Bao Bei Chinese Brasserie

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

 

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

 

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Dominion Cider

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

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Seasonal Vegetables – Squash and Fried Lotus

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

 

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Sablefish in Lotus Leaf Wrapped Sticky Rice

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

 

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

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

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

Price Range: $40-60 per person

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

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

 

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

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Luc Lac Vietnamese Kitchen

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

 

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

 

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Stormbreaker Total ReKolsch

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

 

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Chicken Wings

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

 

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Pork Crispy Rolls  

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

 

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Luc Lac

 

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

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

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

Price Range: $15-25 per person

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

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

 

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

Kitchen By Yugo

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Seeing on the Instagram pictures recently, I decided to take S to Kitchen by Yugo for her birthday. The restaurant features Japanese French fusion and is located on Denman Street near Robson. When we arrived on a Sunday night, the restaurant was completely empty but with tons of staff and cooks. We found it a little odd, but the restaurant slowly filled up. Still, there were quite a lot of employees compared to the size of the restaurant which we found quite odd. At least our service was super attentive because of this! The interior is dimly lit and is quite nice for date night or a girls’ night out.

 

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Chicken Wings

To start, we had the Chicken Wings which feature a soy mirin glaze topped with a grilled shishito pepper. The skin was crispy with the sauce being on the sweeter side. I really liked the attentiveness to plating because the toothpick which they poked in acted as a fork to eat the wing. This made it really easy to eat without having to use your hands!

 

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Aburi Hamachi Oshi Sushi

Next, we had the Aburi Hamachi Oshi Sushi. The plate was again visually appealing with crispy taro chips on the side. I found this was slightly on the dryer side as aburi sushi is often more creamy. This wasn’t very memorable compared to the other dishes.

 

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6 pc Omakase Nigiri

We each then got a set of the 6 piece Omakase Nigiri. Wow! This was beautiful and each piece was carefully curated. To be honest, I don’t remember each type of fish, but they were mostly white fish. What was special was that each nigiri had a different topping or sauce to accompany the fish. This twist is not traditional at all, but each topping really worked well and we both agreed it tasted great despite being fusion style. None of the nigiris need soy sauce since they already have their own topping.

 

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My favourite of the six had to be the Aburi King Salmon with black truffle. This piece is normally $17 for 3 pieces if you order separately, so the omakase set for $30 is a pretty good deal. The salmon just melted in my mouth and the black truffle worked so well with it! The egg was also super interesting as it was stuffed with  grated radish and you could really see each layer of egg!

 

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Carbonara Udon

Kitchen by Yugo also feature a small selection of entrees which raelly showcase the French side of things. We decided to try the Carbonara Udon which features bacon, mushroom, parmesan cheese, and poached egg on top. As for noodles, the Japanese twist is featured using udon! Who knew a carbonara sauce would work well with udon? This creamy goodness was delicious and flavourful and the egg was poached perfectly so the yolk ran out. Our only complaint was that the udon was slightly on the softer side as I personally prefer it to be more chewy. This is a good dish to fill up if you’re hungry.

 

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Scallops Risotto

Last but not least, we finished with another one of their French influenced dishes, the Scallops Risotto. This dish featured Hokkaido scallops, black truffle, mushrooms, ikura, honey ricotta, bonito flakes, and fried leeks. Ikura and bonito flakes with risotto? Yes, this worked! The saltiness from the fish roe with the creamy risotto was absolutely delicious! Our only mistake was ordering two creamy dishes, so we were beyond full! Really enjoyed this and it was priced well given the ingredients.

 

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Lychee Osmanthus

I actually really wanted to try their desserts but we had ordered way too much food. To our surprise, the restaurant gave us a small piece of Lychee Osmanthus on the house so we had no excuse to skip dessert! This featured lychee mousse, osmanthus jelly, sponge cake, and pannac cotta. The dessert was light and refreshing and a perfect way to end the rather heavy meal near the end.

Overall, we were quite pleased with the food at Kitchen by Yugo. I would suggest coming with around 4 people so that you can really try a variety of dishes. Really interesting dishes which I haven’t really seen elsewhere but definitely do not expect to find any traditional Japanese dishes.
 

Pros:
– Great execution of French Japanese fusion dishes
– Nice date night ambiance

Cons:
– Aburi Hamachi Oshi was quite mediocre

Price Range: $30-60 per person

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

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

 

Kitchen by Yugo Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Wild Rice

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

Thanks to VancityTastes, I was invited to a media tasting for the launch of Wild Rice‘s new summer patio menu. Wild Rice used to have a location in Vancouver, but now it is located at the River Market in New West. I don’t frequent New West, so I had never actually been to the River Market and was surprised to see that the area is right in front of the waterfront. With the warm weather now, they have opened up their patio, which is right in front of the water. What a beautiful space to enjoy your meal!

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You can also choose to sit indoors, where there is both a dining area and a lounge if you’re looking for a quick bite and drinks. The interior is dimly lit with modern decor and the best part is their open kitchen concept. You can sit at the lounge and want the chefs do their thing. Wild Rice is known for the fact that they make their dishes as you order. That means nothing sits under a heat lamp and nothing is reheated. They also source their ingredients from local farms and partners with Ocean Wise for seafood. We also learned that the owner learned cooking from his grandma, so all dishes have an Asian flare and are meant to be shared. I’d say that the owner has put his own twist and modernized the traditional dishes, so is more Asian fusion.

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Gin & Tonic

To start, we had a Gin & Tonic. This was rosemary infused, featuring a Victoria premium cocktail gin and mixed with tonic water.

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Vegan Kale Caesar Salad

As for food, we started with a Vegan Kale Caesar Salad which featured a cashew tofu dressing, roasted garlic, crispy chickpeas, olives, red onion, and balsamic reduction. The kale tasted fresh and crispy, but the star was definitely the crispy chickpeas. I think they might have been fried, because they were super light and addicting! And I don’t even usually like to eat chickpeas since I find it to be too dense. Overall, the salad was light and refreshing, perfect for the warm weather.

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Gluten Free Polenta Fries

The Gluten Free Polenta Fries were a beautiful golden yellow and was battered with cornmeal, topped with green onion, and served with a side of chili aioli. Personally, I am not a huge fan of polenta because of how dense it often is. For me, I found the fries to be dense and the cornmeal texture to be a little overwhelming. However, that chili aioli was addicting, and complemented the fries well so they weren’t as heavy feeling.

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Vegetable Potstickers

The Vegetable Potsticks were all perfectly wrapped and pinched and pan fried to a beautiful golden brown. The filling includes smoked tofu, napa cabbage, shiitake mushroom, and carrot. To dip, there was a ponzu dressing on the side which gave some acidity.

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Gluten Free Salt & Pepper Squid

My favourite of the night was the Gluten Free Salt & Pepper Squid. The squid is lightly battered and fried, then topped with jalapenos, grilled lime, house tartar. The squid was not tough at all, but just the right chewy bouncy texture.

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Berry Mojito

Switching up my drink, I tried the Berry Mojito which featured crushed bramble berries, mint, lime, and rum. For me, the drink was very fruity so I could barely taste the alcohol. You could easily drink many of these without noticing the alcohol! Dangerous!

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Chicken Adobo Steamed Buns

A new menu item they just added are the Chicken Adobo Steamed Buns. These Chinatown baos come with a soy braised soft boiled egg, house pickles, and roasted garlic. The flavours were great, but I think many of us were confused as to why the buns were only filled with the chicken adobo near the bottom. The bun was soft and fluffy, but we just thought the construction of the bun was a bit odd.

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Mini Poke Bowl

The last savoury dish was the Mini Poke Bowl. This features ocean-wise salmon on scallion verde rice, onions, roasted cherry tomatoes, spicy pineapple, cucumber and seaweed. Definitely not the authentic poke, but the flavours worked together with a nice kick from the spiced pineapples. I also liked how there was a soy marinade throughout the rice and not just at the top. I always find it difficult to mix all the ingredients together, so it’s nice that the soy is throughout the rice so you don’t end up with just plain rice at the bottom.

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Twisted Fashion

To finish, we had the Twisted Fashion which featured bourbon, ginger reduction, and orange bitters. A much stronger drink, this is not for everyone. I actually quite enjoyed this as it had a hint of ginger which brought bit of sweetness to it.

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Gluten Free Chocolate Cake

For dessert, we had the Gluten Free Chocolate Cake which was served with raspberry sauce and mint ice cream from Tre Galli Gelato Cafe from next door. I think the cake is normally served with chocolate sauce and vanilla ice cream, but not sure why it got switched up. The mint ice cream was great, but I think the vanilla ice cream would have been a better pairing. The cake was a delicious molten-like cake and many of the bloggers had more than one serving!

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Overall, the new summer menu at Wild Rice features a colourful array of light, refreshing dishes. Many of their dishes are also perfect for vegetarians or those who require gluten-free dishes. With such a nice patio and waterfront view, this makes a great summer patio spot for drinks and dishes.

Wild Rice Market Bistro 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

Le Tigre

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Looking for a new lunch spot near work is always a challenge, so on a sunny Friday afternoon, E and I decided to head down on Granville Street to check out the food trucks. Le Tigre roams around the city and on Fridays during lunch hours, they are on Granville and 10th. We spotted Chef Clement Chan, who appeared on Top Chef Canada, and along with his staff, they were decked out in their hello kitty frames.

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The menu at Le Tigre is limited but features contemporary Chinese street food with a west coast influence. All items are under $10, so a good price for lunch.

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Angry Kitty Cat Squares

E and I decided to share a couple of items and bring it back to work to eat. We started off with the Angry Kitty Cat Squares which are the bomb! A must order! These are crispy fried rice squares, seasoned with kimchi, chilies, basil, spicy mayo and nori. When the sign said these are spicy, I didn’t believe it, but these are definitely hot! I also loved how these squares were filled with rice – a creative take on kimchi fried rice.

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Steam Pulled Pork Bun

Next was the Steam Pulled Pork Bun, which featured a steamed bun filled with pulled pork, cabbage slaw, cilantro, basil, and a sweet chili bean sauce. I thought this wasn’t as special as some of their other items, but the pulled pork was extremely tender and flavourful. The bun was also soft and fluffy.

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That “Fricken” Chicken

Lastly, we got That “Fricken” Chicken, which is fried chicken marinated in a special Le Tigre sauce, and seasoned with chili, garlic and shallots. It also comes with a 7 spice mayo. The chicken was moist but the skin wasn’t as crispy as I’d like it. I have a feeling it might be because of our walk back with the box closed, so the crispiness couldn’t be contained. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the sweet and savoury flavours of the chicken.

Overall, we were pleased with what Le Tigre had to offer. Funky asian food is what I’d like to call it. I will be going back to try some of their other items! The team has also opened up Torafuku, which is on my list of restaurants to try!

Pros:
– Great flavours and creative dishes
– Reasonable prices for lunch

Cons:
– Food cart means no where to sit to enjoy the food! (especially around the Granville area)

Price Range: $5-10

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

Food: 4 Service: 3 Ambiance: N/A Parking: 3 Overall: 3.5

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Book Kyung Ban Jeom

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Book Kyung Ban Jeom is located on Robson St. where the rest of the Korean restaurants are located. It seems that there is this one little strip that is just filled with Koreans!

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The restaurant is filled with mostly Korean families and young diners. The promotions on the wall are also all in Korean, so you basically don’t know what they are unless you’re Korean. The menu, however, has both English and Korean.

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Side Dishes

The side dishes aren’t exactly the ones I prefer. They included yellow daikon and radish in a kimchi-like sauce.

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Tang Suyuk

We ordered the Tang Suyuk, which reminded me of the Chinese sweet and sour prok. I believe this actually beef though. The outer layer is thin and crispy and not too greasy. It’s quite a large dish, so great to share. The sauce is thick and gooey, but not more on the sweet side than sour.

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Ja Jang Myeon

We each got a Ja Jang Myeon, which is essentially the Ja Jiang Mian that Chinese people eat. However, the sauce and fillings are completely different! It’s a very gooey sauce and filled with lots of onions. I’m not a big fan of onions, so I actually prefer the Chinese style much more. The sauce is also much more focused on the sweet side, rather than the spicy side. An interesting variation!

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Kin Resto Bar

Hand-made Lotus & Taro Chips – spiced soft tofu dip

Spicy Tofu & Mushroom – garlic honey, chili & soy sauce

Grilled Lemongrass Chicken – vermicelli noodles & herbs

It’s been so long since I’ve blogged, but I’m back! Exams are finally over and now I have two more weeks of summer until summer school starts again… Anyways! Finally got a chance to try Kin Resto Bar after seeing it probably a year ago while wandering around in downtown Vancouver. At first, Steph and I thought it was a restaurant with Caucasian food, but looking closer, we realized it was a Vietnamese restaurant that was of higher class I guess. Not the typical pho places where there’s mediocre decor and service. I think Kin used to be called Chau, and I overheard a customer speaking with the manager, and said that he just became the new manager recently. I love the brick walls on one side of the restaurant, giving a really vintage feeling to it.

We first got the Hand-made Lotus & Taro Chips which were really delicious! I especially liked the lotus chips. The sauce was a little spicy but really light and flavourful. It was also a great portion for $6. Next we got the Spicy Tofu & Mushroom. I thought it was really spicy after a few bites and had to drink lots of water! But the spice was a good spice. It made everything come together and the honey evened out the spice. Lastly, we got the Grilled Lemongrass Chicken. At first, I thought they had given us BBQ Pork at first since I hadn’t seen lemongrass chicken that was red before. The ones I always got at pho places were a light yellow colour. But when I tasted it, it was totally lemongrass! Weird. The chicken was very tender and easy to bite and worked well with the vermicelli at the bottom. I love how all the dishes are so different from traditional pho places, and they have a different flare to it. Service was also prompt and friendly. A great place to go to if you are around the Robson area and want some Vietnamese fusion food.

Kin Resto Bar on Urbanspoon