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Category: Kerrisdale

Golden Ocean Seafood Restaurant

We were in search of dim sum, and “Golden Ocean” was chosen for its accessibility. Truth be told, I don’t often choose my Chinese restaurants, nor do I order myself. Typically, both of those matters I leave to my family, as I don’t normally visit Chinese restaurants outside of family gatherings. So it was nice to dine with friends and see what they and their families order and love.

The restaurant was on the second floor, hard to spot if you don’t know what you are looking for. Inside it is huge standard Chinese restaurant. Round tables topped with white cloth and lazy Susans. A bar with a lucky golden cat straddling it, a featured Chinese tapestry, and a live seafood tank. All the hallmarks of a good Chinese seafood restaurant.

The dishes were a group effort in ordering, and are described in the order of which they arrived. “Breaded shrimp with deep fried eggplant”. Firm shrimp-loaf stuffed in to melty squishy eggplant body suit.

I love Chinese style deep fried squid for its chewy texture, exemplified by its cakey flour battering. No dipping sauce needed, these are plenty tasty with its coating of salt and chillies.

They were much like the “Baby cuttlefish in curry sauce”. I too enjoy this for its multiple chews required per small bulb.

“Pan fried radish cake with xo sauce” is yet another dim sum dish that I enjoy for its texture. The firm squares almost melt in your mouth. And I like it’s fishy flavour from the use of dried shrimp within the brick.

“Steamed Pork dumplings” are a classic with it juicy centre.

And “Steamed Shrimp dumplings” go hand in hand with the pork above. I love the starchy shell coating each nugget of shrimp the best, preferring to eat each element separately.

This version of “Steamed BBQ pork bun” was not as expected, it was more sweet than meaty and salty. Even more so with the sugary coarse coating that covered the bun and the honey that coated the meat within it. Our group wasn’t a fan of this rendition.

Our second attempt at ordering “Steamed pork buns proved more successful”. These were the ones we were looking for. Savoury meat in a neutral doughy shell.

The “Shrimp with egg tofu” was a nice one. The same steamed shrimp you get in the dumplings, but nestled atop of a creamy tofu pillow. The latter of the two being my favourite.

Chinese donut wrapped with rice rolls. Chewy, smooth, salty, and sweet; this had everything going on in one mouthful.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
I didn’t see anything that really sets them apart from all the other Chinese seafood restaurants, just another option to enjoy dim sum in Kerrisdale. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

GOLDEN OCEAN
2046 W 41st Avenue, Vancouver BC, V6M 1Y7
604-263-8886
Golden Ocean Seafood Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Nana’s Green Tea

There was much buzz surrounding this green tea themed dessert parlour, one that continued to surround it well though the summer. I was able to visit it before the season ended with a larger group of friends. Amongst us five we were able to try all their matcha frappe variations, and one of their red bean creations too. But truth be told each is pretty much the same, except the toppings varies slightly from one cup to the next.

The little shop had little room to shuffle in, given the crowds they drew. A poster version of their menu and stanchions helped to organize this ramble. The goal was that you would use the time waiting in queue to have your beverage or parfait chosen well before; thus hemorrhaging the time those behind you would have to wait.

If the space allows, you can even eat your treat at the back. Just follow the informative panels, leading you towards this dining area. They educate visitors on the quality and the process that goes into the matcha powder that they use. And if you manage to secure a seat, I would suggest ordering one of their very photogenic parfaits, served in a tall glass with the lengthy spoon to match. This is layers of ice cream and whipped cream, available and topped with the same ingredients as our frappes below. You can also have it to go, but having to scoop up and walk might prove challenging.

As for the frappes, they were tasty. If given the choice, and if they were located in a more accessible area, I would absolutely order this green tea over any at Starbucks. You could taste the quality in the powder. Their ice cream and mocchi finishes offered additional flavouring and creaminess.

Matcha frappe with vanilla soft cream.

Matcha shiratama frappe.

Matcha warabimochi frappe.

Black sesame shiratama frappe.

Azuki caramel latte. A nice non-caffeinated alternative with a rosy red bean flavour.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
Available hot and cold, they cater to matcha lovers and those who enjoy other Japanese flavours like hojicha and azuki. A great desert stop in Kerrisdale and one I would visit more often if it was only closer to my work or home. Will definitely swing by the next time I am in the neighbourhood. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

NANA’S GREEN TEA
2135 W 41st Ave, Vancouver, BC V6M 1Z6
604-263-5054
nanasgreentea.com/en

Secret Garden Tea Company

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In search of respite on a particularly hectic day, I brought my guest here for her first ever high tea experience. I choose “Secret Garden” as I haven’t been in in a while and I have yet to sample their high tea offerings. Seating occurs daily at 12pm, 2:15pm, and 4:30pm. Calling ahead, I made the reservations that were strongly suggested by their website. Though strolling in at 4:30pm there were plenty of empty tables and only three occupied by families and friends. I guess the calling ahead meant it gave the kitchen time to prepare our set menu. I did come mere minutes after our tea was steeped.

Located across the street from a school meant that mothers brought their children in for an after school snack and stayed as treat for themselves. As was this case today, it was a little rowdier than I expected, as their small children enjoyed running around the space.

