RSSArchive for October, 2010

Fennel Seeds Pesto

This is the last workshop to be conducted by Ian Lai for the Food Presevation workshops organised by the Richmond Food Security Society. Ian, thank you for your time and sharing your expertise with us.

For this workshop, Ian decided to make a Fennel Seeds Pesto from the abundance of harvest from the Richmond Sharing Farm. The Fennel Seeds Pesto is very strong in flavour. It is good for marinate with fish. It is too strong to be eaten as a dip.

Fennel is a perennial herb with yellow flowers and feathery leaves. It is very aromatic and strong in flavour especially the seeds. Fennel seeds has a anise flavour to it and often confused with anise. The leaves has a more delicate flavour and feathery like dill. The bulb is a crisp, root vegetable and often used like onion.

Ingredients

  • Fennel Seeds
  • Tahini
  • Lime or lemon juice
  • Olive oil or water

Source: Ian Lai

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Canning Prune Plum Jam

This is another canning initiated by an attendee. This time its canning Prune Plum Jam. The attendee tried some of this jam from her friend and she liked it and decided to try to make some herself. She bought the prune plums for about 99 cents a pound.

This Prune Plum Jam does not require any pectin at all. Plum is rich in pectin itself.

Ingredients

  • 4 pounds of prune plum
  • sugar to taste


Yields 4 x 500ml jar

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Canning Stone Fruit in Simple Syrup

The attendees of the food preservation workshops are encouraged to bring their own fruit for canning. This allows people with limited resources like canner, rack, etc to have a hands on in canning.

At one of the workshop, an attendee brought some plums to can. The plums are simply canned in simple syrup.

In another workshop. another attendee canned some peaches in simple syrup. The process to can stoned fruit in simple syrup is pretty easy.

Ingredients

  • stoned fruit
  • sugar
  • water

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Bo On The Go

I think this is some exciting news that friends of Bo and Burmese food is gonna be happy to learn.

Suanne and I were at Bo Laksa King’s new restaurant a week ago. We were there with Grayelf and TimeToChow after the dinner at Luda where we decided to take go to Bo’s for some dessert.

End of (Laksa) Era … and Beginning of a New (Briyani) Era!

While we were there for desserts, Bo told us that he will be closing down his “flagship” counter in Joyce at the end of October.

It’s kind of sad to see that humble little counter in the Joyce-Way Food Market (original blog here). This “flagship” store is where Vancouver discovered the great laksa and other equally great Burmese fare that Bo served. It spread very quickly by word of mouth and before long people were making a bee-line to try his laksa.

That was just a little over 1 year ago when Bo was “discovered”.  He had been running both the counter and the new place on East Hastings for a few months already. It is taking a toll on him and Tiffanie running two eateries. So it was not a surprise to anyone that he will have to let go of that humble counter sooner or later.

So, thinking that today is the last day I could get Bo’s Laksa from the “flagship” restaurant, I drove over to the Joyce location to get take out. For old time’s sake. :-)

Yes, the picture above was the one I bought for lunch today.

Well, it seems like Bo had decided to keep the counter running for one more month. Yeah, instead of closing in end of October, the new closing date will be end of November.

The above is Bo’s “flagship restaurant”.  LOL! Such humble beginnings.

So on the way out after getting the laksa, guess who stopped me as I was leaving the convenience store?

Earlier this year, Suanne and I attended the Burmese Water Festival where we had such a great Burmese feast (blog post and food porn here). The food was fantastic and not to mention free too! Of course the food was organized by Bo but there is another lady who played a great part in preparing the food too. Well, that same lady is the owner of the Joyce-Way Food Market convenience store.

So she stopped me as I was heading out. I was surprised that she still recognized me. Guess what she told me.

OMG, she told me that … More on following page. Click here to continue reading

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iSpicy Sichuan Hot Pot on Kingsway, Vancouver

It was cold. It was damp.

