Wild Sweets – 2017 Summer Collection

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

Wild Sweets is always coming up with innovative desserts each season. They have recently launched their 2017 summer collection, and we got a sneak peak to see what there is to offer!

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Cocoa Bean ‘Chocolate Iced Tea’

Last time I visited Wild Sweets, we got to try their Chocolate Tea, which is a drink made entirely from pure in-house roasted cocoa bean husks only and no sugar or any other ingredients are added except for a touch of vanilla bean powder. Now, for the summer, they have blended the tea with pure fruit purées and lightly sweetened with a vanilla syrup. You get this undertone of chocolate flavour, but the overall drink is fruity and refreshing when served cold. Currently, there are 5 flavours: Strawberry, White Pear, Lychee Raspberry, Morello Cherry, and Apricot Passion. My personal favourites are the Lychee Raspberry and Apricot Passion.

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Strawberry Cream C|Puff2

The new C|Puff2s are Wild Sweet’s take on the classic cream puff. However, their cream puffs are not round, but instead a square shape! The Strawberry Cream C|Puff2 features a choux pastry and almond cookie crust filled with a strawberry custard cream, white chocolate Chantilly mousse, fresh strawberries, red berry confit, and served with an encapsulated mint aroma pipette. It is then decorated with chocolate cereal pearls, paper thin hand-painted chocolate petals and chocolate ‘pasta’ strands.

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Chocolate Cream C|Puff2

The Chocolate Cream C|Puff2 features a dark chocolate custard cream, white chocolate Chantilly mousse, fresh raspberries, red fruit confit, red fruit Kirch aroma. I love how there are so many components to these desserts and they all work together. The amount of work that goes into each piece before it gets assembled is really amazing! What a piece of art!

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Praline Cream C|Puff2 

The Praline Cream C|Puff2 features a hazelnut praliné custard cream, white chocolate Chantilly mousse, fresh black berries, apricot passion confit, and orange liquor aroma. This is perfect if you love hazelnut, but can be slightly on the sweeter side.

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CocoArt ‘Summer’ Limited Edition Collection

Each of the Summer 2017 Collection chocolates feature 2 types of fillings including a fruit-based liquid caramel while the other is a ‘Créme Fraîche Vanille’ – a lightly sweetened soft cream made by emulsifying fresh cream and butter scented with vanilla bean. All of the chocolates are hand-painted with cocoa butter colours in different artistic patterns. They are designed to be eaten cold from the fridge so make sure to keep them chilled! The following flavours are available:

  • Liquid strawberry / raspberry fruit caramel
  • Liquid apricot / peach fruit caramel
  • Liquid blackberry / cassis fruit caramel
  • Liquid mango / lychee fruit caramel

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Ice Cream Dessert

Last but not least, Wild Sweets has also come out with some Ice Cream Desserts. The one pictured above is the Dark Fruit Sundae which features:

  • Blackberry Cassis sorbet
  • Vanilla bean ice cream
  • White chocolate Marcona almond foam
  • Assorted fresh dark fruits
  • Blackberry cassis confit
  • Almond fruit brittle
  • ‘Burnt Ends’ custard cream crunch
  • BTB salted butter caramel popcorn
  • Vanilla ‘Salad’ cookie
  • Chocolate ‘petals & pasta’ decor

The other flavour is the Red Fruit Sundae which features:

  • Strawberry sorbet
  • Vanilla bean ice cream
  • White chocolate pistachio foam
  • Assorted fresh red fruits
  • Red fruit confit
  • Almond fruit brittle
  • ‘Burnt Ends’ custard cream crunch
  • BTB salted butter caramel popcorn
  • Vanilla ‘Salad’ cookie
  • Chocolate ‘petals & pasta’ decor

Yes – it’s crazy how many components there are to the ice cream! Each bite, you will find something different!

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Overall, there are definitely beautiful pieces of edible art for Wild Sweets’ new 2017 summer collection! You’ll have to pick these goodies up at the Atelier in Richmond, which is open Saturdays from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM & Sundays from 12:00 to 4:00 PM. If you’re looking to pick them up from Mondays to Friday, you can also do so by making an appointment in advance. Check out their website for the full collection!

Wild Sweets Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Caffè Artigiano – New Summer Menu

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

Last month, Caffè Artigiano launched their new summer menu with a selection of chilled caffeinated (and decaffeinated) artisanal iced coffee, teas, and sodas along with some new food menu items. I was invited to check out the location on Main and 24th.

 

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The Main Street location is extremely spacious with long communal tables as well as seating for smaller parties. Love the cool vintage Italian vibe in here.

 

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There are a number of new menu items for food this summer as Chef Dawn Doucette has curated some new breakfast and lunch items. Chef Dawn has worked with Michael, the Director of Coffee, to introduce menu items that pair well together for the summer.

 

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This also includes some pastry items.

 

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Italian Sodas

For drinks, we tried the new Italian Sodas which guests can choose flavours like the frutti do bosco berry or peach syrup. The flavoured syrups are mixed with sparkling San Pellegrino and topped with fresh blueberries or mint. These make light and refreshing beverages and are great for those who enjoy a bit of a fizz.

 

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Affogato

Another exciting addition is the Affogato, which features a dark espresso poured warm over a scoop of cold vanilla gelato from Mario’s Gelato. This item is available at locations that have freezer space, so this includes Park Royal, YVR (McArthurGlen Designer Outlet) and Hornby Street.

Other summer beverages included the Ice Cofffee, Iced Caffè Latte , Iced Spanish Latte, Frappé, Shakerato, and Ice Tea. What’s great here is that they do not use powders and syrups in their coffee drinks and therefore much healthier. Further, kid’s drinks are made with organic milk, soy, or almond milk, and also available for an added price for adults.

 

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Pavarotti 

There are many new sandwich options which are drawn from Italy. The Pavarotti  features green olive tapenade, Italian mortadella, nitrate-free country ham, smoked salami and provolone served on focaccia. The focaccia is toasted beautifully and the ingredients inside are savoury with a hint of spice from the salami.

 

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Paolino Piadina

The Paolino Piadina features rustic Italian flatbread, parmesan breaded chicken, roast garlic aioli, mozzarella, marinara sauce and arugula.

 

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Breakfast Wrap

The Breakfast Wrap is filled with scrambled eggs, marinara sauce, potatoes, cilantro, green onion and served with a side of salsa and sour cream.

 

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There are also several new salad options, all of which are colourful and fresh. These are prepared at the commissary kitchen in Vancouver.

 

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Overall, a great selection of new summer menu items. I especially love the new iced drinks and affogato, which are perfect for the hot weather.

 

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This summer Caffè Artigiano is giving away all things Vespa! Prizes include some of their bright red gift cards, loaded with $20 worth of great coffee drinks in their caffès; a Vespa LX50 day rental for two; and five bright red Vespa bags full of coffee, a travel mug and gift card, and in one of those bags, a key to a brand-new Vespa Primavera 50 Rosso Dragon. Follow them, comment and share pictures of the scooter at their various locations around BC this summer for your chance to win!

 

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Check out their social media for more details!

Caffe Artigiano Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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

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