Vancouver Food Cart Fest 2013

If you’re at all familiar with the food scene in Vancouver, you’re probably aware that this post is long overdue, since the food cart festival is a summer event. (And obviously for good reason, what with all the rain we get). I actually visited the festival in September with Sam and Pickles, when all of us had returned from our summer travels, so this post is actually only four months in the making. What with school and work and life in general, it can be a bit difficult to keep on top of things…that’s my excuse, anyways.

Despite the burgeoning food cart scene in Vancouver, I often find it difficult to seek out the specific ones that catch my interest. Many of them are open for a limited time during the day, or only at a specific location that is out of the way of my usual commute. Well, thank goodness for the food cart festival, then, which conveniently gathers Vancouver’s most popular food carts in one area so that folks like me can get to pig out to our hearts’ content. In 2013, the festival was hosted in a lot right by False Creek, which made it easily accessible by SkyTrain for us car-less folk.

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The three of us split up to consider our options, and Sam ended up with a Sourdough Pepperjack Cheese Sandwich ($8) from Mom’s Grilled Cheese. She had tomatoes and double smoked bacon added to her sandwich for $0.50 and $1.50, respectively. She quite enjoyed her sandwich, as the bread was fried up nicely on the griddle, making it crispy but not too greasy. Meanwhile, the sandwich itself was quite hot, so the cheese had that perfected melted consistency that we all look for in a grilled cheese sandwich. The sandwich is also served with chips, which were stuffed at the bottom of the paper cone, making the chips themselves soggy. Sam noted that she’d had the sandwich and chips served on a plate before, which was much better, as the chips didn’t get soggy. Still, the tomatoes and bacon nicely enhanced her sandwich, making it an enjoyable meal. Sam also indulged in a Ginger Mint Lemonade ($2.75), also from Mom’s, which tasted mostly of ginger with only a slight tint of lemon. It also had a slight enjoyable fizziness, and was an enjoyable drink for the very hot day that we were enduring.

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Meanwhile, Pickles and I wandered over to Yolk’s Breakfast. I’d wanted to try Yolk’s for a while, but simply never had the chance to. I’ve now had their food twice, once here and once at the actual restaurant now open on Hastings Street, but there was a time when I used to drool over some other fortunate soul’s Instagrammed chicken and waffles or soft-poached egg sandwich.

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The wait was long and arduous, but we finally received our orders and, luckily enough, found a shaded table to sit down and munch. Pickles had the Chicken and Waffles, which didn’t look super pretty but definitely did the job. The chicken was crispy, juicy, and flavourful, and came in large pieces. I’m a big fan of fried chicken (and pretty much every other deep-fried food), and I often find that I get more batter than actual chicken, but that certainly wasn’t the case here. The waffle itself was nice and buttery, but a little too soft for her liking, although it might have been softened by the hot weather and the fact that it took us a while to find a table to sit at. But then again, Pickles was fresh from her trip to Belgium at this point, so perhaps her waffle standards were a bit too high.

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Meanwhile, I had an item that I’d longed for for quite a while, a Poached Free-Range Egg Sandwich ($7.50). They have a beautiful flowchart where you can customize your sandwich, and I had mine with hand-carved honey ham, fresh spinach, dijon, hollandaise, one poached egg, all on an English muffin. There were quite a few flavours going on here: the saltiness from the ham, the tartness from the hollandaise, and a nice, comforting savouriness from the egg yolk. The English muffin was soft to begin with, and only got softer once I broke the egg yolk. This resulted in a super messy sandwich to eat, although it wasn’t a huge problem once I decided to fork-and-knife it. Breakfast sandwiches are my favourite type of sandwich, and this one was certainly yummy, but I’m not really sure if this particular combination was worth the hype that often accompanies any talk about Yolk’s.

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It’s just not breakfast without potatoes, and at Yolk’s these come in the form of a Truffle-Lemon Hash Brown Skewer ($3.50). At first bite, my hash browns were quite tart, with a very strong lemon flavour, but after that, the flavour seemed to mellow out, which was good. I think I waited too long to eat mine, as they got quite soggy, but other than that, these potatoes did an excellent job.

