Tapasbar – Valencia

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Finally posting some of my Europe food adventures! First stop was in Barcelona, but shortly after getting settled down, I met up with S and M to bus to Valencia. The next day, we would head to Bunol for the famous Tomatina Festival, where it is a food fight of throwing tomatoes at each other. In the meantime, we were in beautiful Valencia and were taken to the beach area. We wandered looking for food and settled at the Tapasbar.

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The place was quite packed, and they offered a set menu, that I would quickly learn is extremely popular in Spain. The menu here wasn’t too cheap, and cost $13 euros. It included an appetizer, main course, dessert, bread, and a drink.

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Prosciutto and Melon

For my appetizer, I chose the Prosciutto and Melon. Thinking of any type of ham now actually sort of makes me sick. It is so popular in Spain, that I kept eating it the first month and I’m at the point now where I don’t usually choose it anymore. The ham jamon wasn’t as smooth as I would’ve liked it to be, with the edges being very fatty and tough. It worked well with the melon though, and the plate was extremely large for an appetizer. As for my drink, we got a jug of sangria between the three of us, which gave us around 2 glasses each. Sangria is so popular in Spain, that I end up ordering it most of the time.

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Grilled Lamb Chop with Fries and Grilled Vegetables

For my main course, I chose the Grilled Lamb Chops. Probably shouldn’t have chosen this as it was extremely tough. Shouldn’t have expected any good lamb for the price I was paying. It was full of tendons that were not edible and the meat was overcooked. The grilled vegetables were also a bit burnt, so I didn’t really enjoy them. We all agreed that the fries tasted sort of different from our North American fries. We came to the conclusion that the potatoes in Spain must be of different origin. They had a distinct taste that we weren’t quite used to. The other odd thing is they don’t supply you with ketchup unless you ask. I guess ketchup and fries are an American thing..

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Tiramisu

For dessert, I chose the Tiramisu although I know it doesn’t originate from Spain. I just craved it and thought it would be a safe choice. Indeed it was. It was soft and creamy with just the right amount of liquor in it. It wasn’t too sweet which I liked. Not bad!

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Flan

S chose the Flan for her dessert and I decided to get a picture of it too. I’ll soon realize that flan is extremely popular in Spain and also one of my favourite desserts. It was smooth and creamy and of course sweet! Yum.

Overall, Tapas bar was just mediocre for the price I paid. Definitely not worth it because there are actually much better deals around town. We were hungry and most restaurants had large lines, so we settled for this. Also to remember is to give yourself lots of time for meals, because service in Spain is ridiculously slow.

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Vij’s

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Vij’s is known to be one of the best Indian restaurants in Vancouver. Not sure if it’s because of celebrity chef, Vikram Vij, but it’s definitely a must try! They’re famous for their long line-ups, so I haven’t had the chance, or maybe patience to go try it out. J had gotten me a gift card last year, and K said she wanted to go for my birthday, so off we went. We went on a weekday, and because of those scary line up stories I heard, I suggested we get in for our first seating. The restaurant opens at 5:30, but reviews suggested we go a little earlier than 5pm to secure a spot since they don’t take reservations. We got there around 5:05 and this is what the line up was like in the picture above. Not too bad. We were lined up just behind the lady in the white skirt, and there were around 10 people sitting in the patio area waiting as well. Soon after, the line began to form. At around 5:25, a lady came out to give us a sample of Cassava Root Fries. This was quite nice after waiting in the burning sun for 20 minutes. The people who sat at the patio area also had purchased drinks from a waitress who seemed to work at the sister store, Rangoli, which is right next door. They never offered the drink menu for the people in line though.

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Finally, at 5:30, they opened the doors and the line quickly moved as they got everyone seated. The inside smelled of spices and was dimly lit. I liked how they had enough servers to quickly get everyone their menus, water and greet them. They were definitely efficient and knew what they were doing.

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The kitchen area actually looks pretty small from the outside, but I’m not sure if it’s actually bigger than that. If not, I’m surprised they can get the food out in such a quick time.

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Simple tableware, but I loved the copper water bottle they used. Gave it some Indian flare and kept the water cool. I have to add that I’m really impressed that all the plates they provided us were hot! It definitely helped to make sure the food was still kept warm even on the plate.

