Showing posts with label Richmond. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Richmond. Show all posts

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Takeya Sushi

Takeya Sushi may seem like a typical Japanese takeout & dine in restaurant, but it is always just as busy as its sister restaurant, Ichiro.  Finding where to dine is a routine habit  ritual for me and I wonder how the two would compare.  So, we sought out the modest restaurant on No. 1 road one Saturday night.  As I sat down and flipped through the menu, I began to question how authentic it was going to be.  It seemed the style was leaning more towards Western style Japanese cuisine with some fusion, hence spring rolls and dry deep fried gyoza.  Regardless, I later discovered their nigiri were solid.  
Toro pon nigiri, all dressed up for a party with sliced onion, mayo, roe, and light ponzu sauce.  The ponzu amount was very little and didn't really enhance much flavour.  I thought maybe the sauce should have been drizzled on top of the nigiri, so the onion would have a chance to absorb the citrus flavour and wouldn't be so strong tasting after.  Also, their toro was already great on its own with super fatty, melt-in-your-mouth texture I crave for so much.   Therefore, I felt the add-ons were not necessary and didn't enhance the taste of the fish that much.  
I think I will always order this at Takeya from now on, Takeya nigiri; seared toro, salmon toro, saba, amebi, eel, salmon and tuna roll.  The seared tuna and salmon toro hit the spot just right; smoky, faintly charred flavour on fatty toro.   The saba didn't have that strong, distinct fishy taste and was quite lean for saba.  Unagi was a good size and very saucy with buttery texture.  The amebi was plump but not as sweet as Hachi Sushi.  The tuna and salmon roll made great fillers.
Another dish that just made it on my list of favourite things in Richmond, salmon pon, Takeya's version of tataki. Thinly sliced pieces of seared salmon (or tuna) were dressed with spinach, onion, roe, mayo, and bathing in citrus ponzu sauce.  The dish had the right amount of burst in flavours, and contrasting crunch from onion and popping roe.  

The first three dishes were all from Chef's special menu which may change monthly.  I really hope all three dishes are here to stay. 
Tempura don and udon set made savoury fillers, because heaps of nigiri and sashimi just couldn't fill us up the way noodles and rice bowls can.  Although everything about them may be typical, they are also a great in value and portions.  Most of all, they get the job done.

To go with the udon, I needed a side of chicken karaage, but a small portion with 4 pieces.  The batter was crispy and flavourful while the meat was juicy and tender.  

Can you believe all that food was shared between 2 people?  Like Ichiro, Takeya also places more emphasis in delivering fresh and decent quality sushi and sashimi.  While I found the cooked food to be on par with the rest of other Japanese restaurants, some items offer great value and serve their purpose just fine.  

Takeya Sushi on Urbanspoon

Monday, January 14, 2013

The Ultimate Nigiri at Ichiro

When I asked a Japanese customer what she thought was the 'best' Japanese restaurant in Richmond, she quickly replied, "Ichiro, it's authentic".  Thus, later that evening, I dragged poor Mr. C to Steveston and found us a table for two.  I observed the environment, the restaurant was quite spacious, yet busy. Service was prompt. Also, the staff were all Japanese.  Could this be the first sign of authenticity? 

One of the sushi chef was in his late 50's, maybe early 60's.  He stood behind the sushi bar with a watchful eye.  I noticed he looked assertive and had an aura of Jiro (Dreams of Sushi), which made me more curious to try the sashimi.  C was already excited by the pages from the menu, filled with pictures and variety.  I was just as ecstatic and didn't know where to begin.  Everything looked and sounded good, particularly from the sushi and sashimi section.  I could swear we wanted to try something that was unique and a specialty, but somehow we just ended up ordering most of the usuals -__-
Have you ever recovered from a flu, only to be attacked by another cold right after? That's what the worst flu season in Vancouver has done to me.  So, a bowl of miso soup seemed to be a legitimate and comforting choice.  We each got one.  There is a version with clams in it, but we just kept it simple. It wasn't too salty or diluted, just a right balance of flavour.  
Okay, here's a specialty dish Mr. C ordered.  Steveston agedashi tofu was visually appealing. I'm a fan of anything wrapped in nori and deep fried. Of course, there was a harmony of textures between soft tofu, asparagus, imitation crab meat, and salmon. Nonetheless, C expressed his disdain for the texture of the salmon as it was dry and slightly overcooked. I agreed that it could go without. The broth could also be a bit more rich to enhance the flavours. We glanced at the next table and drooled over the golden fried dumplings with prawn tails peering out over the sizzling hot plate.