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Designed like a cottage on the outside, it was as cozy inside. The exterior, a solid blue-ish grey coat of paint, gold foiled letters, and a teapot shaped sign advertising their business. Inside the room was set with displays units, cabinets, and shelves. Endless possibilities to display and store their tea and tea related accessories. Behind cabinet-ed glass as a look but don’t touch arrangement: tea cups and saucers in a variety of pastel colours and floral patterns lay.

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Deeper into the room past the hostess booth and tables set up were goods for sale. Everything you would need to host your very own tea party. A wall of loses leafs in bags and others in sealed canisters for you to take home. Tea bags, tea pots, tea tumblers, tea sets, tea towels, and larger than practical tea cups. Their teapot theme even transitioned into tea pot shaped handles on cupboards and knobs in the washroom. I applaud them on their consistency.

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Before the kitchen is their working counter. Where tea is steeped and coffee is brewed. Its background a shelf of pots, creamers, cups, and sugar bowls; again more for show than for use. The black board above advertised their long list of teas available in chalk. The server working behind the bar was kind enough to offer her own exit so that I got a good picture of their set up.

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Refrigerated behind glass on glass shelves were pastries, cookies, and cakes available for eating in or taking out. A batch pre made for the day in bite sized collections. Eclairs, carrot cake, nanaimo bars, strawberry shortcake, wildberry tarts, white chocolate oolong muffins, cheese scones, bon bons, chocolate cake, sugar cookies shaped and iced like dresses, and many other one of a kind treats.

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The restaurant is divided into two halves, one dressed as a salon and the other half a cafe. We sat in the former for a more formal tea-ing experience by the window. Here each table is clothed and set atop with glass. Ours a deep green speckled with a patterned of white winged insects. Each place setting was set with folded napkins, metal cutlery, and dish ware in a bright white rimmed with gold. Shame the cups on display weren’t the ones being used. Such a tea cup would have elevated our service and warranted gentle sips with pinkies up.

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Around the room are shelves positioned up high and out of reach. On them a collection of trinkets and bobbles. Rusted metal boxes, porcelain figurines, empty tins of tea, mantle clocks, and children’s play blocks. A few looked precious, others probably held memories. Memories belonging to faces in the black and white portraits framed and hanging. A mother and father, and children smiling. With the fireplace centring the room it could have all very well served as their living room.

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We indulged in their premiere high tea service. “A beautiful assortment of mini sandwiches, Secret Garden sweets, tea cakes and mini scones served with jam, Devon cream and one of their Secret Garden Teas.” All presented on their traditional three tiered tray for that extra wow factor. This they called their “ultimate tea experience” at $27.95 per person.
The meal being set we were offered no menu and given no options besides our choice of tea. Though were asked of dietary restrictions and they were able to accommodate with a shared service for a vegetarian and another of an omnivore.

High tea is as much about the experience as it is about the food. Meant as a break in the day it takes you away in little bites of perfection. A sandwich or cake is never more gratifying then when nibbled on in dainty portions. The smaller servings automatically has you taking smaller bites, and in turn savouring each one. You take a pause to chew and another to taste each fresh ingredient. You appreciate what you have more because there is so little if it, and as a result you also never grow tired of the taste. Such a course leaves you wanting more, and has you longing for the next time that you will be back. I have never been able to finish everything offered at any high tea service. Looking at the food you think it cannot be enough. But between sips of tea and chatting with your guest you somehow find yourself getting full and skipping right to dessert.

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We both choose rooibos teas. Rooibos is a caffeine free and naturally sweet herbal tea, similar to black tea. It is enjoyed for its high in antioxidant properties and flavonoids, along with its vitamins and minerals. “Provence”, a fruity and floral rooibos with a hint of lavender. And the “Secret Garden Rooibos”, a blend of their “creamy caramel” and “Queen of hearts” rooibos. Caramel, almond, and lemon are in this earthy mix. Each tea came it its own pot with their own branded tea cozy to keep things warm. Throughout our meal we were checked in on and more hot water was added to our pots as needed.

Given the brief run through of the savoury and sweet line up we were given, and it’s rotation on a day to day bases; I can only piece together what we had by what I tasted and what they have listed on their website menu. As promised and as expected the presentation on their three tiered rack was stunning. Who wouldn’t want to take a picture of something so pretty and so special. A feast of tiny things made to make anyone feel like a giant.

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The savouries came with a division between a veggie and meat friendly two bite sandwiches. Each flavour with two portions. Roasted vegetables on a croissant with zucchini, tomato, and kale. Grilled Brie and tomato on a croissant. Egg Salad on whole wheat bread, made with a blend of eggs, mayo, green onions and lettuce. Chicken Pesto on a cheese scone, made with fresh chicken breast, a basil pesto, mayo, and crisp lettuce. Roast beef and grainy Dijon mustard on a croissant with lettuce and mayo.

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The middle layer was a slow transition from salty to sweet. A mild cranberry loaf specked with juicy fruit and a sugar topped soft and chewy scone taken with their house made raspberry jam and Devon cream.

