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Cuban inspired restaurant in Vancouver? You don’t see many of them around, but there’s one right in Mount Pleasant. Tocador opened just last year and it’s all about the cocktail menu and share plates. I actually had the pleasure to interview one of its co-owners, Guy, a few years ago. This time, I was invited to sample the menu at Tocador.

Cocktails

First of all, let’s talk about its cocktail menu. It’s two pages long! One page is full of the classics, such as Negroni, Mojito, Hot Buttered Rum, Manhattan and Mai Tai. The other, is a list of original cocktails created by the team at Tocador. The two owners both started out as a bartender so it only makes sense that they pay a lot of attention to the cocktail menu. They infuse a lot of their liquors so you would see something like mango butter infused rum, red bell pepper infused mezcal and paprika infused tequila.

The Escocesa, for example, uses beet infused Dewars scotch.

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There’s a new food event in Vancouver that introduces us to some hidden (and not-so-hidden) gems in Railtown, while supporting a local charity. Running from November 1 to 30, Dine Railtown features nine restaurants in the Railtown neighbourhood, of which proceeds from the sale of their signature dish will be donated to support programming at the Powell Street Getaway, one of 42 sites operated by the Lookout Housing and Health Society across Metro Vancouver, the Fraser Valley and Vancouver Island.

The nine restaurants include Ask For Luigi (love their pasta!), The Belgard Kitchen, Cuchillo, LanaLou’s Restaurant, The Mackenzie Room (one of my all-time faves!), Pallet Coffee Roaster, Railtown Cafe, St. Lawrence (maple syrup chicharon, hello?) and The Uncommon Cafe. I was invited to a media tour to visit 3 of the participating restaurants.

First up, the brand new Pallet Coffee Roaster. Opening its doors on November 4, this location is the new HQ of Pallet.

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We’ve been to Ramen Koika a few times over the years, to both locations on Davie and Robson. We always ended up ordering a ramen. The black garlic one was my favourite and Mr. fell in love with the beef ribs one. Little did we know the Robson location actually has a K-Pocha Menu, serving up their version of many Korean favourites. We were invited to sample a few items off that menu.

Triple Black Garlic Ramen

Food

We love KFC! As in Korean Fried Chicken!! Their crust is always lighter and when they fry the chicken it’s always less greasy. And moist chicken breast.

It’s no difference here at Koika. The Soonsal Chicken can be either in sweet chilli or soy garlic, and we went for the sweet chilli as it’s our favourite sauce for KFC. There was a decent amount of boneless chicken pieces. The meat was moist, the exterior still held its crispiness and the sweet chilli sauce definitely packed some heat.

Soonsal Chicken

Next, the Gogi Tteok-bok-ki was spicy rice cake with pork belly. Continue Reading »

Halloween is just around the corner. Are you hosting a party, having friends over? Are you looking for cool yet easy entertaining ideas? How about a 2-ingredient cocktail?

Recently, I was sent some samples of Hounds Vodka. What’s special about Hounds is that the vodka is black in colour and naturally, I thought of using it for Halloween. What’s an easy cocktail recipe for this mysterious looking vodka? The classic Screwdriver came to mind.

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Another bubble tea shop opens in Vancouver. Hailed from Taiwan, Baroness is by design a boutique franchise with only 3 locations in Taiwan, 1 in Hong Kong, and now 1 in Vancouver. They are located near Broadway and MacDonald.

Baroness specializes in brown sugar pearls, so when you order pearls, you are guaranteed to get the brown sugar pearls in your drink. The franchise owner created his own recipe of brown sugar and he continues to oversee the production of this secret recipe to ensure quality.

Drinks

I was invited to a tasting of some of its signature drinks. They included:

Brown Sugar Milk (pictured right below) – Obviously I had to try this drink, since I’ve been on the hunt for the best Brown Sugar Milk. The drink was quite tasty. There was a lot of caramel flavour from the brown sugar, without being super sweet. I found the pearls to be softer than others but after talking to the franchisee, they explained that their pearls are typically softer in the first hour, while they are still warm. It worked out because as the drink was being brought to temperature with the ice, the pearls were of just the right texture for me. It had a softer exterior but nice and chewy inside.

Purple Yam Milk (pictured left above) – What a pretty drink! Continue Reading »

A new Japanese souffle pancake shop is coming to town! Fufu is short for Fuwa Fuwa in Japanese, and it means fluffy. That’s the very heart of these souffle pancakes.

Owners of Fufu were inspired by their visit to Japan a couple of years ago, seeing how popular these souffle pancakes were, and wanted to bring these deliciousness to Vancouver. They spent months on perfecting the menu and recipes and now they are opening the doors at Broadway and Birch.

Souffle Pancakes, Fufu Cafe Vancouver

These pancakes are made-to-order, so it takes about 15-20 minutes from whipping up the batter to cooking the pancakes to perfection.

Souffle Pancakes, Fufu Cafe Vancouver

Souffle Pancakes, Fufu Cafe Vancouver

Souffle Pancakes, Fufu Cafe Vancouver

Lucky for me I was invited to a media preview and got to sample most of the menu items. Let me give you a run through. Shall we?

Food

Fufu Classic Souffle Pancake – this comes with 3 souffle pancakes and in two options:

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Mr. and I recently went on a 10-day road trip to the States. Kicking it off was a celebration of our 4th wedding anniversary and we spent a night at the quaint Willows Inn on Lummi Island, Washington. Lummi Island is a small island just a 10-minute ferry ride southwest of Bellingham.

The upscale inn deserves a separate post but the highlight of the evening was definitely our dinner at the restaurant. It serves up a 21-course tasting menu every evening, yes 21 courses, that changes regularly and seasonally. It features locally grown produce and other locally fished, foraged and farmed products. And in addition to their kitchen, they also have an outdoor wood-fired BBQ and smoker.

Obviously, with 21 courses this is not your everyday dinner out. The menu costs $225 per person with optional wine pairing for an additional $150 per person. You also don’t know what’s on the menu as they rotate it often. You only receive a copy of the menu at the end of your meal. So you ask, was it worth it?

Without further ado, let us indulge you with a feast for your eyes.

Food

Toasted kale leave, local black truffle, crumbled rye on top — elevated kale chip with the fragrance of truffle and extra crunch from the rye crumble

Wild rainier cherry in nasturtium leaf, wild chamomile, elderflower essence — what an interesting bite. Enjoyed the crisp sweetness of rainier cherry against the herbaceous chamomile and nasturtium. The elderflower essence was made into a little dollop of jelly that combined everything.

Sugar snap peas from their garden, pureed and combined with cream then it’s piped back in the pod — It’s like crudites in a fancy bite. You can taste the freshness of the sugar snap peas. Continue Reading »

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