Friday, January 30, 2009

Review: Kitanoya Guu with Otokamae

I am biased. I love Guu. Especially Kitanoya Guu with Otokamae in Gastown. I love almost everything on the menu - Salmon with seven friends, Ebi Mayo, Miso Black Cod, Yakiudon, Takoyaki, Brie Cheese, Okonomi-yaki, Kimchi Bibimbap. I love it all!

So it was more of a treat-yourself-out dinner than a "review" dinner that we had on Saturday. Unfortunately, we'd had a late lunch at Banana Leaf earlier that day, and were meeting some friends in Gastown for some pubbing later, so we ate a little lighter.

Izakaya is traditionally a drinking hole that also serves small dishes and tapas, targeted towards the busy businessmen or for more casual get togethers. It is only more recently that the izakaya has grown in size, and included a greater variety of foods.

Within the last eight years, you can say that Vancouver has had an "izakaya explosion" of sorts. From from the chain izakaya around downtown and Richmond to the yakitori-ya along Denman and Robson, the Gastown Guu location is still one of my favourites.

While some may argue that the constant yelling of orders between waiters and kitchen staff and bar staff is disruptive, some may also say that it adds to the unique ambience that izakayas offers.

Personally, it depends on the day. But I imagine that since izakayas have grown in square footage over time, modern-day izakayas are taking that traditional approach and just keeping it casual. I can tell you from experience in the restaurant kitchens that Guu is probably just a touch louder than your average kitchen, and the waiters here are a helluva lot nicer than the kitchen staff at other establishments.

On our visit last Saturday, we were delighted to find that pitchers of their Jump cocktails were on special, and so we ordered an ebi mayo, tai carpaccio salad, and halibut karaage to begin with. As usual, we enjoyed the tender, succulent prawns enveloped in crisp, hot batter so much, that we ordered another ebi mayo, plus a yakiudon. It was fantastic.

Again, I want to do a dinner here in March. I remember the set menu dinner I tried last summer was great value and a good variety of food.

Guu...means Guuuu'd!!

Kitanoya Guu with Otokamae

375 Water Street #105 [map]

Vancouver, BC

Tel: 604 685-8682

Guu With Otokomae on Urbanspoon

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Healthy Bento!

I packed some healthy energy food for today. It started with me not wanting to bring the same old pasta and tomato sauce to work - so I looked in our "carb drawer" (yes, we have a carb drawer FULL of noodles, pastas, grains, and rice sheets. When we run out of one particular noodle, we kind of go crazy and stock it up again. They don't call them "filler foods" for nothing!). Perusing the carb drawer yielded some yummy buckwheat (soba) noodles!

Soba noodles are made from buckwheat grain and thus have more fiber and nutritional content in them than plain white or egg noodles. Plus, they have a nutty flavour and more texture to boot! They are called "soba" as they resemble a straw broom. I think the description is right on the money! Although, being that soba noodles are a little bit more expensive than regular noodles, I wouldn't exactly use them as a broom...

I packed a small container of zaru soba (cold soba) with an even smaller container of dipping sauce made from soy sauce and dashi (bonito fish stock granules dissolved in water). I didn't have any seaweed flakes or green onion, but if I did, I would have added them... I also packed some blanched and chilled edamame (soy beans), as well as some strawberries I had in the fridge. Lastly, I packed a container of tofu dessert. Yes, that's a lot of carbs, but the carbs are from healthy, fiber-rich sources, and the meal is low in fat and high in protein.

I think it deserves a prize! :p

For my other foodie photos, visit my flickr photoset "Food, Glorious Food!"

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

'Tis the Season to ReSeason!

(Okay, I'm sorry...I do know that the title was a little cheesey.)

We've had this old neglected cast iron pot sitting around since we've moved into together.

It belonged to Ms mother, and she had so many items, that she gave us one. Something tells me that she picked it up from a garage sale... :)

Cast iron is reknown for being a excellent conductor of heat and thus, a great surface for frying and cooking on. Furthermore, the pieces last lifetimes and, when treated right, can be made to be a great, non-toxic, "non-stick" surface.

The question for me was, how do I begin?

I'd watched Chef Michael Smith demonstrate how to season a cast iron pan on his show, Chef at Large, but my pot was a little rusty.

After some searching on the internet, I came across several articles and read them all through. The synopsis was that I had to remove the rust, heat the pot up to remove any moisture, then coat with animal fat and heat again to create a sticky layer of "season". Off I went...

