Thursday, January 31, 2013

Vancouver: Peaceful Restaurant

triple d and double g
:Broadway + Cambie:


Guy Fieri has the BEST job.  Objectively speaking, I should do Guy’s job with him.  How awesome would it be to see a petite brunette Asian out-eat a platinum blonde American dude with a penchant for silver.  And I’m pretty sure I would out-eat him every time.  For those that don’t personally know me, you think I’m exaggerating; for those that know me, you KNOW I speak the truth.  My appetite knows NO bounds.

Since Guy featured Peaceful, I’m sure their business has been booming.  The power of television, the addiction of Food Network.

Momma GG saw this on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives and wanted to go.  FINALLY.  A place I could take her --- willingly.  We had dinner there on Wednesday.  It was busy for 5:00, and only got busier.

I owe Sherman a huge debt.  I read his post before I went so I could familiarize myself with the restaurant’s highlights.  And the eggplant dish caught my eye.  It likely wouldn't have been on my radar.  It was superb.  I’m still reminescing.

Chilli garlic eggplant - BEST dish 
Garlicky, tangy, saucy, gingery, plain delicious with a little heat
"Peaceful beef roll" - one of the best beef pancake rolls I've had
Spicy, salty tofu
Their noodles – which they’re known for – are good. Great chew factor and nice consistency:

In soup - Sichuan beef soup noodles
Pan fried - Seafood stir-fried noodles
I did take issue with the serious lack of seafood - 
two shrimp, two octopus, and IMITATION crab meat.
No crab meat > Imitation foam
A fantastic dinner out.  Momma GG was happy.  The sister was happy, and of course I was.  Three smile meal.


Hey Guy, if you need an eating partner, call me.

Peaceful Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Vancouver: Nat’s Pizzeria New York

knowledge is power
:Denman:


So their story goes...two brothers went to New York City to learn a century old family secret.  Then they brought it - Nat's Pizzeria New York - to Vancouver.  

The lengths people will go never ceases to amaze me.  I’m all for going above and beyond, if it shows in the product, and their pizza is good.  A great slice in fact.  That simple.


My favourite pizza is margarita. If you can make a mean margarita, it’s likely everything else is as good. 


This slice was for my sister.  She took a bite before I could snap a pic.  Says a lot about her...doesn't it?

Nat's New York Pizzeria (Denman) on Urbanspoon

Vancouver: Poised Nail Lounge + Spa

Report on Poised Nail Lounge 

Location: West Pender + Bute
Interior: Clean space, small, hair and spa services
Ideally For: A place to take yourself

Service: Mani/Pedi
Price: $50
Duration: 1.5 hours 
Details: File, cuticle care, buff, scrub (feet only), massage, and polish application
Massage: Long enough to be enjoyable with a nice smelling lotion

Comments: Power buffs feet instead of a razor, attention-to-detail, attentive and friendly
Products: OPI, CND, Ritual

Longevity: Good

Final Grade: B

Click HERE for Grading System.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Vancouver: Absolute Spa at Century

Report on Absolute Spa

Website
Location: Burrard + Davie
Interior: Spa setting
Ideally For: Spoil yourself and/or your mom day. 


Service: Moor Mud Hand Therapy Manicure
Price: $84
Duration: 1 hour
Details: File, cuticle care, buff, exfoliation, moor mud hand soak, paraffin, massage, and polish application
Massage: Lovely
Comments: Obnoxiously expensive, even for moor mud and paraffin
Products: OPI

Longevity: Good

Final Grade: C

Click HERE for Grading System.

Vancouver: Cafe Zen on Yew

what’s in a name
:Kitsilano:


Did you read my thoughts on La Brasserie?  If not, please do, so you can meet Leroy.  He is why this post exists.

Kits.  I remember loving this place.  Funny how 15 years later, I still do.  And there, just a few blocks from the beach is a cute café, Cafe Zen on Yew to be exact.

It was busy, but we beat the line.  They have a long list of eggs bennies, but I haven’t even gotten to the best part.  You can MIX and MATCH them.  Variety is SO the spice of my life.

My sister and I shared one Benjamine (bacon) and one Flo (spinach and ham).  

Flo
Both delicious and the hollandaise – creamy with the right amount of tang and the perfect consistency.  I wouldn’t want my eggs smothered any other way.  The homefries were surprisingly not greasy – always a bonus when you’re brunching.


