Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Shoryumen & Fumisen (Richmond BC)

This post is brought to you by baby E, hereafter known as "(e)". (e) is an adorable three month old baby boy of my friend H. Doesn't he look Supercute? I only took a couple photos of him, but he was aware and looking at the camera for most of them.

When I wake up in the morning, I groggily check my email, facebook, and twitter. Yesterday, I logged on to twitter *right* as Jonnek1028 was tweeting about Tenku Bakudanyakis' "new friends", Shoryumen and Fumisen. Literally right after I tweeted back about wanting to visit the Elmbridge parking lot for lunch that day, I opened up a message on facebook from H about the same stalls. I decided then and there that I'd try them for lunch!

Shoryumen and Fumisen, following in the Tenku Bakudanyaki model, are yatai, or mobile food carts selling various hot foods. In this case, Shoryumen is a ramen stop, while Fumisen sells a variety of temaki, or what they call, "gourmet sushi cones".

Since I visited Tenku Bakudanyaki last, they've relocated about 10 meters north, and an inukshuk composed of shipping containers has been erected by the city of Richmond as a welcome to the Olympic tourists visiting the Olympic Oval which is a mere two blocks away.

When I *finally* got to the location (after circling a bit, and doing a couple u-turns on Gilbert road), I was greeted by H and (e) and after glancing around a bit, we entered the stall that is Shoryumen. Being that it was, essentially, a cart, I was impressed how sturdy it was and how the proprietor, Kan Odaka had accomplished a clean look by simple wood grain and black countertop. The intimate environment also allowed us to chat with him while we ordered and ate our ramen.

The customization is what is key in Kan`s budding yatai mura / food stall village. At Shoryumen, you can choose from four soup bases, including Kuro, a soy sauce-based soup, Aka, miso, En, sea salt, or Ton, rich pork stock. In addition to soup base, you may choose from a variety of toppings, including seaweed, bean sprouts, fishcake, egg, bamboo shoots, green onions, pork, corn, butter, cabbage, kimchi, black mushroom, pickled plum, garlic chips, and wild vegetables. Toppits are $1/each or $3 for four toppings. All orders come with seaweed, veggies and green onion; you may order additional noodles, vegetables, or meat for $2 extra.

I ordered the Ton soup base with fish cake and corn, while H ordered an Aka soup base with pork and corn. After learning that take out was available, (e) ordered a Ton ramen to go. You know, he was full from his milk-brunch that he'd had before. ;) Just kidding. (e) ordered it for his daddy!

(e) had the best seat in the house. That kids got VIP schmoozing skills man!

As mobile food carts can create a lot of waste, Shoryumen offers a solution - purchase a reusable bowl for only $2.25, or bring your own bowl in and they will take 50 cents off your order!

As for the ramen? It was done perfectly al dente, and the broth (I can only speak for the Ton) was rich and flavourful. As I stood there finishing my meal (I am one of the slowest eaters evaaar.), I decided that the "butter" topping made perfect sense - adding butter to the Ton soup base would make it decadently rich. Would someone like to accompany me in the near future? :)

H found her Aka soup base very flavourful as well. The pork in both cases was tender and added to the experience.

I cannot express how excited I am that there is an accessible ramen place that I can go to solo without feeling out of place. Yes, I know there are other ramen places in Richmond, but there are huge lineups and waits at those locations for lunch. I hope Shoryumen doesn't get *too* crazy busy in the next bit, I am hoping to make regular visits to satisfy my ramen pangs!

Fumisen is another "customize your meal" yatai.

You start by choosing from a nori / seaweed or soy crepe wrapper, then your rice. There are about eight proteins to choose from, and you can also select two extra "vegetable" toppings and from a selection of four sauces. So by my calculations, that makes for 10368 possible combinations! ...right? Please correct me if I'm wrong - it's been a while since I've done "real" math and although I aced math in high school, I just spent about ten minutes checking my math and I'm not sure I'm right. Help!

Edit: Thanks to Kim, the actual number of combinations available is 4608. Here's a curveball though. Notice how both H & myself got tobiko, apple and avocado? I guess if the chef is happy that day, there will be about 10752 possible combinations?

Here is (e) trying to make up his mind while looking at the Fumisen board. Decisions, decisions...

As Kan had suggested trying the apple topping to add texture and flavour to our sushi cone selection, and to try the soy crepe, we obediently did - on all three orders!

The man pictured above takes down your order (pen and paper - afterall, if anything, I think I pointed out that there are a LOT of combinations, yes?), then washes his hands and starts your order. Afterward, the cones are placed in the plastic holder above.

Pictured above: (1) Soy crepe, salmon rice, unagi, tobiko, apple and avocado with wasabi mayo for H, (2) Soy crepe, sushi rice, crab cake (kamaboko), tobiko, apple and avocado with wasabi mayo for me, and (3) Soy crepe, sushi rice, scallop, topiko, apple, and avocado and wasabi mayo for OH, Hs' hubs. Yes, I know...we're so original that we ordered the exactly same "veggie" toppings. :p It was good though - and although the cones were accompanied with a packet of soy sauce, it was unnecessary as the cones were flavourful enough.

