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Category: Downtown Vancouver Page 1 of 22

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

Najia Restaurant

Today we were in Coal Harbour looking for dinner. One of my guests was excited to see “Najia” nearby and insisted we visit. She is a fan of the Szechwan boiled fish dish and not many places offer it.

The harbour view was great, but this was an odd place for a Chinese restaurant. And because of its traditional architectural elements, it stood out more, adjacent to the modern marina side. Particularly their second floor annex with its pagoda-style curves and pointed roof. Inside, things got a lot more authentic. Stone lion statues, carved archways, and woven tapestries. Its intricacies made the experience all the more encompassing.

We had plenty of time to soak it all in at the threshold. Where we were left lingering, looking around as staff briskly waked past our group of three. No one stopped to acknowledge us. We eventually hailed one of the managers, she sat us at the table marked “15”. It was one of the tables that shared the lengthy booth, that ran down two walls of the dining area. It was a comfortable seat with embroidered silk pillows shaped like green and yellow clouds to prop yourself against.

There, we took our time looking through their menu, which was bound-like and read-like a novel. Each page a high resolution photo with the name of the dish and its price in small print. You ordered with your eyes, and the way it was presented there had you acknowledging the steeper price point. You were paying more for a more luxurious meal.

Our server asked if we wanted tea or water, without the warning that the former would cost you. And that each subsequent “refilled” pot would cost $2.50 more. A fact we only became aware of when we saw our bill and decided to drink the rest of what we had left in pot number 3. I am guessing that they use fresh leaves each time.

We ordered the dish we came in for and our server suggested an add on, directing us to their “Noble shrimp”, one of their house specialties. A great move considering we agreed to it at $29.88 for 9 large shrimp. We were amazed by the presentation. It was served on a plate elevated by a wooden platform, it matched the pattern of the dish ware, tea cup, and chopstick rest before our individual setting. A traditional Chinese pattern with a modern twist in a yellow-ish gold.

These were the largest shrimp I have had to date. Lightly fried, with a crispy shell you can chew down and swallow with ease. They were the only part that were seasoned. None of the sweet sticky sauce penetrated the actual prawn, so the initial bite was flavourful, and you got nothing on subsequent chews. The whole lychees and chilli peppers didn’t help, I didn’t think the lychee matched the flavour of the prawn. It wasn’t sweet but salty, then bitter at the end.

As for the boiled fish in chilli oil, my guest ordered our $29.88 serving with extra numbing peppercorn, which is her favourite part of the traditional dish. With it we each had a bowl of white rice at $3 a bowl. It helped to round things out as a more fulsome meal. Thankfully the fish actually wasn’t as spicy as it looked with all the dried, chopped up chillies. It was a refined heat that flavoured the oil and fish. But my favourite part was the crisp bed of bean sprouts at the bottom of the platter.

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.
Normally I don’t review a restaurant if I only try less than 3 dishes. However in this case I don’t think I will be returning for price alone, so thought to cover what little I have. This was little too indulgent of a cost for everyday dining. And the reality is when looking for Chinese food I won’t travel out of my way to Coal Harbour for it. Though I do acknowledge that this was very good for Chinese food downtown, with a very unique decor in a very special location. Although if this was in Richmond, it would be a different story. Don’t deny your cravings.

NAJIA
1018 Beach Avenue, Vancouver BC, V6E 1T7
778-379-3787
najia-restaurant.com

Railtown Cafe, Tailgate BBQ series

This summer “Railtown Cafe” is bringing back their tailgate barbecue series. Their original location is hosting all day cookouts, one Sunday a month. June 23, July 14, August 18, and September 22 from 11am to 8pm. It is a ticketed event, so best to purchase them before hand to secure your plate. Although walks ins are accepted. With two down, there are only two more chances to try all their barbecue and sides. The meat platter is $27, and the vegetarian option $17. All tickets purchased online includes a complimentary drink voucher, where you save up to $6 for a cup.

Your bbq journey starts inside their cafe. Payment or ticket redemption gets you a paper plate. You take it down the counter to have it loaded with sides.

