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For the last couple of years, the dynamics of Vancouver’s restaurant sector have shifted. More commissary kitchens have opened, some restaurateurs have closed their brick and mortar to switch to a ghost kitchen concept, some aspired restaurateurs and bakers are testing the water without a brick and mortar. It’s relatively lower-cost to run a restaurant operation without the investment of a physical location with equipment, tables & chairs, dishware and decorations, and everything else. It’s especially appealing during the COVID-19 crisis now when a majority of business comes from take-out or delivery orders.

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Coho Commissary

Earlier in the year, Takenaka opened its door, figuratively speaking, by offering different types of Japanese bento boxes. It operates in one of the Coho Commissary locations in Vancouver. Their concept is inspired by the traditional bento boxes created by mom, while introducing a more artistic approach and bringing in fresh and interesting ingredients. The owner/chef Shogo Takenaka came from Kingyo Izakaya and its sister restaurant Raisu. Sous-chef Daiki Ishikawa was trained in Niigata prefecture, known for its finest quality in rice, sake and seafood. I was provided a few of their menu items for a tasting.

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Food

Among the items I received, right away my eyes were drawn to the Kaiseki Bento.

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If going out for afternoon tea is a tradition for Mother’s Day, then same can be said about BBQ for Father’s Day.

While it is easy enough to visit your local butcher or a grocery store to pick up some meat and veggies for the barbecue, local restaurants have also put together gourmet BBQ kits that you can bring home and surprise your father. Here is a round-up of local BBQ kits this year. Make sure to check the order details for each one to not miss out!

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Would you agree that condiment sometimes is just as important as the dish itself? In fact, sometimes the condiment makes or breaks a dish. One day, Mama Lam whipped up this dipping sauce for some roasted pork jowl. It was so good, and I knew I had to share the recipe. It’s acidic, savoury, with a bit of heat. It’s surprisingly refreshing, and reminds me of Thai or Vietnamese flavours. All it takes is 8 simple ingredients that you likely have at home all the time.

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Despite the COVID-19 crisis, new restaurants continued to open up in the Burquitlam area, including one I was really excited about. Kokoro Tokyo Mazesoba, an international chain originated from Japan. You may have been to their other location downtown on Seymour Street. I did, and every time I walked away with a belly full of carbs and I didn’t regret it one bit. Opening their second location in Burquitlam means it’s much closer to home and more accessible to me. Even though dine-in service was not available at the time, I had to order take-out from them to support.

Note: This is a review of a take-out order during COVID-19. Since restaurants are operating under different circumstances, menu items and dining experiences may be different.

Food

Kokoro specializes something called mazesoba. It’s a dry noodle dish using fresh multi-grain noodle that is somewhere between ramen and udon. Kokoro makes these noodles fresh in-house. Most of their mazesoba bowls come with spicy minced pork and a combination of toppings such as minced garlic, green onions, seaweed flakes, and ground saba fish. A lot of those also come with a raw egg yolk, but for take out it’s been replaced by half soft boiled egg. To enjoy the noodle bowls, you stir everything together thoroughly. In fact, when you dine in, you could order a scoop of rice at the end of your meal to ensure you pick up every last bit of sauce.

 

For the four of us, we ordered one bowl each, including three different mazesoba bowls and one rice bowl to add variety, and a chicken karaage for appy. Continue Reading »

Durian – yay or nay?

This tropical fruit has a hard, spiky exterior. Inside, you would find pieces of soft, creamy fruit meat embedded in several segments. Growing up in HK, I watched market vendors went to the extent to use a screwdriver to ply it open. And fresh durian smell is more pungent than frozen ones. We could only find frozen durians here in Vancouver and the smell is nothing compared to what fresh, ripen durians smell at those markets in HK.

Durian is definitely an acquired taste. Those who love it would find the fruit sweet and fragrant. Those who hate it would say the fruit stinks like rotten egg. In fact, the opinions are a split in our household. Mama Lam wants nothing to do with it, yet Papa Lam enjoys it once in awhile.

Right now, for a limited time only, participating Chatime locations are selling Durian Milk Tea and Durian Roasted Milk Tea. I was provided complimentary drinks to taste test it.

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