Saturday, January 30, 2016

Hot Chocolate Festival 2016 - hot chocolate crawl

Just got back from a hot chocolate crawl downtown where we tried four locations:

Thierry Chocolaterie Patisserie Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato Thierry - "Milk & Coffee" - 39% Valrhona “Andoa” milk chocolate.
Served with coffee flavoured whipped cream with dark chocolate semifredo made of 63%  “Illanka” Peruvian chocolate langue de chat

  • Price came to $10.45 after tax! If you focus on just the hot chocolate, then it definitely is pricey -- remember that you are paying for the whipped cream and biscuit as well.
  •  It's January 30th, so when I asked the person behind the macarons, I was quoted the "Dark & Saffron" drinking chocolate (the correct one according to the schedule; could not see the schedule anywhere in store). But when I ordered the hot chocolate festival's hot chocolate, they gave me this "milk and chocolate" concoction instead, which was supposed to have had its last day on January-29th.
  • Drink was not hot!
  • Flavour was tame and the drink felt on the thin side.
2016-Jan-30 Hot Chocolate Festival - Thierry

2016-Jan-30 Thierry

Bel Cafe - Rosewood Hotel Georgia Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato Bel Cafe - "The Onyx" - 70% Valrhona Guanaja, chocolate crème chantilly and caramelized cocoa nib.
Served with a dark chocolate truffle.

  • Another thin-tasting and lukewarm drink. Nothing particularly interesting about this hot chocolate. Maybe try stirring in the cream.
  • Pretty lukewarm "hot" chocolate.
  • TIP: If it's too busy, try taking it into the Hotel Georgia lobby and find quieter (and more comfortable) seating there.
2016-Jan-30 Hot Chocolate Festival - Bel Cafe - Onyx

Mink - #43 – “It's a Clusterfluff” - Valrhona Caramelia 36% milk chocolate hot chocolate with torched marshmallow. Served with a sparkle stick.
  • Sparkle stick served separately. Would have been nice if it somehow sat on top of the hot chocolate but it's too short and in any case, I wouldn't want reside in my drink.
  • Pretty lukewarm "hot chocolate".
  • Sweetened with a slight caramel (?) flavour? Otherwise nothing striking.
#44 – “The Voices in my Head Tell me this ain't no B.S.” - Organic butternut squash and almond milk with 70% dark chocolate hot chocolate. Served with a smoked oyster.
  • You definitely taste the squash, but my personal feeling is it didn't go well as a hot chocolate flavour.
  • Pretty lukewarm "hot chocolate".
2016-Jan-30 Hot Chocolate Festival - Mink - "It's a Clusterfluff"


Bella Gelateria Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato Bella Gelateria (Coal Harbour) – "Before 9" - We infuse our milk with a peppermint mint and then use Michel Cluziel’s Milk with Vanuari Dark 63% Vanuari chocolate with it’s honey, berry and vanilla notes. (Available in almond or dairy milk.) Served with a housemade rice crispy bar drizzled with peppermint chocolate.
  • Definitely tasted like an "After Eight" chocolate mint, but the mintiness wasn't as strong.
  • For the first time since the hot chocolate crawl, we actually got a hot drink! Also, all the hot chocolates here weren't as thin-tasting as the previous locations visited and mentioned above.
Bella Gelateria (Coal Harbour) – “The Mottolino” - Made with brandy, rum, vanilla egg we add a hint of espresso from local roasters Milano. Steeped with Michel Cluziel’s Kayambe Dark 72% chocolate with it’s aromatic intensity of woody, almost liquorice notes and strong cocoa flavours. Topped with fresh whip cream and a sprinkle of cocoa powder. Served with our house made Italian dark rum biscotti.
  • If you smell this drink you get a bit of alcohol aroma, but it didn't really come through for me either in the hot chocolate or the biscotti.
Bella Gelateria (Coal Harbour) – “Black Magic” - Organic black sesame seeds we turn into a paste in our gelato lab and then add Michel Cluizel’s Vanuari Dark 63% Vanuari chocolate with it’s honey, berry and vanilla notes. Topped with fresh matcha whip cream and roasted black sesame seeds.
  • Just got a sample of this (for free!). Stir it each time before drinking because otherwise the ground-up sees start to settle on the bottom.
  • Very strong black sesame seed flavour, almost overpowering the chocolate entirely.
Bella Gelateria (Coal Harbour) – “Bx3” (Banana Bread & Booze) - We caramelize organic bananas in Grand Marnier, add a touch of Creme De Banana liqueur, White Rum and nutmeg. Using Michel Cluizel’s Kayambe chocolate, this time the 45% chocolate, it adds hints of brown sugar and salted butter. Served with a slice of that amazing Banana Bread with every order.
  • Good and very prominent banana flavour in the hot chocolate, and on the sweeter side.
  • Where's my banana flavour in the banana bread?

