VieAMaggi.com

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

Category: West End Page 1 of 7

Holy Crab, brunch

Today, breakfast practitioner and enthusiastic food lover, Diana of @foodologyca and I were out for brunch. We stopped at the well known, Louisiana inspired seafood shack: “Holy Crab”. Here, to try their seafood focused brunch, the entire menu’s worth. Be warned, if you order as much as we did, it does take some time for all of it to come out. With so many different components per dish, (from a kitchen that typically offers simply steamed seafood or deep fried snacks), these were a bit more complex to push out.

“Holy Crab” might not have the most extensive brunch menu, but for what they do have, they stand out. Any brunch place can do eggs Benedicts, but where else can you get it topped with blackened catfish, a crab cake, or lobster as the main protein? Given all the options above and smoke salmon, we decided on the “lobster klaws”. Because when given a choice, lobster is always the way to go. But sadly the claw meat wasn’t as expected, I wanted buttery and juicy, but it came out dry. We should have taken our server’s suggestion and gotten the crab cakes instead, in hindsight I am certain that, that would have been the best option. Be warned, you want to dig into this one quickly as the slightly spiced, creamy hollandaise does congeal and the lobster meat does harden as they cool. But the biscuit base we choose over the regular English muffin one stood the test of time. And it proved to be a great variation on a classic breakfast staple, especially with perfectly poached, ooey and gooey yolk that dropped down its sides.

Available during brunch, but great any time of day is their seafood grilled cheese served with the soup of the day. You started with a grilled cheddar and mozzarella sandwich and to it can add shrimp or lobster, or keep it the classic cheese only. Made with whole wheat toast, it is full of seeds and finished with a deep grill. The toast choice made it crispier and heartier than most; ideal for all the large chunks of lobster we choose as our filling today. This is another one to eat quick, before the bread gets soggy and the cheese oiler than necessary. Though if that is the case, a dip in soup is an easy remedy.

Today’s soup was a seafood chowder. It was thick, yet bright with a slow back of your throat spice. I especially liked the chunks of potato and clam bobbing about, giving it a watery stew texture. But truth be told, this was better by itself or with a side of garlic toast, to better highlight the soup. And the grilled cheese best with a tomato bisque to give the sandwich some needed tang.

The “Breakfast poutine” took the Canadian favourite of fries, cheese curds, and gravy. And to the assembly added an egg to give it more of a breakfast feel. Followed by some shrimp and snow crab claws to make it “Holy Crab” specific, with their Cajun-spiced fries. The result, an easy to graze on skillet. Tasty, but I was left wanting more diversity in my seafood, not just shrimp. Maybe some squid rings and scallop, plus the crab claw meat shredded over top. A little more panache to elevate the serving to the impressive standing of the others dishes. This felt very normal, comparatively.

For a lighter offering the “toast board” gave you two open face slices of toast, served with their rice salad. The latter was a chilled mix of black bean, corn, and wild rice. I didn’t find that the salad added anything to the board, or was even all that complimentary given the toast options available like shrimp and egg or vegetarian with avocado and spouts. A regular leafy green and tomato side salad would have been nicer. Better served as a full break from all the flavour each toast was bringing.

As for the actual toast, the menu doesn’t include any sweet breakfast options, so we sought out the banana toast with sliced banana, peanut butter, chopped toasted walnut, and a caramel drizzle. However, they didn’t have bananas on this day, so we opted for two savoury choices instead.

The smoke salmon was a familiar classic made with cream cheese, capers, shallots, and fresh dill. A fresh bite that offered a break between the heavier, denser plates before and after.

I also liked the truffled scramble egg toast as a palette refresher. A black truffle tapenade spread over crispy broiled white bread, topped with fluffy scrambled egg; and seasoned with truffle oil, Cajun spices, and chives. There was no mistaking the truffle flavour in this.

I was most excited for the Southern fried chicken and pancakes”, out of preference. No seafood in this one, just a twist in the batter and the spices used. Southern fried chicken seasoned with their signature Cajun spices, served on top of three fluffy cornmeal buttermilk pancakes. I liked the thorough crunch that the breaded chicken had, but wanted more meat on bone and seasoning to have gone through. There was gravy, but it was better suited to the poutine (as they are both use the same gravy). I could also make out the taste of oil and the need of plenty of pepper to balance it. To take it in a sweeter direction, there was also some maple syrup served on the side. It was nice, but I didn’t add any of it as the pancakes were served pre-dressed in jam and syrup with the butter melting slowly over them. This I felt this added unnecessary decadence to the dish. Whereas I would have liked the pancakes undressed and therefore less soggy, to better match the the crispy crunch of the chicken. Instead, they were sticky sponges that served as a base. Although given how stunning this looks, I ain’t even mad. This dish was all about presentation; a leaning tower topped with thyme and it worked.

The next dish I didn’t like out of personal preference, but I had to give it a bite in order to say that I have had “Holy Crab’s” entire brunch menu. The “Egg Sardou” are poached eggs and more of the Cajun hollandaise over artichoke hearts and creamed spinach. So basically a keto take on eggs benny, plus an toast or two. This is available as a half serving and a full. The texture of wilted greens makes me gag, so I worked my way around it. Not for me, but I recognize it as a very creative alternative for those who are looking for something more lean.

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.
In conclusion a great spot for seafood lovers, and those looking for a differing kind of brunch. With no other options in the are they are your go-to. Don’t deny your cravings.

HOLY CRAB
1588 Robson Street, Vancouver BC, V6G 2G5
604-661-8533
theholycrab.ca

Miss Korea BBQ

Walking up to the restaurant, we recollected that we have been to this location before; but as a different reincarnation. It then too was a do-it-yourself barbecue restaurant. But instead of a Japanese, this was now a lively and boppy Korean bbq hub. You could smell the smoke a block away, and hear the sizzle even past the jovial voices and the bubbly K-pop ballads belting.

Sadly, we were horribly late for our reservation, and as a result our table was given away. So we were left at the threshold, awkwardly standing, at the centre of a cluster of dining tables, separated by dark wood separators. There was no other option given that the small waiting area was already cramped, and it was too cold to enjoy standing outside. So here we were, waiting a minute for every one that we were originally late for.

It was packed house on Friday with plenty bodies waiting for a table after us, this did bolstered the restaurant’s imagine in my eyes. It had me thinking that it must be worth the wait, especially given how popular it was with the Korean population. The only hitch, all the waiting had my eyes drying from the unseen smoke and my nostrils trying to close in on themselves, to avoid breathing in the acrid smell of burning compounded, from every grill at every table. Be warned? This smell does follow you home, embedding itself in your hair and on your clothes.

