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The Rise, Dine Out Menu 2021

Dine Out Vancouver, the popular food fuelled event that encourages diners to get out and back into restaurants, after an expensive holiday season is back. Running from February 5th to March 7th, with some changes in lieu of the times. The restaurant industry still needs to fill tables and place orders, but the motivation greater. Therefore it is not surprising that a handful of restaurants are taking a different approach to their menus, not just a choose your own adventure of three course at set prices; but they are weighing their options and approaching their menus differently to serve the times and the people.

Take the modern Asian French fusion restaurant The Rise, on South Granville for example. This year they are serving up a shared menu for you and your bubble buddies. At $42 per person, you share your courses with a minimum seating of 2. And if you aren’t comfortable dining in, take out is available as well.

The menu for a party of two includes the an amuse bouche each to start, and your combined choice of 1 out of the 4 small shared plate options, 2 out of 3 large shared plate possibilities, and 1 out of the 3 dessert choices. I have listed all the options for your reference, but naturally will only go into detail of what we actually had between two.

But before we start, worth noting is that they also have a full drink menu, put together to highlight the dishes available. We tried the two available cocktails, over the mocktails, and wine and beer options.

The G & Tea cocktail was a mix of their green tea infused gin, mint, lemon grass, and tonic. It was described as holistic and botanical, an easy sipper, it drank like any other tea would to help cleanse in between bites.

The Holliwood North was a fun one. Bench 1775 Sauvignon blanc, lychee liqueur, elderflower soda, and a cranberry and orange mango popsicle. The drink changed as the popsicle melted. Adding sweetness and flavour to the other wise white wine forward beverage.

As for food, our meal began strong. Our favourite dish and the most memorable was the amuse bouche with its standout flavour profile. A grilled rice crisp with slow roasted tomato jam and sour plum powder. This was such a clever idea. The sour plum kicked up an already unique take on chips and salsa. The chips in this case being deep fried rice roll wrap, which we thought was very creative.

For appetizer we went for the “Chicken Seoul Good”, as it sounded a lot more substantial than the rice battered brussel sprouts, miso braised cauliflower, or the rice pilaf. This was Korean style fried chicken in a wild mushroom cream with truffle oil, grated parmesan. It had all the best things that you want topping your crispy chicken. There is no hiding the truffle essence, it was fully highlighted by the creamy mushroom sauce. The serving is definitely meant for 2, so rich that I couldn’t indulge in more than 2 pieces, which meant tasty leftovers.

For entrees we originally choose the uni pasta and coconut rib adobo, but our engaging server convinced us that the the pho flavoured sizzling hot plate was the way to go. It was the newest addition to the menu and created specifically for Dine Out.

“Sizzling Pho Sure ” – Sautéed andouille sausage, shrimps, chicken, okra, corn, lobster broth, and crispy pho noodles. It was good, but didn’t meet my expectations. It was more stir fry than the noodle dish I envisioned when I read “pho”. Although I did get pho from the gravy you pour over the sizzling cast iron. It tasted just like the pho broth. It was uncanny and I couldn’t wrap my head around how they did it, and at the same time wanted it over a poutine with bean sprouts and thin cuts of beef. As for the ingredients, individually they were tasty, but all together I didn’t find them cohesive. This was especially the case for the very zesty andouille. I ended up taking the leftovers and rolling into a wrap for an amazing snack later in the day.

The entree I came in wanting and enjoy the most was the “Uni-Versal Pasta XO Edition”. A striking squid ink pasta fully coated in sea urchin cream, topped with an free run egg yolk, their house X.O. sauce, sautéed prawns, flying fish roe, and toasted seaweed. You are given the option of adding on fresh local sea urchin for $7.50, dependent on availability; and I highly suggest you indulge in this. You get two pieces because you are sharing and it certainly elevates the flavour. If you have the uni early on, it umami flavour lingers and carries forward throughout the rest of the dish. As a whole, all the ingredients worked well together. The tender noodles popped with the fish roe, the sauce offered a cheesy and milky quality, different from any other pasta dish. This was a good amount of richness between two, although we ordered three entrees so was treated to leftovers the next day. And like all pastas, this is better when given a chance to let all the flavour soak in.

Having made adobo for the first time recently, I was intrigued by the “A Rib Tickler”. This was described as coconut adobo braised short beef ribs with a sweet potato pomme purée, sous vide egg, grilled kale, and savoury orange & pecan praline. We unfortunately didn’t notice that the dish was set down with a gravy to self sauce. The original result: what we thought was a bland dish in comparison to everything else. Having dressed it accordingly, things certainly got more flavour. Although no where near rich and fatty like we know adobe to be, and we certainly didn’t get any coconut. The dish as a whole was more refined, a delicate plate you would get from a fine dining establishment, more Westernized.

And for dessert we choose between the hard choice of either a matcha cheese tart, ice cream mochi, or a bubble tea cake. We were encouraged to get the latter from our server, and would later learn that this is one of The Rise’s crown jewel. A dessert that took them plenty of time to perfect, and boy did they. The “Boba Coma” is tea tres leches, brown sugar tapioca boba pearls, crème anglaise, crema, brown butter crumble, and warm caramel. Cutting into the cream topped, soft sponge was a cave of caramelized boba pearls. My only critique here was there was not enough pearls to pair with tea flavoured cake. So sort of how it is like when you drink actual bubble tea, I guess.

In short, this is one Dine Out menu I would recommend. Follow in my food steps, or try something different for appetizers, but be sure not to miss out on the uni pasta and bubble tea cake for dessert. Available now until March 7th for $42 per person!

The Rise
3135 Granville Street, Vancouver BC, V6H 3K1
604-559-8280
theriseeatery.com

Heritage Asian Eatery, Dine Out Menu 2021

With the world, and especially the restaurant industry being turned upside down on its head, it is no surprise that this year’s Dine Out Vancouver has a record breaking 350 restaurants participating. We are seeing restauranteurs get creative with their offerings, and what they can do to bring more patrons through their doors. We aren’t just simply seeing the traditional 3 course set menus with your choice between what appetizer, entree, and dessert you want. And it isn’t simply $15, $25, $35, or $45 price points anymore. The offerings reflect the times and what the restaurant is focusing on to get you down for a visit.

At Heritage Asian Eatery they are putting their best price forward. Rebranding as “a casual, counter-service restaurant that features a menu of Far-East flavours prepared with locally sourced ingredients and modern techniques.”, taken from their press release. Their Dine Out menu is a door crasher at $15, available during both lunch and dinner service. You are able to choose from any two of their Chinese BBQ offerings served over rice, finishing your meal with an in house made black sesame ball for dessert. With nothing else in the area offering Chinese style BBQ meats, they are certainly the go-to.

Your meaty choice are as follows. Chicken poached in house made soy sauce, served with their house made ginger scallion sauce. I would order this for the sauce alone, where tender chicken is given some zest.

The tangerine roast duck was my favourite. I don’t get duck often so when I do, and it’s done this well I relish it, more so with their sweet and sour plum sauce. Anywhere else you have to spend $15 for just this much duck alone.

And the honey roasted pork is an instant favourite for those unfamiliar with Chinese style BBQ. Although this have used more sweet and salty flavouring, but texture wise it was spot on.

As for the sesame ball, it was a fun teaser of their newer dim sum offerings. So good that we did ended up ordering some, because dim sum should really be all day food.

But to start, we were given some freshly fried shrimp crackers. Crispy and airy with little shrimp flavour, you are actually eating this more for texture than taste.

For dim sum we started with an order of their “Classic flavour bomb dumplings”. Similar in style to polish porgies they are available in beef, pork, or lamb. We had the latter with an dill and chilli vinegar dressing. It had a rich spice note to it, a unique flavour that I have not had in any other dumpling.

The Crispy wontons that were filled with prawn, pork, and chives were a familiar classic. Each made more tastier with plenty of sweet chilli sauce.

The BBQ pork above also found its way into a white dough bun. Saucy and sweet with a little bit of salt from the bao made this a tasty number.

The Crystal prawn dumplings were your classic ha gao shrimp dumpling. It tasted as expected, with a sticky wrapper.

And when I order hao gao, I always find myself adding sui mai to the mix as well. I like the flavour of the pork mix plenty, I just wished that the tobiko that topped each wasn’t steamed along with them, but instead placed last so that they remained raw and popped in your mouth.

And because our littlest guest wanted some noodles, we added on an order of their Dan Dan udon to round out our meal. Udon noodle, ground pork, pickled cucumber, cilantro, green onions, and peanut sauce. I have had this one before so expected the same today. But sadly, we all agreed that this bowl was bland. Although easily remedied when we added in the side order of sauce that came with the classic flavour bomb above. The thick soy and chilli mix inserted the heat and salt that we were originally missing from these otherwise saucy noodles.

Worth noting is their seasoning offerings. Like the oysters that were a show stopper in their large shells. Two seasoned in garlic and the other two in black bean sauce. They are a limited edition menu item, in celebration of Chinese New Year in weeks to come. They slurped down easy and were tasty with all the dressings piled high.

Similarly, their salted egg yolk buns saw a refresh in time for Chinese New Year festivities. They were dyed orange, and came garnished with spinach leaves. They were made to look like mandarin oranges, popular during the season as it refers to good fortune.

In short, $15 for a full meal and dessert is a great deal. Where else can you find Chinese BBQ in the city? And as I did, when you come in and save, you can then take those savings and try more of their menu for less.

Heritage Asian Eatery
382 W Broadway, Vancouver, BC V5Y 1R2
(604) 559-6058
eatheritage.ca

Heritage Asian Eatery, take out

Despite the need to distance and isolate, Vancouver food lovers are finding ways to support local businesses, while still enjoying their favourites restaurants. And thankfully the weather is cooperating. Today we were at “Heritage Asian Eatery’s” second location on West Broadway, where you could order from their entire menu for take out. And in part of the “Breaking Bread” initiative created by “SMC marketing”, they and other participating restaurants are offering special menu item at door crasher prices to attract customers in. Today we would take advantage of this.

In order to flatten the curve and diminish the spread of COVID-19 restaurants are no longer able to host dine in customers. Majority of them have shuttered their doors completely, but others like “Heritage” have taken to take out to make ends meet. And on the perfect day with sun and a park near by, you can make do with a picnic in a park. Continuing to practice social distancing as you, of course.

It is so odd to see “Heritage’s” open space seating area with share style tables completely void of people. You walk right up to their counter and place your order, reading off the blown up menu on your right. Barbecue meat options, bowls of noodles and/or rice, and plenty of small sides to share in between.

The daily, limited specials are printed off by the counter. We would order both the spring roll and the sprouts. At $2.25 per roll the “bbq spring rolls” were still a little pricy, but absolutely worth it. They were incredibly crispy with a wrapper that flakes off. It just needed a good blotting from all the oil that literally dripped down your fingers as you held it. Not to mention the additional grease from the sweet and fatty diced bbq pork filling inside. But taste and texture wise this was just aces.

The “five-spice brussel sprouts” were a great way to add a little vegetable to our outdoor feast. Although the seasoning could have been more evenly spread out. I got pieces that were too salty and others that needed more zip. The texture was slightly crispy, with the individual leaves that have fallen off the round sprout being my favourite. This was a lot for $6, although at the same time I would have been just as happy with 1/4 less for $4. Too much between two, overwhelming for one.

My guest was excited to see “Dan Dan” noodles offered, so we had to indulge with a bowl. However he was disappointed to learn that this rendition did not include the peanut butter sauce he associated with this mince meat noodle. He found the meat to be chalky and salty, from the starch that they used to thicken it, causing it to congeal quick. I on the other hand loved it just fine for the thick saucy udon noodles that you slurp up greedily. I also liked the thicker, syrup-like sauce they were coated in. This too was on the saltier side, but paired with the sprouts it was the perfect balance of freshness for such a dense and rich dish.

But the rice bowl is the one we both raved about. We ordered the one topped with pork belly seasoned in five spice. The thick cuts of belly were a little more fattier than I’d like it to be. However, the bed of rice, raw side salad, smashed radish, runny egg, and crispy fried topping helped to cut into some of its gristle. Each bite is best taken with a little bit for everything. So good that I want to grab more take out from them to try the chicken, duck, and even vegetarian eggplant and shiitake versions as well.

For dessert I highly recommend their “Salted egg bun”. A white bun deep fried to golden brown perfection, and filled generously with a liquid salted egg yolk core. It is best to eat this while it is still warm and toasty, but be warned things can get messy if you are unprepared for what can spill out with the initial bite. This happened to be the case for my guest, who despite ruining his shirt, joyfully declared he would come back just for more of them.

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.
The food travels well, everything was satisfying as a whole, and the specials are worth exploring. I would highly recommend their modernized, Chinese comfort food for your take out needs. Don’t deny your cravings.

Heritage Asian Eatery
382 W Broadway, Vancouver, BC V5Y 1R2
(604) 559-6058
https://www.eatheritage.ca/

Tojo’s Restaurant, Cocktail Hour

Admittedly, this is my first visit to the Vancouver institution that is “Tojo’s”. The restaurant has garnered much attention and many accolades thanks to the local celebrity chef with the same name. Tojo-san is better known as the creator of the widely popular “California roll”. And his restaurant on West Broadway has seen sushi trends come and go, but it still remains one of thee spots for authentic Japanese cuisine.

Most recently they have opened their sake bar, and with it a focus on cocktail hour drink specials. Normally, their two hours of discount food and drink is available from Thursday to Saturday from 4-6pm. However, for the winter season, they are attracting more diners by extending the promotion across Monday to Saturday 4-6pm. Ideal for those in search of a warm perch and a cold drink.

For many, their sake bar serves as a great transition into dinner. For most, it is an approachable and cost effective way to enjoy the quality and prestige of “Tojo’s”, at prices one can afford day to day.

The restaurant is a beautiful space, modern and open with plenty of seats. If given the choice, I would opt for the sushi bar. They are the best seats in the house, especially when Tojo-san is behind the bar, and you catch a glimpse of him rolling his career defining sushi. And speaking from experience, he is very accustomed to having his photo taken, posed or not.

Although today we were gathered in the lounge, with vaulted ceiling and a well stocked bar. The locale only seemed fitting given our intended tasting of their entire cocktail hour menu. This was a brighter space thanks to the full window-ed exterior; although with the onset of earlier nights, this was fleeting. Here, bouquets of fully bloomed lilies crowned tables, green leaves and vines added freshness with bamboo accents, and the ceiling is hung with lanterns and a traditional Japanese sun umbrella.

We were all lined up at the bar, to be able to watch the quick hands of their bar manager, Akira; craft “Tojo” exclusive cocktails, created by Jeff Savage of “Fairmont Pacific Rim” fame.

Akira started everyone off light with one of their highballs. The “Japanese” one features Suntory Toki with a Bittered Sling Lem-Marrakech Bitters, and Soda. It was easy to drink. It didn’t mask the refined flavour of the smokey whiskey with sugar or syrups, and there no burn to follow. This was the epitome of a simple and clean cocktail, one that even a non drinker can appreciate. Similarly, they had two additional country-themed highballs. The “Canadian” features Lot 40, and the “Scottish” one, Johnnie Walker Black.

Next we had the “Tokaido 53”, which was described as a riff on a martini. It was inspired by “journeys on the ancient road connecting Kyoto and Edo”. It was made featuring Bison Grass Vodka, Kazuki Gin, and an Herb and Citrus Oil. This is for those who like a stiffer cocktail. Strong in botanicals and fragrant florals, with a flavour that transitions as it goes from sip to swallow.

The “Salaryman” was as easy to drink as an iced tea, but with substantial citrus punches. The menu suggested this as a “stern cocktail”, that is best way to end your work day. A Japanese Whisky Blend, with notes of Matcha and Black Sesame. Although I wish I could actually taste more of the latter two, and/or see it as a dusting on top of the actual cocktail.

My favourite drink of the night was “Tojo’s Milk Punch”. Eastern flavours prepared with Western techniques, for something new and different. Bank’s 5 Island Rum, Shiso, Sencha, Mint, Lime, and Clarified Milk. This too I found easy to drink; and great of you don’t like the taste or burn of liquor. My dinner mates described this one as being “dangerous” because it tastes too much like punch with a creamy, milky, sweeter finish.

And lastly we had the “Kitsune Gimlet”, a cocktail that was tart and tangy. A punchy sour that wakes you up, and is made with Kazuki Gin, Yuzu, Honey.

Given that “Tojo’s restaurant” is better known for their luxury experience, you can also indulge in some premium sake. One of the bottles above is $2000 and the other runs for $6k. They are both exclusive go “Tojo’s” with the latter being the last of its kind.

As for food, we got a first hand look at their upcoming yakitori option. Only available during cocktail hour and made before your eyes, the station is a hot griddle with “Chef Drago behind it, at the ready. After a good oiling the heated surface is used to cook sticks of marinaded meat and tofu. And half the fun is watching the colour of either transition to a delicious gold brown, whilst hearing the snap and crackle of a hot oil and juices sizzle.

The chicken was incredibly tender and juicy, seasoned in a simple salt and pepper dusting.

The tofu could have used more dressing in my opinion, but considering what it is, it did offer a nice break between the meat sticks. Firm tofu with a garlicky sauce brushed over generously.

But my favourite yakitori was the beef, flavoured in an orange juice and brown sugar marinade. The milder citrus helped to enhance the natural flavour and juices of the beef.

Much like the tofu, I judged the next plate on my list before seeing it or trying it; and was pleasantly surprised as a result. The vegetarian “Miso mustard lotus root” are cube of taro sitting in a pool of tango miso. They are crunchy in texture and slightly spicy with a chilli mayo. Each block rich and satisfying.

Next, we got tofu a different way with the “Tofu Ankake”. This is describes as an agedashi tofu with eggplant, both sitting in a thick broth. It was a beautiful dish, the vegetable offered some textural interest to pair with the silken tofu. Here, I would have liked some additional broth, to be able to enjoy the whole more like soup instead.

For actual soup we had “Tojo’s chowder”, it looked like a classic chowder, but was much lighter and less chunky. And it still ate creamy, but with Japanese nuances. Mussels, salmon, carrots, and plenty of onions.

The “dashimaki + caviar” was a crowd pleaser: Japanese egg omelette topped with ikura & tobiko. Everyone appreciated the work that went into crafting the thin layers of egg omelette, that folded into one another, seamlessly. I especially liked the mix of textures it brought to my mouth. The fluffy egg, the pops of roe, and the mashed radish.

But my favourite dish for taste was “Tojo’s tuna”. This is one of his signature dishes made with wild albacore tuna in a wasabi and sesame sauce. The delicate fish didn’t need any additional seasonings, but the pool of sauce at the bottle of the bowl was there if you thought otherwise. I also liked the added crunch the crushed peanuts provided, offering up a completely new sensation.

The “Royal Chicken” was deep fried white meat chicken stuffed with asparagus. Beautifully done and presented, but a little dry for my tastes. I wanted more of a saucy gravy to dip it into, instead of the salty plum paste served on the side. Although the plum did pair well with the shisho leaves, embedded somewhere within the roll.

The chicken in the “Citrus and sea salted wings” on the other hand, was right up my alley. Crispy organic chicken, prepared “Tojo-style”, which means mess-free. In fact they take the time to push all the meat to the tip of the drumlet for a more aesthetically pleasing look. There was plenty of crunch to this simplified wing: juicy, salty, meaty, and just well done. And the side of tempura sweet potatoes were well chosen, they added balance and starch to the serving.

The “Bbq scallop” was a show stopper, served in shell with tomato, snap pea, carrots, and enoki mushrooms; all soaked in a bright dashi broth. Delicious.

The “Wagyu sukiyaki” was comforting. Thinly sliced piece meat, fried rapidly with vegetables and a light teriyaki-like sauce. All of which are piled high over chewy glass noodles. I would love a full serving of this for any meal.

And you can’t visit “Tojo’s” without having his “Tojo maki”. As “The Pioneer of the modern California Roll” this one speaks volumes; showcasing local Dungeness crab. It was lovely. A classic and I have no complaints.

We rounded out the night by bringing back the hot grill and “Chef Dragon” got back behind it. With dual flippers in hand, he made everyone their own individual size seafood okonomiyaki. “Okonomiyaki” is a savoy Japanese pancake. This one has shrimp, scallop, and plenty of shredded cabbage; held together with a wheat-flour-based batter. Worth noting is that this rendition had very little batter, allowing the crispiness of the shredded and stringy cabbage to take centre stage. If we weren’t full from all the above, we were now.

And as a amazingly cute gesture, “Tojo” presented each of us a hand picked bag of small Fuji apples, as we said our goodbyes for the night. This gesture is not the norm, but fully appreciated, nonetheless.

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.
In short, and to repeat myself. “Tojo’s” new cocktail hour menu is worth checking out. A taste and teaser of this famous restaurant at great prices, paired with amazingly crafted cocktails; what’s not to love? Don’t deny your cravings.

TOJO’S
1133 W Broadway, Vancouver, BC V6H 1G1
(604) 872-8050
tojos.com

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

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