Christmas in November at Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge

Home for the Holidays by ukijojo on 500px.comPhoto Credit: Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge

Disclosure: I was invited to a media preview and all food and beverages were complimentary. All opinions are my own.

Christmas in November? You must be thinking I’m crazy. Well Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge has been celebrating Christmas in November for many years and it is now the 29th year! This food and wine festival runs from November 3 to November 12th, 2017 this year and I was invited to a media preview a few weeks ago to learn all about it.

 

Chesnuts on an open fire by ukijojo on 500px.comPhoto Credit: Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge

The event is not just about food and wine. Instead, it gets you ready for the holidays with cooking, cocktail, and decorating classes where you get to interact with the chefs and experts at a personal level. Attendees will be wined and dined throughout the 3 days from breakfast to dinner, so fear not of being hungry.

 

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One of the most exciting highlights are the celebrity chefs that you will be able to meet including, Chefs Chuck Hughes, Vikram Vij, Ned Bell, and Anna & Michael Olson. They will be showing you many recipes and you can mix and mingle with the chefs at a whole new level. Not your typical demo and dine experience.

 

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At the media preview, we were luckily invited to Chef Vikram Vij’s restaurant to indulge in some of his dishes (which will be available at the event as well)! He shared his stories from last year and said that the experience is like no other and is perfect for both guests who want to just relax and rewind but also guests who are ready to mingle and have a party. Jasper National Park is the perfect place to get closer to nature, but you will also make some lifelong friends along the way.

 

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Of course we got to try some of Vikram Vij’s curries including this Chicken Curry which was packed full of flavour and paired perfectly with naan and rice.

 

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A Chickpea Curry was also served and the aroma of spices filled the room.

 

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So how do you attend this amazing event? There are 3 packages to choose from: 3-Night Weekend Package (November 3-6) from $1,049 per person, 3-Night Mid-Week Package (November 6-9) from $999 per person, and a 3-Night Weekend Package (November 9-12) from $1,110 per person. All these packages include accommodation, a reception on the first day, breakfast, lunch and dinner on the next two days, continental breakfast and brunch on the day of departure, instructional seminars and gratuities. There is also a VIP package which features private classes, meet and greet with the celebrity chefs, and a private kitchen party! For more details, check out https://www.christmasinnovember.com/

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Raw Bar at the Lobby Lounge (at Fairmont Pacific Rim)

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Torched Wagyu Beef Salad; Bloody Mary

Back in December, I took S out for her birthday at the Raw Bar at the Lobby Lounge located inside the Fairmont Pacific Rim. In the winter months, they had a five-course cocktail brunch for $42 per person with the cocktail pairing for an additional $28.

For the first course, there are two selections, so of course we got one of each. I chose the Torched Wagyu Beef Salad which comes with red onion, sake-beet puree, scallion-ginger emulsion, nori chips and miso creme fraiche. The wagyu beef was tender and melted in my mouth! The only complaint was that the beef was served cold, but I guess since it is a salad, the rest of the ingredients are cold.

The cocktail pairing was a Bloody Mary with vodka, lemon, tomato juice, sriracha, horseradish, salt, and pepper. I normally don’t like Bloody Marys but I actually quite enjoyed this one as the spice level was just right.

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Red Tuna Tataki

S got the Red Tuna Tataki  with yusuf cosh vinaigrette, soy glee, daikon, and micro greens. This was beautifully presented and the tatami was seared just enough while keeping the centre a beautiful pink.

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Light- Zaiten

The tuna tataki was paired with a Light-Zaiten which consisted of gin, organic green tea, dry vermouth, rosemary, cucumber and lime. This was a light and refreshing drink which paired well with the fresh tuna.

 

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Signature Bacon and Sable Miso

The second course was the same for everyone which was the Signature Bacon and Sable Miso. This soup featured bacon dashi, house-cured sablefish, ginger and scallions. This is definitely a gourmet miso soup and we both really enjoyed it. The bacon bits with the sablefish was absolutely delicious and paired so well together! I only wish this came out piping hot as it was served warm rather than hot.