But past this, the visit, the food, and especially the service were a delight. The young host was cheery and welcoming, we were ushered to our table as soon as one became available; and well look after each time we push the red button for service. A measure of convenience for the staff, but an action I could not get use to. Continuing to make eye contact and hail a person like I would a cab, like at everywhere else.

The menu was easy to navigate with plenty of coloured photos. If you want the full experience you get one of their predetermined barbecue sets, and to it add some sides. For more food, go for one of their full dishes like kimchi pancake, bibimbap, or japchae. There are also a number of smaller appetizers and share plates to consider.

But back to the barbecue sets: a collection of raw meats that you cook yourself on the grill, located at the centre of your table. They are a variety of sets to choose from, each with 4 sides, bowls of rice, soup and sauces. So you are basically choosing what types of meat you want. And then if you want the order as a medium which feeds 2 to spare, or large which can feed 3-4.

We went with the “Miss Combo A” which centred around rib eye steak, pork belly, special galbi, and chicken. And added on cheese as one of the grill sides for an extra $3.95. The price is steep for 60mls of shredded cheese melted and quick to burn, but amazingly delicious with the meat if you get it all gooey and stringy.

Meats are marinated and served all together on one platter for you to sort through. Larger cuts that you might want to trim down to size if you are sharing, and seeing as your meal doesn’t come with knives for slicing. You get two tongs and a pair of scissors. One of the tongs is for raw meat the other to serve the cooked cuts. You can either cut the meat down to size before or after it is cooked. We went with before and found the dull shears ineffective on any sinew.

We were advised to eat the chicken and pork first using a more closed off grill plate. And then when we move on to the beef, the grill plate would be changed to one that is more wire-y. This was nice, given that the grill isn’t oiled so it does get caked with burnt meat that sloughs off during the cooking process. So getting a new one mid way ensures you are tasting more of your meat, and less of the burning.

How the meat turns out depends on you, so be vigilant and visit with someone who actually enjoys tending to the grill. For me, not so much, I rather eat and enjoy my meal with minimum work. But this sort of dining is more for comradery and the ability to elongate a meal through slow preparation and gentle grazing anyways.

As for how it tasted, the seasoning was the same for all the meat, a mildly sweet and salty marinate. Good but not enough. I found myself dipping everything into the side of sweet soy, chilli, or course salt for more punch. Each cut had a different chew. I liked the special galbi the most for its perfect balance of fat and meat, the chicken was the most tender and naturally flavourful, the pork belly was mostly just fat, and the rib eye a little too aged and musky for my tastes. But the fun really comes from trying them all with a different combination of the egg, corn and cheese on the side.

The corn came shrivelled and remained dry. The egg bubbled up and kept warm like a fluffy omelette; and along side with the cheese and pork belly, you got flashbacks of breakfast. Be warned the cheese is very hot and it holds its heat, so be careful as it can burn your tongue.

You can also use the 4 vegetable sides as a way to inject a little flavour along with the meat and rice. Although majority of them are more tangy and refreshing in quality and serve better as a break in between, to change up the flavour with. Like the spicy cucumber and pickled julienned daikon. There is also the more common chilled boiled potato and spicy kimchi sides.

The soup comes to the table sizzling in its cast iron vessel. A light vegetable broth with hot spice. Mixed in are plenty of chopped cabbage and onion; with chucks on tofu, cannelloni beans, and zucchini. A great start to warm your stomach up for things to come. You can also enjoy the vegetables over your rice as they are well seasoned by the soup.

As good as all this was, and despite how much food we already had in front of us, I couldn’t walk away without ordering the “Seafood rice cake”. Rice cakes are one of my favourite, especially in this form. I enjoy the chew of the tubes, and here it was well highlighted by the mix of the seafood and their textures. Shrimp in tail, mussels in shell, sheets of fish cake, and squid curls; all smothered in a sweet chilli sauce. Spicy enough to give your tongue a run for its money, but not hot enough that you would stop eating. I am not ashamed to admit that I single handedly finished the whole bowl.

To drink we had soju, because when having Korean barbecue what else do you turn too? However I made the mistake of ordering a sweet one in green apple fruit. The result, the most un-complimentary food and drink pairing I have ever had. I outright admit soju was a bad idea. However, in my defence I typically am not the one who orders it, it is just shows up!

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
A great place for good barbecue and a fun date night option. Just be prepared to come out smelling like burn bbq smoke. Don’t deny your cravings.

MISS KOREA BBQ
793 Jervis St, Vancouver, BC V6E 2B1
(604) 669-1225

Noodle Arts

On a cold, but more tolerable snowy night, we were in search of some noodles to help warm us up. Our journey brought us to “Noodle Art” on Robson Street. Where 2 out of 3 of us had never been before, and the 3rd frequents, always ordering to same menu item.

On this slower night we had the full attention of the floor staff, which included the lone server in pink and purple uniform, and the owner of the restaurant herself.

This was a treat, as she gave us a quick background spiel. Her family actually owns 68 similar restaurants in China, with this being their first venture in Vancouver, with its own name. They specialize in traditional Lanzhou cuisine, flavour from the “ Silk Road”, North West of China. As she spoke you could tell how passionate she was about her family’s legacy and the pride she had for her shop, here.

The restaurant is brightly lit. Wood strips line the right wall and a blue and red mural of people and horse covers the one on the left. But the highlight of the space has to be the partially open kitchen and the ability to watch your choice of noodles be rolled, cut, or pulled to order, then boiled up in a wok of hot water. The entire mesmerizing experience was carried out by two chefs in full uniform. Unsmiling and utterly focused on the work before them. Their hands work feverishly and the food came out quickly there after.

We were seated on the right and given a two sided menu that when folded and not laminated also served as their take out menu. Names of items were fairly descriptive, with a few choice photo to help in your decision making. However, we had the owner by our table, helping us to decide. Originally we were all going to get their “traditional Lanzhou beef noodle”, (the very order my one guests all the time and got again tonight). Although through her recommendations we were each able to find and try a different dishes, each with its own strong points. When you order any of their noodle dishes you get to choose the type of noodles you want from it. A choice made from a list of eight different options that includes an extra thin strand at 1mm and a thick flat noodle at 5mm. Worth mentioning is that they also offer rice, meat, seafood, and vegetable dishes, or their noodles dry. But we came in with a craving and one bowl of soup noodle is plenty of food for one.

As expected, the one guest got his usual: the traditional Lanzhou beef noodle, making it a combo. “Combo A” gave you a cold side, additional beef slices, and a marinaded egg with your large bowl of noodles. But if it was me I would have gotten “Combo B”, so that I could have a dessert with the set. He customized his bowl with their thickest noodle at 20mm and ask for extra spicy oil to be added in. However, the noodles weren’t all that thick and the oil wasn’t even spicy. (Though now looking at the photos, I think they must have us the wrong noodles). The noodles were nice and chewy, an ideal cut for those who order such dishes for the noodles and enjoys chewing through them. You can also get a container of the spicy oil for the table, to be able to scoop as much or as little as you like, on to whatever you want. It offers a nice peppery flavour, but despite its neon red hue, I would classify this as mild at best. As for the broth, given the amount of oil used, I can’t be sure of how it tastes normally. I guess I would just have to come back to find out. As for the sides, they were a nice break in between bites, great alone or even together within the noodle bowl. The cold seaweed offered a firmer chew, and the extra meat and egg some heartiness.

