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Category: Taiwanese Page 1 of 4

BlackBall Taiwanese Dessert

Today I was invited down to “Black Ball” in Richmond to taste their Taiwanese style desserts and teas. This is their first BC location, their first Canadian location is in Toronto, with a second to come. They have yet to open so this was a great way to get to know them before they do. Although, as a result all the information below may be subject to change.

They are located in Union Square with an all windowed corner store. This is a prime location with seating across 2 floors. In fact, despite them not being open, in the 2 hours we were there 6 potential customers walked in wanting a treat.

They have a very cohesive brand, highlighted by their ball mascots. Animated balls with stick arms and round eyes decorated the half curtains that hung over each window. A couple of human size black balls sat on a counter and on their themed cart. Additional colourful balls appeared in their wall mural, interacting with humans. A cityscape in China with train, hot air balloon, and signature Chinese architecture.

The balls are also used to signify their membership. Instead of points cards you will get a fuzzy black ball on key chain, each with its own word bubble saying. And I would come back just for this. VIP members get a larger ball to signify their paid for membership. This also gives them a discount on all menu items. A dollar difference on everything, and it is good all across Canada.

Their square shaped bowls also have their mascots painted on. And if eat your way to the bottom of your dessert, you will find a ball waiting for you there as well.

As media we were given a taste of each and every one of their ingredients. Every ball and jelly that you can use to customize your Taiwanese dessert. They really wanted to showcase the quality of them all and just tasting each it was clear. The following was grouped together as complimentary flavours.

Fresh grass jelly, red bean, peanuts, grass jelly flavoured ice crumble, konjac jelly, and taro and yam “Q” cubes; served with a dairy creamer imported from Taiwan. “Konjac” is a jelly produced from the natural fruit fibres of an Asian plant. It is popular for its limited sugar and lack of calories. It is mostly sought out for gelatine-like texture. The “Q” cubes are one of their signature items, each is handmade and contains 95% of the named ingredient. The taro is 95% taro and 5% starch just to have it hold their shape. And you could taste the difference, it was like you were eating either root vegetables made into a chewier bite. All together, such servings as 100% customizable. You pick and choose your favourite for an ideal mix of textures, flavoured in a sugar syrup with the addition of milk for creaminess. As personal preference I passed on the peanut and red bean, as I am not a fan of their gritty texture.

The second bowl of ingredients were flavoured with real lemon fruit. Aloe vera, coconut jelly, crystal boba, ai yu jelly, taro and yam balls, and winter melon flavoured ice. Here the yam and taro only contains 75% vegetable fibre, the remaining 25% is a binder, giving them more of a chewy texture. This was a more refreshing serving, lighter with the citrus; and I preferred the more common combination above.

To get a little bit of everything above you can order their “Black ball supreme” a bowl flavoured like grass jelly with two creamers. Taro and yam Q cubes, red bean, grass jelly, konjac jelly, taro and yam balls, and grass jelly flavoured ice. It is enough to feed a family of 3-4. And at $18.90 ($17.90 VIP member price) you are saving by sharing this instead of getting 3-4 individual bowls at $7.50 ($6.50 VIP price).

Next, we tried their matcha offerings and all of their mini chewy balls. Their matcha jelly had the perfect jiggle of a jello-like product. Both versions use premium matcha, but the paler coloured one contains milk. Neither were overly sweet, allowing you to take in plenty and savour the matcha flavour.

Their shaved ice is drizzled in matcha syrup and condensed milk. Here, you can top it with any combination of the ingredients above or below. But I found it so tasty, that I would enjoy it as is.

The mini balls were packed full of flavour. Red bean, black sesame mini ball, yam mini ball, rice ball, matcha mini ball, and taro mini ball. The black sesame and matcha are exclusive to “Black Ball” and definitely the most memorable. They tasted exactly as promised with an easier chew, in smaller bites.

They also have several drinks utilizing the same ingredients with similar flavours. I didn’t taste any of them, so will simply be giving you a visual look here.

Honey lemon ai yu jelly tea. Purple sticky rice milk with mini taro and yam. Winter melon tea with a cream cheese foam.

Fresh black tea with milk. Winter melon with mini balls taro and yam.

And lastly they also offer waffles and ice cream. They were pressed to order and good, but nothing really different that all the other waffle desserts out there. If you make your way down here I would suggest sticking to all of their specialties above.

Waffles with chocolate sauce, banana slices, and a scoop of vanilla ice cream. It tasted exactly as you expect it too.

Waffles with dice strawberry, condensed milk, a scoop of vanilla ice cream, and a chocolate wafer stick. This too delivered on what you’d expect.

 

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.
Definitely the best of such Taiwanese desserts I have tried so far. The quality of their ingredients makes all the difference and their theme makes them memorable. Make sure to follow their social media and be on alert for their actual opening. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

BLACK BALL
8300 Capstan Way Unit 1061, Richmond BC, V6X 4B7
blackball.com.tw

The Vancouver Foodster Soup Festival

You have heard of a beer crawl, but how about a soup crawl? Well you have now, as in this post, I embarked on such a journey. A tour to try a few of the soups participating in the first ever Vancouver Foodster Soup Festival.

“Vancouver Foodster” brings food to the lower mainland by hosting various food tours and “tasting plates”. Curated food journeys that help you try new things and learn about new places. A stress free way to explore the city through your mouth. And he has created this event to offer those restaurants not participating in “Dine Out Vancouver”, a chance to increase traffic to their restaurants too.

The “Vancouver Soup Festival” is running for 3 weeks from January 10th to the 31st. And each week a different selection of soups will be featured by each of the 5 participating restaurants. Thus giving you the initial reason to visit and all subsequent reasons to return.
Some are soups that are off their regular menu and others are made for this event. And each week you are invited to try each soup fest participant and vote for your favourite for that week. With first, second, and third place winners each week being declared the “People’s favourite”.

Today we would be trying soups from only 3 of the 5 participating restaurants, and each of their 3 soups in one go. All to give you an overview of what you can expect from the Soup Fest’s inaugural run!

Our first stop was “Rhinofish” in Chinatown. They have been open for just over a year now and since their launch a lot has changed. They still offer the same menu items that they have gained notoriety for, but better with new suppliers and distributors.

Here, we started with a drink that paired well with their soups. This was their signature “Rhinofish” cocktail, a great beverage to sip, even despite its lack of spirits. Apple soda, tomato juice, and salted plum. The latter not only bobbed amongst the ice and mint, but it was made into a dust that rimmed the glass. The result a terrific salty and sweet, yet savoury drink, like I have never had before.

