It has been a crazy (crazy) summer, and I can’t believe it has already come to a close. There have not been enough hours in the day for me to do half the things I planned–working on this blog for one. We have been blessed with sunshine, even though we are days into fall. But, as the heat inevitably subsides, so do my stresses. This relief is met with both sadness and anticipation, as I think of early sunsets and the indulgence of celebrations to come.
Although I have been absent from blogging for much longer than is acceptable, I have still been making efforts to document my culinary exploits for sharing here. Today, instead of my usual rant trying to describe every detail of my hiatus, I’ll let the pictures do most of the talking.
The taco that defied time and space at Taqueria Los Jarritos
Not my idea!
‘The Tyler’ from ‘Mom’s Grilled Cheese Truck’ at the Food Cart Fest hosted by The Waldorf
Although I cannot promise that I will be consistently posting my voyages, you can count on it that I am still on my continuing mission to seek out new flavours and new culinary experiences, and to boldly go where no foodie has gone before…
A few weeks ago, Stephanie Yuen invited me to a dinner at one of Vancouver’s newest culinary additions, Kaya Malay Bistro. Kaya has been open for about four months, and despite how the name implies, Kaya serves more than just Malaysian food.
Coincidentally, my parents owned a restaurant on the same block. I remember the countless times my dad would be assessing the number of patrons dining at the Thai restaurant which previously occupied the space that Kaya is currently established in. Now that my parents have long sold the restaurant, it is no longer a criminal offence to dine at the used-to-be-competition (Thank gaaawd!).
I sat with a number of popular Vancouver food bloggers and it seemed that they were reasonably well acquainted with each other while I was the new kid on the blog. After our brief introductions, I was amazed and flattered that some of them had heard about my small corner of the world-wide web. Once everyone finished mingling, we were shown to the second floor dining area for dinner.
Our ten course meal consisted of the following:
Kaya Salad – A romaine lettuce salad topped with roasted potatoes, tofu, cranberries and a peanut mango dressing.
Roti Canai – Not the best I’ve had, but always a welcome appetizer.
Squash & Apple Curry Bisque – This combination of flavours worked together well, and not to mention very seasonal.
Chicken Satay – Very moist. No doubt they utilized thigh meat as opposed to chicken breast. One of the highlights of the dinner.
Crispy Spicy Calamari and Taro Root – An interesting take on the traditional calamari.
Hainanese Chicken Two ways – Served alongside yellow/oil rice (not pictured) I prefered the traditional blanched version to the roasted chicken, but nevertheless they were both very tender and flavourful.
Pan-fried Halibut – Unfortunately, my halibut was overcooked and cold by the time it arrived. However, the sauce was dazzling with sweet onion and ginger that complimented the mild halibut like bubbles to a hot bath.
Grilled Rack of Lamb with Mashed Yam – Reminded me of Rendang beef.
Unfortunately, I neglected to snap a photo of the desert trio on my camera, but you can view my instagram picture here. The dessert trio consisted of a durian pancake, tapioca cup, and a deep fried banana. My favourite was a the tapioca cup because of its mildly sweet flavour and stretchy texture. Durian is a taste I have not yet learned to appreciate…
The chef at Kaya is a real master when it comes to seasoning his dishes and preparing sauces. I think that Kaya has met the standard for the South Asian restaurants which currently occupy Vancouver. However, I didn’t feel that I tried anything I haven’t before–which isn’t a bad thing. All things aside, it was a marathon of a meal and by the end of it, I felt as if my dress was about to split at the seams. But it didn’t!
A few weeks ago, I was in the Fairview area of Vancouver running some errands with a friend and decided it would be a good opportunity to walk down to Cambie for some lunch. The weather had been rather tumultuous, but the sun made an appearance that afternoon, so it was a nice walk. It isn’t often that I stop in that area, so I was lucky enough to be able to visit two restaurants which had been on my list for a while.
La Taqueria has been a front runner in Vancouver’s fast food scene for quite some time, but I had yet to check it out. I keep saying that Vancouver has such a lack of Latin restaurants, and that may be why La Taqueria is so popular (they recently won a Golden Plate Award for best tacos and placed in several other categories). Seats were mostly filled at La Taqueria when I placed my order of 4 tacos: asada (flank beef), de lingua (beef tongue), carnitas (pork confit), and that day’s lamb special.
