[CRA 2011] Claypot Chicken and Sausage Rice from James Snack

Suanne and I met up with Charles of Mamak Cafe a couple of weeks ago. I wanted to show him the claypot rice place and catch up with him after the event we had at his restaurant. We were so busy before and during the event that we did not manage to really chat. Charles said he hardly ever come over to Richmond and wanted to have a closer look at the food scene here.

Moreover I wanted to also blog about another CRA2011 award winning dish. So we met up at Parker Place to grab a pound of siu yook before we walked over to the adjacent strip mall.

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If ever there is a food court in Richmond that I would call my favourite, I would say it is this one in the Empire Center. This is where King Buffet, Bushair, Sunway and Shiang Garden is located.

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The reason why Suanne and I like this place is because it is relatively unknown. It is slow and quiet(er) than the other food court. We come here when we want a slow leisurely meal.

There are not many stall here and to us that is part of what we like. Even with the lack of stalls, the stalls here are unique and very good. Nine times out of ten, we could come here either for:

  • the Claypot Rice in James Snack
  • the Chicken from Choi House (see link)
  • the Meat Organs from Lai Leung Kee (same link above)

The other stalls we are not quite interested in as much.

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Our object coming here is the stall called James Snack. The English name is weird. They don’t serve snacks here. What they are famous for is their claypot rice and also the steamed lotus leaf rice.

You see, the name James Snack is a direct translation from the Cantonese name Jeem-See-Lack. That sort of mean … Continue reading

Shun Feng Village Seafood Restaurant on No 3 Road, Richmond

As I was sitting here writing this post, I was just thinking that whatever happened to Grayelf, TS and JS. I always see these ladies everywhere there is a mention of food. It had been one whole week already since I saw their comments. I wonder what is up with them.

Anyway. It was a Saturday a few weeks ago. I woke up at 8:00 AM and was just lazing around. We decided not to go anywhere for breakfast but instead chooses to stay in and catch up with reading. And then out of the blue I got an email from Grayelf saying that they are on the way to Shun Feng and asked if we want to join them in 45 minutes.

Of course we would! Especially when the restaurant is in Richmond … and no bridges too. So it was a mad scramble for Suanne and I to get ready. We are Asian. Asians need to take a bath and change our home clothes and put on street clothes and all that before we go out, you see.

He he he … I did not respond to Grayelf but instead chooses to just turn up and surprise them. I actually wanted to feign ignorance, pretend to bump into them and telling them what a coincidence to meet them there. I guess I need more acting lessons because as much as I tried they did not catch on to my act.

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Suanne and I had never been to Shun Feng before. Yeah, this is one of the restaurants that intimidates us. They have a five foot tall shark fin at the entrance of the restaurant. A small bowl of sharkfin soup costs $68.00 each. So you can imagine that the big sharkfin (if it is real) would have cost a few grand.

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I thought I took a picture of the inside of the restaurant but I cant find it. Oh well, you just have imagine how it looked like based on my description.

It was busy. Getting the attention of the waitress was a challenge. They are like one of those who are so busy that they had perfected the art of avoiding eye contact with you. Somehow they can sense you are going to ask something from them without even looking at you. You know what I mean? They have this uncanny ability to sense you are asking for the bill … in which case you ALWAYS get their attention the first time.

When we got there at 10:00AM, the place was already half-full. By the time we left the place was packed. It is amazing how dim sum restaurants are always full of customers on weekends. If ever there is dim sum restaurant which is half full, their food must be awful and to be avoided. Can you think of any that fails to draw full house every weekend? I can’t think of any but am sure there are.

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The restaurant was big. From the entrance it looked really fancy but when I got inside it was pretty much a normal dim sum restaurant. The decor is simple. There is no chandelier. Classy restaurants must have chandelier. So I was kind of surprised they don’t have it.

Alright, no chandelier is OK because they have logo chopsticks. Now, that is … Continue reading

Mui Garden in Richmond: Food Was Good But Tips Not Necessary

I just want to start off by saying that “nobody is perfect”. We all make mistakes from time to time. What is important is how one deals with the situation when a mistake is made. Don’t ever lie to cover a mistake. It makes things worse. Mistakes, once realized, must be fixed as fast as possible. More about that later …

A couple of weeks ago, the whole family went out to dinner at the Mui Garden in Richmond. I wanted to go there because I ordered the wrong dish during the visit to the other Mui Garden on Victoria and 43rd in Vancouver. In that post, I complained that Curry Chicken which they are supposed to be famous for was terrible. It seems that they have different curry dishes and we got the wrong one. Yeah, there was a barrage of comments on that post telling us (again and again and again!) saying “Hey Ben, you got the wrong curry chicken!”.

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The O-C (obsessive compulsive) Ben just gotta go and check the deal curry dishes out or else he keeps thinking about it day in day out. Arkensen is more than happy that dad suggested Mui Garden when I told him “yes, it is in Richmond” and “yes, it is like a HK Style Cafe”. He knows that HK Style Cafe means they have salted fish and chicken fried rice.

The Mui Garden in Richmond had been here forever. They are located on a street called Firbridge Way which no one, including Richmondites, knows the name of. To many, it is just that little side street which connects No 3 Road with Minoru Blvd behind the London Drugs building. It is hidden from the main thoroughfare but yet many people knows of Mui Garden and where it is.

Parking here seems limited but there is a roof top parking above the single storey structure that the restaurant is on. You need to drive round the back and up the ramp. We did not even realize it until we saw that inconspicuous words on the awning.

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The dining area is big and it is split into two separate sections. One of the sections is on the upper level overlooking the rest of the restaurant.

There is nothing remarkable about the restaurant. Very typical Chinese restaurant with booth seats and smaller square tables.

The restaurant was … Continue reading

McDonald’s New Chipotle BBQ Bacon Angus Burger

Here is the McDonald’s newest and boldest addition to the Angus Burger line!

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As in many previous new product launches, McDonalds had contacted us and asked if we would like some coupons. It was just last week, we gave away a bunch of coupons for the newly launched Buttermilk Biscuits. Those coupons came from McDonalds Canada. For those of you who got those coupons, I hope you used that and enjoyed it.

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Even before we get to settle down, this time is was the McDonalds in the US who provided us even more coupons.

The Chipotle BBQ Bacon Angus is packed with 100% Angus beef, bacon, cheese, onions, pickles and a bold and spicy BBQ sauce, however, don’t be shy to run out and try one, because this sandwich, which is only available for a limited time (until March 31).

This will come in handy for those of you in Vancouver who have … Continue reading

Israeli Couscous with Shallot and Parsley

For the next high fiber recipe, Minoo introduced to us Israeli couscous. Israeli couscous, also known as ptitim or Jerusalem couscous is a wheat-based baked pasta in the shape of round pearls.

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The pearly Israeli couscous is generally considered as a food for children. It is often served as a side dish with a main dish of meat. Minoo served this as a side dish to the Chicken Paprika.

Minoo also shared with us a list of high fiber food as follows:

Grain Products

  • Whole grain breads (such as 100% whole wheat, whole grain rye, mixed grain, or cracked wheat), buns, pitas, wraps, bagels, and muffins
  • Whole wheat or graham crackers
  • Brown rice
  • Whole-wheat pasta or brown rice pasta
  • Cereals made from whole grain (whole wheat, bran, or whole grain oats)
  • Oatmeal and other whole grain cooked cereals

Another great way to add more fiber to your diet is to add ground flax, wheat germ, or wheat bran in your baked goods. You should aim for six to eleven servings of grain products in your diet every day.

Vegetables

Eat a wide variety of vegetables and you will increase your fiber intake enormously, as well as improve your overall health in a number of ways. However, dark, leafy green vegetables contain the highest amounts of fiber. These beneficial veggies include:

  • Broccoli
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Spinach
  • Swiss chard
  • Green peas
  • Green beans
  • Artichokes
  • Brussel sprout
  • Turnip greens

Try to include green vegetables in your diet more often, at least three to five servings daily. Starchy vegetables such as potatoes are lower in fiber content however.

Fruit

Many fruits are also high in fiber and, therefore, should be added to your list of high fiber foods. Some of the best choices include:

  • Berries (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries)
  • Dried fruits (dates, prunes, apricots, figs, and raisins)
  • Apples (with the skin), oranges, pears, and peaches

It is best to select fresh, raw fruit to receive the most nutrients, including fiber. Include two to three servings of fruit in your diet every day.

