Mouthful of Sunshine

Satisfaction in every bite

Crispy and Fishy – City Tap House

February 20, 2013
City Tap House, Philadelphia PA
Steelhead Salmon

ImageAn event with a club brought me to City Tap House again. This time, I tried the Steelhead Salmon, which came with celery root puree, horseradish, Brussels sprouts leaves, smoky bacon, and citrus caramel. The salmon had a nice crispy skin with a well-done but still nice filet. It was only a tad bit dry but there was too much salt on the crispy skin. The puree was nice, as were the Brussels sprouts leaves, but I could not taste the horseradish. There were not very much of any of the ingredients. The bacon and Brussels sprouts were a tad greasy, but I loved the tangy and sweet citrus caramel.

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A Hawaiian Native – Poi Bowl

ImageJanuary 4, 2013
Poi Bowl, Honolulu HI
Local Boy Special

After returning to Honolulu, we went to Costco for food for the next two days but headed to Ala Moana… yet again… for dinner. This time, I decided to try some traditional Hawaiian cuisine besides the poke I had last time. Thus, I found myself in front of Poi Bowl. I was not excited by the already made food kept warm rather than being freshly made to order. However, it was the only option for Hawaiian cuisine around.

I settled for the Local Boy Special that included the signature Poi, Lau Lau, Kalua Pig, Chicken Long Rice, Lomi Salmon, and Haupia. Let me just say none of us liked the poi, the mashed up version of the taro’s corm. It tasted off to us and was rather disgusting. Perhaps we are just not used to it but the texture was like wet mashed potatoes, which was not the most textural in any way. The Lau Lau was my favourite. The pork inside was nicely steamed and simple, soaking up the taro leaves flavour. The leaves were cooked until they were completely limp and I loved the fresh aroma. The Kalua Pig was okay, with decently tender pork. It was flavourful but a bit salty for my liking. The Chicken Long Rice did not have much distinct taste apart from roasted shredded chicken. The Lomi Salmon was very salty and fishy but okay in small amounts. Finally, the Haupia was not bad. It was a coconut pudding that was bouncy and sweet.

Overall, all of us found Hawaiian food very disappointing. I think I will stick with poke from now on and maybe a serving of lau lau just so I can eat some delicious taro leaves!

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Hobbits and Oz in the Jungle – Umai Royal

ImageNovember 19, 2012
Umai Royal, Philadelphia PA
Jungle 2 Jungle
Lord of the Ring Roll
Over the Rainbow Roll

I bought this Groupon a long time ago and finally found a chance to go to dinner with a friend. We took Septa to Center City and thoroughly enjoyed the refreshing, chilly night air amidst the twinkling holiday lights down Walnut Street.

A blend of Japanese, Chinese, and Thai, I could not help but order the very exotic-sounding Jungle 2 Jungle. It was a stir-fry vegetable and tofu dish made with a light Thai curry sauce. I really enjoyed the crunchy yet thoroughly cooked broccoli. The cubes of tofu were a little small so that while the outer layer was crispy, there was not enough substance inside to have a dense yet soft centre. The bamboo shoots were also quite delicious, coated in the light yet flavourful sauce. Image

The Lord of the Ring Roll was essentially a soy paper-wrapped California roll with crunchy cucumber, imitation crabmeat, and creamy avocado. It was topped with soft and flavourful spicy tuna, ikura (salmon roe), and special chef’s sauce. The roll was creative and decently made. However, there was not enough filling and topping but rather a little too much rice for the size of the roll. Each piece was small, as it was a skinny roll. While the flavours were good, it was definitely not top-notch.Image

The Over the Rainbow Roll was a slight variation on the usual Rainbow Roll. The crunchy spicy tuna roll was topped with two types of tuna – I think – salmon, and whitefish. I enjoyed the whitefish a lot but the salmon and tuna could have been fresher. The spicy tuna and crunchy tempura flakes on the inside were great, though. Texture and taste were both good. Again, though, there was a little too much rice for the size of the roll and it was not the best sushi rice.

A quaint and obscured little place, it was certainly a nice night out. Service was friendly and there were not many customers on a Monday night. With most of the restaurant empty, we got our food very quickly.

