Mouthful of Sunshine

Satisfaction in every bite

Thai on the Island – Baan Thai Restaurant

July 10, 2013
Baan Thai Restaurant, Victoria BC
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Lychee Martini
Som Tum Goong
Phad Thai Gai
Macua Pad Moo

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ImageI recently went with my dad and his colleague to Vancouver Island and though it was a great opportunity to try some of the Island’s best restaurants.

Our first night after checking in at the hotel led us to Baan Thai Restaurant, which is apparently the best Thai restaurant on the Island. About half of the restaurant was filled and the service was very friendly. The food was quite good overall, despite being a tad bit pricey for some of the dishes.

I started with a Lychee Martini. I just love lychees and so the sweetness with the Smirnoff vodka, Soho, and white grape juice tasted quite pleasant.Image

My Som Tum Goong – green papaya salad with prawns – was absolutely mouthwatering. I asked for extremely spicy and boy, that turned up the heat. My mouth was not just burning but probably charred by the end. I loved it though! The prawns were tender and there were loads of green papaya shred. It was a tad pricey but a great-tasting dish.Image

Dad ordered the Phad Thai Gai – stir-fried thin rice noodles with tamarind, ground peanuts, and chicken. A good pad Thai is hard to find and this was average. It had a good, sweet and spicy flavour but a little bland. More sauce would have helped. Also lacking was the amount of scrambled eggs. I always love the eggs in my pad Thai and so does Dad. The chicken was a little dry as well.Image

Finally, we shared the Macua Pad Moo – stir-fried eggplant with pork. The pork was okay but the eggplant was soft and delicious. It had a nice spicy and sweet flavour with a little soy taste as well. It was a little greasy but considering they were eggplants, I totally understand.

It’s hard to find good Thai food in BC so I’m not surprised this is considered the best on the Island. While it was not the best I’ve ever had, it was certainly above average and satisfied my cravings for overly spicy foods.

Baan Thai Restaurants on Urbanspoon

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Pork and Pineapples – Boston Pizza

July 5, 2013
Boston Pizza, Richmond BC
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Chicken and Mushroom Fettucini
Pulled Pork Pizza
Hawaiian Pizza
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ImageI met up with three other people for a late night dinner at Boston Pizza. It was a nice place to hang out and chat. For the two and a half hours we were there, the large table beside us went through two rounds of ‘Happy Birthday’ so we joined in as well. I had a voucher for a 2-topping individual pizza but since they made a mistake with my order, we actually got two pizzas in the end.

To start, my friend ordered a Chicken and Mushroom Fettucini, baked with cheese and upgraded to three-cheese toast. The pasta itself was creamy with the alfredo sauce. The chicken was okay but a little bland. The mushrooms did not stand out too much either. However, the tomatoes cut through the cream just a little. The cheese on top was a little too much for me so the dish became too rich. The three-cheese toast was delicious, though. With all these additions, the dish was over $20, which is a little pricey.

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Our first pizza was the Hawaiian Pizza, with smoked ham and pineapple. It was savoury and sweet, with a nice and chewy but not overly thick crust. The pizza was really good but not worth $10.20 as it was quite small. Image

The second pizza was the Pulled Pork Pizza. Although more exotic, it still was not worth $12 due to the sheer size. The BBQ flavour was really nice and sweet though, and the pork was decently juicy. The green onions on top cut through the sweetness and added a slight zing.

The casual atmosphere at Boston Pizza is great but it is just so expensive. The food is good but not good enough to justify the high prices. These are more like fine-dining menu prices but this is no where near top notch fine-dining. 

Boston Pizza on Urbanspoon

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Canadian Rock ‘n Roll – Kisha Poppo Japanese Restaurant

July 1, 2013
Kisha Poppo Japanese Restaurant, Richmond BC
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Salmon Sashimi
Chicken Teriyaki
Spicy Tuna Cone
Seafood Yaki Soba
Rock’n Roll
House Special Roll
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ImageNone of us wanted food until 9pm. Since it was Canada Day, many places closed early or just plain closed for the day. Thinking sushi was probably our best bet, we headed to Kisha Poppo after calling to make sure they were on their regular Monday hours – thankfully, they were. The restaurant was more than half filled when we got there so clearly, it would have been a bad decision to close.

We started with Salmon Sashimi. They were out of sockeye so we settled for Atlantic salmon. It was still very fresh but the presentation was a little lacking. Image

The Chicken Teriyaki was nothing too special although it had good flavour with enough sauce covering the slightly fried chicken filet strips. It came with carrots, broccoli, and bean sprouts, which, covered with the sauce, were quite good.Image

The Spicy Tuna Cone was okay. It had a decent kick but did not taste like the freshest tuna. The rice was okay; this was just your average cone.Image

The Seafood Yaki Soba could have used more seafood but the soy flavour was good. It was still sizzling like crazy when we got it. There were some shrimp, salmon, and maybe some other fish, but more seafood was definitely needed just so that it was not all noodles and vegetables.

The Rock’n Roll was the best dish oImagef the night. Kisha Poppo doesn’t really have special rolls so you have to be picking them out of the maki roll section. This one was probably their best roll – and one of the more expensive at $8.95, which is actually not too bad. It was a unagi and cucumber roll with smoked salmon and avocado on top. The flavour from the unagi was good and the salmon was not bland either. The avocado provided a nice creamy texture.Image

Finally, the House Special Roll had a variety of sashimi – salmon, tuna, and some other fish – kani, and cucumbers inside. It was huge pieces but did not have much flavour. Unagi, pickles, or even tamago might have been a nice addition.

Located away from the Asian centres in Richmond, Kisha Poppo has your generic casual Japanese fare at reasonable prices. They also have all you can eat options and is a good choice if you are on the other side of town. 

Kisha Poppo Japanese Restaurant 汽車ポッポ日本料理 on Urbanspoon

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The Must-eat Mushroom Ravioli – Olive Garden

June 15, 2013
Olive Garden, Philadelphia PA
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[Breadsticks]
Garden-Fresh Salad
Ravioli di Portobello
Seafood Brodetto
Lasagna Primavera with Grilled Chicken
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ImageA friend from China was in town with two other of her friends so a group of us headed to Olive Garden since Philly Chinese food was just not going to cut it and the Japanese restaurant we wanted to eat at was closed during lunch hours. I always had a little something for Olive Garden as it was the first place I tried a mushroom ravioli after reading Twilight. That was way back when in Florida, too. Image

To start, there were of course the unlimited [Breadsticks]. They were incredibly soft, airy, and warm, with just the right amount of butter on top to give it a slight flavour.

The Garden-Fresh Salad, which we asked to have dressing on the side, was quite fresh. I did not like the olives or the hot peppers but everything else was simple and refreshing.Image

Then, onto what I was craving: Ravioli di Portobello. The light cream sauce is slightly sweet from the sun-dried tomato sauce but with a hint of the smoky cheese. The portobello raviolis were cooked to the perfect texture, al dente and not soggy after being in the sauce for a little while. This is as light a plate as any cream-based pasta can get.Image

The Seafood Brodetto was also quite delicious. It was loaded with shrimp, scallops, tilapia, mushrooms, and spinach and had a light white wine and marinara-saffron broth. The bowl was hearty and comforting but light and flavourful. The garlic ciabatta bread that came with it was perfect for dipping and we even had some breadsticks left to soak up all that yummy broth.Image

I also had a bit of the Lasagna Primavera with Grilled Chicken, with zucchini, squash, and bell peppers in a tomato-basil broth with parmesan drizzle. This was another very light pasta dish. The vegetables really brought out that freshness. The chicken was a little bland so you really had to eat it with everything else together, especially the sauce and cheese.

The service we received was great and we all had a nice time chatting even after we were pretty much finished with our food. This may not be top-notch, fine Italian dining, but for the price, it was a great meal with friends.

Olive Garden on Urbanspoon

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Japanese Temptations – Tampopo

June 2, 2013
Tampopo, Philadelphia PA
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Fresh Crunch Roll
Vegetable Bowl w/ Chicken Breast
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ImageI have heard of Tampopo, a casual Japanese restaurant a few blocks off campus, since last year but not until recently did I go with a group of friends from dance after a weekend lesson. I liked it so much that I went back for dinner that night as well.

The Fresh Crunch Roll is one of their special rolls for the summer. Inside the cucumber-wrapped rice were ebi, unagi, and avocado. It was certainly a sweet and crunchy mix that was very much to my liking. The thick cucumber was a much better wrap than the regular nori, making it very fresh, just like summer. The sweet unagi paired well with the creamy avocado and the ebi added a chewier texture.Image

That evening, I went back for the Vegetable Bowl w/ Chicken Breast. It was a total of seventeen vegetables – bean sprouts, broccoli florets, broccoli stems, carrots, red peppers, green peppers, celery, mushrooms, snow peas, bok choy, and a couple others that I cannot recall – with a sweet teriyaki-soy sauce over brown rice. The chicken breast was sliced and a little tough and dry. It was lightly seared and tasted okay only when I soaked it in the sauce. Still, it was such a satisfying meal.

Tampopo on Urbanspoon

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One Day Attack in UCity – Guerilla Ultima

May 29, 2013
Guerilla Ultima, Philadelphia PA
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Sesame Broccoli Salad
The Ultimate Patriot
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ImageGuerilla Ultima was a relatively new food truck specializing in BBQ that I had never seen around Drexel’s campus or anywhere else. The menu looked interesting with a lot of choices of protein. However, I do think it’s important to specify a burger and not call it a sandwich. 

The Sesame Broccoli Salad was a little too sour for my liking. I had a lot of broccoli as well as napa cabbage, carrots, and spicy jalapenos. It just had too much acidity to the salad and it was a little overdressed. However, I did like the crispness of the fresh vegetables. Still, for $4, the portion was quite small.Image

The Outsourced Patriot was in actuality a smoked curry chicken burger topped with coconut crema and guerilla slaw. The chicken was a little dry but still decent. It also had a smoky flavour but I had a hard time tasting much of the coconut crema. The burger was just a tad too dry and slightly bland, especially once you have the two pieces of the bun with the chicken breast. 

I think this food truck has potential but really needs to carve out its niche, figure out the tastes of its customers, and set a price that will generate a lot of business. Striking up conversations while customers are waiting is also not a bad idea. 

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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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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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Jerk Up the Spices – GiGi & Big R

April 30, 2013
GiGi & Big R, Philadelphia PA
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Jerk Chicken
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ImageComing back from center city, I passed by GiGi & Big R. I had heard the one by the 30th Street Station was better with bigger portions for the same price and it was late so they were one of the only ones still open.

The Jerk Chicken platter, $8 for a small, was quite large and very delicious. I did not realize just how spicy the jerk rub would be so my first bite of the part on the skin with a lot of spices took me by surprise. My mouth burned throughout that meal but I loved it. It was a bit salty at times but I enjoyed having some dark meat and not just the dry white meat. I am no expert on jerk chicken but the flavours were certainly beyond bold. I had for my two side Collard Greens and Mac n’ Cheese. The collards were good and a nice balance for all the spices. The mac n’ cheese got a little of the jerk sauce over it and I found the cheese a little bland with the macaroni slightly overcooked. At least it was homemade. 

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