Meat & Bread – Sandwiches, Vancouver

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I would be surprised if you have not heard about or tried Meat & Bread in Vancouver, the hyped-up sandwich shop which stayed #1 on Urbanspoon’s Talk of the Town list since a long time ago.

Because I don’t get how sandwiches or hot dogs can be out of this world, I dislike most hyped-up restaurants. More often than not, I think these hyped-up places are meant to attract tourists and generate curiosity and traffic, instead of offering real good food like less known places that only locals know about. I was even more determined not to go especially after I heard from ex-coworkers that their sandwiches were not worth the hype.

I was very reluctant to try Meat & Bread until my classmate suggested to try it out before a final exam one day. So I agreed, only because I can blog about how I was right about the hype. (So arrogant confident of my own opinions huh?)

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Meat & Bread serves sandwiches, soup, salad, drinks and ice cream sandwiches. I think $8 is really expensive for a sandwich without any sides.

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You eat at a communal table, like eating in a school cafeteria.

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Porchetta (fatty, boneless Italian pork roast) sandwiches in the making

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Porchetta sandwiches with mustard ($8)

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For $8, There wasn’t a lot of meat in my sandwich. Actually, I think I was given less meat than my companion. I didn’t know what Porchetta was and I chose it because it was the most popular. I regretted the decision because I hate eating animal fat (bacon, pork belly and etc). Also, I was having a hard time eating the sandwich because the meat kept falling out of the sandwich. My experience wasn’t very good since I really dislike getting my hands messy. I would have wrapped the sandwich if they didn’t put the slab of mustard.

I didn’t like the mustard and salsa verde sauce because they tasted weird and the salsa was a bit sour. The only noticeable flavour of the sandwich was from the meat and fat, rather than from the sauce. I liked the piece of skin in the sandwich which added extra crunch. Although it was essentially fat, it didn’t taste that greasy compared to the fat from the porchetta.

Although I did not like the porchetta sandwich at all, I liked the crispy ciabatta bun. I wish other sandwiches shops can offer that as well.

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I tasted a sip of my companion’s curiosity cola. It was not carbonated like regular cola so it tasted like cola that sat overnight.

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The disadvantage of eating at a ‘specialized shop’ is the limited options. It’s really difficult to find something I can eat (and like) at Meat & Bread because I don’t like porchetta, I don’t eat hot chicken wings because of its spiciness, and I would not spend $8 for a meatball sandwich. I know they had lamb neck option before, but I wouldn’t want to come back again.

The verdict: Meat & Bread is not catered to someone picky like me, but I have lots of friends that love their sandwiches.

I love desserts but I don’t sugar coat my opinions. Thanks for reading my honest review about Meat & Bread!

  • the ciabatta bun

  • the sandwich
  • limited options
  • the hype
  • the price
  • the line-ups

Meat & Bread on Urbanspoon

Meat & Bread
370 Cambie Street, Vancouver
http://meatandbread.ca/

-by Jenny Shen, Eat With Jenny

The Eatery [VFBM] – Japanese, Vancouver

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The Eatery is a popular sushi joint located in Kitslano. I’ve been wanting to try this place after reading reviews and hearing good things about their sushi. Like dim sum, sushi is best shared with other foodies, so I organized a meetup with the Food Bloggers Meetup Group. I was joined by Jun (Kunio Photography), Danielle, Jeffrey, Ronald and Vincent (Eat Marketing), Anabelle, and other FBM members.

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The interior of The Eatery is certainly different from most Japanese restaurants. I felt like I was in a haunted house or a science museum of some sort..

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The menu of The Eatery features more than 30 different sushi rolls and many other items! It was pretty difficult to decide on which items to order. In the end we chose a few sushi rolls, appetizers, and 2 sushi platters to share.

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Tuna Tempura ($7.25) – The foodie Danielle told us this is her favourite & must-order item at the Eatery. At first I was pretty excited to try it, then I was startled when I tasted the half-cooked tuna. Since I don’t eat raw fish, I did not like this dish although the sauce and flavour was good. The other foodies seemed to like this though.

