Saturday, April 26, 2014

Vancouver: Coast Restaurant

weekdays only

In the 18 months I've been here I noticed a few major players monopolize the dining scene: Donnelly Group, Sequoia, and Glowbal.

Coast is part of the latter family and it's been around a long time. I would occasionally hit it up when I was in town visiting but haven't gone since I moved back because I always thought it was overpriced. Little did I know they have affordable bento box lunches. Momma GG would love that.

Too bad it's only during the week. I made the mistake of not checking and taking Momma GG in on the weekend. She wanted to try it anyway so we stayed. I wish we hadn't, but Momma GG liked it. That's enough.

Their appies were 50 percent off so I got the caesar and lobster poutine. Yes, I do love poutine. Don't get between me and my french fries.

The perfectly fried egg made up for the fact there was only two pieces of lobster.
Two teeny tiny pieces.
I will not pay full price ($18.95) for this. There is NOTHING smart about paying full price for this.
The caesar:

Momma GG loved the candied anchovies. So do I  but I told her I didn't so she'd eat them.
Sometimes a little white lie doesn't hurt. It's the only way you'll get your all sacrificing mother to do something you and she both want to - even if it's just to eat something she likes.

Service was also subtly snarky. Our waiter was pleasant for sure, but there was an undercurrent of judgement when I chose to only order two of the dishes off the happy hour selection. Really? Luckily I know my value is higher than the waiter so I took it all in with a smile.

Momma GG got the pan roasted seabass and she loved it. The presentation was beautiful and I really liked the way they prepared the farro:

Beautiful plating
I am going to go back to take Momma GG for the bento boxes. I know they'll be great. Ceecee told me about them and she has not steered me wrong and I doubt she every will.

Other than weekday lunch? I probably won't be back for dinner simply because I can't bring myself to pay what they charge. Does that mean I don't like it? No, it means I don't value it. For the cost of Coast I'd head to Blue Water Cafe because value is king and Coast's food doesn't match the dollars it'll cost you. That said, if you and your crew are looking for a quick stop for some half-price small dishes and a drink, go to Coast.

But thanks Coast, Momma GG enjoyed her meal. I didn't particularly enjoy mine but I did like the view - open kitchen with a line of chefs will make any woman swoon. 

Coast Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Vancouver: Edible Canada at the Market

pop tart
:Granville Island:

Had a little Toronto love on the weekend and more to come in a week. Can't. Hardly. Wait.

One of the must-dos on any Vancouver tourist's agenda is Granville island. Not because it's spectacular or unique, but simply because it's quintessential Vancity - a lively market place surrounded by water. Boasting fresh produce, flowers, eclectic eats and random finds all against a backdrop of BC waters and mountains.

I took the matriarch of M&M for a little sightseeing and lunch.

Edible Canada is an easy spot to grab any bite - brunch, lunch or dinner. They call it a bistro. I wouldn't call it a bistro. I don't know why. But I wouldn't.

The best dish at Edible? Their duck poutine ($16): Cast iron pan, freshly fried fries, copious amounts of duck, cheese and two fried eggs.

We also shared the boar bacon cheddar burger ($17). It was good. Nothing spectacular but nothing amiss. All in all a good burger with a good bite. 

fresh chuck + wild boar bacon
The open kitchen and adjacent market make Edible a great place to take anyone visiting. It's great sensory stimulation. Don't forget, eat at the resto and get 10 percent off their store. Wonder if that works on Earnest ice cream? Because they sell it and you know I'm obsessed with it.

Double duty duck. Being rewarded for eating poutine deliciousness? Don't mind if I do.

Edible Canada at the Market on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Vancouver: Bismarck Bar

time of my life

My first thought when I heard Bismarck? You sunk my battleship. No? Tu ne comprendes pas? That's too bad, I guess Battleship wasn't part of your Hasbro family fun night. You're probably wondering how a child of an early immigrant family got her hands on Battleship? It was my neighbourhood. I used to play with the kid across the street and being the tomboy I was, it was GI Joe, Transformers and Battleship. Those were the days.

Today when I play it's more casual bars and highballs. I like Bismarck for a few reasons. It's the furthest from pretentious. It's cozy chic with multiple television screens and great music. It's also staffed by some awesome people and has the best kind of bar - the kind you can actually sit comfortably at and eat. After all, sometimes a seat at the bar is the best seat in the house. Except if you're Momma GG. She would rather wait an hour than sit at the bar. But I get it. No one puts Momma on a stool.

As a bar, the food is a step-up. It's not gourmet, but it's not frozen chicken strips and jar sauce. It's actually thoughtful, and while not everything was great. There were some standouts. Warning...the photos are bad. It was a Friday night, there were drinks and my focus wasn't exactly on taking Instagram worthy shots. 

Stuffed chicken wings. Not boneless chicken wings. Real chicken wings. Stuffed with two kinds of cheese. Um, ya. I'm all over that:

Crispy bites of goodness. My outer hips hate me for it, but my inner pig was loving it.
The crispy chicken burger was also tasty, although the sister thought the bun to meat ratio could be improved. The arugula is a nice touch: simple because nutty greens go so well with fried chicken.

The scotch egg was better than expected but on the disappointing side, only because I'm a scotch egg snob.

The tuna tacos were...terrible. I feel bad for saying that, but they were flawed, not just in terms of flavour but production. They're poorly constructed so they fall apart before you get them to your mouth.

Never again.
Now that you've had time to digest, you can probably guess I liked Bismark more than I didn't. So I'd go back. It's not in the best area so you'll run into questionable characters. Sometimes they stay outside, sometimes they wander in. Know that but still go - there's some good eats and good times waiting at the bar.

Bismarck on Urbanspoon

Monday, April 21, 2014

Vancouver: Sushi Van

the book of negitoro
:South Granville:

Ceecee stumbled on Sushi Van. Well, technically her daughter did since she's the one that wanted sushi. You know what I've come to realize since I've been introduced to her blog? I cannot legitimately use the excuse "I'm busy". I'm NOT, I'm lazy. Ceecee is busy and yet she does this and this and this. Let me tell you...when I want a cup of tea? I turn the kettle on. This is why she's awesome. Everything is awesome. Easter is awesome. Double long weekend. Double awesome.

Now that I've shared my less enviable quality, let me share something to really be jealous of. My lunch last week with Ceecee. She was a little worried about taking me to Sushi Van since she knows I am "particular" not be confused with "picky". When it comes to sushi in this city, I am very particular because the city is s.a.t.u.r.a.t.e.d. Seriously. Vancouver has a lot and in the world according to me, there's sushi and then there's GOOD sushi. My sushi 101 is at the bottom of this post.

Sushi Van is clean, moderate sized space that's subground. Service is friendly and quick and the sushi...well it looks good doesn't it? 

Chopped scallop - fresh & tasty
Negitoro - super - soft, melt in your mouth tuna belly
If you have attention to detail, you may have noticed the rice is a funny colour. That's because Sushi Van serves green tea rice. My only problem with Sushi Van was that they serve green tea rice. Their menu has an entire page dedicated to explaining the benefits of green tea rice. Me? I don't really care. It didn't taste any different and I highly doubt it actually makes a difference. 

Ceecee said her fire (smoky & spicy heat) roll was delicious. She said it best when she said she liked that they actually made a sauce instead of just adding sirracha. I agree. Sirracha on top does not make for spicy-anything roll. 

Aburi tuna on top - the added flavour of fire
In the end, I judge sushi restaurants on the negitoro roll. It is my first love. My true love. My one and only. It must be the right colour (a pale white pink), the right smell (odourless), the right texture (soft and melty), and the right flavour (fresh). It must also be less than $3.75. Who says I'm particular?!? I am so not. But seriously, hitting all these points is easy. And it's what distinguishes good sushi from the rest.

I liked Sushi Van, in spite of its gimmicky rice. It's good sushi.

Sushi Van on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Vancouver: I Cafe

Day after day

I've been looking for the Vancity equivalent of Hong Kong cafe in Tdot's Chinatown. You'd think in a city with the largest diverse Chinese speaking majority I wouldn't have a problem. Course, my social circle is about one percent of what it was. It really does take a village to feed me. So I've been right here waiting...

Until I decided I couldn't take it anymore and tapped into the sister's network who unanimously suggested I Cafe. Then I surveyed a work colleague, and she ditto-ed it. So said co-worker and I popped in for lunch.

Hong Kong style cafe food is its own cuisine - at least in my books - and my favourite meal is Portuguese baked curry and a dong-lai-cha. I'm pretty sure I butchered the latter but I say it with love. It's just milk tea and it's sooooo good. The curry is a creamy yellow chicken curry and if I'm right (which I like to think I am) the dish originated in Macau. It's an organic fusion dish - organic in that it's a natural cross-over of cultures and flavours. This is the fusion food I live for. Forced fusion on the other hand? Recall my thoughts on Pidgin

We shared the spaghetti:

Egg? Sure, it makes the sauce carbonera-creamy. I brought some leftovers back to Riri. She's a spaghetti lover and she thought it was delicious.
The curry was not what I expected. The consistency was thinner and there was no gratin top that you get from a baked dish, but the flavours were there and it successfully squashed my craving. And it was an intense craving. I waited a year to eat this. 

With it's extensive menu, I Cafe is the perfect place for a big bite: the portions are large, the prices are good and the food is delicious. Winner winner Chinese chicken dinner.

I Cafe on Urbanspoon