Hapa Izakaya – Dine Out Vancouver 2018

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The last Dine Out Vancouver restaurant we tried was Hapa Izakaya at the Coal Harbour location. To be honest, I was never a huge fan of Hapa because I thought the dishes were just average for the price. However, a recent visit for happy hour changed my mind and N wanted to try the restaurant anyways, so I thought I would give it another try. Plus, the selling point for me was the 3 course savory dishes which was a nice change from the typical appie, main, and dessert. This menu was great for sharing and actually filled me up!

 

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Beef Tartare

To start, we had two of the Beef Tartare. The AAA beef was mixed with maple soy, yuzu ginger and crispy capers. Nori sheets were provided to wrap the beef in. This was one of my favourite dishes. The beef tasted fresh and I like the light soy sauce which accompanied it. Portions were also pretty big and perfect for sharing.

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Albacore Tomato Gelee

The second appetizer was the Albacore Tomato Gelee which was essentially sliced albacore tuna sashimi topped with a house made shiso pesto and tomato jelly. Tuna was fresh and the sauces were pretty unique.

 

 

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Confit Duck Leg

Moving onto the second course, the Confit Dug Leg was marinated with apple ginger and sake. This was paired with grilled zucchini and green beans. The duck was pretty tender but didn’t think this was anything too special.

 

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Panko Sockeye Salmon

Another dish was the Panko Sockeye Salmon which was butter sauteed and served with a karashi mustard hollaindaise sauce. I liked the panko crust, but found the salmon to be slightly on the dry side.

 

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Ankake Agedashi Tofu

I always love a good agedashi tofu and the Ankake Agedashi Tofu was served with bok choy, carrots and green onion. The skin was crispy but I think the sauce should have sat on the side as the bottom of the tofu became quite soggy.

 

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Beef Stew

The third course was the Beef Stew which we thought was pretty random at a Japanese restaurant. However, the flavours were actually rpetty good. This was tomato and onion based beef stew topped with mozzarella, cheddar and monterey cheese. The dish was served with garlic toast so you could spread the stew on top. Tasted sort of like spaghetti sauce but I actually really liked it.

 

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Salmon Sushi Cake

One of the items I was excited about was the Salmon Sushi Cake. But I think we all agreed it wasn’t what we expected. Chopped sockeye salmon was mixed with cream cheese, shiso, miso and karashi mustard and served on top of a bed of sushi rice. I think we didn’t like it was because it was so heavy with cream cheese. A Japanese mayo would have been enough. It was too heavy and covered the flavours of the salmon.

 

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Shiitake Jya-Jyamen Ramen

Last but not least was the Shiitake Jya-Jyamen Ramen. The ramen noodles were served in a soy milk, spicy miso broth and topped with mushroom rice ball. The broth was very thick and heavy. Definitely more of a sauce than broth but it was good to coat the noodles. Personally, I thought this was just average.

Overall, there were some hits and misses but the portions are great for sharing and for only $30. I enjoyed the appetizer dishes more and felt we could skip the entrees next time.

Pros:
– Fun ambiance for drinks and sharing dishes

Cons:
– Dishes were a hit or miss

Price Range: $30 per person (Dine Out Menu)

1: Terrible 2: Poor 3: Average 4: Good 5: Excellent

Food: 3 Service: 3 Ambiance: 3 Parking: Street parking or paid parkade Overall: 3

 

Hapa Izakaya Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Forage – Dine Out Vancouver 2018

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Another good deal for Vancouver Dine Out Festival is Forage as their 3 course menu is only $30. The restaurant was packed and they were pretty strict on the seating’s time limit but service was still pretty good.

 

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Vietnamese Style Bison Shank Salad

To start, we tried all three appetizers which did not require additional cost. The Vietnamese Style Bison Shank Salad was served with shaved squash, braised daikon, crispy shallots, cilantro, mint and fermented chilies. The bison shank reminded me of beef jerky and the seasoning was on point.

