Showing posts with label japanese food. Show all posts
Showing posts with label japanese food. Show all posts

Friday, April 18, 2014

Omakase at Octopus Garden

P and I have always wanted to try the omakase (chef’s choice) menu. So we chose Octopus Garden and aimed for the gold star $100 menu. Hey, we don’t do this every day if we’re going to try it out might as well go big right?

- prepare your stomach for an epic battle
- spare at least 2.5h for the meal (and we eat pretty darn fast)
- menu changes every day so don’t expect to get the exact same thing if you do revisit

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Fabulous finds @ Sobeys and impulse splurges @ Superstore

I haven't bought my groceries at Sobeys for a long while now and didn't realize they have gotten so fancy. Their Compliments line, Sensations is now carrying much more gourmet products.  The bread dipper comes in 3 enticing flavours, greek style oregano and lemon, roasted garlic and parmesan, and blue cheese, porcini mushroom and Cabernet.


Why use regular canola or olive oil, when you can fancy up and use Asian wasabi stir fry oil?

It's a shame there are no Nando's in Edmonton, but now Edmontonians can catch a glimpse of how good Nando's chicken is with their line of delicious Peri Peri sauces! 

I've only had the Tiger sauce at Dadeo's, the best cajun diner in Edmonton.  It is a hot sauce with a sweet chili flavour and goes great with Po'Boys, anything cajun, seafood, and deep fried.

Next stop, Superstore!

After trying to refrain from junk food, my first caving in was to a pillow-size veggie chips.  Made with "real tomatoes spinach and potatoes", of course the appearance don't come to illustration.  Yes, I have been a victim of marketing :(  Btw, they taste like shrimp crackers or something I ate in elementary school.  The next bag was President's Choice chips, my favourite.  I've been grabbing a new flavour each time I see a new selection.  Today's flavours were sweet chili Thai and jalapeno.  PC's chips are super high in sodium, but I have the salty tooth.  Other flavours include:
-Greek olive and feta
-Barbecue baby back ribs
-Italian roast chicken
-General Tao
-Spicy Peri Peri chicken
-Tandoori barbecue
-Buffalo wings
Might I add, their flavoured kettle corn, tomato & smoked paprika, are also the bomb (they're fully dressed and are more seasoned and less sweet kettle cooked).

Since I've caved in already, it won't get any worse if I break any more rules.  Now that I got myself 3 bags of chips, one pillow-sized, it was time to get me some dip.  But why buy one, when you could get 4 types in one? This 500 g platter of this Summer Fresh dips came with artichoke asiago, spinach dip, regular hummus, and roasted red pepper humus for $5.99.


I usually never buy maki rolls from Superstores and others alike, but it must've been the sauce and the fact that I was starved that possessed me to do it.  For $6.49, I was able to enjoy 7 pieces of very average california rolls.  I miss maki rolls in Vancouver!!!
On to my next fix, I need to remind you that it was 2 pm and I haven't had my first meal.  It was the first time for me buying a boat salad rolls outside a vietnamese restaurant for $10.99.  The boat came with 2 sauces, one sweet chilli and one Japanese sesame dressing.  The salad rolls were a cross between maki rolls and Vietnamese salad rolls.  There were no noodles, or rice, just carrots, cucumber, avocado, and pieces of imitation crab or shrimp.  They were literally a salad, wrapped together.  Was it a robbery? yes.  Were they that bad? No...they weren't.

There's something intriguing and invigorating about finding fiery taste in the sweetness of chocolate.  After sampling the cayenne chocolate mousse at Sabor Divino earlier this year, I decided to pick up a bar of Lindt Excellence chili dark chocolate.  I've never been a big fan of milk chocolate.  I guess I just don't have the sweet tooth and dark has always been the only way for me to enjoy chocolate. Apparently, the chocolate and chili combination were first created by the Aztec back in the days.

