Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Crystal Food Court - 2 relatively new stalls


99 BBQ House

2131 - 4500 Kingsway

99 BBQ House (Crystal Mall) on Urbanspoon

Food: 3
Price: cheap

You are bound to find some great food at the food court simply base on mathematics probability (I sound so geeky). My favorite 2 food courts has be are the one at Aberdeen (post here, here, here and here) and of course Crystal Mall. The reason is that they have almost no fast food chains, but many unique stalls that offer quality food.99 BBQ house is a relatively new stall at Crystall Mall. This chain is widely seen in China, but I am not sure if this is their first branch here in Vancouver, or it's simply the same name. Anyways, they offer a wide range of BBQ skewers from $1.25-$2.50.
The first one I chose was the grilled eggplant ($1.25). This one took a long time, because they were apparently having some problems with the grill that day. I think due to this problem, the egg plant was not done properly, because it still retained a lot of water, and lacked the grilled texture.
Despite the major fail with the eggplant, my other grilled items were good. The lamb and pork skewers were both tender and flavorful. The chive was also very good, I was surprised that they offered such a big portion (the picture may not look it) for only $1.25.

Overall, their BBQ skewers were good (of course minus the eggplant). However there is a issue though, all the skewers were pretty much uni-flavor (slightly spicy, salty, with a dash of cumin). The good news was that I liked the flavor, but everyone has different preference. So I would suggest trying one skewer first, before purchasing a bunch.

Xiang Yuan Qiao Cross Bridge Rice Noodle

2128 - 4500 Kingsway

Xiang Yuan Qiao Bridge Rice Noodle (Crystal Mall) on Urbanspoon

Food: 4
Price: Fair

Another relatively new food stall is this Yunnan rice noodle stall. Now, I actually been to Yunan province and have had the original version, but that was at least 18 years ago, so really I don't remember much. The one thing that I do remember is that it wasn't served this way. In the original way, the noodle and the soup come in separate bowls. You are then suppose to dip the noodle in the hot soup, and then take it out and eat it. This is also the reason it's called cross bridge, because you drag the noodle from one bowl to the next and then back in the bowl, so the noodle acts like a bridge.
Anyways, here they serve it all together in a hot stone pot. I ordered the pork belly noodle soup for $6.75. All noodle soup includes bean sprout, one quail egg, wood ear, and leafy greens.
At first I was expecting thick pieces of pork belly, but here they used the thinly sliced type. I guess this way the meat would easily absorb the rich flavors from the soup. I really loved the soup, although it may seem oily, but it wasn't, it was just pure richness (I am guessing they used pork bone broth). The noodle was like spaghetti except made with rice.

Overall, I thought the price was slightly high for food court food, but the portion was really big, so it was worth it. Although the food was great, but the service was not. The girl who took my order was rather rude, anytime I would ask her a question (2x), she would roll her eyes. Anyways, I can't really expect too much at the food court, so in the end I will come back for more.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Recipe - Truffle Risotto


Even since I started this new blog site, I haven't blogged about any recipes. The few that I have talked about can be found here. Anyways, it's finally time to start this new chapter. So today I will be sharing the first recipe with many more to come.

A couple of weeks ago, I was approached by Ogourmet, a online food store that sells a wide variety of gourmet food, to do a review for one of their product.Because this fits in perfectly with my recipe plans, so I accepted. After much browsing, I have decided on the Black Summer Truffle Spread from Italy.
Ogroumet is a Canadian company that is based in Montreal Quebec. They currently carry over 1000 kinds of gourmet food products from all over the world. They also have a lowest price guarantee that states if you find any Canadian retailer with a lower price, they will refund you difference +10% in the form of a cheque. Anyways, the product arrived really fast (3 days after I ordered). The box was huge, and the item was nicely packaged, so there was no way it could be damaged. But on the other hand, I thought it was a waste to use such a big box for such a small product (see picture below).Tentazioni Summer Truffle Cream is made in Italy with 70% black summer truffle. This little jar contained 45g worth of product, and carries the price tag of $31.50. It also had a attached pamphlet that listed its ingredients and nutritional information in several languages.
I brought this cream to share with a chef and some friends. The room was totally divided. We had half of people who absolutely loved the rich taste and the fragrant smell, and we had the other half wondering 'what the heck is so good with this stuff, it smelled like soy sauce and didn't taste all that great either'. But we all agreed on one thing, it tasted so much better in a recipe. So without further ado.. here is Chef D.Pan's Truffle Risotto recipe.
For the plating, the chef chose to do it 2 different ways: For the 1st plating, the chef layered the mushroom on the bottom and just placed the risotto on top. This way the flavor of the truffle cream wouldn't be comprised by the mushroom.In the 2nd plating, he mixed the mushroom in with the risotto and just served as is.

To be honest, I thought both ways were equally delicious, and I could barely tell the difference. The truffle cream really did enhance the flavor of the risotto, as it smelled heavenly and tasted really great. If you like risotto, definitely give this recipe a try, the end result is totally worth it.

Disclaimer: the product in this post was sent to me compliments of Ogourmet

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Fortune House - convenient location for dim sum


Fortune House Restaurant

4700 Kingsway, Burnaby (Map)

Fortune House Seafood on Urbanspoon

Food: 3.5
Service: 3
Price: Fair (but slightly on the pricier side)

Dim sum is one of my favorite type of Chinese food. Usually Richmond would be THE place for dim sum, but as you can see, there are actually some good ones outside of that area. Kirin (downtown and Coquitlam) is really good but expensive, and of course my recent post on Luxe in Langley.

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Thursday, November 18, 2010

Adonia - nice ambiance, but lack in service


Adonia Tea House
2057 W 41st Ave, Vancouver (Map)

Adonia Tea House on Urbanspoon

Food: 3.5
Service: 2.5
Price: Fair

Afternoon tea is one of my favorite activities. So far I have been to 3 of them. I think Fish House in Stanley Park and Fleuri in Sutton Place Hotel are both very good for the price you pay, but sadly Provence Marinaside was a total disappointment in terms of food. I remember back during the summer Groupon had a 2 for 1 Fairmont afternoon tea deal, but I missed it. So when I saw another one pop up on IndugeLiving, I immediately purchased it.

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Monday, November 15, 2010

Coffee Bun - cute coffee shop with a tasty bun


Coffee Bun Bakery and Cafe

147 Chadwick Court, North Vancouver (Map)

Coffee Bun Bakery & Cafe on Urbanspoon

Food: 3.5
Price: Fair

I haven't visited North Vancouver once since the summer has passed. Anyways this day we were entertaining a visitor, and thought that Longsdale Quay would be the perfect place for her to experience the local market. As we were heading to the market from the sea bus terminal, I noticed a new coffee shop that had a picture of this delicious looking bun, so I suggested to try it out.
Coffee Bun is a very cute coffee shop that mainly focus on a pastry called coffee bun. At first I thought it was the same type as Bonchaz, but the owner told us that these are from Korea (where as Bonchaz is a Mexican pastry), and of course the owners were also Korean.
Their shop was very cute and bright, I especially loved this corner. The decal art with the stick on bun was a nice touch. I think this would be the perfect place to enjoy a nice afternoon in the sunshine (that is if we get some sunshine XD).Now on to the main attraction: the coffee bun. They had quite a few flavor, some savory and some sweet. Since I was in the mood for dessert, we went with 2 sweet buns: Chocolate and Custard.
Since they are very similar to Bonchaz, so I have to do a little comparison. These buns have a crunchier exterior, and a much much stronger coffee taste. The interior was soft and warm, much like Bonchaz, but it is not as airy. The chocolate filling was smooth and sweet. The custard was rich and thick. Although these buns do taste good, but they were a bit oily to the touch.

On a side note, I have a little story to share. We bought 2 buns, I was holding one and C was holding one. As we were eating and walking towards the market, a sudden gust of wind came and C's bun was gone. The next thing we saw was nearby sea gulls fighting over the bun. It's crazy, none was us saw the bird, nor felt anything (except the wind). So, let this be a warning to anyone who is planning get it to-go, just beware of the sea gull 'robbers'.

So was this better than Bonchaz's bun? Well I would say it's pretty close, but I still like Bonchaz slightly better, plus it's cheaper too. However the ambiance here was much better. This would be the perfect place for anyone who need a nice coffee shop to study or read or chat quietly with a friend :).

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Food for Thought - Gourmet Steamers


What is it: Gourmet Steamers frozen dinner
From who: Healthy Choice
How much will I be paying: $3-$4

Here is a new series (Food for Thought) of my blog that I previously mentioned. I will be sharing my experience on food items instead of just restaurants. I wouldn't call this a review, because 1. I am not a food critic, and 2. taste is totally subjective.

Anyways, awhile ago I posted a feed on my facebook page telling people that if you like Healthy Choice page, they will send you a free coupon to try their new Gourmet Steamers. As promised they did send a me a coupon via Save.ca, so I went to my local supermarket to check it out.Gourmet Steamers had quite a bit of flavors to choose from. In the end, I settled for the Thai Curry Chicken. On the box it listed as high in fiber, source of iron and no preservative. Of course, no one would ever list the negative side of eating frozen dinner.
Anyways, here is a list for the nutritional facts on the entree. Everything looks okay, except for the sodium. But I know frozen food usually have high sodium contents, especially ones that don't have any preservation (salt is a natural preservative).
After taking it out the packaging, you are suppose to place it directly into the microwave for 3 to 4 minutes without piercing the film on top. After it's done, you are suppose to dump the food from the steamer into the sauce bowl underneath. So I am assuming the sauce was really watery to begin with, and by steaming the food with it, it's evaporate into the right consistency.
Well as expect, the final result is never the same as it's shown on the box. The portion size was quite small, I think for me it was enough, but if it were R, he would need at least 2x this amount. The noodle was very soft, as well as the carrots. The chicken was surprisingly tender. However I was not a fan of this curry sauce, it was really sweet. It almost seems like I was eating a dessert than an entree.

So the question is would I consider purchasing this in the future. The answer is I don't know. I mean I liked the innovation, but the most important factor, the food, was just not that impressive, plus it's not exactly cheap either. To be honest, I think a big chunk of the cost is for the container, because as you can see there are 2 parts to it, and they are made with good material. I think if I do try it again, I will wait for it to go on sale first.

Ps: since this is a new idea, any feedback is appreciated... thanks :)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Beijing Cuisine - good service for once


Beijing Cuisine

1118-3779 Sexsmith Rd, Richmond (Map)

Beijing Cuisine on Urbanspoon

Food: 3.5
Service: 3.5
Price: Fair

Choices are good, but sometime when are you presented with too many, it could be a problem. This is the case with Richmond's Chinese restaurants, there are just way too many to choose from. Since my mom and I were picking up my dad from the airport, I had to choose a restaurant. Initially I was planning to take them to Posh, but there was a wait time, so we headed to the restaurant next door instead.
Although Beijing Cuisine is a new restaurant, but the interior hasn't really changed from when it was Chopsticks. The restaurant looks more upscale than some, but the prices are around the same. The first dish we ordered was the stir fried green bean (~$8.95). The green beans were crunchy, yet it still retained much of the spicy garlic sauce, thus quite flavorful.
Next up is their green onion lamb stir fry for $11.95. The portion here is just right, but I guess would be considered smaller than other similar restaurants. The lamb slices are huge and rather tender, but unfortunately it lacked flavor.
When I saw the braised pork hock for only $11.95 (most places charges around $15), I just couldn't resist. The service here was pretty good, as they kindly offer to help us dissect the pork hock, which also means I forgot to take a picture in it's original state. Although it looks really good, but I think it's not braised long enough, because it wasn't fall of the bone soft yet.
We also ordered 6 Xiao Long Bao for $4.95. They were pretty good, as there were lots of soup inside. Although it taste good, but I found the skin to be thicker than other place, such as Shanghai Village.

As I already mentioned, service here was surprisingly quite good. They were friendly and attentive, and did not rush us at all in any manner. The food was good, but the portions seems smaller than other places. Overall, I would say this is a pretty good Chinese restaurant, that serves up the regular fare with better ambiance and service.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Chubby Lamb - decent food, but not service


Chubby Lamb Hot Pot

8391 Alexandra Rd, Richmond (Map)

Chubby Lamb Hot Pot on Urbanspoon

Food: 3
Service: 1.5

Price: Fair
The rain season has fully arrived in Vancouver, so that means BBQ is out and hot pot is in. Given the recent drop in temperature, I don't think anyone would object to some hot pot. So when M suggested hot pot for her birthday dinner, everyone was more than happy with the decision.

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Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Nao Sushi - generous portion and great taste


Nao Sushi

7060 Kingsway, Burnaby (Map)

Nao Sushi on Urbanspoon

Food: 4
Service: 3
Price: Fair (could be cheap considering the portion)

Nao Sushi is located across from Highgate Mall in Burnaby. I have always passed by it without stopping. To be honest, it was just not very eye catching, plus there isn't too much around the area. If it wasn't for D who suggested this place for our next meet up, I would probably never stopped by. I am glad he chose this place, because it turn out to be a pretty great place for fresh sushi.
First up is the appetizer: chicken karaage. I love the real ones, as they are boneless and juicy (unlike the AYCE chicken wings). These one were indeed pretty good, it was juicy and flavorful. Also they were only $4.95 for 4 really big pieces, totally worth it in my opinion.
There were some specials taped to the wall and this Pacific Roll caught my eye. It a deep fried salmon and snapper roll with avocado ($3.95?). The roll was quite good, the snapper and salmon worked well together, and yet you can tell there was indeed two kinds of fish.
I am not a fan of Inari, so I skipped out on that, but R seem to like it. The Tamago was really good, the egg was soft and moist with a hint of sweetness. Also look at the size of the pieces, and each one was only $1.
Lastly is our sushi/nigiri order. All the nigiri were really fresh and huge as well. I especially loved the toro ($1.80/pc) and the salmon ($1.40), as you can tell they were fresh and of a good cut. I also added a chop scallop roll for $4.25, once again the scallop was fresh, and rice was sticky and firm, not at all falling apart.

Service here was generally good, but when they are busy, it could be hard to get the waitress's attention. We ordered 3 piece of tuna, but they actually give us 6, and charged us for 9, but as soon as we pointed out that we only had 6pc, they immediately reversed the charges and apologized. Decor here is very simple, it's your typical neighborhood Japanese restaurant, but a rather large one though. Since I found the food here to be fresh and tasty, I would definitely recommend Nao Sushi over the near by Sushi Garden.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Jollibee - new Filipino fast food near SeaTac



1372 Southcenter Mall, Tukwila WA
Jollibee on Urbanspoon

Food: 3.5
Price: Fair

Although Vancouver is THE place to try any type of food from all over the world (IMO), but it seems like most chain restaurants from overseas prefer to open in the States, at least initially. For example, I first tried Beard Papa in 2003 back in LA, and it's only in recent years, they have started to take over the lower mainland. Another shining example would be Ding Tai Fung (a very popular Taiwanese restaurant who is famous for their Xiao Long Bao), will also be opening in Seattle later this month. Although we have a much bigger Chinese population, yet there is absolutely no indication that it may one day open here. Oh well, I guess at least it close enough to drive to :P

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