Saturday, November 21, 2009

Damien's Belgian Waffles (Steveston, Richmond, BC)

I've been craving a great waffle - and no, not the stale, freezer-burned "Eggo" waffles of my childhood, a waffle that is fluffy and warm, crisp yet chewy. After a brief "googling", I discovered several options and embarked on my journey.

First up, Damien's Belgian Waffles set in picturesque Steveston Village in Richmond. Yes, it is *extremely* out of the way, but on the afternoon that I visited Damien's Belgian Waffles, I *extremely* needed to be removed from the workweek. (It was just that kind of day week. Don't make me get into the details.)

In the recent downpour (read: Pineapple express) that the Vancouver area has been having, it was a real relief to have a dry, slightly sunny patch in the afternoon. I stopped by Steveston Village and found Damien's in a small strip mall. It is located near a cake decorating store, so for you pastry chefs out there, it might be worth a stop to pick up some supplies and a treat as well!

Damien's offers single waffles to eat in or to go ($2.25 - $2.50) as well as some waffle treats with ice cream, chocolate, whipped cream and/or fruits (~$5). There is also a selection of tea and coffee to go with your waffle treat. For those wanting to enjoy the waffles at home, there are packs of waffles to go (singles or mini waffles!). The waffles are made from wholesome ingredients and utilizes honey or maple syrup as a sweetener instead of refined sugar. Okay, so they use imported Belgium pearl sugar as well, but that is a necessity of the recipe, so why fight tradition. :)

The waffles come in a variety of flavours such as original, matcha, maple, and cinnamon. The vanilla flavour also comes dipped with a milk chocolate, white chocolate, or dark chocolate.

I tried their Melba Magic creation, which consists of a vanilla (original) waffle warmed slightly, with ice cream, whipped cream, raspberries, and a white chocolate garnish on top, as well as their ginger raja tea, which was freshly brewed in a tea press (nice touch!). The waffle held up nicely to the ice cream and the sweetness of both the waffle and ice cream was paired nicely with the tart raspberries. What I didn't like were the disposable plates and cutlery. Not only are they not environmentally friendly, but it's tacky and impractical. Trying to saw through a waffle with a plastic knife is not fun. :( Flavour is there, the experience is not.

Waffles for a late lunch (I got there at around two-thirty in the afternoon!)? Why not! It was relaxed and laid back in sunny Steveston. :)

I bought a matcha and milk-chocolate dipped waffle to go. They're packaged in small leopard- print paper bags - it was like a little present!

Damien (I am assuming...) instructed me to warm them in the toaster or toaster oven on a low to medium toaster setting. I found my waffles warmed to my liking, slightly crisp on the outside, and chewy on the inside. On the odd occasion, there was a slight crunch from the pearl sugar that was cooked into the batter. Nice!

While the matcha flavour left a slight bitterness on the tongue, the milk chocolate was a simply sweet (and selfish! :) breakfast the next morning.

It was a nice reprieve from work - I'm glad of that. If you don't want to make the trek out to Steveston Village to visit Damien's Belgian Waffles, try catching them this weekend at the craft show at Nikkie Place in Burnaby, or Steveston Buddhist Temple. There's also some winter and craft markets that they'll be participating in, check out their event calendar for details.

I felt much more relaxed after Damien's. Let's hope they stay around for a little while!

Damien's Belgian Waffles

#2 - 3891 Chatham Street
Richmond BC
P: 604-304-2884

Damien's Belgian Waffles on Urbanspoon

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Eatwell Vietnam Noodle Soup

We were in Coquitlam looking for a quick eat - I am not really familiar with Coquitlam, and M is even worse (there was that one time that he was picking up a car from Coquitlam and was going to meet me in Burnaby...I got home from *Maple Ridge* and found out that he had gone east along Lougheed instead of west - and was *finally* on the Mary Hill Bypass driving to Burnaby. omg!).

So it was no surprise how we ended up at Eatwell Vietnam Noodle Soup Restaurant when we were looking for Hopewell Chinese Kitchen. was in the same area. (As in, either area could be described as being "close to Coquitlam Center Mall"...)

On a side note, when we pulled up to Eatwell, we commented on how they may be affiliated with Hopewell (does anyone know?). Anyways, it could just be the direct translation of their Chinese name, "Mei Mei".

We actually ate here on Halloween. Why do I remember this? We saw Captain Sparrow on the way in! :) Apparently, the guy dressed up (convincingly!) as Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean had just finished lunch at Eatwell...and a pair of groupie teenagers were asking him if they could take his photo. haha!

Let's start with Ms meal - grilled lemongrass chicken and pork atop rice noodle. At $6.50, he was pleasantly surprised with his meal. The pork and chicken were juicy and tender. He didn't share much. The portion was meatier than other Vietnamese restaurants. Although there were less char marks from the pan fry / grilling, and subsequently less flavour, it was an economical lunch choice.

