Sherman's Food Adventures: May 2024

Rocky Mountain Flatbread (Get Crafty Thursdays)

Boy I haven't been back to Rocky Mountain Flatbread since they had a location in Kits.  Yes, it really has been that long!  Hey, there is nothing wrong with RMF, but as I've said over and over again, with so many options in town (and out-of-town), I can only re-visit so many places!  I won't lie, it makes it easier for me to do so when they ask me to return, which is true in this case.  Along with Eileen, Roanna and Jackie, we were there for "Get Crafty Thursdays" where we could make our own pizza creations.  This included a choice of starter as well for $29.50 per person.

About those starters, there are 2 choices each of salads and soups.  We decided to try them all so we could report on them for you!  The 2 salads included Fresh Herb Salad and a Fig & Goat Cheese Salad.  I personally preferred the fig & goat cheese salad as it had more impact in terms of taste and texture.  The natural sweetness of the figs went well with the creamy gaminess of the goat cheese.  The herb salad was much more typical with some citrus to brighten things up.

For the soups, there was a choice between Tomato Basil and Potato Corn Chowder.  I really enjoyed the natural flavours of the tomato soup as it felt like I was eating a fresh ripe tomato except with it being more concentrated with a bright tanginess.  The basil really did come through and it was a nice compliment.  As for the chowder, it was not too thick, which made it easier to eat.  It was still rich and full of tender potatoes and the sweetness of the corn niblets.  I appreciated that this was not over-seasoned, so that the natural taste came through.

Onto the pizzas, we walked over to a table that already had our pizza dough ready for kneading and rolling.  That we did.  The dough was easy to work with and we had tips throughout the process.  We had the option of tomato sauce or pesto, but since we wanted it all, we chose half and half.  Onto the Toppings, we had many options including schinken speck, calabrese salami, pepperoni, salami, pesto chicken, fresh mozzarella, kale, peppers, mushrooms, sundried tomato, jalapeno, olives, artichoke and caramelized onions.  I loaded up my pizza with pesto chicken, artichoke, mushrooms and caramelized onion on the pesto side and sundried tomato, salsami, calabrese, olives and fresh mozzarella on the tomato side.

After we finished constructing our Pizzas, we handed it off to the kitchen where they placed them in a wood fire oven.  Not long after, our pizzas were done and served hot to our table.  The thin crust was uniformly crispy from edge to the middle.  However, there was still some chewy doughiness left so that it wasn't a cracker texture.  This was the case even with all of the toppings.  However, Jackie's pizza was much softer with a non-crispy centre due to the massive amount of toppings on her pizza.

In addition to the set meal, we ordered some more items to try so we could get a sense of the menu.  This included the Roasted Cauliflower Bites and the Garlic Prawns.  I enjoyed the firm texture of the fully-cooked through cauliflower florets.  When dipped into the side of vegan ranch, there was some creaminess to go with the seasoned cauliflower.  I personally would've liked to see more char, but that didn't make-or-break the dish.  At first, I was skeptical of the garlic prawns as they sat atop a slice of cucumber, but they turned out to be really good!  They were cooked beautifully retaining a meaty snap while aggressively seasoned.  That worked out well with the unseasoned cucumber.  The lemon dill sauce was tangy and herbaceous.

We tried 2 pastas as well in the Penne Bolognese and the Maple Bacon Penne.  Both featured al dente pasta and some garlic pizza bread.  I enjoyed the bacon penne the most as it was creamy, sweet and full of bacon goodness.  It reminded me of a carbonara but just sweeter.  As for the bolognese, it was plenty meaty and cheesy.  I wouldn't say it tasted like a classic bolognese though.  I thought it was more of a rich meat sauce that was good in its own way.  There was depth and the tomato-based sauce wasn't too acidic.

To make sure we got it all, we tried their classic Artisan Flatbread with fig, brie and prosciutto.  I felt this pizza had a better crust than the ones we had made.  This was probably due to the fact they know the exact quantity of ingredients to put on top of the pizza.  Furthermore, without an actual sauce, the crust was not subjected to excess moisture.  Hence, the crust was uniformly crispy with only the slightest chewiness.  The combination of flavours was familiar in the sweet fig jam, creamy brie and salty prosciutto.

For dessert. we shared the Double Chocolate Brownie and Apple Crumble.  The brownie was pretty solid with a rich, almost fudge-like consistency.  It wasn't overly sweet though and the chocolate really came through.  As for the crumble, it was full of tender apples that were tangy and sweet.  The crisp on top had good texture.  At the end of the meal, we liked the fact that we participated in making our pizzas.  Of course we didn't "make" the dough, but the construction and choice of toppings was a fun way to personalize our meal.   Price was reasonable with all things considered.

*All food and beverages were complimentary for this blog post*

The Good:
- A fun activity that isn't expensive
- Good pizza dough that is also prepared well in their oven
- Generally solid food all-around

The Bad:
- For this location, parking in the area is a bit challenging

Yory Korean Cuisine

There seems to be a new Korean restaurant opening up every month now.  Way back when I was a kid (yah, that was awhile ago...), we had a limited selection of Korean restaurants.  Now, it wouldn't be a surprise to find a decent one in any location across the Lower Mainland.  I've been noticing that more and more Korean restaurants are opening up in Surrey and Langley that can rival some of the best along North Road in Burquitlam.  The latest one on my radar is Yory Korean Cuisine out in Fleetwood in Surrey.  Jackie and I were invited to check it out.

We had a wide selection of dishes including their Assorted Seafood Pancake.  This was quite the robust version with a thicker-than-usual pancake loaded with seafood and green onion.  Despite being on the thicker side, the pancake did not eat heavy.  Sure, it was not exactly light, but it was not doughy nor dense.  It was almost fluffy with a nicely seared exterior being crispy.  Inside, the seafood was not overdone while the amount of green onion was limited.  Hence it wasn't one note in flavour.

One item that really caught our eye was the Deep Fried Flounder.  For only $21.95 this was one massive flounder.  It was heavily battered and deep fried to perfection.  Beyond the crunchy exterior, the fish itself was flaky and moist.  The fish was naturally sweet and was not fishy at all.  It was served with a spicy dip that really brought the dish to life.  This was the a la carte version where one could also have it in a dinner set.  It costs a bit less and I assume the flounder would be smaller.  For this one, I found it a good value and perfect for sharing.

Next, we had the Wang Jokbal or pork hock cooked in sweet soy and served with ssam jang, shrimp sauce, lettuce, garlic and jalapeno.  Somewhat similar concept to bossam, the sliced pork hock is wrapped in lettuce (rather than Napa cabbage) with all of the condiments.  I found the pork hock to be excellent being tender with nicely gelatinized fat and skin.  It was flavourful from the sweet soy braise while balanced out by the spicy ssam jang and fermented flavour of the shrimp sauce.

We also spotted KFC (Korean Fried Chicken) on the menu and of course we ordered some!  We got half & half of Sweet Soy and Spicy & Sweet Boneless Chicken.  This was a pretty large portion where we found large nuggets of dark meat.  The batter on the outside was crunchy despite being completely sauced.  Inside, the meat was juicy and tender.  Personally, I love the sweet soy flavour the most and this one didn't disappoint.  It was plenty tasty with with more sweetness than saltiness.  The spicy was no slouch either with a good balance between spice and sweetness.

The biggest item we had was the Jeon Gol Hansang (Korean Hot Pot).  We chose the Bulgogi Mushroom Jeon Gol with thinly sliced beef ribeye, glass noodles, mushrooms, Napa cabbage, rice cake, wood ear, green onion and crown daisy.  For $46.95, this was a fair portion where it would be best to share with 4 people (along with other dishes).  I found the broth to be sweet and clean while taking on the meatiness of the raw beef and umaminess from the assorted mushrooms.  Loved the glass noodles where it soaked up all of the deliciousness of the ingredients.

Their best value, in my opinion are their Hansang (limited to 15 per day).  We had the SoonDuBu Bakban Hansang for $19.95 and it included choice of pork cutlet or fried chicken, choice of seafood, meat or mushroom tofu soup, rice and assorted side dishes.   The side dishes included japchae, banchan, octopus and pancake.  I found the pork cutlet to be crispy from the panko coating, yet a touch dry on the inside due to the leanness of the meat.  The soup was full of ingredients and naturally sweet.

Just for kicks, we added the Spicy Kimchi Cheese Fried Rice served on a cast iron plate.  Although it wasn't really sizzling that much by the time it arrived at our table, there was a cheese crust on the bottom that was both nutty and texturally appealing.  When mixed with the rice and runny sunny side egg, there were layers of texture including the stringy cheese and silky yolk with the flavourful rice.  I liked the fact that the rice was a bit spicy, sweet and savoury without being sour from the kimchi.

We also had the Corn Cheese also served on a sizzling cast iron plate.  The cheese crust for this dish was much more aggressive being crispy and nutty.  Beyond the aroma, it added a nice crunch to the corn niblets and stringy cheese.  About the corn, it was grilled enough so that there was caramelization with intense sweetness.  Overall, the food at Yory was good and well-portioned.  Loved some of the unique items on the menu too including the great value Hansang.

*All food and beverages were complimentary for this blog post*

The Good:
- Generally tasty
- Good portions
- Great value with the Hansang

The Bad:
- Staff can be kept very busy when the restaurant is full

Liuyishou Richmond (AYCE Menu)

My love for Liuyishou hot pot has been pretty obvious from all of my previous blog posts.  For those who feel it is because of the sponsored posts, please remember, I've held this opinion even before those media invites.  Yes, I've paid to go there and I feel it is a good value compared to some of the more expensive spots in town.  Furthermore, I do not believe that the quality nor selection suffers because of that.  Lastly, their sauce bar is just as extensive as Haidilao and Dolar Shop.  This time around, Jackie and I were invited to try their Premium AYCE at their Richmond location.  

The first thing that needs to be talked about is their Sauce Bar.  It is pretty comprehensive with everything you need to make a custom dipping sauce.  In addition to all of the condiments, there also small dishes in the form of bean curd skin, bean sprouts & vermicelli, pig's ear, spicy shrimp & mussels, mouth-watering chicken, grapes, oranges, cherry tomatoes, chicken giblets, honeydew and spicy peanuts.  Adjacent to the sauce bar, we found some more dishes in the tomato egg, fried rice, spring rolls, fries, fried mantou, spicy green beans and spicy tofu.  I found the cold dishes at the sauce bar to be quite good, but the food in the chaffing trays were so-so.  Better save your appetite for the AYCE hot pot stuff instead!

About that hot pot stuff, if you have 4 or more people participating in the Premium AYCE, you get a live Dungeness Crab.  That is already in addition to all of the seafood options that also include Snow Crab Legs, Oysters, Clams, Mussels, Scallops and Snakefish.  We cooked up the crab and it was truly fresh with bouncy and sweet meat.  The snow crab legs were previously frozen of course, but they still turned out well.  The rest of the seafood was on point being the right texture (assuming one cooks it properly) where the scallops were buttery, fish was flaky and the oysters were buttery.

The meat choices were plentiful and included Aged Beef, Beef Tongue, Brisket Deckle, Sliced Marble Beef and Wagyu Beef.  Not to mention, we had the classic Liu's Beef & Lamb Platter as a wood ring round the hot pot.  As expected, the meat quality was good where the colour and appearance was appealing.  My favourite of the bunch was of course the Wagyu beef as it was fatty and when cooked, was buttery and melted-in-my-mouth.  I love lamb, so the sliced fatty lamb was also great with the usual lamb gaminess.  If you have seen it, they slice the meat to order here, so it is always a bit frozen and perfect for dunking into the hot broth without sticking together as a clump.

So there are some a la carte menu items that you can add to your AYCE meal.  We chose the Braised Meat Platter with quail's egg, chicken feet, intestines, wings and pressed tofu.  This was an homage to Chiu Chow cuisine and it was pretty solid with rich old soy flavours.  As part of the AYCE, you can also order Sashimi in the form of salmon, tun and hokkigai.  This was serviceable and complimented the hot pot with something much lighter and not needing to be cooked.  Overall, the premium AYCE for $55.95 features enough options to justify the price.  If you want to be less spendy, you can do the regular AYCE for $39.95.

*All food and beverages were complimentary for this blog post*

The Good:
- High-quality options including Dungeness Crab
- Extensive sauce bar
- Love their fatty spicy broth

The Bad:
- This is common for all AYCE spots, but 1.5 hour time limit means you have to be efficient with your ordering and eating
- This particular location features limited parking spots during busy times

Tutto Belle Il Gelato

As much as Vancouver has a wide selection of many things, it really doesn't have much in the way of Ice Cream and Gelato.  Let's be real here, the landscape is dominated by Earnest, Rain or Shine, La Casa and Bella.  Yah, there are some other spots, but in reality, if you were a tourist in town for 24 hours, you would probably visit one the of aforementioned places.  Since I am a local, I know there are more choices than that, but if you compare to other cities, Vancouver just doesn't have an extensive ice cream/gelato history.  Well, we do have another in town in Tutto Belle II Gelato on West 4th.

I recently was able to do a quick visit to the place and the first thing that struck me was the availability of unique flavours.  For myself, I wanted to try the sorbetto and the 2 options that spoke to me were the Mango & Passionfruit and the Strawberry & Raspberry.  Texturally, I found both smooth while a touch thick.  Maybe a touch gummy, but nothing offensive.  I thought the mango & passionfruit was mango dominant, yet that really didn't matter as it was fresh and natural-tasting while being purposefully sweet.  Predictably, the strawberry & raspberry was tangy and tart with the raspberry coming through.

Viv decided on the Blood Orange sorbetto served in a waffle cone.   It had an attractive colour and was a bit sweeter than the 2 flavours I had tried.  There was the unmistakable essence of blood orange, but we felt it was not as strong as we would've liked.  That didn't mean we didn't enjoy it still because it had the same qualities as the other ones.  We liked how they really loaded up the scoop atop the waffle cone and didn't leave us wanting for more.  The cone itself was aromatic and crunchy, holding up to the sorbetto. My daughter went for the White Peach and it was probably the sweetest of the 4 sorbettos we tried.  It was probably due to the fact that white peach lacks inherent tanginess to offset the sweetness.  With that being said, it wasn't as if the sugar content was excessive either.  Being more subtle, the white peach was more floral tasting.  This actually allowed for the waffle cone flavour to come out more unlike the dominant tanginess of the strawberry & raspberry.

My son was the only one to choose gelato and he went for his usual in the Chocolate.  This was pretty creamy and rich.  Seeing how gelato is made with milk, that meant it was executed properly.  It was plenty chocolatey while the sweetness was balanced.  I thought this was the best option to go with the waffle cone rather than the fruit flavours.  As with the cups, they were not shy about loading it onto the cone.

I returned a few weeks later on my own coin to try a few more flavours including the Mochi Ice Cream featuring strawberry gelato.  I tried eating it with the fork that was provided but honestly, I made a mess of it.  Better to jut pick it up and eat it.  I found the thin layer of mochi quite soft, but if I didn't eat it quickly enough, some parts got more chewy.  The gelato was creamy and did taste like strawberries.

I ended up also trying 2 more of their gelato flavours including Apple Pie and Sour Cherry.  Once again, the texture was creamy and light.  I thought the apple pie was rather sweet and could've used a bit more apple tang.  As for the sour cherry, it was mildly sweet with some cherry flavour.  Again, I would've liked a bit more tang to it.  
Overall, the gelato and sorbetto at Tutto Belle II Gelato were good with many desirable flavours.  Definitely worth checking out!

*All gelato and sorbetto were complimentary for one of the two visits for this post*

The Good:
- Desirable flavours
- Not shy about the portion size
- Balanced sweetness

The Bad:
- Sorbetto was on the gummier side but on a subsequent visit, it was much improved
- Some of the gelato flavours could be a bit tangier to match its description

The Hard Bean Brunch Co. (Port Moody)

Back in January of this year, I was at Earl of Sandwich in Willoughby and noticed a new brunch spot a few stores down.  The Hard Bean Brunch Co. looked like a place I would definitely want to try sometime.  I filed that away in my mind for the next time I would be out in Langley.  Coincidentally, Nikita message me shortly after suggesting we meet up at Hard Bean for brunch.  I guess she read my mind!  However, the place is so popular, I wasn't able to get a reservation.  Then I turned my attention to the Port Moody location and we ended up going there instead.

We ended up with a wide range of dishes including the Nacho Breakfast with black beans, pickled onions, corn salsa, scrambled eggs, cheddar, jack + feta cheese, pomegranate seed and guacamole.  Beef was added for another $6.00.  This was a pretty large portion of nachos for one person to eat.  Frankly, this would probably be better to share for the table.  This was quite good where the nachos were crunchy and well topped with tender spiced beef.  They remained crunchy despite the amount of wet toppings.  There was some spice to this, but not overwhelmingly so.

Probably the most aesthetically-challenged dishes was the Chicken Pesto Quesadilla with pumpkin seed pesto, sundried tomato, marinated chicken, roasted red peppers, jack & feta cheese and hard ranch dip.  Not much you can do with a quesadilla as it is always flat with the ingredients hidden by the tortilla.  Despite its appearance, it was also quite good.  The pesto chicken was tender and had all of the bright flavours we expected.  Lots of melted cheese and the addition of sundried tomato and peppers provided some sweetness and tang.

For myself, I had the Hard Bean Burger with a house-made patty, lettuce, tomato, pickle, bacon, cheddar, burger sauce and fries.  I really enjoyed this burger as it reminded me of some of the better smash-burgers I've had in town.  The patty had a crispy exterior while still moist inside.  Fresh produce and melted cheddar help add even more moisture while the brioche bun held things together.  Fries were good too being crispy.

My son went for the Yorkshire Benny with bacon and smashed hashbrowns.  Rather than having an English muffin, the Yorkshire pudding was so much softer and eggy which made things not as heavy.  The medium poached eggs featured fully cooked egg whites while the yolk was still runny.  The hollandaise sauce was creamy while properly seasoned with just a touch of acidity.

As usual, Nikita and Bluebeard ordered the same dish in the Hard Bean Co. Hash with smashed browns, ham, onion, bloody mary sauce, red pepper, eggs, garlic toast, Brussels sprouts, grana padano cheese and green onion.  As much as this was satisfying in terms of the amount of well-prepared components, the overwhelming sour tomato taste of the bloody mary sauce made this dish completely one-note.  Hence, both of them had a hard time finishing it.  

My daughter went big with the Brunch Charcuterie Board with sliced hardboiled eggs, maple drizzle French toast sticks, marmalade, bacon rolls, blueberry maple sausage and seasonal fruit.  This was a bit interesting in terms of presentation, but ultimately, it was just a collection of breakfast things.  She enjoyed it though as the French Toast sticks were crunchy while soft on the inside.  Sausage was moist and tender with the sweetness of the blueberries and maple syrup.

The last plate at the table was the Barnyard Omelette with hard ham, free run eggs, corn, peppers, jack cheese, red onions, spinach and smashed browns.  This was essentially a fold-over omelette that featured fairly cooked eggs, so it wasn't exactly fluffy.  It wasn't rubbery either, so that was good.  Inside, the amount of filling was substantial enough for impact.   In the end, the food at Hard Bean was not bad.  I wouldn't say it was outstanding, but there were some highlights. 

The Good:
- Some interesting items
- Cool space, cool vibes
- Most items are good

The Bad:
- The hash was too sour

Nha Toi Boutique Café & Truedan Bubble Tea Surrey

As much as South Surrey and White Rock sound far for most people, it really isn't as far as it seems.  First of all, if we were living in Los Angeles or the Bay Area, the commute to White Rock would be typical.  We are really spoiled here when things are so close in proximity.  So that is what we had in mind when we made our way out to Nha Toi Boutique Café & Truedan Bubble Tea.  Okay, if that sounded weird to you, it is because Truedan Bubble Tea is located inside Nha Toi Vietnamese.  So you can have the best of both worlds!

So what is different about Nha Toi?  In a sea of Vietnamese restaurants, Nha Toi seeks to bring the very best as some of their ingredients are brought in specifically from Vietnam.  This was true for the Fresh Papaya Salad featuring a large prawn cracker made specifically for Nha Toi and imported from Vietnam.   This cracker was so flavourful with natural prawn that I've never had before.  Really good.  As for the salad, it was definitely fresh and crunchy while the dressing was bright and full of umaminess from the fish sauce.  This was further amplified by the roasted shallots, Thai basil, chili and peanuts.

With a bit of everything, the Street Food Platter included crispy spring rolls, fresh salad rolls, taro chips, fried fish cakes, grilled lemongrass prawn mousse skewers and chicken nuggets.  Things were pretty much what was expected with spring rolls that were crispy.  Filling was moist and flavourful.  Salad rolls were fresh with crunchy lettuce and well-prepared shrimp.  The best part was the dip on the side as it had a notable spice at the tail end.  Not your typical hoisin peanut sauce mix.  This had way more depth-of-flavour and wasn't overly sweet.  Chicken nuggets were a touch dry, but the batter was crispy and light.

The most impactful dish was the Red Rice Noodle Bowl featuring an addictive crab sauce that was both sweet and briny.  However, it was the big piece of house-made crab cake that put this dish over-the-top.  It was fluffy, briny and naturally sweet.  That needed to be eaten with the noodles for full effect.  As much as I enjoyed the wide rice noodles, I would've liked thinner noodles (even though it wasn't supposed to be).

Just for default reasons, we had to get a bowl of Pho.  That we did with the Beef Noodle Soup featuring sliced brisket, beef meatballs and thinly-sliced AAA striploin.  With lots of beef, this bowl of Pho ate robust but was not heavy due to the clean broth.  It was meaty with some sweetness and the classic star anise hit.  Noodles were plentiful and al dente.  Sure, this was on the higher-end of the Pho pricing spectrum, but it was also filling with plenty of meat.

Okay, you might be looking at this Lemongrass Chicken on Rice and wondering why the meat was not charred.  Well, I was thinking the same thing and asked.  Turns out the local clientele prefer it less charred.  Well, as I've always said, you must cater to your customers.  If you want it charred, just ask.  Despite it being white meat, it was not dry and in fact, was juicy and well-brined.  Ate much better than it appeared.

Trying to hit all the favourites, we also had the Pork Patty Banh Mi.  This was a fully-loaded sub where eat bite guaranteed a mouthful of sweet and juicy pork patty.  To compliment, there was also pickled daikon & carrots, cilantro, cucumber, green peppers and signature house-made sauce.  This was not lacking flavour nor texture.  Even the baguette was crusty on the outside and airy on the inside.

We also wanted to try the Fish Sauce-Glazed Wings and of course we got those too.  This featured fairly large mid-wings that were deep-fried just right.  The skin was crispy and well-rendered.  Inside, the meat was juicy and tender.  Naturally, the best thing about these was the glaze as it was sweet and caramelized with a salty brininess.  I would've loved even more of it on the side to dip the meat into.

Of course we can't forget about the bevvies from Truedan.  The main draw for these drinks is their freshness featuring real ingredients.  Loved the refreshing sweetness of the Mango & Strawberry Yogurt Slush, but the best one was the Brown Sugar Milk with Fresh Taro.  The smooth texture of the aromatic taro was so freakin' awesome.  Do get this if you are there!  Overall, I was impressed with the food here.  They put in the effort to make it right and put in some unique touches.  Having excellent Truedan drinks on site doesn't hurt things either.

*All food and beverages were complimentary for this blog post*

The Good:
- They put in the effort, even with the smaller details (like sauces and the prawn cracker)
- Things don't seem commercialized, a bit like home-cooking
- Excellent Truedan drinks

The Bad:
- Street food platter had some times that were a bit dry

Search this Site