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Beer Makes Miso Happy

The miso soup was paired with Beer Makes Miso Happy which we thought would be beer at first, but it was served in a tall cocktail glass. Turns out it consists of Grand Marnier, wheat beer, ginger, and lemon. The ginger flavour was very strong so if you’re not a beer drinker, you can still enjoy this. Love how they put puns in their menu names by the way!

 

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Wild Salmon Motoyaki “Benny”

For the third course, S chose the Wild Salmon Motoyaki “Benny”. This is their take on an eggs Benedict as it’s not what you would usually see. It came with a poached egg, sweet milk bread, inure, miso hollandaise and avocado. Unfortunately, the egg rolled off and broke once our server placed it down. However, S really enjoyed the dish and the twist from the traditional.

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Kurobuta Pork Kakuni

For myself, I had the Kurobuta Pork Kakuni, which feature braised pork belly, 62 degrees egg, sweet soy broth, daikon, carrot, potato, and tamanishiki rice served on the side. The pork was very tender with the fatness bringing some richness to the dish. The soy broth was delicious with the rice and the egg was poached perfectly with the yolk oozing out. By this course, we were starting to get full, so the rice itself makes this course even more filling.

 

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Pepe Le Pew; Pork ‘N’ Cider

The cocktail pairing for the salmon benny was the Pepe Le Pew, which featured a Lillet rose, sherry, and sparkling brut. This was definitely sweeter but I enjoyed the fizz from the sparkling brut. The cocktail pairing for the pork belly was the Pork ‘N’ Cider which featured Lonetree cider, sweet vermouth and sherry. The sherry paired really well with the pork although I found the drink on the sweeter side.

 

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Sushi Omakase; Sparkling Junmai Sake

The fourth course was the Sushi Omakase, which featured a spicy tuna maki, temari sushi topped with crab meat, halo sushi topped with cured saba, and salmon and tuna nigiri. Honestly, this was one of the courses I was excited for, but I felt that the sushi left me disappointed. The presentation was not as nice as I expected, and the fish was cut sort of choppy. The seafood is oceanwise here, which is a plus, but I just didn’t find the fish very fresh. As for the pairing, this came with Sparkling Junmai Sake, which I really enjoyed. It can be quite strong for some though.

 

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Yakult Shooter; Wakayama Beach

For dessert, the five course meal ended with a Yakult Shooter, which featured plum glee, pear, matcha green tea, black sesame powder and yusuf pearls served in oyster shells. This was visually beautiful to look at, but S and I both agreed we were confused with the flavours and ultimately did not enjoy it. Something was just off about it. This came with the Wakayama Beach which featured gin, yuzu, basil, coconut water, and ginger. The drink was a refreshing drink to finish off the meal, although we were quite buzzed after the 5 drinks!

As it was S’s birthday, I mentioned to the server the special occasion hoping to get a message written on our dessert, but they ended up giving us a delicious plate of truffles on the house which I thought was very sweet.

Overall, I quite enjoyed the five course brunch and would highly recommend getting it with the cocktail pairings. You get quite a lot of food and will be stuffed at the end and given its reasonable price, I think it’s a pretty good deal. I did have some issues with service, since I made the reservations a month in advance through email and had received confirmation. Yet, when I arrived, they told me there was no such reservation. Quite disappointed with that given they are such a large hotel, but luckily since it was a snow day, the restaurant was not very busy. Our server also did not tell us what our drinks were each time she placed them down, which would be expected at hotel restaurant. However, the ambiance of the restaurant is A+ since it has amazing natural light coming in and the simplicity of white tables and chairs with the orange chopsticks makes the setting visually appealing. I will be back again if they have other set menus in the future!

Pros:
– Cocktail pairings are on point with overall good food
– Ambiance and plating is visually beautiful

Cons:
– Service was a miss for us

Price Range: $50-80

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

Food: 3.5 Service: 2 Ambiance: 5 Parking: 2.5 Overall: 3.5

RawBar at The Lobby Lounge - Fairmont Pacific Rim Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Sushi Bar Maumi

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Extreme late post, but for my birthday this year, S took me to Sushi Bar Maumi for dinner. They are known for their fresh fish which is imported daily from Japan and what most believe is as authentic of a sushi bar in Japan as you can get in Vancouver. The restaurant seats only 10 people each time slot and you must reserve the specific time slot in advance. Because the restaurant is only run by the chef and one waitress, they only take reservations from 3-5:30pm. In fact, S said they were extremely strict on the phone stating that they don’t serve any alcohol, that you must order from their omakase menu, and that you better arrive a bit early because latecomers will be frowned upon. They only have 3 seatings: at 6pm, 7:30pm and 9pm.

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Because the restaurant is very small and intimate, I tried to avoid taking too many interior pictures. Essentially, the chef stands in the middle and the seats form a half circle around him. Apparently, this is very different from what it was like a year ago, when you could order off the omakase menu. Now, the nigiris are served one piece at a time. However, we were surprised that all the fish is cut in advance. I guess this saves time so that the service can be done as quick as possible. At the same time, some may find this is not as authentic as what you would experience in Japan. However, for the price point compared to the ones in Japan, I can’t complain.

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Fresh Kisu Tempura

Other than sushi, they do feature some soups and appetizers. We decided to try the Fresh Kisu Tempura, which comes with one silver whiting and three pieces of assorted vegetables. The batter wasn’t too thick but I thought this was quite expensive given how little and thin the vegetables were sliced. I would skip this next time and focus on the nigiri.

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Flounder

When we visited, there were only two omakase menus to choose from. A 10 piece nigiri omakase for $45 and a 12 piece nigiri omakase for $60. The difference is that the more expensive menu comes with Bluefin tuna and Bafun Uni from Hokkaido. We decided to go for the latter to get the best experience. The fish change daily depending on what the chef believes is fresh, so you may get different items from what I experienced. In addition, the chef will ask you if you want wasabi inside or not. In Japan, most restaurants would have wasabi inside already, but I guess they are catering to the clientele in Vancouver. Our first item was the Flounder. I loved this as it was oily and melted in my mouth.

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Amaebi (Spotted Prawn)

Next was the Amaebi (spotted prawn). I usually don’t like this as I find it quite slimy, and if not fresh, it can have a weird aftertaste. However, this was extremely fresh and sweet.

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Fried Amaebi Heads

In Japan, they don’t waste any of their ingredients. This meant that the heads of the prawns were lightly fried. We looked around and everyone was eating the whole thing, so we did the same! I guess it’s like soft shell crab, but I honestly wasn’t very used to eating the shell.

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Surume Ika (Flying Squid)

Next up was the Flying Squid, which was lightly brushed with soy sauce. I’m not usually a fan of squid for sushi because it can be too chewy sometimes, but this was actually very tender.

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Bluefin Tuna

Because we paid for the more expensive option, our menu included the Bluefin Tuna. This was seriously the best part of my meal. The tuna literally melted in my mouth! I highly recommend trying this, but don’t eat too much since this type of tuna has been overfished!

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Hotategai (Scallop)

Onto another favourite and must order of mine at all sushi restaurants is the Scallop nigiri. I love a good fresh scallop, and this was perfect with a subtle sweetness of the sea. Apparently, this is fresh from Hokkaido. I love it paired with the wasabi underneath.

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Buri (Japanese Amberjack)

An unfamiliar fish to me was the Japanese Amberjack. To be honest, I am not very adventurous with my sashimi and usually stick to the typical tuna, salmon, and scallops. I was suprised that the Japanese Amberjack was more of a deep red as I always thought it was more of light pink flesh colour. However, paired with the light soy sauce, it was delicious.