I took a steel wool scouring pad and went to work. It took a fair amount of elbow grease, but that rust came right off! I rinsed well with hot water and set the pot and lid in the oven to dry at 300ºF.

After about half an hour or so, I removed the pot and lid from the oven carefully - it was hot (and heavy!) and placed them on a baking sheet.

Using an off-set spatula, a silicone basting brush, and some lard, I coated both the pot and lid inside and out with a layer of lard. It went back into the oven for about an hour, and repeated the process once.

It got smokey! Thank goodness it was warmer and drier that day! We closed all the bedroom doors, left the patio door and some windows open, and turned on the exhaust fan full blast.

In the end, the pot was all glistening and sticky and perfect. Ok, so it wasn't perfect. But it was nice and seasoned.

I used it the next morning to make breakfast (bacon and eggs) and the results were delicous! What a way to utilize natural products in the kitchen. (Can you say "green" cookware??)

Cooking Monster
Cooking Louisiana

There are a few more photos on my flickr photoset "Seasoning Cast Iron".

Cast Iron Skillet on Foodista
Seasoning Cast Iron on Foodista

FYI: Starbucks Freebie

I forgot to note that today and tomorrow, Starbucks is having a special promotion for those with registered Starbucks Cards - when you use your Starbucks card today, January 27 or tomorrow, the 28th, you can get a free portion of their oatmeal!

I just tried their plain oatmeal this morning when I ordered a small hazelnut latte to go - I swear I have the most common face or just blend in with all "Asian" looking women. The girl at the cash register, even though I've seen her probably two to three times a week since she's started, couldn't recognize me. I live upstairs!!!

...She has no problem remembering M though, she even gave him free coffee one time and said "don't worry about it! I know you come here all the time!"

Hello! M is usually with me, what's up with that?!?

Anyways, the oatmeal was good, although plain. I might try their Fruit medley flavour, or Nut medley flavour tomorrow. Today I just poured some of my latte into the nifty little "incubator bowl" that the oatmeal was served in, and enjoyed it on my way to work. Definately better than the instant packets I have at home, and creamier too.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Review: Banana Leaf (Kitsilano) - Reliably Delicious!

We were piglets this weekend - feeling lazy yet hungry equals going out to eat, even when we know we're going to eat lots all weekend.

I haven't been to the Banana Leaf in Kitsilano in a while, but we were shopping out that way this weekend and decided it would hit the spot. It did!

The brightly decorated restaurant is about three years old. We were told that it used to be a "gentlemans" club complete with cigar room and such. Now, it is brightly and neatly furnished with traditional screens, kites, and masks.

We were warmly greeted at the door by a host and seated promptly, and upon inquiry, found that we had about half an hour to order off the lunch menu. We were extremely pleased to discover this, and ordered a beef rendeng and char kuey teow. Although the dishes were extremely hot, they arrived quickly, which made me think that it was premade. The food was however, extremely delicious and we finished it all up.

We enjoyed it so much so, that we immediately ordered a mee goreng, and finished that too.

All three waiters that helped us were polite and helpful. We enjoyed our meal a lot; our only regret was that we did not notice or order the 7 course tasting menu which was great value at $25 per person!

Banana Leaf has always been a favourite restaurant of mine over other chain Malaysian / Singaporean restaurants in the Vancouver area. I hope to visit soon for another reliably great meal!

Banana Leaf (Kitsilano)
3005 W Broadway
Vancouver, BC
Tel: (604) 734-3005
Banana Leaf (Kitsilano) on Urbanspoon

Mirror of my dinehere review.
More photos at flickr.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Review: Gingeri Chinese Cuisine (Richmond BC)

Gong Hei Faat Choy! Sum Seung See Sing!
Happy Chinese New Year Everyone! May your dreams materialize!

I had a fantastic weekend, lots of eating, lots of laughing, lots of full bellies. Does my family ever *not* do something in excess??

The "year end dinner", or tuen leen fan in Cantonese was held at Gingeri Chinese Cuisine in Richmond this year. We've been going to Gingeri for a number of years now, and the staff know us by face. I wrote a dim sum review for them here.

We had the whole Chinese New Year shebang this weekend. No, I did not take photos of every single platter that came out. For one, if you know my family, food does not go untouched for long. Two, everyone was extra hungry (me and TM hadn't eaten since breakfast at 11am! Plus, everyone had been kind of bracing for an early dinner, so had suitably earlier lunches), and that just adds to the carnivoric beasts within. Three, it is HARD to take photos of food that is literally flying by on the lazy susan as my family pigs out. If you're not careful, you might get a chopstick in the eye or a fork in the hand.

You know that saying, "nothing should come between family except for a plate and a dining table"? Well, we take it kind of literally!

I did manage to take a photo of the above and below. Above we have the crispy-sour-sweet fried prawns. They were SO GOOD and SO SUCCULENT. With the slightly tangy and sweet sauce gently caressing each battered and fried prawn, it was delicious. The prawns are eaten at New Years because its character in Chinese, "ha" sounds like laughter. Thus, you eat it for happiness. ....and, perhaps, you might share the last one, or give the last one to your brother after he wins it over in a "best of three" challenge of rock paper scissors...

Below, we have the platter of general "lucky stuff". (Sorry for the horrible translations here...I am doing the best I can. wink wink.) Chinese generally eat the following because it brings prosperity ("faat choy"), which is the black thread-like fungus below. The dish also has dried oysters, ho see, which sounds like "good times". There was also lettuce, choy which relates back to prosperity, and roasted stewed garlic cloves, which translates to fertility. So, if you have everything on the plate, you'll have prosperity, fertility, good times, and general longevity.

Lastly, we have the orange roughy fillets above. Unfortunately, that was the best three photos of food that I could manage to take. If you look at the last photo, you can see that probably half the dish was missing before I could even snap a shot! Well, there are some people born in the year of the pig in my family...

Time after time, Gingeri delivers great food and good service. Perhaps it is because we patronize the establishment so well, that they treat us better, but there is no disputing good food, brunch, lunch or dinner.

Edit: Upon further review, now I notice that ALL of the photos are of partially empty plates! This is NOT the way it was brought to us, it's just that 1) my family likes to eat fast, and 2) I am a slow photographer.

Gingeri Chinese Cuisine

#323 5300 No. 3 Road [map]

Richmond BC

Phone: 604-278-6006
Gingeri Chinese Cuisine on Urbanspoon

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Recipe: New Year Cruellers

Gong Hei Faat Choi!

It's Chinese New Year, and we're getting ready for a weekend of feasting. Plus, next week is my grandfathers birthday, so you can bet that we'll be eating on through the week!!!

I picked up a cookbook at my mothers house, after remembering making some New Years Cruellers one day as a child when my mother was out of the house. Iz, remember this one?

Yes, I was a bad little kid when I was younger and when my mother would leave the house to run errands and buy groceries, I would sneak into the kitchen and cook and bake and what not.

Thinking back, taking on the New Year Crueller as a nine year old was pretty damned gutsy. What if I'd burnt the house down? Dirty dishes would be the least of my worries at that point...

The cookbook I picked up was none other than "Chopstick Recipes #2" by Cecelia Au-Yeung. I have NEVER found another substitute for her cookbooks. Written in English and Chinese, the cook book features traditional dish recipes and colour photos.

While a bit archiac, the book is just *really good*! There are recipes for dim sum favourites like sausage buns, sticky rice buns, shiu mai, malai cake, and many others!

Although the recipe was written in ounces, with the help of the internet, I translated it into metric terms:

2 and 1/3 cup all purpose flour
1/4 c + 3 T sugar
6T lard
2 eggs
1-3 T of cold water

In a medium sized bowl, stir together the dry ingredients. Cut in the lard until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Make a well in the center. Beat together the eggs and pour into the well. Gradually incorporate the dry flour at the edges until the mixture is uniform and holds together.

On a floured surface, roll out into a thin rectangle. I rolled mine out to approximately half a centimeter thick. Use a sharp knife or rotary cutter to cut into small rectangles, approximately 1" by 2". (The book says 1/2" by 1 1/2", but I couldn't! They were so tiny!)

To form the crueller shape, use a small, sharp knife to cut a slit in the middle of each small rectangle of dough. Gently pull the bottom of the rectangle through the slit so that the dough plaits on itself. You may need to gently stretch the dough a little.

All my little cruellers, ready for the fryer...

In a medium sized pot, heat about 2 inches of oil on medium heat. I used canola oil. Make sure that the pot is more than twice the depth of your oil! You don't want to start a fire (something I'm sure I remembered at 9 years old...thus no burnt kitchens when my mother came home!). Drop in a couple cruellers at a time, stirring so that they do not stick to each other or the pot.

Finished cruellers:

Package the cruellers into airtight containers, and give to older relatives and wish them to Faat Choy!!! And exchange the goodies for some li see! :)

Happy Chinese New Year everyone! Eat lots and enjoy the full bellies. I know what I'm doing the next couple of days!

There are a few more photos at my flickr photoset, "Chinese New Year Cruellers".

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Review: Le Crocodile (Vancouver BC)

Le Crocodile is one of Vancouvers most fantastic institutions for exquisite French food. I had the chance to sit in on a holiday set menu with some new and old friends, and the experience was met with mixed reviews.

The place was packed when we arrived. We were seated promptly and served a beautiful amuse bouche of a sauteed prawn set atop a cool refreshing portion of beet carpaccio. To prevent transfer of heat and colour, the cooks had separated the former and latter with a small round of potato crisp. This was arguably one of the best courses in the meal.

We were then served a quail stuffed with foie gras that was roasted and served with a veal demi glace. Unfortunately, this dish was not great. The quail was slightly dry, and the whole thing did not taste seasoned. We also had a hard time detecting any foie gras.

Next, we had a light tasting salmon and shrimp seafood terrine. It was served with an emulsified sauce, which, while being light on the palette, had slightly split on the plate. Some enjoyed the terrine, but some compared it to the gummy texture of "hot pot fish balls". I think if the fish was omitted from the dish, it would have revealed more of the salmon and shrimp texture.

For the main entree, we had a choice of veal tenderloin or tilapia and lobster pasta. I opted for the former, and really enjoyed it. The vegetables were perfect, the veal was tender and flavourful, and the morels and wild mushrooms were delectable.

Dessert was a trio of pastries: a cocoa-chantilly filled choux pastry, a sour cherry panna cotta, and a berry tart. Everyone loved the panna cotta, minus the sour cherry. It was one of those "surprise!" moments when someone bit into the center to discover it was sour.

Service was fantastic. There were ample waitstaff, the sommelier was friendly and not snooty, the hostess / coatcheck girl was friendly and helpful. Based on the great service, and given that this was an exceptionally busy night for the restaurant, I'd return. I know the flaws in the food were anomalies.

Le Crocodile

909 Burrard Street

Vancouver BC

Phone: 604-669-4298

Le Crocodile on Urbanspoon

More photos available at my flickr photoset, "08DE31 NYE".

Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival!

Prepare for delicous food and spectacular wines! The Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival is coming to Vancouver on March 23rd to 29th!

I found a surprise in my mailbox last evening. The Playhouse Internation Wine Festival program!

I went to Salud Chile, an event held at O'douls downtown with M last year and had a great time. I think it made me really appreciate Chilean wines, and I found a couple favourites that I would have never tried! Plus there were a lot of great foods - raw oysters, deliciously fresh and piquant ceviche, an assortment of cheeses, fruits, and crackers, dungeness crab ravioli, seared beef and chicken skewers, and lots of hors d'oevres were being passed.

We're debating whether we should go back to the same event (we are foodies and not winos at heart!), or to a different venue. We're definately not going to the formal wine tastings, I think the food events are just more fun and social.

Are you going to any events this year?

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

I am lucky lucky lucky!

I got home late last night, after meandering through the thick fog that has been covering Vancouver for the past while. At times, it was so thick in certain areas that I could not see the lane lines!

I've always said that Canada should have "cats eyes" - the yellow reflector lights along lane lines. Our neighbours to the south have them, and they are helpful on dim nights or rainy days where you need a little extra help staying in your lane!

But no. Vancouver doesn't have them. Probably has something to do with snow ploughs digging up taxpayer money.

The boy made an assortment of goodies for dinner last night, some old (I'd been craving steamed eggs!) and some new (I told him stories of how I *hated* Chinese meat "cake" when I was little - it just tasted like old people food. But I didnt' mind his :).

He also made mapo tofu, which means pimply-old lady tofu. I'll be adding some sauteed mushrooms, bell peppers and eggplant to that for tonights' dinner. Can hardly wait.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Contest at!

I forgot to mention a contest that I found from Slashfood at You can enter to win truffles! Truffle Contest. Enter Here.

Simply leave a comment at the original posting, and twiddle your thumbs dreaming of truffles! :)

His and Hers Bentos

Another lunchtime favourite: bentos!

Although I don't have the skill or the craft to make elaborate, tasty and healthy bentos, I couldn't help but snap a photo of the lunches I packed for today for the beau and myself.

We have some lovely spicy, sweet and fragrant Carribean chicken drumsticks, herb-buttered mushrooms sauteed with onions and garlic, russet and red potato frites, topped with some creamy avocado. His and hers bentos? Well obviously the man has the triple helping of drumsticks on the left, while I have the two smaller boxes of food on the right.

This was a fairly cheap meal, considering we picked up the drumsticks at $0.99 / lb at Sunrise Market this weekend. We also picked up a pair of lovely avocados for $0.69/each. I snatched them up as I'd read that the price of avocadoes was going to soar this year. I'd also seen them advertised at chain supermarkets at the "sale" price of upwards of $1.25 each! So when I saw them at only 69 cents at Sunrise, I had to get them.

Have a good day everyone! It is the dawn of a new era - Obama was sworn in this morning and I listened to it at work.

Change is good.

More foodie photos at my flickr photoset, Food Glorious Food!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Review: The Ocean Club, There's a lot in a name.

I've heard good things about The Ocean Club, but never had the chance to try it until I attended a birthday party last week.

The restaurant accomodated our party of more than 20 quite nicely, and although not everyone showed up for dinner, everyone had at least a couple drinks or so.

A glance at their website shows a menu that looks inspired, however after ordering, all I can say is that although the food looked pretty, it didn't do much for the tastebuds.

We started out with the chicken drummettes, which, a couple days later after watching a KFC commercial, M remarked that KFC probably did those chicken wings better. I had to agree!

For entree, I had a seafood quinoa, after being told that the restaurant had run out of ahi tuna, sablefish, and swordfish. boo. The boy ordered mac n' cheese, which was served with braised short ribs. The entrees were just ok. The prawns and scallops were nicely done, but the salmon was dry and overdone. The quinoa was boring and just there. Those two things just put a big "minus" on the entire dish.

I do have to say that the veggies in the seafood quinoa were very tasty. There was an assortment of baby heirloom beets, baby carrots, and steamed gai lan and they were done to perfection.

The mac n' cheese was extremely rich. The braised short ribs were slathered with a syrupy glaze, and while tasting good, paired with the mac and cheese was just too heavy. The boy who never wastes a morsel of food (he's been known to finish off dining companions food for them), left almost half of his pasta in its ramekin.

Service was fantastic. The waitress was friendly and informative, and the waitstaff (although improvised - was that a bouncer who brought us our meals?) were helpful. The bartenders were really good - one of them remembered our drink orders hours later, and made it a priority to serve us at the bar.

The place turns into a club later in the night and it got quite packed, with a line-up outside. It was pretty loud in certain places, and quieter at different parts in the room.

So. Food was hit and miss and service was great. There's a lot in a name, I guess. Visit The Ocean Club *after* dinner, instead of before, and you won't be disappointed.

The Ocean Club

100 Park Royal #105 (East of Park Royal on Taylor Way)

West Vancouver

Tel: (604) 926-2326

Fax: (604) 926-2386

Ocean Club on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Lunchtime & Recipe: Jerk Chicken!

Happy New Year everyone!

Welcome to the new blog. 'Tis the food blog that I should have started eons ago. I'm just now moving some old entries over here, and hopefully it should be updated somewhat regularly since I do cook several times a week, and eat at new restaurants now and then.

For lunch today? Jerk chicken!

I grew to love Jerk chicken after trying it a couple times at Carribean festivals, Jamaican restaurants, but noticed that not one really satisfied all the quadrants of salty, sweet, spicy, and umami for me.

Thus, this recipe was born. We tried it once while camping as well, and used the marinade on chicken as well as salmon - it was SO good.

-2 T soy sauce
-2 T molasses
-1/4 cup lime juice
-1 T ginger, grated or finely chopped
-2-5 cloves of garlic, minced
-1/2 onion, finely chopped
-2-8 chilis or jalapenos, your choice - I used 6 chilis for mine
-1/4 t freshly ground black pepper
-1/4 t nutmeg
-1/2 t cinnamon
-1/2 t allspice

-6 to 8 chicken thighs, skin on, bone in

In a bag or large glass container, mix together the marinade ingredients.

Marinate your chicken in the marinade overnight, turning occasionally. I use chicken thighs because they are forgiving, and because they have so much flavour! Plus they're cheap. :)

Grilling is the way to go, but since my barbeque is out of commission, I took it indoors and panfried the thighs in batches for about 2-3 minutes on each side on medium heat, then transferred them to a foil-lined pan where they mingled with each other in a 375ºF oven. By the time I removed them 25 minutes later, they were happy little fellows.

Jerk chicken. Spicy, sweet, finger-licking good! Served over brown rice with thyme-buttered vegetables, M enjoyed every last piece.
Related Posts with Thumbnails