Bao Bei Chinese Brasserie

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Bao Bei Chinese Brasserie has been around for many years now and has won many awards. I’ve hear many good things about the restaurant, but for some reason, I was hesitant to try it because I knew it wasn’t authentic Chinese food. Bao Bei is situated in the heart of Chinatown and is known for their modern Chinese dishes and cocktails. I had my hesitations going in, but honestly came out loving the food.

 

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The restaurant is good for small groups of 2 to 3. They do not take reservations, so be prepared to wait or come right at opening. We arrived at 6:30pm on a weekday thinking the wait wouldn’t be long, but we still waited around 45 mins to one hour. Luckily, the Keefer Bar is nearby so we could go enjoy some drinks. They take down your name and number and will call you when the table is ready. The interior is modern but has the traditional Chinese vibes.

 

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Dominion Cider

I ended up going with the Dominion Cider from Summerland, BC and this was refreshing and light. I will definitely come back to try some of their cocktails though!

 

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Beef Tartare
The menu consists of sharing style plates, so I’d suggest having 2-3 dishes per person. We started off with the Beef Tartare which was absolutely delicious! The tartare featured Cache Creek petite tender, preserved mustard root, crispy shallot, ginger, a quail egg, watercress, burnt scallion oil, and taro chips to scoop the tartare.

 

 

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Steamed Prawn, Scallop, Rockfish and Chive Dumplings
They have a variety of homemade dumplings on their menu, but I suggested to try something a bit more unique. The Steamed Prawn, Scallop, Rockfish and Chive Dumplings caught my eyes as we usually won’t find scallop or rockfish in our traditional dumplings. The filling was delicious and elevated to a more fine dining experience but I felt the wrappers were a little too thick. Unfortunately, these didn’t wow me.

 

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King Pea Tips
Time to get some veggies in so of course we all suggested to get the King Pea Tips. Pea tips are usually a favourite among the table and these did not disappoint. Simply flavoured with garlic and shoxing cooking wine, these were fresh and had a nice crsip. Portion was actually decent for $9 too given a lot of their other dishes were on the smaller end.

 

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Seasonal Vegetables – Squash and Fried Lotus

We chose another veggie dish and this was one of their Seasonal Vegetables. The Squash and Fried Lotus was flavoured with a curried black bean and salted duck egg yolk sauce. Lotus root is commonly used in Chinese dishes, but I have never had lotus root that looked like this! I believe these are called lotus rootlets and they are like baby lotus roots! Narrow cylinders compared to the usually ones we see, but just as crunchy. They paired nicely with the squash and asian flavoured sauces. Highly recommend ordering this!

 

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Sablefish in Lotus Leaf Wrapped Sticky Rice

Moving on to some larger dishes, we had the Sablefish in Lotus Leaf Wrapped Sticky Rice. To be honest, when I saw the dish arrive, all I could think of was how small this lotus leaf wrapped sticky rice was for thirty something dollars! But once I started digging in, I fell in love with this dish! The sablefish was so buttery and moist and the Japanese oyster mushrooms added a nice texture. This is definitely a next level lotus leaf sticky rice with the sablefish and well worth the high price!

 

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Crispy Pork Belly
Last but not least, we had the Crispy Pork Belly which features radish, cucumbers, pickled ginger, mint, and crispy potatoes. This is topped with a  Vietnamese cilantro root dressing. The pork belly had a nice portion of fat to meat and was very moist.
Overall, I was extremely happy with my meal at Bao Bei and would highly recommend it. Just keep an open mind that you are not coming here for traditional Chinese food, but the food actually tastes good and the fusion works! Despite the high prices, the quality is great here and I’d suggest coming here with a few friends so you can try a variety of dishes.

Pros:
– Well executed modern Chinese dishes
– Good selection of cocktails and drinks

Cons:
– Be prepared to wait even on the weekdays
– Seating is a bit cramped

Price Range: $40-60 per person

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

Food: 4.5 Service: 3.5 Ambiance: 3 Parking: Paid street parking or paid parking lots Overall: 4

 

Bao Bei Chinese Brasserie Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Faubourg Paris

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

For a limited time, you will be able to get a taste of the lavvender field of Provence France at Faubourg.

