Sherman's Food Adventures: July 2023

Brix & Mortar

Boy, we haven't been back to Brix & Mortar for quite some time!  The last time was in 2017 and unofficially, I was back in 2021 for a wedding.  So it was about time we returned to see what has changed (or not changed).  Well the first thing we noticed was the live music (which was fantastic) where a booth used to be in the corner of the restaurant.  Predictably, the menu is completely different.   We arrived in time for happy hour, so we scored on some bevvies as well as some appies.

The first of which was the Albacore Tuna Tartare served with prawn crackers and a sesame tapioca crisp.  Buttery and soft, the tuna tartare was mildly-seasoned which meant we could taste the fish (which is a good thing).  It was fresh and had the taste of the sea.  It was accented by scallions that gave it some brightness.  Personally, I could've done with a bit more acidity though.  The crackers were a great vessel for the tartare since they were light and crispy. 

Next we had the Popcorn Halibut with tartar sauce and house-made potato chips.  I quickly ate some once it arrived since I knew they would only get drier as they sat.  Good thing too as the first few bites yielded moist and flaky halibut coated in a light tempura batter.  The ones I ate at the end were less moist.  Absolutely loved the tartar sauce as it was creamy with plenty of acidity.  Chips were thin and crispy.

We ended up with one appie from the main menu in the Seared Sea Scallops.  They were perfectly prepared as evidenced in the picture.  Beyond the caramelized sear, the scallops were buttery and slightly rare on the inside.  Tender and sweet, those scallops would've been great on their own, but the accompaniments underneath elevated the dish.  We found confit pork belly that was crispy and provided salty fattiness to the dish.  This was balanced off by the acidic and sweet pickled pineapple that was also rather spicy (loved the heat!).  Cilantro, radish and peanuts gave this dish a uniquely Thai-flavour to the dish.

For my main, I went for the Grilled "Lumina" Lamb Neck with curry-braised lamb & potato gnocchi, green peas and grana padano.  I absolutely loved this dish as the lamb neck was super tender and fatty.  It was cooked just enough and the inherent flavour was enhanced by the spiced curry.  The flavours were rich and full-bodied (especially with even more lamb).  The salty and nutty cheese went well with this.  Also loved the gnocchi as they were tender with a bite.

Viv had the Wild Sockeye Salmon with lentil cassoulet, peppergreens and meyer lemon habanero beurre blanc.  That piece of salmon was prepared expertly with an aggressive char on the outside that resulted in crispy skin that was smoky.  It helped activate the fats and the fish was tender and flaky.  It was seasoned enough on its own, but the beurre blanc was really flavourful with hints of saffron.

For dessert, we had the Strawberry Pannacotta which was super refreshing and great for a Summer day.  The pannacotta itself was creamy and not too stiff.  The corn flakes on top added a wonderful crunch and sweetness.  We found passionfruit pearls that afforded some tropical notes while the sorghum strawberries were sweet with some pop.  What brought this all together was the lemon curd as its tanginess balanced off the layers of sweetness.  Pretty solid meal at Brix & Mortar where the outdoor seating was great on a moderate temperature day.  Service as solid and prices were fair.

The Good:
- Solid eats
- Excellent service
- Nice outdoor dining area

The Bad:
- Other than the first few bites, the halibut was rather dry

Mama Said Pizza Co.

Once upon a time, the pizza scene in Greater Vancouver consisted of Pizza Hut, Panago, Pizza 222, Domino's and a bunch of Greco-Italian restaurants.  How times have changed...   We now have many more options including different types of pizza including Neapolitan-style and Roman-style.  There are the most usual places such as Farina, Bufala, Via Tevere, Carano and many others.  Heck, we even have Pizza Garden dishing up gourmet thin-crust by the slice!  One place I haven't tried yet is Mama Said Pizza Co, that was once only a food truck but now has a B&M location.  We headed out to PoMo to check it out.

Just FYI, the place has limited parking in front, but there is a parking garage at the back.  We did that made the short walk to the restaurant.  We started with a Caesar Salad with house made croutons and a mix of romaine, frisee and arugula.  That in itself made this salad more interesting due to the textures and bitterness of the arugula.  Even the dressing was different where it was on the sweeter side, hence making it less sharp.

Onto the pizzas, we had to get the baseline - the Margherita.  It consisted of the usual ingredients including fresh basil leaves on top (after the baking process).  As you can see, the leoparding along the edges of the crust was pretty consistent.  As a result the crust was nutty and crunchy.  It was also properly salted.  I found the crust to be fairly even in texture up until the middle which was more tender.  This is optimal and they achieved that.  The tomato sauce was tangy with some sweetness.  This was a good Margherita pizza.

The Papa Roni was pretty similar except without the basil but add pepperoni, grana padano and fennel seed.  Again, the crust exhibited good leoparding including the bottom.  With the addition of a lot of pepperoni, covering almost every inch of the pizza, the pizza was more robust and a little spicy.  The oils from the pepperoni added aroma and body.  With some fennel seed, we also got background licorice notes.

Going another few steps forward, we had the Brooklyn which added pepperoni cups, bacon, sausage, mushroom, onion and grana padano.  With all of this meat, the pizza ate saltier, but in a good way.  The roni cups provided a totally different texture with a meaty chew.  Even though we had more toppings, the crust held up and didn't soften.  The fact that the onions weren't cooked too long meant there was some sharpness.

Our hands-down favourite pizza was The Mama with mozzarella, ricotta, prosciutto, pesto, arugula and grana padano on a honey sesame crust.  Oh where to start?  The crust was outstanding with nuttiness from the black and white sesame seeds while the honey helped balance off the saltiness of the prosciutto.  With some pesto, we got aromatics that were herbaceous, cheesy and nutty.  Arugula provided its usual pepperiness.  As you can see, we enjoyed the pizzas at Mama Said Pizza Co.  Good pies and killer tunes (mostly 80's), I'll be back.

The Good:
- Excellent thin crust that is consistent in texture
- Flavour combos are good especially The Mama
- Super awesome people there

The Bad:
- Place is small so it will fill up easily


Golden Spring Restaurant

The restaurant one storefront to the South of Bon's Off Broadway has changed hands a few times.  Currently, it is Golden Spring and honestly, I've never kept it with what is going on with that restaurant.  I do remember frequenting the place when I was a kid where it was always bustling with a lineup.  Nowadays, I've heard that Golden Spring is a good value and their food is pretty solid too.  Hence, we gathered up the family and headed out to see for ourselves.

Starting off the meal, we were served a daily soup.  I didn't post a picture because it wasn't that interesting, but it was decent.  Our first dish was the first course of the Peking Duck.  As you can see, the skin had a beautiful lacquered appearance.  In terms of texture, the skin was uniformly crispy with the fat removed.  Therefore, it ate light with uninterrupted crunch.  The accompanying crepes were thin with a nice elasticity. 

The second course of the Peking Duck consisted of the Duck Lettuce Wrap.  We asked for the green onions to be omitted and they did so.  Believe me, 9 out of 10 Chinese restaurants manage to mess this up!  As for the execution of the dish, it was quite good with enough wok hei to caramelize the ingredients.  The dish was on the saltier side though but it was partially offset by the crisp lettuce and hoisin.

To ensure we got more veggies in this meal, we ordered the Gai Lan with Beef as well.  This was a large portion of thick stalks of gai lan.  I found them to be ever-so-slightly on the older side so some pieces were a touch fibrous.  However, the dish still ate well with barely cooked through gai lan that maintained a crunch.  The beef was tenderized enough so it was soft yet still retaining natural meat texture.  This dish was seasoned mildly.

Onto another beef dish, we ordered my son's favourite in the Curry Beef Brisket.  However, this was clearly made with beef rib finger meat instead (which is a good thing).  This was a huge portion of finger meat that was moist and tender with not too much fat.  With an appealing viscosity, the curry was flavourful and notably spicy.  I liked how they used red peppers rather than green as there was a sweeter flavour rather than raw vegetable aftertaste.

We also ended up getting a Dungeness Crab in cream sauce atop wonton noodles.  Although not plated particularly well, the dish ate much better than it looked.  The noodles were al dente and were a nice blank canvas for the cream sauce.  The sauce was well-seasoned with salty and sweet notes while thickened just enough.  The crab was on the smaller side but still had a decent amount of meat.  It was possibly fried a touch too long as some of the meat became dry.

We didn't plan on ordering a Steamed Rock Cod because that could mean taking out a second mortgage these days.  However they had a special where a whole fresh rock cod was only $48.00.  Yes, that is not a typo.  It was good being steamed just enough with springy flaky meat that was sweet.  It was further enhanced by the sizzle of hot oil and sweetened soy. The fish was also of a good size considering the price.  

Our last dish was the Peking Pork Chops and once again, the portion size was massive.  It was also very good too with large slices of pork chop that were properly tenderized.  The exterior was still crispy while there was just enough tangy sweet sauce clinging onto each piece.  I liked how there was very little fatty portions too.  Overall, you can tell that the food at Golden Spring is pretty solid.  Portions are huge and the prices are reasonable.  Definitely a dinner option for any night of the week.

The Good:
- Solid eats
- Reasonable pricing
- Large portions

The Bad:
- Place could use a refresh (but I guess prices would go up)
- That parking lot is super tight


Moxie's West Georgia

It has been awhile since I've last been to Moxie's.  I remember it expanded to several locations in the GVRD and then it closed a few locations.  Now it is back with a brand new spot at 180 West Georgia in Downtown.  If this sounds and looks familiar to you, it can be found within the Sandman Inn.  I was offered a $150.00 gift card to try the brand new digs out and also a revamped menu (well, at least since the last time I went).  I ended up bringing the fam with me and went far beyond the $150.00.  So I didn't hold back and topped it up with my own coin.  Loved this new location as it is modern and has some pretty comfy booth seating.  I imagine this would be great before a Canucks game since it is a block away from Rogers Arena.

Back to our dinner, we started with one each of the Salt & Pepper Wings and the Hot Wings.  Both were served with celery sticks and ranch dressing.  These wings were quite large and meaty.  When combined with a perfect fry job, the meat remained juicy and tender.  On the outside, there was a light batter that made things crispy with fairly rendered skin.  As for the hot wings, they were not crispy due to being tossed with sauce.  It was mildly spicy with some tanginess.

Onto the Tiny Tuna Tacos, they were made with wonton shells encasing diced ahi tuna (topped with furikake) and guacamole.  These actually reminded me of the ones I had at Telefèric Barcelona in Palo Alto.  So light and crispy, the wonton shells did not interfere with the delicate, yet meaty tuna.  The guac underneath added some creaminess and a binding agent to keep the tuna from falling out.  That sesame soy sauce was classic Asian with a surprising kick at the end.  The squeeze from the lime wedge added some needed acidity too.  One thing I would like to see is that they plate these in a stainless steel taco holder stand so that they do not get wet from contact with the lime wedges.

Something similar, yet different was the Tuna Stack consisting of diced ahi tuna atop fresh mango, avocado and seasoned sushi rice.  It sat in a soy ginger glaze and was drizzled with spicy mayo.  Loved the addition of furikake prawn crackers as they were super light and crunchy.  As you can clearly see, the stack was made with the freshest ingredients.  Colours and textures were on point.  Loved the sweetness from the mango as well as the sweet soy that had a gingery kick.

Off to our mains, Viv opted for the Chiptole Mango Chicken with atop grilled asparagus and ancient grains.  This was finished with avocado and pico de gallo.  She found this quite filling since it sported 2 chicken breasts.  These were well-charred, yet remained tender.  Lots of smokiness that was tempered by the sweet mango.  With the addition of fresh pico de gallo and avocado, this had a tropical Mexican flavour.

My daughter predictably ordered a fish dish in the Lemon Basil Salmon.  Gently-seared, the salmon was perfectly flaky and moist.  The lemon basil sauce was buttery and rich where the squeeze from the charred half-lemon provided balance.  It sat atop barely-cooked through asparagus and ancient grains.  The grains were chewy and nutty while benefiting from the butter sauce and the lemon juice.  Really brought it alive with flavour and acidity.

For myself, I had the Loaded Cheeseburger with aged white cheddar, 2 strips of bacon, sautéed mushrooms, LTOP, burger sauce and BBQ sauce.  Yes, this was a lot of stuff and the soft potato roll held it altogether conforming to whatever was left after each bite.  I found the burger patty to be fairly large, meaty and moist with a good char.  Bacon was super crispy while the mushrooms were well-seasoned.  Combined with fresh produce and some nuttiness from the cheddar, this was a pretty solid burger.  Fries on the side were crispy and well-salted.

My son had the most expensive item (as opposed to what my daughter usually does) with the 10oz CAB New York Steak with buttered mashed potatoes and grilled asparagus. As seen in the second picture, this was prepared medium-rare as requested.  Possibly a more aggressive char on the steak would've made it perfect, but ultimately, the meat was high-quality and super tender.  It was well-seasoned and properly rested with no juices leaking onto the plate.  Creamy and buttery, those mashed potatoes were quite good.  This also came with some demi-glace which was silky and full of meatiness.  Great with the steak and the potatoes.

For dessert, we shared the Key Lime Pie with fresh whipped cream topped with graham crumb and lime zest.  I believe there was both pecans and coconut in the firm and sweet buttery crust.  As for the key lime filling, it was smooth, tangy and sweet.  It was a good thing that they did not sweeten the rich and thick whipped cream since the dessert would've been too sweet.  This way, it as balanced and ate really well.  Loved the aromatic and slightly bitter lime zest.  After we were finished I had to think hard to compare my last visit to Moxie's with this current one.  I have to say this was better since the new menu items were prepared properly and were tasty.  Sure, Moxie's is a chain restaurant, but I am not a food snob.  I judge food independently regardless of where I ate it and who made it.   Bottom line is that we enjoyed our meal.

*Partial comp on the meal for this post*

The Good:
- Properly prepared proteins and vegetables
- Well-seasoned
- Nice location, close to many venues

The Bad:
- Restaurant is a bit hidden



It goes without saying that Vancouver is well-known for its diverse eats...  in Asian cuisine.  Yep, we got all the Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Indian eats that you want including a spattering Thai, Singaporean and Indonesian.  However, when you want something that is Eastern European and South American, well you might have to look real hard.  Well, we have a newish addition to that in Suyo, that dishes up modern Peruvian cuisine.  It has gotten a lot of positive praise, so Eileen and I decided to hit it up for dinner.

After starting with a few cocktails, we moved onto our first dish - Steelhead Trout Tartare.  This was nicely plated and served with nori-dusted tapioca crisps.  I found the tartare to be buttery due to the trout mixed with creamy avocado.  Naturally, the crisps provided not only a vessel, but also textural contrast.  Nice pops of brininess was provided by the ikura on top.  On the plate we found an aji amarillo sauce that provided a creamy spiciness.  The drops of avocado mousse added even more creaminess.  The only thing I would add to this is a bit more acidity.

We moved onto another raw dish with the Beef Tartare with capers, cornichons and salsa anticuchera.  This was rather saucy and was even more so after mixing the beef with the egg yolk.  It got even more wet when we added a dollop of huancaína.  Despite this, it ate quite well with plenty of tanginess, spice, sharpness and the butteriness of the beef.  Again, the tapioca crisps were the perfect vessel.

One of the best dishes of the meal had to be the Dungeness Crab Croquette Causa.  The croquette itself was practically all crab that was fluffy and light.  There was enough acidity to keep things bright and the outside was light and crispy.  It was topped with spicy aji amarillo aioli.  There was some avocado mousse for extra creaminess while the potato was smooth and extra tangy.  We also found grape tomatoes and quail's egg on the plate.

Also featuring aji amarillo, the Pork Chicharron was accompanied by polenta tamal, yam puree and rocoto emulsion.  Each chunk of pork belly was tender and fatty with some crackling on the top.  It was well-seasoned and tasted great by itself with roasted pork essence.  However, the spicy emulsion helped liven things up.  I found the polenta tamal squares to be delicate and mild-tasting, but some tapenade on top added the necessary saltiness.

Onto the bigger plates, we had the beautifully-plated Haida Gwaii Halibut Sudado with charred broccoli, peppers and onions in an aji amarillo shellfish broth.  Loved the tangy aromatic broth as it complimented the fish well without being overwhelming.  The charred broccoli was off the hook with a firm crunch, noted smokiness and a buttery exterior.  The side of chocio rice (with garlic and corn) was excellent.  It was chewy and fluffy at the same time while completely flavoured with aromatics and butteriness.  As for the halibut, it was a considerable portion, but it was not moist.  It wasn't completely dry, but it was dense.

By the time we got around to the Arroz con Pato, we were completely stuffed.  However we needed to at least try this dish.  It featured a seared duck breast atop cilantro-beer rice with a fried duck egg, huancaína and Peruvian salsa.  The duck was cooked perfectly being barely medium.  It was tender and moist with enough seasoning.  The skin was a bit tough though.  That cilantro-beer rice was delicate and flavourful while the addition of the egg added a rich silkiness.

For dessert, we shared the Chocolate Tres Leches with whipped toasted honey and berries.  This was a fine finish to the meal as it was super moist due to being soaked with condensed milk.  However, the cake itself was excellent with plenty of chocolaty goodness complimented by balanced sweetness.  As a whole, the meal at Suyo was quite good and well-portioned.  Suyo reminds me a little of Andina in Portland, but with even more modern touches.

The Good:
- Nice vibe, modern and inviting
- Overall good food
- Excellent service

The Bad:
- Food is good, but could use a few touch-ups

Pablo Cheese Tart

Okay, I'm sure you've seen this before - Japanese soufflé cheesecakes with their airy and creamy textures.  People have lined up for those and hey I have to admit, I do like them.  We've also seen places that offer up cheese tarts as a different option to the soufflé cheesecake.  Pablo Cheese Tart, another brand out-of-Japan, has entered the Vancouver market offering up cheese tarts (in both large and small sizes) in a variety of flavours.  I was invited to a sneak peek of the place before it opens officially opens on July 21st at 11:00am.  Yes, that is today!

Before I got to the cheese tarts, I sampled some of their Pablo Smoothies including Mango, Strawberry and Cheese Tart.  Normally I'm not much of a dessert guy but these were just sweet enough and had some good natural flavours.  I particularly enjoyed the strawberry as it didn't have an artificial aftertaste.  It was creamy and smooth, yet being fairly light at-the-same-time.  The mango was also natural-tasting while being more mild than the strawberry.  I found the cheese tart interesting as I felt like I was drinking an original cheese tart.  Loved the cheesiness that was mildly sweet.

Onto the full-sized items, I had to go for the classic Freshly Baked Cheese Tart.  This featured a firm crust that was somewhat flaky.  It was the perfect textural contrast to the soft and creamy cheese filling.  About that filling, it had a distinct initial cheesy hit that carried on to the cheesy aftertaste.  Pretty consistent through each bite.  It was not overly sweet, rather relying on aromatics and pungency.  The apricot jam glaze on top helped keep things from drying out as well as offering up some fruity sweetness.

So for those trying to get their Japanese soufflé cheesecake fix, they have a Basque Cheesecake that is somewhat similar to that.  Unlike the Uncle Tetsu and Castella, the Basque cheesecake at Pablo has that classic sunken appearance as well as a slightly scorched top.  Hence, there is much more of a denser layer on top while the rest of the cheesecake is a touch richer.  With that being said, when cut, the cheesecake is still very light and airy (almost falling apart).  The cheesiness is evident and the sweetness measured.  I quite liked this since there was a definite delineation between the top of the cheesecake and the bottom.

Onto the real draw of Pablo Cheese Tart - the Pablo Minis!  These are so cute and aesthetically-pleasing.  Their take out boxes are well-made and sturdy, keeping those precious tarts in one piece.  I can see bringing these to a get-together and being a hero much like bringing over Beta 5 cream puffs.  They are priced at $4.99 for each deluxe tart and $4.75 for the basic ones (such as the original). These have a soufflé-like texture, but a bit firmer.  Something in between a soufflé cheesecake and a regular baked one.  I'm sure this is due to their smaller size in comparison to the large Basque Cheesecake.

I tried most of what they had including the Chestnut, Tiramisu, Ube and White Chocolate Raspberry.  I'm not a huge fan of chestnut anything but this was okay due to the modest amount on top.  It was sweet and nutty.  Tiramisu had familiar flavours, but much cheesier due to the filling.  Loved the colour on the ube and ultimately it was on the sweeter side.  Talking about sweet, the white chocolate was definitely that but the raspberry balanced it out with some tangy fruitiness.

The baseline tart was the Classic and it was similar to its bigger version except being more firm.  The Blueberry was somewhat different as the cheese filling had blueberry in it (making it look kinda grey).  As much as blueberry is a subtle fruit, the filling did taste like it.  The Crème Brûlée featured a torched sugar topping that was smoky and sweet.  Apple Cinnamon was one of the most impactful due to the amount of topping it had.  It did take on the sweet apple flavour.

Last 3 consisted of the Peach, Juicy Mango and Strawberry Mochi. These all had one thing in common - being pretty fruity.  So if you want something a bit lighter due to the fruit, these would be it.  The most flavourful was the mango since it was sweet and "juicy".  Loved the mochi on the strawberry as it provided another texture.  Overall, the cheese tarts at Pablo are good and the options are pretty extensive.  I didn't even get to try their Matcha and Earl Grey cheese tarts as well as the Chocolate and Premium Cheesecake.  Will be back.

*All food and beverages were complimentary*

The Good:
- The minis are attractive and taste good too
- Lots of choice
- Cheese flavour is impactful

The Bad:
- With any of these Japanese cheesecake/cheese tart spots, it can get expensive  

Meet Fan

You know I go on and on about food costs these days...  This goes for groceries, restaurants and also the cost for restaurants to operate.  I understand and accept that food prices will and are going to remain high due to inflation, fuel and labour costs.  However, I'm always on the lookout for good value when it comes to dining out and I've legitimately found some.  The latest is Meet Fan out on Kingsway near Boundary.  They are primarily a takeout spot with a few seats for dine-in.  There are snacks, rice and noodle bowls that are reasonably priced and spoiler alert, they are tasty too!  Recently, we were invited to try out a good selection of their wares.

First off, we were presented with a selection of snacks including the  Mini Pork Floss Tamago Beignet Balls that were a nice little bite.  Encased in the soft and fluffy donut was a piece of tamago while the outside was coated with sweet mayo and a tonne of dried pork floss.  These had a salty sweetness to them and were quite addictive.  We also got an alternative variation of these in the Pork Floss Tamago Puff Roll, which in my mind, were even better.  The flaky and buttery pastry had an appealing softness to them.  Inside, the egg and pork floss provided texture and flavour that was akin to the beignet balls.

Continuing on with the same delicious pastry, we also had the Smoked Duck Puff Roll.   Again, the flaky pastry was a good starting point.  Inside, the smoked duck was tender and moist with plenty of smokiness and saltiness.  This was tempered by the julienned cucumbers that also offered up a cold crunch.  This was somewhat along the lines of a Peking Duck wrap, but just a bit different and much more fulfilling.

With all these things stuffed into pastry and such, it was by no surprise we also had a sandwich.  This was the Deviled Egg & Chicken Salad Sandwich.  As much as the ingredients are important, the use of brioche was perfect.  It was soft and slightly sweet while giving way to the savoury filling.  There was fluffy egg, tender chicken and crunchy cucumber that would've not looked out-of-place at a afternoon tea service.

For the next item, they ditched all forms of carbs and went just for the meat in the Grilled Chicken Skewers with wasabi mayo.  First of all, the use of dark meat helped ensure that the skewers wouldn't be dry.  Second, it provided more umaminess and body due to the chicken fat.  I liked how the chicken was completely marinated so there was plenty of salty sweetness.  The wasabi mayo was mild and that was a good thing.

Moving back to the duck, we had the Truffle Smoked Duck Salad.  Now I already knew how tender and buttery the duck was from the puff roll, so it was even more evident in this salad (since we were eating actual slices).  This was because they sous-vide the duck first.  There was a light smokiness to it while the truffle dressing was just right not being overwhelming.  We found spring mix underneath as well as some corn with imitation crab on the side.

My absolute favourite "snack" was the Spicy Mala Crawfish Rice.  Normally, I hate eating crawfish because it is so much work to gain access to so little meat.  However, they did the work here by putting a considerable amount of tender crawfish atop rice.  These were dressed in an impactfully spicy mala sauce that was delicious without hurting our tastebuds.  I could've gobbled this whole bowl myself if I didn't need to pace myself.

Onto the bigger items, we had the Garlic & Scallion Sous-Vide Soy Chicken Rice.   For $14.95, this was a good amount of delicious food.  Completely affordable in my books.  So back to the food, the chicken was super tender and the flavours had penetrated the meat.  To complement the soy flavour, the scallion sauce and fried garlic offered up brightness and aromatics.  Loved the addition of a ramen egg on the side.

Suspiciously looking like the same bowl of food, the Pesto Sous-Vide Soy Chicken Rice was completely different in flavour despite the using the same soy chicken.  You see, the pesto was quite apparent and created a non-Asian tasting concoction.  Sure it was still the same moist and flavourful soy chicken, but it suddenly tasted Italian.  Surprisingly good combination even though I wouldn't have expected it a first glance.

Here we are with the delicious smoked duck again in the form of Teriyaki Smoked Duck Rice.  The sauces were actually served on the side and that let us taste the duck all by itself.  It was really good with balanced smokiness and enough saltiness for effect.  With the side sauces, we could've made this teriyaki or truffle.  I tried the teriyaki as we already had the truffle.  Naturally it gave a sweet saltiness to the dish.

Now for our first beef item in the 24-Hour Slow Cooked Beef Rib Strips with black pepper truffle mixed noodle.  Oh I really liked this one as the black pepper sauce really made this dish sing.  In addition to providing a peppery kick to the tender beef, it made the noodles extra savoury and appealing.  There was this depth from the pepper as well as the truffle that made the al dente noodles addictive.

So another favourite of mine was the Shredded Mala Chicken Rice with lots of peanuts and nori on top.  Their mala seasoning is on point with a bite that is numbing to a degree but not really overpowering either.  The tender chicken soaked up all of the nutty spiciness and helped flavour the rice underneath.  Loved the crunch from the nuts too.  Also, those marinated eggs were nicely custardy in the middle.

A bowl with the same chicken but tasting completely different was the Shredded Chicken Shoyu Wasabi Rice.  This one was a Japanese-inspired creation complete with tobiko and nori on top.  The result was something quite creamy with a bit of saltiness, brininess and bite.  Definitely a 180 from the mala rice.  Really, that is the cool thing about Meet Fan.  They use many of the same ingredients (smart thing to do so costs are kept in check), but the dishes taste remarkably dissimilar.  Prices are reasonable and the portion sizes are good.  What's not to like about this place?

*All food and beverages were complimentary*

The Good:
- Affordable
- Super tasty with unique flavours
- Well-portioned

The Bad:

- If you wanted to dine-in, there are limited seats
- Repeated proteins, but it keeps the costs down and they really do taste different

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