Lots of macaron flavours to choose from. My favourite was the rocher macaron. Ambience was excellent. Will be back for tea time and other desserts.
Soirette Macarons & Tea
1433 West Pender Street, Vancouver
Jenny Shen @ eatwithjenny.com
tl;dr: SuperBonchaz package is a good deal, now scroll down to see photos.
Since I’ve always loved dining deals, I was very excited to review this SuperBonchaz dining package, courtesy of VANEATS.ca.
I’ve blogged about VANEATS packages before, but here is a refresher. With a fixed price, you get an exclusive menu to order from. Sort of like Dine Out Vancouver, but the prices are friendlier and the passes are valid for a limited time and often sell out quickly.
The SuperBonchaz package is only $6.50 and it includes one item from each category:
(A) Bonchaz: Original, Banana Walnut, or Matcha Coconut Green Tea
(B) Sandwich: Avocado & Brie, The Vegan, or Beef Bulgogi
(C) Soup of the Day (vegan option available)
I got the chocolate Bonchaz although it was not specified in the package. I’ve tried all Bonchaz flavours before and I liked the chocolate the best. I asked the staff to heat up the bun because it tastes a lot better when it’s fresh/hot. When the cafe (any cafe) is not busy, perhaps heating up pastries should be a default (or at least the asking) because I would really appreciate that.
Beef Bulgogi sandwich: although this is “Korean-inspired”, it tasted more like a combination of beef sukiyaki and beef stew. I personally find the hoagie bread too soft (tasted almost like hot dog buns), and would have preferred toasted whole wheat buns. Overall it was okay.
Corn chowder with spicy sausage. That was the other choice besides the vegan soup. I don’t like spicy foods but I actually liked the soup. The soup was flavourful, not too spicy and it was not thick like regular chowder.
P.S. I brought my DSLR to take photos for this review, but realized at the restaurant that the camera ran out of battery… #fail Jenny …-_-
Bonchaz Bakery Café
189 E Broadway, Vancouver
-by Jenny Shen, Eat With Jenny
My goodness. It’s been so long that I almost forgot how to write a blog post. :p Here is a treat that I had lately at Pearl Drops Teahouse. It’s one of the popular bubble tea houses in Burnaby. They specialize in fun, yummy drinks, snacks and desserts…which are totally my type of things.
When the owner David asked me to come in to try their Honey Toast, I happily agreed because I love honey toasts! It’s a deluxe dessert, originated from Japan, made with a cut-out toast body, and sweet toppings like ice cream, fruits, chocolate, cheesecake and etc. I have tried this dessert in a couple of cafes in Vancouver, such as What8ver (the first cafe to bring it in in Vancouver), Flo Tea Room, and Young Channel. Dazzling Cafe in Taiwan is one of my must-visits because they serve 10+ flavours of honey toasts!
This is the Honey Toast at Pearl Drops Tea House! I was surprised that it looks identical as the promotional banner on their Facebook. Often what you get at the restaurant is not the same as what it looked like on their advertisements. :p
I liked that this honey toast is filled with various kinds of toppings – especially the cheesecake, pocky, and wafers. My favourite part was the custard layer that tasted like the fillings of custard buns.
I would have liked it better if it was something else other than fruits, the standard toppings, but that seems to be popular so no other shops offer other kinds of flavours. I suggested to David to bake the toast box itself because it would be crispy and easier to cut if it was baked. Although this dessert is at a higher price compared to other places ($9.99 compared to $6.99 or $7.99), overall I like it and would recommend this dessert. Pearl Drops Tea House offers promotions quite often, so if you use a deal, and share this deluxe honey toast with your friends, it would be worth it.
P.S. Share this dessert with at least 3 people because it is quite filling!
Pearl Drops Teahouse
422 Willingdon Ave, Burnaby, BC
-by Jenny Shen, Eat With Jenny
Kalvin’s Restaurant is one of the most authentic Taiwanese restaurants in the Lower Mainland that I know of. I have heard of this restaurant before but never had a chance to try it. After reading Carlos’ post, I thought I must try it before leaving Vancouver for my India trip. Ronald, the co-organizer of Food Bloggers Meetup, helped organize my going away dinner at this restaurant, so I got to try some good Taiwanese food with other foodies and bloggers before I leave. I was joined by Vincent from EatMarketing, James from HelloVancity, Jeffrey from Got Roo?, Dave from Gnarly Dave’s World, Lee Ann from Powderate, and other foodies.