 

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Faubourg has launched their summer lavender menu which features products including lavender earl grey macarons, lavender and strawberry pastries, lavender mixed berry smoothies, lavender lattes, lavender tea lattes, blueberry and lavender chaussons, and more. The menu is already available now and will be available until early to mid September.

 

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These desserts were sample sizes of the actual for the media tasting, so the actual dessert is much larger. My favourite had to be the Lavender and Strawberry Pastry (the circular one). This dessert features a lavender honey and sage mousse paired with a sweet strawberry gelee and a lavender vanilla sponge cake. I especially loved the sugar crystals on the rims! Not overly sweet but very strong in lavender flavour.

 

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All items at Faubourg are handcrafted and prepared fresh daily using traditional French recipes and high quality ingredients with no preservatives added. To demonstrate their commitment for quality, the pastries are prepared every morning and the viennoiseries are baked throughout the day ensuring the freshest products for the customers.

 

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Products are available starting June 4th, in the following locations:

Downtown: 769 Hornby Street Vancouver, BC V6Z 1S2
Kerrisdale: 2156 W 41st Ave Vancouver, BC V6M 1Z1
Park Royal: 792 Main Street, Park Royal S West Vancouver, BC V7T 1A2
Le Café: 175-628 East Kent South avenue Vancouver, BC V5X 0B2

 

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

Salt & Straw

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A trip to Salt & Straw is a must when visiting Portland. Now that they opened a location in Seattle, I guess that makes it more convenient for us to visit as well. After lunch at The Waiting Room, we walked by Salt & Straw and of course a line up had formed.

 

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The line moved a bit slow this time so we probably waited 30 minutes before we got our ice cream. The nice thing is that you can try as many flavours as you want once it’s your turn.

 

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The waffle cones are freshly made and smells delicious throughout the store. They have classic flavours but also seasonal flavours that switch up every month.

 

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Honey Lavender and Smoked Sea Salt with Chocolate Covered Feuilletine

The last time I visited, I had the Honey Lavender and I loved it. So of course, I had to get it one more time. Both the honey and lavender are sourced in Portland. If you enjoy floral flavours, then this is perfect for you. As for the Smoked Sea Salt with Chocolate Covered Feuilletine, this was part of their limited edition flavours. The ice cream features a cherry-wood smoked sea salt-base with chocolate-covered feuilletine folded into it. The feuillentine are light and crispy! Love the sweet and salty pairing of this ice cream.

Overall, Salt & Straw did not disappoint once again! Worth the wait and a must when visiting Portland!

Pros:
– Great flavours and well executed

Cons:
– Be prepared to wait in line!

Price Range: USD$5-7 per person

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

Food: 4.5 Service: 3.5 Ambiance: 3 Parking: Free street parking on weekends Overall: 4

 

Salt & Straw Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The Waiting Room

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On our last day in Portland, of course I had to do a trip to Trader Joe’s to do a haul. After my purchase, I suggested we visit the Alphabet district to look for some food. My initial thought was to check out Boxer Ramen, but after taking a look at their menu, we thought it was on the pricier side compared to what we could get in Vancouver. Next door was The Waiting Room, and after taking a look at the menu, we decided to have brunch here. The restaurant is inside a Victorian house and it has a super cool patio. Honestly, it feels like you’re eating at someone’s house!

 

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Even the interior is warm and cozy like someone’s dining room! Super cute spot.

 

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I also love the plates and serviettes! So aesthetically pleasing!

 

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When we asked for our bill, it came in a book which I thought was really cool! I love these subtle touches at restaurants! The restaurant was surprisingly not too busy during brunch on Sunday, but that also means no need to wait in line like many other spots! Plus, the neighborhood is really interesting with all the historic buildings and definitely a spot to hit up!

Pros:
– Delicious fried chicken!

