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Showing posts from 2014

Spoon Kitchen $35 Groupon

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Spoon Kitchen is on a traffic-busy section of West 4th street-parking-hell. Small 50-seater restaurant with fairly good table spacing. Chairs = revenue in restaurants (and airline) but they aren't putting you in an Economy Section squeeze. Place looked tidy and clean. I was too busy with my dining partner to really have a good look at the decor. I went with a $35 Groupon Nine-Course Thai and Malaysian Tasting Menu , and although you will read my mixed review of the menu items, overall it is a good deal. At $35 for two persons, you will leave full but not stuffed. You will also probably feel you got a very good deal for sampling so many items: After tax and tip you'll come out close to having spent $24 for a two person dinner (assuming a 15% tip on a $70 value dinner). Nowadays, especially in a neighborhood like West 4th, a $24 dinner for two is a better deal than you'll get during Dine Out Vancouver or Taste of Yaletown, where the prices have been inching up year af

Get a spoon at Hi Genki

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Between Metrotown and Hi Genki are a mix of chain restaurants, Korean restaurants, and dead real estate waiting for tenants. It's a walk through a sadly dilapidated part of Burnaby. After Hi Genki, things pick up with new condos and a neighbourhood revitalized by newer construction. In a way Hi Genki is like one of the last holdouts of a generation on its way out, sandwiched between old and new. Hi Genki is also "not" a restaurant. That is, it was probably never meant to be one. The size of the place makes it look more like an old folks home -- ahem -- seniors' residence -- cafeteria re-purposed into a fundraising arm for the Nikkei Place Foundation , a non-profit established by the two centres at the location: The National Nikkei Museum and Heritage Centre and the Nikkei Seniors and Health Care Society. Hi Genki is basically the cafeteria at the ground floor of the Nikkei Seniors centre, separated from the sliver of a lobby by a wall. There is no ambiance to s

Papa Drexler's Bavarian Pretzels

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Last week, my desktop was down because I had to mail all my memory strips for warranty replacement to Mushkin Enhanced . So I had to find other ways to amuse myself other than Skyrim . It was then that I discovered baking! And baking is total BS because all that lazy yeast takes so long to work. Then I discovered pretzels! Less waiting, more instant gratification. One very nice recipe I found was Papa Drexler's Bavarian Pretzels . Noob tips: Don't worry if you didn't soften your butter. Even if it's straight out of the fridge / freezer, you can melt it on the stove. Put it in some metal dish and sit it on the stove for a bit, then take it off so it won't burn. Let the residual heat soften the rest. You're going to need to turn on the stove for the baking soda bath in this recipe anyway. Microwave is also another option. Completely melted butter (not just softened) is needed in this recipe as well for brushing onto the pretzels right before baking.

PC® Candy Cane Eat the Middle First® Cookies

I have to admit that the "President's Choice" (and "No Name") brands sold at Superstore have long been for me and my mom synonymous with "cheap knock-offs". You typically find them as reasonable facsimiles stacked in the supermarket aisles next to name brands of the same type of item. However, for many years now, around Christmas they have pumped out Christmassy items, and this year is no exception. At $2.48 per box this week, the President's Choice Candy Cane Eat the Middle First Cookies  looked like a good deal as a Christmassy thing to have. They were actually really decent. But let's start with what's bad with it: The packaging on the inside still leaves them vulnerable to being jostled out of their plastic cradles. If you are hoping for a picture-perfect presentable item, this won't be it. As you can see from the pictures, they aren't bad, but aren't exactly perfect either. This would be a minor quibble any other t

Breka (Homer and Davie)

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I had had a good experience with Breka on Fraser before they branched out into Downtown Vancouver. Huge selection, great prices. Breka on Davie is still cheaper than having cake in a restaurant, but the selection is small compared to their Fraser Street location. Selection size isn't necessarily a deal-breaker so long as you have great goods. Sadly I tried four of their items on Monday morning and only one was decently done. Which isn't to say the others were terrible, but rather they were in the limbo zone of disappointing to passable, either in taste, price, or both. Banana Colada Latte ($4.55 for large) Did not taste like banana or banana colada or anything really special. Don't buy this hoping for a banana colada experience. Buy this hoping for a slightly different latte experience. Price is okay unless you were hoping for banana colada. Veggie Roll Looked like unidentified dark veggies (some leafy stuff and olives?) in puff pastry. Tasted mostly like puff

