Saturday, October 29, 2011

Delicious steak frites at Tableau Bar and Bistro

I arrived Tableau about half an hour early and decided to sit at the bar until the rest of my party arrive.  To kill time, I ordered a bottle of white wine.  Assuming I was still waiting for my party, I stared at the bartender for almost 10 minutes before he asked me if I wanted to open it now.  Yes, I was ready to get the party started!  The wine was for myself LOL.  I whipped out my homework (hey, might as well be productive as I drink by myself) and started sipping away.  I was actually enjoying my alone time, nibbling on their crispy sesame breadsticks, and on my 3rd glass when my party arrived.  

I love the classic feel of Tableau.  It was mellow yet sleek, and I felt at ease spending my time there amongst other patrons who all happened to be in their 40's and up.  Their service was also very professional as well.

Aside from sushi joints and izakayas, I also prefer bistro-type restaurant over any other type out there.  I feel that the focus is mostly on the food.  It's rustic and unpretentious.  Aside from daily specials, Tableau's menu also includes a different feature for each day of the week.

It has been always been a rule that when we go to a french bistro, a bowl of french onion soup must be ordered.  It's mainly because of the baked cheese and crouton.  Tableau's french onion soup ($10) was really hearty.  The baked gruyere on top was nice and gooey with a slight bitterness and crispy edges. The broth was rich and savoury with the sweetness of caramelized onion.  It hit the spot.

The special of the day, foie gras parfait with autumn vegetables, toasted brioche, and apple sauce $18, was a hit that night.  I managed to grab the very last order.  I really liked the variety of the parfait.  The foie gras terrine was buttery smooth, almost just as good as Araxi.  The apple sauce was sweet, yet subtle, and the pickled vegetables gave a nice contrast in flavours.  All of those smothered on a soft but toasty and crispy brioche, yummmm.

I would definitely come back again for the 8 oz. medium rare steak frites for $18.  The sirloin steak was juicy and grilled to perfection.  Bathing in a rich red wine sauce, sort of like a jus, it was dee-lish.  The side salad of watercress, roast tomatoes, and shaved parmesan was crisp and fresh.  The frites were fried to perfection.  They were sooooo crispy.  If you order this, ask for mayonnaise which comes infused with garlic and you'll be a happy camper.  This dish is a complete meal on its own.

Tuesday's feature was chicken riesling ($20), a rustic dish which came with mashed potato, long green beans, and mushrooms.  The texture of the chicken tasted like it had been simmer for a while, the meat was quite tender and easily pulled apart.  I couldn't taste any white wine in there, maybe because it had been simmer for so long?  The mash potato was buttery smooth and had a generous amount of gravy-like jus.  I wasn't as blown away by this dish, and also because I was too busy munching on someone else's steak frites.    

 AW ordered the pork tenderloin ($24) which came with gratin dauphinoise, or scalloped potatoes.  It was a pretty large, fulfilling portion.  The potato gratin was large enough to be a meal on its own.  The pork was tender with slightly crisp exterior topped with a dark peppercorn sauce.. Mmmmm.  

That was it.  We were stuffed, no more room for dessert.

I was satisfied with all the components at Tableau, and would definitely come back again.  The steak frites was exceptional and I want more of those fries with garlic mayo.

Tableau Bar Bistro on Urbanspoon

Friday, October 28, 2011

Dim Sum at Kirin

A tip for going to a restaurant for dim sum: If you dream of going there on a Sunday, and that applies almost anywhere, be sure to go right when they open or make a reservation right when they open or else you will be standing there all day.

Located on the 3rd floor of a building/parking lot adjacent to Richmond centre, I admire the strength and determination of the elders in their 80's who manage to climb up those flights of stairs to get to this restaurant.  I know my grandma hates this place by default due to those stairs.  I do too, but the food made it a little more worth the effort.

Kirin make changes to their menu every few months and I have mixed feelings about that.  It's great that there are always new options and different ingredients and themes are used each season.  However, it's a bummer that sometimes what we want are  no longer always available.

First on the list, steamed chicken feet, with tripe underneath.  I don't even think of them as feet when I'm sucking on them delicious toes, or the fact that I'm just munching on skin.  They're fantastically flavourful skin and cartilage.  The marinade sauce is super flavourful, savoury black bean, a little bit sweet, and A LOT of garlic.  

Deep fried shrimp wrapped with seaweed, yes please.  The shrimp were crunchy and not overcooked.  The seaweed tasted like crispy snacks you can buy at T&T.  They are still fun little snacks and even more delicious when dipped with mayonnaise.

Next, a plate of deep fried shrimp and water chestnuts wrapped with tofu curd.  The tofu skin was paper thin and fried to an extreme crisp.  There were flakes flying off as I bit into them, I must've bitten pretty hard.  I can eat 10 more when dipped in vinegar.

The must-have condiments: mayonnaise which makes all deep fried food 5 x unhealthier and more delicious, vinegar for dumplings, mustard for deep fry's and anything steamed, and chili oil for everything.  

Siu mai, pork dumplings were pretty standard.  We accidentally ordered them because the description of being "topped with egg yolk" somehow made us think of a raw quail egg and totally threw us off.  I don't know why, I think we are obsessed with raw eggs.  So yea, these ones are just plain and simple siu mai. 

More deep fried food please! How about some deep fried shrimp and chive dumpling with consomme?  The fried dumplings were very crispy with a chewy texture from the glutinous shell.  The consomme was a mild flavour broth.  Both the broth and the dumplings were nice, but neither one really complemented the other.

The chicken and abalone steamed buns are spongy soft and they are one of my favourite dishes here, an absolute must try! Personally, I find steamed buns go exquisitely well with chili oil and mustard.  

A server was walking by with a bunch of these deep fried taro paste filled with minced duck meat.  Instinctively, I grabbed one even though we were already stuffed.  The batter was crispy and crumbly while taro paste was soft and delicate with savoury meat filling.

Last but not least, the bamboo pith with prawn and shark fin dumpling in consomme was a nice finish to the meal.  One giant dumpling was swimming in a light broth had a natural sweetness. It was topped with a sheet of bamboo pith had an interesting spongy texture.  Altogether it was a comforting, savoury dish.  

Can you believe all that food was for 2 people? We finished most of it too.

I enjoyed the ambience at Kirin in Richmond to be more comfortable than a lot of restaurants out there.  Also, I found the service at this location to be superior than other chinese restaurants I've been to. Strong words? too strong? Well, from my experiences there, particularly the last, was positive.  We didn't have to sacrifice service over food.  The prices are reasonable.   And despite being extremely busy, our tables were always cleared, and we didn't have to wait long to get the bill.  At one point, a server noticed we were trying to split a dumpling and he immediately came around with a pair of scissors and offered to cut them for us.  We didn't even have to ask, they were pretty proactive.  

Kirin Seafood Restaurant 麒麟海鮮酒家 (Richmond) on Urbanspoon

Thursday, October 27, 2011

AYCE Ninkazu x Richmond Sushi

Ever since my college years ended, I was totally out of the AYCE japanese restaurants phase.  It's not just a fact that I could pack a lot more in back then than I do now, but also the fact that I found a new appreciation in quality over quantity.  Once in a while though, when the mood is right, I would still go on a sushi binging trip and devour everything in sight.  I have already conquered E-Bei and Shabusen many moons ago, and wanted to try somewhere new.  So, I visited the 2 popular AYCE places in Richmond; Ninkazu and the longstanding Richmond Sushi.  Of course, I went to the 2 restaurants weeks apart.  Doing AYCE twice in one week is a bit much for me to handle. 


Deluxe all you can eat dinner for $22.95

Service was...meh, to say the least.  Not friendly, not anything, just seemed very robotic.  The menu seemed to me to be more attractive and "decked out" than most AYCE places.

So here's what we ordered:
Sushi, sashimi, rolls, and cones.

First thing's first: the sashimi were thick cuts, especially the tuna.  My pet peeve is being served frozen fish.  I understand that they were frozen prior, but I really don't enjoy biting into blocks of ice that was supposed to be standard cut sashimi.   It should not be served that way.  The tuna belly was somewhat mushy and didn't have the nice fatty, buttery texture that makes it special.  The korean salmon sashimi was soaked in some kind of sweet soy sauce with sesame oil.

I actually enjoyed their maki rolls, a lot.  The soft-shell crab and their dynamite roll were not overloaded with rice, but made fresh and very crispy inside.  The cones, on the other hand, were heavily filled with rice with a teeny bit of filling.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Ice cream truffle fondue at Captsone

Capstone Tea & Fondue is a cute little shop I had been wondered about for years.  I recently visited the downtown location, and after quick observation, this place is really popular amongst couples! A go-to place for romantic, yet casual dates.  I guess making fondue together is interactive and it brings people closer? ^3^ <3

Since I love ice cream, my first choice, of course, was the ice cream truffle fondue.  The set arrived with 3 flavours of ice cream balls; cookies 'n cream, green tea, and mango.  Along side were banana cake and cookies.  The chocolate to dip the ice cream in was dark and not too sweet to go with the ice cream, and I love the slight bitterness that comes with dark chocolate.  The size is good to share between 2-3 people, maybe even 4 if you really love to share.


5 types of toppings; shaved coconut, ground peanuts, graham cracker, sprinkles, and almonds.  The set comes with a choice of 4 toppings, the coconut was extra.  

Ice cream + chocolate + sprinkles, you can't go wrong.  Feeling like a kid again, I had a lot of fun playing with my food and eating them too.

Overall, I liked their concept of this place although I don't think I'll be returning regularly.  I gotta give props to the staff team leader whom, despite being really busy, short staff, and having to deal with customers being impatient (me), he still made efforts to make sure his customers were happy.

Capstone Tea & Fondue on Urbanspoon

Monday, October 24, 2011

Northern Delicacy

Conveniently located inside Aberdeen Centre, I've been coming to Northern Delicacy over the years.  Although I'm not a frequent customer, I find their ambience to be quite pleasant, their price reasonable, and their dishes to be on the plus side.  Most oftentimes, I would come here for a quick lunch as they offer a variety of popular Shanghainese dishes such as buns, dumplings, noodles, and other small plates which are easy for sharing.

Handmade noodles in minced pork bean paste ($6.25) was quite the filler.  The bean paste sauce was quite flavourful and the noodles had the right chewing consistency; soft, but not soggy--perfect for slurping.  The dish may get mundane after a few bites, but once you add the trustee XO sauce, all is well again. 

XO sauce makes the world go round

Does anyone know what happened to the old Mo Tai that used to be where Man Ri Sung is now on Westminster? I have searched the world for spicy wonton as good as theirs and have not had any luck.  In the meantime, ND's spicy wonton for $5.95 came with 8 pieces and saturated in spicy sauce.  Although they were not spicy, but still tasty.

Steamed pork dumplings xiao long pao 5 pieces for $4.95.  At Dinesty the XLB came with 6 pieces per order, but the ones at ND were bigger and also had more broth.  However, I must say the dough was a bit thicker on top.

To finish off our carbs-filled lunch, arrived a plate of steamed pork and chive bun ($4.95).  I wish there was more filling and less dough, but they were once again extra delicious with a little bit of XO sauce.  

Northern Delicacy 客滿庭 on Urbanspoon

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Oyster Happy Hour around Vancouver

Rodney's Oyster House 

$1.50 each during low tide from 3-6 pm Monday to Saturday.

Rodney's Oyster House on Urbanspoon

Ebisu (Robson)
Buck a shuck from 4:30 to 6:30 pm daily.  The oysters are served with ponzu sauce and tabasco.  Enjoy with a pitcher of sangria!

Ebisu on Robson on Urbanspoon

Boathouse (various locations)
$1.29 each from 3-6 pm daily.

Boathouse (Richmond) on Urbanspoon 

Buck a shuck from 3 - 5 pm daily.  Also try their clam chowder and decked out caesar garnished with a tiger prawn.

Coast Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Daily from 3-7 for buck a shuck.  They have great oysters, but beware: the space is small and limited, and service may be slow due to one staff multitasking by bartending, serving, hosting, and oyster shucking!


Condiments consisted of tabasco, Worcestershire sauce, mignonette sauce, ponzu sauce, and cocktail sauce.

Buck a shuck Chef's Creek oysters.  

The oyster Rockefeller ($3 each) was exquisite; fresh oyster baked with spinach and crispy breadcrumbs and parmesan on top.  They are almost just as good as the ones from Giorgio of Gramercy in New York.  

Oyster on Urbanspoon

I still have yet to try buck a shuck at La Brasserie on Sundays.