Caffe Artigiano on West 41st, Vancouver

Polly and I went to Caffe Artigiano for our cake meet. We have no idea that Caffe Artigiano is the home of the Canadian Barista Championships from 2003 to 2006 until I checked their website after I came home. Artigiano also had several medals from the World Barista Championship medals. Not quite gold but silver and bronze … pretty cool.

Caffe Artigiano has 5 outlets in Vancouver in all. They are located on Pender St, Hornby St, West Hasting St, Park Royal in West Vancouver and Kerrisdale. We went to the one in Kerrisdale.

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Caffe Artigiano is a very busy caffe as there were many customers come and go while we were there. I wondered why they are called a caffe and not cafe … you have any idea why?

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We were quite disappointed in the beginning as we did not find any cheese cake in their buffet. However, there were scones, biscotti, bars, sandwiches and wrap.

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We ordered two scones and a biscotti to share. This is the blueberry scones. The serving is quite large. We enjoyed it with some jam.

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We liked the second scone better, it’s made with nut and dried fruit. This scones is more crunchy and has lots of nuts and dried fruit in it. The biscotti is not what I expected. This is more cakey like instead of the crunchy type. The scones were $2.95 each while the biscotti was $1.95.

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The best is the coffee. I ordered the Caffe Mocha for $3.39. It is very smooth and creamy. The cream formation is so creative.

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Polly had the Caffe Latte for $2.99. This is the best coffee we had ever had since our cake meet. For the true coffee lover, you must visit Caffe Artigiano.

Click the link below for more coffee art. You will like some of the prettiest coffee art I have ever seen. Note that the ones below are not from Artigiano’s.

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Diplomat Bakery on London Road, Richmond

Polly and I revisited Diplomat Bakery for our cake meet. This time, we went to the new location on London Road. It is a new commercial and residential area where many constructions are still in progress. The location seems a bit remote now but after all the development has completed, I’m sure it’s going to be a good traffic in the place. London Road is located at the southern end of the No 2 Road. The neighborhood had been expanding for the past few years and it’s just a matter of time when development encroaches into the area east of No 2.

While we were there, there was a good flow of traffic around tea time and just before lunch time by the construction workers.

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There was a special offer at the Diplomat Bakery during our visit which is get 4 slices of cakes at $2.95 and you’ll get one free slice. Since Polly and I usually share 3 slices, we decided to get an extra slice and end up with 5 slices, with the free slice offer. Each one of us brought one slice home to enjoy later.

Here are the cakes which we ordered.

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A slice Strawberry Cheese cake which is very rich and creamy. Continue reading

Red Mango in Bellevue, WA

After the 12-egg omelette breakfast, we went for a bit of shopping around Bellevue. After all, with the exchange rate between the CAD and USD these days, everything in the US seems like a bargain to us. Before heading back to Vancouver we drove over to the Bellevue Suqare for dessert — Frozen Yogurt in a place called Red Mango.

Red Mango was recommended by Erick who mentioned that this fro-yo chain from South Korea had taken California by storm. The only yogurt we ever had was those Danone yogurt that was sold in small plastic cups at the Real Canadian Superstore.

Locating the Red Mango was a bit of a challenge for us. It was because it was not listed on the Bellevue Square store directory. After walking about for a bit and having asked the info counter did we realize how new this store is. They had only opened just last month.

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This Red Mango outlet is small with just a few small tables. We did notice that most of the customers are Asians. Frankly, I know very little about yogurt and never imagined that a popular yogurt chain would actually originate from east Asia.

Froyo, or frogurt, is a low fat alternative to icre-cream. Red Mango claims that they use only natural ingredients in making their “Authentic” frozen yogurt.

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Ordering this is easy. The menu is really small. You get a choice of two flavours — vanilla or green tea. And then you choose the number of toppings you want. The toppings are fresh fruits or dry stuff like nuts. chocolate, etc.

