Archive for the ‘Soup’ Category

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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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!


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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We were invited to go on a tour to check out the various Donnelly Group properties and their Dine Out Vancouver menu. Executive Chef Alvin Pillay has recently returned to the company group, and he’s quite proud of the menus that he’s put together. Ten of the Donnelly Group properties are offering similar items. Specifically, there are 6 core items that can be found at all these locations, which we tried on this tour, along with their respective beverage pairing. Each Donnelly Group location also offers an additional entree option on their Dine Out menu.


Our first stop was at The New Oxford, where we tried the two appetizers.

The Curried Parsnip Soup could definitely warm you up on a chilly winter day. The curry spices really came through; I could taste a lot of ginger. Soup was creamy, and the roasted apple offered some texture in contrast. Suggested wine pairing is the Volcanic Hills Pinot Gris. The apple note in the white wine was a great match with the soup.

Curried Parsnip Soup

The Winter Salad sounded and seemed simple, but there’s an interesting depth to it. The buttermilk sumac dressing brought tartness and spice, black sesame added some nutty flavours, and the Moroccan pita bread gave it some crunch. The 50th Parallel Riesling isn’t as sweet as a typical Riesling, which worked well with this light salad.

Winter Salad

Next, on a trolley, we were taken to The Blackbird Public House, right upstairs from Royal Dinette.

Bar at Blackbird

The first of the two core entrees was the Bangers & Mash.


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In recent years, it has become our Christmas tradition to visit the Vancouver Christmas Market. This year, the Vancouver Christmas Market is celebrating its 5th anniversary and of course we wouldn’t want to miss it!

Vancouver Christmas Market 2014

Vancouver Christmas Market was created to bring Vancouverites the experience of a German Christmas Market. For the last five years, it has offered a mix of food, drinks, Christmas gift ideas, and fun for friends and families.

Vancouver Christmas Market 2014

Inside the Vancouver Christmas Market

Grab yourself a souvenir mug and a cup of hot apple cider for the kids, or mulled wine for the adults. The aroma and flavours of cloves, star anise and cinnamon have holidays written all over the mug — and it keeps you warm on a cold chilly day/night!

Vancouver Christmas Market 2014Vancouver Christmas Market 2014Vancouver Christmas Market 2014

There is a good variety of food vendors this year. How about stick-style pastries or chocolate fountain?

Vancouver Christmas Market 2014Vancouver Christmas Market 2014

Waffle on a stick and hurricane potato were pretty popular too!

Vancouver Christmas Market 2014Vancouver Christmas Market 2014Vancouver Christmas Market 2014

It was pretty cool to watch them make fresh Turkish pastries on-site!

Vancouver Christmas Market 2014Vancouver Christmas Market 2014

To this day, one of our favourite spots for food here is still Black Forest Delicatessen. (more…)


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November is Ocean Wise Month, and to celebrate sustainable seafood in the area, Vancouver Aquarium hosted the Ocean Wise Chowder Chowdown last week. Lucky for me, I got to check it out, so let me tell you all about it.

Ocean Wise Chowder Chowdown

Ocean Wise Chowder Chowdown (photo by Three Sixty Photography, courtesy of Samuel Adams)

How does it work? As you enter the Vancouver Aquarium, you receive a wooden spoon and a plastic cup; and you just walk around with them to the 14 participating booths. You also have a ballot to take notes of each chowder and vote for your favourite.


Each of the 14 competing chowders was paired with craft beer. I was quite impressed to see that there were restaurants from Prince Rupert and Pemberton competing in this event.


Among the participating craft breweries, there was Samuel Adams, the only non-local craft brewery at the event. It partnered with Fable and Chef Trevor Bird not only in the beer pairing, but it’s also used in cooking of the halibut chowder. SA’s Boston Lager is darker than most lagers out there (has an amber-ish hue), yet it’s light and quite easy drinking; would be a good entry beer for most people and would make great pairing with rich food like a chowder or deep-fried goodness.


Chef Trevor Bird at Chowder Chowdown

Chef Trevor Bird at Chowder Chowdown (photo by Three Sixty Photography, courtesy of Samuel Adams)

In addition to the People’s Choice Award voted by the general public, there were also 4 industry judges tasting all dishes to select the top 3. (more…)


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Famoso has always been on our list of authenticity when it comes to Neapolitan pizzas. Some may find its dough too soft or soggy but that was the texture of the Neapolitan pizzas we had in Naples, the birth place of this pizza variety. When Famoso recently launched new menu items, we gladly accepted the invitation to give them a try.


Before we got to the new items, we ordered the Polpette al Forno (Spiced Pork Meatballs) to start. They were meaty and juicy, not much filler, and the meatballs held together really well. What made this addictive was the tomato sauce. It was the same sauce you would find in the Prosciutto Wrapped Mozzarella Balls; it tasted fresh, tomatoey (if there is such a word) and we really liked the acidity in the tomatoes.

Polpette al Forno

Then, we took our first bites of the new items. The Korean BBQ Pork Pizza could be deceiving. At first we found it a bit sweet from the BBQ sauce and hoisin sauce, then bam! the heat finally hit you and now it’s a fine balance of sweet and spicy. It didn’t look like a lot of meat in the toppings either, but turned out to be just right. If you like Asian food, you will enjoy this Asian twist to an Italian classic.

Korean BBQ Pork Pizza

The Paesano Fire Bread Sandwich (Pulled Pork Sandwich) is different from most others. (more…)


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As mentioned in my earlier post, we were invited to attend the private Amex Platinum Cardmember Dinner at Hawksworth Restaurant, joining roughly 60 Amex Platinum Cardmembers at the York Room.

champagne to greet each guest

#DineWithAmex at Hawksworth Restaurantwarm bread

As soon as we arrived, we were greeted with a glass of champagne. Chef David Hawksworth made an appearance and walked us through the menu that was designed to celebrate the kickoff of the fall season. Each course was paired with wines provided by WineOnline.ca. Let me tempt you with some delicious photos!

Chef David Hawksworth made an appearance


Our dinner started with a Roasted Acorn Squash and Pear Salad. It’s finished with chèvre (goat cheese) and a walnut vinaigrette. What a perfect combination to represent the fall. Wine Pairing: Nicolas Maillart Rose Champagne.

roasted acorn squash and pear salad

Then our server brought over this plate of seared scallop with crispy cauliflower and capers. It was difficult to stop ourselves from digging into the perfectly seared scallop, but we had to wait till they poured the silky Cauliflower Veloute into the dish. The surprise was in the lemon supremes (the naked flesh of the lemon — no rind, pith, or seeds), as well as the fried capers; they helped cut through the richness in the creamy veloute. Wine Pairing: Vinos Sanz’s Sanz Rueda Clasico.

pouring the veloutecauliflower velouté

Next, the Duck Conft Raviolo was definitely encore-worthy!



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