The tacos were served on brightly colored plastic plates, which looked like they came from patio dining set, but gave the mostly brown looking tacos a good color contrast. Each taco was dripping with meaty goodness, but the asada didn’t taste very different from de lingua because they were both beef. Since everything seemed to have been stewed for a long time, it was more like a thick, meaty stew that was spooned into each soft tortilla, but very well-flavoured. I would’ve liked more onions or tomatoes to lend a fresh and crisp texture to the tender meat.
I was also convinced to buy a horchata, which I had not liked in the past, but wanted to get an authentic Mexican experience. When I’ve had horchata in the past, it was the heavy cinnamon spice flavour which I didn’t find appealing and this it time was no different. Horchata does have a delicate creamy texture that I like and I can probably acquire the taste for the spices after a few more times of trying it.
The four tacos from La Taqueria were a great snack, but hardly an adequate lunch. So, we crossed the street to Marulilu Cafe to continue the gastronomic adventure. Marulilu Cafe serves a mixture of Japanese and North American style dishes in an intimate cafe setting. Although I was tempted to order one of the traditional Japanese style breakfasts, it was way past breakfast hour so I opted for the rice “burgers” instead.
The rice burgers were made with two grilled rice patties and each filled with either sukiyaki or butayaki. My burgers weren’t juicy like the tacos, but were still very moist and flavourful. The rice “buns” had a delicate crisp on the tops from the grilling, but were still very delicate and crumbled if I pressed down on them too hard. A simple miso soup came with the burgers, and I was pleasantly surprised when I took my first sip. Although their miso soup had the same basic ingredients as every other place, it was richer and more flavourful than most restaurants.
Sharing the plate with the burgers was a simple salad of lettuce and tomatoes tossed in a thin dressing. I usually think of side salads as a garnish because most places don’t put much effort into them. But, the dressing on the side salad at Marililu made thoughts of summertime barbeques come to mind and I finished every last shred of lettuce on the plate.
Both restaurants, while very different from one another, had great fast food options at reasonable prices. La Taqueria had a very simple menu with lots of different variations on the one dish that they specialize in. On the other hand, Marililu had a very large menu, and I’m not even sure if they had a full kitchen to cook in, but they still made a delicious meal for me. These two restaurants were definitely the highlight of my afternoon. I am looking forward to summer when there are more days when the sun shines down on me as I eat from place to place.
When the Dealfind advertisement popped into my inbox last year I jumped at the chance at buying their two for one high tea offer from The Fairmont. It turns out that so did eleven thousand other people. Naturally, when I waited and waited to make a reservation, it was pretty difficult to actually get a one. It wasn’t until the day before my coupon expired that I actually had the opportunity (and the reservation) to redeem my coupon with a friend.
High tea at The Fairmont is held at The Castle, a restaurant behind 900 West Lounge. The room was decorated in the same fashion one might expect a room at Buckingham Palace to be–upholstered wooden chairs, patterned carpets, crisp white linens, and delicate china, but without any British accents or nose in the air attitude. We were seated at our table which had cream and sugar already waiting in silver containers, and left to make our tea selection. It didn’t take very long to for me to decide on ‘maple maple’ as my tea since the list of tea was short by comparison to other tea parlours in the city.
The silver tea and cream containers met their matching tea pots when they were shortly brought to the table. Sitting prim and proper, the tea steeped while dainty finger sandwiches, pastries, devonshire cream, and tiny pots of strawberry jam joined the party moments after. Once the tea finished steeping, I added a teaspoon of the sugar crystals and a splash of cream from the refined silverware and took a sip.
Subtle aromatic flavours punctuated by the woody sweetness of the tea told me the story of its Sri Lankan origin. I began working my way through the tower of pastries, beginning with the finger sandwiches on the bottom tier. The most notable savoury pastry was the curry chicken salad on a slice of French baguette because it complimented my tea best. Next were the sweet pastries consisting of lemon tarts, chocolate cupcakes, eclairs, and raisin scones–each more charming than the next. There were enough scones for both of us to have two, but we were so numb from the sugar that neither of us were able to finish a second.
After sitting for a while longer, we summoned our server and requested that they do away with the remnants and bring us our cheque (because we were approaching our allowed seating time). Fully satiated and quenched, we headed towards the car, but stopped to view some Canstruction. When I got home I realized I was feeling sick from all the caffeine I ingested from the tea and the sugar in the pastries. Eventually the headache passed and I thought fondly of my afternoon high tea once again.
On Wednesday night I was one of a handful of people to attend a one-night-only pop-up restaurant hosted by Bob Blumer, an event which promoted his upcoming new series, ‘World’s Weirdest Restaurants‘. In his new series (premiering April 4, 2012 on The Food Network) viewers will be able to watch along as Bob dines in restaurants with rather strange and unique concepts in various countries across the globe.
Table settings at World's Weirdest Pop Up - TP, Blindfolds, and Clown Noses
The pop-up restaurant was set in the Tiki Bar (it was very dark, thus the poor photos) at the Waldorf Hotel in Vancouver’s Eastside, and event-goers were flashing their tickets and gleaming with excitement. I attended the early seating at six o’clock because the later seating was completely sold out by the time I learned about it. Once everyone was seated at their tables, Bob appeared and began showing us brief clips of himself on his escapades followed by a dinner course to emulate his experience.
'Monkey see, Monkey Do'
The first of four courses began with Bob recalling his experience at Kayabukiya, an izakaya in Japan where the waiters are monkeys, and his take on their izakaya style chicken karaage. Before everyone wents paws first into their meal, we heard several loud monkey screeches. No, there weren’t any monkeys, it was just Bob appearing in a monkey suit serving everyone a glass of beer. Unfortunately, I have yet to acquire the taste for beer. However, the karaage was my favourite course of the entire event because it had a crisp shell and came with a dipping sauce, which was delicately flavoured with ginger and mirin.
Here’s a Youtube video about the monkeys at Kayabukiya from three years ago:
Something I wanted to try for a long time was incorporated into our second course: dining in the dark. Although we weren’t dining in the dark, we were provided with blindfolds to achieve the same effect. For some reason, being blindfolded in a public place always makes people feel apprehensive, even when they’re perfectly safe. The quiet murmur in the room suddenly graduated to loud chatter, as if people were talking louder to compensate for the lack of sight (strange that the outcome was opposite to what one might think). Plates were placed before us, and we were instructed to carefully feel around for a small bowl and two Chinese soup soups containing two different kinds of croquettes and a cold vegan soup. One of my croquettes actually had a piece of paper in it, which I’m pretty sure was unintentional, but did add another sensory element to my plate. Not being able to see what I was eating definitely made it very difficult to decipher the flavours.
'Ling Cod a la John'
Our third course, the one I had been expecting, was a tomato based stew topped with ling cod served from a toilet bowl. Upon tasting the dish, I didn’t detect any fecal aftertaste, so I am quite certain that the toilet bowl was new and fully sanitized before they used it for service.
Would you like a floater or a sinker?
Our last course was a take on the infamously addictive maple bacon doughnuts at Voodoo Doughnut. In my opinion, this joint doesn’t exactly classify as ‘weird’ as it does ‘creative’. But, there was a clip of Bob at the restaurant during a wedding ceremony, so I guess that’s a little strange. This is when we had to put on our clown noses. Not for any reason than to look silly and stupid–like the people in the video clip acted. The doughnuts were probably my least favourite course that night because the chef’s interpretation of a doughnut was a bit of a stretch. The texture didn’t resemble any doughnut I’ve ever had and the bacon flavour wasn’t very prominent. Completely different to the one from Voodoo.
