Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Where to eat next??

So, as some may know, I live in the heart of the west end. And although I have a car, I hate to drive, immensely. So, I figure that where i live is ideal enough to make some major culinary discoveries. So where to next??? I have a few in mind, and will try to hit within a few I do not for see the job front changing anytime soon...
So for sure I want to hit

Joyeaux cafe
japa dog
thai house
memphis blues
the eatery
Phnom phen - that butter beef looks to die for
guu with garlic
gyoza king
vera's burgers
el furniture warehouse
...i'm sure i'll find more....
unfortunately, some of these places are best suited for larger groups, or a fun night out with friends, so i'll have to search and wait patiently for some up coming events

Samurai Sushi on Davie

Name: Samurai Sushi
Address: 1108 Davie Street Vancouver, BC (davie and thurlow ish visited,)
Cuisine: sushi, some appys (gyoza, onigiri, etc), japanese, lunch, dinner, take-out
Price point: budget, combos <$10
Hours: Sunday-Thursday 11:00 am-midnight. Friday and Saturday 11:00am-1:00 am
My experience:
So, I love sushi!! Growing up in Alberta, I accepted mediocre sushi, at expensive prices, because that was what was available. Though better quality has popped up, it just doesn't compare to the volume and freshness and quality that Vancouver has to offer. Whenever I visit edmonton. the family usually only frequents Mikado and Kyoto, or we buy our own fish and have a good dinner (thanks to having a Japanese mummy). Or we settle for T&T. Since I am still job hunting, budget lunches are my current shtick That, along with a good caesar, cheap martinis at Wild Garlic and cheap breakfast. Or we settle for T&T. Since I am still searching for solid employment, budget lunches are my current shtick That, along with a good caesar, cheap martinis at Wild Garlic and cheap breakfasts are my loves. My recent solo dining too me to Samurai after disappointing lunches at Kisha Poppo and Robson Sushi.
What is great about Samurai is that it's small, quick and solid. Cheap lunches, good staples and friendly service make this place a favorite. I often go with some sort of box and a take-out order for later. Also, the abundance of free newspapers in Vancouver provide a less than lonely experience.

So with my iphone in hand, I decided to check out yet another west end sushi joint.
This particular adventure, I ordered a box consisting of Teriyaki chicken, California rolls, agedashi tofu, a salad, tempura and miso soup. While none of these are ground breaking, it all tasted really good. I also had a sunomono salad which I always enjoy.
The salad was nothing special, as they are usually nothing but lettuce and some sesame dressing. It was good. The miso soup was average, but I just love this as a starter in my meals, so it did the job well.
The agedashi tofu and tempura were not greasy at all, and were above average. The chicken had a good sauce, and the meat itself was not dry!
The rice was solid as well. All in all, this will be a frequent rotation in my lunches, as it is by some great bakeries for desert. I recommend this place for a quality cheap lunch, solo or with friends. Recently, I have also tried the Oyako don which is a favorite dish of mine and some sashimi which is well priced for quality.

Reasons to visit: Inexpensive lunch, good solid quality, reliable dishes, friendly staff and good for solo dining or with friends. Fast take-out and a website with their menu.

Reasons not to visit: You don't like japanese food, parking can be difficult, and at peak hours, it may be difficult to get a table.
Samurai Japanese on Urbanspoon

Monday, March 29, 2010

Benkei on Robson - Yummy Ramen!!!

Name: Benkei Ramen
Address: 1741 Robson St, Vancouver BC (robson and denman ish visited, other locations also)
Cuisine: ramen, some appys (gyoza, onigiri, etc)
Price point: budget, combos <$10
Website: none but it's coming
Hours: Monday-Sunday 11:00am - 8:00pm ish (closed in the middle)
My experience:
What more do you want? Unless you are on the Atkins/South Beach/Dr. Bernstein diet, this is a place for yummy noodles, warm broth and salty love! This triforce of ramen that is Robson and Denman rocks!! And Benkei does it very well.
My order usually includes an order of gyoza, shrimp mostly, sometimes pork....very good! It's about $3.50, and they are just right, nothing groundbreaking but better than the ones at Robson Sushi..ugh....
My ramen of choice is most often the Shio plus an egg and menma (crunchy low calorie bamboo) or corn (depends on my mood). I love the saltiness, warm soup and the aldente but chewy noodles! The taste of pork comes through very well and the comforting salty broth makes one forget about the likely rainy day outside. The miso ramen is just as pleasing, rich and salty as well but it really depends on what you want. Since spicy food makes me sweat and feel really uncomfortable, I usually avoid this, but many love this dish nonetheless.
They also provide the usual complementary green tea and water as well as garlic and chili to season your soup accordingly. Trust me, I garlic it up in a major way....

They also have punch cards, and for frequent diners, this is a good thing! Again, Japanese servers and cooks yelling greetings and thank yous, typical of the west end, make you feel like you are downtown Tokyo and not Vancouver!
This is about $7.00, and I usually add an egg and something else, about 50 cents each. Definitely affordable carbs and comfort! It can get busy, but nothing like Kintaro, and it's cheaper! The pork is yummy, nothing like the fatty Kintaro servings, but I may live a smidgen longer!!
Servers are more than friendly, and the Japanese girls remind me of what my mummy was like once-upon-a-time!

Reasons to visit: Good value, comfort noodles, friendly service, free green tea, quick in-and-out dining, , close to my home ;), clean, simple, great for solo dining.
Reasons not to visit: Low carb diet you are on (Yoda speak) and they don't much accomodate that, if you are scared of young Japanese yelling friendly hello's(you should avoid the west end ASAP), it's hot out, and warm noodles will overwhelm you, you don't like salty, savory pork and broth and finally, you suck with chopsticks!
Extras: cute place, love it a lot and frequent it weekly!!

Benkei Ramen (Robson) on Urbanspoon love love to confuse them

Name: Starbucks
Address: 785 Denman Street Vancouver BC (Robson and Denman)
Cuisine: coffee, tea, baked goods, free wireless and refills on coffee and tea (with free registered card)
Price point: coffee, desserts <$10
Hours: Open 7 days, 6:00am-9:00pm (open a bit later on Fridays and Saturdays if busy)

My experience:

So I love coffee, and tea....and yummy baked goods. Moving to Vancouver means that I can throw a yoga mat in the air and it will land on some form of a coffee shop, be it Blendz, Starbucks, Cafe Artigiano, Waves not so much TimmyHo or Second cup but I'll live. Even McDonalds has passable coffee!! Culture shock for a prairies girl!
So, I love to have my warm drinks, not so much the super sweet blended ones (I am a bit of a calorie phobe that way) and at the 'bucks they accommodate me and my demands!
Well first off, I have a registered card..meaning that sugar free syrups and refills and the like are complementary! You also get free 2hr wireless!!! Saweet when I want to get out of the apartment or the chatty roommate or people watch.
I go to the one on the corner of Robson and Denman almost daily. The baristas know me by face and drink and I have converted many a barista both at this location as well as the Bidwell and Robson one. I've seen homeless people accost these workers (those that cling their cans at all hours of the night/morning).
Oh well.... as I write this, they are playing the Dixie Chicks and Michael Buble....what more do you want!?!?!??!
So what am I ordering? It depends on my mood....
If it's tea it's..get your pen ready.....
Venti Tea Soy Misto one bag Zen one bag Chai with sugar free vanilla and 3 packs of splenda!
Oh it's divine!!
If it's coffee it's a toss up...
Venti decaf coffee with sugar free caramel and soy milk with 3 packs of splenda and a bit of cinnamon...
Venti decaf Americano with sugar free syrup (depends on my mood) and soy misto with 3 packs of splenda.

Yep, I'm that high maintenance.... Not really, but I am allergic to dairy and I always go for sugar free syrup when I can. Also, decaf is better for your insulin regulation...little factoid for you!! So what is this drink? It's a venti decaf coffee with sugar free vanilla and soy milk (about 1 inch).
Try it!! Sooo yummy....and I like this place because they have soy milk..since I have an aversion to dairy among other food allergies. If you are looking for some treats, I've tried the spinach and feta wrap, the banana bread is yummy and the chocolate and oat bars are good too. The Christmas cranberry bars are always a treat too, but all that does some damage on the waistline!!

Reasons to visit: Solid, reliable, and consistent drinks. You can have exactly what you want and its almost the exact same every time. They let you stay as long as you want, good for meetings and coffee dates, people watching and chilling out for a while. If you have a registered card, you get 2 hrs of free wireless to...oh I don't know, blog, or study or facebook or tweet or whatever....Also, you can order a crazy drink or two and enjoy being a little high maintenance without being udged too harshly! Oh and if you like soy milk or sugar free syrups!
Reasons not to visit: You don't like bitter coffee, the "man", paying a premium for coffees or lattes, indulging in complicated coffee type drinks...
Extras: The baristas see me walk in and know that they have to get their sharpies out for a 12 step (jk) drink.....but they always have a smile on their faces!! And this location has some very nice baristas!!!

lunch @ Sushi Mart

from the website
Name: Sushi Mart
Address: 1668 Robson Street Vancouver BC (robson and bidwell ish)
Cuisine: sushi, beer, some appys (sunomono, goma ae, edamame etc)
Price point: budget, combos <$10
Hours: Tuesday-Sunday 11:30am-8:00pm (closed Mondays)

My experience:

Living in the West End is spectacular! When I first moved here last year, I lucked out discovering this area of town. I wanted to live downtown, near a beach or two, tennis courts, grocery stores and a good sushi place or two. Oh and a Starbucks but really, that could be anywhere!!
So fast forward to my random move to pretty much the corner of Robson and Denman...need I say more??? Also, since I am still hunting for a consistent day job, I have many free lunches, and I (unlike many) love to dine solo. And since I know very few people in the city, that works out for me ust fine!!!
This particular adventure takes place only a block or so away. Oh Sushi Mart. Next to the new designer ramen place which I have yet to frequent!!! And across from Whole Foods' Capers so I can treat myself to an organic cocoa ball of yummy or carrot cake or something granola like that!!
This is simplicity done well. Young and super friendly Japanese workers who are always happy to see you and converse with you no matter how broken your Japanese is (since my mummy is Japanese, I have a handful of words I can lasts me 5ish minutes).
If you stay, complementary green tea and miso soup is yours, if not, well you just get ridiculously inexpensive and fresh yumminess (I also like to make up words)!! The inside is clean, simple and basic, one long table on one side, less than 20 seats, and the cashier, sushi chefs and menu on the other. They also have a fresh sheet showing what beautiful fishies died recently to fill your tummy.
Being from Alberta, sockeye salmon sashimi was only a dream. Not here!! Oh is it ever good, and way too affordable! I've eaten almost everything on the menu, but have only taken the pictures for this post of Chirachi (I only recently decided to record my culinary experiences). I love love love good sushi rice, fresh sashimi, those marinated mushroom garnishes, daikon, and everything else in this bowl. It's a great size, and the fish are cut nice and plump! The tamago is good too and there is lots of fish roe too, which I love (although they always get stuck in my teeth). No matter! If only there were slices of avocado in this bowl....just because I love them with rice!!
This place can get busy at lunch for those on-the-go-day-job-type people who want a quick lunch so take out is a good option. On a nice day, there is ample scenic people watching spots in the area!! There is online ordering as well, and as an aspiring foodie, restaurants with good websites, and twitter updates on catches of the day, are just "on point"(Guy Fieri reference).
There's not much in the way of warm food, other than miso soup and edamame (which takes a long time) and I always feel guilty for ordering it when I can walk to Homa Market next door and steam some myself.

The Shrimp sunomono is also nice and the plump ebi is just right!!
For rolls, I usually stick to anything with the aforementioned avocado or masago, I'm told the unagi is good too! The combos rock too, lots of sushi for more than reasonable cash, they also have Japanese beer and the usual soda. Hmmmmm what more to it! Go there now, unless it's Monday because they are today :(

Reasons to visit: Good value, fresh sushi, friendly service, free miso soup, quick in-and-out dining, party trays to enhance your popularity at your next dinner party, close to my home ;), clean, simple, great for solo dining.
Reasons not to visit: You don't like sushi, craving more warm or fried Japanese food (tempura, teriyaki meats etc.), it's a recession and your kraft dinner is calling your name...
Extras: cute place, love it a lot and frequent it weekly!!

Sushi Mart on Urbanspoon

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Time to start something.....

So, as I have been floating through life ever since the New Year, it dawned on me......let's start on our career!! I've felt lost ever since I have moved to Vancouver, and I think that it is now time for me to do something...anything!!!
So I decided to create this blog about the things I love and spend my time on...
my attempt at finding a career
any other random things that pop into my head...

And so it begins!!!