I had the “Braised ribs noodle soup”. This came recommend my our owner-host. They had originally run out of the meat in the morning, so this evening I would be partaking from a fresh batch. Hearing that was enough to have me confirming the recommendation. I had it with “triangle” noodles, that weren’t actually triangular. They are just not as flat as most of the other noodles. Thicker strands, but with a less width. They were chubby and chewy and only got more so, the longer they soaked in the broth. They do absorb liquid quick, so I suggest eating this one first and fast to get firm noodles and plenty of broth to slurp up. As for how it tasted, I couldn’t help but to compare this dish to Taiwanese beef noodle. Therefore I wanted a richer broth, with more pepper, and more heat in spice and in temperature. Similarly the meat was bland. Pieces were inconsistent with some being tender and others dry. All the flavour could have washed into the soup, but I found they fell flat. Though luckily I was able to reach for the chilli oil jar and rejuvenate my serving with a whole new flavour to work through.

My other guest got their “soup” special, a new menu item only introduced a day ago (from when I visited). They are competing in Vancouver Foodster’s Best Soup Challenge, and this is their entry. It isn’t on their regular menu, but is featured on stand up signs at each table, along with a card informing you on how you can vote for your favourite (after trying all the competitors) at the Vancouver Foodster website. Something they want to promote, so that they can potentially be crowned the best in the city, for the best soup.

This wasn’t a new dish they created, but one that is well known and well received, especially by my guest who ordered it and knew exactly what she was getting. This was their “Lamb noodle soup”, a light broth that was full of rich flavour from boiled lamb bones. It was peppery with plenty of thin slices of lamb meat. It came with vermicelli and her choice of “Blade carving noodles”. The latter made by using a knife to roughly cut out chunks of dough, straight into boiling water. The result, a thicker, shorter noodle with an inconsistent chew. It did paired very well with the thin slippery glass noodle. But she too found herself reaching for the chilli oil to help change the taste mid way.

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 liked what I had, but wouldn’t go out of my way for their noodles, nor would I classify them as a destination. I can find other options with more flavour, closure to my home. However, they definitely make a great stop for those living in the neighbourhood. This is especially the case with their stamp card program, and the ability to collect them for an eventual free bowl. Don’t deny your cravings.

NOODLE ARTS
1739 Robson St, Vancouver, BC V6G 1C9
(604) 673-5688
noodlearts.com

J&G Fried Chicken

My original visit to this fried chicken joint came with my responsibilities as one of the judges for “Vancouver Foodster’s” chicken wing challenge. I was tasting my way through the competitors, and this was one of them. I may have originally came for just their chicken wings, but found myself staying for their fizzy fruit drinks, yam fries, fried dessert, and popcorn chicken.

With two available locations, I visited their stand alone shop downtown. It, as opposed to their food court presence within Crystal Mall, in Burnaby. Located at the tail end of Robson Street, they are easy to spot with their well lit sign. Past it is their all glass facade, with a oversized chicken statue by the door. Walking in, there is an invitation in neon to try their “Fun 2 Eat”, Taiwanese style fried chicken.

The restaurant has a small square foot presence with kitchen and counter up front, and a handful of smaller tables that run down the length of the shoppe. We would order at said counter and then grab a couple of high top stools by the window, looking out on to the sidewalk.

The menu is a single page back and forth. Well used with scuff marks and 1/4 of the menu options blocked off by paper. More tempting to order from is the television screen broadcasting informative slides and high resolution photos.

We would start with their chicken wing entry and work our way through their regular offerings. The former was a combo that came with three pieces of chicken: 2 drums and 1 thigh, served with hand cut yam fries and deep fried mini buns.

The chicken was fired to order, with the grease stains to prove it. Piping hot and incredibly juicy, be warned, you want to allow your meal to cool before biting down. This was fresh chicken marinated in five spice, sesame oil, garlic, and soy sauce. The chicken’s thin and crispy coating was the product of their special formulated wet batter dip. For added flavour you can get the chicken spicy in varying degrees. Overall, it had a very unique essence, and one I haven’t had until here and now. Deep with a layered umami flavour, and a tad on the salty side. To help change the taste I would have liked a dipping sauce, maybe a sweet and sour or a zesty mustard?

I highly recommend ordering it and any of their chicken with a couple of their refreshing drinks, to cleanse your palette in between bites. I was immediately drawn to the colour and whimsy of their gradient ones. The purple to orange blend was flavoured in peach, and the white to black: a strawberry with hints of pink. I suggest stirring the drink up before taking a sip. This helps to dilute the sweeten syrup at the bottom of the cup. Each fruit flavour was beautifully effervescent with tiny bubbles that popped on the tip of your tongue.

“J&G’s” take on yam fries was a sweet one. With a sugar and sour plum coating it ate like a hearty, starchy dessert. You didn’t quite know what to make of it, so found yourself going back for more. Soft yet firm, and completely interesting.

The fried buns was a nice, neutral sweetness to end on. Best hot and crispy with a generous smattering of condensed milk. I just wish there was a lot more of it, as it was what gave the dessert its flavour and flair.

We also had to try their popcorn chicken. It is one of their staples and their best selling item. I found it much more palatable that the chicken above. Soften white breast meat that pulls a part. It too had a 5 spice, herbal blend seasoning, but more mild. They were similar in taste to the chicken bites that you get at bubble tea cafés, making them a great anytime snack. I just wish they were served in smaller chunks. As is, these required multiple bites to finish, and were clumsy to eat with using the skewer they provided.

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.
It was delicious, but indulgent, not something you could have two days in a row, but a flavour you would find yourself craving. We definitely walked away feeling full with our meal sitting heavy. Don’t deny your cravings.

J&G Fried Chicken
1706 Robson St, Vancouver BC
604-423-2870
jgfcwest.ca

H Tasting Lounge, Winter High Tea

There are a handful of cafes and tea salons offering a Christmas themed high tea this season. But “H Tasting Lounge” is setting itself apart with their Ferris wheel display, the ability to have mulled wine with your finger sandwiches, and to enjoy live music with it all.

Their festive tea is only available on weekends, from November 30th to December 29th, from 11:30am to 4:30pm. The cost is $55 per person. After reading the press release, I ventured down to be the first person to try it, on what should have been its release date. However, due to complications with the menu, it was delayed for the following week. So I ended up dining with them the first day, tasting from their new winter menu instead; and then returning a week later to try the official winter tea service. This post will be an accumulation of the two visits.