For the first week “Rhinofish” is offering a delicious “Wonton noodle soup”. A broth brewing for 8 to 12 hours for a clear liquid full of flavour. Served with pork dumplings, shredded seaweed, egg “skins” (scrambled egg omelette cut into strands), dehydrated tomato, and chewy noodles. For those who want more punch and a little heat, they offer housemade chilli oil to fragrance the soup. There was nothing that I did not like about this, the wontons were delightful, and the toppings added a great texture to the mix. So it is a shame this was the first soup we tried, as it was hard to live up to and/or surpass.

Week two, “Rhinofish” features their “vegetable noodle soup”. 12 different vegetables cooking for over 12 hours gives this broth its snap. And like its broth base, there is plenty of vegetables in the actual soup as well. Steamed vegetables, fried vegetables, and vegetables wrapped in tofu skin. Bok choy, king oyster mushroom, asparagus, tomato, and broccolini. I advise eating the tempura battered ones first as they get soggy quick in the warm soup. The tofu skin was the highlight, like eating a tasty low carb wrap that is a topping a bowl of noodles that is also good.

I liked the “Taiwanese beef noodles” the least, and that says a lot about the other two before. This broth is boiled for 18 hours giving it a very deep beef flavour. Here the noodles are thicker, better to sop up the soup with and better to balance out the beef with. Braised beef shank, pan fried short rib, carrot, and home made sauerkraut also make it into the bowl. I liked the tender shank meat, but had to gnaw over the short rib. I liked the char of the rib and its crispier skin, but not how it was made soggy in the soup that it sat in and soaked up. But the rest of it was tasty with the carrot and the thickness of the brew, giving the serving the richness of a stew.

Rhinofish Noodle Bar
550 Main Street, Vancouver BC
604-428-3389
rhinofishnoodlebar.com

 

Our next stop was the “Moltaqa”, the Moroccan restaurant in Gastown. I have been before, and continue to adore their decor. I enjoy the bold colours and the wonderful patterns that cover seats and topped tables.

Here, all their soups for the festival are vegan friend and gluten free. And with each we enjoyed traditional Moroccan tea in traditional Moroccan serve ware. It didn’t necessarily pair with the soup. But it offered a break from it with its own refreshing palate cleansing mint and sugar.

For the first week “Moltaqa” is offering a “Chickpea and lentil soup” with tomatoes, garlic, and Moroccan spices. It was a hearty soup, much like the other two to come. There were lots of chunks to chewy through, and grainy chickpeas to fill up on, but you also get a whole wheat round of bread to dip into it with. And as is custom, the whole is severed with sweet dates on the side. They are helpful in rejuvenating the soup by allowing you to take breaks from it. This is also achieved through the side of olives for sharing.

I liked the creamy “Traditional pea soup” with green peas, cumin, garlic, and Moroccan spices. It is finished with a topping of cumin, salt, and olive oil. You stir them in to the velvety soup for an extra pop. This has a consistency you’d want to dunk your sandwich into.

And for the last week of the soup festival their “Traditional white bean soup” will be up for voting. White bean, ginger, cilantro, tomatoes, garlic, and Moroccan spices. This was my favourite of the three. It has a tomatoey base like a vegetable soup and would be great on the side with some sharp grilled cheese.

Moltaqa Restaurant
51 W Hastings Street, Vancouver
604-696-4055
moltaqarestaurant.com.

 

From here we ended at our last stop: “Las Tortas”, located in the Cambie Village area. Going in we had the people in the neighbourhood tell us how great the food, and that we were in for a treat. The owner in himself is a treat. He has cooked and operated the shop for 10 years now and doesn’t look like he is slowing down.

The soup he offered for the first week is the “Pozole Verde”, a traditional Mexican soupy stew featuring hominy corn (big white meaty corn that is chewy. It reminded me of barley but nutty). All in a clear broth loaded fully with squash blossoms, radish slices, chicken chunks, and shreds of lettuce. It had a clean look and finish to it. Comforting like the bowl of soup you would ask for when you are sick: a home style chicken soup.

The “Mexican lamb consommé” is as bold as it is colourful. A strong flavour with plenty of spices and the taste of lamb through out. Slow cooked lamb broth, guajillo chilli, rice, and garbonzo beans; topped with pico de gallo. As a whole, this was another hearty soup that eats like a meal, especially with the rice at the bottom of the bowl.

“Los Tortas’” last soup you could vote for is the “Mexican red lentil”. Red lentils simmered in a vegetable based broth with a mix of tomatoes, spices, lime and cilantro. It was very herbaceous, a flavour you’d want topping some nacho chips.

Las Tortas
3353 Cambie Street, Vancouver
604-569-1402
lastortas.ca

 

Well there you have it, some warming options to enjoy this brisk winter season. So head out, find your favourite and vote. For more details check out the official link to the Vancouver Foodster Soup Festival.

Vancouver Soup Festival January 10-31

#soupfestyvr

Sasaya Restaurant

We came here on a whim, looking at our original destination and turning back around, we ended walking across the way to “Sasaya”. Based on its awning and the photos of their dishes plastered on the window, I deemed it the best option in the neighbourhood.

Inside the restaurant was painted in a rose pink with an apple red detailing. Despite its colouring the whole set up felt like a cafeteria with linear tables set in rows. Stale grey rectangular tables surround by black office chairs. We grabbed a seat in the upper corner and watched the restaurant slowly fill; admiring the one lone server working the floor trying to service them all. She literally ran from table to table either delivering dishes, busing plates, or offering refills of water in to your cup.

The restaurant boasted Korean cuisine on the awning but based on the menu, signs in the dining area, and the staff greeting customers in Mandarin; this was more like a Chinese-style Korean restaurant with options like bubble tea, stewed appetizers, and other popular Taiwanese’s snacks. This had me curious over their homemade kimchi and what a pairing of mayonnaise and bamboo shoot would taste like. They were basically a bubble tea cafe hiding within this Korean restaurant front.

I ended up ordering Japanese style udon despite the Korean name and the Chinese influences. It was noodles and vegetable in a chicken broth base: cabbage, carrot, corn, shrimp, mussels, squid, tofu, sliced pork, egg, and udon. My guest likened it to an “Asian minestrone with tofu”, and now I can’t think of a better way to explain it. It was warming and comforting, with that home cooked feel, just as all the dishes to come were.

I ordered the “Deep fried black rice cake”’out of curiosity. It had a firm texture, what I imagine biting into freshly poured asphalt would be like. It was interesting enough to want to go back for a second, third, and fourth bite to try figure out what it is you were tasting. You ate it for its chewiness and enjoyed it for its instant-noodle-package-seasoning flavour.

The “Bibimbap” was very much so Korean with bbq pork, kimchi, beansprouts, mushrooms, egg, and rice. It came with the cast iron still sizzling. You stirred it all up and then added a kick with a healthy squeeze from the bottle of hot sauce that came with the set. It was exactly as we expected and just as satisfying.