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Aji (Japanese Horse Mackarel)

I’m usually not a fan of Japanese Horse Mackarel because I find that it can be quite fishy sometimes. However, this was very fresh and along with the ginger and green onion, it complemented the fish very well.

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Big Eye Tuna

Another favourite of mine was the Big Eye Tuna which is a cut from the red tuna. It was brushed with soy sauce so it was glistening! This is not the melt in your mouth type of cut, but I actually really enjoyed it. You get more texture from this.

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Kanpachi (Greater Amberjack)

I’ve never had Kanpachi, so this surprised me. It was very fatty and high in oil content and therefore melted in my mouth. So creamy!

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Bafun Uni (Sea Urchin)

I love Uni! Not something for everyone because S tried it for her first time and absolutely hated it. I can see why as it does have a strong sea flavour and can taste funny for first-timers. However, I loved how it was paired with wasabi to bring the sea flavour out. The bafun uni comes from Hokkaido which is the most prized due to the kelp and clean water that they feed on. Absolutely delicious!

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Saba (Mackarel)

Similar to the aji, the Saba came without the garnishes and was also not as tender. It was meatier and had more of a chew.

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Anago (Saltwater Eel)

To finish our omakase, we had the Saltwater Eel, which had a more delicate texture than your typical unagi. It was my first time trying this, and although I usually dislike unagi, I fell in love with anago! The chef torched the eel slightly and therefore the eel just melted in my mouth! A great way to end the meal!

Overall, S and I were very impressed with the quality of sushi at Sushi Bar Maumi. I definitely cannot afford to come here all the time, but it is a nice treat once in a while if you want to experience what a Japanese omakase would be like. Keep in mind that there is a time limit, so it’s not a place to stay long and chat after and your conversations should be kept quiet. Also, after your omakase, they present you with a menu with all the nigiris you can order (many of which are not on the omakase). Each piece is quite expensive but you can try many fish that you might not be able to find elsewhere.

Pros:
– Fresh cuts of fish and skilled chef
– Focuses on high quality nigiri

Cons:
– Wished we could watch the chef cut the fish in front of us!
– Can get quite pricey

Price Range: $45-60

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

Food: 5 Service: 4 Ambiance: 3.5 Parking: 3 Overall: 4

Sushi Bar Maumi Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

PeakFine at Sparkling Hill

Last month, S took me to Sparkling Hill Resort to celebrate my birthday. I’ll write a separate post on the resort itself and our adventures in Kelowna at a later date, but this post will focus on the restaurant inside the resort. PeakFine is the only restaurant they have, other than the cafe downstairs, but the cafe serves up snacks and drinks more. Be sure to reserve in advance, since we tried to reserve on the day and ended up having to eat very early. The interior is beautiful with the crystals adorning the ceiling and walls, just like the rest of the resort. Although this was fine dining, they did not seem to have a strict dress code. There is a pianist playing live music during dinner time.

Dinner started off with complimentary bread and sun-dried tomato whipped butter. The bread was warm and soft and I especially loved the sun-dried tomato butter. Light but flavourful.

Roasted Pork Loin
Dinner is not cheap at PeakFine. Well, I mean, everything at Sparkling Hill is expensive, so not a surprise. There are many options for food in Kelowna and even Vernon, but the problem is where Sparkling Hill is situated. It’s up on a hill, and literally requires driving quite far to get to city centre. With that, if you want to drink, you’ll need to call a cab to get around. Hence, we ended up having to dine at PeakFine. S got the Roasted Pork Loin which came with creamy peppercorn sauce, potato gratin and local vegetables. Not bad, but also not the best I’ve had. Nothing wrong with it, but it was quite average for the price we paid.

