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.


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



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

Friday, 31 October 2014

Cork & Fin

Went to Cork & Fin because I was craving oysters.

We had three dozen oysters and a duck terrine, which just came out yesterday.

The oysters were fresh and creamy. Horseradish was freshly grated and quite potent! I ate 18 and only 1 had shells in it. Same with B. So the odds were pretty good.

They do charge by the half dozen, so the 2-for-1 deal wasn't as good as we thought - like charging the by the dozen, which is a better deal than by the half dozen. Oh well.

The server said they came out with a bunch of new dishes and the duck terrine stood out the most. It was quite delicious. It was creamy, well seasoned, well flavoured, and served with delicious compotes and jams. The buttery toast was a delicious touch. You could taste the butter on the toast melt in your mouth.

Happy hour is a great time to go (5-6pm), because it's not so busy and cheaper! Will recommend and maybe return on a Sunday when they apparently have "buck a shuck" for real!

Cork & Fin on Urbanspoon

Monday, 27 October 2014

Earnest Ice Cream

After dinner, we decided to go to Earnest Ice Cream for some dessert. Luckily, as we approach winter, there are no more line ups - still busy though.

We tried the London Fog and the Whiskey Hazelnut. The London Fog tasted a bit licorice-y and not enough bergamot. The Earl Grey gelato at Bella Gelateria is way better.

The Whiskey Hazelnut was good. I liked the little bit of saltiness that cuts into the sweetness of the ice cream. Not sure if I tasted whiskey though. When I first tasted it, I thought I ordered the salted caramel - until we compared it to my friend's Whiskey Hazelnut and realized it looks the same.

I left wondering why this place is so busy and what the hype is all about. The ice cream is average at best. Perhaps we are spoiled by the French cooking classes we've been taking, but ice cream is really easy to make and the ones here have too much sugar in them. Maybe I'm just a gelato person and not an ice cream person.

Speaking of gelato, we were walking along Arbutus one early morning. Since Plaisir Sucre Bakery was closed and there wasn't any other dessert place, we walked into Napoletana Pizza, Coffee & Gelato. I know what you're thinking, gelato at a pizza place? It was a very pleasant surprise. We had the pistachio gelato and the flavour was so strong, it was amazing.

Anyway, I will not recommend Earnest, nor will I return. It's not worth the hype.

Earnest Ice Cream on Urbanspoon

The Wallflower Modern Diner

First off, the reason I "Like" The Wallflower on Urbanspoon is because I'm absolutely in love with the Hummus Melt. If they didn't have that, I would definitely "Dislike" it.

It was a cold evening, so I decided I needed a single malt to warm me up (the menu didn't list that they had tea). The server brought the whiskey menu after we asked if they had any. I ordered a shot of the Balvenie and it was actually brought to me in a shot glass. Fine.

We ordered the Poutine to share, B ordered the Blackened Salmon Burger, and I ordered the Hummus Melt (of course). One of our other friends decided that my love for the Hummus Melt was enough to sell her the melt, so she ordered one too.

My friend also happened to be buddhist (vegetarian, which is why we went to the Wallflower), so she can't eat garlic or onions (I had no idea - but apparently, they "excite the senses" - click here to read more about it on Wikipedia). So when the server asked what side she would like, she naturally had to ask if the salad dressing for the salad had any onions or garlic in it. Apparently, all their dressings have onion powder in it. But instead of saying, let me check with the kitchen, she just flat out said she could bring the salad out without any dressing. That's poor service. I mean, how hard is it to make a salad dressing? One part oil and three parts vinegar: DONE! She had to go with the baked fries. But I digress.

The poutine was okay. Tasted fine, but I thought there wasn't enough gravy.

B's salmon burger was a little on the dry side, and the salad looked old.

I chose the daily soup: Cream of Portobello. The flavour was strong and I loved that the mushrooms weren't completely blended to a pulp so that there was still some texture to it. B thinks we make a better mushroom soup though, and who am I to disagree. Click here for the mushroom soup recipe we normally make.

Everyone ended up finishing their food and enjoying it. But I've heard there are plenty more other vegetarian restaurants in the city now. Surprisingly enough, the Foundation, which we were originally planning to go but decided not to because they didn't take reservations, was empty.

  The Wallflower on Urbanspoon

Ten Sushi

I usually try to stay away from conveyor belt sushi because I think it's a cheap gimmick to disguise gross sushi. I'm glad B convinced me otherwise and we visited Ten Sushi for dinner the second night. We even sat at the bar.

What's different about this place is that the sushi chefs are actually Japanese, not Chinese - which is all too common here in Vancouver. We ordered the Salmon and Tuna sashimi from the chef as they were not available from the conveyor belt. At first we were a little disappointed because they were such small slices. We were blown away by the texture as soon as we tasted the sashimi. They were thawed to the perfect temperature (for those who think sashimi must be unfrozen to be fresh, please do some research before complaining). B was most impressed by the tuna, which happened to be bluefin (I know, shame on me for enjoying this endangered animal). The tuna was also served with freshly made wasabi, which was so strong and so delicious, B was sad there was only a small glob of it.

We grabbed some squid. Chewy, but not too chewy.

Then we tried two different types of mackeral. This is the Marinated Mackeral from Norway.

This is the Hourse Mackeral from Japan. This one was sooooo much better. The one from Norway was a little bit fishier than I like.

We also grabbed a plate of Fried Calamari, served with tartar sauce, delicious.

And a plate of takoyaki, which was so good. The octopus was chopped instead of mashed / diced, so there's still a bit of chewy / texture to it.

What I love about this place is that, despite the "tackiness" of conveyor belt food, the sushi chefs take the time to prepare each plate beautifully. The way each slice of fish covers this tiny ball of rice (note, tiny ball and not fistful blob) and curves onto the plate is so artistic.

Sure, the bill came out to triple what we normally spend at Bella, but I would definitely recommend and return.

Ten Sushi on Urbanspoon