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 😀

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.

March 16th, 2013.  Eunice Makes The Best Soup Ever~ 

homemade chicken vegetable soup

homemade chicken vegetable soup

 

 

 

I come home from a long day and what do I come home to?????  My talented sister lovingly working on the most delicious homemade soup!

homemade chicken vegetable soup

homemade chicken vegetable soup

 

 

 

The clearest soup base full of natural flavor. Sweet, savory, rich, and clear all in one go.  Tender real turkey, gorgeous vegetables.  Honestly, I am so lucky to be living with such an amazing cook!

Pearl Hot Pot (Burnaby)

February 14, 2014

March 11th, 2013. Sister Date Day~

pearl hot pot

pearl hot pot

 

 

 

Eunice suggested a sister date of hot pot and a movie.  How could I resist?  What a wonderful idea!  She recommended a place she’s been to in Burnaby called Pearl Hot Pot.

pearl hot pot

pearl hot pot

 

 

 

Usually hot pot is a communal food activity, but in this case they bring out individual pots per person and you can choose your own hot pot type.  There are base “combos” dependant on the protein that include veggies and choice of noodles and each combo comes with a soft drink and dessert, too!

pearl hot pot

pearl hot pot

 

 

Dim sum meets hot pot; you choose off the menu which base hot pot you want and then you have the option of checking off on your menu sheet any additional items your’d like to add on such as vegetable, seafood, or meat items.

pearl hot pot

pearl hot pot

 

 

It is fun to eat as a group out of a big pot, but I felt that the individual is a nice way to go as well especially if you want different things or if you come by yourself.  Also, it comes with a raw egg, which I love!  I’m egg poacher 😉  I like to drop it in gently and swirl the egg whites but keep the yolk intact and give it a slow poach so it cooks through!

pearl hot pot

pearl hot pot

I think the ingredients are not bad (just not great), the fish balls can be kind of a miss as you can see from the gray-ish color it is in the photo….but the meat and seafood are fine, the veggies are firm, and the broth is decently flavored, so I would say that overall it’s okay 😀  As always, hot pot is just super fun to eat and hot soup and dipping things in it is always yummy and interactive!

 

March 10th, 2013. Kumare – Filipino Group Dinner!

kumare restaurant & bakery

kumare restaurant & bakery

 

 

 

 

My lifegroup is a bunch that love to eat, and for the most part we are eager  to try new things.  Despite about one third of the group being Filipino we have never gone out for Filipino food and many of us are not familiar with the cuisine….so we planned a spontaneous Filipino food adventure!

kumare restaurant & bakery

kumare restaurant & bakery

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our resident experts suggested we go to Kumare in Richmond, a pretty reputable Filipino restaurant.  Sunday dinner with my family of friends?  Yes, please!  Kumare is a clean restaurant/bakery accented with modern furnishings.  Call me silly, but to me that is inviting 😀

kumare restaurant & bakery

kumare restaurant & bakery

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The menu has great photos that help even novices to Filipino food navigate the cuisine!

kumare restaurant & bakery

kumare restaurant & bakery

 

 

 

Crispy Pata is an item that came highly recommended in Yelp reviews, so I definitely wanted us to order that.  Crispy deep fried pork hock with a yummy dipping sauce, the skin was nice and crisp, and the bites had a nice marbling of fat throughout to add tenderness and flavor.

kumare restaurant & bakery

kumare restaurant & bakery

 

 

 

 

Of course no Asian meal is complete without rice…and what’s even better?  Garlic Rice!  The garlic definitely added more pizazz without being overpowering 🙂

kumare restaurant & bakery

kumare restaurant & bakery

 

 

Since this was one of the only times I didn’t really have any weight on the ordering when THIS came to the table I was quite kerflummoxed!  Dinuguan is essentially a pork blood stew with chunks of pork simmering in a vinegar pork blood “gravy”. This dish is true Filipino soul food!  It took all the courage in me to take a small bite of this…and I have to be honest I didn’t really like it.  It was tangy and gloopy and it’s most definitely an acquired taste.  The Filipinos at the table enjoyed it though, which means it must be pretty close to what they are familiar with!

kumare restaurant & bakery

kumare restaurant & bakery

 

 

Beef Caldreta is another stew, but in a tomato based creamy gravy with beef shank, bell peppers and potato.  Because of the tomato based sauce and the large pieces of bell pepper this dish really brought a brightness to the mix.  Really yummy with the rice, too!

kumare restaurant & bakery

kumare restaurant & bakery

 

 

The fun thing about Filipino food is the way they repeat words! Beef Kare Kare!  True to it’s roots and not wasting any part of the animal this dish consists of oxtail, trip and tendon and the peanut sauce lends a subtle sweetness and creaminess that’s quite delightful 🙂

kumare restaurant & bakery

kumare restaurant & bakery

 

Sinigang is another staple Filipino dish and I can’t remember whether this one was pork or beef based, but it incorporated okra, eggplant and veggies in a sour tamarind soup base.  This sour tamarind is such a signature flavor of Filipino cuisine and not like any other soup I’ve ever tasted!

kumare restaurant & bakery

kumare restaurant & bakery

 

Another popular dish is the Sizzling Sisig!  Crispy pork face, red onion, chili and ginger on a sizzling hot plate with a raw egg on top!  Now this was an exciting dish that employed the sense of smell, sight and audio.  Mix mix that egg in with the aromatic pork and splash that wedge of lemon over everything and you have hot, crispy, zippy, bright and rich flavors bursting in your mouth!  Loved this 😀

kumare restaurant & bakery

kumare restaurant & bakery

 

We were stuffed with dinner but the display case up front with such interesting looking desserts tempted us to stretch out stomachs some more! Halo Halo~~~  No, it’s not a greeting, it’s Filipino shaved ice!  Assorted beans, jellies, jackfruit, sweet banana, leche flan, ube, and taro ice cream…the ultimate Filipino dessert!

kumare restaurant & bakery

kumare restaurant & bakery

 

I couldn’t resist the Sansrival: Almond meringue topped off with chopped almond.  Now I’m usually not a fan  of nuts, but this just looked so decadent and lovely!  Layers and layers of airy but super rich meringue with the crunchy almond crumb, it was just the right amount of sweet and nutty, creamy and crunchy!

kumare restaurant & bakery

kumare restaurant & bakery

 

 

Finally, this purple dessert creation, Ube Macapuno Cake!  It’s not a sweet dessert, but super moist, the cream is super light and the macapuno strings of jelly add a bit of texture.  A nice way to conclude a big meal 🙂

kumare restaurant & bakery

kumare restaurant & bakery

 

How was the meal?  Warm, communal, and adventurous!  I would say that the act of sharing heightened the experience.  Since we really ordered the full spectrum of Filipino cuisine I feel like I can go back and will be able to figure out what I want next time!  It’s been a long while since I’ve been in the side of learning about a new food culture, so for me this was a great experience of taking a back seat and just enjoying exploring the flavors and offerings!

February 19th, 2013.  The Coquitlam Grill

the coquitlam grill

the coquitlam grill

 

 

 

Been really loving on The Coquitlam Grill for the last little while.  Great neighborhood spot with a huge menu (lots of options!), fantastic breakfasts, decent lunch specials and just that great down-home feel.

Solid food and reasonable service all add up to many repeat visits ;D

(Hot Chocolate with Whipped Cream piled high!)

Caffe Divano – Port Moody

November 3, 2013

January 14th, 2013. Jenn Day 

 

caffe divano port moody

caffe divano port moody

 

 

 

 

  Snow day!  A nice quite time at a coffeeshop sounds like a good way to enjoy it 🙂  Going out to Caffe Divano on my last day being 28!

 

caffe divano port moody

caffe divano port moody

 

 

 

 

 

  Deliciously rich and creamy Spanish Latte and housemade Spinach and Feta Scone 😀

The Fish Shack

October 30, 2013

December 27th, 2012. The Fish Shack 

the fish shack

the fish shack

 

 

 

 

 

 

  A little holiday indulgence?  We definitely felt that it was well deserved on all our parts to do at least one dinner out downtown 🙂  Henry, Eunice and I all have birthdays in January, so this was kind of our pre-birthday siblings dinner out!

the fish shack

the fish shack

the fish shack

the fish shack

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After a bit of “research” I suggested we do The Fish Shack on the Granville Entertainment District, a newer place where Sanafir used to be.  Eunice loves oysters, I craved crawfish, and Henry will eat just about anything… Perfect!  Howard and Chris were more than welcome to join us since the more the merrier is generally our philosophy 🙂

 

 

 

 

It’s not the largest space, but the high ceilings give it the illusion of being spacious.  I thought the crate detailing along the height of the walls was clever and compared to other Glowbal restaurants gave the place a more friendly and approachable atmosphere.

the fish shack

the fish shack

 

 

 

 

Even our waiter was much friendlier than the usual Global service we come to expect!  Right off the bat our waiter was inviting, warm and made us feel right at home as if he was our friend!

the fish shack

the fish shack

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ermrrrrggggdddd!!  What to order??  Everything looks so good!

the fish shack

the fish shack

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chris and Howard start off with a glass of house white and red, which come in humble glass tumblers.  Again, just as if you’re at home ;D

the fish shack

the fish shack

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eunice goes a bit fancier with The Fish Shack’s Very Own Caesar Cocktail; Pinnacle Vodka and their very own ceasar mix of tomato and clamato juice, horseradish, tabasco sauce, worcestershire sauce, fresh lime juice, salt & pepper, dijon mustard, prawn and a pepperoni stick. (Photo is sans pepperoni as Eunice was already nibbling on it!)

the fish shack

the fish shack

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And Eunice also couldn’t resist ordering some oysters on a half shell.  I tried one, and they were fresh and succulent!

the fish shack

the fish shack

 

 

 

 

 

 

Howard said he wasn’t very hungry and decided on thre New Englad Clam Chowder.  Joke was on him because this cream based chowder was very rich and filling!

the fish shack

the fish shack

 

 

 

 

 

Chris opted for the Fish Taco, which consists of flour tortilla tacos with homemade guacamole and roasted corn and tomato salsa.  Al fresca at it’s finest!

 

the fish shack

the fish shack

 

 

Everyone else may not have been sure what to order, but I was there specifically for the Fisherman’s Catch!  At $20 per person for 2 people it was a net of dungeness crab, mussels, snow crab, prawns, calamari, crayfish, potatoes, corn and chorizo!  How can I not love that?

 

the fish shack

the fish shack

 

 

 

Henry and I had pretty much decided to go in on this one together.  With a wooden slab as our “plate” and provided with all the instruments necessary for the meal to come this promised to be super awesome! 

 

the fish shack

the fish shack

 

 

 

The catch came in a net with a with the gorgeous broth just dripping into the bowl 🙂  Our waiter cut the net to release the beautiful seafood items, tossed them in the bowl and, VOILA, perfection!

 

the fish shack

the fish shack

 

 

Super well seasoned, moist and dripping with umami, I was transported into food heaven!  First of all, I LOVE crayfish and haven’t had any since my trip to New Orleans.  I LOVE crab and was NOT afraid of getting messy with it 😉  The chorizo added great savory notes, the potato was the perfect starch accompaniment and I must confess, I welcomed the numerous refills of the liquid butter for dipping.  I was happy, happy happy!

the fish shack

the fish shack

 

 

 

Chris also ordered the Creamy Horseradish Coleslaw to balance all the richness and seafood-ness.  We all agreed that we would have preferred more of that horseradish-signature spicy zing.

 

the fish shack

the fish shack

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mmmmmm~ Crispy Smelt & Fries with tartar sauce and a wedge of lemon!  Salty, crispy, yummy!  Excellent finger food 😀

the fish shack

the fish shack

 

 

 

 

 

I’m a sucker for good bread, and these buns that came on the wooden board were beyond!  light, slightly charred crusty outside that had a slight give and warm, webby dense inside: this bun was gorgeous for sopping up the delicious juices as well as just tearing into on it’s own. I attacked the bread so vigorously that the waiter had to bring us more!

the fish shack

the fish shack

 

 

 

Long after everyone else had thrown in the towel I was still going strong.  Chomping away, bread in one hand, crab cracker in the other hand.  I think Chris and Howard were pretty surprised to see me not even slowing down.  Even as the waiter was clearing off plates there I was guarding my food with one eye and and watching him suspiciously with the other!  Only the promise of dessert was enough to persuade me to pack up the rest!

the fish shack

the fish shack

 

 

 

Upon arriving at the restaurant I checked in via Yelp and lo and behold a coupon for a free dessert flashed before my very eyes!  Before we ordered dinner I showed our waiter the coupon and he said he’d be sure to bring one out to us.  Sticky Toffee Pudding with Chantilly Cream?  HECK YES!!!   Sticky. goopy, sweet and not shy on the sauce, it was all I wanted in a dessert that night!  Oooooooohhhhh, YEAH!!!

the fish shack

the fish shack

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Holidays and Happy Birthday to us~~! (And food coma for me…..!!)

December 26th, 2012.  Eunice Cooks!

korean meal at home

korean meal at home

 

  So we hit up H-Mart to stock up on some groceries since Henry was home for the holidays.

I don’t even know where to begin when it comes to cooking Korean food, but my sister just seems to be a natural at it.  And furthermore, her food actually comes pretty close to our mom’s cooking!

korean meal at home

korean meal at home

 

A natural at producing great, clean flavors and cooking with extreme care and attentiveness she produces a Korean meal that is full of love!

Fish roe sacks are usually topped off with sesame oil, sesame seeds and fresh chopped green onion.  Don’t knock it til you try it!  Slightly salty, rich and earthy from the sesame components and the light popping of the roe.  Mix it with your rice and you have gold!

korean meal at home

korean meal at home

 

For some reason or other I was just super into these fishcake “sausages” at the supermarket… I suppose from childhood/Korean living nostalgia… I just kept coming back to the case they were in… so we ended up getting them!  We dipped them in an egg wash and then I placed little bits of parsley to add some color and flavor and then pan fried them 🙂

korean meal at home

korean meal at home

 

 

 

 

Some more banchan: spicy dehydrated fish “cakes”, and spicy marinated and dehydrated roots.  A little sweet, a little spicy and a little chewy 🙂

korean meal at home

korean meal at home

 

 

 

 

 

 

She also banged out some kimchi tofu soup in no time at all!  I swear, I don’t know how she manages to just produce great food out of seemingly thin air!

korean meal at home

korean meal at home

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ahhhh~~~ a goood meal in our stomaches!!  Thank you, Eunice, for the excellent meal!!  You can really tell we loved it!

October 23rd, 2012. Seattle Trip~!!

portage bay cafe

portage bay cafe

 

 

 

 

I love Portage Bay Cafe in the University District, so I suggested we go there for brunch before we started our day of errands and shopping.

 

portage bay cafe

portage bay cafe

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nothing like some down home organic grub to start the day! I mean…probably not something I’d be able to whip up at home…but you know…that’s what Portage Bay Cafe is for!

portage bay cafe

portage bay cafe

 

 

 

 

 

 

I also noticed this time that they actually have a little chicken farm (?) right by the restaurant as well! I guess that’s where they source their delicious organic eggs and chicken 😀

portage bay cafe

portage bay cafe

 

 

 

 

What with the great selection and the constant new daily specials going on here it’s always hard to pick what I want to eat…but today the Rosemary Lamb Sloppy Joe Burger won out! Now, I’m not the biggest lamb fan…but something about sloppy joe on a brioche bun… bring it on!!

 

portage bay cafe

portage bay cafe

 

Anderson Ranch Lamb and Painted Hills Beef Mix, served Sloppy-Joe style with spicy Rosemary tomato sauce, and kale on a brioche bun served with some goat’s milk cheese and beet salad. Messy, sloppy, juicy, and full of flavor! This burger is a handful AND a mouthful of goodness! Go try it!!

portage bay cafe

portage bay cafe

 

 

 

 

 

 

Henry went for the Organic Roasted Chicken Club Sandwich served with Herbed Organic Potatoes. It disappeared pretty quickly so I can only surmise that he enjoyed it! It certainly looked yummy 🙂

 

 

 

 

Mmmmm~~ Portage Bay Cafe never disappoints and always delivers on flavor, freshness and creativity!  Breakfast of the organic conscious, westcoast champions!

October 10th, 2012. Homemade Turkey Soup~

homemade turkey soup

homemade turkey soup

 

 

So we still had some leftovers from that epic Thanksgiving dinner, so what does Eunice do?  She repurposes the leftovers into a magnificent Turkey Leftover Soup!

homemade turkey soup

homemade turkey soup

 

 

 

 

She actually took a lot of time and care into making a very clear and clean broth.  OMG, BEST turkey soup EVER!!  Comforting, tasty, satisfying.  I have the best sister ever 😀