RSSArchive for August, 2009

Celsius Cafe on No 3 Road, Richmond

Updated 16th Jan 2011: This restaurant had been closed.

When I was in my teens, I was quite a big eater.  I eat the whole day round.  And once in a while, I would rouse my late father up in the middle of the night to ask him to take me out for supper.  Middle of the night as in 2AM!  My dad would always take me out for late night suppers, without fail.

For the first time, Nanzaro pestered me to take him out for supper.  At least it was not 2AM in the morning because there is no way I would take him out.  Still it was late at 10:30 PM and well past his bedtime.  It’s the summer break anyway, so we allowed the boys to sleep late.

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The Celsius Cafe is located on No 3 Road in the quiet strip mall between Leslie and Alexandra.  Actually, Celsius used to be the Montreal Roosters Quarters.

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Celsius opens till really late at night.  On weekends, it closes at 1AM.  Even on weekdays, it opens until midnight.  So, if you are looking for a late night meal in Richmond, here is one for you.

Celsius must have opened not too long ago, maybe about a month or two only.  The place was really busy even at 10:30PM.  It was dim and what I did not like was that it was also noisy … very noisy.  There is a table behind us that was totally drunk and talking so loud at each other, it was like they were in an argument.  That gave us a less than positive first impression that this is more a bar than a cafe.  Maybe it was just our luck that we had to sit next to some drunks that night and it’s not indicative of how it is usually.

So we got seated … they gave us the menu … and we waited, and waited for the drinks.  I mean, usually in a place like this they would serve water or chinese tea.  But they did not.

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So, I asked our waitress … “can we have a glass of water, please?”.

Guess what … she literally brought us a glass of water, just ONE, for me.  Suanne, Nanzaro and I looked at each other just surprised.  Moreover the glass is such a small glass.  We do find our waitress distracted and was not thinking straight.  Maybe she was having a hard time dealing with the next table … I think so.

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The front page of their menu has the “Noodles Combo Mix and Match”.  It has to be their specialty.  Here you get to choose the combination of noodles, soup base, and two choices of toppings for just $8.  It is always fun to make up your own noodles.  Although the menu stated that this is only available up to 10PM, they still took our orders.

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Since this late night supper is mainly for Nanzaro, he gets to pick the Combo.  I must say he chose a good combination.  He selected:

  • Spicy Hot Soup
  • Mixed Seafood
  • Cuttle Fish Ball, and
  • Udon

The bowl of mixed seafood included mussels, prawns, and squid and topped with sesame seeds.  Oh gosh … this was super … More on following page. Click here to continue reading

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Au Wing Kee Restaurant on Kingsway and Royal Oak, Burnaby

Eons ago, before we started blogging, we used to go for lunch at Au Wing Kee several times a month.  Back then our network of friends were mainly in and around Burnaby.  It had been a while since we visited this place.

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I look at Au Wing Kee as one of the old timer Chinese restaurants.  Today, we hear of new restaurants sprouting up every week that often we forgot about the old favourites like Au Wing Kee.  As far as Chinese and Asian restaurants goes, gone are the days of the wave of new Cantonese restaurants.  What we see a lot of these days are restaurants the likes of Izakayas, Shanghainese, Korean, and Thai.  We are spoilt for choices.

For so many years, Au Wing Kee had not only survived but thrived on a quiet stretch of Kingways that is not known for many good restaurant.

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The place is exactly the same I remember it.  It is not overly clean … but not dirty though, mind you.  The place shows the age with some modest renos around lightings.

Service is also exactly the same I remember it.  It is very typical old school Chinese style where the waitresses are serious, do not greet you, do not make eye contact, and no smiles.  They are there only to clean your tables, take your orders, deliver your food … they are not there to socialize with you.  I won’t say they are grumpy.  If you want anything, you gotta get their attention and ask.

Despite these shortcomings, Au Wing Kee is a really popular restaurant.  After all these years, they still pull in a big crowd.

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We decided on getting a few dishes to share between the four of us in the family, instead of individual dishes which the boys wanted.  The boys have never said why but they always seem to prefer having individual servings rather than the communal shared dishes that Suanne and I prefer.  Anyway, dad is paying and he gets to make the call.

We like hot pot soup.  So, we ordered the Chinese Herb and Special Chicken Hot Pot.  I know, the name sounded funny and … More on following page. Click here to continue reading

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Lido Restaurant in Richmond, Revisited

This is going to be a quickie post.  Am posting this since we got pictures taken and did not want it to go to “waste”.

We had been to Lido numerous times ever since we first discovered this place almost two years ago.  As a matter of fact, this is our favourite restaurant if we do not need to go eat at a new place for this blog.

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We like Lido because it is cheap and serves good food too.  So, the day after we returned from our Spain vacation, we went to Lido for good old comfort food.

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Lido is always busy.  There is always a line during peak dining hours.  You gotta leave your name with the waiters who doesn’t even issue you a number.  So, you gotta have your ears peeled in case they call you.

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Lido’s specialty is their Pineapple Bun (known as Bolo Bau in Cantonese).  If you have never tried this before you must order this.  This is so popular that you gotta order this when you leave your name for a table.  This is because they are almost always taken the moment they take it out of the oven — serious, I am not kidding.

And the Bolo Bau is best eaten hot out of the oven.  I dare to swear that they have the best Bolo Bau in Metro Vancouver … and maybe even the best outside of Hongkong too.

Lido is a Hongkong Style Cafe and that means … More on following page. Click here to continue reading

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Frito Lay’s Flavoured Potato Chips

This post is written upon free samples provided to us by Frito-Lay Canada. We are not paid for this post.

We did not think that they were serious.

Frito Lay wrote to us some time ago alerting us that they had recently reduced the level of sodium in its entire lineup of Lay’s flavoured potato chips by at least 25% and up to 50% in some flavours.  They asked chowtimes if we would be agreeable to feature this in our blog.  We replied saying that we do not mind doing so as long as it benefits our readers.  We asked them for coupons that we can give away.

Well, they said did not have coupons but said they can ship us samples instead.

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Even though they said shipped us some but I did not think that they would ship an entire box.

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We always have a bag (or two) at home … but we never had so much before.  Oh yeah … Nanzaro was estatic over all the chips.

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Frito Lay shipped us six different types of flavours.  What’s your favourite?  I like the Bar-B-Q the best but hate the Ketchup.  The Sour Cream and Onions are not bad.

Oh … about the sodium level of Lay’s potato chips … More on following page. Click here to continue reading

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The Edge Social Grille and Lounge on Granville, Vancouver

Friday is my favourite day of the week.  That is day out — with our boys blessings.  Nanzaro and Arkensen is at the age when they are just glad to get rid of us from the house.

A couple of Fridays ago, Suanne and I decided to go for a movie.  As much as we could do the movie in Richmond, we decided to go downtown and at the same time check out the new restaurant we had walked past several times the past months.

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We came across The Edge because we often parked along Granville Street.  Parking was (is?) free because I think of the road constructions the city were making.  I don’t think this will be free for long … but until they start collecting for parking, we will always park here when we are in downtown.

The Edge is new.  It is about maybe 1-2 months new.  Located at the intersection with Helmcken St along Granville St, the Edge lies smack in the midst of the Granville Entertainment District.  This section of Granville St had undergone a lot of changes the past year and I like the changes I see.

The Edge is actually located at the ground floor of the Best Western Chateau Granville which makes me think that The Edge will get many tourist type customers.

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We were surprised how big The Edge was.  We can see that they have all sorts of seating configurations.  We were asked if we wanted to sit by the dining area, the lounge or at the outside patio.  We decided to take the dining area although the plush seats at the lounge was kind of inviting.  We were here to eat.

As plush as this place is, there was something here that was so unexpected.  We could hear the cloud clanking of stir frying wok from where we sat!

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Service was great.  Our waitress was chatty.  She thought we were tourists because we had a camera with us.  She asked where we are from.  We were evasive and said “around and what about you?”.  She went on to tell us she is Australian and how she had been all over the world working and had just came to Vancouver.  When she said that I was thinking that perhaps people are starting to turn up in Vancouver to work part-time leading to the Olympics.  You reckon?

I said I wanted a light beer and was given a Coors Light.  (yeah, yeah, yeah … too much foam I know).  Hey, is this the beer where the color of the mountain on the label turns blue if it is cold enough.  I saw it on the TV commercial several times already.  I tried to warm up the label by rubbing it but it stayed blue.

Oh even with “light” beer, my face gets all red.  Tell me … why is that so?  You think with “training” I could get less red over time?

On to food … More on following page. Click here to continue reading

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Orange Plum Jam

In the plum canning workshop, we also made an Orange Plum Jam.  The color of this jam will wary from golden to jewel purple, depending upon the colour of the plums.  In our case, it’s golden yellow as we are using the Golden Plums.

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This Orange Plum Jam is delicious as a spread on toast, or as a topping for angel food cake or cheesecake.  You can substitute the orange flavoured liqueur with almond flavour liqueur, or with flavoured syrups.  If you choose to omit the syrups, the final yield will be slightly less.

Ingredients

  • 5 cups plums, pitted and finely chopped (about 2-3 lbs or 1-1.25 kg)
  • 2 tablespoons orange zest, grated (about 1 large, or 2 small oranges)
  • 1 package powdered fruit pectin (1.75oz or 49-57g)
  • 5 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup orange flavoured liqueur (optional)

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Plums in Syrup

Richmond Food Secure organised 3 sessions of canning and preserving the bounty of summer harvest for the enjoying in the winter.  The workshops will be conducted in the South Arm Community Center.  Chef Karen Dar Woon will instruct participants on easy methods of canning, using excess fruit and veggies that are coming out of the garden.  Each workshop costs $5.  I got to know of these workshops through Arzeena, the outreach coordinator of Richmond Fruit Tree Sharing Project.

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The theme for the first workshop was Golden Plum.  It is also known as Yellowgage or Golden Drop.  The Golden Plum is a small plum, with diameter around 3 to 4 cm.  The skin is sourish while the flesh is sweet.

Karen shared with us the following home canning knowledge:

What is Canning:

Home canning, also known as putting up, is the process of preserving foods (in particular, fruits, vegetables, and meats) by packing them into glass jars and then heating the jars. Heating kills microorganisms and inactivates the enzymes which can cause deterioration.  The heat pocess also drives the air out of the jars, creating a hermetic (airtight) seal; this prevents reentry of contaminants.

Prior to the mid 20th Century, canning was one of the most common methods of preserving food for later use.  Freezers were not developed for consumer use until mid 1940s, when the Birdseye company began distributing frozen foods by rail.

A little science:

The microorganisms which cause spoilage include molds and yeasts, bacteria (salmonella, staph and botulism) and enzymes.  These microorganisms are already in or on the foods in nature, but can be killed.  Most molds and yeasts are destroyed at temperatures between 140-190F (60-88C).  Bacteria thrive at those same temperatures, but are unable to live in high acid environments. Fruit jams and pickles are considered high acid foods (pH of 4.6 or lower), and so are considered lower risk for home canning.

The use of a pressure canner, producing temperatures of up to 240F (115C), is used for processing low acid and acid nuetral foods such as meats and vegetables.

Heating jars in the water bath processor causes expansion of the food, and pressure within the jar.  Air escapes from under the lid throughout the processing time.  When the produce cools, a  vacuum forms and the lid conracts, creating a hermetic (airtight) seal and preveting recontamination.

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Equipment:

Boiling water bath: Any large, heavy pot can be used, as long as it is at least 3″ taller than your jars.  A rack keeps the glass away from the direct heat of the pot, and can be helpful for removing the jars later, but isn’t critical.

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A folded tea towl can be used instead.

Jar lifters: specially shaped tongs which fit aroung the top of the jar.

Pressure canner: specially equipped pot which features a pressure-regulating device and a locking lid.  Opten available at smaller hardware stores and some specialty cookware shops.  These differ from pressure cookers in both shap and manufacture (more precise regulator).  A pressure canner MUST be used for ‘plain’ vegetables, meat, poultry or fish.

Jars: Canning jars are designed to withstand the temperatures and pressures involved in home canning.  Jars and rings may be reused, but ALWAYS USE NEW SEALS.  The two-part sealer uses a soft compound in the lid which softens with heat and provides a cushion between the glass an dthe metal lid.

For more info, check out www.homecanning.ca (Bernardin website, and the The Art and Science of Home Food Preservation @ 2006 Jarden Corporation.

Ingredients

  • 3-5 pounds plums
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups water

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Top Gun J&C on McKim Way, Richmond

Christina and ET (Doesn’t Tazte Like Chicken) tried to organize a picnic a few weeks ago but it did not turn out because the weather forecast reported rain for the weekend.  So instead of cancelling the meetup among blogger friends, we decided to gather instead for dim sum.  Long story short, the event was attended by TS and JS (Eating Club Vancouver) and us.

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It was Christina and ET’s suggestion that we meet at the Top Gun J&C.  Top Gun J&C is part of the Top Gun Group which included the following restaurants that we had been to before:

I think Top Gun J&C is the original restaurant of the group simply because I see that they showcase Top Gun J&C first over all their other restaurants.  BTW, J&C stands for Japanese and Chinese.

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Suanne and I did not pay much attention to the menu.  Instead we left all the ordering to Christina.  All of us conveniently declared that we can’t read Chinese.  Christina had no choice.  He he he … I don’t relish the burden of ordering dim sum on everyone’s behalf.  I think you know the feeling!

The special menu have quite interesting items (see above).  I can see that they are not one of those that serves just common dim sums like siu mai, har gow and the likes.

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Like the tea we had at Garden City Hot Pot, here they also serves individual tea selection.  ET recommended that we have the Dragon Well (Loong Jang in Cantonese).  Dragon Well is not common in most restaurants and is considered premium Chinese Tea.  ET knows that Garden City Hot Pot and this restaurant has it.  I was quite intrigued by this tea although frankly I can never tell most tea from another.

So I did some research and found that it indeed is the most important of all Chinese tea.  This type of tea is close to be considered the national tea of China where it is the type of tea among 700 different types of tea in China that is served as official tea to foreign dignitaries.

This tea became famous when a Chinese Emperor liked this tea and bestowed imperial status on the bushes from where his tea was made.  Story has it that today these bushes is still in existence and the tea from these bushes fetches high prices.

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The tea making setup here is quite similar to what we had in Top Gun but a little bit more simpler. They have lesser number of plates and bowls.

He he he … I had finally mastered the art of pouring brewed tea from the Gaiwan (lidded bowl) to the cup.  Just to show that it was no fluke, I repeated the demonstration with flying colors.

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Here is the order form … see what I mean?  It is all in Chinese.  They are not even numbered so that we can match it against some English description or a price list.  Suanne and I would be totally lost ordering this way.

It seems like they computerize the order taking by feeding this to some reader or something.  That’s efficient … for them, not for the customer.

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Christina ordered their specialty … the stuffed chicken wings.  This is stuffed with glutinous rice.  The waitress came back and told us that they are all gone.  They are that popular.

And then later on, we saw them bringing this to the table.  I thought they said they ran out of these wings.  It turns out that Christina had earlier ordered this to go.  She had quietly asked the restaurant to serve this to us instead.  She is so thoughtful!   More on following page. Click here to continue reading

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