 I didn't taste any spices until the aftertaste kicks in. The spice was very faint. It was more of a gentle kick, almost like a nudge. I wish it was spicier, more chili = more excitement from the usual mundane taste.  I would make a chocolate fondue out of this, and add extra pinches of cayenne.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Vancouver ramen: Kintaro, G-men Ramen, Benkei, Santouka

G Men Ramen (CLOSED)
Kimchi cheese ramen
The combination of this dish will not suit everyone's taste.  It's not as spicy as I want, but I like it.  I probablycan't eat it on a regular basis though. It doesn't look like there's very much here but I often feel like I am eating from a bottomless ramen bowl.  This was no exception.  It was also cheesy, yet spicy with crunch from the fried garlic and seaweed.  Even if it was bottomless, I would still keep eating and eating.  I just don't get sick of this dish.

Tonkotsu Miso ramen

Someone else ordered the other 2 dishes.  I had a taste from both.  The tonkotsu broth was very rich and flavourful, while the miso ramen was lighter, yet you could taste the pungent fermented soy from the miso.
Tonkotsu ramen
G-Men Ramen on Urbanspoon
Shio ramen
The shio ramen was descent and had creamy, savoury broth.  I couldn't think of a better ramen during a cold and rainy afternoon with an empty stomach.  I really like egg noodles here the best.  They're not too thick or too thin, but enough texture for a good chew.  They also give you more garlic and chilli oil to add to your own taste.  The more flavours, the better!

Benkei Ramen (Robson) on Urbanspoon
Hokkaido Ramen Santouka
I often walked by Santouka and peaking into the crowded ramen joint.  Though the lineup wasn't as extreme as Kintaro, this place was constantly busy.

I love looking at these displays in the window.  They should make more like this everywhere.
I was quite indifferent about trying it; a little bit curious, but it can't be that good. Their menu is average. And even though it's newer, there's still a big round table to share with 20 other people.  What's the difference between this place and Kintaro, and everywhere else? What's so special about it?

I would prefer not to sit at the round table  (same as at Kintaro), but I guess you're just there to eat ramen and go.  It's really my problem actually.  I'm too picky, and I complain to much sometimes.  Anyways, I ordered the usual shio ramen.  Although after a few observations, many were ordering the Tsuke men which is ramen noodles and broth served separately.  I will have to order that and the spicy miso ramen next time.  When the ramen came, it was the smallest portion I have seen yet.  But in my opinion, Santouka has the best broth.  The shio broth was more flavourful and richer than Benkei.  The ramen noodles are thinner, almost like wonton noodles, but I didn't mind.  I was enjoying it more than I thought I would.
Shio Ramen
Even though I initially thought I would not be full from the small portion, it filled my belly and I was very satisfied.  Taste > quantity ftw.


Kara Miso Ramen combo
My friend ordered the Kara spicy miso ramen combo and I scammed a taste of the "spicy" soup.  The fermented soy bean paste was not as spicy as I would like but it was a burst of flavours.  It was great and, if I wasn't already full, I would order one for myself. I will save it for next time without the combo.

Hokkaido Ramen Santouka on Urbanspoon

Kintaro is still getting all the love as it always has with lineups still spilling out to the streets.  After all these years, I feel my hunger for Kintaro subsided after trying all these other ramen places.  Don't get me wrong, Kintaro is good, but I feel like its greatness is sometimes overrated.  

Web's photo of cheese ramen
As a cheese lover, I basically went straight for the cheese ramen.  When it arrived, there was more cheese than I remember from a couple of years back.  It looked like a huge scoop of ice cream.  I mixed in the cheese until it was melted, all gooey like french onion soup.  Might I mention the sheer gigantic size of the ramen.  It was delicious after a few bites, but I caved in after each bite I took was covered with cheese.  I could no longer enjoy the rest of the ramen noodles, nor the broth which became quite overwhelmingly pungent.  I think they took the cheese concept and ran a couple miles too far with it. 

Kintaro Ramen on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

cheap sushi tour: Sushi Garden, Banzai and Samurai Sushi

Sometimes when I crave sushi, it's all about instant gratification.  While I value quality and taste in food, there are times when you just need to satisfy the craving without hurting the wallet.

Sushi Garden 
Mentai Yaki Udon
Still, I haven't found a replacement for Zakkushi's mentai kimchi yaki udon.  Everywhere else just seems so bland and mediocre compared to now extinct tasty dish.

Salmon sashimi $7.95, Toro $1.30
Salmon sashimi in fair sizes and thickness.  I was happy they were fresh and not frozen or slimy (like at Banzai or Suishaya).  The toro (tuna belly) sushi was also delicious.
Spider roll $6.50
You will begin to notice that I often order spider rolls.  What can I say? I have a thing for soft shell crab.

B.C. Combo
The B.C. Combo for $7.95 comes with 1 tuna sashimi, 1 salmon sashimi, 1 BC Roll (BBQ salmon skin) 1 Alaska roll (salmon, avocado and roe).  

Sushi Garden is always busy and, although I hear that the wait time can be long, I would definitely go back there again.  In terms of quality and price it is my favourite out of the 3 places listed here.

Sushi Garden (Kingsway) on Urbanspoon
Banzai Sushi House

When I think of Banzai and Samurai, I don't really associate the restaurants with authenticity, or (sometimes) freshness.  Nonetheless, value wise, I still choose either place over McDonald's for sure.  I'm from Edmonton where a typical Japanese meal usually costs at least $30 per person.  Therefore, to say I went buck wild on ordering during the first visit Banzai in Richmond would be an understatement. No one had warned me about the sheer ginormous size of the sushi, sashimi and rolls.  So, I opted to ordering a party tray which came with 44 pieces of sushi and maki rolls for $32 between 2 people to share.  A mistake I shall never repeat and, needless to say, I ended up with more than I can chew.   

Monstrous size assorted sashimi 
After my first experience, I wouldn't probably order the sashimi again except if I plan on making Tuna Tataki later at home.  The portion is huge as you can see, however, I prefer the sashimi to be cut thinner so I wouldn't feel like I'm chomping down on the flesh of a dead fish.  The texture didn't do anything for me. It was mushy, and a lot of the pieces are frozen.  I wouldn't recommend ordering the sashimi unless you want to take them home and make something else out of it.

Party Tray B - Futo maki roll, BC roll, California roll, tuna, cucumber rolls, 

Party tray C - Tuna, Tai, Salmon, Ebi, surf clam sushi

Party tray C - tobiko and masago sushi
Surprisingly, their mackarel sushi is actually really good.  Of course, it comes in a large piece.  I usually don't eat mackarel sushi or sashimi because I find the fishy taste is too strong for me.  At Banzai, there is hardly any fishy taste, it has a smoky and creamy taste that makes it quite delicious and satisfying.
Prawn tempura

The prawn tempura are made fresh so they are always hot and crispy.  They don't coat them with too much batter and the prawn are not overcooked.

My favourite rolls, spider roll and spicy chop chop roll!
As mentioned, the spider roll is my favourite and I  was lucky enough to always get the freshly fried softshell crab each time at Banzai.  When I'm running to the airport or on the go, I often get this combination.  Their party trays are also good deals if you are having a function or throwing a party.