And we were hungry as we drove along Kingsway looking for a place to eat. It was past 2PM already and we only had a cup of coffee and shared a bagel between us since morning. We were telling ourselves that half of the restaurants would probably be closed for the mid day.

I caught a glimpse of the “All You Can Eat  $17.95″ sign outside the restaurant and said Suanne maybe we should just try this place. It’s not in our list of restaurants to-try but I fancy hot pot. It was after all a cold day. Nothing but a Sichuan Hot Pot to spice things up.

iSpicy is an odd name. It sounded more like an internet cafe than a traditional hot pot restaurant. We went in and we were warmly welcomed. The owner and his wife barely speaks English. We are OK because we don’t need to know a lot of Chinese when it comes to AYCE and hot pot.

But as it turned out, we had a very interesting time there. We had a glimpse of what it is like in the struggles of a restaurant owner. We saw a human side of a smallish restaurant trying their very best to remain relevant in a very competitive sector of the economy. More about that later.

iSpicy is a really small restaurant. They have seats for about 20-25 people. Not big for an AYCE hot pot.

It is only natural, I guess, to expect a smaller hot pot restaurant to charge cheaper. iSpicy’s hot pot is on par with other AYCE hot pot restarants in town. It is $18 for adult.

The choices on the menu is smaller too. We know that for places with larger menu, most of the menu items are fluff. To us the most important thing is the quality of the meat, the beef in particular.

I was a bit confused about the hotpot base. They have a few sizes — small, large and extra large. They crossed out the extra large because it really doesn’t make sense. In most places they charge by the pot and not the size of the pot. The hotpot base does not have the fancy flavours that some places has. It is the spicy soup base that is their primary offering.

As usual we opted for the half-half and said that for the spicy side, it has to be “da-la” (big spicy). The owner told me that I should just go with the middle spicy owe as his da-la might be too much for me. Good thing I did not stick to my original choice!

The mixed soup base is $8.50 extra. The non-spicy side is made of pork bone. We were asked to taste the soup and he pointed out that the broth is not salted.

We also tasted the Sichuan soup base. It was really spicy. It had big dried red pepper pieces swimming in a very visible layer of red colored oil.

We later learned that the chef made the sichuan soup base himself from scratch. He told us that it takes … More on following page. Click here to continue reading

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Admiralty Center Food Court on McKim Way, Richmond

Here is continuing on the series of Asian food courts in Richmond.

If you remember this post when I said I was beginning to look at Richmond’s Food Courts in a different light, I listed eight food courts and so far done five of them. I had written at some point Aberdeen Center and the Richmond Public Market but to this series it doesn’t count as our visit was so long ago. So three more to go!

  • Parker Place (link and link)
  • Empire Center (link)
  • Yaohan Center (link)
  • President Plaza (link)
  • Pacific Plaza (link)
  • Admiralty Center
  • Aberdeen Center
  • Richmond Public Market

I guess a lot of people does not know this small little business center tucked in McKim Way, let alone know that this building is called the Admiralty Center. Not many people know too that this building has a respectable food court in it too.

Parking is available by the right side of the building. It is not apparent to many people but there is a small entrance that leads to a double storey car park. We just discovered this car park. We had always either park at Top Gun’s car park (which we now think we should not have!) or park on the street.

The Admiralty Center must have been named after the famous business district in Hong Kong. This is one of those buildings that sprung up during the days when immigration from Hong Kong was at its peak.

One would have thought that this is a dead business center but it is fully tenanted. We thought the businesses here looks overwhelmingly Cantonese.

The food court is located at the second floor of the building.

The food stalls too are overwhelmingly Cantonese too. You don’t get that “cosmopolitan” air you get like in the Richmond Public Market or Burnaby’s Crystal Mall food court. Why even the Parker Place food court has Taiwanese and Shanghainese food. Here it is entirely Cantonesey.