 A short time later, a small order of assorted tempura arrived, which led to a small altercation between C and I as to why no prawn gyoza was substituted instead. No table flipping involved and, of course, it was me who took the blame for not being interested in any gyoza in the first place. While we were less excited to indulge in the tempura, I dove for the fried bean and it was perfectly crispy. The prawns were good as well.  The batter was crispy and not too heavily coated.
Despite our best efforts to not order any more deep fry dishes, Mr. C and I have too much fondness (or weakness) for oily, crispy things.  Ebi mayo was served with a bouquet of sophisticatedly wrapped up greens and drizzle with an acidic and gingery and zesty vinaigrette. My favorite place for ebi mayo is still Guu Garlic. The prawns here were not overly battered and had a little bit sweetness from the mayo, but they somewhat reminded me of the Chinese prawn and peaches.
I don't really have much to describe about the soft shell crab roll and Steveston roll.  Softshell crab in the roll we both thought could have been a tad crispier.  The latter had sweet shrimp, tuna and topped with salmon.  It was a good size with a good filler-rice ratio.  The toro nigiri was quite fresh and melts in your mouth.  I still think the best and unbeatable toro is at Hachi Sushi where the fish just 'glistens'.   Now, let's talk about the U.I.T.
I knew I had to order this ultimate nigiri.  The U.I.T. for $3.50 per piece doesn't come cheap, but trust me, it's all worth while.  It features the 3 superstars of sushi; uni, ikura, and toro.  It's just glorious and so pretty to look at.
I fit the whole thing in one bite and was chewing for a good 30 seconds trying to taste all the components and how they worked together. Fortunately, the uni tasted like it was freshly plucked from the sea (as opposed to the stench from sitting out for a week).  The ikura was popping out 'sea-water' juices with no trace of fishiness, while the toro was smooth and fatty.  Mmmm.... It was a delightful combination to be indulged and savoured.

Last but not least, I thought their deluxe sashimi was fresh and great quality.  It included the basic and luxurious sashimi items; sockeye salmon, tuna, yellowtail, white fish, octopus, geoduck, surf clam, sweet shrimp.  But the one item that blew me away was the hamachi, or farmed yellowtail.
Check out how marbled that piece is!
Hamachi has really high oil or fat content, but the texture is more firm than toro.  So you still get a firm, but buttery taste with a sweet finishing note.  I highly recommend ordering hamachi at Ichiro as it is probably the best I have come across.

Ichiro has gotten it down for quality sushi and sashimi.  As quality should be over quantity, I would skip the cooked food and strictly do a few items from the sushi bar next time.  I'm definitely coming back for more U.I.T, hamachi, and would love to try their kaisendon too.  

Ichiro Japanese on Urbanspoon

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

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Mini luncheon at Pearl Castle Richmond Centre

Fellow foodie, Merh and I got together one weekend for lunch at Pearl Castle, the Richmond Centre location.  I've visited this location and the one on Sexsmith several times, but mainly only for bubble tea and light snacks, never for a full meal.   I have to say it is a go-to spot in Richmond for bbt, and when you absolutely can't decide what to eat.  

The restaurant was completely full at lunch time with the line up of people spilling out of the restaurant.  I didn't think it could ever be that hectic! The wait was around 20 minutes before we were seated.

We were starving and I wanted a fun lunch, meaning little nutrients but good tasting and not boring.
Such components on that day would include Taiwanese-style fried chicken, and anything hot to thaw us from this freezing cold weather.  Whether it was due to hunger or ambition, over-ordering is something common to us and this was just another occasion.  For us girls, 1 set of entree and one appetizer to share would've sufficed, but, of course, that's not how we roll.  I wanted fried chicken, so we got both the wings and nuggets.  We wanted something warm, so we each got a hot pot set.  After the second plate of appie arrived, we realized we had, once again, overdone ourselves.  

Was it necessary? no.  Did we regret it? kinda.  Was it satisfying? absolutely!

Crispy fried chicken nuggets $5.75 with skin on and a load of seasoning.  You'll never eat KFC popcorn chicken again.  They are crispy and majorly addictive. I could not get enough of them and want some more, like right now......

Fried chicken wings, 6 pieces for $5.50.  These wings were pretty big and meaty (except for maybe one), but I still preferred the seasoning on the nuggets.  

As an attempt to balance her meal, Merh ordered ginseng chicken hotpot ($8.95).   The portion was large for the price.  Like I mentioned, the two of us could've shared this and be moderately full.  The ginseng broth was mild, and herby.  It tasted "healthy" and had a lot of chicken and mushrooms.  It came with a side of thick chili sauce to give more flavour to the chicken.  

