Beta 5

This review is kind of late, because I know Beta 5 had came out so long ago. But it’s better late than never. :p

I had been meaning to go get these delicious cream puffs (perhaps their chocolate?), but somehow I always ended up not going or they are not open. Finally one a day off, I decided to finally venture this place.

Beta 5

From the directions from a friend, I really didn’t know about this area. Full of industrial warehouses, Beta 5 is one of the small warehouses within. They do not have seating, I strongly suggest just buying take out and enjoy it at a park with a nice cup of coffee or tea.

Beta 5

Although Beta 5 was really famous for their chocolate, but it seems like their cream puffs have stolen the thunder. They are available in about 12+ flavours, from yuzu to chocolate and some very interesting flavours. All flavours are great combinations with each other, each telling you a different story. So far I have visited twice and tried out five different kinds of flavours:

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Blueberry Yuzu – Citrus taste of yuzu and blueberry is very dominant, if you are not into any sour flavour items. I wouldn’t try this, however I personally like sour stuff. 🙂

Coconut Passionfruit – I never though these two flavours would work so perfectly with each other with over powering each other. I am very impressed by this one.

Salted Caramel – With a chunk of salt sprinkled on top, they make sure you can taste the salt. :p

Raspberry Earl Grey – I can taste the raspberry, but not sure where is the Earl Grey?

Vietnamese Coffee – smooth delicious coffee flavour, with a hint of vanilla. This is a must try for a lot of coffee lovers.

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Overall, these are very good puffs. A little on the sweet side, but the pastry of these puffs are so crispy is hard to resist. I would recommend this place if you are looking for a place to get some good puffs to bring to a party. 🙂

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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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Beautiful Island 風信子台式料理

I have been to this bubble tea place numerous of times, from before they have renovated until now. I think this place has been around for almost ten plus years and still going. Reason? I believe good food and great value. They are a Taiwanese owned family business, used to be very homey with the older decor. Right now the interior looks much more modern and sleek. Their menu has also changed after the renovation, it sells mainly meal combos much like any other Taiwanese bubble tea places. Exif_JPEG_PICTURE Their combo usually comes with a small cup of black tea (lightly sweeten), a bowl of rice, and three small side dishes (vegetables two hot and one cold) – soy sauce braised tofu  (I find this one quite salty for my liking, need to remove it from the sauce to prevent further soaking of the sauce), stir fried cabbage and picked cucumbers.Exif_JPEG_PICTURE Simmer-fried fish steak – deep fried fish steak then topped with sweet soy sauce. When this was eaten fresh, you get to taste the crunch and crisp of the fish. But need to eat the moment they serve it because the sauce will deflate the crisp really fast and turns into not so good fish. Exif_JPEG_PICTURE Exif_JPEG_PICTURE BI Flame Grilled Chicken – house made sauce marinated chicken then flame grilled. There is a special aroma and somewhat close to teriyaki sauce but it is not. Exif_JPEG_PICTURE Buttered mushrooms. I find this one a little too casual, I know this is a family run restaurant but this mushroom was watering like crazy plus I think they’ve chopped everything up way too much made it very hard to pick up with all the water. Exif_JPEG_PICTUREScallion Ginger Chicken – steamed boneless chicken topped with onion and ginger sauce served chilled. This is my favourite so far out of all the ones I’ve tried so far. Delicious ginger onion sauce on top of cold boneless tender chicken, the texture and the flavour is so perfect together. And yes reminds me of home. Exif_JPEG_PICTURE Grass Jelly Milk – okay I don’t know where I’ve been but obviously I had been missing out. How come I never noticed they have this? Lightly sweeten grass jelly in sweet milk, the grass jelly I believe are also house made because they’re very soft and can be sucked through a straw. I couldn’t stop myself from drinking this and got full really fast. :p This place have always have good food, but do not expect service. I consider this an easy quiet bubble tea place I often visit to avoid crowd so I can talk to the people I share food with.

 

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Marutama Ramen

Now I know this place is already being hyped up and I just keep forgetting to write the review for it since I visited it when it first opened in the summer. After which I have been there at least three to four times I cannot recall. But every time I go I was not disappointed.

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On the Bidwell off Robson (relatively close to McDonald’s), it might take a bit to find. Just look for McDonalds and park you’ll see a bright door front shinning out form the dark. The entrance shouts Come In! It’s beautiful, made of wood and full of Japan. 🙂

As I enter, I notice how the whole store is just plain wood. Lots of wood everywhere, gave it a nice pleasant feeling. Service is really good; staffs are very friendly and tentative. They often make sure that you have tea or water in your cup.

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The first thing I noticed is that their noodles are not the typical ramen noodle you see everywhere in Vancouver. They are thinner, and softer I would say. They sort of remind me of Chinese egg noodle in wonton soup. It’s different; I’ve never eaten ramen with this type of noodle before. They are softer and less chewy.

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Definitely their broth is much lighter than most ramen store. I actually quite like it because they are lighter and soup base is made with chicken instead of pork so it went great with their thin noodle. Because of the chicken broth, you don’t feel the pork oil staying on your lips from eating the noodle.

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I know they make their noodle in-house, they have a noodle machine at the corner of the restaurant. You can hear them make their noodles when they operate the machine when you are dining.

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Overall I really liked this ramen place but if you into traditional kind of ramen noodle then this is not the place for you. But if you want to try something different then go and check this place out.

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Graze

I haven’t been to a lot of western vegetarian cuisine out there, so this year Dine Out Vancouver I decided to try something new. “Graze’s all plant-based menu (including all of our wines, beers & spirits) incorporates as many locally & organically produced ingredients as possible.  Building on this foundation, we also grow our own herbs & vegetables, collect rainwater for our garden, compost our kitchen waste, reduce/reuse/recycle everything we can, support ethical suppliers, reduce our power consumption, solar heat our hot water, are very particular about our paper and cleaning products and are always looking for ways to do even more.” http://grazerestaurant.ca/ This is written on their website, and this is what sold me on trying them out.

When I first walked in their restaurant I noticed right away their beautiful wall full of people. Yes it is a giant wall with paintings of people, but it was so dark that I couldn’t take a photo of it. But you really need to look at this beautiful wall. Seriously.

They actually have quite a bit of selections for the dine out menu, each course has about 4 selections which I think is great! After we placed our order, my brother unrolled his napkin to lay out his utensils… then he saw this.

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Okay, this is quite disturbing. Knowing the napkin you were about to use has someone else’s lipstick stain on it… Maybe they tried to wash it and it didn’t come off? The waitress made a witty comment about the stain is hers. But still…. =_=  Or I am just having my luck with these dirty restaurants experience… XD

Appetizers:

Organic yam & red pepper chowder, local corn, cracked black pepper, lightly curried, smoked paprika

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Now I know this soup is suppose to have smoked paprika, but something smelled real burnt here. Don’t get me wrong the soup is great aside from the burning taste, but you know if there is burning taste in any food it is very difficult to get out of it. Because you will simply keep thinking about it over and over – it is burnt.

Salad – Salad of persimmon, pistachio and pomegranate with arugula & almond chevre

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This salad took me by surprise, there is a light tangy taste to the dressing and with the refreshing taste of persimmon at the bottom was really great combination. There are also bits of persimmon along with the salad with crunchy pistachio and almond chevre.

Winter Salad – Winter Salad of lacinato kale with roasted golden & red beets, pear & fig with toasted hazelnuts

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My mom sometimes makes kale at home but usually cooked, this time I got to eat it raw with my favourite beets. 🙂 This is also another delicious salad. Kale is originally very tasteless with very chewy thick texture, but it was so great to be mixed with light beets, pear and fig to balance out the flavours and textures.

Entrees:

TAGLIATELLE – Yam and parsnip broad ‘noodles’ with farro cakes & saffron coconut cream sauce

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Their “noodles” are made out of very thinly sliced parsnip and yam. (Which I found amazing how they can slice them so thin.) Aside from the delicious ‘noodles’ I also adored their saffron coconut cream sauce. Oh my god it is delicious!  Although the only sad thing about this dish is that all ingredients are good, but they don’t blend. None of the flavours were able to blend and absorb into each other.

STEAK & MUSHROOMS – Tea-smoked grilled tofu steak & pepita crusted portabello, beluga lentils & porcini-red wine sauce

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I am not quite sure what is tea-smoked grilled, it was rich in flavour. But I little too heavy in my opinion, I wasn’t quite sure what I was tasting… However, the tofu steak was nice and chewy.

