May 5th, 2013. Happy Cinco de Mayo~~~

Taqueria Playa Tropical

Taqueria Playa Tropical

 
 
 
 
Holidays are a wonderful reason to enjoy food, and Mexican holidays are even better because we can get piggy with tacos!!  I actually discovered this super authentic Mexican hole-in-the-wall in New West and was chomping at the bit to try it out.
Taqueria Playa Tropical

Taqueria Playa Tropical

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Taqueria Playa Tropical is on 6th Street with a few other local gems. When I walked in there was a Mexican band playing, the small restaurant was packed full and decorations had been put up here and there to give it a festive feel.
Taqueria Playa Tropical

Taqueria Playa Tropical

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
The super friendly server sat me at a fairly spacious table with a menu and I proceeded to inspect the menu for my options.
Taqueria Playa Tropical

Taqueria Playa Tropical

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Obviously I had to order some Guava Juice. I love sweet tropical fruit!!  Guava and Watermelon. My favourite 2 fruit flavours ;)
Taqueria Playa Tropical

Taqueria Playa Tropical

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
The tortilla chips came in this adorable stone mortar which was cool.  Salsa verde and rojo were both pretty legit, too!  I just love condiments ;D
Taqueria Playa Tropical

Taqueria Playa Tropical

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
I ended up ordering a trio of tacos: Camaron, Carne Asada and Carnitas. The Carne Asada and Carnitas are my usual barometers for any given taqueria. I figure any self-respecting taqueria has to be able to deliver on these 2 staples.
Taqueria Playa Tropical

Taqueria Playa Tropical

 
 
 
 
 
 
First, the Carne Asada. The brightness of the fresh cilantro, tomato and onion were a refreshing foil to the straightforward beef. I appreciated that the beef wasn’t over done, it had enough moisture so that it didn’t get stringy and tough. Good start!
Taqueria Playa Tropical

Taqueria Playa Tropical

 
 
 
 
Next, the Carnitas! The carnitas was slightly drier than I expected but it had the right amount of heat with the perfect amount of sweet undertone.  And of course the guac was just on point! Just like the toppings on the carne you could tell my just looking at the guacamole that it was fresh. Vibrant color and flavour with the sharp tang of onion and cilantro cooling the heat of the pork. I still enjoyed it :)
Taqueria Playa Tropical

Taqueria Playa Tropical

 
I went out on a limb with the Camaron. I usually don’t order shrimp because it’s so easy to over-cook it, get shrimp that’s not fresh, or too small. I have to say, my choice paid off big time! I think I actually almost liked this taco the most! The shrimp was cooked just right having the right amount of spring, crunch and tenderness. Sweet grilled onion with some garlic, celery and cilantro topped with melted cheese.  This? You should eat this. It’s not aggressive, but it’s this wonderful harmony in your mouth! And of course you can always add a little salsa on it to amp it up ;)  This one was so good!
Taqueria Playa Tropical

Taqueria Playa Tropical

 
 
 
 
I give Taqueria Playa Tropical my seal of approval and would come again. It definitely has moved to the top of my list for Mexican food in Vancouver!

Pizza is Always Right

July 9, 2015

May 3rd, 2013. Pizza is Always Right!

panago pizza

panago pizza

 
 
 
 

In the end I couldn’t help myself….my tummy is a happy place for pizza to be!

Hope my car smells like pizza in the morning….lol!

April 28th, 2013. Sunday Lunch at Earl’s

coal harbout

coal harbout

 

 

After a lovely service at Coastal Church downtown Robert & I took advantage of the easy Sunday morning with a walk around Coal Harbour. With a view like this, how can you get tired of downtown?

earl's kitchen & bar (vancouver)

earl’s kitchen & bar (vancouver)

 

 

 

 

We figured the best way to send him back off to beautiful SoCal was to recreate our first final meal with a meal at Earl’s and then Bubble Tea for the drive to the airport. Might as well make more memories on a proven thing!

earl's kitchen & bar (vancouver)

earl’s kitchen & bar (vancouver)

 

 

 

 

 

Robert did not deviate from his original final meal and went with the Sirloin and Mashed Potato accompanied by a Bourbon Mushroom Demi Glace.

earl's kitchen & bar (vancouver)

earl’s kitchen & bar (vancouver)

 

 

 

I went the seasonal route with a juicy Halibut topped with a Warm Tomato Salad complete with a side of Corn and Roasted zucchini topped with Feta and a mini casserole of smashed crispy Garlic Yukon Potatoes with Sour Cream & Chives. Super moist fish, I loved all my sides, and was super satisfied.

Thanks, Earl’s for a delicious Sunday lunch!

April 27th, 2013. Spring Break in Vancouver!

el azteca modern tequila lounge

el azteca modern tequila lounge

 

 

 

So what to do in Vancouver? Eat as much food as possible! Continuing on our food-cation in Vancouver: a bite in Yaletown at El Azteca Modern Tequila Lounge  :D

el azteca modern tequila lounge

el azteca modern tequila lounge

 

 

Sure, Yaletown can be hit and miss in terms of actual good food and compared to how beautifully gussied up the interior is the service and authenticity of the cuisine can be a disappointment…but you can’t help trying.  Yaletown is like that really popular, pretty girl at the party that you just keep hoping is going to be your future wife, but then she opens her mouth and starts talking…and you realize that she thinks scalloped potatoes are made of scallops and that macaroons are the same as macarons…..

el azteca modern tequila lounge

el azteca modern tequila lounge

Anyways!! I digress.  With a preamble of cocktails, Robert and I started the evening with the Chicharron de Rib Eye; deep fried bites of rib-eye and guacamole served in a martini glass and a side of tortillas.  So, I really wanted to love this, and on paper it all sounded so good!  Not that it wasn’t good…the crunch on the rib-eye was great…but I think I’d have to say that rib-eye should just be left alone…not diced up small and that fried. Really ended up masking the flavor. But hey! It was still pretty yummy…just didn’t need to be made of rib-eye!

el azteca modern tequila lounge

el azteca modern tequila lounge

 

 

Robert went ahead with the Tacos Camarones of fresh Pacific shrimp, bacon, onion, peppers, and smokey habanero. The shrimp was plump, the flavors all worked together, and of course the true test of a taco is how much finger-lickin’ you do! I’d say this was a decent effort :)

el azteca modern tequila lounge

el azteca modern tequila lounge

 

 

I did my usual hemming and hawing over the menu and even picked our server’s brain.  In the end I ended up with the Cochinita Pibil. Pork slow-roasted in banana leaf (supposedly) and then served in a traditional peltre bowl served with a side of beans, pickles, and soft tortillas.

el azteca modern tequila lounge

el azteca modern tequila lounge

 

Did I enjoy it? YES! The pork came shredded, moist and smothered in a flavorful sauce that was sweet, tangy and had a little kick to it. 2 things I loved about this dinner: 1. It’s interactive. I get to build my own taco and play with ratio of ingredients.  LOVE THAT! 2. I was eating with a close friend whom I didn’t have to feel self-conscious about eating with my hands and having food juices dripping down my wrist. Hahaha!

el azteca modern tequila lounge

el azteca modern tequila lounge

 

 

 

 

I would NEVER order something like fajitas on a first-date situation, so the fact that I can order anything with Robert is a sign of true food-friendship ;D

el azteca modern tequila lounge

el azteca modern tequila lounge

 

 

 

 

 

 

A fun and playful touch to the end of our meal at El Azteca was the Jacob’s Ladder block toy that our check came in! Holy blast from the past!

el azteca modern tequila lounge

el azteca modern tequila lounge

 

 

 

Don’t judge my love for Churros. Or donuts. Or anything deep-fried.  With a tagline like “served with white chocolate dipping sauce” there is NO WAY I could resist an order to take out with me. Midnight snack here I come~!!!  Crispy, sugary, cinnamon-y, hot doughy goodness.  Yes, heaven, I’m sure, is full of churros :)

 

In conclusion, El Azteca is warm and inviting and service with cute Latino accents is always a plus, but the food doesn’t stand out, the flavors don’t pop, and for what you pay the portions are pretty meager. Is great for maybe a drink and small bites pre-party, but wouldn’t want to sink my entire night here.

April 27th, 2013. Bubble World on Robson!

bubble world (robson)

bubble world (robson)

 

 

 

 

So, walking back up Robson of course we had to follow up with our regular ritual of bubble tea!  Street Fighter+Bubble Tea = The best!

bubble world (robson)

bubble world (robson)

 

 

 

 

 

This particular location is tiny and doesn’t offer food (no salty peppery chicken nuggets? sad!), but it has a game station that evokes all kinds of childhood nostalgia!

bubble world (robson)

bubble world (robson)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sure, more than 10 years later I still suck, but the boys think I’m cute for trying so hard ;)

Banana Leaf on Robson

January 22, 2015

April 27th, 2013. Banana Leaf Robson

banana leaf robson

banana leaf robson

So I felt like a bright lunch would be a great way to go so I had planned for us to go to the new Banana Leaf that just opened up on Robson.

I ordered the appetizer platter as my lunch and I was pretty pleased! I love love love options and this dish came with the Papaya and Pineapple Salad, Chicken Satay, Spring Rolls, Roti Canai and Calamari.

banana leaf robson

banana leaf robson

Finger food, check. Sauces, check. Flavor, check! The roti canai was stretchy but with a crispy crust, the calamari was a tad dry, but acceptable with a salty and crumbly crispy coating, the spring rolls were deep fried goodness and while the satay could have been punchier with the flavor, it was still not bad! As for the salad, the dressing was bright, sweet, acidic, and overall was fresh!

banana leaf robson

banana leaf robson

 

 

Robert, on the other hand, was very disappointed with his curry dish. Being well traveled and also being from LA he’d know!  He said it was bland and forgettable and he even left a scathing comment card! Yikes!

April 27th, 2013. Spring Break In The City!

the betty (the burrard hotel)

the betty (the burrard hotel)

 

 

 

 

Good morning, Vancouver! It’s spring break!  It’s a typically rainy day, but that’s not going to stop us from making the most of it!

the betty (the burrard hotel)

the betty (the burrard hotel)

 

 

 




Another reason why I love The Burrard Hotel is that it has this incredibly sweet café attached to the lobby that has Blenz coffee and tea, very delicious looking baked goods and treats and is licensed for wine! The white and wood interior and teal and yellow accents make it that much more chic :D

the betty (the burrard hotel)

the betty (the burrard hotel)

 

 

 

 

In keeping with the rest of the hotel even the café offers cheeky little sayings and touches ;)  What’s not to love!  Makes starting the morning even more fun!

 

 

 

*Update (Jan. 22nd, 2015): The Betty has been re-vamped and is now The Container.

Alpha Global Sushi Bar

January 22, 2015

April 26th, 2013. Alpha Global Sushi Bar

alpha global sushi bar

alpha global sushi bar

 

In Vancouver you definitely have to have sushi!  It’s a must. Like, really. I mean it!

To kick off our spring break I took us to Alpha Global Sushi Bar. Yelp and other food reviews have almost always steered me in the right direction and I’d been hearing about this place for a while. While it’s at a higher price point than many the promise of unique twists and good quality just outside the Yaletown neighborhood had me anticipating a good meal :)

alpha global sushi bar

alpha global sushi bar

 

 


The space is small, with very limited seating, typical of your more traditional Japanese style joints. It’s cozy.  The interesting thing about Alpha is that you also get a hefty book on Japanese history along with your table and menu. Intellectual!

 

alpha global sushi bar

alpha global sushi bar

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mojitos are a must on sunny days and when reuniting with a friend! Refreshing, minty, subtly sweet and crisp!  My favorite cocktail :)

 

alpha global sushi bar

alpha global sushi bar

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Ebi Fry seemed to be a fan favorite, so we ordered it. Light, crispy, and super hot on the inside! The cool tartar sauce helped cool down our tongues and added a tangy punch!

alpha global sushi bar

alpha global sushi bar

 

 

 

We ordered the Spicy Tuna Sashimi with sliced onion, seaweed, green onion with a spicy ginger sauce.  Fresh tuna has a clean, sweet flavor and your teeth sink in the surface and then you get a slightly bouncy give towards the middle.  The spicy ginger sauce was refreshing and paired in a lovely way with the tuna!

 

alpha global sushi bar

alpha global sushi bar


The famous and namesake Alpha Roll has mango, tobiko, mayo crab, wrapped in albacore tuna, and avocado with a plum wine mustard mayo sauce.  You know me, I love sauce!  This roll was again, quite clean tasting and the sweet and rich sauces just added a decadence to it.  I am usually not a fan of mango, but this roll was nice :)

alpha global sushi bar

alpha global sushi bar

 

 

For our second roll I went with the Philly Roll.  Sure, it’s one of those “been there, done that” items, but I can’t help my love for cream cheese and smoked salmon ;)  While not being exactly exciting I was happy that they didn’t skimp on the smoked salmon as many places do.

alpha global sushi bar

alpha global sushi bar

 

 

Mind blowing moment: The Mentaiko Udon. Like, MIND. BLOWN. It was essentially udon noodles in a spicy cod roe sauce…..but what made it so amazing was that it was tossed in BUTTER! Like, WHAT???!!! How could something so simple, make something SO AMAZING!! Oh, right, IT’S BUTTER!  Okay, maybe I’m just a little crazy, but this was so so so so awesome. I loved it!!

Despite the fact that it seemed like a solid meal I couldn’t help feeling at the end that I wasn’t quite satisfied. Like, even though we were both full it still left me feeling like I was wanting something more. Hmmmmmm………

April 24th, 2013. Girls’ Night!

milestones langley

milestones langley

A much needed night out with my girls!

A light dinner at Milestones included the Baked Goat Cheese and Roasted Garlic plate. Wow!! When you go to Milestones you are really just there for the atmosphere and the company because for the most part you’re going to be let down by the food…..but this was a huge hit with all of us!

milestones langley

milestones langley




The roasted garlic was so sweet and flavorful, the baked brie was creamy and pungent with the black sesame giving a pleasant nuttiness to it and the spiced cranberry relish and fig jam both added a beautiful sweet note to counter the cheese and the garlic.  Super yum!
milestones langley

milestones langley




We also had the Butternut Squash Ravioli, which was pleasant but not special. I mean, Cactus Club Café does this much better. The Roma tomato sauce felt clunky and almost canned, the pesto was just kinda mild, and the pasta seemed slightly thick.



All in all though, we had a fun time catching up and the food was really just a thing for our hands and mouths to be doing as we bonded and just shared life :)

April 20th, 2013. Chilled Minty Sesame Soba Noodles with Soy-Wasbi Dressing

minty sesasme soba noodles

minty sesasme soba noodles

Don was having a potluck and karaoke birthday get-together at his place and of course my immediate thought was “what can I bring on a budget?!”  I also had to factor in the fact that I’d be working all day and would have very limited time to actually cook anything if I wanted to get to his place on time.

I looked in my fridge and staring back at me was this almost whole bunch of mint that I seriously didn’t want to waste. “Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding!”, I thought, cold soba!  I’d been having a craving for something like this anyways and Don’s birthday potluck was a perfect excuse to try my hand at something new :)
minty sesasme soba noodles

minty sesasme soba noodles


Although I did end up going out and buying most of my ingredients for this dish it was actually very affordable to procure all I needed.  So I went out and got some grated lemongrass, cucumber, asian white radish, tobiko and wasabi and started developing the dish.

I actually made my own pickeld vegetables! And even bought a mandoline slicer just for this occassion!  I hoped the dish would be a hit just on this fact alone.  Hey, I went out and bought a kitchen appliance just to make this dish. You better all like it!  I made a pickling liquid out of vinegar, salt, sugar and grated lemongrass.  Then I dunked the julienned radish and cucumber and left it in the fridge overnight tasting every few hours to see how much the veg had soaked up the juices.  I wanted it to be crisp, but packing lots of flavor.
minty sesasme soba noodles

minty sesasme soba noodles


After cooking the noodles and putting them in an ice bath I drained them and then coated them with a little sesame oil, salt and pepper.  I then mixed in the pickled veg and mint and even used some of the pickling liquid to keep the noodles nice and moist.

I rolled the noodles into “balls of yarn” slightly smaller than the size of my fist and sprinkled with tobiko for that “POP” and then dusted it with ground sesame seeds.
minty sesasme soba noodles

minty sesasme soba noodles


The dressing I made with soy, wasabi, grated lemongrass and some sugar and took it on the side so guests could add to their preference level of spiciness.

You know what? I impressed myself!  The dish was simply aromatic with a juxtaposition of sweet, savory, minty and tart.  It even had umami making me crave more after my first taste!  Mmmmmm~~~ this was a success in my books and I think everyone at the party enjoyed it as well!  Yay, me!!!!
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