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Assorted sushi rolls

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a different angle

All the individual sushi rolls came in this platter. There were Spicy Salmon Crunch ($5.25), Toyko Roll ($4.95), Devil’s Tail ($7.75), The Figa Roll ($5.95), X-Rated Roll ($6.95), Godzilla Roll ($6.95).
I did not try the rolls that have raw fish or scallops, but I like The Eatery’s sushi in general, especially you can substitute sushi rice for brown rice for $0.50!
These were the sushi platters we shared. If you want to know what rolls were in these platters, the menu pictures provide the description. Since it was so dark in the restaurant and there were so many sushi rolls, I had no idea what I was eating either!
sushi
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Big in Japan sushi platter ($59.95) – I really liked the yam fries that came with the platter. It was nice to eat some comfort food in addition to good sushi.

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My favourite was the Captain Crunch roll (bottom right)! I did not expect a deep-fried California roll to be so crunchy and delicious. I wish I had more than one piece! I thought I would like the Viva Las Vegas roll too, but the spicy mayo was too much for me.

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Chicken Oko Nomi ($12.50) – Okonomiyaki with chicken. Since okonomiyaki is one of my favourite dishes, I want to find the best okonomiyaki in Vancouver. Compared to other places I have tried, I would say the one at The Eatery is the best so far because:

  • it was crispy, fresh and delicious
  • chicken made the dish more filling
  • the dish came with two different dips – mayo and seaweed sauce. I personally prefer the seaweed sauce because its sweetness was unique. However, a Japanese foodie in our group told me he thought this okonomiyaki was too sweet to be considered authentic

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The Wheel of Fortune ($54.95)

Most of the sushi rolls in this platter had raw fish, so I only ate the Found Nemo roll and some of the crab pieces (with spicy mayo). I personally prefer the other platter because of my dislike of raw fish.

Group photo taken by Jun of Kunio Photography. Click on the photo to read his blog post on The Eatery / Meetup event.

My first visit at The Eatery was a great experience, despite not sampling every sushi roll. Because the selection of sushi rolls is so impressive, I need to go back again to try more individual sushi rolls! In addition, The Eatery has a daily special menu with discounted items.

  • Chicken Oko Nomi (although it is pretty pricey given its small portion)
  • Captain Crunch roll
  • sampling many sushi rolls with foodies
  • brown rice option (big bonus!)

  • the pub-like atmosphere & loud music made it hard to have a good conversation
  • the location. With so many good sushi restaurants in Burnaby and izakayas in Downtown, I would probably choose The Eatery only if I happen to be in the area.

The Eatery on Urbanspoon

The Eatery

3431 W Broadway, Vancouver

http://www.theeatery.ca/

-by Jenny Shen, Eat With Jenny

Bel Cafe – Desserts/Cafe, Vancouver

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Bel Cafe is opened by David Hawksworth of Hawksworth Restaurant. It is located in the Rosewood Hotel Georgia,  just next door of Hawksworth. After reading Sean’s review of Bel Cafe and dropping by the cafe to look at the desserts in person, I was really excited to try it. Besides, I get to try out my new camera Nikon D3000!

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I really like Bel Cafe’s contemporary and elegant interior & graphic designs.

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Bel Cafe's croissants

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Bel Cafe's soups and sandwiches

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Bel Cafe's cakes on the display

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Bel Cafe serves sandwiches, soup, croissants, salad, shortbread, cakes, lemon tarts, pound cakes, and macarons.

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Bel Cafe's individual cakes on the display

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Bel Cafe's macarons

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Bel Cafe's macarons - $2 each

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My companion's latte

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Dark Chocolate, Raspberry and Vanilla cake & Lemon Tart

I ordered the Dark Chocolate, Raspberry and Vanilla cake ($6.20), while my companion ordered the Lemon Tart  ($6.20). I tried a bite of the lemon tart, but I cannot comment (except it was lemony) because I am not into lemon or any kind of sour desserts at all!
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I really liked this cake because the chocolate mousse and ganache were rich and smooth. Rather than making the cake too sour, the yellow-ish cream which had some hints of raspberry and vanilla complemented the chocolate well. My favourite part was the wafer at the bottom because it added more layers to the cake’s texture. The composition of the cake was quite similar to the yule log I had at Giovane’s. The yule log and this cake both have chocolate ganache, two different layers of cream, and a wafer bottom, except the one from Bel Cafe did not have hazelnuts. If I have to choose between the two, I will choose Bel Cafe’s cake because I can’t just purchase one slice of the yule log.

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Bel Cafe's macaron menu

I had to try Bel Cafe’s macarons because I saw my favourite flavours – black sesame and pistachio. I am saving the chocolate flavour (my ultimate favourite) for a later trip. Stay tuned 😉
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The pistachio macaron had a cream filling with pieces of pistachios. The pistachio macarons I have tried at other places never had nuts in the filling, so to me it was a pleasant surprise! This is definitely the best pistachio macaron I have tried so far.

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The black sesame had a yuzu buttercream filling, which actually tasted more like lemon or passion fruit. The taste was too sour for me and I find it odd because yuzu is normally not sour. I didn’t like the combination of black sesame and yuzu since I couldn’t taste the black sesame at all. Although the flavour sounds fancy, it did not meet my expectations.

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Bel Cafe has become one of my favourite dessert places after this visit. Although the portion of desserts is quite small, the quality is definitely there.

The prices of the desserts are very reasonable considering Bel Cafe is opened by a famous chef and located inside a hotel.  Note that $6.20 per dessert is actually the price after tax (it is $5.54 before tax). Any frugal foodie will appreciate this info!

  • Favourites: Chocolate cake and pistachio macaron
  • convenient location – close by Pacific Centre
  • clean, modern, and elegant space
  • quality desserts while being budget-friendly
  • great service

  • sesame & yuzu macaron was sour
  • less variety than other dessert cafes (e.g. Thomas Haas or Ganache)

Bel Cafe on Urbanspoon

Bel Cafe
801 West Georgia Street, Vancouver
belcafe.com

-by Jenny Shen, Eat With Jenny

Aoyama Cafe UCC Coffee – Japanese/Cafe, Vancouver

Aoyama Cafe is a casual Euro-Japanese style cafe located inside Aberdeen Mall. This cafe serves coffee, desserts, sandwiches, and Euro-Japanese fusion food like curries and pastas. It has an open, inviting atmosphere because of its clear windows/doors and warm interior colors.

P.S. This blog post is about the dining experience I had back in 2010, but the pictures of the store front and display are from 2011.

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Hamburg Hayashi-Curry Rice

The presentation of the dish was nice, however, the hamburger steak was overcooked. Compared to the hamburger steak I’ve had at Cafe de l’Orangerie and Shibuya Nuts, this was nowhere as moist and tasty. Aside from the hamburger steak, the curry and rice were satisfactory.

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Seafood casserole

The served portion was actually small, especially when it was placed in the middle of a very large plate. I tasted the shrimps and found that they were not very fresh. The rice tasted quite stale as well.

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Banana French Toast – golden french toast cubes topped with whipped cream, chocolate and bananas

I really liked this dessert! The toast cubes were fresh, crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. I enjoyed the moist egg-soaked bread in the centre of the toast cubes. Despite the (semi-sweet) chocolate sauce and whipped cream, it was not overly sweet. The dish had great presentation and it looked really appetizing.

  • the banana french toast was really good, and different
  • the specials appear very budget-friendly. I might come back next time if I come by Aberdeen
  • nice interior design

  • the food looked better than it tasted
  • the service was not good (long wait)

Aoyama Cafe (UCC Coffee) on Urbanspoon

Aoyama Cafe (UCC Coffee)
Unit 1008 4151 Hazelbridge Way, Richmond
aoyamacafe.net

-by Jenny Shen, Eat With Jenny

Ganache Patisserie [VFBM] – Desserts/Bakery, Vancouver

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On the quest to find the best yule log in Vancouver, a few food bloggers and I gathered at Ganache for the Bûche de Noël Party at Ganache Patisserie. I was join by Caroline (Food Persuasion), Vicki (Foodie On the 49th), Meana (Kitchen Improv), Chris (COOQ), Rachel (Posh Pudding) and other foodies from the Food Bloggers Meetup Group.

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Ganache's cake display

Some day I will try all the cakes.

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The group had a little hard time choosing which yule log to get because the yule logs all looked delicious. In the end we picked the Chocolat Amande Croquant, because the ingredients sounded most interesting.

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Chocolat Amande Croquant ($29.95)  – dark chocolate amaretto mouse, griottine cherry gelee, milk chocolate macadamian nut cremeux, caramel crunch, and chocolate financiers sponge.

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Of course, we food bloggers and foodies have to get the perfect snapshots of food at every meetup! 😉

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The cake was cut nicely and evenly. It is a skill mastered only by bakery staffs.

I liked the griottine cherry gelee layer a lot because it had of its texture. It was a little solid at first but it melted in the mouth quickly. This added a little surprise and flavour contrast in the cake. I like mousse with nuts but I don’t think macadamia nuts were the best choice. Even though I liked the outer ganache, the overall taste of the yule log was only okay.

A few foodies and I agree that the one at Giovane tasted better. The cookie and chocolate piece of the Chocolat Amande Croquant were pretty ordinary, although the name sounded fancy. It could be that the Giovane one has more decorations, and that it was richer and sweeter than Ganache’s cake. Because of Ganache’s reputation and others’ recommendations, I expected more from Ganache’s desserts.

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Concorde Praliné (Marie’s)

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Café au lait (Vicki’s)

This $29.95 yule log, split between 8 people, only costs $3.75 per person. That is a pretty good deal considering individual cakes are about $6 per piece at Ganache.

We had a good time chatting about food, and learning about COOQ from Chris. As long as we had a great time, I could call this meetup a success!

  • great selection of cakes
  • a yule log is inexpensive if you split it between many people

  • it’s a small store so it’s sort of difficult for large groups to share a cake in the store
  • the cake looks/sounds better than it tastes
  • too much French vocabulary that I don’t understand & cannot pronounce

Interesting read: Caroline’s review of Ganache yule log

Ganache Patisserie on Urbanspoon

Ganache Patisserie

1262 Homer St, Vancouver

ganacheyaletown.com

-by Jenny Shen, Eat With Jenny

Japadog [VFBM] – Food Cart/Hot Dog, Vancouver

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Japadog – The famous Japanese hot dog that started the food cart revolution in Vancouver. The foodies from the Food Bloggers Meetup decided to make this the 3rd stop during our Food Cart Crawl.

I have heard about Japadog, and passed by the cart many times, but I have never tried one. I admit, I am not a big fan of hot dogs and I refused to give in to the hype, until this day.

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We visited the store on Robson, which opened in 2010. Visiting a “food cart store” made it much easier to share street food during the Food Cart Crawl in this cold weather.

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Menu on the outside

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Menu inside the store

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We got a combo to share. In this combo there are:

  • an Okonomi Japadog – Kurobuta sausage topped with bonito flakes
  • butter & shoyru fries – butter and soy sauce flavoured fries. It is $2.39 by itself
  • a can of soft drink

The combo costed $9.14 before tax.  Of course I had to order something sweet beside the combo, so we also ordered a Kurogoma Age Ice – sesame ice cream on fried buns ($2.99).

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We all ate the ice cream sandwich before it started melting. The bun tasted like Chinese fried bun, which is essentially the same thing. The ice cream was less sweet than I anticipated. I think adding condensed milk drizzles would make it look and taste more appealing, at least for someone who has a big sweet tooth like me.

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I have heard of shaker fries in McDonald’s in Asia, but I have never tried them. These were surprisingly good! These fries tasted a little salty and cheesy, and they were fresh. For $2.39 I would pick Japadog’s shaker fries over any fast food’s fries.

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Like any other hot dog stand, you can add as much condiments as you’d like.

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After I tried 1/4 of the japadog, my impression was – Japadog was really just a dressed-up hot dog. The Kurobuta sausage tasted almost identical to a Taiwanese sausage. It was good to finally try one, only to know that I was right with my prediction.

