Mak N Ming

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For J’s birthday this year, we went to Mak N Ming after hearing it won one of Canada’s best new restaurant awards. Located in the Kitsilano area, the restaurant what I’d like to think as Westcoast cuisine with twists from other cultures. One thing to note is that the restaurant only offers two chef’s menu during dinner time, so a la carte is not available. They have now expanded to offer brunch which is a la carte and the brunch menu is also much more affordable.

 

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The interior is quite small and features a simple modern design. However, I thought the seating was bit uncomfortable as the seats were pretty hard. It was also interesting that they put all their wine in the middle of the restaurant, possibly because of limited space. As noted, there is a Demi Menu which features 4 courses for $54 and a Chef’s Menu which features 7 courses for $83. We opted for the latter. We ended up getting 8 courses in total as the cornbread seems to be in addition to the rest of the menu.

 

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First Bite

To start, the First Bite was a savoury bread pudding which had truffle, cheese, and anchovies. It sort of reminded me of an egg omelette but it was quite flavourful.

The next course, I forgot to take a picture of, but it was a Halibut dish featuring line caught halibut from Vancouver island and a beurre blanc sauce with radishes.

 

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Chilled Sweet Pea Chawanmushi

Next was the beautifully plate Chilled Sweet Pea Chawanmushi. I love chawanmushi at Japanese restaurants, so this was an interesting take to the classic dish. At first, I quite enjoyed the flavours, but after a while, I felt like the pea flavour was too much and getting really bland. Perhaps It was also because I personally don’t like to eat peas that much. I think I would’ve enjoyed it if they cut down some of the peas on top.

Another dish I forgot to take a picture of was the Cornbread with honeycomb butter. This was a very memorable dish as I typically do not enjoy cornbread, but it was surprisingly very moist. Paired with the honeycomb butter which was slightly crystallized, it was sweet and savoury.

 

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Wild Salmon with Morels

Moving onto a larger dish, we had the Wild Salmon with Morels which are these spongy type of mushrooms. The salmon was cooked perfectly as it was moist in the center and tasted great with the fish roe and cream. The shitake crisp which was on top of the salmon was interesting and you could taste that hint of mushroom flavour. However, I didn’t think it was really necessary as we ended up just eating it on its own.

 

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Azuki Rice and Greens

The last main was the Azuki Rice and Greens. The server poured a dashi stock in the bowl at our table. Azuki beans are mixed with rice and a small patty was formed and coated with some batter to deep fry. The dish was nice when soaked in the dashi stock to soften the rice as it was a bit chewier than regular rice. I couldn’t tell what the greens were, but they were extremely bitter if eaten alone. However, the bitterness magically disappears when paired with the azuki rice which was quite odd!

 

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Buckwheat, Goat Cheese, Fruit

Moving onto dessert was a pretty underwhelming dish. This consisted of something similar to a buckwheat pancake, a slice of goat cheese, some nuts, and a blackberry. I just expected something that took a little more work to be made and thought this course was a bit random given the high price we paid.

 

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White Chocolate, Lemon, Hibiscus

The dessert to end our meal was probably my favourite of the night. It was something similar to a cannoli and consisted of white chocolate, lemon, matcha powder, and hibiscus sauce. The dessert was light and not overly sweet. I also appreciated that the kitchen added the birthday message on my friend’s plate.

 

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As they brought our bill, they also gave us each a bag of madeleines. These were such a nice treat and very delicious! It’s cute how they give you something to takeaway.

Overall, I was slightly disappointed with the food at Mak N Ming. I think I came in with really high expectations, but found many of the dishes to be a bit underwhelming. Perhaps the flavours did not fit my palette personally. Also, I would suggest getting one demi menu and one chef’s menu if you want to share and try different dishes. I saw many others do that and the demi menu actually looked better! The Chef’s menu is also very filling, so the demi menu is probably sufficient for me. Service-wise, it was professional and attentive.

Pros:
– Menu changes often (roughly every month)
– Some dishes are well executed while others are a miss for me

Cons:
– No a la carte available during dinner time

Price Range: $60-$100 per person

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

Food: 3 Service: 3.5 Ambiance: 3 Parking: Paid meter parking on street Overall: 3

 

Mak N Ming Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Earls Ambleside Beach

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S and I both enjoy the food at Earls even though it is a chain restaurant and I especially love their happy hour menu. I feel like they have really upped their game with their dishes and the prices are also very reasonable. So when I heard they opened a new location by Ambleside Beach, I was excited to check it out. One thing very different from the locations in Richmond and Vancouver is the interior. The interior design and furniture at this location is amazing! With the navy blue couches and grey tones against marble table tops, this felt like a high class hotel restaurant.

 

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They have a decent sized bar and the dining area is also very large. I loved the colourful wall paintings in the restaurant.

 

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They also have a beautiful patio which is perfect on a sunny day. However, the view is not exactly the waterfront. It’s mostly just cars driving along the road. Still, the greenery in front is quite enjoyable.

 

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

Ancora

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For my birthday this year, S took me to Ancora since it’s been on my go-to list for sometime now. The restaurant is located just off the bridge and has a beautiful view of the city by the water.

 

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The interior is beautiful with blue and brown chairs against a white backdrop. I love how the light shines in through the floor to ceiling windows. There is a patio as well but we chose to sit indoors.

 

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Complimentary Bread

To start, we were given complimentary bread.

 

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Nova Scotia Lobster Risotto

Ancora is known for combining Peruvian and Japanese cultures while incorporating a Pacific North West flare so it’s interesting that you’ll find sushi and sashimi here. However, I wasn’t really craving for sushi, so we went for all hot dishes. S and I shared the appetizer size Nova Scotia Lobster Risotto which was served with  preserved lemon, peas, cauliflower, thyme, and hazelnuts. The portion was so small for $24, but S and I both agreed the risotto was delicious! It wasn’t very heavy like the traditional Italian risottos, but rather very light because of the lemon. There was a decent amount of lobster and I especially liked the incorporation of the hazelnuts which gave a nutty chocolate flavour. A really interesting twist to a traditional dish.

 

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Aji Panca Glazed Sablefish

For the main, S got the Aji Panca Glazed Sablefish which came with smoked potato puree, dashi braised daikon, kale gomae, and quinoa crackling. Again, this was nice twist to the typical miso glazed sablefish. Instead, they glazed the fish with aji panca which is a Peruvian spice. The sablefish was moist and the accompanying sides were a delicious pairing.

 

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Seared Scallops and Pork Belly

For myself, I got the Seared Scallops and Pork Belly which was paired with green peas, chanterelles, cipollini, and goat’s cheese agnolotti. At first, I thought the dish wouldn’t be too filling, but it turned out to be quite filling especially because the goat’s cheese agnolotti was rather heavy. The seared scallops were cooked perfectly with a nice golden brown sear. The pork belly could have been more moist, but the pea puree worked well to moisten the pork a bit. Really enjoyed this dish!

 

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To finish, we were given complimentary macarons and cookies. This is usually part of the dinner service regardless if it’s a special occasion, but it was nice that they added a candle. S had put on the reservation online that it was my birthday, so we were actually pretty surprised that our waitress and hostess had not said a single word when we arrived. Further, when our waitress brought the dessert over, she still did not say happy birthday which I found quite odd. It wasn’t until we were paying that she finally ended with happy birthday. Our waitress was actually extremely cold the whole dinner and she even placed the dessert menu down without saying a single word. It was pretty shocking to see such cold service given the ambiance is such nice. However, I think it was just our waitress as I saw other staff being quite warm to their diners.

Overall, I was quite impressed with the dishes and loved the combination of Peruvian and Japanese. For the portion sizes and quality of food, the price is well justified. The ambiance and view is also spectacular and is a great spot to walk around after dinner. However, we definitely did not have good service here, so that was a bit upsetting.

Pros:
– Well executed dishes combining Peruvian and Japanese twists to West Coast dishes
– Ambiance and view of the city is beautiful

Cons:
– We personally had very cold service

Price Range: $50-70 per person

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

Food: 4 Service: 2 Ambiance: 5 Parking: Paid meter parking Overall: 4

 

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

Nightingale

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Buttermilk Fried Chicken

Nightingale is Hawksworth’s sister restaurant and located in a beautiful building next to the MNP Tower. You could easily walk by the building without realizing its a restaurant. I wish I got some outside and interior pictures because the decor is seriously beautiful. The interior is extremely posh and we were seated in their upper level during lunch. The menu is Canadian but you’ll find pizzas, pastas, and a variety of seafood, meat, and vegetables showcasing what the Westcoast has to offer. The restaurant is family style so the dishes are meant to be shared. Of course, you can choose to enjoy an entree all to yourself.

To start, we had the Buttermilk Fried Chicken which was drizzled with a spiced maple syrup, sumac and pickles. The fried chicken was extremely crispy with the meat still moist. It didn’t feel greasy at all and the sour pickles were a nice compliment to the fried chicken.

 

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Roasted Mushroom Pizza

Of course we had to try the pizzas, so we chose the Roasted Mushroom which is vegetarian. This consisted of mushrooms, fontina cheese, confit garlic, and arugula pesto. The pizzas are thin crust crust with the edges charred with pockets. The dough is very light which was great since the cheese was quite heavy. Loved the flavours of the dish and the ingredients were abundant and well distributed.

 

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Spaghetti with Manila Clams

Finally, we tried one of their pastas and chose the Spaghetti with Manila Clams, jalapeño, scallion, and white wine. The spaghetti was cooked to al dente and the sauce was light but enough to keep the pasta moist. There were also many clams in the dish and none of them had sand in it. This is the entree portion, but you can choose to get an appetizer size as well.

Overall, I was very pleased with the food at Nightingale. I thought each dish was well executed and the pricing is quite reasonable for the portions and quality of food given the beautiful ambiance. The prices were a pleasant surprise given Hawksworth can be very pricey. I thought service was a bit intimidating though as our waitress seemed slightly cold although professional. A great place for date night or a casual lunch with a nicer ambiance.

Pros:
– Well executed dishes
– Beautiful ambiance and interior design

Cons:
– Wish our waitress was a bit more warm and friendly

Price Range: $20-40 per person

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

Food: 4 Service: 3 Ambiance: 5 Parking: Paid parking in the area Overall: 4

 

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

 

Moby Dick Seafood Restaurant

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We hadn’t visited White Rock in a while, so decided to head there for a stroll. I love how there are so many restaurants along the promenade, but I had read online a restaurant that was highly rated. Moby Dick is a famous fish and chips restaurant which has been open since 1975. The white and blue restaurant will definitely catch your eyes. Even though we arrived pretty late (close to 2pm) due to difficulty in finding parking, the restaurant still had a line up. You can order to go or dine in. Given it was a bit windy, we decided to sit in, but were luckily given a seat quickly on the patio since we were only a table of two.

 

 

The fish itself is quite large, but a lot of it is actually batter. The batter was extremely greasy and you could see they reused their oil too many times as the batter was almost brown! The oil is so strong that I ended up just eating the fish as it got a bit sickening to eat. I much prefer the light and flaky fish and chips at Pajos. The fries are not bad but nothing special either. I have to say the portion for the price is very affordable, but the quality is just not there.

 

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Onion Rings

We added a side of Onion Rings to our fish only order and the rings were on the smaller side. The batter was basically the same batter as the fish. Not bad, but I prefer the A&W onion rings.

 

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1 piece Fish & Chips

The selling point at Moby Dick is that with every order of fish, you will get a complimentary piece of fish. For example, if you want two piece of fish, then you should only get the one piece fish and chips which is $11.95. If you want four pieces, then get the three pieces fish and chips. This so called deal is not really a deal though. I did some calculations, and the price of fish is actually exactly the same no matter how many pieces of fish you get. I guess it’s just a psychology thing to make you think you’re getting a deal!

 

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1 piece Fish

As I didn’t want too many fries, I got the 1 piece fish only for $10.50 and it comes with a second free piece of fish as advertised. The fish itself is quite large, but a lot of it is actually batter. The batter was extremely greasy and you could see they reused their oil too many times as the batter was almost brown! The oil is so strong that I ended up just eating the fish as the batter got a bit sickening to eat. I much prefer the light and flaky fish and chips at Pajos. The fries are not bad but nothing special either. I have to say the portion for the price is very affordable, but the quality is just not there.

Overall, I don’t really see what the hype at Moby Dick is all about. Yes, the free piece of fish is a great selling point, and the large portions and price are pretty good, but the quality doesn’t live up to the hype. The restaurant itself is also not the most comfy. I found there were a lot of flies inside, and the outdoor patio is just alright.

Pros:
– Free piece of fish with every order
– Large portions

Cons:
– Quality is not there; batter is greasy and oil is over used

Price Range: $15-20 per person

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

Food: 2.5 Service: 3 Ambiance: 2.5 Parking: Paid parking around the area Overall: 2.5

 

Moby Dick Seafood Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

 

Seasons in the Park

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Seasons in the Park is an iconic restaurant inside Queen Elizabeth Park. I had visited the restaurant previously during dinner time to enjoy the night views of the city, but it was my first time visiting for a weekend brunch. The daytime skyline is just as beautiful and we were situated in an elevated area which gave a great view.

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Eggs Benedict

On the weekends, brunch is available and of course I had to take advantage of the brunch menu. I chose to get the Eggs Benedict and added a side of breakfast sausages. The eggs benny came with back bacon, topped with hollaindaise sauce and served with rosemary hash browns and seasonal fruits. The eggs were poached nicely and the hollaindaise sauce was the right consistency. However, I found the English muffin to be a bit tough. Hashbrowns were pretty good though as they were different types of potatoes including yam. Overall not bad, but wouldn’t make the list of my go-to spots for eggs benedict.

 

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BC Cod & Chips

S ordered the BC Cod & Chips which was served with an Asian inspired coleslaw, fries, and house made tartar sauce. This was also not bad but again, not the best in town.

Overall, we had a great experience at Seasons in the Park. The food although nothing to get excited about, is still not bad. The main reason to visit would be for the ambiance and view. The service is also very professional so a great spot to celebrate a special occasion.

Pros:
– Great views of the city
– Ambiance is great for a romantic evening

Cons:
– Food is nothing spectacular

Price Range: $20-40 per person

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

Food: 3 Service: 4 Ambiance: 4.5 Parking: Paid parking at QE Park Overall: 3.5

 

Seasons in the Park Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Coquille Fine Seafood

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Coquille Fine Seafood is the newest sister restaurant of L’abbatoir. The restaurant is located in Gastown where Secret Location used to be and opened up earlier this year.

 

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The decor is upscale and modern. Love the coral coloured couches!

 

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I came here with S and M to check out their happy hour menu which is available every day from 3pm to 6pm. They have a good selection of both food and drink choices.

 

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Octopus Toast

Our server recommended the Octopus Toast for us but the portion is quite small for $6. You only get one piece so we ended up getting three of them. The grilled octopus was cooked perfectly with a nice char and topped on toasted bread. I was not crazy for the flavours as there were olives on it and I’m personally not a fan of olives. I’d say this is just average and not the highlight of my meal.

 

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Crab and Shrimp Roll

The next dish we ordered was the Crab and Shrimp Roll. This was also really small for $10! It was only half a roll and there wasn’t even lobster in it. Only crab and shrimp although the filling was delicious with a well seasoned sauce. However, I would rather get the lobster rolls at Joe Fortes which are  better deal.

 

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Cod Croquettes

One of my favourite happy hour dishes were the Cod Croquettes. For $9, you get 6 big pieces, so this is great for sharing and reasonably priced. The cod is mixed with some potato filling and the outside is battered and crispy.

 

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Fritto Misto

Another dish great for sharing is the Fritto Misto. This is essentially fried mixed seafood, topped with fennel and served with a side of aioli. For $12, the portion is decent and you get a variety of fish, calamari, and sweet onion.

 

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Coquille White

For drinks, I had the Coquille White which is a great deal for only $6.

 

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Overall, I found some of the happy hour items to be slightly pricey for the portion and felt I could get something similar at another restaurant during happy hour for cheaper. I guess their regular menu is quite expensive, so these are already considered discounted. The food itself is pretty good though and great if you enjoy seafood. On a Sunday afternoon, the restaurant wasn’t very busy, so this makes a good spot to relax with no rush to leave.

Pros:
– Great seafood snacks for sharing

Cons:
– Some of the happy hour items are still pricey for the portion size

Price Range: $25-35 per person

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

Food: 3.5 Service: 4 Ambiance: 4.5 Parking: Paid street parking Overall: 3.5

 

Coquille Fine Seafood Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The Teahouse in Stanley Park

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Lamb Lollipops

Another late post, but we decided to celebrate Valentines Day later this year to avoid the expensive set menus and restrictive dining hours. S decided to take me to the Teahouse in Stanley Park which was a nice surprise as I had never been and the restaurant had stunning views of the city. Definitely a very romantic restaurant with the interior having a rustic feel to it.

To start, we shared the Lamb Lollipops which were topped with tomatoes and a salsa verde. The lamb was cooked to a beautiful medium rare and had a nice char.

 

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Mussels

For my main, I chose to have the Mussels which was in a tomato based broth, topped with artichokes, garlic, chorizo, corn, and a white wine sauce. I found the mussels were slightly on the tinier side but I didn’t have any closed mussels. There were slightly too many artichokes for my liking, but the tomato broth itself was good. We had complimentary bread to start and the waitress made sure I had enough to soak up the broth so brought over even more bread.

 

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BC Halibut

S got the BC Halibut which was oven roasted, and served with blistered tomatoes, roasted fingerling potatoes, broccolini, and salsa verde. The fish had a nice crispy on the outside while remaining moist inside.

 

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To end the night, the waitress provided us with complimentary chocolate dipped strawberries which was a nice surprise! She had asked what the occasion was for our dinner while clearing our table, so it was very kind of her to throw in a little something.

Overall, I highly recommend coming here for a special occasion. The ambiance is beautiful and although the views are slightly harder to see at night, it still makes a wonderful spot for a romantic night out. Portions of food were actually pretty good considering the price and venue. I was happily full by the end of the night. Would love to come back during lunch to enjoy the daytime views!

Pros:
– Romantic setting with scenic views of the city
– Friendly and professional service

Cons:
– Not transit friendly. You’ll definitely need to drive or catch a cab here.

Price Range: $35-50 per person

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

Food: 4 Service: 5 Ambiance: 5 Parking: Free parking right outside the restaurant Overall: 4

 

The Teahouse Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato