Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Panos Greek Taverna

BBQ Baby Back Rib Dinner

Restaurant: Panos Greek Taverna
Cuisine: Greek/Mediterranean
Last visited: September 22, 09
Area: Vancouver, BC
654 SE Marine Drive
Price Range: $10-20

1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very good 5: Excellent 6: Tres Excellent!!

Food: 4 (Based on what we had. I didn't try enough though so the rating could be unfair)
Service: 3
Ambiance: 1.5
Overall: 3
Additional comments:
  • Hole in the wall shady location
  • Greek family owned and operated
  • Authentic and really homemade
  • Good reliable Greek food that's cheaper than average
  • Hummus made in house
  • Good portions, poor plating
  • Very casual small restaurant, casual service
  • Fills up at around 7pm

**Recommendation: BBQ Baby Back Rib dinner, Souvlaki (moussaka is supposed to be good, but I didn't try it)

This restaurant is super shady. It's in a strip mall that looks abandoned. We were the third group in there at 6pm on a Tuesday...which isn't bad. It also filled up decently by 7pm, mostly by locals living around the area. I really hesitated when I saw this place from the outside, but it does have positive word of mouth. Panos is really your reliable go-to hole in the wall Greek restaurant. It's authentic homestyle Greek cooking and I could even see the Greek men in the back peeling away at potatoes on their little stools in the kitchen. It's family owned and operated and it really feels like it to from the moment you walk in. It's almost like a Greek diner more than a restaurant. It is a bang for your buck though - big portions and it's cheaper than average. Souvlaki dinners are around $12 and the most expensive thing is I think $15, maybe $17 for the fish/seafood plates.

Focusing on just the food, it's hard for me to say how good everything really was since I only tried 2 things on the menu. I will go back to try more items since I hear lots of good stuff about it and that way I can also give a fair and complete review.

On the table:
  • Greek Salad 2/6
    • Greek Salad is Greek Salad most of the time. Fresh ingredients and pretty generous with the shredded Feta. Only one olive though. I prefer the crumbled or cubed Feta - but that's more expensive and I didn't expect it at this restaurant anyways.
    • They serve it to you first so you can eat it as an appetizer and you almost get more this way because it's not squished onto your plate. That being said the spot for salad on your plate is filled with a generous amount of rice.
  • Chicken Souvlaki 3.5/6
    • I know - the plating/presentation looks really poor and the portion looks poor too. When I saw it I thought the same thing. It's a lot more than it looks though. It looks really plain and it's probably because the salad was served on a seperate plate. Don't let how it looks discourage you though because it was good.

    • The chicken souvlaki is good, but as good as any other chicken souvlaki. The marinade was nice and flavourful and the chicken was tasty throughout. They grilled it nicely and the meat was still juicy and moist inside.

    • The potato was good too, but I've had better. It was soft and well marinated with lemons...not too sour though.

    • The rice could be better. It was kind of bland and maybe a little dry. Kind of I don't have much else to say about it. It was kind of "buffet rice" - you know when the rice just sits under a heat lamp in the back?
  • **BBQ Baby Back Rib Dinner 5/6
    • This was really good and it's only $15 or something. The meat literally fell off the bone with the touch of the fork. So tender, so flaky and so good. The bones were totally bare at the end of the meal.

    • I'm not sure if the bbq sauce is homemade or not (I doubt it was homemade), but I can't complain because it did the job fine. It was sweet, sticky and savoury with a slight tang and kick. I think we got around 12-14 about a bargain at $15!
    • Drool these were good too.

Panos Greek Taverna on Urbanspoon

The Hide Out Cafe

Tahi Chicken wrap, Tukey Bacon wrap, Black Bean Baja wrap, Mango Chicken wrap

Restaurant: The Hide Out Cafe

Cuisine: Eclectic/American/Breakfast/Brunch/Lunch
Last visited: August 30, 09
Area: New Westminster, BC
716 Carnarvon Street
Price Range: $10 or less

1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very Good 5: Excellent 6: Tres Excellent!!

Food: 5
Service: 3
Ambiance: 3
Overall: 4
Additional comments:
  • GREAT quality and tasting wraps in Vancouver/lower mainland
  • Homemade sauces.dressings and soups, but pre-made wraps
  • Baked goods come from bakery (not homemade)
  • Lunch combos available
  • Hidden location
  • Breakfast all day Saturdays
  • Relaxed/Casual/Self-service
  • Menu changes frequently, call ahead to confirm menu
  • Some vegan soups
  • Really need to fix their website - links are expired
  • Catering available
  • Eat in/Take-out
  • Closed at 6pm
  • Closed Sundays

**Recommendation: Soups (changes daily/weekly), Mango Chicken wrap, Thai Chicken wrap - call ahead to confirm menu.

Talk about local gem in New Westminster! I'm rarely in this area, but if I am - I'm going to The Hide Out Cafe. I may not trek out here just for this wrap, but I do crave it and am very tempted to make the drive out. The wraps are THAT good - fresh and simple ingredients and they're just made so well. The soups are also really fresh and also made in house. The location is quite hidden and you wouldn't even notice it unless you were referred to it or are familiar with that area. It's not even on the main downtown strip - it's across from the law courts.

It attracta people working nearby and it gets busy at lunch time. It seems like a place suitable for students and it's self-service - order and pay at cashier type eatery. The baked goods are almost all imported from another bakery - so I wish they did sell some homemade stuff because it looks like a place that should. Freshly baked pies are on their menu - but they NEVER have any and very rarely make them. They'll admit that too. Everything I've ordered has always been good. They also sometimes serve nachos; the menu changes whenever they want so you never know what you're going to get.

They have an upcoming Thanksgiving wrap so I'm looking forward to trying that.

My only complain about their wraps is the way they stuff them. They don't mix all the ingredients together so that the veggies stay crunchy; and they are pre-made and put in the display case so they need to ensure they don't get soggy from the sauce and dressings. You have to eat it from left to right or right to left. The wraps are rectangular and they grill them off before serving them. In order to get a bite of everything you need to take a couple bites until you complete the row, otherwise you'll get only the chicken, or only the veggies. You need to get a combination of everything. If they weren't pre-made they could mix all the ingredients together.

On the table:

  • **Mango Chicken Wrap 5/6
    • White chicken breast, feta, mango, red and green pepper, spinach, mango dressing and sweet chili sauce.
    • This is awesome! It's sweet, savoury and very mildly spicy. They use fresh mango but I couldn't really tell because it was overpowered by the feta. I wish there was a little more mango in the wrap. The mango dressing is almost like a mango chutney mixed with sweet Thai chili sauce. The wraps are served warm so the feta melts and becomes creamy as it mixes into the sweet sauce. Really fresh ingredients. Not too much stuffing so that they fall apart, but they're the perfect size. They hold really well and they're not soggy, the tortilla is grilled which adds this perfect nuttiness and soft but also crunchy baked/grilled texture.
  • **Thai Chicken Wrap 6/6
    • White chicken breast, purple and green cabbage, green and red bell peppers, cilantro, onions, carrots, rice, sesame oil and peanut sauce.
    • Ok this is one of my favourite wraps...ever. I've taken a few people here and this is everyone's' favourite. Better than the Mango Chicken wrap. HOWEVER it's one of their summer features so they have replaced it with the "Lamb Souvlaki Wrap"...they said that they will bring the Thai Chicken wrap back, but they like to switch things up. AND if it's requested enough they will bring it back earlier.
    • This wrap is so good because of the combination of ingredients as well as the sauce. The peanut sauce is more of a vinaigrette than a peanut satay sauce. It's a bit thinner and more acidic and the sesame oil really comes through. It's tangy and savoury at the same time. They balance all the ingredients really well. The cabbage slaw stays crunchy even after it's grilled. That's what I love. It's a warm wrap but the veggies are not overcooked at all.
    • The rice is just plain rice and it's seasoned with the sauce. The rice is more of that long grain white rice than Chinese style rice. It's cooked perfectly and gives the wrap another dimension of texture. Try this - you won't be disappointed.
  • **Smoked Tomato with Corn Soup 5/6
    • Homemade, and so creamy and flavourful. For me it was more of a chowder than a soup. It was hearty and filling and quite rich. There was celery, carrots, onions, tomato, corn and potatoes. I wish there was more corn though, they skimped out on that.
    • It had a smokey taste and it tastes like they put cream cheese or sour cream in the soup as well. It was really really good. It had that sour cream/cream cheese taste and texture to it.
  • Red Lentil (Vegan) 4/6
    • Homemade again. also quite tasty. It tasted a little Indian - Indian for Westerners if I can say. There were onions, celery, carrots, and lentils and other spices and herbs. The lentils were really cooked so that it was almost a puree and broke down in the soup.
    • This was very good and they really give you the flavour of the ingredients rather than watered down soup. It was very heavily lentil based, which is expected, but I would have appreciated a bit more of the other ingredients.
For your benefit as the menu isn't on the website, here are some additional wraps they offer but I haven't tried.
  • Turkey Bacon Wrap
    • smoked turkey, bacon, provolone, avocado, roasted red pepper, spinach, and sun-dried tomato pesto aioli
  • Black Ban Baja Wrap
    • rice, black beans, corn, cilantro, lime, tomato, assorted spices, chipotle sour cream, spinach, red and green peppers, mixed herbs and a four cheese blend

