Sherman's Food Adventures: March 2012

Green Bamboo

Karl loves his Asian food. He really does. Probably more than me. I think he is really Asian but ended up German by mistake... Heck, he even traveled all the way to Vietnam for a bowl of Pho. Well, not just for that, but you get the idea. Hence, when he ranted and raved about Green Bamboo and their wonderful Pho, it meant that I had no choice but to try it. Originally, we were supposed to meet up there for lunch, but he couldn't make it. Undeterred, I did not change my plans and went there anyways. I was able to recruit the eating abilities of Big D to ensure there would be more variety. Oh, and he is good company too... When Karl said the place is small, that would be an understatement. Essentially organized as an L-shape, the dining space boasts 8 tables at the most. If you don't want to wait, come early. For some odd reason, I made the bad decision and parked in the Crystal Mall parkade and let's just say it took me 10 minutes to get out after lunch. *sigh*

When Big D finally arrived, I found out he had parked on Willingdon and opted to pay for parking rather than navigate Crystal Mall. A smart man I tell ya. Not only being smart, he has a healthy appetite too. Thus, we had 2 appetizers beginning with the Spring Rolls. At first, I was wondering about the relatively high price on the menu, but once these hit the table, it became understandable. They were really big and could be considered a meal in-itself. Definitely brownie points for using a rice flour wrapper too. Although the filling was tasty, the meat was a touch too mushy for me. Big D read on Urbanspoon that the Dumplings were fantastic here (they have Chinese food too), so he wanted to try them out. I don't know about them really. We were indifferent. Sure, the dumpling skin was not too thick and perfectly cooked. However, the chive and shrimp filling was lacking texture and body.

Big D ended up with the Beef Rice Noodle Soup with Tomato Beef Stew. This was pretty flavourful being on the sweeter side. We suspected that there was a good amount of MSG used in this and it was confirmed later by our incredible need for a Big Gulp. There was lots of tender brisket, although the copious amount of fat probably helped. Overall, this was pretty good. For myself, I had no choice but to order the Pho Dac Biet (because that would be like going to a burger joint and not ordering a burger... oh like Miss Y!). Much like the soup that Big D had, this one was flavourful and was pretty balanced. However, it could've stood to have more meat flavour. The noodles were still chewy while the meats were decent in portion size and tender as well. Not bad, but not as good as Pho Tam. I know comparing Green Bamboo to a place that is all the way out in Whalley is not exactly locationally sound. Hence, I would say that it is pretty good considering the other options nearby.

The Good:
- Inexpensive (well, like many other Vietnamese joints)
- Decent portions

The Bad:
- Super cramped inside
- For us, the MSG was pretty heavy-handed

Green Bamboo Vietnamese Cuisine (Crystal Mall) on Urbanspoon

Between Two Buns

*Restaurant is now closed*

Viv says I have selective hearing, much like many other men on this Earth (I might add). I admit that certain catch phrases or words deserve my full attention. After all, there must be something interesting within the long-winded story she is often trying to tell me. Therefore, "between two buns" was what I picked out from Mijune's constant yakking during dinner the other night. Say what? What's between two buns? Italian sausage? Keilbasa? Lap cheun? All I got were dirty looks from Mijune and Viv. Yikes, that's a bit uncomfortable. Hey, I have a one-track mind! Wait, I have a male mind, don't hate me. What she was really referring to was a new sandwich shop out in Yaletown named Between Two Buns. Oh okay, that makes sense - a play on words I see.

Since I had to meet up with Snake Eyes for lunch anyways, we (actually it was me...) decided to hit up the new sandwich joint. We ended up sharing 3 sandwiches and a Poutine. The poutine was made with Kennebec potatoes which resulted in some crispy fresh cut fries. So far so good. The gravy wasn't salty per se, but it did get a sodium kick from the random bacon bits. It was smoky and meaty as per its description on the menu. We felt there was enough of the thick gravy for the amount of fries. As for the cheese curds, they were fantastic. The first sandwich we tried was the Cheeky (another play on words...) which was a combination of braised pork cheek, smoked Emmental cheese, coleslaw and caramelized bacon aioli. This was our favourite sandwich of the 3 we had. There was a medley of flavours which kissed our taste buds in layers. First it was the meat, then the coleslaw and finally finished with the smoky cheese. The only thing that would've put this over the top would be more acidity from the coleslaw.

Next up was the Jerk It (yes, my mind was in the gutter when I saw this...), which consisted of jerk chicken, crispy yam and coleslaw. We liked the crispy yam as it provided a nice crunch and sweetness to the sandwich. However, the jerk chicken (as moist as it was) did not have much impact. There were spices, but they were muted with no kick. Moreover, we didn't understand why there was coleslaw, it really didn't go with the rest of the ingredients. Our last sandwich was the Strip'n (again, our minds were in the gutter) which had AAA striploin, red pepper, onion, crispy mushrooms and horseradish & bluecheese aioli. This had all the components of a great sandwich: tender beef, crispy Earthy mushrooms and in theory, a great tasting sauce. However, the flavours were once again mild. A sprinkle of salt and a stronger aioli would've made this sandwich rock. In the end, we both felt this place has potential and we would gladly return to try their upcoming shortrib (which they featured before) and fish sandwiches. There are some really good ideas and with a few tweaks, I think we'll have a winner.

The Good:
- Interesting ingredients such as the crispy yam and crispy mushroom
- Fair pricing since sandwiches at Quizno's and Subway are not cheap either (I'd rather have the ones here)

The Bad:
- Flavours are muted, need more impact
- Need a few tweaks with the ingredient combinations

Between Two Buns on Urbanspoon

Good Choice

Lately, more often than not, we've had some pretty mediocre Dim Sum. The most surprising thing is that some of these meals have been at supposedly "upscale" Chinese restaurants. For instance, the Dim Sum at Empire was not only mediocre, it was outright expensive even for good Dim Sum. Moreover, recent revisits to Kirin and Sun Sui Wah have resulted in mixed opinions. Hence, we decided it was time to find a smaller joint where, at the very least, the prices are reasonable. We settled on Good Choice where, from the outside, wouldn't scream out good Dim Sum. In fact, we've been by the place many times and honestly, never paid much attention. The real reason we ended up at Good Choice was because our original plans were scuttled by my mother-in-law. The previous week, she asked Viv (I couldn't go, I was working) to go for Dim Sum at Cindy's Palace. Being a new place, Viv suggested that she wait until the following week, so I would get a chance to try it. No dice, they went there anyways, with the assurances that we all could go again to the same place next week. Well, she reneged on her promise and wanted to go to Fortune City (bleck) again. Naturally, we were not down with that and ended up making the executive decision to try something else. Ah... the joys of dealing with the mother-in-law... *sigh*

Okay, back to Good Choice. Essentially, the place is as small as it looks from the outside. So much so, some of their larger tables near the window are placed flush against it. Hence, some seats are lost and everything is a bit tight. No matter though, I wedged myself in the corner between 2 windows and got amazing light for my photos! Naturally, we started with dessert in the Egg Tarts. Yes, food expedition in a Chinese restaurant never makes sense, but I'll cut them some slack here because they are a small operation. Besides, the egg tarts had apparently just come out of the oven. These could've been baked for a minute longer just for some extra colour. The tart shell was still flaky and very buttery (or lardy...). I liked the filling as it was perfect in consistency and not too sweet. Next up were the Shrimp Spring Rolls which was also pretty good. They were very crunchy and not overly greasy. Crammed inside was plenty of crunchy shrimp pieces which were properly seasoned.

With a massive amount of shrimp mousse on top, the Stuffed Eggplant looked impressive as it arrived. It turns out that it was as good as it looked. The eggplant was perfect as it was cooked all the way through while still maintaining some form of texture. The fact it was cut thick helped in this regard. The large amount of shrimp mousse on top had the desired bounce texture as well as having a good balance of natural flavour and seasoning. The only weak part of the dish was the black bean sauce which was not really all that flavourful. Equally impressive was the Haw Gow (shrimp dumplings) which were plump and large. Although the dumpling skin was a touch chewy, it was as good as I've had lately. Inside was a shrimp filling which would give the more well-known Chinese restaurants a run-for-their-money. With barely any discernible filler, the whole crunchy shrimp were a touch loose. But that didn't detract from the texture and sweetness. I had to do a double-take as to where I was eating.

