Cafe In in Vancouver

Updated: 3rd Jan 2015; This restaurant is closed according to Urbanspoon.com.

Polly and I met again for coffee. I found this Cafe In from a Chinese Food Magazine. It has two locations in Vancouver, one at 5707 Balsam St and another in 3335 W. 4th Ave. We went to the one on 4th Ave.

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There are banners with the words ‘Award-winning Intelligentsia Coffees on the store front of this cafe. I wonder what it means?

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When we walked into this cafe, we noticed there are many signs of Godiva chocolates. First of all, there are two wall shelves loaded with Godiva chocolates.

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There is this gold mosaic mural on the wall which represent Godiva’s divine chocolate. The logo was inspired by the popular legend. It tells of the persistent Lady Godiva who rode naked in order to persuade her husband to abolish his onerous taxation of Coventry. This mosaic mural is also found in the washroom but in silver.

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We like the simple and yet cozy interior deco. Potted plants are placed at strategic locations which brings some freshness and liveliness to the interior.

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I also like these mosaic pieces of coffee art and cup and saucer. It brings out the mood for a cup of coffee. Continue reading

Office Lunches: The Boss Restaurant in Metrotown

Fridays had always been a good time to go out for lunch for some reason. Two Fridays ago, I went out for lunch with my friends from my old workplace. I am glad that even after having left the company for more than 2 years now, I am still remembered.

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Since, I am eating out, Suanne just packed grapes and a handful of prawn cracker for me. I still need my snacks.

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The Boss Restaurant is located inside the Metrotown mall. It is located near Zellers in case you want to know where exactly it is in the large mall. The Boss is basically a HK-Style restaurant and is almost always busy.

Wait times could be very lengthy during lunch time and more so since it is a Friday afternoon. We had a total of 12 people and since I was the nearest to the restaurant, I went there earlier to book a table. The wait was 30 minutes which was not too bad.

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We had to split up to two separate tables since it is quite next to impossible to get so many people seated together seeing how busy it was that day. We talked about table setting and that Asians tables normally have a spoon and a fork while for other Canadian restaurants, it is common to have only fork and knife.

Even after so many years in Canada, I still prefer just spoon and fork as it is more practical when it come to rice. I can use a fork for rice but it feels odd to me. Asians normally eat with the spoon and uses the fork to help scoop food onto the spoon.

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On our table we had six people and decided to just order four different dishes to share. The chow mein was served on a hot pan Continue reading

Dine Out Vancouver 2008 – Gastropod

Updated 4 June 2009: closed (source from Urbanspoon)

Suanne and I had always been mesmerized by the legend of the top restaurants in the world. Namely, the El Bulli and the Fat Duck. Some day, we hope to have the opportunity to dine out in one these places. For now, we settle for something more attainable … a restaurant owned by a chef who had worked in one of these restaurant.

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The chef behind Gastropod is Vancouverite Angus An who according to his biography is said to had a stint in the Michelin 3-stars Fat Duck. In the local scene, Gastropod had won many awards and perhaps one of the best restaurants along 4th Ave in Vancouver.

Featuring modern European cuisine, Gastropod had won the Gold Award for Best New Fine Dining and Silver Award for Best Design from the Vancouver Magazine’s 18th Annual Restaurant Awards. We knew that we would not go wrong with such a restaurant … and we were right.

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The setting is chic and inviting with white linen and simple lines. Best of all, the service is very friendly, sincere and unpretentious. They did their very best to connect to us which made our entire experience very enjoyable.

BTW, Gastropod’s DOV menu is $35 per person.

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Someone must make it mandatory for all restaurants to provide bread, like they provide glasses of water for each table … don’t you agree? Gastropod is one of those who had simple but great bread. Their butter had sprinkles of salt which really enhances the flavour. When we finished the bread, they promptly came by asked if they could give us more.

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For the appetizer, we had their Duck Two Ways which came as a “$5 supplement”. This is a 24-hour confit leg, liver parfait and cucumber salad Continue reading

Dine Out Vancouver 2008 – Chambar

I had been to Chambar twice before with the last time during last year’s Dine Out Vancouver. However, this year, I decided to go there again because Suanne had never been there before and wanted to try their famous mussels.

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Chambar is a Belgian restaurant located on Beatty St just outside that Stadium Skytrain station in Vancouver. Our reservation was for 5PM. By the time we arrived 5 minutes before, many had arrived earlier and waited at the lounge. We can see that Chambar is perhaps one of the most popular DOV venue.

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We got seated in the inner dinner hall which I preferred because it is wider and had a big window (not that there is a view from it anyway). One thing you will notice about Chambar is that the walls are decorated with art pieces which they help local artists showcase their work.

Just a couple of tables away was a group three Asian diners who also whipped out cameras and took pictures of their food. For a moment, we were wondering if they are one of food bloggers we know. We tried to establish eye-contact but failed. I thought it will be great to say hi to bloggers.

Oh, we were also told that we had only 1.5 hours for DOV. We understand the reason why.

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Since this is a Belgian restaurant, I chose a Belgian beer. They had a good selection Trappistes beer which is renowned to be “all one needs” and are known to be brewed in monasteries by monks. I got myself the Rochefort 8 which is 9.2% alcohol. Small bottle but packs quite a punch.

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For the appetizer, we had the La Salad d’Hiver. This is a Belgium endive and watercress salad with cranberry and vanilla vinaigrette. Continue reading

Dine Out Vancouver 2008 – Aurora Bistro

Updated 4 June 2009: closed (source from Urbanspoon)

It was Saturday night — one of those DOV nights that were unrushed, unlike some of the nights where we had to rush from work to dinners. It has unbelievably busy at work in that I hardly had time to to even have a proper lunch. So, I treasure my weekends a lot more these days.

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We went to the Aurora Bistro located on Main Street in Vancouver. This was a last minute change of venue from an earlier booking for Pub fare. It’s surprising that we even got a table considering how absolutely packed the bistro is on a Saturday night with a DOV event on.

We were the first in and within just 20 minutes, all the tables were already taken up. They had a sign posted by the door that due to the demand during the DOV, there is a 2 hour limit for each table.

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We had never been to Aurora before but had heard a lot about them. I had imagined that they would be rather big and posh. However, the place is long and narrow with just enough tables arranged in two rows.

I guess looks can be deceiving because for what it’s worth, the Aurora Bistro is actually a Gold Medal winner of the Vancouver Magazine’s Annual Restaurant Award. They won the 2007 Best Regional Restaurant of the Year for contemporary West Coast cuisine.

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We started off with the Aurora Cocktail. It is a gin, Elephant Island apricot wine, and fresh lemon juice served up with a splash of BC bubble. It’s Aurora signature sparkling cocktail. They loaded up the gin quite a bit which got me quite tipsy for a while.

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The appy was a great start with what called the Sloping Hill Pork Rilettes with quince mustard and cornichons. Rillettes are made by slow cooking pork in lots of fat until it’s very tender. Continue reading

Dine Out Vancouver 2008 – The Observatory on Grouse Mountain

Of all the Dine Out Vancouver restaurant we booked in 2008, this one is simply the best — dinner at The Observatory on Grouse.

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The prix-fixe dinner is $35 but it not includes the dinner but also the Sky Ride gondola ride up the Grouse Mountain and a show too. I heard that the price also included a sleigh ride and skating on the pond but that we did not try. Considering that a ride up Grouse is about $27, this $35 dinner is simply best value for money.

We went on a Thursday evening and had a table for 5:30PM. The Sky Ride was nothing to shout about because it was absolutely packed with skiers and snowboarders. Each car can pack in 100 people (amazing!) and they made sure they had a full car before they moved. The Sky Ride travels every 15 minutes and just took minutes to get up to the chalet.

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The view from the top of the Grouse Mountain were stunning at night. It was clear sky that night which was fortunate seeing how much rain and snow we had the past couple of weeks. This view is what makes Vancouver so beautiful. I can’t think of a place with a setting this this in the world.

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The Observatory is located at 3,700 ft is Grouse’s Fine Dining restaurant. We were informed before we went that the dress code is business casual. I think they don’t want to see people walking in with ski boots and jackets (or in summer, shorts and T’s from trekking up the Grind).

We were quite intimidated … the service was impeccable. The people spoke soooo softly and moved sooooo slowly. And we were just rushing from work and got crunched on on the tram ride up. These guys think of everything … took our coats to the cloak room, showed us the way to our table … and reminded us to turn off our cell phones. Now, that I like!

Really, I would describe the service as very polite, soft spoken and they move very … errrr … gracefully, much like a ballet dancer. If not for the fact I was quite hyper from work that day, I would have loved it.

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They gave us the table with a great view of the glittering Vancouver downtown. We could see the sun was just about to set. It was really beautiful and just what I needed from another hectic day at work.

I noticed that while it was freezing cold outside, it was warm and cozy here.

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The place is unbelievably quiet and not surprising because of the romantic setting. This is not a place for an after work drinks! The only “ruckus” we heard was this family of four celebrating the mummy’s birthday when they sang the birthday song.

The place was not fully booked as we can see quite a few empty tables. About half the tables have views, which was very good considering the fact that many people want to dine here because of the view.

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The Observatory had a very extensive wine list … no, it was more like a wine book. We counted — it ran into 24 pages long. The most expensive bottle was $1400 and there are quite a number running above $1K … wow!

We got something considerable cheaper. The Koola cocktail was only $9. Served in a martini glass, it is raspberry with light alcohol.

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Suanne had a glass of lemonade.

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The Observatory’s house bread was shaped like interconnected leaves and was fresh and warm when served. It really felt it it was just fresh out from the oven. We knew it would be good when we broke it with a crunch. Perfect.

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Again, we shared dishes between us. The first appetizer was the Cream of Shallot Soup with pancetta chantilly and orange vincotto (whatever!). Continue reading

Dine Out Vancouver 2008 – Unwine’d

Updated on 10th January 2011: This restaurant had been closed according to Urbanspoon.com.

Suanne and I sort of gate crashed into Joseph and Elizabeth’s Dine Out. When we found out that they are going to Unwine’d, we asked if we could tag along too. We met Joseph in the “chowtimes dinner” at Tong Kung about a couple of months ago.

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Unwine’d has strange name. It must have been a play on the words Wine and Unwind. It is described as a wine and tapas lounge, quite evidenced by the variety of casual table settings. The place is really dim and again both Suanne and I had so much trouble reading in the dark. I think we should just get ourselves one of those mini torchlights for the dine outs.

Hated the choice of music. The constant pounding was simply too much for Suanne and I. But we were not surprised with the choice of music as the place was teeming with a really young crowd.

We got ourselves a high tables with stools right in front of a TV and the bar. There was a Canucks game on the TV that night but I did not pay much attention to the game. It was simply too painful to watch … the Canucks had been losing an awful lot of games of late, including the one that night.

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Joseph and Elizabeth ran a bit late and for us, we were early. Got myself a Stella. The Stella Artois seems to be a popular “imported” beer in Vancouver — at least that is my perception. I said “imported” because I think it is brewed under license in BC. What I like about this Belgian lager is that it’s light.

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As an appetizer, the Lobster Butternut Bisque was a good start. Made from Atlantic lobster and butternut squash, it is lighter than I expected from a bisque. Despite that, it was flavorful and does leave a lasting after-taste for quite a while.

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The other appetizer we had was the Crab Cake. Continue reading

Dine Out Vancouver 2008 – Ouisi Cajun and Creole Bistro

For this year’s Dine Out event, Suanne and I virtually selected our choice of restaurants rather randomly. We thought we wanted to have a bit of varieties. So, the first place we selected was a cajun and creole place — the Ouisi Cajun and Creole Bistro.

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The Ouisi Bistro is located on Granville Street in Vancouver. It is located across the street from venerable West, which we had waited and waited for a special occasion to go, someday. For now, the Bistro is good enough.

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The place is really dim even though the picture above looked bright enough. We must be getting older as we had a tough time looking over the menu even with the lone candle on the table. I must say that it’s sort of a Frenchy setting because of the many fleur-de-lis symbols decorated along the wall.

And the music was great … jazz. We were there early at 5:30PM and having the entire place to ourselves was certainly great. It was great until a group of 10 boisterous girls came in which quite ruined a quiet evening I was expecting! All I heard was their screaming and laughing. I think they got drunk.

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On our table was two bottle of hot sauce. While waiting for the food, we tried them. There is one called Fear Itself Habanero Sauce and the other was Auntie Bev’s Hot Sauce. Oh man … the Auntie Bev’s Hot Sauce sure was hot … we like it. You don’t really feel the heat for the first 10 seconds or so but it will gradually grow very very hot.

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I had the Big Rock Traditional Ale which is kind of soft. Frankly, I just randomly choose a Canadian ale but was a good choice.

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Like the few southern cooking places I had been to, Ouisi also served corn bread with butter. There are 4 really big pieces. I don’t know how this is normally served but I think it would great if they had warmed up the bread a bit. It was crumbly and sweet but just that it’s a bit dry.

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For dine out, my strategy is to order what I want and Suanne order what she wants. But no, Suanne insists that we order different dishes so that she can try more varieties.

Our first appetizer was the lamb and rosemary sausage. Continue reading

Cucumber Cafe in Richmond

Update 12-Jun-2010: Cucumber Cafe is now closed.

I’m so glad that the kids are back to school and we’re back to normal routine. Polly and I take our first opportunity to have a ladies’ day out at the Cucumber Cafe in Richmond. We had a long break in December as either one of us was not feeling well or our kids were not feeling well. Well, winter is the flu and cold season, :(.

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Cucumber Cafe is located at 10211 St. Edwards Dr, adjacent to the new Sandman Signature Hotel. It’s a new cafe in the block. The first thing we noticed was the good service. The waiter opened the door to greet us warmly.

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The Cafe is cozy and warmly decorated with a real fireplace and the brightly orange coloured seats bring the warm morning glory into this place.

As usual, Polly and I were looking for cheesecake to endeavor. Luckily, there is one in the menu.

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We ordered the Creme Brulee Cheesecake for $4.95. Continue reading

Coco Chilli in Richmond

Update 19-Jul-2008: Please note that Coco Chilli had now closed. In it’s place now is Pho 99. Click here to read the blog post for Pho 99.

Alexandra Road has a large concentration of restaurants in Richmond. That 1/2 mile stretch from Garden City and the No 4 Road is lined with restaurants. If there is one place we lunch out a lot on weekends, it is here. We go to Kam Do and Silver Tower quite a bit.

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Despite all the visits, we had never stepped into Coco Chilli before. We knew it was there, who would not have noticed the bright yellow facade. It does looked a bit teenager’ish to us and without taking a second glance we thought that it is a bubble tea house or something like that. We were wrong.

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I can’t really figure out what type of a restaurant Coco Chilli is. They have quite a bit of spicy and curry dishes. On one hand, I would say that they are a South East Asian restaurant but then it’s something about it that says that it is a cafe style restaurant.

Whatever it is, they have a very extensive menu. What we like best is that there are lots of pictures on them. Maybe it was bad timing but when we placed our order, all our top choices were not available. They apologized and told us that it is either that the ingredients had not arrived (oysters) or they had ran out of ingredients.

Surprisingly the restaurant is absolutely packed with people. This place must be popular. Despite their popularity, I must add that the bowl I was given had morsels of dried up food still sticking on it. Yucks!

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For drinks we ordered their Coconut Milk with Jelly. It was super rich but refreshing and extremely yummy. Continue reading