The Hide Out Cafe on Urbanspoon

Richmond Night Market - Dessert highlights

The Chinese Eggball guy!The Dragon's Beard Candy making stand

Event: Richmond Night Market
Cuisine: Chinese/Asian
Last visited: Sept. 19, 09
Area: Richmond, BC
12631 Vulcan Way (Behind Home Depot)
Price Range: $10 or less

1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very good 5: Excellent 6: Tres Excellent!!

** Recommendation: Dragon's Beard Candy, Deep-fried ice cream

Ok so I know I'm a little late since the Richmond SUMMER Night Market ended a couple weeks ago. But I still want to review it because I want to give attention to things that deserve it. This review will only focus on a few dessert items I had there.

1) Chinese Eggballs (Here it was 1.5/6, usually it's a 4/6)

2) Dragon Beard Candy 5/6

3) Deep-fried ice cream 6/6

On the table:

  • Chinese Eggballs/Egg Waffles 1.5/6 (at this stand)
    • This is basically a Chinese waffle. It's waffle batter poured into this unique waffle-like griddle. The batter is flipped around and coated around the pan to create these "eggballs". They have a somewhat crispy exterior and the inside is soft and chewy when made well. It's also a little hallow. It's more sweet than savoury, but it's not really that sweet at all. It's actually relatively healthy because it's just egg batter.

