Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Fleuri - Tea Time

4 Comments

Fleuri Restaurant

845 Burrard Street, Vancouver

Fleuri on Urbanspoon

Food: 3.5
Service: 4
Price: Fair, similar to other restaurants ($24)

Right before my Christmas vacation, I had the pleasure of meeting up with a friend that I haven't seen in ages. Since we had a lot to catch up on, I decide that afternoon tea would be perfect setting for our gathering. Ever since I had a good experience at Fish House in Stanley Park, I been wanting to try out the afternoon tea at the Sutton Place Hotel. So I made a reservation, and off we went.
As soon as we were seated, the server brought out the tea box. I like the fact that you can smell all the tea before deciding what to order. The downside is that you have no idea what is in the each mixture, so you will have to trust your nose. After smelling all the tea, I decide to go with a fruity tea called West Coast Wave. The tea was very aromatic, but lacked in flavor in comparison.
We were presented with 3 different jars of goodies. The honey was for our tea and the jam for the scones later. I love the cute little jars, but there is a downside. It's small and limited and you have to share, so after a few cups of tea, it will be all gone.
Next came the big platter of food. Just like Fish House in Stanley Park, it's a 3 tier plate filled with sandwiches and sweets. However there is a difference. At the Fish House, they filled the top plate with scones, where as here you are limited to one only.

The first layer consisted of blueberry scone and a chocolate strawberry tart. I can't help but compare my previous experience and this one, and this one definitely fell short. The scones weren't warm and buttery soft like the other ones, you are only limited to one and they are smaller. However their Devonshire cream is to die for. It was thick and creamy and extremely rich. It was the perfect for the scones. The jam also added a fruity flavor to the overall taste. The strawberry chocolate tarts were okay. I think they used dark chocolate as it was quite bitter.
The 2nd layer consisted of desserts. The 3 desserts are eclair with a strawberry filling, lemon cake, and chocolate macaroon. My least favorite was the chocolate macaroon, because I found it overly sweet and sticky due to the creamy center. The eclair was good, but did not stand out in any way. My favorite on this layer is definitely the lemon cake, because it sweet with a hint of tartness from the lemon aspect. The cake itself was soft and moist with a nice lemon meringue like filling. I usually hate citrus zest, but the little decoration piece of candy lemon peel was actually very good.
The last layer is also my favorite layer: sandwiches. I liked all of them except the vegetarian sandwich consisting of cucumber, green pea shoots and endive with a guacamole spread. It was pretty much tasteless. The bread was also a bit soggy from the moisture of the vegetables. On to the good sandwiches. I really liked the egg salad croissant. The croissant itself was buttery and soft, and the egg salad was also mixed very well with just the right amount of salt and mayo. The smoke salmon pinwheel was very good as well, the bread was some sort of healthy whole wheat bread. However it was slightly too salty, but I blame it on the salmon itself. My favorite is the last sandwich: Raspberry chicken salad brioche. The sandwich itself was pretty in presentation as the chicken salad is rested upon a pink rose petal. The rose petal is "glue" on to the bread with a nice light raspberry sauce in a gel consistency. The whole sandwich was delicious, as all the flavors worked well with each other, even the small piece of strawberry on top added another layer of flavor.

Although I had a great time catching up with my friend and enjoying the food, I did find it odd that one of the side of this restaurant is open towards the hallway of Sutton Place hotel. But the decor here is elegant and beautiful and the restaurant itself had a nice warm lighting. The servers were all very helpful and they constantly ask to fill our tea pot with hot water.

Overall, I am definitely satisfied with my dining experience at Fleuri and would certainly recommended to anyone who need a quiet place for a nice relaxing chat. I had a good time there, of course it was made better by sharing it with a good friend.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Cafe Medina - Great place for Breakfast

2 Comments

Cafe Medina

556 Beatty St, Vancouver

Cafe Medina on Urbanspoon


Food: 4
Service: 4

Price: Expensive

R and I rarely go out for breakfast, unless you consider dim sum as breakfast. However on this particular weekend, we both had to be somewhere at 12pm, so that left us no choice but to dine early. Since we were heading towards downtown, and there is a lack of Chinese dim sum restaurants and we wanted to try something different. After a short research session, it seems like Café Medina is a popular choice for breakfast, so off we went.

We arrived at approximately 10:15am, only to be greeted by big line up at the front door. At this point, I thought my chances of winning the lottery would be better. Since we were already there, so we went in to ask how long a wait it going to be, as we had an appointment else where at 12pm. Lucky for us, they can accommodate a table for two right away. So apparently that big line up outside was actually 2 large groups.
Read more »

Monday, December 14, 2009

On the Side: Christmas spirit in Downtown Vancouver (Photo Essay)

1 Comments

Christmas is fast approaching, and everywhere is decked out in gorgeous decoration. And if you find that you have already spent too much money this month, then here is a activity you can do for free: Christmas Sight Seeing. This post is not really about food, but it does have something to do with it, read on to findout...

1st Stop: Pacific Center, as I was shopping there, I noticed they had some really nice decorations, so I "stopped to smell the flowers.


2nd stop: Sutton Place Hotel. They are currently hosting a Christmas Tree decoration contest. I noticed all the guest had a ballot to fill out, not sure if it's open to the public.
Here are two of my favorite, I love the silver ornament on the left tree, they had sweet saying such as "Hope", "Love", "Giving" etc. on each one.
Here are two that I did not get. The left one look like shedding Big Bird gave it a hug. Although the right tree is beautiful in it's own way, but it do not reflect Christmas, it looked more like a tree that belongs in a Fairy forest.

There are just a few trees I am posting, there are lots more at the hotel.
They also had this Christmas display dedicated to the Winter Olympic made out of Chocolate. I thought it looked very yummy :) (see, I told you it's sorta about food)

3rd stop: Gingerbread Lane at the Hyatt, saw a big sign for it while walking by.
Once again, this is sorta about food, although I am not sure if this giant gingerbread house near the entrance is 100% made from food. Regardless, it's very impressive and pretty to look at, lots of people were trying to take picture with it, but I managed to snap this picture before anyone walked into my shot. They are also running a gingerbread house contest, as you can see they have a big red ballot box and I think this one is open to the public.
Here are 2 of my favorite display. One is the Elf Yoga, and the other is Wishville.
Another impressive display. Although I wouldn't really say this has anything to do with gingerbread house.
Look at that amazing detail. I especially like the red glittery stockings in the background.
Hahaha, there is no Starbucks, but there is a Santa Bucks, it's so cute.


So here is a glimpse of what Downtown Vancouver is show casing for this Christmas. If you have the time, you should definitely check it out.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Poco Ocean - Blogger Dinner #3

5 Comments

Poco Ocean Restaurant

2755 Lougheed Hwy, Port Coquitlam

Food: 4
Service: 3
Price: more expensive than your average Chinese restaurant, but worth it.


Awhile back, I posted about a dining experience at Poco Ocean, and Kim from I m Only Here for the Food and Sherman from Sherman's Food Adventure were both interested in going there. So they hinted that I should organize the next blogger dinner. Since Kim has graciously planned the previous two, so I took on the responsibility of planning this one.

I tried my best, but in the end only Kim, Sherman, and Anita was able to make it. However I did plan it on Black Friday. We had reservation for 7pm, but R and I arrived at around 6:45, the place looked half empty. I was starting to worry if this place has gone downhill, since it was a weekend and nobody is coming in. But right about 7:15, the whole restaurant is fully packed.

I was given the daunting task of ordering, because all their specialty dishes are written on the white board in Chinese, and R and I are the only ones that can read it. I asked what they would like to eat, but the response I got was "we will eat whatever you order". So here goes...
First up is something I didn't have to order; the complimentary soup. It's a pork bone, soy bean soup. It was rich without being oily. However I did not particularly care for the beans, as I dislike beans in general.
So here is the first dish that came, the honey garlic chicken wings. They forgot this order the last time I was here, but good thing they remembered it this time. The wings seems to be deep fried and then basted in the honey garlic sauce with bits of fresh garlic . It was juicy in the middle, but crunchy on the outside. To sum it up, it was good! This also happens to the be cheapest thing on the menu ($8.50).The next dish was a favorite, and it's the braised pork hock. It was sinfully good. The meat is tender and moist, the best part is simply the skin/fat as it just melt in your mouth. This was also the most expensive dish we ordered ($21.50), but worth every penny if you ask me.
The next dish is the teppan scallop with tofu ($13.50). I ordered this the last time I went, and it became my favorite dish. However this time I am disappointed, don't get me wrong, the deep fried tofu was excellent, but the scallop was just not fresh, it has a extremely strong fishy taste. However the last time I ordered this, I didn't have a problem with it.

Another favorite of the night is the three cup chicken ($13.50). The chicken was tender, juicy and best of all mostly de-boned. I love distinct flavor of basil with garlic in this dish. This definitely deserves a recommendation, I can almost guarantee you will like it.
After all that meat, I had to order a vegetable dish . I end up choosing stir fried green beans with mushroom($10). Although I was not particularly fond of the taste, but it was unique in a sense because they added pickled snow cabbage. It was a taste that I've haven't encounter else where. I think the taste of this dish really depends on personal preference, I didn't love it, because I don't really like pickled snow cabbage.
The last dish of the night is the green onion, garlic and ginger sole fillet hot pot ($16.50). The fillet was lightly battered but well infused with the ginger/garlic/green onion flavor. It seem like tofu is a really popular side they like to add to dishes, because this dish also have deep fried tofu which are just as soft as the ones in the teppan dish.
We had so much fun talking about 'interesting' topics and the food, we were actually the last table in the restaurant. Since we were the only ones left, and Kim asked me to ask if we could meet the chef. You see, there were quite a few cartoon caricatures (see here) of the chef hanging on the wall, and I told them it's a really good representation (don't you think so?). The chef did came out to meet and chat with us. From talking to him, we realized he is a very genuine person who really appreciate seeing people enjoying the food he cooked.

Overall, it's another great meal at Poco Ocean. So if you don't mind driving out to enjoy a good meal, definitely give Poco Ocean a try.

Sherman's POV
Kim's POV
Anita's POV

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

On the Side - laughter is the best medicine :)

1 Comments

I just received an email from my friend (thanks K.), and personally I found it funny. Although 90% of my life revolves around food XD, but there is still that 10% of something else, and today's I will share a little bit of that 10%.

People say laughter is the best medicine, and I know now can be hectic time for student who have exams and employee who has a deadline to meet. So here is a good dose of 'medicine' for you stressed out employee/students.

1.I asked God for a bike, but I know God doesn't work that way. So I stole a bike and asked for forgiveness.

2.War does not determine who is right - only who is left.

3.Evening news is where they begin with 'Good evening', and then proceed to tell you why it isn't.

4.Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.

5.I didn't fight my way to the top of the food chain to be a vegetarian

6.A bus station is where a bus stops. A train station is where a train stops. On my desk, I have a work station..

7.Did you know that dolphins are so smart that within a few weeks of captivity, they can train people to stand on the very edge of the pool and throw them fish?

8.I saw a woman wearing a sweat shirt with "Guess" on it...so I said "Implants?"

9.Children: You spend the first 2 years of their life teaching them to walk and talk. Then you spend the next 16 years telling them to sit down and shut-up.

10.A bank is a place that will lend you money, if you can prove that you don't need it

11.To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism. To steal from many is research.

12.Birthdays are nice to have, but too many of them can kill you.

13.I didn't say it was your fault, I said I was blaming you.

14.Whenever I fill out an application, in the part that says "If an emergency, notify:" I put "DOCTOR". What's my mother going to do?

15.Always borrow money from a pessimist. He won't expect it back.

16.Women may not hit harder, but they hit lower.

17.If you keep your feet firmly on the ground, you'll have trouble putting on your pants

18.An optimist is someone who falls off the Empire State Building, and after 50 floors says, 'So far so good!'

Click to enlarge. I find this comic really funny and true!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Skewers Mediterranean Grill - perfect before movie or bowling

1 Comments

Skewers Mediterranean Grill

#8-228 Schoolhouse Street, Coquitlam


Skewers Mediterranean Grill on Urbanspoon

Food: 3.5
Service: 3

Price: Fair


Before Skewers came along, the only Mediterranean/Greek restaurant in the area is Kefi, which was on the expensive side for dinner. Skewers on the other hand is cheaper and more conveniently located, because it's actually in the same plaza as the new Zone Bowling center next to Silvercity Coquitlam.

Once again it's a rainy weekend, so we decided to go watch 2012. As we did not want to travel far for dinner, and I already tried I Love Sushi, so Skewers it is. The restaurant has simple decorations, and painted in a rich and warm color. They also have a flat screen mounted on the wall for the sports fan. However, I think it's mounted a little too high, I had to really look up to see the screen, which could cause some neck pain (but then again, I sat at a table close to the TV though).

Our first plate was called Chicken Skeweee, it's a skewer of lemon garlic olive oil marinated chicken breast, roasted potato and season vegetables on a bed of rice. The chicken was well marinated, but a bit dry. However that problem was saved by the tzatziki sauce, which was creamy but refreshing. The roast potato was excellent, it was soft and flavor. The seasonal vegetables are rather bland compare to the potato. The rice was disappointing, mainly because it's unevenly heated. Some portions were warm while others are cold. This plate was $14. What I ordered was a small Pesto Shrimp Pizza for $12. However, after I order,R told me the entrance area to this restaurant from the bowling alley side is actually a pizza joint. So basically it's 2 restaurant in one, the front offers dine in menu, while the back only sells take out pizza. After hearing this, I was a bit worried that my pizza would be sloppy and plain. However that was not the case, it came pipping hot with fresh ingredients and oodles of cheese. The crust was crunch, just the way I like it. The pizza itself was very tasty, I specially liked the pesto sauce with shrimp combination. The only small downside was that the feta cheese on top made the pizza a bit too salty. Overall, I really liked my entree and would recommend. Our friends ordered Wings. They chose a combination of honey garlic, hot and teriyaki. The consensus was that the honey garlic sauce tasted exactly like the ones they sell at Costco, and the teriyaki was the best flavor out of the 3. This plate of wings was $8, not bad for a good size appetizer.This is Lamb Skewer plate for $16, all the souvlaki dishes all have the same side. Once again, the rice is unevenly heated. The lamb was good, it was tender and well infused with flavors. If only they would improve the rice and seasonal vegetables.

Service here is okay, not bad, but nothing stood out either. However it took some time before the food came out, especially my pizza. Actually, I am glad it took awhile, since it probably means they prepared and baked it fresh.

Overall, we were satisfied with our meal at Skewers. The food was good, service is acceptable, and it's cheaper than Kefi. I have to say Kefi now has some tough competition.

PS: Thanks to Amy for lending me her camera to take the above photos :)

Friday, December 4, 2009

Kojo of Japan - food court find

1 Comments

Kojo of Japan

K4-9855 Austin Avenue, Burnaby (inside Lougheed Mall)

Kojo of Japan on Urbanspoon

Food: 4
Price: cheap

Food court is a inevitable part of a shopaholic's life. Not saying that I am or anything, but once in awhile I can be :P. The good things about food court is that it's fast, convenient and cheap. The bad thing is usually the food, because it is mostly littered with fast food chain restaurants. However, once in awhile, you might stumble upon something that is actually good. In this case, it's Kojo of Japan.
Actually, I been going to this place for years, and it hasn't failed me yet. Their teriyaki chicken simply can't be beat. The teriyaki sauce is a perfect balance between the sweet and salty flavor. It's very smooth, and they usually smoother their chicken with it. On top of that, you can add more if desired (I usually do, since I love their sauce), as they have a separate container on the side. They also have chili flakes and white sesame for you to add as well. The chicken is juicy and tender. Their regular Teriyaki Chicken bowl (without veggie) is around $5, with veggie it's about $6. I remember the good old day when it was less than $5, inflation rate just keeps going up, but wages still remain the same. :(The day we went, they had a special going on, they were promoting the ginger pork for $5.75. Although I went for the teriyaki chicken, but I didn't want to end up with 2 plates of the same thing, so I ordered the ginger pork instead. It was actually quite good, there was a subtle flavor of ginger, but a strong oyster sauce taste which I like. The pork was thinly sliced and tender. I forgot to mention, for the rice, you have a choice between steam rice or fried rice, the price is the same. For the teriyaki, we got the steam rice, which was a excellent choice, because their sauce is the highlight, so you don't want to mix it with other flavors. The fried rice taste like soy sauce, with a few pieces of beans/carrot mixed in. It was good by itself, but when mixed with ginger sauce, it was too salty for my taste.