First comes their Jalapeño Corn Bread. Spicy meets sweet in this crumbly slice.

Next you have a choice of two sides between their “Carolina Coleslaw”, “Creamy Potato Salad”, “Classic Caesar Salad”, or “Farmers’ Market Field Greens”. I had the first two, my friend the Caesar and the potato salad. Each of the salads offered some freshness, and some greenery to help balance out all the density of the meat. I especially liked their potato salad. Thick chunks of potato coated in mayonnaise and flavoured with plenty of dill.

You head outside to where everything is prepared on their custom-built, 12-foot barbecue barrel grill. There, all your mains are kept warm, pre-made for easy dispensing. We enjoyed the meat lover’s option, a fulsome assembly of the below, guaranteed to have you leaving full.

The Tailgate Barbecue menu includes their 35-hour Texas-style Beef Brisket, Applewood-smoked Pork Shoulder, Beer-brined Maple Hill Farms Chicken, D’Original Sausage Haus Brats, and Corn on the Cob. You got a piece of each, though I am sure if you wanted to trade one for the other or make an edit they would obliged.

Everything was super tender, I especially enjoyed the dark meat piece of chicken. The brisket I got was a little fattier than I would have liked. The pulled pork shoulder was a little dry, but easily remedied with a generous scoop of their sweet and tangy barbecue sauce. That sauce was even good on their half cob of corn.

And naturally, with all this salted meat you’d want an ice cold beverage. And you are in luck, “Strange Fellows Brewing” and “Good Company Lager” is partnering with “Railtown” this year and their beers are on top. If you want something a little more sweet, cocktails like their “Lynchburg Lemonade” and/or their “Railtown Ruby Sangria” are available. I opted for the former for a full summer feel. But regular lemonade is also available. And for those coming with the entire family, there is plenty of other non-alcoholic beverages like flavoured iced-teas and other soft drinks available as well.

Once fully loaded, you gather up your heavy plate and chilled plastic cup and pick where you park. A pop up seating area is set up right out front, taking a tiny slice of the street. Folding tables clothed in white and red gingham offered a picnic vibe. But for those who rather stay out of the sun, there is plenty of indoor seating in the restaurant itself. Similarly, if you are looking to round out your meal with a hot beverage or dessert. They offer plenty of coffee options, and fresh made savoury and sweet pastries behind glass.

For more information on the next bbq tailgate and how you can get your own tickets, check out the link below.

Railtown Tailgate Barbecues are BACK!

RAILTOWN CAFE
397 Railway Street, Vancouver BC, V6A 1A4
604-428-0800
railtowncafe.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

Chambar, terrace open

As of June 1st Chinatown’s best patio is open for the summer season. And to help celebrate, they are launching a new happy hour menu to mark the occasion.

Located right by the Stadium skytrain station, “Chambar” is easy to get to for an early brunch or an after hour cocktail. And patio is open morning to late, serving everything within, outside on their sun soaked patio. An oasis of brick, leafy greens and vibrant florals. Seating on the terrace is first come, first served. With no reservations allowed. So come early and enjoy it fully.

My recap today won’t be of the actual experience, but of the festivities leading up to the launch.

Nothing spells summer like a cool cocktail on a hot day, and we would enjoy 4. Three of which are barrel-aged and highlighted on their updated happy hour menu (which they call an “interlude”).

First it was the “Le Soleil Punch” with Remy Martin VSOP cognac, Mount Gay Eclipse rum, Cointreau, House limoncello, Aperol, and an iced tea blend. This was an easy sipper perfect for patio drinking.

“Lind’s Lemonade” had a beautiful hue to it thanks to the hibiscus flower used. Matusalem platino, house made limoncello, hibiscus, fresh lemon, and Talisman pale ale. A slightly floral, spiked lemonade without sting of alcohol, a dangerous drink if you take in to many.

The “Zenzero Spritz” made for a good digestive thanks to the ginger. It was light tonic with a low calorie feel. Bianco vermouth, ginger, sparkling wine, and soda.

