I believe that food like good music and a good book is a solace to a person's soul. Food is both a science and an art - a yin-yang balance to your body and also an appreciation of colors, textures and sensory experience.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Bubble Queen - Pacific Plaza

Bubble Queen on Urbanspoon

One of my list of favourite things is bubble tea. I thought this was a most fantastic invention - whoever thought of blending milk tea with fruits, chocolate etc and then add it with sago/tapioca balls? Apparently, bubble tea originated in Taiwan. I came across this article at CNN International which was quite informative. http://www.cnngo.com/explorations/drink/inventor-bubble-tea-885732 
Chun Shui Tang Teahouse in Taichung makes their bubble tea shaken and not blended. Sounds very Janes Bond - Shaken not stirred :) I suppose this requires a lot of hand power.

In any case, I heard a lot of positive reviews about Bubble Queen and decided to check out the place. I must say that the shop has an excellent selection of drinks - all kinds of flavours. They even store boxes of chocolates in their store - Hershey's, Kit-Kat, Oreo etc. Decided to get Hershey's Chocolate and their infamous mango slush with no pearls.

I was actually disappointed - the drinks were really too sweet for my taste. I much prefer my bubble tea at my favourite hangout which is a post for another day. Ascetically, its really nice that they add real mango pieces and even a small piece of  Hershey's chocolate onto their drinks. But I found it really hard to eat them (especially the mango pieces) with a straw. It bothered me a little. I rather drink the bubble tea and be done with it. On hindsight, I should have ask for less sugar and/or syrup in my drink.

It was an adventure just going down to Richmond Centre but I don't think I will make a trip specially there just for the bubble tea.

Mango slush with mango pieces -it really fills you up. 

Whipped cream with a piece of Hershey's chocolate - this is way sweeter than the mango slush!

I was so thirsty, I started drinking my mango slush before taking another pix.

Overall Experience:

Deco: not many seats for you to hang around and chat. Its quite a sight to see their display of mangoes and the variety of chocolates.
Quality: 3/5 (for the drinks). Was too full to order their waffles.
Value for $$: $$$/5
Overall Experience: 3/5. This place is just too out of the way and I still prefer my favourite bubble tea joint.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Pho Hoa Hong - 135 Street Surrey

Pho Hoa Hong on Urbanspoon

Its been raining the past 2 days and it is times like this when I start dreaming of a bowl of warm pho - comfort food at its best :).

Went to Pho Hoa Hong some 2 weeks ago and I was pleasantly surprised by the food. The infamous Pho Tham was located at the exact same street but somehow, I decided to venture into a place which is somewhat less popular.

The beef pho came in two sizes - small and large. Small is pretty filling for me. I liked the fact that my pho had some nice ligaments - a source of calcium for me.. I actually thought the best part of the beef pho was the ligaments.

The beef looks so inviting.

The broth was lightly seasoned - am kind of used to a much heavier broth.

One thing I learn is not to put a lot of beansprouts into your pho - I know this sounds so bad and so carnivorous but believe me, it seriously dilutes the subtle taste of the rich broth. It sounded so out of the world to me the first time someone gave me this advice. Then I recalled my granny's words when I was in elementary school .She said that bean sprouts are considered a "water vegetable" and so one has to be "light fingered" when one adds them into soup. Also she warned me about not adding too much water when frying bean sprouts with salted fish.  A couple of month ago, I came across this review about prawn mee soup in Singapore (http://ieatishootipost.sg/2010/01/beach-road-prawn-mee-order-your-prawn.html) The owner of the prawn mee stall categorically also told the writer of the blog not to add bean sprouts into the soup because it will affect the taste of the soup.

I love my appetizers in Pho Hoa Hong. It was some shrimps BBQ with bacon. Somehow, the fat in the bacon melted over the shrimps and made it so juicy. The entire shrimps was highly seasoned with tamarind sauce. The Vietnamese meat loaf was also pretty impressive - moist and lightly seasoned. 

The shrimps were slightly charred but it tasted to good with the tamarind sauce and the melted fat from the bacon.

I know the center of my attraction is the shrimp and bacon in skewers. The meat loaf seems so grey in color but  it is really worth a try.

Overall Experience:

Deco: 3/5. Service was quick and efficient. It is a no-fuss joint with Chinese paintings adorn on the walls. I was pretty relieved that the washroom was pretty clean.

Quality of food: 4/5. I was very happy with my pho and my shrimps. Also, I did not experience any extreme thirst after drinking basically nearly all the broth in my soup.
Value for $$: $$$$$/5. Price is reasonable and would not break your bank. Portions are also generous.
Overall Experience: 4/5. Its not the best beef pho that I had but I was happy with it. And I really like my shrimps and bacon.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

A Serendipitous Discovery - Dhaka Fish and Briyani Halal Restaurant, 5750 Fraser Street

Dhaka Fish & Biryani Halal Restaurant on Urbanspoon

I am so excited to blog about the this Indian restaurant - it was a serendipitous discovery as I happened to be in the Fraser area. Its what some food bloggers will consider a "hole in a wall" place. Very unassuming and no fuss but yet an authentic experience. When you enter this restuarant, it seems that time stood still and you enter into another enclave in Vancouver. Simply amazing - the restaurant seems to have a loyal following from the Indian/Bangadeshi community. People were happily eating briyani with their fingers.

Back to food -  The Mulligatawny soup which  is a connotation of chicken, lentils and Indian spices in a rich broth was the start to my journey into foodie paradise. For $3 dollars, this soup was a real steal - the chef did not stinge on ingredients. One minor let-down - there was no accompanying naan with the soup but I am not complaining. It was a heady experience drinking this bowl of sweet, sour, spicy and thick broth. Also, I just love inhaling the smell of spices - which came from the soup and most probably from the cooking in the kitchen :)

A rich and thick broth.

This is to show the depth of the soup bowl - the serving was pretty generous

For the main course, we ordered two main dishes. The chicken tikka was done so very well - it came in this sizzling hot plate with some dip. I like it - the chicken was boneless. I think it was chicken breast. Personally, I much prefer it if it was meat from chicken thigh. I find breast meat quite hard whereas there is a softer texture with chicken thigh.  This dish is not spicy at all so I think those who are afraid of spicy dishes might actually like this dish. The server told us that this dish came with a free serving of naan - I like the texture of the plain naan. Personally, I like garlic naan but hey, its part of a set.

See how this chicken sizzles...
A very well marinated chicken. Delicious dipping sauce as well.

Delicious basket of naan.

A nicely spiced vegetable dish - goes well with the naan.

Our next dish was Novaratan Korma - a vegetable and fruit dish in a creamy sauce. I did not see any fruits in my portions though - maybe, it is all mashed up. I was so glad that I had this dish - the sauce went very well with the naan. Which brings me to my next point - while its great to have chicken tikka and chicken tandoori, you do need to order a dish with some curry sauce to go with your rice and naan. I personally prefer some contrast to my food - something dry with something moist. Something spicy with something light.

My source of fibre for the day.

Finally, as an avid tea drinker, I highly recommend the chai tea. I can tell that it is brewed fresh with just a hint of spice.

The chai tea came in a small pot - I been dreaming of chai tea since this food adventure.

Overall Experience:
Deco: 3/5 - its a pretty simple place. Not much privacy. But one of the interesting things in this place is to just people watch. I witnessed a man (probably a frequent customer) walking in to the kitchen and having a conversation with the chef.
Quality of food: 5/5. I think I hit jackpot with this serendipitous discovery. I saw quite a lot of people from the Indian and/or Bangadeshi community eating briyani. Given that the name briyani is included in the name of this restaurant, I should give it a try in my next visit.
Value for food: $$$$$/5 - this place is a great value for money, especially if you are on a budget. The portions are pretty generous and I had to pack some of the remaining food.
Overall Experience: 5/5. Hungrygator stamps her approval. Definitely worth another visit.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Hime Sushi - West 10th Avenue & Sasamat

Hime Sushi on Urbanspoon

Hime Sushi is an unassuming Japanese resturant along the Sasamat area. But the quality of sushi and food is fantastic. Service is also very prompt and efficient. I have been there a couple of times since it is near campus. Happy to share with my readers my recent food escapade at Hime.

One of the best selling points about Hime is the quality of its sashimi. Its fresh and extremely refreshing. It always cries out to me "Order more". This time, moderation is the key to enjoyment. Not to mention I need to be careful with my pocket :) So, ordered an appertiser sashimi. The cut of the sashimi is noticely smaller but for the price, I am not complaining. Also the quality of the cut is comparable to the regular sized sashimi. Verdict - fresh, light and satisfying. Frankly, I could eat the entire appertiseer by myself :)

Nicely sliced pieces of sashimi. I want MORE (hehehe)

Next came the fried stuff - tempura and the soft shell crab. I like the quality of tempura at Hime. Its crispy and yet does not leave me with a greasy and heavy afterfill. But my favourite is the soft shell crab. Its not only crispy but there is sufficient meat and even some eggs inside. The soft shell crab went very well with the tangy mayo - a big thumbs up for me.

Catching seafood by its tail

Beautiful array of soft shell crab - somehow I think they were trying to display it like a "live" crab.

Finally, came the delightful array of one of their sushi's specials. Generally, the price of the sushi here is more expensive than some of the other sushi joints around the area. But its worth a splurge once in a while because the quality of the sushi is simply divine. I generally prefer eating the more traditional type of sushi in this resturant compared to their other types of fancy rolls. Again, the freshness of the seafood is a strong selling point in this restaurant. I highly recommend it.

A beautiful array of succulent, fresh sushi.

I love my salmon sushi.

Overall Experience: 
Deco: 3.5/5 - fairly simple but clean and comfortable. Can be a tight squeeze at times and you sometimes have to wait for a table, particularly on Saturday nights. Best to make a reservation if you have a large group.
Quality of food: 4/5 - I am generally happy with the quality of the  seafood and the fried stuff here. The bento lunch set (which includes terriyaki etc)  is a good value for money but I personally feel its not their strongest selling point - which is their combo sushis and sashimi.
Value for $$: $$$/5. Its not exactly the most economical place but its worth saving for. Ordering ala carte can be expensive at times (depending on what you order) and may set you back $20 per person.
Overall Experience: 4/5 - I love this place. And I do get cravings for their soft shell crab and seafood motoyaki.