Monday, October 26, 2015

Red Robin #NameThatChicken

We need your help! Name the new Finest Chicken Burger. If the name you submit WINS, you and a friend will EAT FREE FOR A YEAR.

An all-natural, 7-oz. fire-grilled chicken breast over arugula, covered with Gouda cheese and peppered bacon on an artisan telera bun spread with oven-roasted tomato aioli.

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Contest ends 12/27/15. For Official Rules, how to enter without making a purchase and how to enter, visit www.redrobin.com/namethatchicken.

2015-Oct Red Robin name that chicken

Taste of Yaletown 2015 - Minami

Minami Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato We were warned that the portions for Minami's Taste of Yaletown 2015 were going to be small, but fortunately that turned out to actually not be the case. They aren't huge either, but unless you are a really big eater, you will probably leave satisfied but not feeling too full. And there's a tricky workaround as well -- read on.
I ordered the vegetarian option because I knew no one else would, so my experience of the "normal" Taste of Yaletown menu is limited.

2015-Oct-25 Minami TOY-2015 - menu

Garden Trio
  • Soy Paper Quinoa-Avocado roll was horridly bland and boring. Tasted like avocado with rice. Which it mainly was. And you got four pieces of this. Was I supposed to pair it in the same bite with the tomato-with-pesto? Honestly those "fresh market vegetables" stood out better.
  • Okra. Yuck for their sliminess once you start chewing -- BUT before you set them aside, there's a brown strip of sharp and slightly spicy-hot sauce that really helps with the flavour and makes it almost tasty.
  • Miso-Tofu Sansai Gyoza with moromi miso-haricot vert relish was terribly bland were it not for the relish.
  • Most of the vinaigrette in the Kaiso Salad found its way to the bottom, so you may want to periodically toss it on your plate so you don't get too much vinaigrette near the end and not enough at the beginning. Other than that, it was actually a fairly refreshing salad with a nice tang to it from the vinaigrette combined with a slight sea water flavour from the fun, crunchy, seaweed.
  • Overall I felt this was a very weak plate and disappointing except for the salad.
  • Note the single sprig of flowers.
2015-Oct-25 Minami TOY-2015 - Garden Trio

Appetizer Trio
  • Aburi Sushi Sampler - Isolate some of the rice to taste and you will find even the rice all on its own is pretty tasty. Eat your sushi very slowly, in two bites if you can. It's tasty and goes quickly as you have very little, so savour it mindfully. 
  • Not too much meat on that duck drumstick, so I passed on trying it. Looked super crispy, though.
2015-Oct-25 Minami TOY-2015 - Appetizer Trio

Crispy Tempeh
  • You may have bought marinated tempeh slices from Save-on-Foods or something, leading you to think this stuff is too sour to be tasty. The deep fried tempeh here is totally different -- rather bland rather than off-puttingly sour.
  • Big plate of filling carbs (see second picture below for comparison with the regulation length chopsticks). So, if you are actually worried about the total serving size of Minami's $45 meat-and-fish Taste of Yaletown menu, something you could do is for one of your party to get the vegetarian menu and share the carbs. Alternatively, if you are a party of 3-4, you could order an extra vegetarian TOY menu just for the added filling carbs.
  • Tasty sauces here make all the difference; would otherwise be a boring plate of empty carbs.
  • Not enough aburi corn and bell pepper salsa to really have a good taste or make a difference here, sadly.

2015-Oct-25 Minami TOY-2015 - Crispy Tempeh 1

2015-Oct-25 Minami TOY-2015 - Crispy Tempeh 2

Surf and Turf
  • Sablefish slightly on the raw side, but so tender and buttery and pretty tasty.
  • "Crispy" kakuni pork belly nowhere crispy. Fail.
  • Pork cheek was really, really, tender.
  • Presentation made it look so tiny!
2015-Oct-25 Minami TOY-2015 - Surf and Turf

Mixed Berry Sakekasu Bar
  • Didn't identify anything clearly sake-like in the bar. Tasted more fruity than anything.
  • Ice cream scoop has two parts -- a sorbet-like reddish part, and a sake-tasting-but-without-being-too-strong white ice cream part that was an interesting flavour.
  • Salted caramel sauce was hard to pair as it gummed up on your spoon.
  • Overall, this dessert was okay, with bonus points for the interesting ice cream.
2015-Oct-25 Minami TOY-2015 - Mixed Berry Sakekasu Bar

Value for money at $35 or $45 for Minami's Taste of Yaletown menu is actually pretty good considering you are also paying for Yaletown location and ambiance. Just the complexity of the pie-plus-special-ice-cream dessert is probably worth $8-$10. As for the rest, you couldn't put that much sampling together for the price point were it not for the Taste of Yaletown mass production.