I am a huge fan of “H Tasting Lounge’s” modern space. It speaks to luxury with velvet furniture in soft pastels, metallic throw pillows, and gold panel detailing with a 20’s flair. The latter, a remnant of the aviation themed bar they originally launched as. We grabbed my favourite seat, within the open space. One of the two c-shaped booths in the corner, by the patio entrance. A crushed blue velvet backdrop in your very own booth. It hugs you and your guests, whilst offering just the right amount of intimacy for two.

High tea starts with a box of loose leaf teas to sort and sniff through. You un-lid each vial and make your choice based on smell, much like a sensory menu.

Given that I was the very first person, during the very first service of this, they were still working out the kinks. Meaning we weren’t given the option for either of their two seasonal teas; which we would have ordered. The “Tealeaves Nutcracker Black Tea Blend” and/or the “Tealeaves Organic Herbal Sugar Plum Fairy”. So in the this case, I went for their “organic vanilla rooibos” instead.

Teas is served in a modern white and gold gilded tea pot that matches with your cup and saucer. It comes with milk and sugar, should you need it.

Although, I am more partial to their alcoholic drink options, and highly recommend either their “Mulled Wine” or “Miracle on Bayshore Dr.” cocktail. The latter a mix of rye, brandy, gingerbread syrup, milk, whole egg, and marshmallows. But today I went with the mulled wine, because where else can you get mulled wine (not at an outdoor market)? Here it is made with red wine, holiday spices, brandy, and peach schnapps. The wine is steeped with sugar plum tea leaves, and infused with clove cinnamon and star anise. After one sip, I concluded that I much rather a glass of mulled wine indoors, with each sip furthering my warmth.

Looking for another hot beverage to get tipsy on? They also have a lovely “Rye chai”, served warm in a tea pot. Made with rye, mezcal, apricot, falernum, lemon, and chai. It was a strong sipper, but I didn’t get much of the chai flavour I anticipated. Good hot or cold with the natural burn of the alcohol fuelling things.

For something just as festive, but packed with ice, their “Cranberry cobbler” offers dessert in a glass. Gin, cranberry, all spice dram, and lemon. This was refreshing and effervescent, with the cranberry offering its unique blend of sweetness and tartness.

As for the actual food portion of the tea service, it is a combination of savoury and sweet bites swinging back and forth on their precarious Ferris wheel. Take it from first hand experience, it is best to remove all the elements from the tower before you start eating. Emptying one glass plate throws off the balance of the entire apparatus, and spinning it has plates catching on to one another. Worst case scenario, everything falls and you have mashed cake on the table.

The follow is what we had, in the order in which we ate it. From lightest to heaviest, savoury to sweet, starting with the soup. Served in a shot glass, the “Squash Soup” with an herb and cheese crisp was a sumptuous start. A thick and creamy soup, so rich that it could function as a sauce, especially when dipping the crispy flaky cheese twist into it. I wanted a larger bowl of this, to enjoy alongside the sandwich I liked below.

This was a savoury bite reminiscent of the season: “Confit Turkey Sandwich” with apple butter and cranberries. It reminded me of a classic turkey dinner all in one easy to eat handheld. Juicy, pulled, white turkey meat, sage and thyme seasonings, and pops of sweet cranberry. The only thing that was missing was a cup of gravy to smother it all in, thanksgiving turkey style.

My favourite feature of the set was the “Tourtière”. A savoury ground meat pie with a golden brown buttery crust, topped with a crispy fragrant sage leaf. This was just beautifully done. I have had my fair share of this Québécois classic, and to date this is my favourite.

Not winter specific, but familiar to any high tea tower is the “Smoked Salmon & Cucumber sandwich”. The “H Tasting” version is served on rye bread. This is a classic that tasted exactly as you expect it to.

Similarly, there were scones included, scones being another staple to any good tea tower. Each was a perfectly crafted raisin scone: crispy, flaky, and crumbly all in one. It was just as shame that they didn’t make them with the cranberries and thyme that was used to decorate the plate. This would have spoken better to the holiday theme. Though it didn’t stop me from taking a bite of the scone and popping thyme and cranberry into my mouth after it. The scones also come with a jar of orange fruit spread and clotted cream, though the former wasn’t necessary given how much dried fruit there is already on the plate and within the scones themselves.

The menu described this as the “Festive Cotton Candy Bonsai Tree”. I understand the “tree” part, with the mental object being the “trunk” that the round of green and pink cotton candy sat on. However, I was still missing the “festive” portion of it. It could have been flavoured like peppermint, or given a sprinkle of powdered sugar for snow. It didn’t speak to Christmas, but instead spring. Nonetheless it was fun to eat, we enjoyed pulling tuffs from this impressively spun cloud of sugar.

Next we moved on to the dessert portion of our high tea service. Here, we learned that all the restaurant’s pastries are outsourced by “Faubourg Bakery”. They were okay, but I wasn’t expecting this from a hotel property of this caliber. And maybe if it was all made in house, I might have liked them more.

The “Yule Log” was the visual show stopper, it immediately spoke to the holiday with almond jaconde, praline, and ganache. It had a nice chocolatey hazelnut flavour, but a little too sweet for my taste. My guest on the other hand was not only enamoured by this visual, but liked its taste as well.

I couldn’t taste the gingerbread mousse or cranberry compote from the “Festive Profiterole”. The shell was a little soggy and the spices lacking. This wasn’t as memorable as I had hoped.

I preferred the mild flavour of the “Frangipane Cake” with spiced pear and almond. A dense cake that is a little on the dry side. Though the pear in its syrupy coating helped to moisten the two bite treat, flavouring it with hints of cinnamon and apple.

I also didn’t get any gingerbread in the “Gingerbread Cake”. The sponge was chewy with a burnt caramel flavour, and the black currant mousse tasted more like raspberry with its tartness and colour. Sadly, it was bolder in hue than taste.

Overall, I preferred the savoury options to the sweet. None of the desserts, outside of the Yule log, felt or look all that seasonal. Much like the restaurant’s decor, there wasn’t much in terms of Christmas flare. A tree or two outside the restaurant and the ability to cozy up with one of their fur blankets if you get cold. I wanted peppermint, more gingerbread, and/or eggnog. More embellishments and more red and green as the holiday is known for. The Ferris wheel wasn’t even decorated in tinsel. It could have been hung with metallic balls. And the cotton candy bonzai, could have easily been reinvented into a cotton candy Christmas pine with coloured sprinkles and a candied star topper. I am still glad I got to try it, and can’t hold the pastries against them, considering it wasn’t prepared by “H Tasting” go begin with.

But if you are looking for something more heartier, they do have their new winter food menu out as well. The following is what we tried from it.

Their new persimmon dish is the fruit sliced thin like carpaccio and topped with kohlrabi and a sesame praline, then drizzled in a mint and orange blossom vinaigrette. I was surprised by how satisfying this was, and how much it ate like a fulsome dish. Everything came together for a complimentary collection of flavours and textures, with the candied granola being the standout. Tangy and sweet, crunchy and refreshing, and altogether one worth trying, during your next visit.

Something just as light and refreshing, yet satisfying is the new “Burrata” dish. Fresh Burrata from California, topped with Northern Divine caviar; sitting on top of a creamy pea purée, with a fresh pea shoot salad. You eat the cheese like a spread, smeared on top of crispy crostini. The greens add some pepperiness, the purée some sweetness, and the caviar a certain level of elevation that I expect from the setting. Wonderfully simple, yet indulgent.

We also ordered their seafood platter. It is available in three sizes. Small, medium, large; each incrementally giving you more food, although not more variety. So I advise ordering the small version, like we did; and supplementing it with appetizers like we had above. The result, a beautifully fresh collection of kusshi oysters, poached prawns; and halibut carpaccio with a house made carrot kimchi. All served with fresno oil, mignonette, and a cocktail sauce flavoured with gin for dipping. I wouldn’t recommend pairing the kimchi with the gentle white fish, the former was overpowering, and you want to taste the natural flavour of the halibut. In fact, I am not m sure why one is put over the other. I did like the substitution of carrots for cabbage in this spicy fermented mix. This change gave a dish I tend to avoid, a new texture profile I actually like. (I am not a fan of the texture of wilted greens).

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
I honestly wish that the property was closer to a skytrain station, so I could and would frequent it more often. And with continuous updates to their menu like so, they are giving me multiple reasons to take the commute. Highly recommended for a good time. Don’t deny your cravings.

H TASTING LOUNGE
1601 Bayshore Drive, Vancouver BC, V6G 2V4
604-682-3377
htastinglounge.com

Koyuki Ramen, Japanese Tapas

Today I was invited down to “Koyuki” to check out their Japanese fusion tapas menu. Located just off robson on Jervis street, this hole in the wall specialized in Sapporo style ramen.

The restaurant utilizes chalk boards to walk you through the history and heritage of their authentic Sapporo style ramen. Like how they use three types of miso to flavour their soups: red, white, and “mix”. And how it authentic, hailing from Sapporo city, which is also referred to as “ramen kingdom”.

Given this testimony in chalk, we had to order one of their bowls. Their “Tonkotsu ramen” had a pork based broth with Chau-shu, green onion, garlic chips, half a soft boiled egg, and your choice of noodle thickness between thin or thick. We got the latter in this nice simple broth. Which was mild in flavour, compared to all the other dishes below. My guest liked how you were actually able to make out the smokiness of the seared pork within the creamy broth itself, but found the meat dry.

As for their smaller share plates, there were so many creative things to try on their fusion menu. Familiar items I liked, combined together to form something new. Like their specialty, the “Curry poutine”. The curry was a deliciously rich, Japanese style sweet curry, it almost had the consistency of gravy, (like there would normally be in a poutine), and included melted bits of cheese. I could have done without the addition of the pork chunks. They were hard and dry, and really didn’t offer much to the dish. The fries were also quick to go soggy for a mealy potato texture. Although I still enjoyed the dish, and now want their curry over other potatoes like a baked potato, or some that are mashed.

The “Pizza tempura” was another two becomes one for some fun. Frozen pizza (I am only guessing because it tastes like some that I have had from a grocery store), deep fried in tempura batter and served with ranch dressing as a dip. I liked the idea and the extra crunch the tempura gave, but I found it too oily. It would have been nice to find a way to blot some of the greasy off, or to choose a lighter pizza to tempura. Maybe a simple cheese, instead of the deluxe toppings, paired with the classic tempura sauce to dip into for a cleaner dish. Although after a few drinks in, having this as is on the menu, sounds like it would hit several spots.

Similarly, the chicken wings were also oily. From four different flavours I choose the Japanese bbq with melted cheese and mayo. The addition of cheese and sauce over wings were a novel idea, but the cheese was greasy, and its oils pooled on the plate. The weight of the cheese took away from an otherwise crispy wing. I would have liked the melted cheese and mayo as a dip instead.

Their “Japanese pancakes” is one that is highted as being “popular” on the menu. Good enough, but it wasn’t my favourite rendition of this Japanese street snack. It was overly salty with too much sauce. Whereas, I wished it was doughier, with a more satisfying chew.

And my favourite dish of the night was the “Tonpei”. A fluffy egg omelette wrapped around slices of pork and shredded cabbage. It was messy, hard to cut into, and harder to share, on its small plate. But once you were able to dig in, it was a tasty dish offering a variety of flavours and textures to comb through. The pork was chewy, the egg spongy, and the lettuce refreshing with a nice crunch. And it was the sauces brought all together with a tangy creaminess.

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
A fun spot for some great eats. Creative tapas to try and share, best enjoyed with a beer; because it does get salty and greasy at points. But that is just my own doing in ordering. Don’t deny your cravings.

KOYUKI
795 Jervis St, Vancouver, BC V6E 2B1
(604) 695-9177
koyuki.ca

Liu Yi Shou Hot Pot Restaurant

Despite the seasons, Chinese-style hot pot tends to be a consistently popular destination for those wanting a little more involvement in their meal. You cook up your own dinner, customizing it from which broth base you use to what ingredients you put in. And at “Liu Yi Shou” they offer a few more options to make your experience even more interactive and personalized.

For the tutorial on how to maximize your hot pot experience, check out my latest vlog, now up on my YouTube channel: MaggiMei.

First “Liu Yi Shou” has happy hour, plenty of wine and beer on special. I suggest sharing a pitcher with your friends. With all the spicy and flavourful ingredients, beer makes for a great in between sipper. They also have plenty of can sodas and fruit pops available, and even coconut water you drink right out of the fruit. So start with this as you explore their very extensive menu.

And while you work out your order, or wait for it to come and boil, you can start nibbling on their “Cheese fondue”. This is a new menu item, and one that you don’t often see at a hot pot restaurant. Not just melted cheese, but their fondue is mozzarella flavoured with tomato. It is served with a board of hot dogs, celery, and chicken wings for dipping into. I really liked the flavour of the cheese dip, it had a comforting, gooey tomato soup feel to it. But despite the lit tea light under the individual fondue bowl, it does cool quick. Although it doesn’t congeal, so you can come back to what you don’t finish in between your hot pot, as a flavour changer.

