Real, raw, & relatable me. Enthusiastic food & lifestyle blogger living in Vancouver, BC!

Category: Strathcona Page 1 of 2

Torafuku, new dinner sets for two

With the see-sawing of restrictions surrounding Covid, it has most definitely been a trial for the restaurant industry. For the ones who have diversified long ago, tapping into their ability to stay atop of trends and cater to an ever changing market, their flexibility has helped them remain open during these uncertain times. And one of the restaurants that has done this fairly well is Torafuku. One of my favourite spots to dine out and recommend with their take home menus, cook yourself set dinners, and family feasts. In totality, they have been serving up more than just their once “regular” offerings. And now with restaurants reopening and the desire for patrons to once again venture out to dine in and experience a quieter night life, Torafuku is introducing new menu items designed for two. And tonight I was down to enjoy one such menu, but first some drinks, cause it was a Friday night.

Torafuku should also be known for their drinks, if they aren’t already. With a healthy listing of classic cocktails and concoctions all their own, their drink menu is worth exploring. Majority of which features a twist or specific ingredient that speaks to their Asian fusion theme and cuisine.

Round one was ordered based on drink names. The “Green Lambo” features a cardamom infused calzadore blanco tequila, Cointreau, basil syrup, white pepper syrup, lime juice, and a salted plum powder rimmed. The latter is what takes this otherwise neon green margarita to the next level.

“Dr. Sun’s Penicillin” is named after Dr. Sun Yat-Sen and the Chinatown garden that has taken his name. It contains Ciroc Vodka, Johnny Walker 12 years Black Scotch Whisky, Chinese baijiu, lime, honey ginger, wintermelon tea, cinnamon, and Bittered Sling Clingstone Peach bitters. This cocktail has an added level of pageantry, thanks to the smoking piece of wood that tops it. You breathe in deep before you drinking. The woodsy smoke adding to the rich syrupy flavour of this cocktail made with the sweet and popular winter melon juice.

Round two of drinks featured more salted plum. These were visual cocktails as recommended by our server. “Catch Twenty Two” with Gosling rum, Punt e Mes, grapefruit, plum powder, quince, and lime juice. This was a refreshing cocktail that was heavier on the citrus, where I was searching for more sweet and salty plum.

The “Fuji Sunrise” is one I seem to always order when I visit. A white coloured cocktail with a red plum peaking past the murkiness of the martini. This makes for a nice homage to the Japanese flag, made with Japanese Suntory Haka vodka, daikon, yuzu, shisho, simple syrup, dry vermouth, and salted dry plum.

Round three of drinks saw us leaning towards dessert. The “Oriental Beauty” drank like a spiked green juice, it certainly looked like it. Refreshing and peppery, almost seasoned in spice-like flavours. It is a mix of Oriental Beauty tea infused with No. 3 London Dry Gin, sweet osmanthus, green chartreuse, and grape fruit juice.

And the “Matcha Madness” drank like milk tea with its matcha pocky finisher. Not as sweet or creamy as I had originally imagined, but a fun twist nonetheless. Brown butter washed gin, white chocolate syrup, cream, Creme De Violette, and green matcha tea.

Now finally on to the food. As I mentioned earlier, Torafuku has two new entrees and has created a set menu of four courses, around each. Between the roasted lamb or the roasted duck for two, we gravitated towards the latter; simply based on the protein being more often associated with Asian cuisine. Both sets comes with the same starter and ends with the same dessert. Where they differ is the Brussels sprouts with the lamb and you get calamari with the duck.

The first course was their “ Apple & Beets” salad, available on the a la carte menu. A lovely sweet and refreshing beginning to your meal. It wets your appetite literally with juicy honey crisp apple, soften pickled beets, a sweet house made ricotta, crunchy walnut bite, and a tangy peach vinegar coating it all. I would happily eat this everyday and feel good about myself in doing so.

Things got heavier with the strength of the five spice over the squid; even despite how the calamari almost melted in your mouth, as it was so tender. The same could be said for the sliced up king oyster mushroom that mingled with it. Both were served with tartar sauce, lime, thai basil, and cilantro. Both I found the saltier side. But the break from squid with mushroom helped to keep bites even, similarly a drink in between went a long way to dilute this otherwise salty dish.

The main was a show stopper, an interactive build your own bao station at your table. You grab a fluffy steamed bun from its bamboo steamer, and dress it with a smear from the decadently delicious foie gras parfait, then a thick slice of perfectly prepared Brome Lake duck breast, finished off with a topping with of watercress dressed in caramelized peanuts. Simply put, this was splendid. And I was sure to take the parfait home, to later add into regular rice; it was just so good.

For dessert it was the “Basque Cheesecake”, a two person round served in the parchment it was baked in. With its blackened top this cheesecake is easily recognizable. Creamy and rich, I was missing the graham cracker crumb you typical get from a similarly mixed New York cheesecake, but the yuzu compote was a nice refreshing twist that had me going back for more.

