After seeing many pictures of her creations on Instagram, I finally met Keiko-san and tried her cute creations: the cutest and softest Mini cream filled bread which you can order through her website, she also sells her products at Farmers Market or Special events.
Geng Shi Ji is part of a restaurant group based in Hunan, China. Located at Union Square (Capstan Way in Richmond), service is available in Mandarin and English, our server was very courteous. I asked for recommendations when I was making reservations, we ordered in advance the most popular dish is the Clay Pot Chicken with Pig Trotters; we enjoyed the dish with their Shanghai vegetable rice, the fried tofu was very crispy and overall the seasoning were spot on. I was advised their menu changes according to seasonality and availability.
New Tea house from Taiwan: I’ve tried their Xin Yi Green Plum Green Tea and really like the combination: It is tart and sweet mixed in a flavorful green tea. Have yet to try their specialty drinks. I figure green tea is good for you (OO)
A little HOMECOOKING: Kaeshi for Shiso Plum Duck Udon
Kaeshi is the salt sweet sauce which is added as flavoring to noodle soup stock, mostly eaten with soba noodles.
I adapted the kaeshi recipe from Japanese soul Cooking (by Tadashi Ono and Harris Salat): 2 cups of soy sauce, 1/2 cup mirin and 2 to 2.5 Tablespoons sugar. (I have reduced the sugar from the original recipe which calls for 3 Tablespoons; I used Oshawa’s Nama shoyu (unpasteurized soy sauce), Eden’s mirin (no additives) and cane sugar).
My Shiso Plum Duck Breast Udon is a twist on Kamo Nanban soba, combined with my old duck breast recipe . The kaeshi was prepared the sauce 48 hours before, dashi base was made in the morning on the day; I also used the kaeshi to marinade the duck breast (kaeshi, plus green onion, shiso plums) for 24 hours, before pan searing them on my cast iron pan. The basic soup stock was skimmed and strained before I added the kaeshi, I then added King mushroom and Korean Singo pear for natural sweetness (that’s why I reduced the sugar in the kaeshi), bring it to a boil and adjust to low heat and let it simmer. The udon and garnishes (leek and radish shoots) prepared separately; The ratio is 6 cups of dashi to 1/4 cup of kaeshi for flavoring; I will post the detail recipe very soon.
Small plates for sharing, cozy atmosphere; they use in-season atypical ingredients (for example fiddle heads) from Farmer’s market and prepare in traditional Japanese cooking methods; taste and flavors are very clean and subtle, a really wonderful first visit!
During the BC Day Long weekend, my friend “Kanekic” brought me along on a short tour at Birak Berry Farm with the owner.
We didn’t go berry picking, however it was fascinating to learn about the berry farming business briefly over a 1 hour short tour. She was very nice and patient and answered many of my questions related to berry varieties, seasonality, harvesting, equipment and processing; the entire operation is very extensive and more complex than I ever imagined! We went home with really sweet strawberries and blueberries; thank you very much again for the wonderful time and delicious berries.
The farm is open to public for berry picking, for information please check the BC Strawberry growers Association website.
Two weekends ago I finally made it to Krause Berry Farm! As it is already the tail end of berry picking season, we only went for a short time to enjoy their delicious strawberries (Sweet) and waffles (Picture below, reduced whipped cream (trying to be good)) at their outdoors dining patio. The line up was quite long but the friend worked so efficiently we didn’t really have to wait long! The waffles were crispy, however I would definitely ask to have the toppings on the side next time. We quickly walked through their wine tasting room and spent a little time in their shop which is filled with goodies from their farm and a nice selection of kitchen ware (Danger zone for me!). The ambience is warm and friendly, I will definitely make it back much earlier next year. For their offerings and year-round schedule, visit their website for more information.
Premium Rice Donburi and Affordable Omakase at Tetsu Sushi Bar ( 775 Denman Street, Vancouver, BC)
Tetsu sushi baris a 14-seat Japanese sushi restaurant located on Denman Street (at Robson); I was first introduced to this small gem by my friends J and VG (A Big Thank you to both of you!). The experienced owners used to work in a well-known Japanese restaurant in Richmond; opened since April, lately this little gem is slowly building up their reputation and gaining some attention from local food lovers.
This friendly little place offers an extensive menu of cooked foods and very good quality sushi at reasonable pricing; their lunch sets in particular I find are of great value and the food quantity is in line with their pricing.
I have been to Tetsu on a few occasions for lunch and dinner, I am honestly hooked on their premium rice, which is only offered when you order their donburi (my personal fave is the unagi don). The aroma is enticing (I think I smelled konbu), the texture is not sticky, and you can pick up and taste each grain. My other favourite item on their menu is the Yamaimo salad with plum dressing, which adds an interesting flavor to the salad (I love Japanese dried plums and use them quite often in my cooking) and tastes so refreshing.
They also offer omakase dinners (basic start at $45.00 per person) which includes 3 kinds of appetizer, 5 piece daily sushi, inaniwa udon (cold or hot) and ice cream. For additional costs you can upgrade to premium 5 piece or 7 piece daily sushi; follow them on @tetsusushibar_van.
We shared many dishes including an upgraded premium omakase which includes the bluefin tuna (a very guilty indulgence I admit); the fish were very fresh and clean tasting.
The space has a very humble and neighbourhood feel, as seating is limited, it is more suitable for small gathering (4 at most to sit comfortably) and it is better to call ahead to make reservations.
Found on Instagram: Temaki Sushi on Arbutus:
I didn’t even know this restaurant existed until recently I saw postings popping up through Instagram.
I saw a very enticing sushi lunch picture on Instagram posted by a renowned Vancouver chef, so I decided to have lunch at Temaki Sushi one Friday afternoon.
Their in-house chef known as @sushi_hil has posted a lot of delicious sashimi pictures on Instagram, showcasing his skill and the offerings from the restaurant.
I was skeptical and nervous when I first walked in, the decor is nothing like a typical Japanese eatery.
It was a very busy lunch hour; I was greeted and seated promptly by a friendly staff.
I honestly didn’t know what to expect, I looked over the Specials Board and decided to go with what I have seen on Instagram (gut feeling), so I went with the nigiri sushi special, 8 pieces priced at $28.00. The fish was very fresh, there was offering of fresh wasabi (for a small additional cost) and the sauce for the aburi was light; this is definitely a personal preference as I am not keen on anything which is too heavy-handed.
When I finished my lunch and asked for the bill, I met another server (her name is Ellen) who was very friendly and started to chat with me, asking for feedback and tell me more about the background of the restaurant and its owners.
We often read a lot of reviews and ask for recommendations before we try out a new restaurant; often we would go in with a certain level of preconceived notion; if there is one lesson to be learnt – everyone deserves a chance.
Oh my it is almost the end of July and I have been on “hiatus” since late May! I just cannot believe three months have gone by already since I left my full-time job; particularly the past two months it has been a trying period, adjusting to changes in routines, schedules and lifestyle. While I am still contemplating and planning exactly what I will be doing next, I am very glad I took a leap of faith and go on this much needed break (OO).
How’s your summer so far? I have been enjoying my “staycation” here in Vancouver, summer time is the best season to stay here! The past two months were filled with out-of-town friends visits, which is the perfect excuse (as if I need any) to go around town searching for new attractions and good eats! I believe if you are at least 90% good most of the time with your regular diet, there is a little room for other enjoyment and occasional indulgences.
On Wednesday July 26th I will be back on Ms. Deborah Moore’s program on Fairchild Radio 1470 1030am sharp; thank you in advance for tuning in! I also want to thank my audience who take their time to send me email (firstname.lastname@example.org) with questions or suggestions, I really love to hear from you!
Brisk Walking activity at Iona Beach Regional Park (Richmond) and Pacific Regional Park Trail (Vancouver – UBC) – (Easy Trails)
Brisk walking is our favourite outdoor activity during the summer months; one of our favourite places to visit is Iona Beach regional Park (picture above); the jetty unmarked trail stretches 4 km (one way) along the mouth of Fraser River and it is a very easy walk. We love to go particularly in the evening to catch the beautiful sunset and evening breeze; during the day there are sightings of herons along the way. The jetty trail is a open area so it may get a little windy at times, so you must go prepared with proper outdoor gear and lots of sun protection.
Recently we decided to re-discover the UBC area and on one hot Saturday afternoon, we went for an easy hike in the forest at the Pacific Spirit Regional Park, located at the UBC Endowment Lands (5495 Chancellor Road, Vancouver, BC). The trail gate is located at West 16th next to Camosun Park, the network of trails contained in more than 750 hectares of forest. Free parking is available along West 16th Avenue, the signs inside the forest are very easy to follow and it is a very popular trail amongst local residents. It is advisable to check the map to predetermine your route and decide how far you would like to go, and mark the location of the park’s exits. We lost track of our direction and “exited” so far off , we ended adding a lot more steps to our count, trekking along 16th Avenue (lol).
Asian Cuisines and Small Eateries in Vancouver:
Delicious Pad Thai and Friendly Service: Sen Pad Thai at Granville Island (1666 Johnston Street – inside Loft, across from Public Market)
Sen pad Thai is the newest addition to award-winning Chef Angus An’s roster (Maenam, Freebird, Longtail Kitchen, Fat Mao Noodles) in Greater Vancouver. Located inside the Net Loft across from Public Market, this wonderful fast food stall opened in May 2017, the menu offer different pad thai dishes, variety of Thai small bites and drinks.
The pad thai was meticulously prepared, filled with really fresh ingredients and “Wok Hei” (breath of the wok) – a term which refers to flavors and tastes imparted by a hot wok for stir fry dishes! It was hot (fresh from the wok), tangy (from the tamarind), bright (juice from the generous slice of lime), crunchy (peanuts and fresh sprouts) and smooth ( noodles and eggs were cooked perfectly); for those who love to add more spiciness, the condiments are ready for your perusal on their counter. The staff was friendly and helpful; if you are unsure what you would like to try, just ask them for recommendations (which I did for my second visit) and they will happily oblige. Because the dishes are prepared “a la minute”, there is a little bit of a wait time and it is all worth while. Tables are located near the stand, or you may just want to bring your tasty noodle box outdoors, enjoy an authentic Thai dish and the fine Vancouver weather at the same time.
A lot of small eateries have been popping up lately in Vancouver, scattered all around our beloved city in different districts; the latest addition at the edge of Gastown is a Korean eatery named Haru Korean Kitchen (324 Cambie Street, next to the ever popular Meat and Bread (Porchetta sandwiches!).
Three weeks ago I paid a visit with my little friend JT who loves to eat Korean food; we shared a namul vegetable bibimbap with gochujang and their house special cold vegetarian soba set (bibim guksu) with lots of fresh vegetables in a wasabi sauce, came with a small plate of steamed pork belly . Our favourite was definitely the noodle which was so refreshing and the wasabi added a nice little “kick” to the citron soy sauce. Their menu is very home style and simple, marking very clearly the choices (vegetarian/vegetarian option/spicy) and sauce options (gochujang, gang doenjang (miso) and citron soy sauce) are available. The service was adequate (small restaurant with less help and it’s fairly new), reservations available (which is very rare these days) and I would love to return sometime to try their bingsoo and other korean family classics (japchae).
With mostly homestyle Korean eateries popping up in the Greater Vancouver area, it is quite a change to see the opening of a small authentic Korean BBQ restaurant in Richmond. Located inside the Continental Plaza shopping mall which is mostly filled with Chinese eateries, I wouldn’t have known about this little place if it is not because of Instagram; apparently Dolpan has been opened for a while! If you wish to give this place a try, go for lunch as their lunch BBQ set is great value ($15 or $20 per person), my favourite part is their servers actually help to cook the meat at your table! I had the pork set (jowl/belly) with lettuce wrap and it came with very delicious side dishes (potato, kimchi radish). Other hot plates (pre-cooked meats in kitchen) and Army Based hotpots (budae jjigae) seem to be very popular amongst the lunch diners; service was prompt and attentive, reservations are available.
Sunday brunching at MaknMing (1629 Yew Street, Vancouver)
Chefs Makoto Ono and Amanda Cheng’s MaknMing in Kitslano is now open for brunch on Sundays till September 03rd, 2017; this “small team big heart” eatery which opened at the end of 2016 is quickly becoming my newest favourite brunch spot: I have tried their special Lobster Hollandaise Eggs Benedict which I wanted to purchase a “bucket” of the flavorful and silky smooth hollandaise to take home; on a separate visit I had their “wickedly” clever indulgence, the Krispee Challah french toast (rice krispies in the batter, served with toasted coconut blueberry compote and honeycomb)….speechless and in awe with their creativity! Their brunch menu is finely edited with a few items, I do recommend bringing a few friends and order different plates to share. The service is impeccable (Thanks Christina for your recommendations), parking could be a little bit of a challenge however it is so close to Kits beach, so park anywhere, enjoy the fabulous brunch and walk it off afterwards (OO).
Desserts Desserts Desserts: “Mochiffle” at Baker and Table (6414 Fraser Street) and “Little Plant” from Bubble Bear Cafe (8051 Granville Street, Vancouver)
If you have been following my blog and instagram, you will know I love savory foods and rarely eat desserts (I did bake a cheesecake with my friends over the weekend, my first!). I recently found these two desserts which I quite enjoy: Mochiffle from Baker and Table(remember the little bakery cafe which I mentioned a couple months ago?) and “Little Plant” Egg Custard pudding from Bubble Bear Cafe (Bubble Tea place on Granville opened a few months ago); the mochi-waffle combination is addictive and it is gluten free, it has a very nice chewy bite and you must add the ice-cream and the red bean! As for the egg custard pudding, I really like the texture of the soft silky pudding and oreo bits (looks like “dirt” hence the name “little plant”. Baker and Table’s owner Hitomi-san and Bubble Bear Cafe’s owners Maureen and Danny are very nice and helpful people, pay them a visit for lunch or snack and ask them for recommendations! Baker and Table also offers vegetarian curry and sandwiches (together with her famous melon pans and yuzu cheesecakes) , and Bubble Bear Cafe offers a small selection of delicious savoury bites (spicy wontons, meat floss egg rolls) and a variety of bubble teas and slushes (great for summer!) at very reasonable prices.
Last Saturday I got a “hot tip” from my foodie pal Ms. Moto about a “cold delight”; she couldn’t stop raving about the hoji-cha ice-cream and insisted we must go, and go we did…..there was no turning back.
Tangram is the latest addition to our local ice-cream craze; located on the busy Arbutus Street (2729 Arbutus) between West 11 and 12 Avenue, just a couple of minutes walk away from one of my favourite butchers Pete’s Meats.
There were Nine offerings on their menu, displayed prominently on the wall: Seven ice-cream flavours (Tahitian Vanilla/Double Chocolate/Guatemala Coffee/ Matcha/Hoji-cha/Salted Caramel/Strawberry Strudel) and two sorbet (Mango/Lychee).
Heeding Ms. Moto’s advice, I decided to go for the Hoji-cha and added a scoop of Guatemala Coffee in a “cup”, an ice-cream version of my own “yin-yeung” (tea and coffee duo, a Hong Kong style cafe reference):
The distinct smoky tea flavour hit instantly on the first bite (hoji-cha is a charcoal roasted Japanese green tea, originally from Kyoto). As I savoured, the silky milky-ness came through and finally the right amount of sweetness lingered on, tantalizing my palate and playing a trick in my mind: I felt as if I was enjoying an ice-cold “hoji-cha milk tea”, it was absolutely brilliant! I don’t ever recall any other ice-creamery having such an offering. Let’s not forget the Guatemala Coffee, which is richer in flavour and slightly bitter, definitely well suited for coffee lovers.
The day before Valentine’s, I decided to pop by Tangram again to pick up another pint for dessert, and try something else which I had my eye on since the other night: A single scoop of Strawberry Strudel ice-cream in their house-made Langue de Chat (cat’s tongue shape), a French sugar cookie cone.
One bite and I was smitten: the strawberry’s tartness and sweetness were well-balanced, the freshness and the strawberry flavour, combined with specks of strudel, gave the ice-cream a different texture, it was heavenly. The cone was flaky and complemented the ice-cream very well, the tail end of the cone was dipped in chocolate is a nice touch; however I found it melted quite quickly, perhaps I was really taking my time to savour every bite.
This is just a personal preference: I find their scoop sizes just right and I like their texture, it may not be the creamiest but it is smooth and silky. The pricing is very reasonable: one scoop for $5.00, double for $7.00, triple for $9.00 and a pint (16 ounces) costs $10.00; add an extra dollar and you can enjoy the special French sugar cookie cone/bowl.
At first glance I somehow thought “Tangram” was Korean (thinking along the lines of “Gangnam” style), it is the “English” name for the Chinese “QiQiaoBan”, the incredible “Seven pieces Transformation Puzzle”, derived from Chinese (tan) and Greek (gram) origin (Check out Wikipedia!). Their brand “story” behind its name is another “story” for me to uncover some other time.
To my dear friend Ms. Moto: Thanks for introducing us to this wonderful place; cannot wait to go there to try something else with you next time (OO)
By the way, we picked up a pint of Lychee Sorbet…it was so refreshing! Look forward to see what else Tangram will bring us this summer!
Tangram 2729 Arbutus Street, Vancouver, BC (Between West 11 and 12 Avenue, Kits area), follow them on Instagram @tangramcreamery
Local ice-creamery; friendly service and reasonable price point, communal table and seating available; must try hoji-cha flavour (especially for Japanese tea-lovers) and their in-house made cookie cone, other offerings include coffee and macaron ice-cream dessert, their taste is authentically Japanese.
Had the day off on Thanksgiving (Thanks to my brother and sister-in-law’s invite!)…
Then I cooked up a storm for my friends..Broiled Snapper for my friend’s birthday dinner! Cover the snapper in coarse sea salt for 2 to 3 hours; wipe clean afterwards (do not rinse!). I lightly stuffed the fish with lemon slices, green onion and some ginger…Broil the fish in the oven for approximately 6 minutes on one side (it’s a 1.5 pounder), and 5 minutes on the other (thanks William for your great cooking tip)…Serve hot with oroshi (grated daikon) with yuzu ponzu and chopped onion.
For another gathering with three lovely visitors, I made kabocha and edamame croquettes, I tried to replicate the dish I had at Kinome Japanese Kitchen (2511 West Broadway, Vancouver, BC) last month; ideas are everywhere and creative juices are flowing…
Thank you Seafood City : Not only did I get great fish and cooking tips always..
I am happy and thankful I have made new friends, met a chef (star struck and pretended to be cool)… and received an unexpected gift (Thanks Brian!)..King Sauce…found Betty King Sauce on Instagram and we had a few exchanges!
Made myself a tomato-dashi broth udon noodle and had it with King Sauce..it’s wicked good! Going to try it with hotpot very soon!
Because of “Chef”, I found out there’s a new Japanese restaurant on Fraser…Masayoshi Sushi(4376 Fraser Street (at E. 28th), Vancouver, BC)..Remember a few months ago I talked about Fraser Street, this sushi bar is right in my favourite area (around E. King Edward).
We had their nigiri sushi (shima aji, scallop, hamachi, tai (snapper)), loved their kimpira gobo (burdock root, it’s a stroke of genius by adding almonds, hazelnuts), enjoyed their smoked salmon salad (see picture below)…Excellent service by Tomo-san, he was very attentive and informative. Reservations highly recommended (omakase must be booked 3 days in advance as they include seasonal ingredients for their cooked food).
I have yet to see Lang Lang (ha!) in concert, I saw Chris Botti instead
To End in a “high note” (pun intended)…
I know one is a world-renowned pianist and the other a pop/jazz trumpeter…thanks Mavis for your invitation to the Richmond General Hospital Benefit and Gala…it was definitely an eye opening experience.
In life all things and encounters happen for a reason….Grateful and Thankful always…Whatever will be will be.
So What is “Lang Lang”? It’s “Bright/Happy” in Mandarin; “Pretty Pretty” in Cantonese (OO)