$10 Drink from Guusto

I got this e-mail (see picture below) from Guusto  the other day. No idea if it is legit since I don't have a cellphone with which to try it out. (Yes, I just said I don't have a cellphone. When I did have one, all the calls I got were from people saying they were going to be late. I'm not paying for that.) Anyway, if you do decide to try it, no harm e-mailing "Skai" at team@gift.guusto.com to see if they'll give you a $10 drink . The two links in the e-mail are: " Get the App " " Here's a handy pre-populated Tweet " Good luck and Merry Christmas to all!

Blue Water Cafe Chestnut Cheesecake

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I'm totally a sucker for seasonal specials, so after reading about Chestnut-Flavoured Holiday Items by Follow Me Foodie , I decided to give the much-hyped Blue Water Cafe + Raw Bar a try. Just the dessert, though. I dropped in late-ish (past 8pm) last Friday night and it was packed in there. A few seats at the bar, though, and since I was solo on this one it was easy to just nip in and go straight for what I wanted: Chestnut Cheesecake, and some peppermint tea to wash it down. Tea ($4) came in a heavy black iron pot which presumably kept the water not for a nice long while. No dribbling at the spout when poured -- which isn't always the case with every teapot, just so you know. Cheesecake (Mont Blanc - chesnut cheese cake, poached okanagan quince, vanilla ice cream $11) was rather horrifying small for the atrocious price, so right away expectations were high. Presentation was beautiful and chestnuttiness was evident -- so much so that it competed nicely with the chees

Mary's Organic Crackers - black pepper

What's probably best about Mary's Organic Crackers (black pepper) are its attributes: organic, gluten-free, vegan, non-GMO. And if you go onto their website, you'll discover even more strict quality control: Dairy Free, Wheat Free, Whole Grain, Kosher , No Hydrogenated Oils, No Trans-Fats. It's one of the lowest-common-denominator foods that everyone can eat. The worst part is that it tastes mostly like sesame seeds--Where's my black pepper? You have to eat enough for it to catch up to you as an aftertaste of mild heat in your mouth.

Snyder's of Hanover Cheddar Cheese Pretzel Pieces

We all know that burger ads look way better than the actual product you get because those advertisement burgers are expertly crafted to show everything that you do get, just not all carefully positioned on one half of the perimeter. Nevertheless, it still always shocks me when product wildly differs from ad copy. Like Snyder's of Hanover Cheddar Cheese Pretzel Pieces. This is from their line of Flavored Pretzel Pieces . The image on the bag shows rather nice somewhat-presentable nuggets hovering around the size of the first joint of your smallest finger. And every one thoroughly and thickly coated with cheddar-yellow savoury powder on the non-baked side. Not too shabby. The reality is actually much closer to the images on their website which dhows a wilder array of sizes, some very small, and shapes that are more akin to what you get after smashing pretzels. Which may very well be what these are. The worst part of what the actual product looks like is the horrible suspic

Fig and Bacon Jam

Every season I get a recipe book (FREE) from All You Need Is Cheese , and this simple  Fig and Bacon Jam Recipe  is from the Winter 2014 issue. It's so easy even a kitchen noob like myself could do it. Noob Tips: If you read the recipe carefully, you will notice that just for the jam, you do NOT need blue cheese or crackers. Those are a serving suggestion. After step 3 (bring to a boil), leave the heat as is -- just remove the cover to simmer. Otherwise it takes forever. I found it lacking in bacon-y goodness afterwards despite three strips of the stuff. If you insist on clear bacon flavour, you might want to use more strips.

Gluten Free and No MSG Chinese Food at The Change Dining and Bar

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One of the problems with Chinese restaurants is that often, things are sort of samey -- everything looks like it was done in the same wok because it's got the same sweet-salty glaze over it. There are a few specialty ones, like 3G Vegetarian Restaurant , which has a vegetarian menu complete with simulated meats and seafood, but the food looks odd. So whenever someone asked me for a Chinese restaurant recommendation, I end up telling them that I grew up on the stuff and mom makes it better. Not any more! The Change is new to downtown Vancouver in the black-hole location that has seen the Crime Lab and Sol Sun Belt Cookery and others come and go despite what appears to be a beautiful location and sort-of-monopoly of the local highrises simply because they are the closest dining place around. Of particular interest to those who like Chinese cuisine will be the commitment to no MSG, a focus on being gluten-free for most items, and not being afraid to have some chili-spiciness to

Not on the menu at the Cactus Club

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So I finally dropped in at The Cactus Club downtown -- you known, the one at the 2010 Winter Olympics torch. It's quite a big place and with multiple exits that look like they could very well be entrances. Keep circling for the one with heat lamps warming a path to three to five hot hostesses ready to seat you (or turn you away because they are full). I was by at around 3.30pm -- not yet their 4pm happy hour -- and the place was already busy. The server looking up the reservation for my party said they were always busy. And reservations? Yes and no. If you know certain people, yes. No harm trying to call one in, though. The layout inside looks expansive but the lanes are a bit tight. Any obstruction and you might be better off circling around to a different lane. They also keep it sort of dim, so if you want a really good look around, go during the day. It's actually rather nicely laid out in that there is a lot of non-window seating that have good views. Don't get h

Your Coffee Profile

I was digging through some of the older "recipe books" I had on hand and found an old booklet that was sent out by Van Houtte quite a while ago. In it were tips on making a "perfect" cup of coffee , as well as how to choose a coffee you will like -- your " coffee profile ".

Patty King Jamaican Style Chicken Patties

From the Patty King International website: A golden flaky pastry shell filled with delicious seasoned ground chicken. Ya man it’s fantastic. Filling: Ground chicken, bread crumbs (wheat flour, yeast), textured vegetable protein, onions, salt, chicken soup base, beef soup base, spices, disodium inosinate, disodium guanylate. Pastry: Flour, water, beef suet, sugar, salt, vegetable oil shortening (soybean, canola, cottonseed oils), colour. Allergens: Wheat and soya. On sale this week at No Frills is butter, ribs , and 6-packs of Patty King International patties at $3. This works out to 50 cents per patty. It looks great in ad copy, it is not oily in your hand after microwaving, and there is a nice cracked-black-pepper flavour to the filling, but there are a few drawbacks with this product: It's so peppery that's all you taste. The recommended microwaving leaves you with a crust that is not exactly soggy, but somewhat chewy. Read the ingredients carefully (I

Cobblestone Farms Fully Cooked Pork Back Ribs in Honey & Garlic Barbecue Sauce

Lots of good deals at No Frills this week, including 454g sticks of Lactantia butter at $2.97 -- and (as of Sunday morning anyway) no limit on the amount you can buy. I also picked up at $5.97 Cobblestone Farms Fully Cooked Pork Back Ribs in Honey & Garlic Barbecue Sauce . It's a big box with a big bag that has a generous amount of barbecue sauce. My pack had a total of 7 ribs. The box is definitely way bigger than it needs to be. Give it a shake and you will know just how deceptively big it is. What I liked about this product was that it was hard to mess up since it's already cooked. In the worst case, you can just heat it up and eat. I have a small electric grill and a Cookina Barbecue Mat , so I gave it a go with those but the instructions allow microwaving and using an oven. Cooking instructions were simple and good enough. And with the excessive amount of sauce, you have plenty to spare after you account for loss from dripping off the grill. The Barbecue Mat

Fruity stuff from Yak & Yeti Bistro

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If you've been to their sister restaurant Gurkha Himalayan Kitchen (a Mealshare supporter), you'll find Yak & Yeti quite a different experience. While a few items on the menu are the same, the rest is quite different. Price for portion is also pretty good and the filling entrees are $13-$16. It's a long and narrow restaurant, so if you have a larger party of 6+ persons, you'll definitely want to try to make a reservation so that they can move some tables around if necessary or reserve the U-shaped dining area at the very end that can accommodate maybe 6-8 persons. For my visit I opted for the two curious involves-fruit dishes but the momos, goat pickle, and masala fish were also quite good based on the feedback from the other diners in our group. Masala fish curry was served with brown rice, while jackfruit curry and goat pickle were served with white rice. Wings ($9)  Mango-mustard wings This had a tasty sauce on it, but it tasted neither like mango nor mu

Red Robin Big Sky Burger

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I registered for Red Robin rewards earlier this year, but never really made it out for the birthday goodies and what not. Then recently I got an e-mail about their new Big Sky Burger, and since my friend had an Entertainment Book coupon for $5 off, we decided to go try it out as well as catch up after months apart. As pictured, the burger looks pretty big and just bursting with goodness. And it is a big burger. Half pound patty. Just nowhere as mouth-watering as in ad copy, but I think everyone knows that already. For one the patty didn't look as blackened as pictured and that grilled flavour didn't come through. The patty itself, however, was big and moist, and as burger patties go, is really decent. The onion ring pictured looks like a generous portion, but it is actually a pretty small onion ring, about the size of Red Robin's smallest onion ring in their 13-ring stack appetizer. The diameter was probably just under 2 inches, compared to a burger that is over

Taste of Yaletown - Honjin Sushi

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Almost exactly a year ago I tried the Honjin Sushi Taste of Yaletown menu . With Brix closed for a private function and therefore not taking walk-ins, I ended up at Honjin Sushi again for a very late dinner (after 9pm). Being across a courtyard opposite Urban Fare, Honjin Sushi is much less visible in Yaletown, but definitely worth a visit. Their Taste of Yaletown menu this year is much stronger than last year's, which had rice as part of your main. Nothing wrong with it, but it stopped the momentum of a great meal after some really nice appetizers and a delightful sushi roll. This year, their $29 menu (same as last year) did away with rice and yet still so very filling so that you will probably be grateful the dessert is just one scoop of ice cream. APPETIZER Honjin Tuna Tsunami Chunks of Tuna, Mango, Avocado and cucumber in a fruity spicy sauce surrounded with three pieces of Salmon Tartar: chopped salmon, avocado and cucumber served on a shisho leaf tempura OR Negitor

Taste of Yaletown 2014 gift card giveaway

Follow Me Foodie is giving away THREE x $50 gift cards as part of the Taste of Yaletown promotion. All you have to do is Comment, Tweet, or Like to enter!

Easy to be gluten-free at Meet on Main

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Meet on Main is a rather busy vegan/gluten free eatery that has apparently positioned itself very well geographically to grab the vegan / gluten-free demographic. We were there this past Friday for a 7pm dinner. Out at 9pm and the place still hadn't slowed down. The kitchen is a bit slow but the servers do keep up quite well otherwise. Décor is spacious and simple, with a remarkable amount of what looks like furniture lifted from an old high school. Not much to look at but not off-putting per se. Food generally looks "normal" -- that is, if you weren't paying attention, you might think this a regular restaurant. Some of it doesn't taste "normal", though -- mostly the pretend-to-be-meat items. Vegan pretend-meat often involves soy or tofu or something else that has a bitter aftertaste. Texture isn't bad, but taste is too far off for a meat-eater to pull a fast one on them. For vegetarians and vegans, beggars can't be choosers and they wil

Green Basil a solid safe choice

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Their Sushi Garden neighbors see lineups earlier, but this place does get busy on a Friday night shortly after 6pm. Despite the claustrophobic entrance, it is quite spacious. Nothing too special to look at -- simple and clean. Traditional Phat Thai ($13.95) Rice noodle or egg noodle with shrimps & scallops, ground peanuts & bean sprout in Tamarind sauce OR tomato sauce Quite a big portion! For a single person, this will probably see you stuffed. Good for sharing as a light dinner between two persons. Tasty, safe choice. Pretty big shrimps. Haw Mok Ma Phraao ($15.95 with chicken) Red curry paste with sliced coconut served in fresh young coconut If you have it to go or have leftovers packed, ask for the coconut. Otherwise they will pour it out into a styrofoam box. This was somewhat creamy-ish and pretty tasty. Good amount of curry, although it's packed into a small coconut, so it will initially look small. Good ratio of curry to content -- that is, not "w