'Glazed and Confused'
Me, Bob Blumer, and My Sister
The dishes that night certainly had its highs and lows, but aside from the food everyone was certainly entertained. When Bob was up at the plate to entertain, he certainly had a knack for charming the audience. I felt a little guilty when I asked to take a picture with him and interrupted his dinner (I didn’t realize he was eating when I tapped him on the shoulder). But, I guess someone of his status has to expect those kinds of annoyances, especially if he’s the one hosting an event. I’ve set my PVR to record Bob’s new series to find out if my face made it the small screen–and to find out about all those weird restaurants, of course…
On Monday night, I had the privilege of attending Dining Out For Life, an event hosted by Fred Lee, and dined with the who’s who from different organizations in Vancouver. My aunt happens to work with Fred Lee, CBC Radio One and the Vancouver Courier’s ‘Man About Town’, so I attended the event as my aunt’s plus one. Fred isn’t able to attend Dining Out For Life on Thursday with the rest of Vancouver but still wanted to contribute to the cause, which is why he organized an early edition of the event. Dining Out For Life is an event when local restaurants contribute 25% of their sales to A Loving Spoonful and Friends For Life, two organizations which provide support to people affected by AIDS/HIV. This year, over 200 restaurants are participating in this event, including Society Dining Lounge, where Monday’s dinner was held (some photos on Fred’s Facebook Album).
*Sorry for the poor photos–Dim lighting situation.
Cotton Candy Whisically Floated Above the Table Settings
The evening began with cocktails and plenty of mingling, which was a little awkward for me since I didn’t know anybody in the entire restaurant except for my aunt. But, I met plenty of new people on Monday night, most of whom I vaguely remember the names of (forgive me), and received countless restaurant recommendations and tips for this blog. One person who I did spot from across the room was Stephanie Yuen, who some of you might be familiar with from her work on the radio, published works, or my book giveaway. Stephanie and I briefly chatted about her book and she also introduced me to her husband, Henry.
Shortly after we were all in our seats, we ordered from the prix fixe menu which had the option of two or three courses. I ordered the surprisingly large tomato soup, which was served with miniature grilled cheese, as my appetizer. I generally do not like prix fix menus because I find that the quality of the food suffers tremendously. However, the kitchen and wait staff at Society were able to serve the entire restaurant at the same time without any salmon drying out or overcooking any steaks. To say the least, the diners at my table and I were thoroughly impressed and thoroughly smacking our lips.
Desert: Crumbled Black Forest Cake
Since it was my first time attending such an event, it was a bit intimidating to try to socialize with such an elite crowd. After getting to know many of them, it was nice to learn that even though we may all be from different walks of life we can make a significant difference in the lives of those in need by sharing in a common enthusiasm for indulgence.
This past weekend I went to Whistler for a double birthday and make my worldwide snowboarding premiere. It was my cousins’ birthdays and my aunt had planned the entire trip, from accommodations to meals, and all the snacks in between. We headed up Friday night, and I had mentally prepared myself for the pain that I knew was going to come as a result of my trials and errors after errors of trying to conquer the mountain. In addition to my mental discipline, I had a secret defense strategy: knee pads.
Saturday morning, we rode the gondola from Whistler Village to the stop at Roundhouse Lodge (oblivious to the food court and restaurants on the slopes), and from there on it was a downhill battle. As my uncle put it, I tumbled down the mountain for the entire morning. My cousins, one barely old enough to get a driver’s license and the other who can still order off the kids menu, lapped me twice that morning. Other kids who looked like they were fresh out of Pull-Ups were flying past me like I was part of the scenery.
When I got to the last slope before reaching the upper village my legs became unresponsive and it was as if my body was an anvil each time I tried to pick myself up after plunging into the snow. Halfway down that slope I swear, I could smell the aromas of a thick glossy brown gravy stirring up in a pot, but my legs didn’t think that the smell or the thought of concrete were motivating enough to comply. For the final metres of the slope, I had to walk down, with legs that felt just about as sturdy as Twizzlers, because the path was getting too narrow and I became a magnet for the trees on my right side. My very first run was finally finished, and the mountain had me wiped like used toilet paper just in time for lunch which my aunt had prepared back at our rental condo.
Lunch was pork congee, three different kinds of fried noodles, and seafood patties. Very homestyle. Very comforting.
After lunch was a hot, hot, shower followed with a power nap before exploring Whistler Village. The Village had lots of shopping and a fury of restaurants for mountain-goers to dine at, including a booming new gourmet hot dog joint, Dinky Dawgs. Dinky Dawgs was one of the first places that drew our attention on our walk, so we didn’t immediately place our orders. But after making our rounds in the village we got back to Dinky Dawgs just in time before they ended their daily promotional happy hour (4pm-5pm), when all dawgs are $5.00 each.
