Sunday, October 28, 2012

Mouthwatering crispy Korean pancake at Haroo, Richmond

The moment I entered Haroo, a Korean restaurant located on the second floor next to Deer Garden on Alexandra, I felt like I was invited over to a friend's house.  The humble, family-owned restaurant has a very cozy, home-feel to it.  The menu offers popular Korean dishes you often find at other Korean restaurants.  However, the ambience, presentation, and quality of the dishes all make Haroo much more unique than the rest.

We were each presented with starters which consisted of salad, congee, and dried marinated bean curd.  It was very comforting and I honestly felt like my friend's mom just cooked for me.    The sides were also the typical kimchi, bean sprouts, sweet potatoes, seaweed, and broccoli.

We didn't order much that night and were just looking for comforting dishes.  The first to arrive was a  rich pork bone soup.  And when we asked for spicy, they took it to heart.  We spent the rest of the time blowing our noses as we slurped down this very savoury, meaty broth.  B ordered chicken jajangmyeon, a savoury Korean noodle dish.  I had something else in mind.
I was craving Korean pancake, pajeon, especially after B flaunted me with an enticing portrait of a paper-thin, crispy one from Korea. I haven't had such luck finding anything that came close to that around here, let alone a slightly crispy one for that matter. They had all been very thick, soggy, bland, or even spongy. The pajeon at Haroo didn't come cheap. At $20, I had to think about it through and through. I turned to the uncle to convince me that it is indeed crispy. "It is", he reassured me. "But this one is REALLY crispy", he pointed to the seafood pajeon. SOLD.

I waited impatiently while the rest of my party stuffed their faces with pork bone soup and jajungmyeon.  The pajeon was fashionable late to arrive the table, as with anybody famous that the fans are anticipating to see.
Finally, a large stone plate arrived just as I was about to cave in and stuff my face too. It was sizzling, golden, especially on the edges. I don't think the ajusshi was kidding when he said it's crispy. Without hesitation, I dipped a slice into the vinegary sauce.   I took a large anticipated bite into layer after layer of crunch. It was so crispy and had a texture similar to vegetable tempura.  Just what I had been hoping for. Still not as paper thin as the one in Korea, but this is the crispiest one in Vancouver greater area thus far. I truly hope that it is always consistent because I am totally going back solely for this dish.

Haroo on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Better Than (you know what) Chocolate Fondant at Cafe de L'Orangerie

A little heaven in a cup..

I'm not a big fan of desserts.  My sweet tooth is small and underdeveloped, and, at times, my dessert would consist of something savoury.  But this seemingly typical chocolate cake was so special that I am compelled to dedicate a post for it.   The chocolate fondant cake at Cafe De L'Orangerie, a small homestyle Euro-Japanese cafe in Marpole area, arrived at our table in a ramekin with a side of light whipped cream.  It took a while to arrive, but it was well worth the wait. 

 Dusted with powder sugar icing, I dug my spoon into a light and fluffy cake batter.  The top layer was had a bit more crisp in the exterior and very airy.  The overall texture was more puffy and loose like a souffle than a spongy cake.  Underneath was a warm, oozing liquid chocolate that was not overly thick or sweet, it was just right.  The first bite of the decadent chocolate sauce combined with the cocoa-rich cake was such an intense gastronomic experience that drove my palette into a frenzy. 
The last bite was just as amazing as the first.  I scraped every last crumbs off the dish, savouring every bits of it.  If you had a bad day, order one of these and I guarantee you'll feel better.  

Now that I got the best part out of the way...

 Allow me to back track and walk you through some of the other dishes.  Cafe de L'Orangerie specializes in Euro-Japanese cuisine, including fusion pasta, hamburg steak, curry, panini, and desserts.  We tried out several dishes and the mentaiko spaghetti with extra bacon just hit the spot for me.  The pasta, tossed in cod roe and mayonnaise, had a nice creamy and savoury flavour.  With added smokiness from the bacon and shredded nori, I had no problem finishing up the entire plate alone. 

A small bowl of soup of the day and salad came with one of the sets

Hamburg steak is the ultimate comfort food for Euro-Japanese cuisine.  The oroshi hamburg steak was served with a fried egg on top.  A total homestyle, hearty meal.  They left the yolk runny just the way we love and it was satisfying with the succulent patty.  The oroshi sauce was a combination of shredded daikon and ponzu sauce which was really zesty and gave the steak a zing.  They were generous with the amount of sauteed mushrooms too.  We also tried the hamburg steak with curry version. While the oroshi was good, the Japanese curry had so much more depth and flavour for the hamburg steak.  Again, you won't notice how full you are, you would want to keep on eating.  
Two things I wish this place had was 'doria', or baked rice, and 'omurice', or omelette wrapped fried rice.  Instead, I ordered the seafood mac n' cheese gratin, which is almost the same as a doria but with macaroni instead of rice.  The top layer of baked cheese was so satisfying.  It was thick, hot and gooey, wrapping around the scoops of macaroni drenched in cream sauce.  Again, you know this is not good for your heart, but it is good for the soul.  

On to other desserts on the menu:

This impressive looking parfait consisted of edamame paste, vanilla, ice cream,  red bean, rice balls and puffed rice.  The edamame paste was a bit dry and not very sweet. It was an interesting texture to pair with the vanilla ice cream.  This was a heavy duty parfait.  The bean paste and the whole combination was really filling just after a few bites.  

Green tea pudding parfait was pretty awesome and I would love to get it again.  The pudding was very soft with a distinct matcha flavour.   Again, the red bean was present to complete a wholesome Japanese dessert. They loaded up the rice balls pretty good for this one.  If you eat all of them (which I almost did), you'll feel pretty stuffed.  

Cafe de l'Orangerie on Urbanspoon