I ordered the same as everyone else, beef noodle soup! At the time we dined at Eatwell, there was a separate menu with three tantalizing options: 1) a large noodle soup (your choice) with your choice of spring roll or bubble tea for $7.95, 2) a small noodle soup (vous choisez!) with your choice of spring roll or bubble tea, $6.95, or a student special (available Monday through Friday) for something ridiculous like $5.50 or something.

Of course, being on the bubble tea binge that I was on for the week, I ordered a "small" beef steak and tripe noodle soup. I have to say, the portion was extremely generous for the price. The soup didn't have enough salt, but that was remedied easily enough with a light sprinkling of salt. I liked that there was the option of steak and tripe, instead of steak, tendon, and tripe. I always feel so wasteful when I order a "#5" noodle anywhere in Vancouver and have to leave behind the tendon because I'm simply not such a big fan of it. So Eatwell gets a thumbs up from me on that point!

The bubble tea? I ordered a mango milk tea. It was made from a powder and it was just average. It made me wish that I'd ordered the spring roll to go with my meal instead, because I could smell them wafting through the restaurant.

Eatwell is a small place run by Chinese and it has a nice family atmosphere (as opposed to a seedier, neon-light atmosphere). They also offer other options like curry rice, banh mi, and "specialty" dishes like pork trotter noodle soup, or seafood soup.

Nice find for the Tricities!

Eatwell Vietnam Noodle Soup

#315 - 1196 Lansdowne Drive
Coquitlam BC
P: 604-945-8276

Eatwell Vietnam Noodle Soup on Urbanspoon

Monday, November 16, 2009

Health Hazard Alert: Listeria monocytongenes in Smoked Salmon Products

Just an FYI for those in the Vancouver area. CFIA posted an alert for L. monocytogenes in smoked salmon products (thus far, the products recalled include a smoked salmon cheese log and a salmon nugget, sold at supermarket locations in Vancouver and Burnaby.

Updates may be found at the Canadian Food Inspection Agency website.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Kim Ga Nae (Richmond, BC)

We first read about Kim Ga Nae when My Secret Eden recommended it in a post back in September. Upon referencing it on Urbanspoon and seeing Sherman's post on it, I had made a mental note of it to try if we were in the area.

The turn in temperature made me wish for some bi bim bap, and subsequently, brought us to Kim Ga Nae.

Kim Ga Nae offers Korean all you can eat as well as a la carte options - we opted for all you can eat, as two people eating a la carte could get quite pricey.

It took us a while to be seated as only one waitress was working the lunch shift. As with other BBQ Korean restaurants, the dining area was quite literally ice cold when we started - these places depend on the heat of the barbeque units to generate heat, I guess. :)

The banchan came first - a selection of five dishes which were just okay.

We ordered a rice cake to sample, japchae, and beef bone soup. The rice cake was not something we would order again - it tasted good, but was just too heavy for our liking. As always japchae (even cold japchae, as Kim Ga Naes' was served) was devoured quickly, but the beef bone soup - as My Secret Eden found of the soft tofu soup, was bland.

The meats! I neglected to take photos of the meat, but we would definitely come back for all the meat. For all you can eat, the chicken, pork and beef were of decent quality, and marinated long enough to be tenderized before a quick grill.

As for my bi bim bap?

Well lets say this. I *love* bi bim bap, and the bi bim bap at Kim Ga Nae was no exception. I like that it came in a smaller, cuter portion, but still had all the toppings of a regular bi bim bap / stone bowl rice. If I were running a 10k or half marathon tomorrow, I'd go to Kim Ga Nae to fill up on carbs... haha!

We also ordered a seafood pancake and a gyoza, and we'd order them again. Actually, we were split on the seafood pancake - apparently M got the the pieces with huge chunks of squid and shrimp, whereas I got the more "pancake-y" pieces. Oh well, it is hard to proportion a "big portion" dish to smaller "tapas" style portions, I suppose. At only $12.95 for a lunch-time all you can eat, I am not complaining!

Upon exiting Kim Ga Nae, we saw that their a la carte menu was quite reasonable as well. Perhaps we'll try them with friends or family soon.

Kim Ga Nae

4260 No. 3 Road
Richmond BC
P: 604-273-4747

Kim Ga Nae on Urbanspoon

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Bamboo Grove (Richmond, BC)

What's in a name? Well, the name of the restaurant featured in this restaurant is Bamboo Grove, but my family knows it more as "the lamb chop place". In fact, I only learnt of its' English name because M was commenting (harping? haha!) that we should only call a restaurant by its' name, instead of "that crab place" or "that pork chop rice place" or "the place beside the big vase" place.

...Yes, we actually make up pet names for the restaurants we visit frequently. :)

View Larger Map

As for the Chinese name of the restaurant? Still don't know it.

Bamboo Grove is situated near Richmond Center Mall. There is street parking, as well as parking in the back. When the restaurant parking lot is full, we usually park in adjacent parking lots.

On the occasion that these photos were taken, we had just had a filling dim sum at Kirin (post to come soon!). Just *looking* at the food at Bamboo Grove that night was making us full!

One of the first appetizers was live garlic steamed scallops. The chefs had shucked the live scallops, seasoned with wine, garlic, and green onions, and topped the scallops with rice vermicelli. They were served on the half shell and the scallops were HUGE! I took a picture with a teacup for comparison. It was like eating a scallop steak! The rice vermicelli was a nice touch, as it soaked up all the scallop juices and kept the otherwise exposed scallop surface moist.

The next dish is a family favourite - we order it nearly every time visit Bamboo Grove and we have yet to tire of it. Huge tiger shrimp and Japanese eggplant are sauteed in a mixture of spicy pork. It is really just so good. Even the dedicated carnivores in the family will scoop up some eggplant, on account of it tasting so meaty. The shrimp are a perfect size for this dish, as it takes on meaty characteristics as well.

Also ordered was a crab and lobster in cream sauce atop noodles, and sugar peas sauteed with cod. Everyone always fights for their noodles...and yes, we notice if people around the table have taken an extra large portion (ahem, remember that time J took two wings?? Remember??).

One item we didn't order (but we usually order!) this visit was the lamb chop. It is marinated, seasoned, and roasted just *so* to provide a non-gamey, succulent, tender morsel of meat on the end of a frenched and foil-wrapped bone. One of my relatives can *not* eat lamb for its gamey flavours, but will make a willing exception at Bamboo Grove.

As usual, my father got his vote with a braised fish hot pot. He likes the flavours in this dish, and goes through all the trouble of removing every shred of fish meat from the bones. As for me, I am too lazy and just love the mushrooms - they have all the flavour of the dish without all the work.

The vegetable was a romaine. Simplistic, but really just a nice reprieve from all the rich dishes before.

For dessert? Individual coconut jellies with a touch of evaporated milk on top. Afterall, I'm sure there are coconut trees that grow near the Bamboo Grove, right?

If you plan on dining at Bamboo Grove, it's a good idea to make reservations. And make the reservations early! "Second round" diners typically have to wait a while before they're seated.

Bamboo Grove Restaurant
6920 No. 3 Road
Richmond BC
P: 604-278-9585

Bamboo Grove on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Recipe: Banana Choco-Chip Cake

I was having dinner with family last night, and apparently it came up that when my aunt sees ripe, black bananas, she thinks of me. I suppose I should feel flattered that she was thinking of me. :)

This recipe has been in my repertoire for a while. I made it in high school after my aunt found me the recipe to satisfy her cravings. I've tweaked it a little for my liking as the original recipe was a little sweet, and it is a really yummy snack cake. The sour cream, bananas, extra baking powder and baking soda make for a light, moist cake, but the chocolate chips and cream also add some beautiful richness. Mmmm. As I'm writing this, the smell of rich dairy notes, chocolate, and a hint of cinnamon are wafting through my place.

3 c all purpose flour
2 t baking soda
2 t baking powder

1 c butter, softened
1 1/2 c white sugar
2 eggs
1 t vanilla
4 ripe bananas

1 c sour cream

1/3 c brown or yellow sugar (brown sugar yields a more flavorful cake, but use what you have on hand)
1 t cinnamon

1 c chocolate chips (you could experiment and try dark chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, or white chocolate...mmm.)

Preheat oven to 350ºF.

In a medium bowl, mix together flour, baking soda, and baking powder. Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream together butter and white sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, until uniform. Mix in vanilla and bananas until combined. (If they are a little on the un-ripe side, I mash the bananas in a separate bowl first. If they're competely ripe and syrupy, I just add them directly to the mix - I love the texture it gives to the final product!)

Alternately add the flour and sour cream to the mixture, beginning and ending with the flour. Mix until just combined.

In a small bowl, mix together brown sugar and cinnamon.

Spread half the batter into a greased 9 x 13" pan. Smooth top.

Sprinkle with half the brown sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle with half of the chocolate chips. Repeat layers.

Bake at 350ºF for 45-50 minutes.

Since the cake has sour cream and bananas as moisteners, it keeps well! Store, wrapped, for up to a week (it rarely lasts that long). Yay to my big yee yee and her love of black bananas. I believe she was one of the first people to buy me a cookbook. :)
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