Salmon Oshi Bites ($16) fusion of specialty salmon oshi topped with spot prawn, bincho, Hokkaido scallop, and wild boar bacon
  • NOT part of the Taste of Yaletown 2015 menu.
  • Despite sounding like a really overloaded bite, what you actually get is four pieces of thinly sliced salmon on rice. Each of the four pieces is topped with ONE of the items listed: spot prawn, bincho (white tuna?), etcetera.
  • Sounded interesting as a starter and I thought I'd start our table with something while waiting for everyone to arrive. At $4 per piece, this is pretty darned pricey. How about skipping the token salad and slimy-in-your-mouth okra and giving me another piece of sushi?
2015-Oct-25 Minami - Salmon Oshi Bites

I took pictures this time for two main reasons: First, someone else at the table was also taking pictures. Second, it was actually quite hard getting the attention of our server in the busy back part of the restaurant, so I'm pretty sure no one was paying attention.

TIP: If you are sitting in the rear of the restaurant, watch out for the low-hanging cylindrical lamps!


2015-Oct-25 Minami - low lamp - don't hit your head

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Tega Organic Teas - Lemon Hibiscus Green Rooibos

The latest sample from SocialNature came in the mail yesterday: Tega Organic Tea, Lemon Hibiscus Green Rooibos flavour.

Lured by the promise of a "crisp and tangy lemon blend" (as stated on the box), I was disappointed that the lemon flavour seemed quite weak on the first 1-cup steeping. I'm not expecting a lemonade, but definitely something stronger to qualify as "crisp" or "tangy".

Caveats:
  • My expectations were set really high by the ad copy promising "crisp" and "tangy".
  • Could have been a fluke weak batch.
  • One flavour should not damn an entire brand. Try something else. Apparently there are good reviews of their breakfast teas. Check out their average 4.5 star reviews on SocialNature.
As teas go, it's okay. As lemon teas go, it's okay. It further distinguishes itself from "just tea" with its certified organic ingredients, so I feel that's the main reason to purchase Tega.
Online pricing is $6.99 for a single box of 18, or almost 40 cents per packet. There is a loyalty point system and a $5 rebate on your first order.

The certified organic ingredients are green rooibos (naturally caffeine free), lemongrass, lemon peel, lemon myrtle, hibiscus, Meyer lemon flavour. It is interesting to note about rooibos that it is naturally caffeine free, and the "green rooibos" is unoxidized / unfermented rooibos, and "the more demanding production process for green rooibos (similar to the method by which green tea is produced) makes it more expensive than traditional rooibos".

As an aside, I was also disappointed by how much empty space was in the box. Not exactly over-packaged, but it still seemed a bit wasteful.

Tega Organic Tea - Lemon Hibiscus Green Rooibos 7

Tega Organic Tea - Lemon Hibiscus Green Rooibos 6

Tega Organic Tea - Lemon Hibiscus Green Rooibos 5

Tega Organic Tea - Lemon Hibiscus Green Rooibos 4

Tega Organic Tea - Lemon Hibiscus Green Rooibos 3

Getting around Fable's family dining

Fable Kitchen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Last year our dining group wanted to try Fable Kitchen and it turned out that for larger tables, they enforce a group menu with "served family style" elements.
It's still the same. I had totally forgotten about it, and when I tried to expand our reservation from 6 to 8, I got "the e-mail":
Parties of over 6 guests usually dine on our four course group menu (attached) so our small kitchen can run smoothly. It is $45/person plus tax & 18% gratuity. This is a great menu for parties, as it decreases time looking over menu options and makes for more time to socialize! The menu is personal salad to start, family style appetizers from our popular choices, choice from four of our most popular entrees, and dessert served family style. This is a great menu to sample through all of our most popular items. Menu items do change as seasonal product does, and I know that Chef may well make changes, but the 'bones' of it will remain the same.  We have served this menu a number of times now, to rave reviews. We have no problem accommodating any special requests or dietary restrictions for any of your guests, please let us know of any of these in advance.

