Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Gettin' Cheesy with Burgoo

Burgoo on Main Street is the perfect place for a lazy brunch sort of Sunday. Great for a soup and sandwich type of date, rain or shine - especially if all you're craving is some grilled cheese. My pal SC and I both chose to have their 'Gooey Cheese Grillers' stuffed with mozzarella, gruyere, emmenthal and white cheddar. These thick cut sandwiches will hit you in all the right spots. Definitely not stingy with the cheese or bread, prepare yourself for food baby aftermath. I usually love to dip my sandwiches in a nice white chowder, this time having their 'Pacific Chowder' featuring smoked salmon, seafood and potato finished with green peas and fresh herbs and SC often enjoys a light salad with apple, red onion, bacon, and feta drizzled with a thyme vinaigrette.

I wouldn't say that I'm a huge patio fan but something about this location rubs me just the right way with their comfortable huge chairs and warm blankets.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Mama's Authentic 'Bun Bao'

It's been a while since I let you into my mama's kitchen so here is another authentic Vietnamese specialty of hers: Bun Bao. Or as my parents like to call it 'Vietnamese salad'. You take a handful of vermicelli, chopped lettuce, cooked pork, ground up peanuts and bean sprouts and toss them in a bowl. Finish it off with some fried onions and dipping fish sauce and voila, you've got yourself a refreshing summer 'salad'. The marinade and sauce for the pork is to die for but I guess for now, the secret is safe with her! :)

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Giant Takoyaki, Cold Ramen and Sushi Cones Make For Excellent Trailer Food!

I was afraid that it was too late to post about this delicious outdoor food stand experience but I just checked their website and they've moved to an indoor location for now! Bakudanyaki Tenku, to my knowledge, is a group of traveling food carts (in Richmond) that offer fantastic little meals to their valued customers who follow them around. On this summer day, my pals and I found them in a parking lot behind the River Rock Casino on Charles Street. Highly recommended by my cousin JV and friend TC, I decided to persuade my friends to come along for the ride!

We started off at a 'create-your-own-sushi-cone' stand where I dreamt up a concoction of gyoza, cheddar cheese and cucumber sushi. Although the combination may be a turn off to some, let me tell you, it did not disappoint! In fact, it was deeeeeeeeeeelish! Look at the cute and hilarious menu below. :)

Next up, we went for their infamous giant takoyaki balls that were literally the size of the palm of one hand. Served in a mini take-out box and loaded with seafood on the inside and bonito flakes on the outside, this doughy ball of goodness is a must try!! I have yet to try the other flavors ... has anyone tried the "Special".? LOL.

And lastly we devoured their 'cold ramen noodle salad' which was their only offering on this hot, hot July day. I was a bit skeptical at first since I usually prefer my ramen to be piping hot but this dish was super refreshing with a tasty sauce and lots of fixins'! It was by far my favorite thing.

My friends and I did a few rounds as we came her for dinner and it was a really fun and unique experience for us. I would definitely recommend all you foodies out there to give it a whirl!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

I Love You, Beef & Blue Cheese Dollar Pizza

My absolute fave dollar pizza place was Pizza Garden on Commercial Drive until they recently closed down. They had the best beef and blue cheese pizza and even had free extra blue cheese sauce on the side so you could blue cheese any flavor pizza you wanted. Don't be fooled because this blue cheese sauce is not as pungent as the actual blue cheese. It must've been mixed with some cream or mayo to equate the goodness that poured from its spout. Drizzled atop tiny crispy balls of ground beef on a sesame crusted triangular slice and sometimes graced by the presence of tomatoes, this pizza will go down in history. Give it a whirl peeps (at other pizza joints) as it's a Phan Fave!

PS - Remember the good ol' days when dollar pizza was actually a dollar? Now it's at least $1.50!!! It's a cruel, cruel world y'all.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

ShuRaku - My New Favorite Izakaya

The first time I dined at ShuRaku with my pals SC and CS, my foodie senses were jumping for joy. It was one of the best meals I had in a while. Izakaya menus are usually quite standard and similar but for some reason, this place just blew me away and I'm planning to go there again this week! Must. try. more. dishes.

The spicy salmon tartar you see above is unique with a raw quail egg cracked on top mixed with avocado, pine nuts and served with crispy nori crackers. My heart used to belong to an alike dish at Kingyo but they since got rid of it! Boohoo!

Next up, we tried the Eda-Matchsticks. You guessed it, edamame beans mixed with potatoes, fried to a crisp and served with a ying yang of mayo and ketchup dip - simply scrumptious!

The Roulette roll is now one of my new favorite specialty rolls. An amalgamation of spicy chopped scallop, avocado and cucumber topped with negitoro, lotus root chips and finished off with a dab of black seaweed soy sauce. Inventive, I say!

Here's an original take on mini slider. Best known here as a 'Japa Slida', and much like KFC's 'Double Down' burger, say bye bye to bread buns and hello to rice patties! A deliciously marinated pork/beef burger with all the fixins' and sealed with a piece of nori, this savoury slida is one to watch out for.