The Sui Mai (pork and shrimp dumpling) were good as well, yet I got quite a few large chunks of pork fat that wasn't all that appealing. Despite this, the actual pieces of pork were nicely tenderized to the point they were easy to chew while still maintaining a bite. I also liked the modest amount of seasoning here which allowed the flavour of the shrimp, pork and shiitake to be noticed. The last time we had Free-Range Chicken on Rice, it was at Empire and it sucked. Really it did. The rice became all greasy because they stir-fried it first and then placed it on top of the rice. Not here. The rice was chewy and not greasy. The chicken was nicely seasoned and predictably a touch chewy since it was of the free-range variety. This was a perfect example of a dish compared head-to-head with one of the big boys and came out ahead for significantly less money.

Not onto a less successful dish. The Beef Meatballs were tenderized far too aggressively, hence they were lacking in texture. Normally, there would be some form of resistance or bounce when bitten into. Not in this case. It was bordering on mushy. Too bad really, it did taste good though with a nice ratio of meat to green onion. When the Steamed Spareribs arrived, it looked as if they tried to break some kind of record as to how many rib pieces they could stuff onto a sauce plate. I mean, there was barely any more room for even one more piece! Moreover, most of the meat was attached to a rib, not cartilage nor fat. As you can clearly see, this was mostly flavoured with garlic and it was reflected in every bite. In terms of texture, it was a touch chewy and could've used some more tenderizing. Okay, once again, we had the Xiao Long Bao, which we did not hold out much hope for. You see, XLBs are a Shanghainese specialty. The problem was, we were having Cantonese Dim Sum. Hence, the dumpling skin was thick while there was only a modest amount of soup inside. With that being said, the filling was not too bad with nice hits of ginger and green onion.

For some odd reason, I didn't pay attention to what was ordered and we ended up with 2 plates of offal. Hey, no matter, I love offal! The first one was the Brisket, Tongue, Tripe and Daikon Hot Pot. Despite the hot pot, this dish was prepared from separate ingredients, sauced and served in a hot pot. Hence, some of the items were not as tender as we would've liked. I thought the brisket and tripe were sufficiently tender while the tongue definitely could've benefited from more stewing. Furthermore, since it was not stewed as a dish, there was a lack of depth as well. On the other hand, the Steamed Tripe and Tendons had lots of depth with hits of curry and sweetness. And unlike the previous hot pot, all of the components were tender. Actually probably a bit too tender where the tendon was close to melting. The tripe was okay though - easy to chew without being too soft. In the end, the good dishes outweighed the few not-so-good ones. Considering the prices, portion size and overall execution, the Dim Sum service was thoroughly impressive especially for such a small restaurant. Although the service was sparse when the place began to fill up, it was friendly and efficient. I realize that this small venue isn't for everyone, but if one was looking for good Dim Sum that will not break the bank nor disappoint, then it really is a Good Choice to eat here.

The Good:
- Large portions
- Reasonable prices
- Impressive Dim Sum considering the venue

The Bad:
- Really cramped inside
- Lack of staff (hence the cheaper prices too)

Good Choice Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Cartems Donuterie

$3.00 for a freakin' donut? Say what? Are you kidding me? What's next, a Chinese "yau ja gwai" for $5.00??? Hey, we can like have different flavours of yau ja gwai! Like one with a passion fruit glaze... or maybe not... Anyways, when I found out about Cartems Donuterie was charging $15.00 for half-a-dozen donuts (yes, that is half-a-dozen and $30.00 for a full dozen), I almost lost my appetite. Well, not really, I never lose my appetite... Ultimately, I put it on the back burner due to my unwillingness to pay that much for fried dough. Well, I gave in. People were just saying too many good things about it. I broke down and headed over to the corner of Hastings and Carrall for some gourmet donuts. Hastings and Carrall??? Like kitty-corner to Pigeon Park? Yup, that is right. These better be damn good donuts. As I was getting out of my car, I noticed a well-dressed, mature gentleman with box of donuts in hand getting into his Bentley. Wow, these donuts must be good for a dude in a Bentley to venture into the Downtown Eastside.