We also shared the blueberry pancakes which I wasn’t a fan of.  Too much flat, not enough fluff.  And most definitely didn’t hold a candle to my favourite.  I can’t help but compare as I’m going through serious Toronto withdrawal.


The vibe of Zen is laid back, and very weekend afternoon – chill, eat, talk, drink coffee and move at your own pace, in your own time.  

Zen, by any other name would taste as good.

Cafe Zen on Yew on Urbanspoon

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Vancouver: Dinesty Chinese Restaurant

intentional typo, parhaps
:Richmond:


They say Richmond is home to some of the best Chinese cuisine, more accurately they say given that the demographic is 65 percent Asian and 45% of Chinese ancestry it is “renowned” for that.  Now, let’s forget they have copy edit error (percent, then %), and the fact I didn’t even make the shortlist for the winning blogger (lol), and just settle on the fact I still don’t know what they’re talking about.  I have yet to find these places they speak of.  If you know where I should be eating, please direct me there.

Dinesty had great reviews.  I thought it was alright. Does it fall under “the best”, no.  It fell way under that.  But I understand why it's busy.  It's good...enough.

We waited about 20 minutes for a table, but they do take reservations. My mistake for not making one.

The XLB here beat the XLB at Shanghai River:


The beef pancake roll was good, but got demoted to okay since I just had Peaceful Restaurant.  Life is relative, so then is food.

The shanghai noodles were good.  We always get them because Momma GG likes her some shanghai noodles. 


My final assessment is that Dinesty is better than ‘your average Chinese restaurant’ in terms of taste, cleanliness and service, but restaurants like Dinesty are a dime a dozen.  I want just better.

N.B. They are opening one on Robson Street.

Dinesty Chinese Restaurant 聚 on Urbanspoon

Vancouver: Posy Nail Spa

PREFACE

No one really likes moving across the country.  It's a logistical, economical, social, vocational, and emotional nightmare.  That said, you handle your business.  And before you know it, you're whole again.  But then we women face a whole other headache - finding replacements for the essential relationships we invested in over time:

1. Hair stylist

2. Manicurist
3. Facial guru
4. Wax god
5. Massage therapist

These relationships are over.  Long distance sucks.  
I suppose I should add family doctor and dentist to that list, but that's really a secondary concern for me.  Pause.  I think I've got #1 covered.  Let's move to #2.  



GRADING SYSTEM


A - is for awesome so I'll be going on the regular.
B - Good so I'll be going, but I have no loyalty.
C - Not for me, but not horrible.
F - They should close down.

Report on Posy Nail Spa

Website
Location: Homer + Davie
Interior: Crowded, not neat/not dirty, no frills
Ideally For: A place to take yourself

Service: Shellac Manicure, Pedicure
Price: $75
Duration: 40 minutes
Details: File, cuticle care, buff, massage, and polish application.
Massage: Crap - barely there, stale smelling lotion
Comments: Quick, inattentive, sloppy, and cuts cuticles too liberally.
Products: OPI, Essie, CND

Longevity: Poor

Final Grade: F

Youth Mud by GLAMGLOW

now pamper me pretty
I'm here, and I'm listening.  My beauty posts have been MIA.  I haven't been buying products of late.  Having been unemployed doesn't bode well for shopping.  Now that I'm working, things will slowly resume.  


:Pricey at $69:

I did get a chance to visit the local Sephora here and GLAMGLOW Youth Mud caught my eye.  It's new and pricey, but  impressive enough to try.  It's black and gooey and easy to apply.  

10 minutes to dry, leaving your face really, really tight but washes away leaving your skin noticeably glowing.  There are way too many ingredients to name, but here are a few: french sea clay to absorb impurities, volcanic pumice rock to exfoliate, and green tea leaf pieces that deliver super antioxidants.

It's a lot in a little jar.

I'm a big fan of french sea clay, remember this. So why would I pay more for GLAMGLOW? Simple, with continued use it will deliver crazy gorgeous skin.  The people in Hollywood say so.  It's used in some of the best hotel spas in the country, like Bliss, St. Regis and the Four Seasons.  Is it all marketing?  Perhaps, but I used it. So I believe.

Like it.