    • You can buy it at a couple food stands, but I had to feature this stand because this guy is a local "celebrity". He's THE eggball guy or THE eggball maker. Ithink he's been doing this for well over five years now and the reason why his eggballs draw so much attention is because he puts on an entertaining show. His eggballs themselves are actually not that that sounds bad. But really, they make eggballs way better at other places. On the last night he was only charging $1 so he had quite a line-up. There always $3 - night market or not, $3 is standard.
    • All of his actions are X1000 so he manages to create an entertaining show. He draws a crowd in by being super dramatic in his production process. It's all his marketing! It's also funny because he's clearly NOT Chinese yet he's making CHINESE eggballs and speaking Chinese too (heavily accented I might add, but it's still hilarious and I appreciate it).
    • This stand or guy is a novelty. But if you want good eggballs, you're not at the right place. He skimped on the batter, probably because he was afraid to run out before the night ended and all of them were overcooked because the batter was to thin.
    • This is for pure entertainment.
    • Tip: If you want good eggballs I recommend: "Your Dessert" at Admiralty Mall in Richmond or "Timmy's" at Aberdeen Centre - both in Richmond. As long as they don't rush the process, have a decently flavoured batter that's not too sweet or watered down and make it upon order - you're in good hands..
  • Dragon's Beard Candy 5/6
    • This stand is also a popular one. You're almost guaranteed to see them at any Chinese festival or event that has food stands. You can't really make it at home (I don't know anyone that does or would), and even if you buy it at T&T it won't be as good or as fresh, so I suggest you to try it when you see it.
    • This "candy" is not the kind of candy you're used to seeing. This is ground up roasted peanuts mixed with sugar wrapped up in "dragon's beard" aka white sugar strands (it's like a Chinese style cotton candy). You get 6 rectangular nuggets in a box.
    • When you bite into them the white strands just melt away and then you hit the semi-sweet and very crumbly ground up peanut mixture. It's almost like eating a pocket of cotton candy mixed with icing sugar and ground up peanuts mixed with fine grains of sugar...but not nearly as sweet as the description sounds. The "dragon's beard" or "cotton candy" is a hand-pulled spun sugar (made of syrup) that has been pre-cooked so it's almost elastic like. It's pulled in a big container of glutinous flour (resembles icing sugar but not nearly as sweet and not floury tasting is floury in texture though) to keep it from sticking.
    • It takes skill and a true Dragon's Beard Candy maker to make these. There's a technique to it - when you watch him make it you'll know what I mean. He kind of pulls away at it and folds it repeatedly in the flour - then magically he pulls these strands out and passes it on to the next person. This person puts a spoonful of crumbly sweet peanut mixture in the centre and wraps it all up with the dragon's beard. It's a really unique dessert. Try it! Very traditional Chinese. But it's kind of messy so you're guaranteed to get flour/dragon's beard/peanut crumbs or all of the above around your mouth.
  • Deep-fried ice cream 6/6
    • No pictures. But I've tried it and it deserves attention because everyone loves it. It's not a traditional Chinese dessert or anything.
    • There's 2 stands that sell it.
    • 1) Walk down the first isle and about half way on your right hand side you'll see it. I think it's $4 and you get to select your flavour of ice cream: chocolate, vanilla, mango, green tea I think. Then they dip it in a simple flour batter and deep fry the whole thing. It's pretty big too.
    • 2) The second stand is also on the right hand side but about 3-4 stands down. This is the "gourmet" version of deep-fried ice cream. At this stand you don't get to select your ice cream flavour - it comes with the standard vanilla for $3.50. It's also smaller because it's only one regular sized scoop. It's rolled in this cereal-like batter rather than the flour batter. There's actually thought in this one. The stand is actually a catering company for a community centre so their deep fried ice cream actually has a recipe. The batter is crunchy and crispy and it creates a hard shell like exterior after it's been deep-fried. I prefer this one to the other one even though the other one is bigger and you can select your flavour.
    • 3) You can find deep-fried ice cream at Mexican restaurants as well because it was technically their invention first if we're going to give credit somewhere. I've also tried it an Indian restaurant - they're all good.
    • Tasty Twist Idea: For a healthy alternative to deep-fried and if you want an easy way to make this dessert at home what you can do is take a scoop of ice cream and roll it in crushed up nuts and cornflakes. Put your ice cream ball in the freezer to set for an hour, take it out and repeat the process until it is fully coated.
    • If you wish you can shallow fry it quickly on a very high heat with vegetable oil. Or take a creme brulee torch and quickly toast the whole exterior.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

#9 Restaurant

BBQ Pork (#9 Specialty)

Restaurant: #9 Restaurant
Cuisine: Chinese/Asian
Last visited: Sept. 19, 09
Area: Richmond, BC
#812-5300 Lansdowne Shopping Centre, No.3 Road
Price Range: $10 or less

1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very good 5: Excellent 6: Tres Excellent!!

Food: 2.5 (but 3.5 on this occasion...we ordered well)
Service: 2
Ambiance: 1
Overall: 2.5
Additional comments:
  • Traditional Hong Kong/Cantonese restaurant
  • Serves traditional Canton dishes as well as Western dishes
  • Comparable to Hon's, but for me it's better
  • Extensive menu (Includes names and pictures of all noodles)
  • Big portions
  • Very casual, quick and cheap eatery
  • Busy/crowded/line-ups at peak hours
  • Famous for bbq pork, bbq duck, wontons
  • All day breakfast menu available
  • Bubble tea and desserts available
  • Popular to locals and Chinese families
  • Open 24 hours & holidays
  • Cash only

** Recommendation: Chili pork tossed noodles, bbq pork (also known for bbq duck and wontons, which are not discussed on this review)

I have to give my review based on what it is: a 24 hour Hong Kong style diner, you can't come with high expectations. With that being said, you'll leave feeling full as well as satisfied that you got a cheap meal. The food is good, but not the best Chinese food by all means. It's your "I don't want to think, just pick a place...that's cheap" diner. It's McDonald's of Chinese food - and there's nothing wrong with that if you can accept it as just that. For what you're paying and for what it is I think it does the job fine. It's comparable to Hon's, but I prefer #9 to Hon's. This place tastes even better when you come at 3am in the morning, but for me it's more than an AM restaurant. It's busy, crowded and you can guarantee a line-up during dinner hours. It's perfect for an inexpensive quick and filling meal or for take-out.

If you want to eat like a true typical Chinese family - order what we did. Classic everyday type dishes (except for the Chili pork tossed noodle, but this is one of my favourites here).

On the table:

  • **2 Kinds of BBQ & Rice (BBQ Pork & Steamed Soy Chicken) 5/6
    • This is huge. I think it's the biggest bang for your buck. It's your choice of 2 BBQ meats (not including duck) piled on top of a huge bed of steamed rice. You can have confidence knowing your barbecued meats are fresh because it's the first thing you see walking into the restaurant. I mean they are pre-marinated and pre-cooked, but when they do it here it's a positive thing - the flavours just get more intense. Don't be caught off guard when you see the bbq meats just sitting in a heated display case...this is how the Chinese do it. Anywhere serving Chinese style bbq meats will have this display set up. It's authentic.
    • BBQ Pork 4.5/6
    • You have to choose the bbq pork for at least one of your meats because this is what #9 is known for. Their bbq pork is really good. I like it because it's really lean and the honey glaze is not too sweet, but just perfect. Some places have really fatty bbq pork and while a lot of Chinese people would appreciate this (more flavour) - I don't. I'm almost certain we got around 20 pieces of bbq pork - the portion was so generous!
    • Steamed soy chicken 3/6
    • You get a variety of dark and white meat. It's chicken on the bone and it's very moist. The skin isn't crispy because it's steamed, so it's somewhat healthier. It's marinated in a sweet and savoury soy sauce so it's very flavourful throughout. You can eat it like that or with the ginger and onion oil they give you. I love that condiment.
    • $9.50 (#181 on menu)
  • **Chili pork tossed noodles (Canton style) 6/6
    • This is really good if you like spicy. the pork they use is lean - almost tastes like the bbq pork meat, but it's not. The pork is mixed with slices of shiitake mushrooms too. I love the texture, the meat is somewhat dry (but it's supposed to be), then the mushrooms are plump and juicy. It's coated in this chili satay-type sauce that tastes like Asian style bbq sauce. It's spicy, sweet, and savoury at the same time.
    • It's served on a bed of wonton noodles and a bowl of clear wonton soup on the side. Your supposed to mix the noodles and sauce together and then transfer some of it in another bowl and pour some wonton soup over it - I don't though. I eat it on it's own, without the soup - it's spicier and I like the sauce that much. It's the best here, can't even find better in Hong Kong.
    • $6.95 (#85 on menu)
  • Lettuce with Fu Yu 4/6 (For me - the taste is acquired!)
    • If you're feeling somewhat adventurous, try this. I know it looks boring and it will probably sound unappetizing, but it is a common vegetarian side dish for Cantonese people. I really love it, you need to know what to expect or you probably won't like it.
    • "Fu Yu" translated in English is "fermented soy bean cheese" or "fermented bean curd" - yes, it can sound totally gross if you're unfamiliar with the cuisine. The taste is accustomed. Let's get it straight; it's not a cheese, it just looks like it because it comes in cheese like cubes. It's more like pickled or fermented soy beans or bean curd (refers to the same thing in this case) compacted into cubes of "cheese".
    • Fu Yu is very salty on its own, it's also spicy because it ferments in a chili liquid. At this restaurant they make these "cheese cubes" into a sauce - it's almost never served in it's original form.
    • To eat this dish you dip a leaf of steamed lettuce into the sauce. Be aware that a LITTLE goes a long way. It is very salty so you don't need very much. It lingers a spicy taste. The texture is thick and creamy and a little starchy because it is made of soy beans. It is a salty pickled taste so don' t expect an alfredo or cream sauce (kind of looks like it) or you'll be totally caught off guard and won't like it at all.
    • $4.95 (#295 on menu) We got charged $4.95, but the menu says $5.20...I think we had it on their specials menu so it's cheaper

  • Soup of the Day 3/6
    • Only typical Chinese families will order this. It does not look appetizing, but it is authentic. It's what Chinese mothers would make at home. Soups in general, and especially Chinese soups require the whole day to prepare in order to get that slow cooked flavour and nutritional benefits from all the dried/non-dried ingredients they use.
    • The soup of the day is healthy and full of "good for you ingredients", that don't look good, but are quite tasty. The Chinese "soup of the day" at No9 is almost the same thing all the time. My parents really like this so it's always on the table when we come here.
    • The soup is basically a pork stock. The flavour is ok, maybe a little more watered down than it should be, but it's not from the box or anything. Obviously it tastes better homemade, but this is a quick fix for the real deal. The picture above looks unappetizing and that's basically the ingredients used to brew the soup. They serve the ingredients on a separate dish. You can eat these ingredients with they soy sauce or other condiments they provide. What you see in the photo are pig parts and the brown logs that look like tree bark are lotus roots.
    • I love lotus root. When cooked they are really tender and when you bite into them they have the texture of a potato, but not as starchy. It reminds me of a chestnut - it also has a lot of fibre and that's why it's so stringy.
    • The lotus root and pork is what flavours the soup. Give this a try if you want a taste of "authentic" and traditional Chinese soup. I don't find the ingredients that exotic, but I could be biased. Give it a try!
    • Small $4.75 (#104 on menu)

#9 Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Blueberry Coffee Cake with Walnut Streusel Topping

Muffin tops!!

They're huge!!

I loaded the streusel topping with walnuts, brown sugar and butter...and a little salt to bring out flavour. How can you go wrong with those ingredients?

As you can tell I really load up on the good stuff. I loaded the batter with tons of blueberries as well ;)

Item: Blueberry Coffee Cake with Walnut Streusel Topping

1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very good 5: Excellent 6: Tres Excellent!!

Blueberry Coffee Cake with Walnut streusel topping 4/6

Ok I made this coffee cake into 6 mini bundt cakes - I took a regular coffee cake recipe and added TONS of blueberries to the batter last minute. Fold them gently into the batter. I really filled the pans to the top because I LOVE muffin tops - the only time I like muffin tops. Anyways instead of a regular streusel topping I added walnuts to the brown sugar and butter mixture to make it extra crispy and flavourful. I packed on the streusel topping! I made these coffee cakes into decadent treats that were nice and filling. They were also HUGE as you can tell by the pictures. I love it!

Tips: Blend your ingredients really really well when you're making a coffee cake - makes a huge difference. Make sure your butter is left out at room temperature before you use it. Cream the butter and sugar together with a blender for a long time until it becomes pale yellow and fluffy. These few methods will make for a great coffee cake that has almost a pound cake texture. It looks like a giant muffin, but is the texture of cake! Delicious! Doesn't hurt to LOAD it with streusel topping too - I can't guarantee you won't get a muffin top after eating these though =p

Enjoy! I did!

Purity Vegetarian

Mixed Mushrooms with Chestnuts and Baby Bok Choy

Taro wrapped in dried bean curd

Restaurant: Purity Vegetarian
Cuisine: Vegetarian/Chinese/Asian
Last visited: Sept. 19, 09
Area: Richmond, BC
#1111-3779 Sexsmith Road
Price Range: $10-20

1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very good 5: Excellent 6: Tres Excellent!!

Food: 4
Service: 3
Ambiance: 2
Overall: 4
Additional comments:
  • Vegetarian
  • Fresh, healthy and simple dishes
  • Homestyle healthy dishes, made hot & fresh upon order
  • Creative dishes
  • Huge portions, meant for sharing
  • Extensive menu made of Eastern and Western dishes
  • The menu offers Western dishes like Spaghetti and meatless tomato sauce etc.
  • Popular for their dishes as well as desserts and drinks (surprisingly)
  • Set meals available for lunch or dinner

** Recommendation: Quinoa Pilaf, desserts like Tiramisu are apparently a hit, but I didn't try - I will next time

I came here with my friend who's a vegetarian - I'm not, but I like vegetarian food. I suggested this restaurant because I've always noticed it, but have never gotten the opportunity to try it (usually I'm with meat eaters). This restaurant looks like nothing special and it's busy but not super busy or anything so I never had any expectations for it. When I looked at the extensive menu I had my doubts for sure - when I see Western dishes at a traditional Chinese restaurant I tend to roll my eyes because it feels like they're trying to please everyone and there's no focus. I saw a couple dishes come out and everything looked fresh, but also very mediocre and basic. That being said, my expectations were exceeded as I am pleased to say that I was impressed with what we ordered and will return. My friend isn't a fan of imitation meats, so we stayed away from these dishes although I heard they are amazing and taste like the real deal. I can't wait to go back and try them. Surprisingly the desserts are supposed to be good too - I will try their tiramisu next time I am there. Very simple homestyle dishes made with few ingredients, that are flavourful and made upon order.

On the table:

  • **Quinoa Pilaf 6/6
    • This is almost like a healthy fried rice, but made with quinoa instead of rice.
    • Quinoa is commonly known as a grain, but it's actually a relative of the leafy greens. It's actually a seed - almost like eating cous cous, but way better in my opinion.
    • I LOVED THIS DISH! It's the best quinoa I've tried yet. It was nice and fluffy (it has to be fluffy to be good), soft and slightly crunch at the same time, they cooked it perfectly. It's so flavourful, however I think they boiled it in Knorr's chicken bouillon and seasonings. I didn't care though, it's so good. When cooked it gives off this nice delicate nutty flavour - this dish was nutty, savoury, and slightly sweet from the yellow peppers.
    • They lightly sautee it (not even fried, it's not greasy) with nicely diced veggies such as zucchini, carrots, yellow peppers and celery. The veggies are sauteed just until they start to release their sugars, but they're not overcooked at all. They're nice and tender and the size is cut perfectly to match the quinoa. It's a rather large bowl for $8.50. I could eat the whole bowl myself - soooo good! It's enough for about 5 of those Chinese bowls - you don't need to order it with any other dish, it's good on it's own. I was very impressed. I talked to the waitress and she said that people don't really order it because most Chinese people don't know what it is - but she said it's one of their specialties and she wished people knew how good it was - and it is!

  • Taro wrapped with Bean Curd 4.5/6
    • This dish is more of an appetizer. It's mashed up taro root (looks like purple mashed potatoes and tastes like a course/drier sweet potato) wrapped up in layers of rehydrated dried bean curd. They deep fry the whole thing and served it with sweet and sour sauce.
    • Taro root itself doesn't have much flavour - similar to a boiled potato. However, it's really good and has a courser texture than a potato. They used it in a very creative and inventive way. You need the sauce though because it's quite bland considering neither taro root or bean curd carries much flavour on it's own.
    • They use a Panko batter which makes this roll extra crispy! It is very crispy and deep fried in fresh oil so it has a nice golden brown colour. It's actually not greasy and I just loved the texture of this. Crispy exterior, then flaky layers, the a soft inner layer of bean curd. Then you're suddenly hit with this soft and creamy mashed up taro root inside. A bit more expensive ($11.95) because it's homemade and takes time to make and prepare. It's very nicely done and worth a try.

  • Mixed Mushrooms with Chestnuts & Baby Bok Choy 2/6
    • A popular and traditional vegetarian Chinese dish.
    • This was somewhat fresh - made upon order, but using prepackaged ingredients mixed with some fresh ingredients. It is a big portion so it is meant to be shared and would be very boring on its own. I know exactly how they made it though and have tried this dish in many variations - so it was hard for me to appreciate it, because the recipe is too basic and how you would make it at home if you were needed a go-to under 15min. meal.
    • The mixed mushrooms were those crappy canned button mushrooms and Shiitake mushrooms. I think they should have included some Enoki mushrooms - the dish was all too basic to serve at a restaurant. This dish was saucy, but not greasy. You can tell the sauce had starch as a thickener, but it was more water based than oil based. Not too salty, you feel healthy eating it. More of a dinner dish.
    • The chestnuts were preshelled and prepackaged - these are still really good though. You can buy mini packs of them at T&T or any other Asian grocery store. They make for great snacks.
    • For this type of restaurant and dish it is a bit more expensive, especially for the level of simplicity and ingredients used ($13.95) - probably wouldn't order it again.

Purity Vegetarian Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Friday, September 25, 2009

Ta-Ke Sushi - Sashimi Review

Restaurant: Ta-Ke Sushi
(Sashimi Review)
Cuisine: Japanese/Sushi
Last visited: September 18, 09
Area: Surrey, BC
#104-15335 Hwy 10
Price Range: $10-20

1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very good 5: Excellent 6: Tres Excellent!!

Food: 4 (Based only on sashimi only)
Service: 3
Ambiance: 2
Overall: 2.5
Additional comments:
  • This review is only based on their sashimi
  • Japanese owned and operated
  • Expensive for this type of restaurant
  • Attracts locals within the area
  • Extensive menu
  • Japanese Fusion items available
  • Take-out/to-go
  • Closes 9:30pm (Sat.Sun closes at 8:30pm)
  • Only dinner service on Sunday

Tuna Sashimi

Tried this restaurant randomly. It's in Surrey in a rather new/semi-residential area so the crowd it attracts are residents living nearby. It's a rather large restaurant, but the ambiance is that of any other casual Japanese restaurant. They charge above average for all their items and I'm assuming they can get away with this because there are limited options when it comes to Japanese dining in this area. There is one other one, but this one is also expensive. It is owned and run by Japanese people, however it still caters to a Western crowd and I am still confused as to why "bulgogi" items (a popular Korean dish) are on the menu. The dinner and lunch boxes are also expensive for this type of restaurant, so really you would only go here if you lived nearby, was craving Japanese, and you didn't want to drive out to "the city".

I only tried the plum wine and the sashimi because we went here after dinner for a midnight snack - although the restaurant closed at 9:30pm on a Friday! Therefore this review will only be based on their sashimi.

On the table:
  • Assorted Sashimi (all raw) 4/6
    • 3 salmon, 3 tuna, 3 sockeye, 4 herring sashimi, 2 shrimps, 2 scallops, 2 surf clams (The menu says 15 pieces, but I don't know how they're counting it, cause it's not)
    • Everything was fresh and that's the most important part. The cut and sashimi grade was not bad, but not the best either. It's still a little more expensive ($18.95) than what you would pay at another Japanese restaurant of the same caliber.
    • My favourite was actually the tuna sashimi. I am not a fan of tuna and would much rather have salmon - except at this restaurant the tuna was really good and fresh. I also found a bone in my salmon so that kind of threw me off.
    • Next favourite would have been the sockeye.
  • Herring Sashimi 3/6
    • I think this is the first time I've had herring sashimi. I was really surprised to see it actually. It's more of an exotic sashimi because you don't see it come up too often. It's the yellow one you see in the photo. It tastes like masago but crunchier. So it's quite salty tasting. It doesn't fall apart either - it's the texture of very tightly packed roe - so tightly packed it's almost crunchy. Like a crunchy tamago, but instead of an actual egg it's fish eggs. It was quite enjoyable, but eat it with a little you should with any sashimi.
    • I don't have much to compare this to because I don't recall trying it anywhere else, but if you can't find it anywhere else, then try it here - although overall the restaurant wouldn't be worth the drive unless you live within the area.
  • Plum Wine 3/6
  • You can get this at most Japanese restaurants that serve alcohol. It's a traditional Japanese wine made of plums. It's a pretty sweet wine though. It was not bad, something different and interesting to try. I would say it's a nice after dinner drink.

Ta Ke Sushi on Urbanspoon