July 2013 ~ Eating With Kirby

Mosaic Bar and Grille- Italian Chef Tasting Menu

The barely cooked runny yolk is meant to be popped and enjoyed along with the risotto...and enjoy I did. The golden lava coated every kernel of rice with its warm embrace and made the risotto that much more comforting.

Adorabelle Tea Room- Catching Up With the Girls

This is an Onion, Chive, and Bacon Savoury Cupcake. Even the icing was savoury! It was super delicious and was really innovative. Overall, the ambiance was great (loved the fake sky ceiling!), food was well thought out and executed, and the service was attentive.

Forage- Pretty Decent Food.

All six of us ordered their Award Winning Seafood Chowder with soft poached quail egg and crispy pork rind. While the soup was smokey, full of flavour, it was too thick and tasted a bit more like sauce than soup. The quail egg added a certain richness to the soup too which was nice.

Jethro's Fine Grub- That's Some Tasty Grub.

Overall, Jethro’s is an awesome breakfast and lunch diner serving up good eats with a twist. I most definitely will return for some alligator nuggets or pancakes!

Teppan Kitchen and Mambo Cafe (Aberdeen Food Court)- Crazy Sauce.

They serve this to you with a little sleeve around the plate to catch any splattering oil that radiates from the oven hot iron plate. If you are noob (hehe) at this Teppan Rice business, you can read the "How To Cook" instructions on the sleeve.

Basho Cafe - Quaint, Cozy, Delicious

You get the real deal here when it comes to their Matcha Latte. Served in a traditional Japanese bowl the way its suppose to be (not cup), its not only fragrant but it has incredibly depth. Be forewarn, this latte isn't sweet. There is no additional pre-sweetened sugary stuff here.

30 July 2013

Top 8 Places To Eat in Richmond

For a lot of Vancouverites who rarely venture into Richmond, finding a place to eat can be overwhelming, especially if you know there are over 800 restaurants to choose from!
To make it a little easier on you, I've compiled a list of my Top 8 (for luck! Asians will know what I'm talkin' about) favorite places to eat in Richmond.

8) Deer Garden - Incredibly Flavourful Fish Broth

Richmond is home to two Deer Garden locations, one on Alexandra road, one on Cambie road. Their house made fish broth is to die for and is the perfect remedy for a chilly night, starving tummy, or quick bite with friends. Not recommended for chatting and catching up with old friends because Deer Garden is more of a 'eat and go' type of place.

7) Flying Beaver Bar & Grill - Perfect Spot to Chill, Watch the Game, and Eat a Burger

Located near the YVR airport, this seemingly casual neighborhood pub serves up amazing and meaty burgers. Try their Bison Burger w/ Guinness Cheese or the Kahuna Burger with Fresh Pinapple.

6) Bubble Queen - All Hail The Ferrero Rocher Cheesecake!

Bubble Queen is one of the most popular bubble tea houses in Richmond solely because of their incredibly fresh fruit slushes. Their most famous one? Fresh Mango Slush with Mango Cubes. MUST GET ITEM.

5) Chen's Shanghai House - Awesome Xiao Long Baos and Salty Soy Milk 

Some people might disagree with me on this one but my favourite 'bang-for-your-buck' Shanghainese restaurant is Chen's Shanghai House located on Park Road (across from Richmond Center). It has a sketchy looking exterior but they offer the best xiao long baos aka Shanghai soup buns I've ever had. Tip: its best to come with at least one Asian person because the waitress' English skills are limited.

4) Gokudo Shabu Shabu - This Shabu Shabu is Not Too Shabby

For hot pot, I've recently gravitated towards Gokudo Shabu Shabu located inside Continental Plaza on Cambie road because it is not All-You-Can-Eat and I enjoy their healthy combo sets. Seating is quite limited so its best to make reservations.

3) Sushi Hachi - Saba Battera is Amazing!

Sushi Hachi is a hidden gem in Richmond for authentic Japanese sushi. It is operated by a couple and they only open for three hours a day (Tues-Sat). Its a little on the pricey side but the quality of seafood you get is well worth it. Their Saba Battera and Amaebi nigiri are highly recommended.

2) Gyo-o - Fresh Seafood, Authentic Ramen, Mouth-watering Dons

I've written about Gyo-o at least three to four times now and it is one of my go-to Japanese restaurants whenever anyone asks me where to eat. I absolutely adore their Seafood Tonkotsu Ramen and Seafood Yukke Don (pictured above) and all of their items are extremely affordable. Great food, cute decor, welcoming ambiance, I just can't say enough good things about Gyo-o.

1) L'Opera Patisserie - J'adore Paris

I recently discovered L'Opera Patisserie located on Minoru Road and Westminister, and honestly, it has changed my life. I now no longer have to transit all the way to downtown just to get my hands on some macarons because these at L'Opera are even better. They offer high tea, pastries, desserts, and tea, so it is a great little spot for catching up with friends. I absolutely love love love this quaint little patisserie and I never want it to leave my life.

So there you go! These are my Top 8 recommendations for restaurants in Richmond. If you think another restaurant in Richmond was tragically snubbed by me, please let me know in the comments below. :D

Follow me on Instagram (eatingwithkirby) for daily foodporn and all things Kirby.

Happy Eating!

Deer Garden Signatures 鹿園魚湯米線 on Urbanspoon Flying Beaver Bar & Grill on Urbanspoon Bubble Queen on Urbanspoon Chen's Shanghai Kitchen 白玉蘭餐館 on Urbanspoon Sushi Hachi 鮨八 on Urbanspoon Gyo-O 魚王 on Urbanspoon L'Opera Patisserie on Urbanspoon Gokudo Shabu Shabu Hot Pot 極道涮涮鍋 on Urbanspoon

29 July 2013

Cache Bistro & Lounge - French and Feeling Le Fancy

I had the pleasure of being invited to a tasting at Cache Bistro & Lounge, a little neighbourhood French bistro in Yaletown. Having recently bought a new DSLR (can you see the difference in my photo quality?!), I was equipped and excited to give this new restaurant a try.

Cache is the debut restaurant for Hong Kong born Chef Alex Mok. He emphasizes on French techniques with a slight Asian twist.

I adore the cute boy-girl image on their restaurant signs. Clearly, its meant to be a restaurant for romantic and intimate evenings.

Our menu for the day included a variety of dishes and wine pairings.

Our first wine pairing is the Lambrusco di Sorbara which was a very light and clean red. It had a fruity finish which paired perfectly with our selection of cured meat and breads.

The Chef's Charcuterie included a selection of cured meats from the local Oyama Sausage Co., mixed olives, onion jam, crostini, and house pickled vegetables.

Their baguettes are baked in house and fresh daily. The three circular slabs were satay peanut butter, truffle butter, and raspberry butter.

There was also a small portion of exquisitely aromatic lobster oil for dipping. The lobster oil was so concentrated and delectable that I wanted to jar the leftovers and bring it back home. A little gross but I don't care.

The second wine pairing was the Lang Bravo White Pinot Gris which was brought out by our wonderfully witty server of the night, Adam. This Chardonnay complements delicate seafood so it was a great wine for our next appetizer.

The glass of wine lookin' all romantic.

The Pan Seared Scallops were up next and it sat on top of a warm quinoa salad with orange vinaigrette. It was unanimous across the table that this was a winner. Meta Knight even mentioned that if I could make quinoa like this, he would eat it all the time.

Since we were going to have red meat, we switched back to the reds. This time, we had the Clos du Mont- Olivet La Sabonite. A little more robust and acidic than the previous reds, this one was not my favourite of the bunch.

What a beauty this one. This dish consisted of a bacon wrapped Fraser Valley quail, stuffed with marinated cranberries, Kennebec potato and yam pave, and bacon & maple syrup brussel sprouts.

I rarely have the opportunity to eat quail, let alone deboned quail, so for me, this was an absolute treat. Not only was the meat supple and immersed with flavour, it retained its juiciness by the genius technique of having it wrapped in bacon. See? Bacon is truly the answer to all of life's problems!

Though the star of the dish was undoubtedly the quail, the little side kick surprisingly held its own. Don't let the green fool you though, this is not a healthy side. In fact, it is probably the most decadent 'veggies' I've ever had. Salty bacon paired with sweet maple syrup is the elixir of all food combinations so you really can't go wrong here.

To finish up the meal, we were given a Chocolate Mousse Tree. The whimsical presentation included mango puree, chocolate mousse, and chocolate shavings as the 'dirt', mint leaves as the 'leaves', puff pastry as the 'tree trunk' and cotton candy as the 'tree'. This was as fun to look at as it was to eat. Very delicious. Highly recommended.

All in all, I thought Chef Alex Mok did a great job at creating French inspired dishes that wowed me in both taste and presentation. However, to give an accurate rating, I need to come back and try their dinner menu again on a normal night to see how it compares. The location, decor, and ambiance is intimate so it is perfect for date night.

Happy Eating!

Caché Bistro & Lounge on Urbanspoon

27 July 2013

Black + Blue- Fancy Schmancy Salad

Ever since Black + Blue's debut, I've always wanted to check out their steaks but have been discouraged time and time again by the poor ratings on Urbanspoon and word of mouth.

Finally, I devised a recipe for success! I would go for lunch/brunch and that would give me a good taste of what this restaurant has to offer without completely breaking the bank.

Blondie and I met up for brunch and asked if we could dine on 'The Roof' which is their new patio. The majority of their customers were businessmen on lunch break or client meetings. In our short shorts and coloured clothing, we felt a little out of place in a sea of grey, black, and suits (omg, season 3 of Suits is ah-mazinggg).

The Roof has their own unique menu separate from the one inside the restaurant downstairs. They had some pretty cool items like Mac & Cheese Sticks and Lobster Monte Cristo. Fancy.

Blondie chose the Lobster Monte Cristo ($16) which consisted of a creamy lobster filling stuffed inside sourdough bread, then fried in egg batter.

The lobster filling was too heavy on the mayo and lost the essence of what it was, lobster. We both agreed that if the lobster were cut into large chunks and just tossed in a teaspoon of mayo, oil, and spices, it would have been perfect.

My new dietary restrictions include me having to go gluten free half the time (I know it sounds weird.. but its complicated) so I had to go with a salad even though I really wanted a sandwich and mac and cheese sticks! The Louie Salad ($18) looked the best so I gave that one a go. To my surprise, it was served with a whole wedge of romaine lettuce. On top were cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, quail eggs, avocado, dungeness crab, and louie dressing.

The salad was incredibly light and perfect on a summer day. I find that most restaurants usually have a heavy hand when it comes to salad dressing so it was refreshing to see the PERFECT amount of dressing on the salad. Though I thoroughly enjoyed the salad, I had to cough up over $20 after tips and taxes so I probably won't (and cannot afford to) be having this on a regular basis. 

If you're looking to impress somebody, The Roof is the way to go. It looks classy, modern, and has an expensive menu to back it up. The food is average to good considering the price but I don't know if I'd revisit too often just because the price is double what I would normally spend on a meal. 

Service Rating: 4/5
Food Rating: 3/5
Price: $$-$$$$

Overall Rating: 3/5

Happy Eating!

Black + Blue on Urbanspoon

25 July 2013

Earnest Ice Cream - Seriously Good. Seriously Expensive.

I admit it. I got caught up in the fad and went out to purchase the local and much talked about, Earnest Ice Cream. NatureGirl and I went to Woodland Smokehouse on Commercial Drive just to get our hands on these babies and to be honest, if we had known the price beforehand, we probably wouldn't have gotten it.

Earnest Ice Cream is the dessert child of Ben Earnest and Erica Bernardi who decided one day to create an ice cream business that focuses on local ingredients and unique delectable flavours. Some flavours include Roasted Rhubarb Oat Crumble, Oatmeal Brown Sugar, Lavender, Cardamom, and White Peach Brown Butter.

The ice-cream comes in a cute little glass jar which is quite unusual for ice cream and if you return it, you can get $1 back. Though the concept is cool, I still find it overpriced even after returning the jar because it was $11.50 to begin with. For a jar of ice-cream the size of a Ben and Jerry's tub (~500ml), I thought it was WAY too expensive.

We were limited in our choices at Woodland Smokehouse but NatureGirl decided on the Lavender flavour and I stuck with the famous Salted Caramel. The lavendar was quite fragrant on the palate yet not overly 'flowery' in a sense where you feel like you're eating a handful of flowers. The salted caramel flavour was indeed a great balance of sweet and savoury though for me personally, it was on the brink of being too sweet.

To give you a sense of how small the jar is, it is literally as tall as my iPhone 4.

Overall, I think the reason why I am not impressed by this local gourmet ice-cream is because I had no inclination of how pricey it would be before I bought it, and the flavours that were available at Smokehouse were not strange or unique enough for me to feel like it's worth paying $11.50 for. As a self proclaimed adventurous eater, I think I would be far more likely to pay a little extra for a flavour I have never encountered before in an ice-cream like Blackberry Black Pepper or Blue Cheese & Fig. Maybe, just maybe, I will give them a second try when the actual location opens up on Fraser Street because they are bound to have more cool interesting flavours.

Service Rating: N/A
Food Rating: 3/5
Price: $$

Overall Rating: 3/5

Happy Eating!

 Earnest Ice Cream on Urbanspoon

24 July 2013

Milestones - Summer Chef Tasting Menu

Big exciting changes have been happening with Milestones and they showcased their new summer chef tasting menu curated by Chef Jason Rosso to a variety of food bloggers including myself.

We all gathered at Milestones Crossroads on Cambie Street for a sampling of what Milestones has to offer this summer. Chef Rosso plans to introduce a new chef tasting menu every season so keep an eye out for that, you adventurous eaters. 

The Muddled Raspberry and Blueberry Vodka Cocktail was quite strong in alcohol content and subconsciously helped us mingle a little easier.

Constellation Brands provided an array of their finest wines to pair along with the six course affair.

First course was the Crispy Quinoa Shrimp w/ chimichurri aioli and vegetable slaw. Instead of frying shrimp in regular flour batter, they coated them with raw quinoa for an extra nutty crunch. It didn't look very appealing to the eye but I thought it was delicious!

I'm no wine connoisseur so forgive me if I get any details wrong. This Pinot Gris from the 'See Ya Later' ranch in Okanagan Valley was incredibly light and paired nicely with the delicate seafood dish. With light pink salmon overtures, this wine is consistent on the palate and has a smooth round finish.

They were ever so generous with the Panko Blue Crab Cakes and when Chef Rosso said they were stuffed to the brim with crab, he wasn't kidding. The whole patty was crab and had barely any filler. It was so light that I didn't even feel the need for chipotle aioli which I thought overpowered the crab just slightly.

Paired alongside the crab cakes was the Unoaked Chardonnay by Kim Crawford. It tasted vastly different from the first wine but still had a clean, refreshing finish.

Unfortunately, this Spicy Thai Basil Stir Fry was my least favourite of the bunch. Noodles (especially Asian noodles) are my forte so I have high expectations for how they should be prepared. I felt the rice noodles were overcooked and was void of the delightful chewiness that I so love and enjoy in Asian noodle dishes.

The NK'MIP Cellars Riesling was a great pairing for the stir fry as I enjoyed the clean citrus finish.

Our fourth course consisted of Grilled Japanese Tuna Tataki w/ asparagus fennel slaw and mandarin dressing. It was a beautiful piece of fish and the light searing of the sides really sealed in all the flavour. The mandarin dressing however was a bit too acidic.

Originated from Sonoma County, California, Mark West Pinot Noir is one of the most well known Pinor Noirs in the market. Its medium-bodied with notes of raspberry, sweet cherry, and nutmeg spice.

The winning dish for me was the "Surf and Turf" duo of Grilled Flat Iron Steak and Lobster Fricassee. I would gladly come back to Milestones just to order this again and again. I have never had mash potatoes mixed with lobster before and now I fear I can never go back. The crispy onion ring on top could use some work however as mine was quite soggy and bland. But otherwise, this was an outstanding interpretation of a surf and turf.

When eating red meat, you know the wine pairing is going to be a nice full bodied red. In our case, it was the Dreaming Tree Crush Red Blend from California.

To end off the night, we were given an interesting dessert of Avocado and Lime Tart w/ brown sugar chantilly. It may not be everyone's cup of tea but it certainly highlights the risks Chef Rosso takes in experimenting with different flavours and combinations. Though I appreciate the innovation, I think it can still be further refined with plays on textures because I found the overall dish too soft and supple. There needs to be an unexpected crunch somewhere.

The Inniskillin Okanagan Riesling Icewine was a delectable treat at the end. To produce ice wine, the grapes need to be picked at exactly -8 degrees before it can be pressed. Due to the sugars that do not dissolve and the ice that becomes frozen, the result is a very concentrated sweet wine. It nicely balanced the naturally acidic avocado and lime tart.

Overall, I think Milestones is taking a great leap forward in introducing new innovative culinary items and I applaud them for focusing so intently on the quality of each dish. For such a high volume restaurant franchise, I know it is an incredibly difficult task. Though for me personally, the chef tasting menu had a few hits and misses, the dedication and plain hard work is apparent so I'm excited to see how the public will respond to their revitalized menu in the future.

Happy Eating!

Milestones Grill and Bar on Urbanspoon