  • butter & shoyru fries
  • sesame ice age
  • having street food in a store

  • hot dogs 😐
  • the price of everything altogether ($13.59 for all the food shown above)
  • Japadog tasted like the one I made at home

I have made Japadogs at home before (See Picture), so I certainly have a higher expectation when I pay for something that is easy to make at home. The Okonomi japadog did not impressing me much. Perhaps other innovative flavours like seafood japadogs at the Waterfront will be better? I am actually looking forward to trying those at the next Food Cart Crawl with Food Bloggers.

For folks that like hot dogs and want something different at lunch time in Downtown, this could be one of your options. Just be aware that a lunch combo costs about $10 after tax, which is almost at the same price as many lunch specials in Downtown. Japadog is definitely not my cup of tea, because my idea of street food = cheap food. The Taiwanese “small sausage in large sausage” is more like my type of food. I hope you enjoyed my honest review of the famous Japadog!

Japadog (Robson Store) on Urbanspoon

Japadog
www.japadog.com
530 Robson St

-by Jenny Shen, Eat With Jenny

Fresh Local Wild [VFBM] – Food Cart/Seafood, Vancouver

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Fresh Local Wild was the second stop of the Food Cart Crawl, organized by the Food Bloggers Meetup. This is a food cart that offers local sustainable fresh food, such as Albacore Tuna Melt Sandwich, Chicken Fried Oyster Sandwich, Fish and Chips, sashimi, fries and poutine. Compared to other food carts, Fresh Local Wild’s menu items are priced higher because of their focus and concept.

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Chicken Fried Oyster ‘Po-Boy’ ($10) – Sawmill Bay jumbos, trailer made tartar, sesame seed bun

Foodies MaxwellJeffrey, and Edwin and I shared a chicken oyster sandwich and fries. Although I do not eat oysters, I was fine with the decision because the others really wanted to try the oyster sandwich. The fries need to be ordered separately as they do not come with the sandwich.

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The sandwich was a lot smaller than what I expected. For the price of $10, I thought it would be at least the size of a Tim Hortons sandwich. I took a very tiny bite into ¼ piece of the sandwich, but I could not handle the oyster taste. It was like fear factor because I was never fond of oysters! 😐

Fear factor -Jenny chomping an oyster sandwich

I know several restaurants have oyster happy hours which let you get $1.25~1.5o a shuck. So I thought this sandwich was really pricey given its size.

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However, I tried the fries ($3) and they were really good! They were fresh, crispy and tasty even without ketchup or seasoning. I personally prefer crispy, thin fries with skin as opposed to soft, thick, and skinless fries. I would say Fresh Local Wild’s fries are comparable to Costco’s fries. Note that the staff at Local Fresh Wild was nice to us and gave us extra fries. Normally you would get the burger and fries in the big container altogether, so you don’t get as much fries as shown above.

The foodies who tried the sandwich said that the sandwich was alright. I personally would not spend $13 for a combo of a sandwich and fries, when there are many restaurants and food carts in downtown.

Stay tuned for the final stop at the Food Cart Crawl #1, brought to you by Food Bloggers Meetup!

Fresh Local Wild (Food Cart) on Urbanspoon

Fresh Local Wild (Food Cart)
http://freshlocalwild.com
@freshlocalwild
Burrard St & W Hastings St

-by Jenny Shen, Eat With Jenny

Osa Tako Hero [VFBM] – Japanese/Takoyaki, Vancouver

Thanks to Twitter, I found out about Osa Tako Hero, the takoyaki food cart which opened earlier this year. Besides Osa Tako Hero, there were many food carts that I wanted to try. I organized a meetup with the Food Bloggers Meetup Group (aka Food Club) so other people who were interested in trying different food carts could join me.

Foodies at this Food Cart Crawl: Maxwell, Jeffrey, and Edwin.

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Osa Tako Hero’s menu is presented in a creative way. The menu came with graphics and descriptions of the ordering instructions “Creating Osa Takoman” in a RPG style. I thought it was a really cute way to make the menu, which showcased the creative Japanese design/style. Even the website is made in a Japanese style!

Essentially, you choose the number of octopus balls (5, 7, or 10), then the sauce (regular takoyaki or spicy), and finally the topping (cheese, curry, seaweed, bonito flakes, and maple syrup). Then you would get seaweed powder, takoyaki sauce and mayo added on top of the octopus balls.

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We opted for all 5 flavours plus spicy sauce on the side, the best way to try every flavour. I tried the maple syrup, bonito flakes and curry flavours.

The average price of takoyakis is about $5 for 6 takoyaki balls at night markets and izakayas. Osa Tako Hero, which gives you 10 octopus balls for $5.99, is the best choice to get the most bang out of you buck!

After trying Osa Tako Hero’s takoyakis, this place became my favourite takoyaki place in Vancouver.

I like the variety of flavours, generous amount of toppings and sauce, the price, and most importantly there were about 3 pieces of octopus in each octopus ball! It is really rare because takoyakis from night markets and izakayas, usually have just one piece of octopus in each takoyaki.

Though one thing will make these takoyakis even better – freshness. These takoyaki balls were pre-made and re-heated to reduce the waiting time at the food cart, which is reasonable. I personally love fresh takoyakis because of the crispy shells. So, the next time I visit, I would request fresh takoyaki even if I have to wait longer.

My favourite flavours were the maple syrup and the bonito flakes (the common way takoyakis are done). The curry spice did not go too well with the takoyaki, so it did not appeal to me. If it was curry sauce it would have been more interesting.

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(In picture): Jeffrey, Maxwell and I at the first stop of our Food Cart Crawl meetup. (Edwin took the photo so he wasn’t in the picture.)

Stay tuned for more food cart adventures! If you would like to join Food Cart Crawl Part 2 – Join the Meetup!

Osa Tako Hero on Urbanspoon

Osa Tako Hero
700 W Pender St, Vancouver
osatakohero.com

Osa Tako Hero is located south side of 800 West Pender St. It is outside the Starbucks/Tim Hortons entrance of Pacific Centre.

-by Jenny Shen, Eat With Jenny

Chewie’s Steam & Oyster Bar – Seafood/Pacific Northwest, Vancouver

Chewie’s Steam & Oyster Bar is a Cajun/Creole-inspired oyster and steam bar, ran by Richard Chew (Chewie), the former chef of Rodney’s Oyster House. Chef Tyrell Brandvold handles the food concept and menu design. This restaurant is located in Kitslano, which is actually very close to my yoga studio. I would never have thought there is an oyster bar in the area.

I was very fortunate to be invited to a Media Event on December 14. This event was in a sit down dinner style where guests could order food and drinks from the menu, which I thought that was an excellent idea. My experience at Chewie’s Steam & Oyster Bar was quite casual, neighborhood-friendly, and fun.

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Chewie’s Steam & Oyster Bar

Before I talk about the food, I have to say the atmosphere and the staff here were amazing! The atmosphere was so energetic because of the good playlist and the staff. These friendly and social staff did a great job with serving us and providing recommendations of great food.

Louisiana rock crab cakes - mixed greens, creole remoulade ($15)

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These crab cakes were delicious, although I would personally prefer more spice in the mayo. Nevertheless, I was really happy with this dish so I’m likely to order this again when I revisit. $15 for 3 decently-sized crab cakes is a good deal!

Pan-Seared Calamari - sherry-marinated squid strips & cucumber mint salad. ($12)

This is an one-of-a-kind calamari dish. I liked that this dish is healthier than a common calamari dish, and the squid tasted quite fresh. However I still like my calamari deep-fried.

Southern Fried Chicken ($16)

2-day marinated buttermilk fried chicken, cajun honey butter drizzle, mash & beans

When asked for recommendations, I was told by the server that items from Shellfish Steamers, From the Pot, and Big Bites sections are the best. He also recommended the fried chicken. I was really skeptical about ordering it, until I heard from the other tables about how great it was.

This fried chicken was marinated in buttermilk for 2 days, and came with cajun honey butter drizzle. When I was trying to take a piece from the plate, I could already see that the skin was almost falling off the bone. I liked this fried chicken because it was so tender, did not taste greasy like KFC, and it had a really crunchy bread shell. My favourite part was the honey butter drizzle – the same topping on the butter milk biscuits. I really wanted to bring some of that home and put it on everything I eat!  Because of my preference of sweet food, I really enjoyed eating this.

Normally I do not eat fast food or deep fried chicken because the quality of fast food is often disappointing, but I was really surprised at the quality of this dish. Out of all fried chicken I have tried, this is hands down the best!

Chewie’s Steam & Oyster Bar

Buttermilk biscuits ($3),  Southern Fried Chicken,
Caesar ($9), French Quarter Beignets – Cafe Du Monde style classic beignets, chichory coffee anglaise. ($6)

The buttermilk biscuits were the best biscuits I have had. The magic is the cajun honey butter drizzle on the biscuits that made these really tasty! I wished I ate more of those.

The French Quarter Beignets were essentially deep fried buns with icing and coffee dip. These donuts reminded me of Chinese deep-fried donuts. In China they’re eaten with a sweet dip as well.  I’m not a big fan of donuts because they are often too sweet. However, these ones did not come with fillings so they were not overly sweet. I felt like more buttermilk biscuits would be enough for desserts.

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Cayenne chocolate cake - flourless chocolate cake with vanilla whip & praline. ($6)

I love any kind of chocolate cake, but I have not tried any pepper/chilli chocolate because I don’t eat spicy food. I got this Cayenne chocolate cake because I was really curious. My experience from a few bites of this cake: It tasted like a regular chocolate cake for the first 5 seconds, then all the spices rushed to your tongue, and disappeared. It was nice to try something like this for the first time, but I’ve had enough vitamin A from this. I can’t handle spicy food at all! If you love smooth chili chocolate, I think you will enjoy this cake.

Going to an oyster bar was unexpected for me because I do not eat any oysters.  However, I had such an amazing time at Chewie’s Steam & Oyster Bar. The food is good and the ambiance is suitable for anyone that wants to have a great time! I would definitely recommend the Southern fried chicken.

Interesting Reads: Rick Chung’s post | Jeremy Lim’s Album | Vanfoodster’s post

Chewie’s Steam & Oyster Bar on Urbanspoon

Chewie’s Steam & Oyster Bar
http://www.chewies.ca/
@chewiesoysters
2201 W 1st Ave, Vancouver

-by Jenny Shen, Eat With Jenny

Giovane [VFBM] – Desserts/Cafe, Vancouver

Giovane is a café by day, winebar by night, inside the Fairmont Pacific Rim by the Vancouver Convention Centre. After discovering Giovane’s fancy desserts and seeing my friend’s photos of the cakes he got at Giovane, I knew I have to try this cafe. I organized a meetup for the Food Bloggers Meetup Group because it would be perfect for foodies who want to share many types of desserts together.

I was joined by Caroline from FoodPersuasion, Rachel from PoshPudding, Vicki from foodie on the 49th, Simon from Life in the Lower MainlandDanielle the enthusiastic foodie who came to most of FBMs, Yoko from Shizenya, and other foodies.

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#DesignTalk: Using the type g as the logo set Giovane apart. To me it seemed creative and memorable. Also I really liked their website with its fonts and colors. The only thing I have trouble with is the pronunciation of Giovane…

Giovane is a bakery/deli/cafe/winebar that sells coffee, pastries, breads, cookies, whole cakes, panini, pizza, drinks and soup. Just look at the vast selections!

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^Giovane’s manager Mark – who helped us with the reservation (along with Giovane’s Food & Beverage Sales Manager, Katherine) and reserving the infamous sugar buns which always sell out.

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Sugar Bun ($4) a Giovane signature – sugared sweet bun filled with vanilla pastry cream
I read reviews on the sugar buns, about how good they were and how fast they always sell out. I was a bit skeptical when I read its description because it did not really seem that special, and I was still skeptical when I saw these buns in person. These sugar buns were huge! It like a small sourdough bread! I imagined them to be like donuts with some sort of magic but these buns really just look like buns with cream.

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I wish I can say nicer things to make you crave these sugar buns too, but they were really just buns/donuts with cream. Someone like me, who eats T&T bread and buns a lot will definitely say that T&T, Maxim or other Asian bakeries make sweet buns better. Perhaps other reviewers and bloggers liked this for its size, but I was never a fan of cream or whipped cream myself.
Surprisingly this was not overly sweet and the cream did not feel very greasy. Although the bun was light and fluffy, I thought that the foodies at the table were not impressed by this dessert. Hearts: 3/10

Mark actually reserved 11 of these buns for FBM just in case each one of us wanted a bun. In the end the meetup group only ordered two to share and we couldn’t even finish the buns. It was a good thing that the reserved buns were all sold after we decided not to get them, otherwise I would feel bad.

Now that you probably lowered your expectation a little bit, let’s move on to other good desserts that really deserved to be ‘Giovane signatures’.

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Chocolate Hazelnut Yule Log ($30)

Presentation was stunning! I would give 98/100 for this. It was so beautiful with the macarons, hazelnuts, and the cake was cut so perfectly. I think the brown macaron was chocolate and green one was pistachio.

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A slice of Chocolate Hazelnut Yule Log has chocolate hazelnut mousse, chocolate cream with chopped hazelnuts, wafers base. On the top: golden gooseberry, chocolate balls, and reindeer white chocolate. I took the piece with the pistachio macaron. 😛

This Chocolate Hazelnut Yule Log was hands down the best dessert I ate in the last few months. (I will have to think harder to remember what I ate beyond that). The chocolate hazelnut mousse was on the rich side and it was really chocolatey. I really liked the different layers of mousse/cream/chocolate shell and wafers complemented the texture really well. Eating the wafers, hazelnuts layers and the hazelnut mouse together was like eating a cake made out of ferrero rocher!

The macaron could have a better presentation but it tasted satisfactory. The pistachio taste was not very noticeable but I definitely tasted the almonds in the macaron.

All in all, I loved this cake a lot. At the price of $30 per yule log, each slice was only $3. That is an amazing deal because compared to many $6-8 desserts I have tried, this tasted a lot better and it was cheaper. Hearts: 9.6/10

Mini Cakes & Tarts were $5-7 each. I believe most (if not all) of the desserts below are $7 each.

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Peanut Butter Hedgehog

This was the cake that I originally wanted to order, but since another meetup member got it, I just sampled a bite. It contained chocolate mousse, smooth peanut butter cream inside a rich chocolate shell. Some say this tasted like a big Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, but I think otherwise. It is not ‘greasy’ like Reese’s and the peanut butter cream center was so smooth. Comparing this dessert to a chocolate bar at grocery store is an understatement. I really liked this dessert and I will order this next time so I get to have one myself! Hearts: 9.4/10

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Chocolate raspberry cake

I sampled a bite of it also. It had dark chocolate mousse, layers of chocolate cake with hints of raspberry. I’m not a fan of raspberry so I thought it was alright. People who don’t like sweet desserts will probably like this because it was the least sweet out of all chocolate cakes. Hearts: 7/10

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Black Forest Cake ($7)

This was my order. I wanted to get something less chocolatey but still with chocolate, and I was impressed by its presentation. In the cake there are layers of chocolate cake, hard cherry jelly, Kirsch cream (according to FoodPersuasion; I could only tell there was liqueur), on top: gold leaf, a piece of cherry and red dust. It was really hard to cut the cake without making the cake fall apart. I joked that it was like playing jenga with cake. :p

I liked the liqueur cream and the combination of textures. The presentation was great but it’s not easy to cut and eat. It did taste like a black forest cake but I still liked the other desserts better since I don’t really enjoy pairing chocolate with sour things. (why did you order this then?) I ordered this cake so other foodies can share it with me, and I was curious about how the different layers would taste. Hearts: 7.3/10


Image courtesy of Danielle

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Lemon Raspberry Mousse Cake – I sampled a bite. It was light, soft and smooth and lemon lovers would probably enjoy the lemon custard in the center. It was a nice break from all the chocolatey desserts but one bite was the most I could take from a lemon/raspberry dessert. Hearts: 5/10

I think I have found my new favourite dessert place, well, at least a favourite yule log. I can’t wait to go back to Giovane for other sweets, or even another yule log!

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Foodies and food bloggers who came to this meetup. Thanks guys and gals!

If you’re interested in dining with food enthusiasts and food bloggers, check out the FoodBloggers Meetup! Everyone is welcome to join!

Giovane
http://giovanecafe.com/
1038 Canada Place, Vancouver

-By Jenny Shen, Eat With Jenny