I never miss ordering Korean rice cakes for their texture. This spicy one was plenty tasty, with the vegetables and meat offering contrast and some heartiness to the serving. Although, I would have been just as happy with the sauced up tubes as they were.

 

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.
Maybe I came in with very low expectations, but I found everything tasty and the meal very fairly price. I was especially impressed by our earnest server, so much so that I made sure to recognize her for your hard work and level head. Once again she was tasked with serving the entire dining room, and she did so with speed and efficiency. All whilst saying pleases and thank you’s. She even ran around with two pitchers in her hand to be ready to offer either hot or cold water. You don’t see that level of service for many off the grid shoppes like this, Don’t deny your cravings.

 

SASAYA
7538 Royal Oak Avenue, Burnaby BC, V5J 4K1
604-433-3652
Sasaya Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Sencha Tea Lounge

Today Vancouver Foodster’s Ice Tea Challenge brought me down to “Sencha”, a bubble tea house on West Broadway, also offering small bites.

On this warm day, the doors and front of the cafe was opened wide and inviting. It had a stone bar that crept up the wall, we would grab a couple of the wooden chairs by it, adjacent to the mirror on the wall.

Their menu showed the struggle they had trying to identify themselves. From nachos and onion rings, to Thai salad and marinated pork belly. I didn’t understand their theme, if any. What did they specialize in and what would they be better known for: pasta or rice bowls? When I asked our server this thoughts, he admitted that they were trying hard to cater to the neighbourhood. Predicting what their customers wanted and providing it for them on this accordion folded sheet.

Seeing as their ice tea was a classic bubble tea, I thought it best we’d pair it with some Taiwanese snacks. I won’t be reviewing the ice tea challenge contestants here, you’ll have to wait for the contest to end in order to read my take on each, as I don’t want to ruin the surprise. This is the “Honey Camellia milk tea” that tasted floral, like jasmine. It is one of the milk teas that comes regularly on their menu, a drink that they felt was worth featuring in this competition.

The fried chicken pieces were delicious. Fried to a crisp that lasted, heavily coating the juicy nuggets of dark meat chicken.

I was surprised and delighted by their baos. They weren’t the regular white dough buns, but baos flavoured in black sesame with a grey and black speckled exterior. We tried two flavours and both came with a side salad of green drizzled in a miso dressing.

The “Classic Pork” bun was their most popular bun and my favourite of the two. It was fatty pork belly baked crispy in a sweet sauce, with fresh cabbage and cucumber, all dressed in a thick crunchy peanut sauce that ties it altogether.

The “Kimchi Beef” was spicy coleslaw, barbecue sauce, and pickles. The meat was chewy and plenty saucy, with a good amount of hot spice, and a nice texture.

Would I come back? – No.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
This is just a little too far to go for okay food. I would recommend it for those who like “bao-wiches”, given the unique flavouring of theirs. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

SENCHA
3468 W Broadway, Vancouver BC, V6R 2B3
604-779-2918
www.senchatealounge.com

Pearl Castle, Taiwanese Beef Noodle Colossal

Enjoy Vancouver’s largest Taiwanese Beef Boodle for charity!

“Pearl Castle” is one of the first Taiwanese style restaurants to hit the lower mainland many years ago. Its original opening helped to introduce and popularize bubble tea and Taiwanese cafe style cuisine to Vancouverites. Since then it is still fondly known as one of the best Taiwanese restaurants in the city, winning many awards for its food and drink. Today I was at its original location at Richmond’s Continental Centre, here to try the city’s largest bowl of beef noodle soup. It is authentically made by chefs hailing from Taiwan. So if one of their regular sized bowls is good, imagine how much better a bigger bowl must be!?

This spectacle is made possible by @foodicure (sister brand to @chinesebites). Their goal is to create awareness and earn funds for local charities by leveraging social media and how we exchange information across its various platforms. The are partnering with over 100 restaurants in the city to create dishes that are photo worthy and sure to cause a viral sensation. “The Beef Noodle Colossal” is only the first of such initiatives. The goal is to launch 3-4 like dishes every month.

 

This large bowl is 3-4 times the size of a regular bowl of beef noodle. It is served with a set of wooden chopsticks and a matching spoon; larger than usual utensil. It is within proportion to the bowl and its mound of noodle and soup within. You are getting 3x the tender chunks of premium beef, 4x the flat chewy noodles, and 3.5x the deliciously rich beef broth. You also get more of the baby bok choy; but if you are like me, you end up scooping it out and discarding it because you hate the taste and texture.

For every bowl purchased 10% of its sales go to benefit “Canadian Blood Services” and the “Greater Vancouver Food Bank”. They are available only for a limited run, so be sure to head down and try them before they are retired.

You can choose from 3 different versions. The original “House special beef noodle” is the classic version, and the one I like the most. Fun Fact: my first taste of beef noodle was from a “Pearl Castle”, and since then it has become one of my favourite noodle dishes. A regular bowl of beef noodle costs $10.99, you pay $29.99 for the colossal. So you are saving about $9 if you decide to get a bigger bowl to split it between 3-4 friends.

The “Tomato beef noodle” is made with a tangy tomato and beef broth. It includes plenty of onions and tomato wedges for $12.99 for a regular bowl. The colossal version is $32.99, thus saving you about $12.50 for a 3-4 serving bowl.

And lastly you have the “Extreme spicy beef noodle” that really isn’t all that spicy. However if you end up completing the entire serving in one sitting, the heat does creep up on you. For a normal portion this chilli infused soup is $13.99, the colossal size is $32.99. So here you are saving about $16 if you go big.

 

To watch myself, @pekopekolife, and @monkeyeatsworld tackle all three flavours, attempting to finish a giant bowl each, click on the link to watch the latest video on my YouTube channel: MaggiMei.

If going big is your jam, and you like the idea of helping your community one bite at a time, I suggest heading down to “Pearl Castle” and ordering one of these bowls for yourself; or maybe to share between you and a friend. It was made available starting April 20, 2018; and will continued to be offered until allotted quantities sell out. So don’t miss out, and don’t deny your cravings.

 

PEARL CASTLE
Continental Centre
1128-3779 Sexsmith Road, Richmond BC, V6X 3Z9
604-270-3939
pearlcastle.com
Pearl Castle Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

JiangHu, Taiwanese Pot & Wok Cuisine

Before you roll your eyes at another new hot pot place, let me stop you right there. This one is a whole lot of different, offering more than just meat and vegetables in soup. This is first hotpot service that I haven’t had to rely on any side sauces to flavour boiled ingredients. Everything was just so fragrant that we skipped it all together, but more on that later.

