Sherman's Food Adventures: March 2021

Nadri Korean Cuisine & Fried Chicken

It is always a real delight to find hidden gems, especially when they truly hidden (like you cannot see it unless you knew where it was).  However, Nadri Korean Cuisine & Fried Chicken isn't really a hidden gem per se because it has been around for a year or so.  Therefore, I have totally missed the boat or have been living under a rock to not know about it.  Can I blame it on Covid?  Whatever the case, I finally made it out to try the place, which is located in a food court adjacent to the HanNam market on North Road on the Burnaby side.

One of my favourite Korean dishes is the Tangsuyook and of course I got to try it.  This was a huge portion of large chicken pieces that were fried perfectly.  I often find that the batter can be rather gummy, but this one was light and crispy.  Since they served the sauce on the side, the chicken remained crispy from start to finish.  About that sauce, it was lightly sweet and tangy with plenty of ingredients.

Staying with the deep-fryer, their KFC (Korean Fried Chicken) was fantastic as well.  We got the Honey Garlic and Sweet & Spicy in the bone-in version.  With large leg portions, the chicken was tender and juicy.  Skin was nicely rendered and crispy too.  I found the flavour to be good with the sweet & spicy being the most impactful.  The stickiness of the sauce only helped it stay adhered to each piece.  The honey garlic was more subtle but was still tasty.

Going with the usual classics, we had the Dolset Bibimbap.  As I've always said, this is not a complex dish.  Rather, it is all about the ingredients and the rice.  Well, the ingredients were good and plentiful.  The rice was chewy and not overly wet.  Good thing too because once we added the gochujang, it provided both spice and more moisture.

Next up, we were presented with a large plate of Japchae that was full of ingredients.  I liked how the noodles were not clumped together while not being greasy at the same time.  There was a balance of flavours with enough sweetness and saltiness.  Good essence from the onions and peppers.  There was enough sliced tender beef despite it not being evident in the picture.

They also make their own Dumplings, where we tried the kimchi and the regular pork.  The first thing that we noticed was the paper thin dumpling wrapper which was delicate, but still had an al dente chew.  Inside, the pork filling was soft and moist with a balanced amount of veg.  We preferred the kimchi dumplings as it had a nice kick and tang.

Lastly, we got the Chicken Bulgogi served with a side of rice.  This featured tender strips of chicken that had a nice sear.  It was also well-marinated so it had the classic salty sweet caramelized flavour.  Obviously, we didn't finish all this food and ended up taking the rest home.  This is actually an important point since Nadri is mainly a counter service restaurant, so it is perfectly suited for takeout.  Especially in these uncertain times, this is a great way to enjoy authentic Korean food in a safe environment or from your own home.

*All food was complimentary*

The Good:
- Solid authentic Korean eats
- Good portions
- Great for takeout and delivery

The Bad:
- Limited dining space due to Covid, but it is safe


Uncle's Snack Shop

Situated in the old location of Green Lemongrass on Westminster Highway in Richmond, newly opened Uncle's Snack Shop is offering up an eclectic menu that restaurant veteran, Kevin Lin, has developed fusing traditional Asian flavours while presented in non-traditional ways.  Of course I had to see what was cooking, literally and figuratively at Uncle's.  I decided to let the huge lines of the weekend dissipate so I could be first on a weekday and order "one of everything".

Ah yes, doing my best impersonation of Mijune Pak (not that I can be Mijune Pak..), I really did get one of everything including all the sammies.  From top and clockwise, we had the OG Chick Sandy, Hot Chick Sandy, Salty Chick Sandy and Cheesy Shroom Sandy.  They were all solid with the salted egg sandwich standing out for me.  The chicken thigh was juicy and aggressively crunchy on the outside (in a good way).  I could get the richness of the salted egg without it being overdone and heavy.  Nice crunch from the napa slaw that also balanced the richness.  I was pleasantly surprised with the appealing spice from the hot chick sandy where it was definitely impactful without taking over the other flavours including the fragrant Thai basil aoili and the fresh cabbage & daikon slaw.  I thought the OG chick sandy definitely captured the traditional Chinese flavours with the ginger & scallion condiment.  There was a crapload of it where the brightness and zing was apparent.  I would've liked to see more tang from the cucumber salad though.  Of course there was also a vegetarian offering in the cheesy shroom sandy with a cheese-filled panko fried portobello.  Lots of textures here and no lack of cheese.  The tamarind jam added tang, sweetness and spice to liven things up.

There was one more sandy that was definitely different from the rest in the Egg Tofu Katsu Sandy.  Enjoyed this one as the milk bread was ever-so-soft and fluffy.  The thin piece of katsu was tender and not dry while crispy on the surface.  That egg tofu was naturally silky soft while complimented by tangy tartar with bits of pickles and onion.  Katsu sauce provided some salty sweetness as well.

