Smokey Sweet Yam Quesadillas

The second recipe demonstrated by Charlene in the South Arm Community Kitchen is Smoky Sweet Yam Quesadillas. This is a wonderful after school snacks or as a side dish to a soup or salad.

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The chipotle peppers add a smoky flavour and a hint of spiciness to the sweet mashed yam or sweet potatoes. The filing is creamy and the goey cheese compliments the sweet yam really well.

Ingredients

  • 1 large yam
  • 1 teaspoon minced chipotles
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • 1 cup shredded cheese such as mozzarella or Monterrey jack
  • 4 (8-inch) flour tortillas
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • bottled salsa (optional)

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Click on Read More for the instructions.

Continue reading

Hakkasan in Richmond

Suanne and I had dinner over the weekend last week with ET and Christina of Doesn’t TaZte Like Chicken. This was at their invitation and the day just after our first DOV (Dine Out Vancouver) event in Raincity. We were glad they did not suggest another DOV event as we already have a few planned and really wanted to try something different.

And what a difference it was … and what a choice it was too. This meal in Hakkasan does rank as some of the best meals I ever had.

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Hakkasan is really an odd place. It is located in possibly one of the worst location one could probably find in Richmond for a restaurant, let alone a fine dining restaurant. Virtually all the best restaurants in Richmond are clustered around No 3 Road in the city center but Hakkasan for some reason chooses to open itself smack in the middle of commercial and industrial area. It is located on No 5 Road just north of Bridgeport.

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We liked the comfortable homely setting of the restaurant. At some parts of the restaurant you might even feel like you’re dining at home.

Hakkasan billed themselves as Contemporary Chinese Cuisine. I understand from ET and Christina that Hakkasan and Zen Chinese Cuisine are related and that they are operated by brother and sister. I am not surprised if this is indeed true because many of the dishes and the style they are served looks very similar. You might have known that Zen Chinese Cuisine had once been declared by the New York Times as the best Chinese restaurant outside of China. Check out our review of Zen here and here.

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For us, we were seated at the more contemporary dining area …

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… with contemporary Chinese table settings. Perfect, I think all Chinese table setting should be like this … not chopsticks OR fork/knife OR spoon/fork … but, chopsticks AND knife AND spoon AND fork! The complete set of eating utensils, if you ask me. That is five if you include also your fingers which we actually did use during this meal.

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They had a $1 coconut water special that night. It was a steal and who could resist any drink at $1 right? It was good, we liked it. But despite the price, we limited ourselves to only a single glass. As innocent as it looked, I think it is very high in saturated fat.

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Christina, the more health conscious among us opted instead for the “Popo” tea. Per Christina, this type of tea supposedly has slimming properties. Ahhh … we have a weight watcher in our midst! This one is $3.50. We noticed that they not only top up with water but also with tea because the tea was the same consistency the whole night.

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It took us an awfully long time before we actually got down to deciding what to order. They have a bewildering lots of tasting and set menus … almost all of them at 50% off! We were kind of skeptical about the 50% off gimmick really and did not pay serious attention to the “was” price and just considered the “now” price.

We opted to go for the “Abalone Set for 4” which costs $168. For a moment before we ordered, we thought that it was $168 per person … nope, it was for four. What drew us to this choice are the words “abalone” and “lobster”. Continue reading

Dine Out Vancouver 2009: Raincity Grill

Updated: 22nd Dec 2014; This restaurant is closed according to Urbanspoon.com.

For those of you foodies living in the Metro Vancouver area knows that January is the month of the Dine Out Vancouver (DOV). It is the two week period at this time of the year where almost 200 restaurants offers 3-course dinners for a fix price. For the past few years, the prices were $15, $25 and $35 depending on the restaurant. This year there was an across the board increase to $18, $28, $38.

When the reservations opened in the first week of January, the hottest restaurants gets booked up pretty fast. As in previous year, we decided to book four seatings.

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We went to the Raincity Grill for the first event. Raincity is Grill located at the western end of Denman in downtown Vancouver. It faces the English Bay and should have a great view but not at this time of the year … and especially for this evening when it was all foggy.

Raincity is known as the home of the 1st 100 Mile Menu. The 100 Mile tingy was kind of a rage over last year but somehow I felt that all the great idea had died down. They still have the 100 Mile Tasting menu ($70).

Raincity offers the $38 3-course DOV menu. However, when we were presented the menu, we also saw that they also have an option for a 4-course dinner for $45. I guess they, like many other DOV participating restaurants, are trying to upsell the advertised menu.

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We got seated by the window which was kind of good except that it faces the street. We would had loved having had the ones that are located on the raised section of the restaurant facing the English Bay (even though it was too foggy and dark to see anything!). Somehow I felt that they seat all the DOV customers at the lower section. Moreover our table was so tiny it could comfortably seat only one person if you ask me.

Anyway, we started with drinks. Raincity had a very extensive wine list which came in a 33 page menu. Their wines are all from the West Coast (from BC to California) and they do not carry wines outside this region … i.e. none from France, Italy.

I got the Raspberry Martini which is Absolut Raspberry Vodka with Elephant Island Framboise ($10) while Suanne opted for Pineapple Juice ($3).

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They brought the bread even before we ordered our meal. We were disappointed with the bread actually. It is sourdough but it is so small, hard and cold. We had come to expect warm bread. They came by asking if we wanted more. We declined.

We opted to order a 3-course option and another 4-course dinner. I’ll go over the 3-course dinner first …

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For the 3-course dinner, we selected the Stuffed Leg of Fraser Valley Chicken as the starter. We were told that the chicken is basically chicken leg stuffed with chicken breast. I was not sure if I heard right because why would anyone do that … maybe it’s a combination of dark and white meat?

Along with it is the celery root, pearl onion, roast onion, bacon and red wine puree at the side. It was actually pretty good as each item by itself has it’s uniqueness. Continue reading

Portuguese Kale and Chorizo Soup (Caldo Verde)

Charlene kicked start the South Arm Community Kitchen for 2009 with two recipes. Also, Charlene is working with Family Services to start up a few more seniors kitchen which had been a roaring success last year. We wish her the best in her new role.

Back to food … the first dish which Charlene demonstrated is called Portuguese Kale and Chorizo Soup. Kale is a very nutritious vegetable which is not common among Chinese. I had blogged about Kale’s nutritional values in this blog.

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This is a hearty soup complete with protein, carbohydrate and fiber all in a pot. It is great for cold winter days.

Ingredients

  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 lbs boiling potatoes, peel & thinly slice
  • 8 cups water or low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 lb Spanish chorizo (spicy cured pork sausage), cut into 1 cm cubes
  • 3/4 lb kale

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Click on Read More for the instructions. Continue reading

Brioche Urban Baking and Catering in Gastown

I’m glad that things are back to routine. Polly and I can resume our cake meet. This time we decided to go to downtown Vancouver for a change.

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We decided to go to Brioche Urban Baking and Catering in Gastown which located at 401 West Cordova St. We parked at the Harbour Center as road side parking is very limited. Two hours of parking costs us $8. We had some trouble locating Brioche as the building numbering system seems a bit confusing there. We walked up and down Cordova St. and Water St a couple of times and finally got help from a postman to find the place.

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Brioche is an Italian style bakery. They claimed to make everything from scratch. As the name suggests, they also do catering. While we were there, we saw them wheeling out some catering food. The place is relatively busy when we were there.

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Polly ordered London Fog to try. It’s Earl Tea with milk. The London Fog was quite sweet and smooth. I just ordered a house brewed coffee this time.

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We started with a warm Salmon Quiche. The Quiche came in a slice from a large quiche. The original quiche is about two inches tall. It is filled with egg and salmon and flavoured with dill. The crust is quick crispy. I think this slice cost $9.

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Next we had a slice of Praline Cake. It is a chocolate cake layered with cream and topped with more chocolate. This cake is not too sweet. When it comes to chocolate cake, I would prefer something very intense and a small portion will satisfy my craving. It costs $4.95.

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The last item is a Creme Brulee topped with a whole strawberry. We just love the crunchy sugar topping which contrasted the soft creamy custard. This costs $3.95. It was quite a big serving.

The total bill came to $30 with tips.

Brioche on Urbanspoon

Braised Daikon

Daikon and pork bone soup is my family’s common soup. I made it every now and then. I find that the daikon in the soup is pretty tasteless and no one except me will eat it. So, the last time I made the soup, I removed the daikon from the soup after 1 hour and braised it in a few tablespoons of soy sauce, a tablespoon of mirin, some brown sugar to taste and with a few tablespoons of the soup. I let it braise until almost all the liquid is gone.

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The Braised Daikon is more flavourful but I find that there is a hint of bitterness in it. Does anyone out there have a better way of braising the dailon?

Steamed Fatt Ko

This post is for Carol. She asked for a recipe of steamed cake. I’m not sure if this is exactly what’s in her mind but nevertheless, as Chinese New Year is approaching, steaming some Fatt Ko seems to fit the festivities. Fatt Ko in Cantonese sounds like rise and high which is what Chinese wishes one another during Chinese New Year.

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The Fatt Ko did not rise as much as it should be because I ran short of the double-acting baking powder. Anyway, I love the taste and texture of these Fatt Ko.

Ingredients

Starter:

  • 200g Hong Kong flour (I used all-purpose flour)
  • 1 teaspoon instant yeast
  • 150ml water

Dough:

  • 250g Hong Kong flour
  • 20g double-acting baking powder (I used only 12g as that all I have in my pantry)
  • 160ml water
  • 200g brown sugar or gula melaka (I used brown sugar)

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If done properly, the Fatt Go should rise very high and the top will split. The Fatt Go is a little chewy and denser than it should be. It also has a yeasty flavour to it as Nanzaro said it’s like eating Man Tau (in his words, eating Char Siu Pau without the char siu).

Click on Read More for the instructions.

Continue reading

Lam Chu Kee Restaurant on Union Square in Richmond

Updated: 7th Mar 2010: This restaurant had closed.

>Oh … you all should take note of this food blog that we had just taken notice of the past couple of weeks. It is called Eat N About and is authored by Wendy. Wendy blogs about restaurant reviews primarily of Asian restaurants in the Richmond area. If you enjoy chowtime’s dineout reviews, I am sure you will enjoy Wendy’s blog too.

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One of Wendy’s review was to this place called Lam Chu Kee. Last weekend we decided to pick this place for our lunch. Lam Chu Kee is located at 3779 Sexsmith. It is at the south side of the strip mall where Ellie and Vogue is. If not for Wendy’s review we would not have given this place a second glance. From the outside it looked so uninspiring.

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We were the first customer that morning. We meant to be there for brunch but because the boys took forever to take a bath and brush their teeth, we only got there at around 11AM. So instead of brunch, it became more like lunch.

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I saw quite a few moist ducks hanging by the display near the kitchen. I thought it could be one of their specialty. I ordered the Oyster Sauce BBQ Duck Mix Noodle. It is $7.25. It was good, I love it.

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What I like especially is the cut of duck I had which had the right amount of fat and the skin is so crispy. The meal came with plum sauce. Can anyone tell me why plum sauce is about the only type of sauce for roast duck? Continue reading

Estea Beverage Club on Alexandra Rd in Richmond

Updated: 22nd Dec 2014; This restaurant is closed according to Urbanspoon.com.

We found a new place for eating out last weekend which we like a lot.

We had stumbled upon Estea many months before when we were in this strip mall on Alexandra Road. We had forgotten about them until I came across them while researching for new places to go to. We had covered so much of Richmond that we are finding it harder to find new places.

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Estea is a really good find. The biggest problem with Estea is the location. Although it is located on Alexandra Rd you do not know it because it is hidden at the back of the strip mall (where Mongolie Grill is). It actually fronts Alderbridge Way but you can only access Estea from Alexandra. I thought Estea would do much better if they have a signboard that fronts the busy Alderbridge Rd.

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The dining area in Estea is cavernous and can seat up to 200 people. They have wifi here and we see young teenagers using notebooks. Coupled with the decor and the name of the place (Estea Beverage Club) tells me that this place is intended to be a place for youngsters to hangout.

We were there in the afternoon and the place had just about 10 customers in all. It does look empty but I remember when we first passed by Estea during dinner time, it was absolutely packed.

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We love the menu and the way it is laid out. I think you like that too. It is a very big colorful spread with lots of delicious looking pictures of their popular items.

Estea is a Taiwanese style restaurant. I am saying that because the menu has pictures of Taipei and the Taipei 101 Tower.

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Let’s start with the simpler dishes. Arkensen chose the Scrambled Egg with Shrimp on Top of Rice. It’s a simple dish and reminds me of “wat darn hor” which is basically the same except that it’s with rice noodle instead of steamed rice. $7.95.

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Estea’s individual dishes came with two sides — celery and daikon. We like the combination … the daikon was very soft, warm, spicy while the celery was served cold and crunchy. Continue reading

Top Shanghai Cuisine Restaurant on Akroyd in Richmond

Hey ET and Christina … we finally made it to Top Shanghai after all these months and it was exactly like you said it to be … the food was excellent but the service sucks!

So this one is dedicated to you guys.

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When we first met up ET and Christina of doesnttaztelikechicken.com for lunch at Famous Hakka Restaurant, Christina raved about the Top Shanghai Cuisine Restaurant. However, ET vowed never to step into the restaurant again. *shrugs*

You guys know that Suanne and I are Chinese illiterate. So, Christina wrote down for us some of the must try dishes in Chinese and the English translations.

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Top Shanghai is located at the strip mall on Akroyd and No #3 Road in Richmond. It is on the part of the strip mall where Boston Pizza is. We had always known of this place but had never been there before because these kind of places intimidates us frankly.

What intimidates us is our perception that the service is rude to non-Chinese speakers, the service rushed, and not knowing what to order. Our perception were mostly wrong. You’ll see why.

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Top Shanghai is obviously very very popular. We made it a point to go early. Arriving at 11:30AM, the place was already bustling with customers. Obviously, it is like a typical popular restaurant where it is noisy and for those not used to it, could be somewhat stressful!

What helps us a lot was that they have lots of large delicious looking pictures of their popular dishes on one side of the wall (not shown above). Perusing the menu, we were quite surprised that the prices were quite reasonable … mostly at the $8 and $9 range.

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It is so packed that they put tables and seats so close together that it’s hard to maneuver around. Why, they don’t even have a waiting area for customers. So the customers actually stands besides eating customers waiting for tables.

Service wise, they are quite horrible. Suanne and I tolerates these because we got used to these kind of places a lot. I guess to these people, impersonal service means professionalism. LOL! But the gripes ends here because we love their food.

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Service is slow and so let me give you a tip here. When you get settled, first order their quick service items like Xiao Lung Bao and other kinds of appetizers. They make their Xiao Lung Baos on site and have a section where you can see the proof of that. I guess it is important that they show the customers — that’s why it is somewhat a vogue to do that in many Chinese restaurants here in Metro Vancouver.

We ordered the Pan Fry Buns. Six pieces costs $5.50. It is pretty much like Xiao Lung Bao except that they pan fry the bottom part of this. It was excellent … very juicy and one has to be careful with the hot broth inside the bun. Although I am not really a fan of Xiao Lung Baos, I actually like this a lot. Continue reading