Tag Archives: just plain awesome

A Love Letter to Northern Vietnamese Food at Hanoi Old Quarter on Victoria Drive

Mr. Red Cafe has expanded again, with a new sister restaurant on Victoria Drive called “Hanoi Old Quarter”. It’s yet another chapter in owners Rose and Hong’s mission to share authentic Northern Vietnamese food with the people of Vancouver. It’s a 34-seat establishment with a small menu, about half of which are new dishes that are exclusive to this location. It’s worth checking out if you like what Mr. Red Cafe are doing with the lighter, cleaner flavours of Northern Vietnamese cuisine.

Note: I love how this group of restaurants is able to build flavours without resorting to MSG. While it’s true that there’s nothing wrong with MSG (and there are places that use it judiciously), I find that it’s often used as a crutch, propping up weak-ass broths that have no backbone to begin with. If you’re building flavours using actual (often expensive) ingredients, of course you’ll need to charge more. I think it’s worth it.

Note #2: Please don’t come here and ask the restaurant to not charge tax if you’re paying cash, like this asshat.

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Premium Choice: A Sushi Lunch at Tetsu Sushi Bar on Denman

My previous sushi meal at Sushi Bar Shu ignited the sushi fire within me so I went to another favourite, Tetsu Sushi Bar in the west end. Incredible indulgent lunch for $54 and a very different experience from a full-on, served one piece at a time omakase meal. I lunched solo, and I loved having this personal, scaled-down yet still incredible experience. A must-do for local high-end sushi lovers.

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Omakase That Needs Your Appreciation at Sushi Bar Shu in Marpole

Are you looking for that interactive omakase experience? One where you can actually chat with the chef? Sushi Bar Shu (website, Instagram) has it. But a few caveats:

  • If places like Sushi Bar Maumi, Tetsu Sushi Bar, Sushi by Yuji, Matsuzushi (Port Moody), Octopus’ Garden, etc appeal to you, then you’ll appreciate this omakase-only experience. If you need tempura, noodles, rolls, or are price-sensitive, DO NOT COME HERE.
  • Sushi Bar Shu is run by an all-Korean staff. I was sorta skeptical that a Korean chef would be experienced and dedicated enough to provide an omakase experience that was respectful to the Japanese omakase experience, but I came away completely convinced that the chef/owner Kevin Shin is serious. Keep in mind that this place is not Korean sushi (which is its own legitimate thing). This is real-deal Japanese (Edomae) sushi.
  • Because the staff are Korean, you will need to be accomodating to the Korean accent. They are all fluent in English, but you do need some sensitivity in this matter. I could understand about 80% of what the staff said, and that’s coming from having a few Korean friends and family members. If you’re keen on the details of everything you’re eating, you will be rewarded by conversing with the chef, but I felt to be polite I had to let some details slide, lest I ask the same question again and again 😛
  • The experience and style are different from any other omakase place in town. To me this is a huge plus. This restaurant is about exploring their way of doing omakase. You can actually chat with the chefs here. Other places (while great in their own right) aren’t always conducive to chatting.
  • Reservations HIGHLY recommended. For all intents and purposes, they only have nine seats at the bar.
  • They opened in December 2018, and the chef seems intent on improving and tweaking the restaurant and the food. So what I experienced probably will change over time.
  • There is NO liquor license. Yet. Only beverage available is tea.
  • The nigiri here is on the smaller side. It’s about quality over quantity. If you want quantity, I suggest going to Samurai.

Huge thanks to @chengsophia and @thedallah for posting about this place.

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Storied French & Quebecois Country Cooking: Putting the Saint in St. Lawrence

I purposely read very little about JC Poirier’s St. Lawrence restaurant, trying to ignore all the awards and acolades it’s won. (The most recent being JC being named one of the Foodies of the Year by Western Living Magazine. Side note: it feels like Western Living is stretching when they anoint the Superflux guys as being “Chill AF Dudes”…VanMag maybe, but Western Living?? Using “AF”??? Disclosure: I sometimes shoot photos for Superflux and they are indeed chill AF dudes.)

So walking in with no real expectations except for that JC has been part of some of the city’s best restaurants (Pourhouse, Pizzeria Farina, Ask for Luigi, Di Beppe), I thought, “how good can it be?”

Excellent.

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Tachi at Assembly Chef’s Hall: First-Ever Stand-Up Sushi Bar in Canada Doesn’t Embarrass Itself

Assembly Chef’s Hall is like what Bourdain Market was supposed to be if it ever got off the ground, except instead of overseas hawkers, Toronto’s chefs have set up shop with smaller, fast casual versions of their larger restaurants and other concepts. It’s a food court that doesn’t suck! And it contains the ONLY stand-up sushi bar in Canada. EVERYONE I spoke to said I was foolish for wanting to eat sushi in Toronto when Vancouver already has the best sushi in Canada (and for much cheaper). But my stubborn self always has to experience it first-hand. I’m always willing to test a theory to see the results myself. And the result is that Tachi does some kick-ass sushi that’s easily as good as the mid/high range of sushi in Vancouver, all for a surprisingly reasonable price too.

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Happy Hour Quickie: L’Abattoir Conquers Happy Hour

L’Abattoir’s happy hour has actually been in effect since July 2014 but flew under my radar. Definitely one of the BEST dining values around, matched with assured execution, balanced and flavourful dishes, and experienced professional service. Recommended!

Note: we were busy talking the entire time, so my descriptions below don’t get into as much detail as I usually do. Doing proper reviews actually takes a lot of focus and attention!

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Brunch Quickie: 6 Course Brunch Pop-up by Juno Kim at Field & Social

Man, I was really missing Juno Kim’s pop-up events. He used to do a Monday night dinner series at 33 Acres (which I wrote about here and here) but he stopped doing them in early 2016, so it’s been more than a year since I last had any of his food! So, between his stints catering food styling for iZombie, he’s started a monthly brunch pop-up at Field & Social downtown, so now’s your chance to once again eat his food. Tickets for this brunch series have been selling out pretty fast, so follow Juno on Instagram to learn about upcoming events.

I went to the second monthly brunch with Wicca and hungrySLIF. The word “brunch” doesn’t quite describe the food though. Eggs appear only once. (Actually there’s egg in two dishes.) There’s no bacon (not the typical kind, anyways), no hollandaise, no waffles, no stereotypical brunch elements. It’s really just a 6-course share plates meal with none of the overwrought greasy excesses of your typical brunch. When was the last time you got an amuse-bouche with your brunch?

Transparency Report: As I’ve said before, I always pay my own way. However, we were comped the beer and two cocktails. (Very much appreciated!) Tickets were $49 each, which includes tax and tip but excludes drinks and Eventbrite fee. We all paid full-price.

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Local BC Spot Prawn Sashimi with Deep Fried Heads. Cuz it’s awesome.

In the 80s and 90s, my parents used to go to Richmond and buy bags of fresh prawns to boil up and eat with Maggi sauce mixed with sesame oil. When I was older, I’d realize that what we were in fact eating spot prawns! So the big hot local sustainable BC seafood product of the last decade or so had always been part of our family. 😀

Spot prawn season just started yesterday, so I bought some fresh live ones for myself. I went to The Fish Counter on Main St. (beside Portland Craft) and they had a tank of them. Besides great fish & chips, they also sell sustainable Oceanwise seafood. I’ve bought sidestripe prawns from here before, and they tasted pretty good sashimi-style. How would ultra-fresh BC spot prawns compare? Well…our local sidestripes are good but these spot prawns (only available a couple weeks out of the year) are fantastic! If you love that crunchy texture and clean, sweet taste of raw prawns, then you should get some spot prawns fast!

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Quickie Solo Dinner at Savio Volpe — What does the fox sa—ah never mind

On my way to get some Big Al’s fried chicken from The Lion’s Den Cafe, I thought I’d check out Savio Volpe, seeing as it’s just down the block. I only had room for a couple dishes, but man, was I happy to finally check it out!

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