Kalvin’s Szechuen Restaurant 松林居

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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.

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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.

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#12, deep fried pork in red fermented sauce ($6)

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.

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#139 diced chicken & peanut w/ chili pepper ($10.75)

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.

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#198 five spice beef in Chinese Pan Cake ($5)

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!

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#176 Napa Cabbage braised w/ dried shrimp ($9.5)

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.

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#60 shredded beef w/ bamboo shoot w/ chili pepper ($12.50)

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.

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#202 Shanghai Style Dumpling (XLB) ($7.5)

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.

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#137 smoked duck ($17).

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.

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Food Blogger's Feast

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.

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I exchanged some samples with the other table and I think the chicken w/ 3 spice and the string beans were pretty good.

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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

  • food was absolutely delicious!!
  • authentic Taiwanese food
  • great value esp if you dine with a group
  • food was served really fast!

  • some dishes are not so worth it (particularly the vegetables)
  • small space in the restaurant makes it a little difficult to reserve tables
  • the location is far

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Kalvin's Szechuen Restaurant 松林居 on Urbanspoon

Kalvin’s Szechuen Restaurant 松林居
5225 Victoria Dr, Vancouver

-by Jenny Shen, Eat With Jenny

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Hakkasan 客家人 – Chinese, Richmond

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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Verdict:

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.

  • Hakka Pork Patty, Mini Pot Rice

  • the deal itself didn’t provide much value
  • food was okay at best
  • not much “twists” in the food
  • small portions especially dessert

Hakkasan Contemporary Chinese Cuisine 客家人 on Urbanspoon

Hakkasan Contemporary Chinese Cuisine 客家人
110-2188 #5 Rd, Richmond
http://hakkasan.ca/

-by Jenny Shen, Eat With Jenny

Fisherman’s Terrace Seafood Restaurant [VFBM] – Chinese/Dim Sum, Richmond

Dim sum is one of my favourite types of food because of the food variety, value, and delicious cuisine. I organized a dim sum meetup for the Food Bloggers Meetup Group because 1. I’ve always wanted to try dim sum restaurants that I have not been to, 2. I wanted to eat with foodies and bloggers who love eating dim sum like I do.

With the Food Bloggers Meetup it was the perfect opportunity to sample the best varieties of dim sum with many other foodies. Fisherman’s Terrace Seafood Restaurant was chosen after asking around on Facebook and Twitter for dim sum restaurant recommendations. I was sold when four people recommended Fisherman’s Terrace Seafood Restaurant as their first choice and I was told this restaurant has good qualitydim sum.

In addition to passionate foodies, I was joined by Alex (Food Vlogger & Exec. producer of Ragin Ronin Productions), David (General manager at Pearl Drops Teahouse), Maxwell (Eat Tweeter on Twitter), Jun (Photographer/Blogger of KunioPhotography), and Simon (Blogger of Life in the Lower Mainland).

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Fisherman’s Terrace Seafood Restaurant 釣魚台海鮮酒家 is located on the 3rd floor at Aberdeen Centre.

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It has a classier interior design than most dim sum restaurants I have been to.

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$3.45 to $5.65 for each dim sum dish. Specialty dishes are from $6~9. Bigger rice/noodle dishes are about $10 but we ordered mostly dim sum and specialty dishes. We passed the order sheet around the table, and in the end the FBM foodies ordered 30+ dishes. This is what our list looks like. We were astounded by how much we ordered!
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Since we ordered so many dishes and I actually didn’t try all of them, please enjoy the photos and read about my favourite and least favourite items in the end. If you would like to know the names of certain dishes and you have no luck matching it with the order list, leave a comment and I’ll get back to you.

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As the first round of food came, foodies including myself took out their cameras and phones and began snapping pictures. It was a scene in the restaurant. I personally had a lot of fun taking food photos with other foodies.

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More dim sum photos! Are you hungry yet?
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Our progress…the food just kept on coming!

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We finished almost everything except 1.5 sticky rice chicken wraps and the last bits of deep-fried squid. We were very stuffed in the end with all the good food. The bill came to about $20 per person including taxes and tips, much less than I anticipated! I was actually a little worried about the bill and too much leftovers, but it turned out well!

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Whenever I go to eat dim sum, I don’t expect good customer service because dim sum restaurants are usually very busy. Customers often have to wait for a while to have hot water refilled, and eventually some people end up doing it themselves.

One interesting thing I noticed at Fisherman’s Terrace Seafood Restaurant was their fantastic service. I believe two of the managers came out to serve us and honestly it was the best service I have ever received at any Chinese restaurant. Throughout the whole meal, our dishes came really fast, and the waitresses and managers were really diligent to help us refill the water, clear the dishes, and combine the plates to make room for more food. I felt like we were being treated like VIPs and I’m 98% certain that it was because at least half of the people at the table were taking pictures and videos, so they must have figured that we were bloggers, reporters, or famous people of some sort.

The other highlight of the Dim Sum FBM is watching Alex Yu vlog! I’ve always been curious about how he can eat and film at the same time. We watched and took photos of him as he did it. It’s not an easy skill to master but Alex was very pro!

Here is the finished product and in the video you can see how much food and how much fun we had! Thanks Alex for the video.
Watch the video All Yu Can Eat – Dim Sum at Dew Yu Toy.

Alex in Action:
vlogger alex

——————-I am the conclusion——————–

I liked most of the dishes I tried. My favourite dishes at Fisherman’s Terrace Seafood Restaurant are:

  • Chilled coconut cake with diced taro: I enjoyed this one-of-a-kind dessert and the sweetness of this coconut cake was just right.
  • Deep Fried Chicken Knees with Spicy Salt:  The garlic and chili spice made this dish really tasty. I loved the crunchiness of the cartilage & chicken knees.
  • Taro rolls wrapped in seaweed: I thought it was deep-fried scallops at first, but these were actually desserts. I like taro desserts and I would order this dish again.

Dishes that I did not enjoy:

  • Braised Pomelo Skin with Mixed Mushrooms. We had a seafood vegetarian in the group, so we ordered a few vegetable dishes, including this one, for this meetup member and for everyone else’s vegetable intake. When the dish arrived at the table, no one knew what it was because the pomelo looked like a thick layer of pork skin (fat). The pomelo was bitter and it did not pair well with the mushrooms.
  • Xiao Long Bao. I was quite disappointed with the XLB because there was no juice in the XLB and the skin was too thick. I felt like I was eating a mini pork dumpling but XLB is supposed to be better than that.

Overall I can say this was my best dim sum experience so far. Fisherman’s Terrace Seafood Restaurant’s dishes were at least at a satisfactory standard. Having been to a few dim sum restaurants, the combination of quality food, great service and ambiance of Fisherman’s Terrace Seafood Restaurant makes it better than the rest. Of course, eating with other foodies and b/vloggers just made everything seem tastier so that contributed to my positive experience as well.

If you’re interested in dining with food enthusiasts and food b(v)loggers, check out the FoodBloggers Meetup! Everyone is welcome to join!


Foodies at this meetup. Photo courtesy of Kunio Photography

Fisherman’s Terrace Seafood Restaurant 釣魚台海鮮酒家
4151 Hazelbridge Way, Richmond
(604) 303-9739

-By Jenny Shen, Eat With Jenny