Miku Sushi, Vancouver, BC

http://www.mikurestaurant.com

It was a gorgeous day in Vancouver; the sun was shinning and the birds were singing. For a nice Mother’s Day lunch, my family and I made a special reservation to eat at the chic sushi restaurant, Miku. We invited my grandparents as well, which was a lovely time for chit chat and smiles! Everyone was dressed super cute. We sat on sleek white leather chairs at a smooth squared wooden table. The decor was simple yet modern. I’ve been to this place before, and each time has always been a really wonderful dining experience. Surely enough, I wasn’t disappointed this time either. The only improvement needed was the service. We had a nice Australian waitress, but we waited too long for the dishes. Also, they never took finished plates away quickly enough. Other than that, the food was delicious, the presentation was spectacular, and the view we had of the Pacific ocean was beautiful. Their philosophy is “finding a joy in your life by bringing one to others.” Overall, I had a delightful time here, so I’d say they accomplished this concept. Definitely the best sushi restaurant in Vancouver.

Miso soup

IMG_0552 IMG_0553

To start off our meal, we have here a nice warm miso soup with enoki mushrooms and a dashi broth made from scratch. You can tell this isn’t your typical miso soup from Vancouver, because they didn’t use miso from a package. It was very tasty and I like the incorporation of mushrooms.

Oysters

IMG_0556 IMG_0560

These were pretty good. They were plump, meaty, creamy  and fresh.

Aburi platter

IMG_0563

This was absolutely marvellous! From the outstanding presentation, to the innovative pieces of delicious sushi; every part of this dish was fantastic. Aburi is when you take nigiri and grill (top) half and keep the other half raw. This was a good example of what aburi should taste like. The rice is what I look for in sushi too. It was a tad bit warm and a little sweet. My brother was actually the first to finish his dish, which was surprising considering the fact that he’s usually the slowest eater :p With that being said, it shows that this is certainly a really yummy plate.

Red wave, Miku and Coal Harbour rolls

IMG_0566

Again, the presentation was ravishing and the taste was undeniably there. You can really tell they use fresh, quality fish. The red wave roll had crab, avocado, wrapped in red tuna and masatake sauce. The Miku roll, had salmon, crab, cucumber, sea urchin, rolled in flying fish roe and miku sauce. Last but not least, my favourite roll on this plate, the coal harbour roll had red tuna, hokkaido scallops, asparagus, wasabi pickles, wrapped in hamachi and shiso, moromi-miso and spicy jalapeño sauce. Every single one of these rolls worked with all the ingredients included. A burst of nice flavours with each bit you take!

Passion Fruit Praline Dome

IMG_0578.JPG IMG_0584.JPG

This is hands down, one of the best desserts I’ve had. I mean, the presentation was absolutely exquisite (love how there’s a nice pop of sparkly yellow on the dome) and it tasted scrumptious too. There was a wonderful use of texture at the bottom, it was a chocolate arare wafer. Another thing I liked, was how they used the passion fruit. It was a bit sour, but the salted hazelnut ice cream balanced it out perfectly with it’s sweetness. There was also passion fruit cream, praline mousse and mango compote. Most definitely recommend this to anyone who’s a fan of sweets.

Green Tea Opera 

IMG_0579.JPG

This was good too. This had green tea génoise infused with espresso and frangelico liqueur, dark chocolate ganache, azuki bean purée and green tea ice cream. The waitress told us this takes three days to make! You can obviously tell the chefs here are really passionate about what they do.

Chocolate Cake with Basil Ice cream (special)

IMG_0586.JPG

Unfortunately, you can’t order this. Of course, the presentation was beautiful. The plates they used are cool too; they’re like black squared rock plates. Anyway, the cake was pretty rich, but the fresh strawberries, raspberries and basil ice cream balanced it out. Really enjoyed all their desserts!

Rating

9/10

Would go back! 

See more at

Miku Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Crêpe Coeur, Paris, France

After a lovely day of walking around Paris and soaking in all the beautiful scenery the city has to offer, we chose to go to a more casual place for dinnertime. As I entered the restaurant, I immediately smelled the delicious aroma of fresh crepes being made. With a choice of sweet or savory, this place does a great job on making tasty crepes. I chose to start with a savory crepe for my main, then followed by a sweet one dish for dessert. All in all, it was a delicious experience on our last day in France (crepes originate from Brittany, FYI) – even though it’s such a cliché.

The service was satisfying considering our waitress was very friendly and approachable. The lighting was “romantic” because of the glowing pink candles, so it pulled everything together. The accents were pink so it was very feminine and dainty looking!  I recommend this restaurant for a relaxed evening, the intimate setting would fit perfectly for a first date.

photo 1

Jo coeur

photo 3

This is the savory crepe. Filled with warm sunny side up eggs, beef, melted cheddar, juicy slices of tomatoes and onions. The crepe itself is crispier and a bit dryer than what I usually have, and slightly burned too but I think that was on purpose. The ingredients are of good quality and it’s a pretty tasty dish. Kind of reminded me of Mexican food.

Sugar and butter

photo 4This was delicious! I’m a huge fan of sugar and butter crepes, and this very much satisfied my craving for it. The texture was perfect. It was extremely wonderfully soft and chewy, unlike the texture of the savory crepe. I definitely liked this more than the savory crepe. It was warm and had that divine taste of what a real sugar and butter crepe should taste like.

Overall

7/10

Would come back?

Yes

 

Lupo, Vancouver, BC

http://www.luporestaurant.ca

For my brother’s birthday last night, we had dinner at Lupo Italian restaurant in Yaletown. Previously Villa del Lupo, the restaurant was started by Julio Gonzalez Perini, followed by Michael Mameli and Takeo Hiroi – who are also involved in The Beach House and Cin Cin. The re-vamped Lupo is an upgraded modern and relaxed version with a contemporary kitchen that serves fresh reinventions of Italian classics in a cozy, neighbourhood environment.

“Guests will find a vibrant atmosphere and great food with masterful touches at affordable prices.” – (http://www.luporestaurant.ca/aboutlupo.html)

With a cozy homey feeling, it is a very comfortable place yet still emulates fine dining. The entrance consists of a front porch area, and the house continues on with the incorporation of a den area complete with a fireplace, furniture, and stairs very similar to my own. The stained glass windows and wooden floors add a final touch, along with the relaxing mood music.

The menu is rooted in familiar dishes and Italian favourites, but has a sense of adventure and extravagance that comes from Perini’s background in fine dining… In a humble and straightforward manner, Perini uses the best local, seasonal ingredients and creates everything in-house – from hand rolled bread sticks to freshly ground sausage to pillowy pasta dough.

This is definitely very true! Through conversation, our wonderful waitress (Julia) told us that the chefs to work at 10am, prepping for 5pm dinner; they truly work very very hard to give us the best possible quality! We had a lot of other entertaining conversations with her; about French background, good places to eat in Vancouver, and just food in general. She contributed to giving us a great experience with her pleasant attitude, light jokes, and cheerful mood.

Pork Belly “Toscano” (Apple mostarda)

Image

Very tasty with the sweet apple syrup and little cubes of caramelized apple almost similar to the consistency of jelly. The small portion of spinach topped off with a fabulous quail egg was delicious as well. The only thing I would point out is that it would have been sensational if finished with a crunchy layer on top. Otherwise, the pork was very tender and moist.

Spinach ravioli, buffala, tomato

Image

This plate was fairly basic in comparison to some of the other options, and therefore had the opportunity to be perfected with greater effort. The flavours were satisfying and the cheese added a nice gooey texture. Sweet tomato sauce and just the right portion to keep me full for the night. I know this seems like a pretty plain choice with no meat, but I was in the mood for something light and this sounded appealing to me because it had the same components as my favourite salad – Caprese!

Here is a little bit of what everyone else had:)

SPECIAL: Vitello tonnato (cold, sliced veal covered with a creamy, mayonnaise-like sauce that has been flavoured with tuna)

Image

This is a popular Italian dish that is also frequently served in Argentina – known as vitel toné.

Caesar salad

Image

Nice coverage with the sauce (not drenched but just enough for flavour). There are lots of bits of cheese which I like. The tomatoes are a nice touch of juicy and fresh.

Penne bolognese (classic Italian meat sauce)

photo 3-6

Good, but I like the spaghetti noodles better with this sauce as you can get chunks of meat in one bite, its saucier, and overall works better for the texture of this classic dish.

Linguine (local shrimp+prawns, zucchini, citrus cream)

photo 1-8

This was my absolute favourite of the main dishes tonight. I loved the flavour: creamy, yet not thick; good texture (with the noodles and all); very well executed. So delicious, and would definitely come back for this!

