Hapa Izakaya – Dine Out Vancouver 2018

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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!

 

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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.

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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.

 

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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

Forage – Dine Out Vancouver 2018

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Another good deal for Vancouver Dine Out Festival is Forage as their 3 course menu is only $30. The restaurant was packed and they were pretty strict on the seating’s time limit but service was still pretty good.

 

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Vietnamese Style Bison Shank Salad

To start, we tried all three appetizers which did not require additional cost. The Vietnamese Style Bison Shank Salad was served with shaved squash, braised daikon, crispy shallots, cilantro, mint and fermented chilies. The bison shank reminded me of beef jerky and the seasoning was on point.

 

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Grilled Humboldt Squid

My favourite appetizer was the Grilled Humboldt Squid which was served with radish kimchi, puffed wild rice, sweet soy, and parsley. The squid was cooked to tender and the radish kimchi actually paired very well with the seafood. I also liked the crispy puffed rice which gave some different textures to the dish.

 

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Beetroot Salad

IC tried the Beetroot Salad since she was the only one who wanted to try the vegetable dish. It was actually very colourful and the different coloured beets were served with roasted bruseels sprouts, brusselkraut, and bull kelp granola. I didn’t get a chance to try it but she said it was pretty good for an all vegetable dish.

 

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Crispy Halibut Cheeks

For mains, I had the Crispy Halibut Cheeks which were served with cauliflower “cous cous”, smoked yogurt, poached radish, and pickled mustard seed. They were like fish fritters but the cheeks had a more “chewy” type of texture so I really enjoyed it. I always love to eat the cheeks of the fish because of the texture. Really enjoyed the flavours even though the dish was lighter.

 

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Harissa Grilled Duck Leg

The boys got the Harissa Grilled Duck Leg served with white bean puree, braised greens, sweet and sour carrots and jus. The portion was slightly on the smaller side, but all the flavours accompanied the duck well.

 

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Elderflower Cheese Puff

For dessert, I had the Elderflower Cheese Puff which I’ve had at my last visit. The puff is served with gin spiked blueberries and vanilla ice cream. The top is crunchy pastry like texture similar to Beta 5’s and you can taste a bit of saltiness from the cheese and floral flavours from the elderflower. Paired with the sweet blueberries and ice cream, this is a must try dessert at Forage!

 

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Chocolate Cherry Bar

Our table also tried the Chocolate Cherry Bar which was served with hazelnut crumble, white chocolate cherry cream, and chocolate sauce. I thought this dessert was too dense as it’s more of a ganache and quite a heavy way to end the meal. Not my personal favourite.

Overall, a good option for Dine Out Vancouver but also a great spot even on a regular night. If you’re looking for west coast Canadian food with a seafood and meat selection, this is a great option. Be sure to try the seafood chowder on a regular night!

Pros:
– Great flavours and concepts
– Well executed dishes even during Dine Out

Cons:
– Portions are slightly on the smaller side for 3 courses (could probably still grab a snack after)

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

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

Food: 4 Service: 3.5 Ambiance: 3.5 Parking: Street parking only Overall: 4

 

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

Bufala – Dine Out Vancouver 2016

For my last Dine Out Vancouver Festival of 2016, I checked out Bufala in Kerrisdale with MH and MW. They offered a lunch menu for $20 for two courses or $25 for three courses. Since the lunch price is cheaper than dinner for the same menu items, it was a better deal to visit at lunch.

They didn’t take reservations for Dine Out, but the restaurant wasn’t super busy on a Saturday, so we got a seat right away.

We were able to order off their regular menu during the festival as well. However, their dine out menu pizzas ranged from $14-17 anyways, so the dine out menu was a pretty good deal. We ended up being able to try all their dine out menu items since we had three people.

They don’t use a wood oven here, but they still make the pizzas fresh. Love the fun and bright decor in here.

Beef Carpaccio

The first appetizer was the Beef Carpaccio which were topped with fennel and salted kohlrabi, a type of turnip cabbage. It was also drizzled with an anchovy and black olive aioli. I found it slightly on the saltier side and the beef stuck together a lot for some reason. It was alright.

