Thursday, October 28, 2010

Tomokazu - good AYCE

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Tomokazu Japanese

1128 W Broadway, Vancouver (Map)

Tomokazu Japanese on Urbanspoon

Food: 3.5
Service: 3

Price: Fair


This is not my first time at Tomokazu, in fact I use to come here often during my university years. But ever since graduation, I haven't had a lot of chance to revisit this area, and even if I do, there are just way to many new restaurants to check out. Anyways I was finally back in the area and it was lunch time, so I decided it's time for a re-visit to one of my old trusted AYCE joint. Personally, I think consistency is a really important factor for all restaurant, of course given that they were good to begin with.
The prices at Tomokazu really hadn't changed through out the years. Lunch was still $9.99 for weekdays and $1 more for weekends. The gomae was average, but my chopped scallop sushi cone was really good. They weren't stingy at all, there was way more scallop that meets the eyes. It was also tasty and fresh.
The veggie/yam tempura was good, crunchy without being too oily. These were also some seriously big piece of vegetables too.
The nigiri was good, without a overload on rice. The rolls were not bad. I especially enjoyed the slightly spicy Tomokazu roll. However the rice for the sushi was a bit on the hard side.
The chicken karaage was juicy and flavorful, but it was bit hard on the outside (I think this is my own problem, as I have a really soft hard palette that get scratched VERY easily). The tonkatsu was tender and flavorful.The teriyaki chicken was decent, it is just a little over drenched with the sauce. Lastly, we ordered one Portuguese and one regular motoyaki, I found both to be overly oily.
I didn't really care for the gyoza, it was at best mediocre. We ordered a unagi fried rice, but there is barely any unagi at all. Despite the lack of unagi, but the taste was definitely there. It was actually really good, because it wasn't oily but the taste was robust. The yakisoba was bland in my opinion, and the noodle was on the hard side. The agedashi tofu was perfectly fried, and tasted pretty good.

AYCE are not known for their quality, nor their execution, they are mostly known you "you won't leave hungry". With my many years of experience at Tomokazu, I have to say they kept their quality relatively consistent. Their food is mostly good, and for the price of only $10.99 for lunch (on weekend), I would say this is a worthy place to check out.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Luxe - really good dim sum in Langley

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Luxe Chinese Seafood Restaurant

19653 Willowbrook Dr, Langley (Map)

Luxe Chinese Seafood Restaurant on Urbanspoon
Food: 4
Service: 3
Price: Fair (consider it's in Langley)

I don't think anyone will disagree if I say Richmond is the ultimate place for dim sum, with Vancouver following behind. Other than these two cities, I think the runner up would be Burnaby and the list would pretty much end there. Now what if I tell you I found a really good one in Langley, and I am not kidding either. To be more precise, it was more like Sherman found this hidden gem, and I just happen to reap the 'benefit' :).
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Sunday, October 24, 2010

Provence Marinaside - Afternoon Tea

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Provence Marinaside

1177 Marinaside Crescent, Vancouver (Map)

Provence Marinaside on Urbanspoon

Food: 2.5
Service: 4
Price: Fair

Afternoon tea is a perfect activity for anyone seeking a place to 1. relax, 2. catch up with friends, and 3. enjoy an assortment of sandwiches, pastries and desserts made with care. So far I been to two of them: Fish House in Stanley Park and Fleuri at the Sutton Place hotel. Although both were very satisfying, but if I had to choose one, I would go with the Fish House in Stanley Park (their fresh warm scones are to die for).
A few of my friends wants to try another afternoon tea, so after much deliberation and research, we decided upon Provence Marinaside for several reasons: 1. it's located in beautiful false creek, 2. the restaurant had high rating and 3. it is very reasonably priced at $20/person.