We take a $10 per person deposit to hold the seats. If all guests reserved for arrive the night of, or we receive at least 48 hours notice of a change in the numbers, the full deposit will be applied to your bill the night of your reservation. (Or refunded to you the night of if that is preferred.) Please don't be afraid to forward any questions or special requests!

If [friend's name]'s party would prefer to dine off of our regular menu, we could have you in earlier at 6:00 but the entrée and appetizer order must be placed at the same time.

I look forward to hearing back from you!
Notable extra information this time include:
  • $10 per person deposit. You get it back if ALL reserved guests show. So no-shows will cost you $10 a butt (since they're obviously a-holes to no-show on you).
  • No more family style 3-course $50 per person platter option (or at least not offered up front).
More importantly, there is a workaround -- seating by 6pm AND ordering entrée and appetizer at the same time.

I replied to the e-mail saying that our dining group typically likes to share our food anyway and wouldn't mind orders not hitting the table all at once, but did not get a reply by the time of this blog posting.

UPDATE: Shortly after posting the same information on Yelp, this comment was added by Fable to my Yelp post:
10/25/2015 Thanks for helping to provide this information for larger groups!  Response to large group requests depend on the date & time requested, the number of people and what the room looks like on that particular night.  Besides some basic necessities for groups that keep the kitchen running smoothly, we are not a corporate entity so have the flexibility to look at each request singularly and respond to the situation.  The family style group menu remains available, even for groups as small as four, but again depends entirely on the request details vs what is happening in Fable at the time.  This is a good general guideline, but I always recommend contacting us to communicate the details and get an accurate picture of what we can do for the group.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Late night bites at ShuRaku Sake Bar & Bistro

ShuRaku Sake Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato Dropped by ShuRaku Friday night after Nordstrom closed on me at a ridiculously early 9pm. Although ShuRaku looked empty from the outside, it was surprisingly busy inside, especially for after 9pm.

I think our server was a manager or something because I later saw her giving instructions to another server. In any case, all staff seemed very attentive and prompt to help or execute requests.

I was there with a friend just for a late-night snack and we ordered just three things.

Ei-Hire ($4.50) Dried and barbecued sting ray fin
  • This was on the special menu of the day, not in the regular menu.
  • Winner! This turned out to be very thin slices of fish. Slightly sweet, not very fishy. Chewy but not insanely so. Strangely tasty because of the mild sweetness and fun to eat because of the chewiness.
  • Net portion of maybe a half cup is less than appetizer-sized. Still, worth a try.
Chopped Scallop Maki Sushi ($4.95) With tobiko (fish roe) and mayo
  • Really boring. You get exactly what you ordered--diced raw scallop in some kind of sauce, a sprinkle of fish roe, and rolled in sushi rice. Quite a lot of sushi rice actually. About half the inside of the sushi roll was rice.
  • Boring tasting unless you like raw scallop I guess. But it's a “normal” non-premium roll so what can you really expect?
Ebi-Mozza Harumaki ($6.50) エビチーズ春巻き Deep-fried spring roll with shrimp, mozzarella cheese, and shiitake mushrooms. Served with chili aurora sauce.
  • Turned out surprisingly boring. Mostly I tasted mozzarella although I could clearly locate shrimp and diced mushroom.
  • The sweet aurora sauce with which it had been drizzled was really decent though, and helped make the bed of deep fried vermicelli more palatable.
  • If you order this be sure to get a spoon to help with the noodles.
Genmai Tea ($2.80)
  • Small pot with possibly unlimited refills of hot water.  When we both asked for tea, instead of bringing another pot she simply brought another cup to share the pot, resulting in only a single order of tea on the bill. Nice!
Bonus points for service (or maybe more properly, our server). Some servers speak fluent English (heck, one of the guys was caucasian), unlike some sushi places where everyone's so Japanese that sometimes it's like they were imported fresh to cater to the local Japanese populace, and therefore have a frustrating level of ESL.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Enter to win a $2000 Gift Card usable at Save-on-Foods

Just got this in my inbox today from Overwaitea Food Group: "Win a $2,000 Gift Card from our Grocery Partners!" -- apparently including Save-On-Foods, Overwaitea Foods, PriceSmart Foods, and Cooper's Foods.