It is not a big food court. Just eight stalls — eight very good stalls. We were quite surprised that there were a lot of customers. We arrived there before noon on a Saturday and it was already half-filled but past noon, the place was bustling. I see a lot of them came in families coming for lunch after Saturday classes for their kids. When Arkensen and Nanzaro was younger, their Saturday mornings are filled with some activities or other (like Chinese classes, music, sports) and then we would go out for lunch in the afternoon. Yes, I can see many of the customers on that Saturday are like that.

I am on a single minded track for the Chicken Rice. I cannot remember who now but someone told me in an earlier post that the Hainanese Chicken Rice in Admiralty Center rocks.

There is only one stall that sells Chicken Rice, so it was no mistaking which stall it is. It is called the M&W Food Kitchen.

I like the service. The lady who manned that counter was helpful and chatty. I was standing in front of the stall for a while unable to decide what I wanted because there were so many to choose from. Without me even asking, she said “take your time. we have … ” and went on to describe their dishes. Most of which went swoosh over my head because she was explaining in Cantonese.  She said that the stall has been here for one year only.

This is what made me so indecisive (click picture above to show it in larger image). You see they not only have Hainanese Chicken. Apparently they are chicken specialist.

As you can see, there is Gwai-Fei (empress) chicken, Gong-nan chicken, Salt-baked chicken, Hand-pulled chicken, Hainan Chicken. They have other beef items too but I was told their chicken is what matters.

So there I was unable to decide which chicken dish I wanted.

If I must say so myself, I think I am gifted at charming food court ladies. So I charmed the lady at the counter and said I can’t decide and I wanted every of the four (five?) chicken dishes but I don’t want to order five dishes. I stood back and thought some more before I stepped forward and asked her if she could give me two types of chicken on the rice. She was a bit hesitant and said wait a minute while she see if Sifu (definition here) agrees or not. She came back smiling saying it’s just for me.

So I walked away with a plate of … More on following page. Click here to continue reading

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Delicious Chinese Cuisine on Kingsway, Between Victoria and Knight, Vancouver

Updated: 12th June 2011; This restaurant had closed according to Urbanspoon.com

Suanne and I had to run out for an errand that Saturday weekend. So we plan to go for a slow and leisurely dim sum since we had time to kill. We know exactly the place to go to. I had been there for lunch alone before and I was quite impressed with the variety of dim sum they had on the menu.

Some of you know me already, about how I look forward to non-traditional dim sum items. Siu mai, har gow, rice rolls and stuff like that bores me. But this restaurant has more than that. Their dim sum slash lunch menu has over 100 items. And what more, 40% of them are just $2.75.

The restaurant name is Delicious Chinese Cuisine, not to be confused with the Taiwanese restaurant called Delicious Cuisine in Richmond which won 2 CRA awards in 2010.

Delicious Chinese Cuisine is located along Kingsway somewhere almost in the middle between Victoria and Knight. When I first came across this restaurant, I thought that this is a Mainland Chinese restaurant because of the bright yellow and red sign. Instead it is not “jiang gouyu” (Mandarin speaking) but it is very very Cantonese.

We associate yellow and red signs with Mainland China restaurant. Do you have the same way of thinking too?

We got there early. Traffic was light. It was just slightly before 9AM but they were already opened. Already there was a big table of seniors enjoying their “yum cha” (translated as drinking tea). Dim sum is the most common name for dim sum but the term yum cha is equally as commonly used in Hong Kong. So next time you want to impress your Cantonese speaking friends, use the word “yum cha” instead of dim sum and you will probably see them raise their eyebrows in delight.

The interior is not like what it looked like outside. It is a pleasant and bright restaurant with a large “L” shape dining hall. I think it seats easily 120 to 150 people. The decor is above average from the usual dim sum restaurant. It even has 50″ flat screen TVs and chandeliers. I just like chandeliers in restaurants. :-)

At 9AM, they had just turned on the heater. So it was freezing cold, for the part of the meal that we had to keep our jackets on.

With so many choices and there are only two of us, we decided we just tick all of the items on the Chef’s Specialty section. You may click on the image above to show it larger, BTW.

We also added a couple of more interesting sounding items.

Service was slow, that I should mention. Unlike other dim sum places, speed is important. Here, the dishes came out one at a time. Which is fine by us. We have time to kill and we like to properly and slowly savor every dish. “Yum Cha” cannot be rushed … dim sum can be rushed, if you know what I mean.

The BBQ Duck with Rice Spaghetti in Soup was one of the items under the Chef’s Specialty. It is unbelievably cheap for a full noodle dish at just $3.

And the bowl is not small at all. It is big and this one bowl is definitely filing for breakfast for one.

The noodle is … More on following page. Click here to continue reading

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Bistro The Home on Alexandra Road, Richmond

I normally would blog this in sequence but this post could be time sensitive. So, I thought I better post this two days after our visit so that more of you could take advantage of the great offer this restaurant has in store.

They currently have a 2-for-1 promotion that pretty much makes them the cheapest noodles in the city. And they are a bit of an upscale place too.

Bistro The Home is the newest restaurants in Richmond. As a matter of fact, they had been opened just one week. Before I went, I thought that this would be another Chinese restaurant. I actually was half hoping that they would serve HOME STYLE Chinese food. But they are not Chinese.

Bistro The Home is an Asianized Pasta house. Yeah, that’s what they call themselves.

For those of you familiar with the glutton’s street in Richmond, Bistro The Home took over the spot vacated by Bonqula. Suanne and I did not expect that Bistro The Home will take over the spot so fast because we only noticed that Bonqula had closed just three weeks ago. They sure moved in and got running fast.

When we heard that Bonqula closed (blog post here), we were quite shocked. To us, it was a gem of a place and has an unique flair that you don’t see in many Japanese restaurants. I compare them as the feminine cultured side of a Japanese restaurant where Izakayas is the masculine boisterous counterpart. I understand that Bonqula closed because of a death in the family. I hope that they reopen someday. Does anyone know of the inside scoop?

This location is kind of hidden from where the action is along Alexandra Road. So many people will not know it’s there if you just cruise down Alexandra to decide what you want to eat.

The restaurant is OK kind of nice. They tried to make it a date dining destination as I can see but it is still rough around the edges.

The interior is dim and they play soothing soft music. This is sort of place you go out on a date. There is also a piano in the dining hall which the server said she plays sometimes. Right in the middle is an artificial tree which although looks very much fake, it does add a nice touch to the entire ambiance.

Yeah, this is the kind of place where you bring your date for a nice quiet dinner.

The one thing we thought stood out was that the table cloth were cheap and clearly very wrinkled.

The cutleries are still brand new and they are shiny — I like that.

Service is eager and very helpful. But then the waitress and waiter does look like they are new on the job. No, I don’t fault them at all but it was obvious.

The waitress was sweet. We asked if they are Japanese but she told us that they are Korean. She also told us that their chef is from Korea who studied in Japan the craft of cooking pasta.

When we flipped open the menu, the first item jumped out at us … $35, $25. I thought this place is gonna be expensive but actually that first two items is their Chef Special where you get a steak and it comes with a pasta of your choice. Anyway, our waitress told us that their Chef Specials are not quite ready yet.

Their menu also has a breakfast section and they also have a wine license. I see a few tables having wine with their pasta — a sight you don’t normally see in Richmond’s restaurants which is predominantly Chinese.

For us, it was water only. We were not wine drinkers and moreover, we were initially shell shocked by the prices on the menu.

The waitress served us warm garlic toast for starter which is very garlicky. It also smell real good when they brought it over. This is the type of toast I like.

Bistro The Home’s pasta selection is spread over two pages of the menu. The way they lay it out took us a while to realize it is … More on following page. Click here to continue reading

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