I have yet to find another food court teriyaki that triumph over the ones at Kojo of Japan. So I will definitely come back to this place when I am shopping at Lougheed mall. I guess that's the downside of it all, as far as I know, there are only 2 locations, one in Burnaby and another in North Vancouver.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Midam Rice Cake House - Korean Style Desserts

11 Comments

Midam Rice Cake House

110-4501 North Road
, Burnaby
Midam Rice Cake House on Urbanspoon

Food: 1.5
Service: 4
Price: relatively cheap

On our way to Ddoo Gau Bee (once again), I noticed a newly added sign for rice cake shop which also happened to be in the same square. Despite the fact that we were sort of in a hurry, we still decided to check out the new shop after our fulfilling meal.Midam Rice Cake House is located on the ground floor, tucked away in the far end of the square. The board posted beside the entrance showed delicate and nicely presented sweets, I was immediately intrigued.Upon entering, I was further impressed with their decor. They had quite a few displays such as the one shown above. Their decor was simple but elegant. There were regular tables, but also a few traditional ones (the ones you have to take your shoes off). Soft music was played in the background, and a table full of board games/magazine were also available if desired.As we only wanted to check it out, and had no intention to sit down (they will bring you a menu if you choose to sit down), we immediately went to the front counter. The array of rice cake/cake all looked beautiful. If presentation is everything, then I'd say they definitely gets an A. However, taste also plays a big part in all of this.After much debate on what to get, we finally settled on Apple Rice Cake, and Taro Cake. Although both looked delicious, but sadly I was not impressed with either one. The supposed Apple Rice Cake had zero apple taste. It wasn't really all that much like rice cake, it was more like dim sum turnip cake, except this is slightly sweeten. The Taro Cake was equally disappointing, the were only a hint of taro flavor, and the cake was rather dry and crumbly. The only good thing about these cakes is that it's lightly sweeten. I can't say much about the taro cake, but maybe the rice cake is an acquired taste, as the chef (very courteous) is actually Korean with many of his award plastered on the wall. He said that all desserts are made on the premises. The prices for these cakes are certainly not expensive, if memory serves me right, both cake came out to be about $3.90.

Although the cakes were disappointing, but I still want to go back, because I think it's really hard to find a nice relaxing dessert cafe with board games to play. Plus there are other desserts from their menu that we haven't tried. So in the end, I still look forward to going again and this time actually sit down to enjoy a few hours of conversation/games in this nice and calming environment.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Blenz Coffee - Seasonal Drinks

2 Comments

Blenz Coffee

Located through out the Lower Mainland

Blenz Coffee on Urbanspoon

Food: 3.5
Price: Fair+

Since rain season has once again descend upon us, we have to resort to indoor activities. Ever notice that the coffee shops are always jam packed during this time of the year. It's simply because there are nothing better to do in this horrible weather. Actually it's quite cozy and relaxing to sit inside of a coffee shop sipping a hot drink while "enjoying" the rain.

Our first stop was Caffe Artigiano, but it was completely full. We then walked over to Take 5 cafe where a similar fate was met. So in the end, it was a choice between either Starbucks or Blenz, and it just so happen we saw Blenz first.
Actually it was the sign for the Classic Apple Spice outside of Blenz that really caught my attention, so we decided to jump in and see if we can find a seat. Lucky for us, there were literally only 3 seats left. The Classic Apple Spice was made with unfiltered, unsweetened 100% pure BC organic apple juice, then finished with fresh whipped cream and a dash of Cinnamon sprinkles. The drink was undeniably good, it had just the right amount of sweetness (as it should be, since it's unsweetened). The whip cream was rich with a perfect balance of cinnamon sprinkles. In a nut shell I liked it. However I wasn't too fond of the price (around $3.90 for a tall), I mean after all I am just drinking hot apple juice.The 2nd drink we tried was their seasonal pumpkin spice latte. R wanted it half sweet, which also meant it was lighter tasting, because the pumpkin flavor is actually a syrup, thus result in less sugar=less flavor. Since I am not a coffee drinker, I will let R do the judging. He thought the drink was good, because it has a strong espresso taste, but still had a distinct pumpkin flavor. He also liked this better than the one at Starbucks. Since we still had time to kill (we were waiting for another round of the Long Table Series), and it was getting kinda stuffy inside with the whole place packed and all, so we decided to get another cold drink to cool down. R heard some good reviews about the Iced Chocolate, so we ended up ordering that to share. I don't know if you could choose the chocolate (white, milk and dark) or not like their regular hot chocolate, because they never asked us, so we ended up with what tasted like milk chocolate. Although the Iced Chocolate was good, I don't see what's so special about it. It tasted just like cold chocolate milk, but a tiny bit more rich and creamy. At about $4 for a tall, I'd say this is somewhat of a rip off.

Overall, we did like the hot drinks at Blenz. It will definitely be on our backup list on days we can't find any other unique coffee shop to try.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Donburiya - Japanese Fast Food

6 Comments

Donburiya
#5-1329 Robson, Vancouver
Donburiya on Urbanspoon

Food: 3.5
Service: 4
Price: Relatively Cheap

There are just too many Ramen joints in downtown Vancouver, so I am glad that something different has joined the scene: a fast food type restaurant that serves rice/noodle bows. I been wanting to try it out for awhile now, especially after reading reviews from both I m only here for the food and Cheap Appetite.

The restaurant is tiny, it can accommodate less than 20 people at a time. However since it is fast food/food court style, so lots of people get take out. They serve an array of rice/noodle bowls with a few appetizer/side dishes such as takoyaki, sushi rolls, and chicken karaage.


The takoyaki is pretty cheap, it was only $3.88 for 8. However as you can see from the picture, it certain lacks a few toppings such as dried bonito and dried seaweed flakes. Even though it's missing some common ingredients, but it was still significantly better than the ones I had at G-Men Ramen. At least these were hot, crispy on the outside and soft/gooey on the inside, and with a few visible pieces of tako. I would certainly order this again, despite the lack of toppings.

I couldn't decide between the noodle or the rice bowl, in the end I decided to choose the Buta-mayo don. It's described as gingered stir fried pork on rice with cabbage and mayo. For all the rice bowl, you have a choice between regular size ($6.50) or snack size ($5.50). I got the regular size, which was actually a pretty big portion that is very filling. The pork was good quality where is there is a good balance between the lean and fatty part. The thinly sliced pork is well infused with soy sauce and a subtle flavor of ginger. I thought the mayo complimented the pork very well, although I fear that this rice bowl is probably not too healthy.

The other rice bowl that we tried was the California don. This particular rice bowl is actually served cold and is essentially a California roll in a bowl but minus the seaweed, with the addition of egg. The initial disappointment was that it wasn't hot, but we quickly realized that this would probably taste weird if it was hot. The rice was sushi type rice and when mixed with the topping (crab meat, mayo etc.), plus the soy sauce it was actually quite good, until R. added the wasabi (I hate wasabi :P).

Service was super fast, our meal came out within 5 min after we ordered. Prices here are cheap, but then again it's only the food you are paying for, not service or ambiance. After the meal, I was happy and full. Since their rice bowls certainly made a good first impression, so now I am really tempted to come back to try their noodle bowls. Now, I think my next hard decision would be ramen or udon.

In the end, I would certainly recommend Donburiya, as it's fast, convenient located, and delicious, but good luck trying to get a seat during busy times.