Out of curiosity we also ordered their grilled mackerel rice bowls. Being on a fishing kick as of late, the desire to try new and learn more about various types of fish has been strong. And this perfectly prepared crispy mackerel would later inspire a similar take on it at home, in a future meal. Of note, all their rice bowls are served with their “kickass rice” – cooked with sake, butter and dashi, finished off with a perfectly poached egg, mixed herbs and pickled cabbage that you stir up altogether. I found the fish a little mild for the richness of the rice below it. Therefore, I would actually recommend the fried chicken or pork belly as the protein instead.

In conclusion if you are looking for some great comfort Chinese cuisine in dressed up setting and space, look to Torafuku to hit the spot.

958 Main St, Vancouver, BC V6A 2W1
(778) 903-2006

Chinatown BBQ, take out

When craving Chinese style barbecue meats there are two main options across the Lower Mainland. Two, that pull out ahead as the ones to visit. And if Richmond is too far of a drive out, Chinatown is the one to head towards.

From the exterior you wouldn’t think this is a restaurant, if not for reading the name and noting all the signs out front. You walk in and are greeted by an additional all glass facade. A stunning evergreen frame with gold lettering and red characters, illuminated by multiple glowing yellow lights. It all stands out against the black and white checkered floor, the green booths with red chairs, and the floral table tops stacked up for non-use. The walls speak to the restaurant’s history and authenticity, displaying a multitude of black and white portraits and Chinese paint brush paintings of waterways and landscape. I wish I knew about the decor sooner, as it would have gotten me down here earlier. But alas, all I could do now was appreciate what I may get to experience one day. Instead I shifted my attention to the glistening pieces of meat that hung in their internal window.

The set up is much like all the other Chinese BBQ places in the vicinity, but a lot more well maintained. It is a shame that this isn’t the view from the store front. I’d imagine they would get a lot more attention if that were the case. A showcase like this I would lure you in and close, as you watch meat juices and savoury oils drip and pool in a tray underneath.

You order off of their red and white menu, kept in place under the glass top of a table. A collection of dishes featuring their prized barbecue, served along side rice or now noodles.

Decor aside, the meat was less impressive. Maybe it was because by the time I got to it, it needed to be reheated. Or maybe because the pieces I got were not the best cuts. But overall I found myself thinking it dry and fatty. The duck was bland, which had me reaching for plum sauce. But there wasn’t any included, which meant I had to settle for Thai sweet chilli. And let me tell you, it isn’t the same. Similarly, the pork belly fell short of my expectations. There was more fat than meat. The skin lost its crunch, and the flavour of what little meat I got was more salty than smokey, as one would expect. However, having said that I did finish it all sucking meat from bone; because let’s face it, even the worse Chinese bbq is better than no Chinese bbq. And this is my no measure the worse. Good in a pinch, a easy meal on rice.

Chinatown BBQ
130 E Pender St, Vancouver, BC V6A 1T3
(604) 428-2626

Campagnolo, Dine Out 2020

Looking for a place to eat, my guest and I walked Main Street in search of anything that stroked our fancy. And tonight that would be the Dine Out Vancouver sign advertising Campagnolo’s $35, 3 course meal.

We came in and the restaurant was just as I remembered it to be. A refined vibe, with a golden glow and simple furnishings. The only difference today was the new blue separator, built to mimicked glass windows on a cottage. We were seated at a booth across from it, so I was able to admire it all night.

Their Dine Out Vancouver menu doesn’t really feature anything out side of their regular menu. It simply has you ordering one or two more courses than you normally would, and saving some money on it.

To start with we shared the “Bitter Royal” cocktail with bourbon, mery melrose cognac, and 3 amari: sibilla, nonimo, nardini. It was as strong and as it looked, but still gave you some softness at the end.

For appetizers we had our choice between soup or two salads. We skipped on the “Crispy Ceci”, after taking our server’s suggestion. This was chickpeas seasoned with lemon, chili, mint, evoo, and scallion.

I am going to preemptively set the expectation of this meal and state that we came in drinking before so were searching for something more richer to coat our bellies with. A point I didn’t realize, until we got to dessert. As leftovers without the drunk appetite everything was fantastic. The flavours well paired with one another and satisfying in its’ distinctiveness.

In hindsight, with my drunk appetite, vinaigrette soaked greens weren’t as satisfying as the crispy chickpeas would have been. But the next day the “Winter Radicchio Salad” was a lively and bright mix, slightly bitter from tart greens, but with just the right amount of salt from the castelvetrano olives. The herbed croutons offered crunch, the meyer lemon’s zest helped to brighten up the dish, and the clothbound cheddar rounded out the textures with some chew. If you got everything on one spoon you are in for a treat. Good, but best as a side to some protein.

But in our state we both preferred the “Wild Mushroom Veloute” made with locally foraged mushrooms, and a sourdough crouton with rouille. I enjoyed the creamy soup with its thick cuts of chunky mushroom, but the cracker got soggy fast. A side of bread for dipping would have been nice, and helpful in sobering up.

