Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Carnegie Deli - tallest sandwich I've ever seen


Carnegie Deli

3400 Las Vegas Blvd (Mirage Hotel)

Carnegie Deli (Mirage) on Urbanspoon

Food: 4
Service: 3.5

Price: Fair for the portion

You know the saying "What ever happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas", well I guess I will have to break the rules this time in order to share about this fabulous restaurant that I tried. Actually I wasn't even aware of Carnegie Deli until Kim blogged about the original one in New York. Thank God for franchising, because I wasn't heading to NY anytime soon, so I was excited to find out that they a location inside the Mirage hotel.
After an excellent Cirque show 'Love', R and I decided to get a quick bite to eat. Since we were already at Mirage, we immediately thought of Carnegie Deli. The deli first opened in 1937 right across from Carnegie Hall, hence it's name. Nowadays, it has become an iconic landmark and a tourist attraction, where the lineup is down the block. Good thing it' wasn't so crazy in Vegas, cause we only had to line up for about 15 minutes to get a table.
All meal are served with a dish of their very own pickles. I must be honest, I am not a big fan of pickles. These were crunchy but quite acidic. We only intended to eat something small, but that was just not possible here. R ordered the 50 Ways to Love Your Liver ($17.95) and it was one tall sandwich. The grounded liver was rather coarse. Because of the nature of liver(high fat content), it's really hard to consume a lot of it. In the end, it was liver overload and R only managed to finish a little more than half of the sandwich.
Knowing that their sandwiches are huge, I opt for a freshly grounded Turkey burger ($10.95) instead. Even this was a pretty big portion in my opinion. The grounded turkey and vegetable patty tasted fresh and juicy. However it was a bit burnt on top. I proudly announced that I finished it, but it was one filling meal.People say women have a separate stomach for dessert, I say it's more like greed. After noticing that they have cheesecake, I just couldn't resist. Even though the food was more than enough, I still ordered a slice of Blueberry Cheesecake ($9.25). R and I literally took 1 bite each, and the rest was packed to go for breakfast. The NY style cheesecake was very thick. It was topped off with some blueberry compote. The cheesecake itself was creamy, rich and dense. Personally, I like lighter cheesecake, but if you like NY style, then definitely give this a try.Nowadays, in flight meal options are really crappy. So right before we left Vegas, we decided to head back to Carnegie for some filling lunch, and figured we will probably have left overs to take on the plane. This time R chose the Club Dear ($22.95), and once again the size is just crazy. A lady walked by and said "Let me know when you figure out a way to bite into that". You know I did wonder at first why they gave us fork/knives for a restaurant that serves mostly sandwich (hehe). The toasted bread was tasty. The bacon was crispy and over roasted turkey was moist. Overall, this was one good sandwich. Of course, I had to get their most popular sandwich : The Woody Allen ($17.95). This is one meaty sandwich which consisted 1 layer of corn beef, and 1 layer of pastrami. Given that there were only 2 slices of bread for all that meat, I was concerned that the meat might be too salty. However that was not the case, the meat just right and quite tender too. The only thing I didn't like was the bread, as it was not toasted like the Club Dear.

Overall, the sandwiches here are delicious. However there is a problem and that is its size, because anything good turns bad once you have too much of it. But I guess the size is also one of their main selling point. Would I come back? Of course, but the next time around, I will definitely consider sharing, as one whole sandwich is just too much. (additional $3 for sharing).

Friday, July 23, 2010

Fireside Cafe - an unique cheesecake cafe


Fireside Cafe - House of Cheesecake

13593 King George Hwy, Surrey

Fireside Cafe - House of Cheesecake on Urbanspoon

Food: 3
Price: Fair
(each slice is around $5)

After our blogger dinner at Afghan Chopan, we proceed to discuss dessert option. Sherman mentioned that he saw a interesting cheesecake place near Patullo Bridge. As soon as he mentioned cheesecake and Patullo, a light went on in my head, I have seen this place, and was also interested in trying, so off we went.
When R and I first arrived and saw a few big men and a couple drag queens hanging out by the front door, I didn't know what to expect. So we decided to waited for Sherman and Kim before going in. It turned out Sherman was already there, but he too was still sitting in his car waiting. Of course, once Kim arrived, we made him lead the way (hehe). The restaurant was interesting, the owner obvious has a passion for penguins, as they were everywhere. Despite being a small cafe, there was actually a stage located at the back, and that night just happen to be their drag night (hence the appearance of drag queens). We caught a bit of the show near the end, it was quite entertaining.
With 3 big cameras, and us being the only Asian there, we attracted a lot of stares. So to minimize that, I chose not to use flash. Anyways, I ordered the blueberry white chocolate cheesecake. As good as that sound, it was simply too sweet (for me anyways). I prefer light and fluffy type cheesecake, where as this was rather dense. Since I used to work at a certain chain restaurant, I am pretty sure I know which company this came from, as they sold the same type of cheesecakes.
Sherman went for the Key Lime cheesecake, which had a nice tartness, but the the key lime flavor was a bit artificial. Also the cheesecake wasn't completely defrosted yet, which again confirmed that this is probably from a certain food company.
Kim went for the regular NY style cheesecake, which turned out to be the best out of the 3. It was creamy and smooth without being overly sweet. This was no way the best out there, but it was good.

Overall, this is definitely a unique cafe to say the least. However, I probably won't be back for cheesecake, simply because I prefer lighter ones, and these are just a tad to thick and sweet for me. However, if you are looking for a show and dessert, then this might be your kind of place, if you are comfortable with it.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Afghan Chopan - Blogger dinner


Afghan Chopan

#104 12888 80th Avenue, Surrey

Afghan Chopan on Urbanspoon

Food: 3
Service: 3.5
Price: Fair

Once again, it's that time of the month again, I mean blogger dinner that is. Since I was the one who brought up the topic of trying Afghan food, the torch has been passed down to me again. The reason I chose this restaurant was because a LONG time ago, a reader took the time out to email me a list of his/her favorite restaurants, and this was one of them. At the time, I still resided in Coquitlam, thus making Surrey seems like a light year away, in reality it's really just across the bridge (I am saying this now, since I live here hehe).

Anyways, as much as I tried, there was only 3 bloggers in attendance: Eatingclub Vancouver, I'm Only Here for the Food, and Sherman's Food Adventures. I am blaming on the good summer weather we are finally having, or maybe it's just me :P.
Having no idea where the restaurant was, and only googled it once, it took R and I forever to find this place, good thing we left early. The restaurant is located at the back side of a commercial square in an industrial area. We almost drove right out of there, not knowing there was a backside. The restaurant was very nice and chic, but at the same time, they had 2 traditional booths, where you will have to sit cross leg to dine. However I think you will have to reserve ahead of time for these.T and J wanted to try there Cardamon green tea. One pot will set you back $5. The tea was alright, it was light and mostly tasted of green tea.
Although only 3 bloggers in attendance, but in reality we had 7 people in total. So we decided to order one chef kebab combo, and then added some appetizers and other dish. The combo came with a basket of baked naan. They were whole wheat type, but I was not a fan of it. As it was rather coarse and dry. We were also given 2 type of sauces. One is the yogurt and other seems to be a combination of cucumber and cilantro. Our first appetizer was the Bolani ($2.49). I really liked the crispy/flakey outer shell. The inside was stuffed with potato and spices, and the whole dish just worked.
We ordered all the available appetizer, which was just 3 in total. The 2nd and 3rd are both dumpling type: Ashak and Mantu($3.49/each). The Ashak is essential a Chinese chive dumpling with meat sauce on top, and the Mantu is the same, except the stuffing is meat based. Neither appetizer appealed to me, as I prefer the Chinese dumpling over these.
We also ordered one of these signature dishes: Qabeli Pallow ($12.95). It is braised beef shank hidden beneath Afghan basmati rice with raisin and carrot and side of the day. Although the star should be the rice with beef shank, but sadly it wasn't. The rice was dry, and the beef shank was very gamey. At first I thought it was lamb, until someone pointed out that it was actually beef. The side dish on the other hand, I loved. It was a heavily spiced and slightly spicy eggplant dish.
At least, the Kebab combo ($89.95) which consisted of:

4 Tekka kebabs: chunk of beef tenderloin - the beef was a bit dry and quite chewy

3 Chaplee kebabs: ground marinated beef with herb - this patty had a strong cilantro taste and was spicy. It was really dry around the edges.

4 Shami kebabs: ground beef with chili pepper, onion and garlic - this had lots of spice, but it all worked, this would be the one I liked most out of the 3 beef kebabs we had

4 Chicken kebabs: tandoori chicken - the chicken was quite good, as it was tender and moist

3 Chopan kebabs: Lamb with bone - the lamb chops were okay, it was rather tough to chew and a little gamey

Overall, I thought the food was good, but it's not really worthy a drive all the way out to Surrey, if you are not in the area already. The restaurant definitely had a nice ambiance, and they also seems to have a huge party room where you can rent. Other than the restaurant, they also run a catering business. Once again, it's another blogger dinner where the company played a big part that made it fun and worthwhile. :)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Hiroki - a Japanese dessert shop


Hiroki Dessert, Espresso & Tea

2224 N 56th St, Seattle

Hiroki Dessert, Espresso & Tea on Urbanspoon

Food: 3.5
Price: Fair (all the cakes are around $5.50)

As a dedicated foodie, even at time when you are full, you will still eat simply because there are just good food you don't want to miss out on (hehe). So even though we had a great brunch at Cafe Besalu, but we couldn't pass up on the chance to try a place that served green tea tiramisu which G recommended.
Hiroki was actually pretty close to Cafe Besalu, so we only had to drive for about 15 minutes. The shop was very relaxing with a seaside feel to it. The walls was painted a light mint green color with many art pieces hanging on the wall. I actually loved the feel of this place. This place actually remind me a lot of Chicco on Robson, except it has more dessert and better lighting.
The green tea tiramisu was definitely delicious. It was not overly sweet. The mousse layer was very soft and fluffy. The tiramisu had a detectable alcohol flavor. Since I am unfamiliar with alcohol, I have no idea which one was used. I did ask the chef, but his answer was "it's a secret". I guess that's their secret ingredient. :P
They had a big selection of desserts, and since there were 4 of us, we couldn't just order one. I chose the souffle cheesecake. Although this was also very creamy, but the texture was more cake like. In a sense, this was similar to a Japanese cheesecake.The last slice was the Mango Honey Cheesecake. This one was very creamy and more dense. I couldn't really detect any honey flavor, but the mango flavor was definitely there. Although this was good, but it was too sweet for me, maybe it's the honey + sugar combo that push it over my limit. When R saw that they have caramel pudding, he definitely wanted to try it. Since we just had the caramel pudding from Cake-ya recently, we had something to compare it with. Although the pudding was not bad, but it is far from the quality when compared. The pudding here was not as soft or creamy. This one was more jello like. R isn't as into dessert as I am, so he chose one of the savory snack to try. Apparently these are limited, and not available all the time. The bread was eggy and dense. On top of that, there was actually half a boiled egg inside as well.

Overall, I really liked Hiroki, because the ambiance was very relaxing and it seems like a great place to go for a good chat. The desserts were certainly good, and the prices are fair. If you ever get the chance to visit, be sure to try their unique green tea tiramisu, as it is the only place that I know who serves it.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Bella Gelateria - Premium Handcrafted Gelato


Bella Gelateria

1001 W Cordova St, Vancouver

Bella Gelateria on Urbanspoon

Food: 5
Price: Fair for the quality

I first heard about Bella Gelateria from Sherman, and was immediately intrigue by the idea of premium gelato. I mean through out the years, I had my fair share of gelato, and never once questioned its authenticity or quality. Now that I hear there is a place that claim to be authentic and premium, I just had to check it out ASAP.

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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Pomegranate - great place outside of Seattle


Pomegranate Bistro

18005 NE 68th St, Redmond

Pomegranate Bistro on Urbanspoon

Food: 3.5
Service: 3.5
Price: Fair

Since our friends worked at Microsoft (who doesn't, it seems everyone from Vancouver who works in the States, work there), thus we did not stay in central Seattle, but in Redmond. Therefore B suggested this restaurant for us to try, as he thought they were pretty good and only 5 minute away from where we were staying.
If you take one look at the outside of Pomegranate, you probably will pass it by, as it looked like an office building of some sort. But once you step inside, the simple yet elegant design will change your mind about the place, at least that's how I felt. Although the restaurant looked like a warehouse, but the addition of bright color table cloth and the chic hanging candelabra with the huge window that showcasing the kitchen all made it very intimate and yet comfortable.
For our appetizer we ordered the Mac and cheese gratin with tuna ($9). The actual Mac and cheese was only $6, but adding tuna to it was an extra $3. Because they used fresh tuna instead of canned ones, I thought the price was fair. Although I liked the Mac and cheese part, as it was very creamy and rich, but I thought the tuna did not particularly blend well with the sharp cheddar. R ordered the Arugula, Proscuitto & Pecorino with truffle oil & French sea salt ($11). The taste of truffle oil was very distinct, and it was well balanced with the pecorino cheese they used. The arugula was slightly bitter, but work well with the proscuitto. The best part was the bread, as it was very soft and airy on the inside, but had a slightly crunch on the outside. I just love French dip sandwiches, so I jumped on the chance to order their Lamb sirloin french dip with fresh chips ($12 or $13). Although the lamb was very juicy and tender, but it was also very gamy. I usually don't mind a bit gaminess, but this was quite strong. The Jus was very rich, but also extremely oily. The bread was very well toasted, but the chips were just average, in fact they all start to taste the same despite the fact it was actually made from several types of veggies.

Overall, I liked the food here, and the service was good as well. They do seems to have some innovative items on their menu worth coming back for. However what I had was from the Winter menu, and now it seems they have updated with a Summer menu, which doesn't really seems all that different. In a nut shell, I will go back if I visit my friends in Redmond again.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Cake-Ya - Worth the drive just for the caramel pudding



2415 Clarke Street, Port Moody

Cake-ya on Urbanspoon

Food: 4.5
Price: Fair

This place has been on my wishlist ever since Foodosophy first blogged about it. The place is all the way out in Port Moody, and they close at 6pm. Every time I wanted some dessert after dinner, they are closed. So finally I set a day and went at around 4pm to have dessert before dinner (bad me hehe).

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Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Cafe Besalu - Best croissant


Cafe Besalu

5909 24th Ave NW, Seattle

Cafe Besalu on Urbanspoon

Food: 4.5
Price: Fair

A few weeks ago, I went down to the States for Russell Peters' show, and because it was on a Friday night, we decided to stay for the whole weekend. The question rest on where to go for breakfast the next morning, since all of us already tried Original Pancake House, G suggested a place where they make the best croissant. With a statement like that, I had to check it out.

After more than half an hour of driving, we finally arrived at a very quaint residential area with cute shops. The cafe is at no means eye catching, but after taking one whiff of the aroma in the shop, I was immediately drawn to it.
R went for a latte, while I ordered the hot chocolate. The latte art was pretty, and that's all I am going to say about it, since I didn't try it at all. The hot chocolate was very good, it was creamy and not too sweet. Sorry, I can't recall the exact price, but it's comparable with other coffee shops.
Being the egg lover, R of course went for the quiche. R chose the asparagus and bacon quiche for $4.50. This quiche was very soft, to a point of almost a bit runny. I happen to like undercooked eggs, so this was perfect.
Being that they are famous for their croissant, I just had to try one. There were regular and chocolate, and I went with the latter (~$2). The chocolate croissant was moist and soft with a slight sweet taste. Each layer was buttery and flaky. This was indeed the best croissant I have tried. However they used dark chocolate for the stuffing, which I wasn't a big fan of. Since I was so impressed with their food, I immediately got in line again to try their delicious looking blueberry danish. This time around the line got a whole lot longer,and I was only one person away from that last blueberry danish. Of course, with my luck, the guy in front of me decides to buy everything (he bought $40 worth of pastries), so there goes my danish. So in the end, I had to settle for the strawberry danish. This once again was very good, the pastry was crunchy but soft on the inside, and the fruit was fresh and tasty. The other item in the picture is a cheese brioche which A ordered. This was interesting, as it was a moist cake like bread with cheese, but it wasn't all that impressive.The whole time we were there, there was a constant line up. As we were leaving, they were just starting to make a new batch of the star product: croissant. All their goodies are made on premises, and they are all freshly made on a daily bases (they seem to sell faster than they can make). Because everything is made in house, the place smells heavenly. I really think somebody should invest into creating a perfume that smells like a bakery, I would consider buying it :D.

All in all, I definitely recommend Cafe Besalu, as they do have the best croissant for now. The only advice I have is go early, because they stop making new batches sometime in the afternoon, and these go fast (said the local).

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Aberdeen Food Court - more than half way through


Leung Kee

3030 - 4151 Hazelbridge Way (Aberdeen Food Court)

Leung Kee (Aberdeen Centre) on Urbanspoon

Food: 3.5
Price: Cheap

I always stop by Aberdeen when in Richmond, because I love their diverse food court and Daiso store. The food stalls that I have already tried are: Strawberry Cones, Ajijiman Hanabi, Beard Papa, Wo Fung Dessert, Cafe D'lite Express, Tim's Dessert House and Basil Leaf. Now with the newly added two below, I can safely say I tried more than half now.
The food at Leung Kee would be the typical HK style cafe food. They have quite a few special on everyday for $6.50 and that include a cold drink. One special thing about this place worth mentioning is their call out numbering system, because once your order is ready, it simply appear on the TV screen seen in the above picture, so no yelling or calling required.
R went with one of their lunch special and it came with a HK style milk tea. Nothing much to report, other than that they put a bit too much sugar water, thus it was overly sweet.
The meal R ordered was the steamed spare ribs with Chinese sausage. I have to say, these ribs were very juicy and soft. They were meaty with little or no bones. The sausage was just average and a bit oily. They gave us plenty of well cooked jasmine rice. Overall, I liked this dish a lot, as it was good and plentiful.

Shanghai Shanghai

3010 - 4151 Hazelbridge Way (Aberdeen Food Court)

Shanghai Shanghai on Urbanspoon

Food: 3
Price: Cheap
I on the other hand decide to try a different food stall. I noticed the people at Shanghai Shanghai were making Xiao Long Bao fresh, so I immediately got in line, as I love XLB.
These XLB were a bargain in my opinion, you get 6 for only $4.50. The skin was relatively thin, and the soup inside was rather clear as well. The stuff was good, but not that best I've tried. All in all, these were definitely pretty good.I know I won't be full from just the XLB, so I ordered a Rice cake with Pork Chop for $5.75. The reason why I chose this dish was because it sounded like the dish I love from LuLu Cafe. Although it does sort of looked the same, but the rice cake was very different. These rice cake was still rather hard and chewy, they felt undercooked. The ribs on the other hand was good, it was juicy and flavorful. In the end, I ate all the ribs, but left quite a few rice cake untouched.

Overall, both food stall were pretty good, they all had their good and bad. If I had to choose one over the other, I would have to go with Leung Kee. But if taken into consideration all the food stalls at the food court, my favorite is still Wo Fung for their ever so delicious chicken wings, just thinking about it is making me hungry. :P