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¬†ūüėÄ

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 ūüôā

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 ūüôā

 

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.

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!

March 16th, 2013. Fancy Time at Yew @ The Four Seasons 

yew seafood + bar
yew seafood + bar

 

After brunch with Joyce I rendezvoused with Tracy downtown. ¬†It’s been a while since Tracy was downtown with a gal-pal! ¬†We strolled through Holt Renfrew trying on high-end shoes, and browsing the gorgeous and (some not so cute) haute couture bags ūüėČ

yew seafood + bar
yew seafood + bar

 

 

 

 

Tracy was just so happy to be out of the house and having some much deserved me-time that we also stopped in at Yew at the Four Season’s for a snack!

yew seafood + bar
yew seafood + bar

 

 

 

Tracy was intent on getting a cocktail to make the most of the experience, but since I’d be driving us back I opted for a delicious little Cappuccino. ¬†It joyfully came served with an in-house made Biscotti ūüôā ¬†Gotta love the extra little touch and detail that I’ve come to expect from Yew¬†‚ô•

yew seafood + bar
yew seafood + bar

 

For my nibbles I ordered the Organic Local Apple Tart. ¬†Of course this wasn’t just your average apple tart. ¬†No, this was an apple tart made of Cox’s Pippin and Liberty French apples,aged cheddar ice cream and hazelnuts. ¬†Thin shavings of the cheddar and a caramely glaze garnished the slate that the dessert was served on.

yew seafood + bar
yew seafood + bar

Rich, buttery pastry encompassed the sweet and tart apples which were not soggy and still retained a hint of that great apple crunch. ¬†I’m not a huge fan of nuts, so the hazelnuts were just nuts to me, but I loved nibbling on the cheese shavings held between my fingers and that ice cream was super creamy and smooth with just a breath of that rich cheesy flavor.

¬†As always, a very satisfying experience and service, as always, was prompt, pleasant and helpful. ¬†Yew gets a thumbs up every time ūüėÄ

Kishimoto on Commercial Drive

December 24, 2013

March 8th, 2013. Kishimoto on Commercial Drive

kishimoto japanese kitchen

kishimoto japanese kitchen

 

 

So, my lunch date suggested that we meet up at Kishimoto on Commercial Drive for lunch. ¬†He claimed that it’s the most solid sushi joint he’s discovered since moving to Vancouver and that he’s becoming a regular there.

kishimoto japanese kitchen

kishimoto japanese kitchen

 

 

 

He also warned me that it’s small and is always extremely full, so it was a good thing I arrived a little early to get us a table! ¬†True to prediction it was packed when I got there and I was actually feeling lucky when I got sat about 15 minutes in!

kishimoto japanese kitchen

kishimoto japanese kitchen

 

 

 

 

 

When I saw Chawan Mushi on the menu I got super excited!! ¬†There is nothing more exceptional than a perfect chawan mushi!! ¬†Super silky, soft egg custard steamed so that there’s almost this umami-like broth or consomme, this one had bits of chicken, prawn, mushroom, gingko nuts, and fish cake.

kishimoto japanese kitchen

kishimoto japanese kitchen

 

 

 

 

 

Amazing mouth feel as you take a spoonful, it was as delicate as a cloud and mind-blowingly simple in taste but complex in the intricacy.  Every singly component was perfectly cooked and was singing in harmony.  LOVE!!

kishimoto japanese kitchen

kishimoto japanese kitchen

 

 

 

Give it up for presentation!  When the rolls came out the plate was decked out with a coconut bowl of dry ice, crispy edible adornments and and edamame and daikon decorations!  Hahaha, whimsical and delightful!

kishimoto japanese kitchen

kishimoto japanese kitchen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the plate: A simple Spicy Salmon Maki.  Fresh, uncomplicated and straight forward.

kishimoto japanese kitchen

kishimoto japanese kitchen

 

 

 

 

 

 

Also, the Spicy Cactus Roll. To the naked eye it may just look like a California Roll rolled around in sesame seeds, but it’s actually spicy crab, tempura bits and avocado THEN rolled around in sesame seeds and topped with tobiko ūüėČ ¬†Yum!!

kishimoto japanese kitchen

kishimoto japanese kitchen

 

 

 

Mmmmm~ I love a good Tuna Tataki!  Perfectly seared tuna just melting in your mouth with the freshness and kick of the green onions, rustic flavor of garlic chips and the sweet and salty of the ponzu sauce.  So delicious!

kishimoto japanese kitchen

kishimoto japanese kitchen

 

 

 

I also just really enjoy the fatty richness of Salmon Kama. ¬†Simply a baked salmon cheek with garlic chips and ponzu sauce, it can be very tender, succulent and has loads of flavor! ¬†One of my personal favorites wherever I go ūüôā

kishimoto japanese kitchen

kishimoto japanese kitchen

 

 

 

 

To round off the lunch I couldn’t resist this gorgeous Yuzu Sorbet. ¬†The perfect palate cleanser, it was refreshing, light, and a great way to end the meal on a pleasing note ūüôā

kishimoto japanese kitchen

kishimoto japanese kitchen

 

 

 

I feel like the constant thread throughout the lunch was simplicity done at such a level of excellence that it transcended into intricacy.  I loved it and would come back again and recommend it to everyone!!

March 2nd, 2013. Yum Time @ Zakkushi!!

zakkushi on denman

zakkushi on denman

 

 

 

 

After a bit of a social dry spell I was more than excited about an evening of eats with Richard to explore a place we’d heard so much about… Zakkushi on Denman!

zakkushi on denman

zakkushi on denman

 

 

Zakkushi is a Japanese Izakaya bar space that focuses on one main thing….grilling anything on a stick! ¬†What’s not to love about that? ¬†I love everything about it! ¬†In true Vancouver style the main food station is right in the open with the delicious aromas of grilled meats wafting and filling up the small and cozy space. ¬†With the house packed full Richard and I got seats right at the bar to start off the night.

zakkushi on denman

zakkushi on denman

 

 

 

After drooling all over the menu we finally put up a mass order and waited for the skewered barrage to start flowing in!  And the food kept coming ;D

zakkushi on denamn

zakkushi on denamn

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alright, so the first trio of skewers to show up were the Kurobuta Pork, Wasa Beef and Uzura Maki.

zakkushi on denamn

zakkushi on denamn

 

 

 

The Uzura Maki really was a no-brainer for us since it was what I had used as my bait to get Richard interested in coming here! Uh, bacon wrapped quail eggs topped off with a sweet and creamy mayo and seaweed shreds?  Yes, yes and YES!  The epitome of everything I enjoy including the fact that it comes on a stick!

zakkushi on denamn

zakkushi on denamn

 

 

Usually I associate Kurobuta Pork with Japadog and their Kurobuta hotdogs.  This was a different application and just as super tasty!  The char flavor coming through on that juicy pork with the sweet marinade was really the clincher here.

zakkushi on denamn

zakkushi on denamn

 

 

 

The Wasa Beef is AAA grade slices of beef topped off with fresh wasabi and those seaweed ribbons. ¬†Simple, clean, flavorful and that wasabi is just the right kinda kick! ¬†Another winner ūüôā

zakkushi on denamn

zakkushi on denamn

 

 

 

 

 

As indicators of the rest of the meal to come these first 3 were having us chomping at the bit and wanting more!!

zakkushi on denamn

zakkushi on denamn

 

 

 

 

We also wanted to order some special items and the Charcoal Grilled Yellowtail with Oroshi (grated radish) and Ponzu Sauce sounded like just the thing!  Tender, light and melt-in-your-mouth fish with that light and refreshing touch with the ponzu and oroshi!

zakkushi on denamn

zakkushi on denamn

 

 

The special of the day was also an Octopus Carpaccio with Spicy Sauce, which was actually kind of like a Korean Gochujang sauce.  The sweet Korean chili paste goes GREAT with fresh octopus and really highlights the natural sweetness and meatiness you get from octopus.

zakkushi on denamn

zakkushi on denamn

 

 

Back onto beef, we had the Oropon Beef, which was again AAA grade beef, this one topped with the grated daikon and ponzu.  Great for flavor and cutting the richness to add an underlying layer of sweetness and acidity and brightness.

zakkushi on denamn

zakkushi on denamn

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Side dishes?  Yes, why not go for a trio of them!  Gomae, Chilled Tofu and some Pickled Veg!

zakkushi on denamn

zakkushi on denamn

 

 

 

 

 

I told Richard he MUST try some tongue so I also went ahead and ordered the Negi Tongue. ¬†Now, when you go to Asian supermarkets and see these gigantic frozen cow tongues studded with tastebuds you just kinda wanna keep walking…and walking…and walking.. until you are far far away! ¬†But when done well they are actually super tender and yummy! ¬†Japanese izakaya places seem to get it consistently right and I always like to order a portion! ¬†This one with the almost caramelized onion sauce was no exception and even had Richard lapping it up!

zakkushi on denamn

zakkushi on denamn

 

 

Who doesn’t love duck? ¬†Fatty, rich, and full of amazing flavor! ¬†We definitely had to order the Duck Breast with Yuzu Citrus Chili Sauce. ¬†Rendered down just right with the signature duck texture and unctuousness. ¬†Just gorgeous ūüėÄ

zakkushi on denamn

zakkushi on denamn

 

 

 

 

Mmmmm~~ P-Toro! ¬†Just pure, simple crunchy, juicy pork served up with a slice of lemon. ¬†So simple, but nothing comforts your palate like delicious pork belly! ¬†Drool worthy, for sure ūüėÄ

zakkushi on denamn

zakkushi on denamn

 

 

 

And yes, I had to do it… Takoyaki!! ¬†Delicious fried balls of light Japanese batter filled with bits of octopus and topped off with light and salty bonito flakes and that yummy yummy sauce! ¬†I can’t help myself, I love this especially when it’s hot & fresh!

zakkushi on denamn

zakkushi on denamn

 

 

How happy were we with this meal?  So much that we were both on the verge of major food coma and delirious from the many many foodgasms!

Mmmmm~~~ Such yum and much happiness!!

 

Chronic Tacos – New West

November 5, 2013

January 15th, 2013. Birthday Tacos!! 

 

chronic tacos new west

chronic tacos new west

 

 

 

Eunice and Howard asked what I wanted to eat for my birthday..I said: TACOS!  Hahaha!  I had lifegroup later that night so we went to Chronic Tacos in New Westminster for lunch.

 

chronic tacos new west

chronic tacos new west

 

 

 

 

I decided I wanted to go full out and got both the Carne Asada & Carnitas Tacos as well as Chips & Salsa!  The crunch of the chips were so satisfying with the tacos!  Yummy birthday lunch!!

October 6th, 2012.¬†Monica’s Bridal Shower~

monica's bridal shower

monica’s bridal shower




¬† As Monica’s bridesmaids Meliza, Rina and I had a fun time meeting up at McDonalds for coffee and planning the bridal shower, among other things. ¬†We decided we’d have it at Rina’s home and John Ryu even offered to cater for the event! ¬†Yay!

monica's bridal shower

monica’s bridal shower






We spent the night before putting up most of the decorations, but we did still have a lot to do on the day of. ¬†It’s all in the details and we definitely wanted it to be a perfect day for Monica! ¬†Thank goodness it was a gorgeously sunny day!

monica's bridal shower

monica’s bridal shower








Assortment of glass flower vases borrowed from our church so we could add some bright yellow flowers for some color accent ūüôā ¬†Mix and match is in, right? ūüėČ


monica's bridal shower

monica’s bridal shower








Meliza even baked cupcakes for the occassion. ¬†Now that’s a dedicated and loving maid of honor right there ūüėČ ¬†Delicious and so pretty to look at!



monica's bridal shower

monica’s bridal shower







Since the shower was held mid-afternoon we wanted to do kind of a standing afternoon snack situation.






monica's bridal shower

monica’s bridal shower


One simple truth in life: It’s always good to have at least a couple of chef friends ūüėČ ¬†John is kind of our go-to guy for when we need extremely delicious food that looks amazing, is made with care, and fits the budget! ¬†Comedian and chef all in one, John in the kitchen is funny as well as completely capable of putting together great food ūüėÄ

monica's bridal shower

monica’s bridal shower




We figured Mexican themed food would be a good way to go for fresh flavors and impact. ¬†Fresh Guacamole anyone? ¬†Perfectly chunky, creamy, with a nice level of heat. Mmmmmmm…. Guacamole!!

monica's bridal shower

monica’s bridal shower









The Pico de Gallo was super refreshing as well.  The saltiness of the chips with the bright acidity of the salsa: so yummy!!




monica's bridal shower

monica’s bridal shower


The definite highlight of the afternoon, though, was definitely the Ahi Tuna Tostadas.  Black and white sesame seed encrusted ahi tuna lightly seared atop a light wasabi cream cabbage slaw and slice of creamy acocado on a deep fried crisp.  The spring onion on top added a little extra spice and pop of color.  Pretty, super delicious and had me going back for more!

monica's bridal shower

monica’s bridal shower




Monica loves a good spinach dip! ¬†For our warm dish we had this Homemade Spinach Dip served with soft baguette slices. ¬†Was a crowd pleaser for sure ūüôā ¬†Thanks, John, for all the tasty food ūüėÄ

monica's bridal shower

monica’s bridal shower








Good food, fun games, sunshine and a great girlfriend celebrating with friends for getting married! ¬†What a wonderful afternoon ūüėÄ

Lunching at Earls ;)

September 4, 2013

September 8th, 2012.¬†¬†Lunching at Earls ūüėČ

earls (langley)

earls (langley)

 

 

 

 

 

Enjoying the sun as I lunch on the patio at Earls in Langley.  What to order?  Why, some Fish Tacos, of course!

earls (langley)

earls (langley)

 

 

 

Grilled lime and coriander marinated wahoo with a mango & avocado salsa and a spicy crema over grilled flour tortillas served with a spicy roasted tomato soup.  Mmmmmm~~ blasts of flavor, ripe avocado and mango, great fish and delicious soup.  Satisfying and perfect on a sunny day!

 

September 1st, 2012. Indian Summer Fun 

sanafir (glowbal group)

sanafir (glowbal group)

I’d arranged to meet Anita (@PetiteFoodie) and one of her other foodie girlfriends, Tien (@distienct) for dinner at Sanafir. ¬†It’s a restaurant I’d been wanting to try since it opened a few years ago….and as luck would have it here I was on the last day of their dinner service to finally try it. ¬†Late for the Sanafir train much? ¬†Part of the Glowbal group it was known for it’s oriental/multi-national flair with food, the low cushioned seating and opulent and risque evening entertainment. ¬†We arrived earlier in the evening but the place was already pretty full..we were able to snag a little corner table on their tiny patio.

sanafir (glowbal group)

sanafir (glowbal group)

 

 

 

Start with a round of cocktails? ¬†Oh, why not ūüėÄ ¬†They were a bit of a hit and miss, which was actually an indicator of our meal to come….but overall the drinks were stiff but not bad.

sanafir (glowbal group)

sanafir (glowbal group)

 

 

 

Jamon y Manchego: shaves of serrano ham, a quince “slice”, some olives and manchego cheese. ¬†Simple “charcuterie” starter. ¬†Nothing really to write home about as Judas Goat Taberna and Salt Tasting Room both rule the arena for this sort of fare. ¬†But good, classic, basic flavor combinations.

sanafir (glowbal group)

sanafir (glowbal group)

 

Next up was the¬†Scallop Ceviche with Tomato and Avocado: Refreshing and the scallops were okay, but definitely not enough avocado to add creaminess to the dish and the crostinis were way too hard. ¬†Our complaint was that it just wasn’t a ceviche. ¬†It didn’t seem that the scallops were marinated in citrus long enough and there wasn’t much of that acidic kick. ¬†Just seemed like a lame ceviche.. ūüė¶

sanafir (glowbal group)

sanafir (glowbal group)

 

Our first main was the¬†Lobster and Duck Paella¬†served with clams, mussels and chorizo sausage. ¬†Again…a bit of a let down. ¬†Despite being served with a lobster tail the flavor was just bland, which is funny because all the components are all known to be super flavorful. ¬†The duck was tough and the lobster slightly overcooked, and everything else was just underwhelming.

We also had the¬†Butter Chicken¬†which I seem to have lost photos of…but don’t hold your breath, because it really wasn’t all that amazing either. ¬†The best part may have been the accompanying pappadums and those probably weren’t even made in house, so, yeah. ¬†Seems like Sanafir was more keen on getting the heck out than giving us all a memorable last dinner. ¬†Oh well…. now they’re gone!

Xiao Long Bao at Home

September 2, 2013

August 24th, 2012. Xiao Long Bao at Home 

frozen xiao long bao

frozen xiao long bao

 

 

 

I love Xiao Long Bao as much as the next person, but sometimes you just can’t get your sorry ass out to Richmond for a decent soup dumpling. ¬†So what did I do? ¬†Picked up a bag of these babies from T&T!

frozen xiao long bao

frozen xiao long bao

 

 

 

 

 

I also picked up a head of cabbage for the sole purpose of lining my steaming pot.  Placed the frozen dumplings down and proceeded to wait.

frozen xiao long bao

frozen xiao long bao

 

 

Voila! ¬†Not the most amazing certainly, the dumpling skin wasn’t too thick or doughy, the filling inside WAS a little too clumped and just one little blob, and a few of the dumplings cracked as they were defrosting and the soup leaked…but by no means was it terrible. ¬†It still had good flavor, the soup was not bland, and it may be that I just needed to thaw them a little before steaming them. ¬†3/5 ¬†ūüôā