For entrees you had a choice between two pastas or a risotto. Given my guest’s dietary restriction, we skipped on the “Strozzapreti Bolognese whole wheat pasta, pork & beef”. And instead had the “Spaghetti Pomodoro” with tomato sauce, garlic, evoo, and basil. It came with the option to add homemade meatballs for $8, but it didn’t need it, it was already plenty flavourful and rich. The sumptuous cheesiness of this, and its well sauced and chewy noodles were the comfort we wanted to end our night of drinking on. But when eating it normally, and at moments where you will find the spaghetti too overwhelming in one tone, I suggest switching to the risotto dish below for a nice contrast.

The “Red Wine Risotto” had raw local apples and root vegetables, with black garlic. This was a new take on the chewy rice dish, and I found it interesting. I got a sharpness from the wine, and a sweetness from the beets, and found freshness from the julienned apple. Once again not quite what my body wanted to sober up with, starch and comforting chew aside. But especially delicious warmed up the next day, and taken in conjunction with the sweeter pasta above.

For dessert, we got one of each of the available options. The “BC Blueberry & Polenta Cake vanilla crema” was vegan friendly. The cake had that micro grainy texture you get from the use of polenta; something I am more familiar with as corn bread, and so it added some savouriness to this cake. I liked the look the kernels of popcorn gave, but didn’t think they added anything to the flavour. And the sharp kernel skins gave an undesirable rough texture to the cake. The fruit brought it back to dessert territory with its natural sweetness that played off the light cream wonderfully.

The “Dark Chocolate Torte” was also vegan friendly and gluten free, and as a result this too had a crumbly texture, but here punctuated with crushed nuts. The flavours were nice, bitter chocolate and tart cherries with a little cream for a Black Forest Cake feel. Although I wanted a spongy cake base to enjoy it all with. Something soft and sumptuous to melt on to my tongue, and I didn’t get it with either desserts. Therefore we didn’t end up finishing either, nor did we pack it to go. It didn’t satisfy like any dessert, I was hoping for. But I recognize that they are absolutely a great solution for those with such dietary restrictions.

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – No.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
Great as a normal meal, but not ideal as drunk food. And exciting as leftovers, when I could taste my way through the experience more alert and observant.
Don’t deny your cravings.

1020 Main Street, Vancouver BC

Bodega revisit 2

“Bodega” continues to be one of those places I visit when I am in a pinch, looking for a restaurant that not only serves up a good meal, but does so in a great setting. They just tick off all my boxes so, here is a revisit visit post, with us trying new dishes and some of their desserts this time.

Their romantic setting is given some colour with their Spanish theme broadcasted through posters that covered the walls, while their history was showcased in black and white portrait photography that filled the rest of the wall space.

We started with a dish of house marinated mixed olives to pair with our glasses of red wine. Briny nuggets served in a dish that gave us a place to put its pits.

“Tabla de ibericos”. Their assortment of the finest charcuterie from Spain was an impressive assembly, well worth the $28. Thin seasoned cuts of meat, sharp and firm cheeses, pickled olives and cornichons, sweet quince jelly, and fragrant roasted garlic by the clove. This platter had everything to nibble on. And for $4 extra we were able to add on an order of “Pan y aceite Olivia” to round it out. Organic bread served with a side of Spanish evoo. Who doesn’t love warm bread dipped into fragrant oil. We were just missing a hint of salt to take it to the next level.

The “Tortilla eapanola potato omelette with aioli and mixed olives was so good that we ordered two. Thin slices of potato stacked and served with creamy mayo. Potatoes are always delicious and with its texture here, they are simply amazing.

“Piquillos rellenos”. Piquillo peppers stuffed with goat cheese, basil, dates, and marcona almonds; and they were amazing. Layers of flavour with fragrant pepper, salty and decadent cheese, sweet dates, and crushed nuts for crunch. And what a stunning presentation to boot!

The “Lengua estofada” is one that I have had before, and one that I deemed was worth trying today again. Beef tongue in a tomato, onion, and capers. Tender slices of meat in a tangy sauce, so good that my guests declared it the best beef tongue they have ever had.

With a vegetarian in the group we opted for the “Paella jardinera”. Saffron rice with pardon peppers, artichoke hearts, oyster mushrooms, asparagus, grilled fennel, cherry tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, and peas. Be warned this does take 30 minutes to make, but the outcome is a fragrant, fulsome rice with a nice crunch to it. It provided a great base and a nice filler for all the dishes above.

We saved room to enjoy their “Pan de calatrava”. Bread pudding with figs, dates, and dulce de leche. This was a nice twist to the classic fluffy bread pudding, with a soggy centre and a nice liquor kick to finish on.

The “Churros” were made fresh and served with hot dipping chocolate and vanilla mascarpone. Each rod was crispy and the dip plentiful to coat it from tip to tip. Although as good as it was, I much prefer the classic cinnamon and sugar flavouring on my churros.


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.
Another great meal, so I see no reason to not continue visiting. A great place for authentic Spanish tapas, and a destination sure to impress you guests. A unique and original spot for a wonderful night out. Don’t deny your cravings.


1014 Main Street, Vancouver BC, V6A 2W1

Bodega revisit

I continue to claim “Bodega” as my favourite tapas spot for authenticity of food and setting. So when looking for a place for dinner in the area, I found myself leading my guest in their direction. I love the rustic look of their Spanish posters and red gingham napkins, and how dressed up and romantic they feel with the lights down low for dinner. Although they keep things causal with their staff and their more laid back approach and dress code.

For the more detailed review of their interior and to get a feel of the restaurant’s vibe, click on the link to read my first visit recap. I also tried a few more dishes then and there then in this revisit.

Bodega on Main


We started with their house marinated mixed olives. They were perfectly briny, without being too salty. Each was firm around the pit and made for a meaningful bite, followed by a smoky finish. I appreciated the variety in colours and sizes, but naturally the larger green ones were the preferred pick.

This evening I was with a more adventurous diner, so we found ourselves ordering their more unique dishes. Like the “Lengua estofada” which is beef tongue, prepared with tomato, onions, and capers. I am a fearless eater, but there is just something about tongue meat (tongue flesh?) that I can’t stomach. I can’t get over the weird sensation of chewing on tongue with your tongue. Although the meat of it was fairly tender, and not at all tough or muscular as you’d expect, feeling your own. The sauce helped me finish my piece with its deep spice, and the stewed tomato offered up a different texture to help disguise. This is a great way to try tongue for the first time, but not one I would go back for more of. I had one piece out of four and that was enough.


Whereas I would come back just for the “Chipirones”. This is sautéed baby squad in a garlic and wine sauce. Each piece was super tender and full of flavour. Easy to chew with a great charred flavour. Honestly the best squid dish I have had to date. I just wish I didn’t have to share it.

Following it with the “Conejo riojana” was a bad idea. This was slow cooked rabbit in a tomato and wine sauce, and it was bland compared to the other dishes above. The texture and taste was like that of fried chicken, coated in a runny juice. I would have liked it without the sauce or at least a thicker tomato paste instead. Sadly the potato side was the more memorable note to this plate.


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.
Despite a two out of two for dishes enjoyed, my original assessment of them stands. They have a winning combination of clean and simple food in a dark and rich environment. A great place to sit and catch up at, or the one for a casual dinner date. My new favourite spot for tapas. Make sure you visit with the attention to pair your food with Spanish wine. Don’t deny your cravings.


1014 Main Street, Vancouver BC, V6A 2W1

Earnest Ice Cream, Frances St.

The newest location of locals’ favourite: “Earnest” ice cream is on Frances street. It is within an industrial area, making them very much so a destination worth travelling out to. A great option for those who drive and are looking to avoid its other congested branches in their more populated areas. With pull up parking and plenty of sidewalk curb to sit on, they are a fine way to satisfy your “Earnest fix” in east Vancouver.

As the only commercial business front on the block, it stands out with its all glass exterior wall. Its trademark swirls and psychedelic ice cream cone decals marks the spot. There isn’t any seating inside, but if you are lucky, can be one of three to claim one of their white folding chairs out front.

As soon as you walk in, you are at the counter. Clearly the goal is to serve a quick revolving door of customers. Like it is with their other locations, the menu is a revolving list of small batch flavours, updated frequently with chalk on black board paper. And you can try as many samples of each as you like. They had a few of their fan favourites available as scoops and in pints, but I was more interested in their seasonal offerings. Like their “strawberry shortcake sundae”, their “sweet cream” flavoured ice cream, and the “fresh basil”. I sampled the latter and found it a refreshing palette cleanser. A great flavour to try as it hits its namesake ingredient to a tee, but not necessarily one I would commit to as scoop in a waffle cone.

Instead we were plenty happy with our fruit focused flavours below. My guest got the “sour cherry goat cheese”. The pairing of the two made for great compliments. Fresh fruit with a sharp and salty cheese. It reminded me of eating yogurt with the tartness and tang, and occasional sweetness, when happening on a whole fruit coated in syrup

I got the “sweet corn blueberry swirl”. I liked the fruit and the additional sweetness and distinct flavour the corn offered. Although, didn’t much prefer the texture of the whole kernels embedded within the folds of frozen cream and blueberry syrup. They were hard and chalky with a gritty texture.


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.
Another location to enjoy some of their ice cream at. Pretty standard, and as a staple, you know what you are getting. Don’t deny your cravings.


1485 Frances Street, Vancouver BC
Earnest Ice Cream Frances St. Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


“Dosanko” is a new Japanese restaurant located within the ever evolving area of Strathcona. And following the wonderful new murals in the area will eventually lead you to their doorstep. Although you might need a second look as it’s exterior isn’t all that ornate. Simple all black plaint and a neatly printed sign, that speaks to their uncomplicated cooking style.