The menu was big, but we had some recommendations so it wasn’t too difficult to decide what to order. We put together people’s choices and ordered a variety of dishes. We had chicken, beef, pork, vegetables and a few “snack” dishes to share.
This dish was my choice because it was one of my childhood favourites and I have not ordered it in Vancouver before. I was very pleased with the quality of this dish. The meat was moist, fresh, crispy and the taste was definitely authentic! The meat by itself is $6, and it is only $0.50 extra if you want to order rice on the side to make it an individual meal.
I have a love and hate feeling about this dish because I like the chicken with peanuts, but this dish is always very spicy. At Kalvin’s Restaurant, they did indeed put a lot of pepper in this dish. I ate this dish with a lot of rice and water. This was not my choice and I personally would order #143 diced chicken w/ cashews, or #144 diced chicken in plum sauce. Aside from being too spicy, I think this was a good dish.
Normally I don’t order this because my Mom makes it at home, but I really liked this dish! It was actually tastier than how my Mom made it (sorry Mom). The pancake was fresh and really crispy, and the beef was moist and flavourful. Compared with other beef pancakes I’ve tried, the pancake was not as fresh and the meat was often dry or without sauce. At some places, you would have to add the sauce that is served on the side, but at Kalvin’s the sauce was already inside the roll. I had two pieces but I still felt like I wanted to eat more. It was a super deal to have all these rolls for $5!
This was my choice again because I was craving for the vermicelli noodles that are often served with this dish. When it was served, I was disappointed to find it without any vermicelli noodles. The taste was good, like how my mom would make it, but with its $9.50 price this was not of good value at all, with or without the vermicelli. Next time I will pick another vegetable dish, possibly #132 pork & ton choy in BBQ sauce or #178 string bean with minced pork.
This dish was good. After eating the spicy chicken with nuts, this appeared to be only a little spicy. I realized that all the meat dishes we had pairs really well with rice.
We ordered two baskets of Xiu Long Bao because one XLB per person was not enough! At some places I’ve tried before, the XLB tasted pretty much like a dumpling because of the lack of juice. The XLB at Kavlin’s was pretty good because it was juicy.
The smoked duck was ordered because of Vincent’s demand. I thought this dish was like the duck version of Char Siu (barbeque pork) because of the addition of spice and cooking method. I thought this dish was okay because I don’t normally eat duck or smoked meat that much. I found this dish a bit hard to eat because the duck meat was a bit dry.
Kalvin’s Restaurant was pretty small so with 20 people, we had to split into two tables. The other table had recommendations from me (which were actually what my friend Carlos had) and they said they liked their dishes.
The other group of foodies ordered #138 chicken w/ three spice, #83 dry squid with shredded pork, #111 pork w/ bamboo shoot w/ chili pepper, #209 Taiwanese style cold noodles, #178 string bean with minced pork, and a few identical dishes that my table ordered: XLB and beef pancake.
I exchanged some samples with the other table and I think the chicken w/ 3 spice and the string beans were pretty good.
Finally I ordered the red bean pancake ($4) because I really liked the five spice beef in Chinese Pan Cake. It was actually not as good as I thought because the pancake was not as crispy as the beef pancake, but it was flaky instead. However I liked that it was fresh, hot and it was not too sweet. After I ordered this dessert, I came to realize that I should have ordered the deep-fried buns instead!
When we split the bill, it was only $13.50 per person inclusive of taxes and tips! That is why I love eating Asian cuisine because I get to eat a variety of food at a very inexpensive price. As I’ve had lots of really good Taiwanese food from Taiwan and my mom’s cooking, Kalvin’s Restaurant would be one of the top choices I would go to outside of those two places.
I definitely enjoyed this going away dinner. It was fantastic to share the good food with many foodies who appeared to enjoy Taiwanese cuisine as much as I do. I would definitely recommend Kalvin’s Restaurant for its affordable and delicious Taiwanese food.
