Saturday, 15 November 2014

Farmer's Apprentice - Vancouver, BC

We made reserevation to this place basically like 2 months ahead to get a reasonable time for dinner. we looked at the menu online ahead of time but was not aware that there is Sunday Cookbook Series. Sunday Cookbook Series is a day where the chefs can have a lot of fun. They pick a cookbook from the shleves in the restaurant and pick out recipes they want to try out. They then would create a menu with inspirations from the recipes they tried out from the cookbook. It's such a great idea. It's great that the chefs can get creative every week. It definitely keep them motivated I think. This was the menu when we went on Novemer 9th, based on the book "Heritage". 

For starters, there's the Pimento cheese dip with house-made wheat thin crackers. I really enjoyed the different ingredients in the dip and being a cheese lover, I really like that they used this dish as a starter. The crackers were crunchy. This was a really good dish. Only thing to criticize is I wish they gave us more crackers to finish the dip.   

This was our least favorite dish because it was way too salty. There were too much much mustard as the dressing. What we did like was the green strawberry and onions. We never had green strawberries before and the sourness of the strawberry balanced out the saltiness a little bit. The same goes for the onion. It helped to balance the saltiness of the dish. Because the dish was already too salty, having the pork there didn't help. If the dish wasn't too salty, I would difinitely enjoyed the pork better. Not that the pork wasn't good, but I just couldn't enjoy it that much on its own. 

Next was the Trout Jacob beans. We had no idea what that was when we saw it on the menu and though it was fish with beans. It turned out to be another type of bean similar to kidney beans. This dish was well balanced but I enjoyed the cornbread even more. I don't recall eating cornbread before but I didn't imagine it tasting like that. The top was crispy and the inside was really fluffly. It went really well with the beans or just eating it on its down. I can eat a whole loaf probably. I would definitely order cornbread on the side next time if they make it. 

First of all, we really like the fact that this wasn't another fish and green pea puree. We've seen so many dishes in the past at fancy restaurants servicing fish with green pea puree. All the components went really well together and we could tell the chef really took the time to make sure the flavours go together. The roasted hazelnut made such a different on the dish. It brought it to another level. The only thing with the dish was the fish was not cooked perfectly. It was a bit overcooked. 

I really enjoyed this dish. The game hen was quite juicy. The farroto was cooked perfectly. This type of grain added chewiness to the dish. The squash added creaminess and The sauce was well balanced.  I would definitely order the Farroto again. 

I was disappointed at the dessert. It wasn't anything spectacular. I didn't feel like all the components went that well together. There were a lot of blackberries which were sour. The brown butter flavour wasn't that strong. The ice cream wasn't sweet enough to offset the sourness of the blackberries. The ice cream melted really fast and before I know it, I just eating blackberries with brown butter sauce. 

Overall, I think Farmer's apprentice is one of the better restaurants in Vancouver with creative dishes. I would be interested in trying their other Sunday cookbook series as well as their regular menu. I would recommend to go to the restaurant on Sunday for the Sunday cookbook series. 

Farmer's Apprentice on Urbanspoon

Taishoken - Vancouver, BC

We went to Taishoken on Rememberance day and we were glad we didn't drive as a lot of the roads were blocked due to the parade. When we got there, there was a lineup, but not too long. We got seated in probably around 15 mins. The place itself isn't very big. There were around 4 small tables with a big communal table and 5 seats at the bar. Taishoken is famous for their Tsukemen which is noodles and soup separated. I decided to get just the regular Shoyu Tonkatsu though as every ramen place has that and it would be easier to compare. Calvin got the Kimchi Tonkatsu Ramen. We get a choice of pork shoulder or pork belly for the chasiu. I chose half and half and Calvin chose pork belly because he likes his fat. 

The soup was super rich. It tasted different than other soup base. There was an interesting after-taste which I couldn't seem to figure out what it was. The soup definitely had a good proportion of fat as you could tell with the oils in the soup. When I drank the soup, it seemed as though the soup and the oil kind of separated in my mouth. It was very interesting but I did like the soup. I really liked the noodles as well. It was very al dente and tasted like what ramen noodle should taste like. Between the pork shoulder and the pork belly, I would also pick the pork belly next time because there were more taste and because of the fat, the meat was softer. The pork shoulder still tasted better than the ones I've had in Vancouver before. It was marinaded well and the taste came through. It wasn't tough like rubber. The egg was pretty good too. It was boiled property with a soft yolk although the yolk wasn't oozing out. 

Calvin did enjoy his kimchi noodle too especially when that day was super cold. The kimchi wasn't too overpowering or spicy that he couldn't taste the soup base. He really enjoyed his pork belly. It was done quite well. 

The pork shoulder on the left and pork belly beside it. You can tell after one bite, the meat didn't look tough and hard to separate as the meat around bite mark was cut off nicely. 

You can tell how clear the soup looked and that the oil sits above the soup base. 

So I went back to Taishoken another day to try their famous Tsukemen. Tsukemen basically mean soup and noodles served separately. I ordered the original with cold noodles.

The soup was really rich, served with the noodles was perfect. I don't like that the soup is not hot enough though. From our friends who lived in Japan for a few years, he said the soup is supposed to be super hot and so the temperature would be perfect when you order old noodles. 

The soup was too rich to drink on its own. The noodles was the right texture. It was very al dente and and the egg taste of the noodle tasted very wel with the soup.

I ordered the a pork shoulder and pork belly to see how each of them tasted. Without a doubt, the broth goes better with the pork belly.

In Japanese culture, you are supposed to finish the soup when you eat ramen as a sign of respect for chef. With tsukemen, the soup is too rich to finish. So you should ask for the unseasoned broth to finish drinking the soup. The unseasoned broth was also not hot enough so we didn't enjoy drinking the soup.

Overall, this is a really good noodle place and I think I'm in love with tsukemen. Just wish the soup is hot enough next time.

Taishoken Ramen 大勝軒 on Urbanspoon

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Samsoonie Noodle & Rice

Noticed a while ago that Man Ri Sung in Richmond closed. I heard that they moved to a bigger location in Aberdeen but I have yet to confirm that. Walked by this new place a few times and decided to give it a try. First thing I noticed that it is opened by Koreans, which is a good sign that the food would be authentic. We went there on Sunday afternoon and there were quite a few tables. 

As the name of the place suggested, they have a lot of noodles and rice to choose from. I was craving bulgogi so decided to order that. The prices are pretty reasonable. 

They have done some renovations compared to the old place but there isn't too many tables available. 

One thing to note, the menu mentioned there is self-serve miso soup with the bulgogi that I ordered but they didn't direct me where I should go. There wasn't any signs letting me know where the miso soup was located. It wasn't a big deal but if they mentioned it in the menu, they should explain it better or just remove that. 

We wanted to try their sushi roll compared to Man Ri Sung's. Theirs is pretty good. First thing I noticed is that it was wrapped pretty tightly. I really don't like it when the rolls are so loose that whey you pick them up with the chop stick, everything falls apart. The ingredients tasted pretty fresh and all went pretty well together. It was pretty good. 

The lunch came with two side dishes which is less than the usual Korean place. I didn't really like that kimchi that much. I wasn't sure if they made it or if they bought it. It was a bit too spicy but not enough sweetness to it. The sweet potato was pretty soft. They didn't deep fry them ahead of them which some restaurants do. The potato was pretty good.

This was the bulgogi and there were a lot of rice on the bulgogi. It was harder to eat the rice on the teppan plate though. I can tell that they didn't want to give you so much meat by filling half the plate with rice. It tasted pretty good though. It was seasoned well. It wasn't too salty or too sweet. I did like that they had a lot of green onions in the dish. 

Calvin ordered the braised spicy chicken hot pot. There were a lot of chicken in the pot but there were all chicken wings. There were a lot of ingredients in the hot pot and it was filling. The hot pot wasn't too too spicy. We did  enjoy it as the chicken had the kimchi flavour too. We thought they would just add the chicken at the end and the chicken would be kind of bland. Overall, the food there is pretty decent. Of course it's still not my top choice, but as a Korean restaurant in Richmond, it would be one of the top choices I go to. 

One thing to note is that don't expect to get really good service there as I find their service is average. 

Samsoonie Noodle & Rice on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Gyoza Bar - Vancouver, BC

This was a restaurant which received so much hype but I was very underwhelmed by it. Parts of it was good, parts of it was average. 

They don't take reservation so I would not suggest coming here with a large party as it may take a while. We went at around 6 something and they told us it would be around 20 mins wait already. down our name and walked around. We came back pretty quickly because there was nothing really in that area. We got called less than 20 mins and got seated at a communal table meaning there would be people beside us. 

I do like that their menu is not too complicated so many choices. Each category only has a few choices. 

Because of the restaurant's name, we had to order their gyoza. We ordered their original Teppan Gyoza which came with a chilli sauce and a green onion sauce.  

The dumpling was super thin. The filling was peaking through the dumpling skin. The proportion of meat and veggies was good although I would've wanted more chives or green onions in there. However, it was lacking a bit of seasoning. It wasn't salty enough. We had to put a lot of sauce on it.

I ordered their Tomato Seafood Ramen which looked pretty good. The soup base was quite good. It was full of tomato and seafood flavour, very rich. It reminded me of italian cuisine. It was as if I was having an italian dish. Having that said, it didn't go too well with the ramen. The noodles itself was cooked but it wasn't as al dente as it should be. Most of the seafood were pretty fresh. 

Calvin ordered the Pork Tonkatsu ramen. Again the soup/ broth was good. It was very rich in pork flavour but the cha-siu itself was lacking taste and the noodles wasn't as al dente as it should be. 

I would say it was definitely worth trying once but I don't know if I would come back again although the restaurant is quite new and perhaps everything will be refined later on.

Gyoza Bar + Ramen on Urbanspoon

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Yolk's - Vancouver, BC

The first time I had Yolk's was probably one and half years ago when they only had the food truck. Knowing they have expanded to a store front now, we decided to go back again. The restaurant was definitely was easy to spot with the bright yellow and blue colour. We went on a Monday so there wasn't a lot of people. The restaurant is quite big and and fit a lot of people. If you have been to Red Wagon, Yolk's would be twice the size of Red Wagon. 

I ordered fresh squeezed orange juice which was $4 and Calvin ordered the Chocolate Milk with Calleburt Chocolate. That was one expensive orange juice. 

Since their Egg Sandwich was so popular, that was what I ordered while Calvin ordered their daily special which comes with 2 eggs and sausage with hollandaise. Their hollandaise was decent though it wasn't very well-balanced. 

I ordered the sandwich with their truffle oil infused fries which was super delicious with the spring onions. Though as we ate more, it was starting to taste salty. 

This was my egg sandwich. Considering the price, I was expecting a larger portion but it wasn't enough... The portion was quite small compared to Red Wagon. 

Given their name Yolk's, the best part would have to be the yolk and no doubt it is definitely a runny yolk. The yolk was cooked perfectly. The sandwich itself was pretty good though. The muffin was toasted, the ham went well with the egg yolk. 

If I have a choice between Yolk's and Red Wagon, I would pick Red Wagon. One because they have more choices but two because their portions are bigger. Don't get me wrong, Yolk's is really good but I prefer one over the other.

Yolk's Breakfast Restaurant and Commissary on Urbanspoon