Monday, November 23, 2009

Red Chicken

Beware of the red chicken...

Location: Vancouver (Downtown)


On this night, it was only my sole dining companion and I and as a result, we only opted for 2 dishes. 

One being the ever-popular buldak (heavily-seasoned spicy chicken) and the other, a heaping and generous plate of jap chae.  I had read several reviews that the name, Red Chicken, had originated from their specialty, buldak (which was literally, red chicken). I was well aware that if you happen to have a heavy palate for all-things-spicy, this was a must-try.  I, personally like spicy, but not too spicy.  Regardless, I was curious to see what the hype was all about. 

** I must note that the photo to the top is of the side dishes you would usually be given, prior to the arrival of your entrees and appies.  Pictured above from (top left) and going clockwise are: kimchi, scoop of potato salad, several pieces of cooked broccoli (with korean sweet spicy sauce drizzled atop) and lastly, marinated bean sprouts.  Different korean restaurants may choose to serve diff. types of items in the side dishes.

...Now back to the buldak.  It's interesting and equally as important to note that they give you plastic gloves in preparation for the buldak, lol.  As well, funny thing was that we were only provided with 1 set of gloves (between 2 people). (Had they expected to us to use only one hand (each) to eat the chicken? ...I suppose?!)

When the buldak arrived, I could already sense the scorching level of spice just by merely looking at it.  The dish was comprised of drumsticks and thighs, which I liked.  The spiciness didn't really kick in 'til a few seconds later...but when it did... BOY, it was heavily-SPICED, alright! It was soooo spicy that the thought of asking for a glass of milk crossed my mind for a split second - until I realize that this was a korean restaurant.  (Scoe has mentioned that milk can act as a huge spice-reliever and 'tis true!). The buldak was nicely marinated and I really liked the fact that it wasn't deep fried either (but rather, baked). I've had similar spicy chicken at other korean establishments, but it was however, deep-fried. 

As mentioned above, the jap chae arrived as a generous amount of nicely stir-fried and well-seasoned clear noodles, accompanied with nicely-thinned slices of mushrooms, onions, carrots and beef amongst other ingredients.


Our server was friendly and approachable.  Each table was also given a lil' buzzer for quicker service, although we didn't make use of it.


At about $15 for 6-7 pieces of chicken and $15 for a plate of jap chae (albeit huge)...I would say it's a little more pricier than what you would normally expect.


Restaurant was jam-packed on a Friday night.  It's also quite clean in there (probably because they've only been opened for about a year, give or take a couple of months.)

Overall: 7.6/10

Yay: If you're a daredevil of spicy foods, then the buldak is definitely a must-try. 

Nay:  It's in downtown, where parking can be infamously scarce. No korean bbq here either (at least I don't think there is!)

Posted by: J

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Rainflower Seafood Restaurant

Chinese food at its finest...

Location: Richmond


I've never really been too "wow-ed!" by Chinese cuisine, partly because I am Chinese and have been exposed to it ever since I was little.  It usually tastes good, but not over-the-top mindblowing. Every restaurant tastes practically the same to me, more or less. Of course you're gonna have the extremes - either really bad ones or really good ones.  But generally, as ignorant as I sound, I feel that most are very similar, taste-wise.

Rainflower proved to be one of the most fine-tasting Chinese restaurants I've ever visited.  We came for a special celebration and thus, opted for the "Deluxe Banquet Dinner for 10".  The set menu was as follows: Assorted Hot & Cold Cuts Appetizer Platter (one of my faves), Fresh Fruit Salad with Shrimp Meatballs, Sauteed Scallops with Fresy Lily Bulbs, Shark Fin Soup, Lobster & Crab in Garlic Butter Sauce, Two Kinds of Mushroom with Greens in Oyster Sauce, Chef's Specialty Empress Chicken, Steamed Fresh Fish, Golden Seafood Fried Rice, Braised Yee-Fu Noodle in Abalone Sauce, and Dessert.  The Cold Cuts appy was comprised of: Jellyfish, Bbq pig's neck's meat, Hokkigai, and Beef Shank. Great combination.  The Shrimp meatballs were hands down, my favourite of the night.  It wasn't your typical deep fried prawn ball, but rather, an almond-encrusted deep fried prawn ball. Brilliant!  Everything else was very good, as well, including the succulent, moist crispy chicken.


Prompt and friendly. Great sense of humour from some of the


Chinese food always offers good value, in comparison to other cuisines.  A scores in both quality and quanitity areas.  $388 for dinner for 10. About $40/person - which is about the price of an entree in a fine dining, west coast contemporary restaurant.  I would say this is a great value!


Super spacious restaurant, decor is very unique and different - huge, gold-trimmed chairs at the front, Versace-like looking dinner plates. You'll have to see it for yourself!

Overall: 8.5/10

Yay: Fine chinese cuisine. Fine decor.  They also offer quite unique-tasting dim sum dishes as well.

Nay: Compared to other Chinese restaurants of similar kind, prices may be a little high.

Posted by: J

Guu Original

Guu is ggguuuuuuu-reat!!!...

Location: Vancouver (Downtown)


Guu is one of my top 5 restaurants (only been to the ones on Robson & Thurlow) and I've have never had a disappointing experience there. Ever. It is definitely my favourite of all izakayas.

We had the Grilled Beef Tongue, Kimchi Fried Rice, Seared Salmon Carpaccio, Baked Oysters and Fresh Squid Tofu Salad with Spicy Cod Roe and Wasabi Mayonnaise Sauce.  The salad was a bit drenched (with the dressing), but it tasted ok.  Everything else was superb - esp. the Kimchi Fried Rice (my favourite!) Although a bit too oily, their fried rice is probably the best I've ever had.  My dining companion also had an additional mini appy known as Oden - assorted ingredients in a light, soy-flavoured broth. This time, she only opted for a deep fried fish cake (in the broth).

Drinks: Had the Cherry Brossum (Cherry Blossum - the "r" sound does not exist in the Japanese language). It was refreshing and comprised of Peach Snapps, strawberry (puree?) and a carbonated beverage known as Ramune.


Prompt and polite. Very welcoming.


Good and best value of all izakayas.


Super high on the noise factor - almost seems like there's a party in there every night.  You'll be greeted as you enter and leave, and have chefs/servers constantly shouting out orders - all in all, a super fun place to be for kicks, laughter, and food!

Overall: 9/10

Yay: Excellent Japanese tapas, hip hop happenin' place, polite and welcoming service

Nay: It's small and quite cramped, wait could take a while, not ideal for groups larger than 4+, perhaps not ideal for a romantic dinner/date

** Interesting Fact: They have 3 other locations as well!

Posted by: J

Monday, November 16, 2009

Cascade Room

Chill at Cascade ...

Location: Vancouver (Main Street)


I was blown away by the Mushroom Pizza on my first visit and felt compelled to order it again.  I've tried all sorts of pizzas from various chains and restaurants and I must say that Cascades' pies rank high on my list.  The (thin) crust was just the right amount of crispiness and definitely did not taste like cardboard (as many thin crust pizzas do).  It came loaded with mushrooms, edam and goat cheese, and fresh spinach ...on a pesto base - it was phenomenal, to say the least.  They are also known for their Polenta Fries - which I think are just ok. I also sampled the Calamari and they tasted fabolous. May order it next time!


Prompt and the server allowed for separate bills (even though we had a group of 20+). You know that's always a good thing!


Food prices were reasonable although drink prices are a little high ($9 for a cocktail).


Hip hip happenin'!

Overall: 7.7/10

Yay: Always a good choice for drinks (and grub!) if you're in and around Main Street. Above average lounge/bar fare is a bonus.

Nay: Always bustlin' with customers whenever I'm there. Could be a bit of a wait come peak periods.

** Interesting Fact: Habit Lounge next door is their sibling restaurant!

Posted by: J


Typical Thai ....

Location: New Westminster


We started off with the long-awaited Prawn & Crab Rolls.  These were mentioned as one of the 101 Things to Taste (Before You Die) in the relatively recent issue of Vancouver Magazine.  These babies weren't your typical spring rolls filled with prawn and crab...but also cream cheese. They were a delight and unarguably, the best item of the night.  We also ordered the Som Tum (papaya salad) as a starter (good) as well as the Tom Kai Gai (hot & sour soup with chicken).  The soup was average at best.

Entrees of the night included: The Gang Ped (red curry chicken) and the Pad Cashew Nuts -which was essentially, Cashew Chicken.  In accordance with how the Tom Kai Gai tasted, they were once again, average at best.

Drinks included a Mai Tai, Pina Colada and a pitcher of Sangria. Decent.


Ok -not the greatest. Had to remind the server for our drinks and she was absent at times when needed.  Only one server was working that night.


On par with the prices you would see at other Thai restaurants. Nothing out of the ordinary.


Small, cozy restaurant with Thai melodies playing in the background.

Overall: 6.8/10

Yay: Go for the Prawn & Crab (and cream cheese!) Spring Rolls.

Nay: Service is slow - only one server for the whole restaurant on a Saturday night.  Average Thai fare - nothing special.

Posted by: J

Monday, November 9, 2009

Brunch a la Galerie (CLOSED)

brunch and art? i'll take it...!

Location: Vancouver (Kitsilano)


I opted for the Chorizo Pamplona Benny this time around (I had the Eggs Florentine Benny the 1st time).  It was described as natural chorizo salami, steamed poach eggs, with housemade basil pesto (a nice change to the typical Hollandaise sauce). It was splendid. The chorizo salami was nice and mildly spicy.  The sides included were: fresh fruit, roasted potatoes, and greens.


Our server was kind, genuine and serene.  No complaints there.


$13 (pretty sure) for the benny - pretty much standard brunch pricing.


Pleasant and peaceful. 

Overall: 8/10

Definitely a great go-to brunch joint if you're in (or even, out of) the area.  The Brioche French Toast is a stand-out, as well.

Yay: Great place for weekend brunch - the art is a bonus.  It doesn't get very busy either (even during peak brunch times.)

Nay: They didn't have KETCHUP this (2nd) visit!...How could you serve potatoes and not have ketchup? As well, if it does happen to get busy, waiting periods may be lengthy. Not the ideal place for large groups.

Posted by: J