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Posts Tagged ‘mushrooms’

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!

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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Continuing our journey from Part 1 of the Dishcrawl West End tour, we kept on heading eastward from Hida Takayama Ramen and arrived at the door of Forage Restaurant. You would remember my interview with its Executive Chef, Chris Whittaker, a couple of weeks ago, so yes, I did know ahead of time that we would be coming here for a tasting trio. I was quite looking forward to this stop.

Forage Restaurant

Forage Restaurant

Forage Restaurant (1300 Robson Street)

Once again, each table is given three full-size plates to share. First of all, the Nettle Gnocchi with Brown Butter was very good. It’s slightly crispy on the outside, and pillowy inside. The brown butter added extra richness, savouriness and nutty taste to the dish. I don’t eat gnocchi often, but other ones I’ve had tend to be more doughy, whereas this one seemed to have more potato content. It’s almost like pan-fried mashed potato balls.

Nettle gnocchi with brown butter

Nettle gnocchi with brown butter

True to its Farm-to-Table and seasonal concept, the next dish features the Foraged Mushrooms that are currently in season. This is a very simple dish, but that’s also the best way to let the ingredients shine in their own light. (more…)

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Last week, we were invited to the launch party of Railtown Catering, a sister company of Railtown Cafe. The catering division taps into a niche market — luxury catering.

Railtown Catering Launch event at Vancouver Urban Winery

Railtown Catering Launch event at Vancouver Urban Winery

Given its target audience and staying true to its offering, there was no shortage of luxurious canapes and bites at the launch event at Vancouver Urban Winery. Frankly I had my doubts before I got there; I’ve been to a few big launch parties and often restaurants would fail on at least one component, such as food quality or quantity, staffing, service, and space planning. Not in this case. Everything was so well prepared: a wide variety of dishes, nice presentation, delicious food, quick refills, friendly staff — if this were meant to demonstrate how they’d perform when catering an event, I would not hesitate to book them for my next fancy party (lol!).

The canapes were well executed with great flavours; I saw an army of cooks and chefs working very hard in the back! My favourite would be the Fresh Oysters (thanks to the Asian-inspired dressing), Green Asparagus Flan, Beet Cured Hamachi, Sauteed Forest Mushrooms, and Beer Battered Halibut. I’ll let the pictures do the talking… (more…)

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