One of the most stealth items was the Pomelo Salad with jicama, pickled watermelon rind, cucumber, mint, caramelized onion, tofu puffs and spicy tamarind dressing.  This salad was a lot of things but most of all, it was about textures.  Lots of fresh crunchy things to go with the chewiness of the tofu puffs.  The tang and sweetness of the dressing went well with the ingredients and the mint added a extra flavour component.

The biggest item we had was Auntie's Staff Meal which was Fried Spicy Ribs on rice with mushroom tofu stew.  For the price ($12.00!!!), this was a lot of food.  If I were to tackle this alone, I probably wouldn't have finished it.  All 3 ribs were large, meaty and fall-off-the-bone tender.  Loved the crisp exterior glazed with a spicy sweet chili sauce.  The rice was texturally sound while the stew was hearty and comforting.

One of their most interesting items was the Taiwanese Sausage Corn Dog with brown sugar chili garlic sauce.  If you are not familiar, a Taiwanese sausage is firmer (oh, cue the jokes...) and sweeter than a regular sausage.  There is also chunks of fat and the casing is a bit chewier.  So this corn dog was considerably different than ones you would find at the PNE.  However, the one thing that put this over the top was the dip.  Sweet, tangy and slightly spicy, it was flavour bomb to go with the corn dog.  I was very pleased that they dared to put Honey Garlic Chickenese on the menu.  These were actually deep fried chicken knees coated with honey garlic butter.  Think of them as small chicken nuggets with the crunch of cartilage.  I thought these were good with the classic sweet aromatics.  I personally would've asked for sauce on the side as I like my chicken knees not covered in sauce.  At the bottom of the picture, we had Uncle Scott's Shake-Shake Tots were dressed in truffle parm (extra $2.00).  These were crunchy and there was definitely enough truffle oil and parm to make them flavourful.

We actually had 2 more items including the Chicken Skin Chickarron and the After School Mac Salad.  However, I'll only discuss the chickarron because the mac salad will be coming off the menu.  Properly rendered and crunchy, the chicken skin was tossed in a sticky fish sauce.  Pretty addictive and if I didn't care about my cholesterol, I would've eaten all of it.  LOL...  Ultimately, we didn't eat all of the food.  We ordered too much!  However, it did give us a good sense of the menu and what Uncle's Snack Shop is all about - interesting food with bold flavours.  Definitely worth a try for a quick bite or a meal.

The Good:
- Bold flavours
- Interesting food
- There's parking!

The Bad:
- Sandwiches are on the pricier side, but this is not a fast food restaurant

Bottomless Weekend Brunch @ ARC Restaurant

Remember when I ended off my post on ARC After Dark by stating I would return on my own coin?  Often, when I say that, I really do go back to the restaurant because I enjoyed the food and more importantly, I want my family to try it too (I don't usually do another post, rather I add to the original post or do one comprehensive post like the one at Seaside Provisions).  So I went ahead and asked my parents if they wanted to try it out and their reply was that they preferred to go for the Bottomless Weekend Brunch instead.  Therefore I booked it intending to pay $39.00 per person for my parents and my family (which would be 6 people in total).  Turns out that the good people at Fairmont decided to comp 3 of the meals anyways.  I did end up paying for 3 meals plus the gratuity.  Just getting the disclosure out of the way (oh and the picture of the front is a stock photo, they are fully engaged in Covid protocol).

So the deal here is that for $39.00 per person, one could order as much as they want from a selection of 17 items on the Bottomless Weekend Brunch menu.  Much like the dinner service, all the plates are smaller, so they can either be shared or at the very least gives people a chance to try several items.  Drinks are not included, but there is one on the menu being the BC Berry Basket Smoothie consisting of blueberry, raspberry, strawberry, banana and yogurt.  Since they used plain yogurt rather than vanilla, the smoothie was much less sweet and we could really taste the berries.  There was much more of a tanginess, that I personally enjoyed. 

Somewhat of a hybrid between a cinnamon bun and an apple crisp, the Ooey Gooey Skillet was comprised of a segmented croissant, apple slices, cinnamon and caramel.  It had all of the elements of a sticky bun with the addition of tangy apples in between.  Loved the crispy and buttery croissant pieces as they ate lighter than a typical cinnamon bun.  The apples helped balance the sweetness.

One the more simpler options on the menu was the Buttermilk Biscuit served with honey butter.  Now simple is one thing, but really, this was a supremely well-executed biscuit.  From the golden brown and crispy exterior to the warm and soft layers inside, the biscuit couldn't have been better.  Except it did become better with a generous pat of honey butter made with honey from their rooftop.