Banzai Sushi House on Urbanspoon
Visit their website here.
Samurai Sushi

The restaurant has an extensive menu that is divided into categories and most at reasonable price.  
Even bigger sashimi cuts - Tuna/salmon $11

Giant dynamite, spicy tuna and alaska rolls.  Can't forget the spider roll!
Samurai Sushi on Urbanspoon
Visit their website here.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Easy Tuna Tataki Recipe

1st version 

2nd version
I used huge tuna sashimi cuts from Banzai or Samurai because they are super thick.  It was my first time making this based on interpretation from a lot of places I've been to.  In the end, it turned out tasting just as good as the ones at the restaurant as my sister kept on eating and refused to let me finish with the presentation.  The ponzu sauce has a sweet and tangy refreshing taste which complement the tuna, with added crunchy texture from sliced and fried onions. I would slice the onion thinner next time, even though the ponzu sauce gets rid of its raw taste and smell completely. Also add more colour to the presentation with chopped green onions. Anyways, here's the direction:

Sashimi grade Tuna strips
1/4 an onion

Ponzu sauce dressing:
1/2 lemon
2 tbsp. soy sauce
4 tbsp. rice vinegar
2 tsp. sugar

1. Sear strips of sashimi grade tuna with olive oil or sesame oil at medium heat just so that all the sides are cooked.
2. On a cutting board, slice tuna strips to no more than 1 cm thick.
3. Thinly slice the onion.
4. Mix all the ingredients for the dressing together
5. Plate the tuna topped with sliced onions, drizzle the dressing all over and garnish. 

chopped up green onions
Wakame seaweed or nori
fried onions (optional) - adds extra flavour and  crunch (I've seen it done at Guu gastown and absolutely love it).

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Zakkushi Disappointment

I featured Zakkushi in one of the best izakayas to go to in Vancouver last year and have returned a few times since.  This last trip I made, unfortunately brewed a small storm inside my heart.  We walked in and the place looked a bit different.  Fancier menu, brighter lighting, not as smoky, not as crowded, loud, or ghetto.  Hmmm it's not quite the Zakkushi I remember, but that's ok.. I'm mostly here for the food even though I miss the ghettoness just a little bit.  We ordered the usual skewers, daikon salad, and of course, the delicious kimchi mentai yaki udon smothered with cod roe.  At first, the waiter informed us there was no more udon and if we wanted soba instead.  He, later, revealed that they don't make the dish anymore.  Shocked and appalled, I demanded answers.  I was there 4 weeks ago and they were still serving it!  From what I know, the dish is one of the MOST RAVED ABOUT on the Vancouver food blog sites.  And from what my friend told me, they were there last week, and they STILL got it!  The waiter had no answers for us.  He said the owners simply removed it from the menu.  I told him the owners made a huge mistake.  He shook his head in despair and simply told me to blog about it. So that was blow number one.  FYI this is what the dish looked like:
Kimchi Mentai Yaki Udon
I believe this tuna rice dish is also now non-existent.  What a shame, it also was really good.
Negi toro don
I came home and checked their website and it says their "Grand Menu Starts Now".
I appreciate it when restaurants try to up their scale by being innovative and changing things up.  However, I don't appreciate the sheer negligence over the quality, which at times, comes after the menu/owner/chef changing.  Such as the case at Wo Fung chicken wings (now 3 times smaller), Cattle Cafe Richmond (watery soup base), and Pied a Terre on Cambie (salty steak frites and dismissal of Napoleon), and now Zakkushi charcoal minuscules.
New menu! 

Back to the restaurant. After we delighted ourselves with the $9.99 Sapporo pitcher, we ordered the usual Kushi Set which comes with 5 skewers.  Each time, the skewers seem to be shinking smaller and smaller.  Did the change the chef? Did we come on a bad day? What has happened?
Before - Kushi set on July 31, 2010
After - Kushi set August 25, 2010

Tsukune December 12, 2009

Tsukune Aug 25, 2010

I looked over at the Japanese folks next table and, to my astonishment, their skewers were twice the size of ours.  Due to legal reasons, I decided not to post their pictures with skewers.  Of course these are not the biggest blunders for a restaurant and it is still as busy as ever.  But to me, the wow factors for Zakkushi are gone.  I have absolutely no reason left to go back there (unless for the $9.99 Sapporo pitchers).

Zakkushi Charcoal Grill (Denman) on Urbanspoon