Sherman's Food Adventures

Song (by Kin Kao)

So you might be wondering why I'm blogging about Song (by Kin Kao) again so soon.  Well, first of all, if you have noticed, it is no longer Song because if you Google that alone, you come up with the wiki page about music.  So for those who are unaware, Song is the second location of Kin Kao Kitchen hence the new moniker after the name.  For me at least, Song is much better than the original Kin Kao Kitchen on Commercial Drive.  Second reason I'm posting about the place is that I love the food and I had some new dishes which were very good.  This post is actually an amalgamation of 2 separate visits.

So without further ado, here we go into the food!  One of the must-haves here is the Lemongrass Chicken Wings.  These mid-wings are split right down the middle ensuring that they are crispy throughout with only a bit of moist meat on the bone.  Skin is completely rendered and the seasoning is impactful complete with fried lemongrass on top.  The side of spicy namjim sauce on the side adds the perfect balance of brininess, sweetness and herbaceousness.

I also love their Shrimp Toast prepared atop Fife organic milk bread.  Even though it is deep fried, the bread retains its soft and airy texture.  Naturally, the crispiness on the outside only highlights the contrast in texture when you bite into it.  The shrimp is sweet and bouncy and amazingly the bread isn't soaked completely with oil.  This is further complimented by the side of achat pickles that offer up acidity, crunch and sharpness.

I don't know why I keep ordering the Grilled Pork Jowl because other than the first time I had it, it hasn't been grilled enough.  I'm not even sure if this is on the current menu.  As you can see in the picture, it isn't charred very much, hence it is more like lightly steamed pork jowl instead of grilled.  Therefore, the caramelization isn't evident and the texture is just soft.  However, the spicy jaew dip on the side does bring the meat alive.

Another favourite of mine is the Pomelo Salad with crispy shallots, shredded coconut and cashews.  Unlike many other version you'll encounter, this one here is mainly comprised of juicy and sweet pomelo.  it is further amped by the dressing that has all of the goodness of fish sauce and plenty of sweetness.  The aromatics from the shallots and coconut are addictive as well as the nuttiness of the cashews and peanuts.

So is it excessive to pay $50.00 for a Tom Yum Prawns Soup?  Normally it is a rhetorical question but in this case, it really isn't that simple of answer.  First, this is big enough to feed 4 people and second, you really can't see the prawns hidden within it.  Those prawns are huge and beautifully cooked with a meaty crunch.  The soup itself is super impactful with lingering spice and brininess.  Lots of aromatics from the ingredients too.

Currently, they have the Grilled Spot Prawns (since it is the season).  These are simply grilled without anything on them.  For such a beautiful ingredient, there really isn't much you need to add.  The natural sweetness of the delicate prawns really come through and further enhanced by the kiss on the grill.  Then the spicy namjum sauce only adds some tangy and spicy cilantro hits.

So one of the must-have new dishes is the Stir-Fried Clams in a house chili garlic sauce with fried Thai basil.  There is no way to have this dish without ordering a bowl of rice or two.  The sauce is so savoury and addictive, you just want to keep shoving spoonfuls of rice into your mouth.  There is the sweetness of the palm sugar, the aromatics of the garlic and the kick from the chili.  Trust me, you will lick the plate.

I believe that their Pad Thai has to be one of the better versions in town with chewy noodles laced with a sweet tamarind sauce that also has some spice and brininess from the fish sauce.  It is nicely caramelized and features all of the good things found in Pad Thai such as pressed tofu and pickled turnip.  However, if you look closely (and taste), there are some tiny dried shrimp strewn throughout.  Small detail, but makes a difference.

Another must-order item at Song is the Squash Stir-Fry (but not sure if that is on the menu at the moment).  It is comprised of sliced kobacha and egg with garlic and mushroom sauce.  The textures in this dish are off-the-hook with the soft, yet firm squash interwoven with the fluffy egg.  Then you have the sweet umaminess of the sauce that is the beneficiary of caramelized palm sugar.  More aromatics are provided by the Thai basil.

Another dish that is full of umaminess as well as textures is the Mushroom Stir Fry with Fried Silken Egg Tofu.  Absolutely love the contrast between the crispy fried tofu with the delicate silkiness of the centre.  Then you add in all of the earthy mushrooms bathed in an mushroom oyster-sauce with garlic and you have subtle, yet impactful flavours.  Instead of the actual oyster sauce, this vegan version is less salty and much more aromatic.

For dessert, the classic Mango Sticky Rice is elevated with coconut cream, young rice pop and edible flowers.  For some colour, the sticky rice is spiked with butterfly pea blue, yet still is sticky and sweet.  Mango is ripe and delicious.  Simple, yet satisfying.  So yet another delicious meal at Song (by Kin Kao).  The place has earned its Michelin Bib Gourmand status with good eats and service.  As a Bib Gourmand, the place should be relatively inexpensive, but in reality, the prices do get up there.  However, given that the food is so good, I think it is worth it.

The Good:
- Impactful flavours
- Solid execution
- Attentive service

The Bad:
- Seating can be tight
- Prices can get up there (but worth it IMO)

Phở Pasteur

I know you've heard me complain about high food costs these days, whether it be groceries or at a restaurant.  It is truly becoming unaffordable to eat out and if you aren't careful, you can blow your budget after one meal!  So where can one grab a quick bite with the fam without sacrificing your kid's college fund?  Well, even Vietnamese joints are no longer that cheap.  However, there is Phở Pasteur on Hastings in Burnaby.  Hidden on the 2nd floor, this place use to be So Crab, So Good.

All we needed was a cheap quick meal and this place seem to fit the bill (sorry for the pun).  We kicked things off with the Spring Rolls and we were pleasantly surprised they used rice wrappers rather than wheat.  This is the way it should be in my opinion because the crunch and texture is very different than wheat.  It is in some ways crunchier while having a light chewiness.  Inside the pork and veggie filling was tender and moist while nicely seasoned.

We also had the Deep Fried Chicken Wings that actually came at end of the meal (maybe they were defrosting them?).  These were fried aggressively where some of the the sugars had burnt a bit.  However, that was a good thing as the caramelization was sweet and smoky.  The fish sauce really came through as the wings were well-marinated.  The skin was rendered nicely, hence the skin was crispy and not flabby.

For myself, I went for a large Phở Đặc Biệt for only $12.00.  When bowls of Pho are going for close to $20.00 these days, this was very reasonable.  They didn't skimp on the amount of noodles and meat either.  I thought the broth was a bit muddled but it still had meatiness with a star anise finish.  Meats were plentiful but some were cut rather thick.  A bit less refined, but they were still tender nonetheless.

Viv ended up with the Spring Roll & Grilled Chicken Vermicelli Bowl.  This was a fairly good portion of soft, yet still chewy rice noodles with the same aggressively deep fried spring roll.  The grilled chicken was marinated well with lots of flavour as well as colour on the outside.  Perhaps it was a bit wet before it got onto the grill as it didn't caramelize as much as it could've.  The byproduct was some residual juices that helped flavour the noodles.

Staying with chicken, my son had his usual in the Lemongrass Chicken with Rice.  He didn't opt for the fried egg because it was $2.00 extra.  He didn't want to spend the money for one egg (actually it was my money and I appreciated his frugalness).  So the grilled chicken was no different than the one in the vermicelli bowl.  It was tender and moist with plenty of sweet salty brininess.

My daughter made it a trifecta of chicken when she got the Grilled Lemongrass Chicken Noodles.  Nothing more to add about the same chicken here.  As for the broth, it was pretty clean and mild-tasting.  The noodles were al dente and not clumpy at all.  In general, this and all the other dishes we had were fine and good value.  This would not be my first choice when it comes to Vietnamese eats in town, but it does the job and not for very much money.

The Good:
- Inexpensive
- Does the job
- Friendly people

The Bad:
- A little less refined than other spots

Arisu Korean BBQ (Edmonds)

My son absolutely loves Korean BBQ.  I've never seen him eat so much in comparison to other cuisines.  So it was without a doubt that he would choose Korean BBQ as his graduation meal (yes, it is pretty clear I'm getting old...).  Although we like Arisu out in Burquitlam, we wanted to change it up a bit and visit their newer location out on Edmonds in Burnaby.  Loved the free parking within the complex, but not so much with the fairly tight booths, especially for a party of 6.

We ended up ordering a variety of dishes including, of course, meats for the BBQ.  With most Korean meals, we were served a variety of Banchan including cabbage salad, kimchi, pickled daikon radish, marinated sprouts and stewed potatoes.  These were all pretty solid where the kimchi had plenty of crunch and spice.  Potatoes were sweet and savoury while being soft without being mushy.  Naturally, we got a few refills of each.

Onto the BBQ, went for the Premium Beef Combo featuring boneless kalbi, premium ribeye, marinated ju-mul-luk and marinated kalbi.  Generally, the meat in this combo was very good.  We started with the boneless kalbi and each piece was buttery and tender.  The same could be said about the ju-mul-luk where it was nicely flavourful.  We found the ribeye more meaty in texture, but it was till tender.  The cream of the crop was the marinated kalbi where it was pure short rib meaty heaven.  It was delicious while the meat was buttery soft.   For good measure, we added the Pork Jowl and Chicken Bulgogi.  The pork jowl was pretty typical with a rebound texture that was tender.  With a sweet marinade, the chicken was able to char on the grill and due to the use of thigh meat, it was tender.

Although we were served soup already, we decided to tack on the Gamjatang as well.  This featured 3 really large bones with lots of meat.  The meat was generally tender, however, the bones could've used a bit more cook time.  The soup itself was flavourful with a mild spiciness as well as a certain meatiness.  Loved that they added some sliced rice cake as they soaked up some of the flavours.  On the other hand, the potatoes were undercooked and hard.

We ended up ordering 3 bowls of rice to go with our BBQ meats, but we still had to get the Dolset Bibimbap (like we always do).  Although the stone bowl came hot, it was difficult to actually get a proper rice crust.  This was even after I had mixed the ingredients and smashed the rice against the sides.  Despite this, the ingredients were good and the side of gochujang wasn't really enough, but of course we could've asked for more.

Since it was really hot inside (it appeared that their A/C was either not working or was very weak), we got the Mul-Naengmyeon.  This was textbook with chewy buckwheat noodles sitting in an ice cold beef broth.  We found the usual toppings of sliced beef brisket, cucumbers, daikon and a half hard-boiled egg.  This was truly refreshing as we were sweating just sitting there.  Loved the texture of the noodles and they stayed as such due to being cold.

Our last dish was the Claypot Steamed Egg.  This was fairly fluffy with bits of veggies strewn throughout.  Naturally, this went well with the white rice and was a nice interlude between bites of delicious meat.  Overall, the meal at this location of Arisu was quite good especially the beef.  Service was good with attentive and friendly staff.  It was really too bad that the A/C wasn't working because that made things quite uncomfortable.  If I was to go back to Arisu, I'll hit up the North Road location since their seating is more spacious.

The Good:
- Top notch premium beef
- Good service
- Free parking

The Bad:
- Seating is tight for any group bigger than 4
- Gamjatang ingredients could've been cooked longer

On & Off Kitchen + Bar

As much as Little Beetle blew me away with their outstanding brunch, the fact that I had to drive out to Chilliwack makes it less accessible than many other places in town.  So I looked a bit closer to me in the form of On & Off Kitchen out in Coquitlam.  Located in a strip mall near the corner of Austin and Mariner, this wouldn't be the most obvious spot for brunch.  However, there is indeed a cute lil place that sports a varied menu and an outstanding patio at the back.  I just wished there was a bit more parking available.

Looking over the menu, they do have a section dedicated to croffles.  For those who haven't tried these, they are waffles made from croissant dough.  We decided to get the Croffle Platter B that offered a choice of any 2 coffees from the espresso bar and any 3 croffles.  We went for a Cappuccino and Mocha for our drinks and for our 3 croffles, we had the Caramel Bacon, Strawberries & Cream and Chocolate.  We thought the specialty coffees were good but needed to hotter temperature-wise.  As for the croffles, they had an appealing texture where the outside was crispy while the inside was flaky and buttery.  We much preferred the strawberries and cream because the other 2 had quite a bit of sweet sauces and things on top.  Furthermore, the bacon could've been crispier.

Other than myself, everyone had a Benny.  Viv decided on the Eggs Royale Benny with smoked salmon, spinach, avocado, hollandaise and garlic butter fingerling potatoes.  She asked for the hollandaise to be served on the side.  It was plenty buttery and creamy while nicely seasoned.  Would've personally loved a bit more acidity.  Eggs were poached perfectly soft with a runny centre.  I thought the spinach was the right texture as it was softened just enough without being mushy.  English muffin was toasted well where it wasn't too hard nor too soft.

My daughter ended up with the vegetarian option - Eggs Florentine Benny.  This was comprised of roasted mushroom, wilted spinach, truffle purée and hollandaise.  Much like the previous dish, this was carefully constructed and featured perfectly soft-poached eggs.  Due to the mild ingredients, the addition of truffle 
purée added some much need flavour.  Of course that complimented the mushrooms as well.  Not a big fan of the fingerling potatoes as they were not crispy and quite dense.

My son had the meatiest version in the Bourbon BBQ Pulled Pork Eggs Benny.  This sported a considerable amount of tender pulled pork with sweet BBQ sauce and wilted spinach.  Naturally, this ate much more heavy than the other 2 Bennys while also exhibiting stronger flavours.  I've always thought that hollandaise and BBQ sauce has never been a great match, but in this instance, there was just enough BBQ sauce for impact without taking over the dish.

For myself, I had to not get a Benny, just for for variety.  Hence, I went for the Prawn & Chorizo Campanelle.  This looked and smelled wonderful but in the end, it was bland.  For some reason, they diced the chorizo into little bits and they had no impact on the dish whatsoever.  There was a complete lack of seasoning and the pasta itself was overdone.  At least the prawns were perfectly cooked.  Overall, we found the Bennys to be pretty solid but the potatoes were not good.  Pasta was meh while the croffles were overdressed with sweetness.  I think this place can be better.  Service is top notch and the dining space is appealing.

The Good:
- Excellent service
- Wonderful spot
- Bennys were good

The Bad:
- Pasta was bland and overcooked
- Croffles were too sweet
- Parking can be difficult

Osteria Povera

If you've even had Italian eats out in Port Moody, I'm sure you've come across Rosa's.  That place had been around for 22 years and was a favourite of many including local celebs and sports stars.  I had visited the place a few times and to be honest, as much as it was solid with generous portions, it wasn't my favourite.  Well, doesn't really matter now as Rosa has retired and in its place is Osteria Povera.  It is by the same people that run Originals Mexican down the street.  Eileen and I ended up trying it out for her birthday.

If we had known that they were going to serve us some complimentary Focaccia with tomato puree, parmesan, calabrese and spianata, we wouldn't have ordered so many appies.  But whatever, more food means more fun!  Also, that tomato puree was money being mildly tangy with aromatic depth.  The focaccia was also good with a crispy exterior giving way to a fluffy centre.  This was a great appie in itself (for 2 people), but hold on, we got way more...

That would mean more cured meats, cheese and you guessed it, foccacia. This came in the form of the Affettati e Olive Fritto.  We found mortadella, cacciatore, spianata, capacollo, calabrese and olives pan-seared in olive oil.  As you can clearly see, they were shy with the amount of meat and olives (this was only $19.00!).  Loved the warm olives (I love olives in general) as it went well with the cheese and foccacia.  Suffice to say, we didn't finish this.

You would think this would be enough cured meats right?  Nope, we also had the Prosciutto, Rucola e Burrata.  Gotta say that they give you your money's worth of cured meats here.  Although it wasn't the most expensive prosciutto, there was a lot of it (yes, we didn't finish).  It rested on a bed of arugula and a small piece of creamy burrata sat in the middle.  This was finished off with olive olive and a bit of pepper and salt.

We had one more appie with the La Bomba con Pane e Polenta.  This was essentially an olive spread with hot peppers, olive oil and other veggies.  This was served over the same foccacia as well as seared slices of polenta.  As simple as this dish appeared, it happened to be one of my favourites.  I loved the spiciness combined with the tanginess, saltiness and aroma of the EVOO.  The seared polenta was quite nice with a smokiness as well as the unmistakable texture.

Over to the pastas, we started with the Tagliatelle Ragu with ground beef and short rib.  Continuing the theme of generous portions, this pasta was not exactly huge, but much larger than many other spots.  It featured tender ribbons of tagliatelle that were just marginally al dente.  No problem with that as the mouth feel was good.  There was a good amount of meaty ragu that had natural beef flavours as well as a balancing sweetness to go with the savouriness.

Next we had the Fileja al Pomodoro Picante that featured Calabria-style pasta with a spicy tomato sauce.  This was essentially an Arribiata sauce with plenty of spice and tang.  I thought that they nailed the balance of flavours here where the spice was at the forefront but did not overwhelm the tanginess of the sauce.  Furthermore, the amount of cheese on top helped bring things down a few notches.  The pasta itself was al dente and clung onto the sauce well.

Last pasta was the Gnocchi e Filetto alla Parmigiana sporting a large breaded beef tenderloin cutlet atop gnocchi with a tomato basil sauce.  That beef cutlet was huge and super tender with plenty of parm on top.  Hence it was salty, nutty with the tang from the tomato sauce coming through.  Underneath, the gnocchi were tender and fluffy.  I would've liked a bit more bite, but they were still good nonetheless.  Sauce paired well with it.

Not to be outdone, we also ordered La Pizza Margherita with roma tomatoes, cheese and fresh basil.  This was a more Roman-style pizza than the Neapolitan style we find at most places these days.  Hence, the crust was a bit thicker and slightly chewier.  It was still soft though and nicely seasoned.  There was a good amount of tangy sauce and cheese on top.  I especially loved the ripe tomatoes as they were delicious.  The fresh basil also added aromatics and herbaceousness.

For dessert, we had both the Frittelle di Carnavale and the Grappa Tiramisu.  Unfortunately, the donuts were hard and chewy.  Too bad really, as they looked good.  On the other hand, the tiramisu was good with rich and creamy mascarpone and properly-soaked lady fingers. Overall, we found the food quite good at Osteria Povera. Sure, some of my favourite Downtown Italian restaurants are better, but this is good for Port Moody.  They completely renovated the place, so it is more modern and clean.  Seating is a bit tight, but that is the limitations of the building.  I wouldn't mind coming back.

The Good:
- Solid eats
- Generous portions
- On point service

The Bad:
- Donuts were not good
- Seating is tight


Regal Mansion (Dinner Service)

So for all the times we've been to Regal Mansion for Dim Sum, we have never gone there for dinner.  As I've stated over and over again, the Dim Sum chef and dinner chef at a Chinese restaurant are usually mutually exclusive.  Hence, a Dim Sum service can be wildly different than a dinner service due to this.  Therefore, we finally made it out there for dinner to see if it stacks up to their consistently good Dim Sum.

We started off things with one of the Chef's Specials in the Dungeness Crab with Salted Egg Yolk (also added sliced rice cake to go with this).  I believe this is an absolute steal at $58.00.  The crab was of a good size and was meaty.  It was coated in a deliciously nutty salted egg yolk "sauce" that wasn't overly salty.  Rather, it was aromatic and had all the best elements of salted egg yolk.  The accompanying rice cakes were tender yet still retained their appealing chewiness.

Another Chef's Special was the Ling Cod in 2 Courses for $68.00.  I felt this was another well-priced item(s) where the first course was the Yau Choy with Ling Cod Filets.  Fresh and vibrant, the stalks of yau choy were still crunchy despite being cooked all-the-way-through.  They were the right ripeness where they had a crunch to them but were not chewy nor stringy.  There was plenty of tender flaky slices of ling cod to go with the vegetable.  The dish was mildly-seasoned, so the natural flavours came through.

The second course consisted of the Ling Cod Hot Pot featuring the head, belly and fin meat along with roast garlic and fried tofu.  I found that the batter for the fish was somewhat heavy, which meant that it became a touch gummy once it soaked up the sauce.  However, the fish itself was delicate and there was plenty of it.  Sure, we had to watch for the bones, but these pieces are some of the most tender parts of the fish.  Loved the fried tofu as it was tender and took on all of the savoury sauce.

Our last Chef's Special dish was the XO Vermicelli Hot Pot with Seafood.  I thought the preparation of the vermicelli was quite good as it was completely hydrated, but not to the point it lost its chewy texture.  It was fully separated and not clumpy while not greasy.  It had taken on the XO where it was briny and a bit spicy.  The one thing I didn't like about this dish was the lack of seafood.  When we did find some shrimp and scallops, there were super tiny.  Would've liked some prawns instead.

To keep up the meat quotient, we got yet another Chef's Special in the Wagyu Beef with Shimeji Mushrooms.  If there was any doubt this was Wagyu beef, one bite and we knew this was legit.  The butteriness of the meat as well as the beefy flavour was quite evident.  It had been wok-fried just enough that it was cooked to medium with all of the fats activated.  Seasoning was on point too with a mildly peppery savouriness.  Not merely a garnish, the mushrooms underneath were texturally appealing.

As much as it is a defaultish dish, we got the Sweet & Sour Pork as we always do.  This one was quite good with medium-size chunks of pork.  They were somewhat fatty, but not to the point where pieces were inedible.  I found the texture to be perfectly bouncy and tender with just enough batter on the outside.  The sauce was tangy with just the right amount of sweetness.  Loved the addition of lychee to the usual pineapple, onions and peppers.  This was also a large portion for the price ($26.88).

For our carbs, we got the Fried Rice with Scallop and Dried Scallop.  The good thing about this rice was the large scallops placed predominantly on top.  They were tender and sweet.  However, the rice itself had too much moisture.  So even with a good wok-fry, the rice was not able to be caramelized and nutty.  Furthermore, the rice could've used a bit more salt.  However, all of the other dishes were quite good and well-portioned.  Therefore, the dinner as a whole was quite solid and we would have no problem returning in the future.

The Good:
- Generous portions
- Generally well-executed
- Attentive service

The Bad:
- Fried rice was not dry enough

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