Fettuccine (wild mushrooms)

photo 2-10

This was very interesting, and my parents loved this!! I think it was unique in flavour because it wasn’t exactly creamy, and fell a bit short off your typical savoury dish (think baked chicken, meat loaf, etc.). It had a slightly sour/minuscule amount of bitterness component to it, which was a cool contrast with the mushrooms. Perhaps it falls into the category of umami; a Japanese originating term describing a fifth taste that is starting to become increasingly recognized in the cooking world. Although primarily used to describe the taste of Monosodium Glutamates (MSG) which are popularly found in meat, the western culture allows for a broader range of description which includes mushrooms (read more here and here). Click here for some examples, and to get more of an idea of what I’m talking about.

Florentina (Pancetta, rosemary potatoes, rocket salad)

photo 4-5

Tender and juicy, but cannot compare to the grilled, lightly salted, and rosemary taste I had the pleasure of experiencing in an all-too-authentic restaurant along the Florentine countryside whilst driving along in Italy, roughly 3 years ago. Here, the people couldn’t even speak English, and the room was bustling in celebratory cheer (it seemed to be something like a small anniversary party).

SPECIAL: VEAL CHOPS

photo 5-7

The birthday boy got the last serving of what seemed to be the go-to choice as it was the manager’s reccomendation of “the best”.

Raspberry and hazelnut

photo 3-7

Loved the crunch of hazelnut on the bottom crust along with the sweet-tart taste of raspberry. Yummy!

Tiramisu

photo 4-6

Birthday boy’s treat! Didn’t get to try it, but looks nice. Good to know that it was made in-house.

Sorbet and gelato

photo 5-8

The blueberry-blackberry and coconut “boules de glace” were delicious. Not too overpowering or sweet but just enough to satisfy my taste buds. The coconut was creamy and apparent, as the blueberry-blackberry was a nice blend. I genuinely enjoyed these.

Among restaurants in Vancouver, Lupo will definitely be found among the higher standards of quality, ranking #41 of almost 3,000 restaurants in Vancouver on TripAdvisor. Lupo, which means wolf in Italian, may refer to the hungry craving you need before coming here! Upon leaving your belly will be full and jolly after devouring into the appetizing plates. Buon appetito!

Rating:

7.5/10

Would come back?

Yes. Would love to try the ossobucco sometime!

See more at:
Lupo on Urbanspoon

Diva at the Met Update – The most undervalued restaurant in Vancouver!

http://www.metropolitan.com/diva/

We reviewed this place in 2012, and now with a new chef and tasting menu, we decided to review it again.  We had the tasting menu.  For $55, this is the most undervalued restaurant in Vancouver.  This tasting menu, in any other city, would easily be over $55 (I hope they do not read this and raise the price!).  The presentation, quality of food, and innovative menu would easily warrant a Michelin star for this place if their service was commensurate with such places (and if Michelin was in Vancouver); absolutely nothing wrong with the service at Diva, its just very Vancouver, which is to say more laid back and informal.  I would say this is the BEST fine dining restaurant in Vancouver.  Portions are always perfect size.  The only improvement I think they should make is a renovation of the dining room.  When I am craving an innovative, well presented, yummy tasting menu, this is the ONLY place in Vancouver which comes to mind (Hawksworth is eh for service and inconsistent).  In general, Vancouver is lacking in the creative tasting menu department that so many other cities have.

House Cured Salmon Tataki

imagejpeg_2_0  

The salmon was well cooked, raw on the inside.  Taste had umami.  Everything on the plate worked well.

Seared Foie Gras

imagejpeg_3

The seared foie gras was well executed.  It was not too rich and when the palate needed to be refreshed, there was the elderflower jelly and sorbet.  The housemade brioche had a nice fluffy texture.

Smoked black cod

imagejpeg_4

This dish was good.  Of all the dishes though, this would be my least favorite.  I did not get that milky rich cod taste from this.  Still good though.

Prime beef tenderloin

imagejpeg_5

The meat was perfectly cooked.  Everything on the plate was wonderful.