The “Botinst G&T” was a refreshing classic. Bontist gin, house tonic, grapefruit, and rosemary.

They also had bottles of rose and white wine on ice, and red at the ready.

And “Strange Fellows” brewing had their beer cart set up to pour their ales, lagers, and IPAs.

As this was a mix and mingler, we didn’t get the ability to taste full plates, only teasers of what they offer from their brunch, lunch, and dinner menu. Enough to wet my appetite and have me curious over what the full servings would be. But sadly I didn’t get enough of a taste to really review them for you here, but they are as follows

Duck confit & eggplant wrapped in phyllo dough. A little dry and heavily if not fully drizzled and smeared with the cream and orange blossom syrup.

Veal stuffed calamari. The taro chips served as great little spoons to scoop up squid and cream. A descant one biter that maybe too much as a full serving.

I loved the colours of English pea dumpling with spicy carrot hummus. Plenty of pea purée stuffed into chewy wrapper. The hummus offered spice, but I would have preferred a sour cream to dip into as well.

Chicken sausage and chorizo manchego sausage. Served in zesty slices with dollops of cream and pesto, the full sausage is typically featured on their brunch menu and in their paella.

Poached prawns on sourdough bread with jalapeño and fish roe. Piled high, there was a lot to unpack in this. I liked each individual element, but not necessarily all together in one bite. This was especially the case for the pickle ginger, which would have been better served as a finale palette cleanser.

The grilled asparagus with olive oil and shredded cheese was exactly as expected.

I loved the visual of this colourful presentation. A pick-a-bite platter with beet mousse over flatbread, fried halloumi cheese, pea falafel, and flatbread with carrot hummus. A little dry and plain, I would have liked a sweet and tangy sauce to dip into for some character.

The one bite of beef striploin was perfectly tender. Prepared with cioppino onion and A truffle aioli I found myself eating a couple of these. I wouldn’t mind trying the full serving of this one.

The seared tuna and Japanese yam with a beurre blanc was another classic bite well executed, that I wanted more of.

 

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.
All in all this was enough of a taste to have me planning a trip back to enjoy full plates, more cocktails, and their patio. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

CHAMBAR
568 Beatty Street, Gastown Vancouver BC
604-879-7119
chambar.com

Prost Haus

 

Downtown Vancouver has a new new Bavarian beer and food hall. And in this post I was invited down for the grand opening, to check out all the fun. Located on the covered roof top of “Dublin Calling”, they have found themselves a permanent home; where as “Roof Top”, the reincarnation before, was only temporary. “Prost Haus” has their own entry way on Granville Street, and tonight you couldn’t miss them and their blue and white checkered motif. Past the podium, you walk up the stairs; towards their faux window, overlooking an Austrian castle. From here, you enter via their lounge area. High tops and wooden booths given some mystique with the tinge from red bulbs.

There are many more seats in the dining hall. Lengthy share style benches under the skylight; or more intimate seating by individual tables, towards the secondary bar at the back. Each table clothed in blue and white gingham. With matching blue and white pennants and flags hanging over head.

The German theme is furthered by a collections of beer steins on display behind lock and key, the largest gathering of mustard variations I have ever seen, and all the employees in their brown lederhosen uniforms. I am not sure if the dress code was solely for today’s grand opening festivities; but I hope not, as it really added to the fulsome theme and got me in a more celebratory mood.

Even the bathroom doors were marked with cartoon characters in German traditional ware.

There was plenty to drink tonight with a curated selection of beers on tap. We drank our fill and snacked on roving appetizers.

German pretzel balls with a beer cheese dip. Hard dough balls, only slightly moisten by the thick cream dip you poured over it. Clever presentation, but a messy one.

German pretzel balls with grainy mustard. Same pretzels as above, but with a zesty condiment.

Pork belly and red cabbage over crostini. By favourite bite of the night, wish I got more of it as a plate.

Spicy sausage and grainy mustard over sauerkraut. A great accompaniment to our collection of beer, but a slice is not enough.

Chicken schnitzel. A little dry, even with the cream drizzle. Could have used a little more seasoning as well.