Friday, January 29, 2016

Indian Fusion

Indian Fusion Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato Small but very popular restaurant. Expect lineups by around 6pm or shortly after and through till maybe 7.30pm or so; as well as tons of take-out bags stacked at the bar.
Lots of gluten-free options, but you really need to ask as it's not indicated on the menu.

Onion Bhajia ($5.95) fusion style onion rings

  • If you are looking for onion rings, these are OK. Not crispy on the outside, but they compensate for it with a curried batter.
  • THIS IS NOT onion bhajji, if that's what you were hoping for.
Aloo Kulcha ($3.45) naan stuffed with potatoes, peas, and a blend of Indian spices
  • Where's my potato? When I got the bill, I realized they gave me ONION Kulcha instead of what I ordered.
Onion Kulcha ($3.25) naan stuffed with diced onions, cumin, spices, and fresh cilantro
  • Mostly tasted the diced onion. Where's the contribution from the other stuff?
Dal Makhani ($11.95) black lentil stewed on a slow fire overnight, garnished with cream and coriander
  • Gluten-free vegetarian curry.
  • Like a tasty-spicy curried version of a thick lentil soup. Really tasty!
Chai ($2.25)
  • One cup of not very spicy or sweet chai. Nothing special or yummy here. Pass.
Overall the curries are good! And portion is maybe twice what you get from places that use the shallow boat ceramic dish, so price for portion seems also very good. Also, using the copper dishes seems to keep the curries hotter longer. Try one curry to share between two persons if you are having rice or naan.

2016-Jan-29 Indian Fusion - onion bhajia

2016-Jan-29 Indian Fusion - onion kulcha

2016-Jan-29 Indian Fusion - Dal Makhani

2016-Jan-29 Indian Fusion - two vegetarian curries

2016-Jan-29 Indian Fusion - deep curry bowls

2016-Jan-29 Indian Fusion - bill folder

Popping Boba at Che-Licious

Che-licious Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato I was pretty sure my out-of-town guest hadn't had che before, so I dragged her to Che-Licious to try it. She tried the Dark 'N Delicious ($5.75; grass jelly, tapioca perals, red beans, coconut milk) while I made a custom drink to try the "popping boba".

The "popping boba" is definitely worth a try. They are little fish-egg-like sacs of concentrated fruit juice. No idea what the pea-sized sacs are made of and whether the juice is straight fruit juice or some sort of processed concentrate. Probably the latter and you probably don't want to look into the ingredients -- so if you're anxious about it, best to just go for fresh fruits and stuff here.
But the experience is definitely worth a try.

Each popping boba choice gives you ONE fruit flavour -- not a mix of all three flavours. They are best savoured once the ice melts and you can use the bubble tea straw to suck up a bunch in your mouth. What happens is when you crunch down on the bubbles, the strong fruit flavour suddenly bursts out into your mouth. It's definitely a different experience compared to just having the fruit flavour pre-mixed into your drink.

2016-Jan-27 Che-Licious - ingredient list

2016-Jan-27 Che-Licious - closeup of one Popping Boba (mango)

2016-Jan-27 Che-Licious - Dark 'n Delicious (left) and custom drink of aloe vera and popping boba (mango)

2016-Jan-27 Che-Licious - decor

Hot Chocolate Festival 2016 - Terra Breads (Olympic Village)

Terra Breads Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato The Olympic Village Terra Breads is notable for being licensed -- they have wine!
They also bake 24-hours a day (but the place is not open 24 hours, however), so unlike some other cafes, what you see in the counter might actually still be fresh no matter what time you go, instead of end-of-the-day leftovers if you go late afternoon or evening.

Their Hot Chocolate Festival 2016 entries are very strong for being interesting in taste and good price for portion. Drawbacks include being not very hot by the time it got to us; and the underlying hot chocolate seemed a bit thin and mediocre.

Honey Buns ($4.95) Venezuelan dark chocolate, house-made chili honey, cinnamon, bourbon vanilla bean. Served with cinnamon sugar brioche.
  • We got a very friendly front counter person who also let me try a spoonful of their chili honey. The chili flavour is there and there's a good burn in the back of your throat but it starts slow. For several seconds all you get is the normal sweetness of the honey.
  • This hot chocolate definitely has some chili-heat to it, but not too much and no bitterness. Definitely worth a try if you can handle the spicy heat. Ask to try a bit of the honey first if you're not sure, although that will be spicier than when mixed in the hot chocolate.
  • Strange powdery residue in the cup,which was not present in the Chocolate Chums hot chocolate.
Chocolate Chums ($4.95) cocoa barry milk chocolate, mascarpone cream. Served with Chocolate Arts Pecan Fruit Crisp [AND] Chocolate Bar.
  • You get a small bar of chocolate, and a thin slice of fruit crisp on which is a generous dollop of mascarpone.
  • Nice crunchy chocolate bar. Not that big, so "bar" might be kind of a misnomer.
  • Clear milk flavour, which sort of ruined this hot chocolate for me, but definitely depends on your personal taste. Other than that, there's a vanilla (?)-like sweetness to it. Certainly a tamer hot chocolate than honey buns. If you can only try one, try honey buns if you're adventurous.
2016-Jan-28 Terra Breads (Olympic Village) - hot chocolate festival menu

2016-Jan-28 Terra Breads (Olympic Village) - hot chocolate festival - Honey Bun

2016-Jan-28 Terra Breads (Olympic Village) - hot chocolate festival - chocolate chums

2016-Jan-28 Terra Breads (Olympic Village) - hot chocolate festival - residue in cups

2016-Jan-28 Terra Breads (Olympic Village) 1

Kingyo

Kingyo Izakaya Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato Kingyo was a winner last time I went so when my friend came to townI took here here as a safe bet.

Their "famous invincible and undefeted tantan noodle" ($9.80 for a big bowl) was still good, and this time I got to try other stuff as well. Overall these choices were not as interesting or tasty, but price for what you get and for the portion is fine.

Corn Steamed Egg Pudding ($6.80) super smooth egg pudding with corn and crab flakes
  • There's crab?
  • Rather small portion for price. Also watery/soupy.
  • Interesting to try but might be an acquired taste; otherwise not that tasty.
Pressed Mackerel Sushi ($12.80) Lightly seared marinated mackerel pressed sushi with sweet kelp, sesame, takana pickles topped with our original green onion ginger and mustard dressing
  • This was OK. Works better if you try not to lose too much of the green onion dressing, which tends to fall off.
  • Sizable pieces add up to quite a filling portion of rice.
Grilled Pork cheek ($7.80) Kingyo's original miso marinated pork cheek served with homemade blended spice
  • Pork cheek looked, felt, and tasted like the ham you can get at superstore if you lightly pan fry it. Just a lot less salty. Rather boring as a result.
  • Don't forget the spice blend, which is a very thick and dry paste.
2016-Jan-27 Kingyo - tan tan noodles

2016-Jan-27 Kingyo - corn steamed egg pudding

2016-Jan-27 Kingyo - pressed mackerel sushi

2016-Jan-27 Kingyo - grilled pork cheek







2016-Jan-27 Kingyo - table setting

2016-Jan-27 Kingyo - goldfish carving

Friday, January 22, 2016

Dine Out Vancouver 2016 - Burnaby Mountain Clubhouse

Burnaby Mountain Clubhouse Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato Despite having been recognized as having the best $18 menu in the 2015 Dine Out Vancouver, this place has remained under the radar, possibly because it's out of the way and not very transit friendly.
I can confirm it has a really excellent $20 menu for Dine Out Vancouver 2016. Not only tasty food but excellent value at the price.

It's a small place, so it can get booked up fully. Last seating is 8pm and for larger groups, I recommend it.

Dine Out Vancouver 2016 Menu:

Appetizer

DIGGING IN THE GARDEN {V}
freshly picked vegetables, cashew, mushroom crust, hummus aioli
or
CALAMARI & TOMATO SALAD {GF}
sautéed calamari, roasted cherry tomato, arugula, spinach, red pepper, red onion, grilled lime, lemongrass & peanut vinaigrette
or
LAMB & ONION SOUP
lamb shoulder, caramelized onion, irish guinness cheddar crouton

Entree

FLAT IRON STEAK {can be GF}
charbroiled AAA steak, roasted garlic yukon gold mashed potato, hand-picked seasonal vegetables, crispy chickpea, dijon mustard, horseradish, red wine sauce
or
STEELHEAD
olive oil poached steelhead, house made linguine, hand-picked seasonal vegetables, grilled lemon, pesto sauce
or
PORTOBELLO MUSHROOM {V}
spinach & cream cheese stuffed portobello, roasted cherry tomato & baby carrot, basil & arugula flatbread, balsamic gastrique
or
JASON BURGER
fresh all beef patty, grilled double smoked bacon, gruyere, roasted garlic puree, roasted cherry tomato, arugula, red onion chutney, demi glace, chicken liver pate, horseradish aioli, brioche bun, truffle scented poutine

Dessert
BLACK & WHITE {V}
callebout dark & white chocolate mousse, oreo cookies, shaved chocolate
or
PERFECT CONFECTION {GF} {V}
honeycomb candy, cotton candy, toasted almond, mint leaf, raspberry sorbet
or
APPLE & BACON
granny smith apple compote, cinnamon apple donut, graham cracker, vanilla ice-cream, salty bacon caramel sauce.

Digging in the Garden
  •  I'm guessing the bits that look like dirt is "mushroom crust".
  • A lot of hummus "aioli" -- basically a hummus dip tasty by being on the salty side.
  • The rest is just nuts and veggies. Use the dip generously or you will have leftover and no spoon or bread to scoop it up.
  • Overall, looks deceptively simple but tasty if you like their hummus.
Flatiron Steak
  • Strangely, the smallest plate of mains. Steak looked at most 6 oz.
Steelhead
  • Strangely bland but large filet of salmon.
  • Quite a lot of linguine, which helps to make this a filling plate as a main.
Jason Burger
  • Winner.
  • Moist patty. Tender bun not in the least soggy after plating.
  • The description makes it sound much more interesting and stacked that it really was, and maybe more flavourful than it really was -- but overall still a really tasty burger.
  • "Poutine" not overly drenched with salty sauce, which was good. Fries were very good - crispy on the outside for a long time, creamy on the inside.
Perfect Confection
  • Crushed honeycomb candy I guess because I didn't see anything that looked like a honeycomb.
  • Fun to see and eat, and refreshing for the sorbet. A very good way to end on a lighter note.
Apple & Bacon
  • Very sweet apple compote at the bottom - definitely pair it with the ice cream.
  • "Salty bacon caramel sauce" was more like just caramel sauce with tasteless, tiny, bacon bits. Disappointing for not having bacon flavour come through.
  • Despite lacking in bacon-ness, this was a pretty tasty dessert, if you can handle the sweetness of the apple compote.
2016-Jan-22 Burnaby Mountain Clubhouse - Dine Out Vancouver 2016 - Digging in the Garden

2016-Jan-22 Burnaby Mountain Clubhouse - Dine Out Vancouver 2016 - flatiron steak

2016-Jan-22 Burnaby Mountain Clubhouse  - Dine Out Vancouver 2016 - steelhead

2016-Jan-22 Burnaby Mountain Clubhouse - Dine Out Vancouver 2016 - Jason burger (top)

2016-Jan-22 Burnaby Mountain Clubhouse - Dine Out Vancouver 2016 - Jason Burger (side)

2016-Jan-22 Burnaby Mountain Clubhouse - Dine Out Vancouver 2016 - perfect confection

