Friday, 22 May 2015

Sushi Loku

Went to Sushi Loku with a few friends on Tuesday. For a Tuesday, the place was quite busy - luckily, we'd called ahead of time.

When we arrived, I was a bit turned off by the worn out benches and the weird smell. But my worry was for naught.

We were really early, so we ordered the Killer Tuna Tacos to start. It was daunting to eat at first, because I was afraid it would be messy - and it wasn't really "bite size" either. But because it was served fresh, the chips were still crispy and you were able to just bite off each portion without making too big of a mess. They were seasoned well with the vinegar balancing the creaminess of the tuna.


After our friends arrived, we ordered the Tuna & Salmon Sashimi, Philadelphia Roll, and Loku's Aburi nigiri collection.

I always love places that allow you to order the mixed Tuna & Salmon Sashimi platter instead of one order of each. I could eat four pieces of sashimi, not eight, and I'd like to have both. The sashimi was well treated, though Sushi Bella's sashimi were double the size.


As usual, B needs his cream cheese fix. The Philadelphia roll was solid - the Salmon was a little unevenly sliced and the roll itself was a little big, but overall, it was tasty as usual.


Last came the Aburi nigiri - it literally came last. It's a little difficult to make because you have to sear eight different types of fish, whereas if you ordered a single type of Aburi, it's quick. Our dinner companions were still eating by the time this dish arrived, so it wasn't too slow. It was just slow for us because we had finished all our dishes already. The fish was well treated and the season on each one balanced perfectly.


Overall, we really enjoyed our dinner at Sushi Loku and would definitely return in the future. It's wonderful to find another sushi place in our neighbourhood.

Sushi Loku on Urbanspoon

Saturday, 16 May 2015

Andiamo

Had dinner at Andiamo Bellevue tonight- not a bad experience. After Assaggio, we were hesitant about Italian restaurants.

We made reservations for 8, but didn't find out until last minute that it had changed to 6. Our friends arrived first and told the host/ server that we only had 6, but they sat us at the table for 8 anyway. Then after we arrived and the server came to take our drink orders and found out that we had 6 people, he decided to move us to another table. The table for 6 was great, nice round table, but couldn't they have done that when we first told them it was a table of 6?

The food was good though- preceded by some nice warm fresh bread.

We ordered the Tagliatelle, Veal Scaloppini Saltimbocca, and panna cotta. The tagliatelle was cooked perfectly and the flavour of the mushroom was strong and yet well balanced. As usual in 'Merica, portions were huge.


The veal was a little over cooked and tougher than expected. I also think they burnt the prosciutto or something because it felt like I was eating a piece of cardboard. But the pasta that came with it was solid. Good flavour, nothing crazy.


Panna cotta was decent. The texture was not as creamy as I expected. The fruit sauce added a nice tartness to it.


Everything was okay most of the time, except near the end there was some high pitched whining sound coming from the kitchen. It was not pleasant and went on for about 5 minutes. I would think if you had a loud kitchen, you'd install doors to block out the noise- no such luck.

Overall, if you're looking for decently priced and solid food, I'd recommend it. I guess we were spoiled by the good food at Federico's and other Italian places in Vancouver. I don't think we will return next time we're in Seattle though.

Andiamo Italian Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Federico's Supper Club

Went to Federico's for Mother's Day Dinner. Usually I find that when a restaurant takes reservations on open table for a special day, it's a bad sign- I'm lucky I was wrong because Federico's was such a great experience.

We had a party of 11 and were charged automatic gratuity. Usually that would mean bad service, but our server Vladimir took great care of us.

As appetizer we shared the Fritelle di Baccala, Cozze e Fagioli, and Carpaccio Di Manzo.

I couldn't take a picture of the cod before the others dug into it. The dish was fine, the breading on the fish was crispy and not soggy at all- just wasn't a fan of the mint on the side.

The mussels were great. The sauce had lots of flavour and the mussels were cleaned and cooked well. The cannellini beans added great texture to it.


The carpaccio was also very good, although if you're not a fan of cheese you may not enjoy it. The truffle oil was pungent and so aromatic and enjoyable.


Some time between appetizers and main course, a guitarist set up camp on stage and started playing acoustic guitar covers of pop music. He was so good I actually noticed each song ending and start applauding. The live music really livened up the atmosphere and made talking to each other more enjoyable.


As our Primi, we picked the Pasta Challenge dish: Romagna Mia, pappardelle in beef and chicken liver ragu, accented with flavours of pancetta, vermouth, sage, tomatoes and Grana Padano shavings. It was so rich, but delicious. B thought it was "too" rich, but the liver was perfect for me. My advice, try it before the challenge is over (if you like liver)!


As our Secondi, I ordered the Bistecca alla Griglia, the flat iron steak, cooked rare. It was a decent sized piece of steak, but I think the chef erred on the side of MEDIUM rare instead of rare. It was still juicy and tender though. It was seasoned well and I loved the caprese tomato to lighten it up.


My brother had the Braciola di Maiale. He enjoyed it and said the pork was very tender.


Other dishes included the Merluzzo Arrostito and Scottadito. Both enjoyable.



Overall, the entire dinner was enjoyable and we would return again. Try it out before the pasta challenge ends!

Federico's Supper Club on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

East is East

Went to East is East with some friends to celebrate a birthday. Before we arrived, we got a call saying they discourage bringing your own cake because there'll be a $10-$20 surcharge and there's also a $2 surcharge per person for entertainment. That was not a good way to start a dinner.

BUT

We had a great time. We ordered the Mango Prawns, Tibetan Mantu, Lamb Kebab, double vegetarian roti rolls (Ghandara Blues & Ghandi's Breakfast), and double non vegetarian roti rolls (Persia's Favourite & one other)- displayed below in order.


The Mango Prawns were pretty good. Prawns were sweet and the rice were well seasoned.


The Tibetan Mantu was also good, but a little too rich.


The lamb kebabs were the best dish of the night. The sauce was really good, but I found the dried fruit in the rice a little too sweet.


The lamb kebabs came with a side of naan and vegetables. There's also enough naan for all five of us.


The vegetarian rotis were better than the non vegetarian ones because they're not as dry.


The lamb in the Persia's Favourite was a little dry.

They also gave us soy milk chai to sample when we first arrived. I liked it so much I ordered one.

Overall, the food was "good," but like my friends said, it's okay to eat just once a year - just a little too rich, I think.


East Is East on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

BierCraft Wesbrook

Locations do make a difference. While we thought BierCraft on Cambie was overrated and too "hipster", BierCraft Wesbrook was a pleasant surprise. We went as part of an office Christmas lunch.

I ordered the Muffaletta Pannini, which came with two sides for only $12. I chose the Belgian Frites and the Seasonal Squash Soup. I also ordered the Bomber Seasonal (Cinder Block).


The pannini was a little on the salty side, probably from the prosciutto, but also probably because everything in the pannini (aside from the provolone cheese) tended to be salty. It probably would've been a bit less salty if they had more sauce. I also would've appreciated it if the cheese was melted.

The soup was fantastic. It had the right balance of saltiness, sweetness, and spiciness. All the flavours at once stood out and blended together very well.

Frites were frites. I liked the aioli dip.

My companions ordered chicken wings, Marinier mussels, Orleans mussels, and Caesar Salad with chicken. They said that the risk about ordering mussels is that sometimes the mussels are really small and you get really disappointed. That did not happen. They were very happy with the size and taste of their mussels.

Overall, good experience. Portion size were a little big, I only ate the soup and half the pannini, didn't finish my beer, and was stuffed full. I'm so glad I have a standing desk.

Our server was sweet and fun. Really accommodating and down to earth. We had a really great time. Service was not slow at all - probably because all the students have gone home for Christmas and the place was only half full.

Would recommend and probably return if I were EVER in the Wesbrook area.

BierCraft Wesbrook on Urbanspoon

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Exile Bistro

We just spent 2.5 hours at Exile Bistro on a Sunday night.

This place sits about 14 people at tables and about 6 at the bar. When it was full, the server told us this was the "busiest" it's been. I'm not sure if I believe her, especially since it's a Sunday night.

We ordered the Duck Liver and the Dry Rub Elk. The server told us service will be slow because they're SO busy. We just didn't know it would take an HOUR to get our food.

This is the elk, it came before the liver.


The meat was tender and well cooked. Well seasoned. The potatoes were also cooked well. Nice addition of pumpkin. Everything was "good," I'm just not sure if it was $21 good.

This is the liver.


I'm usually a big fan of liver. This one was just lacking. There was just something off about the taste and texture. When you tell me something is pan seared, I expect a crispy exterior. This wasn't. I also expected the liver to be creamier. It was served with the same kale salad as the elk.

Two of our friends ordered the bison short ribs, beet salad, and gnocchi. I think we actually finished both our dishes before any of their dishes came. In what place does a salad take longer to make than pan seared duck liver? It doesn't even need to cook! At the end, they actually had to wait 1.5 hours before bison came.

Another two ordered the game fondue. That came last, about an hour and 45 minutes after we sat down. The pot did not come boiling so the temperature of the broth stayed at "warm" at best. It sounded a lot better on paper. NOTHING was cooked in this dish, so we must ask, why didn't it come sooner?

In truth, this place just sounds good on paper. A for concept, F for executation. The plates are meant to be "shared," but they weren't really presented that way. It was presented in a way you would expect a single dish to be presented. Not recommending or returning.


Exile Bistro on Urbanspoon

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Miku Waterfront

Went to Miku to celebrate a couple birthdays. Since we went really late, I had a bit of a snack and couldn't eat a whole lot when I got there - especially after I ordered a sapporo and it expanded my snack.

My friends ordered the Jidori Chicken Nanban, Coal Harbour Platter, Salmon Oshi Sushi, Ebi Oshi Sushi, Red Wave Roll, Hotate Aburi Sashimi, and the 10oz Prime Rib.

First up were the Platter, Chicken, and Hotate Aburi Sasahimi.


When they ordered the Coal Harbour Platter (which contains fresh oysters, mussels, jumbo prawns, kaisen poke (tuna), scallop ceviche, and kale gama-ae), the server wasn't sure if it would be enough for four people to share. She suggested that my friends order two instead, but in the end it worked out. They liked everything and had no complaints.


The Jidori Chicken Nanban was one of the weaker dishes, according to my friends. It was very plain and didn't stand out.


The Hotate (Hokkaido scallop, spicy jumbo prawns, cod roe aioli) was, according to them the weakest dish. It was also featured in my Aburi Sashimi Selection, which is four kinds o sashimi, flame seared with signature sauces.


I'm sorry the photo's so dark, but on this plate is two of each of the Sockeye Salmon with citrus-anchovy salsa, Maguro big eye tuna tartare with wasabi masatake sauce, the Hotate scallop, and Hamachi. The sockeye salmon was very lean, if that's what you like, great. The salsa didn't add a lot of taste to it. I'm not sure this is a signature dish they should be advertising because it really fell short. Same with the scallop and tuna. Everything was just bland and chewy. The Hamachi was the best of the dish because the fish itself had a lot of flavour, you couldn't really taste the sauce.

Then my friends' prime rib came with a side of mashed potatoes.



They didn't have much to say about the mashed potatoes, but they said the prime rib was very flavourful and cooked perfectly to a medium rare. One of the birthday girls compared it to the Wagyu beef she had at Black & Blue. She says it's not as good as the wagyu, but pretty darn good.

Lastly, and the server did this perfectly, were the rolls.



According to my friends, it was a good thing the rolls came last because after tasting them, the prime rib seemed to pale in comparison. They thought to Red Wave Roll was decent, but nothing spectacular. What really caught their attention were the oshi sushis, which apparently "melts in your mouth". I tried one of each of the salmon and ebi oshi sushi. The lime sauce on the ebi was a surprise, and at first, not a good one. I'm not sure if I agree that the salmon melted in my mouth. The Miku sauce was very good. I then had another bite of the ebi and it tasted a little better after having a bit of the salmon. The lime kind of cuts the richness of the Miku sauce. I must say I was a little disappointed by their rice to fish ratio. My co-worker from Osaka is preparing me for my trip to Japan next year, and she mentioned that authentic Japanese sushi has only a little bit of rice, with a big slice of fish showcased on top. This sushi seemed completely opposite, with a huge block of rice and a thin layer of fish. But the rest of my table enjoyed it.

It was really busy there for a Wednesday night and our server was terrific. To me, it was a little overhyped and I just can't get over Ten Sushi from Seattle, so I wasn't too impressed to return. I'd recommend going as a group to order a bunch of stuff to try. My four friends only ended up spending $50 each (after tax, tip, and $1.75 per person plating fee for a cake we brought) for so many dishes, which really isn't that bad. I don't think you should bring your own cake, though, as quite a few of us saw their Green Tea Opera dessert in the dessert menu and really wanted to try it but were too full to.

Miku Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Monday, 24 November 2014

El Camino's

We stopped by El Camino's (Main Street) for happy hour (cheap beer), and stayed for a light dinner.


For food we started with an order of Al Pastor tacos, which are pork with a pineapple salsa. 


Then we had the Carne Guisada Bocadillos, which is a beef short rib Mexican style sub sandwich. 


Then we ordered the Queso Arepas, which are cheese filled grilled corn pockets, and finished off with a grilled red devil chorizo sausage. 


The food was quite tasty, but the portions were on the small side. A decent place to eat.

El Camino's on Urbanspoon



-B

Portobello

Went to Portobello to celebrate my aunt's birthday.  The three of us ordered two appetizers, two main courses, and two desserts and we were all stuffed full by the end of the night.

As appetizer, we had the Cozze Alla Marinara and Fungo Portobello Gratinato. Both were good choices. I guess our server told the chef we were a party of three so they ended up giving us 1.5 mushrooms instead of just one to share among the three of us. Now that's service! The mussels were fresh and fat and the sauce was flavourful yet not rich.



As our main course, we had the Linguine Alle Vongole and Vitello Al Marsala Con Funghi. The linguine was cooked perfectly. The white wine sauce was light and flavourful. You could really taste the herbs in every bite.

The veal was really tender and the side vegetables were not too soft and not too hard. Everything was perfectly cooked. You can really taste the wine in the Marsala wine sauce, but it was a nice tart kind of taste and not "boozy".



For dessert, we ordered their dessert of the day, ice wine grape cake, and the tiramisu. The cake was really moist and the occasional grape added a surprising texture to every other bite.

The tiramisu tasted strongly of booze, but  it was a nice taste and not the bitter kind when you go into overkill.



All in all a great night. Off to a rocky start when our original server forgot about us after asking what we'd like to drink and I said water. Our new server was attentive and professional.

This is actually the second time I visited Portobello. I enjoyed it so much I returned, so I will definitely recommend.

Portobello Ristorante on Urbanspoon