After finishing our food, the three of us took a nice walk along False Creek and enjoyed the sunshine. This was back in September, mind you, when Vancouver was enjoying sunny weather rather than the dreary, foggy dampness that we’re enduring now. Summer is always a season I look forward to, but the food cart festival definitely adds to an already perfect time of year.

Mom’s Grilled Cheese Truck
800 West Georgia Street
Vancouver, BC

Mom's Grilled Cheese Truck on Urbanspoon

Yolk’s Breakfast
Vancouver, BC

Yolk's Breakfast on Urbanspoon


Sushi Hiyori

When I mentioned to acquaintances that I’d be spending two months of my summer in Europe, many told me to indulge in sushi while I could. As I sit writing in my flat in Oxford, I wish that I’d considered their advice more seriously. Sushi restaurants here are nowhere near as plentiful or inexpensive as in Vancouver, and while I’ve been too afraid to try any myself, my classmates all agree that sushi in England is nothing like sushi back home. I’ve found in Vancouver that while popular spots like Sushi Garden are popular for a reason, the small neighbourhood joints are often quite good. This post is about an excursion I made to a relatively small sushi place in downtown Vancouver, with my favourite sushi connoisseur, SB.

I’ve found that while there are many Japanese restaurants downtown, a simple good old-fashioned sushi place is hard to find. Sure, there are many izakayas and ramen joints and Spaghetei, but sometimes I just feel a craving for a simple negitoro roll. Sushi Hiyori is a quick walk from the central shopping area of downtown Vancouver, and had exactly what we were looking for: all the basics plus some specialty rolls of their own.

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SB had his usual Salmon Don ($9.95). We thought that the plating of it, although not particularly practical, was somewhat cute in the chef’s thoughtfulness. As for the food itself, SB pronounced it acceptable, as the rice was sweet and vinegary but not overly so, while the sashimi seemed decently fresh. I personally thought that the salmon was sliced a bit irregularly, with some thick pieces and some very thin slices, but overall, it was fine considering the venue and price.

DSC_0006We also decided to try one of their specialty rolls, the Las Vegas Roll ($8.99), which was described as a California roll topped with spicy tuna sashimi, prawn tempura, and sweet and spicy sauce. It wasn’t exactly neatly presented–SB observed that it was like a California roll wearing a hat, and was difficult to eat due to its height. The tempura appeared to have been freshly fried, being warm and crispy, but there was too much batter to really taste the prawn inside. With the avocado, imitation crab, and spicy tuna, the roll had an overall mushy texture, and the rice was rather gummy in places. I’m generally not fond of specialty rolls and their often high price tag, so this didn’t especially stand out for me. I would take a simple maki over a fancy roll any day.

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And, of course, we had to have that simple maki in the form of our favourite, the Negitoro Roll ($2.45). Although this wasn’t the best version we’ve had, it was still acceptable. The seaweed was a tad soggy and therefore difficult to chew, but the toro was smooth and creamy, and the green onions were satisfyingly crunchy. The toro also had a sufficient level of fishiness, while the rice, again, wasn’t overly sweetened or doused in vinegar, which I liked.

Our meal at Sushi Hiyori wasn’t spectacular, but it was definitely acceptable. We were especially pleased with the service, which was very friendly, plus our tea and water were both refilled many times without us having to ask. Based on my experience, I wouldn’t recommend trying their specialty rolls, which are mostly variations on the California roll or the dynamite roll, both of which aren’t my favourite rolls anyways. Other than that, Sushi Hiyori is a viable option if you’re in the neighbourhood, and clearly a neighbourhood favourite: although there weren’t too many seated customers during our visit, there were many customers coming in and out to pick up their take-out. This place isn’t gourmet by any means, but hey, who wants to eat gourmet all the time?

Sushi Hiyori
1348 Hornby Street
Vancouver, BC

Sushi Hiyori on Urbanspoon


Italian Kitchen

SignageBrunching with Cynthia is always fun, and it really is a shame that we can’t go out more often– school, work and (the ironic) lack of funds keeps getting in the way! When we do go, we always have a fantastic time, and this day was no different.

We originally planned on going to Coast, since we went for Dine Out the year before and loved the food, but it wasn’t open! No matter though, since there were a ton of other restaurants on Alberni for us to choose from– we ended up going to Italian Kitchen, which is also part of the Glowbal Group, right across the street.

Amuse BoucheThe visit to Coast last year resulted in a coupon for a complimentary amuse-bouche from any Glowbal restaurant; imagine my surprise when it was still valid after a year in my drawer! These small bites of Bocconcini, Tomato and Arugula were presented to us first, atop of a small piece of chewy, fried bread. In addition, it was drizzled with a bit of olive oil, but as you can see, there isn’t much to the actual morsel. I wasn’t super impressed with this, but it’s free food from an old voucher– what did I really expect?

DrinksBrunching-with-Cynthia times also invariably ends up being Drinking-with-Cynthia times, so we also ordered a pair of Italian Sodas ($3.50) to go with our meal. The menu lists a variety of fruit syrups you can add to the soda (you can choose two), as well as a list of predetermined mixes. I chose the Mango/Apricot, while Cynthia chose the Pineapple Colada. We made these brunch-worthy by adding vodka (they offer other liquors too), for an additional $3.50. I really liked the soda, as it was refreshing and a nice change from drinks you’d normally get– there’s the fizziness of pop, but also the different fruit flavours of smoothies and juices. If I were to go to Italian Kitchen again, I’d be content with just having the non-alcoholic version (a pretty good and delicious deal, I think).

IMG_0144We actually arrived after 12, so “brunch” really isn’t a correct term for our date… but we were adamant in our brunching, and this reflected in the dishes we ordered. Our first dish to share was the Dungeness Crab Benedict ($18.95) from their Prima Colazione section (they also offer a Proscuitto Eggs Benedict and a Mushroom Benedict, as well as classic breakfasts and some less-than classic dishes, such as polenta and “breakfast pizza”). Our Crab Benny came with a side salad and hasbrowns. The eggs were poached a little too long for my tastes (the yolk wasn’t very runny), and the hollandaise was a little bland, but on a positive note, this allowed the fluffy crab to shine, as it wasn’t too overpowered by the other flavours. The English muffin was toasted just right, but it definitely would’ve benefited from more hollandaise and egg yolk. The potatoes were again, very lightly seasoned, so they didn’t have too much of an impact. I liked the salad, as it wasn’t too wet with dressing, but placing it on the warm plate probably wasn’t such a good idea, as the bottom pieces got a little wilty. Overall, the dish was a on the mediocre side, and I didn’t think it was worth the $19 we spent.

IMG_0147We didn’t realize that the Crab Benedict came with potatoes (only the salad was listed in the menu, and other menu items did list potatoes so we just assumed), so we ordered a side of Roasted Potatoes ($4.50) to share. This serving of potatoes was much more presentable and tasty than the ones that came with the Benny, so maybe it was a good idea to get them anyways. These came with more flavour than their plated counterparts, and were topped with crumbled parmesan cheese and parsley. Sometimes you just need a good potato dish to make a meal better, and I believe these did the job.

IMG_0143Since we were at Italian Kitchen, we couldn’t very well leave without trying something more Italian than an Eggs Benedict. Since we had a seafood breakfast item, we decided on the Spaghetti and Wagyu Meatballs ($17.95), which came in a spicy basil tomato sauce, topped with a blob of herbed ricotta cheese. The picture I took doesn’t really do it justice– in actuality, there was a pretty big portion of pasta, and the 3 meatballs were quite big as well. The spaghetti was prepared al dente, and there was just enough sauce for each noodle to be evenly coated–not that it’s a bad thing, but I do wish that there was a bit more. I don’t know too much about wagyu beef, but I reckon that once it’s in meatball form there really isn’t THAT big a difference from good ole’ regular beef. I’m also not a meatball expert by any means, but I did like these ones, as they were springy and light, but still substantial in size. The pasta was good overall, but I don’t know how comfortable I am with paying this much…

MenuI had a pretty average experience at Italian Kitchen: our host and waitress was pretty helpful when giving us advice about our drinks, but otherwise there wasn’t much to comment on. I realize that because of location and the brand name prices would run high, but I was a little disarmed by our $50 bill at the end of lunch, even after a discount was taken (Cynthia had a coupon). The food was adequate and was nothing too special, and the modern decor was average (I like Coast and what used to be Sanafir better). Overall, I had a good time catching up with Cynthia, but I don’t know that I would return to Italian Kitchen in the future, especially when there are so many other great Italian places to visit downtown.

Italian Kitchen
1037 Alberni St
Vancouver, BC

Italian Kitchen on Urbanspoon


Thierry Chocolaterie Patisserie Cafe (Vancouver Hot Chocolate Festival 2013)

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For my first post back, I thought I’d write on something current: the 3rd Annual Vancouver Hot Chocolate Festival, which started January 19th and is running until February 14th (that’s next Thursday!). Hot chocolate is always, always a great idea, especially in the chilly Vancouver weather that’s been hitting us lately.

Fortunately, for my meet-up with Enoch, whom I haven’t seen since high school (much to our surprise), the Vancouver sky gods decided to give us beautiful weather– so beautiful that I wouldn’t have minded sitting outside, which was very nearly our fate, since Thierry is often so busy. Luckily enough, a couple vacated their seats just as I was about to head outside to the patio.

One in a MillionEnoch decided to order for us the Hot Chocolate Festival flavour One in a Million ($9.75), which came with a little dish of clotted cream infused with chocolate shavings, a mini chocolate-dipped madeleine, and a mini chocolate bar. This hot chocolate is made with Maranon, the world’s rarest chocolate, and of course we felt pretty special drinking it. This was a lot sweeter and syrupy than I thought it would be, and while it tasted great right off the bat, I found it a little too overwhelming towards the end. I was confused as to how a certain kind of chocolate could be the “rarest in the world” (I hope I’m not the only one), so I did a little bit of research. According to http://www.maranonchocolate.com/, the cacao beans for this chocolate had been lost for 100 years, but had recently been found in Peru, and are 40% white beans.  Clotted Cream, Madeleine, ChocolateThe Madeleine tasted very lemony, which went well with the chocolate dipping, but I thought it was a bit too tiny (it is complimentary though, so I shouldn’t complain). The dark chocolate bar tasted pretty typical to me, but I thought the star of the side dish was the clotted cream. It was incredibly thick and creamy and delicious, we took to scooping up some with our forks and dipping it into our hot chocolate.

Tuiles and Pear Cassis CharlotteNow of course we couldn’t just leave without trying some of the other desserts, and one in particular struck our fancy. The couple next to us had ordered it as well, and it just looked so beautiful and perfect, we had to have it. Here is the Pear Cassis Charlotte ($6.75), a mousse-based cake filled with pear bavaroise and pieces of poached pear, topped with a semi-tart layer of cassis gelee, and then wrapped around with pistachio ladyfingers. I really enjoyed this cake, as all the flavours balanced nicely and it wasn’t too sweet, each bite contained just the right amount of cake and mousse. I would most likely  order this again.

TuileOne of my other favourites from Thierry are their tuiles, specifically the Almond-Orange Tuile and the Brandy Snap Tuile (both at $7.45/100g). I didn’t get a picture of the Almond-Orange, but pictured here is the Brandy Snap. These are crisp, wafer-thin cookies, one with chopped almonds and orange zest, and the other flavoured with caramel. I love dipping these into their hot chocolates, and even more just by themselves– if they weren’t so costly, I’d probably be buying boxes and boxes to snack on at home.

MacaronsAnd lastly, I ordered a few macarons to go– clockwise from the top, we have the Coffee, Pink Praline, and Apple Cinnamon Macaron. I’ve only had macarons from 2 places before (here and Bel Cafe), and I find that at times the ones at Thierry are a little too sweet for my liking, and I prefer jam filled over cream-filled ones. My mom really likes these, however, so I really couldn’t go without getting her some. Of the ones I’ve tried from past visits, my favourite is the lemon– just a little tart, filled with a gelee instead of cream, and a bright, happy yellow– perfect for a rainy day.

IMG_0798So that concludes my visit! I find myself going to Thierry every once in a while when I’m downtown just for old times’ sake (not that my first visit and my first spiked hot chocolate was such a long time ago…), and I really enjoy their pastries. I’ve had the triple chocolate cake and lemon tart as well as the tiramisu recently, and all are pretty well executed in terms of taste and presentation. There are times when I wish the cafe were quieter, as it can be really difficult to have a conversation there if you’re sitting across from someone, but I do like that it’s such a hub for university students and business people in the downtown core. If you haven’t been yet, I would urge you to go, just to try their cakes out! If you do, try to go around 5:30-6pm, as I found it less busy at that time. That way, if you’re catching up and sharing stories, like we were, you can actually hear about the awesome adventures your friends are talking about!

Until next time!

Thierry Chocolaterie Patisserie Cafe
1059 Alberni St
Vancouver, BC

Thierry Chocolaterie Patisserie Cafe on Urbanspoon


The Templeton

I suppose that for many, that Christmas Eve itself is exciting, but for me, it’s usually a bore: my extended family all lives in Korea, so there’s not much in the way of new stimuli. We’d planned a Christmas Day dinner with our next-door neighbours, which I was looking forward to, but I was lacking plans for Christmas Eve. So I was glad when Pickles, Dolph, Sam and I decided to meet up for brunch and exchange some baked goods in honour of the season. And at Pickles’s suggestion, we decided on The Templeton, a kitschy diner on the corner of Granville and Helmcken.

The Templeton is a small, busy, bustling, classic diner, complete with a jukebox and pictures of Elvis grinning up at you as you eat. There was one server on duty, who was impressively efficient, and the decor was eclectic, but in a comforting way. The menu itself echoed this, with breakfast options that had a dash of creativity but weren’t too abnormal.

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Dolph and Pickles both opted for the Mangled Eggs ($9), three eggs scrambled with garlic, bacon, and brie inside a toasted croissant, served with rosemary potatoes. Pickles had regular bacon, while Dolph decided to try the veggie bacon. Both enjoyed their breakfasts, especially the potatoes. Pickles noted that while the menu stated the addition of garlic, there was very little garlic flavour. Everything was especially delicious with Sriracha sauce, which was provided for each table, along with a bottle of ketchup. As for the potatoes, they were a big hit with all of us, with the addition of rosemary really adding an extra dimension of flavour. These seemed to have first been boiled, then pan-fried, and although I usually prefer string hash browns, these were excellent. As for the real versus veggie bacon debate, Dolph regretted her choice of veggie bacon, as it tasted more like tofu than anything else. You can’t beat real bacon, I suppose…

DSC_0003I had the Trucker’s Breakfast ($9) and Sam the Big Ass Breakfast ($12). My breakfast included 3 eggs, a choice between turkey sausage, bacon, or veggie bacon, rosemary potatoes, and toast (sourdough or whole wheat). The Big Ass Breakfast was the same, except for the addition of cinnamon French toast or blueberry banana pancakes. I had my eggs scrambled, and Sam’s over easy, and as you can see, we both decided on the turkey sausage. We ended up getting one order of the sourdough toast and one order of the whole wheat, with Sam choosing the French toast over the pancakes.

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We both enjoyed our breakfasts. The scrambled eggs were fluffy and perfectly cooked. The turkey sausage was rather grainy, and a little bland. Although we realize that The Templeton has a focus on organic and vegetarian-friendly foods, we would have preferred if they offered regular breakfast sausage. The rosemary potatoes were lovely, having a nice crust without being oily. Our toast arrived buttered, but I would have preferred to have buttered it myself, as it was a bit too much for me. As for the French toast, it contained raisins, and was served with powdered sugar. We both enjoyed our breakfasts, and felt that they were of a respectable portion size considering the price we paid.

The four of us really enjoyed our breakfast at The Templeton, and I think this would be a great choice for breakfast with some vegetarian friends. Sadly I tend to be a bit carnivorous, and the one complaint I had was that they didn’t serve regular breakfast sausage, which is one of my favourite things about breakfast. Still, the food was tasty, especially the rosemary potatoes, and the service was a bit harried but friendly. Also I found the seats a bit uncomfortable and cramped, but it was part of the charm of the place. I would definitely recommend The Templeton as a tasty and inexpensive breakfast spot downtown.

The Templeton
1087 Granville Street
Vancouver, BC

The Templeton on Urbanspoon


Guu Garden

My first ever visit to the Guu franchise was waaay back in Grade 10, when I went with my parents to Guu Richmond, which is housed in Aberdeen Centre. Now, everyone loves Guu, but I, for one, was a little intimidated and… dare I say annoyed? at the constant yelling and chatter in the restaurant. I don’t remember too much about the food, but I do remember that it seemed pretty pricey– especially for someone who was used to eating cheap rolls from the nearby Sushi Town.

Between then and now, I’ve gone to Guu one other time, but I didn’t feel like it was anything to write home about. So when Cynthia and I were deciding on a place to go for lunch, I was surprised that I agreed to try out Guu Garden on Nelson. Maybe I felt like it was time to give it another try… and maybe it was because Cynthia was raving about the place like there was no tomorrow 😛

It was a warm Sunday afternoon, so there weren’t too many people in the restaurant at the time. We were greeted by the familiar shout from the sushi/sashimi chef and the waiters, and promptly seated around the corner from the washroom. I immediately liked the place because it was very spacious: the considerably large (compared to other Guus) dining floor housed maybe 10-15 tables that weren’t very close-set, so there was a sense of privacy, and because the space was so big, the yelling wasn’t really a factor either. There were seats outside in the rooftop garden as well, which made this place perfect for summer.

Their lunch menu was surprisingly extensive, and it took us a while to even decide on a drink. I ended up getting the Strawberry Season, and Cynthia had the Snow White. Both were quite fruity (mine tasted like berries, while Cynthia’s tasted like lychee) and weren’t too-too strong– great for imbibing during lunch, and for getting refreshed on a hot summer’s day.

For eats, we decided on a few things to share. First up is the Tuna Tataki, which was oh-so-lightly seared, then topped with sweet onions, green onion and my all-time-favourite-tataki-topping, fried garlic chips. It also came with some ponzu sauce for dipping. The tuna was really fresh, and went perfectly with all the toppings. I’m not usually that big a fan of tuna, but this didn’t taste overwhelmingly fishy to me. The sauce was light and tart, so as not to entirely mask the taste of the tuna; I also liked that the sauce was served on the side, so the fish weren’t drowning in it.

For our main of sorts, we ordered the Hacchi Miso Pork Cutlet Donburi, which came with the aforementioned pork cutlet, a poached egg, onion and ginger atop of a bowl of rice, as well as sides of miso soup, stewed potatoes, a variety of radishes, and grapes. The miso soup was quite good, with the two tofu puffs you see in the picture as well as seaweed, green onion and small cubes of soft tofu. The soup wasn’t very salty, and was a pleasant start to our lunch set. The donburi itself was quite large– there were many pieces of moist, well-seasoned pork, and there was plenty of food for both me and Cynthia. I appreciated that they used sushi rice instead of long grain rice (I don’t understand “Japanese” places that do that), and when mixed together with the egg yolk, miso sauce and flavoured mayo, the rice was really flavourful. Of the sides on our tray, we liked the potatoes the best. They weren’t too sweet, and we didn’t mind that they were a little mushy from the stewing. The radishes were pretty standard, nothing too much to say about them. There were also two grapes on the tray– a dessert, I suppose?– but by the time we got to them they were warm, so we just decided to leave them.

Our third dish was the King Salmon Sashimi, which was lightly seared on one side and displayed atop a mix of shaved daikon radish and sweet onion. This was probably the freshest sashimi I’ve ever had, and I could certainly understand the higher price we paid ($12 for 7 pieces)– it was cool (but not icy), and each piece was texturally pleasant and sweet. One thing you can say about izakayas is that they definitely put a lot of effort into making the dishes pleasing to both the eye and the mouth (just look at that cute wasabi statue!)

Now all throughout our meal we were still thinking about the tuna tataki we had earlier. We were craving it so much, in fact, we decided to order another! We be crazy kids. So here is another picture of Tuna Tataki, looking and tasting pretty much the same as before. Just typing this blog up makes me want to go for some RIGHT THIS MOMENT. Guys, I might have an problem.

All in all, our meal at Guu Garden was everything Cynthia promised it would be– it wasn’t too loud, we had privacy even though the restaurant got busier, and the food looked and tasted fantastic. The price was what I remembered it being (pricier than your average sushi joint), but now that I’ve had my fair share of Japanese food, I can definitely appreciate Guu more. You definitely get what you pay for, and while it might not be totally accessible to go here (or other izakayas) all the time, I’d recommend making the trip here for sure.

*I ended up taking my mom here for her birthday, and we had the tuna tataki (yes), kanto-daki oden (light salt and dashi-based broth with a variety of items that you can choose on the menu, like fried tofu, taro jelly and fish cakes), hamachi sashimi (again, very fresh) plus the gyu tongue chazuke (beef tongue on rice, with soup poured on top). I only make a note of it here because this second visit happened after my camera decided to stop working, so I have no pictures.

Guu Garden
M101-888 Nelson Street
Vancouver, BC

Guu Garden on Urbanspoon


Gotham Steakhouse and Cocktail Bar

Being away from Vancouver for a while can be a little hard on your tastebuds– you miss out on all the great Japanese, Chinese, and Pacific Northwest food that we so often take for granted here in the GVRD. So when Samson came back from his four-month co-op in Mississauga, I tasked myself with getting him reacquainted with all the food here– not that it was an onerous job. I mean, we get to spend quality time together eating quality food (plus I get a blog post out of it). Win-win, right? (:

We decided to start off with a good steak, so while he was in Ontario I perused my usual food blog-guide, AKA Sherman’s Food Adventures. I was intrigued by the gigantic steak he had ordered (and of course Samson was as well), so I made the reservation for the Tuesday after his arrival.

Joining us for dinner that night were Emo and Darek (poor David couldn’t make it out). Luckily for us (or maybe just me?) we were seated right by the window– perfect for taking pictures! And you know, for seeing the food… Anyways.When we sat down, our hostess handed us an iPad wine menu… and boy was I excited. I mean, it’s not every day you see an iPad used as a menu, right? Right?? Maybe I just don’t go out enough. So while the boys were having fun flicking through the different wines we could order, I, of course, started munching on our complimentary Onion Loaf and took a look at the plain ol’ paper food menu.

Prices at Gotham aren’t exactly in the same league as the ones at The Keg. Actually, they are quite a bit higher, and the steaks themselves don’t come with sides; you have to get those a la carte. After some careful deliberation, we each decided on a steak each and 3 sides to share, plus a bottle of wine– it was a celebration, after all!

Samson, of course, went for the 24-oz Porterhouse Steak. A monster of a steak (as you can it’s nearly the size of the plate, and it wasn’t exactly a small plate), the porterhouse is, meat-wise, about 70-80% strip steak and 20-30% tenderloin. Samson felt that his steak was well-seasoned, and didn’t need extra pepper, even though we usually head straight for the pepper grinder when we’re out. In terms of the meat itself, the porterhouse came a little more medium than medium-rare, but he thought it was understandable, and obviously it was better than having it overdone. The tenderloin side was, well, tender– so tender, in fact, that it was difficult to cut at times because it simply started tearing instead. The striploin side had some bite, but wasn’t too tough; however, it wasn’t as melt-in-the-mouth as the tenderloin (which is to be expected).

Darek, then, ordered the 16oz Bone-In New York Steak. He felt that this was a great cut of beef, with lots of flavour from the charring and seasoning. Darek commented that he usually isn’t a fan of the fat, but this steak was so well-marbled and seasoned, he didn’t mind it at all (of course, the marbling helps with the flavour as well). At $54.95 this wasn’t a cheap steak– none of these are, after all– but Darek felt that this was quite worth it.

Emo and I both decided to get the filet– he had the Petit Filet, while I had the regular-sized Filet Mignon. At 7 and 13 ounces respectively, these were a bit bigger than we expected; we had thought that the petit would be somewhere around 5 or 6oz, and the filet mignon would be around 8oz, so this was a pleasant surprise. Our steaks were again well-seasoned and charred, and went very well with the Blasted Church Merlot (pictured above) that we ordered. Emo enjoyed his steak because a) he didn’t have to deal with bones like Samson and Darek did, and b) it was well-cooked, at a little less than medium-rare. Even though our filets looked small in comparison to the porterhouse and bone-in, we ended up being quite full and satisfied.

Now onto the sides! Like I said above, we ordered three sides: Lyonnaise Potatoes, Asparagus and Sauteed Mushrooms. When we were choosing our sides at the beginning of our night, we were thinking Mashed Potatoes– fluffy and filling, what could be better?– when the Lyonnaise Potatoes caught our eye. We didn’t know what it was, exactly, so we asked our server Colby, who explained that they were sliced potatoes first baked, and then pan-fried with onions and duck fat. Mm, duck fat… There was a good balance of flavours between the potatoes’ spices and the sauteed onions, and there wasn’t too much oil left on the plate. The potatoes were a little bit stiff, but only on certain parts, so this was acceptable on the whole. I liked the uniqueness of this side dish (I mean, I’ve only ever been offered mashed or baked when I choose a potato side), so this was a nice change.

Our Fresh Asparagus came lightly buttered and salted, and was cooked perfectly, being neither too crunchy and raw nor too soggy and overcooked. I usually can’t stand asparagus because of its weird smell and oddly textured heads, but this dish was actually quite good– I had 2 stalks, which obviously doesn’t sound like a lot, but it really is when you look at the number we actually had.

Our favourite side of the night had to be the Spiced Sauteed Mushrooms. These were again lightly seasoned, this time with a little spicy kick that made them so much better than plain old sauteed shrooms. The small button mushrooms were all very juicy and not-too oily, and we definitely didn’t have trouble finishing this one off, even though we were super full by the end of our meal. I don’t know how else to describe these, really– but they were so delicious, I wanted to order another plate to eat there and one more for take out. Then again, I love mushrooms almost as much as I love bread… but the guys don’t, and they had a very good opinion of these too, so it isn’t really just me (:

I had a really great time at Gotham– the staff were all friendly and professional, and didn’t treat us like a bunch of lame teenagers trying to be fancy-schmancy by going to an expensive, out-of-our-league steakhouse. Colby (the server) was extremely helpful when we were deciding between a few dishes, and often offered up his own opinion on the dishes too, which was a nice personal touch. I would like to go back, but then it really was super pricey on a student income– our four steaks, 3 sides and bottle of wine cost nearly $90-100 a person, which is a lot more than I care to pay for dinner. Nevertheless, Gotham was an interesting experience, and I would recommend it to others who are looking to have a nice steak with their someone special for a special event– but of course, there are other steakhouses out there as well who could do the job too.

Gotham Steakhouse and Cocktail Bar
615 Seymour Street
Vancouver, BC

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