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!
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.