Le Tea

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Le Tea opened up last year at Continental Plaza in Richmond and was probably one of the first to bring over the new “cheese lattea” hype that’s been popping up everywhere now. They have an extensive menu of beverages to choose from, but their tea based drinks are what they are noted for as they use fresh tea leaves in their drinks.

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Peach Oolong Cheese Lattea

I got the Peach Oolong Cheese Lattea which you can choose hot or cold and I chose the latter. You can also choose between salty or sweet for the cheese. Yes, it may sound weird to have cheese on your drink, but it was actually really good! The waitress told me salty is more popular, so I went with it. Essentially, the top white foam is the cheese flavour and you should drink it at a 45 degree angle to get both the foam and tea. It sort of tastes like cream cheese at the top and the sweet tea surprisingly goes well with it. I did wish that the tea was more strong and after Happy Lemon opened up, I have to say they do a better job at this drink.

 

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Oreo Smoothie

Of course S chose something off the “popular” charts. Instead of the teas, S chose the Oreo Smoothie which was topped with an Oreo cookie. The smoothie was not too sweet but I thought it was a bit too icy.

 

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Overall Le Tea has some decent drinks but with so many new Taiwanese bubble tea chains opening, it’s hard to compete. Their prices are comparable to the others at around $4 – $5 a drink, but I would probably go back to Happy Lemon or Chatime instead. Service was also not very friendly, but I do like the brick wall decor inside.

Pros:
– Large selection of tea-based drinks
– Decor is nice and nice spot to enjoy your drink

Cons:
– Tea flavour is not strong enough

Price Range: $5-6

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

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

Le Tea 樂茶 Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Ritual

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Finally catching up on some posts! A few months back, S, N and I checked out Ritual on Denman. Ritual offers farm to table cuisine and offers both brunch and dinner. I believe they also have happy hour everyday and late night happy hour on Friday and Saturday.

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We checked out Ritual for brunch on the weekend, and the ambiance is very cozy with pillows along the bench and fairy lights. Definitely a nice spot to get comfortable and have long chats. It wasn’t too busy the time we visited, so we were able to sit around for quite a while.

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Lavender Latte

During brunch, there are a variety of coffee and teas along with cocktails.

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Tea Latte

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Curried Beef Brisket Hash

N got the Curried Beef Brisket Hash, which I don’t believe is on the menu anymore. A hearty dish with crimini mushrooms, roast garlic, cilantro, yogurt, pickled onions and rosemary yukons, this was full of flavour.

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Overall, I quite enjoyed my brunch at Ritual. Flavours were on point and I enjoyed the cozy environment. Ritual was well known when they first opened due to their no tipping policy and the fact that their staff were being paid higher wages in return. However, weeks later, management realized this was not working and has reverted back to the traditional ways. Unfortunate, but regardless, the food is great and I will be returning.

Pros:
– Solid brunch items
– Cozy ambiance

Cons:
– Seating itself can be a little cramped

Price Range: $15-20

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

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

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

Starbucks Reserve (Vancouver)

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Note: All beverages were complimentary, but all opinions are  based on my own experience.

On May 9, 2017, Starbucks celebrated 30 years in Vancouver by opening the doors to its renovated Mount Pleasant location (Main & 14th) – the first Western Canada store to feature an experiential Reserve coffee bar.

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If you have been to the Starbucks Reserve Roastery in Seattle,  then this new store is a take on the same concept, but without the roasting facility. Did you know that the first Starbucks store in Canada opened at the Seabus Skytrain Station in 1987? To celebrate the 30th anniversary, the fully renovated Mt. Pleasant location is the first store in Vancouver to feature an experiential Starbucks Reserve® coffee bar.

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The reserve bar has an expansive six-foot oak bar top, where customers sit face to face with their barista, immersed in the brewing and conversation around coffee.  Unfortunately, I went on a weekend and the reserve bar was extremely busy, so I didn’t get to experience this feature. The bar is first come first serve, and you still have to order your drinks at the cash registers. It seats only around 10 customers, so try to come during more quiet times.

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If you aren’t able to get a seat at the reserve bar, fear not, as there are plenty of comfy seating at this location. Brick walls and concrete floors contrasted with golden blonde oak and walnut, warm the space creating a comfortable and conversational atmosphere. The woodwork was all hand crafted by a local millworker and the loose furniture was primarily produced by a local furniture shop, celebrating local Vancouver talent and connecting with the community.

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At this location, the following brewing techniques are available: siphon, The Black Eagle, Clover® brewer and ceramic pour-over. The equipment are also available for purchase.

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The siphon equipment reminds me of science class and is lots of fun to watch when in action.

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The vacuum-filtration method produces a delicate and aromatic cup of coffee.

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The Chemex is a brewer with a triple layer paper filter that makes a smooth and clean cup of coffee.

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The reserve also features Nitro Draft taps. The cold brew is infused with nitrogen to give a more creamy, smooth texture. The drink does not come with ice as the brew comes out cold from the tap already.

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The reserve features both the usual menu but also a reserve exclusive menu. Cold brew and espresso with your choice of brewing method along with coffee and ice cream make up this exclusive menu.

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We decided to try a variety of the reserve exclusive drinks. Starting from the left is the Iced Hazelnut Bianco Latte which is a house-made hazelnut-praline-infused milk combined with their small-lot espresso coffee. I really enjoyed this as it had a strong hazelnut flavour. In the middle is the House Affogato which features two shots of espresso with a touch of demerara syrup poured over vanilla ice cream and dusted with cinnamon. So delicious! A must order if you visit as it is a refreshing treat when you are craving ice cream and coffee.  On the very right is the Nitro Cold-Brew Float which features the cold brew with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. I personally enjoyed the House Affogato more.

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The shop also sells coffee beans including the Rwanda Abakundakawa, Malawi Sable Farms, and Peru San Ignacio, among the usual beans they sell at other stores.

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Exclusive Reserve merchandise are also available for sale including these gorgeous tumblers.

Overall, I love that Starbucks now offers this unique experience in Vancouver. Adding to the elevated experience, all partners are Coffee Masters or currently working on their designation. This designation is the highest level of coffee education for Starbucks where baristas have perfected their craft through coursework and exploration of all Starbucks coffees and are awarded the honour of wearing the black apron. Not only are you able to enjoy a high quality beverage at this location, but you may learn something new!

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

L’Éclair de Génie

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

L’Éclair de Génie has finally arrived in Vancouver on Robson Street and is the first boutique in North America. L’Éclair de Génie is a pastry concept started by renowned chef Christophe Adam. L’Éclair de Génie is adored worldwide with 25 boutiques throughout France, Japan, Hong Kong, Italy, and now here in Canada.

 

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There are usually ten flavours of éclairs at the boutique with two new flavours rotating each month. The brightly lit éclair shop is great for take out but also offers some seating in the back and along the side of the wall.

 

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Chef Christophe has dedicated the last 14 years to creating a chic snacking version of the French pastry landmark, the éclair. He flew in from Paris for the launch of the Vancouver store to share his passion for these delicious sweets.

 

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During the media preview, we were able to sample the  following flavours:

  • Caramel Beurre Salé: salted caramel & mascarpone cream
  • Vanille Pécan: vanilla cream & caramelized pecan
  • Chocolat Grand Cru: chocolate cream
  • Frambroise Passion: passionfruit cream, raspberry confit & fresh raspberries
  • Sirop D’érable: maple cream
  • Matcha Bambou: matcha cream & white chocolate
  • Pistache Framboises: pistachio chantilly, raspberry confit, fresh raspberries & roasted pistachios
  • Praliné Noisette: caramel mascarpone cream, hazelnut praline & caramelized hazelnuts
  • Citron Yuzu: lemon yuzu cream & crispy merringue
  • Vanille Framboise: vanilla cream, raspberry confit, fresh raspberries & white chocolate

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The Sirop D’érable which features an exclusive I love Vancouver design has definitely been a hit for the Vancouverites. Filled with maple cream, the éclair is rich but not overly sweet due to its petite size.  

 

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My favourite éclairs were the Citron Yuzu, Framboise Passion, and Pistache Framboises since I tend to like sweet and sour sweets. The amount of filling for these éclairs are just the right amount and the presentation is absolutely beautiful. The sweets range from around $6 – $7.

 

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Aside from éclairs, the boutique also offers a beautiful array of chocolates.

 

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Pastries are also available, which along with the éclairs, pair perfectly with their coffee and tea selection.

 

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Looking for a gift or to treat yourself? The boutique has a variety of take home sweets including caramelized almonds.

 

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And how cute are these chocolate bars?

 

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Overall, L’Éclair de Génie offers a delicious and beautiful variety of éclairs and I can’t wait to be back. It’s always great to have international boutiques opening up in Vancouver so we can too get a taste of these delicious pastries.

Chef Christophe Adam has also recently released his new cookbook: ÉCLAIRS Easy, Elegant & Modern Recipes. Check out my review on this step by step cookbook on making your own éclairs!

L’Éclair de Génie Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Éclairs: Easy, Elegant & Modern Recipes

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If you’ve been following social media, you’ve probably seen éclair pictures showing up everywhere. Or you might’ve been part of those long line ups at L’Éclair de Genie which just opened up in Vancouver and is the first boutique in North America.

 

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Recently, I was sent a copy of Éclairs: Easy, Elegant & Modern RecipesThe cookbook is written by Chef Christophe Adam, the owner of the éclair boutique. Chef Christophe’s remarkable career has taken him from three Michelin-starred restaurants in London to Fauchon in Paris to eventually opening his own éclair boutique. So if you are obsessed with his éclairs, you can now learn how to bake your own!

 

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The cookbook is visually beautiful with step by step instructions for 35 recipes.  Many of the recipes look just like the ones sold at the boutique and are easily interchangeable.

 

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The book also provides a list of equipment, along with basic rules and helpful tips to assist both the beginner and the experienced baker. I cannot wait to start baking!

 

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Check out my review of the éclairs at L’Éclair de Genie if you are interested!

MYST Asian Fusion – ChineseBites Media Event

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

Two weeks ago, MYST Asian Fusion opened in Burnaby. The parking lot in the front can get filled up quickly during peak hours, but free street parking is available along Kingsway. The restaurant features a variety of Asian inspired dishes and has modern decor that even lights up at night giving a lounge feel. We were invited by ChineseBites to check out some of their dishes.

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Calpis Butterfly Pea Flower and Strawberry Lemon Butterfly Pea Flower

There is a long list of drinks available, including your typical bubble tea. They also have a few versions of the Butterfly Pea Flower, which has become a popular drink on many bubble tea shop menus.

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Green Apple Slush

Their Slushies are also super cute, with marshmallows and chocolate eyes. Liquor is also available for drinks, including my favourite Taiwanese fruit beers!

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Steamed Sticky Rice Dumplings

Onto food, we tried the Steamed Sticky Rice Dumplings which are common at Shanghainese restaurants. Because there is rice inside, I find that this dish tends to be on the dry side.

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Assorted Deep Fried Basket

The Assorted Deep Fried Basket was filled with deep fried squid, pork blood, and chicken. A great dish to share.

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MYST Deluxe Marinated Pork with Rice

This dish was definitely a deluxe take on the classic Taiwanese marinated pork on rice. It was topped with lots of Taiwanese sausage and a sunny side egg. Mix it all together, and this was delicious and full of flavour!

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Marinated 3 Item Combo (Seaweed, Dried Tofu, Pork Ear String)

The Marinated 3 Item Combo is common among Taiwanese cuisine. Not my favourite though as I am not a huge fan of pork ear.

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Chives, Shrimp & Pork Dumplings

The dumplings were simple but very tasty and flavourful. The chili soy sauce on the side was addicting!

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MYST Beef Noodle Soup

The MYST Beef Noodle Soup is filled with shank, tripe, and tendon.

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TaiNan Style Egg Noodle Soup

A very different noodle compared to the above, the TaiNan Style Egg Noodle Soup is less flavourful but a great option if you want a more clear broth.

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Fried Chicken in Chili Pepper

The Fried Chicken were large in size and deep fried to a golden brown while the meat remained moist. Yummy!

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Preserved Cabbage with Shredded Pork Fried Rice Cake

A simple dish, but very tasty, with the rice cakes being just the right amount of chew. Not too oily either.

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Delicious Sandwiches

A classic favourite for kids, these sandwichese were filled with tomato, egg, ham, and cucumber.

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Skewers

  • Pork intestine $2.25/each
  • Lamb $2.25/each
  • Pork $2.25/each
  • Chicken $2.25/each
  • Fish cake $3.50/each
  • Chicken gizzard $2.25/each

When I say MYST has a large variety of dishes, I’m not kidding because they even have skewers! You don’t need to go to the night market to get your fix of these. However, I did find that they lack the char that the night market ones have.

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House Special Spicy Lamb Hot Pot

My favourite of the night was the House Special Spicy Lamb Hot Pot. It was filled with tender slices of lamb, imitation crab, and a variety of vegetables. The broth was spicy and very flavourful! This is served with rice and a few side dishes.

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MYST Jelly

For dessert, we tried the MYST Jelly which is tasted like wintermelon and brown sugar. Slightly too sweet for some as wintermelon can often be. The texture was also a bit odd as it seemed like too much gelatin was put in it.

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MYST Taiyaki

The MYST Taiyaki comes in a waffle bowl, with matcha ice cream, red beans, mochi balls, and a red bean filled taiyaki. The mochi balls are melon flavoured which was interesting! Not bad, but I found the mochi to be more hard than chewy.

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Strawberry Shaved Snowflake

The Strawberry Shaved Snowflake is definitely picture worthy. They are smart to use a bowl shaped like this to maximize the effect of the dry ice. As for the dessert itself though, I didn’t like the artificial strawberry flavour. Perhaps the mango version would be better.

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Hakka Style Sweet Rice Cake

Lastly, we tried the Hakka Style Sweet Rice Cake, but most of us were not a fan of it. Perhaps it was the dates inside which gave a bitter aftertaste. It also tasted like there was alcohol in it, which many of us were not fond of.

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Overall, there are hits and misses at MYST Asian Fusion, but the good thing is they have such a large variety of choices so there is something for everyone. They also open from 7:30 am for breakfast until 1am from Sunday to Thursday and until 2am from Friday to Saturday.

Myst Asian Fusion Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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

Big G Large Fried Chicken

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Ever since we came back from Taiwan, we’ve been craving the large fried chicken you can get at the Taiwanese night markets. The first time we came across it in Vancouver was at the Richmond Night Market, and now Big G Large Fried Chicken has opened up a store front in the mall on Capstan.

 

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Take out is available, but there is also a decent amount of seats for you to dine inside.

 

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Whether you order take out or dine in, you will need to first order and pay up front. Other than the signature large fried chicken, they also have a variety of Taiwanese snacks and bubble tea.

 

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Large Fried Chicken – Seaweed Powder

Of course we had to try the Large Fried Chicken which costs $9.99 for one piece. It’s quite expensive compared to Taiwan where it’s only around $3. Here, you are able to season the chicken with a variety of flavours though and can choose up to two flavours for free. The chicken itself is huge (the size of your face), but the chicken remains moist and juicy inside with the outside being extremely crispy. We chose to have one with salt and pepper which is essentially the original flavour. The other, we chose to have seaweed powder which was my favourite. Although quite expensive, I would still come back for it and share it as a snack.

 

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Crispy Oyster Mushrooms

In Taiwan, we were also obsessed with the Crispy Oyster Mushrooms. Here, these were just as good with the oysters remaining moist and the outside well seasoned and crispy. They were priced at $5.75 but you got a decent portion.

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Big G Milk Tea

Last but not least, we got the Big G Milk Tea for $4.50 and added $0.50 for pearls. By buying one main, one snack, and one drink, we made this a combo and received $1.50 off our total combo. The milk tea is okay, but nothing super special, so I find it quite expensive.

Overall, we are happy that we now have the large fried chicken available in Richmond. It makes a great snack when you are craving something deep fried and the best part is they open late!

Pros:
– Chicken is moist and batter is crispy
– Open late

Cons:
– Not exactly cheap for fried chicken

Price Range: $10-20

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

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

Big G Large Fried Chicken Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato