Posted on December 11, 2013 by Hitman Howdy
A couple of weeks ago Wendy and I attended the Ra Energy product launch at Nuba in Kitsilano. Ra Energy is a local company that produces seed mixtures to top your favourite foods with to add texture, flavour, and nutritional value. Ra comes in garlic, plain, and naturally sweet varieties. They teamed up with Nuba for their launch party to allow attendees to sample all three versions of their product in a variety of the restaurant’s dishes. We took on Ra Energy’s 7 day challenge, but here’s the Nuba portion first:
To get us started as soon as we walked in we had Red Lentil Soup ($4). The soup was blended and creamy in texture, and we both found the garlic flavour Ra was a great addition. They don’t use sodium in any of their products, so they add a lot of garlic powder to ensure flavour in this blend. It also has a nutty flavour and a crunchy texture that worked well in the soup.
Once everybody had arrived the founder of Ra Energy (and author of healthy eating book The Power of Food), Adam Hart, gave us a pep talk about his product. All I can say is this guy is living proof that Ra Energy works; he was so animated and full of energy that I had to snap quite a few pics before I finally got one of him standing still! The enthusiasm was contagious and everybody was in a great mood when we sat down to partake.
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Filed under: Restaurant Reviews, Vancouver, Kitsilano, Vegetarian/Vegan, Grocery, Lebanese, Health | Tagged: soup, salad, stew, meat skewer, dip | Leave a Comment »
Posted on December 5, 2013 by Hitman Howdy
Wendy’s parents recommended this restaurant for a recent family dinner since it’s one of her and Wendy’s favourite dim sum spots (see Wendy’s review here –sad to say that apparently they no longer have the food carts though). I wasn’t planning on a review since it had already been done…until I saw an especially interesting menu item: snake! I’m always up for trying new and exotic foods and this was both to me.
The snake comes in a soup, Snake Meat with Bamboo Shoot and Fungus Thick Soup ($18.80 or $6.80 per head) to be exact. You can season the broth with white pepper but it had enough flavour on its own for my taste buds, including small amounts of preserved orange peel. The fungus and bamboo shoots were present along with a few morsels of pork and little slivers of ginger for a bit of kick. There was cilantro and some type of airy wonton crisps which immediately changed texture when added to the soup and were a welcome addition. As for the snake meat, the white portions tasted like chicken and the darker pieces where you could see the spine indentation like the one top right reminded me of eel. Overall a dense, satisfying soup that was nuanced in flavour and texture.
The Bean Curd Sheets with Veggie in Fish Broth ($9.88) consisted of bok choy and mushroom along with the bean curd in a fish broth. I always find these fish broths a bit bland but it did make the otherwise unappetizing bean curd taste pretty good when soaked in it, and it enhanced the flavour of the bok choy without smothering it.
The Pork Soft Bone with Bean Curd Sheet and Pickled Veggie in Hot Pot ($12.80) was an interesting dish, and one that not everybody liked. Had the bland, milky pork been served on its own I wouldn’t have had more than a bite, but when combined with the strong taste of the pickled veggie it worked to an extent. For me it was hard getting past the texture of the soft bone, which was somewhere between a tendon and a bone in firmness. I thought it was the actual rib bones at first since that’s exactly what it looked like, but turns out it’s just cartilage that joins the ribcage to the spine. Either way…meh.
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Filed under: Cantonese, Chinese, Restaurant Reviews, Richmond, Seafood | Tagged: Bean Curd, fish, hot pot, pork, prawn, soup | Leave a Comment »
Posted on November 25, 2013 by Wendy
I’ve heard a lot about Beaucoup Bakery & Cafe, especially in magazines. However it wasn’t until recently when G’s friend started working there as a baker that I’ve succumbed to lots more praises and recommendations from G. The final nail in the coffin was when G showed me a picture of this magical looking poached plum tart that they had for the Fall season. I had to have it, so finally I made a date with Miz Brown Sugar, C-Dizzle, and Erin to visit the bakery for a sugar coma fest.
There are a ton of baked goods to choose from obviously, but they have a pretty extensive cafe menu too. We were instructed by G to arrive no later than 10:45am on a Friday for the best selection.
And it was a wise decision, as we saw that the store was constantly busy. We were lucky though that their signature item the Almond Croissant was still plentiful even by the time we left, as were a lot of their other goodies.
Miz Brown Sugar is vegan so all she had was a latte (every baked good has eggs in it). She was very excited about the latte art.
Since we arrived so early, I hadn’t had a chance to eat breakfast yet. Neither had C-Dizzle and she quickly hopped to it and ordered a Brioche with Duck Prosciutto, Rillette Mayo, Red Oak Lettuce, Candied Walnuts & Apple ($9.5, not pictured). I was originally just here for the sweets, but once she unwrapped her sandwich, I knew I had to get one too. So I picked the Cheese Scone with Porchetta & Smoked Cheddar ($9.5, pictured above).
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Filed under: Snacks, Sweets, Bakery, Coffee Shop | Tagged: pastry, coffee, sandwich, croissant, tart, macaron | Leave a Comment »
Posted on November 21, 2013 by Hitman Howdy
Wendy and I made an unplanned pit-stop to refuel with a nice big steaming bowl of pho during a recent drive through Vancouver, and Pho Hoang was the first one we passed. The signs on the door were covered in awards from the Westender and four or five Golden Plate awards from the Reader’s Choice awards in the Georgia Straight so we thought this place could be something special.
The menu had a more varied selection than usual and we pointed out to each other several items to try on future visits, but decided we both were in the mood to try some plain old pho. And after all a good Vietnamese restaurant can be judged by the quality of its pho, so we were excited thinking this would be “the best”. We were brought a pot of complimentary tea while we were in menu mode. Complimentary tea at Asian restaurants tends to be a bit watered down and boring, but this one took the cake. It was watered down so badly you could not detect the tea at all, and if I had been told it was water with a drop of food colouring I would have believed it.
To start we ordered up an appetizer of the small size Banh Tom Co Ngu ($4.95), basically yam fries with nouc mam, that sweet fishy Vietnamese dip you normally get with spring rolls and things of that nature. Most of this dish was stuck together into large clumps, and in many of the fries the batter was far more prevalent than the small julienned yam pieces. While normally when having a meal with Wendy you can’t go wrong with yam fries, this time neither of us liked them much.
We don’t review many of these places although we eat pho on the regular because it can be difficult to differentiate one pho from another. But at Pho Hoang it was easy to see the difference. For mine I had a large rare beef and tendon ($7.50). The broth was nice and hearty looking and with a taste to match, however when I got to my first piece of tendon and tried to take a bite it went shooting out of my mouth and splashing back into the soup! It was hard as a rock and slippery as an eel. While some subsequent pieces were soft, tender and chewy others looked like they had been pre-chewed and spit out and after several more hard uncooked pieces we were left with quite an array of inedible pieces on the plate next to us. The pieces of beef on top of the soup did come rare, but after cooking it the texture was grainy and old and the meat that had been in the broth to begin with was quite clumpy. I also got a piece of tripe in there which was no problem for me, but may be for many people who find a cow’s stomach lining extremely unappetizing. I was really disappointed with this one.
Wendy had better luck with her small House Special ($6.75) because she liked her favourite part, the tripe. However she had the same issue as mine with the tendon being hard and uncooked. She was quite fond of the hearty broth though.
Maybe we just came on an off night, but if the food here is normally this shoddy I can’t see why Georgia Straight readers are so fond of it. Portion sizes were average value for the dollar here as well, nothing more nothing less.
Filed under: Restaurant Reviews, Vancouver, Vietnamese | Tagged: pho, soup, yam fries | Leave a Comment »
Posted on November 14, 2013 by Wendy
PG Man in all his glory
During the month of July I went to Prince George to visit Pretty Sis. She’s been there for about a year and this is the first time I’ve been there.
What the HELL is she doing in PG you ask? Well, TedBear stole her away that’s why. DAMN YOU TEDBEAR!
Just kidding. TedBear’s awesome. He would’ve been MORE awesome if he wasn’t in PG, but I digress
As we know the month of July was pretty hot, and you would be right to assume even hotter in PG. The weeks leading up to my visit, it was around 32C and up over there. However, I apparently brought the Vancouver rain over.
That’s right. The moment I landed there was a thunder/lighting storm in PG. And the cloudiness and rain did not leave until the moment I got into the airport to leave.
They were super gracious hosts. One night for dinner they took me to a local joint in downtown PG. The Copper Pig BBQ & Social House is a popular hangout.
Fun fact: the other “Social House” is trying to sue this one for using the term “social house” in their name. I didn’t know but I feel the the bigger guy is trying to bully this place. I didn’t even know that social house wasn’t a generic term. Apparently it’s trademarked?
Anyways, as it was a Friday they were doing specials on their Infused Beverages. What’s that you ask? Well it’s a selection of mixed drinks prepared with their own infused spirits.
I first started with the Citrus Shasta which is an infused citrus vodka paired with lemonade. It was tangy and refreshing. But then, the rain I brought with me was refreshing enough in itself =/
My second drink was the English Punch which is a Cucumber Cilantro Punch made with Herbal Infused Gin. It was licorice-y and minimally sweet. I wish the cucumber flavor came through more.
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Filed under: Prince George, Restaurant Reviews, Southern | Tagged: barbecue, beef, brisket, cornbread, Drinks, ribs, sliders | Leave a Comment »
Posted on November 8, 2013 by Hitman Howdy
For those of you not yet familiar with lazymeal, it’s an online food ordering platform that is focused on recommending the tastiest meals in greater Vancouver. It’s simple, just punch in your postal code and peruse the menus of establishments in your area, place your order, and voila! lazymeal delivers. They’re partnering up with the local food blogging community to evaluate the restaurants you can order from on their sites, and we were lucky enough to get an invite to one of their mashup events. For these reviews (and you will probably see more of them in the near future) we will be focusing on the take-out aspect of the restaurants, so don’t expect any info on the service and decor etc. But we think all in all these reviews will be more informative to our readers since we will get to sample a wider selection of the menu than usual, because the food is the most important aspect after all, right? And don’t worry, we aren’t selling out; we’ve been encouraged to be completely honest with our reviews. Enjoy!
First up we had the Mixed Platter ($10) and Chutney Trio ($2). It consists of vegetable samosas, chicken pakoras and vegetable pakoras. The samosas in particular stood out from the crowd; they contained a pretty complex spice blend compared to your average restaurant samosa. Wendy said it tasted Christmas-ey, and I agreed. Cloves and nutmeg perhaps? Maybe some ginger? I don’t know for sure, but you could tell by the dark colour of the potato mixture inside that there was a lot going on in that spice blend. The chicken pakoras had decently sized chunks of moist meat and tasted great with the spicy mint chutney. The tamarind was of the usual variety that normally come free with samosas and the mango chutney was really sweet. If you go for this platter I’d suggest getting the chutney to go with it. While the samosas could stand on their own the vegetable pakoras might be a bit dry without.
Along with the appetizers we tried their Cucumber Salad ($6). Some of the red you see in the photo is tomato, and some is…maraschino cherry! Pretty unexpected but it actually went quite well in the salad. They use it for garnish in several dishes, and it isn’t necessarily meant to be eaten with the meal but in this case it worked. The yoghurt-type dressing was cool and creamy (Wendy found a tinge of sweetness) and the whole dish was very refreshing.
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Filed under: Burnaby, Indian, Restaurant Reviews | Tagged: cheesecake, curry, ice cream, pakora, salad, samosa | Leave a Comment »
Posted on November 4, 2013 by Hitman Howdy
A & W has been slowly revamping their menu at certain locations with slightly more “upscale” fast food offerings like yam fries and veggie burgers as well as adding actual dishware for dine-in to compliment their traditional frosted glass mugs. Their latest additions are various grilled cheese sandwiches and poutines which I set out to inspect. When I eat fast food burgers I go out of my way to pick A&W due to their beef now being hormone, antibiotic, and even preservative free, plus the fact you can choose a whole wheat bun at no cost (hopefully they take the health consciousness a step further and cut down on the ridiculous amounts of sodium they use). I picked the New Westminster Skytrain location, somewhere I eat fairly regularly and normally I find their staff quite friendly and have never had issues. Today was a different story with some horrendous service but I won’t get into it and will give them benefit of the doubt, assuming it was a new staff member. The place is clean and never so busy that you have much of a wait for your order, and the addition of an optional self serve kiosk for ordering and payment makes things even faster.
For the grilled cheese sandwich ($4.25) you first choose your bread from white or whole wheat, then two types of cheeses (they have mozarella, Balderson cheddar, and processed Armstrong jalapeno cheddar), an optional (free) slice of tomato, and whether you would like bacon for an additional 75 cents. Each sandwich comes with a pickle spear as well. I had cheddar and jalapeno havarti on whole wheat with a slice of tomato. With the cheese being of the single thins variety two types are just the right amount, and the jalapeno really had a nice bite to it. The tomato was a large slice and very fresh, and I found the bread had just enough butter on the outside so it wasn’t too greasy. Really enjoyable and I think the price point is pretty fair.
They have a few new types of meal-size poutines now to compliment their classic one. One was a cheddar bacon, one was a “works” poutine that seemed to be along the lines of a stuffed baked potato with its choice of toppings, and then this monstrosity. The Korean BBQ Poutine ($7.95). Traditional A & W french fries with cheese curds, breaded chicken slices, and iceberg lettuce, all smothered with Korean style BBQ sauce. The idea sounded fairly unappetizing but I gave it a go for fun, and I have to say I can’t see anybody ordering this more than once after the initial “fun” factor has worn off. To be fair the outside areas with minimal sauce weren’t too bad, but once I got to the middle and bottom parts the sauce was just way too overpowering. It’s thick and molasses-ey, both sweet and spicy. Not bad as far as BBQ sauces go, but as a gravy substitute it just doesn’t work.
Filed under: Fast Food, Korean, New Westminster, Restaurant Reviews | Tagged: barbecue, poutine, sandwich | Leave a Comment »
Posted on October 28, 2013 by Wendy
For our monthly gossip session, Fannypack and I visited The Ascot with a Groupon in hand. As we approached the restaurant we were impressed by the swanky hipster-looking storefront. However it did look out of place for its location, as it’s near Richards and W. Pender.
Stepping in the hipster-factor was confirmed. It definitely looked good and rustic with its huge brick-face wall and chandeliers. Vintage would be the theme I supposed. The night we visited happened to be a night where they had a paint class type of thing. We were not part of it but we saw the group of people all learning to paint the same picture.
We were trying to decide between the Halibut Ceviche ($8) or the Cold Smoked Duck ($10). Finally we picked the Halibut Ceviche since it’s supposed to be made fresh in-house everyday, and is therefore served in limited quantities.
Fannypack and I both decided that it was too tart and basically tasteless. To me the fish was mushy and we definitely needed the pita chips to cut down on the acidity. However towards the bottom of the glass it became less tart, so the sour start could be due to a squeeze of lemon or lime juice at the top. This was definitely not my favorite of the night. (Should’ve gotten the duck….)
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Filed under: Casual Dining, Downtown, Lounge, Restaurant Reviews, Vancouver, West Coast | Tagged: beef, ceviche, squid | Leave a Comment »
Posted on October 15, 2013 by Wendy
For White Spot’s 85th anniversary, Triple O’s offered a secret menu item called the Triple Triple. Why is it secret? Because it’s not mentioned on their menu board…you have to be in the know to know to order it
This is what they have to say about it:
It is “Triple Os biggest burger yet- a ¾ lb burger made with triple beef patties, triple cheese, lettuce, tomato and Triple “O” sauce topped with triple dills.”
We’ve recently received some vouchers to try them out (normally $14.95 for the combo) and here’s our opinion:
It was one humongous burger for sure. I had to take out one patty and leave it aside. In the end, we both thought there was way too much meat and cheese. It made the burger overbearing and not really enjoyable to be honest. The patties themselves were also extremely salty. Hitman had the urge to drink water the rest of the night because of it.
I’ll stick to my Monty Mushroom.
Filed under: Burgers, Burnaby, Fast Food | Tagged: burger | Leave a Comment »
Posted on October 3, 2013 by Hitman Howdy
Wendy had heard good things about this French/West Coast restaurant so we trekked to Gastown to try it out. It was amazing!
I had planned to take a shot of the signage when we left but forgot so this one’s stolen from the restaurant’s website.
Once inside our jackets were hung and we were led upstairs to a table with a good view of the action at the well-stocked bar. The menus reflected this as the drink menu was lengthy and varied while the food menu was just a single page.
The complimentary bread included a buttery bacon brioche, some twisted parmesan bread with a barely detectable hint of anchovy, and a thin crispy flatbread sprinkled with sesame and cumin seeds. All were interesting and enjoyable.
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Filed under: French, Gastown, Restaurant Reviews, Vancouver, West Coast | Tagged: ceviche, Drinks, lamb, pork, sweetbreads | Leave a Comment »