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Tiger? Buffalo? Oh… the Japanese Zoo – Sushi DO

ImageNovember 13, 2012
Sushi DO, Philadelphia PA
Seaweed Salad
Stuffed Soy Pockets
Crunchy Penn Roll
Tiger Roll
Buffalo Teriyaki Roll

Sushi DO churns out fresh sushi everyday to satisfy the gigantic demand from hungry students. There is no doubt their items are fresh, newly made and packed every morning. The display is so colorful, drawing my eye every time I pass by.Image

The Seaweed Salad was perfectly chewy, crunchy, a little slimy, and both sweet and tangy. I loved the flavor and texture. The seaweed was great, with a flavorful and bold marinade. 

The Stuffed Soy Pockets were decent. The inari tofu pockets were chewy and cold. They were juicy and very sweet, just the way I like it. The rice was decent with the vinegar distinct but not at all overwhelming. It was a little cold but not at all soggy.Image

The Crunchy Penn Roll was a little disappointing. The tempura flakes were more or less toasted rice crispies, which were not crunchy any more. After sitting on the spicy tuna, they became soggy. The spicy tuna was not spicy enough but at least the fish was okay considering Philly is nowhere near the ocean. The California roll as the base was just basic.Image

The Tiger Roll was great. The unagi on top was smothered in the BBQ unagi sauce, which I absolutely love. However, the eel itself was a little on the thin side, not what I am used to. The avocado was creamy. I wish there was more sauce to cover the California roll as well. The rice was okay and I love the crunchy, refreshing cucumbers.

ImageThe Buffalo Teriyaki Roll was not great. The chicken was dry and tough, like overcooked chicken breast meat. There was nothing else in the roll so it was quite plain. I could not really taste much of the spicy mayo besides a little creaminess. The eel sauce was sweet but I could have used more. 

Although a little overpriced, I am glad to have access to fresh sushi rolls and basic Japanese food. Sometimes, a bite is all that is needed. 

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C’est La Vie en Philly – Bistro St. Tropez

ImageOctober 5, 2012
Bistro St. Tropez, Philadelphia PA
[Bread and Basil Pesto]

Watermelon Gaspacho
Tartare de Saumon

Students spend way too much during Restaurant Week but Philly’s food scene is so awesome that the deals are just awesome. My friend Casey and I decided on Bistro St. Tropez for lunch as i have never really had any proper French food and it was the closest one to campus. We had a nice walk under the warm, lovely  sunshine. For $20 each, we each got a three-course meal, and we sampled each others delicious selections. Too bad they only had one choice for dessert. Image

To start off, they gave us a basket of complimentary dinner rolls, expected at a high end restaurant. The small rolls were crisp and tough on the outside but warm and soft on the inside. It was one of the best dinner rolls I have ever had, especially when dipped in the basil pesto. It was the perfect start. 

Casey chose for her appetizer the Watermelon Gaspacho. I found it to be a little too sour and did not have much of the sweetness of watermelons. I did enjoy the roasted sweet corn, though. The cucumbers added a slight crunch but not much. The taste was just not what I expected but it was smooth and refreshing.Image

I went with the Tartare de Saumon, which had cucumber, capers, avocado, kalamata olives, and mango. It was served with four crunchy crostini that were drizzled with oil. I am not a fan of olives but once I picked those out, it was lovely. The salmon was nice and the dig was very flavorful. I especially loved the tang from the mangoes. The avocados were creamy. The crostini were lovely and the balsamic was not too pronounced but the acuity was faintly there.Image

Casey’s Saumon entree was salmon and stuffed zucchini wrapped inside phyllo and baked. I found the zucchini tasty but the salmon slightly bland and dry. The pistachio and goat cheese crust seemed to be missing. It was a decent size, though, and a nice fillet of fish. I do not like phyllo but this was flaky and buttery, like a good one should be. I loved the mixed vegetables, especially the spinach in the light curry sauce. The cauliflower purée was so creamy and wonderful I could have eaten a bowl of it.Image

My Paella was also very delicious. It consisted of two large, juicy, and tender prawns, tender chicken, spicy house-made sausage, and mini mussels amidst saffron yellow rice that was somewhat soaked in broth. The dish was quite lovely. I loved the prawns and chicken as they were very tender and succulent. The sausage was super flavorful and had quite a kick. It also soaked up a lot of the north flavor. The rice was good, not soggy, and decently flavored. The mussels were so small but flavorful. I found there was a lot of rice and j could have used more vegetables and seafood instead. However, the saffron aroma was great and quite fragrant. 

ImageDessert was Croustillant, a puff pastry base with three scoops of Basset’s vanilla ice cream, syrup-soaked strawberries, and chocolate and vanilla drizzle. The puff pastry had thin, flaky layers but still does not please me much. The ice cream was great – creamy, rich, smooth, and with a perfect balance of sweetness and vanilla flavor. It was so rich the strawberries were much-needed to offset that richness. They were sweet and refreshing while the syrups just added another layer of flavors. It was a simple idea but the quality of ingredients and the large portion size made it good.

The restaurant is located at the tip of a design center. I would never have suspected there was a restaurant of such level here, in a run down building with showcases on each floor. They surely do not get much foot traffic but the food is nonetheless exquisite. The service was friendly and the place was quaintly decorated to reflect an older period in France. The place was brightly lit and clean, making it a hidden gem in Philadelphia.


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Man, I Love This Maki – Makiman Sushi

ImageSeptember 23, 2012
Makiman Sushi, Philadelphia PA
MM Naruto Roll
McNabb Roll
Shrimp & Scallop Teriyaki
House Salad
Miso Soup

I owed my friend David a nice dinner after he helped me a ridiculous amount a few months ago and perhaps saved me from staying in bed for two weeks. After getting a Groupon sometime ago, I decided it was time to check out Makiman Sushi. The place was very empty on a Sunday night but it was clean and the service was friendly.Image

Our first roll was the MM Naruto Roll, with tuna, salmon, kani or imitation crab, and tobiko wrapped in a sheet of cucumber, with no rice. You can be sure I will always get a rice-less roll if the option is available. The sashimi was fresh and the roll nicely presented. It was overpriced in my opinion, since non of the ingredients is particularly rare. The cucumber was quite thick for a slice but rather crunchy and refreshing. The roll was nice but not exactly amazing and no sauce tied it together so it was more like an assembly of the ingredients.

The McNabb Roll was superb, though, and it should at $14.95. It had spicy tuna, avocado, and unagi on the inside with torched squid, tobiko, and scallions on the outside. It was drizzled with spicy and eel sauces. I loved the super chewy yet tender squid and there was quite a good amount of it on top. The spicy tuna and spicy sauce gave the roll a spicy kick and I loved the eel sauce’s sweetness in contrast. The unagi inside was hidden behind he other ingredients, but the other flavors were quite bold. The rice was okay and there was an average amount of it. The roll kept on falling apart though so It needed to be rolled tighter. The presentation was fabulous. Image

Finally, we ordered the Shrimp & Scallop Teriyaki. It came on a sizzling hot plate with the shrimp and scallops covered in teriyaki sauce and the steamed vegetables bringing colors to the dish. The shrimp and scallops were nicely pan-fried and quite tender, although it was not the most succulent and juicy I have had. Both were slightly on the drier side and the outer edges of the scallops were a little hard. There was a scent amount for $19.95. I enjoyed the broccoli, carrots, and tofu cubes but not so much the potato chunks. Besides my favorite scallops, I loved the onions in the sweet sauce – just divine. Image

The teriyaki dish came with Miso Soup and a House Salad. The salad was fresh with crunchy romaine, greens, cucumbers, shredded carrot, and sliced tomatoes. The dressing was refreshingly acidic and seemed to be a wasabi dressing with a kick, but I found it to be a little overdressed. 

The Miso Soup was decent with the right amount of miso paste. The mini tofu cubes and seaweed were welcoming and it served as a good appetizer. Image

I would probably not return without a voucher of some sorts, except to maybe try their special rolls at 50% off on Tuesdays. The food is quite decent but in my opinion, not worth the regular price. The meal came to almost $50 before tips at menu prices so I think they are definitely overpriced. At least it was a great deal and one less favor owed!


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Guu is Guu’d – Guu

ImageAugust 25, 2012
Guu Richmond, Richmond BC
[Potato Salad]
Salmon Yukke
Kimchi Udon
3 Kinds of Beef Tongue (Grilled, Minced, Boiled)
Aberdeen Roll
Garlic Soysauce Marinated Eggplant

Kimche Nabe

I promised myself I would satisfy my Japanese cravings this summer. Despite having only been to a few places, I think I still got a good glance into this particular cuisine. At least I am now much more familiar with menus of sushi, sashimi, maki and rolls, dons, noodles, and a wide variety of appetizers. So what better way than to temporarily end my Japanese food journey in Greater Vancouver this summer than a trip to Guu Richmond? It had to be with my sashimi and spice-loving friend Jessica, of course. We were welcomed by so many of the servers and workers, both busy going from table to table or working behind the bar. With all the tables reserved, the two of us took a seat at the bar, a cool experience in my opinion.Image

First, they started us off with a complimentary small appetizer or tsukidashi, the Potato Salad. It was just your typical potato salad, not distinctly Japanese at all. The potatoes were nicely mashed for the most part and mixed with a good dressing that tasted mostly of a tangy and creamy mayonnaise. Mixed into it were bits of carrots, cucumbers, and corn. The lettuce leaves added a nice presentation to the dainty dish.Image

Our Salmon Yukke arrived first. This was one of my favourites of the night. The chopped salmon were marinated in a sweet garlic sauce. It was rather sweet and thus I loved it, with just the slight bit savoury flavour of soy sauce. The salmon was tender and fresh. I loved the addition of pine nuts on top to give it an extra crunch besides the chopped pieces of romaine. It was served with five pieces of nori and a raw quail egg. The nori tied each bite together and I found the egg rather enjoyable, also slightly sweetened somehow. I love a runny yolk any day.

The Kimchi Udon was also delicious. The udon noodles were perfectly cooked, chewy and al dente. When noodles are thick but still very chewy, they become one of my favourite dishes. They were coated nicely with a salty butter sauce that had a gritty but creamy texture. It made the noodles incredibly flavourful, especially with the kimchi and a little more sauce on top. The spiciness went well with the butter sauce. The spicy cod roe and shredded nori completed the dish. This was certainly my favourite udon dish ever!Image

The 3 Kinds of Beef Tongue (Grilled, Minced, Boiled) was certainly interesting. My favourite was the grilled type. Each slice was perfectly tender and chewy. The texture was quite smooth and it almost melted in your mouth. Only little parts near the edges were a little rough and tendon-y. It had a nice savoury flavour and the teriyaki-like sauce that went with it tasted amazing. The minced beef tongue was made into a huge meatball and served with a sunny side up quail egg. The egg yolk was not runny, much to my disappointment, but it was not exactly very dry either. The minced tongue was nicely seasoned and tender. The meat was still moist. Finally, I found the boiled tongue to be a little plain, even when eaten with the squeeze of lemon, alfalfa, and dipping soy sauce. It was tender and had a chewy texture much like a sausage. However, there was just no flavour here.

The Aberdeen Roll was full of delicious ingredients; it was a roll filled with spicy salmon and tuna sashimi, avocado, and cucumber, topped with BBQ unagi, masago, some sort of shredded thing, and fried garlic chips, and drizzles with teriyaki sauce, mango sauce, and egg. The sashimi were not exactly very spicy but were quite fresh. The avocado added creaminess while the cucumber added a refreshing crunch. The rice was not the greatest though, a little bland and a little mushy in some parts. The BBQ unagi on top was sweet and yummy, as were the various toppings. I especially enjoyed the fried garlic chips and the teriyaki and mango sauces, giving the roll a light sweetness.Image

Another special of the day we ordered was the Garlic Soysauce Marinate Eggplant. The eggplant was cut in such a unique way, in a crisscross method, much like the treatment of cuttlefish. Each piece was soft and mushy but soaked up the garlic soy sauce flavour that was quite lovely. However, the sauce was covered in a layer of oil so the dish was quite greasy for a vegetable appetizer. I loved the sweet and savoury flavour though, which led me to eat the radish, romaine, sweet garlic chives, and the other vegetables at the bottom. I love mushy, flavourful eggplants, so this was one of my favourites of the night!Image

Finally, to warm up a little, we decided on the Kimchi Nabe for more spicy food. It came in a stone hot pot with lots of kimchi in a slightly thickened soup base flavoured with oyster sauce. It was too salty, though, so I am glad we shared it. The pieces of pork looked tough but were rather tender when eaten. The tofu was also soft but could have been even softer. There was not much pork and tofu, but we did not expect there to be for $6. It was a spicy and warming ending to the meal.

I love the casual ambiance of the restaurant. It is a very friendly place, clean and filled with happy workers to uplift the mood. Despite the slightly pricey menu, they offer a good variety and it was interesting to see them make all the food behind the bar. All of the servers shouted goodbye in Japanese when we left and I look forward to try another Guu location in the near future.

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Dragons and Fish – Ichiro Japanese Restaurant

ImageAugust 19, 2012
Ichiro Japanese Restaurant, Richmond BC
Salmon Sashimi
House Prawn Roll
Steveston Roll
Dragon Roll
Beef YakiSoba
Unagi Omelette
Chicken Udon

The food is not so important when there is some much needed catching up to do with friends. The chatter around the dinner table is much more amusing and requires significantly more attention. However, great food certainly makes everything better all of a sudden. That is what happened at Ichiro Japanese Restaurant with three of my friends. After a long and tiresome biking trip – that included a heron, two dragonflies, and two coyotes – chilling over sashimi, sushi, and Japanese noodles was just what we needed.Image

We ordered the generic but incredibly fresh Salmon Sashimi. Six pieces of super red sockeye salmon for $7.95 was not exactly cheap. However, it was so fresh and tender. The fish was not too fishy. Each piece was very consistent in size and quality. The presentation was neat and pretty but not overly exaggerated. I also enjoyed the mini bite of seaweed besides the lime slice. This is definitely the best sashimi I have had in a long time.Image

Next came the rolls. As recommended by Amanda, we ordered the House Prawn Roll. It was avocado and cucumber wrapped in the roll and topped with tobiko, mayo sauce, and two prawn tempura. Despite the fact that the prawns needed to be cut up in order to have a small bite in every piece, I loved the roll. The avocado was creamy and the cucumber refreshing. All of it was topped in more than enough of the deliciously tart and creamy mayo sauce, which did not appear to be spicy at all. It was not a strong flavour, quite mellow and soothing although still distinct. The sweet and sour levels were just right. The rice was also good; it was vinegary and soft but not mushy at all.Image

The Steveston Roll was bright and pretty. Inside were sweet shrimp, salmon, tuna, and cucumber with more salmon on the top. The sashimi was again very fresh and the cucumber made it even more refreshing. The shrimp were tender and slightly sweet, adding to the sweet and acidic flavour of the rice. This roll had to be eaten with wasabi and soy sauce since its flavour was quite bland; none of the ingredients have a very strong taste and there was no sauce. However, the quality of the roll was undoubtedly very high and with so much salmon, I was satisfied.Image

The best roll, however, was the Dragon Roll, which was a whopping $14.95. It was a roll with imitation crab, asparagus, and avocado on the inside, all topped with a very thick piece of BBQ eel or unagi. The presentation was superb. The dragon’s head, including the eyes and horns – made from sunflower seeds and fried soba noodles respectively, and thus very creative – actually resembled a dragon very closely. The amount of unagi certainly justified the price. Each piece was thick, perfectly grilled, and very flavourful. There was a fatty layer on the bottom but that was expected. Inside, the crab was slightly sweet and creamy, with the avocado even creamier, and the asparagus added a refreshing crunch different from the usual cucumbers. The entire roll was drizzled with BBQ sauce, one that was sweet and full of great flavour. There was hardly any rice around the roll, which I really appreciated. What was there was also top quality. This roll is definitely worth getting again.Image

For some more filling food, we first went with Beef YakiSoba. It came sizzling hot, with nicely grilled and thin slices of beef. I loved the slight char on the vegetables, which included bean sprouts, cabbage, onions, broccoli, and carrots. The noodles were tender with a slight chew. They were on the thinner side but still not overcooked. The slight char on the dish was great as the smokiness seeped into everything. The soy sauce flavour was good, but I prefer my yakisoba to be slightly sweet, perhaps made with a little teriyaki or barbeque sauce. This one was just savoury.

ImageAmanda ordered the Unagi Omelette, a whole piece of BBQ eel wrapped in a tender omelette made from three eggs. The portion was quite large, justifying the $8.95. I thought it was quite reasonably priced. The unagi was tender and flavourful. The eggs were incredibly soft but still cooked. It was drizzled with more BBQ sauce, which gave it a lovely and strong BBQ flavour. Soft, tender, sweet, what is not to love?Image

Finally, we had the Chicken Udon, which was also the best udon I have ever had. The slice of fish cake was tender, as were the small pieces of chicken. They seemed to me like chicken thigh meat and I was glad they were not overcooked – almost but not yet. The little bit of spinach was good and I could definitely use more of it. The soup was delicious and slightly sweet and I could down a whole bowl of it no problem. What surprised me were the noodles. I do not usually like udon because they are so often overdone and become mushy instead of ‘al dente.’ These were perfect though. Each long strand was incredibly bouncy and chewy even though they came in a bowl of soup. This definitely changed my whole perspective on udon noodle soup.

Ichiro can be a bit pricey, but the food is definitely more top notch than many of the Japanese restaurants around town. I would certainly bring friends back here, especially for something a little nicer or more formal. It may not be the best place for cheap, casual, and filling comfort food, but the service is great and the ambiance is friendly and relaxing. The restaurant was also quite clean. From the food to the atmosphere, I know I will be back when I need some great Japanese food close to home.

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Creative, Crispy, and Charred – Tokyo Joe Ramen Okawari

ImageAugust 13, 2012
Tokyo Joe Ramen Okawari, Richmond BC
Edamame Koroke
Ocean Roll
Cute Roll

I met up with a friend for a reunion after a year apart. We were going to go to Tokyo Joe’s Sushi Factory until I realized Tokyo Joe Ramen Okawari has more options for its creative rolls as well as some of the Tokyo Joe originals. Even though it was too hot for ramen, we decided to go just for the rolls.Image

Shirley decided to try the Edamame Koroke, a Japanese fried potato croquette with edamame and corn inside. The four croquettes were crispy on the outside with a hot, mushy, and soft centre. It was not too oily but I found the potato to be quite bland. The corn and edamame did not add much to the flavour or the texture. It was topped with a sweet, teriyaki-style sauce and wasabi mayo. I loved the sweet sauce but the wasabi mayo was creamy but had too much of an overpowering spice for me.Image

The Ocean Roll was delicious. It was baby shrimp, avocado, and cucumber rolled inside regular sushi rice and topped with large BBQ scallops and a plum cream cheese sauce. The shrimp on the inside were tender but I found the rice bland and mushy near the nori. It did not have enough vinegar taste and stuck together too much. However, the scallops on top were so succulent and juicy. They were grilled perfectly, with a slight char on the outside yet a very tender centre. The plum cream cheese sauce was a perfect balance of sweet and tart flavours mixed together with a tart creaminess. At $12.50, it was quite pricey, but the toppings were unique enough to be worth the price.

ImageFinally, we got the Cute Roll. Thinking it would be small, we were surprised to see five HUGE pieces of sushi rolls. This roll did not have rice. Instead, it was salmon, tuna, avocado, and cucumber on the inside. The rice was replaced with a lot of imitation crab and the roll was wrapped in nori. On top were thin slices of smoked salmon. This roll by itself did not have much flavour except for the smoked salmon, which was tender but a little on the thin side. The abundance of imitation crab made me happy, as I love the sweet, tender, and creamy ingredient. The salmon and tuna were both quite fresh. I did dip this roll in soy sauce and wasabi just because it was somewhat bland, but I loved the ingredients.

The servers were all very friendly and on a Monday evening, it was not crowded. The place was small but bright and clean, a very casual and relaxing ambiance. I would come back here with another friend for a reunion, where you can sit back, relax, and catch up on a year’s worth of interesting tales while enjoying some casual yet creative rolls. 

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Bright and Happy – IKEA

ImageAugust 11, 2012
IKEA, Richmond BC
Mushroom and Cheese Crepes
Najad Salmon Plate
Haddock & Chips
Pasta and Vegetarian Tomato Sauce

Lingonberry Juice
Elderflower Cupcake

After yet another show, we were all hungry and decided on a quick and inexpensive lunch at IKEA. While their dishes are not the cheapest – that honour goes to Costco – they serve healthier dishes at the same price as most fast food chains. With Dad here, we got to try a few more items, creating yet another sizable dent in their extensive menu.

ImageTo start, I got the Mushroom and Cheese Crepes. For $3.99, it included two crepes and a salad. The crepes were warm though not hot as they were being kept under a warmer. The edges on one of them was dried and hardened, but the other was good. The crepe itself was of a decent thickness and quite soft and nice. The filling of cheese and mushrooms was delicious, thick and creamy. The mushrooms added a nice aroma to the melted, cheesy sauce and I loved the warm, soft, gooeyness in my mouth.Image

The Salad was just one from a self-serve bar, with leafy greens, cherry tomatoes, and shredded carrot. Also available were Parmesan cheese powder and Italian dressing. The tomatoes were fresher than the greens and carrots, but it was still nice to have some green options available.

The Najad Salmon Plate, at $5.99, was not exactly cheap for a few thin slices of smoked salmon topped with a bit of carrot and turnip salad with dill. The vegetables were coated in a tangy dill sauce and tasted great, a nice mix of sweet and sour. The smoked salmon had a really strong but pleasant flavour. It was slightly too oily for me, but still chewy with a good texture; the pieces were delicate but still firm and not falling apart. The dill added a nice herby aroma to the entire dish.Image

The Haddock & Chips were really good, with two decent pieces of fried haddock. The batter was crispy and quite thin, with the fish tender and white inside. It was moist and juicy and went well with the packaged tartar sauce. This tartar sauce did not have that much crunchy relish and other ingredients inside, smoother and less dense than some others. However, it was quite tangy and nice, balancing out the fried fish. The fries were quite decent; each piece was thick enough to have a decent crisp on the outside and a soft and mushy inside. They were quite hot and I dipped mine in ketchup for an added flavour. I actually enjoyed this traditional plate quite a bit.

ImageThe Pasta and Vegetarian Tomato Sauce was better than before. The sauce was nicely seasoned, not watered down, and had lots of vegetables in it. It was certainly not as bland as I remembered. The penne pasta was actually al dente and not soggy. Our server gave us a lot of sauce so that all of the pasta was coated in the flavourful, tangy sauce. We got ours with five extra meatballs so that the dish had some protein in it. Honestly, though, you just cannot eat at IKEA without having some meatballs.Image

The Lingonberry Juice was available today. It was mildly sweet and citrusy, but it did not have a strong bitter flavour as I expected. Overall, with the ice, it was not a very strong taste. The light pink matched the refreshing taste and I thought it was a nice change to the regular soft drinks, which we did get afterwards.Image

Finally, for dessert, we got the Elderflower Cupcake, which was on sale at two for $0.99. The elderflower taste was incredibly strong and flowery – just absolutely aromatic and delicious! The icing was sweet and not greasy, just the way I like it. The cake was dense yet still moist and sweet. Overall, it was such a good cupcake that I could have easily eaten more. I just love the sweetness of it – and it was quite sweet. It was not simple, though, and so it would take a lot more to get me tired or disgusted at the sugar. Considering the price and taste, it is perhaps the best cupcake ever!Image

I just love the relaxing ambiance in IKEA’s restaurant. The space is so large it is never filled. The huge windows allow for a lot of daylight and the décor is casual and comfortable. I love eating in brightly lit places with an uplifting mood and this cafeteria certainly offers that. 

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