Legumes, Nuts, and Seeds

Legumes, nuts, and seeds are another important addition to your list of high fiber foods. You should try:

Fresh, dried or frozen peas, beans (black beans, lima beans, kidney beans, baked beans), lentils, and other legumes

  • Almonds
  • Acorns
  • Walnuts
  • Soy nuts
  • Peanuts
  • Pecans
  • Cashews
  • Pistachio nuts
  • Sesame seeds
  • Sunflower seeds

Keep in mind nuts and seeds (preferably unsalted) should be eaten only as occasional snacks, particularly when you want to limit your fat intake.

Ingredients

  • salt and ground pepper
  • 1 cup Israeli (pearl) couscous, wash and drain
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 8 shallots halved and thinly sliced
  • 2 Onions sliced and caramelized
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

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Source: this recipe is adapted from Martha Stewart

Serves 4

Continue reading

Creamy Yam Soup

Minoo resumed the Gilmore Park Church Community Kitchen in 2011 with 3 recipes; Chicken Paprika, Creamy Yam Soup and Israeli Couscous with Shallot and Parsley.

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I had blogged about the Chicken Paprika recipe here. The emphasis of this week’s recipes is to introduce high fiber food.  Minoo shared with us the benefits of a high fiber diet which includes elimination of constipation, reduce the risk of colon cancer, reduce bad cholesterol and balance blood sugar level as follows:

Constipation – By promoting more efficient elimination, whole-grain fiber almost inevitably halts common constipation when taken with adequate amounts of fluid. The fiber and the water it retains produce a larger, softer stool that the digestive system can pass quickly and easily.

Cancer – Colon cancer is rare among people with a diet low in meat and rich in high-fiber foods. No one knows exactly how fiber may protect against this cancer, but there are several likely mechanisms. It may move intestinal contents faster through the bowel, thus decreasing the length of time the bowel wall is exposed to potential carcinogens. And fiber may dilute carcinogens as well or possibly bind or inactivate them in some way.

Heart Disease – An elevated cholesterol level is know to one of the chief risk factors in heart disease, and a number of studies have linked high-fiber intake with low levels of cholesterol. It is proposed that fiber may alter fat or cholesterol absorption in the large bowel. Some studies suggest that soluble fiber produces a reduction in LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels without decreasing HDL (“good”) cholesterol levels.

Diabetes – Elevated blood sugar levels are a major problem in diabetes. Researches have shown that fiber may have a potent effect on blood sugar levels. Other studies have also shown that a high-carbohydrate, high-fiber diet improves glucose tolerance. One theory is that the gums in soluble fiber may delay the emptying of the stomach or even the absorption of glucose.

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The first recipe is a Creamy Yam Soup.  A thick sweet soup perfect for those cold days. Garnish it with a dollop of low fat sour cream and chopped chives. Serve it with warm crusty whole wheat rolls or crackers.

From wikipedia:

Yam provides arround 110 calories per 100 grams of product. They are high in vitamin C, dietary fiber, vitamin B6, potassium, and manganese; while being low in saturated fat and sodium. Vitamin C, dietary fiber and vitamin B6 may all promote good health. A product that is high in potassium and low in sodium is likely to produce a good potassium-sodium balance in the human body, and so protect against osteoporosis and heart disease.

Yam products generally have a lower glycemic index than potato products, which means that they will provide a more sustained form of energy, and give better protection against obesity and diabetes. It is also known to replenish fast-twitch fibers and West Indians use it as a way of recovering after sprinting.

Ingredients

  • 1 ½  cups onion
  • 2-4 garlic cloves
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Oil
  • 6-7 cups chicken stock
  • 2 yams, peel and dice
  • 1 tsp dried sweet basil
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • chives and sour cream for garnishing

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Source: unknown via Minoo

Makes 10 cups

Continue reading

Oats Cake

The second recipe which Minoo demonstrated in the South Arm Community Kitchen is taken from Fresh Choice. Although it is called Oats Cake, it is more like a cookie or granola bar.

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The Oats Cake is crispy when it’s fresh from the oven. I noticed that it turns soft the next day for those extras that we took home. These Oats Cake makes a great after school snack.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups unbleached flour
  • 2 cups rolled oats (we used quick cooking oats)
  • 2/3 cups brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda (I’ll recommend reduce this by 1/4 teaspoon as the oats cake has a hint of bitterness to it but if you eat it with jam, you will not taste the bitterness)
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1/3 cup cold water

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Source: Fresh Choice

Serves 8 portions

Continue reading

Fish Cake

Minoo started the South Arm Community Kitchen in 2011 with 3 recipes. The first recipe is a simple Fish Cake recipe adapted from Jamie Oliver.

Minoo used fresh salmon for this Fish Cake recipe. You can substitute the salmon with tuna  or crab. Leftover fish is great for this recipe too. Can salmon will make a very handy substitute from the pantry.

Ingredients

  • 300g potatoes, peel and dice (or use left over baked potatoes, scoop out the potatoes and discard the skin)
  • 100g salmon fillet, skin on and no scales on the skin, all bones removed
  • a small handful of fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 green onions, green part only, finely chopped
  • 1 egg
  • 1 lemon
  • quick cooking oats
  • all purpose flour
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • olive oil

Source: this recipe is adapted from Jamie Oliver

Yield 4 cakes

Continue reading

The Top Vancouver Area Food Blog of January 2011

Every since we created and started maintaining the blogroll of all Vancouver Area food blogs, we have at our disposal quite a database of the blogs. Believe it or not, there is a total of 121 blogs that writes about restaurants.

So with the blogroll along with the use of a couple of tools, we are able to quickly pull data out from the feeds of the blogs and put together some interesting stats of the state of food blogs in Vancouver.

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I don’t think it is any surprise that not every blog is active but there are five which are worthy to be mentioned for their sheer hard working in hammering out at least one post a day.

Between 84 blogs that has at least one post during January 2011, there is a staggering 803 posts.

That works out to be an average of about … GOSH … 26 posts a day. LOL!

OK, time to call out the MOST PROLIFIC Vancouver Food Blog (restaurants only) for January 2011 because these bloggers deserved to be called out for their sheer hardwork to keep all of us informed and entertained … Continue reading

Alk-O-Bar: A Filipino Resto By Heart

I was driving earlier on this week along Fraser on the way home. The traffic was crawling because of some hold up in the intersection. It just happened that my car was in front where T-Hut the Chiu Chow restaurant used to be.

The new red and black signboard caught my eye. Alk-O-Bar, it says. At a glance I thought that someone had turned this place into a bar and such an odd location too for bar. But because my car wasn’t going anyway and on closer look I saw pictures of food. I thought I just pull over to the empty parking space in front of the restaurant.

The signboard does not tell the whole story. Alk-O-Bar is not a bar. It is a restaurant. Most of all the other signs indicated that they serve western food. You know things like Shrimp Cocktail, Club House Sanwiches, Chicken Wrap, Burgers, Steak, Fish & Chip.

It was the other less conspicuous half of the menu that caught my interest. It was words like sisig, menudo, pancit, tapsilog, longsilog, arroz caldo, bistek, kare kare, embotido, daing na bangus, rellenong bangus. Gosh … I don’t even know what most of these are.

But I know this will interest some of our Filipino followers, particularly Crispy Lechon and Pinoy Gourmet. So I decided to come back to TOFTT (take one for the team). Maybe I should say that I am taking one for the Pinoys and Pinays.

BTW, is using the name Pinoy and Pinay to refer to Filipinos widely accepted these days? I thought it was such a endearing name but then I checked Wikipedia and found the following:

Pinoy was used for self-identification by the first wave of Filipinos going to the continental United States before World War II and has been used both in a pejorative sense as well as a term of endearment similar to Chicano.Both Pinoy and Pinay are still regarded as derogatory by some Filipinos though they are widely used and gaining mainstream usage

Sorry if I had used the name wrong but am trying to understand more. I guess Pinoy Gourmet is one of those who proudly carries the Pinoy name.

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So yesterday on the way home from work, I decided to drop by for lunch (yeah, I start work at insane hours and end work early too). I wasn’t expecting much from Alk-O-Bar because I couldn’t find anything of them on the internet.

Alk-O-Bar had pictures of their food plastered on the wall outside the restaurant. The pictures were bright and colorful but it wasn’t particularly clear and I couldn’t make out what it really was.

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Wow, they sure … Continue reading