As I was getting my order, the sights and sounds of the neighbourhood could not be mistakened. The constant yelling from some random lady was deafening. The fact I was buying $3.00 donuts when there were people outside who wouldn't even fathom having that much in spare change was paradoxical. Made me want to head back to the Salvation Army Habourlight a few blocks down. However, that is another story for another post. Back to the donuts... I got a half-dozen consisting of a few different choices. I tried the Classic with vanilla bean glaze to start as a baseline of sorts. Instantly, I could tell why these donuts are so expensive. The texture was consistent and appealing. From the crisp exterior all the way into the moist semi-sweet interior, this felt like a special donut. However, the glaze was still quite sweet which was tempered somewhat by its conservative deployment. Only one side of the donut got the glaze treatment. Of course I had to get their very popular Maple Bourbon which is a version of the "bacon + donut" craze started by Voodoo Donut in Portland. Unlike the maple bacon bar, the one here is a cake donut with a maple bourbon glaze and only intermittent sprinkles of crispy bacon. Hence, the bacon-ness was somewhat muted, yet at the same time complimented the heavier cake donut since a whole slice of bacon would've been overkill.

A different donut of sorts was the Vegan Chocolate which was tagged as "no animals in here" donut. With texture similar to a bundt cake, this moist "donut" (which was more like a piece of moist chocolate cake) had a rich flavour. It was not overly sweet, rather it oozed chocolateness with depth. I was surprised at the moistness and real chocolate flavour. A similar donut in terms of texture was a gluten-free donut - the Berry Tea (thanks to Sean for GF info). Again, it resembled a bundt cake yet more moist. It was mild in flavour and there was just enough glaze for flavour. I could pick out the fruit from the sugar which is not always the case with many of donuts. Also, it was good on its own despite being gluten-free. The one donut which really illustrated the beautiful textures was the Cinnamon & Sugar. Since there was no glaze or anything to compromise the fried dough, there was an appealing crunch that gave way to the soft cake interior. Once again, there was just enough sugar on the outside for taste, but it was not overwhelming. My son said it best as he thought the crunch made the donut resemble a churro.

Now for my favourite of the whole lot - the Sweet Heat. Essentially a chocolate donut with a light sprinkle of sugar along with chili flakes, this had it all. The rich chocolate cake was moist and reserved in sweetness. There was only a light amount of spice combined with the mild sugar hit. I could've eaten many more of these and I would pay the money to buy them. Am I crazy? Well, maybe. But believe me, these donuts are legit. You won't confuse them with Tim Horton's or Duffin's. It is all about how you approach it. Think of them as "pastries" rather than donuts and it'll seem more reasonable. For myself, I'll gladly eat my words and the donuts as well.

The Good:
- You can really taste the different quality makes (hey, isn't that Schneider's?)
- Interesting flavours
- Cool staff

The Bad:
- Still expensive even though I think they're worth it
- As for this location, it's colourful

Cartems Donuterie (Pop-up Shop) on Urbanspoon

Hub Restaurant & Lounge

"Where do you wanna go for your birthday dinner?" I queried Costanza last month. I think he suggested like 5 different places and each one I had visited recently. Right then and there, he knew the protocol - find another restaurant that we haven't been to. Hey, I have no objections to revisits, especially if the previous experience was poor, but not so soon! Finally, we decided on Hub Restaurant & Lounge in the heart of Yaletown. We ended up going on a perfect Saturday night when the Canucks were playing an away game. With the multitude of screens at the Hub, there are no bad seats. This was great. Food and hockey - 2 of my favourite activities... And about the food... Well... They left the ordering up to me and I almost pulled a Mijune (which is ordering everything).

We began with a plate of Wok Squid tossed with garlic, chilies and ginger. For a non-Asian joint, I thought the Hub did a good job with this dish. Unlike some other places, the squid was thick and cut into large pieces. Hence, it was still moist and tender despite the fry job. Furthermore, the batter itself was crispy and golden brown. What really brought everything together was the garlic, chilies and ginger tossed with the fried squid. There was one thing on the menu that really caught our attention was the Double-Dipped Corn Dogs. When it arrived, the anticipation fizzled as the letters on the stick spelled out "P-O-G-O". Hey, don't get me wrong, we love Pogos. However, we were expecting something a bit more freshly-made. Now, to be honest, I'm not sure if it would've made a huge difference. So, it was mainly the principle and optics. The "original" part of the appie was the 2 dips consisting of honey mustard and grainy dijon ketchup. For us, the ketchup was the winner since it had a good combination of tartness and kick.

Now for another item that I could not take my eyes and mind off of - the Lobster Wings. Huh? Lobster wings? Was there a meltdown at the Springfield Nuclear Plant or something? 3-eyed fish and now lobsters with wings??? No, not exactly. Rather, this consisted of knife-split, battered and fried mini-lobster tails. Served with clarified butter, this should be one of Hub's signature items. Hey, you got perfectly fried lobster and butter. What's not to like? Well, more seasoning perhaps. I realize that lobster is delicate and loads of salt or spices would just overwhelm it. However, there was little to no seasoning here. Maybe a touch of Cajun spice would put this over-the-top. As sort of a bridge between appies and mains, we had the BBQ Chicken Pizza. Some might think the darn thing was burnt by the looks of it, but that is exactly how we like it. Hence, the crust was crunchy, nutty and held up to the wet ingredients. I would've liked to see a less prominent edge to the crust though. Most of the components were spot on including the cheese, moist chicken and caramelized onions. Yet, we thought the spicy BBQ sauce was lacking in BBQ flavour and spiciness. Rather, it was mostly sweet and ketchupy. On the other hand, the banana peppers did add the necessary kick.

Onto the mains, we started with the Crab Grilled Cheese. Initially, we feared that the crab would be lost and that the grilled cheese would be over-the-top oily. Both concerns were unfounded as there was more than enough crab to make an impact and the bread was only lightly buttered. Therefore, the sandwich was not really all that heavy. The bread was grilled crisp while the gruyere and aged cheddar cheese had fully melted and intermingled with the crab. Loved the addition of the vodka cocktail sauce since it added a zip and zing which livened up the flavours. Instead of a salad or just plain fries, we upgraded to a Poutine instead. It ended up to be a generous portion which included a seemingly endless supply of cheese curds. It was a mostly decent poutine considering the gravy was flavourful and sufficiently thick. The fries could've been less dense and more crisp though.

For a bit of variety we got the Kobe Meatball Linguine as well. Underneath the slightly past al dente linguine was 3 really large meatballs. These were very different though as the meat appeared to be hand-chopped and not very fine either. Hence, there was a considerable meat texture, which I personally didn't mind. Furthermore, there was not a whole lot of filler which made the meatballs loose. For Costanza, he was indifferent. Apparently he doesn't like loose balls... For me, it was different enough to be good. As for the marinara, it was mostly tomatoey and tart. There was nothing inherently wrong with it, yet it was a touch one-note. We also noticed there was a "burger bar" menu, so we had to get one for curiosity's sake. Our choice was the Yankee Burger consisting of an 8oz beef patty with smoked bacon, aged cheddar, lettuce, pickle and tomato. For good measure, we added mushrooms. This was a mostly solid burger that had no absence of flavour. The bacon was crisp while the meat was slightly dry. The other wet components made up for the dry patty. Just like the poutine, we thought the fries were dense and could've been more crispy. No matter though, they were a bonus because we had actually substituted it with Yam Fries. They forgot, but brought us out a plate of them quickly. They were crisp, not greasy and best of all, the chipotle mayo had a nice kick.

Lastly, we decided to share a dessert because our server warned us of the portion size. For $8.00, the Apple Crisp served in a cast iron pan could've passed for 3 desserts elsewhere. Unfortunately, we didn't really care for it. The individual components were good, like the big cuts of apple, the plethora of brown sugar, oats and a big scoop of vanilla gelato on top. However, parts of it were not hot and the topping needed more butter since it ended up being powdery. Furthermore, the whole thing was too sweet (maybe more tart apples and less brown sugar?). It was too bad the meal ended on an overly sweet note (instead of sour) because the food in general was more than acceptable. Keep in mind that the Hub is not a fine dining establishment. It is more about the comfort food. Sure, some things were better than others, but that is a given at any restaurant. For me at least, it is an option if one wanted to avoid the chain restaurants in the area and didn't necessarily want to break the bank either.

The Good:
- Decent portions
- Reasonably-priced (considering its location)
- Great place to catch the game

The Bad:
- Dessert took awhile

Hub Restaurant and Lounge on Urbanspoon

Sunday Brunch @ EBO (Delta Hotel Burnaby)

For many, a buffet is not the best place to experience great food. Think of it, the stuff is mass-produced and more often than not, the quality of the raw materials are suspect. That is probably why we have seen buffets come and go in the Lower Mainland. The Copper Kettle was something I remembered way back in my childhood. Now a Canadian Tire stands where it used to be. Uncle Willy's has been reduced to one location at Metrotown and let's not even get into Foody Goody. Sure, there are some that still stand such as New China Kitchen, Oriental and Grand Buffet, but it'll take a lot for me to actually go eat at those places. The newer type of buffets which started to show up in the 90's were of the Japanese variety which involved ordering from a checklist rather than going up and serving yourself. Now, from this, you might think I universally hate buffets. Not exactly. There is one type I don't mind, granted it is not particularly cheap. What I'm talking about is the Sunday Brunch. Normally found at hotel restaurants, it can range from a simple breakfast buffet to elaborate spreads that include more "gourmet" offerings.

As for Vancouver, I've already tried out the Sunday Brunch at the Hotel Vancouver, Waterfront, Sutton Place, Pan Pacific, Burnaby Hilton and Fairmont Airport. Most have been pretty decent with all things considered (as in you can only expect so much from buffet food). There was one that I was planning to try on my own, which is the one offered at EBO (at the Delta Burnaby). Coincidentally, I was invited to try it as part of a media brunch. They were gracious enough for me to invite one guest, which was Viv and also my 2 kids because really, who would take care of the kiddies otherwise? Moreover, I must admit a slight bias since EBO is one of my favourite dining destinations when I need to bring the whole family. Despite being located right next to the Grand Villa Casinos, the restaurant is kid-friendly - as the kids eat free (dinner and lunch with paying adult)!

Right off the bat, without even eating a single morsel of food, there are a few things that set EBO apart from the aforementioned hotel restaurants. First and foremost, the price of the Sunday Brunch is incredibly reasonable at $30.95 with kids 5 and under being complimentary. Secondly, the parking is free. This is nothing to laugh about when the other places charge upwards to $20.00. So after we settled into our table, we attacked the food starting with the usual cold items. These included Smoked Salmon, Shrimp Cocktail, Cheeses and a Charcuterie Platter. Around the corner, there was a selection of salads consisting of Greek Salad, Marinated Potato Salad with roasted red peppers, lemon & tarragon, Chow Mein Noodle Salad with coconut scented chicken and peppers, Tomato & Bocconcini Salad, Chicken Liver Pate with brioche and Assorted Sushi.

Off to the hot section, there was something not usually found at Sunday Brunch - Roti Canai. And to top it off, the roti was freshly made right in front of our eyes (a la fresh noodle-making at Peaceful). In fact, they take freshness so seriously, I witnessed the disposal of roti that had been sitting around for awhile. As for the quality of the roti, I can confidently say that it would not be out of place in a Malaysian restaurant. The exterior was crisp and not too oily while the inside was a soft and chewy. The accompanying curry dip had a nice consistency while being slightly spicy and aromatic from the coconut milk. Right adjacent to the roti was the DIY Omelet Bar which featured ham, shrimp, peppers, tomatoes, mushrooms and green onions. I did get an omelet at the end of the meal just to try it out. It was fluffy and not exposed to extremely high heat. Hence it was not overcooked nor did it exhibit any browning on the outside.

Moving along the buffet line, the first chaffing tray contained the standard Bacon & Sausages along with French Toast topped with fruit. The bacon was mostly crispy while the sausages were large and meaty. The meat was not gritty which suited my son just fine as he prefers the fatty smooth type. The French toast was not bad, it wasn't dry nor too wet. The next tray consisted of both the Traditional Eggs Benny and Smoked Salmon Benny. I tried the traditional version and it was pretty spot on. The English muffin was crisp and not soggy while the Hollandaise sauce was buttery and had a good hit of lemon. The "poached" egg was interesting as it was not immersed in water. Rather, it appears they poached the egg with minimal water where the yolk was allowed to be purposely underdone. Hence it was beautiful and runny. Nice trick. Good for the warming tray as it won't overcook.

When I took a gander at the next item, I was concerned. It was Salmon and squid with a lobster emulsion. Normally, fish at a buffet can pass for styrofoam. However, the salmon here was perfectly cooked. Barely past rare, the fish was moist and soft. The lobster emulsion was rich, yet not too salty which allowed the fish to stand on its own. The random pieces of calamari were tender and not fishy. Without any description other than the "Chef's Pasta", I did my best to figure out what it was. Well, obviously it was Orzo and I could tell there was sundried tomatoes, pancetta and Parmesan. This was quite creamy and balanced. It was flavourful without being salty.

In Vancouver, it is almost a given that Sunday Brunch buffets are not complete without the token Dim Sum. Honestly, I'd much rather not see this other than in a Chinese restaurant because it is rarely done right. With that being said, the Dim Sum here was at least average. Sure, the rice flour dumpling skin on the haw gow was thick and dry, but the filling was actually pretty good. There was whole shrimp that exhibited a snap and also tasted right. The sui mai was pretty plain, yet the pork had a good bounce. However, the beef meatballs were a touch too rubbery. Along with the Dim Sum was something that completely blew me away - there was house-made XO Sauce! For those who are unfamiliar, XO Sauce is a Chinese condiment consisting of all or some of the following: dried shrimp, dried scallop, Virginia ham, shallots, garlic, chilis and oil. The one here was pretty legit except for a touch of fishiness.

Right behind the Dim Sum was a plate of Chicken Satay which were beautifully charred. They were neither too dry nor juicy, somewhere in the middle. I felt there was just enough seasoning, yet the curry dip was needed to give the satay some punch. Directly in front of the satay were the Fried Shrimp Pockets (which looked like fried shrimp wontons). These were alright. The shrimp was a touch soft (since it was mixed with shrimp mousse) where the moisture affected the crispiness of the fried wrapper. If the XO sauce was a surprise, the house-made BBQ Pork totally caught me off-guard. I have never seen this offered at any of the hotels in Vancouver as of yet (and that is including Richmond). Unlike the BBQ pork found at Chinese shops, this one was significantly larger and less fatty. Hence, the meat was super moist and tender. With the long, slow roast, the flavours were rich as well. However, the one thing that really brought it all together was the cilantro-soy dip. It added a touch of spice and brightness to the normally sweet and heavy pork.

Directly beside the pork was something more typical in the Roasted Prime Rib. Even with this they were able to make it interesting. They took the beef ribs from the roast and prepared them separately. I don't know about you, but the best part of a prime rib roast are the ribs themselves. Not great for my cholesterol, but what am I talking about??? It's a buffet after all!!! Oh and about the roast, it was perfect - moist and medium-rare. And to top it all off, there was a luxurious demi-glace rather than the usual au jus. Now all this food is fine and dandy for adults, yet they didn't forget about the kiddies though. There was a table set up with various cereals, sweets, chicken strips, fries and fresh-made donut holes. Since the table was at kid height, my daughter helped herself to the fruit gelatin.

Back to the rest of the spread, there was a decent selection of Desserts which included an Apple Crumble, Raisin Bread Pudding, Key Lime Cheesecake, Opera Cake, Kirsch Torte, Cappuccino Cheesecake, Chocolate Mousse, Macarons, Mango Brulee, Rum Bada, Eclairs, Red Velvet Cake and Chocolate Sacher. At this point, I was pretty full and only tried a few items which were not bad. Overall, the brunch buffet here at EBO was pretty solid especially for the price. One thing I must mention is that there were a few extra items that would normally be on rotation rather than being served every week. So YMMV on what will be there each Sunday. Another observation is that many of the items were offered in small batches (which were refilled regularly) which ensured freshness. This was a pretty solid experience which will ultimately lead to another visit someday.

*Note: This was an invited dinner where all food was comped*

The Good:
- Carefully prepared food
- Reasonably-priced
- Comfortable and spacious digs

The Bad:
- Lack of high-end items compared to other Sunday Brunches (although this is roughly $10.00 less)

EBO Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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