Thursday, August 13, 2009

Sushi Boy (Broadway, Vancouver, BC)

Sushi Boy! We've been in search of cheap good eats as of late. It's summer, and we'd rather be spending time outside than inside cooking. After some shopping downtown and along South Granville, we couldn't decide what to do. As we neared Cambie at Broadway, I remembered Sushi Boy, a small "bus stop" sushi joint that has been in operation since the beginning of time.

I remember it in the early days of when my parents (and myself) went to Dr Leung a couple doors down. As I'm writing this entry though, I wonder if Dr Leung is still there? Obviously Dr. Leung as in Dr. Leung...junior, as senior Dr. (Jack) Leung is retired.

As an aside, all the "lo wa kews" in Vancouver would remember Dr. Leung. That man / family must have a lot of connections with the older folk, as he was, in the 80s and early 90s one of the "premier" Chinese doctors in Vancouver. But, as time went on and Vancouver evolved, more immigrants resulted in more doctors as well. Seriously though! I knew people with elderly parents that lived in Coquitlam and *still* went to Vancouver to be seen by Dr. Leung.

Ahem. Yes - Sushi Boy has been there for a long time. And cheap eats they are!

We would have gone to Menya for ramen, or even Kanpachi, but we just wanted to get some food in the bellies before we went home - and Sushiboy was just the place!

We both opted for the same thing - the $4.95 special that is advertised in the window. For the mere price of a flavoured Starbucks latte, you get three pieces each of California and tekka (cucumber) roll, some noodles, gomaae (Spinach) salad, a green salad with fresh seasonal veggies, a small amount of noodle, a tempura prawn, a oshi (pressed) sushi, and your choice of beef or chicken teriyaki. We each also added on a smoked salmon pocket.

The surprise was in the amount of food you got. While we were expecting a small snack, M actually got a little full, and I *really* shouldn't have finished my meal. That piece of oshi sushi really made me full - I felt like I was the stay-puffed mochi man, although to be totally accurate, I was the "stay-stuffed rice lady" (doesn't quite have the same ring to it, does it? :).

Remember the "Westcoast Pocket Trio" at the Cactus Club? Those babies (and I mean babies!) worked out to $4 (each!), plus tip. The smoked salmon pockets at Sushiboy were only $2.50, and were larger than the ones at Cactus. Works for me!

Now, Sushiboy is lacking in boobie-scenary (it is just Sushiboy himself plus a cashier), and immensely lacking in ambience (read: hole-in-the-wall sushi joint), and the food can also be lacking for some, but at these discount prices, I am certainly not complaining!


409 West Broadway [map]

Vancouver BC

Phone: 604-879-5236

Sushiboy on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Food Bloggers Dinner: Brave Bull's House of Steaks (Hastings, Vancouver, BC)

It's been a while since the last Food Bloggers Dinner - last time it was the end of June and Alvin Garden in Burnaby. This time, only a handful of us made it, and we met up at Brave Bull's House of Steaks

I hadn't been home all day, and didn't check my email, so I was very glad that Jenny from My Secret Eden (and her boyfriend K), Frank from Foodie Adventures in Vancouver, and Kim from I'm Only Here For the Food! showed up - apparently I'd missed the round of emails suggesting a cancel for the nights' dinner. With my recent luck, however, I'd very glad that Kim, Frank, Jenny and her boyfriend showed up (and my M showed up too - yay!). I've been having a string of no shows and have been stood up on more than one occasion as of late, so really guys - thanks for showing up!

Everyone has seen or heard of Brave Bull's House of Steaks at one point or another. I remember driving by and noting the $8.95 Prime Rib and Sirloin Steak specials, but thinking nothing of it.

However, after our dinner this weekend, I would have to say that the best special of Brave Bull's House of Steaks would have to be Linda Lum herself.

She was exceptionally sweet and kind and took the time to chat and joke around with us, when she had some time. She explained that after she had received Kims' large reservation, that she'd called in her grandson to help out. I felt a little bad after she said that, but then she said that even though our reservation shrunk a little, there were extra patrons on the other side of the restaurant, and thus the kitchen was backed up.

M started off with some pan fried oysters. Originally, he'd wanted to order the "Captains Plate" which consisted of pan fried oysters, deep fried prawns, scallops, and sole for only $8.95, but Linda let us know that since the kitchen was so busy, they'd run out of the Captain's Plate. While there was no Captain's Plate, and there was a delay in the kitchen, the cook had added on a couple oysters to our dish - six oysters for the party of six at our table!

Every entree that is ordered at Brave Bull's comes with soup, your choice of potato, vegetables, and garlic bread, and the prices range from $8.95 to $14.95!

It was no surprise that most of our table (made up of guys) ordered the "13 - 14 oz T-Bone Steak"...although it was later found that M had rarity - an "I-Bone" steak! ;p At about a dollar an ounce, everyone agreed that the T-Bone steak was good value.

Jenny ordered the sirloin, and I ordered the veal cutlet (Both $8.95). Jenny's boyfriend ordered the pork chops (another $8.95 plate!), which I would like to try on a revisit to Brave Bulls:

After the dinner rush had died down a little, Linda came by and chatted with us for a bit, and true to all the reviews stating that dining at Brave Bulls is like being welcomed into your grandmothers' home, we witnessed some real "grandmom-ism". I had anticipated that our plates would be inspected prior to removal, and had luckily finished about 98% of the contents on my plate. Others were not so lucky, however - Linda made a comment about how someone hadn't finished their meal...while my inner child snickered and I swallowed my last bite of food. haha! I guess I regressed into a five-year-old at that point!

Brave Bulls had opened in 1985, and the cook used to work at Angus Steak house. In 1991, they made the decision to freeze the prices - hence the $8.95 Prime Rib and Sirloin Steak specials. She also dug out a scrapbook of postings from Tinybites and Raul's blogs. We let her know that she'd have more to add to her collection once we were done. :)

I really felt welcomed by Linda - she reminded me of grandmothers and kindly neighbours and family friends from my childhood. When I left, I actually kind of felt guilty that I hadn't given her a hug! (And this is from a kid who *abhorred* the habitual hug and kiss from family friends!)

For the record, I would return to Brave Bull's - not necessarily for the food (although I'd like to see if Brave Bull's makes better or comparable spaghetti than my own grandmom! haha! - sorry pou pou!) but for the hospitality!

Other attendees' takes:
Kim - I'm Only Here For The Food!
Jenny - Secret Eden

Brave Bull's House of Steaks

1298 East Hastings Street [map]

Vancouver BC

Phone: 604-253-4728

Brave Bull's House of Steaks on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Thai Cafe Restaurant (Hastings, Burnaby, BC)

We're always on the hunt for a great Thai restaurant!

In the week of *hot* weather in Vancouver, we just didn't feel like cooking - initially we'd gone to Thai Cafe just to grab a quick snack, but wound up having our whole meal there!

We started off with stuffed chicken wings. We *love* the ones at Salathai on Cambie, but unfortunately, the pair at Thai Cafe were no comparison. They'd stuffed them with chicken meat and vermicelli, and the similarities in density essentially cancelled out the work of deboning and stuffing the wings! We would have preferred a lighter, more flavourful stuffing, as well as a crispier coating. They *were* less expensive than Salathai though!

Next up was the Pad Thai. This was a favourite! The Pad Thai was not tomato based like other places - instead they had a tamarind and Thai "ketchup" base which was light, more flavourful, and pleasing to the stomach. I "reserved" some for my lunch the next day. :)

M also ordered a fried rice with basil leaves (Khao Pad Kee Mao). This was *also* our favourite! lol - the spices in the rice were accentuated by the fresh basil. I also reserved some of the rice for my lunch the next day.

I didn't recognize the restaurant when I went in, but I'd dined there previously with a group of health inspectors when I was training (they have some great lunch specials!). The funny / embarassing thing was that half way through my meal with the health inspectors, a freakin' fruit fly did a suicide launch into my meal! You could see that it instantly divided the table of officials - some thought I should get the dish remade, others just shrugged and sat back to see what I (the newbie trainee) would do. Since I'd already consumed more than half the meal, I just isolated the part of the dish that the fly decided to engrave himself, and ate the rest of the plate. No harm, no foul.

As for Thai Cafe itself, I'd very glad to have "rediscovered" it again! It's close to home and I can see myself ordering takeout for a busy weekday meal. I want to try some of their other dishes, including a fried rice with cashews, raisins, peppers, and other vegetables, or their deep fried prawns or rice noodle dishes.

Thai Cafe

4160 Hastings Street [map]

Burnaby BC

Phone: 604-299-4525

Thai Cafe Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Cook-Along: Paul Prudhomme's Eggplant Bayou Teche

I've been swamped at work (new clients!) and been sweltering at home. At times last week, we joked that we'd brought back the desert climate with us; although this week has been *really* nice - warm, but with a slight breeze!

When it started cooling down earlier this week, I brought home some crab meat from work to make some southern food - weather inspired, of course!

During the pride parade last weekend, I was talking about southern food / New Orleans with I & G. The weather reminded me of Louisiana and I just wanted some gumbo / seafood etoufee / po-boys to go along with it!

I'd purchased Paul Prudhomme's "Louisiana Kitchen" cookbook (used!) probably within the first month I got back from a business trip to NOLA in...July 2005. Hurricane Katrina hit merely a month afterwards, and truth be told, it broke my heart to see that such a lively-spirited city had been seemingly broken.

I don't think it's been rebuilt to what it once was, but I do hope to return to New Orleans in the future. (And to drunkingly scream on the phone about the gigantuan cockroaches! lol!)

For now, a Louisiana dish from Paul Prudhomme, who was at the IFT conference I was at in July 2005.

The recipe I used may be found here. The dish entails making a medium-brown roux, which is a mixture of equal parts of oil and flour. While the recipe itself calls for oil, the French-schooled part of me begged to substitute some butter for flavour. I also used a dry sake in place of the pernod, and made substitutions to utilize only two eggplants. I *love* fried eggplant, but there was no way we could have finished three teches each!

The roux was cooked at a medium-low heat until the colour was similar to that of a weak caramel sauce:

Another difference in Southern cooking vs traditional French cuisine is in the mirepoix - while French chefs utilize onion, carrot and celery as a base for their dishes, Southern cooks use onion, celery and bell pepper. Makes it more interesting, and addes to the layers of flavour. :)

We had this for dinner one night, lunch the next day, and split the remaining eggplant half for dinner again. The butter sauce that is made with the shrimp is delectable. Make sure you use a nice seafood / shrimp stock and don't skimp on the butter - it adds to the yum factor!
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