[Taiwan Series] Day 7 in Taipei: Lao Wang Ji Beef Noodles 老王記牛肉麵 and Bingirl 冰果甜心

170.jpeg by info9813 on 500px.com

We actually had Lao Wang Ji Beef Noodles 老王記牛肉麵 twice during our time in Taipei. The last time we visited, we had tried Taoyuan Beef Noodles, which is also a nearby shop to Lao Wang Ji, but because it was closed, we ended up checking this spot out. It’s not too far from our hotel in Ximending – around a 10 minute walk, so it was no surprise we visited twice.

I think this might be my favourite beef noodle soup restaurant in Taipei. S got the Clear Broth Beef Noodle Soup which comes with loads of beef. The beef is thick but extremely tender and it falls apart! The noodles are cooked just right with a nice bite and the broth is clear but flavourful.

 

171.jpeg by info9813 on 500px.com

The other option is to get the Spicy Beef Noodle Soup which is what I got. The spicy soup isn’t actually too spicy but I thought it was really flavourful! Just a touch of spice and I loved how the beef was soaking the soup in. On the table, there is also a bucket of preserved vegetables which you can add as much as you like. I do find that it tastes really great with the noodles! Overall, a must try in Taipei!

 

172.jpeg by info9813 on 500px.com

Thirsty from lunch and the heat, we decided to get a Pudding Milk Tea from Ching Shin Fu Chuan 清心福全 which was in the Ximending area. Apparently they feature some healthier drinks and teas, but I don’t think this one was healthy! It was nice and creamy though. Not bad!

 

174.jpeg by info9813 on 500px.com

After lunch, we decided to take the train to Taipei Main Station and do some shopping around the area. Shin Kong Mitsukoshi is one of the largest shopping malls with 4 buildings in total in the area. There is low end to high end shopping here.

 

173.jpeg by info9813 on 500px.com

A nearby mall called Breeze also is worth stopping by. Especially if you like Line Friends! They have super picture worthy spots including this large bear!

 

175.jpeg by info9813 on 500px.com

We also wandered to a nearby mall called ATT 4 FUN and on the top floors, they have tons of food and dessert shops. They even had a floor that was Peter Rabbit themed.

176.jpeg by info9813 on 500px.com

We ended up trying a dessert shop called Bingirl 冰果甜心. We ended up sharing two desserts with the first being an Oreo Peanut Butter Pancake. The portions were pretty big but I found this to be a bit too sweet. The pancakes were okay but nothing special.

 

 

177.jpeg by info9813 on 500px.com

I think the Mango Ice Cube is what they are really famous for though. There are a few other flavours but we chose mango and it is topped with kiwis and lots of aiyu jelly on the bottom. It is literally a giant ice cube of mango juice. Think of shaved ice texture but it’s been solidified! it’s also topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. We definitely got a brain freeze from this and it’s a bit too much for two. I’d say two desserts would be good for sharing between 4 people.

 

165.jpeg by info9813 on 500px.com

After dessert, we hung out with my friends for a bit at the arcade before looking for a quick dinner in the Ximending area. As we wanted something quick, we ended up getting some street food.

 

164.jpeg by info9813 on 500px.com

Hot-Star has a large outlet in the Ximending area and always has crowds. They are famous for the large fried chicken and is one of S’s favourites. I cannot wait until they open the store in Vancouver!

 

166.jpeg by info9813 on 500px.com

Other than the large fried chicken, they also have various deep fried snacks. We tried the cuttlefish balls and mushrooms before and they were both very good!

 

167.jpeg by info9813 on 500px.com

A trip to Taipei also means checking out Ay Chung Rice Noodles 阿宗麵線. They are also located in Ximending but a bit away from the busier streets. There aren’t many chairs, so most people will just stand in front of the store to enjoy their food.

 

168.jpeg by info9813 on 500px.com

The rice noodles are in a savoury broth mixed with intestines. We actually don’t eat the intestines just because we aren’t a huge fan, but the noodles and broth are absolutely delicious. To be honest, these intestines are also not bad as they don’t have any pungent taste to them. Just chewy, but the fact is I know what it is, so tend to stay away from them!

After our quick dinner, we headed back to our hotel to grab our luggage and headed to the airport. And that’s a wrap on our trip to Singapore and Taiwan! Until next time!

Advertisements

[Taiwan Series] Day 2 in Kaohsiung: Cijin Island 旗津島, Dragon and Tiger Pagodas 龍虎塔, and Liuhe Night Market 六合观光夜市

40.jpeg by info9813 on 500px.com

Since we had already hit up many of the tourist spots in Kaohsiung on the first day, I suggested we go to Cijin Island 旗津島 which is just a short 10 minute ferry ride from the Gushan Ferry Pier in Kaohsiung. To get to the ferry termianl, you can take the MRT to Sizihwan MRT Station. Take exit 1 and you will walk around 5 – 8 minutes to arrive at the Gushan Ferry Pier. Line up at the entrance and you just need to pay $15 NTD or tap your EasyCard to get on the ferry. The price is less than a $1 CAD so a great deal! You can also bring your motorbike on the ferry.

 

41.jpeg by info9813 on 500px.com

This is the ferry we got on. You can sit indoors or stand outside to enjoy the views. The ride is so short that you’ll be there in no time!

 

57.jpeg by info9813 on 500px.com

Once you get off the ferry, you’ll find an abundance of shops where you can rent motorbikes or bicycles. They also had these 2 or 4 people pedal cars. If you want to really explore Cijin Island, I suggest renting some type of bike. The island itself is quite small, but walking could be quite tiring. The best way to explore is to rent a bike! We ended up getting a 2 pedal car but it is actually an electric bike, so even better!

 

45.jpeg by info9813 on 500px.com

If you bike straight along Miaoqian Road, there will be shop after shop of food and souvenirs. This is the main street with the most people here. If you are walking, I suggest to check out this area. I liked how we could bike and just stop in front of a stall. However, it makes it difficult for two people to look at the shops since you’ll need to park the bike somewhere and not every place has a pole to lock the bike to.

 

42.jpeg by info9813 on 500px.com

At the end of the road, there was an open area with lines of stalls selling snacks. It sort of reminded me of a mini night market.

 

44.jpeg by info9813 on 500px.com

I ended up getting off the bike to purchase some snacks such as grilled squid, cuttlefish balls, and aiyu jelly tea to quench our thirst!

 

43.jpeg by info9813 on 500px.com

We bought the snacks and decided to bike over to the beach side to enjoy the view. And yes, we somehow ended up with this lovers pedal bike. Pretty funny but was quite comfy with some shade on top. This electric bike was great since we didn’t even need to pedal. You just need to steer and brake!

 

46.jpeg by info9813 on 500px.com

The Cijin Beach is quite enjoyable. A nice getaway from the busy city.

 

47.jpeg by info9813 on 500px.com

After enjoying our snacks, we continued on Cijin 3rd Road’s inner bike path and biked along the water. It’s also known as the Oceanview Bike Path.

 

48.jpeg by info9813 on 500px.com

We finally arrived at the Cijin Rainbow Church 彩虹教堂 and Rainbow Arch! This was actually on the top of my list as I had saw pictures on Instagram of this spot. Turns out, everyone else also knew about this spot, so there was a huge line up in front of us. We probably waited around 30 minutes before it was our turn. Some people ahead of us were doing serious photoshoots!

 

50.jpeg by info9813 on 500px.com

The Rainbow Church is definitely photo worthy. It faces the water so it gives the perfect effect!

 

49.jpeg by info9813 on 500px.com

Unfortunately we came at a time where the sun was out at an angle where it would cast a shadow so it was a bit difficult to take our pictures. However, still a pretty awesome view!

 

51.jpeg by info9813 on 500px.com

To the right is the Rainbow Arch. This is pretty cool too! I noticed that some people come here for their wedding photos as well.

 

52.jpeg by info9813 on 500px.com

After getting our pictures, we biked a bit further and found this area with two shells. It also made a picture worthy spot. There is also a shell gallery in this area, but we skipped it.

 

53.jpeg by info9813 on 500px.com

I loved biking along this path as you got a nice breeze from the water even though it was burning hot that day!

 

54.jpeg by info9813 on 500px.com

Continuing along the path, we found The Big Pearl Shell.

 

55.jpeg by info9813 on 500px.com

And finally, we reached the Cijin Windmill Park 旗津風車公園. This is a pretty chill area where we found many people flying kites and enjoying the seaside.