Located in Richmond (for someone who lives in Burnaby, such as myself), it is quite the distance to travel for hot pot. But once again given the uniqueness of it, this one is worth commuting to. Even their name sets them apart. “Jiang Hu” means “gangster” in Chinese. The title meant to symbolize the glitzy part of the lifestyle and the camaraderie of a gang, and not so much the illegal aspects of it. The employee uniforms speak to this branding: each server wears a black logo tee, embossed with the restaurant’s name in gold; but most noticeable, is the fake tattoo sleeves worm on each arm. Although, all this detail is contradicted by the rotation of Chinese and North American pop music playing overhead.

And when it come to the aesthetics, the restaurant’s decor and utensils spoke to them being a fine dining establishment. Which ran parallel to their focus on higher end ingredients and a quality dining experience. Although, as a “gangster”, I guess you can afford and do enjoy the better things in life. 

We were seated in a regal dining room with dark wood tables and bucketed tweed seats, framed by Chinese artistry. A mixed metal-media panel showed tranquil waters with greenery and lotus blooms, birds mid flight and ducks waddling by the shore. There was also a wooden, geometric, cut out, wall feature towards the back; the traditional waving cat statue for luck by the cash desk; and a collection of tea pot and porcelain vessels by the entrance door.

They had their soft opening in January, and by the time this media event took place in March they seemed well established and settled in. We ate at 5pm, and only after an hour the place filled up, with additional bodies waiting by the door. A part of this, their marketing team believes is due to the fact that they offer more options than other Taiwanese hot pot places. A lot more, as we were soon to find out.

Each table is set with a very unique version of the lazy susan (the moving round that sit atop of a table, that allows for the easier sharing of dishes amongst a larger part). It has a hole at its centre, like a doughnut. Here, sits your travel stove and the pot that will cook over it. The reason behind this, is they are cultivating an atmosphere, where the pot doesn’t move so everyone is expected to gather around it; hanging out and chatting with your friends.

When it comes to a media event, plating and portion size may be gussied up and/or paired down, and the service will usually be top notch. Though I can at least paint you the most accurate image when it comes to the food and the setting, as how I interpret it. But as always, these are my opinions and you need not take them as fact. Unless you have my exact background, have lived my exact experiences, and we possess the same tongue; no one can truly taste and appreciate as you do.

Our meal began with really good tea. A rich and full bodied brew that reminded me of the roasted milk teas you get from bubble tea places; just without the cream, sugar, and/or pearls. Although, you wouldn’t necessarily want to pair it with the very flavourful dishes to come. This tea is best sipped before or after a meal, on its own.

Instead, they brew and bottle their own line of drinks, which is sold exclusively to “JiangHu” customers. They do come in bottles that are perfect for easy take-away. Although the staff strongly suggest that you do not reuse these bottles, as they are only good the one time use. And it comes with the warning that since these juices are made fresh with all natural ingredients, their shelf life is shorter. They currently only offer three flavours, but are looking to add more. A “plum and guava” that includes the salty dried snack plums in the drink itself. Like the treat, this drink is sweet and salty, but with a tropical flavour from the guava. The “cold brew black tea” with winter melon was my favourite. It is made with a special type of black tea, giving it a nice balance to the sweeter melon syrup. And the last drink was the lightest of the three, more like chilled tea then juice: “Four seasons green tea”. Overall each beverage was refreshing, ideal to cleanse the palette with during and after the dinner below.

Today we got to try two of their four different signature hot pot flavours. These were some of the tastiest broths I have ever enjoyed. Whereas when you order regular hotpot, if you are like me, you fish out all the ingredients, eating all you can, and then leaving all the liquid behind. Here, the soup-broth is the best part. It isn’t all you can eat, but you get your value from being able to enjoy the pot several different ways, and over and over again as left overs to boot.

The Taiwanese lamb pot is one of their signatures, a thick and rich broth boiled with frozen tofu, Taiwanese tofu skin, cabbage, Chinese cabbage, Taiwanese cabbage, New Zealand lamb, Chinese herbs, and cilantro. This broth was so good that I insisted on doggy bagging it and having it as lunch for days. First it is served as is, like a soup with tender chunks of lamb. Once all scooped up, more stock gets add to the broth, and this now becomes your new hot pot base. To it, you add all the frozen and raw hot pot ingredients you’ve ordered as any add ons. The only thing I would have done differently is to serve it with noodles, as they would have easily soaked up all that great sauce; and that is exactly what did with my leftover tub. In conclusion, this is quite possibility my new favourite hot pot, so flavourful it didn’t need any of the sauces below.

Although each service does come with a platter of six herbs and oil, and if i did use them I could make my own mix of chilli, cilantro, green onion, soy sauce, and fresh ground garlic. For the lamb hot pot above, it was recommended that we use their fermented tofu with bean paste, for dipping in to.

Next we had their “Rice wine chicken pot”, which is certainty the most exciting hotpot I have ever been introduced to. This broth too is pre-made, brought out with veggies and herbs ready to be boiled, with a serving of raw chicken on the side. The pot is boiled half way, more broth is added and boiled down again, in order to deepen the flavour. Next the free range chicken is added in, and the whole pot is torched. The wine burns to further the essence. You allow the flames to run its course, flickering until it dies down. If you decide to try more than one hot pot during your visit, I suggest you start with this one. It is a lot more mild compared to the lamb above. This would make a great warming start, and a great base to build your hot pot from. After we drank some soup and ate the chicken, we added additional ingredients to the boil.

The “Handmade meat paste platter” was especially impressive. A pork and black truffle paste, cuttle fish with tobiko on top, and a lamb with rosemary mixture, all spread into a special bamboo tube. Taking hold of one of these tubes and using the special scooper provided, you flick chunks into the boiling water. They eventually firm up to form irregularly shaped balls. Such meat balls in hot pot are my favourite, so to have them fresh here was a real treat.

Your standard, thinly sliced cuts of meat curled up for presentation value. This is their New Zealand lamb add on, each curl cooked quickly in the hot pot.

There was a good assortment of mushrooms, greens, and root vegetables in the “Assorted veggie platter”. This is a good add-on base for your hot pot. They also had more traditional ingredients like lamb heart, tripe, and kidney. And plenty of seafood and vegetables that rivals other hot pot place. The following is a list of the more unique ingredients that they have available. Bamboo pith, crown daisy, white tiger prawns, abalone, live clams, fish maw, and sea cucumber. Mind you, you do pay for each item, so the more luxurious it is, the more it will cost you.

But for those not wanting the extra labour of cooking for yourself at a restaurant, they also have small dishes you can order to share. They called these their “Taiwanese wok creations”. We tried a few of their more popular ones below.