 

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Grilled Humboldt Squid

My favourite appetizer was the Grilled Humboldt Squid which was served with radish kimchi, puffed wild rice, sweet soy, and parsley. The squid was cooked to tender and the radish kimchi actually paired very well with the seafood. I also liked the crispy puffed rice which gave some different textures to the dish.

 

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Beetroot Salad

IC tried the Beetroot Salad since she was the only one who wanted to try the vegetable dish. It was actually very colourful and the different coloured beets were served with roasted bruseels sprouts, brusselkraut, and bull kelp granola. I didn’t get a chance to try it but she said it was pretty good for an all vegetable dish.

 

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Crispy Halibut Cheeks

For mains, I had the Crispy Halibut Cheeks which were served with cauliflower “cous cous”, smoked yogurt, poached radish, and pickled mustard seed. They were like fish fritters but the cheeks had a more “chewy” type of texture so I really enjoyed it. I always love to eat the cheeks of the fish because of the texture. Really enjoyed the flavours even though the dish was lighter.

 

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Harissa Grilled Duck Leg

The boys got the Harissa Grilled Duck Leg served with white bean puree, braised greens, sweet and sour carrots and jus. The portion was slightly on the smaller side, but all the flavours accompanied the duck well.

 

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Elderflower Cheese Puff

For dessert, I had the Elderflower Cheese Puff which I’ve had at my last visit. The puff is served with gin spiked blueberries and vanilla ice cream. The top is crunchy pastry like texture similar to Beta 5’s and you can taste a bit of saltiness from the cheese and floral flavours from the elderflower. Paired with the sweet blueberries and ice cream, this is a must try dessert at Forage!

 

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Chocolate Cherry Bar

Our table also tried the Chocolate Cherry Bar which was served with hazelnut crumble, white chocolate cherry cream, and chocolate sauce. I thought this dessert was too dense as it’s more of a ganache and quite a heavy way to end the meal. Not my personal favourite.

Overall, a good option for Dine Out Vancouver but also a great spot even on a regular night. If you’re looking for west coast Canadian food with a seafood and meat selection, this is a great option. Be sure to try the seafood chowder on a regular night!

Pros:
– Great flavours and concepts
– Well executed dishes even during Dine Out

Cons:
– Portions are slightly on the smaller side for 3 courses (could probably still grab a snack after)

Price Range: $30 per person (Dine Out Menu)

1: Terrible 2: Poor 3: Average 4: Good 5: Excellent

Food: 4 Service: 3.5 Ambiance: 3.5 Parking: Street parking only Overall: 4

 

Forage Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Burnaby Mountain Clubhouse – Dine Out Vancouver 2018

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Burnaby Mountain Clubhouse has been participating in the Dine Out Vancouver Festival for many years now. For whatever reason, the restaurant never stood out to me since it’s not really in the media and the restaurant is pretty out of the way for me. However, this year, I was looking for some restaurants that had “good deals” for the dine out festival. This one falls exactly in that category. For $25, you get a 3 course meal which includes steak and a beautiful ambiance. Honestly, there aren’t many restaurants in the $25 category and most of them feature pub food.

 

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I mean, look at this menu! $25 for this type of food? I can’t even get a 3 course meal at Cactus or other chain restaurants.

 

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Get your reservations in early because the place sells out every year! It’s odd because when we arrived, the place was not full and it was not full throughout the evening. But still, they say that they are fully booked. Perhaps because they know the kitchen can’t handle a full house, but that’s smart of them to not overbook themselves if they can’t handle it. As you can see, the interior is actually really nice. I think in the daytime, you’ll have a view of the golf course. For some reason, we were seated in an elevated area at this long table facing the rest of the restaurant. We found it a bit odd to watch the other diners eat from above, and preferred to sit across from each other since it was sort of date night. After letting the servers know, they finally moved us to the lower dining area since they had plenty of tables open anyways.

 

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Trio of Creamed Mushroom Soup

For appetizers, we both got the Trio of Creamed Mushroom Soup which was topped with black pepper, chive creme fraiche, and truffle oil. I could smell the truffle oil once the bowl came. This was creamy and smooth with bits of mushrooms still in the soup. The other appetizer was the Kale Caesar Salad, and I hadn’t chose it because it seemed super simple, but I later learned it came with battered shrimp! Wow, what a deal!

 

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Seared Sea Scallop & Prawn Risotto

For entrees, I chose the Seared Sea Scallop & Prawn Risotto, which was served with grape tomatoes, shaved grana padano, and fresh watercress. The scallops were beautifully seared and they didn’t skimp on the ingredients. It came with three scallops and three prawns! The risotto was rich and creamy although I found it to be slightly under cooked. Still, this was a great dish for the price. It was also a huge portion and I could not even finish all the rice.

 

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AAA Angus Striploin Steak

The main dish that had attracted me here was actually the AAA Angus Striploin Steak. S chose this and it came with roasted garlic yukon mash, market vegetables and a red wine jus. We asked to have the steak cooked medium rare but we found it to be slightly more on the rare side. That didn’t bother us as I rather it be more rare than over cooked. The steak itself had some tendon/fatty parts, but it was still a decent cut given the price. Nothing to complain and I loved that it had a really nice char and smoky flavour to it. Highly recommend getting this for the best deal!

 

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Warm Apple Crisp

As for desserts, the first was the Warm Apple Crisp which was my favourite. To be honest, when it was presented to us, I was a bit disappointed. Presentation was not the nicest, but the flavours worked so well together that it didn’t matter how it looked! There were oat pecan crumbles, french vanilla ice cream and a dulce de leche sauce. This was really good all mixed together!

 

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Black Forest Mousse

S chose the Black Forest Mousse which featured a cherry compote, chocolate cookie crumbs, chocolate shavings, and creme chantilly. This tasted more like a chocolate pudding and I found it too sweet for my liking. I wouldn’t say their desserts are anything too special, but the flavours work.

Overall, I highly recommend Burnaby Mountain Clubhouse during dine out. I almost want to keep this a secret so I can get my reservations again next year! Even during regular occasions, their menu is very well priced and they often have 3 course menu deals. I think it must be because the location is not the most accessible. If you have a car though, this is a must try!

Pros:
– Great deals for portion and quality
– Ambiance is great for date night

Cons:
– Desserts are quite average
– Location is out of the way

Price Range: $25 per person (Dine Out Menu)

1: Terrible 2: Poor 3: Average 4: Good 5: Excellent

Food: 4 Service: 3 Ambiance: 3.5 Parking: Plenty of free parking in their own lot Overall: 4

 

Burnaby Mountain Clubhouse Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The Trump Champagne Lounge – Dine Out Vancouver 2018

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Posting quite a few months later for this year’s Dine Out Vancouver 2018, but I might as well in case it comes handy for next year’s festival. My first dine out this year was at the Trump Champagne Lounge and I went with S and M for a girls night out. We thought the dishes on the menu sounded decent and the price tag of $30 per person wasn’t too bad for a 3 course meal. We all didn’t know that the lounge served actual food as we always thought it was just afternoon tea, snacks, and drinks. The interior of the lounge was pretty as expected, but it was also a bit odd as the lounge is not really enclosed in another area. Once you open the door to the hotel, you’ve basically stepped foot into the lounge. Can be a bit odd as you see many hotel guests with luggage trying to find the check in area. Also, because it is a lounge, the tables and couches are extremely low. My back was hurting by the end of the night. Definitely a place more for drinks and light snacks, rather than a 3 course meal which requires full use of utensils.

 

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Grilled Octopus

Anyways, onto the food. We tried both appetizers and the Grilled Octopus was my favourite. The tentacles were served with crushed fingerling potatoes, black olives, toasted pistachio, and a balsamic dressing. The octopus was not chewy at all. It was cooked perfectly to tender and had a nice char.

 

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Albacore Aburi Style

The second appetizer was the Albacore Aburi Style. The lightly seared albacore tuna was served with homemade pickled vegetables and a burrata cheese sauce. This was quite average. If you like pickled veggies, then you might enjoy this as they were definitely very sour and acidic.

 

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Slow Cooked Lamb Shank

For entrees, we got both of the non-vegetarian options. The first was the Slow Cooked Lamb Shank. The lamb shank was served with the bone in and paired with a butternut squash puree and seasonal vegetables. The lamb was moist and the meat fell off the bone. However, this was quite a heavy dish. We found it hard to finish alone as both the sauce and puree were very thick.

 

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Roasted Lingcod

The second entree was the Roasted Lingcod which sat on top of a white bean fricassee, topped with green onion and smoked pancetta. The lingcod was moist and the top was seared to a nice crisp. However, I found the dish to be quite boring and bland. I really needed to eat the fish with the white beans to get some flavour out of it. It was definitely missing something to bring out the flavours.

 

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Chocolate Banana and Passion Fruit Pudding

By now, we were actually quite full as the portions were actually very reasonable given this being a more fancy restaurant. For dessert, S got the Chocolate Banana and Passion Fruit Pudding topped with some chocolate shavings. This tasted sort of like banana pudding. Not bad but nothing too special.

 

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Apple Crumble with Vanilla Ice Cream

M and I chose the Apple Crumble with Vanilla Ice Cream. For some reason, only one came out and the second came out almost 30 minutes later. I ended up just digging into M’s dessert and was too full to really eat my own in the end. Not sure what happened with the timing there. Anyways, the Apple Crumble was not too sweet, and I always like a good pairing of cold and warm for dessert, so this was great.

Overall, would I come back here for dinner? Probably not as nothing really stood out to me. Plus, the seating is way too uncomfortable for a full on meal. However, I wouldn’t mind coming back for some drinks or light snacks as the ambiance is quite nice. I think their regular menu is not cheap though so dine out is a good option if you’d like to give their food a try. Because this was probably not the most attractive spot given it’s in the Trump tower for obvious reasons, the restaurant was also not fully booked during dine out. Our friend was almost an hour late from work, and the servers didn’t mind us just sitting around and we probably ended up sitting there for almost 3 hours with no issues. Definitely would’ve been kicked out at another restaurant during dine out season!

Pros:
– Ambiance is nice for drinks and snacks

Cons:
– Seating is really uncomfortable with low tables
– Nothing stood out for food

Price Range: $30 per person (Dine Out Menu)

1: Terrible 2: Poor 3: Average 4: Good 5: Excellent

Food: 3 Service: 3.5 Ambiance: 4 Parking: Street/Parkade Overall: 3

 

Trump Champagne Lounge Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Pike Place Chowder

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A must try in Seattle is Pike Place Chowder. I’ve been here in the past, but S had never been. I decided to take him to the one near Pike Street Market which is in Post Alley, which is also a tourist spot worth visiting. The tiny shop is within an indoor market and opens at 11am. We arrived right at 11am, and there was already a huge line up. The good thing is they give you the menu while you’re lining up, so the line goes by quickly. We were able to order within 15 minutes and our food was served pretty much right away since they just keep pumping the food out.

 

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Captain’s Roll and New England Clam Chowder
We got a whole Captain’s Roll which features Bay shrimp and Dungeness crab meat, mixed with secret seasonings, lemon juice, mayo and celery. S and I both loved this! They didn’t cheap out on the crab meat either. It does come at a high cost though at around $16 USD. Quite pricey for a small roll. We also got the New England Clam Chowder, which had meaty clams flavoured with bacon, cream, and a secret blend of herbs and spices. Pike Place Chowder has won many awards for many years, so you must get a chowder here! I really enjoyed the flavours in this one and they give you a piece of sourdough bread to dip in.

 

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Seafood Bisque

We stayed near Pacific Place, a mall on Pine Street. The night before, we had dined at Din Tai Fung, which is a new branch in downtown Seattle inside Pacific Place. There, we found that they actually had another Pike Place Chowder inside the mall! Since we were in a bit of a rush the next morning, I suggested we just grab some food at Pike Place Chowder again since it was nearby. This location has a lot more selection including beers, seafood and chips, and more. But of course, I had to get another one of their soups, so I decided to try the Seafood Bisque this time. This had a medley of Pacific Cod, Northwest Salmon,
Oregon Bay Shrimp, flavored with fresh basil, and simmered
in a creamy tomato-based broth. The bisque was packed with flavour and you got bits of fish in it. So good!

 

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Wild Northwest Salmon Fish n’ Chips
Since this location has fish and chips, S decided to try their Wild Northwest Salmon Fish n’ Chips. You can choose 3 pieces or 2 pieces. This was decent, but we found the salmon to be on the drier side. Definitely not as moist as Pajos!

 

Overall, Pike Place Chowder is a must try when in Seattle! With the two locations, I would suggest going to the Post Alley location as I feel like the turnover for the food is more frequent. However, if you have a large group or are looking for a larger menu selection, then the one inside Pacific Place might be a better choice since there is more seating.

Pros:
– Delicious chowders and seafood rolls!

Cons:
– Fish and chips could be a bit more moist

Price Range: $10-20 per person

1: Terrible 2: Poor 3: Average 4: Good 5: Excellent

Food: 4 Service: 3 Ambiance: 2.5 Parking: 3 Overall: 4

Pike Place Chowder Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Steelhead Diner

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For our first night in Seattle, we decided to go to Steelhead Diner which is located on downhill near Pike Street Market. The restaurant has a large selection of beer and cocktails so great for those looking for a drink.

 

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We started off with complimentary bread and butter. The bread was sourdough while the butter sat in a plate of pesto oil. The butter was so good with the pesto!

 

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Pike “Kilt Lifter” Fish & Chips

S of course got the Pike “Kilt Lifter” Fish & Chips which featured two pieces of Scotch ale battered Alaskan ling cod served with tartar sauce and lemon. S can usually eat quite salty food, but even he found the fish to be extremely salty. It was to the point that he didn’t finish his fish and I don’t think I’ve seen that before! Even the fries were on the saltier side.

 

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Flash Fried Pacific Oyster Po ‘Boy

For myself, I had the Flash Fried Pacific Oyster Po ‘Boy which was a huge portion! The fried oysters along with a aioli type sauce was great, but I did also find it slightly on the saltier side. Not sure if we are just used to less sodium in our foods, or if they just went nuts with the salt here.

Overall, we were slightly disappointed with our food. It had really good ratings, but our food was just too salty for our liking. Something I disliked was that an automatic tip of 20% is added to our bill. I don’t mind tipping more if I get really good service, but 20% is a bit steep given the venue and I don’t think our service was anything beyond expectations. Location-wise, good spot for tourists, but other than that, nothing memorable.

Pros:
– Good location for tourists

Cons:
– Our food was way too salty for our liking
– Automatic 20% tip

Price Range: $25-30 per person

1: Terrible 2: Poor 3: Average 4: Good 5: Excellent

Food: 2 Service: 3 Ambiance: 3 Parking: 2.5 Overall: 2.5

 

Steelhead Diner Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Blu Burgers & Brew

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During the holidays, S and I made a short trip to Seattle for fun. Our first stop was to check out the Boeing Factory in Mukilteo near Everett. Since we arrived in the area during lunch time, we decided to go for lunch first. I did some Googling and there aren’t too many restaurants nearby. However, Blue Burgers & Brew had good ratings, so off we went.

 

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The restaurant is quite casual and you order and pay up front. You can then choose a seat and they will bring you your food. Of course, their menu consists mainly of burgers but there are some select sides you can choose from as well. They also have a selection of beers. Surprisingly, there were quite a lot of families with children here during lunch. I guess they are quite family friendly as well.

 

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Chicken Tenders

Given S does not fancy burgers, of course he went for the Chicken Tenders served with fries. For $6.50, this was decent with 3 strips and a decent amount of fries. S said the tenders could have been warmer in the center and that they were rather average. But then again, they are known for their burgers.

 

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Shroom ‘N Onion

For myself, I had the Shroom ‘N Onion which featured crimini mushrooms, onions, swiss cheese, romaine lettuce, pickles, tomatoes, and a house sauce. The burger stacked tall and they didn’t skimp on the ingredients. My mushrooms were overflowing and that house sauce was bomb. The patty was also very moist and juicy. My only complaint is that for around $9USD, I’d expect it to come with fries which was an added cost. Definitely not cheap given the self-serve type of set up, but the quality of the burger is great.

Overall, a good stop if you are heading to the Boeing Factory or if you’re in the area, but I wouldn’t make a trip out here just for this.

Pros:
– Great execution of burgers

Cons:
– Slightly pricey given self-serve

Price Range: $10-20 per person

1: Terrible 2: Poor 3: Average 4: Good 5: Excellent

Food: 3 Service: N/A Ambiance: 2.5 Parking: 3.5 Overall: 3

 

Hoitong Chinese Seafood Restaurant

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Hoitong Chinese Seafood restaurant is definitely a hole in the wall hidden gem. I’ve walked by this restaurant many times but have honestly never cared for what was inside. However, my mom suggested we try it for our family dinner and after some Googling, I realized the chef has won many awards. The chef is actually over 70 years old but still cooking up delicious food.

 

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The restaurant is quite small, with only around 6 family sized tables. So even if you are only a table of 4, you will sit in a big round table. Because of the limited tables, there are essentially only 2 rounds of dinner service. Be sure to make reservations in advance as it is usually fully booked. The decor is simple and not lavish at all, but it doesn’t matter because the food is the star here.

 

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Seems like there is only a Chinese menu, so bring a Chinese friend if you can’t read it!

 

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To start, we had their daily soup which was chicken feet with beans. Not the most visually appealing, but the soup was full of depth and warmed our tummies.

 

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Roast Squab

To start, we had the Roast Squab which came piping hot! These were also one of the largest and meatiest squabs I’ve had at a restaurant. This dish requires pre-order so make sure you call ahead. The skin was really crispy and the flavour was on point. Not too salty but still flavourful.

 

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Mushrooms Stuffed in Bean Curd with Baby Bok Choy

For veggies, we had Mushrooms Stuffed in Bean Curd with Baby Bok Choy. Usually, I don’t think much about this dish since I assume it’s not that difficult to make, but wow this dish had me wanting more. The bean curd was so silky smooth, and the sauce was absolutely delicious! Again, it was not overly salty which I really liked.

 

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Sweet and Sour Pork

And onto the famous dish at Hoitong – the Sweet and Sour Pork. I know what you’re thinking… how can sweet and sour pork be so special? The dish uses pork cheek therefore the meat is super bouncy. The batter is thin and the sauce has just the right amount of sweet and tangyness. A must order!

 

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Stir Fried Milk and Fried Tofu

Another famous dish is the Stir Fried Milk. We got this along with the Fried Tofu to pair. I’ve had deep fried milk before but this was my frist time having stir fried milk! Wow, this was so silky and creamy and I think there was even some crab meat inside. I can imagine this taking a lot of skill to make! As for the Fried Tofu puffs, they were lightly battered with the tofu inside being bouncy.

 

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Lotus Leaf Seafood Rice

Another pre-order dish is the Lotus Leaf Seafood Rice. I mean, how cute is the presentation? It looks like those hats people wore back in the day!

 

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The rice is not cheap at around $30, but the portion is actually huge and we had enough leftovers for lunch the next day too! The rice was moist and packed with scallops and shrimp.

To end our meal, we got complimentary taro and coconut sago. Love how this was not too sweet and a perfect way to end the meal. Chef Tong even came out to say his thank yous to each dining table! That is something I have not seen before and I noticed he actually had so many regular customers. Overall, we were all happy with our meal. Despite some higher prices, the execution and quality of food was great. Definitely an elevated home cooking experience!

Pros:
– Great execution of dishes
– Well-balanced flavours while not being too salty or oily

Cons:
– Ambiance is not that nice

Price Range: $30-40 per person

1: Terrible 2: Poor 3: Average 4: Good 5: Excellent

Food: 5 Service: 4 Ambiance: 2.5 Parking: 3.5 Overall: 4.5

 

Hoitong Chinese Seafood Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato