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Archive for the ‘Restaurants’ Category

Recently, a famous Japanese tendon franchise — Kaneko Hannosuke — opened its first Canadian location in Vancouver. Tendon is the Japanese name for tempura rice bowl.

Their menu is simple: Premium, Special or Regular Tempura Bowl. All three bowls come with the following tempura — shrimp, kakiage (mixed seafood), soft boiled egg, seaweed and green bean. Premium includes a big piece of conger eel; Special with white fish; and Regular has mushroom. They have a Kid size for good measure, with tempura shrimp, pumpkin, soft boiled egg, seaweed and green bean.

I took Mama Lam and Papa Lam there on a Monday morning. (more…)

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Another hot chocolate stop I’ve made was Chez Christophe in Burnaby. I remember meeting Christophe at a work conference years ago when he was doing cooking demonstration. That was before he opened his shop in Burnaby. Since then, I’ve been there a few times for pastries, but this was my first time trying their hot chocolate fest creations.

Both of Chez Christophe’s creations are inspired by popular fantasy stories. First, the Ruby Slippers was true to its name, donning a pretty hue of pink thanks to the use of ruby chocolate. I could taste the fruity, acidic note in ruby, combined with the fragrant, floral note of rose water. The two notes actually complemented each other very well. The ruby covered macadamia nuts were a nice combo of sweet and salty.

The Golden Genie was a tumeric white hot chocolate with turmeric, served with a macaron with caramel cardamom ganache.

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While Dine Out Vancouver is happening, did you know there’s also Hot Chocolate Festival? In fact, this is the 10th annual Hot Chocolate Festival. 44 different locations offering more than 110 flavours over a 4-week period, up until Valentine’s Day. Of course, I take this opportunity every year to discover local chocolatiers and find whimsical, creative hot chocolates.

First stop this year is the new 1931 Gallery Bistro at the Vancouver Art Gallery. They have recently renovated the bistro space upstairs from the art gallery and renamed it. They are also part of Dine Out Vancouver but I thought its $45 menu wasn’t quite worth it and they didn’t make it on my list.

Anyway, onto the hot chocolates. I was very intrigued because all their creations were inspired by art. Unfortunately, they were having technical difficulty so at the time of my visit they could only offer 2 of the 4 creations listed on the official website. As per my usual, I ordered one of each.

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Where have you been so far for Dine Out Vancouver? I was quite excited to see The Rise Eatery on the list. Last year they did their own prix fixe menu for $30 and I took Mama Lam and Papa Lam there. It was a good deal and we really enjoyed the food. This year, it’s $35 and I still think it’s a solid menu; I had them on my list of recommendations. So when I got the invite to preview their menu, yes all the way!

Food

Brilliant as ever, the menu is a page of food puns. Let’s go over it one by one.

Chicken Seoul Good – as suggested, this is Korean style fried chicken, but with a twist of a mushroom gravy. The chicken was crispy and moist, and the scent of truffle can be smelled from miles away.

A Curve Ball is a vegan dish. (more…)

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Where have you booked for Dine Out this year? If you are still deciding, I’m going to start sharing my experiences, whether it’s an invited dinner or out of my own pocket. I was invited as a media to preview the menu at PiDGiN. Their food is a fusion of Asian and French cuisines, and they decorate the interior by rotating artworks by local artists.

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They have designed their $45 DOVF menu to be as close to their regular prix fixe menu as possible, which is a 6-course menu shared family style for a minimum of 2 people. You have the option of an omnivore menu, or a vegetarian one. You can also order drink pairing for an additional $40-50 per person. The Dine Out website didn’t include the vegetarian menu, so I suggest you to visit PiDGiN’s website for the menus, and I’m posting them here as well. Note that the following plates are all meant to be shared by 2 people – they will adjust the portion based on party size.

Food

In addition to the 6-course menu, you can also order snacks a la carte. The Beef Tendon Chicharron was addictive. It’s crispy, and it wasn’t greasy. There was just enough seasoning, and the gochugaru citrus spice reminded me of sour plum flavour, with the tiniest hint of heat.

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They use different vegetables to make their Daily Pickles. On this day, it was cucumber, ume-infused daikon and shitake mushrooms. They were just slightly pickled, so they weren’t overly briny or vinegary.

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The wait is over. One of the highly anticipated restaurants to open in Vancouver – Afuri ramen + dumpling – has officially opened its doors. The Afuri brand was established in 2001. This is the fourth ramen + dumpling location outside of Japan, first in Canada. Last year we went to Portland and checked out the ramen + izakaya and I was quite excited about the arrival of ramen + dumpling here in Vancouver. Technically the restaurant is in Richmond. It’s where Dazzling Cafe used to be (remember Dazzling Cafe?). I was invited to its media night and previewed some of its menu items.

Afuri ramen + dumpling uses a kiosk system. Meaning, you go up to one of the three kiosks at the restaurant, place your order, grab a number then head back to your table. At the media preview, to my surprise food arrived very quickly so I don’t think it would be a long wait at the table for your food.

Food

Afuri’s signature broth is chicken based. We saw this giant stock pot (apparently there’s only 3 of these pots in Vancouver and here’s one) that holds enough broth to serve 450-500 bowls of ramen. It takes 300lbs of chicken (meat and bones), 3 types of dried fish, konbu seaweed, and fresh vegetables, on a simmer at 90 degrees for 3 hours. They never bring this broth to a boil, to ensure a clear broth in your bowl. It also helps skimming the fat easier. They then add yuzu, a small citrus fruit native to Asia, to give this broth a refreshing taste.

As for noodles, they make them fresh, in house, daily. If you visit them at lunch, you will likely see the machines going, mixing and rolling the dough and cutting the dough into noodles. Will they run out? I was told they would make enough servings everyday and if need be, they can jump in and make some more to meet the demand.

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Cuban inspired restaurant in Vancouver? You don’t see many of them around, but there’s one right in Mount Pleasant. Tocador opened just last year and it’s all about the cocktail menu and share plates. I actually had the pleasure to interview one of its co-owners, Guy, a few years ago. This time, I was invited to sample the menu at Tocador.

Cocktails

First of all, let’s talk about its cocktail menu. It’s two pages long! One page is full of the classics, such as Negroni, Mojito, Hot Buttered Rum, Manhattan and Mai Tai. The other, is a list of original cocktails created by the team at Tocador. The two owners both started out as a bartender so it only makes sense that they pay a lot of attention to the cocktail menu. They infuse a lot of their liquors so you would see something like mango butter infused rum, red bell pepper infused mezcal and paprika infused tequila.

The Escocesa, for example, uses beet infused Dewars scotch.

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