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Complementary Chai

We were asked whether we wanted a sample of their complementary Chai. It was hot, and I honestly wasn’t looking for a hot drink after waiting in line under the burning sun, but I was curious to try it. I let it cool down for a bit, and took a sip. It was so good! I remember trying a chai tea latte at Starbucks, and absolutely hated it. I was surprised how good this one was! It was a little minty, and surprisingly sort of cooled me down. Delicious!

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Pakora

Just when I thought the samples were over, a server came around offering more! A burning hot Pakora! I sort of wish they had given us a plate first, since these were really hot, and I couldn’t even hold it for long. These were really good though! The spices were just right and not overwhelming.

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Cassava Root tossed in Indian Spices

They also gave us a second sample of the Cassava Root Fries tossed in Indian Spices. Again, these were burning hot and fresh. I find the spice a little too spicy though! Still delicious.

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Samosas filled with Lamb and Beef, sauteed in fennel, cloves and sumac

K and I decided to share two appetizers and a main as it was a relatively early dinner for us. I love samosas, but man, were these good! For $13.50, I had thought it was pretty ridiculous for 2 Samosas, but these are totally worth the price you’re paying for. I especially liked the curry at the bottom. It was similar to a butter chicken curry, and had a tomato base to it. Surprisingly, it also wasn’t too spicy and was delicious with the complementary naan. I’m not crazy for coconut, so at first, I didn’t mix the coconut mixture together. However, I gave it a try, and it was absolutely delicious. It brought some coconut flavour, which is always delicious in a curry.

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The pastry aren’t those thin, flaky ones you usually get at donair shops, but a thicker pastry, which still has the flaky texture. The inside was filled with lots of potatoes, lamb, and beef and tons of spices. If you don’t think you can get full off of one samosa, you will!

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Mutton Kebobs with Bengali Style Curry

To be honest, I don’t know much about Indian cuisine, so I ended up reading some reviews to see what is good. Follow Me Foodie had given a great review on the Mutton Kebobs, so why not? Both K and I didn’t even know what mutton was, but after googling, we learned that it was just an older sheep. Most chefs are afraid to use mutton because they have a stronger taste than lamb and can often be overcooked and dry. I did find that cutting into these kebobs, they were a little tough, but it seemed like it was because of the outer layer. The outer layer had a sausage like texture. The overall execution reminded me of sausages, and I found it spicy. The inside was extremely moist though. It was paired with a Bengali Style Curry, which was sort of like a Butter Chicken Sauce again, but very thin. The consistency definitely wasn’t thick. The curry was too spicy for me though, and along with the spicy kebobs, my mouth was flaming! I liked how they had a salad filled with cucumbers on the side though, as it cooled me down.

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Complementary Naan

We were given complementary Naan and this was soft and fluffy. Not extremely flaky, and more on the doughy side, but I enjoyed it. They were warm and weren’t too oily. You can get unlimited naan as long as you ask, but this stuff gets you filled up before you know it!

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Papri Chaat – 2 Kinds of Chutney and Mung Bean on Fried Dough

More samples? Yup. This is called the Papri Chaat. The server described it as two kinds of chutney and mung bean on fried dough. The fried dough was simliar to a tortilla chip, but not as salty. The mixture worked really well together and I could eat these as snacks all day!

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Wine Marinated Lamb Popsicles in Fenugreek Cream Curry on Turmeric and Spinach Potatoes

And then came what everyone raves about and what I came for. The Lamb Popsicles! Wow, weren’t these the best lamb I’ve had in my life. They were cooked to medium-rare and were extremely tender. The sauce was quite mild and actually a bit sweet. The consistency was much more thing, and was great to dip your lamb in. There were also spinach and buttered potatoes at the bottom which were delicious when soaked in the sauce. We were so full by the end of our meal, that we actually had to take two of these popsicles home. And honestly, I was afraid that they wouldn’t taste good anymore, but my dad tried it once we got home, and he said they were still delicious! That’s how good they are. Cooked perfectly!

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Complementary Basmati Rice

For our entree, they also brought out some complementary Basmati Rice. It had a nice spice and aroma to it, and were cooked so it wasn’t too dry. Really good with the cream curry.

