Thursday, February 25, 2010

Fuji Sushi - Japanese owned restaurant

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Fuji Sushi

526 Clarke Rd, Coquitlam

Fuji Sushi on Urbanspoon

Food: 3.5
Service: 3.5
Price: Fair

Although I moved out of Coquitlam, I still frequent the restaurants there often. R is a frequent diner of Fuji Sushi, but surprisingly I have never been. The reason R like this place is mainly because he think it's authentic, as it is run by Japanese people. However since neither of us are Japanese, I can't vouch for its authenticity, but it sure is good.I ordered a noodle soup and R ordered a rice bowl. It appears the rice bowl comes with bowl of miso soup. My noodle came with the Shichimi seasoning, which is also known as the 'seven flavor chili pepper'. I love the taste of this seasoning, as it added a bit of heat and flavor to the soup.Our first appetizer to share was the Yudofu ($4?). It was described as tofu hot pot with ponzu sauce. So much for the hot pot, as it was literally tofu in a 'hot' pot. The soup is devoid of taste, it was really just water. Therefore the tofu is completely bland, there weren't even any salt in it. The dipping sauce is the ponzu soy sauce, which I dislike. I just don't like the combination of citrus with soy flavor. Since both R and I love steam egg, we went for the Chawanmushi ($3.75?) as our 2nd appetizer. The egg was SO tender, the minute you put in your mouth, it melt into a liquid. Among the prefect steamed egg were also a few slices of vegetables(carrot/snow pea), a piece of chicken and a piece fish cake. I would highly recommend this to anyone who loves egg, or just had teeth surgery, it really is the prefect food and it's delicious.
R's Chirashi bowl ($13.50) came first, consisting of tako, squid, salmon, tuna, shrimp roe, salmon roe, shrimp and egg. R mentioned the freshness of the seafood can vary at times. Like this particular bowl was good, but not fresh enough. Also R mentioned the price for this bowl is consider on the high end for this type of restaurant, because you can get the same thing for about $11 at other places. Therefore when it's fresh, it is worth the extra dollars.

I loved my Nabeyaki udon ($8.50). The soup was great, you can taste the rich flavor from this chicken stock. The udon was good as well, it was soft, but not over cooked. The only complaint I would have against this dish is that the shrimp tempura came in the soup. I wish they could put it on the side like other restaurants. Since it was semi-soaked, therefore it was a bit soggy when I ate it.

Fuji Sushi is a great local restaurant for some good Japanese food. Their service was also good, they were friendly and filled out tea constantly. Although the price is slightly higher than other places, I would still recommend this place. However if you live way out from this area, then I don't know if it's the drive, as there are tons of good Japanese restaurant in Vancouver, with Toshi being my favorite.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Kirin (Coquitlam) - CNY Set Menu

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Kirin

1163 Pinetree Way, Coquitlam

Kirin (Coquitlam) on Urbanspoon

Food: 4
Service: 3
Price: Expensive


It's tradition for families to gather together during Chinese New Year and eat a reunion dinner. Since now days people want to make life easier, so many families choose to dine out for this occasion. Because of this, many Asian restaurants will cater a special Chinese dinner menu just for CNY, and it just so happen I went to try the one at Kirin.

Kirin has various location across the lower mainland. I've tried the Dim Sum at Kirin in downtown (blogged here) and it was tasty. I've also tried their dinner menu at the Kirin at City Square and that was good as well. Therefore, when my family proposed to another meal at Kirin, I had no objections. Our set menu was for 4 people, but we had 5. So they just added the cost for an extra abalone and shark fin. The set menu for four is set at $248, so with 5 people it was about $30-40 extra. I forgot to mention, this is also the time for the restaurant to make some good money :P.
Our first dish was their special cold platter with roasted pig. However it was too early during the day (we went at 1pm), thus the pork was not ready, so they had to sub it with BBQ duck. The duck was very tender and juicy. It sweet plum dipping sauce was the perfect compliment for the soy BBQ flavor. The jelly fish was disappointing, as it lacked in flavor. The smoked salmon is just that, nothing to shout about. The mushroom wrap was good, it was juicy and flavorful. The cure meat was salty and definitely not something I liked.Our next dish was individual serving of shark fin soup. The thicken soup tasted like chicken stock. There were visible shark fin pieces, some crab meat and yellow chives as well. I could definitely taste the chive flavor in this soup. Overall, it was tasty seafood thick soup.The abalone on a bed of hollow stem leafy greens was also served individually. I usually dislike abalone, as it taste rubbery, but this one was actually good. It was actually very soft. I also liked the sauce as well, it tasted like good chicken stock with a mixture of hoi-sin sauce. The hollow steam leafy greens are also one of my favorite vegetables, so I have to say, this dish was a winner for me.
The lobster was next, it's described as live lobster in consomme with light ginger and green onion. I for one did not know what is consomme, here is what Wikipedia had to say about it:

"a consommé is a type of clear soup made from richly flavored stock or bouillon that has been clarified usually through a fining process involving egg protein. It usually requires an advanced knowledge of cooking and past experience to create a high quality conso
mmé."

I have to say, the sauce was very good, the only problem was that the lobster was over cooked, therefore resulting in a rubbery taste that really didn't suck up any flavor from the sauce.
Next up is the sauteed Geoduck and scallop with selected vegetables. The Geoduck was chewy, and the chicken was very soft. The scallop was very good, it was done right and not fishy at all. However this dish was very mild in flavor and definitely lacking some salt. This would be the marinated chicken in dried scallop sauce. I thought the chicken would be cold, but it's actually warm. The meat was a bit dry, but the ginger/green onion dip was good. I prefer the chicken to be cold when eating with this type of dip.Our carb for the night was the stewed e-fu noodle in abalone sauce. Although the description said it was stewed, but it tasted more like deep fried first, then stir fried with hoi-sin sauce. Each noodle strand was well infused with flavor, so I quite like this dish.
Our first dessert was the coconut milk tapioca. The cold soup had nothing more than coconut milk, sugar and tapioca, but the simplicity works, it was refreshing and mildly sweet.Our 2nd dessert was taro jello and walnut cookie. Although the color may indicate that it is taro flavored, but really all I can taste was the coconut milk. There was only a trace of taro taste. The walnut cookie is really oily and crumbly, I prefer moist and soft cookies more.

Service here is a notch better than what you get at other Chinese restaurant, because there is actually service, but still no smile. Our tea was filled all the time, and they changes your dirty plate often as well.

Because of the similarity between this meal and the one I had at Bing Sheng, I can't help but to compare the 2. Although both meals were good, but I think Kirin had better seafood. Service is about the same, but Kirin gets another point for ambiance. They have nice decor and this particular Kirin is located on the 2nd floor of Henderson mall, which means there was a nice view. However when it comes down to value, Bing Sheng definitely wins. Their set meal was for 6 people and it was only $245, versus this meal at $248 for 4 people. In conclusion, I would say both are good choices, Bing Sheng would be perfect for a good family meal, where as Kirin would be good if you wanted to impress someone, like a client.

Overall, I would definitely recommend the Kirin chain, because their food is actually quite good. But I guess it should be good consider the hiked up price compare to other Chinese restaurants. Their restaurant is also very clean and spacious, so it's perfect if you have a big party. Besides it works out better that way, because after splitting the cost for a big meal, it's actually not so bad after all.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Kushi Box - Express Japanese Take Out

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Kushi Box

520 Robson Street, Vancouver


Kushi Box on Urbanspoon

Food: 2.5
Price: Expensive (for the portion)


The Olympic is well underway, I thought I finally head downtown to join in the festivity. Since many venues were around the Granville area, we decide to find somewhere to eat around there. We thought to check out the new Japa Dog store, but it is still closed. However upon walking up that street, we noticed a new take out place that sell Japanese rice box.
If I am not mistaken, Kushi Box is a sub-branch of Zakushi. Since it's take out only, the shop is tiny with no tables or chairs. They had a menu board similar to Donburiya (blogged here), therefore I can't help but to compare the 2 Japanese take out restaurants. Just upon first impression, I prefer Donburiya, because even though they are small too, but at least you have a choice to dine in. Kushi Box offered BBQ skewers ($1-$1.40), oden ($1.20/pc), and several different rice boxes ($5.99-$7.99).After studying the menu, I decided to get the Onion P-Toro Box which is $6.99. But you can also get combos to go with your box. Combo A is chicken karaage with miso soup or pop, combo B is 2 pc of kushi with miso soup or pop, and combo C is Gomae with miso soup or pop. The funny thing is that although all the sides for each combo never change, but they don't consistently add the same amount of money to each box to make the combos. Anyways, I chose Combo B, which added $3 to make my total $9.99. However with tax, that was over $10 for the above meal.First, I understand this is a take out place, so for convenience reason, their miso soup is actually prepackaged inside a Styrofoam cup with lid, but to me, that felt cheap. Also I don't like the use of Styrofoam. I mean their meal is packaged in a nice cardboard box, but why Styrofoam for the soup. The soup was not bad, but I guess because we didn't put enough water in, therefore it was a bit salty. But keep in mind, we are also limited by the cup on how much water we can add.
The one layer of topping you see is really what you get. There is nothing underneath there except rice. So how does this single layer of pork cheek taste? Well, I admit the meat was good, as the pork was soft and chewy, but it was slightly salty. The half boiled egg was great, as it was just the right consistency (liquidity yet cooked). However the minced onion sauce was extremely salty, maybe it was intended this way, so when you ran out of pork, you can eat the left over rice along with the onion.
For my kushi (grilled items), I chose the quail egg and grilled mushroom. The mushroom was not very good, it was rather dry and tasteless. The only taste was on the skin, so they probably just brushed on some sauce when grilling. The quail eggs was another story, it was actually pretty good. They wrapped the egg with pork, and since the pork had flavor it enhanced the other wise tasteless egg. The pork was a bit dry, but in comparison with the grilled mushroom, this one was actually good.
As I mentioned, it's take out only, but it was raining that day, so we had to find somewhere indoor to eat it. Since H-mart food court was close by, we decided to go there. Because we didn't want it to seem like we just bought outside food, we decided that one person should order from the food court. Just for comparison purpose, the above meal from Wang Ga Ma(blog previously here) was under $7; a much more worthy meal in my opinion. I mean the Kushi combo (Over $10) would probably be enough for me (a girl who eat modestly), but for R, that is definitely not enough if he was hungry.

Between Donburiya and Kushi Box, I have to say I think Donburiya wins hand down. First Donburiya have the option of dining in. Their meal is cheaper with equal if not better quality. The portion size is bigger and personally I think Donburiya had a better location, because I usually head towards the West end more than the East end of Robson. In my opinion, I think the biggest problem for Kushi box is that it's over priced for the portion and that it's take out only. I guess if you are not really hungry and have somewhere to eat it at, then maybe it worth checking it out.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Thomas Haas - Another winner on my list !

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Thomas Haas Fine Chocolates & Patisserie
2539 W Broadway, Vancouver

Thomas Haas Fine Chocolates & Patisserie on Urbanspoon

Food: 4

Price: Fair

People say women have a separate stomach just for desserts, and I say "you got that right, there is always room for desserts". After reading numerous reviews from fellow bloggers (Chow Times, Kim, Sherman , Mijune), Thomas Haas had definitely made it on to my wishlist. Since I had to go to Kitsilano during a weekday, I decided I must stop by to see what's all the buzz about. So after battling some rush hour traffic, I finally made it before it closed (5:30pm).
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Friday, February 12, 2010

Scoop! - good frozen yogurt

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Scoop!

2050 W 4th Ave, Vancouver

Scoop! on Urbanspoon

Food: 4
Price: Fair


When we were dining at Joe's Grill, we noticed a frozen yogurt shop across the street. Since I love frozen yogurt, we decide to check it out. So far, my favorite frozen yogurt is TCBY.

The way Scoop! promote their topping is different from other frozen yogurt shop, they sell it by weight, kinda like the salad bars in the food court. I quite like this idea, as you can add an unlimited number of toppings, but the cost could quickly add up. So basically they weigh the frozen yogurt with the cup, and then hand it to you, and you can pick out what you want on top and then they re-weigh it. They didn't only have solid topping, they also had liquid ones as well, it ranged from fruity sauce to other sweet syrup (chocolate, caramel, condense milk etc).Here are some information about their yogurt that they posted on the walls. Their yogurt contains 1,000,000 probiotic bacteria per gram and they also contain prebiotic fibers. They yogurt is 112 calories per 100g, which I guess is better than ice cream, but not by much. I guess the whole point of eating frozen yogurt instead of low fat ice cream is not for it's low calories, but more for health benefit.The had 3 choices when it comes to the frozen yogurt: original, raspberry and green tea. We went with the original. Their frozen yogurt was creamy with that real sour yogurt taste. For my yogurt, I chose watermelon, mango, kiwi and mochi as toppings and then finished off with a quirt of strawberry and blueberry sauce each. The fruits were fresh and it was the perfect compliment to the yogurt. However the mango was too sour. The mochi was interesting, but really did not work with the yogurt. Taking a bite with both the yogurt and mochi was like eating 2 separate things. Both the taste and texture are extremely different. Since we didn't load our yogurt with various topping, so it came to be about $5 for our bowl.
Scoop! would also be a nice place to hang out with friends, because they had various board games and also a foosball table locate near the back of the restaurant. If I only had more time, I would have stay to play a few of the board games.

Overall, I liked their frozen yogurt, but it sure melt fast. I also liked the fact you can add topping by yourself, thus able to control the amount and variety. Therefore I will definitely come back for more, plus I haven't even played any of their board games yet. :P

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Earl of Sandwich - Simply the Best!

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Earl of Sandwich

1750 E Buena Vista Dr, FL

Earl of Sandwich on Urbanspoon

Food: 4.5
Price: Fair (for the quality)

As I still have a few reviews line up from my recent (now, not so recent) vacation, I thought I interrupt regular 'programming' for some 'breaking news' :). I had the best sandwich I've tried so far in my life and it just so happen to be a chain restaurant. If that's not 'breaking news', I don't know what is. First I avoid chain restaurants like the plague and second, I am not much of a sandwich person.
The Earl of Sandwich we visited was located in Downtown Disney, so it's no surprise that the line up was longer than the Great Wall. Here is a little piece of history I learned from the restaurant: in 1762, the Sandwich was named after its inventor, John Montagu, the 4th Earl of Sandwich. Although it was a fast food type restaurant, but they had nice decor with soft lighting. They also had a buzzer system (that's how busy they are), as soon as you place your order, they hand you a buzzer. The buzzer will light up and vibrate when your food is ready for pick up. This is certainly a first for fast food restaurants.After one look at a flier that was handed to me, I was sold. I immediately got in line for a Holiday Turkey Sandwich consisted of oven roasted turkey, hearty stuffing, cranberry sauce and warm gravy.The picture on ads always looks so much better, would you call that false advertisement? Anyways, this is what my sandwich looked like in day light and restaurant light. This sandwich was served similar to a Panini , except the whole bread is heated, not just the top and bottom. I guess that's why they called it a 'hot' sandwich. It is also by far the best sandwich I've tried. The mixture of turkey, stuffing, cranberry and gravy was heavenly, it's like a thanksgiving feast rolled into a sandwich. The sweetness of the cranberries is balance out nicely by the moist turkey breast and warm gravy. The foundation of a good sandwich really comes down to the bread, and this one is a sure winner. First off, the artisan bread is baked fresh when you order. It was buttery soft and moist in the middle, and crunchy on the outside. However, because my hard palette is really soft (oh, the irony), I got several scratches from eating this, but it's worth it. :)
We only intended to get one sandwich as a snack, but since it was so delicious, we had to get another one. This time we chose one called Caribbean Jerk Chicken, which consisted of grilled chicken, roasted banana and red pepper and spicy jerk sauce. The bread was just as good as the previous sandwich, but I prefer the stuffing of the first sandwich. It's suppose to be spicy, but really it was quite mild. Since their line up is super long, we thought we might as well buy everything in one setting, so we got a side of broccoli cheddar soup. The soup paled in comparison with the sandwich. It was a bit too cheesy and thick, with only very small bits of broccoli present. Also the thickness of the soup did not seem like it was intended that way, it was more like it has been sitting there all morning, and thus started to coagulate.

Click to enlarge
Here are all the sandwiches that are available everyday at the restaurant. If I only had a bigger stomach or tried it earlier during my vacation. I was so tempted to buy a few and take it with me before I left. However these are HOT sandwiches, the taste would probably be compromised if it were eaten cold. It's $5.95 each, it may seem a bit pricey, but it's worth that price. In the end, I highly recommend trying Earl of Sandwich if you have a chance. Now I only wish if they could open one in Seattle.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Joe's Grill - Good basic breakfast

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Joe's Grill

2061 W 4th Ave, Vancouver

Joe's Grill on Urbanspoon

Food: 3
Service: 4
Price: Fair

R and I don't usually visit the Kits area all that often, but this time we had a blogger dinner at East is East, so we thought we head out there earlier to explore a bit. By the time we arrived, it was lunch time, so we decided to eat first. Since there are numerous restaurants on 4th, it was a tough decision on what to eat. I would have loved to eat at Noodle Box again, but I thought maybe it's time to try something new.

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Wednesday, February 3, 2010

East is East - the biggest blogger meet up !

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East is East

3243 West Broadway, Vancouver

East Is East on Urbanspoon

Food: 3.5
Service: 3.5
Price: Fair (consider it's all you can eat for the Eastern Plate)

In comparison to the last blogger meet up which I organized, this one is massive, and it's all thanks to Sherman organization skills. The bloggers in attendance were: Sherman (Sherman's Food Adventures), Kim (I'm Only Here for the Food), Kevin (604Foodtography), Joyce & Frank (Van Foodies), Mijune (Follow Me Foodie), Angie (Sea Salt with Food), Jessica (Yum-O-Rama), Anita (La Petite Foodie), Darina (Gratinee), Jonathan (Food & Tell), Melody (Gourmet Fury), TS (eating club Vancouver), Victoria (Victoria's Food Secrets) and Wilson (La Petite Vancouver).

Wow, that's a lot of people, it was very nice to meet everyone and we had so much fun chatting and getting blinded by the flashes of all the camera that constantly went off. I just hope other diners weren't too annoyed with us.
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Monday, February 1, 2010

Pho Hung - deserves a try if you are in the area

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Pho Hung

16033 108 Avenue , Surrey


Pho Hung on Urbanspoon

Food: 4
Service: 4
Price: Fair


You will never pass by this restaurant if you don't live in the area, and hence would never discover how good it is. Fortunately I do live in the area, and it's within walking distance. After moving here for more than 5 month, I finally tried out my local pho restaurant. It's not like I didn't want to try, I went once on a Saturday night, but it closed at 4:30pm, bummer.So finally on a Sunday night, I went with R to try it out. I told him it would be great if I can find a local place, since I love pho. The restaurant is one of the cleanest I've ever been too. The floor was not slippery or oily, the tables were clean and dry. In fact the interior reminds me of a Greek restaurant more than a Pho restaurant, except the condiments on the table.The spring roll was really long and skinny, compare to others. The skin was crispy, and the stuffing was the usual mixture of minced pork, carrot and spices. In general, the spring roll was good, it wasn't too crispy or oily. One cost $2.50, and 2 will set you back $4.
R also had their Vietnamese coffee. Since I don't drink coffee, I really couldn't tell the difference between this one and the others. All I can say is that it's some strong coffee. However I do like the fact that they give you a separate bucket of ice with tongs. It was very convenient, as you can control how much ice you want.Like all Pho restaurant, first came the side of bean sprout, jalapeno, basil and lime. All the vegetables are fresh. They were definitely not stingy with the basil. Nowadays, some restaurant don't even offer basil anymore.
I got number 12 small, tendon with flank/steak for $6.25. Their large size pho is $6.99. The broth is very clear, not a lot of oil floating on top. Although the broth is clear, it certainly does not lack in flavor, it had a strong beefy taste with a hint of sweetness, which indicate it has been boiling for a long time. The meat were tender, and cooked perfectly in the hot broth. However the portion for the noodle and meat are both smaller than the usual pho I have, but the quality makes up for it.The broth from the chicken pho was lighter than the beef pho. You can tell it's different, there were no beefy taste. It was even less oily than the one I had. R had number 19 which is a mixture of chicken meat and ball for $6.95 (small). For the meat, they use dark meat, which personally I prefer, as I find white meat lacks flavor. Just like mine, the quantity is smaller than what we usually get. However the quality was once again pretty good. The broth was light but flavorful, and not overly salty.

At first we were afraid the food would not be authentic, it turn out the owners are in fact Vietnamese. Overall, their food is solid, their service was good, but we were the only customer there. The restaurant was actually clean. Given the above, I will definitely come back for more. Also, it super close to me is definitely a plus.