Mouthful of Sunshine

Satisfaction in every bite

The Italians Like their Red Fruit – Italian Tomato

May 13, 2013
Italian Tomato, Richmond BC
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Penne Pescatore
Whole Wheat Linguine Da Vinci

Penne Paesana
Calamari Fritti
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ImageHaving heard of the extremely large and filling pasta portions at Italian Tomato, my friends I decided it was a good option for us as we were quite hungry after two games of bowling. The décor was nice but since we wanted to sit and chat, we took a long time to eat. The waitress was clearly getting impatient, but it was not like there were many others in the restaurant waiting on our table.

My Penne Pescatore was quite lovely. The tomato sauce was nicely seasoned and had a nice, tangy flavour. The small scallops were tender and better than the tiny shrimp and clams. I did like the mushrooms as well. Three of my favourite foods mixed into one. The penne was al dente and picked up the sauce very nicely – one of the reasons I prefer penne to other pastas.Image

The Whole Wheat Linguine Da Vinci had a light, creamy flavour. The sauce was not very thick. The whole wheat linguine was good, as were the spinach and tomatoes. I can’t say I like the chicken that much, though, as it was a tad bland and tough. There also was not as much chicken as you would expect in such a large plate of food.Image

The Penne Paesana was good with the smoked salmon, scallops, clams, and shrimp. The light dill cream sauce did not seem to taste as good with the seafood as my tomato sauce did. However, the seafood was still nice, and again, the penne was just wonderful.Image

Finally, the Calamari Fritti was nicely fried with a good tzatziki sauce. It was not overly greasy but was definitely a bit overpriced for such a small portion that would be nowhere near $11.95.

A final note: they offer smaller portions that are $2 cheaper, but when I asked the server, he told us it was half the amount of pasta. Clearly, that would be a huge rip off, so definitely go for the larger plates!

Italian Tomato on Urbanspoon

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Happy Mother’s Day – 九记-No. 9 Restaurant

May 12, 2013
九记 – No. 9 Restaurant, Richmond BC
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干煸四季豆 (Minced Pork & Green Bean in Chili Sauce)
豉椒牛肉饭 (Beef w/ Black Bean Sauce on Steamed Rice)
柠檬虾球 (Lemon Prawns)
鱼香茄子 (Minced Pork w/ Eggplant)
宫保鸡丁 (Diced Chicken & Cashews Marinated w/ Chili Peppers)
干炒牛河 (Soy Beef Rice Noodle (Dry))
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ImageGrandma liked 九记 (No. 9 Restaurant) during her last lunch there so we went there for Mother’s Day. It was one of the few restaurants that did not have a wait. It has been there for as long as I can remember, way back when there were only a few Chinese restaurants in Richmond. We did not like it back then. Now, it’s just place for a quick meal and family gathering.

We started with the 干煸四季豆 (Minced Pork & Green Bean in Chili Sauce) which was actually pretty decent. Deep fried green beans are just something you can’t do at home. The minced pork had quite a good, spicy and savoury flavour.

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The 豉椒牛肉饭 (Beef w/ Black Bean Sauce on Steamed Rice) was very generic but perhaps that’s why it was quite satisfying. The beef was tender and the black bean sauce thick and covering the rice. The peppers and onions were still crisp.Image

The 柠檬虾球 (Lemon Prawns) were not my favourite. The shrimp was still tender but the batter had no flavour. The lemon sauce was very sweet and made it kind of weird. It was like eating dessert with an entree.Image

The 鱼香茄子 (Minced Pork w/ Eggplant) was not as good as the previous time, according to my mother. It was not cooked long enough so while the eggplant were tender, the flavour did not penetrate the thick, long pieces. The sauce was good but it was just lacking some more time in the wok.Image

The 宫保鸡丁 (Diced Chicken & Cashews Marinated w/ Chili Peppers) was not authentic at all. There was a lot of cashews, though, despite somewhat lacking chicken. At least they did not just put in a bunch of peanuts. It needed more of a kick from the chili peppers.Image

The 干炒牛河 (Soy Beef Rice Noodle (Dry)) was actually more like a beef dish with accompanying rice noodles. It had a decent soy sauce flavour and the beef was plenty and flavourful. It was such a large portion that it did justify the price.

Overall, the portions were all humongous. The food is by no means fine dining quality, but for a casual restaurant serving up comfort food, it was decent enough!

No.9 Restaurant 九記 on Urbanspoon

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That Tiramisu! – Al Porto Ristorante

May 11, 2013
Al Porto Ristorante, Vancouver BC
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[Bread Basket]
Linguine Pescatore
Calamari
Mussels
Tiramisu
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ImageFor a long-time friend’s 20th birthday party, we went to Al Porto Ristorante in the lovely, historic Gastown. While sunny weather is always nice, there is a certain magical feel to Gastown in the drizzly rain. The restaurant was large, with great friendly servers and traditional decorations. 

We started with a complimentary Bread Basket that I thought could have been better to match the sophistication of the restaurant. The bread was not exactly fresh out of the oven, although it had a nice crust and a soft, airy inside. However, I loved the focaccia. It was so soft and a little chewy.Image

The Linguine Pescatore was a common dish amongst our group. The seafood was fresh and nicely done: mussels, clams, prawns, squid, scallops, salmon, and halibut. Unfortunately, there was only one scallop, which is my favourite seafood… ever. The fish added a nice touch since you eat it with the pasta unlike the shellfish, which you usually eat separately. The linguine was al dente and the tomato sauce very flavourful with a touch of cream.Image

The Calamari was served with a chili aioli and a red onion bruschetta. The squid had a thin but crispy batter with the chewy seafood nicely done on the inside. I liked the chili aioli but would prefer the bruschetta. I thought it was an interesting touch for calamari.Image

The Mussels were steamed with garlic, shallot, and Italian parsley in a tomato broth. The broth had a decent herb flavour but could have been thicker with more seasoning. The mussels were okay, nothing outstanding.Image

Finally, since it was a birthday night, we all had a small bite of Tiramisu. It was a lovely bite. Coffee, liquer, lady fingers, sponge cake, cocoa powder, and most importantly, mascarpone. It was fresh, sweet, soft, moist, and absolutely scrumptious!

It was a really nice dinner, at a nice, fancy, but not over the top restaurant. I think a seat by the window would be a lot nicer and would actually be a great place to enjoy an upscale brunch of light dinner in the glow of the setting sun. 

Al Porto Ristorante on Urbanspoon

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Deep in a Japanese Coma – Ninkazu Japanese Restaurant

ImageMay 9, 2013
Ninkazu Japanese Restaurant, Richmond BC
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Eda-Mame
Green Salad
Salmon Sashimi
Tuna Sashimi
Spicy Seafood Cone
Chicken Teriyaki Roll
Spring Roll
Deep Fried Gyoza
Shishamo Karaage
Chicken Karaage
ImageChicken Udon
Beef Udon
BBQ Beef Short Rib
BBQ Chicken Wing
BBQ Korean Pork
BBQ Salmon Kama
BBQ Yakitori
Oyster Motoyaki
Salmon Teriyaki
Fruit Jello
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ImageWow, another very long chat late into the night. Seven friends met over dinner and exchanged gossip and stories for hours around a large table at Ninkazu Japanese Restaurant. We were all deep into food comas by the end but unfortunately, there was nowhere to go but home at 11:30, especially with early mornings for some the next morning. Image

The Eda-Mame was standard, which means no where near as good as the ones I have had almost everyday in Tokyo. It just was not flavourful enough – lacking salt while boiling – and the doneness was inconsistent.Image

The Green Salad was the most pathetic way to celebrate National Salad Month. It was such a small portion, with iceberg lettuce, what tasted like a carrot puree with a tangy dressing and sesame seeds, shredded carrot and red cabbage, and some scallions.  Image

The Salmon Sashimi was good, with a nice texture. It was actually quite fresh and the fish was really bouncy but firm. Vancouver’s salmon sashimi rarely disappoints, even the regular kind.Image

The Tuna Sashimi was less impressive. It did not taste as fresh and the fish was not as firm as I would like. It was more mushy than the salmon.

The Spicy Seafood Cone was not extremely spicy. I found the seafood a little dry and the flavour was not bold enough to stand out amidst all the rice in the cone. Image

The Chicken Teriyaki Roll was actually good. The chicken was tender. The teriyaki sauce was sweet and had a good consistency. The vegetables made it refreshing and there was just the right amount of sauce drizzled over it. Image

The Spring Roll tasted like it came out of a package. It was fried nicely but you cannot really screw that up anyways. The vegetable filling was not exactly amazing. This was more generic than anything. Image

The Deep Fried Gyoza looked better than they tasted. The filling was a little small and the wrappers, while very crispy, tasted a little too greasy.

The Shishamo Karaage was a nice change. I have not had these little fish in a very long time. I really like the lot of fish eggs inside each fish. They were the best part of this little thing.

The Chicken Karaage were simply deep fried without much seasoning or anything for that matter. The chicken wings were juicy on the inside but these were just mediocre. Image

The Chicken Udon had one small piece of fried chicken cutlet over udon noodles. The chicken was okay. The broth was decent and the noodles were just a tad overcooked.

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The Beef Udon was pretty bad. The udon and soup were good enough but the beef was incredibly tough to chew; it was just too sinewy and did not have much flavour. ImageImageImage

The series of BBQ included Beef Short Rib, Chicken Wing, Korean Pork, Salmon Kama, and Yakitori. The short ribs were tasty and sweet. The chicken wings were a lot better than the deep fried kind. Clearly, the sweet sauce makes all the difference here! The Korean Pork was dry and tough. There was not much flesh on the salmon kama, or salmon head, and it looked quite intimidating! Finally, the yakitori, or chicken skewer, was actually very flavourful from the spice marinade and very juicy. This was one of the better dishes of the night.Image

The Oyster Motoyaki was creamy but a little too heavy. You really need to be partial to these motoyakis to be able to stomach more than one. The oysters were small and not very fresh either.Image

The Salmon Teriyaki was a little dry but at least it was salmon with the lovely sweet sauce.

Finally, we all ended with Fruit Jello. These were generic, colorful, and kind of fun to play with. They were very jiggly and for someone in a deep food coma at midnight, it might be just the tad bit fascinating.Image

Ninkazu will satisfy your regular craving for generic Japanese food. If you are looking for anything remotely close to fine dining, go somewhere else. If you are just seeking out a place to catch up with friends over A LOT of food, this would be the place for you.

Ninkazu Japanese Restaurant 仁和日本料理 on Urbanspoon

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