Mouthful of Sunshine

Satisfaction in every bite

Grand Opening Deluxe – Freshslice Pizza

ImageJune 30, 2012
Freshslice PIzza, Richmond BC
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Deluxe Pizza
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A new Freshslice store finally opened today at Broadmoor Mall. For their grand opening specials, residents in the area all received coupons, including one for a free XL slice of whatever is available in the warmer between 2-4 p.m. Thinking it was perfect as an afternoon snack, my parents and I poked our heads into the new storefront before heading out for some groceries. The line was very long, pretty much up to the door. Everyone was carrying the coupons. Some were ordering a whole pizza at the discounted price ($7.99 for eight XL slices or one XL pizza). However, it was too early for dinner so I decided one slice would suffice. 

The Deluxe Pizza had just come out of the oven, so even though the Beef Taco Pizza looked fancier and prettier – and a little more exotic, too, I guess – I went with the warm, fresh one even though all of them were recently made. The toppings included pepperoni, sausage, and green peppers on top of tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese. I appreciated that it was not overly greasy. There was some oil, to be fair, but it was only expected with the pepperoni and sausage. The toppings were certainly not overflowing but they did not skimp on the ingredients either. It covered the pizza nicely. The meats were nicely seasoned and the peppers added a refreshing, slight crunch to the texture. The tomato sauce was slightly too salty for my liking and more mozzarella would have made it better. I love the chewy, stringy cheese covering my pizza, rather than just in between the other ingredients. My favourite part of the slice was the crust, however. Their whole grain dough was thick enough to be soft yet still chewy. It was baked to perfection so the bottom was not burnt but had a slight crisp. The edge was quite thick, much to my delight since I LOVE good pizza crusts. It was golden, warm, crispy on the outside, and soft on the inside with a nice whole grain aroma. It had a slightly sweet taste to it, which made it even better. 

Freshslice Pizza certainly did not disappoint me today. The Deluxe Pizza was perhaps not my favourite combination of toppings, but I am sure I will be back, even just for more of that delicious pizza dough! With our coupons, we might even try their sides and pastas. I think the Crazy Baguettes, Cinnamon Sticks, and Cheezy Bread would be lovely, especially if they are made with the same dough. On Tuesday, $1.25 per slice or $8.95 for eight would also make a decent meal, especially considering the different varieties you can get! For me at least, the quality of the pizza really comes with the dough. If the dough it good, the pizza will turn out great!

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Sadly Sour Soup – Subway

ImageJune 29, 2012
Subway, Vancouver BC
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Chicken with White & Wild Rice Soup
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Today was not particularly chilly, but I was slightly hungry on my way home. A little lazy to step outside the station for a cupcake or Tim Horton’s, I settled for Subway’s soup just like last week. The one in Waterfront Station always has quite a few customers so it was no surprise that all the seats were pretty much full around dinner time. What was surprising was the soup I got.

I went with the Chicken with White & Wild Rice Soup and the girl serving me was quite nice, willing to fill the bowl completely. It was steaming hot and looked delicious, without too much oil floating on the surface, which is always a good sign. It is one of their lower calorie and fat options as well. At first, the soup tasted good. The carrots, celery, and red peppers were all tender, and so was the diced chicken. The rice was soft and the wild rice had a nice chew to it, as it is a little harder to cook than white rice. However, when I got home, Mom and Dad both said they tasted something sour and bad. I tried it, and it was indeed as if the soup had gone bad, like there was something rotten in it. I am not sure why I did not taste this when I first bought it. Perhaps the heat hid the flavour. I believe this was freshly made. At a restaurant that is normally quite busy, I expect the soup to be fresh, just like their bread. Maybe it is the spices in the soup that did something weird after I reheated it in the microwave. I will definitely be more careful next time around, though. 

Subway (Waterfront Station) on Urbanspoon

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California’s Little Denmark – Mortensen’s Danish Bakery

ImageJune 29, 2012
Mortensen’s Danish Bakery, Solvang CA
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Chocolate Chip Butter Cookie
Cinnamon Butter Cookie
Coconut Butter Cookie
Almond Butter Cookie

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A friend brought back gourmet Danish butter cookies from Solvang, California quite a while ago. Thus, it is a good thing they stay fresh for so long. I do not know why I have not tried them until now even though I have had many a chance to do so. Even after over a month, they are still fresh, delicious, buttery, and sweet. None of them were too dry. Each still had the perfect texture of a butter cookie: crumbly, sweet, and melt-in-your-mouth butteriness. Discovering that Solvang is known for its butter cookies in America, I must go check it out sometime. For now, though, this will have to suffice.

