Thursday, January 30, 2014

Vancouver: The Kitchen

stick a bow on it
:West Point Grey:

Yes, that's the name. Now tell me, what do you think they serve? I wouldn't have guessed it, but it's Korean. This place was never on my radar since I don't venture out to Point Grey/Kits often. I learned a few things from this lunch. The most important being that I should get out of my ten-block radius. 

I like having a support system when I end up neighbourhoods I don't know. Thank goodness Ceecee was with me. Not sure I would have survived the trek without her. Fine, it wasn't a trek per se, but it was definitely out of my comfort zone. Now that I've been around the block, I can't wait to go back - saw so many little shops and storefronts that were calling my name. They're going to blow my wallet wide open.

The Kitchen closes at 3 and we got there at 2:40 and they were sweet to let us stay. That right there is the sign of a family owned restaurant. They care enough not to shut the door.

It's a really cute space with a cute name. Put together like a little gift. That may be why I didn't mind that the food wasn't 100 percent true to home. It was good but a few things were more Western than Korean. For instance the separate side dishes. While polite and a more common trend, is not the norm. We Koreans usually stick our chopsticks in the same dish and sip out of the same pot. Double dipping is the norm. 

I would go again, but I wouldn't order what I ordered:

Hwaedupbap - our version of  chirashi. Salmon and veggies over rice mixed together with gochujang - a savoury, slightly sweet, spicy sauce. There were alfalfa sprouts. That was a first and last for me. Mommma GG said many people use it because it's easier to find than the traditional snow pea shoots.
Ceecee and I also shared the dumplings. Delicious, even if they weren't handwrapped in the back. That may be asking too much for a little shop. 

And finally Ceecee's kalbiI enjoyed the cuteness with which they served it:

Overall, the food is good and the prices are reasonable. So do I the know-it-all Korean endorse it? Sure do - for what it is. It's not Korean food for the Korean people, but it is Korean food for the people. I ain't mad at that. FYI, neither are Urbanspooners. They love them some Kitchen eats.

The Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Monday, January 27, 2014

Vancouver: Earnest Ice Cream

step back freeze

:Multiple Locations:

I had my first bite at Raulie's on Saturday night. That single spoonful was enough to get me up on Sunday morning with a mission: get more. I got mine at Harvest Community Foods

It's expensive ($11/pint), but so worth it.

Now we all know ice cream is not my favourite thing (recall here). But then there's ice cream sooo good it's undeniable. Earnest Ice Cream is that ice cream. In one bite it obliterated all the other ice cream I tolerate (my list is again here). 

Earnest began in 2012 as the love child of Ben and Erica, a passionate duo who love ice cream and wanted to showcase the best of BC through creative flavours and sustainable values. Their mission is so good I bought into every word, after all they're selling recyclable/resuable pint jars packed with creamy, tasty goodness.

Their ice cream is good. No seriously, it's seriously good. It's everything you want in real ice cream - natural whole food ingredients and fun flavours like whiskey hazelnut and peanut butter and jam.

London fog - fragrant, smoky and heavenly
Milk chocolate - creamy, malty and delectable
So legit, too legit. Best I ever ate.

Their scoop shop is here or you can get it all around the city. Check here. They have a wide range of flavours but they're not widely available. The only downside of making small batches. Check here.

Earnest Ice Cream on Urbanspoon

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Vancouver: Yaletown L'Antipasto

sliding scale

It's in Yaletown. So in my opinion, there's a 20 percent undeserved mark-up. Notwithstanding, I like this place.  Actually, let me clarify, I liked this place. So much so I took Momma GG who was not pleased.

Yaletown L'Antipasto is hidden because it's tucked between two flashier venues: Paulie's Kitchen and Bistro Sakana. You can't even see the signage because it's hidden behind their porch cover but if you work anywhere in the area, you'll know this place. It's an open kitchen with limited seating but an awesome ventilation system. Service is lovely and it really is a cute spot but my last meal was a let down. I was going to say something in the moment, but then you know how it goes...sometimes it's more effort than one feels like putting in on a weekday night.

The flavours are all there, and the pastas I've tried to date are quite good. But they had a heavy hand that night - in terms of the amount of oil they're using. Two of the three dishes we ordered had an extraordinary amount of extra virgin olive oil (EVOO). Before you argue this is the way it's done, I ask you to try it first. Taste buds trump, and if your mouth is coated in oil you likely don't enjoy whatever you're eating. I would chalk it up to inexperience. You need to intuitively know when to scale back on EVOO and when to let it pour. Like seasoning, it can make or break your dish.

I'm all for EVOO, but not when your food swims in it. And swam it did. First the bruschetta:

Bruschetta al pomodoro
Had good flavours and a wonderful chewy, crispy baguette but if only you knew. 
I couldn't even take a  photo because my hands were covered in grease.
The bread was soaked and a pile had formed on my plate.
That much oil is far from elegant
Momma GG's spaghetti alla vongole was swimming in EVOO. 

This dish is usually a favourite of mine, when done right it is spectacular. But if you look close you'll see the oil there...see it?  How about now...

It's hard to see, but there is a pool of oil, by my measurements, about 1/4 cup was sitting on the bottom of the plate after my mom had ate what she could. That is not perfectly balanced.
To end of a positive note, my pappardelle rose was delish with a generous heaping of meat:

organic tomato sauce, braised boneless shortrib beef tenderloin, chicken breast and italian fennel sausages. I don't get the chicken, but that's just me.

If they want me back, it's an easy two step system: less oil, more me.

Yaletown L'Antipasto on Urbanspoon

Friday, January 17, 2014

Vancouver: Nook Pizzeria

while he's slurping spaghetti

There's two. Let's call them fraternal twins. She was awesome. Her younger brother is pretty awesome too. Basically a bigger version of her.

The menu is the same, the feel of the restaurant is the same. It's all the same. And since same is awesome, it's your choice where you go. A win-win decision.

I suggest you read my first post, then you'll know this isn't my first time at the rodeo. The sister, Momma GG and I shared a few things but I came out of it with a clear favourite - Spaghetti Bolognese. This time around I ordered one for myself with no intention of sharing, which isn't to say I didn't "offer" some to Raulie and Taro, I did...but I didn't really mean it.  Thank goodness they ordered their own. The sister stole a few bites in exchange for her pizza, which I allowed because this pup here is pretty tasty too:

Ricotta - baby spinach, olives and roasted garlic
I recommend you get your own dish at Nook. Seriously, it's good and you won't want to share. Only share sugar:

Chocolate + salted caramel & panna cotta

Bon appetito.

Nook Pizzeria on Urbanspoon

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Vancouver: Sura

queen bee
A few of my friends joke that I'm a princess. Not true. Then again, Papa GG always said he was a king. Royalty or not, I found a Korean restaurant that will please your taste buds and other senses.

During the holidays a couple of Tdot friends came to play. Now they're no Santa but they spread some cheer. While out with a few of their Vancity friends I found myself taking notes; having lived here for most of their lives they were knee deep in the restaurant scene. Sharing. You know how much I love it. One of them suggested Sura. Note he's more Korean than me.

I had a dinner date with my little Samurai, Totoro, last night. She wanted Korean so Sura was the first thing I thought of.

It was not what I expected. It's glamorous.

As I stood in the doorway I became hesitant and it occurred to me that maybe I had been misled. Then again, never judge on appearance only. I suppose I'm just not used to fancy Korean eats because it’s usually a hallmark sign of mediocre food. 

Designed with modern accents, sheer draping and candlelight, it was a welcome change from what I usually get. They have well put-together servers and they're playing jazzy classy tunes. Music is always the way to my heart.

And the food? Straight up. Authentic, delicious. I just learned they're actually an award-winning restaurant whose intent is to capture the art and sophistication of Royal Cuisine. I would say they've succeeded.

The food is true to its roots and beautifully presented. The plating elevates the food, but not the cost. The menu items were at most a few dollars more than your run-of-the-mill Korean restaurant, and their lunch set course is a steal at $15.

Totoro and I shared:
a personal favourite: potato pancake
She then had the mackerel/daenjangjigae duo - a winning combination ($15).

I had:
the soft tofu soup ($11) - flavourful and fiesty
The food was really true to form and Tortoro and I had a lovely meal and got to catch up. She's one of those rare people who have an undeniable likability. And as busy as Sura was getting, they never once asked us to settle up after we had finished, so we ended up staying a couple hours.

I would go back to Sura in a heartbeat. It was a fabulous find. All hail good eats.

Sura Korean Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Vancouver: Joe Fortes Seafood & Chop House II

offering just enough since 1985
:Robson Street:

Same Joe, different meal.

On a very important December day, the sister and I took Momma GG for a nice steak dinner. Momma GG doesn't like steak, but she likes to eat at steak houses - not to have steak but fish. Momma GG always gets fish. Unlike me, feed me steak every day. I am my father's daughter. But why does she have to go to a steak house? Because Papa GG LOVED it. It seems the idea of going for steak, well, it's its own therapy.

So I decided to take her to Joe Fortes instead of Gotham.  Joe, again. Only this time I'm paying full price. It wasn't happy hour and we were upstairs in the dining room. Service was great, but then again they throw their comment cards at you when you're done so they risk negativity if it's not. This scheme of their's leads to a card arriving in the mail. There's something old fashioned about it that I would like, but it was far too impersonal. The sentiment is there, but it has zero thought behind it. 

Joe does do one thing no one else does and it's awesome:  

Presenting Joe Fortes Lobster Oil
Stellar. Everyone needs a take-home bottle.
I like Canyon Creek more than Joe Fortes.
I like the Keg more than Joe Fortes.
But I like Harbour Sixty the best.
Momma GG loved her fish.
I agree - it was perfect. But why do their sides match my sides? One word - lazy.
Caramelized jumbo scallops - amazing.
But $15 for three. They're NOT that amazing.
Dinner was solid. Happy on all fronts, and the final bill wasn't extraordinary. It was expected though I don't know what "more" they think they're offering, course who knows what they were up against back in 1985.

Joe Fortes Seafood & Chop House on Urbanspoon