Saturday, May 21, 2011

Get your pork cutlet fix at Dae Ji

 On a Thursday afternoon, I took a break from the salon and followed the smell of fried pork all the way down Dunsmir street.  I ended up at Dae Ji, a casual Korean restaurant specializes mainly on deep fried goodness.  

Click to enlarge
Someone was too thirsty they forgot how to open a can
The 2 giant "pizza flavour" pork cutlets were served with a dark, barbeque-like sauce, and accompanied by a slaw, pasta salad, corn, pickles, and rice.  The golden brown, crispy fried cutlets were topped with tomato sauce and baked with corn and cheese.  They were crispy, cheesy, saucy, and sinfully satisfying.  This can't be good for your arteries, but if you're in the mood to splurge... it's a good dish not to pass on.  For $9.50, the portion was large enough to fill up to 1.5 person.  

It's been a while since I had katsu curry and there was no way I was opting out.  For $8.93, 2 pieces of deep fried pork cutlet topped with vegetable curry arrived with the same sides as the pizza dish.    The curry was quite mild compared to other Japanese katsu curry I've had in the past, but it was still satisfactory.  Again, I could've shared this dish with a whole other person, but I wouldn't let that happen.

Both dishes were good and the portions were huge.  Best of all, almost everything on the menu is under $10 (only the fried chicken that is $15.99).  The food came pretty quick so it is ideal if you are in a rush and super hungry.  I wish I had thought about packing some of it rather than stuffing my face and finishing it all.  It was an uncomfortable walk back to class and I wish I could've laid down in the sun instead.  The rest of the afternoon was a blur which I had to keep myself from dozing off.  

More pictures:
Special of the day - chicken cutlet with miso soup $7.49

Kimchi fried rice - $8.49, kinda oily but good!

Dae Ji on Urbanspoon

Monday, May 16, 2011

Japanese food tour continues

If there is only one type of food I have to live with for the rest of my life, it would be Japanese food.

Sushi Zero One
It's a blessing for my stomach and a curse on my wallet that my school is surrounded by so many good, cheap, and multicultural places to eat.  Once I heard of the special uni fiesta going on at Sushi Zero One, an authentic and fairly inexpensive Japanese restaurant which specializes in take out.  

Saturday, May 14, 2011

An open letter to 100 Nights and Opus hotel

I would like to express to you the recent dining experience we encounterd at 100 Nights earlier today.  It was our first time visiting the restaurant after purchasing a deal on  When restaurants have deals in Groupon, I can only assume they are trying to promote their business, attracting new patrons to try out for an experience and spread the positive word.  Our experience at 100 Nights started off quite pleasantly.  We thoroughly enjoyed the appetizers and were quite impressed with the portions.  The ambience was unique and the service was friendly.  I actually thought about returning and even recommend others to come try.  However,  as I came across a dish that I was less than thrilled with, when asked by the manager if I enjoyed it, I gave him an honest response.  While the server had previously attempted to make changes to the dish and I declined, his response was simply “Ok”, and walked away.  I didn’t mind his response that much as the rest of of meal was splendid.  We asked for our bill and were ready to be on our way.  The server was aware that we were using Groupon for the meal and I believe many patrons in the restaurant also came for lunch using Groupon.  Afterwards, we were informed that the Groupon shown in a pdf version on our mobile was invalid, even though vouchers are in the exact same format as what they would be have they been printed out.  In fact, the manager, Jeremy, had walked to the table and informed me himself to “read the fine print” and said, “so you are going to have to do something about it.”  I have been using Groupon long enough to know that most restaurants just need the serial no. to take down which is why I found it confusing as we never had a problem using this method at other places before and Jeremy just quickly walked off while I was still asking questions.  I found his tone and attitude to be extremely rude and condescending.  After we called him over to explain to us again more clearly,  he demanded us to read the fine print in our vouchers to either  be printed or downloaded on a mobile app and once again, walked away before we were done with the questions.  He was not friendly, the least helpful and made us feel like second class citizens for using Groupon and not knowing how to use it properly.  
In the end, we wasted almost half and hour sitting in the restaurant trying to figure it out, feeling less than intelligent and humiliated by that time.   Our positive experience which we had earlier now completely evaporated and replaced with frustration.  Finally, we presented the “correct format” they were looking for which contains the same barcode, number, and all the other information that we had initially presented them in the first place.  As I walked out, Jeremy made the effort to turn his back and ignored my presence as I left the restaurant.  Throughout the whole ordeal, I never once raised my voice or was being difficult to him or any member of the staff, so it is incomprehensible why we were treated in such fashion.  My sister and I felt that he came off rather arrogant and did not appreciate his attitude in his approach towards us.  I have worked in the customer service industry myself, and I know that the manager is supposed to have the most contact with the customers.  Jeremy’s attitude was absolutely insulting.  He clearly did not want our business, or cared if we ever returned again.  As a result, instead of recommending 100 Nights for the delicious meal and friendly service we received prior, we are completely turned off by the so called “customer service” we received from Jeremy, and left with nothing else but a sour taste we would like to forget.  
I would like to inform you of my experience in hopes that the hotel and restaurant will work to improve the quality of the customer service particularly in the management team.  As I know that the rest of the staff work very hard to retain a positive reputation, I hope you will prevent people like Jeremy from further sabotaging your hard earned reputation.  

100 Nights on Urbanspoon

Kaiseiki lunch set at Kiriri

Our weekday lunch adventure today landed us at Kiriri on Garden City, less than 10 minutes away from our place.  My sister and I headed there on our day off for their famous kaiseki lunch set.  We were both surprised that we haven't discovered this restaurant earlier.  Based on the 2 lunch sets we ordered, Kiriri is definitely an authentic Japanese restaurant and we are happy we dropped by.

Black Cod lunch set
The grilled black cod lunch set $10 came with rice, miso soup, kobachi, and a side of pickles.  

Miso soup
 The black cod was lightly marinated, reserving most of its natural flavour.  It was nicely grilled as it was slightly charred with crispy skin, and the meat was very flakey and tender.

 Kobachi or a small bowl of wild vegetables in a light dashi broth.  It tasted very healthy, refreshing and the broth was not overly salty.
Kaiseki set
This is what we came for, the exciting kaiseki set, $23 which comes with sashimi, clear soup, sunomono, kobachi, a chef's selection of appetizer, grilled fish, sushi, pickles, and a dessert.  The presentation was extremely appealing with 8 different small dishes sprawled around us.  I was disappointed there was no sashimi served in a carved out ice bowl this time.  

An appetizer platter with some sort of cubed pressed fish paste, steamed crab meat and tobiko, geoduck, eel wrapped with sweet egg, and a salad of grated radish and tofu skin.  It was my first time trying the geoduck and it was quite chewy but not tough and rubbery at all!

Sashimi of salmon, tuna, and red snapper
 The sashimi was good, very fresh.  My favourite was probably the salmon and the snapper, while P preferred the tuna.

Sunomono salad with white algae or kelp rather than the typical glass noodles you see everywhere else.  The kelp had a fine, yet slightly chewy and crunchy texture.  

 The clam soup, as you can see had a very light body.  The broth was pretty much clam stock with its natural sweetness and flavour.

At first I thought this looked like fish ball, but after inquiring with the chef, he told me that it was actually made out of taro!  The taro was finely mashed almost to a paste with very smooth texture and  eaten with baby bok choi in a light sauce made with ground pork.

The sushi in this case was a Hawaiian tuna tower.  Layers of chopped tuna, mangoes, avocado, tobiko on top of sushi rice with seaweed salad and pickled ginger on the side.  I'm a sucker for mangoes on rolls these days so this was good for me.

 Grilled hamachi was tender and had a light soy marinade.   Both the hamachi and black cod were quite tasty especially with rice.

The final course was the creme brulee topped with a load of fresh fruits.  The creme brulee dish was tiny but it was probably one of the best I've had.  The bottom of the creme brulee was velvety and smooth, and I was so happy that the burnt sugar was thin and crispy, not  thick or gummy (an absolute sin on creme brulee!).

The kaiseki set at $23 was pretty good for value.  I wasn't completely stuffed by the end of the meal, but I definitely was "satisfied".  It was an adventurous, yet traditional Japanese meal, a breakaway from the mundane lunch combo.  The set was visually impressive and the quality was also there.  It would be sometime before I try another kaiseki set, perhaps in the fall to see what different themes and ingredients they will use.   Next time, I would definitely return to try the delicious looking tempura soba lunch set I kept eyeing from a table close by .

Kiriri Japanese Cuisine & Sushi Bar on Urbanspoon

Friday, May 13, 2011

Yum Yum at La Belle Auberge

It was one of those days when I really needed a pick-me-up, and, after much pondering, nothing would do the trick more than an exquisite meal.  After much waiting and planning, an opportunity arrived one night and K and I embarked a journey to Ladner in search of la Belle Auberge.  The sophisticated French restaurant is situated in a 100-year old Victorian house with a romantic, nostalgia feel.  I must admit that initially it felt strange like being in a guest at someone's dining room with a very quiet, reserved atmosphere.  However, once the setting is coupled with attentive service, and the wine started pouring, I began to feel more settled in and became quite fond of the ambience.  It was a very intimate setting where you can spend hours over conversations paired with an excellent meal, the type of quality time you would want to share with loved ones.

Sunday, May 8, 2011


As I was contemplating where to have dinner one weekday afternoon, I heard the voice of my good friend Mayna calling, "Kumare.....Try Kumare...".  Thus, T and I landed at the doorstep of Kumare, a filipino bakery and restaurant on Park road, Richmond.  The interior of Kumare is actually nicer than I thought (-_-'').  It was quite a nice place to sit down; spacious and has a warm, casual ambience with contemporary decor.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Cinco de Mayo

Rinconcito Salvadorean

After school, Johana and her sister brought me out to Rinconcito on Commercial Drive for their much raved about pupusas.  As we sat down, it must've been the tropical decor that made me immediately started craving for a bulldog.  Yet, the more I tried to explain to the owner what it was, the more confused he looked.  In the end, I just ordered a lime margarita and a corona, and made my own concoction along side with an order of chips and salsa. That's right, I had a long day.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Best late night comfort food ->french onion soup at BierCraft

 Located on Cambie street, BierCraft Bistro is specialized in offering a wide range of Belgian beer, tapas, and European fares.  I have to admit that I was somewhat intimidated to inquire about the beer list as I'm no beer expert and haven't got a clue.  Nonetheless, our server was extremely friendly and informative in making several suggestions on the types of beer that would best suit our taste.