Monday, June 30, 2008

Like a Roving Colony of Ravenous Foodie Army Ants: new Nancyland Meet at the (Richmond) Summer Night Market!

I've been waiting and waiting for the Richmond Summer Night Market (12631 Vulcan Way, behind Home Depot on Sweden Way) to open. First, I was just waiting for the summer to come; then I heard about the original founder cancelling the event due to the lease running out; and then found out that Paul Cheung, Lions Communications, was a new organizer that had rushed in to save the day (yay!); and then I heard about legal problems, construction sabatoge, and finally (and the most heart-breaking) plumbing problems which delayed the food vendors for weeks after official opening. But the word on the virtual street is that the food vendors came back last weekend (June 21st), and things are in full swing!

So that means that I can finally make an outting to the market, and I'm inviting Nancylanders to join me in wandering the food stalls as a pack, devouring all the Asian street food that crosses our path like a ravenous colony of foodie army ants. I will announce a trip for next weekend, either July 4,5,or 6th.

Transit from Vancouver looks pretty easy. Get yourself to Metrotown station and take the 430 Richmond Exchange from Bay 8 and get off on Bridgeport Road, just west of Sweden Way or take the 98 Burrard Station B-Line to Bridgeport Road and then transfer to the 407 Gilbert that travels along Bridgeport, getting off just before Sweden Way. There are pay parking lots as part of the market too, details can be seen at the link to the summer market website.

Post a comment (or email me at if you are interested in attending and feel free to leave a preferred date. I am looking at starting early in the evening, at 7 pm when the market opens, so that we have empty bellies to start, and the grazing serves as dinner.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Jonker Street Restaurant

Just one visit so far to the little Jonker Street Restaurant (1128 Pacific Blvd, at Cambie St. 604-688-8565), and I was thoroughly impressed with the Malaysian food there. It seemed very authentic, tasty, with fresh bright flavours and not too greasy. The room is bright, casual and clean, and the service is very personable. It seemed like the man serving us was the owner, and he was a great host. It has a very relaxed atmosphere.

I must have roti canai ($2.80), a flaky somewhat sweet bread served with a curry sauce, anytime I see it on a menu. So Bac'n girl and I started with sharing an order of that (next time I'll get my own order) and an order of gado-gado ($7.50), a mixed salad of tofu, bean sprouts, green beans, potato and boiled egg, and covered with a tasty peanut sauce. The Roti Canai was one of the nicest ones I've had, and the Gado-Gado was a perfectly crunchy and filling salad. Bac'n Girl had been advised by a Malaysian friend that would serve their KL Hokkien Me noodles ($9.50) with the traditional bits of deep fried pork fat that you might find if you ordered the dish in Malaysia (but omit it if you don't ask for it...I'm thinking they probably found that the typical Yaletowner would not be attracted to "deep-fried pieces of fat" on a menu). The bits of fat were delicious of course, and the thick yellow noodles with mixed seafood and vegetables braised in a special dark sauce were great. I ordered their Nasi Jambori ($13.90) with was a sampler of chicken curry, beef rendang and prawn sambal. It was served with boiled egg, side salad, pappadum and jasmine rice. Everything was very tasty, and I loved having such a variety of dishes. I was impressed with the quality and freshness of the little salad too, and it was all very filling. I remember enjoying their big plump prawns in the spicy sambal sauce. In fact, we both noticed that someone sitting beside us ate everything on their plate, except for two big prawns, and it seemed such a waste that we were tempted to say that we'll eat them. They have some Malaysian drinks too, and Bac'n Girl and I ordered a couple of those too, though I can only remember that mine was cold and sweet, and hers was a hot tea. And for dessert, the Sago Gula Melaka ($3.80), chilled sago (a root starch, like tapioca) pudding served with coconut milk and fragrant palm sugar was perfect.

I'll definitely go back, and it's a great addition to this area; geographically just outside of the hub of snobby trendoids that makes up much of Yaletown, but worlds away in terms of atmosphere and value. If you park in the Urban Fare underground parking lot, Jonker St. will reimburse you for the first hour.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Kitsilano Farmer's Market and Greek Day on Broadway

I'm checking out the nibbles at two summer events today:

1. the Kitsilano Farmer's Market at West 10th Avenue and Larch St. runs Sundays 10:00 am - 2:00 pm throughout the summer.

2. Greek Day on Broadway between Blenheim and MacDonald Avenue is just on today, Sunday, June 22nd, from 11:00 am - 9:30 pm.

If you happen to spot me there today, ask for the first ever Nancyland collectable item. I will leave it as a surprise for now, but I can tell you it has Ha Gow, my little dumpling character on it. I'll be wearing one myself, and I'm wearing grey pants and a black top. And then there's the free jazz down in Gastown all day, with the last band going on at 6:30 pm.

Thursday, June 19, 2008


I was pleasantly surprised by Century Restaurant and Bar (432 Richards St. between Pender and Hastings St., 604-633-2700). Even though I know enough to take the reviews on a particular post-your-own-restaurant-review type website with a grain (or a big pinch) of salt, I was still a bit wary having read the reviews after choosing the restaurant. Well, I wound up having a really satisfying meal there with great service, and left completely impressed. The restaurant has changed chefs a few times, so this restaurant has likely been different places at different times during its short life, possibly explaining the mixed reviews in its past. The building itself has certainly been different places during its long life, starting out as bank at the turn of the century. However, there's no dispute online or otherwise that the current decor is amazing, and I was looking forward to seeing it. The architectural details of the 1911 bank are all there, with the beautiful barrel vaulted ceilings, chandeliers and even the old bank vault. The restaurant design is also gorgeous with it's hip Latin cowboy feel, Che Guevara and cowboy murals in rich browns, and beautiful suede-covered curved booths. The seating was not only attractive but extremely functional and roomy. Sitting in the half circle bench feels very cosy, and the half circle tables can be put together for larger groups. The restaurant is actually a bit smaller than I imagined and very comfortable. It's a room that makes you want to live in it. Imagine it as the ultimate party loft with a big bar for all your swanky parties...even if you don't have swanky parties now, with a pad like that, you'd have to start.

But when we arrived at the beautiful refinished heritage building, we initially felt a bit of trepidation as there appeared to be only one customer - a man at the bar - and no staff in sight. In actuality, there was a table in the back around the corner, and the one server was just away getting something. Another large party did arrive later in the evening, but I do hope that people come to this restaurant and keep it alive.

I started with an "El Che" ($7.75) - one of several tasty sounding cocktails. I liked it so much, I even reproduced a version of it at home later. It's made with pomegranate vodka, apple juice, fresh cucumber, and fresh jalapeno. Spicy hot and refreshing at the same time. The server was sweet, genuine, down-to-earth and personable (which seems to be increasingly rare in the mid to fine dining scene). And she made a great "El Che" too.

The evening involved a bit of indulgence. First, this was simply because I was dining with Bac'n Girl. We seem to naturally enable each other's food splurging on any occassion. Secondly, we were talking about boy trouble, and that always seems to warrant a "what the hell, go for it" attitude with the ordering. I'll start worrying when I start instigating the boy trouble just to get the great post-break-up wallow-meal. Until then, it's merely a happy side effect.

Bac'n Girl has a thing for chicken tostadas apparently, so we had to order it. This one ($10) with its fried corn tortilla and chicken topping and mesclun, was nice and tasty, though I could have taken more spice and heat in the chicken filling personally.

We then had their queso relleno's ($10), which was on top of cheese crisps that tasted just like parmesan crisps (though the menu now says warm manchego) with a tasty chipotle potato filling on top.

We then went with a fairly safe choice by sharing a nice steak. We chose their Alberta ribeye ($22), and the fun thing about their mains is that you get to choose the sauce and two sides. Mix and match can be fun if there are some tasty sounding choices, and you are cocky like the two of us in our food matching skills. We decided easily on the green peppercorn port sauce, grilled veggies and barbecue frites. No regrets at all. The steak was properly cooked to our preference. In other words, we ordered a medium rare and received a medium rare, just the way it should be. It had tasty charred bits of fat on the outside and a rich flavour (ribeye is my preferred cut), and the accompaniments all had good flavour too. I remember the sauce being particularly tasty.

I like the Latin-inspired menu quite a bit, and there seems to be many things on there that I would like to order. There very easily could be some misses on that menu too, but we didn't order any that night.

The dessert menu was similarly tempting. I settled on the Century cheesecake ($7) - a continuation of the Latin themes, this was an avocado lime cheesecake, sour cream mint topping, praline crust, served with fried plantains, sesame candy, lemon sorbet, raspberry coulis, and strawberry garnish. The cheesecake was delicious. It was smooth and creamy and really tasted of avocados and limes. The crust was a perfect accompaniment (a bit of a sticking point for me, as I seem to be a bit particular about pie and cheesecake crusts in general). The fried plantain slice was fantastic with it too, and the contrasting texture and acidity of the lemon sorbet was also a great choice. With dessert, I had a nice satisfying post-meal coffee in one of the most comfortable mugs I've ever held (use it in your right hand).

Bac'n Girl had the Dark Chocolate Fortress ($7), a somewhat phallic mocha glazed, dark chocolate tunnel with a crème anglaise centre spilling out the end, served with French Vanilla ice cream and almond brittle. This was also very good.

I found out later that the old bank vault is actually a private dining room. That is SO cool - definitely worthy of my mental list of possible large dinner party venues. That tickles the same part of my brain that made me as a child vaguely yearn to have a birthday party in a McDonald's caboose whenever walking past one. Their upstairs lounge has a perfect name to reference the old bank building, "Heist." I'd like to check that out sometime too. I think this place might be suffering a bit from an awkward location, but it is not difficult to find. It just seems to have a bit of an "out of the way" feeling. Which makes it even more appealing to me, as I don't always like the hustle and bustle of the latest new thing. I like the idea of a secret little retreat. I think it's worth looking for. On this one visit, I saw reasonable prices, good flavours, an interesting menu, comfortable seating, great service and a great relaxed atmosphere (mid-week). I'll check it out again.