Pan Seared Salmon
For myself, I had the Pan Seared Salmon on white and wild rice with almond broccoli and topped with orange and maple beurre blanc. This was not bad with the salmon being moist in the centre, but it could’ve used a little more salt. Again, it’s quite expensive for what it is.
Overall, we both agreed that the food was quite average for the price we paid, but we were surprised that the portions were quite generous. Not like the fine dining where we’re used to having to catch another meal after.
Our stay also included complimentary breakfast buffet every morning, of which is located in PeakFine as well. I actually quite enjoyed the variety at breakfast and found that more pleasing.
Service is decent and the views are quite spectacular. Be sure to arrive early in the morning for breakfast to get seated next to the window.

Pros:
– Beautiful ambiance and great views by the windows
– Great selection for breakfast buffet

Cons:
– Mediocre food
– Quite pricey, although portions are decent

Price Range: $40-60

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

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

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

Morals Village

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NOTE: All food and beverages were complimentary, but all opinions are based on my own personal experience.

Thanks to the team behind Chopstick Fest, I was invited to a tasting at Morals Village, as they will be a participating restaurant during the festival that will run from October 15 – 30, 2016. Morals Village is a chain restaurant popular in China, but has expanded to Canada with a location in Toronto, and now Richmond.

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Whereas the Toronto location has all-you-can-eat, the Richmond location is only a la carte right now. For $2.85, you can make your own sauce.

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Special Spicy Style and Mixed Mushroom Soup

Since we had a large group, we tried almost all their soup bases. They have different soup bases ranging from very spicy to a healthy and non-spicy soup base.

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Pork Rib Soup and Black-Bone Chicken Soup

The pot in front of me was the Pork Rib Soup and Black-Bone Chicken Soup, so I ate mostly from this one. Both of these soup bases were filled with goji berries, a superfood, which is good for your health. The soup itself was cloudy and flavourful. But to be honest, with the sauces you dip your food in after, it’s hard to taste the true flavours of the soup base.

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Beauty in the Golden House

One of their most expensive soup bases is the Beauty in the Golden House which must be ordered in advance and is limited. This beauty is priced at $68 so definitely not cheap. However, it’s filled with a whole chicken, winter melon, goji berries and abalone. It depicts the winter melon soup that you often find at Cantonese restaurants. The soup was absolutely delicious with a mix of seafood and chicken flavour.

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Standard Joshu Wagyu Kobe Beef

Onto what I’m always excited about at hot pot – the meat! Well onto the luxury style of hot pot here at Morals Village, we were presented with the Standard Joshu Wagyu Kobe Beef. This sells for a hefty $58 for around 5 slices! Yes…very expensive, but man, this stuff melted in my mouth! Be sure to hold onto your meat and just dip it in the broth until it turns light brown and quickly take it out or you will overcook it!

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Angus AAA Short Rib

Onto another favourite which was the Angus AAA Short Rib. The cut was just the right thickness and again this melted in your mouth. I highly recommend getting this as it won’t cost as much as the wagyu. This one goes for around $23. Still quite expensive for the number of slices you get, but its quality over quantity here.

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Deluxe Lamb Roll

The Deluxe Lamb Roll is perfect for all you lamb lovers out there. Because of the marbling, the lamb was absolutely tender and juicy and it did not have a strong gamey flavour. Love how thin they cut the lamb as well.

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Ox Tongue

Some may find this odd, but Ox Tongue is actually very popular in Chinese culture. The ox tongue is cut thinly and after cooking, it has a nice chew.

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Pork Belly

Last but not least, we tried the Pork Belly which had tons of fat, but after cooking, the fat melted in your mouth.

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Cheese Beef Ball, Fish Ball, Pork Ball, Prawn Ball

Morals Village has a variety of balls, which appear to be made in house because they are still fresh in a paste form. We were able to try the Cheese Beef Ball, Fish Ball, Pork Ball, Prawn Ball, with the seafood ones being my favourite. They were very bouncy and fresh.

