Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Boiling Point Hot Pot

When the weather gets hot, where do you go to eat? Hot pot! ChineseBites invited a group last week to try out Boiling Point, a place serving personal sized Taiwanese style hot pot. Boiling Point originated in California and have opened in Washington and now have two locations in Canada - Burnaby and Richmond.

Their hot soups are made with the freshest ingredients and there are 11 flavours to choose from. You are able to customize the level of spiciness, from none to flaming. Because each hot pot bowl has different ingredients, they each have a distinct flavour, which makes it different than most cook-it-yourself hot pot places.

#1 House Special - Napa, Fermented Tofu, Sliced Pork, Enoki Mushroom, Kamaboko, Meat Ball, Clam, Quail Egg, Pork Blood, Pork Intesetine, Nira, Preserved Vegetables, Tomato, Cilantro.
#2 Seafood and Tofu - Taiwanese Bok Choy, Shrimp, Sliced Pork, Enoki Mushroom, Frozen Tofu, Baby Octopus, Clam, Cuttlefish Ring, Fish Fillet, Fuzhou Fish Ball, Vermicelli, Egg, Green Onion.
#3 Korean Kimchi - Napa, Vermicelli, Sliced Pork, Enoki Mushroom, Egg, Kamaboko, Meat Ball (Pork) Tempura, Clam, Fuzhou Fish Ball, Kichi, Firm Tofu, Fried Tofu Skin, Imitation Crab Stick, Green Onion.
#4 Beef - Napa, Vermicelli, Sliced Angus Beef, Enoki Mushroom, Tomato, Firm Tofu, Tempura, Corn, Meat Ball (Pork), Kamaboko, Fried Tofu Skin, Imitation Crab Stick, Green Onion, Cilantro.
#5 Lamb - Napa, Vermicelli, Sliced Lamb, Enoki Mushroom, Imitation Crab Stick, Kamanoko, Pork Blood Rice Cake, Organic Maitake Mushroom, Clam, Pickled Mustard Greens, Firm Tofu, Tempura, Fried Tofu Skin, Egg, Green Onion, Cilantro.
#6 Curry Fish Balls - Napa, Vermicelli, Slice Pork, Enoki Mushroom, Imitation Crab Stick, Fish Ball, Fried Tofu Skin, Corn, Tempura, Mountain Yam, Chinese String Bean, Egg, Green Onion.
#7 Tomato Veggie - Napa, Vermicelli, Slice Pork, Enoki Mushroom, Firm Tofu, Corn, Lotus Root, Bean Curd, Chinese String Bean, King Oyster Mushroom, Taiwanese Bok Choy.
#8 Taiwanese Spicy - Cabbage, Instant Noodle, Sliced Angus Beef, Tempura, Enoki Mushroom, Clam, Fuzhou Fish Ball, Cuttlefish Ring, Pork Intestine, Pork Blood Rice Cake, Fried Tofu Skin, Maitake Mushroom, Frozen Tofu, Green Onion, Cilantro.
#9 Japanese Miso - Cabbage, Udon, Sliced Pork, Enoki Mushroom, Clam, Fuzhou Fish Ball, Fish Fillet, Organic Maitake Mushroom, Crab, Fried Tofu Skin, Soft Tofu, Egg, Green Onion.
#10 - Thai Flavour - Cabbage, Taro Stem, Sliced Pork, Enoki Mushroom, Cuttlefish Ring, Fuzhou Fish Ball, Clam, Crab, Baby Octopus, Organic Maitake Mushroom, Shrimp, Cilantro.
#11 Organic Tofu - a new item on their menu with sliced pork, organic tofu, lobster ball.
We also tried some noodles: original and spinach wok. They are sort of like instant noodles, but chewier. They come packaged like instant noodles and is a good addition to your hot pot soup!

For those with an adventurous taste bud, try the spicy fermented tofu! Also known as stinky tofu, this Taiwanese dish is either a hit or miss for people. The smell is pretty strong and the taste lingers on your tongue after you have swallowed. It's definitely an acquired taste!

To end the meal, we had snow cubes - frozen blocks that were like a mix of ice cream and popscicles. There are six different flavours to choose from: black sesame, taro, strawberry, chocolate, green tea and Hokkaido milk tea. I tried most of them and they were all delicious - very unique flavours! It was definitely a good, cold palette cleanser after the hot soups!

Disclaimer: The meal mentioned above was provided free of charge by ChineseBites and Boiling Point. The opinions expressed in this post are those of Savvy Shopping, Deals and Reviews and have not been influenced in any other way. 

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Monday, June 15, 2015

Doolami - Asian Dessert Shop

With summer approaching, I'm always on the lookout for the next place to get a cool treat (also because I like dessert, heehee). J and I happened to be near Doolami, a place to get shaved ice and ice cream. I've been seeing a lot of photos on my Instagram feed, so we decided to try it out.

Their most popular dessert dish is the mango, papaya or lychee shaved ice for $7.99. The ice is milky and flavoured and gets shaved off in "sheets" so it has a lighter texture than normal shaved ice.

The shaved ice tasted as good as it looks! It wasn't too sweet, and since mango is in season now, the fruit was ripe and lended to the sweetness of the dessert. The balls on top I could have done without though.

Doolami also has pints of ice cream you can buy for takeout (think Earnest Ice Cream, but more Asian flavours) and one of the flavours I am interested in trying is durian! I think I will be back this summer to try other shaved ice flavours!

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Sunday, June 14, 2015

Kao Tong Tong Invasian at Robson Square

There was a Kao Tong Tong invasion at Robson Square last weekend. This adorable agricultural mascot representing Kaohsiung, Taiwan, was there to showcase the best fruits of Kaohsiung. There was a sampling station where you could try the different fruits - golden diamond pineapple, red dragon fruit, pearl guava and Chin-Huang mango. Patisserie LeBeau was there with their food truck to make some delicious waffles and cakes that incorporated the fruits that were showcased. All the fruits were so delicious!

Sampling station.
Small sample cups for anyone interested in trying these delicious fruits!

Kao Tong Tong mascots everywhere!
Pineapple filled waffle by Patisserie LeBeau.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

VanVan Izakaya

VanVan Izakaya, a little restaurant on 1333 Robson St. in downtown Vancouver has a new menu and ChineseBites invited me to dine there earlier this week. VanVan serves small izakaya dishes, so it's great for sharing and being able to try a lot of different items on the menu. 

Very cool chalk wall in the restaurant!
Russian roulette takoyaki. A must try! You get 5 octopus balls and one of them is chock full of hot and spicy wasabi! If you can't take the heat, don't play!
Dried squid snack tempura. I love squid snacks with it's sweet and salty flavour and making them into tempura is an interesting idea. Unfortunately, because the strands of squid are so thin, you end up with more batter than anything.
BBQ eel rice in hot bowl.
Pork jewl with Japanese citrus sauce. The pork was very tender and flavoured well.
Ebi mayo - deep fried shrimp with sweet mayo sauce. They were crispy and sweet, the perfect combo!
Beef carpaccio with mayo, balsamic and cheese. There wasn't much beef in the dish, and was covered with the greens. It wasn't too flavourful either.
Seared beef with garlic dressing. Similar to the beef carpaccio, this was a lot tastier with the sauce to dip the beef in.
Chicken cutlet with sweet sour sauce. This was one of the favourites at the table, since the sweet sauce really worked with the chicken.
Beef short ribs came sizzling hot!
Chopped raw salmon with sweet garlic sauce. One of my favourite dishes - it was very light refreshing with the cucumber and sweet sauce. The seaweed comes with the dish so you can wrap it yourself!
An assortment of sashimi. Clockwise from top left: Octopus, raw tuna with avocado salad, scallop, marinated jellyfish salmon, tuna and shrimp sashimi.
We ordered everything on the dessert menu! Clockwise from top left: Green tea ice cream, rice cake wrapped strawberry, green tea soy milk pudding, black sesame ice cream. The soy milk pudding was very liquidy, and you almost had to drink it but it had a very interesting taste. The mochi had too much red bean inside for my liking. The ice cream was delicious!
All in all, VanVan Izakaya has great food with some hits and misses. They have some very creative items on the menu that you can't find elsewhere, which makes VanVan worth visiting at least once. Too bad I didn't have room to try them all! The price is comparable to other Japanese izakaya places on Robson, especially if you are sharing with friends.

Disclaimer: The products mentioned above was provided by ChineseBites and VanVan Izakaya for review. The opinions expressed in this post are those of Savvy Shopping, Deals and Reviews and have not been influenced in any other way.

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Jurassic World LEGO Build at Toys R Us (June 20)

Bring your kids over to Toys R Us on June 20th for a free mini LEGO Jurassic World Gate build! This neat little build includes a printed Jurassic World tile and looks super cool! The event will be happening from 12-2pm, while supplies last!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Calgary Eats: World Bier Haus

My coworker also met up with her friend while in Calgary so I tagged along. We headed to World Bier Haus, a popular after-work hang out. It was busy when we went (they had playoff games on the tvs), and everyone was there enjoying a drink. They offer typical pub food, including appetizers, sandwiches, pizza. I had the Steak Cobb Salad, because you can't go wrong with a salad. The steak was cooked pretty well, and I enjoyed it! World Bier Haus is a good place to go to hang out with friends in a relaxed atmosphere!

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Thursday, June 04, 2015

Calgary Eats: Charcut Roast House

I was in Calgary last month for a quick business trip, and had time to head out with a friend in the evening to play tourist. When asked where I should go to eat if I only had a short amount of time, and wanted to eat steak, I was told to visit Charcut.

Located in downtown Calgary, near the base of the Calgary Tower, Charcut is co-owned by Connie Desousa, a Top Chef Canada finalist on the Food Network, and John Jackson. The restaurant offers urban-rustic fare and is reflected in the name of the restaurant: CHAR for the custom built rotisserie and charbroiler and CUT for the featured vintage-style slicer and hand-crafted charcuterie eating bar. Chef Desousa and Chef Jackson are also well known for offering $5 gourmet burgers in the back alley, thus creating the food truck Alley Burger.

It was a Thursday night and the restaurant was packed. They had very rustic style decorations, which I really liked! They had a wide variety of items to choose from, ranging from salads and cheese to beef and fish. I really had my eye on any beef so I chose the only steak on the menu: Chimichurri butcher steak with wild arugula. There were options to add sides but I wasn't too hungry so I thought just the meat was good enough!

The steak was cooked to perfection and very juicy. I don't eat steak much, but I was quite impressed with this one. The chimichurri, (the green sauce on top, generally made of parsley, garlic, oregano, olive oil and white vinegar) was slightly bitter but complemented the steak well, along with the arugula and what I think were pickled vegetable and apple cubes. 

My friend, who already had dinner, went for something small so he ordered the Escarole salad. It came with a soft egg, boar bacon and smothered in parmesan cheese. He said it was delicious!

The food took quite a while to arrive (it was almost 9pm!) but it was definitely worth the wait. A nice touch was when Chef Desousa came by our table to introduce herself as one of the chefs at the restaurant and ask us if everything was good. I love that she takes the time to connect with the diners at the restaurant! Charcut is definitely a must-try if you are passing through Calgary!

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Monday, June 01, 2015

Pearl Castle Cafe Rolls Out New Menu Items

I was invited to Pearl Castle Cafe earlier this week by ChineseBites to try some of their new items on the menu. Pearl Castle Cafe is a Taiwanese Restaurant with four locations in Richmond, Burnaby and Surrey. They have won the Chinese Restaurant Awards Diners' Choice category for Best Taiwanese Restaurant from 2010 to 2013. Raw materials are imported from Taiwan and combined with fresh local ingredients to keep food authentic and fresh.

We started off with some drinks. New on the menu are drinks that come with cotton candy around the glass, which was delightful to see and taste. Other new drinks include traditional black tea and winer melon juice, both with jelly noodle toppings, as well as the fresh taro green milk tea. I tried the coconut red bean bubbletea myself, and really enjoyed it - it was not too sweet or heavy. The new drinks will only be available at the main location of Pearl Castle Cafe, at Continental Centre in Richmond.

Top (L to R): Sunset Love, Blue Sky, Young Girl's Dream. Bottom (L to R): Pudding Milk Tea, Coconut Red Bean, Peach Lemon Green Tea, Grean Tea Red Bean, Traditional Black Tea, Winter Melon Juice, Green  Lattea, Fresh Taro Green Milk Tea, Roasted Rice Lattea
There was plenty of food to try, and the dishes came out fast and furious. Everything was very flavourful and delicious. There were a lot of traditional Taiwanese dishes that we tried, with a lot of variety in the food.

Pineapple shrimp fried rice (new).
Deep fried mushroom. These were seasoned with a bit of cinnamon, which gave it a very interesting flavour!
Taiwanese sausages. One of my favourite dishes, these sausages are perfect with rice.
Deep fried fish cake. They were a bit chewy.
Deep fried tofu with a side of kimchi. These were also seasoned with cinnamon, similar to the deep fried mushrooms.
Wonton with chili sauce. It wasn't very spicy at all.
Three cup chicken. A popular Taiwanese dish.
Marinated pork with rice (new). There is also a chicken option that is new on the menu.
Garlic sauce chicken. There were plenty of garlic, which made it very flavourful!
Milk seafood & pork hot pot. This had a very interesting taste and very creamy soup.
Original Taiwanese beef noodle.
Vegetarian abalone mushroom with three spices. You can also order this dish with meat.
Kimchi seafood fried udon. This was very spicy!
Spicy incense pot (new). There were lots of different seafood in this dish, including shrimp, fish balls and squid.
Disclaimer: The products mentioned above was provided by ChineseBites and Pearl Castle Cafe for review. The opinions expressed in this post are those of Savvy Shopping, Deals and Reviews and have not been influenced in any other way.

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