ZenQ (Marine Drive)

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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Hot Grass Jelly with Q Balls, Large and Small Pearls

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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Pike Place Chowder

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A must try in Seattle is Pike Place Chowder. I’ve been here in the past, but S had never been. I decided to take him to the one near Pike Street Market which is in Post Alley, which is also a tourist spot worth visiting. The tiny shop is within an indoor market and opens at 11am. We arrived right at 11am, and there was already a huge line up. The good thing is they give you the menu while you’re lining up, so the line goes by quickly. We were able to order within 15 minutes and our food was served pretty much right away since they just keep pumping the food out.

 

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Captain’s Roll and New England Clam Chowder
We got a whole Captain’s Roll which features Bay shrimp and Dungeness crab meat, mixed with secret seasonings, lemon juice, mayo and celery. S and I both loved this! They didn’t cheap out on the crab meat either. It does come at a high cost though at around $16 USD. Quite pricey for a small roll. We also got the New England Clam Chowder, which had meaty clams flavoured with bacon, cream, and a secret blend of herbs and spices. Pike Place Chowder has won many awards for many years, so you must get a chowder here! I really enjoyed the flavours in this one and they give you a piece of sourdough bread to dip in.

 

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Seafood Bisque

We stayed near Pacific Place, a mall on Pine Street. The night before, we had dined at Din Tai Fung, which is a new branch in downtown Seattle inside Pacific Place. There, we found that they actually had another Pike Place Chowder inside the mall! Since we were in a bit of a rush the next morning, I suggested we just grab some food at Pike Place Chowder again since it was nearby. This location has a lot more selection including beers, seafood and chips, and more. But of course, I had to get another one of their soups, so I decided to try the Seafood Bisque this time. This had a medley of Pacific Cod, Northwest Salmon,
Oregon Bay Shrimp, flavored with fresh basil, and simmered
in a creamy tomato-based broth. The bisque was packed with flavour and you got bits of fish in it. So good!

 

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Wild Northwest Salmon Fish n’ Chips
Since this location has fish and chips, S decided to try their Wild Northwest Salmon Fish n’ Chips. You can choose 3 pieces or 2 pieces. This was decent, but we found the salmon to be on the drier side. Definitely not as moist as Pajos!

 

Overall, Pike Place Chowder is a must try when in Seattle! With the two locations, I would suggest going to the Post Alley location as I feel like the turnover for the food is more frequent. However, if you have a large group or are looking for a larger menu selection, then the one inside Pacific Place might be a better choice since there is more seating.

Pros:
– Delicious chowders and seafood rolls!

Cons:
– Fish and chips could be a bit more moist

Price Range: $10-20 per person

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

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

Pike Place Chowder Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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

Blu Burgers & Brew

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During the holidays, S and I made a short trip to Seattle for fun. Our first stop was to check out the Boeing Factory in Mukilteo near Everett. Since we arrived in the area during lunch time, we decided to go for lunch first. I did some Googling and there aren’t too many restaurants nearby. However, Blue Burgers & Brew had good ratings, so off we went.

 

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The restaurant is quite casual and you order and pay up front. You can then choose a seat and they will bring you your food. Of course, their menu consists mainly of burgers but there are some select sides you can choose from as well. They also have a selection of beers. Surprisingly, there were quite a lot of families with children here during lunch. I guess they are quite family friendly as well.

 

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Chicken Tenders

Given S does not fancy burgers, of course he went for the Chicken Tenders served with fries. For $6.50, this was decent with 3 strips and a decent amount of fries. S said the tenders could have been warmer in the center and that they were rather average. But then again, they are known for their burgers.

 

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Shroom ‘N Onion

For myself, I had the Shroom ‘N Onion which featured crimini mushrooms, onions, swiss cheese, romaine lettuce, pickles, tomatoes, and a house sauce. The burger stacked tall and they didn’t skimp on the ingredients. My mushrooms were overflowing and that house sauce was bomb. The patty was also very moist and juicy. My only complaint is that for around $9USD, I’d expect it to come with fries which was an added cost. Definitely not cheap given the self-serve type of set up, but the quality of the burger is great.

Overall, a good stop if you are heading to the Boeing Factory or if you’re in the area, but I wouldn’t make a trip out here just for this.

Pros:
– Great execution of burgers

Cons:
– Slightly pricey given self-serve

Price Range: $10-20 per person

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

Food: 3 Service: N/A Ambiance: 2.5 Parking: 3.5 Overall: 3

 

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

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

Mag’s 99 Fried Chicken and Mexican Cantina

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After our trip near Squamish to bungee jump, I suggested we stop by Mag’s 99 Fried Chicken and Mexican Cantina for an early dinner. I read really good online reviews and it was just off the highway so really easy to get to. Look for the golden yellow building and you won’t miss it!

 

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To be honest, the interior can really use some renovations. It’s pretty ghetto looking and definitely more of a fast food restaurant. However, the place is packed! We were told that we would need to wait 30 minutes for our food but that clearly didn’t stop anyone from eating here. You order up front and they take down your name. Then, they will call you when the food is ready for pick up.

 

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2 Piece Fried Chicken with Fries

We tried the 2 Piece Fried Chicken with Fries which was around $6. Honestly, I didn’t think it looked that good, but the chicken turned out to be pretty moist. I think I still prefer the ones at LA Chicken more. The skin is not as crispy as LA Chicken’s. Not bad if you’re looking for a cheap meal since the Whistler area can be very pricey.

 

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Pulled Pork Chimichanga

We also shared the famous Chimichanga which is HUGE. We chose to have pulled pork as the filling and this came to around $13.50. I highly suggest sharing this with a friend unless you are starving because it’s extremely filling.

 

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There were re-fried beans, corn, tomatoes, rice, and pulled pork inside the large chimichanga. Great flavours and definitely not for the weak!

Overall, I was pretty happy with my meal at Mag’s 99. I wouldn’t say this is worth making a trip just for the food, but if you are in the area, then this is a good option for a reasonably priced meal.

Pros:
– Decent fried chicken and Mexican eats
– Reasonable prices

Cons:
– Long wait for food
– Interior could really use some updates

Price Range: $20-50

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

Food: 3.5 Service: 2.5 Ambiance: 2 Parking: 3.5 Overall: 3

Mag's 99 Fried Chicken and Mexican Cantina 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!