Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Top Shanghai Cuisine: Crispy Duck and Xiaolongbao

I had a random craving for xiaolongbao yesterday so when mom asked where we should go for dinner I knew I wanted Shanghai food.

We ended up at Top Shanghai Cuisine which is usually crowded on weekends so we avoid it but on weekdays it was much more manageable.

At Shanghai cuisine restaurants there are often large windows to the kitchen for customers to see the dumplings and more being made. Some are quite fascinating to watch as chefs make 20+ folds to wrap a small dumpling.

Pork Xiaolongbao: These little things were so juicy with soup swirling inside when picked up from the steam tray. The skin was thin as good xiaolongbao should be.

Honestly I don't know the official English names of these dishes on the menu so I will just describe them.

This soupy pot was filled to the brim with ingredients starting with choy sum on the bottom, then topped with vermicelli noodles, squid, fish balls, shrimp, mushroom, egg, peas, and pork skin. The soup was mild broth but it was a good dish to counter the heavy flavours of the other dishes.

Pork chop with Shanghai rice cake was my least favourite dish. The entire dish was very oily and the sauce was not flavourable enough. It seemed like only soy sauce.

The Salty Crispy Duck was probably my favourite with its crunchy skin, soft meat and marinated flavour.

Top Shanghai Cuisine 上海一只鼎 on Urbanspoon


Bel Café and Bonchaz: Macarons and Matcha

Bel Café

Since my last macarons experience at Thierry I wanted to try other places that make macarons in Vancouver. Bel Café was conveniently located just outside Pacific Centre on a rainy day.

The macarons below are passionfruit (yellow), cookies and cream (grey), and cassis (purple). The texture of the macarons here are crunchier on the outside and very soft on the inside. Personally I prefer the chewier texture of Thierry's macarons but these ones were delicious as well.

The cassis one was very fragrant upon first bite and reminded me of a black current candy I used to eat when I was younger.


I had my first Bonchaz pastry on Shine Day and have wanted to visit the café since. I liked the atmosphere of Bonchaz, it was laid back with friendly employees and customers lounging around on the wooden chairs or sofa seats in the back. 

I got a Matcha Greentea pastry that was heated up for me by the helpful lady behind the counter. It kind of reminds me of bread you can find at Asian bakeries with the coconut pieces on top. The pastry wasn't overly sweet and had a green tea centre which honestly did not have much matcha taste.

Bel Cafe on Urbanspoon

Bonchaz Bakery Cafe on Urbanspoon


Miura Waffle Milk Bar: Wasabi Salmon & Bulgogi Sandos

I ate a lot of sweets this past weekend including some sweets that were served savoury.

What I mean are the Waffle Sandos at Miura Waffle Milk Bar. Instead of bread, they use Belgian waffles to make their savoury sandwiches. There are also sweet waffles served like cookies and cream.

Jess and I ordered two different sandos so we could try both!

The Salmon Wasabi one had salmon flakes baked into the waffle batter, lettuce and wasabi ranch sauce. The wasabi ranch was different and the highlight. I prefer my waffles crispier on the outside whereas the ones at Miura were soft.

Salmon Wasabi
The Bulgogi one had kimchi, egg, and beef. I liked this one a lot more because the flavour was stronger and the slight spiciness of the kimchi with the slight sweetness of the waffle were a good match.

Miura Waffle Milk Bar on Urbanspoon


Saturday, 20 October 2012

Cactus Club & Thierry: Tuna Club, Macarons

Finally after two and a half months since we all returned from Quebec, a group of us Explore friends from Vancouver had a reunion! Other than the chilly autumn sun there was nothing reminiscent of summer here but our conversations about the summer we shared brought us back to sunnier places.

I enjoyed good company and nostalgic conversation at a rather noisy Cactus Club on Burrard. I don't usually choose to eat at chain restaurants, probably because quality control of the same menu items is not guaranteed at all the locations. I was pleasantly surprised with what I ordered thinking that it was just a Tuna Club with fries.

The ciabatta bun was brushed with olive oil on top and spread with red onions in generous mayo and butter on the inside. The tuna was grilled medium rare making it tender and dissolving upon each bite. There was also a small piece of bacon on top of the tuna between the buns which I did not care for.

Fortunately this Cactus Club location was within walking distance to Thierry Chocolaterie Patisserie Café. Thierry was on my list of places to try in Vancouver so I was excited to finally get to go!

The café was full of people inside and outside on the patio all happily consuming their treats. I wanted to try their beautifully decorated cakes but I was too full from dinner so I chose two macarons instead.

There was a good assortment of macaron flavours all in appealing colours. I chose a chocolate pistachio one and a cranberry one. Honestly I did not expect much since the last macarons I had at Simply French were disappointing. It must have been my lucky day because all the food I ate today were so delicious!

Both macarons were chewy and slightly sweet. The cranberry one had a small dollop of jam in the middle of the filling but other than that did not taste anything like cranberry. I think the chocolate pistachio one had some orange element to it which I thoroughly enjoyed. Both were scrumptious!

My friend ordered the tiramisu and she loved it a lot. It was very creamy with dark chocolate pieces bordering the cake.
I want to go back to Thierry and try their other desserts already!

Cactus Club Cafe on Urbanspoon

Thierry Chocolaterie Patisserie Cafe on Urbanspoon