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Archive for the ‘Group Dinner’ Category

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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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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Another Dine Out dinner that we did this year was a re-visit to the Oakwood Canadian Bistro in Kitsilano. I still remember Mr.‘s meat sweat over his 16oz ribeye when we went there a few years ago. This time around, I’ve arranged a big group – all 9 members of our Garibaldi Beer Club, which also includes Kathryn, Bryan and Mr. The Oakwood had a very appealing menu and I was surprised that I was able to make reservations during prime time (6pm) on a Sunday evening.

The beer club doesn’t usually eat out together. We usually go over to someone’s place, bring over some food and/or beer, and enjoy each other’s company potluck style. So to remember this milestone, in this post not only will I share my experience at the dinner, but I will also include comments from fellow beer club members.

Food

Mr. ordered the Buttermilk Fried Chicken. I was expecting one or two pieces of regular-size fried chicken, but to my surprise, they were bite-size nuggets. “Though simple presentation,” according to Mr., “the succulent fried chicken pieces were perfectly balanced by the acidity of the fennel salad.”

Buttermilk fried chicken

For the Lemon Pepper Calamari, DV said: “the lemon pepper was a unique take on calamari, not the Greek style most people would be accustomed to.” I really liked the lemon pepper seasoning dusted on the outside of each calamari piece; the calamari was tender and cooked just right. The rouille sauce (the red sauce) and the garlic aioli added creaminess and spices to the dish. (more…)

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Pizzas, beer and board games – how can you go wrong with that? Courtesy of Panago Pizza, Mr. and I threw a pizza party and hosted 6 other friends last weekend.

#PanagoChallenge Pizza Party

Panago is currently featuring six fall pizza flavours, and lucky for us, we got to try each one of them:

  • Deluxe Tropical Hawaiian #dlxtropicalhawaiian
    Sweet + smoky tropical sauce, bacon, extra Canadian ham, extra pineapple, mozzarella + cheddar
  • Steak Mushroom Melt #steakmushroommelt
    Cheezy cheddar sauce, steak, bacon, sauteed mushrooms, mozzarella + cheddar
  • Chicken Club #chickenclub
    Jalapeno white sauce, grilled chicken, Canadian ham, bacon, tomatoes + mozzarella
  • Chipotle Chicken #chipotlechicken
    Chipotle cilantro sauce, grilled chicken, roasted corn medley seasoned with onion, red + green peppers, topped with mozzarella + cheddar
  • BBQ Chicken #bbqchicken
    BBQ sauce, grilled chicken, bacon, caramelized onions, red peppers, mozzarella + cheddar
  • Veggie Mediterranean #veggiemed
    Fresh passata tomato sauce, fire-roasted tomatoes, kalamata olives, red peppers, baby spinach leaves, red onions, feta cheese + mozzarella

#PanagoChallenge Pizza Party

To us, a pizza party wouldn’t be complete without some beer. (more…)

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Just a couple weeks ago it was Moon Festival aka Mid Autumn Festival. To us, it’s an occasion for family gathering, so Mr. and I, along with our parents, went out for a big dinner at Parklane Chinese Restaurant.

Food

Parklane serves Chiu Chow cuisine 潮州, which is quite different from most Chinese restaurants in Richmond as most of them serve Shanghainese or Cantonese style cuisine. Chiu Chow cuisine is seafood based and the preparation and flavours are quite unique. To make ordering easier, we decided to go for one of its special set menu. First of all, Chilled Crab. As suggested by the name, the crab was served cold — a chilled, previously steamed crab. Why chilled, you ask? Chiu Chow area residents used to be fishermen, so when they were out fishing, they could be at sea for days or even weeks and months. So to preserve the seafood that they caught, they would steam everything then chill them, thus maintaining the fresh seafood taste while prolonging their shelf life.

Chilled Crab

The Chilled Crab 凍蟹 was nice, firm and meaty. It came with a ginger dark vinegar dipping sauce, which brought out the fresh seafood taste. I like that they pre-cracked the claws so it’s easier to peel.

Next, a tummy warming Pepper Pig Stomach Soup 咸菜胡椒豬肚湯. The white pepper flavour was very prominent, giving the soup the depth of flavours and the heat that made it a perfect fall/winter soup. The pig stomach was treated properly so there wasn’t any unpleasant taste to it. And the use of preserved vegetables added some salt and a hint of sourness to the soup. Everyone around the table really enjoyed this.

Pepper Pig Stomach Soup

Marinated Duck 滷水鴨 is also a signature Chiu Chow dish. (more…)

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For a triple-date night, we went for Dine Out at Chicha, a Peruvian-inspired eatery in the Mount Pleasant area. There were lots of options on the $28 menu, with some interesting combination of ingredients. I was intrigued.

Food

Because of its “tapa-style” menu, instead of 3 courses, you actually get 4 plates at Chicha. Definitely a bonus, I’d say. To start, I ordered myself a Chilcano (left), a ginger-beer based cocktail. It had some nice acidity to it, with a bit of heat from the ginger root. Mr. ordered the Inka Cola, a Peruvian soda which we were told “taste like cream soda.” And it did taste just like cream soda, not much fizz, and a bit sweeter than the actual cream soda we’re used to.

ChilcanoInka Kola

And then the feast began! First, my Aji Amarillo Local Seafood Chowder was pretty good. I was expecting a bit of heat with the aji amarillo chili pepper, but rather on the mild side for me. In addition to fish pieces, there were squid in the chowder, tender and not like chewing bubble gum, which I thought was different from most other ones.

Aji Amarillo Local Seafood Chowder

Mr. had the Palitos de Yuca, which was basically cassava root fries. They were a lot starchier than potato fries, and had a harder exterior too. The Peruvian Huancaina sauce was spicy, creamy, reminded me of a curry mayo. This was quite filling as an appy. While it’s good, I think we prefer regular potato fries.

Palitas de Yuca

Each of us received two entrees, i.e. 4 for us! Each of the Pan Con Chicharron Sliders had a hearty slice of pork belly, and the fatty part just melts in your mouth!
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