Sherman's Food Adventures: March 2011

SIlver Tower

Once again, I get the call to play on a rare Saturday night at Richmond Ice (otherwise known as RICE). With this group, the good news is that they always eat out afterwards. The bad news is it's Alleluia or bust. Hey, I like the place; but honestly... every time??? They're killing me here! This would've been the 5th straight time for me. Finally, I decided to speak up. I begged that we go somewhere else. I've been a good boy. I've played along each and every time without complaining. Don't I deserve something different? Fortunately, they gave in and decided to go to Silver Tower instead. Either it was my whining or the threat of writing them off the blog that they accommodated my wishes. LOL... So Silver Tower is not exactly foreign to us. In fact, this was our usual spot after Saturday hockey before they decided to make Alleluia the default. Since then, there have been extensive renovations to the place. Rather than looking like a wonton noodle shop, it now resembles the "Pearl Castle" look. Much like Alleluia, Silver Tower is a Hong-Kong style cafe. For those who are unfamiliar, think Chinese restaurant with Hong Kong interpretations of various international cuisine. Only at these places where you will find an Oscar Meyer (if you are lucky) in place of a sausage and spaghetti topped off with a Heinz-based sauce (also if you are lucky). If you haven't been grossed out yet, please continue reading.

For the first time in ages, I picked up Goose for hockey tonight. Since he's moved to Seattle, we haven't played hockey together much, let alone sharing a ride. Once again, riding in my car means only one thing - kidnapped for food! He ended up with the Curry Brisket with Rice. As with most Chinese curries, this one was more sweet than spicy. There was a hint of heat; but not very much. Solid Chinese-style yellow curry with tender brisket and soft potatoes. For myself, I always go for broke at a Hong Kong-style cafe. Nothing but the 3-Item Meal with spaghetti or rice, veggies, soup and drink. Similarly priced at $9.95 just like Alleluia. Predictably, I went for the Tongue, Short Ribs and Chicken Steak. The chicken steak (deboned chicken leg) was very juicy and well-seasoned. I wasn't a big fan of the beef short ribs though, it had very little meat and was chewy. On the other hand, the tongue was perfect. Soft, moist and lightly salted, I offered it to everyone. For some strange reason, I got many strange stares. What? What's wrong with me sharing my tongue??? Miss Soda gleefully accepted it and enjoyed it very much! I knew she'd like my tongue! Uh...

Anyways, she ended up sharing the Yeung Chow Fried Rice (BBQ Pork & Shrimp Fried Rice) with Mr. Vain and it was pretty decent as well. Not as good as last time (they were here last week); but still lots of ingredients and chewy rice. Crazy Goalie (no, that's not me) had the Singapore Fried Vermicelli and I got to try some. The noodles were al dente with lots of shrimp, BBQ pork, peppers, onions, bean sprouts and egg. The best thing about the dish was the minimal use of oil. This dish is usually very oily. Now don't laugh; but someone actually ordered the Laksa here. Now, with reasonable expectations, this laksa wasn't too bad. Sure, it was not really all that spicy and honestly, I didn't even know what type it was. It looked to be a curry laksa; yet there was no coconut flavour. Once again, we should not expect too much out of a Malaysian dish served in a Hong Kong-style cafe. Regardless of its authenticity (and there are many unauthentic items at a Hong Kong-style cafe anyways), there was a fair amount of ingredients and it was edible.

Max Power went for the Brisket & Rice Noodles in Soup. He remarked that the soup was very flavourful and the noodles still had a slightly chewy texture. The brisket was quite tender. Chunkylover73 went for the Club Macaroni in Soup. For those who don't know, it is frozen veggies, ham and a fried egg with macaroni in soup. I know, I know. Some people will wonder why we would pay for such an easy dish. I think I make this at home sometimes... Yet, that is the beauty of a Hong Kong-style cafe. Despite its simplicity, it was done properly. Once again, a flavourful broth with not-too-soft macaroni. That is the minimal expectations of this bowl of food. Well, the food was generally what we expected it to be and then some. Considering this was well past 1:00am, our expectations were not really high. Silver Tower gave us decent eats at a reasonable price with included refillable beverages. What else could we ask for?