Consisting of mascarpone yogurt, granola, peach, coconut, puffed amaranth and garnished with raspberries, blackberries and blueberries, the Granola Parfait was your typical lighter choice on the menu.  Nothing complex here, however, I found the mascarpone yogurt to be the perfect texture with a creamy airiness that didn't bog down the entire parfait.  With granola and coconut, this could've been heavy, yet it was balanced in texture.

Another straight-forward offering was the Liege Waffle with caramelized apple and sauce anglaise.  Texturally, I thought the waffle was on point with a lightly crispy exterior with pops of crunchy sugary morsels.  It was soft while still offering up an appealing chewiness.  We found it good on its own with the sweet apples and creamy anglaise only adding even more layers of flavour and sweetness.

Okay, what is a brunch menu without Avocado Toast?   So here is the obligatory one with a soft poached free-range egg atop freshly mashed ripe avocado on grilled sourdough.  With properly executed components, there wasn't much to say about this other than maybe it needed a touch of salt (and in my case, hot sauce).  However, that was easily rectified with the supplied condiments.

The Jerk Fried Chicken atop a funnel cake with maple syrup was their unique take on chicken and waffles.  Tender and moist, the chicken itself was the beneficiary of spices that made it much more interesting than just plain fried chicken.  I could've taken it with more heat, but that wasn't a problem with the addition of hot sauce.  On the outside, the batter was light and crispy.  Underneath, the funnel cake was light and airy.

Now that was the savoury (except for the maple syrup) version of a Funnel Cake.  Of course they also had a sweet one consisting of the funnel cake topped with macerate strawberries.  I'm not sure if it was pure luck or their supplier, but the strawberries were attractively red and sweet (impressive for the time of year).  Of course, being macerated helped the sweetness of the berries.  It was served atop the same airy funnel cake.

Two types of eggs benny were available on the menu including Salmon Eggs Benedict and Traditional Eggs Benedict.  Both featured a toasted English muffin topped with a generous amount of protein (with a perfectly soft-poached free-range egg).  Silky and rich, the Hollandaise was buttery with a hint of acidity.  Since these were served one per plate, it was a good way to not fill up on one thing and move onto the next dish.

Smartly using the same delicious shortrib from the ARC After Dark menu, the Beef Shortrib Poutine featured tender morsels of meat bathed in a rich and meaty gravy.  It wasn't salty though, so that allowed for the legit cheese curds to be noticeable.  To complete the dish, it also sported house-cut fries which were fried crispy and golden brown.  Although this was a "small" size, it was still best shared rather than for one person.

Smothered in a rich mornay sauce and topped with a sunny side egg, the Croque Madame was another beautifully executed dish.  Although you can't see it in the picture, sandwiched in between 2 crunchy toasted slices of sourdough, there was ham and melted gruyere. I thought the sauce was the perfect consistency being smooth and silky with proper viscosity. Decadent and sinful, I also recommend that one shares this, but I won't judge because I almost ate the whole thing!

From 2 heavy items, we moved onto the Harvest Grain Bowl with farro, roasted roots, squash, herbs and poached egg.  To be honest, I normally wouldn't order this since I'm more into the last 3 dishes than a vegetarian option.  However, this is the beauty of the menu.  You can try it since it is included in your cost and it is a smaller portion.  No risk really.  Furthermore, it was pretty good firm textures and another perfectly poached egg.

Now, the plate of Breakfast Meats was much more up my alley consisting of thick cut bacon, Kasseler ham and pork or chicken sausage.  Again, this would be best shared since the amount of meat on the plate would be overly filling and you wouldn't be able to try anything else!  Loved the sausage as it was large and had a nice snap.  Inside, the meat was moist, well-seasoned and not overly fatty.

Another side item to share was the Crispy Fingerling Potatoes with caramelized onions.  Creamy and tender, the potato was texturally on point.  I would've preferred it to be even crispier on the outside, but that wasn't a big deal.  Loved how it wasn't overly greasy as I've some versions that can be dripping with oil.  Also, there was just enough seasoning and herbs without it being salty.

Last but not least, we had the Egg on Toast that could be either soft scrambled, fried or poached.  We chose soft scrambled and it was once again perfect.  Just look at it, there was skill on display with the silky buttery eggs on grilled sourdough.  The operative word is silky, not wet.  Overall, the execution and food quality were excellent.  This was all served in a beautiful dining space with lots of natural light and high ceilings.  Much like my experience at ARC After Dark, I felt the Covid protocols were on point and I felt safe.  In my mind, the Bottomless Weekend Brunch is a fun, tasty and stress-free way to enjoy a meal and to support local during these challenging times.

*3 out of the 6 meals were comped excluding gratuities*

The Good:

- Varied menu that features well-executed food

- Bottomless means you can try many things

- Spacious and safe dining space

The Bad:

- Possibly, it should include basic tea/coffee

- There is no children's pricing for the Bottomless Brunch, but they can order separately from the kid's menu

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