Sherman's Food Adventures

The Holy Crab

Fresh off a tasting at the Vancouver location of The Captain's Boil, it was back to the bibs and plastic gloves at The Holy Crab.  For the first time ever, we see a dedicated seafood boil restaurant in Downtown Vancouver.  I say "dedicated" because there are others spots that have it available on their menu, but they are not full seafood boil establishments.  Unlike the many seafood boils I've experienced, The Holy Crab has an even bigger Asian influence on their menu, especially when it comes to the preparation of the seafood as well as the available sauces.

I joined other bloggers, IGers and mainstream media in a menu tasting that included an interesting take on ShrimpRather than boiling it in a sauce, they did a quick deep-fry instead and topped it off with a saute consisting of onions, garlic, pepper and loads of butterThe result was a more aromatic shrimp flavour since it wasn't boiled.  However, the saute on top was very necessary as the shrimp itself was not seasoned.  About that saute... oh man, it was delicious being sinfully buttery and nutty with a slight pepperiness as well as sweetness.  Next up was the majestic King Crab Legs.  They were meaty and well-prepared, but smaller compared to the ones I had at The Captain's Boil.  However, with no overwhelming sauce, I could taste the natural sweetness of the crab.

When we were presented with the Clams, we immediately noticed the aggressive amount of Cajun sauce poured on top.  Once again, the clams were not prepared in any sauce, hence their natural brininess really came though.  I'm not completely sure if the sweet and only slightly spicy Cajun sauce was the best match.  I would've much preferred the butter and onion saute from the shrimp.  Looking like it was blinded by the same Cajun sauce, the whole Dungeness Crab was on point.  Since it was prepared whole, the sweet juices and brininess was retained within the meat.  I was happy eating it by itself without any sauce other than a quick squeeze of lime.  Now this crab was fresh with meat that rebounded unlike the mushy one we had at The Captain's Boil.

The most surprising dish we had was not anything boiled.  In fact, the Fish & Chips was the best thing I ate and that is including the crab!  That is not to say the crab wasn't good, it was just that the fish was flaky and almost juicy with a light and crispy tempura batter.  Even the fries were good being hot, crispy and nicely spiced.  Not to be outdone, the Deep Fried Soft Shell Crab was pretty solid too with a firmly crispy exterior giving way to the classic soft and sweet soft shell crab.  Although the pieces were on the smaller side, they weren't hard nor lacking in crab flavour and soft texture.  It need a squirt of lime though as it needed something to lighten up the heaviness.

Not that we really wanted to eat any Crayfish, but we figured that we should try it anyways.  Generally, crayfish is a lot of work for very little meat.  This wasn't any different here and it was more or less the same as previous experiences except for the lack of a greasy sauce.  Finally, the robustness of the muddy crayfish meat worked with the Cajun sauce.  Overall, I thought the Holy Crab was remarkably different than any other seafood boil I've ever been to.  From the preparation to the sauces, nothing was predictable.  I enjoyed the butter, onion and garlic sauce more than the Cajun while the fish n' chips was definitely a surprise.

*All food and beverages were complimentary*

The Good:
- The fish and chips
- The butter, garlic and onion sauce
- Dungeness Crab

The Bad:
- Wasn't a huge fan of the Cajun sauce - too thick and tasted more like satay
- For me, it wasn't a big deal, but by not cooking the seafood with the sauce, it was less impactful    

Happy Day

Shortly after my post on the last-standing location of Bino's, it suddenly closed.  I'm sure what I wrote had nothing to do with it as the place was already in disrepair and the food was crap.  It surely was on its last legs.  Now the place has been completely transformed into a modern Hong Kong-Style Cafe called Happy Day.  The place has been non-stop busy since it opened and trying to get a table is nearly impossible (since the place is not as big as it may appear).  We decided to make a preemptive strike by going for dinner at 4:30pm.  Heck, that was even too early for my parents!

Similar to what can be found in Hong Kong, the menu at Happy Day offers up many different versions of their Bo Loh Bao (Pineapple Buns).  Including the classic Pineapple Bun with a slice of cold butter, there are sandwiches consisting of pork chop, ham, Spam and egg.  My son went for the Corned Beef, Egg and Cheese Pineapple Bun which was a meal in itself.  The bun itself was fairly light, yet a bit dry.  However, with all the fillings, it made up for it.  I found the topping to be crumbly and sweet, which was fine.  The egg was not overdone while sporting a modest amount of canned corned beef.  The bun with cold butter was decent but naturally wasn't as good as the gold standard being Lido in Richmond.

From there, the meal started to go downhill with the Baked Pork Chop Rice.  There were several issues with this dish beginning with the fried rice base.  It ate like someone tossed it with fried egg than actually doing a good job wok-frying it since it too soft.  Second, the sauce itself was pale and bland.  We had to resort to adding salt and pepper.  The addition of onions was a fail since they were practically raw and too sharp-tasting.  The only good thing was the tender pork chop.  Sporting a similar bland sauce was the Ox-Tail Spaghetti.  We felt the portion size was underwhelming as its flavour.  Furthermore, the sliced oxtail was not as soft as we would've liked either.

We also gave this Fish Soup Noodles a shot as well with rice noodles, pork jowl and tendon.  I thought the soup base was decent, yet lacking in the natural sweetness of fish.  Furthermore, the noodles were overcooked being far too soft.  The pork jowl was nicely bouncy though and the tendon was soft, yet still retained some texture.  When it hit the table, the Singapore Fried Vermicelli looked legit with an appealing yellow hue.  Unfortunately, the noodles were far too dry and hard to swallow.  At the very least, the flavours were there with an impactful curry depth.  Although the shrimp exhibited a nice crunch and the BBQ pork was lean, both were hard to find as there wasn't much of them.

Our last dish was the Sweet & Sour Pork which was also modest in portion size.  We liked the fact it was made to order (not refried pork), which meant the outside was crispy while the inside was juicy and tender.  The amount of sauce was just right, barely clinging onto each piece.  It was on the sweeter side though, in desperate need of more vinegar.  Ultimately, this and the Pineapple Bun were the only appealing items we had at our meal at Happy Day.  The others were not only forgettable, they were generally unappetizing.  We were not sure why there is so much fuss, including the long lineups.

The Good:
- Nicely decorated and clean
- Efficient service
- Lots of choice with the Pineapple Buns

The Bad:
- Small portions
- Food is generally sub-par
- Flavours are a bit off

Osum

Steveston aka Storybrook, is probably one of the furthest points away from me in the Lower Mainland.  No, I'm not including Abbotsford here and yah I know White Rock is even further.  I guess the game of Frogger I play with my car in Richmond makes the drive seem like an eternity.  So when a tasting was arranged at the newly opened Osum, I hesitated briefly.  Looks like I wasn't the only one to hesitate because I ended up giving Diana and Amy a lift there.  I'm sure they didn't want to play Frogger in Richmond either...

Meeting up with Nora, we got down to sampling some eats beginning with the Hot Dry Noodles consisting of house made thick noodles, bean sprouts, carrots, pickled mustard greens, cilantro, chili oil, garlic sesame chili sauce and braised pork belly.  I enjoyed the chewiness of the noodles and when mixed with all of the ingredients, there was a spicy kick at the start and lingered right until the end.  It wasn't overpowering though as I got hits of saltiness, peanut, sweetness and tang as well.  Nice crunch from the nuts and mustard greens too.  Off to the bao, we sampled the Osum Pork first.  Inside the firm, yet not dry bao, there was slow-braised pork belly, cucumbers, pickled mustard greens, cilantro, peanuts and garlic peanut sesame sauce.  This had varied flavours and the pork was relatively tender.

My favourite bao was the Osum Beef with braised brisket, pickled mustard greens, crispy shallots, toasted pine nuts, cucumber, cilantro and spicy peppercorn sesame sauce. As clearly evidenced in the picture, the beef was well-charred and caramelized.  Hence it was sweet and smoky while tender to chew.  There was a tangy crunch from the pickles as well as some background spice from the sauce.  Next up was something very different and to many people, just plain weird.  Garnished with crunchy cheese puffs and processed cheese, the Osum Chicken also consisted of more typical ingredients such as cucumber, red onion and cilantro in a Korean sweet & spicy sauce.  Although the chicken was tender and there was a nice crunch to go with the sweet glaze, the whole thing tasted of processed cheese and its usual saltiness.  I know process cheese and chicken in Korean food is a thing, but it's not my cup of tea.

The use of process cheese didn't end there though as it was thoroughly featured on the Korean Cheesy Chicken over hand made noodles, cucumber and kimchi tossed with chili flakes and kimchi mayo.  This had somewhat similar elements to the bao, but the saltiness of the cheese was more evenly distributed amongst the noodles.  There was more tang due to the kimchi and the spiciness was different as well.  Lastly, we had the Multi-Mushroom Noodle with home-made kale noodles, kale chips, assorted mushrooms, truffle oil and mushroom sauce.  I loved the chewy sheet noodle while the Earthiness of the mushrooms really came through.  I found the use of truffle oil just a bit over which made things far too woodsy.  This could've been great without any truffle oil at all.  Not unlike Bao Down and Heritage Asian Eatery, Osum fits a niche that hasn't been necessarily filled up until now.  I must give it to them for offering up some unique and interesting items.  On the other hand, some tweaks are needed here and there.

*All food and beverages were complimentary*

The Good:
- Dare to be different
- Not devoid of flavours
- A change of pace compared to other spots in the area

The Bad:
- A few tweaks with the flavours are needed