Cafe de Waraku 和樂屋

When I first found out about this place I was super excited. Because finally you can get Japanese style pasta in Vancouver, they were the first one to open in Richmond (even though they are not opened by Japanese). This restaurant has been here for almost 4 to 5 years as I remember correctly, they used to only sell Japanese style pasta but later become a dessert café as well.

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They have special lunch/dinner combos where you can get a toast, salad/soup, pasta for around $12-16 dollars depending on which pasta you select.

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Their pasta is always cooked to al dente (perfect chewiness). I especially like their light/clear sauce. Usually toss lightly in a frying pan, great alternative to traditional Italian pasta.

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I always get a matcha latte from them because they are never sweetened. (Usually how I like my drinks, you can adjust your own liking.)

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This is a durian cheesecake. It is something that I ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS get when I come here. I would not suggest it if you do not like durian (an exotic and strong aroma fruit from Thailand). But being a durian lover, I simply cannot resist it. Smooth, rich in durian flavour. There is nothing not to love about this cake.

I love this cozy quiet family run business, which I always get great service here. Never too too busy, great chat spot if you need to catch up lots.

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Ask for Luigi

I walked it by it once (don’t ask why I am in that area), then I was attracted by its “PASTA” sign. I took a peek and realized that at this corner is a small Italian restaurant. So I grabbed a friend and went to try it out.

They are a small and busy place, I tried to call the day before to reserve for a table. They told me their reservations are made WEEKS in advance, but 2/3 of the restaurant is open for walk ins. (But you are expecting 45 mins wait on a Sunday night at 6pm, you can only guess what is it like on Fridays and Saturdays.)

But even the wait is long (you can just walk around Gastown on a good weather day), it is worth your wait. Just pop by early leave your name and do some shopping then your table would be ready.

This crispy polenta sits on top of lightly sour homemade tomatoe sauce. The tart of fresh tomatoe gave a simple yet delicious balance to creamy texture of polenta. It was one tasty appetizer.

Spaghetti, anchovies, garlic & chilies – loaded with crunchy garlic bites and anchovies, yet another very simple but simply delicious dish. Noodle cooked to al-dente, in personal preference was a little salty as you come towards the end. But neverthelesss, good.

Pappardelle & duck ragu – tomatoe based thick pappardelle (probably my faouvrite pasta noodle next to angel’s hair) along with slow braised duck. Sounds like heaven? Because it was.

Olive oil cake – sponge cake made with olive oil sits on top of sweet orange slices. I was absolutely in love with this combination, maybe it is also that I haven’t had any orange flavoured dessert for a while. The light plain sponge cake was a perfect match for the sweet orange slices giving it harmony between sweet and sour.

Chocolate budino – very very rich, quite dense but at the same time short of pudding-ish. If you are a chocolate lover than this is definitely a must. But in comparison I enjoyed the Olive Oil Cake much better. :p

Try it for yourself. 🙂

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Yaletown L’Antipasto

Note: Read to the end but there is a ‘surprise’ for you.

The first thing I noticed about this restaurant is how tiny is it. The restaurant is finally packed and we were seated at a table that is meant for four people (we are a party of six) on the very edge of the tent (which later got real cold).

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Olives were served when we were waiting for our guests to arrive. However I noticed other tables got bread but ours didn’t.Exif_JPEG_PICTURE

Beef Tenderloin Carpaccio – AAA Beef Tenderlonion, sliced thin, Alba white truffle oil, vegetables sott’ olio

The pleasant aroma of truffle oil keeps lingering while I enjoy other food on the table, I just kept smelling it and couldn’t get it off my mind during the whole entree course. 😛 The truffle oil successfully kept the beef tender, it added this extra zing to the beef which I cannot describe. It was so smooth the way the beef goes into your mouth, much smoother than olive oil (which most restaurants use).

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Insalata Celeste – Organic spring greens, Okanagan chevre goats cheese, sliced almonds, dried cranberries, balsamic vinegrette

There is really nothing unique about this salad, everything worked in perfect harmony though. Afterall this is a very classic salad to be served at almost any restaurants.

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Carpaccio di Tonno – Albacore tuna, salt cured with espresso, a traditional method from Sardinia, lemon extract olive oil, caper berries & cherry tomatoes

I know it says salt cured, but it is not salt they actually use – espresso. Yes they use espresso to cured the tuna, which gave it such interesting flavour!  I instantly fell in love! The espresso worked surprisingly well with the soft tuna. If you are to dine out here, please try this onne.

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Risotto alla Pescatora – Arborio rice served with a medley of shellfish; prawns, salt spring mussels, clams, calamari & scallops

This risotto was praised by almost all my girlfriends, they all loved it very much. It wasn’t a typical very salty risotto with more shellfish than rice. 

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Pappardelle Rosse – Thick ribbon shaped pasta in an old family recipe meat sauce of boneless short ribs, chicken breast & Italian sausages

This was my favourite entree. I loved the thick ribbon noodle with a nice sauce that is essentially just juices from the three types of meat in it.

Exif_JPEG_PICTUREGnocchi Quattro Formaggi – Piedmonte style potato gnocchi with a creamy cheese sauce and a hint of Gorgonzola

This is one delightful gnocchi, which was so sad got cold so fast! (Also because we were seated at the side.) But I noticed none of the dishes were warmed so the food heat couldn’t stay.
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Tiramisu – this was overily sweet and very liquid. I felt as if I was eating ice cream.

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Lavender Creme Brulee – I couldn’t really taste the lavender and there is a thick coat of caramel (about 5mm) on top, also lack of smooth brulee texture.

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Vanilla Panna Cotta with forest fruit  coulis – was my favourite dessert with smooth and frangrant vanilla until my friend ate a piece of dish washing cloth… (see next photo)

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Exif_JPEG_PICTURENow really, this really shouldn’t be in there or I should say anywhere close to it. Or maybe this is left over from cleaning the mixing bowl…. But when I told our waiter he only offered to give an extra dessert for free. But really, a Yaletown restaurant should offer at least to waive the bill.

Don’t get me wrong, some of the dishes are amazing. But seeing that piece of non edible cloth in a dessert is very disturbing. The server was really friendly but the way this is dealt is simply unprofessional.

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Cotto Enoteca Pizzeria

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When it first opened, my friend recommended me go try them out. So I did! This location used to be Anducci’s (if anyone still remember this). I was seated outside, so I cannot tell if it was renovated from Auducci’s, but I believe not much have changed.

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Cotto still served Italian dishes, with wood fire brick forno pizzas. (Similar items to Anducci’s.) So of course we had to order pasta and pizza to complete our casual Italian dinner at Cotto.

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Looking at some of the signature dishes we found the Pizza Cotto – Yukon Gold potato, Sloping Hill pancetta, fried brussel sprout leaves, Gorgonzola dolce, fonduta

I enjoyed the flavours of this pizza, quite subtle but very tasty. However the brussel sprout leaves were quite bitter (I never had it before, this is my first time), but I think it would taste much better without the bitter leaves. 😛

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Papardelle Carbonara – Two Rivers guanciale, Parmigiano-Reggiano, Pecorino Romano, roast garlic, 63 degree egg. Now what is 63 degree egg, did they actually measured that when they cooked it? XD But regardless this is a delicious pasta with the pata cooked just right.

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For dessert, I’ve ordered the Salted Caramel Budino – Butterscotch pudding, Maldon sea salt, rosemary biscotti. Ohh, this was so yummy! I never had butterscotch pudding but this tasted delicious with sea salt. However the pudding is quite sweet, would be nicer if a little bit less sweet. Rosemary biscotti was also very tasty with the soft smooth butterscotch pudding. I am getting hungry just thinking about this. 😀

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Even thought Cotto seems to be in a location that not much people would notice, but it was a quite a hidden neighbourhood gem. I wouldn’t mind going back to it again maybe with a few more friends to try out their bar. 🙂

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Calabria Cafe

I noticed this cafe because I was hunting for vintage saucers in all those vintage shops on Commercial Drive with my mom, so after shopping for a while I was hungry for lunch. I pointed out this interesting decor cafe among all these Italian shops, and was up for an adventure.

This is not just a cafe – they serve coffee, tea, sandwiches, cookies and gelato. I have never been to Italy but I really found all the statues and environment feels very Italian to me. 😛 Even though it’s a cold day, but you get a warm fuzzy feeling sitting here with hot drinks.

For our drinks we ordered the cappuccino and decaf latte. My mom’s foaming cappuccino was delicious with lots of foam! (Had so much fun with my mom’s foam mustache.) Latte was nice and smooth and non sweeten – perfect for my tasting.

 

 

 

This is a panini like bread with vegetarian ingredients inside – mushrooms, bell peppers, and this very interesting spice and I still cannot made up what it is. Though their bread is much softer than those of panini and thicker, but pressed grill on the outside. The mushrooms and bell peppers worked really well with each other. I enjoyed it.

 

Jack sandwich – spinach, jack cheese, tomato, black olives and artichokes. Hmm I just love black olives and artichokes, they are so yummy especially with cheese. :9 Therefore made this a delicious sandwich, I liked it so much!! Though it is a very big sandwich, I just couldn’t finish it.

 

 

Having coffee means having cookies :P. So I ordered an almond biscotti on the side to enjoy with the coffee while I chat with my mother about teenagers these days. 😛

Food and drink quality is good for this sort of hidden cafe, however if you are looking for a good service than I would recommend you to go somewhere else. Their service is not rude, but wasn’t friendly either.  Everything is pretty much self serve without little help, so maybe go with an Italian friend so you know what is good to order and perhaps the service will be better. 😛

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Zefferelli’s Spaghetti Joint

Spaghetti e Polpette – veal and ricotta meatballs braised with tomatoe and red wine. I usually don’t order spaghetti and meatballs. Because I just think it’s such a simple pasta to make, but out of the blue I decided to give this one a try because the veal meatball got me – and in read wine? Perfect. 🙂 And it was good meatballs, very nice and tender with a nice flavour. Delicious.

Linguini Putanesca – prawns, olives & capers with a spicy tomato sauce. I tried this from my friend next to me and I have to say I really liked it. Spicy and very flavourful tomato sauce. I think I’ll order this or recommend this dish to others next time I visit.

Spaghetti con Vongole – clams, garlic, white wine & olive oil. This is a classic pasta at all pasta joints almost like carbonnara (I remember once someone told me, if you want to see if the pasta joint is good – you need to try their carbonnara.) So because it’s so simple and so classic, you need to go be good at it. And this one was good, though it wasn’t amazing but it was good. All the flavour just right. But I just couldn’t get my mind off Putanesca.

Tiramisu – this was one large tiramisu (although there are five of us girls) we could barely finish this ONE dessert. 😛 I think we were all really full after our pastas. (Though some of us only ordered half orders.)

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Osteria Napoli RistoranteI

Thank you Groupon! Without it I would have never knew that there is this hidden Italian restaurant here. There is no way I would notice this super hidden entrance, in such an area to have an traditional Italian restaurant. I entered through the back and the interior decor reminded me of Al Porto. Everything very alike, but in Vancouver/Burnaby area! 

I think also from the seats that we got, I couldn’t keep my eyes off that beautiful painting in the back. I kept thinking would I feel like I’m there if I sit right next to the painting? 😛

I have never had escargots before, this is my first time. When I was younger, knowing that these are escargots scared my little soul away. But of course as you grow older, you’ll try anything. So I am trying it! I have picked the ones baked in mushroom caps, I wish the mushroom caps would be as big as the escargots, there are so many escargots and not enough mushrooms because they were so good together. Escargots by itself had a very rich and strong flavour but very soft, tender and chewy. I couldn’t stop myself from eating them. (It was salty though, I am guessing too much salted butter. But tasted so yummy with the bread they have provided.)

Cream sauce chicken fettucini – I love fettucini because of the chewiness of the fat noodle. I can never resist cream sauce, they are always need to get at any pasta houses. The pasta needs a little bit more flavouring, the sauce is simply not getting into the pasta. (That is also because fettucini are quite thick.) However the cream sauce was cooked nicely smooth and the chicken had been grilled.

Oh I just love this one, mushroom with tomato sauce and bits of Italian sausages. Especially after fresh grinded pepper adds a totally different kick to it. (But seriously I cannot live without spices.) The nice fungi aroma was brought out by the tomato sauce and with the rich salty flavour from Italian sausage, this dish was delicious.

But portions were very large in this restaurant and after having some bread and escargots I cannot finish (or it looks more like I barely ate it) my pasta. Had it to go and was able to split it into two small lunches. 🙂

Will revisit this neighborhood gem again!

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Jimoco Cafe and Pasta

I heard about this place from my brother, he told me about this pasta cafe. Then I went online and did some research. This is actually a cafe that serves breakfast items along with pasta for lunch. Though it seems like they got famous from their 2 for 1 pasta.

It was a Saturday afternoon (1pm) we had to wait for a seat which took about 20 mins for a table of three. Which I suppose is a moderate wait (for me at least, anything over 20 mins wait is too long for me).

As soon as we are finished with orders, we got our complimentary garlic bread right away. (I know it’s complimentary but it was very yummy, nice crispy with a proper amount of garlic butter.)

Anyways, for us three girls we got 2 for 1 pasta and a pizza to share.

The Margherita Pizza was delicious! Very nice thin crust, with proper amount of sauce and cheese. I am sure if you are a big eater, this pizza might be a little too thin for you. But was good for the three of us. I absolutely loved the crust!

For pasta we got the creamy mushroom risotto with beef. It was served in a ceramic pot (first time I’ve eaten risotto with a ceramic pot). Which was nice because it kept the risotto warm throughout the meal. I was very surprised by this risotto, the beef pieces were very tender and cooked just right. It didn’t feel too hard to chew but still has texture. Fresh Parmesan also made this dish so much better. I will definitely re order this one next time I visit.

This clam linguine in white wine sauce was almost as good as Al Porto. It was a good alternate from the heavy risotto (which filled me up pretty good!)

I will revisit this for sure, good bargain for good food. Mmm mmm pasta. :9

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Adesso Bistro

I should have post this two months ago. I visited Adesso Bistro on Valentine’s day for their $45 set dinner. I made the reservation about 3 months ago to avoid any type of disappointment. We arrived right on time for our reservation and right away we got seated.

This is how the menu works, for $45 per person we can choose an appetizer, a pasta, an entree and a dessert platter to share between the two. (It is quite a bit of food, I couldn’t finish the pasta and the entree.)

For my appetizer, I selected the beet salad. There are two types of beets in this salad and I especially liked the orange one. So sweet. 🙂 These are served with goat cheese. Yumyum! 😀

My Valentine selected the house cured meat – some what similar to salami. Salty but very good meat with olive oil and olives. Worked really well with the salad.

Pasta is asparagus risotto with fresh slices of parmesan cheese, this is a decent risotto. And below is the dungeness crab pasta. The pasta was really good! I really liked it, with a good light sauce to show off the freshness of the crab. This is a must re order next time. 🙂

For entree, beef tenderloin and sablefish. The tenderloin was cooked perfectly with a nice sauce and the creamy potatoe at the bottom. Sablefish was so smooth and had a great lemon sauce to go with! I enjoyed both of these entrees. 🙂

Last but not least the dessert platter with chocolate mousse covered by dark chocolate and chocolate truffle. The mousse was so rich! (The outside chocolate coating was so hard, it took some effort to break. :P) But it wasn’t overly sweet, though it is filling but I just couldn’t help but nibble away. Truffle cake was good to balance out the richness, light sponge chocolate cakes layered with cream. And the hazelnut gelato was also very delicious.

This is a small restaurant tucked away in the Stanley Park residential neighbourhood. You probably wouldn’t expect a restaurant there. I would love to go back to this restaurant. 🙂

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Siena

My friend told me about newly opened affordable Italian place, so I paid a visit right away. Siena is off corner to Granville on West 12th, as I approach I realize that I have been to this place when it was a Thai restaurant. (It was a very very dark restaurant without much lights and windows.) The new renovated place has lots of big windows and we visited around 6:00pm which gave it a nice soft sunset glow.

We got seated right away since it’s only 6:00pm, no one else at the restaurant yet. It got busy as we have our meals.

To start, we ordered the All Bruschette – Caramelized Onions, Mushroom Mascarpone, Eggplant & Bell Pepper with Fresh Basil. The bread is really good, crispy on the outside and very soft on the inside with a hint of butter.

The onion is very good, soft and very nicely flavoured. Mushroom mascarpone would be good if that is the only piece you are having – it stuffs you up very quickly. The eggplant and bell pepper chopped with a large piece of fresh basil at the bottom, which brings out the flavours. I enjoyed all the bruschette lots. 🙂

Today’s Pasta – Prawn Ravioli with Lobster cream served with oven baked tomatoes and fresh basils. This is indeed a very good ravioli and the lobster cream sauce was great. Usually when I go out and order ravioli I only get about three pieces, but this one is the right proportion.

Today’s Risotto Special – Ling cod with tomatoes and basils topped with crispy garlic flakes. The ling cod was cooked just right, mixed well with the tomatoes and basils. I loved the garlic flakes, so crispy and full of garlic. I loved it!(Maybe I should make that at home and put it in my dishes! :D)

A Side Note:  This dish gets saltier as I go through it. If you are not into salty dishes, maybe ask them to reduce the salt.

Last we ordered a chocolate marshmallow tart – it was a very nice dark chocolate tart mixed marshmallow. It is a very rich dessert, if you are not into chocolate you won’t like this. I was quite stuffed from the bruschette, so I couldn’t finish this. but it was a yummy dessert.

This restaurant is a neighbourhood gem, with nice décor and good service. I would revisit with a few friends again and try out other Today’s Specials.

Another Note: Their wine goes on 50% off on Mondays. If you are into wine and cheese, this would be a great place to go on Monday nights. 🙂

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