Eating My Way Through Vancouver, Canada

Kitsilano Beach | Vancouver

Kitsilano Beach

I can’t even begin to extol the virtues of visiting the Pacific Northwest when it is not raining. With all the rain throughout the year, cities like Vancouver really blossom when the sun shines and all the plants are green and lush. If it was like that all year, I think everyone would want to live there!

Coconut Ash and S'Mores Ice Cream at Mister | Vancouver

Coconut Ash and S’Mores Ice Cream at Mister

Besides the proximity to nature (the beach is in the center of town and the mountains are 30 minutes away), Vancouver is bustling with an amazing food scene. I could live there for a month and I wouldn’t make the slightest dent on my things-to-eat list. I did my best in a short amount of time. For novelty ice cream, look no further than the liquid nitrogen treats at Mister (1141 Mainland St.). Their most famous flavor is the coconut ash, which complements the black ice cream cones, but I actually like and recommend the crème brûlée (complete with a crackable sugar top) or s’mores (toasted marshmallow!) more. If you get your ice cream in their signature black cone, expect a massive amount of ice cream. It’s enough to share among 3 people (seriously). Flavors change daily so there’s always a surprise in store.

Lunch at Fable (left) and Ice Cream at Rain or Shine (right) | Vancouver

Lunch at Fable (left) and Ice Cream at Rain or Shine (right)

If you’re looking for a more traditional ice cream experience, head over to Rain or Shine (1926 W 4th Ave #102), close by Kitsilano beach. You can indulge in flavors like coffee toffee and salted caramel. Right next to Rain or Shine, you can grab a bite to eat at Fable (1944 W 4th Ave.). They have one of the best hamburgers I’ve ever tasted (thick-cut bacon and cheese are extra) or you can eat more healthy with local British Columbia salmon and kale.

Granville Public Market | Vancouver

Granville Public Market

Speaking of local salmon, BC salmon is absolutely incredible. Darker and redder in color, the flesh is flaky and ever so creamy with all the rich fish oil. My first stop in Vancouver was the Granville Island Public Market (1669 Johnston St.). The whole island is full of cute boutiques and small art galleries. The highlight is definitely the public market where there is a plethora of lunch choices at different stalls. I had to order the deep-fried salmon and calamari at Celine’s Fish & Chips. It was the first time in my life I’ve ever seen fish and chips with salmon and now that’s all I ever want to eat.

Aburi Sushi at Minami | Vancouver

Aburi Sushi at Minami

When in Vancouver, you have to eat sushi. With fish that fresh, it’d be a travesty if you didn’t. At Minami (1118 Mainland St.), you can try the famed aburi sushi. This flame-seared sushi has an extra touch of magic because the chefs sear the fish with binchotan (Japanese bamboo charcoal). I’d never seen anything like it before in my life! That extra bit of charcoal adds a whole new level of smokiness and complexity to your palate. The salmon oshi sushi (pressed BC wild salmon, jalapeno, Miku sauce) is hands down probably one of my favorite bites of food. Don’t miss out though on the tuna tartare, ebi fritters or Champagne roll (scallop, salmon, cucumber, uni, rolled in golden tobiko, Miku sauce).

Loco-Lomi Poke Salad at the Poke Guy | Vancouver

Loco-Lomi Poke Salad at the Poke Guy

I seriously cannot think of a better place to sell poke than Vancouver. At The Poke Guy (420 Richards St.), you’ll find local Hawaiians (shout-out to Reno!) serving poke with a twist, including toppings like mango and corn. One of their star dishes is the Loco-Lomi salad. Reno was great at explaining that lomi-lomi is a salmon salad with tomatoes and Maui onions. Their salad has smoked lomi-lomi, albacore poke, avocado, house yuzu slaw, kani, mango, peashoots, masago, crispy onion and furikake on a bed of lettuce. While I also loved the Poke Guy’s traditional poke, the loco-lomi salad is definitely unique and worth trying.

Cartems Donuterie | Vancouver

Cartems Donuterie

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Hong Kong: Sublime Japanese Food at Hanabi

Hanabi's Angel Bomb: Three Kinds of Fatty Tuna and Sea Urchin over Rice

Hanabi’s Angel Bomb: Three Kinds of Fatty Tuna and Sea Urchin over Rice

Sushi is my all-time favorite food, but I don’t eat it often in China. When my mother suggested dinner at Hanabi (4/F, 6 Knutsford Terrace, Tsim Sha Tsui), I happily agreed. Hanabi serves fresh fish straight from Japan, which is flown in every morning, cut from the careful hands of executive chef, Michael Chan. Chef Chan used to work at Nobu in Hong Kong. Hanabi only offers omakase menus and you can’t order a la carte. However, they’ll always ask if you have any allergies or food aversions before serving you.

Hanabi Appetizers, Sliced White Fish and Sake

Hanabi Appetizers, Sliced White Fish and Sake

My mother and I decide to go all out and order the Mankai omakase menu (1,200 HKD). It starts with delicate dish of five cold appetizers and then is followed by thinly sliced white fish sashimi. The white fish is smooth and so crisp and clean tasting.

Hanabi Creative Sushi

Hanabi Creative Sushi

Next course was Hanabi’s creative sushi. The top layer was a beautiful Hokkaido oyster that is so meaty and creamy. I could have eaten a dozen of them. The chef carefully smokes the bottom layer of seared fatty tuna topped with caviar. The top dish with the oyster keeps the smoke trapped inside so when you open it, the smoke clears aways to reveal the fatty tuna jewel.

Hanabi Sushi

Hanabi Sushi

What followed next was three varieties of daily sashimi, which included the largest amaebi that I’ve ever seen, and eight pieces of nigiri sushi. Watching Chef Michael at work is almost like dinner and a show. I was completely enamored but his ritual of cutting the sushi, rolling the sushi rice and shaving salt rocks hailing from the Himalayas and Iran. I really loved the tempura, which was unique. One piece was deep-fried king crab and the other piece was deep-fried uni wrapped in shiso leaf. I had never had uni deep-fried before and it was a heartier texture, while still maintaining its creaminess. The real highlight of the meal was the angel bomb sushi, a magnificent tower of three kinds of fatty tuna and uni. It felt like one of the most decadent bites of my life. We finished the meal with a soothing bowl of miso soup and a scoop of yuzu ice cream.

Hong Kong: Lab Made Ice Cream

Hong Kong: Lab Made Ice Cream

Obviously, Hanabi is a restaurant reserved for special occasions. The restaurant only holds 12 counter seats and two small tables so reservations are a must. If you happen to be hungry afterward, you can always top by Lab Made (Shop 42, 132 Nathan Road, Tsim Sha Tsui), Asia’s first liquid nitrogen ice cream laboratory. My mother and I tried to mango ice cream topped with mango sauce, mango pieces and sago. The consistency of the ice cream was really smooth and it also tasted creamier. It was my first time trying liquid nitrogen ice cream and I liked it!

24-Hour Layover: East Bay Edition

Meatball sub close-up

Meatball sub at Southie

Last month, I blogged about my “24-hour layover in San Francisco”  and I thought I would continue the series– East Bay style. I never travel to the East Bay. This is no competition of “San Francisco is so much better than the East Bay.” I’m just lazy. REALLY lazy. I know it’s not that far and BART makes it extremely convenient to travel to Oakland and Berkeley. But, there is just so much to do (and eat) in San Francisco that I never feel the need to venture out across the Bay Bridge. That being said, I know the East Bay has superb food so I finally got my act together and decided to explore my culinary options with my awesome friends.

Morning Bun (left) and Almond Tea Cake (right)

Morning Bun (left) and Almond Tea Cake (right)

Crab Sandwich

Crab Sandwich

Pork Belly Sandwich

Pork Belly Sandwich (I wish I tried it)

Southie Sandwiches

In the words of Stella Artois– She is a thing of beauty

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SF Birthday Extravaganza I: Flour + Water and Bi-Rite Ice Cream

I’ve been majorly behind on updating my blog and it’s because I’ve really been too busy eating! I’ve had a lot of fantastic meals over the past week because of my birthday. One of my closest and dearest friends, Peter, was in town for one day and I suggested flour + water in the Mission. It’s been on my must-try list FOREVER, but I’m not willing to wait 2 hours for a table and they seriously have limited reservations (like 2-3 months out).

I got to F+W at 5:30pm on a Thursday (it opens at 5:30pm) and there was already a line. Seriously?! People, do you not have to work? Peter didn’t get to the restaurant until around 6pm (they only seat complete parties), but luckily, it was still early and they sat us at a communal table.

Flour and Water Pizza

Salsicca Pizza

Flour and Water squid ink pasta

Squid Ink Pasta with Uni

Flour and Water Sage Pasta

Sage Pasta with Pork (drool)

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