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

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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

HJU:Z Lounge

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

Last week, I attended the grand opening of HJU:Z Lounge inside the Westin Bayshore hotel. To be brutally honest, I thought the name sounded like a ticker symbol, but soon learned that it should be pronounced as “Hughes”. The restaurant is inspired by Howard Hughes, a successful film producer and leader in aviation. You will find many aviation themed decor in the lounge because of this.

 

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Before they revealed the actual lounge, we already knew it would be extravagant since they had some Ferraris in the lobby!

 

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Finally, they dropped the curtains, and we were welcomed into the space of the newest lounge. The restaurant and bar are the perfect blend of art deco inspired design with a modern flair and nostalgic atmosphere.

 

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On the menu, you can expect to find a rotating selection of cheese and meats hand selected by Chef Alex Mok. Such a perfect snack to pair with some drinks while enjoying live entertainment.

 

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Speaking of drinks, the lounge offers no shortage of drinks from wine, champagne and spirits. Most notably is the featured cocktail menu which offers 7 cocktails which have been carefully curated. Some of the cocktails on this menu include the Alaska No.2, a gin-based drink which features an iceberg and sliver of gold leaf and the Apple Jack Silver Fizz which features apple brandy, cider, and egg whites. Pictured here is the Eiffel 75 which features Hennessy Cognac, lemon juice, chardonnay lees sirup, topped with Charles Heidseick champagne and lemon oils. If you try all seven cocktails on the list, you can actually unlock the secret 8th drink!

 

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As for the food, expect to find modern, contemporary cuisine inspired by Hughes’ world tour, with inspirations from the Russian, French, and the American kitchens.

 

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The menu is expected to rotate seasonally and is curated by Chef Alex Mok.

 

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We didn’t get to try a lot of the dishes in full, but on the menu will be dishes like this Scrambled Duck Egg which features Canadian sturgeon caviar, citrus whipped cream scramble and frisée salad. What beautiful presentation!

 

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There is also the Hibachi Wagyu Beef, 28-Day Aged Striploin and Lamb Lollipops for those meat lovers. We tried the Lamb Lollipop and it was cooked to a beautiful medium rare and well seasoned.

 

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So HJU:Z has delicious food and drinks and a beautiful venue, but what really caught my attention was the live entertainment. For seven nights a week, you will find live entertainment provided by Siegel. On this particular night, we enjoyed some amazing live music along with dancers throughout the night. You will want to get up and dance with this lively music! What a great spot for live entertainment while enjoying your dinner or a late night drink!

 

Yuji’s from Japan

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Funny enough, I had visited Yuji’s Japanese Tapas back in 2011 but the restaurant was closed after 7 years of operations because chef Yuji wanted to open a restaurant in Indonesia. Fast forward a year later, chef Yuji returned to Vancouver to open Yuji’s from Japan. The store is on West 4th and Alma and is quite small, fitting roughly 20-25 diners. You will find many Japanese diners here, which is always a good sign!

 

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Yu Junmai Sake

To start, we shared the Yu Junmai Sake. We had never heard of Yu but apparently the sake is brewed in Richmond! Had to give it a try and support local and it didn’t disappoint. Not a sake expert, but this was light and I enjoyed it.

 

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Beef Tongue

Moving on, we shared the Beef Tongue which was absolutely delicious! The tongue was thinly sliced and topped with this umami dressing which had just the right about of salt and soy flavour. The texture was perfect with a nice chew. My only complaint was the plate was too small!

 

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Shio-koji Marinated Grilled Chicken

Another appetizer we shared was the Shio-koji Marinated Grilled Chicken. There was fried chicken karaage on the menu, but I suggested we try the grilled chicken instead. Seriously, this was some of the most moist chicken I’ve had. The outside had a nice char but the center was so juicy! Again, it was topped with the same dressing as the beef tongue and was absolutely delicious. Such a simple dish, but I highly recommend trying this!

 

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Last but not least, we shared a variety of nigiris. The nigiris here are not cheap, but they are extremely fresh and constructed very well. Definitely worth the price! Perfect for those who enjoy authentic Japanese sushi. The restaurant is also famous for their omakases which are reasonably priced. I can’t wait to be back to try those out!

Pros:
– Fresh seafood and well constructed nigiris
– Cooked appetizer dishes are also very well executed

Cons:
– Seating is not the comfiest as the space is quite small

Price Range: $25-40

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

Food: 4.5 Service: 3.5 Ambiance: 2.5 Parking: 3 Overall: 4

Yuji's from Japan Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

[Japan Series] Day 13: Takama Soba たかま, Abeno Harukas あべのハルカス, Ichiran 一蘭, Osaka 大阪市

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The next day, we decided to stay in Osaka to hit up a few more attractions. On my list was to try Takama (たかま), an affordable one Michelin star soba restaurant.  They open at 11:30am and I’m not sure if they take reservations, but were told to arrive 30 minutes before they open to ensure we get in during the first seating. The restaurant is tucked away in the side streets near Tenjinbashisuji Shotengai, a shopping alley, but this restaurant is super low key looking so you would miss it if you were just walking by. There is no English outside, so just look for this wooden house with a sliding door.

 

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We arrived around 11am and a small line was already forming.

 

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The restaurant is extremely small, with one round table that fits around 10 diners, and then a small four seater tucked on the other side. We were the second last couple to get a seat, so we ended up having to share a table with another another couple on the side. The only downside is that you can’t see what’s going on on the other side. I’m not sure if you can see the chefs on the other side making the soba, but we were lucky enough to get a seat, so it didn’t matter.

 

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They have a small number of appetizers available, including the Dashimaki-Tamago. Of course it was pricier than the tamago we have been getting at the markets, but this was so light and fluffy! You can really see each layer of egg and it came paired with some grated radish and light soy sauce. Highly recommend getting this!

 

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S got the Ebiten-oroshi Soba Set for 2,000 yen and it came with prawn and vegetable tempura. As you can see, the tempura batter is extremely light. It came with a variety of vegetables that we were not familiar with, but overall, it was very good.

 

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At Takama, they serve two types of soba. The first style is called mori, a regular-style soba made from marunuki flour. The second is called inaka, a noodle made with hikigurumi, a whole buckwheat flour. Both flours are extremely high-quality and are from the Fukui prefecture.  S can choose either type for his set. He went with the mori style and had it cold (zaru-style). The noodles are served cold with a light sweet soy dipping sauce. I really enjoyed this as the soba noodles were super thin and had a nice chewiness. The cold soba turned out to be my favourite. With the cold soba, you will also have leftover dipping sauce, and at the end of your meal, the server will bring a pot of hot water which you pour into your leftover dipping sauce to dilute it as a drinking broth. Really tasty!

 

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For myself, I decided to try the warm duck broth and got it with the inaka style, 100% buckwheat flour. The inaka style has a more nutty flavour, but I personally like the lighter mori-style. The duck broth is flavourful with 2-3 pieces of duck inside. However, I am not personally used to have soba in a warm broth and found that the duck broth overpowered the noodles. Back in Vancouver, I think the only comparable soba restaurant would be Kinome, but I think I have to say this is the best I’ve had. At the end of the day, the meal for two probably cost around $50 in total, which is extremely good given it is a one Michelin star restaurant. There are English menus available and the servers can speak simple English. Keep in mind, they are open open for lunch from11:30 am – 2:30am.

 

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Since we were nearby, we decided to check out Tenjinbashisuji Shotengai (天神橋筋商店街). This is the longest shopping street in Japan which stretches 2,600 meters and has over 600 shops. On a weekday afternoon, it actually wasn’t too busy when compared to the famous Dotonbori. I found that many of the pharmacy shops here (if you look for the non-chain shops) were slightly cheaper so perfect if you are looking to stock up on Japanese drugstore cosmetics and snacks.

 

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After some shopping, we decided to train to JR Tennoji station. Here, we visited Abeno Harukas which sits on top of the Kintetsu Osaka-Abenobashi Station, which is across the JR Tennoji station.

 

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The Abeno Harukas (あべのハルカス) is the tallest skyscraper in Japan at 300 meters tall. The building includes a department store, an art museum, a hotel and an observation deck. The observation deck is called Harukas 300 and provides a 360 view of Osaka from the 60th floor. Admission costs 1,500 yen so since we already checked out Osaka from Umeda Sky Tower, we decided to skip this.

 

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Instead, you can go to the 16th floor for free and enjoy the garden terrace. I really enjoyed this modern clean space and it is a good option if you don’t want to pay the admission price. Of course, I’m sure the 60th floor would offer better views.

 

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This is what you can see from the 16th floor at the garden terrace. Not bad since it’s free!

 

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After walking around the department store, we decided to go check out Amerikamura. This is supposed to be a district near Shinsaibashi which offers more American style shopping. Funny enough, we searched Amerikamura in Google maps, and ended up at Universal Studios… Yes we have no idea how we ended up here, so always be careful with Google Maps in a foreign country. Turned out there were quite a lot of brightly lit souvenir shops before the entrance, so we did get to walk around a bit. As it was late, there was no point in entering Universal Studios at the time.

 

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After our excursion, we decided to head back to the Dotonbori area and walking by Ichiran (一蘭 道頓堀店別館), I suggested we enjoy a warm bowl of ramen. There are two outlets in the Dotonbori area. One is by the canal outside, whereas the other is under the shopping area along the strip. We went for the latter because we heard this location has 3 floors and way more seats. Of course, there was still the usual crazy line up, but this one is super organized for the tourists. You will still have to purchase the ticket at the vending machine, but you will also be asked whether you want to sit at the traditional individual booths, or if you want family seating arrangements. If you have never been to Ichiran, then I suggest trying the unique individual booths. However, since we have already tried it, and the line up for family seating was quicker, we went with family seating. Definitely not as interesting, but this is perfect for large families or families with kids.

 

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Be sure to check out the bathrooms! How many rolls of toilet paper do you need?

 

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We ended our night with a delicious bowl of Ichiran and it did not disappoint. Consistent with the other locations we tried and service was quick.

Takama Soba
Address: 7-12-14 Tenjinbashi, Kita-ku, Osaka

Ichiran 一蘭 道頓堀店別館
Address:

 

Taste of Yaletown 2017 – Media Tour

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

The 13th annual Taste of Yaletown has officially begun! Running from Oct 13th to Oct 27th, Yaletown restaurants will be offering special menus at set prices. Yesterday, I had the opportunity to get a preview of what some restaurants would be offering during these two weeks.

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We started off at Xoxolat, a chocolate shop specializing in Single Origin and Estate chocolates. They also offer chocolate tasting and chocolate pairing classes which are perfect for a girls night out or date. They are new to Taste of Yaletown this year and will be offering a happy hour tasting from 4pm to 6pm Wednesday to Saturday. For $25, you will get 3 whiskey tastings and a selection of 8 chocolate treats.

 

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Now for those of you are who are like me and do not usually enjoy whiskey, you will be surprised when you pair it with chocolate. We got a sample of the whiskey along with three chocolates and were pleasantly surprised that the creaminess and fat in the chocolate paired very well with the strong whiskey. This is definitely a good spot to check out before dinner!

 

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After some chocolate tasting, our next stop was Lime & Moon Pie Company. Lime & Moon started in Bowen Island and now has their second shop in Yaletown. This is the shop where they get to experiment with more recipes so you will likely find a variety of changing pies each day.

 

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The shop is small with only two employees, but don’t underestimate the number of pies they can make! We were told that they made up to 60 pies in one day during Thanksgiving! Lime & Moon pies are all organic and they also have many vegan options. They make many pies for weddings and can also make pretty much any customized recipe you want.

 

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For the Taste of Yaletown menu, $15 will get you a slice of pie and a beverage. You can choose between a sweet pie slice of your choice paired with a scoop of organic vanilla bean ice cream or a savoury slice of tourtiere and side of organic greens. As for your beverage, you can choose between an espresso or tea. For $25, you can get two pies and two beverages. During the media preview, we got to sample the Caramelized Pear Custard Pie. The pie features organic pears in a subtle rosemary and brown butter custard. Love the hint of rosemary paired with the pears. The crust was flaky and the filling was not overly sweet.

 

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As for the savoury option, you get a Tourtiere which is filled with 100% alll-natural, non-gmo, no antibiotics, grain fed beef and pork from local suppliers. There is also organic onion, mushrooms, celery, garlic, stock, breadcrumbs, cinnamon, cloves, pepper and salt. This was served a bit cold for us since I’m guessing they weren’t completely sure what time we would arrive. However, I can imagine this to be delicious served warm as the filling itself is moist and flavourful.

 

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To finish off your meal, you can have a cup of espresso or tea!

 

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Overall, good pies and I love how they support the local community by sourcing many of the ingredients locally. Plus, this is the perfect place for vegans as they have a large variety of pies catered for vegans.

 

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As you can see, they have tons of fall pies right now! I really want to try their pumpkin pies now!

 

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Onto our second stop – West Oak. A beautiful venue with an open kitchen concept, the restaurant features a menu with locally sourced and sustainable selections of meat, vegetables and fruit. The seafood is also all Oceanwise certified.

 

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For the Taste of Yaletown menu, West Oak is offering a 3 course menu for $45. At first I thought it was a bit pricey, but given the portion size and quality of food, it is actually a pretty good deal!

 

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We started off with a half portion of the Truffle Cauliflower Soup which came with a crostini. The cauliflower soup had a medium consistency and was flavoured with truffle oil. You could smell the truffle once the soup arrived!

 

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Another option for appetizer is the Chilled Prawn Salad. The salad consisted of shrimp, smoked salmon, arugula, creme fraiche, and horseradish. This was a rather light dish, so perfect if you are going to have a meat dish as your entree.

 

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My favourite option for appetizers was the Burrata and Prosciutto Board though. This board also included fig jam, dijon, castelvetrano olives, balsamic reduction grilled bread. The star of the show was definitely the burrata which I believe the owner said is made in house. So creamy and great paired with the salty prosciutto. The fig jam was also spot on without being overly sweet.

 

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Moving onto entrees, we had the Roasted BC Salmon which featured scallion mashed potatoes, green beans, a citrus wild mushroom sauce with corn and prosciutto. I normally avoid getting salmon at restaurants because the chances are it’s overcooked. However, this was moist throughout with a delicious crispy skin on the outside. The cook on this was perfect!

 

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Another favourite at the table was the Mushroom Risotto with oyster and crimini mushrooms and Grana Padano cheese. The rice was cooked to al dente with the sauce being creamy and smooth. The cheese and slight truffle flavour really made it spot on.

 

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The Roasted Chicken was definitely a surprise for me. The dish featured grain-fed free range chicken, fingerling potatoes, broccolini, grainy mustard, and a white wine sauce. Apparently this is one of their dishes that has been on the menu forever. Well, they sure know how to cook chicken because the center was not dry at all. Pus, that grainy mustard sauce was absolutely delicious!

 

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My favourite of the night was their Seared Pork Chop though. This sat on a bed of gruyere mashed potatoes, broccolini, and apple dijon jus. Seriously, the pork chop was so tender! And paired with the apple dijon jus, it just felt so homey. This is actually a new item which they will add to their fall menu and I am so happy for this!

 

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To end the night off, dessert is Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta with Berry Compote. I found the panna cotta to be very smooth and creamy, but the berry compote was too sweet after a few bites. I liked how it wasn’t sour, but the sweetness was a bit too much for my personal liking.

Overall, the restaurants I got a preview at offered some really good food and I will defintely be back. Be sure to check out https://yaletowninfo.com/event/taste-yaletown-2017/ for menu details from the 26 participating restaurants!

 

West Oak Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato