Urban Thai

When I used to live in Yaletown, I would frequent some of the local restaurants (oh how I miss that now I'm in the 'burbs).  One time (no, not at bandcamp...), I met up with Choobee at Urban Thai.  To be honest, my memory of the place is pretty indifferent.  Also, I was too busy listening to Choobee's endless yammering to create a lasting memory.  She can make Joan Rivers look reserved...  I digress.  Also, I did do a Thai cooking lesson there a few years ago, but that didn't count as a visit per se.  Therefore, when I was invited to a tasting of their new menu from their new chef, I thought why not?  So with Miss Y as my trusty eating companion, we headed off to see what interesting things awaited us.

We were started off with a plate consisting of Cho Maung (Steamed homemade flower shaped dumpling stuffed with minced chicken, ground peanuts and Thai spices) and Jalapeno Shrimp (Fresh jumbo jalapeno stuffed with shrimp paste served with house sauce).  The flower exhibited a soft and glutinous texture while the filling was sweet and nutty.  I didn't mind it, but the filling to "flower" ratio could've been better.  The texture of the shrimp mousse was pleasing with a buttery rebound.  Combined with the jalapeno and sweet sauce, there was no absence of flavour (and a nice lingering spice).  However, we felt it was a bit too sweet.  

On the next dish, it featured Avocado Roll (avocado, mango, lettuce, onions and fresh basil with homemade mango sauce), Beef Cucumber Roll (BBQ beef rolled with cucumber and tomato with spicy sauce) and Spicy Soft Shell Crab (marinated and breaded with beer and served with spicy apple shallot sauce).  We found the avocado roll to be refreshing with a big hit of basil which was accented by the just-sweet-enough sauce.  The beef roll was somewhat chewy with a nice crunch from the cucumber.  We liked the spicy sweet sauce at the bottom of the shooter glass.  As for the crab, it was crispy and light while being easy on the grease.  The spicy dip was salty, sweet and not lacking in acidity.

Next up, we had our favourite dish being the Duck Noodle Soup consisting of sliced BBQ duck with rice noodle, bean sprouts and gai lan.  With an appealing roasted flavour, the mostly moist duck exhibited plenty of natural flavours.  The star of the show was the impactful broth that was sweet and kissed by a touch of soy.  There was depth to match the rich meatiness of the duck. Moving onto the Pork Hock with Rice, things got even more sinful as the tender meat was accented by a fatty gelatinous rind.  The flavours were mild with a hint of 5-spice, however, things were amped up by the accompanying spicy sauce.  Although it is a small detail, we liked how the egg was not overcooked.

Continuing with more food, we had the Mussel Omelet with homemade chili sauce.  This was really crunchy and resembled a fritter/pancake rather than an omelet. It could've used a bit more moisture as it was dry inside despite the mussels.  On the other hand, my next piece was not as dry.  We found the sauce to be more akin to sweet chili rather than straight-up spicy chili.  Our last savoury dish was the BBQ Jumbo Prawn topped with tamarind sauce.  This was more like a langostino than a prawn in terms of texture and taste.  The meat was sweet with minimal spice.  There was just enough tamarind for that signature tang without being overwhelming.

For dessert, we were served Deep Fried Ice Cream which featured a crispy shell encasing hard mango ice cream. With all the interesting food we sampled, this was a bit ordinary.  Not that it wasn't any good though as the execution was there as the ice cream stayed hard while the thin batter on the outside was crunchy.  Overall, we were surprised at how enjoyable our meal turned out to be. Definitely something different than what you would find with the existing menu items.

*All food and beverages excluding tips were comped*

The Good:
- Different and interesting new dishes
- Not lacking in flavour
- Reasonable pricing for Yaletown

The Bad:
- Not sure about the present, but in the past, the regular menu items were average

Urban Thai Bistro on Urbanspoon

Moby Dick Seafood

Sometimes, a restaurant's location can make an experience more positive than the food might suggest.  That is usually the case where there is a view and/or if the place is located near the water.  This is true for fish n' chip joints such as Pajo's and Go Fish (although Go Fish is decent).  However, location is one thing, the food has to speak for itself as well. Yah, I'm a sucker for razzle dazzle sometimes because there is something called the complete experience.  So I had to keep that in mind when we headed out to White Rock for a visit to Moby Dick.

I started with a bowl of Creamy White Boston Whalers Clam Chowder which was thick and rich.  I wouldn't say it was creamy though, rather it was more floury.  That didn't take away from the overall enjoyment as it was chock full of tender clams with only a minimal amount of potatoes.  With a kiss from the sea, the broth was sweet and unmistakably clam tasting.  I felt there was a balance of flavours which made it a bowl-licking experience.  For my main, I had the 1st Mates Seafood Plate consisting of 2 breaded shrimp, 2 breaded oysters, 2 battered scallops, one filet fish, garden salad and Yukon gold fries.  I won't comment on the fish as I'll leave it to the actual dish later.  As for the shrimp, they were crunchy with a meaty snap while the oysters were a bit wet, subsequently moistening the batter.  I wasn't a huge fan of the scallops as they were wet too and a bit rubbery.  The fries were slightly disappointing as they were not crispy despite its dark shade of brown.

Onto the actual Fish & Chips, Yodeling Girl decided on the 2 piece, which actually was a 3 piece because they like to add a piece with every order.  I guess it is like Chinese BBQs where one asks for one pound and ends up with a pound and a half... except you pay more.  As you can probably guess, the fries were still soggy while the fish itself was rather moist and flaky.  However, the bottom side was not crisp anymore due to the excess moisture.  Furthermore, the fish seemed to be rather bland.  Well, cue the tartar sauce to save the day as it was fantastic being tart and creamy.  Devo added a side of Poutine to his order of fish and it looked legit.  However, the cheese curds were not squeaky.  The gravy was decent though with a nice consistency and easy on the saltiness.  Too bad the fries got even soggier as a result.

Klutz inexplicably had the Deluxe Burger instead of any seafood dish.  I think he was doing his best impression of Miss Y...  Surprisingly, the burger was okay as the frozen patty was not overly dry and had a good sear.  Nothing too exciting with the rest of it, but it was more than acceptable given the venue.  And about that venue...  Well, as I mentioned before, the location rocks, but in this case, the food is only average.

The Good:
- Nice location
- Big portions

The Bad:
- Food is average
- Long lineups

Moby Dick Seafood Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Yu Kee

Sometimes the casual Chinese meal gets lost with all the available options for eats, particularly after hockey or softball.  I mean, it is something one usually does with their family, not with their sports teams.  And really, it ain't exactly the sexiest choice out there...  Think of it, "team, good game today, let's go for a Chinese multi-course meal".  No, that doesn't really have a good ring to it.  But with growling tummies and playing at nearby Ross field, we ended up doing the Chinese meal thing at Yu Kee in the Killarney Market complex.

Just like what I said in the intro, we proceeded to go for the set multi-course meal starting with the Daily Soup. It consisted of dehydrated bak choy and pork bones with some dried dates.  It was pretty good since there was no shortage of ingredients and it wasn't over-salted either.  Our first dish was supposed to be the sweet & sour fish, but honestly we are not all that interested in the Cantonese version.  So we had the Fried Fish tossed in salt, pepper, garlic and chilis instead (and MSG of course).  This turned out to be very good with lightly crispy and moist basa fillets which were barely cooked through. There was just enough seasoning to give it a good spicy garlickiness.

Next, we had the Peking Pork Chops in a deep shade of red.  Even before taking a bite, we could smell the black vinegar.  Hence, there was a rich tartness which was balanced by an equal amount of sweetness.  The sauce was tight as it clung onto each piece of properly tenderized pork chop without creating a gloopy mess on the plate.  Bam Bam insisted we add another dish to our meal which was the Mongolian Beef. Their interpretation of the dish consisted of extra large pieces of tenderized beef which were bathed in a spicy and savoury sauce.  Once again, there was just enough it to coat each piece of meat, hence, there was no pool of moisture on the bottom of the plate.

