Mouthful of Sunshine

Satisfaction in every bite

La Belle Sammich – Sammich

July 13, 2013
Sammich, Victoria BC
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Pea & Mint Soup
Goatabella Sammich
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ImageIt does not seem like the west coast has really caught on the sandwich and panini craze as much as back on the east. So, I was excited to stumble upon Sammich, this cute little sandwich shop on the outskirts of The Bay Centre in downtown Victoria. The owner was so nice and the little cafe was just such a happy, uplifting place with yummy treats freshly baked and displayed behind clear glass cases.

My Pea & Mint Soup was lovely on a sunny day but one with a chilly sea breeze. It was refreshing yet with a touch of creaminess and sweetness. The peas were mushy but it had a great thickness. I really liked that it was not overly minty. Image

The Goatabella Sammich came with goat cheese and spinach, grilled zucchini, roasted peppers, and portobello mushrooms. The vegetables were nice and sweet and the focaccia airy with a crispy crust. I could have used more vegetables as the goat cheese was melted and strong in flavour. For those who like goat cheese but want a lighter meal, this would be idea. 

I would definitely come back here for a nice light lunch. It is hard to find a fresh sandwich at a reasonable price these days and the combinations are by no means generic.

Sammich on Urbanspoon

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Warmed Up by the Bowl – Le Petit Saigon

July 11, 2013
Le Petit Saigon, Victoria BC
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Seafood Noodle Soup
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ImageWith so much food at the conference centre and a chilly sea breeze throughout town, we opted for a warm bowl of pho noodle soup at Le Petit Saigon.

The Seafood Noodle Soup included fish, prawns, and squid but was otherwise very bland. The seafood did not have much taste and the broth was just okay. The noodles were way overcooked and in very short pieces. Maybe it was because it was almost closing time but the quality should not have to suffer. For around $10, I expected something better with more, fresher seafood. 

Le Petit Saigon on Urbanspoon

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Spicy, Scallop-y, Stanley – Sushi One

July 6, 2013
Sushi One, Richmond BC
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Spicy Tuna Sashimi
Scallop Magma Roll
Stanley Roll
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ImageMy best friend and I decided to go out for lunch at Sushi One, a fairly new restaurant by the water in Steveston. It was quite crowded inside on a Saturday, with almost every booth taken. The service was friendly and it was a nice little place to chat.Image

I ordered a lunch special with one of their special rolls and had a salad and soup to go along with it. Both were fairly standard.Image

I picked Spicy Tuna Sashimi for my side. The pieces were small but I loved the spicy sauce that had quite the kick and also a touch of sweetness. The tuna was very fresh and, paired with the sauce, was very appetizing.

My Scallop Magma Roll was absolutely delicious, and very creative. Inside was spicy tuna while it was topped with masago, chopped scallop, and a sweet, black sesame sauce. The sauce was rich, creamy, and sweet, balancing out with the spicy tuna and scallops nicely. The ingredients were all very fresh.Image

My friend had the Stanley Roll that was also drool-worthy. It had yam tempura, avocado, and cucumber inside with a unagi tempura and tobiko on top. The two sweet tempuras were excellent, especially since they were not the same kind of sweetness. Still, it was harmonious and interesting all rolled into one.

Sushi One has it in the bag when it comes to creative rolls – so many choices and so many different appetizers and sides to choose from! They also have some great lunch specials that I’m sure this will become a regular hangout lunch spot for me.

Sushi One 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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Shrimp Simple and Complicated – 粵之醉-Rainflower Restaurant

May 18, 2013
粵之醉 – Rainflower Restaurant, Richmond BC
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天天老火例汤 (Daily Special Soup)
清蒸游水虾 (Steamed Live Shrimp)

秘制香叶老虎虾 (Pan Fried Tiger Prawns with Basil)
家乡杂菌牛仔柳 (Pan Fried Beef Tenderloin with Mushrooms)
黑鱼火腩豆腐煲 (Black Cod Hot Pot with Tofu)
[Cookies]

[Sweet Bean Soup]
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ImageA family friend and his daughter went out to dinner with us since we have to met each other in quite a while, let alone had a nice chat. He picked Rainflower Restaurant, which I had always wanted to try despite never hearing any compliments. Not surprising, the place that is known for dim sum was quite empty on a Saturday evening. Even so, it took very long to get our dishes as the kitchen could not keep up with the minimal demand.Image

The 天天老火例汤 (Daily Special Soup) was very generic at best. I liked the winter melon and carrots but it could use more of those little almonds.Image

The 清蒸游水虾 (Steamed Live Shrimp) were very fresh. The shrimp were so juicy and succulent – I loved the bite. The dipping sauce was a little generic but had a nice soy flavour nonetheless. 

ImageThe 秘制香叶老虎虾 (Pan Fried Tiger Prawns with Basil) was delicious although very expensive. The basil flavour was light but present and the sweet soy flavour really came through. The shrimp were again very succulent and had a lovely bite to them. They were fortunately not overcooked.Image

The 家乡杂菌牛仔柳 (Pan Fried Beef Tenderloin with Mushrooms) was not very special. The shiitake and button mushrooms were good and juicy. The beef was okay. The flavour was just sort of salty and did not have any particular flavour. It was a little oily but also a tad sweet, which I do like. Image

The cod in the 黑鱼火腩豆腐煲 (Black Cod Hot Pot with Tofu) was tender and flaky with a nice, slightly soggy exterior. It did soak up the sweet soy flavour so it was all good. The cod was in cubes and was firm enough to stay together. The tofu was mediocre and the portion was extremely small.Image

For complimentary dessert, we got almond cookies and fried dough cookies. They were crunchy and lightly sweetened, going well with the sweeter red bean soup. 

Overall, I think the restaurant is seriously overpriced. I cannot say anything about the dim sum. While I love the slightly sweet flavour of most dishes, the taste still does not justify the small portions and extremely high prices.

Rainflower Restaurant 粵之醉海鮮酒家 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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Thai in Times Square – Pongsri Thai Restaurant

March 29, 2013
Pongsri Thai Restaurant, New York NY
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Tom Yum Goong
Chicken Pad Ped Nor-mai
Shrimp Pad See Ew
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ImageI met up with Kitty to stay overnight for competition at NYU the next day. We were planning to go to Central Park and find the Alice in Wonderland statue since we could not get tickets to Mamma Mia! but it was windy and freezing. Feeling like some comforting Asian cuisine, we decided to give Pongsri Thai Restaurant a try since the reviews were good and it was nearby.

The Tom Yum Goong was a nice start. There were quite a few tender jumbo shrimp inside and lots of button mushrooms. The soup was hot and sour and not too greasy, which is why I like a good tom yum soup. The lemongrass was quite pronounced as well.Image

The Chicken Pad Ped Nor-mai was a stir-fry dish with plenty of bamboo shoots, onions, carrots, and bell peppers in a hot chili paste. We asked for very spicy and boy, it was VERY spicy. I loved it! Yes, I had to drink water, but it certainly warmed us up good. The chicken was overcooked, though, and so a little dry. The presentation was quite nice for a stir-fry dish, though!Image

The Shrimp Pad See Ew was really good with lots of shrimp, despite the shrimp being a little overdone and not as springy as I would like. The sweet soy sauce was a little oily but the flavour was mild and really good. I especially liked the broad rice noodles with the Chinese broccoli. There was not much egg to be found but the flavour made up for that.

The restaurant was crowded and clearly a popular casual place with friendly service, tucked away in a relatively unseen spot near Times Square. The food was quite good for the price and I would definitely come back here again for some great tasting good. 

Pongsri Thai Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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From Tokyo to Beijing – 大学城-Beijing

March 15, 2013
大学城 – Beijing, Philadelphia PA
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本楼炒饭 (House Special Fried Rice)
麻婆豆腐 (Ma Po Tofu)
左宗鸡 (General Tso’s Chicken)
麻辣牛肉面 (Spicy Sichuan Beef Noodle Soup)
西兰牛肉 (Beef with Broccoli)
茄子鲜鱿煲 (Squid with Baby Eggplant in Garlic Sauce)
炸云吞 (Fried Wonton)
上海鸡卷 (Chicken Spring Roll)
~

ImageOur group from Tokyo decided to get together to celebrate a birthday for someone and realized we wanted to be on campus and could not go to any Japanese restaurants, since all of us would be complaining anyhow. That’s how we ended up at Beijing, which personally I do not frequent because the prices are higher and tastes are worse than Sang Kee in my opinion. Still, it at least tasted somewhat Asian.

The 本楼炒饭 (House Special Fried Rice) was decent enough, but since it was such a generic dish, it would have just been totally unacceptable for them to screw it up. The rice was not overcooked and not too greasy. The pork and chicken were both a little tough and dry and there could have been more meat and vegetables. Image

The 麻婆豆腐 (Ma Po Tofu) was no where near authentic. Instead of chilli oil covered sauce, it was like a sweetened gravy with the slightest bit of spicy from the red peppers. There was no peppercorns either. The tofu was soft and I like sweet dishes, but the name was just very misleading. Image

The 左宗鸡 (General Tso’s Chicken) was okay. The chicken was fried nicely but I thought the batter was a little too thick with not enough actual meat inside. The broccoli tasted nice with the sauce, despite the sauce being a little greasy. Image

The 麻辣牛肉面 (Spicy Sichuan Beef Noodle Soup) actually had a decent amount of spice. The noodles were slightly overcooked but the ground beef mixture was flavourful. A little greasy perhaps but this dish was not too bland.

ImageThe beef in the 西兰牛肉 (Beef with Broccoli) was very tough to bite but not exactly dry, just a little too sinewy. It had decent flavour though, with a slightly sweetened gravy sauce. The broccoli was actually cooked nicely and was also sweet.Image

The 茄子鲜鱿煲 (Squid with Baby Eggplant in Garlic Sauce) was quite good, with basically just eggplant, squid, and some cabbage lining the bottom. The ingredients were plentiful – not too much filler – but the flavour of the garlic sauce was again lacking. There was almost no spice and it was more of a gravy than a sweet sauce. That’s just how they make it here though.Image

The 炸云吞 (Fried Wonton) was actually a decent appetizer with tender shrimp filling and a sweet and sour dipping sauce. I liked the sauce, which cut into the greasy aftertaste of the fried wonton wrappers. Image

The 上海鸡卷 (Chicken Spring Roll) were a little disappointing. Nicely fried and with a lot of filling, the filling was rather bland, especially when it came to the shredded, slightly dry chicken. The vegetables did not offer much in the way of flavour. While I did not like the spicy mustard, I did like eating the spring rolls with the sweet chili sauce.

The dinner was enjoyable and the service friendly enough. It was great to catch up with everyone. Beijing is as convenient as you can get on campus so not having to travel much was definitely a plus, especially on a cold night!

Beijing on Urbanspoon

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Seafood for Fast Food – Quiznos

March 15, 2013
Quiznos, Philadelphia PA
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Lobster & Seafood Salad
Chicken Milano
Chili
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ImageQuiznos’ limited-time promotional item, the Lobster & Seafood Salad, was something I had my eye on last year but never got around to trying it. It was actually pretty good. Full of seafood and a little lobster meat, it was tender and just a tad creamy. The texture was great and the salad with tomatoes was refreshing. 

ImageThe Chicken Milano, which I got with rosemary parmesan bread, looked better in the promotional photo than in real life. It did taste okay, with tender chicken and melted mozzarella and 3-cheese blend. The tomatoes and lettuce were refreshing but I loved the sun-dried tomato and basil pestos. Those two flavours came together nicely on the toasty warm bread.Image

The Chili was actually decent, with lots of beans and ground beef. It had a nice tomato flavour that was filled with spices and was decently thick. 

I will say that Quiznos really needs to lower their prices, especially when their food selections are no longer rare wherever you are. $5+ for a small sub sandwich is just no longer acceptable.

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St. Patty on the Street – Street Food Philly

March 14, 2013
Street Food Philly, Philadelphia PA
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St. Pat Burger Special
Guiness Beef Stew
Guiness Budino
Salted Fudge Brownie
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It was National Potato Chip Day so what better way than to celebrate with a serving of freshly sliced and fried real potato chips. They are way better than the things that come in bags. Honestly. Street Food Philly was also serving up a variety of St. Patrick’s Day specials so let’s start with that.

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The St. Pat Burger Special included a juicy beef patty with Guiness glaze, beer onion rings, mustard cabbage, and cheese on a soft and toasted burger bun. It was so juicy and so flavourful with the glaze an the mustard seeds. The cabbage added a great crunch and the onion rings’ sweetness helped cut into the savoury and spicy kick. The chips that came along were crispy, not too oily, and very thing.Image

The Guinness Beef Stew had extremely tender cubes of beef. There was a bit too much potatoes and not enough carrots and onions. It was a little greasy on the top but the flavour was outstanding and incredibly rich and comforting. The Irish soda bread was very crispy and light, soaking up the stew nicely.

ImageThe Guinness Budino had the sweetest, smoothest, and tastiest Guinness custard. I could not taste much of the Guiness but the custard was great, as was the salted caramel, caramel whip cream, and the crushed animal crackers and the chocolate graham at the bottom. It was a light but sweet dessert.Image

Finally, being awesome, they gave me a Salted Fudge Brownie. It was dense, rich, and chewy. A little greasy on the fingers but the flavours were spot on.

Street Food Philly is not cheap – the three items costed me $20. However, the quality of the food really does justify the prices. Each portion is individually prepared and cooked to order. This is nothing like fast food out of a truck, that’s for sure!

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