Monday, January 31, 2011

South Ocean - push cart dim sum


South Ocean Seafood Restaurant 南海漁村海鮮酒家

4751 Garden City Rd, Richmond (Map)

South Ocean Seafood on Urbanspoon

Food: 2.5
Service: 2.5
Price: Fair

Dim sum restaurants in Richmond are a dime a dozen. So the question, how do you go about to choose one? Well, for this time, it was dad who made that decision, so off we went to South Ocean Restaurant which still serves push cart dim sum.
First up is the shrimp and chive dumpling. Also the stuffing was generous, but the shrimp wasn't very fresh. The sui mai was good, as they didn't use all shrimp, so there was a nice balance of pork.
Next up was their rice roll wrapped with Chinese donuts. This dish wasn't hot when it arrived, which I thought comprised the taste, but at least their donuts was still crispy. The mushroom rice roll was mediocre at best, as the mushroom was rather bland, it's all about the sweet soy sauce.
The glutinous flour dumpling was not bad. The flour wrapping was chewy yet crispy. The mochi filled with red bean was average. The red bean was a little too sweet for my taste.
My favourite of the day had to be the pickled egg/pork congee. As the rice was very smooth and creamy. When it's this consistency, you this this congee has been cooked for a long time. The most disappointing dish was also my favourite dish at dim sum restaurant: the steam ribs. It was rather bony and bland.

I really don't recall the price, as Dad took care of the bill, but I think every dish was around $2.50 to about $3. So I would consider this quite cheap. Unfortunately this also reflected in the food being served, as most of them was just average. Although, I did not dislike the food, but I am not enthusiastic about going back either. So in conclusion, there are better ones out there (especially in Richmond).

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Hello Kitty Cafe - one of a kind


Hello Kitty Cafe

No. 90 DaAn Rd. Sec. 1, Taipei (MRT Zhongxiao Fuxing Exit 3)

Food: 4
Service: 3
Price: Fair +

Taipei is a city that literally have any type of restaurant you can imagine, so before I went, I did my research and found a few that I must visit. Hello Kitty theme cafe was definitely on that list, but R was not so enthusiastic LOL.
We were in the area one afternoon, but totally forgot the address. So we had to ask some random people, and by sheer luck they actually know where it is (maybe not entirely luck, as I imagine it to be quite famous).
I know the restaurant theme is Hello Kitty, but this is serious, even the bathroom had Hello Kitty embossed on the mirror. They have super cute booth, as the seats are also in the shape of Hello Kitty's head. All waitress are dressed like Japanese maid with the key theme of pink and white. Let's just say, everywhere you look, Hello Kitty is there.
Since their meal time ended at 2:30pm, we were only offered afternoon tea (aka desserts). All the dessert came with a drink under a certain price point (I think it was $180NT), but I wanted to try their fresh strawberry milk tea for $230, so I had to pay the difference. This tea was totally worth the $50 upgrade, as it was very rich and smelled heavenly. The taste was not artificial at all, it was the sweet taste of strawberries infused in creamy milk (I think it was more like half and half than homo).
For the dessert R went with the Creme Brulee which was $300NT (~$10CAD). He just went for the regular coffee as his drink. The dessert was good, but not great. It was mostly custard, as it barely had any caramelized sugar on top. But I gotta hand it to them, the presentation was very nice.
For my dessert, I went with the Caramel Pear Mousse for $330NT ($11CAD). I thought R's dessert was pretty, but mine was even prettier. I simply adore the Hello Kitty matcha dusting.
The dessert itself was really good. The mousse part was a mixture of carpone cheese and caramel sugar, it was soft and creamy with just the right amount of sweetness. The bottom was layered with chocolate cake and pear which the picture doesn't show, because I didn't dig deep enough. :P
All food order comes with a jello dessert. This was just your regular jello in strawberry flavor, nothing special. This is what happen when you go to the Hello Kitty Cafe with a guy. They play with their food. Please see R's master piece, titled 'Hello Kitty eating Hello Kitty', as you can see the jello Kitty has consume the white chocolate Kitty -_______-. Since I had a bit left over, I got a take out box which was also super cute.

The service here was okay, they were friendly, but it didn't seem sincere. Despite the fact this is really a tourist attraction more than anything, their dessert was solid. I mean even at the end, R thought this place deserves a visit, we even contemplating coming back here to try their regular meals, because they had very delicious looking Hello Kitty shaped buns (for hamburger) and bread bowls. In the end, there are just way too many delicious food in Taiwan, as I don't think I've eaten at any restaurant more than once (as much as I wanted to). If you ever visit Taiwan, I do certainly recommend this 'tourist attraction'. :)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Mamak - new Malaysian restaurant


Mamak Malaysian Cafe

340 Cambie Street, Vancouver (Map)

Mamak Malaysian Cafe on Urbanspoon

Food: 3.5

Service: 3.5
Price: Cheap

Since I don't want to just blog about my trip, so I am planning to inject entries about local restaurants here and there. Anyways, around a week ago Chowtimes hosted an event in conjunction with a new local Malaysian restaurant called Mamak Cafe.
Mamak Cafe is actually located inside Pub 340. If was kinda hard to find if you don't know what you are looking for, as there was a small printed sign on the glass windows of Pub 340. This private event costing only $12 was attended by 48 others like myself who just loves to eat. Mamak also printed out nice colorful brochures to explain in details about the dishes that will be served. Without further ado, here is the first one...
Roti canai with curry sauce ($1.50, all prices = regular price). The roti was different from what I typically had in Malaysian restaurants. This one was not fluffy, but quite flaky and crunchy. Personally, I prefer the fluffy version better. The curry sauce was nice and mild.
We also tired chicken and beef satay ($3.50). The chicken was surprisingly tender, so in comparison the beef was slightly dry. The satay peanut sauce was the highlight, as it was made with coarsely chopped peanuts. For someone who doesn't like peanut better, I thought the sauce was pretty good.
My favorite dish of the day has to be this: Bakuteh, aka pork rib tea (肉骨茶). Essentially this is a pork rib soup cooked with tea and other spices. We were also provided a side of Chinese donuts, and dipping sauces (soy with chili & thick soy with garlic) for the meat.
The soup was cooked for hours, thus it has that rich taste, with a hint of sweetness to it. Upon taking a closer look at the soup, we found out the reason why the soup was so delicious, it's because they didn't only just use the pork ribs, they also used pork belly as well. Both the pork belly and the rib meats were super tender.
We also had Shrimp Mee Goreng ($8.90). The shrimps/vegetables was fresh, but there was a problem with the noodles, some were burnt which resulted in a unpleasant taste. The sauce was rather spicy, some people at our table found it extremely spicy, while other thought it was mild, but one thing was for sure, the sauce was liked by everyone.
Last dish of the day is a sampler plate of beef rendang, curry chicken and sambal prawn on rice (all $8.90, of course the portion would be bigger than this). The beef rendang was very well done with a strong flavor of lemongrass. The chicken once again was tender with a mild curry sauce. My favorite was the sambal prawn, as home made sauce was great, it had just hint of sweetness, and balance out nicely by the tomato base.We weren't offered dessert with this tasting menu, but was surprised by the chef. He prepared a tapioca topped with coconut milk and palm sugar. Although the presentation was nice, but the tapioca was all stuck together and a bit hard to mix. A reader of Chowtimes who had just been back from Philippine brought a wide varieties of souvenir which Ben and Suanne decided to ruffle off for this event. I rarely win anything, but to my surprise, I actually won a bag of organic raw cane sugar, guess it was my lucky day. :)

Personally I had a great time at this event, the food was good and meeting new people is always nice. The one thing about this place is that it's quite small and a bit dark, we were actually seated in the bar, but the real restaurant can maybe hold about 20 people. Therefore, if you do plan to visit, make sure you go early or make reservations.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Ding Tai Fung - Seattle Branch


Ding Tai Fung (鼎泰豐)

700 Bellevue Way NE Ste 280, WA (Map)

Din Tai Fung on Urbanspoon

Food: 4
Service: 3.5
Price: Fair

When chain restaurants open, one of the biggest problem that needs to be overcome is consistency. So the question is 'can a oversea franchise that is 14,000km away really carry the same quality and taste as the original?' With that question in mind, R and I drove some 200km to find the answer in Bellevue.

Read more »

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Ding Tai Fung - Taipei (Zhongxiao Branch)


Ding Tai Fung (鼎泰豐)

No. 218 Zhongxiao East Road Sec. 4, Taipei

Food: 4
Service: 3
Price: Fair

Well, if there is one restaurant that you must try when visiting Taiwan, it has to be Ding Tai Fung (DTF), because after all this is where it all started. They are most famous for their soupy dumpling aka Xiao Long Bao. Since I am a avid lover of this dish, I immediately add this restaurant to the list.
Although DTF originated in Taiwan, but now they have stores world wide, with the most recent one opening right across the border in Seattle (which I will talk about soon). The one I visited (Zhong Xiao branch) was not their original location, but also a very popular one. The restaurant was big, but the tables are quite cramped in my opinion. What I did love is they bring you a bag stand just for your bags, so it doesn't have to rest uncomfortably behind your back or on the ground. Also they cover the top while you dine, so there is minimal chance that it will get dirty or stolen.
The first steamer of XLB we tried was their seasonal Si Gua (luffa)/shrimp XLB. I loved this, the flavor of the soup is very much infused in the luffa because it's so absorbent. This is also the reason why this XLB has so little soup.
We also ordered a steamer XLB with crab roe. This was not cheap at all, for 10, you had to pay around $12. Although it may seem okay, but this price is consider high in Taiwan. The skin of these XLB is very thin, but yet hold it's shape very well. Although they were good, but I find the stuffing too finely grounded, and also there wasn't enough soup.
We ordered a stir fried tong chai (hollow stem veggie) for about $5. I really loved this dish, the vegetable was really fresh and crispy, and the addition of garlic just enhanced the overall flavor of the dish.
We ordered a medium bowl spicy/sour soup for around $5-6. This portion could easily fill around 5-6 regular Chinese rice bowl. The soup was nice and thick, with a spicy kick. Although most of the ingredient in the soup is typical, but there is one special item: pork blood. I know most people might not like it, but it's very common in Asia.
This has to be a dish R raved about, their shrimp fried rice. This came to be around $7.5. The rice was soft and separated. The shrimp could be fresher, it didn't have that snap to it. So in conclusion, it was good, but not great. I think R build up to much hype for me, so I was expecting a lot more for this dish.
The last thing we ordered was noodle with sesame/peanut sauce, which I believe is around $4-5. The noodle was al dente. It had that nice smooth texture and slightly chewy texture. The sauce was fragrant and slightly thick, which R loved. But since I am not a fan of peanut, I didn't particularly love it.

The service here was not bad. They were courteous and friendly, but I wish they would smile more. The one regret I have is not ordering their regular XLB, but it's okay, their specialty one was pretty good. In conclusion, I still think this is a must visit restaurant if you visit Taiwan, but maybe you can go check out their original branch in Xinyi district (No. 194, Xinyi Road Sec. 2), because they will certainly have more histories to share.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Winners Announced


Thank you everyone who participated in my souvenir giveaway and of course all the readers. Below are the winner selected by Originally I intended to use random-draw, but it was a bit complicated, so I resorted back The winners please contact me at within the next 48 hours please. Thanks!!For my blog souvenir pack, the winner is BOO

For my facebook souvenir pack, the winner is Carolyn Sombero
For the special miracle fruit tablet, the winner is Crispy Lechon

Monday, January 10, 2011

Giveaway - Taiwan Trip


It's been almost 2 weeks since I have been back from my vacation, and I am finally free from jetlag and fatigue (I think). Anyways if you didn't already know, I went on a 3 week vacation to Taiwan and had a blast. So let's begin...
Rode a 45 sec elevator ride to the top of the 'world' @ Taipei 101Saw the beauty of the city at night.Experience my very first International Flower ExpoWent for a ride in a glass cart of this giant Ferris wheel right in the city.Travel around the island, and experience the colorful culture it had to offer.Took a windy journey to the most Southern tip of island.Experience the passion from the people, and of course in awed by the dense populationEnjoyed the countless culinary delights along the trip, with proof here.and now left with a great impression and a longing for more, I shall be back... soon :)

I hope you enjoyed that short summary of my trip, more details coming soon. Before I continue to the souvenir which I brought back, I would just like to say thank you to my readers, and because of you, I feel a sense of accomplishment. I hope you will continue to enjoy what I have to share and any feedback is always appreciated.

Anyways, I really did buy some cool/unique souvenir for you guys. Have you ever heard of miracle fruit? If you haven't, you are not alone, because I haven't either until about 3 weeks ago. It's a little berry originated in Africa that changes the way you taste. A protein in the berry interacts with our taste buds and change the way we perceive the flavor of food containing acid. Here is a article from NYtimes that talks about it. (geeze, it's from 2 years ago, where have I been).

The tablet I bought is the concentrated version, where each tablet contain the extract of 2 berries. Of course, after purchasing this at the Flora Expo in Taiwan, we immediately wanted to try it out. One of my friend has volunteered to be film for his experience, so take a look.

Isn't that really awesome, or you can call me easily amused. Anyways, I will be including a few tablets of this in the giveaways below, so make sure you join for a chance to experience this.

I have 2 souvenir packs to giveaway. Here is the one for my blog:
It includes:
1. Matcha/red bean mochi
2. White chocolate Bueno
3. Taiwan collector's edition rice saki
4. 10 year anniversary limited edition creme brulee Hi-Chew
5. 2 Miracle Fruit tablets

The rules are simple, all you have to do is:
1. Leave a message under this post telling me which item in my Taiwan Street Food album you would like to try the most, and along with your email.
2. This giveaway is only open to readers in Lower mainland, or anyone who can make it here for the meet up :)

The 2nd set is for my facebook page:
It includes:
1. Green mango dried fruit in a tin shaped like Taiwan :)
2. White chocolate Bueno
3. Chestnut flavored milk candy
4. 10 year anniversary limited edition creme brulee Hi-Chew
5. 2 Miracle Fruit tablets

The rules are simple, all you have to do is:
1. Join my facebook page and leave a message under the Giveaway Picture Feed, telling me which item looks the most delicious in my Taiwan Street Food album.
2. This giveaway is only open to reader in Lower mainland, except for the miracle fruit tablets. Please see facebook page for additional info.

The winner will be drawn randomly through The giveaway will end on Friday (Jan. 14th) at 11:59PM. Good Luck everyone!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Death by Chocolate - ambiance over food


Death by Chocolate

1598 W Broadway, Vancouver (Map)

Death By Chocolate on Urbanspoon

Food: 2
Service: 3.5
Price: Expensive (consider the quality) 6.75

I love desserts, and is always on the look out for good ones. So when I saw a deal on one of those group buy websites, I was immediately tempted to buy. You see, I actually been to Death by Chocolate about 5 years back at one of their other locations, but I barely remember anything. The one thing that I know is I don't have any memorable bad experience, so I jumped the gun and bought this deal: 2 pieces of cake for $7 with discount on drinks.
We arrived at their only location that has survived the recession. As promised there were drink special for those of us who bought this deal. We have a choice between latte, hot chocolate and tea for $2/cup. R went for the latte, while I went with the hot chocolate. The hot chocolate wasn't bad, but it just a bit powdery. However R did not like the latte, because there was way too much foam.
For my cake, I went for their original cheesecake. After the initial bite, I immediately recall having the same thing else where. This was the same cheesecake served at Fireside Cafe, and it still taste the same. The cheesecake was good, but no way the best. Also I notice the crust here was way too moist. It seems the same problem is also seen with the cake below. The tiramisu we had was not that great. The ladyfinger was way too soggy. After trying the two above cakes, the conclusion from both R and I was that the best part is the whip cream. It was fresh and only lightly sweeten.

In general, I have to say I wouldn't recommend the desserts here. I mean if the condiments on the side outshine the main dish, that's pretty disappointing. However there is one thing that I did like about the place, and it's ambiance. It was really nice to sit there basking in the sun and people watch. So I guess this place is only good if you want somewhere more for ambiance than for food.

PS: I promise I will pick up the slack, and start my travel blogging soon... giveaway coming up next... so stay tuned!!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Matoi Sushi - traditional and authentic


Matoi Sushi

#490-3025 Lougheed Hwy, Coquitlam (Map)

Matoi Sushi on Urbanspoon

Food: 3.5
Service: 4
Price: Fair +

Matoi sushi is located in the same squares as Hons in Coquitlam, but I've never even noticed it. If it wasn't for a friend's recommendation, I probably would never discover it. Anyways, since K and I haven't met up for a long time, so I suggested this place, because it was in a area both of us are very familiar with.The restaurant was medium size with simple decor and some traditional Japanese booths. There was also a nice flat screen that was locked on some sports channel. I guess they are trying to win over the sport fans as well.
The chicken kaarage was not bad, you get 4 pieces for $4.50. These were deboned and rather juicy. However they paled in comparison with the ones from Nao Sushi, because they weren't as big or as juicy.Our next sharing appetizer was the clam pot (Asari). For the price of only $5.25, I thought the portion was quite large with lots of fresh clams. The flavor was great as well, so I would definitely recommend this.This up is the sushi rolls, we ordered the dynamite ($4.99) and spider rolls ($5.50). The rolls were good, as both the deep fried prawn and soft shell crabs are nice and crunchy, I just wish the rice would be a little more compact. Lastly we ordered a sashimi platter for $14.50. After sampling each piece, the consensus was that these were indeed very fresh and tasty. They also used good cuts of the fish as well.

I would said Matoi Sushi is one of these authentic Japanese restaurants that still serves the traditional fare. The restaurant is own and operated by Japanese people, and their service shows just that. They were courteous and friendly. Overall, I find their food quite good and would definitely recommend.