I love brunch. It’s perfect for people like me who sleep in on the weekends and don’t wake up early enough to eat breakfast. Vancouver also happens to be a place where there are a lot of great brunch spots to choose from. What better way to spend a late Saturday morning than with some girlfriends and catch up over brunch? Since Twisted Fork Bistro is a popular place for brunch, Mari, Owl, Robot Penguin, and I decided to give it a try.
The restaurant itself is small so they do not accept reservations. We arrived at around 11:15am and were told that it was going to be around a 30 minute wait. In actuality, it was more like a 45 minute wait. For those who don’t like waiting in line, I recommend going right when they open their doors at 10 am on the weekends.
The bistro has a funky and relaxed vibe to it. The black and white photographs that line the wall adds an artistic and sentimental appeal. The various decorations and artwork also contribute to the charm of the restaurant.
When we were seated, the friendly server handed us a menu of the brunch items to browse over. I love the twisted fork on the menu!
I went with the Eggs Benny since I have never tried it before.
For the filling, I chose smoked salmon. It was served with sides of sautéed spinach, rosti (which is kind of like hash browns), and baked beans.This dish is a twist to the traditional eggs benedict, as the poached eggs were served on top of toasted brioche instead of the regular English muffin. It was my first time trying brioche, and I can’t say I’m too fond of it. The texture is too dry and crumbly for me. However, It did do a good job of soaking up the runny egg yolk from the perfectly poached eggs! The generous amount of smoked salmon piled on top of the toasted brioche tasted delicious. I could’ve had a whole plate of that on its own.
Robot Penguin also ordered the eggs benny, but chose bacon as the filler.
Mari ordered the Gruyere Baked Eggs which came with sourdough toast, bacon, rosti, tomato, and baked beans.
She let me try some her sourdough toast and jam. The jam is made in-house, and I have to say it was very good! It tastes natural and less sweet and artificial than supermarket jams. They sell jars of their housemade jam for people who enjoyed its taste and want to bring some home with them. I also tried a bite of the baked eggs, which was I thought was tasty and savoury but a little too heavy.
Owl went with the Bacon, Caramelized Onion and Brie Frittata filled with plum tomatoes and fresh basil and served with fresh greens and sweet corn relish.
The bite of the frittata I had was delicious, though I do agree with Owl that the sweet corn relish is a little too sour.
Jars of different flavoured jams for sale:
Overall, I think that Twisted Fork Bistro is a solid brunch spot. The food portions are quite large, and we all had trouble polishing off our plates. I like how the brunch items come with different sides than the usual home fries or hash browns. The service was friendly, and I enjoyed the ambient music and cozy setting that served to create a relaxing atmosphere. Twisted Fork Bistro is also open for dinner, and I might return to try some of the French bistro items on their menu such as mussels with frites and oxtail soup!
Located in the Georgian Court Hotel, Frankie’s Italian Kitchen is sophisticated and elegant without being pretentious. PonDeRing introduced me to this hidden gem in downtown Vancouver after she was there for a date with Mochi. Both of them had only positive things to say about their dining experience that night. Read her review here.
Although I love Italian food, I actually don’t eat it very often. When I do, it’s never at restaurants that serve authentic or superior Italian food that hasn’t been modified under the influence of American culture. This visit was an opportunity for me to indulge in some good quality Italian cuisine and for PonDeRing and Mochi to satiate their cravings for more delicious and flavourful pasta dishes. My other good friend, JL, also accompanied us for dinner.
Our server of the night was a very friendly and hospitable Italian lady who never failed to make us feel welcome here. She started us off with water and bread while we took our time to peruse the menu.
Bread with Extra Virgin Olive Oil + Balsalmic Vinegar (complimentary):
The bread tasted fresh and was delicious dipped in the olive oil + balsalmic vinegar dressing. The texture of the bread was chewy and soft — it was so good that we finished what was served to us in no time and asked for seconds.
Beef Carpaccio (classic Italian starter prepared with premium beef filet, extra virgin olive oil, capers and our chef’s inspiration) $15:
We ordered this as an appetizer after PonDeRing and Mochi ordered it the last time they were here and raved about how good it was. This was truly delicious and a must order. The beef slices were thin and delicate, and the bed of fresh arugula and shaved parmesan cheese were the perfect complements.
Seafood Linguine (poached half lobster in ragout of clams, salmon, halibut, mussels, scallops and prawns) $21:
We ended up ordering four different pastas and shared some with one another so everyone could have a taste of each one. This pasta was the most expensive one on the menu, but well worth the money. It was abundant with seafood such as clams, mussels, and salmon. The highlight of this dish was the poached half lobster, which tasted succulent and tender.
Spaghetti & Meatballs (tossed in tomato sauce and topped with aged ricotta cheese) $14:
The tomato based sauce was well seasoned with herbs and did not taste overly sour or acidic. As for the spaghetti noodle, it was cooked until perfectly al dente. The slice of aged ricotta cheese did not taste like much, but it did add richness and an Italian twist to this Italian American classic.
Salmon Maltagliati (fresh sockeye salmon with broccoli, cream and pecorino cheese) $15:
This dish was ordered from their “Fresh House Made Pasta” menu. I would recommend this menu to those who would like to venture out from traditional pasta dishes and try something different. The pastas from this menu are made in house with a pasta machine and not made from dried pastas. They feature newly inspired Italian dishes, which means that they differ from the more traditional Italian pastas in terms of flavour and ingredients. Maltagliati means “badly cut”, which would reflect the irregularity in shape of the pasta in this dish. The Maltagliati pasta was thin and flat while being chewy in texture. I can’t really comment on this dish because I’m not a fan of cream sauce pastas, but I did enjoy the bite that was offered to me.
Chicken Linguine (chicken in sun-dried tomato pesto cream sauce) $14:
The pesto cream sauce was full of flavour and enlivened by the aroma of crushed basil leaves. The chicken pieces were tender and not too dry. If a dish is able to satisfy the most picky of eaters, you can probably conclude that it must taste delicious. The chicken linguine was able to do that, as Mochi raved about how good it was and preferred it over the spaghetti and meatballs dish that he ordered last time. PonDeRing also really enjoyed this and said she would definitely order it the next time she’s here.
Ice Cream Cassava (Chocolate ice cream with diced almonds, raisins, and sun dried cranberries encased in a thin layer of sponge cake, served with chocolate fondue) $7:
Although we were all full from our pastas, I really wanted to order the Ice Cream Cassava. It turned out to be a good choice, as it was as decadent and delicious as it looks in the picture. It was topped off with diced pistachios rather than the diced almonds in the description of the dessert menu, which was a nice surprise.
Inniskillin Cabernet Sauvignon (9 0z) $12:
This picture was taken after the majority of wine was consumed by Mochi and JL. Apparently there was some confusion when the wine was being ordered — Mochi asked our server to recommend wines that were less dry, but I think she misheard it as extra dry and recommended this one. I took a sip and thought it tasted fine, albeit a little too strong and bitter for my liking. But then again, I’m no wine connoisseur.
The service we received that night was exceptional, and our server constantly came by to refill our water glasses and made sure everything was going well. I would say that the pastas dishes here are definitely quality over quantity. The portion sizes of the pastas look really small in pictures, but they actually gave us just enough so there was no food left over. I can’t say for the other food items on the menu such as the pizzas and steaks, but the pastas are definitely a plus in my books. The ambiance was intimate and cozy, and everyone had a wonderful time. I would recommend this restaurant to those looking for somewhere to dine at with hospitable service, elegant setting, and delicious food.
It’s been nearly a year since my last post! Don’t worry, I was only temporarily on leave and did not intend to neglect my blog forever. Although I have been meaning to sneak in a few entries in between my busy schedule, it never did manage to work out. Now that reading break has commenced, I’m planning to get my blog active again and aiming to update it at least two times a week.
My visit to What8ver Cafe was pretty spontaneous actually. PonDeRing and I were planning to go there after shopping at Daiso to try the honey toast box, but changed our minds when two of our friends who were supposed to go with us didn’t come in the end. While shopping at the newly opened H-Mart at Aberdeen Centre, we ran into some friends who were going to What8ver Cafe for dinner and decided to join them. Thanks for inviting us, J!
What8ver Cafe is a bubble tea place in Richmond that serves Taiwanese snacks, light meals, and drinks. It’s pretty small inside and only has around six tables, so I would recommend making a reservation to avoid long waits during peak hours. They do not have any full sized meals on the menu, but you can upgrade to a meal by adding $2 to any single Taiwanese snack item.
What I was particularly interested in at What8ver Cafe was the honey toast box. I first heard of honey toast boxes when I read about a place called Dazzling Cafe in Taiwan that serves it there. A honey toast box is a half a loaf of bread that is hollowed, and the inside of the bread is cut into strips which is then coated with honey and toasted. It is then decorated with ice-cream and fruits to create a fancy looking dessert. Despite being the specialty of What8ver Cafe, the honey toast box is not on the menu – you just have to know about it and ask for it. Since the honey toast box generally takes a longer time to prepare, we started off by ordering two to share between seven people. They have three flavours available: matcha + red bean, strawberry, and vanilla. We chose the matcha + red bean and the strawberry honey toast boxes.
*Excuse the bad pictures – we were seated in a dim part of the restaurant and our main source light came from the flame of two small tea candles.
Strawberry Honey Toast Box ($8):
I didn’t get a chance to take a picture of the toast box before it was cut apart by the waitress. This toast box came with slices of strawberries, custard cream, a scoop of strawberry ice-cream, and strawberry sauce on top.
Matcha +Red Bean Honey Toast Box ($8):
How it looked like deconstructed:
This honey toast box came with red beans, custard cream, and a scoop of matcha ice-cream on top. Comparing this to the strawberry honey toast box, I liked this one much better. The bitterness of the matcha ice-cream complemented well with the sweetness of the honey coated bread sticks and red beans.
Although the honey toast boxes were good, I have to admit that I wasn’t entirely blown away. In terms of taste, I thought the bread sticks were a little too sweet and preferred eating the “box” of the toast which was not as crunchy and coated with less honey. This may be due to the fact that I’m not a big fan of honey, and people who do enjoy the taste of honey will have different opinions than I do. I also expected the honey toast box to be fancier in its presentation, but that was not the case here. I feel that four people per honey toast box is perfect – although the seven of us finished all of the strawberry honey toast box, we couldn’t finish the matcha + red bean one. Since bread is filling, we were essentially half full from the honey toast boxes before the other food arrived.
Green Milk Tea with Pearls $3.50:
It was a good thing PonDeRing and I shared this, since it was too much for one person to finish. The glass that the drink was served in is pretty unique – PonDeRing commented that the glass resembled a mayonnaise jar. The green milk tea was good and did not taste overly sweet. Since the glass was so big, we ended up only finishing around half of it.
Aloe + Lemon Tea:
Took a picture of Robot Penguin’s drink because it looked so pretty. I thought it tasted very light and refreshing. RP said that it is a good drink to have during the summer.
Taiwanese Deep Fried Chicken (鹹酥雞) $5.50:
This dish is a popular snack item in the nightmarkets of Taiwan and was done well here. The chicken pieces fried until crispy and were tender on the inside. The basil leaves added a hint of fragrance to the chicken pieces that this dish would not be the same without.
Taiwanese Deep Fried Squid Tentacles (炸魷魚）$5:
The squid tentacles were prepared the same way as the chicken nuggets. Again, the basil leaves were a nice touch and added a fragrant flavour to the deep fried squid tentacles.
Taiwanese Deep Fried Pork Chop (炸排骨）:
The pork chop tasted authentically Taiwanese – like how my grandma makes it. The sauce on the side wasn’t really needed in my opinion. I can’t recall how it tasted since I only tried a bit – maybe it was tonkatsu sauce.
Braised pork belly over rice (魯肉飯):
This is the bowl of rice that you get when you upgrade to a meal. A pretty good deal, since it’s much better than plain white rice. The braised pork belly was flavourful and went well with the rice.
All in all, What8ver Cafe is a great place to hang out with friends for a taste of authentic Taiwanese snacks and bubble tea drinks. It’s also one of the few places in the lower mainland that serves honey toast boxes. I’m planning to try the honey toast box at Dazzling Cafe in Taipei when I’m there in the summer. I would probably come back to try some other snack items the next time I’m in the vicinity and missing Taiwanese food.
Sushi Garden is my favourite go-to place for cheap, delectable, and good value for the money sushi. Conveniently located across Metrotown in Burnaby, it is always busy and packed with people looking to fill up on decent Japanese food while staying within budget. Although the food is not authentic Japanese food by any means, the big portions and reasonable prices are what keeps Sushi Garden so popular among locals.
It could be the fact that I usually frequent there during meal times, but I have always had to put my name down at the front desk and wait for a table every time I’m there. The average wait time is around 15-20 minutes, but it also depends on when you go.
The interior of the restaurant looks so much better after a much needed renovation. It looks much more modern and clean, although the seating area is still a bit cramped. It’s not hard to listen in to the conversations of the tables next to you without really trying to.
On this particular visit, I was joined by PonDeRing and Mochi for a casual lunch. Although it was a weekday, we still had to wait for around ten minutes before a table opened up for us. After being served tea and presented with the menu, we proceeded to order. The service was prompt, and we did not have to wait long until the items we ordered were presented to our table.
Salmon Sashimi ($7.95):
The slices of salmon sashimi were thick and tasted really fresh. I always order the sashimi here because I’m never disappointed with the quality! The sashimi is never frozen, and is a steal at only $7.95 for eight slices.
Assorted Tempura ($7.50):
The assorted tempura came with pieces of prawn, zucchini, and sweet potato. The batter was not too thick and was coated evenly. Pretty good.
We ordered three rolls: Crab ♥s Papaya Roll, Dynamite Roll, and Alaska Roll
Crab ♥s Papaya Roll ($3.95):
The unique name of this roll prompted me to order it from the menu. The papaya was hard and slightly chewy, not mushy and soft like the kind I’m used to eating. Maybe it wasn’t ripe enough? Or could be a different variety. Either way, the taste of papaya was subtle and was not too overpowering. The deep fried crab was tasty and paired well with the light tasting papaya. The julienned cucumber tasted refreshing and light.
There was just the right proportion of rice to ingredients in this roll. The prawn tempura was crispy, while the masago sprinkled on top provided a hint of flavour and texture. Overall, I would say this roll was tasty, but not that special.
Alaska Roll ($3.95):
This is my absolute favourite roll at Sushi Garden! I think it’s also their most popular roll. It is basically an avocado roll topped with a slice of salmon sashimi and covered with a special sauce. The avocado in the Alaska roll is really creamy, and the tangy sauce drizzled on top kicks the flavour up a notch. The sauce is what really makes this roll special — no need for soy sauce! What I also like about this roll is the fact that the pieces are bite sized. I hate it when the rolls are too big and the contents end up spilling out when you bite it in half. Sort of defeats the purpose of making the roll so large when you have to eat the ingredients separately anyway, in my opinion.
The grand total:
Not too bad for three people, agreed? We left satiated, and no food was left over. The service that we received on this visit was okay, although it does decline as the restaurant gets busier (on weekends especially).
My only complaint about this place is that the ambiance is rushed and noisy, and the servers can be inattentive when it gets busy. Don’t come on a date night, as you will surely be disappointed. With that being said, Sushi Garden is great place for a casual lunch or dinner with family and friends.
Going to the Summer Night Market in Richmond has been a tradition of mine every summer since I found out about it years ago. It’s extremely popular and always packed with people, especially if you go later in the night. Go early to avoid the crowd! For those who have never been there before, the night market consists of food stalls as well as stalls selling merchandise at cheaper prices.
I usually don’t buy anything from the merchandise stalls, as the items sold are usually cheap, albeit lower in quality. I’m much more interested in the food — as are most people, judging from the massive crowds and long line-ups for some of the more popular food stalls.
On this occasion, I was accompanied by Ames, RiceCake, and JL. We ordered a lot of food… so here goes!
Grilled Squid Legs:
It was fun watching them grill the squid legs. There was a lot of smoke though, so be careful not to stand too close.
I only had a bit of this, but from what I recall it was pretty good and flavourful. The squid legs were chewy and grilled to perfection.
A Taiwanese food stall that sells lots of interesting food:
This stall offers Taiwanese hotdog, which is a traditional Taiwanese snack known as “small sausage in large sausage” in Taiwan. The bun part is sticky rice instead of bread, and the hotdog portion is Taiwanese pork sausage. Instead of ketchup and mustard, it’s topped with garlic and pickles among other condiments.
They also have candied fruit skewers here as well, which are strawberries coated in hardened sugar.
When I saw the picture of the “marshmallow sandwich”, i was pretty surprised… i have never heard of such a thing before. According to my sister who heard from my mom, they are a new item sold in Taiwan night markets and are quite popular. After doing some research, I found out they are deep fried mantou (bun) stuffed with colourful marshmallows and drizzled with condensed milk.
Salt & Pepper Chicken Nuggets:
This was $4 for a pretty small bag. The chicken pieces were crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. I think the dried basil really takes the chicken nuggets to another level — it’s incomplete without it!
One thing that I got to have every time I visit the night market is takoyaki! I don’t eat them anywhere else in Vancouver, because I like them made fresh! There were at least three stalls selling this that were all close to one another, so I really didn’t know which one to go to… eventually, we went to the one with the shortest line-up. Aside from the traditional takoyaki filled with octopus, they also offer shrimp, scallop, and veggie options. We stuck with the traditional octopus takoyaki:
The service was really fast — probably because the takoyaki was pre-made, and all the person had to do was put the condiments on top… I didn’t realize they already pre-made a bunch and put them on the side. The takoyaki was still piping hot inside though, so it wasn’t too bad. I thought they tasted tasted pretty good — on par with the takoyaki that I had before. I only detected one small piece of octopus inside the ball of takoyaki though… wish they had put more in. Aside from that, they were delicious! The combination of mayo, teriyaki sauce, and bonito flakes just taste so good together on top of the octopus balls.
The line-up for the grilled corn was super long! I don’t remember how much this was… maybe $2 per corn on the cob. After they grill it, you can sprinkle spices on top for some extra flavour. I think I got cayenne powder… turned out to be super spicy, and I had to rub the majority off with a napkin.
This turkey leg was really big. We all shared this, since it’s too big for one person to eat alone and still have room to eat other things. The turkey meat was not too dry, and was cooked nicely.
I was seriously craving for bubble waffles ever since we arrived at the night market… but i wanted to wait until we ate the “salty” things before moving on to the sweet.
I think the bubble waffles were one for $4, and two for $7. Aside from the original flavour, they also have strawberry and chocolate. When I went to order, we wanted to get one original and one strawberry. The lady told me they ran out of strawberry for the day, so we got two original flavours in the end.
The bubble waffles, it tasted good — crispy on the outside and slightly chewy. It certainly satisfied my craving!
Lastly, we went for some mango desserts at this stall that looked pretty good:
Fresh Mango Tapioca:
This was a cool and refreshing dessert. The mango was really fresh (not the canned stuff), and the tapioca and coconut milk tasted great together as well.
Mango Shaved Ice:
This came in quite a large bowl, good for two people to share together. Although it was very tasty, we had trouble finishing it because it was so cold. This would be a more enjoyable dessert on a hotter day.
I had a great time walking around the stalls and trying different snack items. Can’t wait to return next summer!
After shopping at Daiso, PonDeRing and I wandered up to the food court at Aberdeen Centre for lunch. We originally wanted to go to Aoyama Cafe, but decided against it after thinking there would be much cheaper and tastier alternatives at the food court. I like the food court at Aberdeen Centre because of its diverse selection of Asian cuisine and comfortable seating areas. Since I wasn’t feeling very adventurous that day, I settled for Japanese food at Ajijiman Hanabi with its eye-catching menu board. I do regret my decision somewhat, as there are a lot of other good food items in the Aberdeen food court worth trying. I’ve heard good things about the chicken wings at Wo Fung Dessert — definitely going back to try it out in the near future.
Grilled Chicken Don (~$6):
The portion size was good, but I found this don to be lacking in flavour. The chicken pieces were decent, but nothing to write home about. The rice bowl looked good presentation-wise, but the mayo drizzled on top of the chicken did not enhance its taste in any way. The rice was very bland — after finishing the chicken, I was left with a pile of flavourless rice with nothing to accompany it with.
Kimchi beef don (~$6):
PonDeRing went with the kimchi beef don. It turned out to be a great choice, as it tasted a lot better than the chicken katsu don I ordered. The kimchi added a lot of flavour to this dish, and the beef pieces were tender and plentiful.
Overall, don’t come here if you’re looking for great tasting, authentic Japanese food. However, they do offer a diverse selection of Japanese food items on their menu, as well as takoyaki and okonomiyaki.
After lunch, we decided to get some dessert. There are a lot of dessert places in the Aberdeen food court, including Beard Papa’s cream puffs, Qoola frozen yogurt, and Mazazu Crepe. There is one place that I have always wanted to try whenever I’m at Aberdeen — Frappe Bliss, which specializes in shaved ice desserts.
The shaved ice at Frappé Bliss is known as “xue hua bing” in Taiwan and translated as “snowflake ice”. Snowflake ice is like shaved ice, except it’s finer in texture and more feathery. Their shaved ice comes in a plethora of different flavours such as milk, peanut, mango, strawberry, etc. You can either choose flavour combinations that are already made for you from the board, or choose the flavour of the ice and toppings yourself.
Matcha Delight (~$5):
We ordered the matcha delight, which came with sweet red beans, chewy rice balls, and a scoop of green tea ice-cream on top. We chose the milk flavoured ice, which we thought would go best with the toppings. Turns out we were right, because the combination was amazing! The green tea ice-cream and red beans complemented each other well, and tasted amazing with the milk flavoured ice. I’m glad they were not stingy with the toppings. I loved the chewy rice balls… they don’t really taste like anything, but I enjoy them for their chewiness.
Here’s a close-up of the snow ice:
See how fine it looks? The ice was so creamy and smooth! Each bite just melts in your mouth. It was truly a blissful experience.
Snowflake ice is a popular dessert in Taiwan, especially in night markets. They have all sorts of flavours there and at incredible prices! I didn’t get to try it out the last time I went back for a visit, but I will make it a point to eat it the next time I’m there!
Beard Papa’s is a cream puff chain store from Japan that has multiple locations in the Lower Mainland such as Burnaby, Richmond, and downtown Vancouver. If you haven’t tried them out yet, you should! The cream puff shells are crispy in texture, while the cream inside is light and airy.
What I really like about Beard Papa’s cream puffs is how fresh they are and taste. Branded as “fresh’n natural cream puffs”, they really do live up to their name. The custard filling is made fresh everyday with natural ingredients. I love how many different flavours they have as well, with my favourite so far being the original — vanilla.
On this occasion, PonDeRing brought back home a half dozen cream puffs from the location in Richmond Centre. They had a new flavour, black sesame flavoured cream puffs available on that day. I’ve never tried it before, so I was quite excited to try it out.
Black Sesame ($1.95):
I’m a big fan of black sesame, but this cream puff was quite disappointing. The flavour of black sesame was too strong and gave the custard filling a hint of bitterness. I think that maybe a tad more sugar is needed to balance out the natural bitterness of black sesame. The choux pastry shell, however, was crispy and delicious.
Green Tea ($1.95):
I love green tea desserts, but this one wasn’t that good. The flavour of the green tea was present, but I think more green tea powder would have made this even better. From the picture, you can see that not a lot of green tea powder was used in the custard filling — hence the light green colour.
I’ve never tried eclairs until now, but it’s become my new favourite from Beard Papa’s! It’s basically an original vanilla cream puff with dark chocolate on top. The vanilla cream puff is already delicious by itself, and the chocolate coating is the icing on the cake. With the eclairs, you get the best of both worlds — chocolate andvanilla. Do give this a try if you’re a chocolate lover like me.
As usual, the cream puffs were filled with a generous amount of custard cream, so they do make for quite a satisfying snack. I really wanted to try the strawberry or earl grey tea flavours, but they never seem to have them whenever I’m there. They also have other items on the menu such as ice-cream puffs and fondant au chocolate, but I think their availability varies with location.