Sai Woo

Super late post again but back in early May, us accountants finally celebrated the end of tax season! Our firm treated us to dinner and drinks at Sai Woo in the heart of Chinatown. Sai Woo doesn’t server your typical authentic Chinese food, it’s more of a westernized style of Chinese food.

We basically booked the whole restaurant and the inside decor is beautiful! I loved the fairy lights and the ambiance gave a nice chic and elegant feel.

Their cocktails are what I would come here for and they have a long bar on one side where you can come in if you want to just enjoy some drinks.

Sai Woo Sour

E and I decided to go all out that night (since we were’ paying!) and tried to go down the list of the cocktail list. Yes, huge headache the next day, but it was fun! We started off with the Sai Woo Sour which featured Bombay Sapphire East, Benedictine, ginger syrup, lemon juice, and egg white.

Elderflower 75

The Elderflower 75 was my favourite and consisted of Finlandia Vodka, St. Germain, lemon juice, and sparkling cava. This was the fruitiest drink and extremely easy to drink. Plus, it’s always classy to have some cava in hand.

Smoking Gun

The Smoking Gun is the men’s drink and the process in making the drink is super cool to watch. They light up the drink and some smoke comes out then they throw in this huge ice cube. The drink consisted of El Dorado 12 year old rum, bitters, brown sugar, oak, and tea smoke. A very bitter drink and great for those who like to drink straight rum. The guys said it was too sweet from the brown sugar though…but us girls found it bitter!

Carioca

Another favourite was the Carioca with Cacha 51, guava juice, orange juice, lime juice, and sloe Gin float. Another one of those lighter and fruitier drinks which I enjoyed.

Tuna Tartare

As we booked the place up for a private event, our menu was already pre-ordered and it included some canapés to start. I didn’t get pictures of all of them but a memorable one was the Tuna Tartare which came with nori on top. Quite yummy! They also seem to enjoy using raw ingredients at Sai Woo.

Wagyu Beef Carpaccio

We were able to choose two appetizers each. For myself, I chose the Wagyu Beef Carpaccio which came with broccoli puree, crudite, rye crumble, sorrel, and candied lime. To be honest, I found this to be just average. The beef lacked flavour and the plate itself was also extremely small for the price.

Beet Salad

E got the Beet Salad which came with buckwheat cracker, yoghurt, blackberry sauce, fermented grapes, and herbs. A colourful dish but E also said it was just average.

Sai Woo Salad

My second appetizer was the Sai Woo Salad which comes with smoked sockeye salmon, gem lettuce, frisee, pickled tomato, blue cheese cream, and fennel. Again, something was off about this dish. It was way too acidic with the pickled tomatoes overbearing the whole dish. The smoked salmon was also more like cooked salmon as it was fully cooked. Everyone agreed this dish was too pickled.

Pressed Lamb

For my entree, I got the Pressed Lamb which was my favourite of the dishes. The lamb was packed into a rectangle and was crispy on the outside while staying very moist in the inside. It came with seasonal vegetables of what appeared to be brocolini, braised shallots, kale, sherry jus and a side of long grain rice.

Ling Cod

Some of the other diners got the Ling Cod which came with oyster mushrooms, green onion puree, greens, and jasmine rice. Apparently this was extremely salty for some while being perfect for others. Seems like they have inconsistencies in seasoning.

Lemongrass Chicken

The other entree option was the Lemongrass Chicken which came with vermicelli noodles, bitter greens, and a sunny side up fried egg.

Baklava

Dessert was just as disappointing. the Baklava was unappealing to look at and consisted of pistachio nuts, toasted nuts, honey rose pearls, and phyllo chips. This was sort of an deconstructed baklava but something about it just didn’t seem right.

Chocolate Cake

The Chocolate Cake came with candied fennel and orange marmalade and it appeared that most diners did not enjoy this. Perhaps it was gluten free and therefore the cake itself was very hard and dry.

 

Overall, we found the food at Sai Woo to be underwhelming but we think it might be because they aren’t experienced with catering to a large group. Most diners who have gone to Sai Woo on a regular day have had good experiences, so I would probably give them a try during their regular service. I have to say that their drinks are great so I wouldn’t mind coming here to grab a drink. Plus the decor is beautiful inside!

Sai Woo Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Oyster Express

Looking for a place to catch up with my girlfriends, I suggested we go to Oyster Express during their happy hour, which is from 4:30-6:00 on Sundays. There are other happy hour times listed on their website.

Located in Chinatown, the shop is really tiny and fits around 20 diners only. One thing we noticed is that it was very warm inside. We were all sweaty during our meal.

Of course we had to get some oysters here. They serve the oysters with a variety of sauces. There is the basic mignonette sauce, the cocktail sauce, and Tabasco sauce. Then they have their housemade spicy sauce. I didn’t try their housemade sauce but K said it wasn’t that spicy.

Glacier Bay and Kusshi

The oysters on sale for the day during their happy hour were Glacier Bay oysters. They were $1.50 each. Their Kusshi oysters were also on sale that day for $2.50 so we got some of those. The Glacier Bay oysters were rather tiny but still sweet. However, we enjoyed the Kusshis a lot more. Much bigger and plump and very fresh. For the most part, the shucking was pretty good, but we still had a little bit of shell in some oysters.

Manhattan Clam Chowder

Their menu is quite limited, but we did order some items to share. First was the Manhattan Clam Chowder. This was actually a tomato based chowder rather than a white cream. The soup was filled with tomatoes, potatoes, carrots, corn, celery, onions and of course clams. Served with some bread and cracker on the side, we really enjoyed the flavour of this chowder.

Fried Oysters (1/2 order)

The half order of Fried Oysters came with three large oysters which were breaded and deep fried to a golden brown. The oysters were very fresh and the breading was very light.

Steamed Mussels

Lastly, we had the Steamed Mussels, which featured a pound of these sweet and plump mussels steamed in white wine, shallots, tomatoes, garlic, and butter. It came with a side of baguettes but not enough to enjoy the remaining sauce.

Overall, Oyster Express did not disappoint although the oysters can be quite expensive if they are not on sale. They do however have an extensive list of oysters compared to many other restaurants. Service was quite friendly. No reservations unless you have a party of 6 or more, so finding a seat can be difficult at times since it’s a rather small shop.

Pros:
– Oysters are very fresh and good variety
– Other menu items are tasty as well

Cons:
– Really warm inside the restaurant
– Some of our oysters had a bit of shell pieces

Price Range: $20- 30/person

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

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

Oyster Express Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Ramen Butcher

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Ramen Butcher opened up earlier this year in Chinatown and was definitely one of the most talked about ramen shops for a good time. They are part of the Menya Kouji franchise, which is a Japanese restaurant group with many ramen shops in Asia. The chefs are all trained under Yamagishi Kazuo, who is the inventor of tsukemen, a type of ramen noodles.

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Everyone has been talking about the line ups, and I’m definitely someone who hates waiting. So a few months down the line, I was ready to check this place out, hoping the hype would’ve died down. And it definitely did. We had no wait when we arrived shortly just before 6pm, and the shop remained rather quiet throughout the meal. There were diners, but the tables were not fully occupied.

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Orange – Tonkotsu broth with miso marinated ground pork

At Ramen Butcher, their ramens are colour coded. Although most of their soup bases are tonkotsu (pork) based, they put a spin on it with spicy, pesto, and garlic flavoured pastes. S went for the Orange, which has the tonkotsu pork broth with rich miso marinated ground pork. It also comes with aburi pork chashu, which you can choose fatty or lean, and a medium boiled marinated egg. S chose lean chashu and it was pretty much your typical chashu without any fat. The noodles here are much more thin and they are freshly made. I actually really enjoyed the tonkotsu pork broth along with the miso flavouring. It wasn’t too salty although we did find the soup a little on the oily side.

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Black – Tonkotsu broth with roasted garlic oil

For myself, I got the Black, which features tonkotsu pork broth with roasted garlic oil, aburi pork chashu, and a medium boiled marinated egg. The broth definitely appeared black in colour, and my first reaction to the broth was that it tasted very unique. You get a strong roasted garlic flavour for sure, which I actually quite enjoyed. For my chashu, i chose fatty, and my piece of chashu was literally 90% fat! The fat is more chewy than the “melt in your mouth fat”, but it actually wasn’t that bad. It didn’t leave a fatty residue in your mouth afterwards. The medium boiled egg was also made quite well, with the yolk being runny.

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Oh and did I mention that they offer free noodles once you finish your first bowl of noodles and still have soup left? Just let your server know and they will bring you a bowl of noodles to add to your existing soup. We were actually quite full from our first bowl already, but this is great for those who have a large appetite! Overall, Ramen Butcher is a decent ramen joint to try. It seems like people have negative reviews on Ramen Butcher, but I really don’t think it’s as bad as they say. Of course, I would still prefer some of the other ramen joints, like Santouka, but Ramen Butcher is still a great option. Is it so good that I would make a trip out of the way to Ramen Butcher? Probably not. But if I was around Chinatown, it would definitely be an option.

Pros:
– Free noodle refill
– Tonkotsu broth is quite delicious

Cons:
– Broth is a little on the greasy side

Price Range: $10-15

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

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

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Chinatown in San Francisco

Shrimp

Mussels

We decided to go try some Chinese food in San Francisco, and of course the place to be was in Chinatown! This restaurant had a lot of people in it, so we chose to go in. The food was delicious although the environment wasn’t all glammed up. Prices were also reasonable. We also had a dish of crab, but I forgot to take a picture! I guess I was too busy eating!