Sunday, November 27, 2011

Goldfish

Every once in a while, I would feel like dining more on the atmosphere than going for the quality of food and this was an example.  It was probably because I was in Yaletown on evening, surrounded by all the trendy and elegant boutiques and restaurants.  After walking by and peaking in at the Goldfish Seafood & Chops, the decision to dine there was solely based on its outside appearance.  The ambience was inviting, vibrant, and lively.   The restaurant specializes in West Coast cuisine and seafood, blending flavours of East and West.  The two of us were pretty open to try anything innovative and creative.

For appetizer, we had the salt spring mussels in Thai sauce. Though it was quite mild, I liked their take on the Thai sauce which had a hint of lime and garnished with chopped up scallion, chilies and cilantro.  It was actually kinda Thai...  The size of the mussels were minuscule though.

I didn't imagine I'd be eating fried rice tonight, but there I was.  The first batch of a fairly large side of bacon fried rice topped with fried quail eggs arrived incredibly mundane and bland.  It's seldom that I send any food back, but I had to with this one after the first bite.  The waitress (with piercing eyes) came back to inform us that the chef tasted it and agreed "it tastes like shit", and he would make a new batch for us.  Shortly, the second batch arrived with a lot more seasoning, and not as dried.  Maybe some hot sauce would go a long way.  There wasn't any other exciting ingredients in there except the obvious, bacon, and some chopped scallion.  The quail eggs sunny side up were cute to look at, and the runny yolks served their purpose being there.  Though it tasted a lot better the second time, it was still a dish one could make at home.


Half portion of smoked cod
For main entree, we split the smoked Alaskan black cod served with kale, fingerling potatoes and a poached egg.  It was a combination of flavours I seldom come across.  The creamy egg yolk tamed down the smokiness and saltiness of the flakey smoked cod.  The mustard cream was fairly light.  There were lots of different textures in the dish which all worked well in harmony.  I probably would not order this dish all the time, but it was definitely a nice to try something new. 

For the dessert I had citrus creme brulee in which the caramelized sugar crust was thick and crunchy.  The custard underneath was also thick, smooth, and not too sweet.  However, I could hardly detect any citrus or ginger flavour that was supposed to be in there.

Overall, I loved the atmosphere of the restaurant.  At the same time, it also felt very 'corporate'.   The service was prompt, while price is on par.  For the quality of the dishes and execution I gave them 7/10.  I'd probably would still return in the future, but probably more for the drinks and happy hour.

  Goldfish on Urbanspoon

Sunday, November 20, 2011

For cheese lovers: Cowgirl Creamery Sidekick


While B and I were wandering, looking for some good snacks in the morning, I stumbled upon Cowgirl Creamery Sidekick, a take away eatery/cafe located inside the Ferry building. It was the word milk bar that caught my attention.

Right next to it is its big sister store, Cowgirl Creamery, which is a cheese paradise.  If I was allowed to bring back kilos of cheese to Canada, this would be the place. 

Sidekick offers light meals and snacks such as sandwiches, soups, salads, all in which have cheese.  They have a variety of flavours for their organic milk and lattes. I'm a hardcore cheese lover so this is YUM + FUN type of discovery!

Contemplating what kind of soup we should get, between the tomato bisque and cheese dumplings in broth, B and I agreed to go with the latter.  The soup arrived looking similar to a French onion soup without the cheese baked on top.  Instead, the cheese curds, or 'dumplings' were in the bottom.  The broth was quite mild and the cheese dumplings tasted more like gnocchi.  There was a bit too much scallion and not much flavour.  Maybe we should have gotten the other one instead.

The earl grey panna cotta was begging me to try it, and so I did.  It had a wonderful, yet subtle aroma of earl grey tea with a soft, pudding like texture.  I had to get it again the next day.
Do I have something on my lips?
Getting too excited here with a hot cup of spiced chai flavoured milk in my hand.  Not too sweet, and very comforting.

For my second trip back to Sidekick, I once again got the earl grey panna cotta, and this delicious sandwich with ham, thick slabs of cheese and mustard.  I believe the cheese was Mozzarella, but it was very soft and very creamy, almost like Brie without the smell.  I guess my only regret after the second time going is that I haven't tried their grilled cheese sandwich (which I could only imagine would be amazing).

If you are sightseeing around the area and craving a snack, I highly recommend getting some here.  Maybe try the grilled cheese and let me know what ya think!

Cowgirl Creamery on Urbanspoon

Lunching at the oldest restaurant in Cali; Tadich Grill


The night I arrived San Francisco, my youngest sister B had already gone for her first meal in the city.  I asked her to bring me back some food since I was exhausted and had not eaten.  She presented me with a very large serving of bread pudding soaked in vanilla cream and caramel.  Then, she proceeded to rave about the wonderful meal she had at Tadich Grill. I dragged her back the following day for lunch.  I needed to find out what this place was all about.  

Known as the oldest restaurant in California and having been opened since 1849, the restaurant is considered to be one of the oldest businesses in the US and an establishment which captured the history and development of San Francisco. 


 The ambience carries an Old World feel to it.  The restaurant has one long counter at the bar that extended from the front of the restaurant to the back of the kitchen.  There are also small tables on the other side of the restaurant.
While we waited, I started off with a glass of Bloody Mary.  I love drinking in the states, the ratio seems to always be half and half, nice and stiff. 

 B ordered herself a clam chowder.  It was very traditional and hearty.  The soup was quite thick, very creamy with a lot of clam meat, potatoes, and other veggies.  It went great with crusty sourdough.



 I ordered what B ordered the night before, dungeness crab and prawn a la Monza with rice.  It was delicious.  The casserole was filled primarily with large chunks of succulent crab meat.  It was baked in a zesty tomato-based sauce with some spices to it and topped with grated parmesan.  The 2 prawns were large.  They were cooked well to maintain that "crunch" and were not rubbery.  I wish the side didn't come with brussel sprouts.  I never liked it as a child, and I don't think I'll ever acquire the taste for it.  Added some lemon on top, and I just went off.  It was a rather large portion but I finished it all, and I enjoyed every single bite of it.


Just when we thought we were full, we couldn't help but notice this enticing fume coming from the gent sitting next to us.  He ordered what appeared to be a steak tuna, perfectly seared with rare centre.  It smelled and looked so good we thought about ordering one too.  Unfortunately, we couldn't bring ourselves to do it.  I wish P was here, it would've happened.  When we did tell P, she demanded we go back there, but B refused to do so the 3rd time in a row.

The restaurant maybe old fashioned but they kept it real.  I respect the fact that they managed to keep the place busy all these years and have a lot of loyal and returning customers.  Not many successful business are able to last this long.  I will definitely come back.

  Tadich Grill on Urbanspoon

Friday, November 18, 2011

Sunday binging trip in SF and Bay area

Shortly after we had an epic brunch at the Fat Lady, we decided to walk to off and went over to Jack London park located just a few blocks away.  Little did we know we would be tantalized by the fresh produce and food stands at the farmers market being held that day -__-''

Look at these beautiful heirloom tomatoes! I wish I could bring them all back with me T_T and they were so cheap too.  The little tubs were only $3 and something.  They also had fresh salsa and it was amazing.  



We knew we were stuffed, our bellies still full of food.  Then, we walked by Copper Top Ovens Pizza with a portable pizza oven.  The fire oven gourmet pizza was made fresh as you order, and my sister's gluttony got the best of her.  Half a pizza for only $6.

She ordered the daily special which had mascarpone cheese, pomegranate, and pear all infused with truffle oil.  How could you resist!! We ate the pizza down by the pier, which, by the way, was so delicious and worth every penny.  If we weren't so full, we would've enjoyed it much much more.  


There were too much food temptations going on at the farmers' market so we started walking back to the car.  On the way, I stumbled upon Home of Chicken & Waffles.  I took a peak inside and this place seems to be the real deal! If I wasn't on the verge of throwing up at this point, I would've gone in and order me some fried chicken and waffles.  My trip would've been complete. So sad...so sad T_T



We headed out to another popular touristy place in SF, Fisherman's Wharf.


We weren't thinking about ordering food, it had been less than 2 hours since a big brunch and half a pizza.  But of course, we ended up snacking again at Nick's Lighthouse and ordered typical seafood snacks popular in this area.
 