Inside, the restaurant has that Gastown vibe, wooden floors and wooden furniture paired with red brick walls and exposed beams. Rustic and purposefully aged. The place is kept dark with several strung up lights in large spheres and uncovered bulbs. They set the tone of a more romantic night. However, having a child themselves, the owners also considered date night; and have made it possible with a shelf-barrier dividing the restaurant into two, which contains a play area with a sofa and toys to keep any guardian comfortable and any child entertained.

But for this closed door event, we spent all our time in the main dining area overlooking their handsome bar stocked will with wine, beer on tap, and of course, plenty of sake.

I was delighted to have been invited to this media tasting, otherwise I don’t think I would have ventured this far for their homestyle Japanese; and that would have been a shame considering how great of a gem they are. When it comes to a media tasting: plating and portion size may be gussied up and/or paired down, and the service will usually be top notch. Though I can at least paint you the most accurate image when it comes to the food and the setting, as how I interpret it. But as always, these are my opinions and you need not take them as fact. Unless you have my exact background, have lived my exact experiences, and we possess the same tongue; no one can truly taste and appreciate as you do.

They have been open since July 17th of 2017, which is actually the birthday of one half of this husband and wife restauranteur team. He takes care of the kitchen and she owns the front of the house, but both contribute to the menu, hence the fusion flavour pairings below. This restaurant has been in the works for a while. They spend two year creating and refining many of their dishes. Our chef’s goal was to open up his own restaurant before he turn 40, and with a couple of years to spare, he has achieved this. And given how great everything tasted, I can see longevity in their future. Most notable is the fact that 99% of all that they offer is made in house and from scratch. This includes all of their spice mixes, vinaigrettes, sauces, and even the specialty salt that they feature quite often.

Our menu was a curated selection, allowing us to get a taste of the breath of the kitchen’s ability, as well as some item they have already noted as their hallmarks.

The first two were seasonal items with fresh produce and bold flavours coming together for cooler plates. Helpful in combating against the warmer weather, and the fact that they don’t have air conditioning.

The “Stoney paradise Heirloom tomato salad” was one of our Chef’s favourite dishes. He couldn’t stop talking about these tomatoes from Kelowna and how they were the sweetest he has ever had. With them he paired pickled Walla walla onions, sourced from the same farm, shiso (a Japanese leafy herb), and homemade ricotta cheese. I love tomatoes, and these WERE some of the finest I have enjoyed. Firm and juicy, with just the right amount of sweet. By contrastive and bold extension the pickled tangy onion makes the dish pop with acidity. I would have only liked some more seasonings, and some more salt from the ricotta, to help pull everything together.

A group favourite was the “Koji cured ham with peaches”. “Koji” is a type of mold used in Chinese and other East Asian cuisines to ferment food. This includes soybeans for soy sauce and bean paste, and the saccharifying of rice, grains, and potatoes in the making of alcoholic beverages like sake. It gave the ham the same properties as prosciutto. Except that prosciutto is aged for 6-8 months, whereas with koji made into salt, you only need two months worth of curing to get this similar effect. The end result: some of the most velvety pieces of ham I have ever had. Tender slices with just the right amount of fat. It even tasted rich like prosciutto, except only mildly salty. Together with the peppery leaves and the sweet fruit, you have a classic pairing of salty and sweet.

Next is a typical Japanese salad used as an appie: “Kimpira burdock”. This healthy assembly of fibrous, julienned burdock root and carrot is a classic meal start. Although, I would have preferred it as a side, a clean way to cleanse the palette between dishes.

I am not usually a fan of tempura, but “Dosanko’s” offering was light, and the twist in using koji salt as a dip instead of the typical watery tempura sauce kept each piece airy. They use organic vegetables that kept their crisp texture through the deep frying process. Yellow squash, zucchini, rainbow beets, tomato, yellow beans, purple daikon, and multicoloured carrots. They even tempura-ed the cilantro garnish. The koji salt really gave it each piece its flavour, and like salt it draws out its natural flavour. I would recommend this dish just to try the koji like this.

The restaurant often purchases whole pigs, using every part of it, from cured ham in our appetizer above, to the rue in the curry below, and in this “Pork belly tonkatsu”. Originally this menu item allowed you to pick your pig part and the kitchen would make your request into a perfectly crispy, gold brown fritter. However many of their customers didn’t like how much fat that using a heritage pork created. So the solution was to only offer it made using pork belly. Here the pork is sous vide and marinated in more koji until tender. Then it dredged and given a bath in hot oil. The result is some delicious pork paired well, with some of the nicest sushi rice I have ever had; and the perfected sauces that pulled both together. The dish comes with a side of rice and three sauces/seasonings. You grind the sesame seeds up and add them to the tangy brown sauce. To it you can also add some mayo for a creaminess or use it as a change of taste as needed.

The “Hiyashi chuka” is their housemade cold ramen noodles. Its toppings vary based on what is seasonally offered and available on the day. The shredded chicken is a standard topping, prepared sous vide vide for maximum tenderness. Today we also had it served with their housemade kimchi, that wasn’t as spicy or as vinegary as other kimchi I have had. The pickled daikon gave the bowl a refreshing tang, the corn its sweetness, the shredded cabbage some crunch, and the cherry tomatoes some pop and juice. The noodles tasted like the sum of their ingredients, clean and delicious. I would love to see their take on hot ramen with broth, which I do prefer.

My favourite of the night, and the one our chef claimed was his, was the “Saba”. This is housemade miso marinaded white fish, prepared straight forwardly with mirin, sake, garlic, and ginger. It was light yet rich, savoury yet sweet. It had it all and they all sat comfortably with one another on your tongue. The only downside preventing me from ordering it again is the excessive number of tiny bones you have to pick out between bites of moisture fish. I am not a fan of working this hard to eat.

As mentioned above, their curry over rice used pork rue, made from the left over pulp from their pork belly tonkatsu. This gave the curry a lot more depth. But it wasn’t the sweet Japanese curry I was expecting, instead this smelled and was seasoned more like Tex-Mex ground beef. But the melted cheese did give me the creamier texture I was looking for. As a whole, it was delicious and I wish I had more just thinking about it now.

As a learning piece we were also given a sample taste of fermented rice. This is basically mouldy rice fermented with ground up koji. It looks like cauliflower florets and it tastes like Chinese herbs with a slight sweetness.

To wash that down we were served some of tastiest desserts I have had in a while. I adore their “matcha and white chocolate mille crepe” for its chewier texture, which i somehow cakey for a crepe. It is thick and dense, making your bites all the more decadent. More like sheets of lasagna noodle than light pancake. And like majority of their dish before this, it was the perfect amount of flavour, always feigning on the lighter side. It had a great matcha flavour, milky from the white chocolate, but not too sweet and bitter to start. I liked the peaches on their own, but didn’t really feel like they matched the rest of the plate.

And I couldn’t decide if I liked it or the “Cherry tart” better. This was a beautifully done pie with a buttery crumbly crust, luscious vanilla pastry cream; and perfectly tart, pitted spartan cherry halves. On top of the cherries being locally sourced, the honey used in this comes from their neighbours at “Humanity honey”. This honey in particular comes from many hives all around Vancouver. But the honey on the pie will rotate as new batches are purchased.

I am not a fan of chocolate in general, let alone the bitterness of dark chocolate in this “Chocolate passion torte”. But what I did like was its texture. It felt like sticky fudge under velvety cream. Dark on dark with the light mousse flavoured in passion fruit paired with fresh blueberries to brighten the slice up.

We then all shared a “Coffee and condense milk jelly parfait”, with the appropriate length of parfait spoon. I liked the jelly and would have preferred them as is with a little cream. Here the fluffy whipped cream gave the dessert a more interesting mouth feel, and like the jelly it wasn’t too sweet.


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.
Some standout comfort dining. I really liked the variety I got to try and how clean it all was. A great place for homestyle Japanese food with a western take. And with a good amount of rotation on the menu you can visit them often and always be trying something new. Don’t deny your cravings.


566 Powell Street Unit #100, Vancouver BC, V6A 1G9
Dosanko Resaturant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

La Casa Gelato, weird ice cream flavours

With all the new small batch, artisan ice cream places popping up around town, you are only a stone’s throw away from some of the sweet cold stuff. So where do you go? Which one do you visit?

I find myself being drawn to many that use liquid nitrogen to make their creams icy, or utilize its chemical reaction to create smoke and interest in their parfaits. I search out ones with seasonal flavours, and those who put the effort into making their own specialty cones.

However, one ice cream shoppe I continue to find myself coming back to is the “one on Venables”. You may forget its name, but you don’t forget its baby pink exterior, and the fact that they are the only ones in the city to offer over 200 different flavours. Theirs is a room that essentially surrounds you with refrigeration units, filled with buckets of ice creams. Here, you have the ability to explore each showcase to the fullest. We did this by trying all their weird flavours without constraint. Over 20 samples were shared between three, from green onion to curry, durian and black currant. You can taste as many of each as you like, and that was exactly what we did today.


To check out the video of this, visit the link below.

Some of the more unique flavours include Vegemite, apple & cheddar, and roasted red pepper with feta. And truly most tasted as its descriptive name promised. Some by way of actual chunks of the promised vegetables or herb. I don’t think the point of these are to enjoy their savoury flavour for dessert, but to try it and say that you have. It certainly was reason enough for us to visit today. And this is why they remain a great destination for ice cream, and are the one to recommend to someone visiting from out of town.


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.
Don’t deny your cravings.


To read my original visit post, click below.

La Casa Gelato


1033 Venables St, Vancouver BC

Bodega for brunch

I have been to “Bodega” once before and knew I would find my way back. And today it would be to try their newer brunch menu for the first time. My visit coincided with my time as a Vancouver Foodster caesar completion judge. So there was plenty to eat and try.

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

To check out my first visit and my impressions of the place, visit the link below.

Bodega on Main


Their “Premium double caesar” was only available during their weekend brunch. The cocktail begins with Walter Caesar mix and to it they add your choice of either Sons of Vancouver chilli vodka, Altos blanco tequila, or Ford’s gin. The rim is a mix of maldon salt and chilli flakes. It is finished with a prawn, olive, pearl onion, and jamón kebob. It was a tasty cocktail, but what made it memorable wasn’t what was in it, but the ham that balanced over it. It also paired nicely with the flavours we ordered for breakfast below.

To watch its creation, along with the other caesar challenge entries. Clink on my recap video below, and see if you can recreate them for yourself, at home.


For food we got the “Breakfast paella” made with chorizo, chicken, prawns, roasted grape tomatoes, and piquillo pepper. It was topped with a couple of soft poached eggs, because nothing reads breakfast like the addition of eggs. I wanted more flavours and depth to the rice. It was heavy with salt and saturated soggy with its own sauce that pooled at the bottom. I wanted the paella crispier, with more stickier, tackier rice. I liked the chicken the most, but there was only one wing from drumlet to tip.

And because I like trying the unique and most unusual on any menu, their menu had me ordering their “Morcilla”. This was a breakfast platter of sausages with a twist. Blood sausages, fried potatoes with onions, poached eggs, and grated manchego cheese. These were the best representation of blood sausages that I have ever had. They weren’t iron laden or bitter; but instead rich, deep, and dark. Almost cinnamon-y. I just wished for a lighter side, something a lot more fresh to change the taste. Even more green onion and maybe some tomato or avocado over the starchy potatoes would have helped.

We were then offered dessert. We were tempted by the churros, but given the rarity of figs on most menus, we had to take advantage of them here now. “Bombon de higos:” brandy soaked figs with almonds, and mascarpone; dipped in chocolate. They weren’t too sweet despite the robe of chocolate that surrounded each one. They reminded me more of cheesecake with the marscapone, it was definitely the highlight for me. Great two bite morsels, where one was more then enough; so be sure to share this one.


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.
Another great meal at “Bodega”. Don’t deny your cravings.


Bodega on Main
1014 Main Street, Vancouver BC
Bodega on Main Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Pink Pearl presents 4 Decades of Dim Sum

Today I was invited to a Chinese Bites event meant to celebrate “Pink Pearl” restaurant’s 5th reopening anniversary. I was one of 50 other food bloggers and social media influencers invited to take a journey through the 80’s, 90’s, 2000’s and 2010’s, via dim sum.

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

“Pink Pearl” is one of the longest lasting Chinese restaurants in Vancouver, they have proven their staying power over the years by surviving a fire that threatened to shut them down. They are best known as one of the only places in the city that still serves dim sum with traditional push carts. Something that requires plenty of space and planning on their part, as well as more work for little gains. To consider the necessary distance between tables, in order to pivot carts, means less seating is made available, and therefore the decrease of profits. Then there is the need for preparations proper planning to ensure you make enough food and the right kinds of food to be picked up from your cart, while it is still hot.

Before we began there were a few welcoming speeches, including mention of their fundraising initiative. The restaurant is looking to support the food bank by offering a multi course dinner, where the money for the tickets will go to fund the food bank’s need for non perishables. The theme behind this would be “Four decades of Chinese dinners”, at Pink Pearl. Tickets are sold by the table. $568 for a table of 10-12, and the price includes taxes and gratuity. This was a nice touch and something that echoed this morning’s “4 decades of dim sum” event.

All the dishes that would be coming to us today were laid out on an informative card. Although they weren’t in order of the card’s listing, or even by decade. Which I think would have been a nice idea, along with a little speech regarding the history of each dim sum item, to educate us diners. The following is the order in which all the food arrived.

But to watch the evolution of dim sum in order of decades and on video, visit the link below.


From the 2000’s we had the ever popular dim sum classic of “steamed shrimp dumplings”. A solid, rounded, chunk of sweet shrimp within a shell of chewy starch.

We then jumped further back in time with the 1990’s “lotus wrapped stuffed sticky rice”. This was a bundle of sticky rice for everyone to share, served and made fragrant in its leafy wrapper. The filling was the most I have had in such a dish. Full pieces of chicken on bone, chunks of Chinese sausage, and a golden yolk.

Taking another decade back, before going forward again we had the “1980’s Duck-web wrap”. This is actually my first time having duck feet, the webbing throws me off visually. But wrapped with toes covered like this made things a lot easier to swallow, figuratively and literally. Each foot is wrapped up in a tofu sheet with taro, ham, and mushroom. It was all flavoured in the same sweet and starchy light gravy. I could have done with out the vegetable and ham, as I ended up unwrapping everything and eating it all piece by piece anyways.

Back in the 2000’s we had their “steamed sticky rice roll”. This one was new to me. They combined two dim sum favourites into one. Chewy sticky rice with bits of Chinese sausage and ground pork, stuffed into soft white buns. It was a blending of two textures I like with its taste coming from the seasoning of the rice. The rice was not un-similar to the one served in the bundles of lotus leaves above.

The “1990’s mini steamed pork bun” was another one I am very familiar with. Sweet honey glazed barbecue pork in a perfectly spongy white bun dough. This had a good ratio of meat to bao.

The 1980’s had “shrimp toast”, as another dim sum classic that I have never had. It was a whole shrimp embedded into a triangle of toast. Interesting in presentation and delicious in theory, however I found it far too oily to consume more than a bite of. There was too much butter and oil, causing everything else to be lost and drowning in it.

2010’s had “hand-made steamed shrimp rice rolls”. They were served undressed, but the dish of soy it came with was a necessity for flavour and kick. The rolls tasted absolutely fresh and the table at the plates clean.

So far everyone was thrown off by all the dishes from the 1980’s, and the feeling was furthered by this interpretation of the popular pork dumpling: siu mai; named “liver and pork dumplings”. It wasn’t the most visually attractive, sitting in a pool of glistening grease, and without the yellow wonton wrapper that many use as a visual cue for the traditional dish. And then there was the cut of liver that topped it, not many folks like the iron-y taste and sandy texture of liver. But for me and a handful of others, it represents childhood and being forced to eat such organ meats by your parents, who insisted that it is good for you. Having been socialized to it, I actually like liver prepared liked this and found it delicious. Cooked tender and not so overpowering in taste as to hide the flavour of the pork ball it balanced on.

But the next 1980’s dish I wasn’t as such a fan of. This was yet another dim sum item that was new to me. We each received a “pan fried half moon dumpling” served with a scoop of soup. The former is a two bite, fried pastry with a chalky shell. You can’t make out, let alone taste the specks of filling within it. Overall it was fairly dry and didn’t have much taste as is, so we figured it was meant to be dipped. The tangy light broth helped to balance out its oily texture. And it gave the dumpling a herbal yet citrusy flavour, not that it necessary matched one to the other.

We then jump back up two decades with the 2010’s “wok fried lotus root and fresh mushrooms”. This dish was served family style with celery, carrot, black fungus, and goji berries (which I will talk more about down below). The lotus root was served frimer than what I am use two, it had a starchy finish to it and required some back of teeth chewing to gnaw through. It matched well with the other crisp vegetables in this sticky, mild gravy. A good side, but felt incomplete as is.


The 2010’s “hand-made steamed beef rice rolls” were not unlike the shrimp ones we had earlier. Except here the filling was ground up beef seasoned herbaceously with ginger, spring onion, and I believe cilantro. This too required the sweet light soy sauce to make it pop.

We then transition to dessert for our last two dishes, although it is common to get the dim sum sweet served before or along side the dim sum savoury. This is because desserts are often prepared ahead of time, and are typically ready for serving before any other dishes are wok fried or steamed to order.

The 1990’s had this “black and white sweet sesame roll”. Diana from Foodology described its look best by calling them “film canisters”. A layer of black and white glutinous rice flour fused together and rolled up. The flavour of the sesame in the dessert was mild. The seeds sprinkled above it offered more of sesame essence, although I would have preferred them toasted for a nice smokey flavour.

And lastly we finished at our current decade with this 2010’s “gojoy gojiberries gelle”. It was a nice, light berry finish made with the goji berries in mind. The berries added a nice textural chew and gave pops of juice to the otherwise dry jello.

Today’s event was also sponsored by two local goji berry farmers from “Gojoy”. “Gojoy” is one of the first to farm goji berries here in Canada. Starting every June to the end of summer, on their acreage, you have the ability to visit them for “you pick”. This is where you get to pick your own fruit from their actual orchid and get charged for how much you pick. They attended this event today to showcase their goji berry smoothie mix before the event, along with bags of frozen berries you can take home and thaw out to use as needed. They also spoke to the application of goji berries in cooking as seen in the savoury lotus dish above and now this jello-like dessert. The berries are easy to tie in to Chinese cuisine, as it is already noted in Chinese culture for its medicinal properties. They are now scientifically proven to be beneficial for the eyes, liver, and kidney.


Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – No.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
I haven’t been back to “Pink Pearl” in years, until today. This was one of my parent’s favourite places for Chinese seafood dinners and dim sum, growing up. But I think we actually stopped coming in, after they burnt down and took half a year to rebuild. So to see them get back on their feet and continue to try and do new things, to bring in a larger, more diverse crowd is inspiring. This was a great event, offering a very unique way to showcase the familiarity of dim sum. Hopefully they do this and more of it, more often; offering a variation of today’s event to the paying public. It will not only bring in fans of Chinese cuisine, but even those unfamiliar and willing to learn through ingesting. Don’t deny your cravings.


1132 East Hastings Street, Vancouver BC, V6A 1S2
Pink Pearl Chinese Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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