I know $20 is actually considered to be very cheap for afternoon tea, but a tea bag just seemed a little too cheap. The Afternoon Tea at Fleuri even allowed you to see and smell each kind before deciding. Anyways I went with the orange jasmine tea. It was a fragrant and light tea, which I thought was quite good. I usually prefer a bit of honey with my tea, but they didn't offer any.
Like other afternoon tea, there is the savory plate, a dessert plate, and usually a scone plate, but here they put the scones with the desserts. The middle plate consisted of jams and fresh cream. I was quite disappointed when I found out that the cream wasn't devonshire cream :P.
The savory plate consisted of smoke salmon and cucumber, tomato & bocconcini, sundried tomato and spinach quiche and goat cheese crostini. I have to say most of these were pretty good, especially the goat cheese crostini and the quiche. As I mention, some research was done prior to choosing the restaurant, and I have to say the pictures of what people previously had looked much better. For example, their crostini was topped with some sort of vegetable and then baked with cheese.
The dessert plate was not a hit with anyone really. The lemon tartelette was really sour. The macaroon was overly sweet. The cookies were average. The Madeleines were good, soft and not too sweet. We were given 2 kinds of scone: blueberry and cranberry. Although the taste was not bad, but I would have preferred them to be softer.

Their service was great, the waitress was friendly and attentive. The restaurant was nice. Unfortunately the food just did not live up to my expectation, I would have rather spend the extra $5 and revisit either Fish House or Fleuri. In the end, I would come back for to try their other food (as they do have good rating for those), just not the afternoon tea.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Parker Good Foods - just your regular wings

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Parker Good Foods

1105 - 4380 #3 Rd (Parker Place Food Court)
Parker Good Food 百家美食 (Parker Place) on Urbanspoon

Food: 2
Price: Fair

Who doesn't love chicken wings, if it's done right that is. Although I had my fair share of wings, but my favorite flavor by far is Wind Sand (風沙). Also the best place for these wings would be Wo Fung Dessert, at least I haven't found a place that triumph this yet. After reading a recent post on Chowtimes on another place that served Wind Sand chicken wing, I just had to check it out ASAP.
Parker Good Foods is located in the food court of Parker Place. Because I completely forgot the name of the food stall, so I just told R to look for a place that lists the Wind Sand chicken wings. Good thing we can read Chinese, because they had a really big sign that list this item on the outer perimeter of the stall.
The price here is slightly higher than Wo Fung, you get 4 pc for $5.95. You would think a place that so blatantly advertised their Wind Sand chicken wings to be really good, but unfortunately this was not the case. First, R had to ask for the wings after a 15 minutes wait, apparently they sort of forget that they were frying it :(. So it was quite obvious these wings were over done, as the outer skin was too crunchy. Now, I am not sure if the Wind Sand chicken wings are suppose to be very gingery, but I am really accustom to the taste. These wings had no detectable ginger taste, it felt like just your normal salt and pepper flavor. Despite the bad, the wings were okay if you take out the Wind Sand factor. They were just not what I expected.

After tasting 3 places that served this type of chicken wings, my favorite is still Wo Fung Dessert, although the ones at Cattle Cafe are not bad either. The wings here are just your normal deep fried chicken wings. So in the end, if you are specifically looking for Wind Sand wings, I would suggest trying it somewhere else, but if you are just looking for some wings, you can check this place out.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Ajisen - not authentic, but not bad either

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Ajisen Ramen

4380 No. 3 Road, Richmond (Map)

Ajisen Ramen (Parker Place) on Urbanspoon

Food: 3
Service: 3

Price: Fair


There is certainly no shortage of Ramen chains in Vancouver, but in comparison, Richmond only have a handful of places. Personally, I have only tried one (G-Men), which I didn't like at all. After that experience, I thought I would never try another one out of Vancouver, but this time I made an exception.

Ajisen is a chain restaurant that have branches all over the world, with the majority of them in Japan and China. The first time I tried this place was in Shanghai with M. From memory, it was hearty, filling and delicious, so I suggested to R to try it here, so I can see if it's any different.
Ajisen is located in outer perimeter of the Parker Place and it is the only one in BC. The restaurant was certainly colorful with their vibrant pink chairs and the colorful walls, and like all Ajisen ramen, they had a statue of the little girl which is part of their logo. To be honest, this little girl looks more Chinese than Japanese (maybe because it's mostly Chinese operated).
Typically ramen shop have less than 10 choice, but here you are presented with well over 20 different kinds. R went with their curry lamb ramen ($7.99). Although the lamb was rather tender, but it lacked in flavor. The soup was rich, but the curry taste is not as strong as R would have liked.
I went for their tenderous rib ramen ($7.99) in slow simmer pork bone broth. I loved the tendon, it was well flavored and almost melt in your mouth soft. I especially liked my soup, as it seem to have a seafood broth richness to it.
The noodles at Ajisen is very different from your typical ramen joint. It was smoother, and almost have a spaghetti quality to it. It's not as chewy either. This was similar to the ones I had in Shanghai as well, so it seems their noodle is just different in general.

Well, if you are looking for authentic ramen, I don't think this will cut it, but if you are looking for a good bowl of noodles, this was certainly not bad as I really liked mine. Service here wasn't bad either, they were generally very friendly. Overall, I would recommend this place, except to the hardcore authentic ramen lovers.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Cattle Cafe - fair price, great portion

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Cattle Cafe

4885 Kingsway, Burnaby (Map)

Cattle Cafe (Burnaby) on Urbanspoon

Food: 3.5
Service: 2
Price: Fair

I wanted to try a restaurant named Swish Swish (same concept as Posh), but before I even had the chance, they were already closed. Shortly after, a new HK style restaurant opened in the exact same location. There is definitely no shortage of this type of restaurant in Vancouver, so I was only mild curious about the place, until B left me a msg telling me he really liked it. Given B's background, I have to say I trust his judgment, so I immediately add it to my wish list.

Since R and I know that it's usually crazy busy on weekends at this type of restaurants, so we decided to arrive earlier. We were there shortly after 11am, but there was already a huge lineup. My first thought was 'geeze, is it that good or doesn't anyone sleep in anymore", but upon further investigation revealed that there was a leakage problem in the restaurant, which resulted in the closure of 1/3 of the restaurant. The good news was that they were almost finished cleaning by the time we were there.
After waiting around for 25 minutes, we were finally seated in the now somewhat wet area. As usual, all their meals come with a hot drink, which I chose milk tea. Because the place was packed and busy, the milk tea was left there for a good 10 minutes before it was brought to me. By this time, the drink was luke warm. The tea itself was good, very creamy and strong at the same time. It was left unsweetened, so I can control the amount of sugar I want. For $1 more, you can get any cold drink, which R chose the HK style milk tea (milk tea + coffee). Usually I find them quite sweet, but this one had just the right amount of sweetness.
We noticed that they had Wind-Sand chicken wing ($5.95 for 6). I simply love the ones at Wo Fung, so I had to get these for comparison purpose. Unfortunately they fell short for a few reasons: 1. they weren't as juicy, 2. it was a bit over fried, and 3. the ginger taste was not as strong. Also they were only the wing portion (although quite big), where as the ones at Wo Fung was the whole wing. With that being said, they weren't bad, they were still juicy and had a distinct ginger taste (just not as strong).
R ordered the Pork Chop with Onion/Bacon demo-glaze on rice ($8.75). I have to say the sauce was the best part, it was rich, and creamy with just the right amount of salt. However the pork could use some work. It was a bit chewy in comparison with what I had. The vegetable on the side could have been better, it was just blanched tasteless veggies. The rice was rather hard, it felt like left over rice from the previous day (IMO).
I ordered the House Special Baked Pork Chop and Seafood on Rice ($9.75). When it arrived, I was impressed with the portion size. I loved both of the baked toppings. The garlic cream side had tons of seafood: 3 piece of fish, 2 scallops, 2 imitation crab meat, 3 prawns and some squid. I couldn't believe how much seafood they put in for just 1/2 of this dish. Also, all the seafood was quite fresh as well (especially the prawn and scallop). The pork chop side was equally good, the meat was very tender and juicy. I believe the pork chop were first deep fried and then baked on rice. The sauce was also very good.

Service was not their forte, no surprise here really. They often forget what you ask, and rarely try to make eye contact. But the constant line up outside proved one thing, their food and portion are good and the price is fair. So if you are not one to care for service, give this place a try. However they are really not that big, so you may want to reserve in advance if you have a big party.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Dasom - very unique restaurant

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Dasom Restaurant

1A-10320 152 Street, Surrey (map)

Dasom Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Food: 3.5
Service: 3.5
Price: Fair

To a food blogger, spotting a new restaurant is as exciting as winning the lottery (okay, maybe it's an exaggeration, but you get the point). So when I first spotted Dasom restaurant, I made a mental note to check it out soon. It is located in the same square as Hong Ma No, and that means it's pretty close to where I live, so another reason to check it out ASAP.
The restaurant is certainly interesting, because from the outside it looks like your typical Korean family owned restaurant, but once you step inside, it was like a day at the beach. They had one wall painted with summer/beach design in vibrant yellow. They even had one table made into a beach hut style. I have to say, this is one bright restaurant.
As usual, the side dishes with the potato being my favorite. All the other side dishes are typical except for the agar jello one. I have only seen this at a handful of restaurants.
D went with the Kam Ja Tang (aka pork bone soup) for $10.95. The portion was huge with 3 big pieces of pork bones. The soup was also loaded with potato, onion and some kind of leafy vegetables. The pork was very tender and falling of the bones. The soup was some what unique, as it had a hint of mint taste to it, but it wasn't bad at all. R went with the Kimchi soup for $8.95. The soup had a combination of kimchi, firm tofu, pork and potato noodles. This soup was a bit sour for my liking, because it was seriously loaded with kimchi, but R liked it.

Oops, I missed a picture for my seafood tofu soup ($9.95). As always, they used soft tofu for this, and the seafood consisted of squid, 1 pc of prawn, and 1 piece of mussel. Although the soup was not as viscous as other ones I have tries, but the taste was still really good, spicy yet flavorful (pork broth?). We ordered the above dish only because we saw other table enjoying this. When this dish was first brought to their table, that family had a look of surprise, I am guessing they never expected to look like this. We asked the waitress what it was, and she said it was Tang Soo Yuk (sweet sour pork). Aside from the super nice presentation (never seen it like this before), the taste was actually quite good as well. The pork was tender with a light glutinous coating. I would say this is better than the one at Hong Ma No, but not as good as Ma Sarang. The burnt rice bowl was very hard, so if you want to eat it, make sure it's 'soften' by the the sauce first. Also don't be deceived by the picture, the bowl was actually quite deep, so the portion was big. I think this was around $10.95, for this price, I highly recommend it.

I find this restaurant very interesting, although the food is typical, but the decor was certainly not. Also we noticed they actually plate a lot of their non-traditional dishes (such as salad, takoyaki etc), that is certainly a first. Overall, I liked the food and service here at Dasom restaurant and would recommend.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Pho 99 - their newest location

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Pho 99

19533 Fraser Highway, Langley (Map)

Pho 99 Vietnamese Noodle House on Urbanspoon

Food: 3.5
Service: 3
Price: Fair

Pho 99 has always been my trusted back up pho place for 2 reasons, they are conveniently located (at least for me) and they are good. Although they are good, but definitely not the best (my favorite is Pho Tam). The two that I frequently visit are the one by Lougheed skytrain station, and the one by Coquitlam center. I prefer the one at Coquitlam center, as they are more consistent with their food.
Anyways, I was out and about in Langley, so R and I decided to check out another Pho 99 location. This one is located in the same strip mall as huge H-Mart. From the outside, you can't really tell it's any different from the other ones, but the minute you step inside, it's a whole another story. Not to sound judgmental, but really base on experience Pho restaurants are not the cleanest of the fanciest places. However this one definitely felt like a whole new experience, as it was super clean, spacious, bright and had nice decor. If it wasn't for the condiments on the table, this could easily pass up as a nice up scale restaurant. Because I usually eat my pho with both the Hoisin and Hot sauce, I would use a extra spoon to put my sauce in. Here, they automatically provided us with small sauce dish just for that purpose (very thoughtful).
Being that I am a regular, I immediately ordered no. 9 (brisket, slice and tendon). As usual, there were lots of meat, the soup was good and had a rich meaty taste, but it was a bit salty. I got the small for $6.15. To be honest, I find that the Chicken pho are usually rather bland comparing to the beef pho, but this one was an exception. I actually like this more than my pho, because was almost non-oily (comparing with mine), but yet still had that rich chicken flavor. The soup was not overly salty and it had a hint of sweetness as well.

Overall, I have to say this would be my favorite Pho 99 base on the 3 location that I have visited. Service here was more attentive that at other location, but maybe it is because it wasn't that busy when I visited. The food here is at par with other location, but the decor definitely wins by far. I know this is probably out of the way for many people, but if you are in the area, I would recommend checking this place out.