Thursday, January 1, 2015

Goodbye 2014, Hello 2015

Hello to All!

I want to thank everyone for reading my blog along with those who take their time to e-mail me. My main goal regarding blogging for the new year is to hopefully publish at least twenty eight posts a month, so this way I will not fall behind. I am always open to recommendations along with corrections as well. With regards to my negative followers, I always speak the truth about my dining experiences. Do I deliberately go out seeking mediocre restaurants? Of course not! I wish every restaurant I visit is great because trust me, I rather purchase a Birkin than deliberately seek below average restaurants.

Since 2014 is over, I wanted to make a list of my most positive and negative memorable dining experiences. The listed restaurants below are not necessarily the best or worst unless stated, it is just the most memorable ones to me.

Positive Memorable Chinese Restaurants

1.  Shining Garden 麥田餐廳, Vancouver.

First Post || Second Post || Third Post || Fourth Post

The most memorable and favourite Chinese restaurant of mine is Shining Garden. I visit a lot of Chinese restaurants based on convenience and it may be hard to believe that Chinese food is not my favourite cuisine. Shining Garden is my go-to because the food has always been consistent and the restaurant uses quality ingredients. Whenever I hear the words "Chinese food" now, I never complain if we go to Shining Garden. Although other people complain because they rather try new restaurants…

2. Pelican Seafood Restaurant 又一村海鮮酒家, Vancouver.

First Post || Second Post || Third Post

My second go-to restaurant which I have cheated on since the beginning of the year, is Pelican Seafood. The restaurant is open for dim sum, dinner and late night hours. Pelican Seafood used to be my go-to until I discovered Shining Garden and there are a few reasons why. One, Pelican is the cleanest late night Chinese restaurant; two, a young waiter treats us like VIP on every single visit and this is the only restaurant where we always tip 25%; and three, the prices are very reasonable and there are a few dishes I like. The service overall is the highest influencing factor on why I choose to return because at every restaurant I am a "regular" at, the staff feels like we should "help ourselves" rather than, well… providing service.

3. Imperial Court Beijing Cuisine 王府井京川粵名菜, Richmond.

Blog Post [here]

Okay, this is one restaurant that proved me wrong. From the dirty carpets, dirty table setting, stained yellow as well as teared pages on the menu, and ripped tablecloths to the inattentive staff, the food is surprisingly good. South Ocean Seafood is one restaurant that I will revisit and hopefully the food will be consistent. The most memorable item are the Pan Fried Beef Noodles.

4. Imperial Court Beijing Cuisine 王府井京川粵名菜, Richmond.

Blog Post [here]

For a Chinese restaurant in Richmond, the prices at Imperial Court are fairly reasonable. The restaurant is clean and some of the dishes are above average. The reason why the restaurant is memorable however, is because Imperial Court offers only the first course of Peking Duck. So for those who love Peking Duck skin more than the minced meat and lettuce wrap, this is a dream because you can order just the skin!

5. Chef Tony 頤東大酒樓, Richmond.

Blog Post [here]

Kirin, Red Star and Sun Sui Wah are three known places to go for dim sum, but I never find those restaurants special. Perhaps because I grew up going there? Regardless, I consider the three restaurants as must visits for tourists. As for myself, I enjoyed the dim sum at Chef Tony and considering the similar prices to the aforementioned restaurants, it is a must revisit.

6. Tak Heng Hot Pot Restaurant 德興火鍋酒家, Richmond.

First Post || Second Post

Despite a couple of minor discrepancies regarding the bill, Tak Heng is my go-to restaurant for hot pot. The restaurant serves quality ingredients and offers a variety of cooked items. Most importantly, the cooked items are great. I am hooked on the barbecued chicken wings and the goji jello!

7. Little Sheep Mongolian Hotpot 小肥羊, Vancouver.

First Post || Second Post

There are three locations of Little Sheep which include Burnaby, Richmond and Vancouver, but only Vancouver's location is worth visiting in my opinion. The hot pot restaurant at the Vancouver location is always consistent, serving good quality meat and fresh vegetables.

Positive Memorable Japanese Restaurants

1. Tokyo Hon Sushi, Langley.

Blog Post [here]

One restaurant I am more than glad to revisit this year will be Tokyo Hon in Langley. The Japanese restaurant has a very nice, warm and relaxing atmosphere along with welcoming staff. Moreover, the fresh sashimi and carefully prepared dishes makes it a must revisit on my list.

2. Kintaro Ramen 金太郞, Downtown Vancouver.

Blog Post [here]

For those craving a bowl of fatty ramen, Kintaro serves the best in my books. But for those who want a lighter taste, try the sister restaurant Motomatchi Shokudo which is located a few doors down.

3. Hokkaido Ramen Santouka, Downtown Vancouver.

Blog Post [here]

One of the creamiest, richest and most velvety ramen in Vancouver would be Santouka's. I highly recommend the shio or the miso ramen! Santouka has to be on every tourists' must visit list in Vancouver.

4. Richmond Sushi, Richmond.

Blog Post [here]

A must visit for those who are fans of amaebi, hamachi and mirugai is Richmond Sushi. Since Richmond Sushi is constantly busy, the sashimi is always fresh and the quality is better than many Japanese restaurants I have visited. Keep in mind, Richmond Sushi is only a good option for those who prefer the more "deluxe" sashimi.

Positive Memorable Miscellaneous Restaurants

1. Finch's Tea and Coffee House, Downtown Vancouver.

Blog Post [here]

A sandwich shop that is not overrated in my opinion, would be Finch's Tea and Coffee House. The fresh baguette which is easy to chew along with the fresh ingredients, make the sandwiches worth grabbing on the go.

2. Estrella's Montreal Deli, Langley.

Blog Post [here]

Unfortunately, the best smoked meat sandwiches are out in Langley at Estrella's. There are not many places in Vancouver that serve smoked meat sandwiches and having tried a couple such as Dunn's Famous and La Belle Patate, none of those restaurants come close to Estrella's.

3. King Mahal Restaurant, Burnaby.

Blog Post [here]

King Mahal is a small family run business, where the owners and son treat guests like VIP. The young gentleman is very polite and the food is served on heated plates. But most importantly, the curries taste flavourful! The restaurant also provides the option of having the "regular" amount of salt in the food or less. We went for the lighter amount of salt, which thankfully did not compromise the taste and flavours.

4. Amichi, West Vancouver.

Blog Post [here]

It is no secret that I am a picky eater, which makes me glad to announce that Amici is one of the few restaurants that I gave four stars to regarding the food. From the appetizers and pastas to the entrees, all the dishes tasted above average. Pair that with a friendly owner and staff along with a nice atmosphere, equals one successful Italian restaurant.

5. Le Crocodile, Downtown Vancouver.

Dinner Post || Lunch Post

Le Crocodile is a tough one for me because my dinner experience was great, but my lunch visit was not. I have read about pretentious and "snobby" servers, but never understood what that meant. Thinking back now however, I believe the server during lunch services at Le Crocodile would define the meaning of "pretentious". Service aside, Le Crocodile's menu for dinner is worth a visit. My recommendations are the bone marrow, rack of lamb and pear tart.

6. ManCakes Bakery, Yaletown.

Blog Post [here]

A gourmet cupcake store with fun flavours and quality ingredients, makes ManCakes a must try on my list. Ingredients such as red wine, rum, tequila and whiskey are not easy to come by in cupcakes. In addition, these are no BS cupcakes that are all the same but with different flavours of icing. Each cupcake has a filling!

7. Bernard Noir Chocolate, Downtown Vancouver.

Blog Post [here]

Bernard Noir's chocolatier makes one of the best maracons I have had in Vancouver. There are only eight choices and the texture along with the balance of flavours are bang on.

8. Dallas Pizza & Souvlaki, Vancouver.

Blog Post [here]

The only place I currently trust with my roast lamb is Dallas Pizza & Souvlaki! I promise I will try one Greek restaurant this year asides from here.

9. Globe @ YVR Fairmont Airport, Richmond.

Blog Post [here]

Due to a small comment on Instagram of me saying that Fairmont Hotel is better than Globe @ YVR, the Outlets Captain invited me to revisit their afternoon tea services. I did not tag or e-mail the restaurant and the marketing coordinator inquired about my experience on her own. Honestly, I appreciate businesses that try to rectify themselves and care about their customers' experiences. The restaurant also removed the unsanitary placemats that I mentioned in my post!

10. Toe Dam Korean, Burquitlam.

First Post || Second Post

Some people may not be picky towards Korean cuisine, but I am very fussy. I need a good, rich and flavourful gamjatang along with quality barbecue meats. And Toe Dam Korean serves it all. The service is more Korean friendly but considering the restaurant has push buttons and the food tastes great, I can live with that.

Negative Memorable Restaurants

Fine Dining, Westcoast and Seafood Cuisine.

Poor quality $125.00 steak and lack of service for a fine dining establishment. This visit was around the time when I was "new" to blogging and BF thought it was a "little person" move to take photos of the problem areas regarding the food, especially when the staff is nearby. However, now I realize that majority of the people do not even care if you take photos of the food and the staff never notices those who snap away at problem areas. Hawksworth is one restaurant where I regret not speaking up at and wish we asked for a new steak considering the very high price. It still surprises me how any chef would serve a steak and not remove a huge portion of tendon in the middle.

Having tried the Mother's Day Brunch at the Hilton Hotel, I was very impressed with both the selection and quality of food along with the service, so I decided to revisit for their regular Sunday Brunch. However, the buffet had a poor selection of food and the quality was not good either. And no carving station? Really? Unfortunately the service did not even make up for the food too.

3. Joe Fortes Seafood and Chop House, Downtown Vancouver

Unfortunately the steaks were mediocre considering the high prices and our server was not welcoming until there were problems regarding the food. For some odd reason, the kitchen could not execute scalloped potatoes and after mentioning the issue twice, our server became friendly and professional. He also offered us dessert on the house!

There is a lack of good fine dining restaurants and steakhouses in Burnaby so when I heard about Little Billy's Steak House, I was on it right away. The food however, was not very good (excluding the tenderloin). Furthermore, the seating arrangements resembled a ramen joint too. Our seating area practically looked like a long communal table.

5. Okay, the aforementioned restaurants are from 2013 but I wanted to add them because I never made a 2013 list!

Very average appetizers and wagyu steaks, but great promotion from 4:00-6:00pm. As for the service, it is not fine dining. The manager also closed the door on me, despite being an accident.

Lack of service for an empty restaurant and a fine dining establishment. Moreover, the quality of food does not match the high prices. We visited on a weeknight and I often wonder, is service better during the weekends?

One of the biggest letdowns of the year is Yew Seafood because I wanted to try the restaurant for a long time. The oysters were poorly shucked and a few tasted dry. Moreover, the food tastes average at best. Although to be fair, I was contacted by the restaurant but never heard back from them.

Walked into one of my city's own tourist traps in Steveston, but our server was great. If you must, order the fish n' chips for take out because the price is $5.75 less than dining in. I do not recommend the seafood stew however, the fish was overcooked and honestly resembled white chicken meat.

The food expedite was very long food and the restaurant was not even a full house. Thinking back, why didn't I inquire about it? The prices are also high for the quality. However, the halibut did taste better than Yew Seafood's.

Japanese Restaurants

Soapy noodles and inedible ramen, which is a big disappointment coming from a Japanese operated restaurant. The prices ain't cheap either.

Noma Sushi was good and bad. Good because we received a very rare cut of hamachi and bad because the red tuna was inedible. Another positive would be the atmosphere is very nice! The main reason I came here was to take a picture of my Louboutins with the koi whirlpool.

The sushi chefs at Hiro Sushi are inexperienced. For those who want to see what hamachi looks like when the sashimi has gone bad, the photo is here.

The waitress was misinforming and I could not help but feel cheated regarding the hamachi. She mentioned the hamachi was "just flew in", but the sashimi was not fresh and we received pieces with the oxidized portion removed. In addition, the deluxe sashimi was a poor selection.

5. Sushi by Yuji, Vancouver

Japanese operated restaurants do not guarantee a good sushi restaurant.

Chinese Restaurants

The restaurant is not the cleanest, the food is below average, and the waitress was impatient, rude and lazy.

The restaurant ran a shady promotion and was dishonest regarding the weight of live seafood.

Dishonest and pushy waitress. How is a white tilapia, black? And why show us a live lobster if it will not be the same one that is served?

One of the worst Hong Kong style cafes I have been to and the prices ain't cheap. Other than from personal business relationships, I do not see how else the restaurant survives.

Confusing menu and no upgrades are allowed, despite paying the price difference. On top of that, the food quality is poor. Kingspark Steakhouse serves better food at a cheaper cost and is located nearby.

Shanghainese Restaurants

Our first visit was great but on the revisit, we were in the restaurant for a total of forty minutes. This includes the time we seated, ordered, waited for the food to arrive, and ate. Sorry, I am not generous enough to spend $80.00 to be rushed out. And this is coming from someone who likes to eat and leave the restaurant asap.

None of the dishes are above average at Modern City, with the exception of the pan fried buns and xiao long bao.

The prices are fairly high for the poor quality food. What is with the half assed appetizer plate too?

Ningbo Seafood is the worst Shanghainese restaurant I have ever been to. The restaurant did not even have the common decency to remove the bones from the Peking Duck skin.

Both food stalls serve below average food and it is not worth trying the xiao long bao at either of them. Honestly, there is no excuse. If you are at Crystal Mall, walk to the opposite end of the food court and go to Xu's Wonton House instead of North Meixi. As for R&H Chinese Food, really? You cannot find a restaurant with XLB in Richmond?! Heck, even Parker Place has a better XLB food stall.

Miscellaneous Restaurants

We were denied a larger table so could only order three dishes, and had to leave the restaurant to finish our dinner elsewhere. The prawns are fairly delicious however.

Well, that concludes the most memorable negative dining experiences of 2014. I hope 2015 will bring me more restaurants to become my regulars, as well as more positive than negative restaurants!

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