Friday, September 28, 2012

3 unique lobster dishes to try in Richmond

Lobster ramen at Gyo O ($19)
Served in a ginormous bowl, this epic ramen comes with half a lobster with a gigantic claw.  The poached egg just brought everything an extra mile.  There was enough ramen noodles in there to feed 2 people.  You have a choice between miso and tonkatsu broth.  I went with the latter.  The broth was the best part as it had a lot of depth and richness from the lobster.  The lobster meat itself, though slightly over cooked, was still very plump and meaty. For $19, this luxury ramen is not on the regular menu.  You can ask the server for its availability.   If you're able to finish this enormous dish by yourself, the empty bowl is large enough to be adorn as a victory hat.  

Gyo-O 魚王 on Urbanspoon
Lobster congee at Fisherman's Terrace ($20)
Best hangover breakfast to have on a Sunday morning with your dim sum ritual.  Served in a traditional wooden pot, it is a blend of flavourful lobster-simmered, silky congee is great for sharing. The pieces of lobster are pre-smashed so they can easily be enjoyed without getting your hands all dirty.  

Fisherman's Terrace Seafood 釣魚台海鮮酒家 (時代坊內) on Urbanspoon

Lotus wrapped rice with lobster, shrimp and scallops at Golden Bauhinia ($38)
This family-size dish will definitely fill you up.  It is definitely the high end version of the typical 'lo mai gai' at dim sum.  While they are not stingy on the seafood, you will definitely be stuffed by what seems to be bottomless amount of glutenous rice.  And don't forget to pack some gum, this dish is loaded with steamed garlic.  

Golden Bauhinia Restaurant 金紫荊小館 on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Dining with royal round 2; Secret Location

Secret Location's concept combines everything trendy from food, luxury, fashion, art, and contemporary design. Located right beside the ever-buzzling Chill Winston in Gastown, this not-so-secret spot is actually really hard to miss as its white open space with fluorescent lighting would turn heads for any passerby.  Not an average lounge in the city, it is worth stopping by if you want to indulge in the ambience of the glitz and glam.  Of course, when dining with His Majesty, one wouldn't expect for anything less. 


Secret Location's got great selections of specialty cocktails.  I ordered one which has the name associated with a kimono.  The cucumber taste was quite prominent, but I found it light and refreshing. Sir A&W ordered a very mean looking 'Arsenic', an indigo-coloured concoction served in a tall glass like the ones the evil queens drink from in fairy tales.  It was as mean and stiff as it looked, and worth every penny.

Plowman's Platter was a great plate to share with a group.  It arrived with a basket of  I'm not sure if I remember this correctly (the Kimono got to me), but I think it was 'duck tongue' terrine, which I really liked. It was smoky, sweet and salty like Chinese char siu pork.  The aged cheddar was sharp and wonderful, while the homemade mustard was delightful pairing with the other charcuterie.  The one lone pickled Romanesco broccoli was peculiar and fascinating to look at as it was my first contact with it.    
 The Qualicum beach scallops with parsnip and  bone marrow ravioli, chanterelle mushrooms, and carrot butterwas an art on a plate.  It actually looked prettier than it tasted.  The ravioli dough was on the extreme end of al dente.  Though His Majesty loved it that way, I found it too chewy and hard for my liking.   
This dish looked like it came straight from the garden; Italian burrata, Okanagan peach and nasturtium salad.  The grilled peaches were so sweet and juicy, it made me miss Okanagan and the summer very much.  The salad itself was crisp, the burrata was soft, yet incomparable to the ones served at Cru and Siena.  
Daily selection of canapes that night came with chicken consommé, quail, a dollop creme fraiche, and a cocktail shrimp.  That's the best description I could give.  The quail was very tender, but the other three bites were not so memorable.  
We loved the truffled organic deep fried egg and grilled asparagus, and fontina fondutta.  The black truffle was really faint, but the deep fried egg had a very crispy exterior and soft, runny yolk, which when mixed with the silky cheese sauce, was just delicious.
I stole a bite off Lady Chang's crispy skin Polderside duck, another art on a plate.  Cooked medium rare, it was very similar to the duck I had the previous night at L'Abbatoir, but with less sauce.  Again, when they say 'crispy' skin, I really wish they took it to heart and made it really crispy! 
My pick for main entree, grilled AAA striploin with peppercorn sauce and potato zucchini galette.  Though the striploin was much too chewy for my liking, despite being medium rare, I absolutely loved the zucchini galette.  Thin, crispy layers of golden brown potato pastry with even thinner alternating layers of sliced zucchini.  There were interesting components on there; the fava beans, and the pecorino stuffed squash blossom which strangely tasted very much like a dessert. 
Artichoke and black truffle gnocchi with English peas and Reggiano parmesan sounded excellent.  In reality, it was really dry.  The texture of the gnocchi was what's expected, and slightly on the chewy side.  It tasted great the first few bites, but, even with the truffle, it wasn't enough to keep us interested.  
Lady Chang finished her meal off with Petits Fours of the Moment, the passion fruit tart on the lower left corner won her over.  