“Taiwanese burgers”. The white bun was a regular flour bao, the orange: pumpkin. The latter was called “tiger skin” because of its patterning: black streaks in the yellowish dough. Flavour-wise, I couldn’t really taste a difference; if there was one, it was mild. Both buns were filled with braised pork belly, cilantro, peanut powder, pickled vegetable, and their house made plum sauce. The pork belly was certainly the highlight of each “pocket”, it was marinated with a sweet and savoury flavour, and the meat was so tender that it practically melted in your mouth. Not to mention there was enough of it from “burger” tip to tip.

The “Taiwanese satay with lamb” is a traditional Taiwanese dish. It is prepared purposefully strong with bold flavours and spice, making it a great accompaniment to beer.

The “Deep fried chicken nuggets” was your classic Taiwanese appetizer. Peppery chicken pieces that is easy to pop into your mouth. Here, an order also comes with sweet potato fries, deep fried long beans, and crispy basil for some variety. It all paired nicely together making the dish a more complete order.

Out of all the wok cooked dishes, this was everyone’s favourite. Tender slices of pork neck, with some nice grilling on its edges. Served with a mild house made miso sauce for dipping.

This was another impressive dish that stole everyone’s attention as soon as it arrived. I have seen rice served as pyramids before, but never one this tall and this erect. “Sergestid shrimp fried rice” with dried cherry blossoms and mixed vegetable. I liked the texture of the rice the most, it was like every grain of rice was perfectly fried and made crispy with a nice shrimpy taste.

Their “Deep fried squid” had more breading their your average calamari. Paired with the shrimp chips, you had yourself a patter of crispy and chewy textures to maw over.

This was my first time trying “Octopus beaks”, though with their heavy coating in breading you couldn’t exactly tell what it is you were having. The “beak balls” offerred crunch and are most fragrant with some of the tiny shrimp, peanuts, and garlic shoot present in each bite. You really needed all ingredients together in order to balance out all the dominant flavours. The peanuts were an especially good base for the spiciness of the dish.

“Three Cup chicken” is another traditional Taiwanese dish. Chicken, rice wine, sesame oil, and soya sauce. But in their version, boneless chicken and chicken soft bone (the cartilage part between the breast) is used instead of the traditional chicken bone-in thigh meat. They do this to get the same textures, but consider etiquette. To have this, is to not have to worry about spitting out bones in between bites.

 

 

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.
Truly a unique hotpot place, one worth driving to from Burnaby to Richmond. They offer traditional Taiwanese cuisine with the pageantry and flare that any “gangster” would appreciate. While providing modern twists and a modern setting that anyone familiar with Taiwanese cuisines could appreciate. A great meal and a new experience to gather a few friends together to share. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

JIANGHU
100-7911 Alderbridge Way, Richmond BC
604-207-1388
jianghu-cuisine.com
JiangHu Taiwanese Pot and Wok Cuisines Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Myst, revisit

Having already dined at “Myst” before, I knew exactly what I was going to get coming in: great Chinese comfort food at reasonable prices. There, I met up with a few other food bloggers, as we were here to try some of “Myst’s” newest dishes, and a handful of our favourites.

And as always when it comes to a media event, plating and portion size may be gussied up and/or paired down, and the service will usually be top notch. Though I can at least paint you the most accurate image when it comes to the food and the setting, as how I interpret it. But as always, these are my opinions and you need not take them as fact. Unless you have my exact background, have lived my exact experiences, and we possess the same tongue; no one can truly taste and appreciate as you do.

To read up on my first impression and more description on the decor and setting, check out my original post, link below.

Myst

 

On this night they had already launched over 20 something new food items and another 10 plus in drinks. They were added on to the menu with a highlighted “new” bubble next to its photo. Their photo and description was also added to the television playlist, advertising new menu items and the chef’s favourites on loop.

The following dishes will be organized between new and favourites. First what’s new:

The “Preserved cabbage bamboo green soy beans with sliced fish” might not be the most visually appealing plate, but what it lack in looks, it made up in texture. This one was fun to eat with the squishy beans, flakey fish, and the starchier nature of bamboo. As a whole, the dish offer a nice palette cleanser between all the much more punchy dishes to come.

The “Sichuan dan dan noodle with spicy peanut sauce” was more heat than sweet nut butter. I really enjoyed the chewy texture of the noodles to slurp, especiallu against the thick, gummy sauce it swam in. This was just the right amount of heat for me, tingly without taking away from the flavour of the preserved vegetable and minced pork.

We almost turned this one away, as when we read “Chinese fried shredded pancake with pork or chicken”, we didn’t imagine it coming rolled up like a burrito. The pork one was flavoured like the sweet and tangy brown sauce used. The chicken was like a club sandwich rolled up in the fragrant pancake. A few of us preferred a better ratio of pancake dough to meaty filling, whereas I liked it as it was, as I wanted and enjoyed the thick and chewy pancake more anyway.

The “Myst deluxe egg fried rice” is a dish that I would stop by to take out. A solid fried rice dish, able to take its place as a main thanks to the addition of a shrimp and pineapple skewer, and the inclusion of various large chunks of meat and sausage in the mix.

The “Assorted seafood spicy hot pot” delivered on its promise of heat with a flame keeping this dish warm, and with how much chilli oil and peppers they use to turn its broth a bright red. It was a flavour that my fellow diners claimed too spicy, yet they couldn’t help themselves coming back for more of. It was a flavour they wanted to experience again and again, through the pain.

The “Myst deluxe feast platter” is the kind of appetizer you order to share with, best with beer. It is a basket of deep fried goodness, only improved by having the basket itself be edible and deep fried (according to @shermansfoodadventures). It was a bed of yam fries (dressed in plum seasoning for a bit more sweetness) and prawn chips topped with two tiger prawns skewers, two pineapple and mini sausage wrapped in bacon skewers, and six deep fried prawns. I found it pretty tasty and salty as is, but for those who want more taste and tang, it comes with a sweet and sour dipping sauce. It this one as soon as it comes to your table, definitely better warm.

I highly recommend trying their new series of non-coffee lattes. Available in hot and cold, they are the perfect blend of intended flavour and creamy milk. Here we have a hot taro latte and a cold matcha latte.

Next, the following are items that we as a group, or individuals wanted because they(we) have had them before and it was memorable enough to want again.

My pick has to be the “Golden sands prawns”. When I recommend “Myst” this is the dish I tell everyone they must try. I have yet to find anything like it on any other menu. Deep fried prawns dressed in a thick coating of salted egg yolk. This gives you a crispy, yet melt in your mouth texture. My table-mates agreed with my order and my assessment, after giving it a try for themselves. Another one enjoyed right as it hits your table hot and crispy. I suggest eating it as is, head and all.

The “House special stir fried sliced noodle with beef” is a classic, and their rendition is one that I would also come back for. It tasted exactly as I expected, and was so good that I saved my portion for the very end, to enjoy as my last bite.

The “Myst assorted deep fried basket” is another one that I recommend. A collection of deep fried Chinese-style snacks like squid tentacles, salty peppery chicken, black rice cake, green beans, and more shrimp crackers. Although all deep fried, this collection has a mix of textures and taste, that keeps you going back to try them all. Squishy squid, crispy beans, and sticky and dense rice cake with a chew.

Another popular Chinese snack is “marinated items”, and at “Myst” you can make your own combo. Here, our group choose beef tripe, pork intestine, and tendon. Another dish great for those who eat for texture and likes a rubbery gelatin and extra chewy mouth feel. As for flavour, it tasted like they were marinated in beef noodle soup broth, which only made me like it more, and wish that we had all of them in a bowl of beef noodle instead.

By comparison, the “Steamed sliced fish with diced hot red peppers” wasn’t all that spicy. Hot but not as much so compared to the hot pot.

The “Three spiced mixed items” comes with your choice of either chicken or pork
intestine with basil on iron plate. We choose the latter. It was a nice salty dish, best enjoyed with some starch like the fried rice above.

The “Chinese style heavy smoking duck” was interesting. They weren’t joking about the “heavy” adjective used in its name. It was really smokey, heavily flavoured like a deep black tea, almost medicinal. In truth, it was not to my tastes, Instead, I craved a sweet and sour plum sauce to lighten the dish. As sticky spread to add some sauce and moisture to the dry duck and white dough buns you were to eat it with.

When it comes to “Myst’s” shaved snowflake ice desserts, get your cameras ready, this is a dish that is as much of a show as it is the perfect meal ender. We got the “Mango shave snowflake ice” and even though they used frozen mango (because mango is currently out of season), it was delicious. A great combination of tart fruit and sweetened condense milk. Not too heavy and not too sweet, an ideal palette refresher to end the meal above with.

But if you are still hungry, end your meal with some “Condense milk thick toast”. Sweet crispy bread that gives you the sweet ending you want with dessert, with the extra filling you may need to leave full and content.

 

 

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.
My original assessment stands, they make for a great one stop Chinese food stop. There is lot to try, and guarantee something for everyone. A great place to not don’t deny your Chinese comfort craving at.

 

MYST
#2-6400 Kingsway Burnaby BC, V5E 15C
604-364-6400
myst6400.com

Memory Corner

My guest and I were looking for somewhere to eat within Richmond. The only problem was we were too late for lunch and too early for dinner. So we found ourselves with the need to drive around the city, in search of something that was open, that we liked, and/or were willing to wait until 5pm for (2hours).

This journey led us to “Memory Corner”, which sadly wasn’t our first choice, or even our fourth. But like most other bubble tea places, it had an earlier opening time and a later close with no breaks between lunch and dinner rushes.

Here, parking would be inconvenient if its neighbouring business were in operation. But on this weekend, there were enough free stalls at the back, one of a handful of shared spots in the alley.

This was a smaller cafe with modest decor. Wooden planks lined the bottom half of the walls and surrounded the bar. The top half of the wall was trimmed in black, with inky leaves climbing down towards the floor. Floors, that were tiled with spotted and aged squares. A few keepsakes and seasonal decorations lined the counter and sat on the bar. The smurf figurine and Spongebob sketches gave the place some personality.

We sat at one of their free tables by the window. Like the others, this one carried a laminated sign, asking for your patience. Everything is made fresh to order in the restaurant so it is necessary to wait for your meal, up to 30 minutes during their busier times. With their photo-heavy menu we were able to choose a few dishes to share based on how they looked.

The “Taiwanese meat sauce on rice” came surprisingly quick, which made me think it must have been premade, and simply kept warm in a rice cooker? (Despite the sign). Although it was thoroughly cooked and hot throughout. It was a cross between sticky rice and steamed rice, with plenty of thick beef sauce and chunks of meat for texture. All together it had a sweeter flavour, with the soy sauce, hard boiled egg, and pickle available for a change with tang and salt. This was Taiwanese comfort eating with simple home cook flavours.

The “Taiwanese shrimp pancake” was made with glutinous dough, bean sprouts, and vegetable. The pieces of shrimp were sparsely hidden with in the soggy pancake. It had a chewy and starchy texture that grows on you, the more you eat at it. It was finished with a vinegar-sweet sauce. Over it was the interesting texture that made it memorable. A texture you can’t find anywhere else, accept from our next dish.

“Meat ball in rice wrap”. The same gummy texture as above, but saltier with a fishy sauce and a shredded chicken filling.

The “House specialty lamb hot pot for one” came with rice and sauces. It was mild flavoured with a nice warming broth. The lamb meat was so tender that it fell off the bone. It was seasoned well enough to enjoy as is, and with a dip into the soy sauce and chilli dish.

We also ordered bubble teas to have with our meal, but it came half way through, after all the food and within to-go cups. The problem is that we both ordered drinks from their “potted milk” series, wanting it for its layer of cream and cookie “dirt”, finished off with a sprig of mint. In the plastic sealed cups, it came without this aesthetic. When I brought it to the attention of our servers they simply brought out some mint, which we inserted into our drinks, after we trimmed off the plastic seal ourselves (for this photo). Seeing as we were dining in, I didn’t think we had to clarify that the drinks were for here, especially having ordered them with everything else and dessert, all in one go.

Although I really shouldn’t have expected otherwise, given that there was so much difficulty in placing our drink orders in the first place. It felt like our server found our substitution too complicated. My guest needed to switch out regular milk with lactose-free soy in the original beverage he wanted. But this was not possible, in order to get a lactose-free beverage we had to order one that came listed under the “organic soy milk selection”. Which we did and it was the same difference. We then stressed that we wanted it “potted”. And once again we were disappointed in what actually came. The drinks themselves were just matcha soy milk tea and regular milk tea with grass jelly; topped with cream and Oreo cookie crumbles, that you mix in for an added sweetness and crunch. But you have to constantly stir before you sip, as the two do tend to separate.

 

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.
We were planning on having some dessert, and were eyeing the “Ferrero rocher honey toast”, but after such a blasé meal we decided to head somewhere else. There was nothing necessary bad with it, but on the same token there was nothing exciting about it either. Maybe it was that we had our heart set on three other stops before, and that we had to settle. But I cannot see myself driving all the way out to Richmond for this, nor I would not shy away from a return visit, if in the area. It was a meal that grows on you. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

MEMORY CORNER
6900 Number 3 Road, Richmond BC, V6Y 2C5
604-284-5434
memorycorner8.com
Memory Corner Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

ZenQ, Marpole

If you haven’t noticed, Taiwanese tea house brand “Chatime” has open dozens of new franchise locations all across the Lower Mainland over the last couple of years. In almost every area, you can expect one of its purple awnings. So it is no surprise to learn that their sister dessert shop, “ZenQ” is right behind them with two locations in Richmond and Coquitlam, and a third on its way in the next couple of months, at Hastings and Willingdon.

During the time of this visit, the location I visited at Marine Gateway has only been open for a week. This was their soft launch and they were still working out their day to day operations, before advertising a grand opening.

“ZenQ” supplements desserts to “Chatime’s” extensive drink menu. A few locations of the former has been known to open up within the latter. Having “ZenQ” locations in Vancouver means there is a platform and a place to go for more traditional Chinese style sweet soups and jellies. Something that should be consistent with their offerings in Asia. Especially considering that when new franchise owners purchase their businesses, they get flown to Taiwan to see the brand in its popularity high, running optimally. This is before they head back home to replicate this phenomenon for themselves. But as they do, they have help. “ZenQ” also sends new franchise owners their own trainer. The trainer’s goal is to walk new owners through each process and to be their coach in driving a successful venture.

Here, I learned that “QQ” means chewy. And that the single “Q” in their name, their slogan “wow so Q!”, and the name of their popular rice balls is a reflection of that chewiness. The “Q” reminds you of their chewy claim to fame. And given how much I liked them, I can see why they have grown internationally. I would easily come back for more and recommend them just for their rice balls with no issue.

All said balls are made by hand and from scratch ingredients. Available in either mango, matcha, or sweet potato flavours with their accompanying colours. The process is as follows. The flavouring ingredients are steamed and mixed into a dough. The dough is hand rolled and cut into pieces, then stored in the freezer for some cold treatment, before you boil them to the perfect tenderness. This is to keep each doughy ball’s intended shape and texture. And it works. The balls make a strong appearance in their tofu pudding and grass jelly series.

Their menu is easy to navigate with all their available drinks and desserts being sectioned off into their own “series” and corresponding categories. During this media event we were able to try an item out if each series.

When it comes to a media tasting: plating and portion size may be gussied up and/or paired down, and the service will usually be top notch. Though I can at least paint you the most accurate image when it comes to the food and the setting, as how I interpret it. But as always, these are my opinions and you need not take them as fact. Unless you have my exact background, have lived my exact experiences, and we possess the same tongue; no one can truly taste and appreciate as you do.

This is their “Tofu pudding no.3” with sweet potato, peanuts, Q balls, and pearls. Each serving in the series differs by ingredients, with each assembly being assigned a different number. Chinese desserts aren’t typically not too sweet, they are flavourful with a large emphasis on texture, and this was a great example of such within this bowl. A variety of textures in this sugar sweeten soup-syrup. It was a nice slurp with jiggly pudding chunks, chewy Q rice balls, squishy tapioca pearls, melty boiled sweet potato, and peanuts for a soggy yet firm texture. I have never been a fan of cooked peanuts because I think their natural crunch is already so great, and that you lose that by cooking it. None-the-less they are easy enough to eat around.

As I mentioned earlier, their Q balls also make a popular appearance within their grass jelly series. This is their “Hot grass jelly no.2”, and like the bowl above, the number differentiates the serving by its additional toppings. No.2 comes with taro, pearls, various Q balls, and a scoop of brown sugar ice. Its hard to describe grass jelly to someone who has never had it. I can best liken it to black jello flavoured with sugar cane syrup. With the addition of the brown sugar, it had a certain molasses sweetness to it, helpful in tying everything else together in a complimentary tone.

From the “Royal sweet soup series”. We had their “Red bean soup no.3” with sweet potato. Now, other than from here, I don’t know where else you can get red bean soup that isn’t in a sit down Chinese restaurant. Although it’s just as well, given that I am not a fan of the graininess that accompanies red bean. I can see those more unfamiliar, being scared off by the look of it. With its murky water and mud like texture it doesn’t look like any traditional North American style dessert. More like sweet soup with an orange zesty after taste.

The “Longan black glutinous rice no.3” came with boiled tender sweet potato chunks. I wasn’t a big fan of this one either. It had a smiliar granulated texture like the soup above. Although with the glutinous rice it at least had a nicer chew to it. However this just left me even more dissatisfied as I wanted even more chewiness from it. I bit into a boiled Logan fruit thinking it was a Q ball. It wasn’t sweet, but more medical with a rich herbal after note, thanks to the brewing of it within this bowl of water and rice.

This wasn’t what I was expecting when I learned read “Creamy frappes” as a subsection on the menu. I was imagining a Starbucks popularized frappuccino. Whereas this was more than that, and more like shaved ice. A mound of sheared mango flavoured fluffy ice, served with a side of mango jelly cubes, fresh mango chunks, a healthy drizzle of condense milk, and rainbow cereal. The fruit loops not only gave the dessert some visual interest, but it also added crunch and a new flavour profile when you bite into a neon loop.

They also make homemade waffles pressed to order. I found these tasted a lot like bubble waffles with their light eggy-‘ness. This was their “Fresh fruit waffle” with mango, strawberry, honey dew, and banana slices. Finished off with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and whipped cream. I suggest eating this as soon as you get it for a cakey waffle that resembles angel food cake. Otherwise you are facing a hard lump of dough. There was a lot more fruit than waffle. Whereas I wanted more substance and the ability the pair the right amount of fresh cut up fruit to toasted waffle pieces, and maybe some sauce to bind it all together.

I much preferred the Banana chocolate waffle with fresh banana, chocolate sauce and chocolate ice cream. The flavour of the chocolate spread was the highlight, and banana is a standard pairing with it. There was no complaints with this one. I got exactly what I expected.

From here we transitioned into drinks. From the “ZenQ tea time series” I really enjoyed their handmade taro milk tea. This one has to be served hot given its texture and the need to mash up and stir-in the grittiness of the real taro root with heated milk.

The rest of our drinks were served cold in plastic cups. Up first was their “ZenQ grass jelly” drink. A very tea-heavy milk tea with whole chunks of grass jelly.

From their “Handmade tea series” we had their “Mango blue mountain green tea”. The mango has the drink starting out sweet, and then ending bitter with the tea.

From the same series is their “Strawberry black tea”. It was a little too sweet with too much strawberry flavour for my taste.

The “Oreo cocoa ice diamond” was part of their “Special drinks series”. The “Ice Diamond” refers to its cold and crystallized texture. This one more closely resembled a frappe with its blended up dessert like-flavour.

The “Winter melon black tea” of the same series wasn’t as expected. I have tried winter melon syrup before and its sweet and sugary notes didn’t transition into this cup. With the use of almond milk for creaminess, this drink was more nutty, hiding all the flavour of the mild winter melon.