2016-Jan-22 Burnaby Mountain Clubhouse - Dine Out Vancouver 2016 - apple and bacon

2016-Jan-22 Burnaby Mountain Clubhouse - 2016 special menus

2016-Jan-22 Burnaby Mountain Clubhouse - table ornament

2016-Jan-22 Burnaby Mountain Clubhouse 02

2016-Jan-22 Burnaby Mountain Clubhouse 01

Dinesty Dumpling House Burnaby

Dinesty Dumpling House Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato Nice bright and open space at the newest Dinesty Dumpling House near Metrotown. They've jammed as many tables as they could into it without compromising too much on spacing. The result is you could have some substandard spaces like being right next to the server station, the entrance, or the bathroom.
Still, decor is nice even if the privacy isn't quite there all the time -- tables near the walls are quite close together.

The Xiao Long Bao here come in steamers of 8, and each bao is about the size of a ping pong ball.

Luffa and Shrimp Xiao Long Bao ($7.95 for 8)
  • Where's my shrimp?
  • More importantly, where's my soup?
Steamed Shrimp, Scallop & Pork Soup Dumplings ($7.95)
  • Delicious soup.
  • Filling tasted fatty but otherwise quite tasty.
  • Where's my shrimp and scallop?
Deep Fried Chicken Rolls with Asparagus and Ham ($9.95)
  • Asparagus is token -- one piece slightly bigger than the eraser at the end of your pencil.
  • Meaty portion! It's like a quarter (or more) of chicken, without the inconvenience of bones. Price for portion is really decent for this item.
  • Deep fried but not hot inside. Chicken may have been cooked separately and prepped for deep frying.
  • Couldn't taste anything except chicken, especially once you slather on the provided mayo. I recommend you skip the mayo.
Fried Bun with Condensed Milk ($2.95)
  • Just enough condensed milk. If you like more, then maybe ask for more up front.
  • Bun was pleasantly fluffy on the inside. But otherwise nothing too special here. Use lots of the condensed milk.
For a posh looking place with cute servers wearing wires like Cactus Club managers, service was disappointingly mediocre -- more like a cheap Chinese restaurant place. Though we were next to the server station and the teapots, topping up tea was very spotty even though the restaurant wasn't half full yet.
In-restaurant menus are all colour-pictures, which is really helpful. But the pricing on their Xiao Long Bao was $1 more than the online menu.
Don't try to confuse them by asking for a particular menu item to be delayed because they might totally forget it (they did that to us). Food apparently comes when the kitchen preps it. (This is what some non-Chinese restaurants are calling "family style" nowadays.)

TIP: There is a Wednesday special! And their Richmond location has weekday specials as well.

TIP: Remember to get your XLB card stamped at the time you pay. 10 steamers and you get 1 free.

2016-Jan-22 Dinesty Dumpling House Burnaby - steamer of XLB

2016-Jan-22 Dinesty Dumpling House Burnaby - luffa and shrimp XLB (closeup)

2016-Jan-22 Dinesty Dumpling House Burnaby - filling and soup of Steamed Pork Soup Dumpling

how to eat XLB

2016-Jan-22 Dinesty Dumpling House Burnaby - deep fried chicken rolls with asparagus and ham

2016-Jan-22 Dinesty Dumpling House Burnaby - deep fried chicken rolls with asparagus and ham (closeup)

2016-Jan-22 Dinesty Dumpling House Burnaby - fried bun with condensed milk

2016-Jan-22 Dinesty Dumpling House Burnaby - fried bun with condensed milk - fluffy bread detail

2016-Jan-22 Dinesty Dumpling House Burnaby - a few of the many pots

2016-Jan-22 Dinesty Dumpling House Burnaby - mirrored ceiling

2016-Jan-22 Dinesty Dumpling House Burnaby - round table

2016-Jan-22 Dinesty Dumpling House Burnaby - XLB loyalty card

2016-Jan-22 Dinesty Dumpling House Burnaby - cutlery

2016-Jan-22 Dinesty Dumpling House Burnaby - chicken on toast

2016-Jan-22 Dinesty Dumpling House Burnaby - ornamental tree at server station