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Taste of Yaletown is back! Running from October 18-28, 2018, restaurants in the Yaletown neighbourhood will offer innovative pairings and special menus at set prices of $25, $35, and $45.

The Yaletown Business Improvement Association, the event organizer, just released the list of participating restaurants. They are:

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West Oak recently celebrated its 5th anniversary in the Yaletown neighbourhood. As a follow-up, Areta, Alice (Double A!) and I were invited to a hosted dinner at the restaurant. I’ve been here a couple of times beforehand, one of which was an evening out with a few of my girlfriends a few years ago.

Disclosure: This meal was provided to me complimentary of the restaurant. However, the views and opinions are my own.

Food

We got a sneak peek of some of their new cocktails (from left):

New Cocktails at West Oak

The Aperol Spritzer Mimosa is their new take on the classic brunch cocktail. This is available only during brunch, but the restaurant made one for us to try. Aperol, prosecco, fresh juice (orange, grapefruit, etc.) — it was juicy, citrusy, fizzy, refreshing. Great for a patio brunch. There’s no reason a mimosa fan wouldn’t enjoy this.

Tiffany Blue could become a local IG sensation. The Ciroc Apple came through and gave it some tartness, almost face puckering. You can really taste the apple here. The addition of edible silver makes it sparkle like a precious piece of jewelry.

Tiffany Blue

The last cocktail, at the time this was written, hasn’t been named. It just had a nickname “Green Thumb“. It had gin, elderflower liquer, basil, cucumber. It reminded me a bit of mojito – it’s light and crisp, and herbaceous.

Then, we dove into dinner, with a couple of appies to share. (more…)

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It’s Chinese New Year (CNY) a couple of weeks ago, and us Chinese know how to celebrate — eat, feast, and repeat. Of course, there are many regional Chinese New Year traditions throughout China, and being from HK, the HK tradition is what I’m most familiar with. On New Year’s Eve I was invited to a feast with food expert Lee Man, and it just heightened my appreciation for my culture.

Calling it a feast, obviously it was a multi-course dinner with an abundance of food. We are all about good meanings 意頭 when it comes to choosing the dishes or even naming them for CNY. On Instagram I showed a glimpse of what that means with the CNY dinner made by Mama Lam this year. It’s being realized here once again at Golden Paramount in Richmond.

Food

“Togetherness” is one of the main reasons for CNY celebrations so families often take the opportunity to gather together and dine out during CNY. For that, the restaurant was hustling and bustling and it’s just full of energy! It was a late dinner for us (7:45pm start) and the room was still full and more were being seated as our dinner progressed. And here’s our menu, some background about them, and what they symbolize:
Pan Fried Oysters – Oysters are a homonym for “good”, indicating good luck for the upcoming year. Traditionally we eat dried oysters because it means “good business” 好市 but it does have a more distinctive fishy taste to it and not everyone likes it. This was a Chinese Restaurant Award winner.

Pan Fried Oysters
Pepah Tofu – Fried food is usually in a golden colour so it symbolizes gold and fortune. The tofu here is shaped into a Chinese lute, Pipa. Fun fact: I learned to play the Pipa when I was in middle school in HK. Not easy to master but it was fun to play. This was later extended to my involvement with the Vancouver Chinese Music Ensemble.

Pepah Tofu
Crab Meat and Fish Maw Soup – At a CNY feast you would want to serve some luxurious items.

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Does the snowy weather just make you want to cuddle up and sit around the fireplace all day? Us Chinese have another way to fight the cold weather — hotpot.

While we usually have hotpot at home, we do go out for it sometimes. There are many hotpot places in Vancouver, with a mix of all-you-can-eat and a la carte options. Recently, I was invited to check out one of the a la carte hotpot places called Liuyishou Hotpot. It’s a worldwide chain, with a few locations in the Lower Mainland in Vancouver, Richmond and Burnaby.

At the Burnaby location, one thing that caught my eyes right away was the Sauce Bar. It’s probably the largest in BC, if not Canada. You can choose from minced garlic, cilantro and sesame oil, to mushroom paste, spiced vinegar and preserved bean curd. They have even posted some suggested “recipes” of sauces to pair with different soup bases they offer.

Sauce Bar

Sauce recipes

Making sauces

Of course, the more important part is the menu items. Do they offer a lot of options? Are the ingredients fresh? Any interesting items worthy of note? Let’s break it down.

First of all, the soup base. We had half and half Original Chongqing Spicy Soup and Special Pork Rib Soup. The spicy soup base was molded solid into a cattle shape, and it was melted down in front of our own eyes as the server poured hot broth into the pot. I was told that there’s no extra charge for the cattle shaped soup base, but there’s limited quantity everyday so it’s first come, first served.

Pouring broth to melt the cattle shaped soup base

At medium spicy level, I was still worried that the Original Chongqing Spicy Soup would be too spicy. (more…)

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The official Dine Out Vancouver may have ended on Sunday, but some restaurants have decided to offer the Dine Out menus just for a few more days.

Dine Out at Smoke and Bones

Dine Out at Smoke and Bones

Here are their respective extended end date and menu. The list is much shorter than previous years. I will keep updating the list if I hear more.

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Are you looking for gift ideas for your dearest? Or dining options on this special day? Here are some ideas:

Dining

  • Atlas Steak + Fish – $75 or $95 per person for a 4-course dinner
  • Au Comptoir – $80 per person for a 4-course dinner
  • Bacchus Restaurant – $130 per person for a 5-course dinner
  • Boathouse Restaurant – $49 or $59 per person for a 3-course dinner
  • Boulevard Kitchen & Oyster Bar – $110 per person a 5-course dinner
  • Cardero’sA la carte menu
  • Chop Restaurant – $49 per person for a 3-course dinner, Feb 9-14
  • CIBO Trattoria – $68 per person for a 4-course dinner, including Albacore Tuna or Smoked & Slow-Roasted Pork Belly, Heart-Shaped Ravioli for Two, Butter-Poached Black Cod, Pan-Roasted Beef Tenderloin, Tiramisu and Blackberry White Chocolate Semifreddo
  • Federico’s – $100 per person for a 4-course dinner, with live music and dancing

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Having done Dine Out Vancouver for so many years now, frankly I’m feeling burnout. To me, a lot of the menus are not very inspiring; or I question the value for the money. So this year, I set out to try to discover gems that don’t require you to pay $40 yet still feel hungry afterwards.

I was invited to bring a guest (guess whom I brought?) to sample the Dine Out menu of a Donnelly Group restaurant of my choice, including wine pairings. They are all $20 menus. After perusing them, I decided on the Granville Room. Why? I will get to that in a moment.

Food

There are two choices for appetizer. Naturally, we ordered one of each. The Coconut Fried Prawns were nice and crunchy. Mr. (ding-ding!) thought the coating was too thick to taste the prawns but I thought it’s okay. The prawns had good texture, a bit bouncy and not mushy. What’s intriguing is the dipping sauce. It’s a coconut hoisin sauce. When it said hoisin I expected the sauce to be darker in colour, but it’s just a tinted creamy white colour. It had a lot of coconut flavour but it’s not too sweet thanks to the subtle use of hoisin sauce. The prawns themselves did not have any coconut; it’s all in the sauce.

Wine pairing: Desert Hills Viognier – The fried prawns actually mellowed out the acidity in the viognier.

Coconut Fried Prawns

Beef Rib Empanada was also a hand-held appy. There were two pieces on the plate, served with a mole sauce. The sauce was rich, thick, and had some smokey flavour that didn’t overpower everything. (more…)

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