There were also several help yourself fondue stations with vats of warm beer cheese and cubes of bread that you dip into with skewers. Would have liked more options to dip with and fo the cheese sauce to be punchier with sharper cheeses.

But it was lively polka music and their 10 person ski shot that really helped to jump start the party. The latter is a lengthy wooden stick the width of the room. It hangs on the wall when not in use, and requires two individuals to gingerly remove it from display. It is set up with 10 shot glasses and 10 guests wanting to partake in a shot front it. With glasses filled and on a count of 3, it is bottoms up as all 10 participants are forced to drink as one. Unison drinking as the stick moves from table to mouths.

 

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.
All the snacks were tasty enough, and even more so after the amount of beer that proceeded it. But as a whole there wasn’t enough of each for me to be able to paint you an accurate picture of their cuisine. But in terms of libation and ambiance, this was definitely the place to be. It is great to have a new themed bar downtown, one that is bright and happy, with that summer time vibe. With plenty of space, beer, and the salty snacks to pair with it; all you need is the right company. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

PROST HAUS
900 Granville Street, Vancouver BC, V6Z 1L2
prosthaus.com

Firecrust: BBQ Fest, #pizzachallengeyvr

Today I found myself at “Firecrust” on Davie, just in time for dinner and the crowds that came in for an easy meal solution.

Right when you enter you are greeted by their build your own pizza bar. It runs down the length of the restaurant and ends at their specialty pizza oven. Here, you can customize any pie or salad for $11.95. Craft your own pizza by choosing your sauce, cheese, protein, and veggies. Or salad from the greens to the cheese, protein, veggies, and dressing. A choice made between 30 premium ingredient.

The possibilities were endless, but I was swayed by their “BBQ Fest” advert. I love a good themed menu, and even more so if it is only available during a limited time. This checked off all the boxes, so I found myself trying 3 out of the 4 pizza offerings on this menu.

And one of them happened to be the entry for this year’s Vancouver Foodster’s #pizzachallengeyvr. This is the “Bacon Mac & Cheese” pizza and it is exactly as it sounds. Macaroni and cheese with crispy bacon, topped with more shredded cheddar before it is baked. Served with a side of coleslaw. It was doubly comforting, two fan favourites served together as an easy handheld. But be warned the toppings are heavy, so easily fall off. Best eaten with knife and fork. I would have liked the the noodles a tad more firm and the cheese more stringy like pizza cheese. However, the bacon was perfection. Its crispy texture was great with the gooey and starchy mass of noodles. Overall a anytime snack, but best when craving carbs or the munchies.

The coleslaw had a nice flavour to it, something tangy and crunchy to change the flavour with. Though I liked it better with the pulled pork pizza, a combination we discovered when enjoying the pizza with the mound of slaw that topped it.

Though slaw on pizza does have it getting warm and melty quick. But it gave an otherwise one note: sweet and tangy BBQ-full pizza some freshness. This pie featured “Firecrust’s” own hickory BBQ sauce as its sauce base, then more of it found its way over plenty of pulled pork, caramelized onions, and shredded cheddar. It is all baked together and served with a side of mac and cheese, so you don’t miss out. I liked the sweet sauce on the pulled pork, but felt like I needed more to complete it. I ended up picking out all the onion, out of preference; there was a lot, almost 1:1 between it and the pork meat.

The mac and cheese was exactly like the one used on the pizza above. A little too mushy.

The apple pie pizza was a creative spin and very much so the way you want to end a BBQ dinner. Baked apples, cinnamon, and crushed graham crackers over a regular pizza crust. Its description read it being topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, but we got whipped cream and caramel drizzle instead. Not that it really matters I guess, either would have melted quick under the warmth of the fresh to bake pizza. But the ice cream would have completed the apple pie feel more, and especially if they topped it with yellow cheddar chunks. That would really take this pie on a pizza idea full circle. Whereas like this, I found it lacking. I liked the idea, but wanted more of it. More graham cracker than just the chunks moulded with butter. Graham as the crust, or at least a sweet dough base to build this pie up on.

And to lighten up our decadent meal we also ordered a salad to share. Some freshness to balance out all the grease. The “South west salad” with kale, roasted chicken, cherry tomatoes, green peppers, corn, black beans, corn chips, shredded mozzarella, and a chipotle lime dressing. This was mostly a large serving of greens, you tossed up, but just couldn’t seem to mix everything evenly. The heavier ingredients fell to the bottom and there was far too much leafy greens to sift though to find them. I would have liked less and maybe a different green. A lighter lettuce or spring mix, the former would have also flowed better with the taco flavour too.

 

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.
An easy stop for some delicious, fast, and possibly healthy food, (so should you choose). Build your own pizza or take their menu’s advice. And for something fun, enjoy their “BBQ Fest” options, available now until April 28th, 2019. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

FIRECRUST
808 Davie Street, Vancouver BC, V6Z 2S2
778-379-9646
firecrustpizzeria.com

 

 

To learn more about the Vancouver Foodster Pizza Challenge, visit the link. And then try all the competitors to vote for your favourite.

Pizza Challenge

Gotham Steakhouse & Bar, International Women’s Day

This International Women’s Day I spent the evening celebrating with one of my favourite women. We choose “Gotham’s steakhouse” as our destination seeing as it is one of her favourite restaurants, specializing in one of her favourite foods.

We found ourselves seated on the second floor for the first time. Moving our way through the darken space, up the scaling staircase, shimmying into a lush booth. It was nice to get so much space and quiet privacy, for us to take our time eating and catching up. Although we still prefer a table by the piano, when the restaurant hosts live musicians.

In celebration of International Women’s Week “Gotham’s” was offering a special cocktail. A $1 from each one sold went to “The Pacific Immigrant Resources Society”. “PIRS” is a charity that helps refugee and immigrant women and children settle in Canada. They offer community engagement opportunities, ESL lessons, and affordable childcare.

The cocktail was aptly named: the “Mother of Dragons”. Hennessy VS Cognac, Cynar, Bittered Sling Malagasy Chocolate Bitters, and housemade Dragon’s Tears tea; all topped with silver leaf for some opulence. It was a strong drink, fiery and warm, with a smokey finish; once again befitting of its moniker.

For the remainder of our dinner we sipped on sparkling, and the restaurant was kind enough to allow us to do so in our own glasses. I had purchased a set as a gift and wanted to use them with my friend. So our sever went out of his way to wash and polish our glasses, and continued to keep them filled with Prosecco for the night. And when our meal concluded, he once again washed and polished each large wine glass for us to take home clean and dry.

As for food, we shared her favourite cut of steak: the “Bone in rib steak”. We opted for the smaller 20oz. cut at $69.25, instead of the 32oz. And good thing because we were left with two large pieces when we both found ourselves too full to finish. We ordered our Canadian prime beef medium rare, opting to have the kitchen help slice the meat properly. This is a service I suggest you take them up on, as they do so to best highlight the quality of the cut. This also makes it easier to share and eat. And boy was this a delicious steak to share and eat. Perfectly prepared with just enough fat at the edges to caramelize the meat.

Each steak on the menu does not come with any sides, you have to pick and choose what you want from their list. And they are all just as good. Each that we ordered went well with our red meat, for a well rounded dinner.

Today’s seasonal vegetable were golden beets sautéed with goat cheese. It gave our meal a refreshing quality, sweet from the firm steamed beets, with a salty tang from the crumbled goat cheese. We opted for a half serving to be able to have a couple more sides, and it was nice of our server to suggest this option.

The “Cauliflower gratin” came highly recommend by him. It was either it or the Mac and cheese as both had the starchy cheesiness I was looking for this night. But at least with the cauliflower it would be more healthy. Hearty with plenty of warm, slightly firm florets, and just as much creamy and melted cheese.

And when it comes to steak, mashed potatoes are a must in my book, especially if they are “Roasted garlic mashed potatoes”. It was all whipped smooth like butter. Deliciously amazing, with so much great garlic flavour

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
I would line up, but I never have to, there is always plenty of seating, and if you make a reservation you are guaranteed to get one. You are also guaranteed a good meal with great service, if you can afford it. You definitely pay the premium for quality. Overall a great place to satisfy your steak cravings that you don’t want to deny.

 

GOTHAM’S STEAKHOUSE
615 Seymour St, Vancouver BC, V6B 3K3
604-605-8282
gothamsteakhouse.com

Burgermania at Glowbal

Anything with “mania” in its title has my name written all over it. Therefore I made sure to visit “Glowbal” during its limited release run of “BurgerMania”. They have now launched a specialty menu which includes a burger with lobster, another with duck confit, and one of the better veggie burgers I have ever had.

Between March 11th to the 22nd diners can enjoy one of four full sized burgers or a slider trio, each with a unique side for $22. From Monday to Friday the following is available between 11-6pm, and during the weekends you can enjoy each between 2:30-6pm.

You can visit multiple times during the 12 day run to try them all ,or better yet, visit with a group and grab the whole shebang for $110. It is one attractive looking assembly. The following is my full review or each burger and its side, in the order from my favourite to the least.

When it comes to burgers, the more in between the buns the better, in my books; and “The Ultimate Burger” does just that. One beef patty, double smoked bacon, onion rings, fried egg, tomato, lettuce, pickles, and truffle aioli. All this is then topped with two deep fried, white cheddar mac and cheese squares. It is everything I want in a burger: plenty of meat to chew through with crunchy bacon, crisp vegetables, and a runny saucy egg to tie it all together.

It comes with sea salt fries that are seasoned in a Cajun spice, giving it plenty of flavour to enjoy as is.

“The Veggie Nation” was a great burger, and an even better vegetarian option. Tempura battered portobello mushroom, guacamole, lettuce, tomato, chipotle aioli, and roasted eggplant. This was a substantial order with plenty of textures and tastes to keep each bite interesting. Crispy mushroom pieces, charred smokey eggplant slices, fresh and juicy raw vegetables, and hearty guacamole. A great option for meatless Monday and a tasty burger for any other day of the week.

It is served with truffle fries that have plenty of that salty truffle flavour you are looking for. Another crispy potato stick that doesn’t need ketchup or any other dip.

“The Mediterranean” ate like a meal. Lamb patty, hummus, tzatziki, fried halloumi, bell peppers, and slaw. There was a lot to unpack in this and plenty that you wouldn’t find in any other burger. The halloumi was grilled with a smokey char, the bell peppers sweet, and the hummus creamy. If only the lamb patty wasn’t over cooked and dry. I could have also liked more of the tangy tzatziki, or a dish of it to dip bites into.

This came with my favourite of all the side: sweet potato fries served with a truffle aioli dipping sauce.

I liked the creativity of “The Funky One”, beef patty, spicy duck confit, pickled cucumbers, chili lime aioli, and cotton candy. The burger earned its name thanks to its sides. The large chunks of duck set it a part, although I didn’t find it spicy; and together with the beef patty both came across as dry. Here sauce or a tangy cream would have been nice. I didn’t taste any of the lime aioli, and once again got no spice from it. The cotton candy tuft comes on the side, but in my opinion, it is best eaten with the burger. It sounds and seems weird, but it works. Salty and sweet without the sugary finish.

This is served with a fun twist on poutine: “tater tot poutine”. Crispy fried potato nuggets with gooey mozzarella and an oniony gravy. I would have liked a thicker more meatier gravy thought, something more peppery out of preference.

The “Slider Trio” is a great way to try a little bit of the above. It comes with three bites of “The Mediterranean” with its cheese-stuffed lamb patty, hummus, and bell peppers. And “The Funky One” with beef patty, spicy duck confit, pickled cucumbers, and chilli lime aioli.