CREPES – Basil & chickpea crepes with marinated & grilled seasonal vegetables & organic tempeh

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The flavour of basil worked really well with the chickpea crepe, brings out the flavour of chickpeas flawlessly. However the crepes are tough, quite difficult to cut with my knife and chew on. They almost taste like overdone pancake that had been left on the grill for 3 hours….

PEROGIES   – Yam & eggplant perogies, sautéed oyster mushrooms, crispy shallots, pickled beet shred, smoky coconut cheddar sauce, spicy tomato jam

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Every since I started to see perogies selling in food trucks, it always reminded me of Chinese dumplings but except it is made of potatoe. This one is made of yam and eggplant, which gave it a lighter flavour than potatoes but sure does stuff you up quickly. The sauce for this perogies is delicious, but here comes another smoky item that also taste a little burnt. (At this point, I really question how they make anything smoky in the kitchen.)

Desserts:

You will surprise how filling all their portions are, I could barely finish my entrée and dessert seems so impossible to finish. But regardless being a sweet tooth of course I will eat the dessert. 😛

Hazelnut macaroons with cardamom pear sorbet and vanilla creme

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Delicious macaroons that are not too sweet, with flaky coconut bits and light hazelnut flavour. My favourite? The sorbet, although it melted with the speed of lighting but I absolutely adore the flavour.

Cacao & rose-infused black cherry trifle layered with toasted cashew crumble
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The flavour of rose shoots out as you take every bite of this black cherry trifle. Lots of overwhelming flavour, the cheei8es, rose and chocolate with bits of chewy cashew. This dessert is not for the faint of heart, they are powerful flavours that fights with each other for your attention.
Lemon mousse filled cannoli, lavender coulis

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I have to say this was the most disappointing ‘mousse’. I know they cannot use gelatin because that would make it not vegetarian but as a baker myself I know there are many many ways to make mousse without gelatin and it will keeps its form. But this just looked like melted ice cream. The flavours are fine, they taste great but presentation is really lacking on this dessert. I almost didn’t want to eat it at all. L

Overall I think there are many better vegetarian restaurants in the lower mainland. This one is priced fairly high but not living up to its standards. There are lots of room for improvement, some of the dishes are so creative just need fine tuning.
Graze on Urbanspoon

Bella Galeteria

Now it is actually quite funny, because I always avoid going to Bella. Not because how I don’t like their gelato because they truly indeed has the best gelato in town. I just don’t go to avoid the people, but now here I am going there during the Hot Chocolate Fest – which of course is asking for the crowd. 😛 But I was sooo lucky to find a table for three girls! 😀

I got the Black Magic: milk hot chocolate served with a black sesame and matcha gBAR (gelato on a stick/popsicle) on the side. The hot chocolate was piping hot and for you to melt the gBAR in the chocolate to enjoy, it is also serve with a slice (seriously the slice is thin enough to be paper) of banana bread.

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On the city food website, it was advertised that we are allow to choose our base of hot chocolate. However I wasn’t asked by the cashier, she simply took my order (I guess they were too busy or sold out of other darkness of chocolate). So I am not quite sure how much percentage of chocolate I got, but I think I got the lowest percentage.

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I can many people enjoying this hot chocolate differently. Some melts the whole gBar in the hot chocolate for a light even distributed flavour, some dips and let it melt a little and eats the gBar separately. The gBar is very delicious, strong and rich black sesame flavour (over powering the matcha I would say).

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Hot chocolate is nice and hot therefore doesn’t allow the gBar cool down the hot chocolate (because luke warm chocolate doesn’t taste good). I enjoyed this hot chocolate and was actually a little filled with the slice of banana bread and a large cup of hot chocolate.

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Leonaids

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A small chocolate café located by Coal Harbour right outside of the Vancouver Convention Centre along with other restaurants and pub. I wanted to try this place last year but time didn’t work out so finally this year for the Hot Chocolate Festival, I need to go and try it out!

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I cannot recall if they are serving the same menu as last year but there are some interesting looking flavours on this year’s menu. They serve this combo that allows you to order one cup of hot chocolate along with either: liege waffle, cheesecake, chocolate, or a scoop of Italian ice cream.

I wanted to keep indulging the chocolate flavour so I ordered a piece of coffee caramel dark chocolate along with my Tiger Milk.

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I was attracted instantly with the description of the ingredients in this white hot chocolate with nugmeg, cardimom and saffron. Now here is the secret to ‘Tiger’ in the milk. As you let your drink sit a thin layer of yellow will glow on the top of your hot chocolate, that’s the tiger! The owner came over to ask if we see the colour coming out, just to make sure. 😉 I believe it is the oil from saffron that gave its colour. This is also a delicious white hot chocolate with spices.

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Jamacian Kiss – Belgian milk chocolate flavoured with coconut, pineapple and rum. Maybe a little strong for 11:00am drink but it was delicious. I loved the coconut milk base with chunks of pineapple, the flavours are so great together it is hard to describe. 🙂

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Hazelnut milk chocolate

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Crepe – I think he gave us extra crepe? I am not sure, but this crepe is soft and chewy served warm! ❤

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Liege Waffle – also served hot, but a little sweet but you can add other toppings and minus the sugar to balance the flavour out.

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Dark Coffee Caramel Chocolate – This is one smooth dark coffee caramel, the filling is so smooth! With light caramel flavour.

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Go check this small chocolate café out, maybe buy a hot chocolate to go and walk along the Coal Harbour. It will be a great way to spend a Saturday afternoon. 😀

Schokolade

This year I am back for the Hot Chocolate Festival, last year I went but didn’t write reviews for the cafes I have visited. (Since I went to so many.) This year again I am trying my best to write reviews for all the cafes I am visiting this year. So stay tuned along with all my Dine Out Vancouver experience! Four busy weeks! 😉

To start off this year’s hot chocolate festival I visited this old place again – Schokolade. Last year I visited and tried out their “SNOW WHITE” – White chocolate and steamed milk, flavoured with peppermint and rose. They have the same menu as last year so you can still try this one out this year! I really liked the creamy smooth white chocolate, however there rose flavour is not strong enough (which I really wished it was!) But it was such a pretty drink to look at. 😉

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DARK AND SPICY” – Made from 70% dark chocolate, cayenne, a shot of espresso and steamed milk. This one is spicy, it’s the cayenne spice that leaves and stays at the your throat while you keep sipping through this chocolate. It seriously doesn’t go away right away. Just a tad bit of the espresso flavour.

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“EXTRA DARK”  – Made from 90% dark chocolate and steamed almond milk. This extra dark chocolate comes with a little bit of bitter from dark chocolate, rich but not sweet. But it is very filling along with chocolate pieces that they serve, I couldn’t finish it.

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“WINTER COMFORT”  – 100% pure hazelnut butter blended with your choice of milk or dark chocolate. This was the easily drinking hot chocolate that day, it was smooth and buttery as it goes down your throat. Comes with freshly made chocolate-dipped hazelnut biscotti.

They have combos such as four pieces of chocolate with your hot chocolate for $10 so three of us were able to try out twelve different chocolate:

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Sunny Orange White, Raspberry, Orange Mah Jong, Dark Passionfruit, Chilli

Exif_JPEG_PICTUREBrandy Truffle, Dark Pomergranate, Earl Grey Milk, Mango & Jalapena White, Chai Spice Dark

Their chocolates are generally really good, comes with a wide variety of interesting flavours. My favourite so far is pomergranate dark, earl grey milk and sunny orange white. Go try this one and you won’t regret it!

Schokolade Cafe on Urbanspoon

Merchant’s Oyster Bar

You probably wouldn’t think such restaurant at this location and this neighborhood. This little restaurant at the corner of E 1st and Commercial Drive, you can see from the outside how clean and simple the place is. Once you enter you will see lots of different type of harbor lamps and anchors, making you feel like you are by the pier. We were greeted right away and seated right away without reservation.

They have only set menus, oysters or a la carte. With the four of us, we ordered three sets to share. Their set menus comes in different combinations:

1.       Snack, 1st course, 2nd course       $29

2.       1st course, 2nd course, dessert    $31

3.       Full four courses                           $37

I have to warn those who likes to have big meals to stay away from this place. This place is great for a drink with some snacks such as oysters and small bites. Even though they are written as course on the menu, they are verily small portions. Also they are quite slow with the meals, okay maybe I am just being nice. They are slow. So if you are hungry and want food fast, do not come here or else you will be pretty fungry.

So we did one set menu 1 and two set menu 2. For snacks we ordered oysters (of course you eat oysters if the restaurant name is Merchant’s Oyster 😛 ) I know the menu combination seems to a little hard to digest but you will understand more when you get there.

Oysters are fresh, good fresh. So if you like oyster maybe this will be a new oyster joint for you. Their quality is Rodney’s and Chewies, minus the noise and at times annoying waiters.

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1st Course:

Roasted Heirloom Beets – Moroccan spiced yogurt, citrus glaze and herbs

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Delicious sweet sweet beets with different colours and herbs, almost looked like a salad… I guess it is sort of a salad. But you know I just can’t get over how sweet the beets are! I absolutely love beets that these ones are so tasty! Sweet and right texture, they were perfect. Seriously, perfect. *in heavn~~*

Beef Tartare – sriracha, pickled shallots

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Don’t let the colours scare you, it is not as spicy as it looks. It is loaded with tomatoes, or maybe they are not tomatoes I don’t know what they are because they taste like tomatoe. But it is not that spicy. This one is actually very yummy also, the light refreshing tomatoe allows the beef to shine. Literally… XD I have eaten some tomatoes cooked with beef but never raw for both, but now I know the secret! It’s so great!

Linguine Carbonara – bacon, yolk, Parsley

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I would give this pasta a meh, because it is not that great. The pasta itself is a little too al dente. Flavour is a little bit lacking. Maybe they are good with meat and seafood?

2nd Course:

Pemberton Flank Steak – pan seared with herb puree, roast root vegetables, onion soubise

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Very good flavour steak, although of course it is not the best cut but the flavour of this totally makes up for it. It is hard to describe, I just really enjoyed it, not too heavy and just right. (Hahah, I guess they are essentially the same meaning. 😛 )

Pork Belly – with Brussels sprouts, House Mustard

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Was surprised how nonfat they were able to make this. Usually most restaurant pick a pretty fat cut, but this one piece is a good balance of fat and meat.

Spinach Ravioli – For some really odd reason I can’t even recall anything about this dish. It must means it is not just a very average dish. Nothing stands out (good or bad).

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Dessert:

Chocolate Ganache with brown butter and rose gelato

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Of course, if you order chocolate ganache you are expecting rich chocolate flavour, but I just don’t know about that think puree at the bottom… I didn’t know what I was eating, it’s just not good. I guess they are not very good at dessert either. But the rose gelato is so good, full of rose aroma in every bite.

They are participating in the Dine Out Vancouver right now, so you can for sure go try it out. Maybe they are still quite young and learning new stuff and styles. Maybe next time I will return with a few friends to see if anything has changes.

Sorry for the bad quality photo, I left my camera at home. 😦

Merchant's Oyster Bar on Urbanspoon

Sushi by Yuji

I saw this new sushi place that popped by on Kingsway and Nanaimo, oh new sushi place! But at a glance it looks like a very quiet place not many people. Then later I saw photos of my friends visiting this sushi place and they recommended it so I decided to really try it out myself.

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It’s very quiet, there were only one extra table there with my friends and I. It is also a very clean place, ran by Japanese – their whole staff crew speaks Japanese to each other.

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Wild Salmon Sashimi – fresh and tenderExif_JPEG_PICTURE

Yuji’s Roll – shrimp, ika, cucumber, salmon. I really like how the ika (squid) played in this roll, gave chewy texture and light sweetness to the roll. Then there are these very bouncy shrimps and velvet like salmon. Mmm, I high recommend this.

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Negi Shio Saba Roll with  Ginger – do you like ginger? IF you do you will like this one. It also tasted real great with saba, I have never eaten saba with ginger (mostly just onion) but it is great to balance out the over powering saba flavour.

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Ika Mentaiko (Gunkan) – fresh chewy squid sashimi with mentaiko (marinated roe of pollock). These mentaiko which you can find in many Japanese udon. They are extra delicious with squid and seaweed.

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Hamachi Avocado Roll – I never thought of the combination of hamachi of avocado would be perfect harmony. The nice creamy avocado adds to the smooth rich hamachi, they really do work great together.

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And I have to say, even with different types and new creative combinations of sushi the sushi chef still roll his perfect Japanese sushi rolls. (You should notice in my other posts how important it is for me for sushi to roll in the perfect firmness.)

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With great sushi this place comes with great service and friendly staff. I would revisit for sure, It is at a very awkward location that most people would probably not notice. So if you go, open your eyes and look hard for their sign! Enjoy everyone. 🙂

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