Wednesday, August 31, 2011

My Recipe in a Cookbook!


A friend of mine recently got married and her family and friends put together a cooking book for her. Yes, they made this gorgeous book.  I was invited to participate as well and had the honour of having one of my recipe featured in the book.  Chocolate Truffle Truffle looks so good in a book!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Sesame Chicken Soup

Usually done without vermicelli noodles
As a child, this was my favourite soup.  When my family first immigrated, this soup cut through Vancouver's chilly weather and reminded us of home.  According to Chinese medicine, consuming lots of black sesames during pregnancy helps baby develop healthy pale skins.  I am not sure about the validity of this claim, but might as well work it into my diets.  Black sesame oil offers intense flavour and can be found in ethnic food store such as T&T.

This soup is gluten, dairy, egg, sugar, and soy free. It can also be paleo-friendly by removing rice wine and replacing it with simple chicken broth or plain water (just adjust seasonings accordingly).  I usually use daikon, but you can also use any other root vegetables. The traditional soup uses no vegetable at all.  The soup can be poured over cooked rice to make congee or minestrone.  I added paleo-friendly vermicelli instead.

Note: Traditionally, this dish requires bone in chicken thigh.  You need to cleave the the thighs into half pieces.  But I find that the jagged bones can be problematic especially for children.  I tested this recipe using boneless skinless chicken thigh. There was some difference, but it made it much easier to eat.

Ingredients: Serves 4
1 pound chicken thigh halved or boneless skinless chicken thighs
1½ cup daikon cubbed (optional)
1 cup carrot (optional)
3-4 slices of ginger
2 tablespoon black sesame oil
4 cup rice wine (replace with more chicken broth or water for paleo)
2 cup chicken broth or water
4 teaspoon white pepper
4 teaspoon salt
⅓ cup cilantro chopped

Instruction:
1. In a pot, heat sesame oil on high heat.
2. Add sliced ginger and sauté for 30 second
3. Add chicken pieces and cook until the outside of the chicken is cooked (you don't see anymore pink)
4. Add rice wine, chicken broth, and/or water.
5. Reduce heat to medium.  Add the carrots and daikon. Then bring to boil
6. Reduce to simmer. With a spoon, remove excess sesame oil floating on the surface.
7. When the vegetables have softened, add white pepper, salt, and cilantro to taste. Serve!

Note: If you like to add vermicelli as well, delay adding the cilantro.  Bring the soup back to a boil after seasoning and put the noodle in for 1 minute.  Reduce heat and add the cilantro then.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Vermicelli

I stumbled upon this wonderfully delicious noodle that is completely friendly for paleolithic diet.  This particular vermicelli noodle is made from two ingredients: green peas and water. It is easier to cook than any other types of noodle out there.  You can cook this in boil water, broth, or soup and it only takes a minute to cook.  You can eat it hot, as soup noodle, or cold in a salad.

The noodle is translucent and a little chewy.  The noodle itself has no flavour but it picks up flavours from sauce or soup.  This is particularly popular in Chinese hot pot, because it doesn't get soggy sitting inside hot boiling broth for a long time. I have been throwing them into any Chinese broth-y soups I make recently.  Dennis doesn't like them though.

You can get this from T&T, the asian store in Granville Island, or other ethnic stores.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Greek Styled Lamb Lollipop

Summer always comes with lots of BBQ party, and most BBQ sauce out there aren't paleo or allergy friendly.  This is something very easy to prepare, and it goes great on a grill or in the oven.  Lamb lollipop is also great finger food for children or at a party.

Most butcher would be more than happy to section a rack of lamb for you into lollipops. You can use either dried or fresh herbs, but remember that dried herbs are more potent, so adjust the amount accordingly. I actually prefer using dried basil, because fresh basil tend to be too moist for the meat.


Ingredient (serves 2-3):
A rack of lamb (sectioned into individual ribs)
3-4 cloves garlic (minced)
1 Tablespoon oregano (finely chopped)
1 Tablespoon basil (finely chopped)
1 teaspoon rosemary (finely chopped)
1 teaspoon thyme (finely chopped)
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
½ cup olive oil
1 Tablespoon chive (chopped for garnish later)
Salt and Pepper

Instruction: Pre-heat oven 400F or high heat on the grill
1. Combined garlic, oregano, basil, rosemary, thyme, mustard, salt, pepper, olive oil in a bowl.
2. With your hand or a brush, rub the mixture onto each individual lolipop.
3. You can either let it marinate for 1-2 hours or cook it immediately
4. Bake or grill for 12-18 minutes or until the centre reaches 140F for rare.  Flip them over about half way through the cooking process.
5. Sprinkle on chopped chive for garnishes.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Shrimp and Sausage Cioppino

Doesn't look that good, but it's super delicious
This recipe belong to Giada on Food Network. It's rare to see elaborate recipes that is this hypoallergenic and paleo-friendly.  Not every Food Network recipes work out but this one does, and it's super delicious.

The only uncommon ingredients is the spicy turkey sausages, which I found at Oyama at Granville Island.  Four sausages are about 12 dollars, and twelve pawns is another 15 dollars.  It yields 4 servings and takes half an hours to prepare.   I cheated and used dried herbs instead of fresh ones (hence the ugly black color), but it tastes just as delicious.  I cheated again with the chicken broth by using water, worked out fine as well. I am sure you can get away using frozen shrimp too.  The soup tastes even better the next day.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Potato with Coriander Seed

Half Eaten Potatoes
I was half way through eating these potato before I realize I should take a photo of it.  These potatoes are great hot or cool, which makes it a great paleo-friendly carb for lunch boxes.  They are super easy to make as well. You can use any type of potatoes. You can prepare it ahead of time. Coriander seed is pretty soft and can be crushed by hand, or coriander power works too.

Ingredients: serve 4
4 medium sized potato
½ medium sized onion (chopped)
¼ cup ginger (chopped)
1 tablespoon coriander seed (crushed)
2 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoon chives (chopped) Optional

Instruction:
1. Boil and cool potato whole ahead of time.  Then, peel if necessary. Cut into bite size pieces.
2. In a large size pan, heat olive oil over medium heat
3. Put in onion and ginger and stir until onion is softened, about 5 minutes.
4. Put in potatoes and coriander seed.  Cook until the edges of the potatoes are slightly browned and crispy.
5. Remove from heat and toss in the chives.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Blueberry Porridge

Breakfast is the most challenging meal for our non-egg Paleo diet. Most traditional breakfasts, Western or Asian, are not paleo friendly. Unless we are content eating breakfast like dinner (the mere thought of it makes me nauseated), I have to get very creative.

Christina recommended this coconut fruit porridge to us, and it is delicious.  Then, I made a couple refinement to it to smooth out the consistency.  This dish is super filling and high in healthy calories; half a bowl would be more than enough to satisfy my nutrition requirement for the morning.

This dish is good hot or cold, depend on your mood. You can also adjust the thickness by adding more water or nuts.  You can also replace blueberry with other fruits.

Ingredients: Serves 2 for a very thick porridge
½ cup cashew
½ cup almond (Optional: adjust for preferred thickness)
½ cup coconut milk
½ cup water (adjust for preferred thickness)
½ cup blueberry (frozen ones for cold porridge)
1 tablespoon cinnamon

Instruction for hot porridge:
1. Soak cashew overnight in water.
2. In the morning, drain the cashew and add it to a blender.
3. Add the almond, coconut milk, water, and blueberry into the blender and blend until smooth.
4. Add more water or almond to the desire thickness
5. Pour the mixture into a pot and simmer on low heat, covered, and stir frequently until hot.
6. Add cinnamon and some fruit topping, and serve

If you want to make cold porridge, place the cashew in the fridge and use less almond.  Add small amount of ice to the blender and use frozen fruits.

Note: don't make too much as the porridge is very filling.  Leftover can be stored for the next morning.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Paleolithic Diet

Look but don't touch
Dennis has embarked on the Paleolithic Diet as recommended by Christina Longo, our personal trainer.  This diets restrict the consumption of sugar, carbohydrates, and legumes, meaning:

  • No carbohydrate except for root vegetables such as potato, yams, and squashes
  • No sugar (e.g. pastry, candy, honey, maple syrup) except for a serving of fruit
  • No legumes (beans of any kind)
  • No dairy, because lactose is a form of sugar
  • No beer, but a glass of dry wine is okay
Since Dennis is allergic to eggs, which is considered the backbone of this diet, he has to supplement his diet with additional vitamins of Omega-6, Magnesium, and Vitamin D.  I am very skeptical of this diet (and pregnant women should never go on any diet), but coincidentally, my blood sugar is high. In order to prevent developing gestational diabetes, I have put myself on a strict exercise and sugar regiment, so my diet also looks something like the Paleolithic Diet, with the exception of legumes and dairy.  

After two weeks into this diet, I noticed that a lot of my pregnancy related bloating and water retention have gone away, and Dennis has lost a couple of inches from his waist.  However, I am not sure if the weight lost can be contributed to the diet or the fact that he is eating less, because of all the restriction.  We will see.

Anyway, this diet is very difficult (and interesting) to cook for, but it's not that drastic a change from our usual diet. I will add "Paleo" as a search topic for this blog.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Zakkushi on 4th Ave

Zakkushi is...a Japanese mystical creature of a restaurant.  Squeezed between a pizza hut and a Greek restaurant, Zakkushi's building looked as if it was teleported from 1930 Japan.  As out of place as it looks, I would walk right by and never notice its existence.  When you finally find the restaurant, you would feel as if you just step into a mystical Japanese old fishing house in some mystical forest. Suddenly, the busy traffic on 4th Ave seem out of place; not that you would even notice it with their small windows and double entrance.

Then, the interior barely looked like a restaurant.  It is tiny, seating no more than 20 people with 4 wooden table and wooden bar stools. Quaint doesn't began to describe it.

Food: 4.5/5
This is a place other chefs come to eat, to enjoy themselves, and to be inspired.  I have spotted at least a dozen local celebrity chefs here, leaning back with saki in their hands.  Their famous yakitori, charcoal grilled meats on bamboo sticks, are that good.  There are three pages dedicated to the different meat with other creative ingredients, sauces, and flavours: bacon wrapped asparagus, cheese wrapped chicken, or simple grilled beef. There is something for everyone and you can get one of each without breaking the bank.

Fried Savoury Mochi
 The rest of the menu offers delicious treasures as well.  I haven't had anything there I did not like.  Have you ever had mochi? Their grilled or fried stick rice treat is the perfect way to introduce yourself or others to this fantastic (and gluten free) Japanese delicacy.   How about ochazuké? The beloved onigri?

Salmon Salad
If you are looking for a more typical Vancouver styled Japanese restaurant, you would be sorely disappointed.  They don't serve California rolls, or any rolls for that matter.  Zakkushi serves authentic Japanese fare: things Japanese people would eat on a regular basis.  They do have a good selection of sashimi, but instead of chunks of raw fish on plate that Vancouverites are more used to.  Their sashimi are thinner, beautifully plated, and delicately seasons.  Drenching these in a soy sauce bath should be criminal.

Yakitori Don
On the other hand, they have plenty of dishes for the less adventurous.  For example, their yakitori don is my favourite. It comes with a poached egg that you mesh into your rice with a spoon.  The result is a soul healing bowl of deliciousness.  Their beef stew is amazing as well.

They also have sweet mochi with ice cream for dessert.

Service: 2.5/5
Hearty Beef Stew
Zakkushi is usually staffed with 2.5 servers and 2 chefs.  The half server is also a prep chef and a dish washer.  The servers are also responsible for bartending, managing the huge line up at the door, and taking (more like refusing) reservation on the phone.  This doesn't leave much time to serving.  However, they manage to find time to keep your table clean, well watered, and deliver food at a timely fashion.  However, other than that, you will need to wave a server down in order to get their attention outside their usual routine.

Ambience: 3/5
Onigri
The air inside any izakaya in Japan would be blue with smoke.  Zakkushi offers the authentic izakaya ambience without lung cancer; something you can't get even in Japan.  The restaurant uses dim warm light and the lack of window give makes you forget about your bad day at work and that expiring parking meter.   It's almost romantic, if you don't mind the tight space between the tables, or bumping elbows with the guy next to you at the bar.  Just pretend you are in Tokyo where it's this crowded.  For lone diner, this is the perfect place to be.

Overall Experience: 3.5/5
Personally, I love this restaurant, but I can also see many people not liking it for the same reason I like it. People not not like it, because it deviate so far away from the norm of which we expect most Western restaurants.  This place doesn't really offer the 3 course routine (appetizer, main course, then desert).  we are more used to; Yakitori is eaten with hands and most dishes are tapas or for share.  It doesn't carry many mainstream Japanese dishes that Vancouverites are familiar with.  You may hate being turn away at the door without a reservation or having to wait even if you have one.  However, you might enjoy this  truly authentic Japanese experience.

Total: 13.5/5
I definitely recommend everyone to try it at least once.  Zakkushi is worth checking out for its food and the unique set up.

0: inexcusably bad
1: bad
2: below average
2.5: average
3: above average
4: excellent
5: perfection


Zakkushi Charcoal Grill (Kitsilano) on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Second Trimester





Sorry for being a terrible blogger... I got pregnant and suddenly anything other than plain rice became repulsive. Even a glimpse of food photo would send me running to the washroom.

Two days ago, I woke up with no pregnancy sickness! Looks like I am officially in my second trimester! WOOT!

I am back to blogging regularly, and I also plan to include a new subject of pregnancy and food (and later on, baby and food!).

Stay tuned!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Friday, April 15, 2011

Tea Infused Salmon with Skordalia

Not my best photo. It was taken late at night without much help
 from lighting and the composition was all wrong too. (I was eager to eat it)

Rick Moonen was my favourite Top Chef Master of all time.  I bought his book, Fish Without a Doubt when I was still in university.  Being a sociology student, I bought the book purely based on its premise: eating sustainable seafood. The book offered caters to everyone from beginner chefs who can't tell one fish to another to advance chefs who want to find new ways to cook fish head.

Fish Without a Doubt: The Cook's Essential CompanionPersonally, I really admire Chef Rick's innovative ways of flavouring food and incorporating very unconventional spices and cooking technical.   For example, he used lapsang souchong tea to marinate and flavour salmon.  Lapsang souchong is a black tea with strong nasty smell that reminds me of tobacco and burnt wood.  This tea is often consumed for medicinal use instead of pleasure. In fact, a whiff of this tea reminded me of acupuncture office in Taiwan.

For one of his recipe, Rick grounds up this tea in a spice grinder and rub it all over the salmon. Then, marinate it for an hour before sautéing it in butter.  The result was a delicious, subtle smoky flavour which bought out the natural sweetness of the fish.  It was phenomenal.  Who would have thought this pungent tea would turn into a magical spice?

Anyway, we don't like butter.  So after the first attempt, I replaced butter with grape seed oil, and it tasted just as good and without the grease and the guilt.  Then, I tried baking it with olive oil instead of sautéing.  It was just as tasty and even lower in calorie, but I lost the delicious crispy skin.

This opened up a new world of cooking for me.  I am now trying various tea : rose, matcha, red tea, and etc.  It's amazing!  I will definitely be posting more of these delicious discovery in the future.

Next post: Skordalia - the way Yaya used to make it.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Holland America

For our honeymoon, Dennis and I choose the Caribbean tour with Holland America's new ship, NieuwAmsterdam.  We didn't do much on our trip: relaxing, sun tanning, and dinning with people at least twice of our age (or thrice).

Wasabi Soy Crusted Beef
Tenderloin from Tamarind
Manhattan, the main dinning hall, serves all three meals.  The food... well... for food that had to be mass produced quickly and within budget it was pretty good.  Objectively, it was rather disappointing for a cruise that boast to have the best foodie experience.  Also, sharing table with other couple sounded good in theory but was super bad idea in reality.

 South East Asian Spice Samplers
 from Tamarind
Lido, the not-24hour buffet, was where Dennis and I ate most of our breakfast and lunch.  Ironically, the buffet offered the variety, portion and ingredient control of all the restaurants.  We were able to tailor our dish to make sure we got enough fibre and vitamin C, while keeping our calories in check.

Lobster Salad at Pinnacle 
Tamarind was their high end dinning (and you have to extra) on the top deck, with view.  They offer a wide range of Westernized Asian cuisine, everything from below average sushi to fancy pad thai, on fancy plates.  I thought the concept of this restaurant was innovative by utilizing the knowledge and skills of their employees on board and the food was delicious.  I would compare it to Red Door.

Pinnacle Grill
Canaeletto is their attempt at offering some Italian options on the cruise.  Don't go there.

Pinnacle Grill is the best restaurant on board.  In fact, it was so good that the restaurant was booked full within 12 hours of boarding.  Therefore, as soon as you board and before you go to your room, head down there and make as many reservation as they are willing to give you.  The food here was aaaaaamazing.   The best steaks I had ever had and was top 10 for our friends from New York.
Then there is the special Le Cirque nights with special menu with wine pairing.  Each dish was delicious and some were mind melting. I couldn't get enough of it, and, as I ate, I lamented that this restaurant was only on a cruise and I could not sample each dish (over and over again).  Then there was the ambience. The restaurant reminded me of a cozy Jewelled box with crystal, velvet, and candle light: very French and very fancy.  The staffs were super nice,  personable, and seemed to be having as much as we were.  A restaurant like this will do very well in Vancouver.

Tamarind Chocolate
Wine: If you are from Canada, their expensive wine list is still a discount.  The wine masters were very knowledgeable.  Befriend with them at the pinnacle bar to find out their secret stash of wine that are not on the wine list.

Wine Tasting was also worth going to.  Even with some wine education, the chocolate wine paring session offered lots of information I didn't know.

Cooking Classes was also interesting, but if you are a Food Networkolic or a seasoned cook, these classes won't offer you anything new.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Maison Côté

For those who frequents the farmer's market, this should be nothing new.  Maison Côté makes (locally) amazing lines of spice and herbs products, especially their flavoured salts.  Their raspberry salt is ranked 54th on Vancouver's 1000 things you must eat before you die list.  I'd probably bump it up a few rank though (It's amazing).

What is the point of buying flavoured salt when I can flavour my food separately? This is true for some of the mixed spice rubs and salt rubs.  I can mix my own and control the salt, but the fruity salts are definitely great addition to any kitchen.   The fruit salts, especially the blueberry salt, adds a bit of acidity and fruitiness to your salad when actual chunks of fruit are not appropriate.  Raspberry salt is amazing in soups, such as the Short Rib Soup or the Mushroom Soup.  I haven't completely figure out how the salt magically turns ordinary broth into five-star broth.  Perhaps it's the acidity that cuts and balances the oil, but I haven't able to replicate the result with lemon juice.  Hibiscus salt has also made its way into our lives.  Hibiscus is a smoky palate cleanser and great addition in just about any heavy flavoured good.  I like to use it in curry, lamb roast, and flat-boy chickens.

Otherwise, these salts are lazy cook's dream come true.  A spoonful of their perfectly portioned rubs would be great addition to your meal.  They even have pairing suggestion right on the label.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Rib Soup with Garlic


Spring is almost here in Vancouver.  We seems to be stuck in rain-with-chance-of-sun weather, and kids (and Dennis) have started to leave their jacket at home.  In other words, flu season is also here.  I always make this soup during spring and fall for Dennis, when he is coming home in a wet rainy day.  This is also a great low calorie, gluten free alternative to chicken noodle soup!

This is a pretty typical for Chinese home-cooking, and spare ribs or side ribs (same thing different names) are used for soup.  The Western baby back rib are ribs closer to the spine, and they tend to be meatier. Whereas side ribs are  closer to the belly and usually have more bones and fat.  More bones make better broth  and the fat makes the meat more tender after been boiled.  Side ribs are also much cheaper than baby back ribs.  If you have a reliable butcher, have him pick the leanest rack he has.  Western butchers don't usually stock side ribs, however, and often it has to be special ordered in.  However, Asian markets, such as T&T, would carry these.

Like baby back ribs, side ribs can also come with long bones, but we don't want that.  Ask your butcher to cut them down to an inch to an inch and half strips.  You can do it at home with a cleaver, but it's not fun.  If your butcher is super nice, also have him separate each rib individually.

People also cook the soup with their local root vegetable, such as daikon or khohlrabi, to add additional flavour and texture.  The vegetable is also great for soaking up the fat.  However, just about any fibrous root vegetable would do.  For this soup, I used carrot and even added a little bit of broccoli at the end.  

There are a lot of variation to this soup. Its foundation is just ribs, salt, and water and everything else can be changed.  Definitely have fun with it and experiment with your favourite ingredients.  For the even lower calorie version of the soup, just slow boil ribs with tons of garlic (no salt, additional oil) in water, and then remove the fat after.


Ingredients: (serves 4)

1 strip side ribs (chopped into 1 inch pieces)
1½ - 2 bulbs garlic (yes lots)
½ onion (chopped)
1 large carrot (and/or other root vegetable) (chopped)
2 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt
4-5 cups cold water
finally chopped cilantro for garnish

Instruction:

1. In a medium size (4 quartz or bigger) pot at medium low heat, sauté onion and carrot for 5 minutes. Do not let them brown.
2. Add 4-5 cups of cold water, garlic, and the ribs.  Increase the heat to medium high. Let it boil uncovered. Do not stir in the meantime.
3. When the water boils, lower the heat immediately to low.  With a ladle, slowly scoop out the fat floating on the top.
4. Add lemon juice and salt.  Then, garnish and serve!

If the soup taste blend to you, you can either add more salt or allow the soup to boil down for a bit.  I always allow the soup to slowly simmer for two hours before serving.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Trainer's Tip from Christina

Keeping on tract when traveling

Travel is amazing. You meet new people, visit exciting locations that expand your mind and inspire. Yet there is a downside. Between long hours sitting on airplanes, poor dietary options, and lack of sleep, we can be left feeling out of sorts and even a few pounds heavier! Here are 3 tips to help you arrive and depart feeling balanced, lean and focused on the experiences!

1. Request a special meal or be picky. Most airlines offer many options including raw (personal favorite), gluten or dairy free. Otherwise, buy a salad or raw vegetables to bring on the plane to subsidize what you pick and choose from what is offered.

2. Avoid caffeine, focusing on water to stay hydrated. This will help keep the energy drops that send us towards carbohydrate packed snacks at a minimum.

3. Take a walk. If you have a wait before departure or have a layover, take 15 to 30 min to briskly stroll the airport to get the blood flow going and burn a few calories.

Give these tips a try and make your next travel experience more enjoyable and healthier!

Sent from my BlackBerry device on the Rogers Wireless Network

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Green Pan

GreenPan Stockholm Skillet - 12½" - Non-stick

After my Frying Pan 101 posts, my future in-laws (they read my blog!) gave me a gift certificate for The Green Pan. So here is my first review of a fancy cookware.

Green pan is just as good as they have advertise and better.  I cooked with it for a week, and I have enjoyed how quickly it heats up, retains the heat, and how evenly it cook even without oil. The best part is the cleaning. I managed to crust it with a thick layer of burnt maple syrup during a moment of inattention. Then I left it uncleaned for a day and half. Yet the crust came off under running water and a little encouragement by my hands. I did not need brushes or scrubs at all. Dennis who is not interested in the kitchen at all (but is usually stuck with the dishwashing duty) is singing praises for this lovely pan. Rarely does an environmentally friendly product cheaper, easier to use, and better. I have yet found it's flaws, but I will let you know.


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Coast


Coast is another gorgeous-yet-expensive-borderline-overpriced creation of Glowball Group. Unlike the others, Coast specializes in seafood: everything from fish and chips to sashimi with an artistic flair.  The menu, food, ambience, and service scream the underlying philosophy behind the Glowball frienchise: food should not be simply concomsumed, it should be connoisseured, hedonistically and opulently.

Food: 4/5
Ahi Tuna
Let's start with the open concept oyster bar where chefs work tirelessly to clean, chuck, and plate raw oysters that are farmed or harvested locally.  The menu lists oysters according by region using the same language as wine and its terrior to describe the flavours of each. Their sushi creations are pretty average for Vancouver standard, but this may be a good place to introduce your less adventurous friends to sushi. The content of each dish is listed in perfectly appetizing English and the beautiful Western plating and seductive ambience enhance them even more.  Dennis loves their separate Raw section which is a marriage between sashimi and western carpaccio .
BC Cod

Then there is the grilled fish, which Coast has come pretty lose to perfecting.  If $31 swordfish is a little on the dry side, the manager will take it off your bill and offer additional free dessert.  The Big Fish and Whole Fish section offer dishes that would not break your calorie bank and can be hypoallergenic. Simple ask to replace mash potato with dairy-free sautéd vegetable.
However, not every dish is good, and consistency is an issue. Their poutine is terrible, fish and chips are below average, and the flatbreads are hard, dry, and slightly burnt.   The "idea" pop-rock lolipops are rather ingenious, but its taste is pretty average.

On the other hand, you must try their unique fish cake, Manhattan Chowder, Lobster Bisque, and godly Molten Banana Lava Cake.

If you think something doesn't taste right or is prepared well, just wave down your waiter and they will go out of their way to please you.

This is definitely the best seafood place in Vancouver, if you don't consider the price.

Pop-Rock Lollipops
Service: 4/5
The service is pretty fantastic there.  Its good to see that they are slowly adopting the secret service style earpiece for some of their servers (popular in Asia) for faster communication and increased efficiency.  They know when to solicit your attention and when to serve discretely.  The best part is some of the servers seem to be able to read faces and know when the customers are displeased.  The service isn't perfect though; we did meet a black sheep one time who abruptly contradicted us about the quality of the flatbread. We don't like him...

Molten Banana Coconut Cake
Ambience: 4/5
This is so far the first restaurant that thoroughly thought of each and every aspect and detail of their decor.  Every thing from the lights and the wall to the plate setting work are fashionable, clever, seductive and seamlessly.  You will even find yourself marvelling over their ketchup bottle. There are enough dividers and changes in elevation to the restaurant seem not so crowded and noisy.  Large oval tables are set below gorgeous chandelier for large groups.  I have seen amazing office parties held here.

Overall: 3/5
Coast is really really expensive. We can only go sparingly. Above average wine list.

Total: 15/20
Also, if you like caesar (the drink), you HAVE TO order it. You won't regret it.

Coast Restaurant on Urbanspoon
- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Monday, February 7, 2011

We are back!

Hello Folks, we just came back from our honeymoon this morning.  I will churn out the next post by tomorrow morning.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Getting Married



Sorry about the lack of blog postings.  I am getting married!!  I promise to post more soon!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Iki Mandala Bistro

There are two Iki in the Kits area: The main one, Iki Japanese Bistro is near Broadway and the other one, Mandala Iki Asian Bistro is on 4th Ave. Unlike the stereotypical sushi houses, Iki offers more diverse menus, authentic dishes, and unique (and daring) creations. They were also one of the pioneering restaurants offering brown rices for their sushi.

Seaweed Salad
Mandala is the little sister of the Japanese one. It is not my favourite, but that's just a personal preference. Instead of specializing in one cuisine, Mandala does the opposite by offering a little bit of everything from every Asian cuisine: Japanese, Chinese, Thai, and Vietnamese. (The menu is not the same!) Do they make all these dishes well? No, they are average or above average, catering to Western palettes.

Veggy Pho
You might be inclined to think that their menu needs a Restaurant Makeover, but I actually enjoy bring wble to have a bowl of healthy pho while Dennis have his sushi rolls.  Their pho is not super oily, salt, and full of MSG, and they even cook the bean sprouts before serving it.  You will find it slightly under flavoured compared to the standard pho.

Like other Iki, this one is understaffed too.  Sometimes, there are only one dude serving the lunch rush, but they still manage to keep the service and the quality of the food pretty consistent.  He just has difficulty checking up on everyone regularly.   However, once I got a hair in my food, and it was not reimbursed.

Mandala IKI Asian Bistro on Urbanspoon
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Monday, January 10, 2011

Iki Japanese Bistro

There are two Iki in the Kits area: The main one, Iki Japanese Bistro is near Broadway and the other one, Mandala Iki Asian Bistro is on 4th Ave. Unlike the stereotypical sushi houses, Iki offers more diverse menus, authentic dishes, and unique (and daring) creations. They were also one of the pioneering restaurants offering brown rices for their sushi.

Volcano Roll
Iki Japanese Bistro on Broadway specializes in Japanese cuisine and creating unique dishes.

Iki's sushi rolls are noticeably better crafted than Mandala Iki or other average sushi restaurants. The rolls are compact, perfectly cut, and come with beautiful designs. The quality is always good and consistent. The specialty rolls such as, Spinach and Feta Roll, are pretty expensive ($7), but they were all thoughtfully out together. Especially try their Volcano Rolls which come with yam tempura fries and spiced miso sauce.

Edamame Hummus
If you are looking for something more healthy and calories conscious, Iki's also offers lots of delicious and affordable options on their daily menu such as the Power Sushi Bowl which has edamame, avocado, seaweed salad, cucumbers and other greens on a bed of brown rice for $9. My favourite is the Seared tuna, Salmon, Cashew with Chili Salad. It comes with tons of season greens and is full of flavour, fitting right into any low carb or gluten free diet.

If you are simply looking for bargain bento box deal, they have that too. The veggie box is especially delicious; they grill the tofu just right.  Their lunch special is $9 while the dinner is $12.

Do not go here when you are in a rush.  They are constantly understaffed, and it may take a while for you to get your orders.  However, the lounge music, dark wood, leather seats make it pretty ideal for a long romantic date with style and within budget.

Dennis and I regularly visits this restaurant for their salads.  You might run into us.

Iki Japanese Bistro on Urbanspoon