For dessert…

Flourless cake

imagejpeg_6

Rating

8.5/10 – would definitely go back again, and again

See more at

Diva at the Met on Urbanspoon

L’Abattoir, Gastown, Vancouver

http://www.labattoir.ca

With a chic atmosphere and modern decor, this French restaurant makes a great place to sit and chat with friends or family. During my dinning experience here, I enjoyed a lovely dinner accompanied by my grandparents. My family and I haven’t seen them recently, so we decided to catch up over a nice meal. The service here was good; never had to wait to long in-between dishes. Also, I really admire how the chefs are at least trying to be innovative and creative with their food; most restaurants here in Vancouver are so… je ne sais quoi, “bland”. The presentation of the food is beautiful, but they could work on improving and developing their flavours.

To start…

photo 5-5

Here we have three different kinds of warm bread, including bacon brioche and parmesan. Mmm!

Scallops

photo 4-3

Raw scallops that you can definitely tell came from the ocean. The sauce is sour yet buttery; a yummy combination.

Duck terrine foie gras

photo 2-6

The sauce for this overpowers the foie gras. It’s terrine alcohol and white wine jelly squares. Not the best choice with foie gras…

Octopus

photo 2-7

Thoughtful dish, with blended olives, a more subtle taste. The octopus was chewy and didn’t have much taste. Just okay.

Pork belly

photo 5-6

This on the other hand, had nice flavours. They didn’t overpower the well cooked pork, and the sauce complimented the meat nicely. Was it rhubarb? Not quite sure, but it wasn’t too sour. Good dish.

Albacore tuna 

photo 4-2

This was a refreshing dish. There were raw green beans, along with some raw fish. I’d suggest adding some acidity to this, such as lime or ponzu sauce, because it would give it that pop of flavour.

Asparagus salad

photo 1-5

This was nice, but not fantastic. I mean, it’s just on the verge of being plain. All ingredients are raw, so maybe change it up to combine textures. Not complex.

Duck breast

photo 1-6

As you take your first bite, you can taste the great texture of the tender duck. The meat is juicy and zesty from the orange. There’s a nice combination of fat in the skin too. I’m pretty sure it’s been slightly smoked. Another tasty dish.

Sablefish

photo 4-4

Here we have sablefish baked with rosemary and brown butter. I wasn’t satisfied with this. I was expecting this to be cooked perfectly, but instead it was a bit dry and bland.

Rating 

6/10

Would go back?

Yes, but don’t necessarily crave it

See more at
L'Abattoir on Urbanspoon

Marche Bacchus, Summerlin, NV

http://www.marchebacchus.com

A scenic patio brunch on the dazzling Lake Jacqueline makes you feel like you are anywhere but Las Vegas! With a gentle breeze and the sparkling sunshine, this beautiful setting has the power to make you feel as if you were on “a vacation within a vacation”!

photo 5-2

The fairly reserved but tempting menu made it a bit tricky for me to decide what to order! Finally, I decided that for starters I would share the Seared foie gras (wild mushrooms, sweet onions, aged balsamic vinegar) with Alyssa.

photo 1-4

It may not look like that nice of a presentation, but the taste seems to differ. With the sweet, slightly burnt, and very rich taste and fatty oil, everything contributes nicely to the dish’s overall essence. The addition of mushrooms added texture, while the salad was almost like a garnish, except for, as the French would do: eat everything on your plate!!

Moules Frites (mussels, shallots, white wine, butter, garlic, pommel frites)

photo 2-4photo 3-4

This dish – which actually originates from Belgium – is a favourite among dishes served in restaurants all over France. There are many ways this can be prepared: marinières (described above with the addition of parsley), parquées (raw mussels on half shell with lemon-mustard sauce), à la bière (beer used as substitute for white wine), and à l’ail (mussels are cooked with garlic). Of course, these are just some of the standard possibilities as there are countless other variations which exist/are yet to come.

These were not too overdone in terms of seasoning and taste development: they stuck close to a raw taste of the sea, and the creamy, cheesy broth was fantastic! A bit too thick and rich to drink, but dip the crispy fries into the mix and you’ll be deeply satisfied.

Seasonal gelato/sorbet (pistachio and chocolate) – James Beard Award Winning Chef Luciano Pellegrini’s Seasonal Creations.

photo 4-2

 

The James Beard Foundation is at the center of America’s culinary community, dedicated to exploring the way food enriches our lives.

Read more here.

This ice cream was so good! Perfect balance of sweet, and the flavour was very prominent. The pistachio really reminded me of the ice cream I had at Ladurée, New York, back in August.

A casual place with an edge of sophistication and class, very impressive view, and calming ambiance. Our server was also very nice and not overly intruding. He explained things without adding any unnecessary comments (droning on and on), but towards the end also managed to strike up some friendly conversation. Overall a lovely experience worth the drive!

Rating:

8/10

Would come back?

Yes

See more at:

Marché Bacchus on Urbanspoon

Momiji, Seattle, Washington, USA

http://momijiseattle.com/#home_

photo-18

After a tiring two hour flight from Las Vegas to Seattle, I had only eaten a displeasing cold sandwich, which I’d purchased at the airport. My stomach beseeched for a delicious meal! Lucky for me, my dad made reservations to dine at this cool Japanese sushi restaurant called  Momiji (which means Japanese maple tree).

This place has a hip urban feel to it. When you first arrive, you can see a bar filled with tons of bottles and some huge beige circular  lights hanging above. You then walk through a long hallway with wooden walls formed in rectangular shapes. This leads you to a nice open space, which is where my family and I sat. The lights are dim, and jazz music plays quietly in the back. Outside to my right was a beautiful Japanese styled garden, with a shingled roof, exotic trees, nicely placed rocks, and bamboo sticks composed to make a small water fountain. To my left, you see the chefs preparing the food.Generally speaking, the atmosphere here is lovely.

On a side note, the service is fantastic. Our server was so friendly and helpful with choosing what to order. Really a delight.

Overall, this was a very enjoyable experience. The food was divine and so creative. A must-go-to kinda place!

 

Chefs preparing food

photo-19

 

Uni nigiri

photo-23

This is really good! The uni is creamy and the rice is sticky, with that vinegar flavour. Something light to start off with.

King crab tower, Garlic short ribs and Kurobuta no Kakuni

photo-24

King crab tower (on the left, inside a white bowl): this is so refreshing. It’s a cold dish with a nice crunch from the cucumber and caviar, but is mainly mushy, due to the snow crab. Packed with avocado, pico de gallo in yuzu citrus ponzu, and cilantro aioli with black tobiko. A swell combination, resulting in a burst of tastiness.

Garlic short ribs (to the right, on the white plate): Beef short ribs with garlic soy glaze and taro chips on the side. The meat is chewy and has a simple flavour. You can identify a hint of grilled barbecue taste. The chips were very delicious!

Kurobuta no Kakuni: Taking a first bite into the warm braised pork shoulder, the meat falls apart easily between your teeth.It’s so tender! The broth has a hint of mustard, but is also a bit sweet. Yum!

 

Chicken Karaage, momiji roll and moonraker

photo-25

Chicken Karaage (on the blue plate): Not the best chicken. I mean, it’s alright, but it’s plain. Needs more salt or some sort of seasoning and a crunchier outer layer. Wouldn’t order this again.

Momiji roll (to the left on the skinny rectangle plate): LOVE when rolls are bite size! It’s such a bonus, because you can capture all flavours and ingredients in one chew. That’s why I really like the rolls here. This is kind of like a california roll with salmon and caviar on top. It was good. The rice has that nice seasoning that all sushi places should have.

Moonraker (on the right plate): This was a sweet tasting roll with a dash of spice (jalapeño citrus sauce). The yellowtail has been seared (which you can taste) and is topped off with snow crab and black tobiko. Another amazing roll.

 

Oscar night

photo-26 photo-29

My favourite roll! The aburi flavour is soo scrumptious. Pop one of these in your mouth and immediately taste the yummy  sour sauce. A tad chewy, but I like it that way. This has scallops, grilled oyster mushrooms, shiso, asparagus and ume. Unfortunately it’s one of their specialty rolls, on the fresh/special list.

 

Wild Ivory Salmon

photo-34

This is very different from your regular. The texture is extremely soft and the salmon is pretty oily. A fatty slice of goodness though.

For dessert…

Gateau Chocolat and the Seasonal Special

photo-28

On the left: This is a cold chocolate slice of cake. Sweet, rich and dense. Not the best chocolate cake, but still satisfying.

On the right: A custard cake, with raspberries, strawberries and blueberries. Dense, moist and not as sweet as the chocolate. 

Rating

9/10

See more at:

Momiji Sushi Restaurant on Urbanspoon