Meatballs

Their famous Meatballs were my favourite appetizer. It came with ricotta cheese, basil leaves, and some bread to soak up the tasty homemade tomato sauce. These were large meatballs but very moist! The sauce was also very flavourful with the right amount of acidity.

Kale Caesar Salad

The Kale Caesar Salad was also very delicious with the green and purple kale seasoned with anchovy and topped with Parmigiano Reggiano. It was also topped with a couple of slices of crispy bacon and a salt-cured egg yolk. The kale was fresh and crispy and I loved the use of the egg yolk.

Before our pizzas arrived, the server brought us three oils to use along with our pizza. This included the herb, parm, and chili oil. We were told to drizzle some on our plate and dip our pizza into it rather than drizzling straight onto our pizza. However, we found that the oils were not very strong in flavour. The herb oil was the only one that we could really taste the rosemary. I ended up eating the pizza on its own since it was already very flavourful.

Margherita Pizza

The first pizza we had was the classic Margherita Pizza. A beautiful marinara sauce topped with basil and fior di latte. Fior di latte is made of cow’s milk rather than water buffalo which is more costly. However, the mozzarella was still extremely stringy and I enjoyed the cheese very much.

Pesto & Ricotta Pizza Basil Pesto

Next up was the Pesto & Ricotta Pizza Basil Pesto of which we added an additional $5 to add prosciutto. In addition, the pizza was topped with fresh ricotta, pine nuts, Grana Padano cheese, and pesto. Loved the flavours of this pizza and I think the salty prosciutto really added flavour to it.

Finocchiona

The last pizza was the Finocchiona. This had a marinara sauce with fennel sausage, Castelvetrano olives, carmelized onions, provolone cheese and basil leaves. This is perfect for those who are meat lovers.

Classic Affogato

The Classic Affogato featured a vanilla bean gelato soaked in a single origin espresso. You can never go wrong with an affogato for dessert!

Salted Caramel Budino

I tried the Salted Caramel Budino which came in a jar. This was topped with a vanilla bean Mascarpone cream and Maldon sea salt. The budino was smooth and not overly sweet.

Overall, we were quite pleased with Bufala. The pizzas are thin crusted, fluffy, and crispy. Large portions and their meatballs and kale salad are delicious! Service was pretty friendly with our server extremely proud of the dishes.

Pros:
– Great pizza dough and flavours
– Meatballs and Caesar Kale Salad are flavourful

Cons:
– Some of their gourmet pizzas are a bit pricey on the regular menu

Price Range: $25/person for DOVF lunch menu

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

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

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

Supermarine – Dine Out Vancouver 2016

My second Dine Out Vancouver Festival restaurant was at Supermarine, a relatively new restaurant tucked away in Kitsilano in an area I was not even aware of. Located on Yew St and W 1st Ave, the restaurant is quite the hidden gem.

The interior is very small, fitting around 35 diners, with a rustic charm.

Their Dine Out Vancouver Festival menu was $30 so very reasonable, considering we were beyond full by the end of our meal.

Smoked Whitefish

For appetizers, we ended up trying all three choices on the menu. I got the Smoked Whitefish, which was presented a little funky looking with their bottles of homemade hot sauce and creme fraîche served on the plate. On the side were buttered saltines to place your smoked whitefish on. We all really enjoyed this and it reminded me of Fable’s canned tuna.

Crispy Brussels Sprout Salad

SP got the Crispy Brussels Sprout Salad with soy, honey vinaigrette and yogurt. I had a bite and the brussel sprouts were cooked to tender with nice crispy edges. I don’t usually like brussel sprouts, but these were delicious!

Littleneck Clam & Ham Hock Chowder

SK got the Littleneck Clam & Ham Hock Chowder. It comes with oyster crackers and is topped with a green garlic pistou sauce, which is similar to a pesto.

Octopus Chips

We also added on a side of Octopus Chips for around $9. Served in a jar, these were sliced octopus and fingerling potatoes battered and deep fried. A slightly spicy tomato aioli was served alongside for dipping and this made a great snack. The octopus was very tender and potatoes were nice and crispy. Too bad we found that there were way more potatoes than octopus.

Salt Spring Island Mussels

SP and SK both got the Salt Spring Island Mussels for their entree. The mussels came with chorizo, fennel and were cooked in a smoky tomato broth. The mussels were plump and fresh. No empty shells in the bowl! A generous serving alongside with a huge bowl of fries and tartar sauce. The girls could barely make a dent in the fries after finishing the mussels!

Grilled Flat Iron Steak

I sort of wanted the mussels as well, but being a foodie, I had to order something different, so I went for the Grilled Flat Iron Steak. The already sliced steak came on top of a nori potato puree with smoked fingerling potatoes and covered with watercress. The steak was cooked to a beautiful pink medium rare and was very tender. At first I thought the plate looked small, but there were actually a lot of meat and potatoes. Was definitely stuffed by the entree!

Chocolate Semifreddo

For dessert, the girls got the Chocolate Semifreddo. I stole a bite and really enjoyed it! A nice firm chocolate cake with toasted marshmallow, graham crumbs and smoked salt.

Calamansi Lime Curd

For myself, I chose something different again and went for the Calamansi Lime Curd. When I saw it, I was pretty confused at what I had, but it turned out to be a lime curd with whipped ricotta, shortbread crumb, candied citrus and topped with cilantro. The flavours worked very well together with that herb taste coming through from the cilantro. The lime curd was quite sour but when mixed with the sweet ricotta, there was a nice balance. Not bad!

Overall, we were quite impressed with the flavours of the dishes at Supermarine. Prices are also very reasonable and if you enjoy cocktails, they have a great list. Only downside was that our service started out pretty good, but at the end, apparently they had a huge 10 people reservation right after us, so they kept pushing all the diners along one side of the dining table to leave. Felt like the service lacked because of wanting to maximize capacity from Dine Out, so will need to come back on a regular day.

Pros:
– Great portions and reasonable prices
– Flavours in dishes are unique

Cons:
– Service during Dine Out wasn’t very good
– Seating was a bit tight (not sure if it’s like this during regular service)

Price Range: $30/person (DOVF menu)

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

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

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

Torafuku – Dine Out Vancouver 2016

Our first Dine Out Vancouver for 2016 was at Torafuku. I’ve been wanting to try this new restaurant ever since having a good meal from their sister food truck, Le Tigre. The Dine Out menu was $30 per person.

The interior is minimalist with barely any renovations. There is one long communal table and some booths on the side. We had made reservations early in advance but unfortunately we were still given bar seats. S was quite disappointed since he had wanted a more intimate seating. Bar seating was fun to watch the kitchen, but it definitely wasn’t very comfortable.

Love the wooden plates. Definitely has that hipster ambiance.

Since we were seated at the bar, we got a good view of what was going on in the kitchen.

One Fish, Two Fish

Apparently, we were only allowed to choose one appetizer per two people for the Dine Out menu. We were slightly upset with that since we had already heard that portions would be small. (It did say in fine print at the bottom of the online menu, so my fault for missing that!) Anyways, we chose One Fish, Two Fish. This was a bowl of sashimi salad with salmon, tuna, and geoduck sashimi on top of salad greens and wakame mixed with a sesame dressing. I quite liked this as the mix of seaweed and greens gave a nice texture, but I wish there was more dressing as it was slightly bland. Loved the texture of the geoduck though and the sashimi was quite fresh.

Pickled Cucumber and Radish

While waiting for our entrees, the server brought us a complimentary side dish of Pickled Cucumbers and Radish to share. I enjoyed the pickled flavour and it definitely opened up my stomach for more food.

Call of Duty (CoD)

For my entree, I chose the Call of Duty (CoD). If you go through Torafuku’s menu, they have such witty names! This consisted of crispy ling cod, clams, root veggies, and handmade gnocchi in sake a kumbu broth. The fish was moist and my favourite was the handmade gnocchi. The broth was very flavourful as well and I could’ve had a whole bowl of this. Veggies were slightly undercooked for my preference. Overall, a good dish, but the portion was way too small! The fish was almost half the size of usual portions.

Kare Kare

S got the Kare Kare, which I preferred out of the two entrees. It came with seared beef blade steak, on top of a 3 grain risotto, with pickled veggies, oxtail, and peanut ragu. The flavours were delicious and the beef was cooked to a beautiful medium rare. Again, portions were way too small though. This was more like an appetizer.

J-E-L-L-O

For dessert, the menu online had said we could choose between two options and I had seen pictures of others from the week earlier order the second option. However, our server told us that there was only the J-E-L-L-O that night. Quite disappointed since I wanted to try different desserts. However, the J-E-L-L-O has got to be one of the best desserts I’ve had in a long time. It was an oolong infused yuzu jello, with condensed milk ice cream and topped with crispy salted caramel. The dessert was light and refreshing and the milky flavour paired well with the slightly citrus jello. I had nothing to complain about this and could eat this over and over again!

Overall, I was quite pleased with the dishes from the Dine Out menu. However, we both agreed that the portions were way too small! Especially the fact that we had to share an appetizer between the two of us and it still costed $30 per person. Service was also a bit cold. No one really checked up on us. We also ended up having to pay a visit to McDonald’s to fill up. I’m curious to see what it’s like during regular service though and will need to make a revisit to try their regular menu.

Pros:
– Great flavours on Asian-inspired dishes
– Jello dessert was the bomb!

Cons:
– Portions are small
– Seating isn’t very comfortable

Price Range: $30/person (DOVF menu)

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

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

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

The Sandbar – DOVF 2015

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Wok Charred Albacore Tuna

For our work’s squad lunch, we went to The Sandbar restaurant in Granville Island. It’s part of the Sequoia group of restaurants, like Seasons in the Park and they offered the $28 lunch menu during the Dine Out Vancouver Festival. Most of us started off with the Wok Charred Albacore Tuna for our appetizer. The tuna was crusted with sesame and lightly seared so the middle was still raw. Very fresh and combined with the pickled ginger, it was very refreshing. It also came with a wasabi aioli, but it lacked any wasabi flavour. The dish also came with some crispy wontons to eat with the tuna, which gave the whole dish a very Asian flare.

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Seafood Hot Pot

For the entree, I chose the Seafood Hot Pot, which came with loads of seafood! It include bok choy, salmon, snapper, clams, mussels, prawns, and even a scallop. All the seafood was really fresh and it came in a red coconut curry broth. The broth was a very thin consistency soup and was very aromatic in coconut flavour. There was barely any spice, but it was perfect for dipping the complimentary bread into.

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Wood Grilled Steelhead Salmon

A got the Wood Grilled Steelhead Salmon, which had a very nice char to it. It came on top of some bok choy and coconut jasmine rice, which sat above the tomato fennel broth. A said it was very delicious.

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Chocolate Oatmeal Brownie

For dessert, some of them got the Chocolate Oatmeal Brownie, which came with a creme anglaise. They said this was a bit sweet though.

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Lemon Cheesecake

For myself, I chose the Lemon Cheesecake, which came with a raspberry coulis and strawberry. The cheesecake was light and not too sweet. Not bad!

Overall, we were all very pleased with our lunch. I find that their Dine Out menu doesn’t showcase a lot of their best dishes, but it’s a good price at $28 to check it out. I found it interesting that most of their menu threw in some Asian ingredients as well. Service was friendly and efficient. Our food came out quickly, but at a good pace, which was perfect since we wanted a quick lunch. Ambiance is also great, especially when you get seated outside. There’s heating lamps and you get a beautiful view of Vancouver.

Pros:
– Reasonable prices for seafood dishes
– Beautiful views of Vancouver

Cons:
– Parking at Granville Island can be difficult during busy hours
– The Dine Out menu doesn’t showcase their best food

Price Range: $25-35

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

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

The Sandbar Seafood Restaurant on Urbanspoon