How To Buy Alaskan King Crab

Suanne and I are trying to learn about buying Alaskan King Crab. Seriously, we are not expert in Alaskan King Crab at all. We just want to write this post not that we can share with you what we learned over the past couple of weeks but hoping that some of you who have the experience chime in here.

So the past two weekends, we went around the few places we knew of in Richmond that carries live Alaskan King Crab (AKC). We wanted to find out the prices and compare them. We went on two consecutive weekends because we wanted to see how the prices fluctuates.

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PRICES OF ALASKAN KING CRAB

In the off season period, these crabs could cost over $30.00 per pound and each of these crabs weighs anywhere from 5 lbs for an extremely small one to as big as 15 lbs. I remember someone saying that they had a 17 lb crab before! So you can imagine how expensive it could be during the off season … a sad looking 5 lb crab will cost you $150.

However, during the AKC season which runs from late February to mid to late March, the prices drops to something more affordable. It will go below $15 per pound and in some places it could even go as low as … (more…)

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Kuo Hua: An All-Taiwanese Supermarket

After trying for the first time in my life Ba Wan in Yuen-Yuen, Suanne and I decided to drop by Kuo Hua on the way back home. We wanted to come here to buy pre-packaged Ba Wan to try at home. It was 4SlicesofCheese who told us that Kuo Hua carries it in the new refrigeration sections that they had installed.

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I don’t think many people who doesn’t live in Richmond knows about Kuo Hua. I could be wrong. This is even though they are located on No 3 Road just next to the Real Canadian Superstore.

Kuo Hua is one of many Asian supermarkets in Richmond. Can you name all of them? Let me try:

  • T&T in President Plaza: Undoubtedly the most well-known of all supermarkets which had recently been sold to the Real Canadian Superstore
  • Osaka in Yaohan Center: Affiliated with T&T; it’s like T&T with a Japanese twist.
  • Rice World on Garden City: Mostly products from Mainland China
  • Big Crazy on No 3 Road: Mostly products from Mainland China
  • There are many smaller ones like Supermarket 2000 on Union Square, Great One and Wah Shang on Park Road, Empire Supermarket on Empire Square, City Fresh on Ackroyd, Grand Value Asian Supermarket on Westminster Hwy (across Richmond Public Market) and Jia-Jia (various locations).

Kuo Hua is new and different from all others. For one, they sell products exclusively from Taiwan. Kuo Hua is certainly a supermarket that resonates with the Taiwanese community.

I once assumed that Kuo Hua is a chain of supermarkets from Taiwan. However it is not. It is very Canadian, having started their business in Markham, ON. However, this store in Richmond is their flagship store. Quite bold of an Ontario company opening a store in Richmond, huh?

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Once you step into Kuo Hua, you will notice a big difference. It is bright. It is very clean and the aisle is very wide. What I like especially is that they are constantly arranging the shelves so that it look neat and tidy. There is also an absence of smell! LOL!

It is definitely enjoyable shopping here.

We immediately headed to the newly installed refrigeration section. We looked high and low for Ba Wan but nyada … we can’t find any. We looked twice. Maybe they sold out already. [Hi 4SlicesofCheese, it was the fridges on the right side of the supermarket right?]

Dashed!

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So we ended up picking a few simple stuff.

The Traditional Pork Stew Sauce is awesome. We just had this in Yuen-Yuen ( here). Now we can make it at home which Suanne did a few days ago.

It was very good and I thought that the home made version with this sauce was better than the version we had in Yuen Yuen. The sauce is a bit thicker than Yuen-Yuen’s.

It is simple to make. Just fry some … (more…)

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Meat and Bread: Bakkwa and Croissant

You know what is the hottest restaurant in Vancouver right now? It is this restaurant called Meat and Bread located in Gastown. It seems everyone is raving about it (despite the high prices) … and I am not sure exactly why.

The food there is simple, no frills … just meat and bread. The choices you get there can be counted with just one hand (just four items!). Given what they offer on the menu, I think they could even sell it off a food cart. They don’t need a restaurant for this.

I am sure the food is good and that plays a big part in its popularity. But maybe too its the simplicity of the food. I don’t know … I still have not figured that out.

No, I have not tried Meat and Bread (the restaurant) yet. I will some day when I get the time to go downtown to try it. I just need to convince myself that it is worth the trip going all the way there just for meat and bread.

But for now … I’ll just do my own meat and bread.

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I think I want to write a series on “Meat and Bread”!

Suanne and I was brainstorming about the term “meat and bread” over the Christmas holidays. This was following the thoughts about having egg with Milo – strange food that we enjoyed as a kid.

As we wrote down every combination of meat and bread we know of, we were surprised how many possibilities there are. Some of the combinations we had tried before but there are some crazy ones we thought of that could possibly work.

And then suddenly we realize why the simple combination of Meat and Bread is something that everyone could relate to, even across all cultures.

So for today, I want to share with you a Meat and Bread that we have been having at home for sometime already –> croissant with bakkwa.

Bakkwa. One way to describe this is calling this … (more…)

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Fun With Fromage — by Grayelf

I had been putting writing this post off because it is so hard to write. I was overwhelmed with all the learnings and the food. LOL!

It was almost two months ago when Grayelf invited a few foodies to her home to taste and learn about cheese. I jumped on it because I had never been exposed to cheese tasting in this manner before. Frankly my knowledge of cheese is very limited to what you encounter day to day.

I think my knowledge of cheese can be summed as as follows: I know what is mozzarella, feta, blue cheese, cheddar, monterey jack, and parmesan to name a few. Those are such generic cheeses which everyone knows. Perhaps as an analogy, these are considered equivalent to wonton noodles in Chinese cooking.

I consider having Harvati and Emmataler as exotic already. Both introduced to me by a co worker. I would perhaps equate this “exotic” cheese to, say, Sichuan hot pot. That’s my simplistic analogy.

Fine. I had done something of that sorts at the Salt Tasting Room but that one is pretty much random selections with zero learnings.

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I was expecting Grayelf to make it an event knowing how she is so thorough in everything she does. But what greeted us was beyond what I expected.

Table was nicely laid out and all. And then she told us that she will do this in FIVE courses with mostly three cheeses in each course … whew … FOURTEEN cheese to try altogether!

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The above are palate cleanser in between courses of cheese.

The five courses were broken down into:

  1. Firm cheese
  2. Goat/Sheep cheese
  3. Soft ripened cheese
  4. Wash rind, and
  5. Blue Cheese

He he he … she saved the “best” for last. I was eagerly waiting for the blue cheese because I expect it to be an awful experience. 🙂

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I can’t remember what the fruit above is called.

You know, I won’t be surprised that is no where in Vancouver that you’ll get to try all these cheese in one sitting. And knowing how much all these premium cheese costs, it comes at some expense to Grayelf. All out of her own pocket which was very very nice of her.

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The first course is the Firm cheese.

They are firm and semi-firm because of lower moisture content and they are mostly pressure packed into molds and aged longer. This was an easy start because these are cheese that are familiar to most.

Grayelf not only took the trouble to get a good selection of cheese, she even researched them and printed notes for everyone. How is that for service? Here is the notes that were for the firm cheese.

Abondance (Haute-Savoie, France) is a semi-hard, raw-milk “mountain” cheese. Availlable year round, it is at its best in the autumn when made from summer milk. In the 14th century, the monks of l’Abbaye de Saint d’Abondance, situated on the Swiss border, were the official suppliers of savoyard cheeses for the election of the Pope in Avignon. The name of the cheese comes from the breed of cows (abondance) from which milk is taken. The blue label fixed on the rind indicates that the cheese is a member of the AOC family since 1990. Its taste is direct, but at the same time subtle; a complex alliance between a slightly acidic and soft initial taste followed by a lingering after taste. The cheese gives off an aroma of nutty vegetation. The texture of the ivory/yellow pâte is supple and velvety. Its rind is smooth with an amber colour showing canvas marks. $4.50/100g

5 year old Britannia cheddar (Quebec) Although cheddar originated in England, most turophiles agree that Canadian versions have long outshone their British progenitors. A fine aged cheddar, this specimen is white, not coloured with annatto, and has an assertive but not too salty flavour. If you’re used to supermarket cheddar, this sample may change your mind about this not-so-everyday cheese $3.95/100g

Sovrano buffalo milk (Brescia, Italy) is made from a combination of buffalo and cow milk. The process is similar to that of Grana Padano (a type of Parmesan). Sovrano is aged for at least 24 months, then graded, again like Parmesan. Distinguished by an ivory coloured rind, the white crumbly texture inside has a slightly sweet flavour with the unmistakable mossy sour finish of buffalo milk. In Italy Sovrano is used in many pasta preparations but it is also served on cheese plates and goes well with slices of fruit, or with honey. $4.99/100g

If you look at the cheese above, you will find that they are from different regions in the world. Grayelf got them from … (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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Kopi Luwak, Blue Mountain, Illy Coffee Tasting in Vivo! Gelato

It took a long time for me to organize this fun event.

It was so long ago I can’t remember how it all began actually and how the discussions first began that led to us having two very exotic coffee. But we were glad that PinoyGourmet and Carol who went out of their way and gave us their precious coffee when I expressed my curiosity over the cat-poop coffee.

So I decided to make a fun event and invite Friends of Chowtimes to come and get to know one another over a few cups of coffee.

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The turnout was pretty good and we get to know some of our readers. I think we had 10 people in all.

One of the problem in organizing this is to find a coffee house who is willing to host the event. I wanted a place where we could meet and chat for as long as we wanted. I also wanted someone who is willing to brew the coffee beans for us. He he he … I also wanted someone who will not charge me an arm and a leg too.

Well, Vivo! Gelato stepped forward and not only allowed us the use of their premises but they were extremely supportive of the event.

One thing I meant to ask the folks from Vivo! Gelato is why they call themselves “Vivo!” and not “Vivo”. Why that exclamation mark? I mean, how should one say the name? Like VIVO!!! gelato?

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PinoyGourmet was the one who donated the cat-poop coffee. It is called Kopi Luwak or Coffee Alamid.

Did you know that Kopi Luwak is the most expensive coffee in the world? It could cost up to $5oo per pound! It is quite accurate to call this cat-poop coffee.

Kopi Luwak is made by passing a certain type of coffee beans through the digestive tract of the civet cat.

If you want to try Kopi Luwak here in Vancouver, you can get it from the Spice Island Indonesian Restaurant. He he he … it is $60 per cup and I am not kidding you. See their menu here. (updated: 2nd Nov 2014; Spice Island Indonesian Restaurant is closed.)

In this event the Kopi Luwak is free!

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Carol gave us her precious Blue Mountain coffee when she heard that we had the Kopi Luwak and that we wanted to organize a tasting event. I am just so glad for supporters like Carol (thanks a lot Carol!).

The Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee is one of the most expensive coffee in the world and is very popular in Japan. It is grown only in the Blue Mountain region in Jamaica. Japan imports 80% of all the Blue Mountain coffee in the world. So the Blue Mountain coffee above is part of the 20% the rest of the world is left with. Nice!

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And holding the fort against the cat-poop coffee and the Blue Mountain coffee is the very brand of coffee that Vivo! Gelato offers in store.

The Illy coffee is from Italy. It is distinctive in the way they package the coffee. Illy preserve their coffee in cans which are filled with inert gases instead of air pressurization.

Oh yeah … the comparison is on … (more…)

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Frozen Xiao Long Bao — It is OK But Not Quite Like Wang’s or Lin’s

OK. What about this one?

How does these store-bought-home-steamed Frozen Xiao Long Bao look like to you?

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You can see straight away that the skin is too shiny and that you suspect it is also thick.

So let’s compare the XLBs of the ones above with the best of 2009 and 2010 below. I know it is not a fair comparison and neither do I expect a store-bought-home-steamed version will beat the best of Vancouver’s XLB. So, don’t lynch me for making this comparison OK? Here goes … (more…)

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Frozen Ramen — Even More Closer To Kintaro’s

How does this bowl of ramen look to you?

Does it look authentic enough like the ones you get it from ramen houses like Kintaro?

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I must say I am pretty impressed with the ramen above.

Earlier this year, we started stocking Instant Ramen Noodles at home. It was at that time, the most superior instant noodles (see this post) we had ever tried. Of course it is good … it costs $4 for a serving.

Looks like we will be switching ramen noodles at home from now on. This is much better … and much cheaper too. Move over instant ramen noodles … hello, frozen noodles.

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It was Janice who went out of her way to take pictures of the ramen for us and telling us exactly where we could pick it up. We bought the ramen from the Osaka Supermarket in the Yaohan Center on No 3 Road. They are found in the freezer section where you would find frozen dumplings.

The above is the three serving version with the simpler soy sauce flavour. It is called the Myojo Shoyu Aji Nama Ramen and costs … (more…)

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[CRA 2010 Signature Dish] Barbeque Spare Ribs 燒排骨 from Dollar Meat Store

It had been a long while since Suanne and I were in Chinatown. The last time was when we attended the Chinese Laundry Kids event in Foo’s Ho Ho. That event vetted my interest in the storied past of Chinatown.

Suanne and I used to visit Chinatown when we first came to Canada. We actually went all the way there on weekends to buy groceries and have dim sum. No longer. It is sad to say that every year, there are lesser and lesser reasons for us to visit Vancouver’s Chinatown.

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Well, this time we visited Chinatown just to check out the award winning Chinese BBQ item.

This Dollar Meat Store had been an institution in Chinatown for well over 30 years now. I guess in its early days, this must have been a premier location for Chinese BBQ.

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Despite the gunky-ness of many stores in Chinatown, Dollar Meat is surprisingly bright and clean. Even the butchers wears caps.

Dollar meats are famous for their Chinese cured sausages and pressed ducks. If you look hard enough they do have exotic meat for sale too.

I am not into eating pressed ducks but Suanne’s dad loves pressed ducks. One easy way to please him is to bring him a thigh and you will be in his good books for days.

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Chinese Restaurant Award 2010 ♦ SILVER in the CHINESE BARBEQUE Category ♦ Barbeque Spare Ribs 燒排骨

It is their Barbeque Spare Ribs that won the silver award in the CRA’s Chinese Barbeque category.

We just bought a bit to go. The above is just … (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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