But the reason you order this is for “The Surf & Turf”. A decadent slider with caramelized onions, braised short rib, tempura lobster, truffle sauce, and slaw. In my opinion, it is the best of this set of three, so if you are sharing grab this one first. However having these few bites aren’t enough to get a true taste of the chunks of tender beef and crispy fried lobster. I would have also preferred the lobster meat simply dipped in butter and not hidden under a coating of batter. Overall, I found this and that each slider left me wanting more. More dressing, more ingredients, more lobster.

All three is served with two sides, some cotton candy for the “Funky One” and “Tempura green beans”. I liked the look and the taste of the green beans, but could have used less tempura batter coating each one.

And as a bonus treat our meal ended with a crispy buttery shortbread for us each.

In conclusion “BurgerMania” is a great idea and a fun way to introduce something new and interesting to an ever evolving menu. There is no better way to get bodies into the restaurant than with a mound of delicious food. Great on its own, even better when it all comes together. Make sure you check each out between March 11th and 22nd, before they are gone.

 

GLOWBAL
590 West Georgia, TELUS Garden
Vancouver, BC V6E 1A3
604-602-0835
glowbalgroup.com/glowbal

Arc Dining, brunch

This morning we were downtown by waterfront for brunch. Wanting to have a hearty start to the day, (before the wine festival tasting hall), we found ourself here, within walking distance to the convention centre.

The name explained the restaurant’s floor plan well. From the entrance, the restaurant spreads out on either ends. They narrow, but never quite meet, like an arc. To your left is the lounge created with nooks and crannies for some more intimate seating, eventually leading you to the Fairmont Hotel’s lobby. To the right is the central dining room, set over hardwood floors. We would be seated here for brunch, with plenty of natural light streaming in from the all glass exterior and vaulted ceiling.

Our meal began with complimentary “Sundried tomato buns”. Warm to the centre with actual chunks of tomato visible. You don’t get much of it in terms of taste, but with the whipped butter than was quick to melt over the bread, you aren’t missing anything.

From the brunch menu one of my guests had the “Lamb shakshuka”. Spicy lamb sausage, organic eggs, grilled pita bread, and chermoula. It was served piping hot with a “baseball mitt glove” around the handle of the cast iron pan it was served in. Not only did it add interest to the presentation, but it also helped to keep it from burning you. This was a hearty meal with plenty of spicy chewy sausage to work through. The pieces of pita were a great base to scoop up chunky tomato paste with, and the eggs with their runny yolk gave the mash a certain creaminess.

I had the “Corn crusted French toast”. I don’t often order a sweet breakfast option, but this was a very original assembly worth exploring more of. Brioche bread, matcha solids, yuzu curd, maple syrup, and field berries. It was delicious as is, but our waiter offered to add on bacon to my meal, and I took him up on it. This way I was able to get some salty with my sweet. What I didn’t appreciate was the price.

When he suggested a side of bacon I assumed 2-3 strips which is typical for any breakfast platter, this plate was excessive and our waiter made it seem like the kitchen was being generous when he delivered it. So I ate it happily, until I was slapped with the $7 cost for it all. Not to mention each strip was over cooked, crunchy with hints of an acrid burn. Though they did bacon as a whole did its job, the French toast was given a new taste. A great add on to the citrus flavoured custard, and the toasted matcha crumbs without any actual matcha flavour. It and the corn flake breading gave the toast plenty of crunch.

My other guest enjoyed the “Arc burger” from off the lunch menu. It was a standard beef burger with house made patty, dill pickle, onion, lettuce, tomato, house mustard, and farmhouse cheddar. Served with a Caesar salad on the side. The salad was presented in a metal container to avoid having it get warmed up by the hot plate that the burger was served on.

With it he enjoyed their “Waterfront gun and tonic”.

Our server was really engaged. He checked in often and gave us plenty of small talk. He was forward with a few comments and jokes, like teasing me about the photos I took to write this review. But overall you could tell he was simply trying to connect, and that he enjoyed his job.

 

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 necessarily make them a destination, but if looking for brunch in the area they are a nice solution, set to a great backdrop. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

ARC
900 Canada Place Way, Vancouver BC, V6C 3L5
604-691-1818
fairmont.com/waterfront-vancouver/dining/arc-restaurant

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