Peaceful Restaurant on West Broadway at Cambie, Vancouver

In Vancouver, there are Chinese restaurants and there are Chinese restaurants.

There are Chinese restaurants where you will only see Chinese customers. The sight of a Caucasian customer is rare. The real menu of these restaurants are in Chinese. They will have a token English menu which is a small subset of their real menu. Their waitresses can hardly speak English but they can really speak Mandarin in very heavy accent. They serve traditional and authentic Chinese food.

Then there are the other Chinese Restaurant which are more user-friendly to the western customers. You see quite a number of Caucasian customers. They have items like sweet and sour pork and chow mein on their menu. They give out fortune cookies with the check. The Chinese foodie crowd does not pay attention to these type of restaurants. They say these restaurants is not real Chinese restaurants.

You know what I am saying?

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But there is one restaurant that has managed to serve authentic Chinese food and yet draw customers who are non-Chinese.

We went to the Peaceful Restaurant before we drop the boys off for one of their many top secret rehearsals. So we went to a restaurant nearby. Peaceful Restaurant is located on Broadway.

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The Peaceful Restaurant is a small restaurant. It is long and narrow with a row of tables lining one side of the wall and a glass enclosed open kitchen on the other side. There is a couple of larger round tables for larger parties.

Round tables … hmmm. I am thinking hard here as I type. In all good Chinese restaurants, the dining tables are round and will seat 10 people a table. This is because Chinese food are meant to be shared and are served communal style. Also, round tables allows everyone to be able to talk to each other better.

I can’t think of any other cultures that predominantly uses round tables. Can you help me think of one that does?

Anyway, the Peaceful Restaurant is a Northern Chinese restaurant. The speaks Mandarin with a heavy northern Chinese accent.

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We ordered the Sichuan Dan Dan Noodles (hmmm … Sichuan is western, not northern China!) because we heard that they pull the noodles in house.

It came in a bowl nicely arranged with the ingredients and before I could lift my camera to take a picture of it, the waitress dug in a pair of scissors and went ahead to cut it up. She then mixes it up front of us.

Aw too bad. I wanted to see how long these noodles are. Seeing how these noodles are made I am not surprise if this entire bowl is made up a single strand of noodles, all hand made.

So, with my usual itchy mouth, I asked the waitress how long it is. She brushed me aside and said “very long” like she was quite annoyed with my question. Ah … very authentic Chinese restaurant service. LOL!

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The main thing about Dan Dan Noodle is only the noodles and the sauce. Very simple dish but yet complex to make it perfect.

The peanut based creamy sauce is spicy and tangy and had a little minced meat and spinach. I tasted a bowl of that. It was good and had a lot of flavour. The noodles tasted great too. Personally I find that the sauce is too thick for my liking.

This is $7. Dan Dan Noodles are cheap to make and so $7 is a little bit on the high side.

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Suanne was on a mission for one of our readers. Michelle was asking where she could find Shaobing. Suanne remembered reading about there is Shaobing in this restaurant and it was the primary reason why we chose to eat here. So Michelle, here you go.

The word “bing” on Shaobing refers to biscuits or cookie in Chinese. I am sort of making this up but I think it is rather accurate. I need readers to help me confirm if I am correct or wrong. You see … this is the closest to a cookie in Chinese. The Chinese do not use ovens for their cooking and as such you end up with biscuits pan fried like this. There is no oven baked cookies like the ones you know of in Chinese cuisine. Correct? Yes? No? Yes?

There are actually several variations of Shaobing but the main distinctly is there is a version that is sweet and another that is savory. The sweet ones are usually made round while the savory ones are made in oblong shape like the picture above.

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The Peaceful Restaurant calls this the Sesame Flat Bread on their menu. This is $6.

Shaobing is a partially leavened bread and covered with sesame seed which is toasted (pan fried?) to a crunch. The sesame seed gave it the fragrance that you could “taste” even before you bite into it.

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Since this is a Northern Chinese restaurant, we ordered the Xiao Long Bao. This is $6.50. We were surprised it came with 8 pieces, normally it is 6-7.

Don’t get this. No good.

See how wet the bottom is? And how flat the edges of the buns lies? Well, … (more…)

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East Fusion Food in International Village, Chinatown Vancouver

Updated 19th Nov 2014; This restaurant is closed according to Urbanspoon.com.

It is very hard not to get excited about this place.

Like everyone else, we get excited over food that is good. The excitement doubles when it is cheap too. Actually, the excitement triples when it is also unexpectedly and ridiculously cheap.

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LotusRapper emailed us alerting us to this place called the East Fusion Food with a link to Cheap Appetite where Tana had a bowl of wonton noodles for just $2.99. That was about 6 months ago. When we saw that, we immediately dropped our weekend lunch plans and head to this place.

East Fusion Food is located on the ground floor of the International Village or better known as Tinseltown for the cinemas it has. The shopping mall at the edge of Chinatown is rather dead and has low occupancy. It took us a while to locate East Fusion Food because we thought it would be on the second floor where the restaurants and food courts are.

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Let not the East Fusion Food name fool you because I cannot see where the fusion is on their offerings. It is as Chinese as it gets.

The place is very busy but the turn around is quick. We were there last Saturday at 12:30PM which is right about the peak lunch time and we had to wait for about 5 minutes for a table.

The place is not very big. They are setup for small parties of 2-4 people normally. So you don’t expect big tables for an extended family dine out. With just about seatings for 40, 50 people max, this is very much a place for a quick meal.

It is very busy. The service is rushed — not rude but they have little patience. Not easy for many people I know, but look past that you are OK. The moment we sat down we already had the drinks and menu landing right in front of our face.

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It is not a big menu.

In our usual slow pace, we read every single item on the menu. Within a minute, the waitress was already at our table asking if we are ready to order. We said we are still looking at the menu and before I even finished my sentence she was already turning away headed to the next table. To some this is rude but it was not a problem with us. I wanted to let you know so that you don’t go to this place on the account of this posting and felt slighted by this sort of things. LOL!

Our waitress was like a super women or something. She did not even write down what we wanted and remembered everything we said. We ordered six items in total and some of them were in noodle type/soup type/meat type combination. We were so afraid she will mess up our order but she repeated it back to us 100% correct. Amazing.

The one thing we wanted to check out was the $2.99 wonton noodles.

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Well, the wonton noodles is no longer $2.99. The price had since risen to $3.88. I thought it is still cheap even the price had risen 30% since Tana had it 6 months ago.

It came in a big bowl with five pieces of shrimp wontons. The shrimp wonton are quite big. While I had much better shrimp wontons, this is really good considering the price.

I initially thought that there are very little noodles in it. I could not see to the bottom because of the cloudy broth …

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… but it has more noodles than we expected. We thought the thin wire’ly egg noodles were done very well.

I am quite certain a number of people will like the wonton noodles at East Fusion Food and then will get excited and tell the world that it is just $3.88 — like us.

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We actually thought that the servings in East Fusion Food will be small considering their prices. So, I went ahead to order two additional side dishes which they call “Starters and Appetizers”. All their Appetizers costs $6. Check the menu above … there are 24 types. All $6. I like that simplicity.

The boiled Gai Lan (Chinese Brocolli) was excellent. The thick stem and the leafy part were cut and arranged in a nice manner. I simply like the way it is cut to short, uniform and manageable sizes that you could easily pick up with chopsticks. I was asking Suanne why we could not get the ones we prepare at home to this level of texture — she doesn’t know.

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The Deep Fried Oyster is also $6. There are four large pieces. The size took us by surprise … (more…)

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Belgian Fries on Commercial Drive at 3rd, Vancouver

After dropping the boys off for yet another of their top secret training, Suanne and I decided to go to Commercial Drive. We hardly ever go to Commercial Drive at all. Not sure why though, especially knowing that there are a lot of good eating places here.

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While checking out the restaurants along Commercial Drive, we came across Belgian Fries. I remember reading a well researched Foodospohy’s review just a few days earlier. Although the review came out negative from Foodosopher, we went nevertheless. We are not picky eaters and we can’t imagine how bad french fries could get.

I remember reading a lot of other reviews of Belgian Fries and each of them talks about having Poutine. I thought it was kind of funny, odd too, that the Quebec version of french fries is the thing to have in a place called Belgian Fries. On the awning in front, just beside their Belgian Fries banner is the tagline that says “CBC Montreal: Best Poutine in BC”. Perhaps they should name this place the Montreal Poutine or something like that … No? Yes? No?

Anyway, Belgian Fries is located on Commercial Drive at East 3rd Ave.

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The interior is bright and spacious. The music is loud. It is definitely a youngster hangout. We felt old in there. We could smell the deep frying from the edge of the restaurant where we park ourselves. One thing that irks me is that the floor is so sticky like they had never mopped this for ages.

They used to be half the size you see in the picture above. I am not sure when they had expanded but looking at this old picture of Belgian Fries, you can just imagine that business must have been very good.

To order, you pay at the counter and they will give you a number. They will call your number once it is ready. This means that they make the fries only on order — which is good.

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We got the Montreal Smoked Beef Poutine to share. The large one costs $8.50.

It sure looked unhealthy and I mean very, very unhealthy. It also looked very delicious and I mean very, very mouth watering.

We had a way to eat this. You really need a strategy because it could get very messy. We started off by … (more…)

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Kim Penh Xe Lua on West Broadway and Cambie

Updated 19th Nov 2014; This restaurant is now called Pho Extreme Xe Lua according to Urbanspoon.com.

It looks like we are going to have dinners or lunches around in downtown for the next little while. This is the first of many over the next month or so.

The reason is Arkensen and Nanzaro is having top secret practices for the Closing Ceremony of the Vancouver 2010 Olympics and we had to drive them to the practice venue a couple of times a week.

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Going into the city I am beginning to see the Olympic feel coming to life. I can’t believe it is just four more weeks to go. Being a PM, I can’t help but to say that the organization is top notch and just can’t imagine the sheer size and complexity the project is.

So our boys had been attending practices a few weeks now. The thing is that the Olympics people had brain washed them into not telling us a single thing about the practices at all — a total clamp down. We used to be able to pry info from them easy. Not this time. Even simple questions like … how many people were in the practice, what is your role, do you like the costume, was the practices tiring … all questions are met with “I am not commenting” response. LOL!

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mT01Gi-bI9o&rel=0&color1=0xb1b1b1&color2=0xcfcfcf&hl=en_US&feature=player_embedded&fs=1]

Oh … I simply had to share this simple and stunning video from the BC Tourism people. You gotta be here … in 2010!

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The Closing Ceremony practice venue is [censored]. There are a lot of restaurants nearby, particularly around the intersection of West Broadway and Cambie. Don’t you love what the Vancouver City Hall did to this intersection? It is so beautiful and is teeming with more people than I could remember. What I like best is the absence of those ugly trolley bus wires.

Anyway, Kim Penh Xe Lua is one restaurant we had always wanted to try for a long time. We had a couple of recommendations from our readers about this place. Kim Penh Xe Lua is opened 24 hours and located just at about the intersection of Broadway and Cambie.

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Oh, the gall of them. They installed colorful Olympic-like rings for lightings in the restaurant. Anyone knows if this had always been there? Shhh … don’t let VANOC (the Vancouuver 2010 Organizing Committee) know or they will come after them (just joking).

But I hate the lights because they make it impossible for me to color correct the pictures of the food below.

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Kim Penh Xe Lua,, I think is supposed to be a Cambodian restaurant which ended up being more of a Vietnamese restaurant. The signage outside the restaurant said that it is Vietnamese slash Cambodian restaurant. The take out menu had no mention of the word Combodia but it does have the image of the Angkor Wat on it.

To me Kim Penh Xe Lua reminds of the Phnom Penh restaurant in Chinatown which is also very much a Cambodian slash Vietnamese restaurant.

Look at the menu above (click to enlarge) … it is very much Vietnamese right? For one, Pho is not a Cambodian dish.

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We like the bean sprouts. It is entirely fresh and crunchy. The boys were thirsty after the practices and remarked that they like munching this. I’ve never thought of this as a thirst quencher.

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I shared the Hue Special in Spicy Noodle Soup (Bun Bo Hue) with Suanne. The prices here are cheap and this is just $7.

The soup had a very pronounced lemon grass flavour that we can even smell it from where we sit.

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The beef slices is thick, like 1 mm thick (no, not the picture above). It is not like in … (more…)

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Winter Coleslaw

Minoo made this Winter Coleslaw to tie with the winter vegetable theme. Cabbage is a member of the cruciferous family of vegetables that contain potent anticancer components called indoles and isothiocyanates which can promote cancer cell suicide.

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This salad is called Winter Coleslaw as it is made with ingredients like purple cabbage and apples.

This recipe is adapted from Alive Magazine.

Prep time: 15 minutes; Serves 8.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 medium purple cabbage
  • 1/2 medium red onion
  • 1 large apple, peel left on, scrubbed well
  • 1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, broken

Dressing:

  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons honey

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p/s: honey missing from the picture.

(more…)

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Herbed Potato Soup

This Herbed Potato Soup is Minoo’s favourite. It’s quick and easy and freezes well. Minoo always has homemade frozen food in her freezer. She said she does not know how to make small batches of food. She always has left over which she freezes them for busy day. Soup is one food that freezes well.

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This Herbed Potato Soup is definitely great for cold winter days. This recipe is adapted from www.allrecipes.com.

Prep time: 10 mins; Cook time: 20 mins; Serves 6.

Ingredients

  • 2 large potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 2 cups water or chicken broth
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt, or taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups milk

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(more…)

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Whipped Carrots and Parsnips

Minoo likes to introduce new usage of vegetables which are not commonly used. Parsnip is a winter vegetable which is quite foreign to the Chinese community. I have been trying to find out the Chinese name for parsnip but without success. I even asked a grocer cashier who speaks Mandarin but she does not even know what is it called in Chinese. Anyone out there can help me?

The theme of this cooking session is toward using winter vegetables.

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This Whipped Carrots and Parsnips has a very unique flavour, from the parsnips. It makes an easier introduction to parsnips and it has a strong flavour to it. The carrots kind of mellow down the parsnip’s flavour but it’s still prominent.

Prep time: 15 minutes; Cook time: 25 minutes; Serves 6.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds carrots, coarsely chopped
  • 2 pounds parsnips, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup butter, diced and softened (or olive oil)
  • 1 pinch ground nutmeg
  • salt and pepper to taste

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(more…)

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Turkey Meatloaf with Feta and Sun-dried Tomatoes

The Richmond Community Kitchens resumed on the first week of January 2010. The Gilmore Park Church Community Kitchen was the first kitchen of the year. Minoo prepared 4 dishes to celebrate the starting of a new year.

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The first dish is Turkey Meatloaf with Feta and Sun-dried Tomatoes. This meatloaf is moist and colourful, white from the feta, red from the sun-dried tomatoes and green from the parsley.

Ingredients

  • vegetable cooking spray
  • 1/2 cup plain bread crumbs
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/4 cup garlic and herb-marinated sun-dried tomatoes
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature, lightly beaten
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound ground turkey

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This recipe is adapted from www.allrecipes.com and it serves 5 to 6.

Updated: 28th July 2011: This recipe is adapted from Giada De Laurentiis of Food Network.com and it serves 5 to 6.

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 50 minutes

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Weekend Musings (16-Jan-2010)

What a week!

It had been a really hectic week for me. Sometimes I feel that running this blog is like a second job. I really do. And I think it will only get bigger. He he he … I wish I can do blogging full time because I enjoy it so much. But it is not going to bring the bacon to the table. Wishful thinking.

There are a number of things that I wanted to let you all know. I don’t want to post a lot of non-food information and announcements every other day. I think it will be confusing to you all. So, going forward I am going to post Weekend Musings. This is for me to just let out what is on my mind.

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Give me a moment while I get on my soapbox …

The Past Week

Suanne and I enjoyed all the comments made particularly on Ho Yuen. There are a total of 27 comments made, mostly against … (more…)

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X-Site Grill and Bistro on Hastings Near Intersection with Willingdon, Burnaby

It took us over a year to finally check out X-Site. We first came to be aware of X-Site when we posted our visit to the LA Grill in Richmond. Back then our readers were pointing out to us that LA Grill has the same concept with X-Site. So X-Site had been on our to-try list for a long time already but it has been so long that it dropped way down to the bottom of the priorities.

We had pretty much forgotten about X-Site until Novi left a note for us and reminded us of this place which serves $4.95 Lunch Specials.

Like Richmond’s LA Grill, X-Site is a gem of a place which everyone should take note of.

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X-Site is located on Hastings in Burnaby. That is the thing — it is so far away from home otherwise we would have visited this place earlier.

Suanne and I went to X-Site for our Friday dinner date. You know, I really enjoy dinners like this to cap off the week … slow, unrushed and put work behind for the week.

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Look at the interior above. You would not have guessed that they serve $5.95 Dinner Specials here. Where else could you get a $5.95 with choices like Top Sirloin Steak, Gourmet Burger, Chicken Souvlaki or Grilled Salmon? It is amazing to think how they can even make money at all.

But they had been doing this for many years already and that is why this place is so close to the hearts of many people.

The dining area is large and spacious. We expected X-Site to be very much like LA Grill but this is definitely much better and conducive for a nice dinner. The place is dim with the section at the back so dark I wonder how people are going to eat in that kind of condition.

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We observed that the kitchen, bar and till was manned by Asians but all the servers are young pretty Caucasians. That stood out because it was exactly the same thing that was glaring when we were at LA Grill. No, no … it’s not a problem. It was just an observation which makes me think that beside the facade one could be very surprised who the people are behind the restaurant. Does any of our readers know if LA Grill and X-Site are run by Asians? Who are they?

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Service was excellent. There is no difference from any other more expensive restaurants.

We meant to take our time for the dinner. You know, we wanted to order drinks and appy first before we decide what we want for mains and such. For a place that serves $5.95 dinners, I would somewhat understand if they want to turn the table as quickly as they can but we did not have such pressure at all.

Our waitress was perfectly fine and even asked if we wanted to just start with the drinks and appy first and decide on the rest of the meal later. We were impressed.

I ordered a 2 oz Martini called X-Site Perfect. Between Finlandia (vodkha) and Tangueray (gin), I asked for the gin. This is $5.50.

It was very strong. It was like drinking jet fuel. No, I did not like it at all.

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For appetizers, we shared a plate of Garlic Prawns which is $6.95.

We were kind of dismayed with the size of the prawns but otherwise, this is great. The garlic bread is fragrant that you could smell the moment they brought it to the table. It was excellent and particularly good when we wipe that bread on the garlic butter and white wine sauce from the plate of the prawns.

Like I said, the size of the prawns was a disappointment but this was a very nice appetizer for us. Enjoyed this.

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We did not get the $5.95 Dinner Specials because they are only available for Monday through Thursdays.

We decided to get a steak which costs $9.95. There were two choices: the NY Peppercorn Steak or the NY Teriyaki Steak. We thought that we try the Teriyaki Steak because Peppercorn sounded so common.

The New York Teriyaki Steak sauce is made with a blend of Japanese soya sauce, … (more…)

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