RSSArchive for January, 2006

Deluxe Lunch from The Hub

Saying goodbye doesn’t mean anything. It’s the time we spent together that matters, not how we left it.
~ Trey Parker and Matt Stone

Today is my last day of work and I have one last lunch — this time with the folks of my Genco project. We normally celebrate project closeouts by eating out but opted this time to have the food catered from our cafeteria, The Hub. See that handsome chap below? He’s the employee of the month because of his effort on the Genco project — helped the company eliminated a bunch of unproductive work. This guy is a genius, I kid you not.

Jackson (our Iron Chef) specially prepared Asian food because most of the team members are Asians. Jackson and his team prepared what he called the Deluxe Lunch with an Asian Twist. The costs were just $11.95 per head. This is what we got for a dozen loonies:

For starters we had egg rolls, or is it spring rolls? The folks are adamant that it’s called egg rolls even though I can’t find any evidence of eggs on them. Well, I was told that the eggs were used to make the skin/wrappper. What do you think it should be called? Yum-yum.
This seems like the favourite among the folks. It’s called pancit (pronounced as pan-sit). This is apparently a Filipino type noodle. Pancit means long-life and is a must-have during birthdays. Nice.
We had a lot of Sticky Rice leftover. It tastes nice but it’s just that it does not look appetizing. I like the dried prawns (Cantonese har-mai, Filipino hibi) and the mushrooms in it. So-so.
The meat platter has Thai Curry Chicken Breast and Pork Chop. The Curry Chicken breast is not really spicy. The pork chops were huge — I saw a piece that measured 8″ by 6″!! Everyone liked the chicken breast. Thumbs-up!
This platter consists of Vegeterian Samosa and Fried Kalamari Rings. The Samosa was much bigger than the ones we buy outside — probably explains why most stayed away from it. Jackson should make them smaller. Not Bad.
Here is the usual fruit platter consisting of grapes, watermelon, strawberry and honey dew. Sweet.

We had a lot of food leftover and brought it down to IT to share. I sent out an *itall notification and the food magically disappears in just two minutes — it always does, amazing. Apparently, the two words “free” and “food” are the best words to have on email headers if you want people to read it.

Well, this is the last of the series of lunches at Best Buy. To everyone in BBYC who reads my blog, I want you to know that I had a blast the past six years. I am really proud of being associated with all the good work you have done. Remember this … to me, you all are the BEST, Numero Uno, Second to None.

Keep in touch through chowtimes. Love you all!!

Alright now, I have a bunch of name cards in mint condition, never used … any takers?

He he he … I just logged onto Pluto. My ID still works … amazing! :-)

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Farewell Merienda and Balut

A brave man will face a situation no matter how dreadful.
~ Filipino Proverb

I learn new things everyday. Today, I learn of two new words – merienda and balut.

Merienda

Some of the folks in IT threw a little merienda for Alex and I. Our last day at work is tomorrow. I have never heard of the word merienda before. Well, I was enlightened that merienda is a spanish word that means snacks. I like the Spanish — they did give the world the idea of siesta, right? Isn’t it nice — having a siesta after a meal and then waking up to a merienda? Anyway here are the folks who threw a farewell merienda for Alex and I at The Hub (the company cafetaria).

Balut (Duck Egg)

Balut is a Filipino delicacy. Zimrie made them for brave souls in the farewell merienda. This is how Balut tastes like … gross!

Balut is a fertilized duck egg with a nearly developed embryo inside that is boiled and eaten in a shell. He he he … it is considered aphrodisiac and considered a hearty snack. The filipino and filipinas in the group educated me on how to eat this:

I started off by cracking a small opening at the base of the egg. The base of the egg is the rounder end of the egg (know what I mean?). I looked in … and man! It sure look nasty … yucks! I can see the feathers! He he he … Mark walked away because he can’t stand the discussion on this … “thing”.
The first part to savor (!?) is the broth surrounding the embryo. Arturo showed me that the broth is to be sipped. I closed my eyes and sipped the broth … it tastes weird. Gosh, the things I do for a blog. Got some broth on my fingers, it sure smells.
The next part is the yolk and the young chick inside (!?!). I tried not to look at it when I eat it. It doesn’t taste too bad … it’s just that the thought of it is revolting. It tastes like … hard boiled eggs left in the sun for three days.
This is the part where I gave up. I gathered up some courage and looked at the insides … was looking at it curiously and tried to figure out which part of the chicken it was supposed to be. It looks ugly. Click on this picture and take a closer look. Let me know what you think!

Seriously, guys and gals, I had great fun today. Thanks for taking the time and bring along the goodies.

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Vietnamese Coffee

Coffee should be black as Hell, strong as death, and sweet as love.
~ Turkish Proverb

It is cold and rainy today. I did not sleep too well last night and as such it’s a great time for coffee to keep me awake. Suanne made me Vietnamese Coffee which is also known as Cafe Sua Nong. Vietnamese Coffee is normally served in ice but I like it warm on a cold day like today.

Vietnames coffee can be made simply by mixing black coffee with a lot of condensed milk. It is traditionally made by brewing the coffee with a small drip percolator into a cup containing condensed milk. We bought the percolator some time back from the T&T Supermarket. We can’t recall exactly how much it costs but it’s pretty cheap … something like $5 or so.

We use whole coffee beans and like to grind it just before we use it to ensure freshness. Coffee once ground deteriorates fast. Ignore the Folgers can on the picture below … we just used the can to store our coffee beans.

This is how we made our Vietnamese Coffee:

Normally, Vietnamese uses a lot more condensed milk (from 1/4 cup to half a cup!). That is too much for me. Suanne used two tablespoon instead.
Suanne placed the peculator on the glass and the fine ground coffee in it. She then packs it in slightly and screws on the metal lid to compress the coffee further. This will give the coffee the thick tar-like drips.
Suanne then pours hot, boiling water and set it aside.
The tighter the metal lid is screwed the slower the drip goes resulting in thick drips. It takes quite a while for the coffee to drip through.
This is how it looks like. We normally fills the peculator after the first round drips through … two rounds of drip will fill the glass we use.

So, here it is … a cup of warm, black, strong and sweet coffee. Just what I needed for this blog. Enjoy!

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Horizons on Burnaby Mountain

The horizon will not disappear as you run towards it.
~ Bantu Proverb

Last night Suanne and I had a timeout from the boys and we went to a fine dining restaurant called Horizons on Burnaby Mountain. The restaurant is nestled in the beautiful Burnaby Mountain Park and overlooks the bright city lights of Vancouver below.

We had a reservation for 5pm. At this time of the year, it’s just in time to see the sunset and the bright and yellow city lights turn on. While waiting for the restaurant to open we had a quick walk around the park in the crisp chilly weather … the city looks so beautiful from here. This place is also referred to as The Playground of the Gods because of the many Japanese wooden sculptures on the park.

We were seated by the windows and had a panoramic and spectacular view of the city and the Burrard Inlet. Already we knew this would be an enjoyable night. We see people starting to come in for dinner — many dressed in their finest. Suanne too was stunning — with her new leather jacket and all!

The menu is largely inspire by West Coast cuisine with grilled steaks and seafood over open flame. The setting is elegant with a warm ambiance. It’s really a great and romantic place. We opted for a 3-course selection. I know it’s supposed to be an elegant setting but I brought along my camera … he he he, I must have attracted a lot of attention when my flash fired throughout the night. Note: Click on the pictures below to enlarge.

The night started off with the usual basket of warm bread and butter. It was OK, not too much of a flavour that we expect … you know, we expect garlic-flavoured bread or so but it is just plain bread.
For appetizer, I opted for the Gulf Island Mussels. It is cooked with white wine, bacon and cream. The serving comes with seven large mussels. I like it very much. They were fresh and succulent. A very good start.
Suanne had the Roasted Tomato Soup for appetizers. The soup was prepared with fennel and garlic. It’s not thick and rich — just right. It was just warm for the cold winter weather. Truly an appetizer to start off the main course.
I chose the Grilled Beef Tenderloin for the main course and had a skewer of grilled prawns for sides. What makes this distinctive from the normal steak is that it is topped with blue cheese butter and served in red wine. I like my steak rare and it was prepared just exactly the way I like. I noticed that the plate was very hot — I guess it’s to keep the steak warm longer. The blue cheese butter makes this a 5 out of 5.
Suanne had the Herb Roasted Game Hen for her main course. It is served with Fondantes potatoes and served in apple sage jus. It was not bad except that it would be better if it comes with more juice — it is a tad too dry for Suanne’s liking. Well, it’s also a bit clumsy because of the chicken is served whole, bones and all. The chicken is tender … a 4 out of 5.
Suanne’s desert was the Chocolate Mousse Cappucino. We like the way it was served with a sugar tuile made to look like fire out of the cup. This was excellent with three layers of distinct flavour — the bottom was a layer of chocolate, the middle is the cappucino mousse and topped with whipped cream and chocolate shavings. Yum-yum!
I had the Warm Apple Brioche Pudding. The best part of this is the butterscotch rum sauce it was served on. I really like this a lot. A definite 5 of 5. Just the right touch of sweetness and a great dessert to end the night.
We both ordered a cup of coffee as we sat there chatted and looked over the now bright city lights. We felt that life is good.

As we walked back to the car, we stopped briefly in the light rain and looked at the bright lights. I took the last picture … it did not turn out quite right, I wish I had my tripod with me. We will do this again — it was a great way to end a hectic week.

Horizons on Urbanspoon

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Top Gun Sushi at the Quay

Updated on 12 April 2010: This restaurant has closed according to Urbanspoon.

If you find no fish, you have to eat bread.
~ Ghanaian Proverb

The folks in the Service and R&R Project teams went to an all-you-can-eat sushi. They selected the one which is called Top Gun Sushi at the Quay. It is located on the second floor of the Public Market at the New Westminster Quay. I have never been there before but I have heard so much about Top Gun Sushi. Although it has ala carte but it is famous for it’s all-you-can-eat.

We went early and arrived at 11:30am to make sure we have a table. It was a great idea because the place was really packed, especially so because it’s a Friday afternoon. We had a great table by the window which overlooks the Fraser river.

The sushi was good, the selection was similar to the many all-you-can-eat sushis in the city. The prices are pretty cheap compared to some other places I went to. Here are the prices:

Adult: $9.95 weekday and $10.95 weekend Child (4-9 years old): $5.95 weekday and $6.95 weekend All-you-can-eat Salmon and Tuna Sashimi is just $2 extra — pretty good deal.

Here are some of the items we ordered (CLICK ON THE PICTURES FOR A LARGER VIEW):

So thanks a bunch for buying this lunch and for being such great project team members. I want to say that you are the reasons that our projects has consistently been successful. We delivered a lot didn’t we?

Top Gun on Urbanspoon

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Cactus Club Cafe on Kingsway

Work like a slave and eat like a gentleman.
~ Albanian Proverb

I have farewell lunches everyday right until my last day at work next week. Already I have gained 1kg since last week. I am not going to weigh myself anymore until all these lunches are over. Today’s lunch is the “official” farewell lunch which is organized by the PMO. We went to the Cactus Club Cafe on Kingsway. The Cactus Club offers casual fine dining and has a very global menu. This place is one of the favourite lunch places the people in the company goes to because of the menu caters to every palate. The menu includes items such as dim sum, quesadillas, steak, burgers, pasta, ribs, and fajitas. Check out their menu and prices. I ordered the grilled salmon which if I recall correctly, costs $10.

The salmon is served with rice and green beans. The sauce used to cook the salmon is pretty spicy. I like the green beans which has a touch of saltiness. It was a big serving.

My boss paid for my lunch. Oh, I should have ordered the Ultimate Mushroom Deliglace at $31 … just kidding boss!

It was a good gathering and felt appreciated because the PM team showed up along with many members of my projects. We did not talk about work at all, which is a good thing. We just … chatted.

It has been a pleasure working with them all.

Cactus Club Cafe on Urbanspoon

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Grand Pacific Buffet in New Westminster

Updated 17th Jan 2011: This restaurant had closed according to Urbanspoon.com.

“I heard” is good; “I saw” is better; “I tasted” is best.
~ Ben Yap

The chinese employees at my workplace organized a Chinese New Year lunch celebration today. We do that every year. This year, they have graciously invited Suanne too for the lunch because they wanted to also make this a farewell lunch for me. For the first time, the organizer decided that we go to a buffet for a change. We went to the Grand Pacific Buffet in New Westminster. The Grand Pacific Buffet is a buffet with Western, Chinese and Japanese food with predominantly chinese food.

There were a lot of varieties. The food is so-so but then it’s not fair to compare buffets to the normal restaurants. I was wary of MSG with the tell-tale thirstiness after the meal but nope, it was not at all. Suanne and I went for two full rounds and ended up sharing the dessert. The photos below does not tell much but anyway, these are our second round plates. It’s about $8 for a weekday lunch.

Good food goes best with good company. These people are not co-workers but has been friends to me for a long time. I was always the odd one out with this group because I do not understand their brand of Mandarin. It does not matter, as long as the food is good — they are the SME’s (Best Buy’s overused term for Subject Matter Experts) in Chinese food around Burnaby.

I have worked directly and indirectly with most of them on some of my projects. They are all awesome and great to have them in the team. I must say that one of the primary reasons that many of my projects were successful were because of these people. I will miss being around the office with them.

We raised our cups but I didn’t know what they were toasting (remember, I don’t understand their brand of Mandarin or for that matter, any brand of Mandarin?). But to me, my toast is for a great chinese new year ahead, success in their careers and may all their dearest dreams come true. Best friends deserve the best wishes!

So, here we are — Ben and Suanne smilling from ear to ear. It’s because we did not have to pay! Thanks buddies, for the treat. Oh … remember to invite me for the chinese new year lunch next year … this time I’ll pay … for my own, not everyone’s!

I’m bringing Dilly Bars for everyone tomorrow.

Grand Pacific Buffet on Urbanspoon

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My Commute

Last night I made a thousand plans, but this morning I went my old way.
~ Chinese Proverb

OK, I know this is not about food but I thought I have a break and blog about something I love to do very much — biking. Well, many of you already know that I am leaving Best Buy. It’s been a long six years and my last day at work is next week. Today is about the only day I could bike to work and so I thought I make a change and blog about my commute to work. My new place of work will be further and worse, I will have to navigate two killer hills. I guess it’ll be a while before I get the chance to bike again.

I took it easy and stopped at various points to take pictures. Here is what my commute was like:

I started off at 7am, much later than my usual commute. I mean, I am no longer in a hurry to get to work early. I always enjoyed this short part of the commute … the South Arm Park
The snow fell at the North Shore mountains again the past weeks. I find this is the beautiful side of Vancouver and am always awed by the mountains, particularly in winter.
I looked east while biking along Garden City and saw the silhouette of Mount Baker. I tried to catch it on camera but the clouds obscured it somewhat. Anyway, the sun rise was beautiful. It’s a beautiful day for a ride.
I cross over to Vancouver thru the Oak St Bridge. Heavy traffic over the bridge as usual but there’s an advantage on this stretch on a bike.
Once in Vancouver, it’s on the Kent Bike Route all the way to the office in Burnaby. I will miss this route having travelled countless times and do seem to know every part of the route.
I stopped by the Fraser River side and saw someone working on a log boom. As I took the picture, I saw the pilot stared at me. I quickly put away the camera and biked on.
I normally don’t bike on this trail and stay on the asphalt. For today, I thought I take the more scenic route. I like this way because I get to greet people along the way. This is the friendly route.
Ah, spent 6 years in this company. Saw it grew from strength to strength and today we have no peers in North America. Great people from who I learnt so much.
Back to the desk. See that piece of pita? Well, it’s Suanne’s creation. I’ll tell you about it next time.
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