Cons:
– Brunch is only available on Sundays

Price Range: USD$3-8 per person

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

Food: 4.5 Service: 3.5 Ambiance: 3.5 Parking: Free street parking on weekends Overall: 4

 

The Waiting Room Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Ruby Jewel Scoops

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Ruby Jewel Scoops was nearby our hotel, so after doing some shopping, I suggested we grab a snack. The shop features handmade ice cream and are also famous for making ice cream sandwiches with their cookies! There was a bit of a line up in the afternoon, especially because they only had two people scooping. You can choose to have your ice cream in a cup or add an extra dollar for a waffle cone.

 

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Caramel with Salted Chocolate

We decided to get a single scoop of Caramel with Salted Chocolate to share. The ice cream was creamy and it was not too sweet because the salted chocolate balanced it out. The waffle cone itself was okay but I prefer the ones at Rain or Shine. Decent size for the price and nice that it’s conveniently located where all the shopping is.

Pros:
– Great variety of flavours to choose from – many of which use local ingredients

Cons:
– Waffle cone is just average

Price Range: USD$3-8 per person

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

Food: 3.5 Service: 3 Ambiance: 3 Parking: Paid street parking Overall: 3.5

 

Ruby Jewel Scoops Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Blue Star Donuts

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Not my first time at Blue Star Donuts, but because it was so close to our hotel, I suggested coming by for a quick snack. Blue Star is known for their high quality ingredients and unique flavours. They have some of their most classic and popular donuts on display everyday, but usually will have some rotating flavours as well. The donuts are not cheap, and I think they might’ve increased prices since the last time I visited as well. Donuts are around USD$3-4 so definitely a premium.

 

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24k Rose-Rosé

I noticed they had some new flavours including the 24K Rose-Rosé which features a French dark chocolate buttermilk with a rose water and sparking rosé glaze. I loved how the colour was sparkly and the glaze itself was strong in rose flavour. This was actually our favourite because the chocolate donut itself wasn’t overly sweet. The donut itself is super crunchy on the outside but moist inside.

 

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Raspberry Rosemary Buttermilk

The second donut we got was the Raspberry Rosemary Buttermilk which featured a glaze made of fresh raspberries and fresh rosemary. This one was slightly sweeter and had a bit of tartness to it but featured the same buttermilk cake batter.

Both donuts were very filling and is great for sharing. It was interesting that both the donuts we chose also had this cool square shape inside the circle. Quite different compared to the typical ring donuts they usually have. Worth giving a try but definitively a bit of a splurge.

Pros:
– High quality ingredients
– Interesting flavours

Cons:
– Not cheap!

Price Range: $4-5 per person

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

Food: 4 Service: 3 Ambiance: 3 Parking: Paid street parking Overall: 4

 

Blue Star Donuts Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Luc Lac Vietnamese Kitchen

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Earlier in the year, I visited Portland for a weekend trip. Food is a huge part of Portland, so of course we had to check out some of the local eateries. While I was looking for happy hour restaurants, I came across Luc Lac Vietnamese Kitchen which is located in the downtown area. I hear that they have really good deals for happy hour so you can expect long line ups. Unfortunately, the timing for happy hour didn’t work out for us, so I suggested we visit for lunch the next day.

 

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Luckily at lunch, the line up wasn’t too early. Probably because we arrived shortly after it opened at 11am, as there was a line forming when we were leaving. The decor in the restaurant is super hip and modern with a bar in the middle. You first order and pay up front, and they will tell you which table to sit at. You need to pick up your own cutlery and water up front as well. Then once you are seated, the food is brought to you.

 

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Stormbreaker Total ReKolsch

We decided to enjoy our food with some beers and chose the Stormbreak Total ReKolsch which is a Kölsch style beer brewed in Portland. The beer was not too strong and we quite enjoyed it.

 

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Chicken Wings

Of course, S wanted Chicken Wings, so we ended up ordering two orders as one order only had around 5 wings. These deep fried wings were caramelized in fish sauce and garlic so extremely flavourful. However, we found the wings to be extremely tiny! Despite having the wing tip attached still, we have not seen such tiny wings before! The sticky sauce was not overly salty, but for USD$7, the plate was a bit small. Maybe it would not be so bad if they were at the happy hour price.

 

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Pork Crispy Rolls  

Next up, we ordered the Pork Crispy Rolls which were filled with pork, taro, jicama, carrots, & noodles. An order comes with 4 rolls for USD$5 but because they are so thin, I thought they were quite pricey. However, the spring rolls were actually really tasty. They were quite different from the usual spring rolls I get in Vancouver where they are golden yellow and chubbier. These had a bit of a chewy texture and tasted great with the sweet and sour chili sauce.

 

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Luc Lac

 

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Overall, we were extremely pleased with the food at Luc Lac Vietnamese Kitchen.  The food was nothing close to being traditional, but it didn’t matter because their dishes worked. The restaurant has such a fun vibe and is perfect for having drinks and snacks. I did find that the prices were slightly on the steeper side compared to what we can get in Vancouver, but I guess this is considered cheap food in Portland given the higher prices. Would love to come back and give their $8 pho a try as well as I saw many locals were having this.

Pros:
– Great tasting dishes
– Fun vibe for drinks and food

Cons:
– Not your traditional Vietnamese food if that’s what you’re looking for

Price Range: $15-25 per person

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

Food: 4 Service: 3 Ambiance: 3.5 Parking: Paid street parking Overall: 4

 

Luc Lac Vietnamese Kitchen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Smart n Save Cafe

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Smart N Save Cafe has been around for quite a few years now, but I didn’t learn about this until recently because the cafe is situated in such a random location in Richmond. It’s on River Road on the second floor of a office complex and does not have too much signage you would notice while driving. The cafe is actually connected to the Smart N Save grocery store in Lansdowne Mall. If you’re craving Hong Kong style cafe food and snacks, then this is the spot for you.

 

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Imitation Shark’s Fin Soup

I love Imitation Shark’s Fin Soup and I always get this at the night market, so it was no surprise that I had to try it here. The consistency was thick and gooey with a good amount of chicken and vegetables. Pretty good and red vinegar was provided to add a splash of acidity.

 

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Fresh Beef & Eggs Sandwich

I heard that the Fresh Beef & Eggs Sandwich were a huge hit here, and it definitely did not disappoint. Such a simple dish, but the beef was extremely tender and the eggs were fluffy. I liked how they also toasted the white bread a bit. And yes, white bread definitely brings back childhood memories. And no crusts please!

 

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Deep Fried Prawn Paste Toast

Another dish they are famous for is the Deep Fried Prawn Paste Toast. This is such a classic HK style dish which we can’t usually find here. The prawn paste was bouncy and the toast itself was covered with panko bread crumbs and deep fried to golden brown. The mayo paired the dish very well.

 

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Mixed Sauce Plain Rice Roll with Spicy Curry Fish Ball

Another street food favourite is the Mixed Sauce Plain Rice Roll with Spicy Curry Fish Ball. The rice roll was surprisingly thin and smooth and the sweet sauce was delicious paired with the plain rice rolls. To add, the curry fish balls were a delicious complement. Loved the spicy sauce! Highly recommend getting this.

 

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Fish Paste Siu Mai

Last but not least, we had the Fish Paste Siu Mai which comes with 12 pieces and a side of soy sauce. I actually prefer eating the fish paste style siu mai rather than the ones you get at dim sum. Yes, these are the cheaper version, but they are so bouncy!

 

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Overall, I highly recommend checking this hidden gem if you’re craving HK style snacks. You won’t find much service here but it’s pretty cool since they have a QR system in place. Once you sit down, they give you a QR code for your table. Just scan it, and you’ll be taken to their website where you can order your dishes. When you click on a dish, it automatically transfers to the kitchen and you’ll hear a little ring. Then they will bring you your food when it’s ready. Water and utensils are self serve. The interior is actually better than I expected being bright and clean.

Pros:
– Great spot if you’re craving HK snacks
– Items are way cheaper and better than the night market

Cons:
– Don’t expect much service, but QR code system works

Price Range: $10 per person

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

Food: 4 Service: 2 Ambiance: 3 Parking: Free parking in the complex Overall: 3.5

 

Smart n Save Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato