Kissa Tanto

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Kissa Tanto has won many awards and recently won top 100 restaurants in Canada so it has definitely been on my radar to try. Hearing that it is almost impossible to get reservations, we decided to go shortly after they opened at 5:30pm since they save some spots for walk-ins. Located in Chinatown, it’s quite hidden and easy to walk by without noticing it. Seems like a lot of upscale restaurants continue to open in this area.

 

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Walking in, you’ll see this funny quote on the wall. Then you’ll take a flight of stairs to get to the restaurant.

 

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Wow the restaurant decor was really cool. It had this retro but sophisticated feel. It actually reminded me of the inside of an old train or hotel. Apparently it is inspired by the jazz bars back in the day though. You could tell they really put a lot of thought in the interior design. We were seated at a booth with deep blue colours and a cool looking lamp. Loved this vintage feel.

 

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My Private Tokyo
To start, I got the My Private Tokyo. It should be worth noting that Kissa Tanto has a great selection of cocktails and they are famous for them. My drink featured Amaretto Disaronno, Umeshu plum wine, Martini Dry, lemon, egg white, and the rims were dusted with plum sea salt. If you’re a fan of plum wine, then you’ll enjoy this.

 

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Oolong Tea Shochu
J got the Oolong Tea Shochu which featured pandan, yuzu, plum bitters, and tonic. This was a relatively light drink and I didn’t think it was too special compared to the other drinks on the menu.

 

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Octopus Salad 

Kissa Tanto is know for Japanese-Italian cuisine so is definitely very unique. To start, we tried the Octopus Salad which featured crispy smoked octopus, fresh and pickled radishes, mustard greens, parsley and chili purée. I enjoyed the first couple of bites initially but after a while, the mustard greens were a bit too overbearing for me. I didn’t enjoy the slightly peppery bitter flavours. The octopus itself was cooked to tender and crispy on the outside. However, the mustard greens and pickled radishes were not personally ingredients I enjoyed.

 

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Carne Cruda

Another appetizer we tried was the Carne Cruda which is sort of like their take on beef tartare. They use Snake River Farms wagyu beef with pearl onion petals, charred scallion soy, parmesan, arima sansho, and fresh herbs. A side of gnocco frito which are Italian fried dough are used as sort of chips to accompany the beef tartare. I liked how they shaved so much parmesan on the beef and the beef was extremely tender.

 

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Eggplant

I suggested we get a veggie dish so chose the Eggplant which is topped with miso besciamella and almond crumble. The Japanese eggplant is roasted and this unique pairing of miso which is usually used in Japanese cuisine along with besciamella which is a béchamel creamy sauce typically used in Italian cuisine seemed to work. I personally wished the eggplant was cooked softer though as I like it sort of mushy. However, the flavours were very interesting and nothing like I’ve tried before.

 

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Tajarin 

Moving onto the star of the night. The pastas at Kissa Tanto are delicious! We asked our server what she recommended and she said the Tajarin is a favourite. To be honest, it sounded like a super simple dish as the dish only features butter, roasted mushrooms, and a miso cured yolk. But wow, the past was tender to tooth and rich and creamy! Tajarin pasta is made of egg dough and cut in a thin strands, although slightly wider than spaghetti. I highly recommend getting this if you enjoy creamy pasta.

 

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Lobster Tagliatelle

We also decided to try one of their specials of the night which was the Lobster Tagliatelle. This had a more savoury sauce with lots of fresh herbs. I was surprised by the amount of lobster in this dish and the tagliatelle was also cooked to al dente. This was good, but I personally preferred the Tajarin much more.

Overall, Kissa Tanto offers some very unique dishes as it combines Japanese and Italian cuisine together. Somehow, they make the two cuisines work together! Service was also very attentive and professional but I did feel a bit rushed near the end. I wasn’t aware that the seating only allowed to sit for around 2 hours as there was a reservation after us and we had ate our appetizers a bit slow given I wasn’t very hungry yet. The server had to therefore warn us to give up our seat and to speed things up near the end. Regardless, this is a great spot for a girl’s night out or date night. I would actually suggest coming with more than two people so you can try more dishes as each dish is actually a decent size. I was more than full by the end of the meal.

Pros:
– Pastas are great and al dente
– Unique flavours of Japan and Italy combined

Cons:
– Some of the appetizers were a miss for me personally

Price Range: $50-60 per person

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

Food: 4.5 Service: 4 Ambiance: 5 Parking: Meter parking along the street Overall: 4.5

 

Kissa Tanto Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

 

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Fayuca (Happy Hour)

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Fayuca opened up earlier last year in Yaletown and features a Northern Pacific Mexican menu. E, K and I decided to come here for a girls night out.

 

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The restaurant has a really nice patio with cute cushions and chairs. The only downside is there are no heaters or blankets outside, so only great on a sunny day.

 

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The interior is also uniquely designed and features a small bar.

 

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When we visited, we were able to check out their happy hour menu which is available Monday to Friday from 4pm-6pm (it used to be start at 3pm but has since changed). Keep in mind this menu was from the end of summer so may have changed since. Dishes are $7-$12 and are meant for sharing.

 

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There are quite a few drinks on the happy menu as well. Beers, wines, and cocktails are among the choices.

 

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Mezcal Jamaica

To start, I tried the Mezcal Jamaica which featured Sombra artisanal Mezcal with tart hibiscus “Jamaica”, cinnamon and orange. I actually didn’t end up enjoying this drink as I personally don’t enjoy cinnamon in my drinks and it was a bit too tart for me. Instead, I switched to a glass of Nate’s syrah which I enjoyed.

 

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Half-Dozen Sawmill Bay Oysters

Moving on to food, we ended up trying almost all items on the happy hour menu except for the grilled oysters. We decided on the Half-Dozen Sawmill Bay Oysters which were served with a daily aguachile. As expected, the Sawmill Bay oysters were rather small and not as sweet I’d like them to be. They were okay but nothing mind blowing. For $1.50 each, I would probably skip this next time.

 

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Sockeye Salmon Ceviche

Next was the Sockeye Salmon Ceviche which is served with a jicama aguachile. It was also served with this crispy cracker. The salmon was fresh and had just the right amount of acidity.

 

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Roasted Golden Beet Ceviche

The Roasted Golden Beet Ceviche looked almost like salmon ceviche! It was served with a carrot aguachile along with some avocados. I normally don’t like to eat beets, but this is a much try! The texture reminded me of salmon and the ceviche was served with corn tortillas.

 

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Guacamole with Crispy Sunchokes

Another dish I enjoyed was the Guacamole with Crispy Sunchokes. It was topped with toasted pumpkin seeds and Macedonian feta. The guacamole was so flavourful and the pumpkin seeds added a nice texture. Again, these were served with corn tortillas.

 

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Albacore Ceviche Tostada

Lastly, an order of the Albacore Ceviche Tostada comes with two tortillas and is topped with avocado and purple cabbage. The dish also comes with a habanero sauce but it was way too spicy for me! These tostadas were really enjoyable and flavourful.

 

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Tostadas

Almost all dishes on the happy hour menu came with a dish of Tostadas or corn tortillas. These were crunchy and lightly salted. However, because almost all our dishes came with tostadas, it got a bit salty after a while. I think we wouldn’t have minded them as much if we only had 1 or 2 dishes with the tostada.

 

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Overall, I enjoyed the happy hour menu at Fayuca but wished there was a bit more variety. I found most of the dishes were ceviches and therefore served with the same tostada to get a bit boring after a while. However, there are definitely some solid dishes during happy hour and I’d love to come back to try out their dinner menu. Happy hour ends up being not as discounted as you’d think as most dishes are around $10.

Pros:
– Solid dishes during happy hour
– Large variety of drinks to choose from on happy hour menu

Cons:
– Almost all dishes during happy hour are served with tostadas so can get a bit repetitive

Price Range: $25-$40 per person (happy hour)

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

Food: 3.5 Service: 3.5 Ambiance: 4 Parking: Paid meter parking on street Overall: 3.5

 

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

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

The Meat Up 聚点串吧

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Northern Chinese style skewers have become quite popular recently with various restaurants around Metro Vancouver focusing on this cuisine. One that caught my eyes while driving down Granville was The Meat Up.

 

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The interior is pretty basic but has fun comic type of art. The servers here mostly speak Mandarin, but basic English is okay. They will give you a order sheet and you can fill it out yourself then hand it over to the server.

 

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The restaurant specializes in skewers and you can choose from lamb, beef, chicken, pork, seafood, and vegetables. Most of the skewers require a minimum order of 5 skewers, so it’s best to come with a larger group to be able to try a variety of dishes.

 

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There are also a variety of appetizers as well as carb dishes to fill up on. They also have an alcohol license, so you can order beer, cocktails, and soju. I think one of the more interesting drinks is the beer tower, which I don’t see too many places having it in Vancouver. Great to share if you have a large group.

 

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Sweet Potato

To start, we ordered a variety of appetizers. This included the Sweet Potato which was warm and indeed very sweet. However, for $4, I thought this was quite pricey.

 

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Seaweed Salad

The Seaweed Salad was not exactly what I imagined it to be. This was definitely more of a Northern China style dish as it was acidic and spicy. Very appetizing!

 

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Salt and Pepper Chicken

The Salt and Pepper Chicken was also quite expensive for the portion size at $6.95. The chicken was quite moist and the batter wasn’t greasy though. Rather, the batter was quite pale in colour and just dusted with a slightly spicy powder.

 

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Eggplant

One of my favourite grilled vegetables was the Eggplant as it reminded me of the Taiwanese eggplants topped with a spicy savoury sauce. Again, the eggplant was not cheap at a price of $4.95, but it tasted great!

 

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Traditional Lamb Skewer

Moving onto the skewers, we had to try their signature Traditional Lamb Skewer. These were $1.50 each which is fairly priced. Especially given how expensive skewers are at the night market, these were much higher quality and tasted better than the ones at the night market. I liked how these weren’t too spicy as well. They have a spicy one if you enjoy spicy and they also have spicy powder on the side if you need to add a kick. I much preferred these compared to the ones at Happy Tree because most of Happy Tree’s skewers were already quite spicy.

 

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Honey Chicken Wings, Grilled Rice Cakes

The Honey Chicken Wings come with two on a skewer. These were moist with crispy edges on the skin. On the very right, we tried the Grilled Rice Cakes which none of us were a fan of. These were essentially like Korean rice cakes but put on the grill. The outside became a bit hard and plastic-like but the inside was chewy like mochi.

 

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Traditional Lamb, BBQ Pork Skewers

We ordered more Traditional Lamb skewers (bottom) and also tried the BBQ Pork Skewers. The BBQ Pork (top) was glazed in a sweet sauce and tender to chew.

 

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Chicken Gristle, Black Pepper Beef, Honey Pork Belly Skewers

The Chicken Gristle (bottom) were soft cartilage and dusted with some light spice. Loved the crunchy texture! The Black Pepper Beef (middle) was also enjoyable as the beef was tender and the black pepper flavour was strong but not overbearing. Lastly, the Honey Pork Belly Skewers (top) were sweet with a good ratio of fat to meat. Highly recommend getting the pork belly!

 

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Honey Pork Belly (left), Mantou Bread

On the right, we ordered the Mantou Bread as we were curious how these would taste grilled. I actually really enjoyed these! The Mantou was a bit sweet and salty, but it worked. Sort of like garlic bread with the grill marks. This was a great snack in between all the meat.

 

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Beef Ball

One more skewer we tried were the Beef Balls which I didn’t find any special. Each skewer had two half sliced beef balls and were topped with spicy powder. Would skip this next time.

 

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Signature Fried Rice

Lastly, we tried the Signature Fried Rice, which again, was quite expensive at $7.95 for this tiny bowl. However, the flavour of the Fried Rice was actually really good and everyone really enjoyed it.

Overall, we all enjoyed the food at Meat Up. The skewers and food in general were not too oily or greasy but still had that nice char. This is a great spot if you don’t like spicy skewers, as most of their skewers are dusted lightly with spice. Most of the skewers were under $2 a skewer so quite reasonable. Great spot to have drinks and skewers without having to pay the hefty price at the night market.

Pros:
– Skewers are not too oily or salty
– Skewers are reasonably priced

Cons:
– Many of the appetizers and non-skewer dishes are pricey for the portion sizes

Price Range: $20-30 per person

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

Food: 3.5 Service: 3 Ambiance: 3 Parking: Free parking in complex or street Overall: 3.5

 

The Meat Up Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

 

Masayoshi

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Located on Fraser Street, Masayoshi offers only three choices of omakase on their menu. You must also make reservations ahead of time and seating is only available at 6pm or 8pm. The restaurant had won the 2018 VanMag’s Best Japanese cuisine award, so of course I had to come check it out.

 

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We arrived at the 6pm seating on a weekday and it wasn’t too busy. The restaurant is quite small with only three tables of for larger groups, and the remaining seats are at the bar.

 

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We requested to sit at the bar when we made our reservation to ensure we could watch the chef prepare the sushi. This is the best way to truly experience your omakase.

 

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The plate and chopstick holder were very pretty and on the side (which is not pictured) is a holder which has a damp cloth. This is used to wipe and clean your fingers because the chef highly recommends you to eat the sushi with your hands. This traditional way of eating sushi was actually very enjoyable!

 

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Echigo Koshihikari Rice Beer

For drinks, we shared the Echigo Koshihikari Rice Beer. I have never seen this beer at the BC liquor store, but it was light and refreshing. Perfect to pair with your sushi if you don’t want sake.

 

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Miso Soup

There are three omakase sets available: a 14 piece nigiri set ($80), a 16 piece nigiri set ($110), or a 7 course meal which includes both cold and hot dishes ($120). I noticed many people getting the 7 course meal as you get a variety of dishes, but we really just wanted nigiri so we chose the 16 piece set. Included in the set is Miso Soup which was a great way to start our meal.

 

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Spinach Gomae with Enoki with Peanut Sauce and Snapper’s Roe with Ikura

The set also includes an appetizer and that day, we had Spinach Gomae with Enoki in a peanut sauce. A light refreshing start for the meal. On the right was Snapper’s Roe topped with Ikura. The texture of the snapper’s roe was quite interesting and had a bit of salty flavour.

 

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Tai

I won’t go into too much detail of all the nigiris as I can’t remember exactly some of the names of the fish I ate. However, the fish tasted fresh and the amount of rice for each nigiri was just right. The nigiris were well made and didn’t fall apart. I liked how the chef brushed a light soy sauce on top before serving so it was just the right amount.

 

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Hamachi (Yellowtail)

 

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Ika (Squid)

 

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Maguro Blue Fin Tuna

The Maguro was one of my favourite! Included in the omakase was also Toro Blue Fin Tuna but I forgot to get a picture of it. The toro melted in my mouth! So fatty!

 

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Japanese Sea Bream

 

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Missed the name of this one!

 

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Saba (Mackerel)

 

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Tiger Prawn

We watched as the chef skewered a fresh prawn from Japan and took it to the back to cook. The prawn was large and had a bouncy texture!

 

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Hamachi (Mackerel) with Kelp on Top

 

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Red Snapper with Yuzu Zest

 

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Scallop

My favourite scallop did not disappoint! Extremely fresh.

 

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Uni from Hokkaido

The uni was extremely fresh and even my friends who don’t usually eat uni because of bad experiences in the past really enjoyed it. The uni were tiny pieces but very sweet!

 

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Geoduck

The Geoduck was cooked to tender and not chewy at all. Loved the texture!

 

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Sea Eel (Anago)

The Sea Eel was not my favourite at Masayoshi. I usually really enjoy it but I thought this one didn’t have enough of a grilled flavour. I prefer the one at Sushi Bar Maumi.

 

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Tamago

The last piece was Tamago but it was a very different style. It was a bit more spongey than the typical tamago where there are layers. Still, this was a sweet way to end the meal.

 

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Tofu Cheesecake

The set also includes a dessert to finish and today’s dessert was the Tofu Cheesecake topped with some fresh berries. It was sort of like a mousse and I liked how it wasn’t too sweet.

Overall, I quite enjoyed the omakase at Masayoshi. I found the service to be much more enjoyable than many other omakase sushi shops. I find they are usually too strict and it feels really unfriendly. However, the chef although quite quiet unless we chatted with him, would often smile at us and the dining experience felt quite relaxed. I do find that the price of the omakase to be on the steeper side though, but you do get much more pieces of nigiri than many other shops which offer the set at a lower price. Overall, this would be a good meal to celebrate special occasions.

Pros:
– Fish is very fresh
– Service is friendly and ambiance is nice

Cons:
– Price is on the steep side

Price Range: $110 per person for 16 pc omakase set

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

Food: 4.5 Service: 4 Ambiance: 3.5 Parking: Street parking Overall: 4

 

Masayoshi 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

Taste of Yaletown 2018

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The Yaletown Business Improvement Association (YBIA) is proud to announce the 14th annual Taste of Yaletown (TOY), a popular community-based event that invites the public to try a variety of dishes from 25 premier restaurants throughout the neighbourhood. From October 18th to 28th, restaurants will offer innovative pairings, and special menus at set prices of $25, $35, and $45.

The list of participating restaurants for Taste of Yaletown 2018:

  • Banter Room
  • Bistro Sakana
  • Brix and Mortar
  • Cactus Club Café Yaletown
  • The Distillery Bar + Kitchen
  • Earls Yaletown
  • Fayuca
  • Flying Pig
  • The Greek by Anatoli
  • Hapa Izakaya
  • House Special
  • The Keg Steakhouse + Bar
  • La Pentola
  • Milssam Tacorea
  • The New Oxford
  • The Parlour
  • Provence Marinaside
  • Robba da Matti
  • Rodney’s Oyster House
  • Simply Thai
  • Urban Thai Bistro
  • West Oak Restaurant
  • White Lounge
  • WildTale Coastal Grill
  • Yaletown Brewing Company

Please visit https://yaletowninfo.com/taste-of-yaletown-2018/ for menu details from each restaurant and join the conversation online using the official Taste of Yaletown hashtag: #TOY2018.

 

House Special

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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.

 

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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

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