A couple weeks ago, I was invited to a menu tasting at Caché Bistro to check out its patio. Caché Bistro & Lounge is the debut restaurant for Chef Alex Mok, who used to run a underground restaurant for about two years. The dishes served at Caché are inspired by classic French techniques with some Asian twist. Around the dinner table, I was accompanied by Dee, Dennis, Sean, Curtis, and Jeremy & Adrian. Unfortunately, it was a bit overcast on that day so we didn’t really get to enjoy the full patio experience.
The evening started with some refreshing Sangria, using fruits such as strawberries and pineapples, which are not commonly used in Sangria. We could drink jug after jug of this if there wasn’t any wine pairing throughout dinner.
Our first course was Chef’s Charcuterie. It featured three cured meats from Oyama Sausage Co from Granville Island: (from top of the platter pictured below) Black Pig Sausage, Truffle Salami and Felino. Oyama is known for its great quality of product so there’s no surprise there. Of the three types, I personally enjoyed the Felino the most, which had a little heat to it. The charcuterie platter also included a number of items that Cache made in-house: bread, lobster oil, fig jam and three kinds of compound butter. The lobster oil was quite nice, had a strong, almost shrimp-like essence to it. It reminded me of the traditional wonton soup base which is made of shrimp shells. The compound butters — satay (peanut), cranberry, and truffle — all had their own distinctive flavours, but the truffle one was the most prominent. I was quite impressed by how much they made in-house, all made in small batches to guarantee freshness in everything they put out.
Next, Beet Salad as appetizer. Yes, another roasted beet salad with red and golden beets and mixed greens. But this has a twist to it. Instead of sprinkling crumbled goat cheese onto the salad, they deep-fried a piece of goat cheese until it had a crispy exterior. Goat cheese doesn’t turn gooey when heat up, so it remained creamy inside, which made a good textual balance against the crispy skin and the salad. The Pays d’Oc Sauvignon Blanc by Arrogant Frog went really well with this and was my favourite wine of the evening.
The next course was definitely my favourite of the evening. The Deboned Quail was so moist and with the marinated cranberries stuffed inside it almost felt like Thanksgiving/Christmas. The bacon added some fat, salt and crispiness to the exterior; I’m thinking prosciutto would also work as wrapping, just without the smokiness found in bacon. I really could have another one of these. The use of maple syrup and bacon added some sweetness and savouriness to the otherwise bitter brussel sprouts. If you don’t like brussel sprouts, this preparation will change your mind.
By the way, given the size of quails, it must be more challenging to debone quails than, say, chickens. Kudos to whoever in the Caché kitchen for deboning these yummy birds for us.
The next entree was Mok Ribs, made with Chef Alex’s secret BBQ sauce. In my opinion, this was a weaker dish, or my mom just makes excellent ribs at home. Don’t get me wrong. The ribs were cooked nicely; BBQ sauce was rich, sweet and tangy, and the meat fell right off the bones. But overall it didn’t jump out and scream “special” to me. In fact, it’s similar to what mom makes at home. It tastes like home, I suppose. The mashed potato had a silky texture with a truffle flavour. This plate was paired well with the Hacker-Pschorr Keller Unfiltered Lager.
To finish our meal, we each ordered a cup of coffee (or in my case, a latte) to go with our Profiteroles de l’Amour et Mini Chocolate Mousse Tree. What a whimsical dessert! The profiterole swan was cute; the chocolate mousse “dirt” was smart; and the cotton candy tree was just brilliant. The chocolate mousse was my favourite part on the plate, smooth, rich and decadent, while without being overly sweet. What a fun way to end our meal.
Actually, ending our meal was some fluffy Homemade Marshmallows:
The dishes at Caché are carefully crafted with a hint of playfulness, but don’t expect big portions. I do appreciate that they make a lot of components in-house and overall I was quite happy with what I tried. The restaurant is located at the south end of Yaletown which could be overlooked by the dining crowd; definitely a hidden gem in this area.
Caché Bistro & Lounge
1269 Hamilton Street, Vancouver