Pacific Poké

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Disclosure: All food and beverages were complimentary, but all opinions are my own.

Pacific Poké opened up at the end of last year on Main Street in Chinatown. Thanks to VancityTastes, I was able to give their menu a try. The interior is clean and minimal with cute cacti plants on the tables. The location seats around 20 people inside but many opt to take out their poké bowls.

 

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The menu is similar to many other poké shops. You can either build your own or choose the chef prepared creations. To build your own, a regular bowl costs $12 (two proteins and three toppings) whereas a large goes for $14 (three proteins and four toppings). The options for your base include organic brown rice, traditional sushi rice, quinoa salad base or a kale salad base. Proteins include salmon, ahi tuna, negitoro, albacore tuna, crab and shrimp, and also seasonal selections such as hamachi.

 

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You’ll notice that the number of toppings to choose from is more limited than many of the other poké shops. However, at Pacific Poké, they pride themselves in using high quality ingredients and setting high standards in execution. This includes how the fish is cut perfectly into the same size and the details that go into putting the bowls together. The head chef and sous chef both have many years of experience in fine dining and it definitely shows in the food they present.

 

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The Main

We got to try the chef pre-arranged bowls which I always go for on my first try at poké shops. Getting these bowls, I know I won’t mess up with overloading on random toppings. There are four pre-arranged options, with one being vegetarian. We tried the other three bowls, including The Main, which features salmon, spicy tuna, crab and shrimp jicama, cucumber, avocado, nori, sesame miso sauce, lime and yuzu juice, green onion, and fresh herbs. This bowl was fresh with the lime and yuzu juice really pulling through and hints of spicy flavour from the tuna. I’d say this is a safe bowl for first-timers.

 

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The Keefer

My favourite however was The Keefer which featured ahi and albacore tuna negitoro, avocado, nori, fresh wasabi peas, mixed herbs, classic sesame shoyu, and lime juice. Although this bowl tasted very healthy with the greens, it was extremely flavourful and light. I especially liked the wasabi peas which I don’t normally find at other poké shops. I actually took a bowl of this home and my dad ended up eating it and absolutely loved it. He commented that the fish was very fresh and the sushi rice was cooked perfectly.

 

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The Cali

If you like spicy, then The Cali would probably be your choice. This bowl features spicy salmon, crab and shrimp, pickled red onion, avocado nori, green onion, sprouts, and spicy mayo. I really liked the pickled red onions in this bowl which balanced well with the spicy sashimi.

 

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Poké Panini

Other than the typical bowls, they also have Poké Paninis. Pictured above is the Tuna Panini which is filled with crab and tobioko mix, pickled red onion, avocado, nori, wasabi and miso mayo, green onion and sprouts. On the right is the Salmon Panini which is filled with crab and shrimp, pickled red onion, avocado, nori, spicy sauce, and tomato kimchi.

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To wash it all down, they also have three homemade drinks, including the Strawberry Green Tea, Yuzu Lemon Tea, and Coco Panda (which is a coconut pandan drink). Overall, I highly recommend Pacific Poké due to the chef’s care in ingredients and detail. You can really taste how fresh the food is here and the toppings are meant to go well in all variations. The chefs also curated a menu that is more health conscious, and I definitely felt that way after my bowl. Although more pricey than Pokeritto, the pricing is similar to many of the other poké shops, and I would pay a little more for the quality.

 

Pacific Poke Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Ritual

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Finally catching up on some posts! A few months back, S, N and I checked out Ritual on Denman. Ritual offers farm to table cuisine and offers both brunch and dinner. I believe they also have happy hour everyday and late night happy hour on Friday and Saturday.

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We checked out Ritual for brunch on the weekend, and the ambiance is very cozy with pillows along the bench and fairy lights. Definitely a nice spot to get comfortable and have long chats. It wasn’t too busy the time we visited, so we were able to sit around for quite a while.

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Lavender Latte

During brunch, there are a variety of coffee and teas along with cocktails.

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Tea Latte

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Curried Beef Brisket Hash

N got the Curried Beef Brisket Hash, which I don’t believe is on the menu anymore. A hearty dish with crimini mushrooms, roast garlic, cilantro, yogurt, pickled onions and rosemary yukons, this was full of flavour.

