach gomae was served room temperature. The pieces of tuna were tender and lightly seasoned, but I would have liked more sauce or some on the side to dip into. I passed on the mound of spinach, not enjoying the texture of wilted greens. Though my guests were more than happy to gobble up my share, so it must have been good.

The wild salmon was fragrant, a flavour only dampen by the amount of onion you could taste on it. A flavour that came from the gathering of onion sliced at the bottom of the cup, and not from actually eating any.

Next we enjoyed the nigiri that all came pre-seasoned with soy and wasabi. The Sardine nigiri was salty with no soy needed. It was a tangy and overwhelming on flavour.

By comparison the Shrimp nigiri was very light, fragrant with a hint of sweetness.

The Wild salmon was tasty, with more salmon flavour than the appetizer version above.

And the Tuna belly was luscious and certainly my favourite of the four.

Next we enjoyed some specialty rolls. Like their house roll: the “Lobby lounge roll”. An asparagus, avocado, cucumber, and shisho roll topped with salmon and hamachi. This was on overly herbaceous roll thanks to the herb.

I preferred the California roll made with real crab meat. The real shredded crab with creamy mayo made all the difference.

The Sesame albacore roll was made with plenty of sesame oil. It was fragrant and so nice that I wanted another taste.

Whereas the Wayu roll was disappointing. It was like a bite of meat and rice with vegetable. Whereas I would have liked the meat by itself, as an appetizer. It felt wasted to hide the grilled char of the meat behind rice and cucumber.

The Salmon motoyaki was my favourite of the six rolls. The gooey cheese sauce flavoured it well, adding a mouthwatering creaminess to the bite.

And the Lobster roll was good, but it tasted much like the California roll crab, but saltier. I wanted a more buttery flavour from this and from lobster in general.

And we saved the best for last. A serving of creamy uni made into a salad with ikura, shisho, and seaweed. My guest immediately declared, “This is what good uni tastes like”. It didn’t have a strong seafood taste, it was mild and melted in your mouth. Rich, buttery, and good.

And as a nice treat the restaurant surprised our birthday girl with a celebratory dessert platter to share. An assembly of chocolate, chocolate covered fruit, and macarons on a bed of cocoa nibs.

The Chocolate covered Strawberry with edible gold paint was delicious. I definitely recommend ordering yourself a plate for your next occasion.

The Yuzu macaron was citrus fresh, a little orange and a little lemon in a crisp shell with smooth cream.

The Cherry blossom chocolate was a beautiful dark chocolate enrobing a tart cherry centre.

 

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.
The omakase menu is definitely worth checking out during lunch time. But as a whole Lobby Lounge is one of my favourite places to grab a beautiful cocktail at, with live music in an opulent setting. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

LOBBY LOUNGE
Fairmont Pacific Rim
1038 Canada Place, Vancouver BC, V6C OB9
604-695-5557
lobbyloungerawbar.com

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