Kan has big plans - plans to open a stall for eating / waiting, a dessert stall, as well as plans to open other yataimura in other locations. And Yum-O-Rama is looking forward to it!

Shoryumen, Fumisen, and Tenku Bakudanyaki

12831 Clarke Pl
Richmond BC
Twitter: @yatainoodles @bakudanyaki

Shoryumen on Urbanspoon Fumisen! on Urbanspoon Tenku Bakudanyaki on Urbanspoon

More photos at my flickr set.
A post in Chinese about Fumisen and Shoryumen at Sweet, I'm learning Chinese by osmosis! :)

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Cristos Taverna (Burnaby BC)

We first discovered Cristos when we first moved to the area over a year and a half ago. I remember being so tired from unpacking our belongings and going out to eat with M. Greek food fit the bill as it would be filling, hearty, and comforting. The bonus was that I'd be able to pack some leftovers home for the next days' lunch!

We've been a number of times since then, when we craved some lamb shank, lamb ribs, moussaka, calamari, or some saganaki. On this documented visit, we were debating between the different platters for two. After consulting with the waitress, who said our choice was "quite large" (- after looking at me!), we sat back and enjoyed the cozy atmosphere. It is typical of Greek restaurants, with tealights, hanging plants, cushions and hung tapestry.

Our saganaki came first - it is a simple dish of pan fried Greek cheese, which is finished at the table by the server who squeezes fresh lemon juice onto the still-sizzling cheese. Traditionally, it is made with Kefalotiri, although a Canadian version is available and is just called "Saganaki" cheese. If you ever make saganaki at home, the authentic stuff is a couple bucks more, but the difference is huge. Splurge for the real stuff!

The saganaki was served with some pita and was perfect - chewy yet gooey, salty cheese flavour perked up by the fresh lemon juice. Love it!

The platter for two included a large Greek salad, tzatziki, pita, meat dolmathes, calamari, chicken souvlaki, roast lamb, rice, and potato. M really enjoyed the lamb (as he always does) and I did as well. It was not gamey; instead, there was a nice roast flavour that went well with the tzatziki and rice. For a change, I enjoyed the chicken souvlaki. I tend to order lamb, lamb ribs, or moussaka at Greek restaurants because I have always found souvlaki to be dry and tasteless. That was not the case here! The chicken was flavourful without being dry.

The calamari, while tender, were an unfortunate miss. Since most of the food came on one platter, the calamari wound up mostly soggy. It was properly cooked, but it would be been extremely beneficial to have it in a separate dish. The dolmathes - small rice and meat packets bundled in edible grape leaves - were tender and well seasoned.

We like Cristos - it holds a kind of nostalgic place in our hearts. And it seems the neighbourhood has spoken; the place was packed on a Tuesday night! It goes to show that when good food and friendly service meet, a successful restaurant results.

Cristos Taverna

4624 Hastings St
Burnaby BC
P: 604-299-0008

Cristos Greek Taverna on Urbanspoon

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Ina Gartens' Banana Crunch Muffins

My cousin sent me an email the other day that made me laugh. It was a woman's response to an poster ad she saw at the gym asking "Do you want to be a whale or a mermaid?" (Link here.) I know, it is a little cheesey but it is cute and makes you think. Yes, with that argument, I'd want to be a whale too.

I think one of the joys of food comes not only with eating, but cooking. For that reason, we hosted a brunch last weekend. While I was looking for some brunch recipes, I came across Ina Gartens' recipe for Banana Crunch Muffins. If there is one food network / food tv star that I love, it is Ina Garten. My aunt became a fan of Ina while she was on maternity leave, and recommended her and her show to me. I've been a fan ever since!

Not only does Ina make great food (every recipe of hers that I've tried has been a winner), but follows the philosophy of being a warm, caring, loving and loved individual. The scenic shots from the Hamptons also help. :)

I love bananas, so I copied down the recipe right away - while I didn't make them for the brunch last week, I did sit down and make them this week. I adapted it a little - no coconut (we are not coconut fans. Except for Bubby Rose's macaroons!), frozen bananas, a combination of half & half and skim milk, and pecans in place of walnuts. I also only made half a recipe as M, although he is getting his sweet tooth back, is a not a muffin man. :)

With the addition of the granola and nuts, these muffins remind me of Thrifty's Trail Mix muffins (they have pepitas, granola, and dried fruit in them!). I love the texture all the mixings give to the muffin, and love how the bananas and whole milk keep the muffin moist and tender.

The amounts and method below yield a "Jessicas dozen" - about 10 to 11 muffins. Yes, I like my muffins puffy!

Ingredients (Halved and adapted from Ina Gartens' recipe)

1 1/2 c all purpose flour
1/2 c white sugar (I lessened the sugar as the bananas and banana chips were sweetened)
1 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1/4 t salt
1/2 c unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 egg
1/4 c skim milk + 2 T half and half (or the same amount of whole milk - we don't use whole milk in this house)
1 t pure vanilla extract
2 bananas (previously frozen, slightly mashed)
1/2 c pecans
1/2 c granola (I used
1/2 c banana chips

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line a medium muffin pan with muffin liners.

In a large bowl, mix together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Make a well in the center and mix in melted and cooled butter. It will be get a little "sandy" - press it together with your fingertips if you have to. The texture will be like wet sand. Try to break apart any large lumps and make a well in the center.

In a separate bowl, beat egg with whole milk, (or skim + half & half like I did), vanilla, and fresh or frozen banana. Add to the flour / butter mixture and mix until just coming together. Fold in granola, banana chips, and pecans.

Fill muffin cups to the top. Top with additional pecans, banana chips, and granola if desired.

Bake for 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into a muffin comes out clean.

These are hearty muffins. Great for when I'm on the go or late for work! Will definately make these again, may incorporate some dried fruit too!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Boathouse (Port Moody, BC)

Can I get a little sentimental in this post? We went to Boathouse as part of a surprise birthday dinner for Izzos' boyfriend. I love him! And Izzo loves me! And the boyfriend loves everyone! haha!

I'm a little sentimental as I have grown up with Iz (she's my cousin, in case you hadn't figured that out :) and I know R (the bf) is very important to her. When I see him and the big fat Portuguese family rounded up, I think how lucky we both are to have such large, supportive, loving families. Yes - every family has its minor tiffs and the oddball or two (or crazy aunts or wierd cousins), but in the end everyone gets along, and whats more, is everyone gets along beautifully.

So, I'm sentimental for the fact that I know Iz is a lucky girl (and R is lucky too!) and that the R family is a wonderful fit. I'm happy for the both of them!

Ahem...on to Boathouse!

The last Boathouse experience I had was in the summer at their White Rock location. There are three levels to the restaurant, with a lower patio area, as well as the rooftop patio on the third floor. We were seated and waited at the rooftop patio for about fifteen minutes with no service, so we went down to the sidewalk patio and waited some more. After about half an hour had expired on our metered parking, we decided to dine elsewhere. The service was a complete fail!

Prior to that, was at the New West location for another birthday. The food was *just* okay. I ordered a sampler of three fish - arctic char, black cod, and tuna, I believe. The black cod was great, the tuna was mediocre, and the char was not great.

So when I heard that R's birthday dinner was going to be at the Boathouse, my expectations were pretty low. Fortunately, however, service was fantastic from the get go; the hostesses promptly seated everyone as they came in. The waitress was friendly and informative.

And the food? We enjoyed it! M and I started with a chilled seafood platter that came with mussels, four oysters, plump cocktail prawns, and my favourite - smoked albacore tuna. It was the yumz. The waitress advised us that this was a smaller sampler than the chilled seafood tower - but it was plenty for us for an appetizer! We'd order this again.

As an aside, the Boathouse also has "Appy hour" seven days a week, from 3-6pm in their bar and heated patio area; oysters are a buck a shuck, and there are also drink and appetizer specials. They also televise all the pay-per-view hockey games. I made a mental note for M to drop by for oysters. :p

For dinner, we had the prime rib. Yes, I know - we had prime rib at the Boathouse. But you know what? We enjoyed it! The prime rib we had at the Boathouse was better than the prime rib we've endured at The Keg. So get that - go to Boathouse for their prime rib instead of The Keg!

We also enjoyed a flight of Tyee white and World Red. The Boathouse offers a trio of wines when you cannot decide what to drink. While I thought the whites were all too "safe" and sweet, they all went beautifully with the chilled seafood and with the complimentary bread. The reds (the shiraz in particular!) went great with the prime rib.

I didn't take too many photos, as it was dark in the restaurant and again, spent more time talking and eating. I did, however, snap a photo of a certain piggy who had too much prime rib...

This would definitely be a Boathouse that I'd visit again - it is scenic and there is little to no outdoor polution when you're on the patio outside. The parking lot CAN be a little tricky to find in the dark, however - you have to go on an overpass to get to it.

Happy Birthday Mr RR! It was a pleasure meeting more of your family.

Boathouse (Port Moody)

2770 Esplanade Ave
Port Moody BC
P: 604-931-5300

Boathouse on Urbanspoon

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Happy Birthday to Yum-O-Rama!

Happy New Year Everyone!
And Happy Birthday to Yum-O-Rama! This blog is officially one year old! It was a year a couple days since I posted about Ocean Club. It was Ronaye's birthday and although the food was inventive, there was a shortage of food since the time also coinceded with the huge dumps of snow we had in the lower mainland last year.

I'd like to say I've been productive and have loads of new posts for you all, but I don't. I've been sitting back and enjoying family and friends - isn't that what life is all about? I've also been sick in the last while. 2009 was a perspective year and it really put my priorities in place. That is, family and friends rank numero uno.

I've used this blog as a conveyance to have more meals with all my loved ones, and to some extent, it worked. But near the end of 2009 it was just time to put the camera away and spend more time eating with the f&f and enjoying their company instead of watching it all through a lens.

And so, if you believe in resolutions, I believe that I'd like to place importance on the relationships and interactions. This blog will still go on, but I'd like to place more of my emphasis on the company rather than on this blog. Hear me? :)

Happy New Year again! Thank you for reading - I *do* have posts on the way!
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