After dinner, we went to Mimibuloveme for desserts, which is for another blog post…:P
Kalvin’s Szechuen Restaurant 松林居
5225 Victoria Dr, Vancouver
-by Jenny Shen, Eat With Jenny
I was delighted to be invited by EatMarketing to a sponsored tasting event at Novo Pizzeria. I was joined by a few food bloggers and foodies: James from HelloVancity, Mr. from VanFoodies, Janice from GoodEat, Bret, Tess, and Mercedes.
I have only tried Neopolitan pizza once before at Marcello Pizzeria. I always prefer eating crispy thin-crusted pizza, so I was pretty excited to try what Novo had to offer.
Antipasti Platter (small $14/ large $25): daily selection of vegetables, salumi, and cheese
Burrata Cheese Plate ($13): arugula, oven dried tomatoes, olive oil
From the appetizer plates, I tried the bread and the burrata cheese. The burrata was interesting because it had mozzarella taste but it was as soft as cream cheese. The bread was unique, though I have mixed feelings about it being crispy and chewy at the same time.
Aperol Spriz ($9): aperol, aprosecco, strawberry, rhubarb bitters, lemon zest
This cocktail tasted more like a cranberry cocktail due to its acidity. I wished it was sweeter and had more strawberry taste.
Golden Beet Salad ($13): hazelnuts, goat cheese, blackberry vinaigrette
I really enjoyed this salad, especially the hazelnuts and beets. The beets had the right taste – not too sour or sweet. I also liked the generous portion of this dish.
Sicilian Meat Balls ($8): currants, pine nuts, reggiano, marinara
These meatballs were really good! I liked the salad a lot but I liked the meat balls even more. They were moist and the texture was just right – not too soft or hard. The addition of currants in the meatballs was pretty interesting. Compared to the meatballs from Glowbal, I liked the meatballs from Novo a lot more. I normally don’t order meatballs, but I totally would during my next visit. If you liked my Facebook page, you would know how to take advantage of Novo’s FREE meatballs promotion.
After the appetizers, our group shared 5 of Novo’s thin-crust pizza.
Margherita Pizza ($13): fiore di latte (Mozzarella), tomato sauce, basil
Burrata Pizza ($18): burrata, fiore di latte (Mozzarella), olive oil, basil
Funghi Pizza ($17): truffled mushrooms, fontina
Diavallo Pizza ($16): hot capicola, onions, chili flakes
Prosciutto and Arugula Pizza ($18): prosciutto, arugula, reggiano, fiore di latte
I tried the Margherita, Funghi, and Burrata Pizza. My favourite was the funghi because mushroom is one of my favourite foods. The others seemed to like the Burrata pizza a lot but I actually liked the pizza with tomato sauce more, since I’m not too crazy about cheese.
I was expecting the pizza to be crispy because the first time I ate Naples-style thin crust pizza, the pizza was crispy. I found Novo’s pizza really chewy. I’ve only had Neopolitan pizza twice so I can’t say which one is more authentic. Because the pizza was chewy, I felt like I was eating a lot of dough.
Next we had a special dish – Orichiette: in-house Italian sausage, swiss chard, fennel pollen, and toasted bread crumbs.
I was surprised to find myself liking the Orecchiette a lot more than the pizza. The pasta was al dente, and the ingredients altogether made this dish very tasty. It was one of the best pasta I’ve had in Vancouver because it was unique and flavourful. Usually I find pasta with sausage pretty oily, but this dish was not oily at all. Surprisingly, I would be very happy to eat just the Orecchiette and no pizza at all (actually, maybe just the Funghi pizza).
Vincent from EatMarketing told me that fennel pollen is the third most expensive spice next to Saffron and Cardamon. It’s very rare, plus it’s expensive in Vancouver. It is also responsible for part of the complex flavours that came through in the pasta.
The owner showed us the secret ingredient and I tasted a little of this funnel pollen. I wouldn’t have noticed the pollen if I wasn’t told about it, but then maybe it was the spice that made the pasta so delicious.
After the main dishes, I was ready to try the desserts as I had been looking forward to trying the nutella calzone.
First I had the tiramisu. Although the tiramisu was small in portion, I could taste its coffee-soaked layers and creamy mascarpone. It was different than the tiramisu from Cosca because the one from Cosca was drier. I prefer Novo’s wet and creamy tiramisu. Some people like that this is not too sweet. I liked this tiramisu but my favourite tiramisu comes with fancy things like chocolate drizzles or biscotti on the side.
When the panna cotta was served, I was amazed by its huge size! Compared to pudding-like panna cotta I tried before, Novo’s panna cotta had a really dense gelatin-y texture. It was almost like Taiwanese pudding, but even denser. I couldn’t taste the vanilla but I liked that there were vanilla seeds in the panna cotta.
Finally, I tried the Nutella calzone. The item sounded pretty good, although I wouldn’t say it was my favourite dessert of the night. First, this dish was too sweet because of the thick nutella. The calzone had the identical dough as the pizza. Because of the chewy dough, there was too much richness in this dish. What I liked was the addition of nuts in the filling. However, it would have been better if the filling was a bit thinned out and if the calzone came in individual pizza pocket, because the calzone pieces were too big and hard to cut.
The whipped cream was freshly made so some people really liked it. I tasted a little although I don’t like to eat whipped cream. It was really thick, unlike any other whipped cream I tried. I thought it was too rich to eat it with the nutella calzone though.
I was glad to have the chance to try Novo’s pizza while having a good time with other foodies and bloggers. I feel I need to try Neopolitan pizza at other restaurants to get a sense of the true taste of Neopolitan pizza. I liked Novo’s ambiance with its open kitchen and artisan ovens. It was pretty cool to see pizza being cooked in a 900°F oven.
Novo Pizzeria and Wine Bar
2118 Burrard Street, Vancouver
-by Jenny Shen, Eat With Jenny
I’m lucky to have a sweet tooth, because I was invited by Alex from Ragin Ronin Productions to try some samples from La’ Aus Confectionery. This is his vlog episode – All Yu Can Eat #18 – Sampling La’Aus Confectionery.
La’ Aus Confectionery was founded by Laura and Austin after having much success and popularity with their handmade sweets. Everything is individually handmade and packaged, giving the products an authentic and home-made feel.
The name La’ Aus comes from the first few letters of the owner’s names - Laura and Austin. La’ Aus in French is pronounced ‘La-Oh.’ It sounds like what you would say in ‘La’ Aus mon dieu (Oh My God!)’
Smoked toffee: According to Laura and Austin, Smoked Toffee is the hardest to make and the most famous and best-selling item.
Sometimes I would eat Crunchie if I get a variety pack of candies, but other than that I don’t eat toffee. When I tried this Smoked Toffee, I thought ‘ohh so this is what toffee tastes like…’ It tasted much like the sponge toffee inside Crunchie, except that it’s a piece of crunchy toffee.
When I tried to take the toffee pieces from the box, I find it pretty sticky. I personally don’t like to eat things that get my fingers messy. (You probably think that I’m a princess, haha). Not only that, the toffee sticks to the bottom of the box. Although the boxes look really nice, I’m not sure if you will be able to eat this in the summer. Because the toffee pieces were stuck together, Alex had to eat 3 at a time (which was pretty amusing to watch).
Having said that, it was an interesting to try toffee by itself for the first time. I liked that it’s not overly sweet because of the hint of smokiness.
Snow Delight: This chocolate bar was packed with cashews, cranberries and smoked toffee. I like eating the smoked toffee with the chocolate more than eating toffee by itself.
It’s just my personal preference – cashews, cranberries and smoked toffee are not my favourite things in a chocolate bar. The flavours I love: hazelnuts, pistachios, almonds and cookies & creme. However, I enjoyed the snow delight. It was unique that the toffee in the chocolate bar made the chocolate bar extra crunchy.
I am someone who likes variety (and really likes chocolate), so I would love to see more varieties of the Snow Delight, such as milk/dark chocolate or with different kinds of nuts & fruits. I personally would be more into those flavours than the ones I tried this time.
La’ Aus Confectionery only takes pre-orders at the moment. Laura and Austin are currently in the process of getting La’ Aus into local bakery markets and communities. Meanwhile, you can make an order through Twitter. Don’t forget to mention that you saw my blog post if you want to give it a try
-by Jenny Shen, Eat With Jenny
On December 1st, I signed myself up for a 30 Days Blogging Challenge. I wanted to get used to blogging and test myself how much effort I can put into the blog.
