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!

Pinkberry!

November 14, 2013

February 15th, 2013. Sunny Day, Yummy Day 

 

pinkberry

pinkberry

 

 

 

 

  Sweet and slightly tangy original Pinkberry with fresh watermelon & watermelon juicy pearls!

Sweet, refreshing, and vibrant!  Love it 😀

Galleria (Jinju)

August 25, 2012

November 25th, 2011. Hello, Jinju

 

Galleria (Jinju)

Galleria (Jinju)

 

 

 

  Mom and I stuffed ourselves full at lunch….but that doesn’t mean we’re not going to go downstairs and look at some more food!

 

Galleria (Jinju)

Galleria (Jinju)

 

 

 

 

  In Korean department stores the bottom most floor is for food. There are always delicious snacks, banchan and foods everywhere you turn. And in a fancy department store like Galleria..well, there’s just a multitude of pretty yummies!

Galleria (Jinju)

Galleria (Jinju)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I kinda regret not picking up some of these delicious looking waffles…!

Galleria (Jinju)

Galleria (Jinju)

 

 

 

 

 

 

But of course I couldn’t just pass up on the gigantic dumplings!  One of the things I miss most about Korea are these bigger-than-your-fist dumplings with a thin, almost bread-like skin and full of piping hot tofu, veggie, pork filling.  Of course I had to take one of these babies home 🙂

November 20th, 2011. Hello Vietnam~~~

coconut candy island - lunch

coconut candy island – lunch

   After a few activities on Unicorn Island, a canal boat ride and another boat ride we arrived at Coconut Candy Island and……….lunch!! Over looking the Mekong River, this little place specializes in the local delicacy…Fried Elephant Ear Fish! Caught straight from the murky waters of the Mekong. Well…when in Rome…..!

coconut candy island - lunch

coconut candy island – lunch

 

 

 

  So, this wonderful spread was waiting for us as we arrived. The Elephant Fish in the middle and on each of our plates and pancake. Time to dig in!!

coconut candy island - lunch

coconut candy island – lunch

 

 

 

 

 

 

We each had these Pancakes in front of us to start with.  Nice and fluffy, light and thin 🙂

coconut candy island - lunch

coconut candy island – lunch

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So our lunch attendant picked the fish apart and with the flesh, some veggies and some rice noodles wrapped it all up in a rice wrap and handed one to each of us.

coconut candy island - lunch

coconut candy island – lunch

 

 

 

 

 

 

How great does this look!  Wrapped right in front of our eyes~~!

coconut candy island - lunch

coconut candy island – lunch

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We dipped this Elephant Ear Rice Wrap in the individual peanut sauces in front of each of us and let the freshness just burst in our mouths!

coconut candy island - lunch

coconut candy island – lunch

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fresh Shrimp yumminess!  Again, these were hand-peeled for us.  Tender, flavorful, and just so clean.

coconut candy island - lunch

coconut candy island – lunch

 

 

 

 

 

 

This very interesting puffed up Sticky Rice Donut!  Our server cut it up into pieces, and advised us to eat it with fresh basil.

coconut candy island - lunch

coconut candy island – lunch

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sticky, crispy, sweet, fresh, delicious!!

coconut candy island - lunch

coconut candy island – lunch

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some greens.  Nicely cooked, tender and vibrant.

coconut candy island - lunch

coconut candy island – lunch

 

 

 

 

 

 

Obviously a lot of Korean tourists must come by because the locals try to cater to a Korean sensibility when they see Koreans.  This was their version of Korean Kimchi Jjigae served in a flaming bowl.

coconut candy island - lunch

coconut candy island – lunch

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gotta wash it down with some good ol’ Coca Cola 😉  Great way to polish off a great meal!  Sure, we were all super full, but somehow it didn’t feel uncomfortable or heavy.  Just this nice, satisfying feeling 🙂

May 8th, 2011.  The New Love Of My Life

pinkberry - nyc

pinkberry - nyc

  Swirling at Pinkberry in K-Town NYC with Litchi Frozen Yogurt with Blackberries and Honey

  I’m not much of an ice cream person.  I love the idea and the multitude of combinations and flavors that such a canvas as ice cream can support..but I’m just not a cold food person. 

  After months of just walking by Pinkberry nearly every day, hundreds of times I finally walked in to try it.  I’m not gonna lie, the poster up front advertising their new seasonal litchi flavor froyo was one reason why, the cute decor another. 

  First.  I LOVE the fact that they give you samples to try.  Second, I love that you can get your order as a “bite-sized” portion.  Most of all, I love the incredible freshness of the froyo and the ingredients!  So simple, so refreshing and so delicious!  I love the perfect balance of tart and sweet and the texture and taste of it is so sliky and smooth.  I’m in LOVE~~

  Since my first visit I’d been going almost every single night after work…hahahaha!  Tonight I got Chan Young and Eric to come too~!  Deliciousness x 3!!!

Hanako (Group Dinner)

November 16, 2010

September 10th, 2010. Hanako Group Dinner!  

Hanako Group Dinner

Hanako Group Dinner

 

 

  I had been so impressed with my first visit to Hanako that I had been telling some friends about it.  As soon as I said “Blue Fin Tuna in Surrey”, Mountain Biker was ALL over it!  Ballroom Au, also being a foodie, was interested.  So we built a group dinner around this notion of “great sushi in Surrey”!

Hanako Group Dinner
Hanako Group Dinner

  

We had a really great mix of friends show up for the dinner….unfortunately, not everyone was keen about the pricing!  Woops?  With A&W, Wendy’s, and AYCE sushi place and T&T just around the corner, I guess some were just not prepared.  We also had a few non-sushi eaters, so there was a bit of juggling with the menu.

 

hanako group dinner

hanako group dinner

 

  Radiologist got the Tuna Don: “What?  All I get is this small bowl??”  Yes…when you’re planning a wedding every expenditure is monitored with more scrutiny.  In this case…that expenditure was this bowl of rice & tuna..and poor Radiologist was not sure he’d leave with a full stomache! 

 
hanako group dinner

hanako group dinner

 

 

   Ballroom Au’s Chirashi Don: Love the amazing colors of the various ingredients and you can really see the freshness.  I mean, you can even tell just by the picture, the clarity and “bounciness” of the tako, there was even uni, and that unagi looks so~~ good!  Ballroom Au was pretty happy with this

hanako group dinner

hanako group dinner

 

 

 

 

  Girlfriend  and I shared a Soft Shell Crab, which many were kind of surprised about.  We had to explain that the shell really is soft and is okay to just eat!  My question is..how do they get it so soft??  Do they soak the crab in something that makes it this way? 

 

 

hanako group dinner

hanako group dinner

 

 

 

  Recently on an eggplant binge, I ordered this interesting dish.  It’s and eggplant halved, topped with a sweet miso sauce and then baked, I suppose.  The sauce lends a great new dimension of flavor!  Girlfriend dubbed it as “interesting”.  One half was enough for me 🙂

 

hanako group dinner

hanako group dinner

 

 

  I knew I wanted the Blue Fin Tuna at some point, so for my main I had the Salmon Combo: 2 salmon nigiri and sake maki.  Fresh & clean; what more can I ask for?  No complaints from me 🙂

hanako group dinner
hanako group dinner

 

 

 

   Long-Haired Bassist had the California Combo.  Upon seeing this small plate set before him he remarked…..”With how much this costs, I could have TWO meals at Wendy’s over there!”  Yes..Radiologist and Long-Haired Bassist are brothers…hehehe 😉

hanako group dinner
hanako group dinner

 

 

  And finally, the piece de resistance!  The long awaited Blue Fin Tuna!  Mountain Biker and I couldn’t leave without eating this!  At $8.50 per nigiri we were trying to hold in our anticipation as we waited…..!  As we bit into the generously sized, meaty tuna we closed our eyes and savored each chew…Mmmmmm!  It was fatty, flavorful, and unlike any tuna we’d ever had before!  We both felt that this was $8.50 well spent 😉 

 

  Despite personal preferences and tastes, we still managed to have a really fun dinner.  Mountain Biker and I happily paid $9.00 for one piece of Blue Fin Nigiri, Girlfriend and I shared a few yummy appies, Ballroom Au got the vibrant chirashi don, and I think our big group created a warm, fun atmosphere!  Dinner was another great affair…!  I smell many more to come~!

Bella Gelateria

August 20, 2010

July 1st, 2010. Canada Day, 2010: Vancouver 

bella gelateria

bella gelateria

  After our dim sum lunch we burned it off by walking around downtown.  We figured we may as well walk over to the Olympic Flame.  Downtown was packed!  It was nearly as full as it was during the Olympics and at the waterfront where the flame was it was pretty crazy with all the radio station and tv broadcast tents, live music, food carts and street performers.  The aroma of corndogs, smokies & mini donuts filled the air while we heard all sorts of sounds coming from every direction!  It was like a contest to see what could grab a person’s attention best.  A huge stage at the end of the bay with a local artist and band, in the plaza several radio and broadcast tents with weather girl turned local celebrity Tamara Taggart in one of them and projeted onto a jumbo screen.  Where to look and what to see!

bella gelateria

bella gelateria

  We wandered over to the Olympic torch, which was having a revival since the fervor of the actual Olympic Games had ended.  There was also what looked like a huge lego orca whale standing on it’s tail to the side, which many people were taking a picture in front of.  We then wandered into the Vancouver Convention Centre for a respite from all the ruckus outside.

 

bella gelateria

bella gelateria

  As we left the convention centre we happened to bump righ into Bella Gelateria, the new big name in town for gelato!  I wouldn’t have even paid much attention to it, just thinking it was another gelato place, if not for having just read Sherman’s review of it on his blog!  Apparantly this stuff is premium..so of course Rachel and I had to try it out! 

bella gelateria

bella gelateria

  It is definitely quite classy inside.  We can even see the equipment they use and have a glimpse of the back kitchen where the magic happens!  And you know what?  James Coleridge himself, the proprietor and gelateer (yes, i made up a word) was at the shop behind the counter.  Cool!  I’m not for certain, but who else could it be?  He definitely wasn’t just one of the staff who scoops gelato into cups!  I went to the website prior to writing this post.  The story of Bella Gelateria is quite romantic and sweet.

bella gelateria

bella gelateria

  After some consideration we chose a cup of the Pineapple and the Nougat/Torrone.  Yummy & pillowy!  The pineapple was especially refreshing and as you can see from the picture the fibrous pineapple can actually be seen!  It was very fruity.  The Torrone was lightly nutty and the nougats were deightful!  We enjoyed our little side trip 🙂