You can also order their popular marinade appetizer dish. This is an assorted platter of quail eggs, bean curd, pig’s ear, and pork hoc marinated in a soy sauce blend. It is enjoyed cold or at room temperature. This you eat more for its textures of squishy, spongy, chewy, and rubbery.

Today I was dining with hot pot experts and they made sure to order the most unique of all the option, plenty of which are exclusive to “Liu Yi Shou”, starting with their tri-soup pot. You can enjoy 3 different flavours of broth, altogether in one pot. Ideal for those who get tired of a one flavour boil; or for those who can’t take their food spicy, dining with those who only like it spicy.

We had the chicken with coconut soup base, the wild mushroom soup base with Chinese herbs, and the spicy and numbing hot pot. The latter was extra special, it came with a block of tallow shaped like their cow mascot. “Tallow” is saturated beef fat, it is higher in calories than butter, but healthier and better tasting! The hotter it got, the quicker he melted, and soon he was face first in a pool of chilli and peppercorns. Not only does this make the soup more indulgent, it also help to cut into some of that hot, hot heat. And if you order the chicken and coconut soup base, you get a plate of raw chicken complimentary, to cook within it.

In an effort to save table space, our platter of finely sliced lamb and beef is served on a wooden ring, that fits perfectly around our hot pot. From here it is easy to pick up a slice and dunk it into any broth. Both cook up relatively quick, and after 5 dunks you are ready to eat it.

But as waited for all the soup broths to boil, we made our way to the back of the restaurant, to their help yourself sauce bar. At some hot pot places I find I get bored of the taste, that everything is boiled up the same, and has only the one flavour throughout. Here, you can customize your own sauces and curate the flavour, so that anything you don’t like is on you. Mix and match from sauces and oils like spiced vinegar, oyster sauce, sesame oil, satay sauce, mushroom paste, and bean curd paste, etc. Toss in some minced and chopped dry ingredients like sugar, green onion, toasted soy bean, mashed garlic, preserved turnip and peanuts; for texture and chew.

And while we were busy mixing and creating to our heart’s content all our ordered ingredients began arriving one platter after another. The beautifully plated, raw food comes out quick here.

A wooden box of leafy greens and various mushrooms.

Fish paste moulded into two hearts. This you scoop and drop into the broth for it to boil up and harden into a solid ball.

A platter of shrimp, cuttlefish, pork and beef, pre-formed balls.

An interesting one were these tubes of bean curd that you dip into the pot for 3 seconds. They act like sponges, soaking in the broth and offering a distinct ribbed chew.

For the adventurous you can order a platter of intestines and organ meats, for a more traditional hot pot experience. Pig’s blood, beef tripe, ox aorta, and goose intestine. I would also consider this, one that you order more for its textures, each with its own unique chew or gelatin-like consistency. The aorta had the same chew as squid rings, the tripe was so tender and easy to bite into, the intestine required more jaw work; and the savoury pigs blood had the texture of pudding and jello combined.

But the highlight and feature of our meal was definitely “meat Barbie”. A Barbie doll repurposed. She was dressed in strips of angus beef that you peel of her torso or cabbage base and add into your soup. At her feet is a garden of raw seafood. Shrimp in shell, fish puff, mussels, fish, and sticks of imitation crab. A visual treat, as well as a tasty one.

And for those who actually still have room for more, “Liu Yi Shou” does have dessert, offering something sweet to end on. Like their red rice cakes that you dip into condense milk or a sweet syrup. I did try one, but after all the food above, I felt ending on anything rice related or starchy a little much.

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
I like their creativity and the broad offering of their menu. They aren’t just a place for hot pot, but serve as a stop for happy hour as well. Cold drinks and small snacks or dessert. They offer regulars and occasional customers reasons to return with plenty of variety to try and taste. And as the first hot pot place to have franchises all over the world, there are many locations for you to get your fix at. Don’t deny your cravings.

LIUYISHOU HOTPOT
1542 Robson Street, Vancouver BC, V6G 1C2
778-379-3977

Mumbai Local, #ChickenWingsChallengeYVR

Today I was getting to know a little more about “Mumbai Local” through the Vancouver Foodster “Chicken Wing Challenge”. This year I am one of 3 judges, and my duties brought me down to try their wing creation. They are 1 of 5 restaurant/ competing for the title of “best wings”. A competition based on originality, taste, and presentation. It is worth noting that they are the only restaurant who created a new dish specifically for the competition.

But first, finding them. “Mumbai Local” was hard to spot. We walked passed their all black facade a couple of times. Without a colourful awning or a stand out sandwich board you wouldn’t bother looking at their direction. But inside, it is a different story. Extending the length of the space is a beautifully done, eye catching mural in black, white, and yellow; depicting every day life in Mumbai. A woman with a bucket of fish on her head, a man loaded with multiple Indian kaftan lunch boxes on either shoulder. I would love to see a similar portrait splashed across their exterior. One, to attract attention; and two for a great selfie moment, to encourage fans to stop by for a photo, if not to eat. That being said, the mural is a nice surprise for those who do make it in.

To start I ordered their “Monsoon” cocktail with Olmeca tequila, Cointreau, guava, grapefruit juice, and chilli salt. I made sure ask if I would actually be able to taste the guava juice, and I was not disappointed here. The guava was pronounced, topped with a lingering spice from the chilli. This was a nice cocktail to compliment our meal ahead, unlike the drink below.

My guest ordered the “Turmeric milk”, a steamed milk yellow with turmeric and saffron, served in an adorable little jug. It was a nice way to end the meal, not accompany it.

We took the Chef’s suggestion and started with their “Chaat Sampler”, local street food popular on the streets of Mumbai. Four different one biters with a combination of salty, sweet, sour, or bitter paired with either a crunchy, crispy, or spongy texture. A beautifully put together platter and an adventure in dining.

The “Bhel puri” was served in the dish. Puffed rice, fried dal, crackers, onion, and a tamarind and chilli chutney. It was like bbq flavoured Rice Krispies cereal, and whipped potato, but made soggy with the sweet sauce. This was my least favourite of the four, given it felt like you were eating a spoonful of crumbs.

The “Shev puri” had flat crackers, potato, onion, and the dams tamarind and date chutney. Stacked like a mini tostada, it was easy to eat with one bite. And it is advised that you enjoy this one as soon as you get it to avoid sogginess.

The “Pani puri” is a hollow cracker filled with chickpea purée, enjoyed with a small jug of sweet tamarind water and a spicy mint and chilli water. With a steady hand you fill each globe with as much of each water as you like. This gives it a fun interactive element, a sensation similar to eating a soup dumpling. Refreshing as you bite down and the liquid flushes into your mouth.

The “Dahi puri” was a more filled and filling hollow cracker. This time stuffed with yogurt, chickpea, and their tamarind and date chutney. This one had all the flavours and all the textures of the top three rolled into one, literally. Best defined as an orb filled with cream, and spiced with a heat that lingers

Next we enjoyed their limited edition, Vancouver Foodster Challenge wings, inspired by chicken kabob. “Hariyali Chicken Wings” marinated in mint, cilantro, and yogurt; cooked over charcoal, and served with a cabbage slaw and mint chutney. A striking plate with the opposite, yet complimentary colours of forest green and burgundy. It looked like it came out a Dr. Seuss book, and would go well with green eggs and ham. The meat was velvety and the mint acted like a pesto with it herbaceous-ness. Plenty of mint flavour, citrusy masala notes, and the crispness of a char from the charcoal.

The “Vada pav” was carb overload for me. Fried potato patty in a toasted bun, this was too much starch. It did taste good, but it sat heavy and was dense. It needed a sweet and tangy note to brighten it up. In the end are them separately, patty out of bun. The potato patty was tasty enough to stand on its, own and the dough of the buttery bun absorbed plenty of sauce to give it its own character.

I really enjoyed their “Kombadi vade curry” and would come back for more. Chicken breast, caramelized onion and coconut; served with steam rice and vade, a traditional bread.

“Vade” is a dough made from lentil flour, seasoned in cinnamon and corridander. Rolled and stamped with banana leafs, then fried. It was chewy like a hard tortilla, not great on its own, but made for a nice base to dip into the curry with.

As another alternative bread, we also added a chapati to our order. this was a whole wheat roti, grainy and hard.

As of the actual curry, it was thick and creamy, and drank like a bisque. It reminded me of a spicy lentil soup and smelled like carrots. Delicious, but it was the chicken that stole the show. Brined for 24 hours, and sous vide for 1 hour, shocked in a pan and seared for a crispy skin. This was perfectly prepared and super tender chicken.

And for dessert we fully enjoyed the “Shrikhand”, a kitchen favourite. Although simple looking, it does take a day of preparation. They make their own yogurt in house and it needs to hang. The pineapple is compressed with cinnamon simple syrup. The cardamon and saffron are imported from directly from India. And it is finished with dehydrated beet power and a pistachio crumble. This was a light dessert that was fully satisfying. I liked being able to to mix and match all the elements and curate my bite. The cream portion had a similar consistency to ice cream, but much lighter. The tang of the acidic pineapple was nicely paired with the rich nuttiness of the cinnamon. I would like to have this one again too.

We chatted quickly with two tourists who raved about their meal as well. They searched for dinner options in the neighbourhood and found “Mumbai Local’s menu enticing. I agreed, but I might not have if the chef didn’t go through the menu with us, and explain the thought behind each dish we order. It would be nice if all their staff could sell their menu as well as this, and to help personalize each diner’s meal. Their menu is chic, but hard to order off of. A photographic one would be nice, and make it more approachable. However, it would take away from their boutique vibe and trendy look.

 

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.
As Vancouver’s only restaurant featuring Mumbai cuisine, they are the authority and go to. Everything is made in house, like their masala, proudly from a family recipe. All their meat is local from “Three Rivers meat” and their seafood Oceanwise. Recipes recreated from family members, friends, and experiences. For example, the chef just came back for a trip to India, and with him he brought back kebabs, their new menu feature. Overall they were a great modern take on traditional Indian street food. Authentic flavours and modern styled plating, made for a unique dining experience. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

MUMBAI LOCAL
1148 Davie Street, Vancouver BC, V6E 1N1
604-423-3281
mumbailocal.ca

Guu Davie, #ChickenWingsChallengeYVR

Today I was at “Guu’s” newest location on Davie street. A great space with plenty of seating, but one that is hard to find. It has been 4 months since they have opened and I am only realizing now that the former “Speakeasy” bar that held the space is a thing of the past.

The glass covered walk way does little to draw you in. The sandwich boards advertising their izakaya and their $1 oyster deal is lost. You miss both, unless you rotate your head 90 degrees. And when you find the entrance, you question if it is the right one. Walking in feels like a journey, as you travel half the length of the restaurant just to be able to hear the hostess at the very end.

Past this corridor the restaurant does open up with seats by their sushi or liquor bar. And a second floor with additional tables by the patio. They currently have artificial turf on their patio, but this space remains empty.

My guest and I choose seats on one of their Japanese style tables. The ones that simulate eating on the floor, and requires you to remove your footwear. In bare feet or socks you walk over, and climb on to your cushioned seat. And for the sake of convenience, if you need to move around or use the washroom, they have communal sandals you can slip on easily for the duration of your stay.

I like they style of their menus, with Japanese kanji in bold and the English descriptions and pricing printed neatly under it. We started off with some drinks. I was immediately drawn to their “Wasabi Caesar” for $8.80. I don’t normally list the price of dishes, but am doing so here, as I really found their small plates to be at reasonable prices, allowing you to try more.

This was a Smirnoff caesar mixed with soy sauce and wasabi; and garnished with sun dried octopus, kelp, and a boiled egg. From looks alone you have never had a caesar like this before. They really sold me with the toppings. The egg was perfectly soft boiled, the seaweed nice and chewy. But the octopus tentacles were hard as a rock and impossible to chew off. Thought my guest was content with nibbling at its suction cups. As for the drink itself, it had a great, warming heat thanks to the wasabi, but other than that, the caesar lacked spice and seasoning, and there was no spice rim to help.

By comparison, the drink to get is the virgin “Hanayori Dango” for $7.80. This was basically a dessert for sipping. Matcha ice cream, warabi mochi, black sugar sauce, milk, fresh strawberry, and whipped cream was listed on the menu. Although I did not see any black sugar sauce or whipped cream. I could only and barely taste strawberry in the soda used, so it wasn’t fresh. And there was definitely no chewy mocchi. None-the-less, this served as a great summer refresher.

Seeing as we were between 3-6pm and in time for Happy Hour, we took advantage of our timing by ordering the “ebi mayo with chilli mayo” at a discount. 3 pieces for $5. I liked the size of the prawn, but other than that this was pretty standard. A fluffy, deep fried batter coating, hiding a mushy prawn, sitting in a flat, and slightly spicy mayonnaise. We took one each and didn’t even bother with the third.

We much more preferred the “Dessert style oden”. “Oden” is a traditional Japanese dish made by simmering various ingredients together in a single pot. Together, they slowly simmer becoming soft and flavourful. Their Warabi mochi version went for $4.80. It lacked a flavour enhanced broth, but it did nail the soft texture part, with the deep fried battered oden tofu. It was topped with vanilla ice cream, black sugar sauce, and roasted soy bean power. The folded tofu had an interesting texture, similar to a thin mocchi: chewy with a doughy-like quality.

