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.

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 🙂

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!

January 19th, 2013. Birthday BBQ 

 

burgers etc bbq house

burgers etc bbq house

 

 

  Now that the weekend’s upon us time for a real birthday dinner!  I wasn’t feeling like a large get-together, so it was literally Eunice, Howard, Chris, Rachel and myself,  What did I want to eat?  BBQ!!  Vegetarian I am not… LOL!

 

 

burgers etc bbq house

burgers etc bbq house

 

  Originally I wanted to do Re-Up BBQ at the New West Quay, but they close too early and also it’s more of a food-court style venue in the market there and parking is just a hassle, so I switched it to Burgers Etc BBQ House on Hastings on the border of Vancouver/Burnaby.  A small little BBQ house that I haven’t been to in a long time!  I had a good impression of it the last time so I was anticipating another casual yet yummy meal 🙂

I had to have the Coke Float as soon as I saw it on the menu and what a good thing I got it… sweet, icy cold and delish!! Perfect for a BBQ meal!

 

 

burgers etc bbq house

burgers etc bbq house

 

 

 

 

  I wanted to share the combo platter so that I could have a little bit of everything!  It’s the obvious way to go at a place like this, DUH!

 

burgers etc bbq house

burgers etc bbq house

 

 

 

  Our platter was piled high with Sausages, Chicken Wings, BBQ Ribs, Smoked Chicken, Beef Brisket, and Pulled Pork!!  With fries, and my choice of macaroni and baked beans!  Everything was sooooooo yum and so much more food than it  seemed!

burgers etc bbq house

burgers etc bbq house

 

 

Everything was sauced really well and seasoned well too.  But that doesn’t mean it didn’t call for a good dose of BBQ sauce!  Come on, we’re talkin’ BBQ here!  Tender pulled pork and wings, delicious char on the ribs, big meaty chicken and briskets and sausage for days!

 

burgers etc bbq house

burgers etc bbq house

 

 

 

 

 

Chris also ordered the Pulled Pork sandwich for good measure.  

 

 

 

Super food coma again!!!  Awesomely satisfying birthday dinner with great company! 

Dinner at The Keg (Coquitlam)

September 2, 2013

August 23rd, 2012. Dinner at The Keg 

the keg - coquitlam

the keg – coquitlam

With Yire going to New York for a few weeks and us not knowing how long she’d be staying with us we figured we’d been pretty neglecting housemates for the last couple months, what with work being so crazy.  Also, Henry was only up for a few days so we decided to all go out for a treat and have dinner at The Keg!  What better way to ease the soul than to break bread over hunks of red meat 😉

the keg - coquitlam

the keg – coquitlam

 

 

 

Really, The Keg, hands down, has perhaps my favorite bread starter!  Large, warm, super soft and fluffy on the inside with a crispy but thin outer crust..how do they get it right all the time?

 

the keg - coquitlam

the keg – coquitlam

 

 

And Eunice insisted we should get the Mushroom Neptune as well.  No arm twisting required here: even though I am not a fan of mushrooms if it comes stuffed with crab and cream cheese and smothered in hot butter and cheese I won’t say no!

the keg - coquitlam

the keg – coquitlam

 

 

 

 

 

 

What’s a dinner party without a cocktail or 2?  The Rosemary Greyhound sounded too good to pass up: Absolute Vodka, housemade rosemary syrup, and freshly squeezed pink grapefruit juice.  This cocktail tasted like a classic drink with a fresh take.  Aromatic, fresh, and calm, I really enjoyed it 🙂

the keg - coquitlam

the keg – coquitlam

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At The Keg I always like to go with the thick Baseball Top Sirloin.  I got the rice pilaf and veg on the side.  Delicious?  Check.  Filling? Double Check!

 

the keg - coquitlam

the keg – coquitlam

 

 

 

 

 

The spread ;D  Jealous much?  Yummy dinner, service from a young, fresh waiter with an accent we couldn’t place and good times 🙂

 

July 7th, 2012. Dinner at Yoon & Krista’s~

dinner at yoon & krista's

dinner at yoon & krista’s

 

 

 

Yoon Keun oppa and Krista unni invited me over for dinner at their place.  It’s always nice going over to their home…so calm and serene 🙂  When I arrived oppa was finishing off the dinner, so I helped set the table.

dinner at yoon & krista's

dinner at yoon & krista’s

 

 

 

Homegrown Korean Lettuce is noticably different from what you buy at the store.  So much more tender and almost buttery.  I was so impressed that they actually grew this!  Made dinner that much better 😉

 

dinner at yoon & krista's

dinner at yoon & krista’s

 

 

 

 

 

Brown Rice, since both are trying to be more healthy.  They even sent me home with a little baggy of brown rice since they had too much 🙂

dinner at yoon & krista's

dinner at yoon & krista’s

 

 

 

 

 

The main dish was a yummy Marinated Spicy Pork.  Mildly spicy, slightly sweet with a slight char around the edges: perfect wrapped up in the lettuce with the brown rice, some spicy bean paste and homegrown basil!

dinner at yoon & krista's

dinner at yoon & krista’s

 

 

 

 

 

Bonus!  Broccoli Salad with Almonds and Grapes 🙂

dinner at yoon & krista's

dinner at yoon & krista’s

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Homemade Brownie and Chocolate Sauce with Farmer’s Market Cherries to finish off
the meal.  Scrumptious~!!

 

 

 

Thank you so much, cousins, for having me over and treating me to a homecooked meal…much needed family love 😀

Lasagna Casserole

March 20, 2013

June 10th, 2012. Post-Whistler Meal

lasagna casserole

lasagna casserole

 

Threw together a Lasagna Casserole with spicy Italian sausage, lots of spinach, tomato sauce and cheese topped with more cheese and some italian bread crumbs.  Yum!

I call it a casserole because I didn’t really layer the lasagna sheets.  I just broke them down and tossed it with all the other ingredients.

May 26th, 2012. Eliza & Ace’s Wedding

vancouver law courts

vancouver law courts

 

 

 

My sweet Eliza finally getting married to her 1st love! Despite their many ups and downs in the end they found their way back to each other and are finally tying the knot! Happiest bride ever and luckiest groom ever!

vancouver law courts

vancouver law courts

 

 

I never knew that you could have a reception at the Vancouver Law Courts..and I didn’t know they had such a lovely space! A smallish indoor space but with plenty of natural lighting and an extraordinary view of the city from the rooftop patio. Simple and clean decor was a great way to go in the small space so as not to give the feeling of clutter and I loved that they had an open mic concept cuz we all know…Filipinos make great music!

vancouver law courts

vancouver law courts

 

 

 

Dinner was served buffet style and came with all the great things that buffets are made of: multiple salads, roast beef, roast chicken, halibut in a cream sauce, mashed potato, rice, anti-pasto, etc….great spread and pretty tasty, too!

vancouver law courts

vancouver law courts

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dessert Bar!! Cheesecake, fruit tarts, chocolate cake, fresh fruit! Yuuuuuum~~!! Just diiiive in!

vancouver law courts

vancouver law courts

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And what’s more fun at a wedding reception than a photobooth! This was a HUGE hit. The lineups were never ending and they had a good variety of props. Good fun!