At Secret Location, you can indulge on the aesthetics; elegantly presented food, and chic atmosphere.  
Secret Location on Urbanspoon

Monday, September 24, 2012

Dining with royal round 1; L'Abattoir

For those who don't know, "L'Abattoir" sounds like a trendy, upscale place to come for drinks.  While it is true, the name also has a darker meaning, translating to something along the line of a 'slaughterhouse'.  While the restaurant pays its homage to the neighbourhood's history of being a meat packing district, the ambience is still very chic, combining the essence of classic, industrial structures and contemporary designs, giving the restaurant a unique character.  

I've read about L'Abattoir while it was featured in enRoute magazine while I was traveling, but this was the first time I finally visited the restaurant.  When you dine with a royalty, there's no holding punches.  L'Abattoir was our first destination out of the 5 this past weekend.  I braced myself and kissed my salary goodbye.  

I was so glad I ordered the El Camino, a specialty cocktail.  Tasting like the last drops of summer, this drink's got everything a girl like me could ask for; watermelon-infused tequila (yes, please!), Campari (si), lime (me gusta) , grapefruit pop (fancy!), and salt thats brimmed all the way down the glass, which made it harder to lick without looking awkward.  The best part was the fresh slice of watermelon that's completely saturated with alcohol by the end.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Pre-dinner at DamSo

On one hectic Monday evening, we arrived Ma Dang Coul, a popular Korean restaurant on Denman, for a huge dinner feast.  As we were the first few to arrive, half an hour deemed too long to be waiting around with no food.  So, we decided to head over to Damso, a Korean fusion restaurant nearby known for their modern spin on traditional Korean dishes.  

There were so many appealing dishes on the menu.  Like always, we put our brains together but ended up using our gut instinct to pick out words that stood out best for each of us.  They included my preference for beef tongue, B's usual craving for dok-bokki, and P's carnivorous appetite for beef ribs.  We were really tempted to order Kalbee Osso Bucco, which seemed to be a popular item amongst the diners there.  It was visible at almost every table.  Just watching the guy next table sucking on the juicy looking meat off the bone on an empty stomach proved almost too much to bear.  However, we resisted the temptation as a bigger feast was awaiting us in half an hour at Ma Dang Coul.

The first dish to arrive was B's pick, chicken kalbee dok-bokki.  Who knew that these Korean rice cakes now a common staple were once only served as Korean royal court cuisine?  The dish was what you would expect from dok-bokki from anywhere.  The rice cakes were soft, yet chewy.  The sauce was a bit tangy and more sweet.  There were small bits of chicken in there and a lot of onion.  Size wise, it was a pretty good dish to share and very filling too.  
Now, this was a version of carpaccio I had never tried, kalbee, or beef short rib, carpaccio.  The first thing I noticed and only thing I didn't enjoy about this was the texture.  The beef ribs were nicely marbled and marinated, but when I chewed into it, the meat was also completely frozen.  I'm not sure if that's how it was meant to be served.  Nonetheless, despite the frozen meat, I was still able to appreciate the different elements that made up the whole dish.  The use of crisp Asian pear, jalapenos, sesame, and some kind of really refreshing and citrusy dressing worked well altogether.  