Saw the cutest egg server ever in one of The Village shops.
I found out that international globetrotter, Duran (visit his blog here), opened Dinky Dawgs less than two months ago and is working on opening Vancouver location along with locations in three other cities. Duran was the type of guy who posesses enough charisma and energy to rival Justin Bieber and dilithum crystals combined. He has plenty of enthusiasm for his business and the organic hot dogs he serves, which you can top with just about anything under the sun. We ordered two separate dawgs which included macaroni & cheese, truffle oil, nori, and croutons as the toppings. We weren`t adventurous enough to top our dawgs with caviar, marshmallows, or the St. Patty`s special: Lucky Charms, but according to Duran one such braveheart named Kirby has ordered several dawgs with everything on it. Our dinner rezos were less than two hours away, so we only allowed ourselves to have one bite each–just enough to avoid food regret.
It had been years since I visited Whistler, and it was nowhere near as bustling last time as it was this past weekend. We were all very lucky to have my aunt plan and organize everything for the family. She doesn`t miss a beat. Although my first time snowboarding left me stiff and strained, the pain I feel is gives me a sense of gratification knowing that I pushed myself. Sure, my time was spent tangling myself in my own demise, but it was time spent working up my appetite. Perhaps I am not ready for the challenge of Whistler, but I hope I can one day go back and triumph it`s slopes with both a board and my stomach.
Today’s date can be marked as March 14 or 3.14, which is the official day for the mathematical symbol π (pi). In light of this mathematically significant day, I decided I would honor it by baking (what else of course?) a pie. Waitress, my favourite movie, just so happens to have a plethora of pie ideas to choose from, and I have seen it too many times not to try to bake one of them.
Jenna, the main character in the movie is (surprise, surprise) a waitress at a pie diner, and she is also the person who bakes and creates the pies. Throughout the movie she mentally bakes pies with unique combinations of ingredients and gives them names to reflect her mood. The pie that I chose to make was ‘Lonely Chicago Pie’, made up of blackberries and chocolate. There is a DVD set that comes with recipes for some of the pies she creates, but I sadly do not have that set. Instead, I put my thinking cap on and created this recipe:
Lonely Chicago Pie (Inspired by the movie Waitress)
Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly mash berries in a small bowl with a pestle or the back of a spoon. Mix thoroughly with 2 Tbsp flour and set aside.
In a small saucepan, mix together cocoa, remaining flour, salt, and dark chocolate. Add condensed milk, yolks, butter, and vanilla, then heat over medium low while stirring constantly.
Once the butter has completely melted, pour chocolate mixture into pie shell followed by berri es. With a spoon, carefully blend the berries and the chocolate together making sure not to scrape the raw pastry.
Bake for 40-50 minutes or until the chocolate has centre has set. The mixture will still be slightly wobbly. Cool completely and refrigerate for at least 4 hours before serving.
Before making ‘Lonely Chicago Pie’, I watched and studied what Jenna did and added to the her pie to try to emulate her as closely as possible. Jenna may have been a pie genius, but her pie baking methodology would not hold up without the magic of movie making, unless there was something I missed. In the movie, ‘Lonely Chicago Pie’ is made by sprinkling brown sugar into the base of an unbaked pastry shell and topped with melted chocolate and mashed blackberries. I wasn’t about to make a pie that was filled with straight melted chocolate–it would just turn out to be one big chocolate puck!
Even though I don’t agree with some of Jenna’s methods, my mouth still waters every time I watch Waitress. This pie was sweet and velvety with a juicy burst of berries in every few bites. I never was a very good at it, but math sure can be delicious sometimes.
On Friday, it was almost midnight and I had a slight itch for something sweet. I thought about baking something rich and chocolatey, but it would’ve been a while before I would be able sink my teeth into it. The ‘5-Minute Chocolate Cake’ recipe which is ever so popular in the blogosphere was one I had yet to try. I was very skeptical about a cake “baked” in a microwave, and that was the main reason I hadn’t tried it. But this time I couldn’t be bothered to bake a whole batch of something, and after looking at some recipes I really needed a dessert. Bad.
Okay, so not exactly a looker. In fact, it looks like a creature from the black lagoon walked through the snow and showed up for dessert, but let’s get past all the superficial details. I would say that the flavour of the cake was better than most cake mixes, even though it was a bit sweet. I feared that it would’ve turned out very gluey and wet, but the cake was neither wet nor dry. What it was lacking was in the structure. It had rather large pockets of air (as it is clearly shown in the photo above) and was rather dense in some areas where a traditionally baked cake would have a fine and light texture throughout. The centre of this cake was dry and hard, due to overcooking, but this was something that is likely to be solved by adjusting the cooking time.
Whoever invented this recipe was either very smart or very desperate. Overall, I think this is a great recipe for anyone who is in a predicament such as I was, but I wouldn’t serve it to The Queen or The Pope if they show up at my house for an impromptu dinner. It was good enough to say that I would make it again with a few minor adjustments. But, a glass of milk or a scoop of ice cream is an absolute necessity to serve alongside this recipe.
5-Minute Chocolate Cake
Makes 1 Cake
4 Tbsp Flour
4 Tbsp Sugar
2 Tbsp Unsweetened Cocoa Powder (I used Dutch Processed Cocoa)
Pinch of Salt
2 Tbsp Egg, Beaten
3 Tbsp Milk
3 Tbsp Oil (I used Butter)
3 Tbsp Chocolate Chips
Splash of vanilla
In a mug, combine dry ingredients followed by egg, milk, and oil/butter.
Add chocolate chips, and vanilla and mix together.
Microwave on high for two and a half to three minutes on high.
Yesterday was International Women’s Day, an occasion which has been observed since the early 20th century. On this day, rights and achievements won by courageous women are commended. If women did not have the courage to fight the right to vote or become a part of the work force, the world would not be what it is today.
The night before, I watched a rerun of No Reservations, and in the episode Anthony Bourdain goes to Saudi Arabia, a country whose views on gender equality has been highly criticized. Danya, Anthony’s guide in Saudi Arabia, has made a great achievement in her own right. Even though she owns the first Saudi company allowed to be owned without a male business partner, she views women’s rights in Saudi Arabia as laws which help protect and emphasize the importance of women and families.
Although the episode only painted part of the picture, it seemed to me that the restrictions imposed upon women are generally accepted and aren’t as controversial as they would be in the western world today. I am sure there are those in Saudi Arabia who oppose prohibitions such as women being able to drive or exposing more than her hands and face, but there may be more important rights to fight for such as independence and guardianship of their children. In 2015, women in Saudi Arabian will be allowed to vote and run in their municipal elections, and that is something to celebrate.
I was looking at women’s magazines from the early 20th century, when the issues that women were concerned about were not entirely different from those of the modern world. Women were concerned about how they looked, what their families ate, and how they should raise their children. During that time however, the home and family were viewed as a woman’s priority. Although the cliché of women in the role of the homemaker is still commonplace, our responsibilities have extended beyond the home and into the workplace.
We in the western world are not perfect, and it is not my intention to condemn the beliefs of other cultures or nations, but we have certainly come a long way in the last 100 years. When I compare my the attitudes and rights women in Canada have today to those in the Middle East or from a century ago, I think I do take most things for granted, and I am grateful for being privileged enough to do so.
Back in January, there were some eggs in the fridge that were about to expire. Although I don’t often eat them, I do like salted eggs, which is why I took the opportunity to make them. Making them was no more difficult than online shopping, and most recipes are fairly similar. The recipe I followed said it would take a month for them to brine, but I found it took no more than two weeks.
Star Anise and Schezuan Peppercorns
The only thing I’ve made with them so far is a clay pot rice with chicken and mushrooms. My favourite thing about clay pot rice is the crispy browned layer of rice that gets stuck to the bottom of the pot. The egg tasted just like store bought, and since there’s always a fear about what chemicals are being put into imported foods, I would make them again. The only problem is that I would have to plan really far in advance if I wanted to eat them and didn’t have any pre-made.
On my mini excursion to Washington State, I made it to all the stops I had outlined for myself to buy groceries. A small group of us went to Trader Joe’s, Costco, Fred Meyer, and a Walmart Supercentre.
We drove an extra half hour into Burlington to avoid the weekend Canadian stockpilers that hijack every grocery cart in Bellingham. Which is why we were surprised to see so many Chinese shoppers at the Burlington Costco, until we realized that it was a shopping destination on a bus tour. Most of the participants on the tour were part of the Geriatric Triad, and went armed with their own thermos’ of refreshments and purses filled with familiar foods.
We wanted to stop by Krispy Kreme and were hoping the ‘light’ would be on. Not only was the light not on at Krispy Kreme, but the location had permanently closed altogether. I remember how fanatic I was before they opened in Canada, making midnight runs to Burlington for donuts. You’d have thought they put crack in the dough by the way people acted, myself included. I hope the Krispy Kreme on our side of the border doesn’t go belly up too, but I might be a good idea for me to make a visit soon.
We didn’t finish shopping until 7:30 that night, and we decided to head back into Richmond for Dinner. We wanted to go to Nan Chuu, but I couldn’t remember exactly where it was on the Alexandra Road. I thought another restaurant had taken over Nan Chuu, but after reading up on Urbanspoon, that isn’t the case. Instead we visited Take Sento, another izakaya restaurant.
Everything we ate at Take Sento was fresh and was prepared with care, but there were a few things that detracted from the izakaya atmostphere. The most apparent attribute were the Chinese staff who were speaking in Cantonese and Mandarin. Another thing I noticed was the absence of the shouts that izakaya staff greet you with upon entering their establishments. One final observation was the spacious seating, not that I’m complaining, but I’m used to knocking elbows with the stranger next to me– it’s kinda what it’s all about. These characteristics listed may be more appealing to those who want to try izakaya food, but forgo the loud atmosphere and “cozy” seating. If your primary language is Cantonese or Mandarin, Take Sento may also make you feel more at home.
I’m relieved to know that Nan Chuu hasn’t sold their business to someone who is trying to duplicate the izakaya experience, but Take Sento really hit the spot after a long day of shopping. I would’ve also been happy to explore the restaurant scene in Bellingham, but now I only have reason to make another trip south.
For me, the most enjoyable part of travelling is sampling local flavours and cuisine because I think it is the best way to immerse myself in the culture of wherever I’m going. Before I return home, I search high and low for local cookbooks to bring home, instead of key chains or flattened pennies, so that I can eat myself back into the memories of my vacation. There are also cookbooks in my possession from continents I have never set foot on, and that’s where I have to fill in the gaps with my imagination.
Although I love to globe-trot and taste new exotic foods, I have always come to the conclusion that there is no place like home. Vancouver has been voted one of the most livable cities, and it’s no wonder with our picturesque scenery, fresh air, and mild weather. But, let’s not forget what I think are the most attractive aspects of the city: the food and culture.
Local veteran foodie Stephanie Yuen, who has the titles of publisher, editor, blogger, food, wine & travel writer on her resume has written East Meets West, a cookbook that paints the culinary canvas of Vancouver. (Find out more about Stephanie Yuen and her new book on her blog here)
“The first book of its kind, East Meets West is a celebration of the city’s Asian food and a mouthwatering compilation of distinctive dishes from its most talented—but often unheralded—kitchens. Veteran food writer Stephanie Yuen brings together a collection of recipes showcasing both traditional Asian foods made with fresh ingredients from the Pacific Northwest Coast and modern classics inspired by Asian flavours and techniques.
With an introduction to the history of Asian food in Vancouver, and profiles of the city’s most exciting eateries — many of them hidden gems, elusive to the uninitiated — East Meets West is a delicious glimpse into one of the most complex and fascinating culinary landscapes in the world.”
I will be giving away a copy of East Meets West to one lucky reader. To enter for your chance to win, all you have to do is tell me about a dish you’ve eaten which you think represents a place you have travelled to or the place you live and where it is from in the comment box below. Additional entries will be given if you ‘Like’ my Facebook page or tweet the following message:
I shared my foodie wisdom with @foodieonthe49th 2 win East Meets West Book by #beyondchopsticks @ http://wp.me/p1I6KW-mr U can enter 2 win 2!
The deadline for entry is March 31, 2012, and the official release date isn’t until April 20, 2012, but Stephanie Yuen has provided me with a copy of East Meets West so that the blessed winner will be able to giddily thumb through the pages of the book before any other foodie will.