Friday, 19 September 2014

Bun Cha Ca Hoang Yen (皇燕)

The first place we saw when we turned the corner, so we visited Hoang Yen.


Typical Vietnamese setup; though I like the special touch of individually packaged chopsticks. You never know who's dirty hand has grazed the chopsticks if it's not, right?


As usual, a dish of bean sprouts and fresh herbs were delivered right after we ordered. As usual, I don't touch it: had a bad experience at Pho Hoang (Main & 18th) where a server took a dish from another table and served it to a new table.


I ordered the #7 House Special, and added a side of a salad roll.

The noodle soup itself is okay. The broth is not as flavourful as Pho Tan, but it was decent flavour. The meat wasn't raw enough when served, but not overcooked either.


I expected the salad roll to come before the soup, or at least with the soup. It came a while after the soup, but at least I know it's freshly made. The rice paper was nice a moist. The only thing I wished for was more meat spread out, instead of a clump of pork and 1 shrimp. The peanut sauce was also lacking. I've made more flavourful peanut sauces than this. It was like watered down peanut butter. A little Sriracha can make a big difference.


B ordered the #16 Hot & Sour soup. It was not "hot" and he had to add more spice. The seafood was well cooked mostly (except for the squid) and actually pretty good after the addition of a spoonful of chili. There's lots of seafood in this bowl.


Service was friendly. Place was clean. There was a TV playing, but it was at a comfortable volume where it provided some sound but was not blasting.

We may come back after we try out all the other Vietnamese restaurants in the area.

Friday, 12 September 2014

Cuchillo

Dropped by at Cuchillo after going to Belgrad Kitchen and finding out we have to wait 1 hour because other people called ahead to be placed on the wait list even though they don't take reservations. How does that work?

Anyway, we sat down at Cuchillo twenty minutes later and got a call from Belgrad. No thanks. You can't run a establishment well enough, your food won't taste as good to me.


Anyway, we all started with some Taquerias. B and I ordered the Pulled Duck y Crackling. It was really well flavoured; a good balance of salty and sweet. The crackling was a nice touch.


My friends ordered the Baja Styled Battered Rockfish and the Mole Lamb Albondigas. According to my friends they were both good.



As our main course, we had the Char Grilled Flat Iron Steak. The steak was cooked perfectly; it was so tender. The chorizo buttermilk Kennebec mash and the lettuce really helped balance the flavours.


My friends both ordered the pork belly confit. It was sooooo flavourful. The fat was so thick and soft, your fork just goes right through it.


A great experience. A little pricier that other places, like La Mezcaleria, but still a good place to go. Will recommend and return.

Cuchillo on Urbanspoon

Thursday, 11 September 2014

New Spicy Chili Restaurant

Came for my aunt's birthday. Similar dishes to Kalvin's.

My uncle ordered everything so I don't know what they are. Somewhere in there is a smoked duck neck, spicy fish hot pot, and chicken.








The food was only mildly spicy, not overpowering. Mostly well seasoned. A little on the oily side, but in general a good experience - probably due to the company. My favourite would be the smoked duck while B liked the fish hot pot. Wish they made the chili chicken with whole chicken pieces instead of bone (ligament?).

Decent enough experience, but would go to Kalvin's over this any day - there was just no "wow" factor. Our service was good because apparently my uncle knew the servers. The table next to us had a greasy table and the chopsticks had greasy fingerprints all over them. Probably won't recommend nor return.

New Spicy Chili 小四川 on Urbanspoon

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Adelitas

Checked out Adelitas tonight for dinner.

We were greeted promptly as the place was empty. I wouldn't say the place was filthy, but it wasn't clean either. As soon as we sat down, the server asked us if we wanted anything to drink. There was no drink menu to order from and the server didn't seem to know what they had either and had to keep running to the fridge to check.


Then she asked us if we wanted any appetizers while we check out the menu. I don't know how I feel about that as I didn't even have a chance to read the menu. Luckily there were only three appetizers. We ordered the guacamole.