These BBQ back Japanese style ribs will leave you licking your fingers, digging underneath your nails and yearning for more once you get down to the bone! As one of their signature dishes, this meat will fall right off the bone, into your stomach and ingrained in your foodie memory forever.

Last but not least, the Autumn Roll. Yam tempura and cream cheese, topped off with seared salmon, wakame and mayo, definitely a delight for the fall. The atmosphere is much like the other tapas places downtown but the flavor combination, portions and coupons set them aside from the rest.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Cheap Cones Bring Back Great Memories

Did I ever tell you how much I enjoy cheap ice cream cones? When I was just a wee lad, my cousins and I would go gaga over a bucket of grocery store Neapolitan ice cream and a box of cheap ice cream cones. No fancy waffle cones here. Just the budget, crumble in your mouth and hands, leaky, soggy cones. Once in a while, this tradition pops back up at our yearly potlucks. JOY. Btw, this was devoured during a hot summer day at Lonsdale Quay.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Summer Salmon in a Basil Mussel Broth

Seriously, can my food life get any better? Restaurant quality cooking (in most cases, even better) in the comfort of my sister's home. I get served like a king, JC does the dishes and I just kick back and relax while I instantly reminisce about the amazing meal I just had. That just made me sound like a big fat slob but I just love getting pampered at my big sister's place! I hope these blog posts show my gratitude for it. This day, I share with you, my experience with her Cornmeal Crusted Salmon in a Basil Mussel Broth. That's right, we're high class baby, and living large! (She is, anyway.)

Straight from Michael Smith's 'The Best of Chef at Home' cookbook, here's how!

  • 2-3 lbs, mussels
  • Splash of white wine
  • Splash of heavy cream
  • 2 tbls of basil pesto
  • 1 cup of fine cornmeal (important to use fine cornmeal, coarse does not coat as well)
  • S&P
  • Skinless salmon fillets
  • Vegetable Oil
Directions (Broth):
  • Toss mussels, wine and cream in stockpot and cook until mussel shells pop open
  • Cool mussels so you can shuck them
  • Strain the broth and throw the mussels back in and put aside until ready to serve salmon

Directions (Salmon):
  • Toss salmon, one at a time, in a large resealable bag with cornmeal, S&P
  • Add cooking oil in pre-heated pan
  • Add the crusted salmon fillets and pan-fry until golden on the first side (about 5 minutes), then turn and crisp other side
Serve finished salmon with a ladleful of preheated mussel broth.

LC makes everything sound easy but she is just a natural cook and knows her way around the kitchen. I would be slightly afraid to try something like this but I will definitely give this recipe a whirl someday! Of course we added a few sides to go with this entree. Some mini skewers of grape tomatoes, bocconcini and basil, a fresh Caesar salad, a bread loaf from Steveston and my panko crusted prawns! Oh, and some watered down frozen orange juice to wash it all down, my fave! :)

Cream Cheese Frosted Carrot Cake (Wow, that's a lot of C's!)

Another easy recipe to share with y'all. HS, I promise you will not have to call me after attempting this one in your own home. :) Check out that nice golden brown color of my 'naked carrot cake'. I owe a big thanks to my gal pal MC and her momma for sharing this delicious recipe with me. Try putting the cake in the fridge for a chilled cake snack, yum!

'Easy Peezy' Cooking Instructions:
  • In one bowl, sift together 2 cups of flour, 1 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp baking soda, 3/4 tsp salt and 1 tsp cinnamon.
  • In another bowl, beat 1 and 1/4 cup oil, 2 cups sugar and add 4 eggs (1 at a time!!!)
  • Slowly add the dry ingredients and add 2 cups of grated carrots at the end.
  • Pour into a bundt pan and bake at 350 degrees F for 1 hour.

Wait for the cake to cool off a bit on a cooling rack and then spread cream cheese icing evenly like so! The craft you see above is by my sister slave MP.

Cream Cheese Icing:
  • 4 oz cream cheese
  • 1 cup icing sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
Beat in a mixing bowl until desired light and fluffiness and apply to cake!

The Classic Meal at a BBT Joint

I really wish I could sample every dish at a bubble tea restaurant joint. With their ESL descriptions like 'hot cross bums' and 'chief special', you just never know what you're going to get! Which is why I usually end up rotating a few dishes. It's always safe to order the 'salt and peppery deep fried chicken' with rice or noodles. AKA 'deep fried chicken nuggets' or something of that sort. They do it best at Beefy Beef Noodle House on Main or the original No.1 Beef Noddle House on Willingdon. Fried with a bit of basil and it's perfect-0!

And I always like to pair my hot meals with a nice icy drink to cool me down. You can't really go wrong with a lychee green tea at any BBT place either. No pearls though or else you'll be REALLY full and rolling out the door!