Steelhead Diner

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

 

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

 

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Pike “Kilt Lifter” Fish & Chips

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

 

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Flash Fried Pacific Oyster Po ‘Boy

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

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

Pros:
– Good location for tourists

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

Price Range: $25-30 per person

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

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

 

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

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Hoitong Chinese Seafood Restaurant

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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Roast Squab

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

 

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Mushrooms Stuffed in Bean Curd with Baby Bok Choy

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

 

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Sweet and Sour Pork

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

 

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Stir Fried Milk and Fried Tofu

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

 

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Lotus Leaf Seafood Rice

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

 

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

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

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

Cons:
– Ambiance is not that nice

Price Range: $30-40 per person

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

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

 

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

Kitchen By Yugo

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Seeing on the Instagram pictures recently, I decided to take S to Kitchen by Yugo for her birthday. The restaurant features Japanese French fusion and is located on Denman Street near Robson. When we arrived on a Sunday night, the restaurant was completely empty but with tons of staff and cooks. We found it a little odd, but the restaurant slowly filled up. Still, there were quite a lot of employees compared to the size of the restaurant which we found quite odd. At least our service was super attentive because of this! The interior is dimly lit and is quite nice for date night or a girls’ night out.

 

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Chicken Wings

To start, we had the Chicken Wings which feature a soy mirin glaze topped with a grilled shishito pepper. The skin was crispy with the sauce being on the sweeter side. I really liked the attentiveness to plating because the toothpick which they poked in acted as a fork to eat the wing. This made it really easy to eat without having to use your hands!

 

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Aburi Hamachi Oshi Sushi

Next, we had the Aburi Hamachi Oshi Sushi. The plate was again visually appealing with crispy taro chips on the side. I found this was slightly on the dryer side as aburi sushi is often more creamy. This wasn’t very memorable compared to the other dishes.

 

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6 pc Omakase Nigiri

We each then got a set of the 6 piece Omakase Nigiri. Wow! This was beautiful and each piece was carefully curated. To be honest, I don’t remember each type of fish, but they were mostly white fish. What was special was that each nigiri had a different topping or sauce to accompany the fish. This twist is not traditional at all, but each topping really worked well and we both agreed it tasted great despite being fusion style. None of the nigiris need soy sauce since they already have their own topping.

 

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My favourite of the six had to be the Aburi King Salmon with black truffle. This piece is normally $17 for 3 pieces if you order separately, so the omakase set for $30 is a pretty good deal. The salmon just melted in my mouth and the black truffle worked so well with it! The egg was also super interesting as it was stuffed with  grated radish and you could really see each layer of egg!

 

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Carbonara Udon

Kitchen by Yugo also feature a small selection of entrees which raelly showcase the French side of things. We decided to try the Carbonara Udon which features bacon, mushroom, parmesan cheese, and poached egg on top. As for noodles, the Japanese twist is featured using udon! Who knew a carbonara sauce would work well with udon? This creamy goodness was delicious and flavourful and the egg was poached perfectly so the yolk ran out. Our only complaint was that the udon was slightly on the softer side as I personally prefer it to be more chewy. This is a good dish to fill up if you’re hungry.

 

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Scallops Risotto

Last but not least, we finished with another one of their French influenced dishes, the Scallops Risotto. This dish featured Hokkaido scallops, black truffle, mushrooms, ikura, honey ricotta, bonito flakes, and fried leeks. Ikura and bonito flakes with risotto? Yes, this worked! The saltiness from the fish roe with the creamy risotto was absolutely delicious! Our only mistake was ordering two creamy dishes, so we were beyond full! Really enjoyed this and it was priced well given the ingredients.

 

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Lychee Osmanthus

I actually really wanted to try their desserts but we had ordered way too much food. To our surprise, the restaurant gave us a small piece of Lychee Osmanthus on the house so we had no excuse to skip dessert! This featured lychee mousse, osmanthus jelly, sponge cake, and pannac cotta. The dessert was light and refreshing and a perfect way to end the rather heavy meal near the end.

Overall, we were quite pleased with the food at Kitchen by Yugo. I would suggest coming with around 4 people so that you can really try a variety of dishes. Really interesting dishes which I haven’t really seen elsewhere but definitely do not expect to find any traditional Japanese dishes.
 

