Nando’s in Coppersmith, Richmond

ChowtimesNoWord32x32Complete Disclosure: This meal is complimentary from coupons from Vancover Slop.

Nanzaro and I had lunch at Nando’s on a Sunday afternoon. Arkensen was doing his homework and he asked for take out for his lunch.

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The Nando’s that we visited is the one in Coppersmith, where Canadian Tire is. There are plenty of parking here.

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The reason we picked Nando’s for lunch is because I still have 3 complimentary coupons from Vancouver Slop during the launching of his new blog or something like that.

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We were there early as usual. So, there is no wait and plenty of tables to choose from. By around 1 PM, the place is full.  The decoration in Nando’s is warm and rustic.

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You order at the counter and paid for your food there. You will be handed your utensils and a number stand. You are free to pick any table. The server will bring the food to your table.

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You can help yourself with any condiments on the condiment table. Of course, Nanzaro picked the Peri-peri hot sauce.

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I ordered a Peri Nuts to munch while waiting for our main meal. A small bag of the Peri Nuts costs $3. It consists of almond, cashew nut and macadamia nut and coated with some tangy, smoky and savory seasonings. Nanzaro commented some of the nuts are quite salty when there is too much seasoning on them. I found that they are quite addictive as I finished the leftovers that we brought home.

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Nanzaro ordered the Quarter Chicken Breast with Wing with Fries. When you placed your order, they will ask you the level of spiciness you desired. Of course, Nanzaro asked for spicy hot. The chicken looked a bit small… (more…)

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City Blends Coffee in Mission

ChowtimesNoWord32x32Complete Disclosure: We knew the owner of this cafe and some of the food and drink were complimentary. But most of them were paid.

 

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Polly and Vince had to pick up their kids from a music camp in Mission. They decided to visit a friend of ours who recently bought over the City Blends Coffee in Mission. I just tag along for a free music concert and visit this friend of ours.

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The first sight which impressed me is the huge parking lot and the patio. You cannot find such space in Richmond or Vancouver.

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I like the cozy corner where one can enjoy a cup of coffee and surf the internet with the free wifi or engross in a book.

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Besides coffee and tea, City Blends serves light meals like wraps, soup, salad, sandwiches, cakes and baked goods.

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The baked goods here are made onsite by the Pink Spatuala. Some of the baked goods includes biscotti, cookies, bars, brownies, cakes and miniature sweets.

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We ordered the above drinks before our friend arrived. From left to right, Hot Chocolate ($2.85),  Cappuccino ($2.90) and Caramel Machiato ($3.40).  My Caramel Machito was good, with a mellow coffee flavour.

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Later, the owner served us some sample of Chai Latte which is one of the cafe’s specialty. It is very creamy and rich in spice flavour which includes cinnamon, cloves, etc.

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Polly bought some cup cakes for her twin daughters. They looked … (more…)

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Macau Vanilla Custard Tart

ChowtimesNoWord32x32Complete Disclosure: This post is written based on a complimentary newly published book for review.

These Macau Vanilla Custard Tart are wonderful treats for tea time. The aroma of vanilla perfumed the whole kitchen when these were baked in the oven.

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This recipe is from a new culinary and traveloque book by Mary Kate Tate and Nate Tate called Feeding the Dragon. We get a lot of newly published books for review offer but I normally decline the offer. But this book caught my eye because it’s a traveloque through China.

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I’m looking forward to visit Ben in Beijing and I would love to learn more about Beijing through the eyes of Mary Kate Tate and Nate Tate. You can check out Mary Kate Tate & Nate Tate travelogue via their blog Feeding the Dragon.

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Feeding the Dragon is part cookbook and part cultural travelogue. It is arranged by the author’s travel itinerary starting from Beijing, the capital city and then running down China’s east coast, looping through the southern jungles of Yunnan Province, over the Tibetan Plateau in the west, through the Taklimakan Desert in the north near Afghanistan, and then back to the capital. The book is filled with photos of their travel.

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Feeding the Dragon features 100 recipes from the various regions from Buddhist vegetarian dishes to lamb kebabs to Macau’s famous egg custard tart.

I love sweet treat and this is the first recipe that I tried from this book.

Ingredients

  • 1 large egg
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 1 cup whole milk (I substituted with 1 cup of half & half since I cant find a one cup size whole milk carton in stores)
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanil1a extract
  • 1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed but still cold

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Source: Feeding the Dragon by Mary Kate Tate & Nate Tate

Yield: 18 egg tarts (the original recipe makes 12 egg tarts but the excess filings is more than enough to make another 6 egg tarts)

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Alaskan King Crab Feast in Golden Great Wall Restaurant

Updated 12th Oct 2014; This restaurant is closed.

Complete Disclosure: This post is written based on dinner provided free by the Golden Great Wall Restaurant. For right or wrong, the request for this dinner was initiated entirely by me (Ben). This was perhaps founded on a flawed Win-Win-Win plan I formulated. Please review this post for full context of this dinner.

This is a controversial post. I know. I already got quite a bit of feedback about this hare-brained idea of mine already … about how wrong it was for me to think of doing such a thing. Despite the feedback, I went ahead with the Win-Win-Lose scheme. This was because I did not want to go back on my word and the plans were quite advanced already. I thought that at worst, it is I who would get the brunt from some of you. So I am ready and willing … lay it all on me one more time if you want.

For what it is worth, Suanne and I had stopped accepting invites and such. In our mind there is nothing wrong with that. So bloggers out there, please do not think chowtimes is trying to project a holier-than-thou or cleverer-than-thous kind of attitude. No, I am not in the habit of passing judgment on other people or bloggers. It is just our personal preference because we always find it hard to write about sponsored meals. I hope that over the years, you accept that Suanne and I do not find it easy to be judgmental. It is just the environment we grew up in. We treasure being giving, supportive and all things positive. I hope you understand.

I do feel that chowtimes is under closer scrutiny than any other food blog. It might be true, it might not … but it is how I feel. It is not a bad thing mind you. It is good. We look at it that people care for chowtimes and what it represents. It is worth mentioning again that Suanne spent countless hours about a year ago going through every of the 2000 past posts to identify all the reviews we had done that is sponsored. She marked every post with the red chili logo warning that you see above with a Complete Disclosure statement. We want to put it up front and clearly so that you noticed it before even a single word is read by you. We identify even if the restaurant gives us a small snack for us to sample/taste even though we pay for the rest of the meal.

So here is a warning for you again. Please click the link here to read on knowing fully well what this post is all about … (more…)

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Nikkoffee on No.3 Road and Anderson Road in Richmond

Updated 11 Oct 2014; This restaurant is closed.

ChowtimesNoWord32x32Disclosure: One of the drink is complementary.

It is our last cake meet before the spring break. Polly and I have wanted to visit Nikkoffee which opened since December 2010 since we resumed our cake meet recently. From it’s website, it’s opening time should be very early, 7:00 AM or 8:00 AM. However, on a couple of times that we wanted to visit this place, it was not open despite it’s already 10:00 AM.

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We did not plan to come to Nikkoffee on this day. We actually went to What8ever Cafe first around 11:30 AM as it’s website indicated that’s the opening hour. When we were there, the server inside the cafe told us they will not be ready until 12:30PM. What’s wrong with these places. If they do not plan to open that early, they should have update their website so that people don’t get disappointed.  Well, we decided to go to Costco first for some groceries shopping and give Nikkoffee another shot since it will be past 12:00 PM by then and this time, it’s open. Nikkoffee is located on No. 3 Road and Anderson Road, just across the Richmond City Hall. Parking is available at the rear of the building.

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Nikoffee is decorated with white picket fence laced with artificial flower vines. It has a romantic atmosphere.

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You can click on the menu to have a larger view.

Nikkoffee serves Asian flavour infused … (more…)

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Asian Bistro — Ready To Eat Meals

ChowtimesNoWord32x32Disclosure: This post is written from samples provided by Deluxe Food Inc, the distributor of the Asian Bistro ready-to-eat curry products.

Deluxe Food contacted us a few weeks ago and asked if we would like to take a look at their products. You know it had been quite long time already since we had ever done product reviews based on samples. In any case … and for what it’s worth … we had always agreed to do so if the samples are not just for us but also for our readers.

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So Suanne went to the office of Deluxe Food in Richmond the other day to pickup some samples. We were surprised that they gave us 30 boxes of it. I thought it was pretty generous of them.

If only it was easier to pass it on to chowtimes readers, we would have. So we decided to give most of them away to the 14 diners at the chowtimes dinner at Luda.

I also took some to the office and let the folks try it too. After all, I thought it is something that would be most handy in a work environment.

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This product is different from the many processed food you find in the supermarket aisle where these food are stored in the refrigerated section. Asian Bistro uses the latest freshness sealing and preservation technology known as the Retort Pouch. Originally developed for the US Army and used by NASA astronauts, a Retort Pouch is a sophisticated multilayer, high barrier laminate package. Food is kept fresh without the need for preservatives.

So no refrigeration is required until open. I thought that is neat because … (more…)

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Ramen Event in Miki Ramen Restaurant

Updated: 27th February 2011: this restaurant is closed according to Urbanspoon.com.

ChowtimesNoWord32x32Disclosure:
While all the chowtimes readers who attended paid token sum of $5 each for this meal, Suanne and I did not have to pay for the food.

This had to be one of the simplest blog post I had to put up for a long time. Well, this is because this is written largely by chowtimes readers!

When we put up the invitation to chowtimes readers to attend an exclusive Ramen Tasting event, there were requests for 115 seats! The response was overwhelming. Unfortunately the restaurant could only cater for 34 people.

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The Miki Japanese Ramen is a restaurant located on Kingsway and Royal Oak in Burnaby. It is run by Ben and Karen, a young husband and wife team, who were trying to put the word out of their newish restaurant.

Every now and then, Suanne and I receive requests from restaurant owners to help them promote an event. Miki had a Ramen Slurping event which was covered on TV. One thing led to another, Miki agreed to put up an exclusive ramen tasting event for chowtimes readers. We jumped into this because we thought it would be something our readers would like and that we get the chance to meet them too.

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While the food was just OK, we had a great time. Ed and Darryl proved to be the life wire of the event with their fun but meaningless banter across the table (thanks guys for providing the entertainment!).

BTW, for those of you who attended the event, Evelyn found out the origin of the word “congee”:

Rice congee (pronounced /ˈkɒndʒiː/) is a type of rice porridge that is eaten in many Asian countries. The word congee is possibly derived from the Dravidian language Tamil word கஞ்சி kanji.[1][2] The Sinhalese word is Kanda.

Thank you all for taking the time to come out for this event. Suanne and I hope you had a great time as much as we did.

I have one more such restaurant-proposed event up my sleeve and was wondering if we should continue to organize. My hesitation here is that for such “restaurant-driven” event, I cannot assure the quality of the food or restaurant. These are events where restaurants wanted to promote their restaurant … and in exchange, they give chowtimes readers an exclusive use of the restaurant and a heavily discounted meal (i.e. for this event in Miki, it was just a token $5 for a $21 meal). Please let me know … do you think we should continue to organize it? Please note again, I am referring to “restaurant-driven” events here; not events like 8GTCC.

Anyway, here is the feedback from those who attended the event …

(more…)

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Silhoutte SatisfAction — Free Samples

ChowtimesNoWord32x32This post is written based on samples provided by Danone Canada.

Danone contacted us if we would like to have samples. This was several weeks ago and it is only now we got a chance to sit down to write about it. We said sure, we certainly don’t mind samples especially when Danone Canada is also willing to provide samples to our readers. More about the free sample below.

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The package came really nicely gift wrapped. First thing I noticed about the box when I got home from work was — it was girly!

At a glance, I thought that Suanne ordered a box full of Victoria Secret lingerie. LOL! That was wishful thinking.

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Instead it was yogurts. There were so much of it that we were wondering how on earth we are going to finish this.

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The packaging was obviously targeted at women. But I did not care … I like yogurt.

I took the opportunity to setup my little studio in the attempt to take pro-like shots. You know how much the entire studio cost me to take these shots?

It was only 50 cents. I just got a white cardboard from the dollar store. That was all I used.

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The pictures are not bright enough right? Some of you guys must really help me out here. You must really put in a good word for me to Suanne. I really want … no, I mean I really NEED to get some pro lighting equipment. Leave a encouraging comment on this post for Suanne for me?

Anyway, back to the yogurt, did you notice that the name SatisfAction is spell with an A in the middle. This is so high-tech, huh?

There are … (more…)

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Salmon n’ Bannock on West Broadway with Oak, Vancouver

ChowtimesNoWord32x32Full Disclosure
I didn’t do anything! Don’t blame me. The restaurant did not want to give us the bill when we asked for it. The restaurant did not know who we were.

You guys are great, you know that?

I am just awed by all the comments you guys made on chowtimes these days. They are so long winded … and so informative that I am learning so much from it. Thanks a lot for taking the time to write.

I thought it was just a simple post I wrote about the coffee we had in Aoyama.  But boy, I did not count on so many people being so passionate about coffee. Well, this post is a little bit about some exotic coffee just to continue a bit on the topic of coffee.

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Rey had been a ardent supporter of chowtimes. I have to acknowledge that. When I mentioned about Kopi Luwak two weeks ago, he got someone in Manila to scour the city to bring over some for me. We met up last weekend so that he could pass me the prized Kopi Luwak.

Rey suggested that we meet at this new place he found the day before when he was in Toy’R’Us with his family. He said that this is a First Nation (Canadian for aboriginal) bistro. I had never had First Nation food before and so it was a no-brainer that we met up in Salmon n’ Bannock on Broadway.

Salmon n’ Bannock is located on the same block where Tomakazu is. They have been opened for less than 2 months and so there is just a banner in place of a proper restaurant signage.

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Salmon n’ Bannock is a small cozy bistro with seats for about 25-30 people. It was tastefully decorated with many First Nations paintings adorning the wall. There are dream catchers and even a real canoe hanging from the ceiling!  Dream catcher … I just know that name but I do not know the significance of it in the First Nation culture.

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The above is the Kopi Luwak. This coffee is the most expensive coffee in the world which goes for $500 per pound.

But this one is the cheaper version of the Kopi Luwak which also goes by the Filipino name Cafe Alamid. This is truly one exotic coffee. The beans are produced by coffee beans that had been passed through the digestive tract of the civet cat … and properly washed of course. LOL!

Yesterday I was reading your responses to the $9 Blue Mountain #1 siphon coffee in Aoyama. On wikipedia, I found out that a cup of Kopi Luwak went for $33 in Australia. In another instance, a cup of a blend of Blue Mountain and Kopi Luwak costs $99 in London. Interesting, huh?

I am gonna organize a coffee tasting session for this Kopi Luwak after I get the 8GTCC Hunan dinner out of the way. Stay tuned for details.

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We had an all Canadian Soda. When I asked for a First Nation type drink, I was told they did not have any but they have Beaver Soda adding that 90% of everything they serve here is Canadian.

I had never heard of Beaver Cola before. This is $3 and is labeled as All Natural. This means that they are micro-brewed and they do not use cheap high fructose corn syrup like they used in other colas.

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Suanne and I started off with sharing a soup which has an interesting name … the Three Sisters’ Soup n Bannock ($6). It is a homey kind of soup, light in taste and definitely very healthy.

The “three sisters” refers to butternut squash, potatoes, corn, and green beans. All these three are grown together by the First Nation. The beans climbed on the corn stalks and returned nitrogen to the soil, and the low-growing squash vines shaded all the roots and kept weeds from sprouting. Very interesting.

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The above is Bannock and pronounced as Bannick. Bannock is a very common flat bread within the native communities throughout North America, even with the Inuit.

The bannock is crispy on the crust, not hard. Inside, it is soft and not dense. The recipe is simple and includes flour, baking soda and water only. Traditionally, Bannock is pan fried but it can also be oven baked or roasted over fire.

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The menu is light and at a glance the prices are set quite reasonably. I think there is a slight premium on some of the items but we also understand that they are uncommon ingredients used. Like for instance …

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… the $16 Wild Deer Stew n Bannock which Suanne had. The deer meat is lean and chewy which I kind of like. Suanne did remark though that the soup is quite bland. I think this is coming from the fact that we are used to the more intense Asian tastes and flavours.

First Nation food does not rely on the heavy use of sauces to accentuate the taste of the food. Instead the only spices used are onions, garlic, salt and pepper to bring out the original taste of the food.

The stew has carrots, potatoes and celery. It looked deceptively light but is actually very filling.

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Each of the main is accompanied by some Bannocks and a bowl of salad. The salad was good. What we like was that the dressing for salad is made with raspberry and blackberry.

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Me, I had the Chili Bannock with Wild Buffalo ($12). This is like any chili bowl you are familiar with except that it has … (more…)

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Trans-Herbe’s Four O’Clock Tea

ChowtimesNoWord32x32Full Disclosure:
This post is written based on the free samples provided by Trans-Herbe.

Commercial break of sorts, guy. And no, we are not paid for this post.

I was trying to understand the finer points of tea a few months ago. I was really focusing on Chinese tea and went out to buy some fancy thingy to brew Chinese tea. When Trans-Herbe wrote us an email asking if we wanted to try some samples, I said yes. I was rather intrigued with their unique tea.

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The tea came in a few very nice sounding names … particularly the Earl Grey Chocolate Berry and Apricot Passion Fruit Rooibos. You see, Trans-Herbes specializes in formulating and conditioning herbal and flavoured tea. They are based in Quebec and so they are local.

From their website (here), they do carry a LOT of products that they make. I wish they had sent us the full range of 50 different types of tea. Some of them have very intriguing names … to name just a few:

  • Tropical Mango Green Tea
  • Cucumber and Lemongrass Green Tea
  • Apple Caramel Spice Black Tea
  • Energie Acai Super Berry
  • Chamomille Citrus
  • Lime Ginger Mint Herbal Tea
  • Licorice Spice Herbal Tea
  • Ginko Ginger Herbal Tea
  • Lychee Ginger White tea

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Each box carries … (more…)

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