Friday, October 07, 2011

Continuation of the Bamboo Shoot Saga...

Dan Dan Ramen at Sanpachi (Broadway location)

I just wanted to post that I discovered that I have not given up on all bamboo shoot in ramen noodle shops. I've been to Sanpachi Ramen a couple of times (3132 W. Broadway at Balaclava St., 604-738-3132) and their bamboo shoot has considerably less rotting whale flesh flavour than the Benkei Ramen. I still don't think I would consider it a food that I would choose to eat, but it's getting better.

Another note about Sanpachi is that they have a great deal on for happy hour. I'm not sure if this happens at the Robson location. I managed to catch happy hour twice at the Broadway location so far. Between 5 pm - 7 pm, they have 40% off all ramen and izakaya items. This means all the food, but not the drinks. Nice little ramen stop, with a new chef and menu. I've had their Dan Dan ramen (like the Chinese noodle dish with minced pork and peanut-y sesame sauce) which is pictured above and I think I had their shio ramen. I really like the taste and texture of their noodles. The broth on the Dan Dan was too rich for me to finish. I will probably order one of the other ramen dishes next time. I also had some gyoza which were fine. I had some tuna nigiri, which tasted fine but fell apart on me when lifting it up. I had a hankering for dessert and had their sesame ice cream which was okay, but too icy and not smooth and creamy enough for me to recommend. Service is very good. They also have plenty of cocktails and other alcoholic drinks. Sanpachi is part of a chain of restaurants in Japan. The 40% off deal brings this comfortable sit down restaurant with good quality, very filling comfort food to the price point of fast food. I'll be back.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Unfortunate Random Taste Associations and Good Ramen

Have you ever had the smell or taste of one item completely ruin the smell or taste of another item for you? Perhaps some wonderful artisan cheese would have been a beautiful experience for you had it not been for the smell of your brother's feet after a football game indelibly imprinted on your brain as a toddler? I myself hadn't really experienced this before until recently. And mine is a doozy.

I am a big fan of the new Biodiversity Museum in Vancouver (those who know me in real life would not be surprised). To help tell the story of the blue whale skeleton impressively hanging in the atrium, the education staff and volunteers at the museum create a multi-sensory experience with various specimens. One of these is a tiny jar of rotting whale flesh and dirt which has a smell that naturally repulses most people and helps visitors to appreciate the ordeal of unearthing the buried whale carcass and getting the skeleton cleaned. Well thanks to that tiny little jar (and repeated exposures), I can't eat the bamboo shoot included in big bowls of ramen at Benkei Ramen. Now, I can't be sure that I wouldn't have disliked them anyway without the rotting whale flesh smell jar, but I have eaten plenty of Chinese bamboo shoots. Anyhow, I just made another attempt yesterday to eat the bamboo shoots after having made that taste connection during the previous ramen meal. I now know to say "hold the bamboo shoot" when ordering ramen. I have never been one to ask to hold anything that came with a meal I wanted anywhere, so this is disappointing. And think about it, bamboo shoot isn't even a sea organism, so why do they smell/taste the same? And I usually make it a rule to give things the ole' three tries before rejecting anything since so many things are acquired tastes, but I'm at the point where I'm just too repulsed by the association. Maybe I'll give it a try in the future when I'm not exposed to rotting whale flesh so often.

Oh, and by the way, Benkei Ramen is great. I've now tried both the Robson location on Thurlowe St., just off Robson, and the 3217 W. Broadway location. Nice noodle texture, and a hot, hearty meal under $10, which will be especially satisfying once the rain comes back. And should you be curious about my particular association, I've got a great rainy day plan for you - spend a morning at the Biodiversity museum, and then have a nice bowl of ramen in Kits right after.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Looking for Sophistication and Refinement?

Perhaps you have had too many sloppy burgers lately, or you've been going to restaurants with toddlers flinging crayons and wait staff singing manic birthday songs. Are you craving a very civilized dining experience? I had afternoon tea at the Lobby Lounge at the Shangri-La Hotel (1128 West Georgia, at Thurlowe) recently. Service was perfect. The food was tasty (though perhaps not as remarkable as the pastries and sandwiches at The Secret Garden Tea Company in Kerrisdale, which remains my favourite high tea spot). And the room and china was beautiful. It is about $36/person, and reservations are required. The high tea is offered between 1-5 pm.

I have also had lunch upstairs at Market by Jean-Georges as well. Their sable fish with a miso based glaze is so wonderfully tasty.

They have a selection of $35 prix fixe lunches with two dishes and a dessert. I had the below a while ago, but I do remember it being very tasty. There is beef rendang in the picture below. There are lots of Asian influences, and it all works fairly well. And you're going to get the amazing service you expect with a fine hotel. Treat yourself (and your dining companions) to some serenity.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

The School "Cafeteria" Has Good Food?!?

It does if you are an international ESL student and your school cafeteria/restaurant/bar is Eh! Restaurant, on the second floor, on Alberni St. just off of Thurlowe St. It's staffed by the international students, and the food is fantastic and great value. I've eaten there several times, and love their deals too. Steak Fridays give you steak and prawns for $10.50. There's Tuesday movie and dinner for $14.95, where you can have a very nice mixed grill with grilled lamb chop, beef tenderloin and garlic prawns, complete with veggies and potato, plus a movie certificate good for a year! I've had their onion rings, and they were fantastic.

The drinks are great value too. There are cheap and delicious drinks like a freshly muddled mojito for $4.25 or daily drink specials (under $5!) like Caipirinha - even better when mine was mixed up strong and authentic by a Brazilian. The taste is on par or better than any restaurant in town, and imagining the trendy socialites buying their drinks at 2 -4 times the price next door at Coast restaurant makes me giddy.
The room is comfortable, casual, and even has free wifi (when I was there last).

The down side? As of writing this post, they are only open until 7 pm Monday to Friday, and closed on weekends and civic holidays. However, they are open early, so if you are looking for some bacon and eggs in that area, or a great huevos rancheros platter, you're in luck.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

It's No Secret

Had a delicious afternoon tea at the Secret Garden Tea Company (Kerrisdale, Blvd, off of 41st Ave). Every tiny bite, from the little roasted vegetable sandwiches on wee little perfect cheese scones to the lemon tart, was delicious. And of course the tea itself was grand. I had their vanilla almond black tea. Service was perfect and atmosphere very relaxing. It's a place I recommend often, but don't make a point to go myself often enough.
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Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Wimaan Thai Restaurant

So much flavour packed into the red curry with pork that I ordered! It was so good. I also had a really good padd thai. I was going to stop there, but I was tempted by the server telling me that the fried banana was really good. It was fantastic. Nice and crispy, served with vanilla ice cream. The place was very relaxing, but I'm not sure why they weren't busy when their food is so good. I'm definitely going back to Wimaan. It's on Broadway, just west of Oak St.


With a late night at work, I was so hungry, I thought I was going to finish my entire roast lamb platter at Olympia on Denman. I almost did, but still had a little left to take home. It was a very satisfying comfort food meal.