The Good:
- Inexpensive
- Decent food
- Clean

The Bad:
- Located right next to Matsuyama, the parking lot is insufficient

Silver Tower Cafe Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Bubble World (Surrey)

So. What is the normal protocol for Valentine's Day? Spend time with your partner/spouse and possibly go out for a good meal. That sounds about right. Well, you gotta give it to Viv. Not only did we not go out for anything, I ended up meeting Mijune at Bubble World on Valentine's Day. Yah, I met up with another woman! To be fair, Viv knew about this and there was good reason. However, I need to watch it. Viv might be filing the papers at this very moment... So, the reason we picked Bubble World of all places is because it is open late. One of the original bubble tea joints in the GVRD, they added the "restaurant" portion to some of their locations to offer more than just drinks.

If I had to make a comparison, the bubble tea at Bubble World may not necessarily be the best; but it is fine for what it is. Consider it the McD's of bubble tea. For myself I had a Lychee Slush with coconut jelly while Mijune had a combination of Macha and Coconut. We asked for low sugar and honestly, that works quite well since the bubble teas here are usually quite sweet. As for our food, we started with an order of a the Salty Peppery Chicken. Although the pieces of chicken were tender and quite large, it fell flat in terms of flavour. In fact, the size of the pieces probably compounded the lack of flavour. It was slightly salty; yet hardly peppery. The attached pieces of chicken skin was not something we preferred either. I'm sure some people like it that way, we didn't.

We got the Fried Egg & Pork Floss Wrap for our next dish. Now don't worry, it is not dental floss made out of pork (although that would be pretty cool), rather it is merely dried pork. The key to this dish is the pancake wrap itself since the pork floss is store bought and a fried egg is a fried egg. And the pancake was pretty good being thin, soft and easy to eat. It as served with a sweet oyster-based which, in my opinion, was not really necessary since the wrap was pretty flavourful itself. Despite the fact we both had already ate dinner, it didn't stop us from sharing a Spicy Beef & Tendon Noodle as well. Yes, we are dedicated eaters! We weren't holding out much hope for good food here, let alone a good Taiwanese beef noodle; however, it was decent. The soup base was flavourful being spicy and slightly sweet with a tart kick from the pickled greens. Yet, it did not have a lot of meat flavour nor depth. The noodles were slightly chewy and thick. As for the beef, it was not as tender as we would've liked. Let me rephrase that, the beef was tender; but the tendons within the beef were not. If you can believe it, this was my first time "eating" at Bubble World. I've had their bubble tea many times over; yet I've never had their food. From what we tried, it was a whole lot better than I had envisioned. Of course this is not the best of anything; but it does the job.

The Good:
- One of the bubble tea originals, they do that right
- Reasonably-priced
- Open late

The Bad:
- There is better bubble tea out there

Bubble World (Surrey) on Urbanspoon

The Official Menu for Vancouver's 1st Annual Foodie Feast

Okay drum roll.... Hit those Rock Band drums! Alright, after great anticipation, here are some of the items being featured at the Foodie Feast on Tuesday, March 29th at District 319, which is tonight!!!! The event sold out in 4 days and there will be no tickets available at the door or anywhere else. All net proceeds go to the Food Bank. We will be taking monetary and non-perishable donations at the event as well. So without further delay, here they are!

  • Three types of Gelato
  • Albacore Tuna - Rare Rice Crusted Albacore Tuna Loin, Asparagus and Serrano Ham, Avocado Puree, Soya Gel
  • Beef Shortrib “Galbijim”Slow Cooked Beef Shortrib, Sweet Daikon, Kimchi, and Sesame
  • EBO Chocolate P Nut Butter Bar with Smoking Orchard Shooter – Peanut butter chocolate bar, passion fruit gelée, cinnamon honey comb and peanut butter ice cream
  • Tostada CarnitasDeep fried corn tortilla layered with creamy beans, pulled pork and curdito
  • House-made sausages - Polish & Hot Italian
  • Tuna Avo Salsa Dip - Ahi Tuna, Avocado, Tomato & Green Onion with Plantain Chips
  • Japanese Seafood Ceviche
  • Vanilla Bean Macaron with Lavender Butter Cream
  • Natural Almond Macaron with Rosemary Salted Caramel and Vanilla Cream
  • Chai Macaron with Cardamom Cream
La Belle Auberge
  • Wenzel Farms Roasted Duck Breast & Panko Crusted Duck Confit – with Parmesan Crisp & Herb Oil

Mancakes BakeryFlagship “Buffalo Wing” – Spice cake, Blue Cheese icing, crispy chicken skin “sprinkles” and hot sauce
  • Breakfast – Vanilla cake, stuffed with bacon, and Maple egg custard cream
  • Pink Peppercorn Grapefruit – The one for your girlfriend. Vanilla cake, pink peppercorn and pink grapefruit macaron
Mochikas Peruvian Cafe
  • Chicharron Sandwich – Crispy mini bun with layers of deep fried sweet potatoes, slices of chicharron, Salsa Criolla, and Mochikas hot sauce
  • Ceviche – Fresh fish of the day or mixed seafood marinated in lime juice, garlic, & cilantro served with corn, sweet potato & red onions
One Planet Catering
  • 5 Spice Duck Confit with a Potato Cake and Taro Chips
  • Spicy Tuna Tartare with Micro Greens on Brioche
  • Dessert TBA
Red Star Seafood
  • Steamed Pork & Shrimp Sui Mai
  • Pan-fried Shredded Daikon and Shrimp Cake
  • Prawn Salad

Judas Goat

After a whole week of endless eating due to several restaurant visits for the Vancouver Foodie Feast, Mijune and I were not really all that interested in eating anymore. I know, that sounds impossible. Well, to be honest, that is impossible when it comes to us. Hence, when I queried Mijune about dinner, she was more than happy to join me for more eating. My thought was to try out the relatively new Nicli Antica Pizzeria on Cordova. Now, that seemed like an easy thing to do since we were in Downtown already. However, finding parking was an epic fail of epic fails. First, all the closer parking spots were taken. Second, we tried to park farther away; but as we were about to get out of the car, we already spotted the spare change paparazzi. Hey, I do realize there are people less fortunate than us; but I'd rather hand out something productive rather than spare change. I digress. So when we did find parking, my change got stuck in the meter! And the next space, the same! I lost 2 bux that way! Finally, we parked 2 blocks away and found out that there was an hour wait... FML... Okay, finding a place to eat in Gastown shouldn't be too hard can it? So, why not wandering into Blood Alley and try out Judas Goat.

Ah yes, this place was on my radar when it first opened; but totally forgotten after that. Hey, it worked for us. We weren't that hungry and they conveniently had 2 spots left. Now, when we say we weren't hungry, I guess that is all relative. I went to the washroom and let Mijune do the ordering. Upon my return, I found out we had 9 dishes coming! I'll say it and I'll say it again... Eating with Mijune is hazardous to one's health! Anyways, our first item was the Bacon and Egg Pintxos (which are little bites eaten at bars). A simple construction of a crouton, tomato relish, fried quail's egg and crispy bacon, this was a satisfying, if not expensive bite. I liked the smoky and crispy bacon; yet would've liked to see the egg cooked a little less. Next up was the Beef Tongue with salsa verde. You'd think a day eating balls and nuts, Mijune would not need any tongue... Um... So, the tongue itself was very soft and moist... Mijune seemed to enjoy that... I liked the contrast between soft tongue and the crunchy bread. The salsa verde provided a nice tang which helped cut through the richness of the meat; yet the drizzle of olive oil didn't seem necessary in my opinion. It just made it greasy.

One of the most popular items at Judas Goat is the Marinated Beets with spiced ricotta and rosemary honey. Texturally, the beets were good, walking the line between being soft while maintaining a bite. There was a gentle sweetness from the honey while the ricotta was a nice compliment. Naturally, a beet salad won't elicit incredible excitement; but this was solid nonetheless. Another set of recommended dishes involved foie gras. The first was Duck Confit & Foie Gras Terrine served with crostinis and pickled onions. The terrine was actually quite dense with a small piece of foie in the middle. With that in mind, there wasn't much in the way of foie other than one bite when we reached the middle. The meat was slightly chewy and dense while exhibiting a salty duck flavour. The pickled onions were necessary to balance this saltiness. I didn't mind the terrine; but I liked the Foie Gras on Toast with Green Apple much more. Despite missing the green apple, it was still quite good. With really smooth foie mousse atop a crispy piece of toast, it was a nice textural contrast as with the crisp apples. However, it would've been even better with more tartness if it were green apple. It would've cut the richness even more so.