First of the four flavours I sampled was the Chocolate Chip Butter Cookie. The cookie was a plain butter cookie, tasting delicious nonetheless. Mixed into it were semisweet chocolate chips. Surprisingly, these mini cocoa delights were so soft and moist they melted in my mouth. I did not expect this. After all, the cookie was baked and left around for a couple of weeks. Whatever they added to the chocolate, it did not distract from the flavour but kept it smooth, needing to bite at all.

Second, there was the Cinnamon Butter Cookie. I thought this was quite creative. Who would have thought to mix cinnamon into the traditional cookie dough? I thought the spice complimented the sweetness and made it something a little more special, almost giving it an ‘exotic’ flavour. The darker shade of the cookie was also very appealing and again, the texture was perfect.

Next, perhaps the most plain one out of all of these, was the Coconut Butter Cookie. Visually, it is a regular Danish butter cookie. Biting into it, I could hardly taste the coconut flavour. Only because I know there were no plain ones but there was a coconut one in the bucket of cookies could I deduce this one was coconut. After I figured it out, I could slightly distinguish the light hint of coconut aroma. Regardless, it was still an enjoyable treat.

Finally, the Almond Butter Cookie is a rectangular cookie topped with sliced almonds and crystal sugar in addition to the almond extract in the cookie dough itself. The almond was not too strong, but more distinguishable than the coconut. This is more of a one-bite cookie, as it was rather small in size. However, it was delicately made. I do wish the topping would not fall off so easily though. Some were completely devoid of toppings as they have been sitting around for a while.

I think I might have rediscovered my love for Danish butter cookies. These were just soft and moist enough not to take away from the crumble and crunch of the cookies. I really ought to visit Solvang one day, just so I can get more of these scrumptious little gourmet devils. They just make such a sweet, tasty, bite-sized afternoon snack!

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An Edible Cape – COBS Bread

ImageJune 28, 2012
COBS Bread, Burnaby BC
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Cape Seed Loaf
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I still remember my first time ever trying COBS Bread. It was on the day of my grade 7 elementary track meet. Our teacher was driving a few of us over to the track in the morning and stopped at COBS Bread to get breakfast. Thus, she offered to get each of the students a treat as well. I remember clearly having never been in such a bakery, as the products were considered to be expensive and too much of a luxury for us back then. I picked a Chocolate Croissant and it was one of the most delicious things ever. Now, I still remember that time whenever I walk into a COBS Bread store. The smell of freshly baked loaves and artisan bread with an assortment of tempting, mouthwatering pastries fresh out of the oven. A bakery can certainly be called a heaven of sorts.

Mom has been eating the Cape Seed Loaf from COBS Bread for quite a while. According to the website, it is made from nine different seeds, including poppy seeds, flaxseeds, and sesame seeds, as well as whole grain flour. I quite like this healthy alternative to the regular white sliced bread. The crust is very chewy and covered in sesame seeds. My favourite part is the centre of the top where the poppy seeds are. The crust is not super dry, which is usually the case when breads are even the slightest bit over-baked. The centre is fluffy and full of nutty goodness. The aroma of the whole grains is very strong and lovely. This has turned into one of my favourite breads ever. All you can taste is the blend of delicious seeds and the texture is crunchy and soft at the same time.

Cobs Bread (Market Crossing) on Urbanspoon

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Satisfyingly Sweet and Spicy – Ebisu in Richmond

ImageJune 27, 2012
Ebisu in Richmond, Richmond BC
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Spicy Salmon Sashimi
Beef Yakisoba
EBISU Roll
Ninja Kicker
[Grapes]

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Ever since craving spicy sashimi and fancy rolls, I have been wanting to go try out several of the Japanese restaurants around Richmond. After all, almost everyone in Richmond lists sushi as their favourite food. I figured that I am not a huge fan because I have always been getting the bad or boring stuff, hardly anything upscale and creative. After checking out the menu, a longtime friend and I decided on Ebisu in Richmond to satisfy my desire for Japanese cuisine – and we were not disappointed.

We started with the Spicy Salmon Sashimi. It was so delicious we asked for a second order! Thankfully, like me, Jess is a salmon lover and not a tuna lover. The salmon was fresh, tender, and chewy. The chunks were quite decent and consistent in size. You can eat one piece in one bite but they were not too small. Only one piece on the two plates still had a little skin on it. There was plenty of spicy sauce coated nicely on each piece, making it an even brighter red. The spicy sauce is the kind that I love, both sweet and spicy at the same time. There was extra sauce to coat the shredded radish, carrots, cucumber, and romaine lettuce leaf, making the vegetables delicious as well. It was just so delicious I would eat it every night and be happy.

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The Beef Yakisoba was very nicely flavoured. The sweet soy sauce flavour was delicious and made even better by the sweetness of the onions. I love cooked onions, they bring out the flavour in so many dishes. It was served on a stone plate and was still burning hot when we got it. The flavour was sweet and coated everything. The beef were thinly sliced but overcooked, which was the only downside to the dish. The soba noodles were slightly charred but still tender and chewy, something I really appreciated. The cabbage and carrots were also very tasty and added a nice crunch to the dish. I just love the blend of vegetables – especially the cabbage and onions – with vegetables and meat in sweet soy sauce. Asian stir fried noodles are usually pretty darn good!Image

Next, we ordered the EBISU Roll, which was their special roll of mango, avocado, cucumber, and salmon. It was topped with BBQ eel and cream cheese, and torched tableside. The torching gave the cream cheese on the top a slight char and crunch. This is now my favourite roll… EVER! The ingredients in the middle was nothing too special, although they were all great ingredients and still great when combined together. The mango at first seemed out of place, but I came to appreciate the tartness of it after a while. The best part was the unagi and cream cheese on top. It was the most delicious blend of BBQ and creamy, tart cream cheese that was gooey and sticky. The texture of the tender, somewhat fatty eel went really well with the mouth-covering stickiness of the cheese. I just love it so much!Image

Finally, we tried the Ninja Kicker, another special roll filled with prawn tempura, cucumber, and avocado. The menu had said it was topped with spicy tuna and salmon, but we just got thinly sliced regular tuna and salmon. On top was red and black tobiko – and I still have not tasted much distinction between the two. There was also green onions and finally, the special ‘kicker’ spicy sauce, the delicious one in the spicy sashimi. It gave me a chance to try tuna sashimi. I did not like it much because the texture was not chewy but rather mushy. It could pretty much be eaten without chewing. I prefer salmon a lot more. The prawn tempura added a nice crunch when eaten right away. The prawn inside was tender. The sauce tied the dish together. I did like the dish, but it was not as special as the EBISU Roll.

 

ImageThey gave us complimentary Grapes in the end that came with the check. I popped one into my mouth without thinking, and boy was I in for a little surprise! They were frozen and had not thawed out yet, much like what we usually do with fresh blueberries at the end of August. They were like balls of sweet ice. I loved the hard texture and they were sweet. They added a little refreshing ending to the meal for sure.

This is by far my favourite Japanese meal I have ever had. Long gone are kappa and avocado rolls. Even California rolls are boring, unless they are topped with something special. Stir fried noodles and sashimi are some of my favourite foods. Combine them with special rolls unique to the specific restaurant and I have got myself a delicious meal. Unfortunately, we did not have enough room for dessert so I shall try perhaps another Ebisu in the near future. There are still quite a few special rolls I would love to try. Clearly, the sashimi was incredible enough for us to stuff ourselves full of raw salmon! A note for next time, cream cheese in sushi may seem odd but is absolutely delicious!

Ebisu Japanese Restaurant (Richmond) on Urbanspoon

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The French Collapse – Le Panier

ImageJune 25, 2012
Le Panier, Seattle WA
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Pistache Macaron
Café Macaron
Chocolat Macaron
Framboise Macaron

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I was already stuffed from the incredibly delicious piroshkies I bought at Piroshky Piroshky next door. However, there was also quite a long line at Le Panier, which made me think that their products must be pretty good. Having read positive reviews about their macarons, I saw that for $1.50, they were quite large compared to the ones I have had recently in Vancouver, even if they were not as huge as the ones from Sugar Philly. More and more, I realize how good in both quality and quantity Sugar Philly really is. Not feeling like chowing down on macarons at that moment, I got four to go and the girl serving me packed them neatly into a nice little box sealed with a sticker, and did not try them until the next evening.

The green colour on the Pistache Macaron was so pretty. It was not too faint but did not look so horribly artificial either. The pistachio flavour is actually quite strong but it had some artificial tastes to it as well. I am not sure I would have distinctly said ‘pistachio’ but the nutty taste was there. I did not like the shells, however. Despite the chubbiness of the macaron and the crispy outer shell, the inside had collapsed by the time I ate it. It was barely soft and moist. The edge by the filling was as hard as the outer surface, which was not as delicate as I am used to since it is thicker than most that I have had. The filling was a pistachio buttercream that was slightly too oily for me.

The Café Macaron had the same problem. The coffee flavour was very aromatic, but that was the only good thing about the macaron. Like the pistachio one, the shell was not too delicate – although it is nicely sweetened – and the inside was hard and had collapsed, leaving a lot of empty space inside the shells. I also could not taste much ground almonds or almond flour in the shell. The filling was again a cream base, which is not my favourite as the greasiness really gets to me after a while, sticking to the inside of my mouth and coating my tongue and lips in a thin layer of oiliness. There was quite a lot of filling though, so I am glad they did not skimp on the ingredients. However, the shell touching the filling was so hard that it was easy to split the macaron into the two shells without breaking them.

The Chocolat Macaron was the best of the bunch. I am guessing that this one was the most recently made, as the shell was not collapsed yet when I ate it. It was mostly filled with the traditional soft and moist cake, surrounded by a delicate shell. The shell touching the filling did not harden yet, either, unlike the other ones that definitely required a distinct bite to eat it. The chocolate ganache filling was also delicious, made with mostly dark chocolate. Thus, it was not very sweet and had a nice cocoa aroma.

Finally, the Framboise Macaron was, once again, stale with a collapsed shell. The raspberry flavour was very strong, despite it being an artificial raspberry flavour. The filling was also a buttercream, made slightly pink with the flavouring. While I liked the distinct taste of the fruit, I did not like the buttercream texture much as it was also too oily. The colour was pretty and pink, but I definitely expected a better taste and texture.

I am truly disappointed by Le Panier’s macarons. They need to make sure these little treats are made fresh and not still being sold once the insides have collapsed. The consistency is really lacking. I also do not like the buttercream fillings, so I am very glad I only bought four out of the eight flavours (the others were orange, lemon, vanilla, and hazelnut – all of which I would guess had buttercream fillings). The fact that I ate them one day later should not have made too much of a difference because the shells should not have collapsed so much. They should have all been like the chocolate one, with only a slight empty space inside the meringue cookie shell. I would have preferred more almond taste in the shells in general. These macarons are really not for me. I much prefer the ones from Sugar Philly. They make them so huge, fresh everyday, with the best texture and tastes – all at three for $5. Maybe I will just ease up on my macaron hunt for now and wait until I return to Philly. On a side note, I loved how they used the French words for their display tags since the bakery was distinctly francais!

Le Panier on Urbanspoon

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To Be Guiltlessly Cool – McDonald’s

ImageJune 24, 2012
McDonald’s, Seattle WA
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Iced Coffee with Sugar Free Vanilla Syrup
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Mom loved the Spicy Chicken McBites we tried on Saturday. They are a special menu item right now, so she decided she wanted to eat more before heading home since they are not always offered. We stepped into McDonald’s before leaving Seattle to get a regular sized one this time. With the sun making the afternoon a warm one, Mom also decided to get a Sugar-Free Vanilla Iced Coffee from the McCafe menu. The guy working as the cashier was kind of confused over our order. The girl who made our coffee first filled the entire cup with ice, but how much coffee can you fill it with if the whole cup is ice? Thus, we told her we did not want that much ice and so she dumped out half of it, looking kind of glum while she was at it. Clearly, service was poor here. I am glad they came out with a sugar-free syrup this year. Mom and I no longer feel too guilty indulging in a refreshing summer drink. It reminds me so much of summer school between grade 10 and 11, the summer that McDonald’s first introduced iced coffee to their menu. Our class had no air conditioning and I had two classes per day. On the days Mom did not work, she would take me out for lunch at McDonald’s to enjoy the cool, air conditioned comfort of the restaurant. It was the Teriyaki Chicken Snack Wrap and Vanilla Iced Coffee that I got extremely attached to that summer. Now, whenever I sip on iced coffee, social studies and English material pop into my mind, as well as stuffy, overheated classrooms. I love the lightly sweetened vanilla flavour mixed with the somewhat bitter coffee. Sometimes, they do not mix it nicely and the ratios are off, which makes the drink bad. This one we got in Seattle, however, was perfectly sweetened, creamy, and refreshing.

McDonald's (Alaskan Way) on Urbanspoon

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A Delicious Line to Russia – Piroshky Piroshky

ImageJune 24, 2012
Piroshky Piroshky, Seattle WA
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Smoked Mozzarella, Broccoli & Mushroom Piroshky
Sauerkraut, Cabbage & Carrot Piroshky
Beef and Cheese Piroshky
Oscar’s Star

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A friend first told me about Piroshky, Piroshky… at the Pike Place Market. I did a little research online and found out what piroshkies were. Turns out they are huge, baked Russian dumplings or buns with different fillings. A little more digging had me convinced that it was a must try when visiting the market. After all, Russian bakeries are rare commodities, even in large cities. According to my friend, there was a long line when she went so she could not tell me how the piroshkies tasted. However, thinking that long lines mean good food, I was not disappointed. When I got there, there was in fact a very long line, all the way to the back of the bakery, while some of the surrounding stores had almost no customers. It is certainly true when they say a long line indicates whatever they are selling are worth the wait. The smell as I waited in line made me quite hungry so although their items were not cheap, we decided to get enough to be a light lunch.Image
 
First up was the Smoked Mozzarella, Broccoli & Mushroom Piroshky. This was cresent shaped and very pretty. The bun was very soft, freshly baked, and warm. It was moist enough and chewy, with the outside a nice golden brown. The filling was very light in flavour. It was a little bland for my parents, but I loved the smoked mozzarella. It was gooey and stringy with a nice smokey aroma. The chopped up broccoli and mushrooms went very nicely with the mozzarella, giving it the taste of a cheesy, vegetable pasta dish. I loved the mix of the three ingredients. It was overall very soft and chewy. I had to seriously remind myself to slow down and taste the complexity of the flavours. Otherwise, I would have devoured the whole thing much too fast. I love cheese and mushroom combinations. The broccoli added a nice green colour as well as a more refreshing flavour and a slightly crunchy texture.Image
 
Next was the Sauerkraut, Cabbage & Carrot Piroshky. This one was a triangular shaped piroshky. I am not sure why they have different shapes, but the dough is the same and had the same soft and warm texture. The inside was stuffed with the three vegetarian ingredients. The sauerkraut really gave it all the flavour. It was lightly sour and was not too overwhelming. However, it had a great, refreshing aroma because it was not pickled for too long. It was finely sliced and had a slightly crunchy texture. The cabbage was an additional crunch and the carrots gave it the nice orange colour. Both added texture to the piroshky and were consistent in the size of the small strips. There were no chunks of carelessly cut vegetables. The three ingredients blended nicely. Although there was not sauce to tie the three together, the flavour was not as bland as one would imagine. It went incredibly well with the warm bread and has become my favourite vegetable bun of all time.Image
 
ImageFor our third piroshky, we had to try their most popular item, the Beef and Cheese Piroshky. It was like a baked Russian cheeseburger. The ground beef were cooked nicely and well seasoned. It was mixed with cheddar cheese and stuffed into the round piroshky dough. It was also topped with some cheese, which gave it more of a chew. The spice and the cheese went well together and the cheese was what tied the entire piroshky together. My parents agreed that this was their favourite one, thus justifying the fact it is their best seller. The flavour was strong, with just the right amount of saltiness, spices, and cheese. It was gooey on the inside and made the dough slightly moist. I loved the texture. After all, who wouldn’t love a baked cheeseburger?Image
 
Finally, for something sweet, we went with the very pretty Oscar’s Star. It was a baked pastry dough topped with hazelnuts, chocolate sauce, and sweet cream cheese. I am not sure how much of a traditional Russian bakery item this is, but it was delicious, just like their piroshkies. The layered pastry dough was not my favourite but this one was tolerable. It was not extremely thin and flaky, nor was it greasy it all. It was quite moist and chewy as far as pastry doughs go. The melted chocolate sauce was gooey and sticky. There was plenty of it and mixed into it were a lot of chopped hazelnuts. The nuts gave the dessert a lovely crunch, especially when mixed with the chewy dough and the gooey sauce. The sweet cream cheese on top was my favourite part of this dessert. It was almost like a cream cheese frosting but not as sweet. I loved the density of it as it was creamy and thick. It was also quite gooey so the crunch from the hazelnuts were definitely appreciated. I also appreciated the complexity of flavour the nuts added to the baked good. The four different ingredients complimented each other and left Mom and I quite satisfied after the three delicious, savoury piroshkies.Image
 
After returning home, Mom and I decided that we would go back sometime and try some of the other piroshkies they offer. Despite being $4.95 each, they were large and very tasty. I appreciated that they were not overly oily or buttery and that they were stuffed with a large amount of filling. Mom and I loved them so much! They also had some sweet rolls I would like to sample, such as the rhubarb and apple cinnamon rolls. Those looked quite tempting as well. I am just glad that I have found my new favourite, savoury bakery item! Piroshkies, I will be back before you know it!

Piroshky Piroshky on Urbanspoon

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To Eat a Margarita – PinkaBella Cupcakes

ImageJune 24, 2012
PinkaBella Cupcakes, Lynnwood WA
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“Margo”rita Cupcake
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I just could not resist scouring out cupcakeries through the internet before I left, so I was very excited to find that PinkaBella Cupcakes had a store in Alderwood Mall where we planned on going anyways. They were not too overpriced, at only $3 per cupcake as opposed to some other places in Seattle that sell them for over $3. Also, online reviews and ratings were quite good, so I decided to give them a try. I managed to get in there right before closing. Due to the late hour, they did not have much left, but fortunately, they did not run out of all the special flavours. The place was pretty and pink and very girly. For a cupcakery, that is expected decor. The white countertops were clean and brightened the space even more. They had special cupcake holders as well so that the cupcakes will sit in the container without moving or smudging the frosting. Since I bought it right before dinner, I decided to save my treat for breakfast the next day, hoping that it will remain just as fresh.
 
Preferring something a little less traditional, I opted for one of their weekend specials – the “Margo”rita Cupcake. It had a tequila cupcake with a lime buttercream, all topped with neon green sprinkles. It differed slightly from their online description, which says it is supposed to be topped with salt and a lime wedge. Not having that salt on top really detracts from the margarita inspiration. However, this is one of the best cupcakes I have ever tasted, hands down. The tequila cupcake was incredibly moist and soft. Even the edges were soft and moist, despite being a day-old cupcake, since I ate it the next morning. It had a somewhat faint tequila aroma. I would not have minded the alcohol influence to be stronger but it was certainly there. The cake was not too sweet either, which made it quite refreshing. The lime butterream frosting was even better than the cake. With a light, tart lime taste, it was quite sweet, just as I like it. It was also very smooth, without that granulated sugar texture. However, they managed to keep it just as sweet and sugary without it getting greasy or buttery. This made it better, in my opinion, than the frosting from Bell’s Bake Shop. It is great in both flavour and texture. There was just the right amount of frosting, not so much that it becomes too sweet. The light green colour was also very pleasant and refreshing to look at. It paired very nicely with the tequila cupcake and the sprinkles added a nice crunch.
 
I have absolutely no complaints about this cupcake. It stayed fresh even when I ate the last little bit on Monday. I was still craving more so I will be sure to purchase more than one next time. I also appreciated that they included the tax in the $3 as it is quite frustrating, for both the customers and the cashier I am sure, to handle change each time. That also made it more affordable. They also have a reward program, which might not suit out-of-town customers so well. However, I am planning on going back if I ever venture out there again so it is worth a shot. They have so many flavours and all of them look extremely delicious. Oh how I would love to try one bite of each! So far, I have yet to find a better cupcake than this so at least for now, PinkaBella Cupcakes will be ranked number on my list of cupcakeries.

Pinkabella Cupcakes on Urbanspoon

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Un-Chinese in Every Sense – P.F. Chang’s

ImageJune 23, 2012
P.F. Chang’s, Lynnwood WA
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Mandarin Chicken
Kung Pao Shrimp
Ma Po Tofu

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We checked in to our hotel a lot later than planned, and so were also delayed in getting to the Alderwood Mall in Lynnwood. I still wanted to go shopping at Forever XXI so Mom and Dad went to Ross as none of us were really hungry. By the time we were done, the mall was closing and along with it, the many smaller restaurants. I would have suggested Panera Bread for dinner, but even they were closing. Our only options left in the area were Romano’s Macaroni Grill and P.F. Chang’s. We chose the latter, as we enjoyed our meal quite a lot back in Las Vegas. We decided to sample some different dishes, though. Actually, most of the items sound quite appetizing to me.
First, we picked the Mandarin Chicken. I chose this dish because the description said there would be quite a lot of vegetables in the dish. On that end, I was not disappointed. I quite enjoyed the crunchy snow peas, carrots, and onions. The broccoli, which I usually do not eat but decided to make an exception this time due to it being coated with tasty sauce, was somewhat soggy. It could have been more soaked up with the sauce rather than water from the steaming, I think. The bok choy that was part of the description – and the ingredient I was most looking forward to actually – was nowhere to be found. This was quite disappointing. The chicken breast slices were coated nicely with the sauce. They were also quite tender and in consistent sizes. However, they were bland on the inside since they were not marinated. Just being coated in the sauce is not always enough. Finally, the sauce was decent but not memorable. It was a spicy chili sauce with some black bean sauce mixed into it. It was not watered down, which I was glad of, but it had a bit too much oil on the top. There was a distinct layer of it on the top of the dish and I would much rather just have sauce and not so much oil, especially since nothing in the dish required too much oil to stir fry.
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Next up was the Kung Pao Shrimp. The whole dish was basically just shrimp. They were thinly battered and nicely fried. The outside was crunchy when the dish was brought out. Naturally, it got soggier as the meal progressed, for the parts that were in the sauce or on the bottom. The shrimp were very tasty though! The peanuts were cooked through and natrually delicious, coated in the somewhat sweet soy sauce. The scallion bits were actually quite tasty as well, coated in the sauce but still retaining their own flavour. Overall, this was the best dish of the night, just because the shrimp were so nicely fried. The flavour was sweet and spicy from all the chili peppers that were in the dish. It may not be authentic kung pao style, but it was definitely a delicious alternative!
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Finally, we ordered the Ma Po Tofu. Originally, we wanted the Crab Fried Rice, which was a new item. However, we realized the dishes came with brown or white rice, which made the fried rice unnecessary. Luckily, we realized that fast enough. This was the least authentic dish. That criteria was certainly thrown out the window. Not only did it not have chili peppers, it consisted of fried cubes of tofu on a bed of steamed broccoli. What kind of ma po tofu is cooked with broccoli and have fried tofu? It should be minced or ground pork with silken tofu in a very spicy sauce. However, this dish tasted good as a generic Chinese dish. Considering it was most likely made by a non-Chinese, it was very good. The tofu were fried nicely. The crispy layer on the outside was thin and provided a nice contrast to the soft inside. There was a lot of tofu. I would have like more black pepper on the dish, especially to have it on every piece of tofu instead of the few in the centre. The broccoli was actually nicely steamed and not soggy. The big pieces were cooked thoroughly but not overdone and the smaller pieces underneath the tofu soaked up the sauce nicely. The sauce was spicy, but I could definitely use more spice. Adding chili peppers would really help.
Once again, I am quite satisfied with the food at P.F. Chang’s. The service was good and I like the option of unlimited white and brown rice. The brown rice was actually quite aromatic, but slightly soggy for my liking. I did not try the white rice and cannot comment on that. The fortune cookies at the end were actually better than most that I have had, with a slight coconut aroma to it. The service was great and I love the nice ambiance and decor. It was a great blend of eastern and western cultures. I will certainly return and try some other dishes when I get the chance, especially their mini desserts and the chicken lettuce wrap appetizer. Everything looks so delicious, especially when I am hungry!

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