Gluten Free at Kessel & March

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Despite having been warned away by someone who had tried one of their Wednesday Suppers and rated it "nothing to write home about", I still gave Kessel & March a go, and with a gluten-intolerant friend no less. The location looks like a dilapidated industrial zone everything-closed-after-5pm neighborhood, but Kessel & March and other nearby eateries were doing surprisingly well, and were pretty packed after around 7.30pm last Friday when even the nearby coffee shop was closed. It's a small looking space, but two-tiered. It would be pretty cozy except for the traffic noise outside. Go a little later on a weekday and that should die down after 7.30pm or so. Some interesting products are also available in the mini-market, including perfect rice and drinking balsamic vinegar. As usual I asked hopefully for fresh-squeezed juice. No fruits ready to be juiced downstairs, but they do carry the locally produced  Cyoni bottled juice and the grapefruit juice wa

Max's Restaurant set menu C

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The place was crazy busy this past Saturday evening when our little group went. Non-stop line-ups till probably 9pm or so and they were pretty full with reservations (which you can make online with OpenTable). When a place is that popular, it must surely be good, right? And a Filipino restaurant filled with Filipino patrons was another good sign.   Inside it looks sort of like a large McDonalds. Bright and spacious. Private rooms host larger groups and birthday parties. One of the plusses was that it looked clean and maintained. I also had a report that the handicap washroom was really ace, clean and even with music playing.   Our group was recommended the set menu options, and more or less at random we went with Option C plus a few extra dishes. A "Full Table" order of a set menu is 2 orders of each item listed and recommended for a party of 10. A "Half Table" is 1 order of each and recommended for a party of 5. We were seven persons so we went with

Dessert Yogurts from Yoplait (on sale!)

This week, Superstore is having a sale on various yogurts, including cartons of 16 x 100g packs of Yoplait for $4.98. An intriguing choice here is the " dessert yogurts " pack, featuring flavours such as Strawberry Cheesecake. I did not personally like it much because I felt that although I could taste the underlying dessert flavour, the sourness of the yogurt ruined it. However, you may like it and at $4.98 it's not pricey to try. A safer choice would be the fruit yogurts, also available in 16 x 100g packs, at $4.98 as well -- at least this week, anyway.

Damso Modern Korean Cuisine

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I was lured to try this place by talk of good Korean tacos, but Vanbrosia rated the tacos only an average 2/3, so we went with other stuff (but did try at least one taco). This smallish restaurant *does* take reservations, but definitely please be on time because on the Friday night we were there, two really busy waitresses were scrambling to handle the constant stream of customers. If your party is just two persons, you may be able to squeeze in, but be prepared for a wait. Of the items I got a proper taste of, only the one taco was really decent (and hopefully not a fluke). The rest were not badly done, but in between why-did-I-bother-to-order-this and mediocre. Anything that sounds spicy probably isn't very spicy. More like toned-down-for-North-Americans spicy. DFC (Damso Fried Chicken drumsticks; $12.99) Eight drumsticks, slathered with a bright red sauce that wasn't super-spicy, so don't worry too much. For some reason, many drumsticks had broken bones, typi

Test drive a car for a complimentary 3-course dinner?

I got an e-mail from the Hamilton Street Grill yesterday: " A Special Event you cannot miss! " Hamilton Street Grill is collaborating with Lincoln Motor Company's #SavourTheCity to offer an unexpected culinary experience. Please join us on September 16th to test-drive the first ever 2015 Lincoln MKC and receive a complimentary 3-course meal created by Executive Chef Neil Wyles. Tuesday, September 16th 2014, 5 - 11pm. For reservations call +1-604-331-1511. We will start taking reservations on September 4th. Space is limited so please call early. 

T&T Cooked Pork and Shrimp Dumplings

My mom had her eye on this T&T product line for a while, but being the frugal person that she is, she waited until it was on sale at Superstore this week and chose the "Cooked Pork & Shrimp Dumplings" to sample. These are basically siu mai . As usual it looks great in ad copy, but how good is it? For a mere eight dumplings, it is quite over-packaged on the inside, with a plastic tray that looks like an ice cube tray for freezers. Each of the eight dumplings sits in its own cubicle, which separates them and prevents them from clumping if you choose to microwave them -- one of the recommended preparation methods. My mom went with steaming. They came out extremely firm, almost rubbery -- basically similar to very firm fish balls . If we had read the label more carefully, we might have expected this -- it's COOKED Pork. This also explains why the meat is clay-grey in colour. If you had ordered siu mai at dim sum, you could expect a much more tender product, a