Now the next item sounded good on paper - Maple Sugar Sablefish. However, it just didn't do it for me. Sablefish or black cod, is not an easy fish to mess up. Due to it's oily makeup, it usually remains moist despite the level of cooking it is exposed to. However, this one was a bit mushy while the maple sugar really didn't have the impact I was looking for. So what we essentially got was a $9.00 set of mushy bland fish on toast. The next item was a roller coaster ride of sorts. The Gambas al Ajillo, or prawns rolled in citrus aioli with a garlic and shallot crust were nothing special with the first one I had. Well, it did taste good due to the natural sweetness of the prawn combined with the crust and aoili; but it was mushy (not a pleasing texture for prawns). However, the second one was fantastic. Combined with the garlic and slight tang from the aoili, the sweet prawn has an understated snap. Then the third one was something in the middle. If we average it out, then it was pretty decent.

Unfortunately, the last dish was probably the worst of them all. Call it bad luck because most of the other items were quite good. The Cold Smoke Salmon with Pear Relish sounded really good; but the salmon was far too salty. Even the sweet pear relish could not help balance it out. I tried putting copious amounts of it to no avail. This and the sablefish didn't do it for us; yet all the other items were pretty good. Now, this all comes at a price though. We ended up spending $90.00 on what amounted to snack food. And we didn't even have any booze. I must admit that the small little place has its charm and some of the dishes were interesting; however, the cost can quickly add up. Depending what your cost threshold may be, Judas Goat could either be a neat experience or one that is just not worth it.

The Good:
- Interesting offerings
- Weird location, but neat and fun

The Bad:
- Can get expensive
- A sardine can has more space

Judas Goat Taberna on Urbanspoon

Seasons in the Park

Whenever a restaurant is perched up high on a mountainside or right near the water, it instantly becomes popular for its location alone. Sometimes, the food is almost an afterthought. If you think about it, the trend now is to "decorate" restaurants with such attractive staff and ambiance, we forget that we're actually there for the food. That would be true for places like Cactus Club, Moxies, Joey and Earl's. To be fair. some of the food at the aforementioned places are actually good (albeit expensive). Now, getting back to the restaurants with a view... There are many to choose from in the GVRD: Salmon House on the Hill, Fraiche, Horizons, Aqua Riva, 5 Sails, Cloud 9, Monk McQueens, Bridges, Stonegrill, Provence Marinaside, Cardero's, The Teahouse and Seasons in the Park to name a few. For those who are familiar with these restaurants, some of them do not necessarily serve "great" food. Rather, it would be "alright" food with a view.

We've been to Seasons in the Park on several occasions in the past with varying degrees of impressiveness. Seeing how we've never had brunch there before, we bundled up the family on a Sunday. As if Irish eyes were smiling down on us, the sun was out and it couldn't have been a better day to be at the park. Well, maybe a warmer day that is. So, we started by sharing the Crab Cake & Risotto. You know how some crab cakes seem like more filler than anything? Not so with this one. Loaded with sweet, fluffy crab and a crisp exterior, this was a well-executed dish. The risotto was an afterthought since we didn't even notice it to tell you the truth. It could've been just very soft as well. The arugula on top and the olive olive with balsamic reduction very understated which let the crab shine. For our second appy, we went for the standard Mussels and Frites. Bathed in a coconut curry broth, these mussels were pretty good. Each one was open and plump while the broth was very fragrant. The accompanying fries were crisp and came with a garlicky aioli.

For myself, I had the typical West Coast thing in the Smoked Salmon Benedict. With perfectly poached free-range eggs and a lemony Hollandaise, this was another solid offering. Love the ikura on top, it looked pretty. Everything went well with each other from the just-enough light Hollandaise to the crisp English muffin to the slightly wilted spinach. Surprisingly, my mom went for the heaviest dish in the Steak & Eggs. The steak was cooked a perfect medium-rare as evidenced in the picture. It was sufficiently tender as well with a nice meaty flavour. The Cabernet demi-glace had a rich red wine flavour which naturally compliments the meat. As for the scrambled eggs, they were slightly past fluffy; yet were still quite good.

Viv ended up with the Corned Beef and Sweet Potato Hash. A combination of cubed corned beef, sweet potatoes, onions and Swiss Cheese, this was something different. Personally, I'm not convinced with the use of sweet potatoes since the hash becomes quite heavy and overly sugary (especially with the onions). However, it was good in its own ways, particularly contrasting the savoury corned beef. The entire thing was topped with 2 perfectly poached free-range eggs and Hollandaise. Viv could only eat less than half of this since it was so filling. For the kiddies, we got them the French Toast, which the restaurant nicely split up for them. The brioche French toast came with banger sausages and fruit compote. The kids, like me, are suckers for brioche since it is soft and sweet to begin with. Add more egg to it and it is almost melt-in-your mouth requiring little chewing. The French toast was solid; however the star of the whole thing were the wonderful sausages. They were meaty while not fatty with a pleasing texture.

Lastly, my dad had the BC Salmon Burger with rémoulade, coleslaw and salad. A fairly simple item which basically depends on the correct execution of the salmon. In this case, the salmon was overdone and dry. Not terrible by any stretch of the imagination; however, it is not the way I like my salmon done. The salmon burger withstanding, our brunch at Seasons was pleasant and generally very good. We found the prices to be very reasonable considering the quality of the food and the awesome view. I guess it helped that it was nice and sunny too. The service was okay, with a few lulls in between (they were busy though). So in terms of brunch, the view wasn't the only highlight, the rest of the experience was solid as well.

The Good:
- Outstanding location and view
- Decent eats
- Reasonable prices

The Bad:
- Won't set the culinary world on fire; but it holds its own
- Parking will cost you

Seasons in the Park on Urbanspoon

Ocean Ave Fish & Chips

In my series of revisits of restaurants past (as in blogged a long time ago), it has brought me back to one of my first posts. Ocean Ave is an unassuming place in one of the many strip malls along Scott Road on the North Delta side. Not known for its culinary diversity, Scott Road is littered with chain restaurants and good Indian restaurants. So, to actually find something different is a rarity. It was 2 years ago since I last has the fish & chips at Ocean Ave. At the time, I declared it as the best fish & chips I've had up until that point. Of course, that has since changed; but it was still high on my list. Now let's see if that continues to hold true...

Unlike last time, I decided to try a few more items. And yes, I ate it all! I started with their Seafood Chowder and arrived piping hot. And I mean really hot! Due to its thickness, the soup retained much of the heat down to the last drop. It was mostly sweet and "floury-tomotoey". There was quite a bit of seafood and veggies in the soup; yet curiously no potatoes. Not sure if could be called a chowder in that case. Despite this, it was a satisfying and hearty soup (not chowder). As part of the large meal I ordered, the Coleslaw arrived in a separate bowl. I found it to be quite good with just the right amount of dressing which had a nice tartness. The cabbage and carrots were shredded into a proper size which gave it crunch while still being able to be adequately flavoured.

Now as for my Seafood Combo, it included cod, oysters, scallops and sauteed prawns. For what it's worth, the oysters and scallops were good. Nothing to write home about; but they were the right texture, not fishy and fried crispy. With that, it met expectations. The sauteed prawns were slightly greasy; yet again, cooked correctly with nice flavour from the peppers and onions. The star of the plate is still the fish. Just like last time, the piece of cod was thick, moist and just cooked. The batter was not exactly the thinnest; but it was light and crunchy while not being oily. The tartar sauce was not bad, I personally would like more zing. However, I guess that is what the lemon wedge is for.

Finally, the meal is so big, the Fries also arrived on a separate plate. Like the other fried items, the fries were not oily and sufficiently crispy. There was still a nice potatoness on the inside. These were above-average fresh cut fries. In fact, Ocean Ave is probably still one of the places I would put on my list when it comes to fish & chips. The owner-operators are very friendly and it is definitely an honest business. It's not the sexiest choice such as Go Fish or Pajo's; but it is substantially less expensive and good in its own ways.

The Good:
- Reasonable prices
- Good portions
- For fried food, it's not that oily

The Bad:
- Stick with the fish & chips, other items not so much

Ocean Ave Restaurant on Urbanspoon