The last tapas dish was my absolute favourite.  The beef tongue, served in some kind of a sweet sauce, was extremely tender.  And I can't stress that enough. I loved the flavour of the sauce, a harmonious blend of sweet and savoury, which complemented the beef tongue nicely. When I think back of the other beef tongue I had, I couldn't think of one as memorable.  Next time, I honestly wouldn't share this with anybody. Y'all get your own tongue.

Damso is serious about being creative and innovative with their dishes.  I would definitely love to come back again not only to eat more beef tongue, but try out other dishes like the Osso Bucco, bulgogi burger, stuffed calamari sausage, and almost everything else on the menu.

Damso Modern Korean Cuisine on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Bob Likes Thai Food

 After reading various reviews , I was really interested in finding out more about this humble Thai restaurant that has been creating quite a buzz in the city.  Located on Main street, Bob Likes Thai Food has a very laid back ambience and was really busy when we came in. We asked the Thai server what she would recommend.  We even spoke to her in Thai when we wanted to let them know not to be shy and they can do the seasoning straight up fiery Thai style.  She said everything on the menu was delicious.  Wow, the confidence.  Thus, we accepted the challenge.   

For starter, we ordered Pla Kung, which is a Thai shrimp salad.  Normally the shrimp is served raw or half cooked, similar to Japanese amebi or sweet shrimp, and heavily dressed with garlic, lime, chili and fish sauce.  I guess it's also very similar to shrimp ceviche.  Bob's Pla Kung was a bit of a fusion salad with cooked shrimp, red peppers, cashews, and coconut shavings.  The dressing and components were quite tasty, but the dressing was overwhelmingly sweet.  There wasn't enough balance from the lime and all we ended up tasting was a very strong sugary taste.  It was really spicy, though. 

Their Pad Thai is pretty authentic and quite delicious.  It actually tastes like the one from small shop along the streets in Thailand, which is pretty awesome.  The noodles were cooked just right and slightly chewy with a balance of flavours in the dish.  I would definitely order this again. 

The last dish we ordered, Choo Chee Pla, was somewhat of a let down.  Choo Chee, as written in the description, is made with concentrated red curry paste which is very rich in flavour.  The curry is usually simmered in the pan until the coconut milk starts to bubble and separate, giving in a nice, thick, creamy consistency and bold flavour.  That's what makes Choo Chee different from other curry dishes.  
Premium Choo Chee from Thailand
Bob's version of Choo Chee with fish fillet arrived in a creamy yellow hue with a layer of coconut cream drizzled on top.  As I suspected, the consistency was still very runny and the flavour was still very mild.  The curry wasn't simmered long enough and this was not how the dish was meant to be served.  Disappointed, we packed the rest of the Choo Chee home and decided to remake it ourselves.  
Choo Chee 
Choo Chee the day after
The following day, all I did was simmer the Choo Chee until the curry started to bubble and the oil separated.  I didn't have to add anything but the colour of the curry turned out darker, as it should be, and the flavour was much more savoury.  The slightly longer cooking time made all the difference in the world.

We didn't tell our server she was wrong.  
Bob Likes Thai Food on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


Monday is the best day to go to Siena simply because all wine is 50% off.  We took advantage and 2 hours later,  I found myself still swishing down our third bottle of wine for the night and having too good of a time. Our Gewurztraminer wine from Spain after discount was only $15.  It was crisp, easy to drink and pair with so we had to keep it coming all night long.  By 8 pm, I can honestly say that almost the entire restaurant was tanked.  Imagine being in a noisy restaurant, then transform that into a sports bar when a game is on.  That's how loud it was.  

Siena's spin on classic Italian fare and casual dining ambience actually reminds me of Corso 32 in Edmonton.  The daily specials are written in full details across a large chalk board visible from anywhere in the restaurant.  Our very social server was more than happy to elaborate to us in more detail about the courses.  The great thing about dining in a larger group is that you're free to order more and sample more variation of food.  

I've tried arancine, or deep-fried risotto rice balls, elsewhere, but I was never too impressed with the taste or texture.  However, I thoroughly enjoyed the fresh and crispy rice balls du jour at Siena that night.  Underneath the golden brown Panko crust was creamy risotto with leek, cheese, and Pernod. I could've easily devoured four balls by myself.