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
I wouldn’t be apposed to a return visit, but it is a little far for me to drive to just for a casual drink and dessert spot. A solid representation of Taiwanese style drinks and dessert for those in the area though. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

ZENQ
495 SW Marine Drive, Vancouver BC
604-321-8628
zenq.ca
ZenQ Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

3 Quarters Full, bao + coffee

I was invited to the media event for “3 Quarters Full”, a newer Taiwanese cafe, downtown. An event organized and ran by the three ladies behind “@foodcouver”, as the plus one to “@porkninjas”.

This cafe has existed for a while now, but due to its locale, I assume that many like myself, have never heard of them. This is mainly because we cannot seen them. They are downtown Vancouver, kiddy corner from Denman. Not being right on the busy street means that they lose out on much of their potential walk-in traffic; those who notice a newer business and decide to walk on in to give them a try.

However being invited to this media event, I found a reason to visit; and now writing this post, an ability to help to spread the word of their cafe and their revamp-ed summer menu.

When it comes to a media tasting: plating and portion size may be gussied up and/or paired down, and the service will usually be top notch. Though I can at least paint you the most accurate image when it comes to the food and the setting, as how I interpret it. But as always, these are my opinions and you need not take them as fact. Unless you have my exact background, have lived my exact experiences, and we possess the same tongue; no one can truly taste and appreciate as you do.

The space was on the dressier side, with glow-y bulbs setting a more dramatic tone. The cement floor, lighting crafted from plumbing pipes, and wood tables partnered with metal legs; had a familiar industrial theme; a look that is very quintessential of Vancouver’s current restaurant style. What took away from this was their neighbouring dollar store with the visibility of its neon yellow name against a green awning, from the cafe’s all glass exterior. A minor detail, but location is important, and it is often a factor in deciding the success of a business. Luckily, tourist traffic from the hotel at the end of the block saw their clientele walking past “3 Quarters”, and (probably) grabbing a quick coffee therein. Although they are not your regular purveyors of lattes and nitro brews, here they specialize in popular Taiwanese ice drinks, sweet cakes, and savoury snacks.

They offer diners a sit down menu with light drinks and food, and now even a combo. For $9.50 you get an entree, soup/drink, and their pastry of the month. For more food you can add one a deep fried side dish for $4.95. You choice is between fried tofu, chicken, squid, fish cake, taro ball, or steamed bun. The entree are any one of their “gua bao” or sandwiches. The soups are changed up daily. Most of their drinks are available either hot or cold. And your dessert choice varies from month to month. below are a few items we tried, and they you can choose from, to make your own combo.

I began the tasting by trying each of their specialty drinks, served chilled in decanters for guests to pour ourselves. The “One lemon ice tea” earned its name from the use of a whole lemon in its conception. It was a refreshing sweet tea, and a great accompaniment to the meal to come.

The “Sea salt coffee” jumped on to the cold brew train, offering their interpretation with its salt first flavour. As a non-coffee drinker, my opinion may not the best or the most valid, so I will leave it with, “salty”.

My favourite was the “Winter melon tea” with its sweet, light, and floral notes. This is one I can drink by the jug-full, as there was just something so refreshing about it. The cafe’s owner, took the time to explain how they prepare this beverage from scratch, whereas their competitors take the short cut and purchase the syrup version for this sugary flavour. Here they take a winter melon and cook it down into a sugar, which is then melted down to flavour such drinks. Naturally it costs more, but drinking is believing; and if you get a chance to compare the two, you can tell that the extra charge is certainly worth it.

Next we lined up one by one at their ” gua bao station”, to watch our buns assembled to order. We even got the back story of “baos”, their origin and the significance of their shape. They originate from Taiwan, as a night market snack that you typically have before Chinese New Year. It symbolizes a women’s purse and there for is associated with money and wealth. A lucky symbol with the hope that whosoever has one will earn its attributes.

This version was pork belly, pickled vegetables, and a mix of sugar and peanuts between a soft white bun. They are also available filled with chicken or tofu, But here, the pork is prepared in a pressure cooker for two hours until it is very tender. Anything overcooked and tough would be very noticeable thanks to how pillowy the white bun was. The pickled vegetable gave you tang and the peanuts some crunch. This was a delicious three bites, with an even meat to bread ratio.

We then had more pork in their “Crispy pork sandwich”, a traditional Taiwanese breakfast item, but potentially unappealing for those unfamiliar with the classic. I love a good runny yolk in my sandwich, others feel it has no place between toasted bread. I occasionally have a cucumber slice or two in my sandwiches, others rather it on the side with dip. And then there is the use of the meat product, “pork floss”. Popular in China as a sandwich topping with butter, or as a sprinkling over congee. “Pork floss” is a dried meat with a fluffy texture, similar to softened wool or an unraveled cotton ball. Good if you are familiar, off putting in thought and texture if you are not. Combine all three together and layer them between some dry brown bread, this isn’t for everyone. A fact I was also not shy to mention to the owner when they asked for my feedback. I actually knew what I was getting well before I had my bite, and as someone familar with it, I thought it was well assembled. And I must not be the only one, as this is actually their most popular sandwich choice. More so than their club sandwich, the one with bacon, or their vegetarian option.

And what is a Taiwanese restaurant without some crispy popcorn chicken? Theirs was seasoned with some basil for that extra pop of flavour, along with the more common salt and pepper. Each nib was crispy and flavourful, both lasting long after the chicken cooled.

This month, their “pastry of the month” is the iconic pineapple cake. Like everything else, this too was made in house with pride. Their pineapple cake is one of the better interpretations I have ever had. A cakey cookie with starchy pineapple jelly at its centre. A friend likened it to shortbread, after trying it for the first time. She was easily won over by its one of a kind drier texture and sweet finish.

They also made their own Japanese cheesecake and stamped it with their logo as proof. This was a creamy and silky cheesecake, one that cheesecake fans will definitely appreciate. This is one I can see such fans traveling back for it by the round.

Equally delicious is their “Naidong roll”, which is a pudding-jelly and cream centre rolled into a sheet of spongey cake. Served in slices each flavour was a light accompaniment to either coffee or tea. They are available in Taro, Green tea, Coffee, and Vanilla with a strawberry centre.

 

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.
Downtown Vancouver is a little far to travel for a snack; which is a shame, as I do like their food, as it reminds me of my delicious childhood. But I consider cafes a convenience and less of a destination, so to travel this far for a sandwich seems a little much. However if/when in the neighbourhood I would not be apposed to stopping by. In fact upon writing this post in the hot of my apartment, I can go for one of their cold winter melon teas right now. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

3 FULL 4
1789 Comox Street, Vancouver BC, V6G 1P5
778-865-5578
3 Quarters Full Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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