I really enjoyed my kimchi seafood hotpot ($8.95), which was big enough to last me a couple more days.  There was a generous amount of seafood; shrimp, fish, fishcakes, and vegetables.  It was vibrant both visually and in flavours.  Though it was really high in sodium, and possibly MSG-filled, it was great comfort dish due to its fiery broth.  It also came with a side of satay sauce for extra oil and sodium. I happily ate most of it.  Both hotpot sets came with jellies! I felt like a kid eating it.

For some reason, for maybe that day in particular, I found the service to be pretty fast.  Or maybe I didn't notice that they were slow because we were caught up in conversations.  Us hungry girls didn't complain about our hunger while waiting for food, though. Their bbt is good, but imo, Estea at Aberdeen Centre food court reigns supreme.

Pearl Castle 圓香茶坊 (Richmond Centre) 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.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Do you love fried chicken? Go to L.A. Chicken!



I'm a feen for fried chicken, really good fried chicken.  

For some reason the KFC in Asia is amazing for that, I think it's the seasoning and the batter that makes a difference.  Meanwhile, I consider the quality of Canadian KFC next to being garbage.  It's quite disappointingly atrocious.  It's been almost a year since I have had a good fried chicken during my trip to L.A. last year.  I have been to several places that offer great fried chicken such as Liu's and fried chicken wings from Phnom Penh, but I didn't know of any place that is great at southern-style fried chicken.   So when I heard about a good fried chicken joint located right in Richmond, I was determined to get to the bottom of it.  

Located on Thorpe road in Richmond, L.A. Chicken interior looks like it was frozen in time since its opening in the early days in the 80's (I'm assuming). A typical mom and pop fast food joint that looks like it could use a face lift, particularly for its food posters that have faded to sepia.  They are still doing well for business as most patrons come in for take outs.  

Their 3 piece chicken combo for $9.99 came with fries, gravy, and a choice of pop or salad. First bite taken was very crispy and I mean the entire skin was deep fried to a golden crisp.  The meat was also well marinated through.  I wish there was more spices on the batter though.  The gravy was also good, thick and rich.  Although the fries somehow managed to stay hot and crispy even after a while, I could probably skip them and just get a whole bucket next time.  I gave it 8/10, not too shabby at all!  What else is missing here? Waffles with lots of butter and syrup!

If you know of another great fried chicken joint in Vancouver and greater area, I am all ears.

L.A. Chicken on Urbanspoon

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Warming up at Little Sheep Hot Pot

I love hot pot in the fall/winter time.

Cooking raw meat, dumplings and vegetables in a hearty broth one at a time warms you right to the soul.  And it feels pretty healthy, up until you dunk the freshly cooked meat into a sauce and fully coat it with oil. Hot pot is a meal which brings people together, whether it be family or friends as it is often a fairly large meal which may take quite some time to finish.  As conversations take place while you wait for the food to cook, you may find yourself ordering more food after discovering the food you were waiting on have already disappeared before you get to it.  But I guess it's also about the joy of sharing food. In the end, you can always count on leaving overstuffed and happy every time.

Located in Landsdowne Mall in Richmond, Little Sheep Mongolian Hot Pot, a large hot pot enterprise from Batou has become one of the busiest hot pot places in Richmond.  With a large dining space, a sufficient number of staff and quick service, as well as fair amount of quality control of ingredients have made first time comers into returning customers.  Our party arrived around 7 pm on a Thursday and had AYCE dinner which, at the end, came up to almost $30 per person.

What makes a hot pot place stand out from the rest?

I feel it's a combination of factors; freshness of ingredients, price, cleanliness does matter (I know some hole in the wall places that are amazing but I wonder about how clean it is sometimes).  Most importantly, it's probably the broth that makes each hotpot place unique. We chose half of Little Sheep's famous original herbal soup and half of the spicy version.   Both broths were flavourful and filled with unique herbs you normally don't find at any other hot pot restaurants.  The spicy broth had more distinct cardamom spice flavour, which was aromatic, but became a bit overwhelming towards the end of the meal.  

Needless to say, hot pot is not spectacular without its side kick, sauce!  There is a condiment station where you can get as creative as you like in making your own sauce.

While having a long hot meal session such as this, I needed a cool refreshment to keep me going.  Arrived the $2 refillable plum drink.  It was a little bit tart and sweet, a very nice and refreshing concoction to go with the heavy duty meal.

The verdict:
Our party had a fairly good experience at Little Sheep.  The food was fresh, and the broth was unique and delicious.  The house made dumplings and various seafood balls were tasty as well. We did not have any issues with service.  Although they were not the friendliest, they worked quite quickly in clearing the dishes, filling our drinks, and did not give us a time limit to finish our meal.

Mongolian Little Sheep Hot Pot 小肥羊 on Urbanspoon