2015-Oct-22 Overwaitea gift card draw

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Ginsu 2000 at Dynasty Seafood Restaurant

Dynasty Seafood Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato I'd been to Dynasty Seafood Restaurant earlier this year (and you can see Vanbrosia's excellent review and pictures) and didn't think I'd be back quite so soon, but just this weekend a friend from China told me about "steamed buns with runny egg", that was apparently a staple of dim sum.
I don't go to dim sum very often, so I'd honestly never heard of it. In my mind, I thought it might be like xiao long bao, but with some tasty soft-boiled egg inside, or something like that. Another friend was regaling me with tales of how you have to carefully nibble it instead of chomping down and having all that tasty yolk explode everywhere. Sounded like great fun! So we resolved to and Dynasty Seafood Restaurant got picked.

Turned out "Steamed Bun with Egg Yolk" wasn't quite as interesting as I imagined. It's a smallish steamed bun, each about half the size of a tennis ball. The "egg yolk" part looked like oily melted cheddar and tasted like the dry, powdery egg yolk from a preserved egg, except it was wet and sweet. There was still an underlying powdery texture in the mouth.
And it's better while steaming hot, so eat it fast when it comes.

2015-Oct-18 Dynasty Seafood Restaurant - Steamed Bun with Egg Yolk

The rest of what we tried was quite mundane as far as dim sum went. Siu Mai was very firm and like last time it had orange fish roe on top, but this time it didn't have a fishy smell, thankfully.
Overall, quality tasted quite fresh, though some things were probably pre-made and frozen, like the four siu mai that came stuck together in a steamer. On a busy Sunday morning, staff were basically scrambling ragged but still professional (though generally a bit stiff and unsmiling). The more experienced dim sum goers confirmed this was an above average dim sum spot.

TIP: Ask for a pair of scissors, and if they simply say no, make a mild fuss about it. We pointed out that they were a dim sum restaurant, so how come they didn't have scissors? (No, don't be upset or rude when you do this). You may get the answer we got: A conspiratorial, hushed, "Our scissors are not clean. If you saw it, you would not want to use it." To add to your pleasure of the ironic, you may subsequently see a server cutting dim sum items with a pair of scissors.

TIP: Save any serving spoons and forks for other dishes. You can "clean" them by wiping them on a clean napkin.

TIP: Insist on something to cut with early, if you are sharing dishes. You may then get a fork and steak knife. The former is generally useful for many dishes. The latter may be a Ginsu 2000, which you might then find hilarious when it can't slice open a steamed bun (see pictures below).

2015-Oct-18 Dynasty Seafood Restaurant - knife can't cut a steamed bun

2015-Oct-18 Dynasty Seafood Restaurant - Ginsu 2000 knife

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Don't order this at The Union

The Union Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

I'd been to the Union for brunch and was not particularly impressed with my particular order. But my friends liked it enough so I had it in mind to go back for the dinner menu. Finally got around to it tonight.

Sweet & Sour Fried Fish Bánh Mì ($10) Vietnamese sub with spicy sriracha aioli, jalapeños, daikon & carrot pickle, cucumber, cilantro
  • I was intrigued by the idea of bánh mì for dinner, so I ordered two and asked for a knife to cut them into sections to share. Bonus points to the restaurant for not only offering to cut it for us, but presenting each section in a paper pocket.
  • At $10 per order, I had high hopes, especially as you can get a decent bánh mì for $4. It turned out to be absolutely the worst bánh mì ever. Anything from Subway or Quizno's would have been better. You can get a better one for $3.95 from Saigon Fare Cafe.
  • Not sure whether to laugh or cry at the token content between the bread. And I'm not just talking about the pitifully narrow slice of fish.
  • That fish was sweet and sour?
  • "Spicy sriracha aioli" tasted like mayo with a token bit of chili. Barely any reading on the spiciness-o-meter.
  • There was jalapeño?
The Bowls were way better in taste and portion for around $15. From the bits I sampled, flavour seemed very good. Even the Som Tum salad at $10 had a reasonable portion for price, plus a generous amount of crispy shrimp. In comparison, my Bánh Mì was utterly embarrassing and having already invested $20 to share with our table, I was not willing to pour more money into this dinner.

Cha Ca Hanoi ($15) pacific cod, market greens, turmeric chili coconut milk, dill, rice vermicelli, nước chấm, fresh herbs, scallions
  • Not my order, but noteworthy for the cod being mixed in with the noodles in flakes that can be hard to spot. There *probably* is a fillet portion around the size of a pack of cigarettes, but it's hard to tell, so if you are intent on knowing how much fish versus filling carbs you are getting, then it will be tricky.
Chai Chocolate Pot ($8) with milk chocolate candy crumbs on whipped cream
  • Very strong flavour of chai spices, though no really detectable tea aroma. Enough flavour to compete strongly with the chocolate, but not flatten it.
  • I personally found the bitterness to work against it, but this is a personal preferance.
  • Make sure you share this with 3-4 people. Price for portion is decent for basically a small bowl of chocolate.
Peanut Butter Pie ($8) chocolate ganache, roast peanut praline
  • The praline shows up as a generous sprinkle on whipped cream.
  • Looks like a slice of cheesecake, except it tastes like peanut butter. If you eat this all on your own, you will probably get peanut butter fatigue. Make sure you share it with 3-5 people.
  • Regulation size slice, not shamefully skinny or short. OK pricing at $8.
  • If you like smooth peanut butter, then this is like eating a lot of peanut butter with a bit of chocolate -- the strangely good combination made famous by Reese's.
Naan ($2)
  • Looked suspiciously like store-bought pita bread cut into wedges.
Matahari ($5) guava, apple juice, fresh lime, pandan syrup, ginger beer
  • Non-alcoholic cocktail.
  • Tasted like ginger beer. That strong flavour with clear ginger bite pretty much flattened everything else, so when you read the ingredient list, ignore everything except the word "ginger".
  • At least it was only $5.
Service on the Saturday evening was good, but slow for a full room that still had line-ups around 8pm and walk-ins at 9pm. Felt understaffed but doing their best.

The Union is a Mealshare charity partner.


The Sardine Can

The Sardine Can Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato The Sardine Can isn't a restaurant per se. It serves appetizer plates at horrific prices if you are hell bent on putting together a dinner together with them. And it looks like a lot of people do try it.

Don't try it. Eat a light (cheap) meal elsewhere, then just try a few things at The Sardine Can that pique your interest. Treat them as snacks to go with a drink. Price for portion, even looking at them as appetizers, is very high.

Gambas al ajillo ($13.75) Spicy garlic prawns
  • Didn't taste particularly spicy or garlicky.
  • Tasty enough and quite a few prawns (10?)
Estufado de pulpo ($11) Octopus, potato and chorizo casserole
  • This tasted like olives in tomato soup. If you got a bite of olive in your mouth, it dominated any other flavour.
Tostas de sardinas ($8.25 for five) Smoked sardines on toast
  • Very crunchy thin slices of baguette generously topped with sardine.
  • Tastes like sardine (not the in-tomato-sauce canned ones) on toast. Pass.
Paella de la casa ($11 small or $22 large) House paella made with real Valencia rice
  • Dry -- All liquid apparently having evaporated, and it's seared onto the pan at the bottom and sides.
  • Generous with the non-rice items (chorizo, prawns, fish).
  • We saved the sauce from the Spicy Garlic Prawns to go with the rather dry rice.
Champiñones ($8.25) Mushrooms in sherry cream sauce
  • Really tasty sauce!
  • Mushrooms are mushrooms. I think they could be cut into smaller chunks so you get less boring mushroom taste and more sauce coating the mushrooms.
Special of the Day - Pata Negra wrapped Halibut Fillet with chanterelle mushrooms and truffle ($16)
  • Halibut portion approximately the volume of a pack of cigarettes.
  • Not shy with the truffle -- such that it almost overpowered everything else.
  •  At first I couldn't find the cured ham around the fish. Not a good sign.
Overall, I felt that most of the plates I tried ended up having one over-dominant flavour squashing other flavours, so you end up paying for quite a bit more than you really taste.

TIP: Single washroom with a red door is labelled "4U2P".

TIP: Go on hockey night. Usually it's really busy with a line-up even late a night, so go earlier on a hockey night when everyone is basically elsewhere. And when you're done and you've paid the bill, be considerate and vamoose because other people are waiting out in the cold for a seat.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Taste of Yaletown 2015 - La Pentola

La Pentola - Opus Hotel Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato Most of the items on the Taste of Yaletown 2015 menu for La Pentola are on their current seasonal menu, so keep in mind that this review is really only for their Taste of Yaletown 2015 menu, and doesn't necessarily reflect on the restaurant itself.
That said, you could infer that they won't always blow you away with their creations on the 7- or 10- course family-style dinners. But with so many courses per dinner, there will be bound to be some hits and misses.

$45 Taste of Yaletown Dinner Menu
1st course
Cauliflower and Endive Salad with bagna cauda and pecorino
or
Parmesan Soufflé with roasted beets and balsamic carrots (veg)
 

2nd course
Taglierini with octopus, arrabiatta and bottarga
or
Tagliatelle Bolognese

or
Taglierini with arrabiatta, bocconcini and basil (veg)
 

3rd course
Grilled Skirt Steak with arugula, pine nuts, balsamic and parmesan
or
Ling Cod with roasted tomato purée, peppers, baby squid and black olive oil
or
Wild Mushroom Risotto


Dolce
Lemon Cream and Biscotti

or
Tiramisu


TIP: Don't worry about making sure your Taste of Yaletown choices have enough filling carbs as they give you apparently unlimited baguette slices.

I went with the Vegetarian Option. For $45, vegetarians should consider eating elsewhere.

Parmesan Soufflé
  • Airy soufflé had a slightly eggy flavor. Not much parmesan flavor even with the parmesan shavings. Somewhat bland. Pass on this.
Taglierini Arrabiatta
  • Basically tasteless bocconcini did not help the boring noodles which had some kind of weak tomato sauce that had a wimpy amount of spicy-heat. Pass on this.
Wild Mushroom Risotto
  • Visible chunks of mushroom, nice creamy texture. But too salty.  Pass on this.
Tiramisu
  • Deconstructed and with a sour chocolate paste at the bottom. How are you supposed to eat this? Unless you smush it into a paste, it probably won't taste like tiramisu. Pass on this.
Dolce Vita (?)
  • Some sort of non-alcoholic cocktail which sounded interesting but turned out to taste like a not-too-sour lemonade. At least half my glass was ice.
  • I was quoted $6-7 but it turned up as $9 on my bill. Pass on this and get a lemonade instead.
TIP: While you are in the washroom, look for the monitors with grainy video feed of the lounge where you can spy on what your friends are doing while you are freshening up (or, in the case of guys, taking a leak).

TIP: Check out the glass wall separating the mens' and ladies' washrooms. There are chain curtains on either side, but that glass ain't no mirror...

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Slow kitchen at Jambo Grill

Jambo Grill Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato Jambo Grill is a fairly large restaurant with quite a bit of Africa-inspired decor. Try to somehow go during a quieter time for a better experience and to enjoy the decor more: We went on a Saturday night and it was busy till 9pm, line-up at the door till at least 8pm, and what appeared to be a line-up near the kitchen for takeout. They take reservations, however.

We were a large party in a full restaurant, so I expected our food to come out slowly--but still not take over 1 hour and with some persons getting theirs very, very late. Pretty much all the food came cold. Wait staff were friendly and always smiled whenever they came to a table, so they were doing their best under the circumstances.

TIP: Do your Yelp check-in BEFORE ordering. The server refused to accept it and had to call over a manager to OK the free Chai at the end of the meal. ALSO, for parties of 6+, you must present your check-in at the start of ordering in order to get the free appetizer.

TIP: Masala Chai is $2.50 and BOTTOMLESS. You can keep asking for it!

Nylon Bhajia ($8) Crispy potato slices lightly battered in chickpea flour with spices and fried until golden. Served with coconut chutney.
  • Were not really crispy. Very salty.
  • TIP: Ask for a small spoon to help scoop up the chutney onto your potato.
Patra ($7) A savoury steamed leaf roll, made from arbi or colocasia leaf. Spicy, tangy, and slightly sweet.
  • Interesting to try but not that tasty.
  • There is some sort of paste (?) in between the leaves.
  • Spicy-hot aftertaste, but not too much.
Lamb Biryani ($16) Meat cooked with tomatoes, yogurt, fried onions, saffron, herbs, and spices. On a bed of saffron basmati rice. Served with a side of kachumber, an indian salsa.
  • Good sized plate, probably one of the more filling options without having to order carbs separately.
  • Biryanis are $2 cheaper on Saturdays.
  • Will probably be a different experience from what you get at any other Indian restaurant. From the small sample I got, it seemed to have a sour aftertaste. I'm too used to Indian curries to personally like this style. 
Mishkaki Choma ($10 for 5oz, $16 for 10oz) Uganda style choma (grilled meat). Tender sirloin beef marinated in tandoori spices, served with masala potatoes and salad.
  • The picture below shows the 10oz platter, which honestly did not look like 10oz of meat.
  • At the time you order, you can choose between masala potatoes, fries, or naan bread to be your side.
  • Very dry and rather tough. At least it seemed well-coated in spices. Possibly kitchen error in how dry it was. 
Ice Paan ($1.50) Betel leaf, spread with sweet rose syrup, packed with sweets and spices like fennel seeds, daal, coconut, rose extract, and betal nuts
  • Paan is apparently bad for you. See the wikipedia article for references.
  • For $1.50 you get a cold wrap of betel leaf in foil. The triangular paan is about 3 inches long. See pictures below for the paan wrapped and unwrapped.
  • I'm not good with anise, so I definitely wasn't good with the amount of fennel. I therefore found this unpalatable and couldn't sample more than a bit. The leaf itself is also bitter.
Some things have very good pricing, like the bottomless Masala Chai. Appetizers also seemed priced fairly. But mains were on the pricey side. Combined with a very slow kitchen that evidently can't keep up when the restaurant is full, and mediocre taste, this was a disappointing dinner.
2015-Oct-10 Jambo Grill mishkaki choma 10oz

2015-Oct-10 Jambo Grill lamb biryani

2015-Oct-10 Jambo Grill ice paan 1

2015-Oct-10 Jambo Grill ice paan 2

2015-Oct-10 Jambo Grill ice paan 3

2015-Oct-10 Jambo Grill wall art

2015-Oct-10 Jambo Grill men's washroom 1

2015-Oct-10 Jambo Grill men's washroom 2

2015-Oct-10 Jambo Grill men's washroom 3

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Cheap drinks at Milk & Sugar Cafe

Milk & Sugar Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato Looks like a hole in the wall. No ambiance, really. Some seating and a TV, but the dingy, dilapidated feel makes this a take-out place.
What Milk & Sugar Cafe has going for it is cheap drinks, like $1.75 for a Two Leaves and a Bud peppermint tea, sized like a Starbucks grande.

Menu is also really extensive for such a small place. It even spills over to the tiled wall under the TV.

Supposedly has free wifi, but I couldn't connect. Looks like the modem was off (?).

2015-Oct-10 2015-Oct-10 Milk and Sugar Cafe peppermint tea (left), lychee juice (right)

2015-Oct-10 Milk and Sugar Cafe main menu

2015-Oct-10 Milk and Sugar Cafe wall menu

Vegan eats at Longtail Kitchen

Longtail Kitchen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato Ended up at the River Market looking for vegan eats last night. My friend and I wandered into Longtail Kitchen during the dead-time before any sort of happy hour (between 4pm and 5pm) and we inquired about what might be vegan. The suggestions were the tofu pad thai and eggplant stirfry.

There's a wall of very limited south east asian groceries, assorted seating in two's, four's, and a longer communal table; and a condiment station with self-serve water.
If you look around, a sign thanks you for bussing your own table, and since everything is disposable plates and cutlery, it's easy to do so.

Pad Thai with Tofu ($10)
  • Portion is slightly smallish for $10 but passable.
  • Taste is pretty good. Nothing too special looking here, BUT you can load up with chili flakes, sriracha sauce, or crushed peanuts at the condiment counter.
Stir Fried Seasonal Veg on Rice ($10)
  • When we were there, it was eggplant.
  • Pretty tasty considering its eggplant.
  • Plus the rice included (about a bowlful), this works out to an OK light to medium-light meal, but the monotony of that much eggplant made it a bit off-putting.
Extra cardboard "plates" for sharing are available.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Back to the Cannibal Cafe

Click to add a blog post for The Cannibal Cafe on Zomato After our large-party slow-burger disaster last time at The Cannibal Café, management invited us back for a re-do. Only 8 persons from our original party could make it this time, but for the persons who showed up, The Cannibal Café let us have our food (but not alcoholic drinks) free.
Honestly, I thought we'd just all get a free burger, so some of us went ahead and ordered an appy to share. But holy moly, they gave those to use for free as well.


So, BIG DISCLAIMER -- I paid $5 for my order (as tip) and I got to try some appetizers other people ordered.

Maybe because we were a smaller group, our burgers came in a timely fashion this time. Mine was dead last and they made a point of reassuring me that it was coming shortly (and it did). So, service seemed normal this time.
  • Diablo Jalapenos ($9.95) Battered jalapenos stuffed with Manchengo cheese, served with a side of smokey red pepper mayo
    • Despite "diablo" in the name, if you're looking for anything spicy-hot here, it's a waste of time.
    • Cheese doesn't harden as quickly as mozzarella, so you don't have to rush and swallow a mouthful of lava just to have fun melted cheese.
    • Definitely use the mayo.
    • Even so, this was only so-so and I think there were only 5 fritters, working out to about $2 per jalapeno.
  • Cannibal Fries ($11.95) Hand cut fries, two 3oz patties, American cheese & shredded cheddar, Cannibal sauce, carmelized onions
    • Get this instead of a burger -- serioulsy. It's cheaper, plus you're not missing on much meat, plus all those fries are filling.
    • Really nice touch with the caramelized onion. That and/or the special Cannibal sauce added a nice sweetness to the sauce for the fries making this tasty and a hit with your table.
    • Don't even bother with the tomato sauce provided (which was therefore wasted, so maybe ask for the bottle instead of the pre-portioned amounts and use only when necessary).
  • Cannibal Wings ($10.95) A full pound of hot, S&P, BBQ or Black Dragon wings
    • Get these on Wing Wednesdays for a discount! $5 gets you a pound of wings, which probably works out to 8-10.
    • Decent sized wings and drumsticks. Not super-tiny and bony.
    • We tried "Black Dragon" and I really liked it. Slight spicy-heat in the not-too-honey-sweet black sauce. You can safely pass on the sauce they give you.
  • Burger of the Month - Parmegedon ($14.95) crispy chicken, marinara, lettuce, basil, tomato, provolone, parmesan, garlic mayo, picked jalapeno on the side
    •  Felt like there was a smallish and negligible portion of everything except chicken and a passable slice of tomato. So it felt like you were just eating fried chicken in a (really tender and nice) bun.
    • Generous slab of chicken.
    • Chicken was totally ace. White meat. Not dry or tough and definitely moist enough. Really crispy on the outside and not too salty.
    • The Cannibal Café should totally consider selling this chicken separately.
    • It's sort of pricey to pay $14.95 for a slab of deep fried chicken with no sides.
I totally forgot to get my Yelp check-in freebie, which was a free side of fries. You only get this offer if you order a burger, not just any order (the Yelp check-in doesn't really specify burger-only).

There is guest wifi, but our server warned that it wouldn't work well, and it didn't. She offered the staff wifi password, and the staff wifi worked much better. If you like neither option, head up the street to Starbucks to mooch their wifi.

Since they knew we were all Yelpers, I allowed myself to take pictures this time. Some pics used the Camera360 app which apparently doesn't automatically use the flash, so the environment looks more darkly lit than it really was.

2015-Oct-7 Cannibal Cafe burger of the month

2015-Oct-7 Cannibal Cafe - Wings (Black Dragon)

2015-Oct-7 Cannibal Cafe - Diablo Jalapenos

2015-Oct-7 Cannibal Cafe - Parmegedon

2015-Oct-7 Cannibal Cafe - Parmegedon chicken white meat patty

2015-Oct-7 Cannibal Cafe Happy Hour

2015-Oct-7 Cannibal Cafe Feature Drinks