My conclusion is that Vij’s is a must try! It might be overrated with all those lineups, but the food is that good! Try to get her for the first seating because you basically have to wait for the first seating customers to finish before you get a table. It’s also quite a pricey dinner, but so worth it. Come here for special occasions, when you aren’t in a hurry and have the time to wait and enjoy your dinner!

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Richmond Night Market

The Richmond Night Market opened around 2 weeks ago, and I’ve already gone twice! There isn’t much to do in Richmond, so what better than to go take a stroll and grab some food. I ended up going again the second week it opened, and went there on a mission to fill myself up for dinner. Admission is $1, but there’s free parking and quite a huge lot, compared to the $5 parking at the Summer Night Market by Vulcan Way. It gets quite trafficky along the River Rock Casino area though, but they have people patrolling, so it’s not too bad.

Chef James Xin Jiang Man BBQ – Chicken and Lamb Skewers

  • Any 3 skewers for $6.75 or 5 for $11
  • We saw that the line up was long, but decided it must’ve been good for it to be so long, so we lined up. Waited for probably at least 15 minutes before we got called for our order, but the girl told us that there weren’t any beef skewers left, and we could either wait a little longer, or just choose another skewer. We ended up choosing another chicken skewer, but I was still pretty disappointed with not getting what I had ordered!
  • Both Chicken and Lamb Skewers were still really delicious though, with tender meat, and a great flavour. This was probably one of the better stands of the night.

Takoyaki

  • $5 for 6 mini takoyakis
  • Probably one of the worse takoyakis I’ve had! It was all dough, with one tiny piece of octopus. The dough felt as though it wasn’t even cooked properly. It was all mushy as you can see from the above picture.

Bakudanyaki – Original Giant Takoyaki

  • $5 each
  • Since we were so disappointed with the takoyakis at the last stand, we ended up going to Bakudanyaki to get a Giant Takoyaki. Their poster claimed that there would be squid, cabbage, corn, red ginger, shrimp, rice cake, quail egg, and green onion, which were no lies. The Giant Takoyaki was filled with all these ingredients and the dough was thin and crispy on the outside. Wasn’t mushy like the last stand. I thought the quail egg inside was pretty interesting too!
  • They had 4 flavours: Original, Curry, Chili, Wasabi

Dim Sum Express

What’s night market without my favourite Curry Fish Balls? There were quite a few Dim Sum stands, but we just ended up at Dim Sum Express since it was close by and there seemed to be quite a crowd too.

Curry Fish Balls

  • 6 for $3.00
  • Wasn’t anything amazing, and have had better ones before. Not very saucy, and not as spicy as most stands would serve. Spice was just right for me though, since I can’t take spice, but I wish it were a little more saucy.

Shrimp Dumplings

  • 4 for $3.50
  • Didn’t try this so can’t comment 🙂

I ❤ Tofu – Sweet Taro Cold Tofu Pudding

  • $3.50 for just Tofu Pudding; add $0.50 for each topping
  • Smooth tofu and the sweet taro was a good compliment with a bit of chewiness to it. Perfect dessert after all the greasy food.

BBQ Squid

  • $6 a bowl
  • Last item I really wanted was the BBQ Squid. We looked around different aisles to find a good place for it, and many had large line ups. We ended up at the stand named BBQ Squid, which seemed to only sell BBQ Squid, and there was quite a large line up, so we assumed it would be good.
  • This had to be the worse item we had of the night. After waiting around 5 minutes, we got our Squid, which was freshly grilled in front of us. It tasted full of this curry powder that I had saw them sprinkle while grilling, but that was probably the only seasoning they used. The squids were also not cooked properly or not to the type I had wanted. I wanted the squid to be crispy at the ends, but they were totally not. So disappointed and definitely not going back here again. We even ended up throwing more than half of it away since it was so bad!

Ice Cream Churros

  • $5
  • Didn’t get a picture of the stand, but it’s the only stand that sells Ice Cream Churros
  • I had this the first week I went to the night market, and thought that it would be pretty cool. I mean ice cream and churros? I had imagined the ice cream to be inside the churro, but clearly I was thinking too much.
  • It’s basically 4 churros with a scoop of ice cream, which you can choose the flavour of. I ended up with vanilla ice cream. I have to say it was a disappointment, as I felt that the churros weren’t even cooked fresh. They were pretty hard and seemed like they had sat there for a while. The ice cream just tasted like cheap Safeway ice cream, but I have to say the ice cream was probably the best part of it, which is pretty sad.
  • Nothing special, and definitely not worth $5!

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L’Abattoir


Poached Egg with Potato Gnocchi
Leeks, mushrooms, pecorino sabayon

Country style pork pate
Toast, pickled vegetables, apricot sauce


Duck Breast and Leg Meat Sausage
Buttered green cabbage, pan fried German noodles

Homemade Pasta Stuffed with Braised Lamb Shoulder
Roast tenderloin, ricotta cheese, tomato and onion pan gravy

Chocolate Caramel Bar
Banana ice cream, chocolate yogurt

Earl Grey Pot de Crème
Lemon shortbread, whipped milk

Dine out is such a great event each year because it allows us to try a variety of restaurants that we otherwise might not. The prices are often a really good deal for a 3 course menu, so trying places a little more fancy won’t break your wallet. This year, I went to L’Abattoir in Gastown, where they offered a dine out menu for $38. I left the restaurant extremely satisfied as the food and service were both excellent! The poached egg appetizer was cooked perfectly. It was a little runny, but the egg complemented the food around it, like the gnocchi perfectly. The pork pate was also a nice appetizer, but I would probably choose something like foie gras over it. Then came the entrees. The duck breast was delicious! It was cooked perfectly so that it was extremely tender, and not tough at all. The lamb was also extremely tender and cooked just right.The past was filled with lamb, which I found quite special, as it wasn’t just the regular cheese filling. It was a nice twist to regular pasta. Last but not least, the desserts! My favourite part! The banana ice cream was my favourite. It actually had a very strong banana flavour and the dessert just melted in your mouth. Definitely a very special dessert! We also got the earl grey pot de creme, and it was perfect for people who didn’t want something too sweet. The alternating layers of cream and shortbread gave a very nice texture to the mouth. Food was excellent and the ambiance was also really neat. Apparently, the restaurant was built in the 19th century and was actually the first jail in Vancouver! Kind of creepy at the same time I guess…but the interior has been modernized a lot while keeping some of the classic French tile work. It’s even got a bar, so to be honest, it’s not a very fancy restaurant. It’s a really hip restaurant with laid back service, but excellent food!

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Tandoori Grill at Whistler

Assorted Indian Snacks – Vegetable Pakora, Samosa, Chicken Tikka and Seek Kebab

Lamb Tikka – Marinated leg of lamb pieces

Spinach Naan – Leavened bread, stuffed with grated homemade cheese and chopped spinach and Naan – Leavened bread of fine flour

Aloo Gobhi – Fresh cauliflower and potatoes cooked with fresh onions, tomatoes and exotic spices, Curry Chicken – A traditional boneless chicken cooked in onions, tomatoes, ginger, garlic and exotic spices, and Butter Chicken – Boneless pieces of chicken marinated in ginger and garlic, cooked in a butter-tomato sauce

So I pretty much disappeared for a while after Christmas to New Years since I was celebrating my holidays up at Whistler!  Sadly I didn’t get many pictures of food up there as we didn’t eat out much or I was too hungry to bother taking pictures. So this is the only post about food up at Whistler! Last dinner before we left, we decided to have a nice Indian cuisine dinner at Tandoori Grill. About a 15 minute walk from where we lived and situated in the Village, we were all starving to get some good food. We had made reservations ahead of time, which probably was a good idea as it was quite packed. To our surprise, it was a really quiet with dimmed lights and probably one the more fancy restaurants up at Whistler. Excuse my poor lighting pictures, as it was very dim inside and I only had a phone to take pictures! Food was quite delicious although portions were on the smaller side for the price. But then again, it’s about quality over quantity!  I especially liked the assorted indian snacks as we got to sample a little of each, and the lamb was also very good. It came in a sizzling plate and had just enough spice. We asked for mild for all our dishes, but even so, the more we ate, it got a little too spicy for me to handle! Great place to have a lovely dinner up at Whistler!

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