Prawn bisque
Crab cocktail
Calamari and fries
Side story: While I was standing on the street munching on calamari, someone threw a piece of food at a seagull.  The poor bird ended up being shoved aside by a seagull bully who caught the food in his mouth instead.  The seagull who got shafted squealed and pecked the other seagull  bully on the bum.  I thought it was the funniest thing how much alike they are to humans.

Nick's Lighthouse on Urbanspoon









After a quick stroll and snacking, we headed to Chinatown, our final spot for SF trip.  We were recommended to try out Golden Star, a vietnamese restaurant best known for their pho.

 
I'd like to point out the fact that I was a bit confused.  In the states, these are called "spring rolls", but in Canada, they are called "salad rolls".  I asked our American friends what you called the deep fried rolls, which are spring rolls in Canadaland.  "Egg rolls", they repied.  Ah, I see.


Those are huge beef balls!  They were pretty good; not overly chewy with a hint of pepper and sesame oil.  The broth was also good, but quite light compared to other pho places in Edmonton, the best location other than Vietnam to go for pho.


Whoa guys, we broke away from the usual pho and vermicelli bowl that day.  Someone actually was hungry enough to order a whole meal to herself, catfish in clay pot with a lot of rice.  This was a really authentic dish and we don't usually find it in all vietnamese restaurants.  The catfish was steamed in the clay pot and as a result, the meat was tender, moist, with lots of flavours and aromas from other herbs and spices. Yummy.
Golden Star Vietnamese on Urbanspoon
We really packed all those meals in a short period of time and our bellies hated us for that.  No regrets though, San Francisco is another city next to New York that offers so much diversity and more culinary adventures are waiting to be discovered.  Until next time!






Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Suika

I dropped by Suika just before Halloween.  Located on Broadway where not many izakayas flourish, but, wow, this one is doing really well.  The place is always packed on the weekends.  If you don't come early or make reservations, you might as well go somewhere else.  Not only was the restaurant decked out, but all the staff were also in costumes as well.  The service was warm and welcoming.  It was a pretty friendly and casual environment.


Their menu has a wide variety of tapas, both fusion and traditional Japanese dishes.  With so many selections, it was so hard to choose!

The fried octopus was the first dish to arrive.  Unfortunately, the first dish failed to make the first good impression.  The portion was really small, there wasn't anything much to it, and there was a huge pile of scallion on top.... wayyyyy too much scallion.

 
The second dish, tuna tartare with greens and crostini was pretty good.  The tuna was finely chopped into a smooth paste, mixed with various sauces and seasoning.  There was sweetness, with a hint of spice.  It was a good spread on the 4 small pieces of crostini.


To get the most variety, the deluxe Suika box was an easy option as it comes with 9 small dishes of appies.  I'm sad to say that out of those 9, only 3 were a hit and the rest were easily forgettable. with the exception of the marinated cucumber, the kimchi, and the toro battera (it was buttery delicious!).  Otherwise, mostly bland across the board, Starting from top left corner, we had...
1. shrimp cream cheese and canape 2. tofu 3. spinach gomae
4. marinated cucumber 5. lotus root 6. chicken with a lot of scallion
7. kimchi 8. toro battera 9. cold chicken salad in vinegar

The grilled duck was definitely my favourite dish.  The skin was crispy, and there was a lot of flavours and tenderness in the meat.  It was served with slices of tomatoes, green apples, and, once again, a load of scallion.  

Now, for the desserts, anything pumpkin made the list.

Pumpkin creme brulee the pumpkin creme is a bit thicker, with almost a custard-like texture.  The natural pumpkin flavour came through.  I wish the brulee part, the most crucial part of creme brulee, was a harder, crunchier crust.
The pumpkin tiramisu was quite delicious with generous amount of cinnamon powder.  I wish the piece was a little bigger.

I really liked the ambience and the friendly service at the restaurant.  Though the menu seems promising, I was only mildly impressed with the food I ordered this visit.  Two out of the six dishes were really good, but in comparison to other izakayas like Guu, I find that I can find better value elsewhere.  I would still return to try out other dishes though.  After leaving, I could still taste the raw scallion in my mouth which lingered for a while.

  Suika on Urbanspoon