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No. 1 Dumpling

Today, a small group of us were looking for something tasty and satisfying in the West Broadway area. We made “No. 1 Dumpling” our destination, given the posturing of its name, and the visual appeal of the photos of dishes offered, posted across the exterior windows.

This was a smaller restaurant with lower ceilings. Inside, a couple more photos decorated the walls, and a mural spelled out the restaurant’s dumpling-rich history in Chinese. We grabbed a booth in the corner, pushing enough tables together to sit us all.

The laminated menu was easy to navigate with plenty of full colour photos to help with the decision making process. The following is what we ordered as a collective, sharing it all family style.

The “Spicy sour potato” ate like a cold papaya salad, similar in texture and tang. It served as a good briny starter to get our appetites going.

The “Cucumber salad” was ordered for some balance. A slightly spicy, and fully refreshing break between all the carbs and meat below.

The “Green onion pancake” was a table favourite. Light and crispy dough fragrant with green onion. Good, but a little greasy on the lips.

The “Beef pancake” utilized the same dough, but filled it with tender bits of beef instead.

The “Xiao long bao” were as expected. Chewy pork meat with soup broth, in a firm but fragile shell. Tasty enough, but I wanted more soup to spill out when I took a bite.

I didn’t like how “green” the steamed pork and Chinese cabbage dumplings were. The flavour of the cabbage was overpowering, in my opinion.

I preferred the pan fried pork and leak dumplings, instead. A nice flavour with this crispy, chewy shell.

The “tofu with green onion” is exactly as you’d expect. The tofu was soft, flavoured in a sweeter soy sauce.

The “Spicy noodles” delivered with lip tingling heat from chilli oil, fully coating the eggy noodles. The shreds of cucumber and the whole sunny side up egg offered balance and freshness in an otherwise one-tone bowl.

As for the service, the lone employee was an older gentleman. He was attentive, checking in after and asking if liked what we had. He made us feel welcome. Which was helpful, considering the restaurant was fairly empty when we arrived and there was no music playing in the background to set the mood.

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
A cost effective and standup destination for dumplings and simple Chinese plates. Don’t deny your cravings.

NO. 1 DUMPLING
1888 W Broadway, Vancouver, BC V6J 1Y9
(604) 731-5577
no1dumpling.com

Privé Kitchen + Bar

Once “Privé night club” in downtown Vancouver, now rebranded as an entertainment metropolis on West Broadway. This highly anticipate kaorake bar, restaurant, and entertainment centre is opening this Sunday, September 1st; and I was one of a handful that got to experience this megaplex, a few days before.

The space is massive, previously home to “Red Robins” it now hosts 10 karaoke rooms, a 2,000 square foot patio, a common area with a giant tv screen; and plenty of tables and chairs that can be removed to covert the space into a dance floor. For those who don’t dance they have giant Jenga for you to stack, a high tech beer pong table that includes its own app, a regular ping pong table, and an exercise bike.

But the latter wasn’t just any ordinary exercise bike, this bike blended as you pedalled. The result, a few calories burned and a new frozen slush in hand. It lives in the lounge, and is available to prospective riders. Though with the need for personel to help mix the drink before you bike, I suspect it is only available for riding on busier nights.

A similar case would probably be for the beer pong table. To play you need to download the app, struggle to get their password and connect to wifi, take a photo of a barcode, input your settings, then find balls and clean liquid cups to play with. But when they have reps in to show you what’s what, and how to play the game, it is a lot of fun. A more theatrical version of the popular drinking game, with flashing lights and the tallying of points.

Currently “Privé” is only licensed as a restaurant, and are working on acquiring their liqueur license. But once they do, they can bring in a DJ booth and arcade games to round out their late night offerings. Although their bar is already well stocked with premium liqueurs, sparkling wine, and Hennessy on display.

However, for this launch party, we were able to try a few would-be cocktails. Including a spiked ice tea and a lightly spiced caesar.

There was also a welcome citrus punch and a clear gin and cucumber cocktail, along with a couple of fruit infused mocktails.

With the drinks, there were plenty of foods to graze on; including fruit platters, meat and cheese boards, and a spread of veggies and dip. Basically their entire food menu was put out on display for trying. The following is what I got to, before it was picked over, potluck style. And unfortunately I didn’t try everything, so can’t review it for you here.

It was hard to share a burger over 20 ways, keeping everyone else invited in mind. I tried the fried chicken one with crunchy breaded chicken breast and creamy, crisp slaw. There was also a bacon cheese burger and two other beef options.

I didn’t like the idea of raw oysters at a night club or bar. But it was promised to be of quality, and it did fit into their luxury experience.

Similarly, there was raw beef carpaccio. This apparently I had no problem trying.

I didn’t mind their seafood cooked in soup or fried over fries. Fish and chips. The clam chowder was easy to sample with a scoop of soup on to your plate, and used as a sauce to dip your bread into.

They also had salads like one with golden beets and another with quinoa.

But the most popular, and the best dishes were all the familiar pub classics. The nachos with guacamole and salsa over chips and/or tater tots, were super tasty.

And I liked their fully loaded chilli cheese fries with hot cheetos.

If you get the chance to enjoy any of the above, I suggest doing so on their patio. A luxurious setting with wicker and cushion. Couches to sprawl on, and city views to look out at.

But of course the main event, and the reason to visit is their karaoke rooms. 9 rooms, each marked with its own song lyric.

Pop one liners like, “hit me baby one more time”, “I don’t wanna miss a thing”, “as long as you love me”, and “it was all a dream”.

Memorable rap versus like “She said she don’t believe in God, but her shoes Christian”, “money on my mind, all I $ee i$ dollar $ign$”, and “more money more problems”.

These are what made the rooms and “Privé karaoke bar” memorable. The fun of choosing your room based on its lyric and your mood, not to mention all the photographic possibilities.

The largest room is able to host a party of 20, under the neon lights: “feed me, feel me, fuck me, Vancouver special”. It and all the larger rooms have their own in suite washroom.

Like our “I love bad bitches, that’s my fucking problem” room. We found the quote empowering, making it our own, and paying homage to it by singing rap songs by powerful women.

Each room is equipped with 2 microphones. They are easy to turn on with a button on its handle, and a rubber grip to keep it from slipping. You make your song selection on the touch screen by the television. It functioned like a giant iPad. It was easy to use; easy to search songs by genre, title, or artist. There plenty of new releases with actual music videos to scroll through. And even more international singles from around the world to discover.

My girl friend and I aren’t big singers, let along karaoke enthusiast, so we were both surprised by how much fun we had. With the function that allows you to sing along with the actual singer, our cracking voices were masked. We found ourselves excited to finish our song choice and look for another.

We sang for 2 hours straight. With the toilet a few feet away and a phone to call the staff with, you needn’t leave the comfort of these spacious and stylish room. Eating and drinking are highly encouraged here. They have buckets for bottles and a specialty tray for shots. If you need anything, you pick up the phone and it’s yours.

Although, I do still suggest visiting the regular washrooms. The men’s and women’s had their own neon lights. More photographic and memorable quotes to capture.

And if you come before the sun sets, make sure you linger long enough to see the sky grow dark, and their space light up.

In short, I love the space and had a blast. I will be coming back with friends, and can safely recommend “Privé” as a great place to party at. You get the night club aesthetic and energy, retooled for a more causal evening. Although, they definitely kept the staff and their dress code, like that of a club.

PRIVE
1001 West Broadway Vancouver, British Columbia V6H 4E4
privevancouver.com

Fu Fu Cafe

Fluffy soufflé pancakes are Vancouver’s newest food trend. And now you don’t have to travel all the way to Richmond for its eggy goodness. In this post, I got a sneak peek of “Fu Fu Cafe”, Vancouver’s first (and currently only) fluffy soufflé pancake destination.

With custom made furnishings and an interior that is French inspired, the cafe is worth visiting for the decor alone. Several shades of blue cover various walls, embellished with Art Deco lines and roaring 20’s-style lamps.

All picture ready and picture-esque right at the threshold. Like the neon lights spelling out their name and logo. And the dried baby’s breath sprigs, framing two seats by the door. It all made for a very compelling backdrop for a photo or two.

Given that they are still in their soft launch phase, the following may change, or the photos might not be as you may have them.

Their grand opening is on Saturday, September 7th and they have just the promotions to get you down for a visit. The first 50 customers get their “Fufu classic soufflé pancakes” for free. And every one else can enjoy them at 50% off, for the entire day. But be warn, space is limited and due to the intricacies of the product, be prepared to wait (they are also only serving the classic on that day). It takes approximately 15 minutes to make this specialty dessert from scratch. And the staff takes pride in making them perfectly, so the art of crafting them does takes time.

The classic is available one of two ways. Either as a stack of three soufflé pancakes with butter, maple syrup, and their name dusted in icing sugar. Or three layered across the plate with salted cheese, whipped cream, and icing sugar.

I was able to try the former. And there is something just so satisfying about watching a stack of these thick rounds jiggle as a tower. The soufflé pancakes are essentially the same across the 8 menu items, but with your choice of toppings to mix things up. In truth, I love the pancakes as they are, plain with no dressing; , so its nice to have the butter and the syrup on the side as an option. They are so silky and smooth, like eating congealed foam, in the best of ways. A texture so unique that you go back for spoon after spoon, sipping it like soup. If you have never tried it, you should, you won’t find anything else like it.

I would get the “matcha mochi souffe pancake” for all its fun sides to pick though. Two stacked soufflé pancakes with shiratamako mochi, house made matcha sauce, matcha whipped cream, white chocolate flakes, matcha powder, and a scoop of chocolate raspberry ice cream from “Rocky Point ice cream”. All the combined flavours of the matcha was rich and fully formed, but none of it took away from the light eggy custard-ness of the pancake. Although my favourite element to this plate was the perfectly chewy mochi balls. I would tell you to share the dessert, considering the portion size, but you’d want all 5 of the mochi balls all for yourself.

The one that sure to be a fan favourite is the “Tapioca pearl milk tea soufflé pancake”. So highly anticipated that they have already listed it as being in limited quantity, with a specific time frame of availability. Two stacked soufflé pancakes topped with an in-house made earl grey milk tea sauce, with plenty of tapioca pearls on the dessert, and additional pearls in a jug if you want a little extra, or that “pouring shot”.

That covered that menus staple, the following is one of their rotating flavours. Every week they will be offering 3 different flavours of soufflé pancakes, giving your reason to visit time and time again. Great idea honestly. Speaking of which, they have many more in the works, as they continue to churn out unique hits; luring foodies, like myself, in to try all their creative variations.

Creative concoctions like brunch time soufflé pancakes with smoked salmon and avocado, and one that mimics an egg Benedict with two poached eggs, bacon, and house made hollandaise. And soufflé pancake that have a flavour mixed into the batter like chocolate, of mango; and/or maybe even a savoury green onion soufflé pancake? I would expect nothing less from one of the geniuses behind “Mister” ice cream’s crazy flavours at the helm of this. Oh the possibilities are endless here, and I hope they take all of them in consideration!

But back to the soufflés at hand. Opening week they will have a Nutella and caramelized banana soufflé pancake, a tiramisu one with espresso sauce and mascarpone; and the following “lemon creme brûlée pancake.

Two stacked soufflé pancakes poured over with a house made lemon creme brûlée sauce, lemon yogurt ice cream, and seasonal fruits. And a sprinkle of sugar atop gets torched for that tell-a-tale creme brûlée crackle sensation. The citrus helps to break apart the otherwise decadent serving of cream and sugar. A unique interpretation to a classic recipe.

For those looking for variety, this cafe also serves up fresh baked goods, daily. Sweet morsels from the kitchen of pastry chef, Remi. (Also known for his delicious works, available at “Argo”, “Prototype”, and the “Paragon Tea Room”.) today we were able to try his hojicha cookie, espresso cheese tart, Japanese cheesecake, and matcha short bread. I liked them all and would travel for them, and to gift them. The cheesecake was a heavenly sponge. The two toned cookie gave me slightly bitter matcha partnered with buttery biscuit, for an excellent balance. And the cheese tart was creamy and flakey, and gently kissed with notes of coffee.

As for drinks, they serve coffee from “Argo” coffee roasters and are working on bubble tea in the future, an easy win considering that they already have half the ingredients.

In the meanwhile, you can and should try their fresh fruit sodas available in mixed berry, peach and lemon, passion fruit and pineapple, and grapefruit and orange.

I don’t like passion fruit normally, so was surprised by how much I liked it in the drink here. Passion fruit pulp and pineapple chunks mixed with a sparkling soda. Crisp and refreshing with the effervescent bubbles popping in your face, as you sip and chew through crunchy passion fruit seeds.

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.
“Fu Fu Cafe” serves as a great after dinner, dessert destination, for dategooers and diners alike. They are in a great location, with no other dessert options in the neighbourhood, let alone any deserts like it in this vicinity. And with plenty of things in the works, you will come once and be back again soon. Don’t deny your cravings.

FU FU CAFE
1266 West Broadway, Vancouver BC

Grapes & Soda

I have been meaning to check this bar out, so when looking for an after dinner drinking spot, in the South Granville area, we headed down to “Grapes and Soda”. And to our delight, their head bartender, 2018 best bartender of the year, as voted by “Vancouver Magazine”, was behind the counter mixing tonight.

With its patterned vinyl on the all windowed exterior, you can’t really tell what’s within, if not for the bottle cap logo on the sandwich board, and the flag hanging off the side of the building.

Inside, the little space is a lot more intricate. It has a similar vibe to all the other dark and intimate bars I am familiar with, in the Chinatown area. It leads with a well stocked shelves, 3.5 rows of bottles packed in together tight, and a collection of botanicals and bitters on the counter to speak to their mixing program. The restaurant is spooky and dark, with cozy space saving pockets, and parchment wrapped lights, offering a little illumination. Seating runs down the length of the room, across from the actual bar that continued into their kitchen. Our group of 5 shimmied into the booth by the door.

Interestingly, on the back of the menu was a message, making note of the drawers under each table. Guests were encourage to use these as a place to house their cellphones, a place to put them away securely, and to not be tempted to pull them out for the duration of your stay. However, the fear would be then forgetting them there.

When it came time to order I went for one of their soda cocktails, considering this was their specialty and name sake. Today’s special was a red coloured soda with umeshu, gin, lime, whey, and shiso. They are premixed and pre bottled, served with a glass of ice and bottle opener. It was a easy drink with hints of plum and lime. I didn’t get any of the distinctive shiso flavour though, not that I wanted any.

I liked the look of the wide and short coupe that the “Tempest” cocktail came in. Blackberry, mezcal, coffee, lime, egg white, and a chilli tincture.

The “Lassi legal” drank like a creamy dessert. Kaffir lime, cachaca, kefir, coconut, cucumber, mint, and cilantro.

They can also mix up any of your favourite classic cocktails like this “Spanish gin & tonic”. Basically, anything but a highball, as they don’t carry grocery store sodas like coke or sprite.

We didn’t order any food, but for those looking for a light snack to accompany their drinks they do small plates. Bread and charcuterie boards, vegetable heavy seasonal dishes like cauliflower, peas, and zucchini; and fruit forward desserts like Mille feuille and strawberries and rhubarb with ice cream.

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.
A fun place for some creative cocktails in the South Granville area, and out of downtown Vancouver. I would love to frequent here if not for the need to travel via skytrain and bus to and from, if I plan to drink multiple glasses. Don’t deny your cravings.

GRAPES & SODA
1537 West 6th Avenue, Vancouver BC 6J
604-336-2456
grapesandsoda.ca

Go Blue at Fiore

From July 18-29, 2019 South Granville is giving foodies a reason to trek up and down the strip, with their “Go Blue” festival. This is South Granville’s first ever blueberry-themed event. Over the next 10 days, a number of restaurants will feature BC blueberries in limited edition menus. And the retailers who don’t offer food, will be celebrating blueberries in their own way.

On the first day of the festival we were at “Fiore” where they had plenty of blueberries across their drinks, appetizers, entrées, and desserts. This cute little Italian restaurant, just off 12th avenue, is a bit of a hidden gem. They are brought to you by the same owners of “The Stable House Bistro”, another South Granville staple. Their goal is to make the neighbourhood more lively, and I can attest to that considering I use to work in the area and before the two, there were very little options in terms of where to eat or drink.

“Fiore” is a smaller restaurant, ideal for intimate conversations. Their space is pretty straightforward with wood tables, over a hard wood floor, and faux leather booths towards the back. The most memorable part of their decor was the central light fixture, outfitted with an arrangement of dried plant life. It set the tone of our rustic meal to come.

We got right to the blueberries, starting with their two themed cocktails. The “Blueberry negroni” with blueberry infused lillet, blueberry gin, and Campari. And the sparkling “Blanc de blue” cocktail with blueberry infused lillet and Prosecco. Both were a beautiful bluish-purple from the fruit’s colouring.

For appetizers they had two salads finished with blueberries. We got the “blueberry panzenella, with fresh blueberries, grape tomatoes, arugula, focaccia, and blueberry vinaigrette. It was a salad described as having plenty of croutons by our server, which sounded right up my alley.

Their antipasti platter also came with blueberries, a few in the compote that the single arancini ball (small fried ball of rice coated in breadcrumbs), sat it. The platter varies and today ours came with a lentil salad with pickled onion, a green fennel salad with smoked Gouda, a Spanish salsa, their housemade sausage patty, pepperoni slices, crusty garlic bread, and a dish of olive oil and balsamic. This was a lot for $20, and if you want more, they have a $40 and $60 board available for greater sharing.

Their blueberry entree is a “Blueberry and balsamic pork roulade”, served with summer vegetable and fried polenta. It was a fulsome dish with plenty of depth, well balanced by each thoughtful side. Juicy pork, starchy polenta with nice crunch, fresh green salad, and a sweet blueberry sauce.

For those who don’t want blueberries, their regular menu is also available. Like their “popular arancini ball”, similar to our one above, but with three times as many, and a beet gelee to enjoy it with. And you can’t tell in this photo, but each round is dyed pink on the inside from additional beet juice. Crispy and light, this made for a great tasty start.

The “Pappardelle bolognese” is one of their more popular pasta dishes with tender noodles coated in a slightly sweet tomato sauce, finished with salty Parmesan.

Their risotto is a lighter rendition of the firm, yet saucy, classic Italian rice dish. It is topped with mint, zucchini, and parsnip.

We were too full for dessert, but there is more blue to be had there. For more blueberry focused dishes, and what each restaurant is bringing to the table visit the link below.

GO BLUE ON SOUTH GRANVILLE

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
A great intimate spot for classic Italian in the neighbourhood. And I am glad that they need other South Granville restaurants are giving diners additional reasons to visit them this summer. What a creative campaign. Don’t deny your cravings.

FIORE
1485 West 12th Avenue, Vancouver Bc
604-558-1485
fiorerestaurants.ca

Café Salade de Fruits

Today I was at a lovely Parisian cafe, hidden within one of the side streets along South Granville. A hot spot for locals given the number of tables filled at random this Thursday afternoon. And each of them well taken care of with all the plenty of staff in branded tees on hand.

The smaller space is packed tight with seating to maximize their capacity. Booths by the wall, four tops by the window; and two rows of narrow tables between them both, side by side for convertible seating. Or you can grab a seat outside on their decent sized patio. Indoor, each table has a metal street sign screwed on to it. A way to pass on their personality and their French heritage.

Similarly, the restaurant is decorated with French themed artifacts and knick knacks. A cork art piece arranged to look like France. A few Eiffel towers crafted from different mediums. The blue, white, and red flag; and a lot more French street signs. A faux brick facade fronts the kitchen. Behind its peek-a-boo pass you can see two chefs in black working with stainless steel, to a citronella green motif.

The menu is printed in both French and English and is pretty straight forward. I liked how there were many specials of the day, offering variation to regulars at reasonable prices. A sandwich, soup, crepe, omelette, quiche, and pasta. We would stick to the French classics, for my first taste.

The “Garlic and butter escargots” were perfection. So much minced garlic and melted buttery goodness to sop up with the slices of baguette. And if you don’t like the idea of eating snails, you couldn’t tell what they were here. Chewy bites of escargot with no additional flavour outside of the garlic and butter.

The mussels were a classic, we paired it with a side of fries over salad. There was plenty of flavour in the soupy broth, more butter and garlic to enjoy with more bread. So tasty that I could have just drank it as is. The mussels were well prepared, the perfect vessel for the sauce. And the thin cut fries had a similar flavour when dipped into its side of garlic cream.

I was surprised by how much I liked the “Deep fried calamari”, especially considering it was gluten free. The thin veil of batter actually had me enjoying the perfectly soft and chewy texture of the squid a lot more. It wasn’t greasy, and you didn’t feel bogged down after eating half a bowl of it. I would order this one again.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
A really great spot to have a simple and delicious meal at. I would love to try more of their offerings to get a more fulsome picture of their food, but so far I like everything we had. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

CAFE SALADE DE FRUITS
1545 W 7th Avenue, Vancouver BC, V6J 1S1
604-714-5987
saladedefruits.com

Edge Yuandian tea and juice bar

Looking for an after dinner dessert option, my guest suggested the newly opened bubble tea place “Edge Yuandian tea and juice bar”. Truth be told, she sold me by describing its decor.

With all the other places for bubble tea in Vancouver you have to find a way to stand out, and here, “Edge” certainly has… or should I say, they have an “edge” in the game. Their pink cafe screams Instagram worthy, with a great selfie being reason enough to visit.

A minimalist approach on furnishings, but where they shine is in their decoration. One pink wall featured a collection of blown glass vases, empty and hung in disarray; they looked like bubbles coming from out of the wall.

The other had pastel rainbow cotton tuffs, clouds in this candy sweet wonderland. We were able to take our photos uninterrupted, by coming early and avoiding the after dinner crowd. As the only bubble tea game in the area for miles around, I can imagine them the popular kid on the block. And seeing this installation live I can definitely recommend coming down to see it in person.

As for the drinks, I didn’t find them especially different from anything or anywhere else, although the pearls were solid. My lactose allergic friend got one of their black teas with coconut milk and the traditional tapioca pearls. It was as expected, overwhelming with the distinct flavour of coconut. She ordered it with less ice and less sugar, opting for the ability to customize her drink further.

I had the Matcha milk with fresh strawberry and pearls. This, after a long agonizing decision on what to get. They had a few interesting sounding combinations to consider. But ultimately I made my choice based on what looked most appealing to me. A choice made easier with their collection of photos on an iPad. Each photo gave you more than just what the menu listed them as, with some names being more mysterious than other’s: “Avocado panna cotta”, “twin stars”, and “pink teddy”. They didn’t have an English description, but a line of Chinese character/, so you are forced to ask the clerk behind the counter what things are, if you are ordering based on taste.

The actual drink was matcha heavy, what I thought would be a creamy tea based beverage, was actually light like matcha powder stirred into luke warm milk. Luckily the strawberry chunks that it comes with and the addition of pearls that I ordered, made the drink more interesting. I enjoyed all the chewing through watery mouthfuls. But what I didn’t consider was how the drink looses something when you do as the clerk says, and stir it all together before you drink.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
A great edition for bubble tea fans in the area. Pretty drinks in one heck of a whimsical setting. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

EDGE YUANDIAN
106-950 West Broadway, Vancouver BC, V5Z 1K7
604-423-2808

Dalina Broadway

“Dalina”, the healthy Vancouver snack stop is soon to open their second location on Broadway. A fair bit smaller that their original, this posh cafeteria of sorts is sure to become the lunch time favourite of many who live and work in the neighbourhood.

Like their original location in Chinatown, the new restaurant features meals to go and snacks to take away. Freshly made salads, sandwiches, and wraps. As well pastries, doughnuts, and other baked goods. For drinks they offer up artisanal coffees, superfood smoothies, and kombucha on tap.

The vision was to provide Vancouverites with their own “grab-and-go style eatery”, the solution for busy people who don’t always have time to prepare wholesome and delicious meals for themselves. Full meals to enjoy at your desk, in your home, or within their space. And best of all, for the daily diners, most of their menu items are affordable ranging between $10-$15. And always presented in compostable packaging. They also have your catering needs covered with meeting and party ready trays with weekday office delivery.

So today, four days before their official opening, myself and a room full of others were invited to check out the new space and the same solid menu before they opened to the public. Truth be told, I haven’t actually ever visited their original location. When in that area and looking for a meal, I figured that their collection of baked goods and pre package salads won’t scratch any of my food itches. So to be able to learn that I was wrong first hand, here, was a treat.

The room is tiled in white, it gave the place a sterile feel. It was how clean you want the same tile in your bathroom and local swimming pool to be. It ran all around their bar/service counter. And behind it staff dressed in their branded tees poured alcoholic beverages and brewed up cups of caffeinated drinks. During regular hours of operation, this will also be where options are read off their over head menu and orders are paid for and placed. During this launch attendees enjoyed glasses of wine and beer, however the Broadway cafe won’t actually be able to pour until they get their liquor license in the spring. But you can enjoy artisan coffee and espressos in their branded cups for here or to go.

To its left is a glass counter with a healthy selection of baked goods. Where, I made sure to try a few of their delicious looking doughnuts. Thick and chewy cream filled and frosted doughnuts in matcha, French vanilla, chocolate banana, and espresso. There was also chocolate cake with frosting, cookies crammed with seeds and nuts for a filling snack, and moist in the centre slices of cakey loaves.

Right in front of this is their limited seating. A booth runs along the wall with small tables and loose chairs set facing it. If you follow them all the way to the entrance you will see a series of refrigerated units. These house their prepackaged meals and grocery staples for pick up and sale. From box salads, and yogurt cups to fresh made then frozen pastas and soups.

The following is a collection of what I tried this night. It is worth noting that the baked goods are sourced from local vendors, and it is the prepackaged meals that are exclusive to them. Overall, I was surprised by how good the vegan options tasted and how satisfying the healthier options were. Everything I had was so flavourful and I felt better indulging in it.

 

Guests grazed on charcuterie and roasted vegetable boards which make the perfect tray for a potluck or to impressive at any party. Cured meats, hard cheeses, and pickled vegetables for self serving.

There were also small bites being served. Like the Tahini and eggplant farro salad. A zesty and filling morsel that had a nice chew to it, with notes of curry spices.

I preferred the juicier beet and goat cheese salad. Firm, naturally sweet red beets tasty with the pairing of sharp cheese.

Sundried tomato and goat cheese quiches and ones with smoked salmon. Both with fluffy egg and a buttery pie crusts.

I really enjoyed their prosciutto and fresh vegetable filled croissants. Surprisingly the latter more than the former. The neutral vegetable allowed the delicious flakiness of the  croissant to show through more.

Similarly the focaccia sandwiches were delicious because of the herb bread sandwiching either roasted vegetable or slices of meat. Surprisingly I really enjoyed the one that combined an olive tapenade and crunchy broccoli together.

For dessert fresh cream filled cannolis came around. A show stopper with green pistachio cream and candied orange peels.

The flourless chocolate fudge with caramel beads was gluten free and a hit with the room. Chewy and chocolatey.

And the burlee lemon tart a great refreshing way to end your meal and cleanse your palate.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
A great place for a convenient meal, and a great additional to the area. Tasty and healthy options that won’t break the bank, leaving you feeling energized and satisfied throughout the day. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

DALINA
92 West Broadway, Vancouver BC, V5Z 1K7
604-428-4364
dalina.ca
#Destinationdelina #Delinabroadway.

Banana Leaf, Dine Out Menu 2019

Tired of over priced and overly busy Chinese restaurants for Chinese New Year, my mother sought Malaysian cuisine for this year’s celebratory dinner. So we found ourselves at the long standing chain, “Banana Leaf”; and just in time to take advantage of their $35 Dine Out menu, on its last day.

It has been a while since my last visit. I am a fan of Malaysian cuisine, but don’t find their rendition of it the most authentic. So was surprised to see how they have updated their space walking in. The once green and yellow exterior was now hiding a chic new dining area. White walls, sea foam booths, and a collection of dark wood artifacts around the room. The decorative greenery gave the space some life. I didn’t visit the washroom, but was able to spot the eye catching, green banana leaf print that papered it from my seat. It was quite the pun. As a whole, the space was updated and the brand breathed anew because of it.

As for our meal, their Dine Out menu wasn’t the typical pick and choose 3 course menu like at all the other restaurants participating, (that I have encountered). This was a set meal with no substitutions, and a minimum required spend of 2 servings. Although both the appetizer and entree course came with 3 different dishes, served together. Which gives the diner a total of 9 courses for $35.

We came as a family of 7, each ordering the $35 menu, and for the most part we shared two full servings of each course, family style. I did the math, and ordering this special menu versus the regular plates off the regular menu, is a better deal. Majority of what is offered on this menu is also available on their regular menu; thus making it a good way to dip your toe into Malaysian cuisine, or to try a new restaurant at a fair price.

We started with our own individual serving of “Indonesian gado salad”. Cooked bean sprouts, tofu, cucumber, potato, green bean, and egg; coated in a sweeter satay peanut sauce. It was tasty, but I could have used more texture in my salad. I found it too juicy with all the bean sprouts. I wanted some chew from dried tofu or some crunch from crushed peanuts. It was a good start, but it felt incomplete.

The rest was served shared style in their full serving plates, like the “Nyonya Calamari” served our 7 across two full plates. Crispy fried calamari with a sweet chilli sauce dip. It was your standard breaded and deep fried squid offered in modern chains and at Greek restaurants. Out side of the sweet and tangy dipping sauce I didn’t see how this was “Nyonya” style, the term coming from a group of nomadic Malaysian tribes.

The “Gulai clams” is not on their regular menu. Steamed clams sitting in a pool of their sweet, yellow, coconut curry. It was good, juicy clams in a slightly spicy broth. I enjoyed the roti we ordered below best when dipped into this, using it to wipe the bowl clean.

I completely disliked the “Curry spiced oysters”, to the point that I couldn’t swallow and had to spit it out. I am not a fan of the fishy flavour of cooked oysters. I can eat them raw, but find them rancid tasting when cooked and fried in oil that exemplifies this. Breaded and deep fried oysters, seasoned in curry spices, served with a green leaf salad on the side. Everyone else found them just fine.

I liked the “Lemongrass grilled giant prawns”. Giant grilled tiger prawns seasoned with lemongrass, garlic, palm sugar, fish sauce, and scallions. Minus the hassle of peeling the shell, I would gladly eat a plate of this again.

I liked the presentation of the “Sambal sockeye” grilled in banana leaf. You unfolded the green leaf to discover a cut up sockeye fillet, seasoned in sambal chilli sauce, lemon grass, dried paste, curry spices, and okra. It had a good flavour to them, but I am not a big fan of cooked salmon. Though did enjoy it with a serving of the rice below.

The “Turmeric rice” was fragrant, great on its own and better as a base. I want to learn how to make this for myself.

The “10 veggie and 10 spices” was also a nice accompaniment to the rice. A collection of diced vegetables in a creamy curry-like sauce. I was able to make out chunks of squash, peas, green beans, carrots, red and yellow peppers, taro, tomato, and okra. So tasty that I didn’t miss meat in this, but got my fix below anyhow.

“Thai sweet chilli chicken”, simple and delicious, juicy dark meat nuggets. The red and yellow peppers played off its sweet sauce.

For dessert our $35 set came with “Kuih dadar”, pandan crepes with grated coconut. But luckily I asked if we could get a split order, wanting half of our desserts to be the “Pandan coconut panna cotta” from off their $25 menu. The “Kuih dadar” was not as expected. I liked their neon green colour and how soft and chewy the crepe was, but the filling was off putting. It looked like minced meat or as my partner put it, “the bottom of a container of bacon bits”. It tasted as gritty as it looked, coating the mouth like sand, with a burnt after taste.

By comparison the “Pandan coconut panna cotta” was much better. It looked pretty with its layers of white and green jello-pudding, topped with a mango compote, gula melaka syrup, and a single tart cranberry. It tasted like mango and coconut pudding mostly. Whereas I didn’t get enough pandan flavouring. I also didn’t need the sweet syrup, it almost took away from the lighter fruit flavours.

Having seen our dislike of their crepe, our server was kind enough to offer us more servings of the panna cotta, so that everyone could have one glass jar in full. We fully appreciated the gesture and service.

As additional sides to share we also got three servings of the “Roti canai”, a favourite of those familiar with the chain. It was served split between two plates, so my photos shows a one and a half serving. Flaky layered bread prepared with evaporated milk, egg, flour, and butter; served with a sweet and lumpy peanut dip. It was like a layered pancake, tasty on its own, but dipping it into sauces is what makes it.

“Baba’s chicken wing”, Peranakan’s marinated chicken wings, lightly breaded, deep fried in curry spices. It was a clean and dry wing. Didn’t get any of the listed curry spices, it was more a simple pepper and salt seasoning.

The “Vegetable spring rolls” were filled with jicama roots, carrot, cabbage, celery, green bean, turmeric, white pepper, sesame oil, sweet chilli sauce, and pickled red cabbage. It had a curry flavour to it, which was over powered by the sweet dipping sauce that it came with. Not my favourite flavour from a spring roll, but it at least had a nice crispy texture.

 

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.
Approachable Malaysia food made easier with a set menu that gives you a little bit of everything and takes the guess work out of the equation for you. Having Malaysian food in Malaysia I cannot say this measures up, I was missing punchier ingredients and more pronounced seasoning. Good, but didn’t hit the spot the same. Recommend for those new to the cuisine and for those who prefer milder flavours. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

BANANA LEAF
820 West Broadway, Vancouver BC, V5Z 1J8
604-731-6333
bananaleaf-vancouver.com
Banana Leaf Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Guy Fieri at Peaceful Restaurant

“Food Network” celebrity, Guy Fieri was in Vancouver shooting for his latest television series. In it he revisits his favourite stops along his travels, while looking for the best “Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives”. And I just so happened to be at the original “Peaceful Restaurant”, when he popped in. No words needed to be spoken, you could tell something was happening in the restaurant tonight. The camera crew, the large spot lights, and the cherry red convertible rolling up with a “FLVRTWN” license plate. Not to mention all the well dressed staff on shift today and the owner and his entire family present and ready to serve customers and prepare food. And it is not surprising that tonight I have had some of the best service, and the best meal from them to date.

For those unfamiliar with “Peaceful” they are the well known and beloved Sichuan restaurant that is delicious and approachable. A friendly spot that anyone unfamiliar with Chinese food, or is too intimidated to visit a restaurant with its name only written in Chinese characters; can come to and order exactly what they want and how they want it. Cut and paste Chinese food with an easy to read menu and plenty of photos. The restaurant takes into consideration their customers taste. More spice, less chilli, or additional salt. It is no wonder this winning recipe has earned them international recognition and additional locations all across the Lower Mainland.

The cafe on Broadway by Cambie is their first location, the original one that Guy first visited and helped launch all those years ago. With his endorsement he was able to help propel this family run business into the multi chain organization that they are today. And it was nice to be within the restaurant when the two parties (Guy and Charlie the chef and owner) reminisced about it all.

The filming was done in the kitchen, where Chef Charlie offered up newer dishes and sought Guy’s opinion on them. There was tasting and talking before the shaking of hands. The Guy was gone, just as quick as he came. But not before posing for a few photos and tagging the wall, just like he did 6 years ago.

When it came time for me to have my meal, we took our time and stayed much longer. The staff were friendly, and very hospitable. I heard servers ask about preferences when talking orders , and returning a couple more times to check on dinner and if they can be of further assistance.

I wanted what Guy got to try so ordered the two below. “Sichuan thousand chilli chicken”. Crispy chicken stir fried with dried peppers, peppercorns, garlic, ginger, green onion, green beans, and crispy potatoes (which is a new twist they are taking on this dish). It looks a lot more spicy and intimating than it really was. If you avoid the red chillies, you avoided the heat. Therefore the dish took work to eat, can’t just scoop and plop a spoonful into your mouth. Being caught off guard by a peppercorn or two, isn’t all that fun. But the menu gave you fair warning. They called this dish “tongue tingling” and that it was. I did like the rest of the ingredients. The ratio of batter to chicken was great, enough for crunch, without hiding the actual flavour of chicken. The beans were firm and the flavour complimentary to the nuggets of meats and the slivers of garlic. As my guest put it, this was a well balance meal with meat, vegetable, and starch; you just needed dairy.

“Xian steamed cold noodle” was the other dish we tried cause Guy did. I love a good thick and chewy noodle, so was excited to try some of “Peaceful’s” house made version today. When ordering it, our hostess spoke to how the dough for this is prepared. It is washed before it is cut into strips. And is then boiled and a thorough dressing with a garlic vinaigrette that includes sesame oil and tahini. The result, a chilled tart and tangy dish, with a warming chilli spice. Our hostess was also quick to boast that their freshly made chilli oil is what makes all the difference in this, and she was right. Great as a summer plate or a appetizer to kickstart your appetite.

And what put them on the map during Guy’s last visit, and the dish he helped familiarized: the “Peaceful beef roll”. Slices of beef and strips of chives roll together with a sweet and tangy sauce in a chewy green onion pancake. Altogether a great combination. It is worth nothing that everything in this, and everything else on the menu is made in house, except the rice cakes.

My favourite dish of the night was the “Peaceful house stir fried noodles”. Seared noodles, fish, shrimp, squid, pork, and vegetables; all coated in a chilli garlic sauce. It has a really great flavour that fully coats each slurp-able noodle strand. I liked the texture of the squishy squid with it, but found the BBQ pork a little much, whereas the fish was hard to notice all together.

And when it is handmade in house and on the menu, you have to get the classic “Xiao long bao”. These steamed pork and chive filled dumplings were deliciously moist, one bite morsels filled with warm soup. They were so soft that they almost melt under your tongue.

It turns out the owner’s daughter was working front of house tonight, and she was actually the one tending to us. Upon learning this fact, I took the opportunity to chat her up some. We discussed the universality of their Sichuan cuisine. And the fact that they are the Chinese food chain that is welcoming for everyone. She seemed proud, as her dad and brother dawned their chef’s uniforms, and her mother sat in the dining area taking it all in. What a cool experience and a great day to play the fly on the wall.

 

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.
Same assessment as the last time I visited. A solid choice for quick and easy Chinese, made all the more special tonight. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

PEACEFUL RESTAURANT
532 West Broadway, Vancouver BC
604-879-9878
peacefulrestaurant.com

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