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Deluxe Seafood Platter

As if our meal wasn’t luxurious enough, we were presented the Deluxe Seafood Platter which goes for $108! The platter features abalone, BC crab, prawn, oyster, grouper, with the seafood being extremely fresh. So fresh, that the spot prawns were live! Yes – I skipped a beat when I realized I was cooking the prawn live… I usually cook prawns, fish and crab in my hot pot as well, but abalone was a first for sure.

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Quail Eggs

Next, we got to try some Quail Eggs, also an ingredient that I’ve never put in the hot pot. I actually really enjoyed these in the hot pot as you could soak in the broth.

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Shrimp Paste on Chinese Donut

A pretty random item was the Shrimp Paste on Chinese Donut. Yes – we threw a Chinese donut into the hot pot! I usually eat this with congee, but not at Morals Village. Since the shrimp paste is raw, we had to throw it in to cook, but the tobiko fell off and got lost in the soup. Not bad though as the Chinese donut is great at soaking up all the tasty broth.

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Bean Curd Roll

Of course there is your typical hot pot ingredients including all the much needed veggies. The Bean Curd Roll was a bit more special since it was your typical bean curd but deep fried and rolled up. However, when boiled, it wasn’t anything special.

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Gold and Silver Bread

They also have some cooked food including the Gold and Silver Bread with condensed milk. Everyone loves this Shanghai baked good.

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Handmade Noodles

If you’re still hungry, then carbs are the way to go! They feature Handmade Noodles which we cooked to al dente. I really liked these!

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Last but not least, remember the Beauty in the Golden House soup base? Well, they took out all the overcooked food sitting at the bottom and the chefs added in rice and tons of garlic. What resulted was a delicious rice in broth, sort of like a congee. This was filled with flavour from all the cooked meats and seafood we had thrown in and the garlic really gave it added flavour.

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Overall, I really enjoyed the meal at Morals Village, but many of their top items will leave your wallet empty. However, it is worth a try for a special occasion, and you can of course go for their less pricey items. Private rooms are also available, perfect if you need to entertain your guests.

Morals Village Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Bauhaus

Bauhaus has been opened for over a year now and is famous for two things: the owner, Uwe Boll, a Hollywood director who some may dislike, and Michelin chef Stefan Hartmann. Bauhaus offers German fine dining, so the prices are definitely up there which is why I’ve delayed visiting for so long. Luckily, I found a Travelzoo deal (Groupon-like website) for $79 for a 2-course lunch for 4. That comes to around $20 before tax and tips per person which is a pretty good deal since their appies range from $13-14 and entrees go from $20-28 normally. And guess what, the travel zoo deal is still available! Check it out here.

Anyways, we called to make reservations ahead of time, and the deal is only available on weekdays for lunch. When we arrived, we quickly mentioned that we had the deal again just so it wouldn’t get awkward and the hostess kindly just asked me to pull up my voucher. We didn’t feel like we were treated differently at all.

The interior is modern and beautiful. We loved the white marble table tops and the business like leather chairs. The restaurant felt really upscale and polished with the high ceilings and use of mirrors.

Even the table setting was really nice. Definitely a place to impress your date.

We started off lunch with complimentary bread which came with a ricotta pesto spread and sea salt butter. Loved how they elevated the normal butter with the sea salt.

Nelson the Seagull Sourdough Bread

We were told the sourdough bread is from Nelson the Seagull, which is also in Gastown, so you know the bread is fresh.

Summer Greens
Although the Travelzoo had shown a sample menu, we were actually allowed to choose any item off their regular menu. This consisted of one appetizer and one entree. Since we had four people, we ended up trying every appetizer. I started off with the Summer Greens which normally comes with burrata and tomatoes. However, they told me that they did not have burrata today, so it was substituted with a crumbly ricotta cheese. Not bad, but I didn’t think this was anything special. I definitely wouldn’t pay $13 for this normally.

Smoked Cauliflower Soup

MH got the Smoked Cauliflower Soup. It was pretty funny since when the server presented his bowl, there were only tiny pieces of cauliflower on the bowl. So we thought that was it. Luckily, he also had a pot handy which contained the actual soup, of which he poured in front of us.

This was really creamy and flavourful!

Smoked Mackerel
S got the Smoked Mackerel with green apple, horseradish and pumpernickel foam. Although the dish was small, it was absolutely tasty with the fish being moist and the right amount of saltiness.

Backhendl
MW got the Blackhendl, which I had no idea what it was. Turns out it’s fried chicken! The chicken was tender and moist with the batter being crispy.

Halibut
Onto the entrees! S got the Halibut which came with squash, risotto and zucchini. Although small in portion, the halibut was very moist and the risotto was flavourful and cooked to perfection! S complained that it was too small in portion (probably because both the items he ordered were the smallest!) but I really enjoyed the flavours and execution of this dish.

Braised Veal
MW got the Braised Veal which came with fried onion purée, sauteéd salad hearts and fava beans. Although veal can be tough sometimes, this one retained the moisture and was not chewy at all. A great dish!

Beef Roulade
MH got the Beef Roulade which was much tougher. The red wine sauce was a great match and this came with chanterelles, a type of funghi. This dish was just average since the meat was not as tender.

Wiener Schnitzel
Last but not least, I had the Wiener Schnitzel which was a big as my face! All the guys were jealous of the portion but to be honest, the veal is quite thin, so it’s not that much. The batter was thin and crispy with the veal remaining moist. I loved the cranberry sauce on the side and the potato cucumber salad underneath. A perfect pair and reminded me of the days when I traveled in Germany.
Overall, we all enjoyed the food at Bauhaus and it did not disappoint. I felt that the portions were actually decent because we weren’t starving after, which can be the case with fine dining often! Still, the price can be a bit hefty for a regular dinner/lunch, so leave it for a special occasion or grab the Travelzoo deal!

Pros:
– Well executed German fine dining dishes
– Beautiful ambiance

Cons:
– Can be quite pricey without deals
– Some dishes are smaller in portion

Price Range: $20 (based on Travelzoo voucher)

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

Food: 4 Service:4 Ambiance: 5 Parking: 3 Overall: 4

Bauhaus Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The Keg (Alberni)

I always tell S to skip the chain restaurants, because there are just too many new and more exciting restaurants to try in Vancouver. Not that I don’t like chain restaurants, but you sort of know what you’re going to get. But since I had a $100 gift card to The Keg, I might as well use it, right? I suggested we try the somewhat new location at Alberni in Downtown and was blown away by both the beautiful interior and amazing food.

Complimentary Bread

Dinner started off with Complimentary Bread and whipped butter. The bread was served warm and super fluffy. We loved this!

Filet Mignon

I decided to choose the Filet Mignon with a side of mashed potatoes and vegetables. Served medium rare, the tenderloin was wrapped in applewood smoked bacon and was literally what they describe it on the menu as “ultimate in tenderness”. This was served with Béarnaise but I found the meat itself was already very well flavoured. One of the best cuts you can get and didn’t disappoint!

Prime Rib with side of Lobster Tail

S chose the Prime Rib and went all out by adding a side of a 6oz Atlantic Lobster Tail. Best choice ever, because the lobster tail was cooked absolutely perfect! Buttery and tender, this was delicious dipped in the lobster oil. A must order! The prime rib was also very tender although there were some fatty parts which were difficult to chew. The prime rib was rubbed with Keg’s unique blend of spices and hand-carved. It is served with horseradish and red wine herb jus which further enhances the flavours.

Billy Miner Pie

For dessert, I suggested we skip the other choices and stick to Keg’s top dessert, the Billy Miner Pie. Perfect for sharing because one slice is huge but I could probably have it all to myself… Does mocha ice cream on a chocolate crust with hot fudge, caramel and almonds not sound delicious or what?

Overall, I have to say I was impressed with The Keg and would happily come back here for a great steak. I guess they have been doing this for so many years, that they clearly know how to cook steak. Plus, you know the service is going to be great here.

Pros:
– They know how to cook steak perfectly
– Portions are great

Cons:
– Dishes are more traditional, you won’t see much fancy stuff going on
– Some of their cuts can get pretty pricey (this location appears more expensive as well)

Price Range: $30-50/person

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

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

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

Le Crocodile (2016 Valentine’s Menu)

For Valentine’s this year, S spoiled me with a fancy five course dinner at Le Crocodile. Le Crocodile has been around for over 30 years now and is known to Vancouverites for being the classic fine dining spot featuring French cuisine. This elegant restaurant is known to impress.

Surprisingly, the restaurant was quite brightly lit, although they did dim the lights later in the evening. Many couples had already been seated when we arrived. I don’t know if the seating is as tight on normal nights, but I found that we were quite close to the other couples next to us, so it wasn’t the most intimate experience. Perhaps they tried to fit more people in during this night to maximize capacity.

Dinner started off with complimentary bread, which featured both white and whole wheat. Slightly warm but not the best I’ve had. I found it on the harder side.

Dungeness Crab Cake Lady Purse

Our first appetizer on the menu was the Dungeness Crab Cake Lady Purse which was served with a heirloom tomato and fennel salad with lemon and yam aioli. The presentation was beautiful with the puff pastry shaped into a beautiful fan. However, it got quite messy as the pastry got everywhere on the table when we began to eat it. The crab cake itself was pretty good and I really enjoyed the salad which has a nice acidity to it.

Wild Mushroom Ravioli

Next up was the Wild Mushroom Ravioli served with thinly sliced duck breast in a foie gras veloute. The duck was nicely cooked to a medium rare and I loved the earthy flavour of the mushroom filling paired with the foie gras sauce. However, I did find that the ravioli was slightly undercooked for mine. The edges were still quite hard. Not sure if they did that on purpose.

Grilled Beef Tenderloin and Roasted Lobster Tail

For our mains, we could choose between the Grilled Beef Tenderloin and Roasted Lobster Tail or Sablefish with Tagliatelle Pasta and Grilled Alaskan Scallops. However, S and I both ended up choosing the Grilled Beef Tenderloin and Roasted Lobster Tail. This was served with a pinot noir and black truffle reduction. The tenderloin itself was quite a large portion and I liked the crispy edges. However, I had asked mine for medium rare and I found it to be slightly more of a medium. Only the very centre was more rare. S’s was cooked on point though. The lobster was slightly too salty for my liking. However, I really loved the red wine and black truffle reduction. I couldn’t stop dipping my meat into it!

Pineapple and Vodka Sorbet

We were then served a palette cleanser which was the Pineapple and Vodka Sorbet. It was really refreshing and definitely cleaned our palettes from all the previous flavours.

Valentine’s Dessert Creation

Lastly, for dessert, you get to share their Valentine’s Dessert Creation. This was perfect since we were already really full! It came with a delicious coconut soufflé. This was super light and fluffy! My favourite of the three. In the middle was a chocolate brownie with maple caramel ice cream. On the very end were two lemon curd tarts topped with raspberries. I found these a little too tart for my liking.

And of course dinner ends with their signature crocodile chocolates (one milk and one dark). Nothing too special about these to be honest…

Overall, we enjoyed our evening at Le Crocodile with a great fine ding experience and service. However, I had higher hopes for the food and left feeling everything was good but nothing “wowed” me. You know that feeling when you want to go back already and have the dish again? That didn’t happen based on the dishes on the Valentines’ menu… I guess they settled for dishes that could be easily executed during the busy night, so I think I will have to come back again on a regular day to get the full experience and choose dishes they are famous for. Plus for $98 a person, this was quite a hefty dinner.

Pros:
– Consistent and good quality dishes
– Professional and attentive service

Cons:
– Expensive, although portions are very reasonable
– Dishes from the Valentine’s menu were good but nothing amazing

Price Range: $98/person (Valentine’s menu)

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

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

Le Crocodile Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato