I believe that food like good music and a good book is a solace to a person's soul. Food is both a science and an art - a yin-yang balance to your body and also an appreciation of colors, textures and sensory experience.

Monday, December 31, 2012

Pink Pearl Chinese Restaurant

Pink Pearl Chinese Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Gator went to have dim sum at Pink Pearl sometime ago. Gator heard a lot about Pink Pearl and how it stopped operations for a while due to some mysterious fire. But Gator was never around the area during lunch time. Finally, we happened to be at the vicinity one day and decided to have some dim sum.

We ordered mostly from the push-carts. It was super convenient and fast.

One of Gator's standard orders: Siew Mai: It was moist and quite lovely
I think this had shrimps and chives inside. Nice :)

Scallop and fish roe dumplings: one of my favourites
Bean curd with stuffed pork filling

Shanghainese Steamed Soup Dumplings or Xiao Long Bao. Sometimes referred to as juicy dumplings
See the soup inside the Xiao Long Bao

Chicken Feet or Feng Zhao (Phoenix Claws). Gator's collagen intake
Gator never say no to desert and who can resist egg tarts?
Among the 7 dim sum dishes, Gator ranks the chicken feet as my favourite dish from Pink Pearl. Gator knows a lot of friends who either love or loathe this dish. Pink Pearl stewed the Phoenix Claws so well that the skin from the chicken feet was literally falling off the bone. The gravy was oh so flavourful. No. 2 on my list was the scallop and fish roe dumplings - the seafood was just so fresh. Gator's least favourite dish was the xiao long bao - the skin was way too thick for my liking. In fact, one of the drawbacks of the dim sum here is that the skin of the dumplings were just a bit too thick - maybe, they wanted to pile on the filings. But it takes more effort and finesse to make thinner skin with just the right amount of filling.

Overall, the dim sum was not the best but Gator was won over by the service. Also, if you are really hungry, it really helps that food is served quite quickly. Price was also reasonable.

Overall Experience:

Deco: 3/5 - this place is spacious. Ample seating arrangement and the restaurant even has a huge stage.
Quality of food: 3.5/5 - Gator is a bit of a dim sum snob.
Value for $$: $$$$/5 - great value. The bill came up to about $30 plus which was reasonable and we were stuffed.
Overall Experience: Service was excellent. The servers waited as we were taking pictures of the food before serving us and they were extremely polite. Unlike most dim sum restaurants where you generally pay at the front, the server brought us the bill and even the credit card machine to our table.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Its Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas!

So on the day when there was an unusual amount of snow in Vancouver, Gator was crazy enough to make my way to campus only to find that the Provost has shut down the entire university.

Trees all covered with snow

Cars all covered with snow

A wintery wonderland

An overview of the library and the clock tower

A panoramic shot of campus

When rain came and the snow started subsidizing, Gator decided to go to the Christmas Market - figured that it would not be crowded. They served German food and had a good variety - unfortunately, the prices were not friendly to the wallet! Isn't it the case for most food sold at fairs?

Potato Pancakes and German Schnitzer
A close up shot of potato pancake - 2 pancakes with apple sauce and sour cream. I think it cost like $7 bucks. Expensive!!

German Schnitzer - with pita bread & salad

The German Schnitzer close about $10 - pretty pricey. It was nicely done - crisp and the pork had no smell. Its too much to eat by yourself so do share it with your friends. The potato pancake with the apple sauce and sour cream was also crisp - the potato was well seasoned. By then, Gator's tummy was feeling a bit warm - yet, still proceeded to share a cup of hot chocolate - it had quite a lot of cinnamon - Gator liked it.

Now comes the fun  - the carossel ride. Gator was hoping to ride on the pink horse but ended up riding on a white horse. Anyways, the lady manning the carossel ride was so fierce - we tried cracking a joke with her but she had a stoic expression on her face. And then before we proceeded to hand her the ticket, she said that we had to sit on horses at the outer corner. But there was no space for one of us and then, she kinda barked and said that we had to sit on the carriage. We said no way and she was nice enough to allow me to sit on the kiddie horse but warned me not to bounce around. Maybe, she had a bad day. I wasn't going to let her spoil my evening after making our way through the crazy traffic and after paying so much money. Anyways, it was a fun ride and also a bit painful for the wallet - $3 for each person.

The pink horse Gator never got to ride on
Lights and decorations on the Merry-Go-Round

We walked around a bit, got a nice angel as a Christmas ornament for the tree and then got distracted with more food. Ordered a Shupfnoodle with double smoked salmon prosciutto and sourkraut for another $9. I personally liked the German Schnitzer more than the Shupfnoodle. Nothing wrong with the pasta though - maybe, it was just a tad bit too dry.

Shupnoodle anyone?
Overall Experience:

Deco:3/5 - There was some attempt to make the entire market more Christmassy. A huge Christmas tree, little drummer boys and a live band playing Christmas music. I think it will be nicer if they have more Christmas decorations though - maybe, some angels and even Santa.
Quality of food: 4/5 - its pretty good
Price:$$$$$/5 - very expensive. A small jar of hot apple cider cost $4 (you pay $6 and they give back $2 if you return the cup). I like that the Christmas market made an attempt to be environmentally friendly - there are bins for you to recycle your food as compost and  people are encouraged to use mugs. But still, $4 for an apple cider is too much.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Return to Heritage - Teochew (Chiu Chow Food)

Top Chiu Chow Cuisine 潮州世家海鮮菜館 on Urbanspoon
Vancouver has a great selection and offering of Chinese cuisine. However, I feel that most of the Chinese cuisine is geared towards Cantonese, Szechuan and Northern Chinese cuisine.  This reflects the current demographics of the Chinese population in Vancouver. Gator was pleasantly surprised to find Teochew (Chiu Chow) cuisine in Richmond. Gator did conduct a bit of research online as  I was hankering for some typical Teochew fare and read about Top Chiu Chow Cuisine in Richmond.

Gator was a little disappointed that the restaurant did not serve traditional Teochew congee with dishes. But there were other dishes that made my evening so memorable - BTW, this dinner was for a little celebration about 2 months ago and it was a special treat.

One of the characteristics of Teochew dishes is that it generally focuses on braised and steam dishes. Among the major Chinese dialect groups in Southeast Asia, Teochew food is deemed to be less oily in nature and the taste is more subtle and light. So, we ordered braised duck. I really enjoyed it - it was really done very well - the duck was tender and succulent. 

Braised duck in its glory - the dark sauce served with the duck went well with rice.

The next dish was equally good - oyster omelet. It was fried in a crispy style. I missed dipping the omelet with a tangy chilli sauce but they had other sauces on hand. The omelet was fried to the point that it became more of a pancake - surprisingly, it was not as oily as I anticipated.  Gator thinks that they probably add some flour to the mixture.

I am not a fan of oyster but I never say no when it comes in an omelet form.

A close up shot of my more than weekly intake of calories
Finally, we round off with a bowl of yam desert with gingko nuts - known as orh ni in Teochew. I think that that they made an admirable version. However, its kinda dry and was missing something - which is lard or oil. Gator knows that it sounds scary to have oil in desert but seriously, it adds a bit of oomph to this dish.

Traditional Teochew dessert - a tad too dry
Overall Experience:

Deco: 3/5 - its pretty small but the place can literally pack quite a lot of people
Quality of food: 4/5 - its pretty authentic
Price: $$$/5
Overall Experience: 4/5 -  worth a second visit. I am literally drooling typing this post.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Gator Cooks - Some Random Food

Gator has been cooking up a storm lately. Home cooked food is always nice, provided that you have time to prepare. Otherwise, its simply survival mode. But cooking does put Gator in a good frame of mind, provided that Gator is not pre-occupied with something else. You just have to shut down, plan on what you can whip up and try to depend on your sensory system to make something tasty and hopefully, something healthy as well.

One of my usual stir-fry dishes is beef with green onions. I usually buy pre-sliced beef from the Asian supermarket. All you need to do is to add:

a) Soya sauce
b) Corn starch
c) Sesame oil
d) White pepper

I marinate the beef slices for about 15 minutes with the above ingredients. Some people would add a dash of salt but I usually just add a little bit more soya sauce. Next, stir fry some sliced ginger, add the beef and marinate and then add spring onions. I wish that it will look more appetizing but here you go. I normally sprinkle additional white paper towards the end.

Beef with green onion
My other favorite dish is simply omelette with preserved turnip. You can buy preserved turnip at most Asian grocery stores. I usually give it a quick rinse and dab it with paper towel. Break 2-3 eggs, beat it well with chopsticks or a fork, add the preserved turnip and white pepper. Personally, I prefer that the oil is heated up till its quite hot before adding the eggs and then I slowly turn down the heat. Sometimes, my omelette is pretty hard because I want to eat it with porridge or congee. If I am eating omelette with rice, I make the eggs a little more runny in texture.

Omelette with preserved turnip
I am planning to post a food review in my next post.