After a month of marathon blogging, I ended up finishing 23 posts in December, which is a 77% completion rate. I could have finished all 30 posts if I sacrifice the quality and just put up short posts. But all the posts I’ve done so far included photos (resized and watermarked), details of the foods, links and information of the restaurants. Considering that I was busy with freelance projects, school, organization of the Food Bloggers Meetups, many events and gatherings, I don’t think I can do any more than that.
Aside from the food blog, setting up the Facebook page and the Food Bloggers meetup helped me build momentum. I enjoyed sharing my passion in food, and I am really honored to meet many other food bloggers and food lovers.
The overwhelming support I have been receiving during the entire time I was blogging is amazing. I was surprised to find that people I know from school, salsa, yoga, work and twitter know about this food blog! Whether you are reading or sharing about my blog, commenting on my blog posts, or simply being supportive of this process, I appreciate it very much. I especially want to thank Vincent for being the top commenter – with 22 comments during the 30 days challenge!
Hakkasan is a contemporary Chinese restaurant in Richmond that serves Chinese cuisine with a modern twist. I am reserved about food that comes with twists or fusion flavours. What it means to me is changed flavours of authentic cuisine that ends up tasting mediocre due to lost focused flavours.
I first heard about Hakkasan from a colleague that dines out quite often. I decided to purchase a deal from IndulgeLiving so I can try the restaurant without spending too much. The deal I got was $29 for an exclusive 5-Course Tasting Menu at Hakkasan Contemporary Chinese Cuisine (Reg $65/pp).
First course: Plum Glazed Duck Breast, Organic Salad
The salad showed the concept of this restaurant with its combination of Chinese-style duck breast with organic salad. Because I don’t like cold meat too much, I thought the salad only tasted okay. The sauce complemented the meat well and I really enjoyed the fig, but I’ve tasted better salads elsewhere.
First course (my companion’s choice) Butter Garlic Escargots in Puff Pastry
I sampled a small piece of the escargots and it tasted like Chinese mushrooms. The puff pastry was hard and dry so I didn’t like this dish.
Second course: Creamy Organic Seafood Chowder
This chowder had a weird jelly-like texture and it tasted similar to sweet corn soup. Although there were bits of seafood meat in the chowder, I didn’t like it overall.
Third course: Steamed ½ Lobster, Specialty Garlic
I was informed that their minced garlic was processed in a special way that it will not give you any “garlic breath.” Certainly, I did not taste any garlic in the lobster dish, however, to me it also didn’t have too much taste. I almost never eat lobster and other shelled seafood because I hate the hassle of de-shelling the seafood. Therefore you can imagine how hard I had to fight with the lobster to eat it.
Fourth course: Hakka Pork Patty, Mini Pot Rice
This was probably the better tasting dish out of everything in the set menu. The pork was pretty tender and the vegetable of choice (zha cai) was not too salty. I prefer chewy/harder rice but this dish was pretty tasty to me.
Fifth Course: House Dessert (Lemon Square)
A tiny lemon square (about half of the size of a business card) was served for dessert. I don’t like lemon desserts so I only tasted a small bite and gave it to my companion. It tasted like an ordinary lemon bar. A unique Chinese dessert like rice balls or buns would have made a better impression.
I didn’t like Hakkasan because the food was okay at best. Aside from the salad, the cuisine at Hakkasan is more defined (being Western or Chinese) than Chinese cuisine with a twist. The dessert, lobster, and chowder were Western while the only Chinese dish was the rice (the item that I actually liked).
Sometimes food of a set menu you get from a deal can be disappointing. It seems Hakkasan offers many types of set menus on a regular basis, so I am not sure whether it is because of the deal or the usual set menu is like this too. The names of the dishes sound pretty fancy, but when I tasted the food, it did not amaze me.
Since the portion of each dish was small, I was not full after the 5 courses. The lemon square was the smallest dessert I have ever gotten at a restaurant. Had I not gotten the set menu with $29 (regular price is $65), I would be upset, although I think $29 is more like a regular price and $65 is just way too unreasonable.
Hakkasan Contemporary Chinese Cuisine 客家人
110-2188 #5 Rd, Richmond
-by Jenny Shen, Eat With Jenny
Having been to a few afternoon tea places, I think some places are not worth the money because the food offered really isn’t that great. I heard about this all you can eat afternoon tea from my food-loving friend Carlos who writes the food blog – Calo Go Around (in Traditional Chinese characters). I was really excited to try the afternoon tea at Meloty in Richmond because it is the only restaurant I know that serves unlimited afternoon tea.
Speaking of afternoon tea, it is not the same thing as high tea. Afternoon tea is a small meal snack typically eaten between 2pm and 5pm. Afternoon tea is accompanied by luxury ingredient sandwiches, cakes and pastries, often served on a tiered stand. On the other hand, high tea refers to an early evening meal consisted of a hot dish such as fish and chips, followed by cakes and bread, served to middle to upper class children or by labourers, miners and the like. (source: Wikipedia)
When you are referring to the luxury afternoon snacking/dining experience, afternoon tea is the term, not high tea!
From the outside you cannot imagine that this is a restaurant with good interior design! The banner and outside appearance make Meloty really hidden.
However, it was unexpected to see almost all the tables full at Meloty. I only knew this place through the word of mouth so perhaps that is how Meloty attracts customers, rather than having big fancy signs.
My companions and I all got the Meloty Deluxe High Tea ($25.00/pp). Served 2~5pm Unlimited hand- made delicious and a special made beverage.
I was informed that we will be served the savoury items first, and that we could refill any items we wish. However, any waste may be subjected to additional charges.
I decided to get one of each of the savoury items to start. At Meloty all the savoury dishes were served on a tiered stand. Judging only by the portion, I could tell that Meloty offers better value than all the other afternoon tea places. Other places will use one tiered stand to serve you both savoury and sweet items, but at Meloty the desserts were served in addition to the tiered stand!
Mushroom pies and tuna appies
waffles with cheese & bacon bits, rosemary scones, and mini ham & cheese croissants
Since I am not a big fan of cold savoury things, so I thought the croissants, sandwiches and other finger goods were okay. I always prefer eating baked goods fresh out of the oven. The only thing I really liked out of the savoury dishes was the rosemary scone. It was warm and smelled good. After I finished most of the savoury dishes, I chose not to refill because I was ready for the desserts!
This was the first dessert plate that the waitress served us – chestnut cake, matcha tart, strawberry tart and mango cream tart.
The chestnut cake has sponge cake and chestnut cream/icing (can someone tell me what this texture is called?) topped with mint chocolate and strawberries. I thought the cake was a bit dry but the combination of the cake was delicious.
I don’t really like tart/pie desserts, but I enjoyed the matcha tart a lot. This one has a white chocolate pretzel on top of the matcha mousse, and there was red bean paste inside the tart! It was so good that I ate two of those.
White chocolate mousses, chestnut cakes from the last picture, and crème brûlée. Crème brûlée was great because of its cute presentation, and it actually had vanilla seeds in it!
Did you think that was it for desserts? Next I had 3 types of panna cotta. I have not had so much panna cotta at once before. These were sooooo good! They were smooth and each flavour tasted fabulous with different combinations of jam & fruits. I have to say the bakery chefs are creative and thoughtful in their creations.
Last but not least, this was the plate of cheesecake that was served to us!
Original cheesecake with raspberries, berry cheesecake, mango cheesecake with blackberries, and tiramisu.
The cheesecakes were rich and flavourful. The tiramisu cake was a delight, although I wish it did not come with blackberries.
The afternoon tea is served on Narumi bone china. It was a nice touch because it adds more class to the dining experience at Meloty. Usually I do not expect good quality and attention to details when I dine in Richmond, but Meloty was an exception.
I tried 18 different items in total including both the savoury and sweet items. Meloty offers about twice as much as the items I get from other afternoon tea places, plus they have bigger portions!
I think this is the best afternoon tea you can get with $25 for the amount of food and decent experience. Although the desserts were probably not made by a famous award-winning bakery chef (I actually don’t know), this place is my favourite afternoon tea place so far. I personally give Meloty 5 hearts for good food and superb value in comparison to other afternoon tea places.
Words of wisdom: Come with an empty stomach! Afternoon tea items may change since my visit in the summer. If you do visit, please drop a comment to let me know what you had and if you like it or not.
Meloty Fine Tea
#1161-8328 Capstan Way, Richmond
-by Jenny Shen, Eat With Jenny