 

56.jpeg by info9813 on 500px.com

There were a few food stalls as well and I decided to get a strawberry ice cream sandwich. With that, our bike rental time was coming close as we are charged by the hour. We didn’t want to pay for an extra hour, so we ended up biking as fast as we could to get back to the store in time! We ended up taking the same route back in case we got lost if we went another way. Our intense biking paid off as we made it back to the stall just in time so we didn’t have to pay for that extra hour! We then took the ferry back to Kaohsiung.

 

58.jpeg by info9813 on 500px.com

After arriving back in Kaohsiung, I suggested we visit the Dragon and Tiger Pagodas at the Lotus Pond. Google maps suggested we take the bus so we did as it told. Unfortunately, it seemed like we missed the stop and we ended up going really far. After wandering around for a while trying to figure out the right directions, we gave up and decided to take a taxi instead.

 

59.jpeg by info9813 on 500px.com

By then, it was already dusk, so the pictures were abit difficult to take. Here is the Dragon and Tiger Pagodas 龍虎塔 at the Lotus Pond though! You are supposed to enter through the dragon’s mouth and exit from the tiger’s mouth. Apparently, this will get rid of your bad luck and give you good luck. Inside the mouths, you’ll find paintings of Buddhist and Taoist stories. To be honest, I found it a bit eerie in there, perhaps because it was getting dark. I think you can normally also climb up the pagoda, but it was closed when we went, probably because it was getting late. I suggest coming here during the daytime to get the best pictures. It’s  just not very well lit at night so it can get a bit scary.

 

60.jpeg by info9813 on 500px.com

There are actually various other attractions around the pond such as the Spring and Autumn Pavilions (春秋閣) and the Confucius Temple (孔廟). However, as it was getting dark, we decided not to visit the other spots.

 

61.jpeg by info9813 on 500px.com

Instead, we decided to grab an early dinner by checking out the Liuhe Night Market 六合观光夜市. The night market opens daily at around 6pm and is located in central Kaohsiung. Just take the MRT to Formosa Boulevard Station and take exit 11 and you’ll find your way to the market.

 

62.jpeg by info9813 on 500px.com

We found thsi night market to be a lot less busy than Ruifeng Night Market. In fact, there was tons of space to walk around and it wasn’t crowded at all. Even by the time we left, which was prime dinner time, it wasn’t very busy.

 

63.jpeg by info9813 on 500px.com

We noticed many fruit stalls selling fruit drinks. There are papayas, bananas, oranges, watermelons, and bitter melon.

 

64.jpeg by info9813 on 500px.com

I decided to get a Papaya Milk since this is a common drink in Taiwan. Deliciously creamy and refreshing in the heat! I liked how it wasn’t very sweet. Just the sugar from the fruit itself.

 

65.jpeg by info9813 on 500px.com

We had wandered around the night market for a while to look for food, but to be honest, nothing really spoke to us. Perhaps, the food was very local and was not anything we were familiar with. We ended up with some beef skewers, which were good but didn’t blow our minds. I also got some stinky tofu but again, it was just average.

 

66.jpeg by info9813 on 500px.com

Overall, we were pretty disappointed with Liuhe Night Market. None of the stalls really had line ups, so it was hard for tourists like us to decide which one was worth trying. And the food in general wasn’t really appealing. I’d suggest going to Ruifeng if you only have time to go to one night market in Kaohsiung.

 

67.jpeg by info9813 on 500px.com

As we wandered around away from the night market to see if we could find any other snacks, a shop owner attracted me to go inside her shop. It turned out to be called 青草捌 and I can’t figure out what the English name is. The shop had a beautiful flower wall which was part of my attraction. I ended up with a Pineapple Tea which comes in this beautiful cup! The price of the tea was not cheap, but I can see why with all these details in the shop. We didn’t end up getting more food, so called it a night to get some rest!

 

 

Black Pepper Crab at Long Beach Seafood, Madam Tussauds at Sentosa, and Kok Sen Restaurant

17.jpeg by ukijojo on 500px.com

If you enjoy eating crab, then a trip to Singapore means you have to try either their chili crab or black pepper crab! We tried both in Malaysia last time, but this time S and I decided to just go on our own for lunch. It is said that the Black Pepper Crab dish was first created by the chef of Long Beach Seafood and therefore, the restaurant is known for this signature dish. We decided to take the bus to the King location and it wasn’t hard to find.

 

03.jpg by ukijojo on 500px.com

We enjoyed a sleeve of Tiger Beer which is Singapore’s official beer. Cold and refreshing!

 

01.jpg by ukijojo on 500px.com

We also shared a plate of Pea Shoots to get some veggies intake. The veggies were fresh and flavoured with a nice garlic broth.

 

02.jpg by ukijojo on 500px.com

The crabs are ordered by the kg and they serve mud crabs here. I believe ours was under 2 kg which honestly isn’t too much shared between two if you’re only eating this. In fact, the mud crabs aer quite small compared to the BC Dungeness crabs we have in Vancouver. Only the claws are big. We decided to go with the Black Pepper Crab and it was full of pepper flavour. S actually found it a bit too spicy but for me it was just right. It would be delicious paired with a bowl of rice! I can’t quite remember how much the crab was per kg, but our whole meal came to over $100 SGD. So definitely not cheap, but the ambiance in the restaurant is also pretty nice. Be warned that they will place peanuts on the table which cost $2 SGD and towelettes are $1 SGD. You better check your receipt to ensure you don’t pay more. A great spot to try chili or black pepper crab regardless!

 

18.jpeg by ukijojo on 500px.com

After lunch, we headed to Sentosa. You can choose to take the monorail, cable car, or walk. At VivoCity, you can purchase tickets for the monorail which gives you a round trip journey and unlimited use of the Sentosa Express around the island for the day if you purchase the Sentosa Pass. However, as the weather wasn’t too hot that day, we decided to try walking to Sentosa from VivoCity on the Sentosa Boardwalk. It actually only takes around 15 minutes if you walk leisurely, and there are gardens along the way and also covered up top in case of rain. If you walk quickly, it’s probably only 5 minutes. I actually quite enjoyed this option as we got to enjoy some scenic views along the way.

 

21.jpeg by ukijojo on 500px.com

Finally, we arrived at the resort. As we had been here last time we visited Singapore and had purchased a fun pass, we had already done many of the activities on the island. You can check out my post from my visit two years ago if you’re interested in the activities on the island. This time around, we targeted some new activities.

 

19.jpeg by ukijojo on 500px.com

We decided to check out Madame Tussauds this time around. The wax museum featured famous legends from both North America and Asia. Before we even started the wax museum, we were able to take the Spirit of Singapore boat ride which takes you around Singapore in a boat. Sort of like a kiddie ride at the amusement park, but it was actually quite well made with all the famous sights being showcased. Tickets are normally around $40 SGD if you purchase at the venue, with around a $10 SGD discount if you purchase online. However, if you purchase through KLOOK, it only costs $20 SGD. Savings are quite good and the ticket also includes Images of Singapore LIVE, a 30 minute live actor-led show. If you pay another $3.50 SGD on KLOOK, you can also visit the new Marvel 4D Cinema which wasn’t open yet when we visited.

 

24.jpeg by ukijojo on 500px.com

You’ll find famous politicians like Obama!

 

23.jpeg by ukijojo on 500px.com

Sports players like Yao Ming!

 

20.jpeg by ukijojo on 500px.com

And of course the famous Bruce Lee!

 

22.jpeg by ukijojo on 500px.com

When we were exiting the wax museum section, we also noticed there is a Virtual Reality Racing experience. Here, you can pay an additional fee to race in one of two full sized virtual reality car simulators. You can choose to be on Lewis Hamilton or Sebastian Vettel’s team. S could not miss the opportunity to sit in one of these cars, so of course he paid for the experience. I believe it was roughly $20 SGD or so, and he said it was well worth the price.

 

26.jpeg by ukijojo on 500px.com

As our ticket included Images of Singapore LIVE, we decided to check it out as well. The show is only 30 minutes and we were actually able to learn a bit about the history of how Singapore came about. There are live actors who will take you back in the day while you walk around their staged sets. Unfortunately no pictures allowed though. If you have some time to spare, then it’s worth checking out after the wax museum.

 

04.jpg by ukijojo on 500px.com

After an afternoon at Madam Tussauds, we headed towards the beach area. Looking for a quick snack, I suggested we see what special menu items were available at McDonalds. We found Sweet Corn Soft Serve, so had to give it a try. The flavours were interesting but I personally wouldn’t get it again. The soft serve itself was creamy and smooth like their typical vanilla cone but with a subtle corn flavour.

 

27.jpeg by ukijojo on 500px.com

We decided to end our trip at Sentosa by checking out the beach. There are a few beaches on the island, but we wandered to Tanjong Beach which has the least activities. It’s nice and quiet and the perfect place to unwind after a long day. We were able to catch the sunset here as well.

 

05.jpg by ukijojo on 500px.com

After Sentosa, I had made plans to meet my exchange friends for dinner. They decided to take me to Kok Sen Restaurant 國成球記菜社 which has been listed on the Michelin Bib Gourmand. The restaurant therefore has become very busy and you’ll be expected to wait for a seat. The restaurant is not fancy inside as you’ll be sitting on stools without air conditioning. However, the food is delicious! We started with the Romaine Lettuce Stir Fried with Fermented Beancurd. It was slightly spicy but not overbearing.

 

07.jpg by ukijojo on 500px.com

Cereal Butter Squid

Next up was the Cereal Butter Squid which was probably my favourite dish of the night. There are plenty of squid buried underneath the mountain of crunchy crushed cereal. This was the perfect dish to pair with rice!

 

06.jpg by ukijojo on 500px.com

Sliced Fish Soup

The Sliced Fish Soup came in a clear broth with deboned sliced fish, choy sum, and mushrooms. The broth was flavourful despite being very clear.

 

09.jpg by ukijojo on 500px.com

Hot Plate Tofu

I believe the Claypot Yong Tau Foo is famous at Kok Sen, but I don’t remember if it was sold out or why we didn’t order it. Anyways, we ended up with the Hot Plate Tofu which had plenty of tofu, shrimp and vegetables in a thick savoury sauce.

 

08.jpg by ukijojo on 500px.com

Yang Zhou Fried Rice

Lastly, we had the Yang Zhou Fried Rice which had shrimp, barbecue pork and egg. Flavourful dish but nothing too special. Overall, the food at Kok Sen was pretty good and all dishes we tried didn’t disappoint. Just be prepared to wait if you don’t have reservations! I believe the restaurant has been around for 3 generations now, so the locals must love it!

 

28.jpeg by ukijojo on 500px.com

Kok Sen is located on Keong Saik Rd, and there are actually many bars around this area. We decided to go for drinks with my friends after dinner. Remember, drinks are not cheap in Singapore though so be warned that you’ll be ready to dish out around $20 for a cocktail. We ended up going to Potato Head which has a rooftop bar. Luckily in the evenings, the heat dies down a bit, but it’s definitely still quite warm for us! We ended up enjoying some delicious cocktails and called it a night!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bao Bei Chinese Brasserie

01.jpg by ukijojo on 500px.com

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.

 

02.jpg by ukijojo on 500px.com

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.

 

03.jpg by SophiaHo on 500px.com

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!

 

04.jpg by SophiaHo on 500px.com

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.

 

 

05.jpg by SophiaHo on 500px.com

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.

 

06.jpg by SophiaHo on 500px.com

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.

 

07.jpg by SophiaHo on 500px.com

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!

 

08.jpg by SophiaHo on 500px.com

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!

 

09.jpg by SophiaHo on 500px.com

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

Luc Lac Vietnamese Kitchen

1.jpg by SophiaHo on 500px.com

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.

 

7.jpg by SophiaHo on 500px.com

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.

 

2.jpg by SophiaHo on 500px.com

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.

 

3.jpg by SophiaHo on 500px.com

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.

 

4.jpg by SophiaHo on 500px.com

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.

 

5.jpg by SophiaHo on 500px.com

Luc Lac

 

6.jpg by SophiaHo on 500px.com

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

Hapa Izakaya – Dine Out Vancouver 2018

1.jpg by SophiaHo on 500px.com

The last Dine Out Vancouver restaurant we tried was Hapa Izakaya at the Coal Harbour location. To be honest, I was never a huge fan of Hapa because I thought the dishes were just average for the price. However, a recent visit for happy hour changed my mind and N wanted to try the restaurant anyways, so I thought I would give it another try. Plus, the selling point for me was the 3 course savory dishes which was a nice change from the typical appie, main, and dessert. This menu was great for sharing and actually filled me up!

 

2.jpg by SophiaHo on 500px.com

Beef Tartare

To start, we had two of the Beef Tartare. The AAA beef was mixed with maple soy, yuzu ginger and crispy capers. Nori sheets were provided to wrap the beef in. This was one of my favourite dishes. The beef tasted fresh and I like the light soy sauce which accompanied it. Portions were also pretty big and perfect for sharing.

4.jpg by SophiaHo on 500px.com

Albacore Tomato Gelee

The second appetizer was the Albacore Tomato Gelee which was essentially sliced albacore tuna sashimi topped with a house made shiso pesto and tomato jelly. Tuna was fresh and the sauces were pretty unique.

 

 

6.jpg by SophiaHo on 500px.com

Confit Duck Leg

Moving onto the second course, the Confit Dug Leg was marinated with apple ginger and sake. This was paired with grilled zucchini and green beans. The duck was pretty tender but didn’t think this was anything too special.

 

5.jpg by SophiaHo on 500px.com

Panko Sockeye Salmon

Another dish was the Panko Sockeye Salmon which was butter sauteed and served with a karashi mustard hollaindaise sauce. I liked the panko crust, but found the salmon to be slightly on the dry side.

 

3.jpg by SophiaHo on 500px.com

Ankake Agedashi Tofu

I always love a good agedashi tofu and the Ankake Agedashi Tofu was served with bok choy, carrots and green onion. The skin was crispy but I think the sauce should have sat on the side as the bottom of the tofu became quite soggy.

 

9.jpg by SophiaHo on 500px.com

Beef Stew

The third course was the Beef Stew which we thought was pretty random at a Japanese restaurant. However, the flavours were actually rpetty good. This was tomato and onion based beef stew topped with mozzarella, cheddar and monterey cheese. The dish was served with garlic toast so you could spread the stew on top. Tasted sort of like spaghetti sauce but I actually really liked it.

 

7.jpg by SophiaHo on 500px.com

Salmon Sushi Cake

One of the items I was excited about was the Salmon Sushi Cake. But I think we all agreed it wasn’t what we expected. Chopped sockeye salmon was mixed with cream cheese, shiso, miso and karashi mustard and served on top of a bed of sushi rice. I think we didn’t like it was because it was so heavy with cream cheese. A Japanese mayo would have been enough. It was too heavy and covered the flavours of the salmon.

 

8.jpg by SophiaHo on 500px.com

Shiitake Jya-Jyamen Ramen

Last but not least was the Shiitake Jya-Jyamen Ramen. The ramen noodles were served in a soy milk, spicy miso broth and topped with mushroom rice ball. The broth was very thick and heavy. Definitely more of a sauce than broth but it was good to coat the noodles. Personally, I thought this was just average.

Overall, there were some hits and misses but the portions are great for sharing and for only $30. I enjoyed the appetizer dishes more and felt we could skip the entrees next time.

Pros:
– Fun ambiance for drinks and sharing dishes

Cons:
– Dishes were a hit or miss

Price Range: $30 per person (Dine Out Menu)

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

Food: 3 Service: 3 Ambiance: 3 Parking: Street parking or paid parkade Overall: 3

 

Hapa Izakaya Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

ZenQ (Marine Drive)

1.jpg by info9813 on 500px.com

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.

 

3.jpg by info9813 on 500px.com

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

 

2.jpg by info9813 on 500px.com

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.

 

4.jpg by info9813 on 500px.com

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.

 

7.jpg by info9813 on 500px.com

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.

 

6.jpg by info9813 on 500px.com

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.

 

5.jpg by info9813 on 500px.com

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

Cactus Club Cafe (Richmond)

Exterior by info9813 on 500px.com

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!

 

IMG by ukijojo on 500px.com

We were welcomed by the founder of Cactus, Richard Jaffrey, who spoke about how the original Richmond location began 25 years ago.

 

IMG by ukijojo on 500px.com

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.

 

IMG by ukijojo on 500px.com

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!

 

IMG by ukijojo on 500px.com

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.

 

IMG by ukijojo on 500px.com

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