Wednesday, March 31, 2010

@ Ease - another place to get Oyster Omelet


@ Ease

8300 Capstan Way Unit 1028, Richmond

@ Ease on Urbanspoon

Food: 4 (purely based on the 1 items I tried)

Price: Fair

I don't think there is any particular cuisine that I absolutely love, but there are several specific dishes from different cuisines that I have fallen in love with. Today's post will feature one of them: the Taiwanese Oyster Omelet.

I tried my first Oyster Omelet at Taiwanese Culture Festival 3 or 4 years ago, and from that day on, I been on the search for authentic ones. Unfortunately, not a lot of Taiwanese restaurant have these. The only ones I have tried are at Corner 23 and Pearl House, and now I can add @ Ease to that list. I know Tri-ty also has them as well, but I haven't went yet.
@ Ease looks like a tiny restaurant from the outside, but it is actually quite spacious once you walk in. Unfortunately we came at around 4:00pm, and they were semi-closed, meaning they only serve take out during that time. Since we already had lunch, that wasn't a big problem, so we ordered 1 oyster omelet to go. The oyster omelet was really good. The omelet was glutinous and chewy with small chunks of oysters. The sauce was definitely the highlight. According to R, it was authentic. It was the perfect balance between spiciness and sweetness. The only downfall for this was that the oyster was bit fishy, so it was definitely not the freshest I've ever had. The price of $5.50 is also consider to be fair, since both Corner 23 and Pearl House are around the same.

Overall this was definitely a good oyster omelet, since our initial experience was good, I am definitely interested to come back and try their other dishes. However, this once again is a 'Cash Only" joint, so make sure you have cash on hand.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Lime - if only the food is as good as it looked


Lime Japanese Cuisine

1130 Commercial Dr, Vancouver

Lime Japanese Cuisine on Urbanspoon

Food: 2.5

Service: 3.5
Price: Expensive

We wanted to go to Les Faux Bourgeois for my B's belated birthday dinner. Unfortunately, we made the reservation too late, and the only available time was after 10pm, and that for sure won't work. So after searching online, we decided to check out Lime instead.

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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Shoryumen - Good ramen, interesting place


Shoryumen Noodle House

7100 Elmbridge Way, Richmond

Shoryumen on Urbanspoon

Food: 3.5
Price: Fair, but could be consider Expensive if you load up on toppings

A new form of restaurant has sprung up in Richmond in an abandoned parking lot by Gilbert and Elmbridge. Originally it was just one trailer style food stall that sold giant takoyaki, but the owner has now expanded that area to include 3 food stalls. I also over heard that a new one might join the scene soon (probably a dessert stall).
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Monday, March 22, 2010

Michi - great place for relaxing!


Michi Waffle and Espresso Bar

1319 Robson Street, Vancouver

Michi Waffle & Espresso Bar on Urbanspoon

Food: 4
Service: 4

Price: Fair

Have you ever wonder the difference between North America waffles and Belgium waffles? Well, according to Wikipedia, the key difference is the leavening agent. North America waffle uses baking powder, where as Belgium waffle uses yeast. Although many restaurant serves waffles, but it is rarely Belgium waffles. The few places that serve Belgium waffles that I am aware of are Cafe Medina, Damien's Belgian Waffles and Patisserie Lebeau, but now I can add one more to that list.
Michi just opened over a week ago. The shop is clean and spacious with soft music playing in the background. We noticed that they uses these nice heavy silverware, by a designer named Robert Welch. The waitress noticed I was taking pictures and came over to chat for a bit. She told me the owner's vision is to create a relaxing environment with an European feel. I told her if that was the vision, then the owner has accomplished it, because it did indeed felt like the kind of cafe, where you would want to sit down to enjoy your coffee vs. take it to go.
R ordered a double shot espresso for $3.00. However neither R nor I can really judge, because we can't really distinguish between good and bad espresso. But I guess they shouldn't be horrible, since their name is called Michi Waffle and Espresso Bar.
I loved my Peach Nectar tea ($3.90/pot). It had a light peach fragrance with rooibos tea taste. I find a lot of fruit tea would have that acidic after taste, but this one had none. Therefore I could have drink this without adding any honey. I still ended up adding a bit of honey, and it was delicious.
Now, on to the waffles. We chose to try one green tea and one chocolate. The waffles are individually $3.50? each. We opt for their 2 waffle combo deal ($9) which comes with vanilla ice cream, fruit sauce, banana and whip cream. The waffles were crispy on the outside, but the inside was a bit bread like. The green tea waffle only had a hint of matcha flavor with just the right amount of sweetness. The chocolate waffle was barely sweet, as I think they used dark chocolate for it. I really enjoyed their ice cream, it was soft and light with real vanilla flecks in it. The blueberry sauce was also very good, it was fresh and not overly sweet. The whip cream didn't taste rich, it tasted more like compressed 10% cream, which to me is a good thing, because that mean it's less fattening. :)

The great thing about this place is its location. It's a perfect place to go and relax your feet after walking around downtown, and at the same time enjoying some good waffles and drinks. Also they are having a soft opening special, 20% off all menu items from now till end of this month, so now would be the perfect time to go and check it out.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Aoyama - will certainly be back for more


Aoyama Cafe

Unit 1008 4151 Hazelbridge Way, Richmond

Aoyama Cafe (UCC Coffee) on Urbanspoon

Food: 4.5
Service: 3.5
Price: Fair

It's a ritual for R and I to go to Aberdeen Center when we visit Richmond. We usually just go for either Daiso and the chicken wing at Wo Fung Dessert(Yum). Actually I really like the food court at Aberdeen, they have quite a few good places to eat, such as Ajijiman Hanabi , Strawberry Cones and the aforementioned Wo Fung Dessert . However this time we came after lunch, and was only there for Daiso.

As we were walking out of Daiso, towards the parking lot, we noticed this new restaurant next to the book store on the ground floor. Since we saw it from the side, we noticed the display wall first, where it show cased some of their dishes. The food looked yummy, and it was close to dinner time, so we decided to try it out.There are actually two parts to Aoyama restaurant, a dining room and a cafe (where Starbucks use to be). A sign on the door stated that the dining room had a $20 minimum charge requirement. The restaurant is actually very nice with mellow jazz music playing in the background. They also had the same buzzer system seen at a lot of other Korean restaurants.
R loves coffee, and when he noticed they serve siphoned coffee, he just couldn't resist. He end up ordering a iced sumiyaki coffee ($3.50). I for sure did not know what sumiyaki is, but here is what Aoyama had to say about it:

"Sumiyaki, Japanese for "charcoal roast" is a mixture of different beans roasted until charcoal color. Espresso lovers, this is a strong dose of coffee. It has a deep rich aroma and smooth flavor minus the bitter taste."

Well, since I can't tell the difference between instant coffee and $5/cup coffee, let's just say R loved it. He even drank it without any sugar syrup or cream.
After studying their extensive menu, I finally decided on Unagi Rice Casserole ($12.95), which is broiled eel in curried rice pilaf baked with mozzarella cheese. I loved this dish, from the very first bite. The eel was excellent, it was very soft with a sweet teriyaki taste. The rice was moist with a light curry flavor topped with a delightful mushroom cream sauce. It's the real cream sauce, instead of the typical flour based one at HK style cafe. To top it off, they baked it with lots of gooey mozzarella cheese. Although the portion in the picture may look small, but in reality it was quite large. In a nut shell, this was really good and I highly recommended it.R noticed they had a category called Japanese Style Spaghetti Soup and he was immediately drawn to it. In the end, he chose the Bacon and Sausage Curry Spaghetti Soup ($9.95). The curry broth was delicious, it had a medium curry taste (Japanese kind) with a rich seafood like base. They also had a quite a bit of bacon, sausage and veggies. The spaghetti was a bit too soft for my taste, but still not bad. The highlight of this dish is definitely the soup, it was so good that we drank till the last drop.

Service here can range from average to good, because we had more than one server. The person who took our order was polite, but without a smile. The person who brought us our food and took our payment was smiling, polite and personal. So really, service here can vary, but in general it's not bad.

Overall, we were definitely impressed with their food, it was very delicious. Before we went in, judging from the outside, it looked like it could be a pricey restaurant, it turn out to be fairly inexpensive with most dishes ranging from $10-$15. The portions are definitely good for the price. They also had some very promising desserts, it's just that we were too full. This only means, we will be back to try their desserts soon.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Ma Sarang - Authentic Korean Noodles


Ma Sarang

#240 329 North Road, Coquitlam

Ma Sarang on Urbanspoon

Food: 4
Service: 3
Price: Fair

Awhile back, I wrote about Midam Rice Cake House, and a reader commented on it. I mentioned how much I liked Ddoo Gau Bee, the reader noted there is a far more superior place for Jajang myeon. He/she mentioned that this place is called Mat Sa Rang located next to H-mart in Coquitlam. However I went by twice and failed to see it. (English name for the restaurant is actually Ma Sarang ).
I must be either blind or they changed the signage within the last couple of weeks, because during previous visits, I always thought the restaurant is only an Asian cater company. At last, we finally found it only after R's friend brought R to try it. Anyways, just in case anyone else is having trouble finding it, here is what their banner sign looks like. The side dishes here are the simplest I've ever seen, it just yellow pickled diakon and raw onion. Apparently you are suppose to pour vinegar over the daikon, at least that's what everyone else was doing. The only other place that served such simple side dishes was at Kimbab Cheonguk, but they also had kimchi as well.
R got the Noodle Soup with Mixed Seafood in Hot Sauce for $8.95. The soup was good and flavorful. It wasn't so spicy at the beginning, but after awhile it will catch up to you. They also had abundant of seafood (shrimp, prawn, squid, and scallop) and hearty vegetables. The bowl was huge, I could have easily split this into two smaller portions.
I got the Spicy Seafood Noodle and Black Bean on Noodle combo for $7.95. The Jajang myeon had a rather liquidy sauce compare to others I had before. It had the usual bean paste taste with just the right amount of salt. The noodle was soft, but it had a bite to it. This once again is a really big portion, and a great way to try out two of their noodles. The spicy noodle was essentially the same as R's, with fewer seafood. For example, I did not get any prawns. Honestly, I think they had quite a few "Spicy Seafood Noodles" on the menu that all sounds the same in English, I guess if you really want to know the difference, bring a Korean friend.
After seeing the size of the noodles, we were sure that it was more than enough for a meal. However we were seated near the kitchen, so the server has to walk by us every time and it seems that almost every table ordered these sweet and sour dishes (chicken or pork). So we couldn't fight the temptation and ordered a regular sweet sour pork for $10.45. The first unique feature of the dish is the coating, it was made from glutinous rice flour instead of regular wheat flour, so it had that sticky/chewy texture and the unique white puffy appearance. The pork was juicy and tender, and it wasn't heavily coated either. The sauce had a very distinct sweet/sour taste, with only a hint of saltiness. The main difference between this sweet and sour sauce and Chinese ones is that this one used white vinegar instead.

The restaurant is pretty small, maybe it can accommodate about 30-35 people at a time. Service is average, they take your order and bring you the food. Usually such small restaurants only accept cash, but this place actually accept credit cards, which is definitely a big plus.

I have to thank my reader for suggesting this restaurant to me, because the food was certainly good, with sizable portions. Also judging by the diners and my reader's (Korean) recommendation, I have to say this definitely seems like authentic Korean food. Now I can add a new restaurant to my growing list of good Korean restaurants in the Coquitlam area.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Red Mango - Chain Frozen Yogurt Store in the States


Red Mango

3000 184th St SW, Lynnwood

Red Mango (Lynnwood) on Urbanspoon

Food: 3
Price: Fair

M and I ate way too much high calorie food during our weekend getaway down in the States. So when G suggested we get some frozen yogurt as dessert, we happily complied.

Red Mango is your typical frozen yogurt shop. You have a choice of either original or fruit flavored frozen yogurt with an abundant choices of toppings ranging from fruits to nuts and the occasional unique toppings (mochi). For this location they had original, tangomonium and pomegranate yogurt flavors. G got the medium original with no toppings for around $4.50. M and I both got a small one with unlimited topping option, I got the pomegranate and M had the tangomonium. A small one cost some where around $3.50, with $0.50 for each additional topping. However with just $1 more, you get unlimited topping which work out to be a much better deal. Their frozen yogurt is more creamy and less tart than Qoola and Scoop!. The fruity taste in their yogurt is very light, I couldn't barely tell with the pomegranate, but could taste it a bit more in the tangomonium. Their fruit toppings are relatively fresh, with the blueberries being my favorite.I don't know if all Red Mango location have bonus question, but this one did. If you get it right, they will give you 10% off. If you didn't already know, the answer is 'dental anxiety'. Oops, I mean it's 'fear of teeth'. :P

Overall, the frozen yogurt at Red Mango was certainly not bad, but it's also not my favorite either. Consider this is only available in the States, I will definitely only go if it's convenient to do so. If you want some good frozen yogurt right here in Vancouver, definitely give both Qoola or Scoop! a try.

Friday, March 12, 2010

La Belle Patate - real Canadian food :)


La Belle Patate

1215 Davie Street, Vancouver
La Belle Patate on Urbanspoon

Food: 4.5
Price: Fair

Sometime, I think it's a sin to eat poutine, because of serious fat/cholesterol overload. However, this day was certainly an exception, because we ate it for national pride (oh the excuses just to eat unhealthy good food hehe). On Feb. 28th, 13.3 million people tuned in to watch the ultimate hockey game of Canada vs. USA for the Olympic gold. That day has also set a record, it's officially the most-watched sports program on record in Canadian television history. I am also 1 in that 13.3 million who cut my Seattle trip short, just so I can make it back for this game. Team Canada certainly did not disappoint, and we got our GOLD!! :D

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Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Bool Chu Pan - Look for "Korean Hot Grill" in English instead


Bool Chul Pan Korean Hot Grill

4501 North Road, Burnaby

Bool Chul Pan Korean Hot Grill on Urbanspoon

Food: 3.5
Service: 4
Price: Fair

I haven't seen my UBC friends for a LONG time, so finally a few of us made an effort to meet up. Somehow this question of where to eat always come back to me, because they say "you are a food blogger, you should know good places". But really I don't think I eat out more than the average person. So in reality, I depend on my fellow bloggers to inform me of new places to try, and this time B and I decided on Bool Chul Pan based on Chowtimes and 604foodtography's review.

When you arrive, don't bother looking for a restaurant call Bool Chu Pan, because it doesn't exist if you can't read Korean. So instead look for a yellow banner with red lettering and the English word "Korean Hot Grill" on it. It's also the restaurant at the end of this strip mall.

First came the side dishes like all Korean restaurant. We were also given a bowl of soup each, I am not entirely sure if it's part of our meal, or was it part of the side dishes. Their side dishes are not bad, but my favorite potatoe was a bit hard, and lacking in sauce.

We came here for the Hot Grill BBQ, thus ordered the medium pan fried pork/squid combo with comes with a side of fried rice for $23.95. A large one would set you back $34.95. The hot plate seems to be the same size, it's just the large had more stuff on the plate. The nice part about our visit was that the server cooks the food for us. This pictures would be after she finish cooking both the veggies/pork/squid and the fried rice. The fried rice was essential plain rice mixed in with the left over sauce from the veggies/pork/squid combination. I loved the thinly sliced pork, it soaked up the Korean gochujang real well. It was a combination of spicy sweet flavors. I think we were suppose to let the rice burn a little on the bottom, at least that's how I had it in Korea. But we were too hungry, so we just ate while it was still soggy.

After we ordered the hot grill BBQ, we noticed that they actually have combo deals. Therefore we upgraded to a combo for $39.95. Our combo include a Japanese Seafood pancake. The is similar to the Korean Seafood Pancake, but it's less doughy and more mushy. Also the main difference is the sauce, this had mayo and okonomiyaki sauce.
Our 2nd item from the combo was Kimchi soup. The soup had no other flavor other than Kimchi, I guess that is expected, as there were only 3 ingredient: kimchi, green onion and a bit of beef. If you love kimchi, you will love this soup. But for me, it was a bit kimchi overload.

I think Bool Chu Pan is good value for the amount of food you get. I don't know about the other 3 guys, but I was full and satisfied. The highlight would definitely be the hot grill, the rest of the combo was average. Service was good, they were friendly and accommodating. Overall, I would recommend this restaurant to anyone who is tired of original Korean BBQ or wanting someone else to do the work. :)

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Dick's Drive In - Old Fashion food, price and restaurant


Dick's Drive In

12325 30th Ave NE, Seattle

Dick's Drive-in (Lake City) on Urbanspoon

Food: 3.5
Price: Cheap

Last weekend, M and I went down to Seattle to visit a friend (G) who I haven't seen for a long time. She was as enthusiastic about food as I am. Therefore she took us to a few of her favorite local places to eat.I think G has a talent, because she sounds so convincing when she is talking about food. So when she said that Dick's Drive In have really good burgers, we immediately added that to our 'To Try' list. Dick's has been in business since 1954 and it is only available in Seattle area (3 locations). The location we visited (Lake City) has been in operation since 1963. Dick's is really a old fashion drive in, where you either take it to go, or eat it in your car. I guess the place really hasn't changed much at all, consider form of payment is still cash only.I got their deluxe burger with 2 patties, cheese, lettuce and mayo for only $2.40. Dick's Drive In uses fresh never frozen beef and bun for their burgers. So how was this fresh never frozen beef, well it was juicy in the middle, but dry around the edges because it's overcooked. The patty was not overly salty or seasoned. Their cheese was regular process cheddar cheese. The bun was soft, but nothing spectacular. I can't help but compare this to Five Guys Burgers and Fries (Blogged here), which also claim to use fresh beef. Five Guys burger was very juicy from first bite to last, but then again it was so juicy to a point of being greasy. Does that mean the beef used in Dick's Drive In is more lean compare to Five Guys? Dick's Drive In prices are definitely a lot cheaper ($2.40 vs. $6). However if compare portion wise, Five Guys burger is at least 2x the size of Dick's. In the end, Dick's burger is a good snack, where as Five Guys burger is more for a meal.We also got their fries, which is also freshly cut from real potatoes. The fries was good, hot and crispy, but it didn't have enough salt on it. They only have one size, and it was $1.40, which is pretty cheap.
Since G highly recommended their ice cream, M decided to get a Kids Cone to try it. We got the good old fashion vanilla flavor. I have to say it was very good ice cream. I believe this is also home made, as I saw someone pouring ice cream ingredients into this old fashion machine. Their ice cream was very creamy, smooth and not overly sweet. It was also denser than regular ice cream, so I felt it had more substance. A kids cone was only $0.80, which is really cheap for such good ice cream.

As I was snapping pictures of the place, an employee was shaking his hand at me. I really don't understand why that is, I mean it's not like they have anything to hide, consider the place have glass windows on 3 sides of the restaurant. Anyways, in the end, I have to say the value here can't be beat, so if you are seeking for that old fashion drive in, this place can't be missed. It's good food at a great price.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Original Pancake House - huge portions


Original Pancake House

130 Park Pl, Kirkland WA

Original Pancake House on Urbanspoon

Food: 3
Service: 3.5
Price: Fair for the portion

I was sorting through my pictures from December, and I realized there was this one place which I still haven't blogged about: Original Pancake House. Since we caught a red eye flight from Orlando to Seattle, we stayed over at our friend's house. The next morning, we decided to grab brunch before heading back to Vancouver. Since egg is one of R's favorite food, our friend decided to bring us to eat the ultimate omelet.

Original Pancake House have a total of 3 locations. Since our friend lived in Redmond, the closest one was in Kirkland. We arrived at around 10:30 and the place is already filled with families enjoying breakfast. They also had a sign by the door that ask you to call ahead (at least one hour before you arrive) for seating on weekend and holidays, but it's not a reservation. They will add you to the wait list and only seat you if your whole party is present. Good thing, we went on a Tuesday and did not have to wait.
Our friend warned us the sizes of these omelets, thus we decided to order 2 omelets to share between the 4 of us. Our first one is the Ham and Cheese Omelet ($11.70). As expected, it was massive, since it was made with 5 eggs. It was generously filled with smoked ham and cheddar cheese. The egg was fluffy and soft, but a bit dry (I believe the omelets are baked).Each omelet meal also comes with a side of home fried potato (or toast) and 3 buttermilk pancakes. I loved their home fried potato, it was crunchy on the outside, but soft on the inside with a nice balance of saltiness. Instead of just the buttermilk pancake, they also had a selection of other pancakes for $1.10 more (bacon, blueberry, banana etc.). We opt for their blueberry pancake, which was nice and fluffy with frozen blueberries mixed in. However it was certainly icing sugar overload. I would have preferred a light dusting or if I can dust it on myself.
Our 2nd one was the Spanish Omelet ($11.70), which was filled with mushroom and topped with marinara sauce. This 5 egg omelet is also fluffy and soft, but not dry, since it's drenched in marinara sauce. Because of the sauce, this tasted a lot like an egg pizza.
For our 2nd omelet, we decided to do a upgrade. You can substitute specialty pancake or waffle by deducting $1 off from the price of the item. Because you only get $1 off, therefore it's actually quite pricey to get one of these specialty item add on. I think the waffle was around $8 by itself, thus this combo was around $18.70. The waffle was good, light and airy. However I prefer mine a bit more crunchier on the exterior. The waffle came with a more toppings, other than the standard syrup and whipped butter, we were also given blueberry compote and orange marmalade sauce.

Overall, the food here is good. However personally I find it a bit egg over load. After that meal, I didn't eat any eggs for at least 3 days. Service here is good, they filled our coffee($2.51) often. The restaurant is quite big and very family friendly. Therefore I would recommend this place to anyone who loves a hearty filling breakfast, and would highly recommend this to any egg lovers out there.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Benkei Ramen - new location near Burrard Station


Benkei Ramen

747 Thurlow St, Vancouver

Benkei Ramen (Thurlow) on Urbanspoon

Food: 4
Service: 3.5
Price: Fair

I am a proud Canadian, given how well Team Canada did during the Olympic. I went to downtown several time to support our athletes on the big screens. Since during these time, R and I wanted to grab something quick to eat, so we don't miss too much action, thus for one of these days we chose to eat at Benkei Ramen's new location on Thurlow.

While we were in line, a couple behind us was discussing how good their Chashu Onigiri is. After hearing that, we also ordered one to share. For $2.50, you get 2 of them, so it's relatively cheap. I gotta say, this couple knows what they are talking about, because it was very delicious. Each grain of rice was infused with the juice from the pork, thus it was very flavorful. The only thing they could add to make it better would be grilling it a bit, so it will have that nice crunchy exterior.
I got the Akaoni Ramen ($7.80) which has a spicy miso base. The soup was very rich, it was a pork bone broth with a light miso taste and a hint of garlic flavor. The soup was only mildly spicy, which was perfect, if it were any spicier, it would be hard to drink it. There were also tons of pan fried green onion, bamboo shoot and minced pork. Their noodle was also just right, it was soft but still retained that chewy texture. Overall, this is one good bowl of ramen that I highly recommend.
I have no idea what happen to R's Shiro Ramen ($7.80), but it came with 1/3 less soup than mine. Although it looked extremely creamy, but it was actually light with minimal cream flavor. R's ramen consisted of chicken, spinach (ordered an extra serving for $.50 more), corn, garlic and herb, but I couldn't really detect too much garlic flavor. The chicken was very tender and soft, I loved it. Overall this ramen was good as well, but I still preferred my Akaoni Ramen.

Overall, Benkei Ramen certainly did not disappoint, their food was good and filling. Their service was fast and friendly. Since they are so efficient at what they do, the turnover rate is really fast. Therefore we only waited 10 min. during lunch time on a Saturday. If you ever want a good bowl of ramen, and does not want to walk all the way to the west end of Robson, then definitely give this location a try.