Thursday, March 29, 2012


Shanghai River was delicious, but I was really looking forward to the dim sum since that's all people talk about when it comes to Vancouver.  I recently had an argument with Weeners about how disappointing the dim sum was compared to my very favorite dim sum restaurant in Rosemead, Seafood Harbor.  She has almost certainly lost ALL credibility with me by dissing my favorite dim sum restaurant and actually saying the stuff in Vancouver is worth the trip.  The dim sum was solid for sure, but I guess I was expecting fireworks in my mouth.

Turnip Cakes
Standard far.  Not as hot as I would have liked.

Chinese Brocolli
Fresh, snappy, but pretty standard.

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Sunday, March 18, 2012

Shanghai River

Our next dining destination in Vancouver was going to be West.  We thought one fancy dinner would be a nice highlight for the weekend.  When it came down to it, we felt a bit foolish not eating more Chinese food while in Vancouver.  I mean, it's called "Hong-Couver" right???  So at the last minute we cancelled our reservations at West and opted for Shanghai River.  Yelp directed me here during my search for "dumplings."  It's outside of Vancouver in the nearby suburb of Richmond.  Apparently, the suburbs of Vancouver are just teaming with the Ching Chong Chang-ers.

We were quite impressed at how new, modern, and clean the restaurant was.  You have to give it to Asians and their love for all things new and shiny.  I approve of such superficiality!

Like Din Tai Fung, they show you the dumplings being made.  The big difference is that slanty eyed people are making your dumplings here and not some Hispanics.  Not that I feel there is any difference, but maybe its harder to come by Hispanics this far north.

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Saturday, March 17, 2012

Kintaro Ramen

Every city has its "Bests."  Best burger, best hot dog, best pizza, best brunch, best Italian, best sushi.  I think you get my drift.  Our short getaway to Vancouver was certainly an attempt to eat the best the city had to offer.  With its reputation for all that is Asian, mainly of "Ching Chong Chang" variety, that's Chinese for all you uneducated racists, we planned each meal in advance.  With only a few days to eat the city, we didn't want to waste prime gastric real estate.

Kintaro came highly recommended as one of the city's best ramen spots.  Time and time again, I am challenged to find a better ramen best than Santouka.  Even though it's "just" a chain, I find the broth there to be the richest and most flavorful.  Smooth Obturator complains that its take on ramen is too heavy.  I think that's precisely why I like it, a hot steamy bowl of liquid fat, masked in the deep flavors of salty Japanese crack.  It's addictive but you really can't eat too much of it or you'll go into acute renal failure and/or congestive heart failure.  I'm so fortunate to be young and unburdened by organ dysfunction, so bring it on!

Kintaro gives you the option of broth richness (light, medium rich) and pork fattiness (lean, fatty).  Of course Dumpling Man and Triple T opted for light and lean, while Smooth Obturator and I went with medium, but he went with the fatty chashu pork.

Shoyu Ramen light and lean
They're not joking with the "lean" chashu pork.  It tasted as dry as it looks.  The shoyu was good, but I like my ramen unadulterated.

Miso Ramen light and lean
Triple T was afraid it was going to be too salty as most miso ramens tend to be, but they did a good job at tempering the salt here.

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Saturday, March 10, 2012

Oxtail Ragu

Sometimes, I am limited to cooking certain things because ingredients are either prohibitively expensive or not conveniently obtainable.  I would say this about duck, rack of lamb, and some seafoods.  Surprisingly, one of the Asian supermarkets here has oxtails, which I guess is no surprise since Asians do use oxtails.  Granted when the Asian markets carry certain items, they aren't usually top quality and it's reflected in the price.  Since I'm just cooking for myself and Dumpling Man for a regular weekday dinner, I don't mind chintzing on quality sometimes.  Darin Dines inspired me to try out this recipe, but for some reason my version turned out a much darker color than his, which I can't really figure out why.

This is a recipe from Mario Batali, which I confidently believed would result in something solid.

First you gotta season your tails.

Then dredge 'em in some flour.

Brown it up.

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Thursday, March 1, 2012


At a restaurant that does NOT accept reservations, how long would you be willing to wait for a table? That was the question that weighed heavily upon us all, Smooth Obturator, Triple T, Dumpling Man, and myself as we put our names down on the waitlist at Vij's in Vancouver.  We came at 8:30pm on a Saturday night and were told the wait would be 2.5 hours.  #%$^$%&&#*!?!?!?!?!?!?!??!?! is exactly the same thought we all had.  Now we knew the wait would be long, like 1-1.5 hours per Yelp reviews, but 2.5?!?  The hostess said we could put our names down and come back at 10:30pm to check back in.  Now you're probably wondering who would commit to such ridiculousness??  Well when you're a member of the H.o.P., eating only the best and the most popular foods sort of becomes part of your life's mission.  We decided that if were going to travel to the land of canucks, loonies, and mountys, we damn well better eat at the city's best dining establishments.  Not only would this include Japa Dog and dim sum, but also Vij's, Vancouver's most popular (Indian) restaurant.  I mean, Hello? it was featured on the Vancouver episode of Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations, so you gotta eat there right?!

Fortunately we weren't all thaaat hungry, which was surprising since we spent the day carving the slopes of Blackcomb and Whistler.  Still though, we thought we should go somewhere to munch on something, so we didn't end up at each others' throats out of maddening hunger (or maybe that's just how I am when I'm starved?).  Feeling completely incapacitated and helpless without functioning iPhones (I had just received a text saying I had already accrued $25 in data roaming charges), the best we could come up with was a nearby boba shop.  So for 2.5 hours we wandered our way there, chewed on boba balls, and played games on our iPhones while the time passed.  We came back to Vij's at 10:30pm to be told that it would still be another 30 minutes.  Vikram Vij himself was there making sure his waiting customers well well fed on free appetizers being passed around.  It's always nice to see a restaurant's owner present and interacting with guests.  Unfortunately, his mesmerizing blue eyes were not enough to dissolve our growing dissatisfaction as 30 minutes turned into an hour wait.  Finally, as the restaurant crowd thinned out, we were seated at ELEVEN THIRTY P.M.  Yes folks, we waited 3 hours to eat what we joked was just going to be a bunch of indiscernable, spicy, albeit tasty, mush served with a side of pita bread.  I kid, I kid!  I'm not that ignorant, I know it's called nan.  Hahaha!

We all know that feeling of "passing your point of hunger," when food really becomes irrelevent. This is how we felt when we finally were able to taste the cooking of Vij, or more like the "aunties" in the kitchen who were actually churning out the food.  Because I was pretty tired when I finally ate, my memory is kinda foggy so forgive me for the terse descriptors.

Roasted Mashed Eggplant butternut squash, black chickpeas
Delicious mush.  Well spiced and seasoned (as was the consistent achievement through all the dishes that evening).

Wine Marinated Lamb Popsicles fenugreek cream curry in tumeric and spinach potatoes
People were really RAVING about this one on Yelp.  The lamb was nicely frenched and free of gristley fat.  It was perfectly cooked and bathed in a light yet flavorful curry.  I agree, a must try.

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