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Overall, I quite enjoyed my brunch at Ritual. Flavours were on point and I enjoyed the cozy environment. Ritual was well known when they first opened due to their no tipping policy and the fact that their staff were being paid higher wages in return. However, weeks later, management realized this was not working and has reverted back to the traditional ways. Unfortunate, but regardless, the food is great and I will be returning.

Pros:
– Solid brunch items
– Cozy ambiance

Cons:
– Seating itself can be a little cramped

Price Range: $15-20

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

Food: 3.5 Service: 3 Ambiance: 3 Parking: 2.5 Overall: 3.5

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

Fable Kitchen x Bordertown Winery Long Table Dinner

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Thanks to a contest hosted by Peter from Vancouver Livin and Fable Kitchen, K and I won two tickets to the long table dinner at Fable Kitchen which featured a five course menu paired with Bordertown wines. The menu was created by Chef Max Straczek.

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Bordertown Winery was present at the dinner to explain the different notes of each wine and essentially provide a wine tasting experience!

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Bordertown is one of the newer wineries and is located in Osoyoos, BC. It started in 2015 and BC Liquor stores now carry their wines. Bottles range from around $18-40.

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Pan Seared Scallop and Cucumber

The first dish was the Pan Seared Scallops with compressed cucumber, cucumber relish and watercress. The scallops were perfectly cooked and almost melted in my mouth! I loved the pickled flavours of the cucumber relish and this paired great with the seafood. Refreshing and light. This was paired with the 2015 Muscat which was light and fruity. Muscat white wines are always one of my favourites.

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Slow Cooked Egg and Flash Steamed Asparagus

Next up was the Slow Cooked Egg and Flash Steamed Asparagus on top of gnocchi and topped with hazelnut bread crumb. The egg was cooked perfectly with the yolk spilling out. This was paired with a 2014 Chardonnay which has a buttery richness to it.

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Rabbit Turnover

For our main, we had the Rabbit Turnover with smashed peas and chervil. The portion looked small but I was seriously so full after this but I couldn’t stop eating because it was so delicious! The pastry was so flaky and the rabbit filling inside was full of flavour. This is the perfect introduction to rabbit for first timers. This was paired with the first red wine of the evening, a 2014 Cabernet Franc, which was perfect with this savoury dish.

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Duck Cooked Three Ways

Next up was the Duck Cooked Three Ways. The three ways were smoked, confit, and mousse and this was paired with cornbread, carrots, and pickled mustard. This dish was delicious, but I was beyond full at this point. My smoked duck was a little too rare for my liking. It was still very bright pink in the centre, and therefore more chewy than tender. My sister’s was cooked nicely with a light pink all around. The confit was really interesting as it was more like a croquette. Deep fried in a cornmeal type batter, this was tasty with the pickled mustard on the side. However, one of my favourites was the duck mousse. This was like a pâté and delicious when spread on the cornbread. This dish was quite heavy though, especially with the cornbread. Perhaps smaller portions of each would be perfect or if this was the only main we had. This was paired with the 2014 Merlot, a perfect pairing for meaty dishes.

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Apple Terrine

For dessert, we had the Apple Terrine which was absolutely delicious! Essentially a streusel with custard on the side, topped with vanilla ice cream and salted caramel sauce. Sort of like a deconstructed apple pie, but so flakey and addicting. A must try! Paired with the 2014 Gewurtztraminer, one of my favourite dessert wines, this was a great way to end the night!

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Overall, we had an amazing time at the Fable Kitchen x Bordertown Winery long table dinner. What more can you ask for with good food, good wine, and good company! Thank you to Peter from Vancouver Livin and Fable Kitchen for the contest!

Fable Kitchen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

WildTale Coastal Grill

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With 2017 Dine Out Vancouver underway, our first dine out of the year was at WildTale Coastal Grill in Yaletown. The interior has a rustic charm and is great as a date night spot.

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The Dine Out menu this year is $30 per person for three courses with wine pairings and add-ons available for extra charge.

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WildTale Seafood Chowder

S started off with the WildTale Seafood Chowder which came with a corn and crab fritter. I found the chowder to be very flavourful and probably best of the night. However, the chowder was extremely small even for an appetizer. Looks like they gave us half the portion because of dine out.

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Albacore Tuna Carpaccio

For myself, I had the Albacore Tuna Carpaccio with a baby gem citrus salad. The tuna itself was not seasoned and therefore really required the citrus fruits to enhance the flavour. Still, I found the dish to be rather bland and the tuna texture doesn’t really work well as a carpaccio since it’s rather mushy.

 

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Herb Crusted Wild Soho Salmon

For his entree, S got the Herb Crusted Wild Soho Salmon, which came with risotto, bay scallops and brown butter caper sauce. S actually disliked the dish and ended up trading it with mine. The salmon itself was cooked to medium rare, but we found it to be almost slightly undercooked. Definitely not dry, but parts of it was almost raw. The cook on the salmon was not the biggest issue. I think it was the sauce it came with and the risotto. Something about the flavour was really off and was too strong in lemon juice. Not sure if it’s just our personal preference, but we didn’t like the flavours at all.

 

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7 Hour Braised Alberta Beef Short Rib

For myself, I ordered the 7 Hour Braised Alberta Short Rib which came with a celeriac pomme puree and roasted bone marrow jus. The short rib was very tender and came apart easily, but again, the flavour was off. I wish they had marinated the short rib ahead of time as the inside of the beef was very bland and you really had to soak in as much jus as you could. The puree itself was pretty good though, but the overall dish was quite bland in flavours.

 

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Bittersweet Chocolate Mousse

There was only one option for dessert, which was the Bittersweet Chocolate Mousse and it came with a housemade biscotti. I found it odd that our two jars were different, and I thought they should’ve at least presented the same types of jars for the same tables if they were short on jars. The mousse itself was also extremely sweet given the menu name said it was bittersweet. You really needed to mix it with the cream or it was too overwhelming. Still, we couldn’t finish the jar as it was quite sweet.

Overall, we were quite disappointed with our experience at WildTale for their Dine Out menu. I hope this is just a one off whereby their regular menu is executed much better. I understand that they are busy during dine out, but I was extremely surprised how fast the food came out. It was as if everything had been prepared in advance. Our total dinner took 45 minutes because of how fast our food came out. It almost felt uncomfortable as we had no breaks between our food. We personally also did not really enjoy any of the dishes on the dine out menu. Nothing blew our mind and made us want to come back. We’ll have to try their regular menu on a normal day to really see how it compares.

Pros:
– Date night ambiance
– Reasonable prices

Cons:
– Flavours were a bit bland
– Dishes came out way too quickly

Price Range: $30 based on DOVF menu price

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

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

WildTale Coastal Grill Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

AnnaLena

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For my birthday, I gave a list of restaurants I wanted to try to S and told him to surprise me with something. He ended up choosing AnnaLena which I was super excited about! Located in the Kits area just before the Burrard Bridge, the kitchen is run by the talented executive chef, Michael Robbins.

The interior is whimsical but cool with modern art and lego toys. The restaurant is quite small, so I’ve heard that people have had to make reservations well in advance. I’m guessing S did just that to secure us a spot.

Because S had mentioned it was my birthday when he made reservations, I guess they noted it down and surprised us both with a complimentary cocktail. That was a really nice touch and the cocktail was delicious!

Chicken

As I had just came from happy hour, I really wasn’t that hungry so we ended up just trying out a few dishes. First was the Chicken, which was buttermilk fried, with a sesame dashi mayo, and accompanied with charred shishito peppers. These were so light and crispy! And the Asian style mayo was a nice twist and complemented the chicken so well.

Scallop

The second dish we tried was the Scallop which were seared, and came with smoked pork jowl, roast turnips, pickled apples, and cauliflower puree. The scallops were cooked to perfection without them being rubbery and the pork jowl was tender with a nice rebound texture.

Chocolate

For dessert, we had the Chocolate, which featured white chocolate mousse, sesame toasted mango, and passion fruit sorbet. Perhaps I took too long to take pictures, but the sorbet began to melt quite quickly. Still, I loved the different textures in this dessert and the strong passion fruit flavour in the sorbet.

Overall, just based on the few items we tried, I already enjoyed AnnaLena a lot and am looking forward to return and try the rest of the items. The portions are quite small for the price, but the quality and execution of the dishes are spot on. A great place if you want to celebrate a special occasion.

Pros:
– Quality and well executed dishes
– Professional service

Cons:
– Portions are on the smaller side for the price
– You’ll need to make reservations way in advance!

Price Range: $30-60

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

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

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

Tony’s Fish & Oyster Cafe

Daily Special

It’s literally been over 4 years, since I last visited Tony’s Fish & Oyster Cafe. You can read my post back in the day here. Anyways, when my aunt came to visit, my parents took her to Granville Island and I decided to head over during lunch to join them. They decided to eat here since it is right at the entrance and we shared a variety of dishes including the Daily Special which comes with Fish and Chips and a cup of clam chowder. The fish was cod and the deal came to around $10.

Calamari Platter

Next was the Calamari Platter which comes with deep fried calamari served with coleslaw, a side of pilaf rice and homemade cocktail sauce. These were well seasoned and I loved the cocktail sauce which was strong in horseradish.

Seafood Platter for Two

The Seafood Platter for Two is great for seafood lovers and comes with crab claws, scallops, prawns, deep fried oysters, mussels, Tony’s Famous Cod and kennebec fries or rice pilaf. We went for the fries this time. All the seafood was very fresh. The fish is also a great size and the batter is thin and light while the fish is moist inside.

The Seafood Platter for Two also comes with a side of coleslaw.

Overall, Tony’s is a great spot for seafood in a more casual home style setting. This place gets super busy at lunch time as its a major tourist spot. Looks like the tour buses bring them here so be sure to arrive earlier than 12pm. Although it is a tourist spot, we did find that the food is overall quite good. Service was also quite friendly.

Pros:
– Great seafood
– Reasonable price for the size

Cons:
– Can be quite crowded inside
– Long waits when tourist buses are present

Price Range: $15-25/person

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

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

Tony's Fish & Oyster Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Oyster Express

Looking for a place to catch up with my girlfriends, I suggested we go to Oyster Express during their happy hour, which is from 4:30-6:00 on Sundays. There are other happy hour times listed on their website.

Located in Chinatown, the shop is really tiny and fits around 20 diners only. One thing we noticed is that it was very warm inside. We were all sweaty during our meal.

Of course we had to get some oysters here. They serve the oysters with a variety of sauces. There is the basic mignonette sauce, the cocktail sauce, and Tabasco sauce. Then they have their housemade spicy sauce. I didn’t try their housemade sauce but K said it wasn’t that spicy.

Glacier Bay and Kusshi

The oysters on sale for the day during their happy hour were Glacier Bay oysters. They were $1.50 each. Their Kusshi oysters were also on sale that day for $2.50 so we got some of those. The Glacier Bay oysters were rather tiny but still sweet. However, we enjoyed the Kusshis a lot more. Much bigger and plump and very fresh. For the most part, the shucking was pretty good, but we still had a little bit of shell in some oysters.

Manhattan Clam Chowder

Their menu is quite limited, but we did order some items to share. First was the Manhattan Clam Chowder. This was actually a tomato based chowder rather than a white cream. The soup was filled with tomatoes, potatoes, carrots, corn, celery, onions and of course clams. Served with some bread and cracker on the side, we really enjoyed the flavour of this chowder.

Fried Oysters (1/2 order)

The half order of Fried Oysters came with three large oysters which were breaded and deep fried to a golden brown. The oysters were very fresh and the breading was very light.

Steamed Mussels

Lastly, we had the Steamed Mussels, which featured a pound of these sweet and plump mussels steamed in white wine, shallots, tomatoes, garlic, and butter. It came with a side of baguettes but not enough to enjoy the remaining sauce.

Overall, Oyster Express did not disappoint although the oysters can be quite expensive if they are not on sale. They do however have an extensive list of oysters compared to many other restaurants. Service was quite friendly. No reservations unless you have a party of 6 or more, so finding a seat can be difficult at times since it’s a rather small shop.

Pros:
– Oysters are very fresh and good variety
– Other menu items are tasty as well

Cons:
– Really warm inside the restaurant
– Some of our oysters had a bit of shell pieces

Price Range: $20- 30/person

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

Food: 4 Service: 3 Ambiance: 2.5 Parking: 3.5 Overall: 3.5

Oyster Express Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Supermarine – Dine Out Vancouver 2016

My second Dine Out Vancouver Festival restaurant was at Supermarine, a relatively new restaurant tucked away in Kitsilano in an area I was not even aware of. Located on Yew St and W 1st Ave, the restaurant is quite the hidden gem.

The interior is very small, fitting around 35 diners, with a rustic charm.

Their Dine Out Vancouver Festival menu was $30 so very reasonable, considering we were beyond full by the end of our meal.

Smoked Whitefish

For appetizers, we ended up trying all three choices on the menu. I got the Smoked Whitefish, which was presented a little funky looking with their bottles of homemade hot sauce and creme fraîche served on the plate. On the side were buttered saltines to place your smoked whitefish on. We all really enjoyed this and it reminded me of Fable’s canned tuna.

Crispy Brussels Sprout Salad

SP got the Crispy Brussels Sprout Salad with soy, honey vinaigrette and yogurt. I had a bite and the brussel sprouts were cooked to tender with nice crispy edges. I don’t usually like brussel sprouts, but these were delicious!

Littleneck Clam & Ham Hock Chowder

SK got the Littleneck Clam & Ham Hock Chowder. It comes with oyster crackers and is topped with a green garlic pistou sauce, which is similar to a pesto.

Octopus Chips

We also added on a side of Octopus Chips for around $9. Served in a jar, these were sliced octopus and fingerling potatoes battered and deep fried. A slightly spicy tomato aioli was served alongside for dipping and this made a great snack. The octopus was very tender and potatoes were nice and crispy. Too bad we found that there were way more potatoes than octopus.

Salt Spring Island Mussels

SP and SK both got the Salt Spring Island Mussels for their entree. The mussels came with chorizo, fennel and were cooked in a smoky tomato broth. The mussels were plump and fresh. No empty shells in the bowl! A generous serving alongside with a huge bowl of fries and tartar sauce. The girls could barely make a dent in the fries after finishing the mussels!

Grilled Flat Iron Steak

I sort of wanted the mussels as well, but being a foodie, I had to order something different, so I went for the Grilled Flat Iron Steak. The already sliced steak came on top of a nori potato puree with smoked fingerling potatoes and covered with watercress. The steak was cooked to a beautiful pink medium rare and was very tender. At first I thought the plate looked small, but there were actually a lot of meat and potatoes. Was definitely stuffed by the entree!

Chocolate Semifreddo

For dessert, the girls got the Chocolate Semifreddo. I stole a bite and really enjoyed it! A nice firm chocolate cake with toasted marshmallow, graham crumbs and smoked salt.

Calamansi Lime Curd

For myself, I chose something different again and went for the Calamansi Lime Curd. When I saw it, I was pretty confused at what I had, but it turned out to be a lime curd with whipped ricotta, shortbread crumb, candied citrus and topped with cilantro. The flavours worked very well together with that herb taste coming through from the cilantro. The lime curd was quite sour but when mixed with the sweet ricotta, there was a nice balance. Not bad!

Overall, we were quite impressed with the flavours of the dishes at Supermarine. Prices are also very reasonable and if you enjoy cocktails, they have a great list. Only downside was that our service started out pretty good, but at the end, apparently they had a huge 10 people reservation right after us, so they kept pushing all the diners along one side of the dining table to leave. Felt like the service lacked because of wanting to maximize capacity from Dine Out, so will need to come back on a regular day.

Pros:
– Great portions and reasonable prices
– Flavours in dishes are unique

Cons:
– Service during Dine Out wasn’t very good
– Seating was a bit tight (not sure if it’s like this during regular service)

Price Range: $30/person (DOVF menu)

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

Food: 4 Service: 3 Ambiance: 3.5 Parking: 3 Overall: 4

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