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And our three courses ended in desserts that were not too sweet, ones that did not take anything away our featured teas. A zesty and tart lemon tart, a tropical black sesame and luscious coconut cake, and a smooth and nutty berry and date slice, topped with a delicately frosted candied flower. They were all as delicious to our taste buds as they were to our eyes.

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I am a sucker for things shaped like other things, so I have to pick up a heart shaped cheese scone and a star shaped sweet apple scone to go. The cheese one has made it on to “Vancouver Magazine’s” 101 tastes to try for 2009. Each scone was light and crumbly they stayed fresh days after I took them home. So large I nibbled on them across a few snacking opportunities.

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The following pictures are from my last visit to “Secret Garden” over a year ago. It is good to see that they have remained consistent on their branding and continue to serve beautiful dishes crafted with care today.

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“Secret Garden Fresh tomato Soup”.
“Secret Garden Quiche, Every day we make little quiches just for you! Accompanied by a beautiful side salad”


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“Mini high tea, Enjoy three miniature sweets, one miniature scone, raspberry jam, devon cream and one of our Secret Garden Teas”. $12.95 Per Person. Sweets dependent on daily availability.

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this for someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
Located in a lovely area with abundant parking, this is an easy destination for a get together with friends , or as an afternoon snack stop by yourself. They offer everything you imagine tea to be: a peaceful setting, based on the other patrons seated; a warm friendly environment cultivated by inviting and accommodating staff; and delectable nibbles, each deserving of its own feature. And if you think high tea will not enough food for you they also offer a heartier breakfast and a more fulsome lunch. From soups and salads, to stews and pot pies. Don’t deny your cravings.

SECRET TEA GARDEN
5559 West Boulevard, Vancouver BC
604-261-3070
secretgardentea.com
Secret Garden Tea Company on Urbanspoon

Gem Chocolates

IMG_3002I am a sucker for a pretty package, and have been known to buy things I don’t want, need, or even like because of it. And if my wasteful consumerism can teach us anything; it is that, what is on the outside sometimes is as important as what is on the inside. It’s about your priorities.

Being a food blogger means my friends bring me to places they like. This is in hopes that I will also like them, and it ends in a good review for the restaurant. For them the relief comes when I agree that I liked the place too. Today I was at ” Gem Chocolates”. I don’t like chocolate. This wasn’t a good start.

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The shoppe is fairly new; as told by its sleek, un-scuffed white counters and it crisp blue paint job. The decor is minimal. A polished 3D sign declaring their name, blown up photos of their chocolates, and framed awards proudly displaying their accomplishments. Intermingled in this was your usual Halloween dollar store decorations. Shame, as it brought down the obvious value of the sleek shoppe. Even though the spiders, witches, a webs were were both day and month appropriate.

 

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Tonight it was just the owner in. He stood behind the counter engaged in busy work until we walked up to his counter. Immediately he directed his full attention to us. Everything was pretty self explanatory. A tight selection of chocolates sold by the drop, with a colourful bins of gelato and sorbeto to the left of them. Each item came with a sign detailing its name and a rundown of its ingredients. Half the fun is pressing your face against the glass and going through them all. I choose by look, my guest choose by flavour.

 

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There were over 25 varieties of chocolate, some sold individually and others prepackaged for travel. Of the selection a few were spray painted with edible colours and others speckled with pastel dots. This helped to differentiate one from the other, giving the overall experience a boutique feel. A few flavours came in more than one look. This increased their appeal as they were arranged behind the glass in a alternating pattern. This caught my eye and took my money, as they made everything jump out around them as well.

IMG_2999As I mentioned, I am not a fan of chocolate. So therefore I didn’t really enjoy any of these. I found them either too sweet, or that you couldn’t make out what was actually in your taste. What is the point of getting a passionfruit caramel when you can’t taste either caramel or passionfruit as it melts on your tongue. We selected six balls to go.
“Matcha”, Japanese matcha tea in a white ganache.
“Calypso”, a lime and coconut infusion in a white ganache. It didn’t look like white chocolate, despite its convincing name and name card suggesting otherwise.
The “Caramel Creme” won the top luxury caramel award 2012 , for best flavour and texture. This caramel got his kick from the sea salt sprinkled on top.
“Abricot”, apricot and vanilla in a white ganache.
“Passionfruit caramel”.
“Lai Chi” lychee infusion in a white ganache.

One of their other award winning chocolate was the “Berry Blue”. It won silver in the International chocolate awards. This was for the filled chocolates-flavoured dark, and flavoured dark ganaches categories. The “Berry blue” is rooibos and blueberry mix in a milk ganache. Side note, who knew there were such specific awards being given out? Who knew chocolates could even win awards?
Other fun chocolates included a cardamom and vanilla in a dark ganache, a lemon and lime infusion, and a mint flavour made with real crushed up pieces of mint leaves.

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And if all that is not enough one-of-a- kind uniqueness for you, for $40 you can customize your own piece of chocolate. This price is not including the actual cost of the chocolate itself. The above fee is the printing and designing cost attached to the labour needed to create a program that prints anything onto a small piece of chocolate, including pictures. Though who wants their face on a chocolate?

The owner clearly loved his product and was proud of his accomplishments. His excitement over chocolate was easily transferred on to us. He was open and shared with us the story behind his soon to be famous, ” lost and found” chocolate. This was an unflavoured dark ganache. Fortunado No. 4, 68%, Peru. The story as told by him, and quickly texted on to the notes app of my iphone by me. This ancient chocolate was first discovered in 1903, many years ago. It has the lowest bitterness of all chocolate, when compared naturally. We had a sample of it unflavoured. What you picked out of it depended on your pallet and it’s sensitivity. Fruit, nuts, spices, it was always a different after taste with this one. So unique was this find that it won three gold medals in California for its showing. What a great back story. We were hooked and he graciously gave us a sneak peak of what would be the wrapping to his new “Lost & Found” bar. It was snazzy in brown and lime green. Lost on the wrapper, found on the chocolate.

IMG_2996Would I come back? – No. As I am not a chocolate connoisseur nor am I actually a fan. I don’t like how sweet chocolate can be, and don’t find anything incredibly satisfying in the aroma or flavouring of chocolate. It is lost on me.
Would I recommend it? – Yes. Unique chocolate combinations that I have never heard of, trapped into bite sized wonders. Also, this is the only place I know that customizes chocolate from sayings and initials to symbols and portraits. And if you didn’t actually come in wanting chocolate, enjoy one of their caffeinated beverages or ice creamed flavoured desserts. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

GEM CHOCOLATES
2029 West 41st Avenue, Vancouver BC, V6M 1Y7
604-263-9878
gemchocolates.ca
Gem Chocolates on Urbanspoon

Adonia Tea House

 IMG_2958Slowing time down with pinkies up. Enjoying rose petals, doilies, and silver spoons. Getting off work at 3pm and being too early for dinner means you get to enjoy high tea. There is something whimsical about dining in a space that is an over the top girly, meant to make you feel like a princess.

The shoppe was themed in a vintage pretty. And made to feel like you are walking into a doll house or the home of your peculiar great aunt. The space is lined wall to wall with a floral wallpaper, printed in pink pedals and green leaves. A large pale green shelf lines the wall. It is home to over 80 or so varieties of loose leaf teas. A few of the more popular requests get individually bagged up for an easy take home-ability. On this shelf is also an offering of what looks to be two different varieties of lip balms. A glass and mirrored cabinet safety displays ornately decorated teacups and saucers. They are a similar style to the one on display in the showcases, above the serving counter. It was here, behind this counter that the employees gathered behind. Their hands blocked, their faces staring ahead. It looked peculiar. They worked to prep food and package teas.The walls were hung with framed photos and shadow boxed pieces of art. Oil canvases of green countryside framed in a gold foiled frames. Chinese paint brush characters stroked on to a scroll. And carving of wild beasts done in gold and a maze of patterns done in iron. It was a lot of North American vintage mixed with Asian cultural artifacts. To finish this off miniature chandeliers hung from the ceiling, dainty. Tables were done in wood, glass or clothed in a yellow linen. Like the tables, the chairs were a grab bag of variety. Missed, yet matched.

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On this Tuesday afternoon it wasn’t busy, which made our reservations moot. We only one of the 5 mandarin groups that took seats for tea. I commented that everyone here was all Asians. My guest who chose the place said, “it’s Kerrisdale, what do you expect?” And after looking at the menu I had realized why. At the very bottom it was pointed out that all their teas that had stars in the corner for their names, indicated they were brews that helped in the anti aging process. Something prized by many Asians. Maybe that is why we look so young for so long?

I felt a little better to not be the only one taking all these pictures. A little eight year old girl, with a phone a lot better than mine, was also snapping pictures of the decor and food. Probably for her various social media friends. In retrospect, not better, I felt more embarrassed.

IMG_2961The tea menu was an impressive double pager. Laminated and categorized by variety. Fruit melange, rooibos, white, black, green, Japanese, herb and spice tea. There were so many different combinations, so many different ingredients; how could you wade through it all? Seeds, fruits, flowers, and nuts. After giving up on reading through it all, I asked our server what would be their weirdest and most unique tea available. So for the sake of trying something new, I had to go for the tea made with curry powder. She described it as a chai tea, thanks to its notes of spiciness. “The surprise”. Black tea and fruit blended with cool, sweet, and spicy tastes. Black tea, pineapple, apple, peppermint, curry powder, and pink pepper. With the first sip it reminded me of Chinese medicine. A dark coloured liquid strained from the boiling of a variety of spices and roots, given to children for various ailments. The tea grows on you and is not the least bit offensive, as one may think. The curry is definitely the most dominate flavour note. I found it actually complimented the savoury portion of our food selection.

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The teas are served in glass pots with a built in strainer. They are placed on a riser suspended over a lit tea light. This ensures your tea remains the perfect drinking temperate. We sat for
over two hours and each pour was accompanied by spirals of smoke from the pot’s spout. I prefer this style over the tea pot cozy. Not only did this version look better, but it also stayed heated for longer. I also appreciate being able to see the colour of my beverages through my vessel.

The tea cups provided were “Royal Alberts” one of the better know high end tea ware producers in England. You could tell these cups stood the test of time and saw much love. Their gold trim rims were worn, with what were prints of the many lips before you taking a sip. Eerie.

IMG_2984My guest wanted the “Red grape extract”, a flavoured rooibos with a taste of red heap. However they were unable to open the bottle, and ask that we make another selection. My guest knew exactly what her second choice would be, and repeated it several times before one of the servers walked away. Eventually the same server did come to ask what we had wanted. Guess she missed hearing us call out “paradise” a few times. “Exotic paradise”. A flavoured passion fruit white tea with blossoms. White tea, coconut, rose petals, sunflower petals, and marigold petals. This was fragrant and made you wish it tasted as sweet as it smelled. But alas you were disappointed with the first sip. This is definitely one of those teas that require milk and sugar to even out. It had a bitter after taste and continued to have it, even after the addition of more water. Milk and sugar were definitely needed. Though unfortunately, even after asking both servers for a set, we waited forever for nothing to come. I only got up to ask for it when one of the servers walked out of the shoppe with her jacket and bag. The brown sugar came in a coarse gravel-like size. I was harder to melt with its more solid, yet unique shape. The sugar was not overly sweet and tasted good enough to have as a mouthful on its own. I tried. Another tea that percolated my interest was the “Latte Macchiato”, a black tea flavoured with the taste of coffee. As unique this was, I thought why not just get coffee…

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Slip over how hungry we really were we ordered both the “Afternoon Tea” and “Mini Afternoon Tea”. Both are an assortment of homemade sweets and savouries; including finger sandwiches, pastries, and scones. Served with your choice of tea. The difference between the two was the allotment and a $10 difference in pricing. They combined both servings onto the one serving rack. The following is a list of what we had as described from what I tasted. Savoury to sweet, like how we ate it all. The food tasted as I described it, by its simple ingredients. It was just as is. Good, not great. But then again you weren’t here for the food and definitely weren’t paying for it.

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Bottom tier: Ham and mayo finger sandwich. Cucumber and cream cheese finger sandwich. Egg salad, lettuce, and cucumber mini bun. Chicken, apple, and lettuce on a croissant.

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Middle tier: Smoke salmon, cream cheese, and rosemary; on a poppy and sunflower seed whole wheat loaf. Salmon and spinach egg quiche. Shrimp topped potato salad.

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Top tier: Raspberry and blueberry mini cupcake with whipped cream. Fruit tarts. Chocolate brownie with gold leaf flakes. Chocolate Cake. The chocolate cake was too sweet with chocolate frosting on chocolate cake.

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Side plate: Cheese and cranberry scone served with a side of cream and jam. We both found the cranberry scone too sweet. You did not need the addition of jam. I did like the extra sugar on the top that gave the scone a crunch. The cheese scone had a great flaky texture. Strawberry, chocolate, and vanilla mousse. The Neapolitan cream tasted as artificial as it look.

Side note, it is such a shame that tea is a diuretic. I ended up using the washroom five times during my two hour stay, after consuming two pots of curry tea.

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
I come for the ambience. Places like this make you feel fancy. You wouldn’t want your home styled in this decor, but once in a while you enjoy being immersed in it all. So much so that you are willing to pay a higher price for the mediocre food. I have never really had great food at any tea service. I go to a place like this for girl talk. Me and my girlfriend hunkering down for hours catching up, and inevitably our conversation is steered towards boys and sex. It’s almost as if the place brings it out, tapping into our girly sides to do so. But of course men can enjoy places like these too. So don’t deny your cravings fellas and ladies.

 

ADONIA
2057 West 41st Ave, Vancouver BC, V6M 1Y7
604-261-0049
adoniatea.com
Adonia Tea House on Urbanspoon

Faubourg Paris, cafe & bistro

A coffee shop and bistro Monday to Friday, sharing one space, each with its own set of operating hours. And serving high tea and brunch on the weekends. How confusing? Nope, just another day at “Faubourg”

“Faubourg” is a French bakery located in the heart of Kerrisdale. It is the perfect location for students after school and locals after work to enjoy a mid day snack. A tower of colored macarons entices you to their shop’s front window, for a better look. Below it is an array of petite fours, little desserts that look as artful as they do delicious. Their chocolate glaze glistens in the sun, and all of a sudden you find yourself walking through their door and standing in their threshold, wanting to drool over more. At 3pm on a Wednesday afternoon the cafe was half full. Friends sit sharing chocolate cakes. Children with their parents enjoy sandwiches and sip hot chocolate.


The decor is simple and purposeful. Light weight chairs and tables face the large front windows, giving ease to people watching. Shelves behind the counter hosts unpackaged loaves of bread, long crispy baguettes, and oval sourdoughs. The traditional fluer de lis symbol adorns their boxes and bags, a few signs and a whole wall panel; paying homage to their French heritage.
The cafe is self serve. You choose what you want to eat from their showcase of daily baked goods and well prepared snacks. They do savory: smoke salmon and egg sandwiches, salads, quiches, and paninis perfect for accompanying their soup of the day. They do sweet: a generous varieties of cakes, pies, puddings, and custards. And they boast delicious coffees and an exquisite array of fine French teas.

Towards the back of the shop is a separate section for their bistro, all tucked away. The definition and the perfect description for “Faubourg’s” bistro is a small restaurant serving moderately priced casual plates in a modest setting. They serve up French home style cooking with robust earthy dishes, slow cooked meals, and hearty stews. All delicious and great to fill you up. As I did not entertain the thought of having an early dinner today I would not be able to speak to anything else about their lovely bistro. But I hope to be able to one day soon.

They open later for a bakery: 7pm Tuesday to Friday. My first visit was at 6pm, by then majority of the showcase was empty. No fresh baked loafs of bread were left. No options for desserts. A bowl of soup and half a sandwich sat lonely. I definitely don’t recommend stopping by at this time for your first visit. Come first thing in the afternoon for sun and their full menu.

I took the only dessert option available a box set of 6 desserts. This was perfect to share amongst two girls, wanting a quiet place to sit and chat. Each one inch dessert was hand crafted to perfection and had no less flavour then if they were full sized. Creamy custard tart topped with blue berries. Chocolate and caramel tart with chopped roasted hazelnuts and chocolate frosting. Chocolate and fluffy cream layered cake, topped with chocolate ganache. Mango cake with chocolate and cream layers sandwiched between soft sponge cake. And the best and my favorite: lemon meringue pie, minus the whipped egg whites, plus sugar crystals that gives this one bite dessert an extra light kick of lemony sugar. To summarize, yum. They were so rich and decadent, the perfect amount and size to share with a girl friend who loves chocolate and sweets as much as you do.

And of course as advertised by their window’s centre piece, they had macrons and lots of them. And this was something I had to get. Macarons are the new “it” dessert trend. Pretty, delicate, and colourful. They have made their way on to many photos and bakery menus. Little bites of heaven. Crispy meringue sandwiches filled with ganache, butter cream or jam. Each coloured to represent its flavour. On average they sell for $2 a piece, well worth it for the taste and all the labour required to make the perfect one. I got the box bundle of 18. One of each and double of the ones I think I would want seconds of. I enjoy trying all the varieties, especially the more unusual ones and seeing if their flavour matches their name. In this box were the likes of black licorice, rose water, green tea, lavender earl grey, strawberry black pepper, dark chocolate, cappuccino, hazelnut, pistachio, and their “Faubroug Special” passion fruit macaron, just to name a few. They change their flavours regularly, and new ones are always in the think tank. So when you come in don’t expect to be able to get all the same ones I did.

Would I go back, – Yes, if you have a craving for macarons why not go right to the source? – a French bakery, with pastry chefs trained to execute the perfect confection. If it was not for the distance to travel I would be back here all the time. To get my bread fresh and enjoy all the foods, drinks and sweets they have to offer. I love the area and dessert shops like this.

Would I recommend it? – Yes. “Faubourg” is located in a great location with ample meter parking. They have friendly staff, who are very knowledgable on what their shop has to offer. They also have a fun feature where they offer a bread and a dessert of the month. Their chef’s creation only available within its month of release. This gives you yet another reason to visit at least once a month.
Don’t deny your cravings.

FAUBOURG
2156 West 41st Kerrisdale, Vancouver BC, V6M 1Z6
Tel: 605-266-2156
faubroug.com

Faubourg on Urbanspoon Instagram

Mac Shack, macaroni restaurant

Return of the Mac ~


My first visit to the “Mac Shack” was over a year ago, nothing had compelled me to go back since; so why was I heading back now? – I went with my girlfriend who wanted to try it. Parking is never a problem in Kerrisdale, there is always meters to the front of stores or to the side of streets. And if you don’t mind some walking, free ones are only a few blocks away.

Coming in at 3:30pm I figured it would be slow, quiet, and a great place to talk with a friend. For the most part I was right, but was surprised to see a few groups in at this time. I forgot that there is a large high school across the way and that its students were just dismissed at 3pm. And now were in need of a afternoon snack. They are looking for a place to eat, with food they like, at a reasonable price. The “Mac Shack” was where a few of them came today. Parents also brought their younger kids here after picking them up from school.

This is the kind of the place you don’t really expect to sit and talk for a long time. The decor is simple and the space is clean. There are plenty of seating from high tops to booths. Big beautiful windows let in the light and shades keep rays of sun out of your eyes. You get a little tool box at every table, in it hosts an array of seasonings to use at your discretion. As great as this open space sounds, it feels like one of those places you just eat and leave, like a food court.

The cash desk and kitchen is one and everything is prepared out in the open by one chef. Everything is run by one customer service person. He was very sociable, concerned with our needs and wanted to make sure we were satisfied with our food. During our 1.5 hour stay, he came out from behind his cash desk, and up to our table in order to check in twice. We needn’t get up to ask for more water or to wave him down to pack our leftovers to go, he was on top of it. And that is exactly the customer service I want to see at any place I eat at, not just upscale joints. I was impressed by him the most. It is a shame you pay for your food first and then sit down to eat it, most patrons forget to leave a tip this way.

Their menu was projected over the counter and offered more then just macaroni; but not getting any felt almost like going to a barber shop and asking him to detail you car. He can do it, but it is not his speciality so how good will it be? There were soups, salads, sandwiches, desserts and ravioli for those that desired it. And even an option to make your pasta a combo with the addition of garlic bread and a side salad for a fee. The one other thing I would be interested in is their grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup. This is made with Mac and cheese in between two slices of garlic toast. Nothing tastes better then combining something not good for you with other things that are also not good for you, especially if it come to carbs.

During this visit, we sat down to eat our macaroni dishes served in oval, heat proof kitchen ware. Their macaroni menu had options like “Cheese Burger Mac”, “Lobster Mac”, “Buffalo Chicken Mac”, and “The Royale”; a Mac and cheese with the addition of ingredients you would find in a jambalaya, like andouille sausage and shrimp. And if none of the predesigned Macs are to your liking you can create your own. Choose your pasta, sauce, cheese, vegetables and meat as you like them, and how much of them you like.
You start with the base of white pasta and cheddar, mozzarella, and Romano cheeses for $7. From there you customize, and each ingredient is a price added to your base. Whole grain and quinoa pastas are available for those with dietary restrictions or just looking to eat healthier. There are gluten free options for the pasta and sauces; and lactose free solutions in the cheeses. Your choices are as wild as: blue cheese, banana peppers, beef brisket, panko crust, and truffle oil. If you went all out and got the works it could be a bowl of Mac and cheese worth more than $100!!! 

I personally find all that too much effort: to decide for myself. So I chose a laid out menu option. I didn’t get “The classic”, but playing it safe I got the second most original Mac and cheese, the “Four Cheese”. In it was a mix of asiago, Swiss gruyere, aged cheddar, and mozzarella. All four cheeses were blended to make a full bodied, rich and creamy sauce. The sauce is then poured over freshly cooled noodles and everything is put into the oven for baking. Baking it brings out that great golden brown, almost burnt look and texture to the cheese. The kind that gets the cheese all stringy like a spider’s web when you take a scoop. This is so simple and yet so delicious. I personally don’t think it is worth getting anything else in my Mac and cheese; it won’t cost me much more, but it won’t really add any needed taste to it as well. It’s Mac and cheese. The name is the recipe. 
My guest got “The Veggie” with whole wheat pasta. It came with bell peppers, roasted mushrooms, carrots, baby corn, caramelized onions, peas, and broccoli. This was mixed into a red tomato sauce, with their three cheese medley and chives. All the vegetables gave the plate great color and were cooked well. But one can argue this is no longer Mac and cheese, and they would be right. It was good, but it had lost all its gooey cheesy flavor, something that is expected and indicative of Mac and cheese. One taste of “The Veggie” and it reminded me of what my mom use to make for me growing up. She use to call it spaghetti (because of the noodles used), but upon reflexion it is no where near either Italian spaghetti or Mac and cheese. It can only here be called, “Chinese Spaghetti”. It was a good way to get us to eat vegetables; but as was this dish at the “Mac Shack”, it was bland and needed more pepper and some Italian spices to make the sauce more into marinara.

Found out that they served liquor when my guest asked for a glass of white. Her drink cost more than her dish, and she had two. Probably not getting many wine requests, our server, with difficulty, opened a new bottle for her. I personally would not want a drink accompanying this type of food; but in her defense wine and cheese are a classic pairing.

For those who frequent often, there is a loyalty program. Each purchase earns you a stamp and with enough accrued, you are able to redeem for a free bowl of Mac and cheese.

During my first visit over a year ago we had the “Bacon Cheese Burger Mac” and the “Creamy Pesto Chicken Mac”. Both are still available today. Everything tasted the same today as I had remembered back then. Good, you finished your plate, but nothing wow-ed. The difference was the use of skillets previously and the option to order portion size, both are no longer being offered. Their menu has also evolved to fit the needs of the community, more easy grab and go desserts and kids meal options. It is good to see a business who keeps evolving in order to stay up to date with their patron’s needs. 

Would I go back? Yes, but only because I was invited to; As was the case this second time around. Nothing is wrong with their food, it was great tasting and decreased my hunger. But it is nothing worth spending money on. It is so easy to make Mac and cheese and add in additional ingredients you want mid way – It’s called “Hamburger Helper”. My point is, I can make it myself, why should I spend money to let someone to do it for me? It is so easy and quick for you to do it yourself that there is no need for you to outsource the job.
If you think about it, it is a great business strategy. Pasta is cheap, especially in bulk, as are majority of the ingredients you can add-on. And it takes no time to prepare after you precook a bunch of noodles; so one or two chefs are all you need. You also don’t need a formally trained chef to carry out these dishes. Here you save money on less salaries and smaller ones too. And finally because people eat this and go, you are turning tables over quickly and are serving more and turning away less. Specific to this “Mac Shack”, the location is great for your target demographic, who are always hungry with disposable in their pockets: teens, tweens, and young adults. Even if they are not constantly busy, “Mac Shack” is making quite the business for themselves.
Would I recommend it? – No, save the money and buy pasta and cheese and make it yourself; it would probably taste just as great, if not better.
You shouldn’t deny your cravings for Mac and cheese because it is so delicious and nothing comes close. But 79 cents for “Kraft dinner” is just as good as a classic Mac and cheese for $6.99. And it is a larger portion too.

MAC SHACK

5395 West Boulevard, Vancouver BC, V6M 3W4
Tel: 604-267-4225
www.themacshack.ca

The Mac Shack on Urbanspoon Instagram

Baan Wasana, Thai restaurant

Tight on Thai ~

It was another rainy day, but with ample street parking along Kerrisdale it was not an issue for us, as we slowly drove around looking for a restaurant to “randomly” eat at. I enjoy picking an area I don’t mind driving to, then getting my passenger to choose where they would like to dine. I am not picky of the new places I try and sometimes I rather not have the pressure of choosing a place and having it be a let down. There are so many different eating opportunities in Vancouver why would anyone strictly stick to chain restaurants. I am forever on the search for those hidden gems.
We were greeted with a traditional Thai salutation that was paired with player hands and a bow at “Baan Wasana Thai Restaurant”. Caught me off guard but I feel it is still more inviting then “Itadakimasu”shouted to you as you enter most Japanese restaurants.”Baan Wasana” was authentic upon entry. The walls were lined with traditional art work in simple black frames, they matched well with the rich red painted walls. The restaurant did not look particularly new but at the same time was not old enough so that you would consider it to be dirty. There were as many people coming in to pick up their take out orders as there were seated in the restaurant; 4 tables full in a surprisingly deep restaurant.

My guest tonight was K, she is an equally outgoing diner as myself, except that she does not like Pad Thai. Who chooses to eat at a Thai restaurant and not want to try one of the two most common and liked Thai dishes? (The other one is pineapple fried rice.) Well this fact gave me a chance to try something new, dishes I would not ordinarily pick because I would be too busy deciding between pad thai and pineapple fried rice. I always forget that meat and veggie dishes that are a normal staple to any Asian cuisines, are exotic to a white person. The taste is probably very different from their usual steak and potatoes meals. (at least that is usually what Frenchy eats)


The wait staff practiced the policy of standing a side watching and waiting for you to signal them before approaching your table. I was actually surprised he gave a recommendation and was able to back it up, it doesn’t happen much at most Asian places I have been too, must be the area we were in.
The menu was extensive, even offering a selection of salads. I have never heard or seen a Thai salad, and I would not get to tonight as we did not order one. I sort of feel that salad are not worth paying for, its just ingredients added in a bowl, un-treated. I am sure many of you would argue with me. 


The spring rolls for our appies were nothing special, but you cannot really go wrong with something savory that has been deep fried with a tangy sauce for dipping. 
With the chicken satay we expected the usual BBQ grilled flavour, but at “Baan Wasana” it was marinated in curry spice and glazed with coconut milk. The peanut dipping sauce did not disappoint, we just needed more so every bite could be slathered in its deliciousness. The second condiment was a cucumber, red onion, vinegar and sugar mixture. It was not that great for dipping both with its drippy texture and its taste not being too complimentary to the curried spicy satay meat, but alone I ate it all. It was an interesting idea for a pair up though. The carved carrot garnishes were a nice touch, but you couldn’t help but wonder if they were washed off and reused as needed.

Our Thai server talked us out of getting the “Pad See-Iew” and instead the “Pad Kee-Mao” Both were made with flat rice noodles with the main difference being the veggies. He said the “Pad Kee Mao” had a better taste, I was sold upon reading that there were green beans in the mix. At first bite it was just ok, but delightfully the taste changes in your mouth and its delicious. The waiter recommending choosing the chicken as our protein option over pork and beef and he was right as the whole dish had a mild and gentle flavour and the chicken went well with this.

The sweet and sour shrimp was pretty self explanatory. The sauce was not the thick syrupy one that you usually get over food court sweet and sour pork. And you get enough shrimp to veggie ration. All the dishes we ordered had a chili spiciness to it so I was able to use the cucumber in this to cool my taste buds off.

The star of the meal was the “Massamum Curry”. At first blush I was off put by the crinkled up cuts of beef, that we choose as the meat for this dish. But looks aside it was plentiful and like the potatoes, tender. What made this curry different than all the others was its peanut flavour in the sauce and the whole peanuts melded in with the meat and potatoes.To summarize we like peanut sauces and pickled cucumbers.

Would I go back? – Yes the location is convenient and the food was good and came it quickly, perfect for the hungry.
Would I recommend it? – Yes. It is the best Thai food I have ever had. The typical places for Thai in Vancouver are the “Thai House”, “Basil Leaf”, “Tropika, and “Papaya Hut”. All four are just food, nothing special or unique about their dishes. At “Baam Wasana” everything was brightly coloured and fresh looking with strong solid tastes. If you like Thai I recommend you try “Baam Wasana” in Kerrisdale. 


BAAN WASANA THAI RESTAURANT
21-43 West 41st ave. Vancouver BC, V6M 1Z6
778-371-8971
baanwasana.com



Baan Wasana Thai on Urbanspoon Instagram

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