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I was invited to the menu preview of the 2017 Taste of Yaletown. Organized by the Yaletown BIA and similar to Dine Out Vancouver, participating restaurants in Yaletown are offering a $25, $35, or $45 menu until Oct 27. At the preview event, I got to sample the menus at two restaurants, one of which was House Special, serving Modern Vietnamese cuisine.

Food

House Special offers a 4-course menu for $45. The first course was Mekong Wonton. Shrimp and monkfish mousse wontons were sitting in a sweet, sour and spicy tamarind seafood broth, which was inspired by a traditional Vietnamese dish Canh Chua Ca. It’s different from other types of Asian sweet and sour, or hot and sour soup. I could taste the sweet and sour combo from the tamarind but I was definitely caught by surprise when the pineapple flavour hit my palate. Being so familiar with the Chinese style wonton soup, this Vietnamese version was almost refreshing to me.

Mekong Wonton

The second course was Caramelized Pork Jowl Banh Hoi, which is their take on a lettuce wrap but with endives. (more…)

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Taste of Yaletown is back! For the 12th year, 31 restaurants in the Yaletown area are each offering a special menu at $25, $35 or $45. Running from Oct 13 to Oct 27, this event has a “Sharing and Pairing” theme this year. Some menus are created grazing, share-plate style, allowing diners to to share with each other while pairing the food with wine, beer or a cocktail; and with smaller portions it would allow diners to even plan a restaurant hopping experience around the neighbourhood.

As part of the media preview, a number of us were whisked away to one of the participating restaurants. I was lucky enough to sample the menu at Provence Marinaside. It’s been awhile since I last ate there, so I’m glad to go back for a re-visit.

Food

Provence’s Taste of Yaletown menu is $45. To start, you would receive a Provence Tasting Plate. It includes 1) Tomato and Bocconcini Salad; 2) Rustic Country Style Pate; and 3) House Smoked Ruby Red Trout. You can’t go wrong with the classic tomato and bocconcini combination, and the basil added a herbaceous note. The pate was rich and flavourful; the meat had a nice, chunky texture. My favourite, and it’s a close call, was the smoked trout. It was flaky, lightly smoked, and for me it wasn’t fishy at all. I may have a favourite, but honestly I would eat any of the three appies again. And the good news is, you get all three!

Provence Tasting Plate

For entree, you have three options. We were able to try all three – but the pictures below are not actual portion size so I’ll try to help you visualize the actual portion as best as I can.

The Dijon and Fresh Herb Crusted Lois Lake Steelhead had a nice crispy skin, and the meat was moist and flaky. I personally found the dijon mustard to be a bit overpowering. The beurre blanc was creamy, perfect pairing for the salmon; the warm potato salad was pleasant on the eyes, and on the palate. The actual portion should be about two pieces of salmon on our tasting plate.

Dijon and Fresh Herb Crusted Lois Lake Steelhead

The second option is the West Coast Bouillabaisse. (more…)

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It started with an express of interest in visiting a recently opened dessert place, then led to a scheduled visit to that place, but we needed a dinner first, so the ChineseBites crew ended up having dinner at Golden Eats on Kingsway near Victoria. For some reason I thought the restaurant has been around for ages and I just never went; turns out it’s only been open for about two years.

Food

We ordered a total of 12 dishes, and here are some highlights:

Served in Hong Kong style, the Peking Duck (片皮鴨) is served over two courses. First, the roasted duck was skinned, and served with crepes and scallion and hoi sin sauce. The skin was crispy, flavourful, but the crepe was a bit too thick for my liking. The highlight of the plate was the bed of lobster crackers. Typically restaurants use shrimp crackers because they come in different colours and more common, but they don’t have much flavour and can get soggy after absorbing the grease from the roasted duck. The lobster crackers here seemed to hold up quite well. They were firmer and thicker, yet still crispy and crunchy, and had some “seafood” flavour.

Peking Duck 片皮鴨

Meat from the duck carcass was then used for the second course, Lettuce Wrap (生菜包). The meat filling had a decent amount of meat. By the time we could dig in, though, the crisp at the bottom had become a bit soggy, relying on the iceberg lettuce to offer the crunchy texture.

Lettuce Wrap with Duck Meat 生菜包

Dark Vinegar Spareribs 銀山鎮江骨 Pan Fried Black Cod with Soy Sauce 豉油皇煎黑魚
Dark Vinegar Spareribs
銀山鎮江骨
Pan Fried Black Cod with Soy Sauce
豉油皇煎黑魚

The Lobster with Sticky Rice in Lotus Leaf (荷香龍蝦飯) is one of their signature dishes. (more…)

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Our friends at ChineseBites invited me to a Chinese fine dining experience at Chang’An Restaurant. It’s located right under the Granville Bridge, where Nu and Stonegrill used to be, with the gorgeous view of the False Creek.

Chang'An Restaurant

It turned out to be an elaborate 17-course dinner. Hold the drool! This is going to be a long and delicious post!

Food

As each table of guests is seated, they would be greeted with Guo Kui Pita 鍋盔. This was like complimentary bread served at western restaurants. The pita bread was served warm, crispy on the outside, and soft inside. I really liked the fermented bean sauce that came with it; it’s nutty and spicy, kinda like XO sauce too.

Guo Kui Pita 鍋盔

But we were all distracted by what’s happening on the table-side. It’s the Chang’an Roasted Duck 長安炙鴨! This was what we came here for. It’s the restaurant’s signature dish, and you must pre-order ahead of time. Why? Because it takes 72 hours to prepare the duck, then it’s roasted in-house for over an hour. According to the restaurant, they actually schedule the cooking time based on your dinner reservation, so it would be served roughly 15 minutes after you are seated, ensuring the optimal tenderness of the meat and crispiness of the skin.

Chang’an Roasted Duck 長安炙鴨

Usually for Peking Ducks, restaurants would just skin the duck and serve it with crepes, etc. Here they actually serve the skin two ways: first of all, they serve the crispiest part of the skin, and skin only with just a thin layer of fat, and you dip it in brown sugar. (more…)

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It may already be September but we are not quite finished with the hot weather yet. On those occasional warm days, you would be craving icy treats. Actually for Mr., he would just crave icy treats on a random day, even if it’s cold outside!

So, it’s only fitting that we accepted an invitation from ChineseBites to check out Icy Bar near Boundary and Kingsway. They also have another location at Knight and Kingsway.

Food

As a group tasting, you can imagine the amount of dishes we sampled. Here are some highlights for me:

Mango Ice Cream Mochi Icy – This is like mango heaven! Fresh mango with mango sauce drizzle on top of vanilla ice cream and shaved ice. I like the addition of mochi balls for some chewy texture, otherwise it would be all liquidy, especially when the ice cream and shaved ice starts to melt.

Mango Ice Cream Mochi Icy

Chocolate Honey Toast – This is like a new take on thick toast. The thick toast is cut into cubes, nicely stacked into a pile, topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce drizzle. The thick toast is slightly sweetened; the flavour almost reminds you of condensed milk. It’s crispy, crunchy on the outside, and it’s still soft and chewy inside. The thick toast cubes are served warm, so you have to eat quickly otherwise the warm toast would melt the ice cream!

Chocolate Honey Toast

Mixed Icy – Choose from 30 different toppings including red bean, green bean, taro, coconut jelly, lemon jelly, mochi, grass jelly, tapioca, mango, lychee poppers, basil seed and more. (more…)

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As you know, for about 2 months I was out and about eating at many Chinese restaurants in Lower Mainland to help discover the best restaurants for the Chinese Restaurant Awards. If you are following our Twitter and Instagram feed you would see pictures of some of the places I visited, without leaving you a clue of what I thought about the food. Well, it’s secret no more! Together with Sherman, Chloe and Jesse, here are the results of the Food Bloggers’ Choice Awards.

Food Bloggers’ Choice Winners

Best Har Gow (shrimp dumplings) 蝦餃
Yue Delicacy 鮑粵軒

Shrimp Dumpling, Yue Delicacy

Best Five-spice Beef Wrapped in Pancake 大餅夾牛肉
Long’s Noodle House 小龍記麵家

Five-spice Beef Wrap, Long's Noodle House

Best Tea-smoked Duck 樟茶鴨
Shanghai Elan Restaurant 上海粗菜館
(more…)

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The contest is now closed. We’ll announce the winner soon. Thank you for entering!

Catelli, the Canadian pasta maker established in 1867 in Old Montreal, recently launched a new product line called Healthy Harvest Ancient Grains. It’s made with 100% Canadian whole wheat with five ancient grains: quinoa, teff, amaranth, millet and sorghum. I was invited to its launch event in Vancouver, over an intimate cooking experience with Chef Lynn Crawford.

Chef Lynn Crawford Cooking Demo

We got to taste-test the doneness of the pasta and find out what our preference was between 7-minute, 8-minute or 9-minute cooking time. For me, I thought cooking the pasta for 8 minutes would give me the perfect al dente texture without being too hard. Overall, the pasta texture is firmer than white pasta, but less grainy and more flavourful than regular whole wheat pasta.

Scroll to the bottom to find out how you can win a year’s supply of Catelli Healthy Harvest Ancient Grains pasta!

Taste test doneness of pasta

We also sampled the pasta with Chef Lynn Crawford’s marinara and pesto sauces. Now, if only I could get a hold of those recipes!

Rotini with Chef Lynn's Marinara SauceSpaghettini with Chef Lynn's Pesto Sauce

The cooking demonstration was quite interactive. Did you see my video of Amy Bronee from Family Feedbag jamming with Chef Lynn while making the pesto sauce? It’s all about the basil!!

Marc Smith of 30 Days of Adventures also got called up to help with plating the pasta dishes.

Interactive demo with attendee participation

At the end of the evening, we all had a chance to replicate Chef Lynn’s recipe of Chilled Noodle Salad with Ginger Wasabi Dressing. It was easy to make and tasted light and refreshing; it would be a great dish for the warmer days to come this summer. I’ll share the recipe with you at another time.

Joyce cookingWith Chef Lynn Crawford

Now is your chance to get your hands on some of these nutritious pasta! I’m giving away ONE-YEAR SUPPLY of the Healthy Harvest Ancient Grains pasta. Yes, one year’s worth of pasta! I’ve won a year’s supply of product before, and let me tell you, it’s a pretty sweet deal 🙂

3 ways to enter

(more…)

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