The guacamole was okay. Good portion. Good balance of flavour - of lime and cilantro.

They had three (home made?) salsas. The spiciest one had a weird taste to it, and not as spicy as the medium one, which tastes a little strange too. The best one was the "non-spicy" one, which tasted like like and cilantro. The containers could be better, they were hard to pour.


We ordered three soft tacos each. I had the tongue, which was cooked well. It was tender and not chewy at all. Good mouth feel. Heavy on the cilantro side.


B had the carnitas (shredded pork). They actually taste the same. A little on the oily side. But flavoured well. The portions were good, as they double up on the taco shells, which end up giving you six instead of three tacos each.


We probably would come back for some cheap tacos. The service and the blasting tv kind of dampened the mood. Don't get me wrong, the server was nice, but just wasn't professional enough. If I wanted quality food and ambiance, however, I would probably return to La Mezcaleria on Commercial.


Adelitas on Urbanspoon

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Amay's House

Went to Amay's House because we've never had Burmese food before.


The place was clean, one of the cleaner washrooms I've been to.


We ordered the Burmese style samosas, spicy button mushroom curry, lamb satay, and roti.

The samosas were good. I like that the vegetables inside aren't mushy like Indian samosas. You can see and taste the texture of each vegetable, chopped into perfect squares. It came with a great tart sauce. Very well balanced dish.


The button mushroom curry wasn't spicy. At all. It LOOKS like it should be, but it's not. It tasted like salty broth to me and tomato soup to B. It left something lacking, which is why we ordered two more dishes.


The lamb satay was decent. At first I thought the meat was over seasoned, but then dipping it into the sweet and creamy peanut sauce really helped balance the taste. The meat was cooked well and tender.


The roti was good by itself. It came with some kind of chicken dipping sauce. The sauce tasted like the oil run off from when you bake chicken, and the chicken itself tasted like chicken from a can of chicken or chicken soup.


Overall, it was a pleasurable experience. After a 15% tip, the bill was still under $30 and we were both extremely full. Good value, just needs flavour. And  although the service is a little on the slow side, they were friendly enough not to sour the experience. We may return, but we still have a lot of places to try first.

Amay's House Burmese and Asian Cuisine on Urbanspoon

Friday, 22 August 2014

Mr. Brownstone Bar & Grill

Went to Mr. Brownstone on Main for a friend's birthday. I was invited there once for another birthday, but never got to try the food - this time I got to try plenty.

We first had the spicy teriyaki chicken wings because we were so hungry, and our friend hadn't arrived yet. Though advertised as spicy, they actually weren't spicy. But the flavours were good and the skin was crunchy. The size was also decent.


When our friend arrived, we ordered two more appies and two main courses.

We had a truffle oil poutine and spinach dip. The truffle oil was strong, which made the poutine very flavourful. The cheese and gravy were generously well spread out. Every bite was delicious.


Spinach dip is spinach dip. You really can't go wrong with it. We liked that it was served with different types of bread. Although it may look small, it was plenty and we had to take some home.


Our friend had the shepherd's pie, which was well seasoned and the potato on top was really fluffy.


We had the special of the day - vegetarian risotto, made with asparagus, mushrooms, cherry tomato, and goat cheese. Although it was well made, I think our home made three-mushroom risotto was better. Maybe the dish needed just a little bit more seasoning.


Overall, we enjoyed the meal, everything was prepared well. The service was good and we actually packed a bit of everything to take home because they were so big. We will recommend but not sure if we will return for a while.

Mr. Brownstone Bar & Grill on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Baked Cod with Pineapple Avocado Salsa

Another recipe from myfitnesspal - Baked Cod with Pineapple Avocado Salsa.


Ingredients

  • 1 lb boneless, skinless Cod fillets
  • 1 cup pineapple, diced
  • 1 cup avocado, diced
  • 1/2 cup cucumber, diced
  • 1/4 cup red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp fresh lime juice (we ran out of lime so we used a leftover lemon)
  • salt and pepper
  • quick rice
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 400ºF.
  2. In a small bowl, combine pineapple, avocado, cucumber, red onion, 1 tbsp lime juice and pinch of salt and mix until well incorporated. Set aside to allow flavours to meld (we did this the night before to save time the next day - onions help prevent avocados from turning brown).
  3. Place fish on baking sheet (cover with aluminium foil to help with clean up) and sprinkle with salt and pepper (we didn't have lime or lemon to sprinkle with).
  4. Bake until cod is opaque and flakes easily with a fork, about 15-20 minutes depending on thickness. (Here's a little information on undercooked fish and worms - don't be alarmed if you find worms on your cod)
  5. Remove from pan and top with salsa. We served with a side of brown rice and lots of sriracha, as it was a little bland.
Although the salsa was tasty, the cod was bland - we probably won't be making this again.

Thai Beef Kabobs with garden vegetable saute

Another dinner recipe from Fitness Pal - what can I say, it takes too much effort to surf different sites for just one week's worth of dinner. We also could've used the barbecue, but it just seemed easier to use and wash everything indoors.


Ingredients
Marinade
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice (we used lime because they were on sale at the grocery store)
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 5 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 tsp chili flakes
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 lb beef chuck, cut into smaller cubes
Vegetables
  • 2 cup julienned zucchini
  • 1 cup chopped scallions (we used green onions, apparently google says they're the same thing)
  • 1 cup corn kernels (we forgot to use this)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved (we used grape tomatoes because we couldn't find any cherry tomatoes at the market)
  • 2 tbsp fresh cilantro (I think we may have used 4 tbsp, we really like cilantro)
Directions
  1. Mix marinade and beef in a resealable plastic bag. Refrigerate at least 2 hours (we marinaded it overnight)
  2. Preheat broiler (or grill).
  3. Thread beef onto 8 skewers (reserve marinade) and grill or broil 4" from the heat for 12-15 minutes, or until beef is lightly browned on all sides and no longer pink in the centre (it's beef though, so you can probably cook less)
  4. While beef is cooking, heat skillet with oil and add zucchini, scallions, (corn), and beans. Cook, stirring, for 5 minutes, or until the beans are crisp-tender. Add the tomatoes and 2 tbsp of the reserved marinade (more if you like it more saucy); cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes. Add cilantro. Serve with the beef.
We really enjoyed this recipe and will definitely make it again. If you precut / pre-chop all the vegetables beforehand, it's really quick to make.

Monday, 18 August 2014

Spaghetti Squash Pad Thai

We were organized enough to make this Spaghetti Squash Pad Thai from the myfitnesspal website after returning from a camping trip. We have a new found love for squash of all types. They're so healthy and make such great replacements for pasta (which makes me lethargic).

Unfortunately, there are no pictures because we were too hungry.

Ingredients:
  • 1 pound Skinless, Boneless Chicken Breast
  • 1 large Spaghetti Squash
  • 2 large Carrots, grated
  • 1 Red Bell Pepper, thinly sliced
  • 4 Green Onions, thinly sliced + more for garnish
  • 3 Garlic Cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup Cilantro, plus more for garnish
  • 1/3 cup chopped Unsalted Peanuts
  • 2 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
For the sauce:
  • 1/4 cup Chicken Broth
  • 1/4 cup Rice Vinegar (or substitute White Vinegar)
  • 2 tablespoons Lime Juice (if you roll the lime really hard before cutting in, you should be able to squeeze enough from one lime)
  • 3 tablespoons Honey
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Sesame Oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon Pepper
Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut spaghetti squash in half lengthwise and scoop out seeds and guts. Drizzle the flesh side with olive oil and place face down on a baking sheet. Bake for about 45 minutes (until a fork slides in easily).
  2. When the squash is done, remove it from the oven and let it cool for about 5-10 minutes. When it is cool enough to handle, use a fork to scrape out all of the spaghetti squash, until all you have left is the skin. Set the squash in a colander for about 10 minutes to drain all of the excess moisture.
  3. Make the sauce by combining all sauce ingredients in a small saucepan and warming over medium-low heat. It does not need to boil. Keep it warm while you prepare the rest of the meal.
  4. Grate, slice, and chop the vegetables (peppers, carrots, green onions and garlic). If your peanuts are not chopped, chop them now, before you contaminate your cutting board with raw chicken.
  5. Cut the chicken into small pieces and season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook in a large skillet over medium-high heat with 2 tbsp of olive oil. Stir occasionally until the chicken is lightly brown.
  6. Add the vegetables and saute for about 3-4 minutes, until vegetables are tender-crisp. Add the drained spaghetti squash and the sauce to the skillet and stir until evenly distributed.
  7. Remove from heat and stir in the peanuts and cilantro.
  8. Garnish with more green onions and cilantro.
  9. And of course, add sriracha to taste.

Monday, 11 August 2014

Craft Beer Market Restaurant + Bar

Went to Craft to celebrate a friend's birthday.

First of all, they didn't take reservations, so we had to try to show up early - and the place wasn't full at any point during the evening - probably due to the Squamish Music Fest.

One of my friends ordered the "Around the World" beer sampler. As always, I never order them because there's always one or two that just really sucks. Lo and behold, the one from Quebec (forget the actual name) was really bad (according to my friend). The rest were decent though.


Apparently, my friends were full from lunch so they only ordered some appetizers. Below is the nacho barrel. We understood why it was a "barrel" after it arrived; it was huge - for $18, I guess it has to be. But really, is this WORTH $18? The nachos tasted average, nothing special. We didn't actually finish the whole thing and there were nine of us at the table.


The Crab Cake Sliders were pretty good, especially the aioli on the side. You could definitely taste the crab. $12 and it was gone in less than 5 minutes.


Some of us also ordered the salt and pepper wings and tacos. They were average and wasn't anything spectacular.

As my meal I had the Bacon & Blue Cheese Burger. Everyone was shocked at the colour of the bun - it looked like it was burnt, but tasted fine. The blue cheese oozed out as you cut into it. There was a decent amount of bacon so that every bite you take has some bacon in it. The onions, mustard, and mayo really helped balance the saltiness of the meat and cheese. The fries were well seasoned. Solid burger and fries for $16 - packed two-thirds of it to take home for lunch.


Some other dishes we ordered were the dark beer braised beef brisket, phillips beer can chicken, and brewmaster's chicken sandwich - all of which were decent. Nothing spectacular, but nothing upsetting either.

We ordered the Früli Float for the birthday boy as dessert. It tasted very strongly of strawberry with just a tiny hint of beer. You know it's good when the boys finished the whole thing - can't go wrong with ice cream. The server even brought it with multiple straws for everyone to partake in.


Speaking of server / service. The service was solid. We were sitting in the upstairs loft area but our server was attentive and friendly. My tiny glass of beer (0.45L glass of pilsner for $6.75) was never empty - my server checked in enough to make sure I always had something to drink.

The establishment also charges an automatic gratuity of 18% for large groups, which our server kindly pointed out to us when she brought out the cheque. I thought that was very professional as some servers at other establishments don't say anything and patrons end up just tipping on top of the tip.

Overall, it was a good place for a group of us to just hang out and shout funny stories at each other. I wouldn't go back as I thought everything was over priced but nothing was absolutely delicious or would make you think "Wow, this is great!" I could walk down the block to the Tap & Barrel for better food and more reasonably priced drinks. Probably won't be returning unless I have to go to another birthday or something - but if I had any say in the choice of venue, I'd probably choose somewhere else.

CRAFT Beer Market on Urbanspoon