With the need for green, and since most set meals included a veggie dish, we had the Gai Lan with Beef.  Who doesn't love some beef with their greens?  This was also well prepared with good wok heat.  The beef was nicely caramelized and tender while the gai lan was properly prepared where it exhibited a pleasing crunch.  We did find the beef a bit salty though.  The somewhat "lighter" dish of the bunch was the Silken Tofu topped with seafood.  Naturally, the tofu underneath was buttery soft.  The seafood on top was bathed in a starch-thickened sauce that was mild with some sweetness.  We found the seafood to be on point where the shrimp had a nice snap.

Our last dish was the Yeung Chow Fried Rice.  They had run out of BBQ items when we arrived, so the chicken you see in the rice was probably a substitution.  The fried rice exhibited enough wok heat where it was nutty and chewy.  I thought it was a bit on the drier side though.  Moreover, the rice wasn't aggressively seasoned.  Despite my rant about our softball team not going for a Chinese meal very often, this would be our 3rd already since we had previously visited Old Buddies and Yu Xiang Yuan.  I guess that will be our MO from now on?

The Good:
- Reasonable pricing
- Decent eats

The Bad:
- Owner lady was nice, but spent too much time chatting with her friends to notice us much
- A bit salty and greasy

Yu Kee BBQ Kitchen 裕記燒臘小廚 on Urbanspoon

Burger Burger

*Restaurant is now closed...  Darn*

Other than the expensive "gourmet" burger joints, it has increasingly difficult to find a cheap freshly-made burger with a side of equally fresh house-cut fries. Until we get an In n' Out, we are often stuck with a frozen patty accompanied by a fried Sysco product.  That got me thinking back to an ol' favourite in Burger Burger.  On my way there while I was pulling into the parking lot, my lowered car did a slow painful scrape which made me cringe as well as the pedestrian on the sidewalk.  Heck, the guy asking for change in front of the 7-11 cringed too.  I guess Viv was right after all?

So for those expecting a gourmet experience at Burger Burger, you best move along because the place is the epitome of a dive.  You would have better luck finding better ambiance in a Cactus Club washroom...  But with a deluxe burger combo (including fries and a can of pop) for $5.75, one cannot expect too much.  Peppermint and Bunny both decided to go for the more expensive combo ($7.75) in the Bacon Cheeseburger.  This featured crispy bacon with melted processed cheese over a handmade fresh beef patty.  It was nicely charred while still moist exhibiting a natural meat flavour.  The chewy bun was airy enough that it wasn't overly dense, yet stood up to the ingredients just fine.  The side of fresh-cut fries were crispy and not heavy on the grease (unlike last time).  Klutz ended up with the Teriyaki Burger and it was essentially the deluxe version with sauce slathered on top. Naturally it was sweet and a touch salty.

For myself, I tried their Bulgogi Burger since the couple that run the place are Korean (they must do it justice right?).  Once again, the patty was nicely browned while still moist.  It exhibited the sweetness associated with bulgogi as well as some savoury elements and spice.  For me, it worked.  While I was trying to finish off my food (which was plenty), I noticed that the people beside us were also having bowls of Wonton Soup.  Of course that made me curious and hence, I got a bowl for myself. So they can make a bulgogi marinade, but can they do Chinese food?  For starters, the smallish wontons were actually not bad.  The pork filling was mildly seasoned while being moist with a good rebound texture.  The broccoli and carrots were barely cooked where they maintained a crunch.  As for the soup, it was flavourful with garlic and black pepper (too much though as the soup was too peppery).

Trying to be different, Devo had the Chicken Cordon Bleu which featured breast meat with ham and processed Swiss.  With a nicely seared exterior, the chicken breast remained fairly moist.  With ham and processed cheese, the flavours were on the saltier side.  For the price we paid, our bellies were full without emptying our pockets. So this recent visit to Burger Burger reiterated what I've known all along - decent freshly-made eats at really good prices.  Just don't visit the washroom...

The Good:
- Cheap
- Freshly-made eats
- Friendly owner-lady

The Bad:
- Really divy
- Terrible washrooms

Burger Burger on Urbanspoon

Dundas Fish & Chips

My comfort level with eating alone is akin to a suitor in a Katy Perry video (Dark Horse for those who don't know...  Wait, why am I watching Katy Perry videos???).  Hence, when I was sans company for lunch, I decided to pick an obscure dive that many might recognize but would never actually stop to eat at.  Yes, if you drive into Downtown via Dundas, you will be very familiar with Dundas Fish & Chips.  Heck, I must've passed by this place more than I've listened to "Never Gonna Give You Up"...  Er...  I mean "Who Do You Love" by YG.  Yes, that's it...

So naturally, I went for their fish n' chips, specifically the One-Piece Cod and Chips.  I know this is nitpicking, but I would've liked my tartar sauce on a separate plate (or something like that).  It was creamy and full of pickles and onions, yet needed more acidity.  As for the fish, it was super juicy and flaky.  The cod was on point, period.  The batter was definitely crunchy and minimally greasy, but it was a bit too hard (not enough baking soda?).  Although I could see the dill in the batter, there was practically no seasoning (but then again, there was tartar sauce).  The light and crispy fries were quite good, except there was very little potato texture left.  They were more like crisps.

I also tried their Sweet & Sour Pork with Fried Rice combo for the heck of it.  I liked the fried rice as it had considerable wok heat where the rice had a nuttiness while being chewy.  It was well-seasoned and the corn added a nice sweetness and crunch.  As for the sweet & sour pork, the pieces were very meaty, yet too dry and far too salty.  Hence, it totally overwhelmed the mild tasting sauce (which was mostly sweet).  So was it worth stopping to try the pace?  If good value is what you are craving, yes.

The Good:
- Cheap
- Food fits the price
- Friendly people

The Bad:
- Average eats

Dundas Fish & Chips Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Milltown Bar & Grill

We haven't seen the likes of Inspector Gadget in 2 years.  Ever since he had his second child, he's been busy doing daddy duty and refraining from playing softball.  Pffft...  daddy duty...  what's that???  Viv, you know I'm kidding right?  Anyways, he showed up randomly to one of our Monday night games and proceeded to give me the heads up about Milltown Bar & Grill located in Richmond, but really, it's in Vancouver.  You see, the restaurant is right on Richmond Island that can only be accessed from Vancouver off of Granville Street, but due to the boundary lines, it is really in Richmond.  Funny, all the cars seemed to be parked straight in the parking lot...

Bear, Milhouse and I decided to share the Black & Bleu Poutine consisting of fresh-cut fries, blue cheese, cheese curds and chilli oil melted under house-made gravy.  In an attractive shade of golden brown, the fries were on point being crispy while maintaining their potato texture.  The gravy had a nice consistency while being only mildly flavourful.  Exhibiting its trademark sharpness, the blue cheese crumble was the most dominant item on the plate.  We felt there should've been more chili oil as it was non-existent, as well the modest amount of cheese curds.  I got a large order of Salt & Pepper Wings to start and they were crunchy with a well-rendered skin.  The meat was on the drier side though (probably intentional due to the type of wings).  However, Dark Helmet's hot wings were much juicier.

For my main, I had the Port Side Beef Dip made with slow-roasted sirloin beef, white cheddar and onion strings in a house-made baguette accompanied by au jus.  Although the plentiful amount of beef was dry, it wasn't difficult to chew.  There was plenty of melted cheese and just a touch of crispy onions.  I found the baguette to be slightly dense, but it softened easily when dipped into the "just salty enough" au jus.  I decided to get half fries and half Caesar because it made me feel better that I had some greens on my plate.  Bear went for the Monday special being the Milltown Burger & beer for $10.95.  Constructed with a house-made all-beef patty with lettuce, tomato, onion, pickle and house-made burger sauce (served on the side here), he thought it was lacking in moisture.  Even with the house sauce (served on the side here), the well-charred patty was too dry.

Chill opted for 2 items beginning with a bowl of the Manhattan Seafood Chowder.  This was a fairly thick concoction that was as tomatoey as it appeared.  It wasn't particularly tart nor seafood tasting, but he enjoyed it nonetheless since there was a bevy of ingredients.  Next, he had the Starboard Halibut Tacos with lightly blackened halibut, crisp coleslaw, avocado crème and black bean salsa wrapped in a soft tortilla shell.  As stiff as the tortilla shell appeared, it was actually warm and soft.  The fish was not overcooked while the sauce added only the slightest hint of spice.  Overall, it met his expectations.

In addition to the poutine we shared, Milhouse went for the Mariner Halibut Burger with Cajun rub, avocado cream and peach salsa.  He opted for a side Caesar which, like mine, was pretty standard except the dressing could've been more evenly distributed.  As for the burger itself, the fish was well-charred but dry.  He remarked that with all the promise of flavour, it was pretty bland.  Boss Woman ended up with the 1 piece Cod & Chips served with tartar sauce and coleslaw.  The fish itself was flaky and moist with a medium-thick tempura batter.  It was crispy albeit on the greasier side.  The tartar sauce was creamy with only a slight tartness while the coleslaw was crunchy and mild-tasting.

Judes had the Pesto Chicken Sandwich with grilled chicken, fresh avocado, sundried tomatoes, smoked Gouda cheese and pesto on freshly baked foccacia bread.  She thought the foccacia was fresh and soft. However, the sandwich began to fall apart midway and was lacking seasoning. The chicken was therefore quite bland albeit tender and moist.  Yet, it was just missing something. She enjoyed the fresh avocado but would've liked to see something like a guacamole (for the purposes of more impact). Gyoza King seeing there was no gyozas on the menu opted for the Butter Chicken.  Uh...  Yah, well that wasn't a great decision as the flavours were rather flat.  It was indeed creamy, but there was a lack of tomato tang and also some of the usual spices (or at least they were muted).  Furthermore, the naan wasn't really naan, but we weren't expecting that either.

Dark Helmet unexpectedly ordered a salad.  Thankfully it was Dry Dock Salad featuring Thai marinated steak, red grapes, roasted red peppers, cucumbers, crisp onion strings and smoked Gouda cheese on mixed greens with a Dijon mustard vinaigrette and a peppercorn ranch drizzle.   He found the individual ingredients to be decent especially the grapes as they added a refreshing element.  The steak was tender and flavourful, but he found the salad overdressed where it muddled up the flavours.  Not to be outdone, he also got the Loaded Barge Nachos consisting of house-made lime salted tortilla chips, tomatoes, jalapenos, olives, green onions and mixed cheese with house-made black been salsa, sour cream and guacamole.  This was pretty good with plenty of toppings and crispy fresh chips.

Lastly, Bear couldn't end a meal without dessert, so he got the Peach Cobbler with vanilla ice cream.  This was fairly sweet with tender peach slices.  It was a bit on the mushier side, but decent nonetheless.  Overall, from the wide range of items we tried, the food is passable at a reasonable price.  The location is indeed interesting with one side with the view of planes taking off and the other with the view of the marina.  Milltown has the potential to be a great patio to hang out for some drinks and eats (if they can make a few tweaks).

The Good:
- Interesting, but ultimately great patio location
- We got attentive service
- Inexpensive

The Bad:
- Food needs some work
- We didn't mind, but the roar of the planes can get loud

Milltown Bar & Grill on Urbanspoon