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We ordered two Red Mango Yougurt to share. The first was the medium sized, original vanilla flavour with three toppings. Continue reading

12-Egg Omelettes in Beth’s Cafe in Seattle, WA

Call us crazy or what … a few years back, heavens knows how many years back, we actually drove all the way from Richmond to Burlington just to try the Krispy Kreme that had just been opened. Back then, I knew it was crazy as not many people do that. I recall the amused look of the US Border Officer when I told him I am going to the US for donuts.

A few weeks back, a reader by the name of xsweetonex commented on our blog of Beth’s Cafe in Seattle and of their 12-egg omelettes … that sure got my attention. So, I googled Beth’s Cafe and to my surprise there were tons and tons of reviews of this place. I told Suanne I simply got to go and check out this place. Since, Red Mango had just opened too in Bellevue, we took a Saturday driving across the border … yeah, again … just for food.

They have a website which you should check out (http://www.bethscafe.com/). For a worn-down looking restaurant like this, it’s amazing that they’re world famous for their omelettes. Apparently, Beth’s had been operating here for more then 50 years.

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In a nice way of describing it, Beth’s Cafe is described as informal. Maybe it is early in the morning when we got there but the customers were most like truck drivers type. Not that it’s a problem but contrasting this with, say IHOP or Denny’s, the customer here does not seem to have at least have their hair combed. Know what I mean?

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This is an old place and it shows. They had ingeniously peppered by crayon drawings from their customers. When we got seated, they asked us if we wanted crayons and paper. It was entertaining reading the crayon drawings from people all over the world.

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The Coffee and Hot Chocolate are $1.95 each.

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9-Course Chinese Dinner in Richmond Mandarin Restaurant

Updated: 6th Jan 2015; This restaurant is closed.

Some of you know me very well as an organizer of events. It’s just me … it’s just who I am. I simply enjoy putting together ideas, make a plan and see to it the plans work. Nothing gives me greater joy than to see people enjoying themselves.

When I was in my early twenties, I remember vividly that one camp that I had been part of organizing. It was a national camp of over 800 participants and I had played a huge part of organizing a city tour … 20 buses in all. Logistically it was a nightmare but I had such a kick seeing everyone single boys and girls coming back to camp happy, tired and late … no one missing and everyone had a great 10 hours away. Ah … those were the days … I’ll talk about those some other time.

For the past few years, I had also enjoyed organizing gatherings among friends … the biggest of which was a picnic the past summer which was attended by a whopping 50 people in all. Just two weeks ago, I initiated another idea for a gathering of my “lah speaking” friends (mainly ex-Singaporeans and ex-Malaysians). Since it is colder and wetter these days, outdoor events are out of the question. So, I initiated a Chinese Dinner for the same group of friends. Well, I said I initiated it because I did not organize it this time … WB offered to do it and she did it so marvelously well. I think WB will make an excellent project manager! [No, seriously WB.]

After narrowing it down from three restaurants, WB finally settled down on the Richmond Mandarin Restaurant which is located in the same building as T&T on Cambie. WB, with the help from Polly, did a great job in haggling a 9-course menu for just $168 (for a table of 10). This is amazing considering that Richmond Mandarin has a “Menu A” which costs $928 and their cheapest “Menu D” which costs $298. Moreover, WB managed to get the use of their VIP Room … for free!

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We had a total of 30 people who came to the Richmond Mandarin Restaurant that night, about 20 adults and 10 kids. WB decided to create a separate cheaper menu for the kids while the adults go for the whole-shebang. Anyway, she figured that the kids would not care much for Peking Duck … the kids will actually be happier with fried rice and noodles … and the parent happier too because we don’t have to pay the full $168 for them.

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Let’s start with the kids’ menu … first off … Fried Rice Noodles with Beef.

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Then the kids had Deep Fried Chicken Wings. The kids started eating first … we wanted to make sure that the kids are all eaten and finished before we start our feast. But I was sooo hungry looking at the chicken wings. You see, I hardly had anything to eat that day in anticipation of this meal.

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And the kids’ favourites … Fried Rice!! They looked so good and smell so good. Continue reading

Shanghai Wonderful Restaurant in Richmond

Hey … right off the bat … I am saying this … this is one Chinese restaurant that simply MUST check out. We had been passing by the Shanghai Wonder Restaurant many times before. Each time, we see that the waiting lines spill out of the restaurant. It was not until Craig blogged about this that we see what the fuss was. He liked it so much that he actually blogged about it TWICE!

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Knowing how busy this restaurant is, we decided to go extra early ahead of the dinner crowd — it was at about 5:30PM, I think. It was great because we had practically the whole place to ourselves, well, at least for 30 minutes. We got seated at the booth tables along the wall … which was great because those tables were on a raised platform. It give a better view of the entire restaurant … i.e. being able to have a clearer peek at the neighboring table’s dishes.

From the decor, this is definitely a more upscale restaurant. We like the cleanliness and brightness. And the service is great and the host patient which we appreciate. You see, Chinese restaurants need to be very patient with the Chinese-illiterate chowtimes! 🙂

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The first dish we ordered is the Cheery Pork with Brown Sauce on a bed of spinach. We find the name kind of odd. Cheery? Oh, I simply love this even though it is full of fats. The gravy/sauce too is simply marvelous. I think this is one of their signature dish. It came in a slab of pork neatly cut into cubes. This one costs $14.95.

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This is the cross section of the meat … it’s almost 1.5 inches thick with 1/3 of it fat. Continue reading

Tsim Chai Noodles in Richmond

I never were quite sure how the words like Tsim is pronounced. If this Tsim word is similar to Tsim Sha Tsui (pronounced as Jim Sar Jui), then Tsim Chai Noodles would be pronounced as Jim Chai noodles. Any Cantonese out there who can confirm this?

Arkensen was in a camp at Golden Ears that day we went to Tsim Chai Noodles. So, it was just the three of us (Nanzaro, Suanne and I) who went out for supper. We don’t normally go out for supper but since we had “dinch” (or was it “luncher”) that day, we did not get down to dinner until later at night.

All the years we were in Richmond, we had visited almost every restaurant around that neighborhood around the Richmond Public Market but this is one we had never stepped our foot into before.

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Tsim Chai is very much a Cantonese place and I do really think that the owner is from Hong Kong. My impression is that these type of restaurants are the “first wave” of Chinese restaurants … you know, they are opened before 1997 when HK reverted to China rule and lots of Hongkongers came over to Vancouver. Today, most Chinese newcomers came from Mainland China (i.e. Mandarin speakers).

Anyway, since we did not want to eat that much, we decided to just get two dishes of noodles to share between the three of us. I love beef tendon and got a bowl of Beef Tendon and Wonton Noodle in Soup. The soup is quite fragrant and unique in that it came with a bit of dried tangerine peel. This bowl costs $6.25.

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Chili Pepper House on Kingsway

It was one of those weekends that we had absolutely nothing to do. Normally, we had something planned for the weekend but for that one week we did not have anything planned at all. Since we had all the time in the world, we decided to drive a bit further from Richmond. So, we drove all the way to Vancouver … to Kingsway and Rupert.

The Chili Pepper House is an Indian-Chinese restaurant. I think the owner’s background is that they are Chinese who once lived in Indian. Since this is an Indian restaurant, we knew that their food would be spicy.

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We immediately liked this place because the owners were so friendly and spent a lot of time chatting with us, even offering to tell us more about their restaurant. I believe it is because they saw my camera! Some restaurants (some, not many) had a disdain for cameras but not this one.

The Chili Pepper House is actually more Chinese than it is Indian. They call it “Fine Indian (Desi) Style Chinese Cuisine”. Their top dishes are all spicy. One thing though, they do not serve pork at all. I am curious why they don’t serve pork. I had always thought that you don’t get beef in Indian restaurants and no pork in Muslim or Jewish restaurants.

Anyway, we did notice that they have more East Indian customers.

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Scouring their menu, we came across a dish that sounded really nice … Five Treasure with Chicken, Beef, Prawns, Scallops and Squid. What came was not exactly what we had in mind. It’s like sauce stir fried with the ingredients. It’s not that it’s not good … it was but the dish was underwhelming. It costs $14.95.

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S&W Pepper House in Richmond

Updated: 6th Jan 2015; This restaurant is closed.

Suanne and I are beginning to brave the “chow-choy” type of Chinese restaurant. Some of you might already know that both of us are almost illiterate when it comes to the Chinese language. Well, I said “almost” because at least I know how to read and write 13 Chinese characters in all — the numbers 1 to 10 and my name!

The thing about these “chow choy” restaurants is that they are so Chinese that at times they don’t even have an English menu. And even if they have it, the translation is so bad that it’s of no use at all. Moreover, it is sometimes useless to ask for recommendations because they would speak so fast that we can hardly make out what they are saying.

For us, “chow choy” refers to the type of restaurants that serves dishes in a communal style … i.e. we order vegetable, meat or soup dishes for sharing.

So, a few weeks ago we went to this new restaurant called the S&W Pepper House. That name was familiar to us as there is a small outlet with the same name in Crystal Mall in Burnaby. We had blogged about it more than 1.5 years ago (see here).

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Unlike the S&W Pepper House in Burnaby, this is a full service typical family Chinese restaurant. I would say that this is more China Chinese and the customers are typically mandarin speakers.

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In such a restaurant, they have more exotic dishes. For the Chinese, the most common meat is pork and chicken. Some don’t even serve beef for religious purposes. Lamb is certainly not a common meat used in Chinese cooking.

This is because most Chinese finds the meat very “sow”. I don’t know the English word that best describes “sow” but I think it has to do with the strong smell and taste which is something like it’s two days from being rotten — know what I mean?

Anyway, we got Lamb for the first dish. It’s simply called the Lamb with Green Onion. The lamb meat is sliced ever so thinly and the meat was tender. I like it … Suanne still thinks it’s “sow”. This dish costs $12.95.

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Watermark on Kits Beach

Updated 14th Jan 2011: This restaurant had closed according to Urbanspoon.com.

I had always enjoyed a nice drink and dinner after work … more so on a weekday than on a weekend. Work had been hectic as always. After a solid 8 hours at the office, I would always jump at a chance to go out for a drink and after work dinner.

About a month or two ago, there was a Prix Fixe event in selected restaurants in Vancouver sponsored by San Pellegrino. Suanne and I love these type of events and had always wanted to invite another couple to join us. We could think of only one couple who we were pretty sure would enjoy doing this — Viv and Ole.

Suanne and I arranged to meet up with Viv and Ole (and their beautiful baby) for dinner during one such weekday. Viv and Ole selected the date and time and left the choice of the restaurant to us. We chose the restaurant with the best waterfront view … the Watermark on Kits Beach.

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I remembered this restaurant well. A few years back there was some controversy around the building of this restaurant. This place used to be a beach front concession. When the idea to redevelop the concession, there were quite a bit of protest that this restaurant will mar the beauty of the beach.

The project turned out quite OK. Now it has not only a first class full-service restaurant, it is also functioning as a beach-level concession, changing rooms, and a lifeguard station. The Watermark is on the elevated second floor which gives a sweeping view of the English Bay.

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Suanne and I went a bit earlier. We wanted to spend sometime walking around the Kits Beach and take some pictures. During the warm summer months, this popular beach would have been packed with people. Not so that day we were there. As a matter of fact, it was very cold and chilly.

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I believe Watermark has the best view of the Kits Beach and English Bay. We had an option to either take the much warmer indoor tables but choose the tables out by the patio.

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At first we were a bit apprehensive of sitting out at the patio. It was not too bad. For one, the patio is heated and they have thoughtfully provided blankets to keep the legs warm if needed.

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It was great watching the sun set from where we sat. I can’t complain … life had been good.

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For drinks, I had the Mohito with mango flavour (should it not have been spelt as Mojito?). It is rum with fresh lime, and fresh mint. As hard as I tried, I can’t taste any hint of mango at all … it was overwhelmingly minty. I felt they overdid the mint thing.

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