Winners of the FREE Alaskan King Crab Dinner

Sorry for the delay. I was supposed to randomize the draw earlier today but did not get the chance until now.

On Monday in this post, I announced that the Golden Great Wall Restaurant was willing to sponsor a table of ten for which we get to invite four lucky chowtimes couples to join us in an Alaskan King Crab dinner.

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The Golden Great Wall Restaurant is thinking outside the box by creating a dinner that sound exciting. While the Alaskan King Crab are usually prepared steamed with garlic or deep fried with salt and pepper, the winners will be tasting a style with a herb consomme sauce. There will be a chocolate sculpture in contrast with Buddha Feast. The appetizer is a five find of cold plate with a freshly craved bird in the center. For desserts, it will be French pastry with a Chinese influence.

We received 203 valid entries from twitter and readers who left a comment on the blog post. We removed a handful of entries because we mentioned that only one comment is accepted per household. This is so that it is fair to everyone to stand an equal chance. We saw that people are getting more creative but I guess not creative enough. Some were entering twice, once using iPhone and another using a computer.

The entries are picked using the randomizer on random.org. Anyway, the chances are better this time. Out of 203 entries, four will be picked. So the odds are much better than the last $100 Lumiere Gift Card which was 1 out of 261 entries. We had also picked two additional winning entries in case we could not contact the winner.

So without further ado, here are the winners:  (more…)

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Veggie Bunch Vegetarian Restaurant on Buswell Street, Richmond

It was lady meet day again. Polly and I coincidentally was thinking of going for vegetarian on that day. I recalled Madamme Yek told us during this meal that one of their favourite eating places is 4 Stones Vegetarian Restaurant on Westminster Hwy. So, Polly and I went to 4 Stones. It was unfortunate for us that 4 Stones closes on Monday.

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Polly recalled she saw Veggie Bunch Vegetarian Restaurant after she went groceries at Park Village the week before but she cant recall exactly where is it’s location. Veggie Bunch used to operate on the ground floor of the Richmond Public Market but we never eat there before because Ben, Arkensen and Nanzaro are meat lovers. Vegetarian does not appeal to them.

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After making a few rounds the block of Park Village, we finally found Veggie Bunch Vegetarian Restaurant on Buswell St. It is actually located behind Great One Supermarket. You can park at Park Village parking lot if you want to dine at Veggie Bunch.

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Veggie Bunch is an all you can eat place. There are 16 items on the buffet to choose from. The price for AYCE lunch is $10.99. If I remember correctly, AYCE dinner is $12.99. Polly told me that Veggie Bunch served more varieties when they were at the Richmond Public Market. Although Polly has not eaten there, she knew one of the staff who used to work there and sometimes, when she shopped at the RPM, she would drop by Veggie Bunch to say hello to her friend.

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Among the 16 items, there are 2 soups, 1 dessert soup and some steamed buns at the very far end of the buffet table.

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We started off with the soups. The two types of soup are a sour and spicy soup and a herbal soup. The herbal soup tastes a bit like Bak Kut Teh and it has shiitake mushroom and some kind of glutens which are quite chewy.

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The sour and spicy soup is too acidic, lacking the sweetness from meat. It’s the least favourite among the two soups.

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The above are my two rounds of food. Among the items are:

  • stir fried vermicelli
  • fried rice which has a chewy texture like sticky rice
  • crispy vegetarian spring roll
  • stir fried cabbage and another green vegetables which is nicely done, i.e. still crisp
  • spicy eggplants
  • pan fried radish cake
  • deep fried bean curd skins (which is called “so ngor” or vegetarian goose),
  • tofu, etc

I kind of feel guilty because I over ate at buffet as I always do. But, the good thing is that they are all vegetarian food. Here are some highlights of the items on the buffet … (more…)

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Shanghai Fusion Restaurant on No 3 Road, Richmond

Updated 4Sep2013: this restaurant is closed according to Urbanspoon.com.

How is this for taking one for the team?

This restaurant post has to be a record for a new restaurant ever on chowtimes. The previous record was new Kumare Filipino restaurant where we happened to visit them on their first day of business. That was quite by accident but it did turn out to be one heck of a restaurant.

Kumare was by chance. This one is planned.

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We went to the Shanghai Fusion Restaurant 45 minutes after they opened. LOL! Yeah, we learned that they were going to open on Saturday, March 5th at 11:00 AM and so we decided to come here for our brunch.

It is not that we ever thought that this restaurant is good. It is in the name. A Chinese restaurant with the word “fusion” in the name can’t be any good. Yeah, I am one of those people who thinks that Chinese cuisine must be pure. Those Sichuan-Canto or Beijing-Xinjiang sort of things just doesn’t work in my mind.

The Shanghai Fusion Restaurant is located in the recently closed Pho Viet in the Empire Centre. This is the strip mall where King Buffet, Bushair, Shiang Garden and Sunway is located.

They have a 12% grand opening discount now. So if you want to save on the HST, this is the time to go.

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It was quite a big dining area. They had removed the center partitions during the time when it was West Lake and Pho Viet. Both the previous restaurants here are now operating elsewhere in Richmond and the reason they move was because this restaurant is simply too big. So yes, this is a really big space.

I can’t quite make out what this place is. Perhaps from my observation, I would call this a … (more…)

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Anyone Likes a FREE Alaskan King Crab Dinner?

Some of the best things in life is free … agree?

I know this is controversial but I had decided to proceed with the plan. If some of you recall in this post, I proposed a wild suggestion which I call a win-win-win proposal. Seeing so many restaurants put up ads in the papers announcing their Alaskan King Crab offering, I thought it they could instead take part of the advertising budget and use it for the benefit of chowtimes readers. I suggested that it go into treating chowtimes readers a dinner, a FREE Alaskan King Crab dinner.

Like I said, it is a controversial plan and I will explain it at the bottom of this post. Right now, I want to get to the action part!

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The plan is to be a win-win-win situation where:

  • A win for the restaurant
  • A win for the lucky chowtimes readers
  • A win for chowtimes

A restaurant did actually respond. It turns out that it was a restaurant that Suanne and I know quite well too. So, with that the plan is a go!

This is how we are going to do it … (more…)

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The Top Vancouver Area Food Blog of February 2011

Alright. Here is the latest leaderboard of the Top Vancouver Area Food Blog for February 2011. We cull these info from the chowtimes blogroll. There was quite a bit of work initially setting the process up. Once setup, it is providing a wealth of info of the state of food blogs in Vancouver. I find it amazing how one thing led to another from the blogroll.

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The use of the blogroll had steadily increased. It used to hover just above 300 pageviews per day. Since the last two weeks, it went above 400 pageviews. It shows us that people do actually find it useful.

We were thinking of how many people actually attributed to these pageviews. Unless everyone puts up their hands to be counted, we can only guess. Let’s do that shall we? We know there are about 727 food related posts generated by vancouver blogs last month and that makes it 727 / 28 days = 26 blog posts a day (LOL! That’s A LOT isn’t it?)

Assuming that whoever uses the blogroll reads everything out there, we are looking at at least 16 people using the blogroll. But I know it is more than that. I think it should be way above 30 people. It would be great if blogroll users stick their hands up and be counted by leaving a comment.

In January we had 121 blogs on the blogroll. In February, the number of blogs that writes about restaurants in Vancouver has increased by another 14 websites  to 135. Isn’t it such a staggering number?

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The above is the comparison between January and February of how frequent bloggers publish a post.

The blue bar represents the blogs that … (more…)

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Braise Lamb Shanks with Aromatic Vegetables and Mixed Grains

Chef Ian Lai from the Terra Nova Schoolyard Society demonstrated a simple Braise Lamb Shanks with Aromatic Vegetables and Mixed Grains in the Eating Together cooking class organised by the Touchstone Family Association in the celebration of Family Day in Richmond in the month of February. Ian’s philosophy on eating together is to introduce simple recipes with a few ingredients to encourage cooking at home.

Ian shared some lights on grains during the cooking class. We should eat more grains and stay away from refine food and processed food. Ian has shared about grains in a basic food skill workshop which I had attended.  Here is more information about grains which Ian shared during the cooking class. I’m passing along the tips I learned here so that more can benefit from it.

Bulgur

Bulgur is a form of whole wheat that has been cleaned, steamed or parboiled, dried, and then ground into grains of several distinct sizes. Bulgur may be made from any variety of wheat, but durum is the most common.

Although the term bulgur is often used to mean cracked wheat, the two products differ in one important way; bulgur is precooked and hence requires only minimal preparation before eating. Unlike cracked wheat bulgur is ready to eat after just ten minutes of boiling.

Bulgur has a delicious, mildly nutty flavour. It is a good source of protein, iron, magnesium, and B vitamins. It is packed with fiber i.e. one cup (182 grams) serving of cooked bulgur has 8 grams of fiber and contains very little fat.

Couscous

Couscous is a coarsely ground semolina pasta that is a dietary staple in North African countries. It is also widely used in Middle Eastern countries and has become popular in American dishes. It is made of semolina, flour, salt, and water. Similar to rice in shape, color, and texture, it is used in many dishes as rice would be.

Couscous is available in a pre-steamed version in many grocery stores. To prepare this type of dried couscous, pour boiling water or broth over the pasta and then seal the bowl with plastic wrap. After a few minutes, the grain swells and can be fluffed with a fork. When correctly prepared, it has tender, moist taste and a light, fluffy texture. It is faster to prepare thena most types of rice.

Buckwheat

Buckwheat is a plant cultivated for its triangular grains. Unlike most other grains, it’s not a grass but a plant crop. That means it has broad, spreading leaves; it also has lacy white flowers. Buckwheat cultivation is on the decline in the United States, where other grains have supplanted it in popularity. The grain continues to be produced in a number of countries including japan and Canada.

Most commonly sold as a dark flour, buckwheat gets its color from husks that are left behind during the milling process. this grain is usually included in a variety of types of flour mixes, like pancake and waffle mix. Plain buckwheat, perhaps for baking bread, is also available. Buckwheat is also sold in whole or cracked from for use in breakfast cereals or to add texture to breads and other baked products. It has a distinctive nutty flavor that can be quite pleasing to the palate, especially when contrasted with other, more mild flours.

Quinoa

Though not technically a grain, quinoa can substitute for nearly any grain in cooking. Actually the seed of a leafy plant, quinoa’s relatives include spinach, beets and Swiss chard. Due to its delicate taste and rich amounts of protein, iron, potassium and other vitamins and minerals, it is quite popular. It is also a good source of dietary fiber and is easily digested.

A quinoa grain is flat and has a pointed oval shape. The grains exist in several colorations, including yellow, red, brown and black. When cooked, quinoa expands to about three or four times its size. It also has a unique texture; the grain itself is smooth and creamy, but the tail of the grain has a crunchy texture.

Barley

Barley’s been feeding humans for millennia, though it fell out of favor during the last one as people came to see it as low-brow peasant fare. It’s most often used in soups and stews, where it serves as both a puffy grain and a thickener, but it also makes a nice side dish or salad. At most markets, you”ll have to choose between two types of barley. Hulled barley is the most nutritious, since only the tough outer hulls are polished off. Pearl barley is polished some more, so that the outer bran layer is also scrubbed off. It’s less nutritious, but more popular since it’s not as chewy as hulled barley and it cooks faster.

Grain to Liquid Ratio Chart

Grain (1 part) Method Liquid Ratio Time
Couscous Rehydration 0.75  – 1.0 7 – 10 mins
Bulgur Steam/Rehydration 1.25 – 1.5 15 mins
Buckwheat Steam 1.00 – 1.25 10 mins
Quinoa Steam 1.25 – 1.5 15 mins
Pot barley Pasta 5.0 45 mins

Grains are versatile, nutritious, high in fiber and inexpensive. They can be added to meatballs or meatloaf to keep it moist. Cooked grains can be kept in the refrigerator for up to a week. Cook various grains individually as they need different cooking times. Do not wash the grains unless it’s stated on the package (like quinoa) as washing the grains will wash away the nutrients on the surface. Grains can be mix into salad, soup, wrap up with a tortilla, as breakfast cereal or make into a dessert by adding coconut milk and fruit.

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This Braise Lamb Shanks with Aromatic Vegetables and Mixed Grains is another simple and hearty recipe. You can make a big batch and freeze the leftovers in single portion size since this recipe requires long simmering time.

Ingredients

  • 4 lamb shanks
  • 2 large carrots cut into chunks
  • 1 large onion cut into chunks
  • 2 ribs celery cut into chunks
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 jar pasta sauce
  • 1 can diced tomatoes

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Source: Ian Lai

P/S: you may substitute the lamb shank with oxtail or stewing meat. You may also add in some garam masala for an Indian flavour lamb shank.

(more…)

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Fresh Pasta with Spicy Sausage, Shrimps and Bruscetta Sauce

Lorna alerted me about the free cooking classes organised by the Touchstone Family Association. These cooking classes is part of the Eating Together activities carried out in the week of Feb 21st to 28th. Feb 21st is proclaimed as Family Day in Richmond by the Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie. Research has found that families who eat together, stay together; more so if the families grow, shop, cook and eat together.

When I called up to enquire about the free cooking classes, there were only two spots left for the last cooking class. Without hesitation, I registered the spots for Lorna and I. I was glad to know that the chef who will be demonstrating for this cooking class is none other than chef Ian Lai from the Terra Nova Schoolyard Society. I had blogged on several of the workshops hosted by Ian Lai before here:

Here are some tips on cooking at home shared by Ian:

  • prepare multiple portions that you can use for lunches, freeze or share with neighbours
  • incorporate more grains into your diet as they are inexpensive, versatile and can be used on their own or in combination with soups, stews, as a hot cereal or as dessert
  • use no more than 5 ingredients and you do not need to keep a huge pantry
  • focus on quick and nutritious recipes
  • eat as fresh as possible
  • shop the perimeter, neighbourhood corner stores
  • support local farmers market for sustainability
  • get your children involved
  • turn off cell phones, TV’s and computers during the meal
  • share your bounty and provide for those in need
  • think three meals ahead
  • give yourself a day off
  • work those flyers for deals
  • dont buy it if you cant pronounce it
  • limit pre-packaged, high salt products; it does not take much to make your own spice blends
  • learn how to purchase and use a quality knife as in this Knife Skills workshop

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The free cooking class was attended by close to 30 people. It was held at Trial Appliances in Richmond and hosted by Arlene Kroeker, a food writer for the Richmond Review. Trail Appliances has a top notch kitchen for cooking demonstration.

We were greeted with some appetizers on the table while waiting for the cooking class to start. There were baguette, hummus, bruscetta sauce and the above spicy crisp.

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The first dish presented by Ian Lai is called Fresh Pasta with Capicola, Shrimps and Sun Dried Tomatoes. I remembered Ian used some spicy sausage and bruscetta sauce during the demonstration, hence I used a more appropriate name for the recipe.

Ian usually do not use recipes in his demonstration. How, for this demonstration, he actually prepared a recipe and it makes my job so much easier.

Ingredients

  • package of fresh pasta
  • 1/3 cup of diced shrimp
  • 1/3 cup spicy sausage
  • 1/3 cup chopped sun dried tomatoes
  • 1/3 cup diced onion
  • 1 cup fresh tomato sauce (he used bruscetta sauce during the demo)

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P/S: please ignore the onion, carrot and celery as they are for another recipe.

Source: Ian Lai

(more…)

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Announcing the Winner of the $100 Lumiere Gift Card

We had an astounding 261 entries for the draw to the $100 Lumiere Gift Card (which can also be used in db Bistro Moderne) which was announced in this post.

I did not anticipate so many entries because I thought that even with a $100 gift card, one would need to fork out quite a bit more for a decent meal in Lumiere. Well, I guess one could also use this in the cheaper db Bistro Moderne.

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You know, I thought that a lot more people would enter more than one entry. It seems like the great majority of you made only one entry. There are only 19 people who had made more than one entry from the same computer. We allow that because we cannot second guess the legitimacy of the entry.

There is only one who seems to have a big family living in the same house. Either that or he/she is a professional lucky draw entrant. LOL!

Here is the winner …  (more…)

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Nanzaro-Inspired Bah Kut Teh Hot Pot in Chez Suanne

About a month ago, we experimented with having hot pot with a difference.

Instead of the usual broth you normally find in hot pot restaurants, we tried it with laksa instead. And it was not just any laksa … it was with Bo’s Laksa. Many people swear that Bo’s Laksa has no equal in Vancouver. The Laksa Hot Pot was fabulous and you should try it at home. You can see our post of the Laksa Hot Pot here.

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That successful trial set us thinking about other possibilities … what else besides Laksa would make a great hot pot? It has to be something you do not come across in hot pot restaurants.

Well, we found another winner! This time it is Bah Kut Teh Hot Pot.

There is a problem I want to address up front. I received complain from a certain individual that sometimes I do not credit him for being the originator of the idea. I had many lunches and dinners with this individual before. So this time I want to make it right. I was reminded repeatedly by him (almost everyday!) that when I write this post, I must call out the fact that idea did not come from Ben and the idea did not come from Suanne.

So ladies and gentleman … as requested … the whole idea for the Bah Kut Teh Hot Pot is …  (more…)

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Alaskan King Crab Dinner — Anyone Interested?

Wow … I think a lot people are excited about the Alaskan King Crab and I am sure many of you will be organizing a chowdown these two short weeks.

The problem is, for AKC, you need to have many people to devour the 8 pound crab. An 8 pounder will feed about 5-6 people, there abouts.

I think some of you expects me to organize a Alaskan King Crab dinner. So here I am again, sticking my neck out. 🙂 OK I admit, I can’t get AKC out of my mind today.

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Suanne had made some inquiries and here is what we have planned. We need to make sure we have the numbers to pull this off. PLEASE NOTE THIS IS NOT PART OF MY WILD WIN-WIN-WIN IDEA. LOL! This one you got to pay — almost through your nose because this is not your $7.95 Char Koay Teow with free milk tea kind of thing.

If you are still interested, read on …  (more…)

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