The “Shlokara” we ordered out of curiosity, and even though we hated it, at $4.80 a dish, no real tears were loss. This was an acquired taste, one that lingers and that we couldn’t get rid of. This was raw squid cut into string-like noodles, which is the marinated in salt and squid guts. It was incredibly salty, with a gamey quality to it. A lip puckering sensation with a raw egg yolk-like texture. It didn’t have a great mouth feel, and its flavour comes back up to haunt you. Thankfully they offer mouth wash in their washrooms to help in this regard. More on their washroom later.

When we brought up how much we hated the raw squid to the server, she was quick to mention that not many people like it. Here, it would have been great to get this tidbit prior to ordering it.

And lastly we had their “Gyoza wings”. Deep fried chicken wings stuffed with gyoza ground pork. 3 pieces at $7.80. They were completing in this year’s Vancouver Foodster’s “Chicken Wing Challenge”. Ans I was one of the judges, here to try their contribution, and to eventually crown 1 out of the 5 contestants winner; based on originality, taste, and presentation.
It was an interesting take on stuffed wings, but it was more gyoza meat than chicken. You only got bits of chicken skin with the wing tip. Like they grafted a half eaten wing together with a gyoza, but left out the best part: the wrapper. It tasted good, but was a little salty. Though the pickled vegetable and the crunchy chip were most helpful in balancing out the dish.

I like izakaya washrooms for their fully stocked counters. Here they had wet wipes, cotton swabs, tooth picks, and mouthwash to keep you well groomed and your breath minty fresh. And best of all they have Japanese toilets in each of their stalls. The ones that have heated seats and a bidet function. I enjoyed the former, but passed on the latter. I don’t like something being so intimate to me in public washroom.

 

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.
At the end of the day I am always glad to have tried something new, and in this blog I will always order the weird stuff, so you don’t have to. But at “Guu”, I can do both without a hefty price tag. Our meal may have been hit and miss, but that’s half the fun of trying something new. So round up your most adventurous friends, and why not try raw squid guts for yourself? “Guu” has already proven themselves successful with a hand full of busy locations, and now you have a new one to consider when you are craving their traditional style izakaya. Don’t deny your cravings

 

GUU
1239 Davie Street, Vancouver BC, V6E 1N4
604-687-8890
guu-izakaya.com

H Tasting Lounge, new patio

The start of the recent heat wave perfectly coincided with the opening of “H Tasting Lounge’s” new patio. A classy way to eat and drink outdoors, with all the qualities and comforts of a luxury hotel. I have frequented the spot more as a drinking hole, so was exited to be able to get a taste of the cuisine today.

The patio was sleek with a dark wood laminate floor, made more stylish with the white heat lamps that looked like actual lamps with their shade and pedestal base. Adjacent, tiered umbrellas offered the grey and blue loungers and couches some reprieve from the sun and the heat. All with a view of the water in the distance and the cityscape reaching for the sky behind it.

Today, guests were invited to wander in and out of “H”. The tables were pushed aside and the restaurant turned in to a dance floor. Here, food and drink stations were set up for self serve, self indulgence. The kitchen was offering scaled up versions of food and drink off of their regular menu. Giving attendees a great way to sample the menu for future visits.

Inside the restaurant, were 3 tables worth of cheese and meats; pushed together to form one of the longest charcuterie boards I have ever seen.

The “European cheese plate” with a seasonal marmalade, pickled grapes, and seed crackers.

The “Local charcuterie” board including whole grain mustard, pickled grapes, and baguette slices.

And the “Quiche Lorraine” that was a new one for me. Two rounds of pancetta, goat cheese, and zucchini eaten like a spread.

As for drinks, there was plenty to taste and many more to inspire your next sip by the seaside. Drinks included a welcome glass of sparkling and Moët on ice.

At the bar, cocktails were shaken and stirred to order. Here I had the “Thinner walls”, ordering off a menu that included photos (a smart move, catering to the likes of me, those who love a visual cocktail. Naturally, I gravitated towards the green drink with a pea shoot for garnish. It was a wonderful visual and tasted like a spiked green juice with tequila, snow peas, suze, lemon, and soda. The first healthy drink that I got my buzz on to.

I liked the tea station where premixed tea based cocktails were poured and garnish to order. The “Late blossom smiles tea” is normally served in a tea pot, so to paid homage to this, they were served in Japanese style tea cups today. Vodka, st. germain, lillet blanc, nutcracker tea, honey, lime, and soda; completed with a bobbling flower. I liked how you could taste both the black tea and the spirits equally, they were well balanced.

Similarly in balance was the “Rye Chai”, chai tea meets rye, mezcal, apricot liqueur, falernum, and lemon. A beautiful cocktail that I fully enjoyed, it reminded me more a sweet southern tea with a kick.

On the patio, keeping cool over ice was a collection of sashimi and selfish. You could see it across the room thanks to the two giant “H” ice sculptures marking these ice baths. One was a collection of oysters, being shucked adjacent and slurped up fresh.

The second ice station had two bite servings of crudo and carpaccio.

“Kanpachi crudo” with blood orange, pickled butternut, shiso, and sumac kiwi. A refreshing snack that spoke to the quality of their seafood.

The “Halibut crudo” was seasoned in a yuzu vinaigrette with anjou pear, thyme, and micro kale. Sadly my serving was so very salted, that it made my lips pucker.

The “Tuna carpaccio” was my favourite of the three given some pizzaz with pickled watermelon, fresno chili, and mint.

And as we ate, servers toured the patio offering up for more appetizers on trays. Bites like the “Beef tartare” with egg yolk, shallot, caper, chive, and horseradish. A delicious morsel that you easily popped into your mouth.

The “Salmon tartare” with tarragon, cucumber, lemon, labneh, and hibiscus was a refreshing starter, served on an endive leaf.

The “Lump crab cake” was tasty, a crispy baked shell hiding a creamy, flaky crab filled centre; sauced up with their Old bay aioli.

I liked the “Morel mushroom tartine” made with ricotta, black garlic mustard, watermelon radish, and micro kale. Earthy and saucy, one of the more filling, roving appetizers.

And I fully enjoyed the mini West Coast lobster rolls with much gusto. Sweet shellfish, creamy mayo, and a hint of dill for freshness.

For dessert they had “Uno Gelato & Sorbet” doling out their ice cream on site. A cute cart attached to a bicycle, where you could get scoops of either salted caramel, mango, or their vegan “Midnight chocolate” in small cups. I had the former and found it too sweet for my taste.

 

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. In truth I have actually have never had a full meal here, my visits typically start and end at the bar, so this was a nice teaser of them and their new patio. And one lavish enough to have me wanting to return for the full experience. I would love to revisit on a separate occasion, to more accurately account for what’s it like to dine-in and drink out on their patio. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

The Westin Bayshore
1601 Bayshore Drive, Vancouver BC, V6G 2V4
604-682-3377
htastinglounge.com

Page 1 of 7

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén