Thursday, August 26, 2010

Zakkushi Disappointment

I featured Zakkushi in one of the best izakayas to go to in Vancouver last year and have returned a few times since.  This last trip I made, unfortunately brewed a small storm inside my heart.  We walked in and the place looked a bit different.  Fancier menu, brighter lighting, not as smoky, not as crowded, loud, or ghetto.  Hmmm it's not quite the Zakkushi I remember, but that's ok.. I'm mostly here for the food even though I miss the ghettoness just a little bit.  We ordered the usual skewers, daikon salad, and of course, the delicious kimchi mentai yaki udon smothered with cod roe.  At first, the waiter informed us there was no more udon and if we wanted soba instead.  He, later, revealed that they don't make the dish anymore.  Shocked and appalled, I demanded answers.  I was there 4 weeks ago and they were still serving it!  From what I know, the dish is one of the MOST RAVED ABOUT on the Vancouver food blog sites.  And from what my friend told me, they were there last week, and they STILL got it!  The waiter had no answers for us.  He said the owners simply removed it from the menu.  I told him the owners made a huge mistake.  He shook his head in despair and simply told me to blog about it. So that was blow number one.  FYI this is what the dish looked like:
Kimchi Mentai Yaki Udon
I believe this tuna rice dish is also now non-existent.  What a shame, it also was really good.
Negi toro don
I came home and checked their website and it says their "Grand Menu Starts Now".
I appreciate it when restaurants try to up their scale by being innovative and changing things up.  However, I don't appreciate the sheer negligence over the quality, which at times, comes after the menu/owner/chef changing.  Such as the case at Wo Fung chicken wings (now 3 times smaller), Cattle Cafe Richmond (watery soup base), and Pied a Terre on Cambie (salty steak frites and dismissal of Napoleon), and now Zakkushi charcoal minuscules.
New menu! 

Back to the restaurant. After we delighted ourselves with the $9.99 Sapporo pitcher, we ordered the usual Kushi Set which comes with 5 skewers.  Each time, the skewers seem to be shinking smaller and smaller.  Did the change the chef? Did we come on a bad day? What has happened?
Before - Kushi set on July 31, 2010
After - Kushi set August 25, 2010

Tsukune December 12, 2009

Tsukune Aug 25, 2010

I looked over at the Japanese folks next table and, to my astonishment, their skewers were twice the size of ours.  Due to legal reasons, I decided not to post their pictures with skewers.  Of course these are not the biggest blunders for a restaurant and it is still as busy as ever.  But to me, the wow factors for Zakkushi are gone.  I have absolutely no reason left to go back there (unless for the $9.99 Sapporo pitchers).

Zakkushi Charcoal Grill (Denman) on Urbanspoon

Monday, August 23, 2010

Favourite Restaurant in Victoria: Bon Rouge

If you are looking for best bang for your buck restaurants, Bon Rouge is a gem in each and every way.  Located on the corner of Courtney street, the bistro outside decor is warm and inviting.  The parisian style decor, the comfort food, and jazz music softly played have made Bon Rouge my all time favourite place to go for brunch.  

Summer features menu
Two menus are offered, the summer features and the brunch menu.
The decor
The bistro is divided into 3 sections; the patio, the bistro interior, and the restaurant interior.  Jazz music. Casual and relaxed. Friendly service.

Champaign cocktails - $5
Drinks specials are champaign cocktails for $5 until 4 pm every weekend and a glass of wine for $5 every wednesday.  Martinis are $7.50 for 2 oz. and are exquisitely named after famous French figures; Coco Chanel, Yves Saint-Laurant, Bridgette Bardot, etc.

Freshly baked french loaf, complimentary
We were already excited about the french bread as its freshly baked aroma swarmed us. As we pulled the bread apart, we could hear the crunch and the softness of the inside dough softly pulling apart.  Crispy on the outside, warm and fluffy on the inside. Wow.

Prawn crepe $12 - Pan seared with fennel shallot and garlic cream sauce
6 giant succulent prawns nestled inside!
I do mean it when I say the prawn crepe at Bon Rouge was the best crepe I've ever had.   The giant prawns are cooked perfectly and in perfect harmony with sauteed vegetables in fennel and garlic cream sauce.  We appreciated each and every single bite.  For the sheer size and for only $12, it was truly amazing.

Croque Monsieur $12 - Baked ham and gruyere cheese on house made brioche loaf and mornay sauce, with a side of fennel soup

I've always been more accustomed to traditional Croque Monsieur with baked cheddar or swiss cheese  on top.  Instead, the mornay sauce, which is made up of half parmesan and half gruyere, offered a subtle  texture that complemented the brioche loaf.  It was light, creamy and not overwhelming.  The fennel soup was aromatic but was a bit too salty.  However, the intensity was brought down a couple notches when alternating between the Croque Monsieur or the french loaf.

French Onion Soup $8 - Gruyere on crostini
We were debating on what to order for the dessert but we kept thinking about the French Onion soup.  Since I'm a fan, I knew I would have to try.  So we ended up getting it as a dessert instead (lol).  The broth was rich and, again, still a tad too salty for me.  But if you are a cheese lover like me, you would really enjoy the thick layer of melted gruyere and added bread made up for it.   

As we stumbled out of the restaurant an hour and a half later, though I may have easily gained 5 lbs, I was ecstatic and could not wait to come back again.

Visit their website here.

Bon Rouge Bistro on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Warm Spinach Salad with Mushrooms, Zucchini and Balsamic reduction

This rustic salad and mushrooms comes in handy when you are in a rush or just in need of a quick bite.  It's very easy to make and not time consuming at all.
Servings 2
- 2 cups organic spinach
- 1/4 cup of julienned zucchini
- 3-4 diced up mushrooms
- 1 clove of garlic minced
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil
- 2 Balsamic vinegar
- 2 slices of julienned salami prochuitto
- any of your favourite cheese, I used Emmenthal

In a pan, sauté minced garlic with olive oil at medium heat.  Once the garlic is golden, add julienned zucchini, salami, and mushrooms respectively.  Season with salt, pepper, and other herbs.  Add balsamic vinegar and let simmer for about 5 minutes.   Serve the mixture on top of spinach, grate cheese on top, and serve.