There. Finally, a beauty post.  You happy now?  The next few posts will be focused on my search for a solid mani-pedi place.  There is no Beauty Line in Vancouver.

Vancouver: Flying Pig

dance monkey, dance
:Yaletown:



If Flying Pig was Torontonian, Flying Pig would be on Ossington.  It's the place where unassuming delivers amazing.

If Flying Pig was Quebecois, it'd be in the Plateau, where it would give La Salle A Manger a run for its money.

But Flying Pig is in Vancouver.  So am I.  Good things do happen to me.

From the outside in, Flying Pig looks good.  I want to go in. And I finally got my chance this afternoon.  I had the ultimate pleasure of meeting an old friend, Totoro.  I say old in the sense that she and I have not had any face time since we were about 19?!?  That was about a thousand life lessons, a few boyfriends, a couple jobs, and about a hundred drunken nights ago.  A lot can change over time.  Except for the fact she's still a ray of sunshine.  I know, a decade older and she's still as shiny as she was then.  Me? Not so much, we Torontonians always have a little grime. 


Totoro is a Vancouverite through-and-through, after all she's been here for almost 10 years.  She just sent me a list of some of her favourites and I'm slowly going to work my way through them, especially since I was such a fan of her first pick - the Pig.


It's a casual restaurant with some of my favourite elements: solid wood tables, big mirrors, hanging lights, and a chalkboard.  It all works together to say, come in, sit down, eat.

The brunch menu had me at "Brekkie". And the caesars got me with the giant celery and mason jar:


Tangy and sharp
Our server was the perfect mix of let me serve you quietly when you two are engrossed in conversation, let me offer a few friendly comments and banter otherwise, and let me leave you alone when you're still here long after you've paid the bill.  Intuitive service - a sign of a great restaurant.

The food was really good.  Simple menu, bold flavours, and actually, understated-ly pretty:


Totoro's French Toast with Maple Blueberry Compote
Thick cut brioche, butter and blueberries
Chef Erik's Croque Madame
Sourdough, three cheese and over easy eggs
Is it just me...or is that a heart I see?  
Things to note: brioche is beautiful, my eggs were perfect, and the prices are better than decent.  

Flying Pig impressed.  I'm not impressed often, but when I am.  I have a dance party.

The Flying Pig on Urbanspoon

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Vancouver: La Taqueria Pinche Taco Shop

ooooooooo.l.é.
:Broadway + Cambie:
 

Pick a door, any door.  Everyone wins at La Taqueria.

Door number 1.
Surprise. Wednesdays you buy four tacos, you get two free.

Door number 2.
Fabulously, abundantly, and flavourfully filled. Brilliant.

And finally, door number 3.
An extreme condiment and sauce selection that will knock you off your seat.  No really, “hot” sauce can do that.


I was surprised at how authentic and delicious these tacos are.  I’m sure you’re wondering why I’m so shocked considering this place is so popular, so let it be said that so far Vancouver is not meeting expectation.  The city does not follow through on the hype.  Take for instance HousexGuest (scroll down for my thoughts).

La Taqueria really reminds me of my favourite little taco stand in Cabo. Locally made soft tortillas and delightful simple flavour combinations that will blow your mind, like refried beans with mexican cheese or pork marinated in achiote chilli and pineapple. My favourite was pescado, grilled seasonal fish with pico de gallo. Good.gosh.

Pescado

Braised beef cheeks
Chicken with chorizo in a chipotle tomato sauce with mexican cheese and sour cream
Four meat for $9.50 and four veggie for $7.00.  If you follow them on Twitter or check out their website they post all sorts of food cuteness - e..g say their word of the day and get a fifth taco free. 

Don’t let the awesomeness hit you on the way out.

La Taqueria Taco Shop on Urbanspoon

Monday, January 21, 2013

Vancouver: Won More Szechuan Cuisine

won some?
:Denman:


I have mentioned being a fan of Sherman in earlier posts.  Now that I've really started to settle into the city, I have more reason to consult his blog.  My sister has since followed suit.  We like Sherman because so far, we have agreed with him.  Our baseline is: if he likes it, we will try it.

A few weeks ago I wanted quick Chinese take out.  Sorry, that's not true -- my regular readers know I'm not a big fan of Chinese food -- my mother wanted Chinese take out.  I looked for a restaurant in the area and found Won More.  The name is cringeworthy, but Sherman likes it.  So I went and picked up the shrimp foo young and fried rice.  We liked it.

Tasty.
A week later, I wanted Chinese delivery.  Did it again, sorry -- my sister wanted Chinese delivery.  I suggested Won More and she liked it too.



It's good.  It's not as greasy (I say as, because by nature Chinese food is greasy.  Sidebar: every wonder why you crave pop when you have dim sum, Chinese, or pizza, well it's your body screaming for some carbonation to cut through the grease).  Fat aside, Won More is exactly what I want in Chinese - cheap, good, plentiful.

It's good.  I'd won some more.

Won More Szechuan Cuisine on Urbanspoon

Friday, January 18, 2013

Vancouver: Minami Restaurant

sushi is sexy
:Yaletown:



My sister's sweet friend, Chloe's ma, took us to Minami for a lunch treat last Friday - my last free Friday before I joined the workforce.  I love working - especially when there's so much to soak in - as Minnie and I used to say - we will forever seek to full our endless bucket of wisdom - let it floweth over.  (She may be the only person who will get a laugh out of that...IF she were to ever read my blog.)

Back to my lunch, although calling it "lunch" somehow undermines the experience because it was truly divine.

True to its location, it's swanky and tastefully designed.  I liked the peaceful simplicity to the decor and loved the outstanding service.  


Sushi art - We really do eat with our eyes...
Looks beautiful, tastes divine.
Every dish was elegantly and beautifully plated.  They were well-balanced and delicious.  The prices are on the higher end but the food lives up to it.

Spicy Kaisen Soba Pepporoncino
Sweet with a little kick and heat (jalape
ño and garlic).

Calamari
Those brussel sprout chips were amazing.
The highlight of our meal was the sushi.  We  ordered several of the aburi oshi, as well as some of their other rolls:



For those who are unfamiliar with the ever-changing sushi landscape, Vancouver is a hub for innovation and inspiration in Canada.  As was evidenced in 2008 with the introduction of aburi - a flame searing technique.  The first time I saw it in Toronto was at Guu and Wow.  It adds layers of flavour to the fish, making it smoky, flame-y and really just plain sexy.  

My favourite bite of the day was the Aburi Salmon Oshi Sushi.  Chloe's ma said it best - "I could just eat an entire plate of that...just that".  Hey Chloe's ma, let's.

Minami on Urbanspoon

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Vancouver: Hokkaido Ramen Santouka

ramen, ramen, read all about it
:Robson:



Just as I left Toronto, the Ramen frenzy began there.  I say frenzy, because the throngs of people waiting in the blistering Toronto cold and windchill must really want ramen.

Personally, I don't understand the ramen craze. I appreciate the depth, time, love, and care that goes into making the broth.  You can taste it - deep, rich, buttery, and fatty.  But it never gets my blood flowing or heart pumping.  Truth be told,  I would much rather eat my Shin cup.  I will choose the Shin cup every time.

I decided to see if my family shared my taste buds, so my sister, my mom and I went to Santouka.  


Verdict?  My family agrees with me.  We don't get ramen.  It's good, but it's not worth writing a poem or singing a song.  I probably wouldn't choose to eat it out again, but I'd go if someone wanted to.  Momma and sister GG, however, probably won't eat it again.

To the ramen lovers, I say stick with Kintaros - as far as ramens go - it is my preferred choice.

Hokkaido Ramen Santouka 山頭火 on Urbanspoon


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Vancouver: Hapa Izakaya Robson

save and except
:Robson:



I have but one thing to say - Hapa on Robson doesn't care.  It threw up its hands and decided to rest on its laurels.  One would think the empty seats are telling them to change their tune.

Nonetheless, a tasty lesson was learned here.  I went out with my sister and the High5ing Duo.  They treated us for her birthday.  And as I've already alluded, it was less than treatworthy, save and except this:



On the left is the very familiar Amaebi - sweet, delicate and delicious.  But did you know you can then send the heads back for a deep-fried treatment.  Which brings us to the right - Amaebi heads - sweet, crunchy and delicious.

Goodness two-ways.  I love it when things go two-ways.

Note: We ordered about 15 dishes.  I have only mentioned one.  Recall that I -----.

Hapa Izakaya on Urbanspoon