House Special

01.jpg by SophiaHo on 500px.com

House Special is located in Yaletown and offers modern Vietnamese food. They offer a patio in front of the restaurant and the inside has modern decor but not overly fancy.

 

03.jpg by SophiaHo on 500px.com

 

05.jpg by SophiaHo on 500px.com

 

04.jpg by SophiaHo on 500px.com

 

02.jpg by SophiaHo on 500px.com

 

06.jpg by SophiaHo on 500px.com

Overall, the food at House Special was quite enjoyable. Don’t expect authentic Vietnamese food, but rather vibrant and beautifully plated dishes. Portions are decent and prices are reasonable given its location in Yaletown. Service was also quite friendly.

Pros:
– Modern Vietnamese dishes are well executed

Cons:
– Prices are slightly more for portion size, but probably due to Yaletown location

Price Range: $20-25 per person

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

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

House Special Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Advertisements

Boba Boy (Kerrisdale)

01.jpg by SophiaHo on 500px.com

Disclosure: All food and beverages were complimentary as part of a media event, but all opinions are my own.

Boba Boy opened up their Kerrisdale location earlier this year and also recently opened one in Burnaby. The boba shop started back in Ontario and has expanded to Vancouver. They are known for their freshly made tapioca balls.

 

04.jpg by SophiaHo on 500px.com

The Kerrisdale location has a few two seaters up front with more seating in the back for larger groups. The space is modern and clean and lit with natural light.

 

03.jpg by SophiaHo on 500px.com

Who can resist the cute logo of the Boba Boy! Guess where the funny hair style comes from? Of course, it is inspired by the tapioca balls!

02.jpg by SophiaHo on 500px.com

The shop has a variety of drinks from smoothies, teas, milk teas, and fruit teas. As for their freshly made tapioca balls, you can choose from original, taro, matcha or sesame. The original balls are clear instead of black.

 

 

07.jpg by SophiaHo on 500px.com

Taro Smoothie with Matcha Pearls

The first drink I tried was the Taro Smoothie with Matcha Pearls. The smoothie was creamy but I’m pretty sure the taro was powder as the colour was too purple. As for the tapioca pearls, they are quite different from the ones from other chains because they are handmade. The pearls are more chewy and can get a bit tough if they sit in the cold drink for too long. They also stick together more but I actually don’t mind them knowing that they are hand made. They probably don’t have as many additives or preservatives so it’s much healthier. The matcha flavour is also quite strong and has a bit of a bitter taste but I like that strong tea taste.

 

06.jpg by SophiaHo on 500px.com

Strawberry Milk with Pearls

T got the Strawberry Milk with original pearls. How pretty is this! I didn’t get a chance to try this one though.

 

05.jpg by SophiaHo on 500px.com

They also offer two containers – one is a plastic one-time use cup and the second is a reusable bottle. You are required to pay an extra $2 for the bottle, but if you bring it back, you get a discount on your bubble tea. Not sure how often you’ll remember to bring the bottle though as I usually get bubble tea spontaneously, so not sure if the bottle is that worth it. But this is great if you need to carry your bubble tea around.

Overall, the drinks itself are nothing too special compared to other bubble tea chains. However, their tapioca balls which are hand made is what sets them apart. I think the chewiness is a personal preference since some people may find them on the harder side. But, overall, still a very unique feature and great that they are healthier than the usual pre-packaged tapioca.

Pros:
– Handmade flavoured tapioca balls are a unique feature

Cons:
– Some people may find the tapioca balls to be chewier than usual

Price Range: $5-10 per person

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

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

 

Boba Boy Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Linh Cafe

01.jpg by SophiaHo on 500px.com

Linh Cafe serves French-Vietnamese cuisine in the Kits area. The cafe has been around for a few years now but I never ventured out here until recently. In addition to lunch and dinner hours, the restaurant is open for brunch as well!

 

02.jpg by SophiaHo on 500px.com

Nem – Cha Gio – Spring Roll

On my first visit, we came here for dinner and ordered a variety of dishes to share. The first were the Spring Rolls which were filled with shrimp, pork, wood-ear mushroom, and glass noodles. These had a good amount of filling and were crispy on the outside.

 

04.jpg by SophiaHo on 500px.com

Banh Mi Cay Hai Phong

One of my favourite appetizers were these Bahn Mi Cay Hai Phong. They are baguette sticks filled with chicken and pork live pate, topped with some hot sauce and fried shallots. The pate was smooth and creamy and deliciously seasoned. Although it has hot sauce, this dish was not too spicy.

 

03.jpg by SophiaHo on 500px.com

French Escargot

Another appetizer was the French Escargot. The snails sat on top of some bread which was soaked in tomato and garlic butter. Very strong in butter flavour so of course it tasted great.

 

05.jpg by SophiaHo on 500px.com

Braised Short Ribs

A main we shared was the Braised Short Ribs which is slow braised with peppercorn sauce and honey glazed sauce. The short ribs were tender and fell apart easily. The dish was served with a side of bread but the bread was not warm. It would have been much better warm, but the bread was still great to soak up the sauce.

 

08.jpg by SophiaHo on 500px.com

Pho(Phở) Bo

Lastly, we had my favourite! The Pho Bo which is a Hanoi style beef noodle soup with braised flank and rice noodles. The rice noodles in this pho are wider than the usual ones I get. But wow, the broth in this pho is unbelievably good! It’s so hearty and tastes almost like Taiwanese beef noodle soup. The flank is also the best I’ve had. The meat just falls apart and you get huge pieces.

 

06.jpg by SophiaHo on 500px.com

Pho(Phở) Bo

The pho was so good that I came back again with S a few weeks later. This is the large size but you can get a mini pho if you’re a small eater. The pho here is not cheap at $14 for the regular bowl but I think it’s well worth it. The amount of meat you get is generous and the quality is what makes it so worth it. The mini pho is still $8 so definitely not cheap. I highly recommend trying this if you enjoy pho!

 

07.jpg by SophiaHo on 500px.com

Britanny Breakfast

On this second visit, we were here during brunch/lunch hours, so I chose to try out something from their brunch menu. The Britanny Breakfast features two scrambled eggs, shrimp, ling cod, fish veloute, all served in a cast iron pan. The dish also comes with a side of fries, salad and bread. The salad is tasty with a light vinaigrette sauce. Fries were nice and crispy and bread was great to soak up the sauce. The seafood with eggs were seasoned well without being too salty and made a great breakfast.

Overall, I really enjoyed the food at Linh Cafe both visits. The pho is a must order but many of their other dishes were just as good. This is a great spot if you love Vietnamese food but want a hint of French food. Service is quite mediocre as I find it a bit cold with few smiles or words. On our second visit during brunch, we also waited over 45 minutes for our food which is quite long! I feel like they forgot to put our order in because people after us all got their food. I was quite disappointed since I really like their food, so hopefully this doesn’t happen again!

Pros:
– Hanoi-style pho is delicious!
– Good selection of French-Viet dishes which are well executed

Cons:
– Services is a bit cold

Price Range: $15-20 per person

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

Food: 4.5 Service: 2.5 Ambiance: 3 Parking: Paid street parking Overall: 4

 

Linh Cafe - French Cooking Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Sawasdee Thai Restaurant

01.jpg by SophiaHo on 500px.com

Sawasdee Thai Restaurant has been on my list of places to try for a while. So when JH was back in town, we decided to meet up for dinner here. Both JW and JH have been here before, so I relied on them to do most of the ordering. The exterior is pretty simple looking, but the inside is actually quite nice. There was a party going on when we went too so it seems like they can cater large parties.

 

02.jpg by SophiaHo on 500px.com

Tom Yum

We started off with a bowl of Tom Yum soup which was absolutely delicious! The hot and sour soup had just the right amount of spice and was well balanced. It had straw mushrooms, lemon grass and makrut lime leaves with chicken. You can choose between chicken or prawns. I don’t normally get Tom Yum soup, but I really enjoyed this one.

 

06.jpg by SophiaHo on 500px.com

Pad Eggplant

For veggies, we had the Pad Eggplant which was stir fried with bell peppers and basil leaves with black bean and oyster sauce. The eggplant was cooked to soft and full of flavour. This would be delicious paired with a bowl of rice.

 

05.jpg by SophiaHo on 500px.com

Garlic Beef

Another dish that pairs nicely with rice is the Garlic Beef. This dish features pan fried marinated beef with garlic and black pepper, and garnished with green onion and cilantro. I thought the beef was a tad overcooked but the flavours were strong and not overly salty.

 

03.jpg by SophiaHo on 500px.com

Green Curry with Chicken

Of course we had to try one of their curry dishes. You can choose between red, green or yellow curry and your choice of protein. We went with the Green Curry with Chicken which features a coconut milk base with bell peppers, basil leaves and bamboo shoots. The curry was not very spicy so I would suggest asking for more spicy. The curry was creamy and a thin to medium consistency.

 

04.jpg by SophiaHo on 500px.com

Pad Thai

Of course we also had to try their famous Pad Thai. I had heard that the pad thai here is one of the best in Vancouver. The stir fried thin rice noodles were served with tofu, prawns, egg, green onion and bean sprout in tamarind sauce. You can choose between tamarind sauce or tomato sauce. Wow, this lived up to its hype! The noodles were nice and chewy and the sauce was sweet, tangy and slightly spicy. A must order when visiting Sawasdee Thai!

Overall, I was quite impressed with the food and will be returning again. Service was friendly and prices were reasonable for the portions.

Pros:
– Well executed Thai dishes

Cons:
– Dishes were more on the mild side (perhaps ask for more heat if you enjoy spicy)

Price Range: $25-30 per person

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

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

 

Sawasdee Thai Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Bao Bei Chinese Brasserie

01.jpg by ukijojo on 500px.com

Bao Bei Chinese Brasserie has been around for many years now and has won many awards. I’ve hear many good things about the restaurant, but for some reason, I was hesitant to try it because I knew it wasn’t authentic Chinese food. Bao Bei is situated in the heart of Chinatown and is known for their modern Chinese dishes and cocktails. I had my hesitations going in, but honestly came out loving the food.

 

02.jpg by ukijojo on 500px.com

The restaurant is good for small groups of 2 to 3. They do not take reservations, so be prepared to wait or come right at opening. We arrived at 6:30pm on a weekday thinking the wait wouldn’t be long, but we still waited around 45 mins to one hour. Luckily, the Keefer Bar is nearby so we could go enjoy some drinks. They take down your name and number and will call you when the table is ready. The interior is modern but has the traditional Chinese vibes.

 

03.jpg by SophiaHo on 500px.com

Dominion Cider

I ended up going with the Dominion Cider from Summerland, BC and this was refreshing and light. I will definitely come back to try some of their cocktails though!

 

04.jpg by SophiaHo on 500px.com

Beef Tartare
The menu consists of sharing style plates, so I’d suggest having 2-3 dishes per person. We started off with the Beef Tartare which was absolutely delicious! The tartare featured Cache Creek petite tender, preserved mustard root, crispy shallot, ginger, a quail egg, watercress, burnt scallion oil, and taro chips to scoop the tartare.

 

 

05.jpg by SophiaHo on 500px.com

Steamed Prawn, Scallop, Rockfish and Chive Dumplings
They have a variety of homemade dumplings on their menu, but I suggested to try something a bit more unique. The Steamed Prawn, Scallop, Rockfish and Chive Dumplings caught my eyes as we usually won’t find scallop or rockfish in our traditional dumplings. The filling was delicious and elevated to a more fine dining experience but I felt the wrappers were a little too thick. Unfortunately, these didn’t wow me.

 

06.jpg by SophiaHo on 500px.com

King Pea Tips
Time to get some veggies in so of course we all suggested to get the King Pea Tips. Pea tips are usually a favourite among the table and these did not disappoint. Simply flavoured with garlic and shoxing cooking wine, these were fresh and had a nice crsip. Portion was actually decent for $9 too given a lot of their other dishes were on the smaller end.

 

07.jpg by SophiaHo on 500px.com

Seasonal Vegetables – Squash and Fried Lotus

We chose another veggie dish and this was one of their Seasonal Vegetables. The Squash and Fried Lotus was flavoured with a curried black bean and salted duck egg yolk sauce. Lotus root is commonly used in Chinese dishes, but I have never had lotus root that looked like this! I believe these are called lotus rootlets and they are like baby lotus roots! Narrow cylinders compared to the usually ones we see, but just as crunchy. They paired nicely with the squash and asian flavoured sauces. Highly recommend ordering this!

 

08.jpg by SophiaHo on 500px.com

Sablefish in Lotus Leaf Wrapped Sticky Rice

Moving on to some larger dishes, we had the Sablefish in Lotus Leaf Wrapped Sticky Rice. To be honest, when I saw the dish arrive, all I could think of was how small this lotus leaf wrapped sticky rice was for thirty something dollars! But once I started digging in, I fell in love with this dish! The sablefish was so buttery and moist and the Japanese oyster mushrooms added a nice texture. This is definitely a next level lotus leaf sticky rice with the sablefish and well worth the high price!

 

09.jpg by SophiaHo on 500px.com

Crispy Pork Belly
Last but not least, we had the Crispy Pork Belly which features radish, cucumbers, pickled ginger, mint, and crispy potatoes. This is topped with a  Vietnamese cilantro root dressing. The pork belly had a nice portion of fat to meat and was very moist.
Overall, I was extremely happy with my meal at Bao Bei and would highly recommend it. Just keep an open mind that you are not coming here for traditional Chinese food, but the food actually tastes good and the fusion works! Despite the high prices, the quality is great here and I’d suggest coming here with a few friends so you can try a variety of dishes.

Pros:
– Well executed modern Chinese dishes
– Good selection of cocktails and drinks

Cons:
– Be prepared to wait even on the weekdays
– Seating is a bit cramped

Price Range: $40-60 per person

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

Food: 4.5 Service: 3.5 Ambiance: 3 Parking: Paid street parking or paid parking lots Overall: 4

 

Bao Bei Chinese Brasserie Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Vancouver Magazine Restaurant Awards 2018

1.jpg by SophiaHo on 500px.com

Disclosure: All food and beverages were complimentary, as part of a media invitation. However, all opinions are my own.

Last week, I was invited to the 2018 Vancouver Magazine’s Restaurant Awards. I attended the reception at Sheraton Hotel just before the awards ceremony so I could get a taste of some of the nominee’s dishes and sample some local wine. The reception event is now open to the public with a ticket purchase which is new this year. If you’re looking to try Vancouver’s best food and wine, then this is the event for you!

 

2.jpg by SophiaHo on 500px.com

The results are out now so a quick recap of some of the top awards are as follows:

Restaurant of the Year and Best New Restaurant both wen to St. Lawrence!

Alex Chan from Boulevard Kitchen and Oyster Bar won Chef of the Year.

 

3.jpg by SophiaHo on 500px.com

Of course, Best New Design went to the Botanist. I mean who could resist the beautiful garden inspired decor?

 

5.jpg by SophiaHo on 500px.com

Best Brunch went to Burdock and Co. which is now on my to-dine list!

Masayoshi won Best Japanese and Mr. Red Cafe won Best Vietnamese.

 

4.jpg by SophiaHo on 500px.com

Marutama won Best Ramen and Dynasty Seafood won Best Chinese.

 

7.jpg by SophiaHo on 500px.com

At the reception, we also got to sample wine from various wineries from all over BC. There were also Spanish Iberian ham which I love!

 

6.jpg by SophiaHo on 500px.com

To finish off, we attended the after party hosted by Joey (who won second for best chain). The Sour Plum was pretty and delicious to drink! What a great way to end the night and celebrate the achievements of all the chefs and restaurateurs in BC!

 

 

ZenQ (Marine Drive)

1.jpg by info9813 on 500px.com

Note: All food and beverages were complimentary as part of a ChineseBites event, but all opinions are my own.

Across the complex at Marine Drive Gateway, right next to Coco Fresh Tea, is now ZenQ, a drink and dessert store which is also Chatime’s sister restaurant. This chain’s first location was in Coquitlam, and has now expanded to Vancouver, Richmond, and Burnaby.

 

3.jpg by info9813 on 500px.com

The location has a decent amount of seating, but you can of course get your drinks to go as well.

 

2.jpg by info9813 on 500px.com

You order up front first, and if you choose to eat in, the server will bring your food to you. They have a large variety of beverages and plenty of toppings to choose from. For desserts, they have both cold and hot desserts, including shaved ice, grass jelly, tofu pudding, and even waffles. ZenQ is known for their mochi balls in their desserts whcih are made from taro or sweet potato.

 

4.jpg by info9813 on 500px.com

Hand Made Taro Milk Tea, Winter Melon Tea with Small Pearls, ZenQ Milk Tea with Small Pearls

To start, we had a variety of beverages. Since I was sick, I had to get all hot drinks. Well, it turned out to be perfect because the Hand Made Taro Milk Tea was our favourite of the three we tried. The drink features fresh milk with taro which I think is real because you get this gritty texture. This drink is only served warm and is perfect in this cold weather! As for the ZenQ Milk Tea and Winter Melon Tea, we personally enjoyed the ones at Chatime and Presotea more. However, I really enjoyed the tiny pearls available at ZenQ and the drinks were not bad after all. If I lived in the area, I definitely wouldn’t mind coming here for the drinks. The drinks are also fully customizable for sugar and ice level, just like Chatime.

 

7.jpg by info9813 on 500px.com

Tofu Pudding with Green Beans, Peanuts, Pearls, and Q Balls

The highlights at ZenQ for us were the desserts. K tried the Tofu Pudding and you can choose from a variety of toppings. Here, she has green beans, peanuts, pearls, and Q balls. Their Q balls are essentially mochi balls and are made from taro, sweet potato, and matcha. My favourite was the sweet potato Q ball as I found that the taro Q ball was slightly on the harder side, especially when served with a cold dessert. The tofu pudding is refreshing and not overly sweet. You also get plenty of each topping so every spoonful is filled with texture.

 

6.jpg by info9813 on 500px.com

Hot Grass Jelly with Q Balls, Large and Small Pearls

As I was sick, I got the Hot Grass Jelly and had it with Q balls, and large and small pearls. I liked how the grass jelly wasn’t too sweet and every bite was chewy because of the toppings. Here, the taro Q ball is softer possibly because the dessert is served hot.

 

5.jpg by info9813 on 500px.com

Grass Jelly with Taro, Grass Jelly Ice, Q balls, and Large Pearls

Lastly, E had the Grass Jelly cold and got it with a few chunks of taro, grass jelly ice, Q balls, and large pearls. This again is not too sweet, but you can get it with cream which you pour on top. It tastes a bit more like condensed milk when you add it.  Refreshing and perfect in the summer months!

Overall, ZenQ has a large range of Taiwanese desserts and is a great addition to the Marine Gateway area. It’s perfect if you not only want a bubble tea, but also a dessert! Prices are also quite reasonable as these mochi desserts can get quite pricey.

 

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

Dynasty Seafood Restaurant

IMG by info9813 on 500px.com

Vegetarian Bean Curd Roll and Vegetarian Chinese Crispy Pork Belly

Dynasty Seafood Restaurant has won many awards over the years. I have no idea why I have not visited it until now! Located on Broadway and Willow, there is actually free parking below the restaurant. It looks like there is pay parking, but if you tell the hostess which stall you parked at, then you will not get towed or ticketed.

To start, we had some vegetarian appetizers including the Bean Curd Roll and Chinese Crispy Pork Belly. The Bean Curd Roll was quite typical and I wouldn’t say it was anything special. However, the Chinese Pork Belly was super interesting because it has the flavour and texture of real pork belly! I can’t figure what the fatty part is made of, but the meat portion is made of bean curd and the crispy skin seemed to be fried bread. I’ve never seen something like this before!

 

IMG by info9813 on 500px.com

Chicken in Soya Sauce (half)

Next up was the Chicken in Soya Sauce which we got half an order of. I believe you have to pre-order this dish. The chicken remained moist and the soy sauce was light and therefore not overly salty.

 

IMG by info9813 on 500px.com

Deep Fried Bean Curd Sheet Wrapped with Taro

The star of that night was the Deep Fried Bean Curd Sheet Wrapped with Taro which is another dish you need to pre-order. The bean curd is shaped like a Buddhist’s prayer beads. Inside each ball is filled with mashed taro. The bean curd itself is deep fried so its really crispy. It is then served with a sweet and sour tomato and cucumber salsa which really opens up your appetite.

 

IMG by info9813 on 500px.com

Salt and Pepper Deep Fried Tofu

An item off their regular menu was the Salt and Pepper Deep Fried Tofu. The tofu was extremely crispy on the outside which the inside still soft and smooth. We loved the peppery flavours of this dish and it wasn’t too spicy at all.

 

IMG by info9813 on 500px.com

Chiu Chow Double Sided Crispy Pan Fried Noodles

To finish our meal, we tried a really interesting dish that is not commonly found or well executed in Vancouver. This is the Chiu Chow Double Sided Crispy Pan Fried Noodles which is served with sugar and vinegar. The noodles are extermely crispy and you are supposed to drizzle vinegar and sprinkle sugar on top of the noodles. They also provide you with some chopped up chives to pair. I have never tried this dish before but I really enjoyed it! I especially loved putting sugar on it! A must try if you are adventurous!

Overall, we were quite impressed with Dynasty Seafood and I can see why they have won so many awards. I think one key reason is because the dishes are much more creative than typical traditional Cantonese dishes you find at other restaurants. The dishes are also well presented and the servers were all quite professional and attentive. The ambiance is right on and has the same feel as Kirin and Sea Harbour. Although the prices are much higher than other restaurants, this is definitely the spot you will want to bring guests that you want to impress. I can’t wait to come back to try their dim sum!

Pros:
– Creative and well-executed dishes
– Nice ambiance and good service for a Chinese restaurant

Cons:
– Dishes can be on the pricier side
– Many of the more interesting dishes require pre-ordering

Price Range: $20-40 per person

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

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

 

Dynasty Seafood Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato