Chowtimes Readers Dinner at 12B Underground Kitchen

This is just a quickie post since I had already done an in-depth review of Chef Todd’s 12B Underground Kitchen in this post here.

My first visit to 12B was when I joined a group of Vancouver Chowhounds. That was back in December last year. That sitting was full and I was only able to make it after someone pulled out to make room for me. It was just me who went … and poor Suanne had to stay at home.

So, I offered to organize another one for Chowtimes readers so that Suanne could also have the chance to experience dinner at 12B. The response from chowtimes readers was overwhelming … a total of 36 people responded!

I truly had a problem on my hands!

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You see, 12B had always limited the number of people on each night to twelve guests only. I had several discussions with Chef Todd over the large number of diner. At one stage we were seriously exploring the possibility to do an unprecedented mega-sized group of 18!

But one thing led to another, the group eventually whittled down to a nice size of 12. Two main factors were in play.

The available dates were limited. Chef Todd is fully booked for Friday/Saturday sittings right up till early June already. Although weekdays are available, it is very limited, So we were left with the less popular days of week. Not wanting to wait for a few months, we had to settle for a Sunday night — which proved to be unsuitable for some.

The other factor was the price … the price increase. Back in December, the “minimum donation” for 12B was $50. Mid-way through the planning, Chef Todd informed me that the “minimum donation” is not longer $50, but $65. Understandably, that did not sit down well with some people. Frankly, I was really embarrassed about it having to go back to the group about this hefty 30% increase. Needless to say I was quite unhappy to be forced to deal with this.

So, long story short … twelve of us finally ended up attending the dinner.

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12B dinners are BYOB event. I am not an expert in wine and so I asked Glen at work for recommendations. I wanted something that is red and something light too since I flush up red very easily.

Glen recommended the Pinot Noir from Nk’Mip. So I went to the BC Liquor store on Cambie. Oh gosh, I had never been in that place before and was so surprised how big and fancy it is. They carry almost every kind of wine and beer you can imagine. Suanne and I felt kind of lost in there.

LOL! Suanne and I was complaining the lack of vowels in First Nations names. Nk’Mip … how do you pronounce it?

It turned out that the bottle was not opened at all. Not only because everyone brought liquor but Keev even brought four bottles.

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Chef Todd told me that he checked chowtimes’ earlier review the day before and made sure that he does not serve the same thing that I had in my last visit. That was considerate of him. I did not even expect him to do that at all but he did.

Chef Todd told our group the same thing he told us in my first visit — that he tries to make different menu every night. I still find it hard to believe that anyone who have such a repertoire of dishes … but that is what he said.

Cream of asparagus soup with white wine and truffles “four ways” (truffle salt, oil, and, uh, a couple of other preparations)
Cream of asparagus soup with white wine and truffles “four ways” (truffle salt, oil, and, uh, a couple of other preparations)

Suanne and I had a great time chatting about food. The group are made up of pure foodies — he he he … not bloggers who sometimes go to restaurants just for the purpose of writing reviews on the blog. These guys and gals are all there for one thing and one thing only … the food.

Among the group was Michelle and her university professor husband. They had traveled widely around the world in search of food. Since they sat directly across from me, I spent the most time chatting with them. It is so amazing being able to talk about the well-known restaurants we had been to, particularly in Spain which was still very fresh in my memory.

Halibut seared in brown butter, served on a jardinière brunoise and quinoa, with a fennel, orange and poppyseed salad on the side
Halibut seared in brown butter, served on a jardinière brunoise and quinoa, with a fennel, orange and poppyseed salad on the side

There was also Joe and Anya. Joe is not just a foodie but his name is one that some of you will hear of more and more over time. He is beginning to start blogging together with Matt on vancouverslop.com!

So, I am going to take the short cut in this post and refer you to HIS post on this meal at 12B. His post is located on this link. Go check it out! He is going to be helping me on the next project which is the … Eight Great Treasures of Chinese Cuisine.

Zatar rubbed duck breat with saffron Isreali couscous pomegranate, warm cantaloupe. pesto
Zatar rubbed duck breat with saffron Isreali couscous pomegranate, warm cantaloupe. pesto

Keev came alone. He had a lot of experience in the food industry. I can’t recall what it is that he does but it is something to do with designing menus for restaurants. Keev is also another great resource I can tap on for the Eight Great Traditions of Chinese Cuisine project.

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Look at the Duck Breast above. Doesn’t that look perfect? Chef Todd does everything well. There is not a single dish that I had any complains about.

Sage and herb grilled pork tenderloin. Wine braised cabbage. Yam. Spaetzle. Red pepper stock.
Sage and herb grilled pork tenderloin. Wine braised cabbage. Yam. Spaetzle. Red pepper stock.

Edward, Laurene and Tyler came together. Too bad we sat too far away from them but boy, were they noisy! LOL!

One of the things we talked about was Chef Hung’s Taiwanese Beef Noodles. According to Edward, Chef Hung’s TBN is simply the best and also added that for people who said it is not good, they don’t know what true TBNs are! He sounded very convincing … after all, he had a LOT of TBNs in Taiwan. I was so amazed to hear that he spent $90 in a single sitting at Chef Hung with two people. He practically ordered every item on the menu.

That … is one truly committed foodie. LOL!

Venison shortloin. Blueberry demi. Baby potato. Mint pea puree. Honey tarragon dijon wu tang carrots.
Venison shortloin. Blueberry demi. Baby potato. Mint pea puree. Honey tarragon dijon wu tang carrots.

Mind you … none of the people who attended this dinner are in anyway over-weight. Certainly not Carmen who came with Riko.

That is the thing about dinners like this — we were not able to speak to everyone as much as wished.

Brandy fig star anaise ice cream. Pistachio ice cream. Glazed pecans. Shortbread.
Brandy fig star anaise ice cream. Pistachio ice cream. Glazed pecans. Shortbread.

Chef Todd was in his usual elements …  not just cooking great food but was also the entertaining host.

The experience of eating at such Underground Kitchen is unlike any you find else where. Everyone should make an effort to at least experience such a meal at least once. I don’t think I will want to organize another one to 12B anymore. I want to concentrate in the next big project — the 8GTCC.

If you are interested in dining at 12B, you can contact Chef Todd via email at 12breservations@gmail.com.

Well, thank you everyone for taking the time to attend this dinner. We had a great time … and am sure we will meet up again!

United in the love of food!

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  1. i’m so curious about this place!! unfortunately it’s out of my university student price range. very cool concept, he seems truly passionate about food and cooking.

  2. Thanks, Ben, for the link and for organizing the dinner in the first place! Now let’s get started on the Eight Great Traditions project!

  3. Too bad I couldn’t come. But I look forward to 8GTCC! 🙂

  4. I feel honoured to be mentioned in your blog and feel honored to have met you and Suanne! I’m definitely interested in joining your dinners for the Eight Treasures of China. I will be keeping posted for more updates.

    1. Thanks for coming out again Michelle. Suanne was telling me how she was impressed by your experiences in dining. We had a great time.

  5. Ooooh, Ahhhh!! Looks delicious. Will definitely have to try and get in for dinner one night.

  6. By the way the wine is pronounced Inkameep.

    1. He he he … I earlier assumed that Nk’mip is pronounced as Neek-e-mip.

  7. That looks so delicious! I have yet to make it out to one of these! The desert looks amazing! Same with that duck and Israeli cous cous….$65 for this is a bit expensive since most charge $50

  8. Thanks Ben,

    had a wonderful meal and really enjoyed the company. you and suanne are wonderful, I really appreciate all your efforts. very nice to nice to meet fellow food aficionados. looking forward to 8gtcc.

  9. Looks great! I have yet to try 12B, although many of my friends and colleagues now have.

  10. i have a reservation here in two weeks, hope the menu is as good as this one!

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