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Pajo’s Fish & Chips in Steveston Village, Richmond

Arkensen is on his 2 weeks of spring break before resume school in early May. Out of the blue, he just craves for fish & chips. So, I brought him to Steveston Village for lunch.

A sculpture on display along the board walk from the wharf towards Pajo’s Fish & Chips.

Pajo’s Fish & Chips is a floating restaurant. We arrived just before noon and the place was not too busy. Twenty or more minutes later, this place was buzzing with customers which includes tourists, students and policemen.

Seatings are available on the floating restaurant and on the board walk as well.

Here’s what Arkensen came for. He ordered the one of each large fish & chips for $16.99. The fish includes cod, salmon and halibut. More on following page. Click here to continue reading

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The Diner at West Point Grey

In lieu of watching the Royal Wedding of William and Kate, Polly and I decided to go for an English breakfast for our cake meet. We found an English diner at West Point Grey with 53 years of history.

The English diner is simply called The Diner. You will not miss it as the Union Flag decorates the front of the the diner.

There is a scale model of the Tower of London bridge complete with a state coach and horses that decorates the front of the diner.

The interior of the diner is decorated with lots of photos of the Royal Family and memorabilia like plates and cups featuring the Royal Family, red English telephone booth, etc. The moment you enter the diner, you will be struck by the royal blue booths and tables cloths. You can click on the photos to view them at larger size.

Of course, the recent addition to the decor are wedding photos of William and Kate.

Back to food, we must have … More on following page. Click here to continue reading

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Dine Out Vancouver 2009: Elephant & Castle Restaurant – Delta Vancouver Airport Hotel

Updated 18th Nov 2010: This restaurant has been closed according to Urbanspoon.

Polly and I also take the opportunity to go for a Dine Out Vancouver meal in place of our regular cake meet. Since we can only go for lunch as Polly has to pick her twin daughters from school before 2:30 pm, our choices is very limited. We ended up with Elephant & Castle Restaurant at the Delta Vancouver Airport Hotel which offers the lunch option from 11:00 am.

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Elephant & Castle Restaurant is on the banks of the Fraser River and has a panaromic view of the oceans and mountains. Parking is free if you dine in the restaurant.

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Unfortunately, it is a very foggy day and the view is very limited. Nevertheless, the mistiness adds a sense of mysteriousity to the dining experience.

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Elephant & Castle is North America’s leading British Pub and Restaurant chain across Canada and United States. This location has a fairly large seatings on 2 levels. It has a bar and thus minors are not permitted.

Elephant & Castle offers a 3 course menu for the Dine Out Vancouver 2009 for $18.

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For appetizer, we opted for a soup and a salad. Polly and I decided to share our dishes and we asked the waitress for extra bowl to share the soup. The waitress is kind enough to serve the soup in 2 different bowls and gave us extra serving plates for sharing for the rest of the meal. I like their services. Back to the soup, the soup of the day is Seafood Chowder. It’s a creamy soup with salmon, prawn and potatoes with crackers served on the side. It’s quite an ordinary chowder.

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There is a choice of Classic Ceaser Salad and Tossed Green Salad in Raspberry Vinaigrette and we opted for the latter. We like the flavour of the vinaigrette which is very fruity. More on following page. Click here to continue reading

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London Series: The Pheasant Pub and Restaurant

A trip to London is never complete without a visit to a pub. The word pub is short for Public Houses and has been a traditional establishment in Great Britain. This is where the community gathers in social settings and where alcoholic drinks are served.

There is a pub around where my hotel is, about 10 minutes walk. Many people in my company recommend that I try this place as they serve very good meals too. It’s called the Pheasant Pub and Restaurant. I went just as the sun set and took a few HDR shots of the colourful pub. This is one of my favourite HDR shots. It’s so sharp that I could literally see into the windows (click on the picture below and see for yourself). I heart his shot.

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Pubs sell a wide range of beers, wine and soft drinks. I did not get any alcoholic drink as I went past the bar and straight to the back of the pub where the restaurant is. There were hardly any moving room as there were some soccer game on the TVs. I think it was the Euro 2008 Qualifying matches going on. The English are so soccer crazy … OK, football crazy.

I am surprised with the wide range of food served there. I expected this to be a lot of snacks and finger food but they are all full meals. There were a lot of deliciously sounding menu items that I find it hard to decide what I want.

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I had the image of pubs being a smoking place. I am glad the restaurant section had no smoking signs all over. Anyway, I place my order at the counter, paid up and was given a wooden ladle with the number “11″ — that was my order number. When they come around shouting my number, I am supposed to put the ladle up to show the server that it’s mine. How’s this for informal dining?

Hey, errr … the three squeeze bottles, I am sure they are color coded and for a Brit they know what’s in it. I can guess that the red one is ketchup and the yellow one must be mustard (them Brits love their mustards, don’t they?). But what is in the one in brown? If I hazard a guess, I would say it’s BBQ sauce … am just guessing.

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What’s the pub grub I ordered? I was a bit adventurous and ordered the “Best English Calves Liver and Bacon”. It came in a large squarish plate. The meat were served on top of some of the tastiest mash potatoes I had tasted and there were lots of it.

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The vegetables were cold but really nice. I could be wrong but I think they are all cooked and then chilled as they don’t taste a bit raw to me. BTW, if there is no dressing on top of this, do you still call this a salad or is it better described as vegetables?

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The bacon was heavenly. That slab was evenly cooked throughout and is soft and tender. I am beginning to like English bacon a lot.

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The best part was the calves liver. Do you find it repulsive to eat liver? I don’t. I think they taste wonderful although I know it has an unusual taste to a lot of people. This must have been at least 12 oz of liver. And the gravy that came along blends itself nicely to the entire dish.

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The dish costs 13 GBP. I am getting used to London prices and would say it is quite reasonable price. I mean, don’t convert it to CAD … CAD 40 is certainly to much for a main dish.

I am certainly going to come back to this place to try their other unusual dishes the next time I am in London again. Listen to what else they have on their menu:

  • Pan Fried Chicken Supreme filled with Boursin Cheese wrapped in Parma Ham
  • Homemade Steak and Kidney Pie
  • Mixed Seafood a la Creme
  • Traditional Burchers Cumberland Sausage, Mash and Onion
  • Scottish Baked Fiillet of Salmon with Salmon Mousse
  • Homemade Fillet of Beff Strogonoff served with Saffron Rice
  • Traditional British Beer Battered Cod and Chips
  • Best New Zealand Herb and Mustard Crust Rack of Lamb
  • Best English Half Shoulder of Lamb
  • Grilled Dover Sole with Baby Prawns and Almonds

Feeling hungry? I am writing this. Anyway, this is it … my trip London trip report. More coming up … Paris, Brussels and Amsterdam. Tell me, seriously, what do you want us to do? Me continuing with the trip report or have Suanne do a few recipe entries. We want to keep you entertained. :-)

Pheasant Restaurant and Public House on Urbanspoon

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London Series: An English Breakfast at Guidos

I had a full day all planned out in London. I wanted to climb the dome at St Pauls, visit the Westminster Abbey and the Victoria & Albert Museum. These are the places that I missed visiting the last time I was in London because I timed it all wrong.

When I was planning for this trip I wanted to include a visit to a place that serves traditional hot English breakfast. I simply think that English breakfasts are the best — definitely not the healthiest but sure the best.

I found one place near the St Paul’s Cathedral called Guido’s. What drew me to this place is the smell of frying bacon. Oh man … that smell so good …

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It’s small, cramped restaurant and looks exactly like the place that a Londoner would go for their breakfast — seems authentic and not some touristy restaurant to me.

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I ordered their Full English Breakfast. The toast were buttered and toasted well done … or in Suanne’s words over-done! I like it. Hey … by the way … what is your opinion … is it true that such over-toasted bread is carcinogenic?

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How do you define a “Full English Breakfast”? I believe the one below is it … and the characteristic is as follows:

  • Grilled tomatoes
  • Mushrooms
  • Bacon: You call this back bacon right?
  • Sausage
  • Fried Eggs

Hey, I got a question. Does the Brits normally have ketchup with these kind of breakfast? The table does not have ketchup and I gotta ask for it.

This is really great … a real artery clogger. All these for 4.50 GBP. Sounds reasonable right?

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Enough about food. For those who are only interested in reading about food can tune out now. The rest of today’s entry is about the places I visited during the day. :-)

The St Paul’s Cathedral was built 299 years ago. The design of the cathedral is inspired by the St Peter’s Basilica in Rome. It is a functioning church and thus disallow photography indoors. Many great Englishmen tombs are sited here, including Lord Nelson, Winston Churchill, Alexander Fleming, and Florence Nightingale.

The most impressive part of the cathedral is it’s dome. That was the target of my visit … to climb to the top of the dome.

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It was really hard work! I was carrying a full backpack of camera equipment. Furthermore, I am terrified of heights! I know it’s all in the mind but every time I am faces with spiral staircases where I can see all the way to the bottom, my legs just goes weak. The stairs looked so flimsy!

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The view from the top of the dome was simply beautiful. I spent quite some time taking pictures. The toughest part is going back down. I took a long time to get down but I made it.

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Later I went to the Westminster Abbey. This is also a functioning church (that means that no photography allowed). The abbey, dedicated to St Peter, had been continuously built from just a small shrine until it being such a magnificent cathedral today. I just learned that the expression “robbing Peter to pay Paul” actually originates from the days when money from the Abbey (St Peters) were diverted to St Pauls.

The Westminster Abbey is so full of history. If only I were able to take picture, you will see how old and full of history this church is. In it were tombs of English monarchs dating back hundreds of years. Of the many churches I had visited this is simply the richest in terms of history. It’s a must visit place.

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The last place I visited for the day is the Victoria and Albert Museum. I really don’t know how to describe this place … I would say it’s a museum of decorative and industrial arts. It is really huge. I spent most of my time in the South East Asian, East Asia and Middle Eastern exhibits.

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There is also a large room housing only Rafael’s tapestry Cartoon which were the series commissioned by the pope for the Vatican.

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It was a long day. As much as I wanted to cover more of the V&A Museum, I simply was too tired. Left for dinner at the perhaps the best Duck Rice in the world … will blog on that tomorrow.

Guido's on Urbanspoon

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London Series: Chicken Tikka Masala from Sipson Tandoori

I was so intrigued. When I first heard that the national food of England is Chicken Tikka Masala, I thought that someone was pulling my legs. In a few days I was in London, some people (mainly Indian taxi drivers) told me the same thing too. Here is what I learned the past few days — let me know if I get this correct.

Masala is an Indian term that refers to a mixture of many ground spices. What does the word Masala mean? Spices? And Chicken Tikka Masala is really invented in Great Britain. So, I figure since I am in London I must simply try the national dish. :-)

I had blogged on the Sipson Tandoori the last time I was in London here. I vivid remembered making an unkind remark about the “pretty dumb” paper bags the delivery came with. I had the tendency sometimes to be brash, I admit. He he he … the paper bags I guess will always be there but at least this time, the curry did not leak all over the place.

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Got a question for you, Rukya. How many pieces does people normally order the papadam? When I ordered ONE piece, the person who took my order sounded so surprised. I mean, the papadam is such a large piece that one is more than enough for me. Guess what, when they delivered to me, they game me four pieces. Hey, I have no complain. I must say that Sipson’s papadam is simply one of the best I had tried … they are so crispy and flavourful … and they tastes just as good the next morning. 50p per piece but they charge me only for 1 piece — nice!

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You know, most curries looked and tastes the same to me. So I really can’t figure out what Chicken Tikka Masala is. It looked and tastes like Butter Chicken but am sure it is not. Rukya, can you tell us about Chicken Tikka Masala?

The curry gravy was awesome — very rich and if I recall correctly, it was not spicy hot. I enjoyed this a lot. This one costs about 8 GBP.

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I also ordered the Bhindi Bhajee … fresh okra (a.k.a. ladies fingers). I like ladies fingers and there are lots of this here. One thing about okras … the seeds do not breakdown in your body right? :-) 3 GBP.

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I can’t remember what this is … but if I make a guess, I think this is the Lemon Rice which is described as “Basmati rice cooked in ghee flavoured with fresh lemon“. 3 GBP.

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I enjoyed this meal in the hotel room. There were lots of food. I do come away having the impression that London has some of the best Indian cuisine restaurants in the world.

Sipson Tandoori on Urbanspoon

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London Series: Room Service at Sheraton Skyline

Despite the perceived excitement of managing projects with remote teams and having to travel often to different sites, all I can say that it’s not as glamorous as it seems. For sure, there are benefits & opportunities to this job but sometimes it really takes a lot out of me. I am not sure if I can do this for life. Here is how it was like one of the days I was in London.

I was already struggling trying to keep up with a highly technical 8-hour training course each day. Mind you, the course starts at about midnight Vancouver time — a time when I should be soundly asleep in bed.

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Needless to say, it’s hard trying to stay awake sometimes. I must have taken something like 10 cups of coffee over the course of the day. I tell myself this is bad for me but I could not help it. After a couple of days, I was really sick of the coffee from the machine in the training rooms and bought “real ones” from the cafeteria.

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Right after that training, there were three conference calls that I need to get on. That three conference calls took a total of 4 hours with the first one starting at 6:00 PM (LON time) and the last one completed at midnight. I stayed in the office the whole time because I did not want to take conference calls with my cell or the hotel — it would have been enormously expensive to do so. Moreover I always need to take conference calls hands free.

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I did not even get the chance to grab dinner because the cafeteria had already closed. That one day was a really long one. At least the calls that day were “easy” ones — ones that I was not beaten up on. :-)

By the time I got back to my room, I was famished. All the restaurants are closed at that time and what I had available is the hotel’s room service. There were not much choice on the menu — just pizza and grills. The Grilled Beef Sirloin Steak sounded good … 10 oz some more … just what I needed.

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When I called for my order, they told me “it’ll be 30 minutes” … what?!? 30 minutes? That was a long wait for me. Good thing I had some cookies in my bag.

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They gave me a choice of sauce but I just can’t remember what it is now. I only remembered that what I selected was some uncommon sauce … perhaps something like peppermint something … I can’t remember.

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Here it is again … ketchup and … English Mustard for condiments. BTW, English mustards are different from North America mustards … the colour looked slightly different and with English mustard you can see “stuff” (ground pepper?) in them.

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The steak sure was not disappointing at all. It was like … wow! Perfect medium rare; just the way I always liked my steak. This whole thingy costs 24 GBP — quite reasonable I think, considering.

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There were some work I needed to deliver out from the conference calls but I just couldn’t stay awake anymore. Anyway, even if I did it over the night, those guys in Atlanta and Vancouver would have already gone for the day.

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London Series: Breakfast at the Sheraton Skyline

I told you I’ll blog about food today … here it is. :-)

I stayed in the Sheraton Skyline Hotel in Hayes, just next to the Heathrow Airport. This is very much a business class hotel with very little tourist. It seems to me that people who stays here are very much people who works for the airport or aviation industry.

I had some of my breakfasts in the hotel’s Al Dente Cafe.

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The cafe is very spacious, bright and cheery. I don’t know … to me this makes a difference in setting the day right. I always wanted to have an unrushed morning breakfast in a bright place and a newspaper to catch up on the news. And like to have breakfast alone … hate people talking to me during breakfasts! :-) So this is perfect.

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Service was excellent in the Al Dente Cafe — very prompt and polite. Somehow I wish every place is like this. I noticed that service is much better in such business hotels in that people dresses better and the customers are working professionals. Also, perhaps these type of customers tip better because they could expense the tips. I don’t know …

First came with a cup of coffee and a glass of orange juice. The coffee is really strong and smells good. A characteristic of a good cup espresso coffee is the layer of crema … and this has it. It’s a big cup too. Fantastic.

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The breakfast is buffet style. There was a very wide selection and simply too much for anyone to try everything. I had always liked cooked and warm breakfast. This is just what I wanted. Like many good breakfast spread, they even have a station where they prepare omelette the way you want it.

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In North America, the standard condiment is ketchup. I noticed that in England they almost always have both ketchup and mustard. I am no fan of mustard but took a bottle anyway to try and see if I like it … I did not. Can anyone tell me more about using mustard as a condiment? i.e. do you use it like you do with ketchup on meat and eggs?

The only time I know people in Vancouver normally use mustard is on hotdogs.

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I like this station where there are all kinds of English tea. There is even a pot of hot water of some sort that you use to make a pot for yourself. It was pretty neat … the pot was steaming all the time and looked very inviting.

Let’s see … there is a place where you can toast your own bread … I always like that. It also came with a full rack of variety of jams and marmalades. For drinks too, they have milk, Perrier, all kinds of juices, and soft drinks.

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I don’t normally eat a lot in breakfast. I took a bit of stuff from the cold selection. Had a couple of slices of cold smoked salmon — it was OK. Tried also a little bit of the crisp bacon but it was awfully salty. I wondered how people like it so salty — it was as salty as trying to eat a spoonful of salt, no kidding. I also tried, for the heck of it, some cheese, especially blue cheese … this one I did not like.

What I like best is their yogurt — this was awesome. It seems to me that they are made fresh because the foil that covers it is not those airtight ones and the strawberries tasted like they were just prepared a moment ago. It was so good I took another.

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There was another table of pastry … very nice pastries. I did not take any at all because I was full.

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The breakfast was great and the atmosphere is perfect. I normally spend about 45 minutes here, taking my sweet time reading the papers. The downside is that this costs 19 GBP … and that is $43 CAD, excluding tips!! Good thing there’s a thing called expense account.

London is an expensive city.

BTW, I am gonna blog about food again tomorrow … promise. No more museums, tanks, cameras … at least for the next few days. :-)

Al Dente Cafe at Sheraton Skyline on Urbanspoon

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