On the spot

@ White Spot. As I was cleaning up my dresser, I saw a pile of unused gift cards, remnants of my rewards for being a reliable software warrior back when I was still using my left brain. Since the rest of my place is empty, even the fridge, I decided to start using these cards to fill my also empty tummy 배고파요. No, I didn't stew them, if that's what you were thinking.

And so Boxing Day found me past crazy lineups at Metrotown, past Bubble Tea Time, past Jang Mo Jib, past KFC, past IHOP and finally stopping at White Spot. I have 25$ to spend so I got the works.

Just to have a comparison, I tried their Bellini which was on specials every Saturday. I loved the presentation, it was like a tower or shaved ice, with maybe .00001% alcohol, yes it was that negligible, none of my allergies came out to prove it.

For starters I got the Five Cheese Caramelized Onion Dip [A creamy blend of Asiago, Parmesan, Jack, Mozzarella and cream cheese with caramelized onions and shallots] served with fresh cooked tortilla chips. I love Nachos, I could just eat Nachos for dinner and I'd be fine, and that's basically what I did. The dip was ok, I would be happier with guacamole and jalapenos though, but then that would not be the same menu.

My entree was the Monty Mushroom Bigger Burger [6 oz., 100% pure beef patty with Jack cheese, sauteed mushrooms, lettuce, tomato & Triple “O” sauce] I was actually looking at the New York steak but I figured that would be way out of my gift card limit, and I'm sticking on my budget, so that was out. I didn't get to eat this burger coz I got so full with the tortilla chips and drinks so I can't really tell if it's good, and I'm sure it won't be the same after spending a night in my fridge.

For desert, yes there's room for desert even if I couldn't even eat the burger anymore, I got the Spot Sampler [Mini versions of the White Spot Cheesecake with strawberry topping, classic Apple Cinnamon Crumble topped with vanilla ice cream and Hot Fudge Brownie topped with chocolate ice cream] The desert was not spectacular, I took one bite from each then I was done. I guess was expecting something like the bite of brownie but the hot fudge brownie with chocolate ice cream failed my expectations. The cheesecake was not sweet and not creamy either, which was just the way I like it, so plus points to that one. The apple cinnamon crumble had slivers of almonds which I didn't really notice until I felt like I swallowed fibrous strands and my throat got itchy [allergy alert!]. I guess I wont be a fan of apple crumble for a while so I settled with the ice cream.

All in all it was an ok dinner, I might have been happier if I chose the steak though, maybe I'll do that next time.

Verdict:
N: 3.0/5.0 [-2 because the food was mediocre and the service was slow even though the place was virtually empty, ]

White Spot
5550 Kingsway,
Burnaby, BC V5H 2G2

Fine Dining at a China Resto

we had a team lunch today at "pf chang's" to celebrate the holidays. for starters, we had CHANG'S VEGETARIAN LETTUCE WRAPS (Wok-seared tofu, red onions and water chestnuts with mint and lime. Served with cool lettuce cups)*, CRAB WONTONS (Crunchy wonton filled with creamy rock crab meat and served with a side of spicy plum sauce)* and DYNAMITE SHRIMP (Lightly battered shrimp served with a spicy sauce)*.

it was my first time to try the vegetarian lettuce wrap because i've always had chicken or beef when i eat with my friends. it was very good! i did not even notice there was no meat on it. the crab wontons was also good but it did not really stand out among the crab wontons i've tasted from "yummy bowl" or "wonton express." the dynamite shrimp was crispy and tasty. it was nicely placed on lettuce over a martini glass. i'd definitely order it next time around.

as for my entree, i ordered MANDARIN CHICKEN (A flavorful mix of chicken, snow peas, carrots, bok choy and broccoli makes this dish a sure favorite)*. it was served with white rice. the chicken was so juicy and the salted black beans added extra flavor to the dish. it made me want to cook the same dish at home. one of my teammates had STIR-FRIED EGGPLANT (Tossed with scallions in a savory chili pepper sauce)*. the sauce complemented the eggplant's taste. it gave me an alternative way to cook eggplant because i only know a few eggplant dishes.

overall, "pf chang's" offers a good selection of tasty dishes and is also friendly to vegetarians.

*from the menu

Verdict: 4.5/5 [-0.5 because the crab wontons did not exceed my expectations]

P.F. Chang's
1819 Lake Cook Road
Northbrook, IL 60062

The house that Pad Thai built

or at least that's how I call it. I was invited to join a girls' dinner out last night with L, J and F, and since my fridge only had cookies I felt it was time to go out and eat real food. They were planning to have dinner at Sushi Garden but then the line up was too long so we ended up at its neighbor's kitchen instead. We skipped appetizers and went straight to the main course.

The first thing that came out of the kitchen was the Ruaam Mit Phat Bai Horapa (Snow peas, fresh tofu, carrots, beans sprouts, mushroom with Green Basil). It was served inside a foil, giving the impression that it was reheated leftover, but really it wasn't. I'm not really a snow peas person, in fact, I'm not into carrots and bean sprouts either, so I guess this dish pretty much failed my radar even before I tried it. I sampled the tofu and mushroom and found them ok, nothing spectacular, just like any stir fry veggie that you could make at home.

The next dish became F's instant favorite: Gaaeng Ka-Ri (Yellow curry paste with carrots, potato, pineapple & coconut milk). Apparently my dinner friends are not into spicy food so they specifically asked for really mild-spiced dishes. I'm allergic to chicken but it's my favorite, so really, if I wanted to risk my anaphylaxis, it has to be for nothing less than the best chicken dish out there, unfortunately this wasn't it. I thought the curry was ok, and the meat was tender, but again, carrots and potatoes are not really part of my favorite things so..


Finally, my favorite dish came. I must say Green Basil is indeed THE spot for people clamoring for good Pad Thai. J ordered extra peanut toppings and a peanut sauce side dish to go with it. I am mildly allergic to peanuts, but that's what Claritin is for right? But she's right, it did taste distinctively different in a good way to have peanut sauce on the Pad Thai. Just imagine pansit with kare kare sauce, hmmm weird I know.. but yeah it was exotic for sure.


The fourth dish was Khaao phat Sap-Bpa-Roht (Fried rice with fresh pineapple, peanuts & raisins topped with pork floss). I'm not really a rice fan either plus more peanuts is not good for me, but I thought this dish was good, the pineapple gave character to the fried rice. (ok, by now you must be asking how I can write a blog about food when there's so many food I don't like or I'm allergic to, but hey whatever, to each his own, I just like writing, period ^^)

We only ordered four dishes at the start but L wanted to try another curry dish so we got the Gaaeng Kiew Waan (Green curry paste with green basil, eggplant, green bean & coconut milk). Ugh eggplant and green bean, why do you have to be in this dish, I'm gonna cook my own curry next time. But it wasn't bad actually, I'm just not sure if I can distinguish between the yellow and the green curry, they taste the same to me.

All in all it was a fun night to reconnect with friends from Church, I like that we hold hands as we pray. Unfortunately, I forgot to take photos of the food, so these ones are from previous visits.

Verdict
N: 3.5/5.0 [-1.5 because the other dishes were not as spectacular as the Pad Thai]

Green Basil Thai Restaurant
4623 Kingsway
Burnaby, BC V5H 2B3

'Tis the season to be merry

and the more, the merrier, or so they say.

So in an attempt to make this blog a truly global phenomenon, I've enlisted more contributors who I know are into food and travel, after all that's the main theme of this site. I hope they're into writing as well so that the posts will multiply too.

For now, let me take this opportunity to welcome our new writer: SVD from the windy city. Thanks for the reviews, keep em coming =)

At Galena's Historic Main Street

on our way from iowa back to chicago, we stopped by for dinner at galena, illinois. galena's main street at night is nice and quaint. we went inside the "galena canning company" shop. it offers a wide range of tasty condiments, sauces, dips and spreads. it's impossible to leave their shop without buying something. i bought a pesto spread there that tastes so good with toasted italian bread. it makes a fine pesto pasta too.

Verdict: 5/5

Galena Canning Company
106 S Main Street
Galena, IL 61036

the main highlight that night was having dinner at "one eleven main." we had "galena river cheese board" as appetizer although we were already appetized at our first stop so i guess i'd call this our starter. the cheese board contained 4 types of cheese with slices of apples, a swirl of honey, almond nuts, dried melon seeds, cherries and assorted crakers. we loved the cheese board so much we cleaned it all.


since i wanted to eat light that night, i ordered for main course "one eleven signature salad" that had mixed lettuce, bleu cheese, apple slices, cherries, dried melon seeds and grilled honey chicken. it was seriously the best salad i've ever eaten. another impressive thing about this restaurant is it offers galena's local produce from cheese, fruits, wines, and products from other local shops.

Verdict: 5/5

One Eleven Main

111 North Main Street
Galena, Illinois

After checking in at the YVR

and while waiting for PR107 to board, we decided to grab a *light* dinner while watching the Canucks beat the Capitals at the comfy couch of Koho.

For starters we got the calamari which was cooked to perfection, although a bit salty I might admit; squeezing the lemon on top did make a difference though. The ranch dip was uninspiring, but then again, I never really liked ranch to begin with. [to be updated by K]

Moving on to the entree, we thought it would be best to try the seafoods this time, just to take a break from the hefty meat-filled lunch we just had. Krissy got the maple glazed grilled salmon while I picked the seared sesame covered ahi tuna.

[to be updated by K]

I haven't tried seared ahi tuna in my life, so I didn't really know what to expect. My dish came with grilled mixed vegetables - broccoli, peppers and zucchini - which I thought were tasty so I finished them all before I dissected my fish. I thought the tuna was not that fresh, it had a bit of an aftertaste that I needed to drown on the fish sauce side dish before I could swallow. I researched the recipe for this dish and it calls for really fresh sashimi-grade tuna to make it perfect, so I guess this failed that requirement. My dish was salvaged by the coconut-infused steamed rice (it was good even though I don't really eat rice) and the veggie side dish (which was my favorite). [to be updated by K]


We didn't really have room for dessert anymore, (there's no topping the bite of brownie I had for lunch) and K still had to organize her luggage, so we skipped the sweets and headed out. [to be updated by K]

Verdict:
N: 2.5/5.0 [-2.5 because I thought the ahi wasn't fresh but plus points for service because the waitress moved the TV so we could see the Canucks game]
K: [to be updated by K]

Koho Restaurant and Bar
Level 3, International Departures
YVR, Vancouver, BC

At the corner of Robson and Bute

is Moxie's Classic Grill. "Let It Snow" was blasting from the restaurant's speakers as we walked up the stairs to the dining area, I do hope it would snow, I like waking up to a white Christmas.

The server led us to good seats, right by the corner window overlooking the intersection, nice view of the gray skies and Steamrollers, a place I should try out sometime.

We got Moxie-size Bellinis to start with while looking over the menu. Light, cool and refreshing, this frozen peach puree with sparkling wine is a perfect summer drink, sipping it on a cold winter day is like summoning the sun to shine again. [to be updated by K]

For appetizers, we tried the crab and scallop cake. I thought it was great, well cooked and well seasoned, not starchy and not oily at all despite looking like it spent some time rolling on flour and sleeping in the deep fryer. [to be updated by K]

Debating between land sea grill and the peppercorn new york steak, Krissy finally decided on the latter, thinking it's been a long time since she had a whole steak just for herself. [to be updated by K]

I picked the martini striploin from the the winter feature menu; it was cooked just the way i liked it - medium well, burnt on the outside but pink on the inside, the middle ground between well done and medium rare. This entree came with beans and chipotle roasted potatoes on the side, both of which I didn't really have the hots for so they were left almost untouched. Yes, I know what you're thinking, I'll specify the sides I want next time to prevent wasting good food.

After finishing our 10oz steak, we didn't really have any room for dessert but I insisted on getting one anyway, I just missed the white chocolate brownie with vanilla ice cream on top and I wanted K to try it. Since that order was too big, we agreed to get two small ones instead, we opted for the mini mousse and the bite of brownie.

I thought the bite of brownie was perfect, reminded me of the white chocolate chip raspberry cookie I used to buy at Safeway sans the raspberry. [to be updated by K]

And that was my meal of the day.. or so I thought.

Verdict:
N: 4.0/5.0 [-1 because it put a big dent on my wallet ^^]
K: [to be updated by K]

Moxie's Classic Grill - Robson
808 Bute Street
Vancouver, BC V6E 1Y4

One Friday afternoon

Don't we just love this part - the telling of how stuff came to be, the reasons behind the conception of things, the how's, the why's, the when's? Well it's always interesting to know the once-upon-a-time, after all everything has a beginning, just like this blog.. and so let me tell you how it all started..

Once upon a rainy day in Vancouver, Krissy and Tash decided to brave the cold gray afternoon and have late lunch at a ridiculously out of the way restaurant, well it wasn't that bad really, it was only seven skytrain stations and 10 blocks away from home. In my book, if it's in one zone then it's not that far.

While waiting for their white peach bellinis, a bulb from the land of great ideas suddenly lit up in their heads. They decided to make a food and travel blog and started searching the thesaurus, certified geeks that that they are, for cool names to use as the title. Unfortunately, Mr. Webster was of no help, I mean, come on, how many possible combination of synonyms can we have from two words that would actually sound awesome when put together?

So they started rummaging the menu instead, maybe an appy would give some inspiration, then there it was, right on the last page of the desert specials - a bite of brownie, how very apt, a smaller version of the ultimate encounter between white and dark, cold and warm, a little taste of something from two opposite poles...

And this is when we say, "the rest is history.."