Pros:
– Great execution of French Japanese fusion dishes
– Nice date night ambiance

Cons:
– Aburi Hamachi Oshi was quite mediocre

Price Range: $30-60 per person

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

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

 

Kitchen by Yugo Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Black Rice Izakaya

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

Back in December, Black Rice Izakaya launched some new items on their winter menu and we were invited for a tasting.

 

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The interior is full of wooden details giving it a warm izakaya feel.

 

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Gin No Kurenai “Pink Lady”

We started off with some sake called Pink Lady which has a rose colour and is light, sweet and fruity. My first time trying sake with a rose colour and it didn’t disappoint!

 

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Goma Tuna

To start, we had the Goma Tuna which was served with a side of sea urchin. The tuna was lightly seasoned with sesame and seaweed.

 

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Hamaguri Dobin Mushi

One of my favourite appetizers was the Hamaguri Dobin Mushi. This clam soup had a clean but flavourful taste and was perfect as a palette cleanser. Highly recommend giving this a try especially in this cold weather!

 

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Kimchi Scallop Motoyaki

The Kimchi Scallop Motoyaki was visually attractive! The scallop shells were filled with of course scallop, kimchi, chopped bell pepper, butter and cheese. The kimchi was not overly spicy but was packed with flavour.

 

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Teriyaki Wagyu Steak

Another delicious dish was the Teriyaki Wagyu Steak. The Wagyu beef is glazed with a teriyaki sauce and sits on top of Monterrey jack and mozzarella cheese which has been mixed with mashed potatoes. The beef was cooked to a medium rare with a beautiful pink center. Super tender! My only wish was that the cheesy mixture was more stringy.

 

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Kimchi Nabe

Perfect for the cold weather is the Kimchi Nabe, a kimchi stew with vegetables, sliced pork and tofu balls. This Korean Japanese fusion works and would be great with a side of rice!

 

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Napolitan Spaghetti

One of the more interesting dishes was the Napolitan Spaghetti. The dish features soba noodles, tomato sauce, ketchup, bacon, sausage, onions and egg underneath. The spaghetti reminds me of the HK style cafe pastas with the sauce being on the sweeter side. But for some reason, it works and tastes really homey!

 

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To finish, we had some sushi which is part of their regular menu and is not usually presented like this. This is just a quick version of the Aburi Scallop Hako and the Black Mentaiko Roll. Still, they tasted great and the Black Mentaiko Roll caught me by surprise with the chewy black rice.

Overall, some great new winter additions to the menu this season. The food is definitely fusion and strongly Korean influenced, but it works! A great spot to share a few dishes with friends and have some drinks!

 

Black Rice Izakaya Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Dynasty Seafood Restaurant

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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!

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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

Cactus Club Cafe (Richmond)

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

In the beginning of November, the newly relocated Cactus Club Cafe at the Richmond Centre location opened its door to the public. We were invited to a media preview to check out the space and enjoy some food and drinks. They have blocked off some parking at the mall so there is valet parking available here. However, there’s plenty of parking at Richmond Centre, so feel free to park anywhere!

 

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We were welcomed by the founder of Cactus, Richard Jaffrey, who spoke about how the original Richmond location began 25 years ago.

 

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The new location is truly a revamp from the old location. The interior is just as amazing as the other locations like the Coal Harbour location. On one side is the formal dining room, while this side pictured above is the bar area. There are high top table and small booth seats available here with a large bar counter right in the middle. Really love the lighting in this area.

 

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On the other end is the heated patio. I love this area as it feels like you’re outside near the beach even though it is fully enclosed. However, during the summer, the roof can roll away and the glass walls can slide open. Super cool!

 

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Whiskey Ginger Smash

Just in time for winter, they have launched two new cocktails. The first is the Whiskey Ginger Smash. This cocktail features a blend of whiskey, lemon, ginger and rosemary.

 

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Late Harvest Daiquiri

The second cocktail is the Late Harvest Daiquiri. This cocktail is made with a base of rum and lime and topped with blackberries and a Saskatoon berry and blackcurrant coulis. Sort of like a Bellini but a berry based one. So refreshing and the flavours are more catered for the winter time.

We didn’t get a chance to try any full dishes other than some appetizers, so I can’t comment too much about the food. However, Cactus is not for consistency, so I’m sure the food at this location is just as good as their other locations. What a great addition to Richmond Centre and I can’t wait to return to try the full menu.

 

Cactus Club Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Captain’s Boil (Richmond)

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Captain’s Boil is literally everywhere now and I’ve visited the Richmond location twice since. The restaurant specializes in seafood boils so be ready to get messy!

 

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The Richmond location has both booth seating for smaller groups and can also accommodate large groups with their longer tables. During lunch, they have some sizzling plate combos which are all under $10. Pretty good deal if you are looking for a not so messy lunch.

 

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Each table is lined with a piece of brown paper and a tube of paper towel is available. Each diner will also get their own bib to ensure your clothes stay clean. Look how cute the design is!

 

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The Captain’s Boil locations also have a liquor license, so you will find a large variety of drinks available from beer to cocktails and even shots. I guess this makes a good spot if you are looking to grab some drinks! They serve their draft beers in plastic cups and it definitely looks cheap, but I think the reason for this is so they can just dispose the cups since real glasses would be super difficult to clean with our oily saucy hands.

 

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Fried Shrimp Basket

We decided to share the Fried Shrimp Basket which comes with fries. This is quite a large basket and the shrimp were actually pretty good! You also get plenty of fries which are great for sharing amidst all the seafood.

 

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For the seafood boil, we decided to get a potato to share. The potato was well cooked and slathered in butter but not much flavour otherwise. I had to really dip it in the sauce to get some flavour.

 

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Dungeness Crab

Both times we visited, we got the Dungeness Crab in Garlic Sauce. This is because S and I both love dungeness crab! The odd thing is that the dungeness crab is not ordered by pound but rather by the whole crab. We were fine with sharing the whole crab but wish we could order how big we wanted it. We found the crab to be rather small with the legs extremely small. For this size (around 1.5 lbs), the price was just under $40. I guess it’s a decent size to share between two but the legs really are quite small so is difficult to get the meat out. As for the crab itself, it tasted fresh but the garlic sauce is very strong so completely covers the flavour of the seafood itself.

 

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The second time we had the crab, it was pretty much the same size and price. Not bad if you are too lazy to steam your crab at home and add some garlic sauce on. They also have some spicy sauce available which many choose for the other seafood items.

One thing we really disliked about this location, however, was the service. Both times we visited, it was almost impossible to wave down a server. They are always looking down and there is usually only one girl who is actually doing her job but obviously she cannot take down everyone’s orders. The rest of the servers are just always ignoring the customers. It’s quite frustrating in that sense but it doesn’t seem like they are going to do anything about this.

Pros:
– Decent seafood boils at reasonable prices
– Full liquor license for those who want a drink

Cons:
– Service is pretty terrible at this location

Price Range: $20-50

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

Food: 3.5 Service: 1 Ambiance: 3 Parking: 3 Overall: 3

 

The Captain's Boil Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Ember Indian Kitchen

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Ember Indian Kitchen opened up just a few months ago. It’s located near the dyke in Steveston in the same area as Diplomat Bakery. The restaurant faces the water and has a small patio perfect in the summer months. I was really impressed with the interior of the restaurant though. With high ceilings and modern decor, this restaurant is beautiful!

 

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Butter Chicken

T got the Butter Chicken and for the entrees, you can choose either rice or naan to go with it. The butter chicken was creamy and rich and the chicken was tender. They asked what level of spice we wanted and we got medium, but I honestly didn’t think it tasted spicy at all. I guess butter chicken is not usually spicy anyways, so found it odd that they asked.

 

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Curry Chicken

For myself, I chose the Curry Chicken and got it with a side of naan. The naan was buttery and perfect for dipping in the curries! I really liked how the curry chicken here is boneless because the last thing I want to worry about is deboning the meat. The chicken again was very tender and the spices in the curry were very fragrant. Not too spicy as I got mild, but really loved the flavours!

 

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Overall, we were really satisfied with our meal at Ember. The prices are on the higher end with both our meals costing $18 each but the food itself is good, so I can’t complain. Plus, the ambiance inside is really nice! I can’t wait to be back with more friends so we can try more dishes!

 

Pros:
– Delicious curries
– Great ambiance and decor

Cons:
– Location is pretty out of the way unless you live in Richmond

Price Range: $20-30

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

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

Ember Indian Kitchen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato