Mouthful of Sunshine

Satisfaction in every bite

Victoria’s Prince of Italian Dining – Pagliacci’s

ImageJuly 12, 2013
Pagliacci’s, Victoria BC
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Marlene Dietrich
Prince of Tides
The Prawn Broker
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This popular Italian dining spot does not look fancy from the outside. Inside was more of the old, almost antique-looking photos and decor. What initially drew me in was the creative names for everything from cocktails to appetizers to entrees. Some were so hilarious! It was so crowded on a Friday night but being set on some of the best Italian food around, we decided to wait.

I started with the Marlene Dietrich martini, with Canadian whiskey, Cointreau, orange, lemon, and bitters. The description quoted Marlene Dietrich saying “Darling, the legs aren’t so beautiful, I just know what to do with them.” I just could not resist after that. It was a good mix of bitter, tangy, and sweet.Image

My entree was the Prince of Tides, a spinach salad with seared scallops, portobello mushrooms, pine nuts, sun-dried tomatoes, and crispy pancetta, with a basil pesto dressing. My only complaint was the salad was overly greasy from the pancetta and the scallops. Otherwise, all the ingredients were some of my favourite foods ever. The scallops were perfectly cooked and the mushrooms were tender.Image

Dad got The Prawn Broker, a pasta dish with jumbo prawns in a coconut milk and cashew curry sauce with mango chutney and cream over a bed of spinach fettuccine. The prawns were succulent and juicy and the cashews provided a nice, crunchy textural contrast. The pasta was nice and al dente and the sauce was addictive – sweet, tangy, and creamy. It was a great blend of Indian and Italian!

I would come back to Pagliacci’s in a heartbeat to try some of their other seemingly amazing pastas and interestingly-named cocktails. This is definitely a ‘hidden’ gem in Victoria and a must for anyone who appreciates a good pasta!

Pagliacci's on Urbanspoon

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Burger Month! – SpOt

May 28, 2013
SpOt, Philadelphia PA
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Yosemite Sam Burger
Umami Burger
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ImageNational Hamburger Month continues with a visit to SpOt, the best burgers off a cart you can ever find. The Yosemite Sam was the weekly special: a regular, juicy beef burger with bacon, grilled onions, provolone cheese, jalapenos, BBQ-sriracha, and a teriyaki-horseradish mayonnaise. I love sweet grilled onions on everything, especially balancing out the kick from the jalapenos. The sauces mixed together nicely as well – two types of sweet and spicy.

ImageThe Umami Burger had lettuce, pickled daikon, gilled onions, mushrooms, gochujang, and teriyaki. The lettuce and daikon gave it a nice crunch and I love the sweet and spicy from the onions and the two sauces. The mushrooms did not add flavour or texture but were great nonetheless. Overall, a very satisfying, juicy burger. 

Spot Burgers on Urbanspoon

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Monterey in Ireland – New Deck Tavern

April 16, 2013
New Deck Tavern, Philadelphia PA
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Monterey Chicken
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ImageA club hosted a dinner at New Deck Tavern, an Irish casual restaurant on the Sansom Strip. I was glad to have the chance and try something. The atmosphere was relaxing and slightly antique-looking. The menu has something for everyone, from Irish traditional plates to your usual burgers, salads, and generic pub fare.

My Monterey Chicken was a little dry but thankfully, the BBQ glaze, applewood smoked bacon, and cheese on top made the bland chicken breast flavourful and somewhat juicier. The cheese was a blend of aged cheddar and Monterey jack, which had a nice combined flavour. The rice pilaf was decent and not too greasy while the vegetables were simple but a nice side to go with the dish. Overall, it was a decent meal in a relaxing atmosphere. 

New Deck Tavern on Urbanspoon

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Terry’s Terrible Turkey – Terry Cheese Steak

ImageApril 2, 2013
Terry Cheese Steak, Philadelphia PA
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Turkey Bacon Egg & Cheese
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ImageThis breakfast sandwich was by far one of the most disappointing ones I have had ever. The baguette was like any other one but there was not nearly enough cheese except for one bite in the middle of the sandwich. The eggs were thin and a little overdone. The turkey bacon did not have as much flavour as regular bacon so it did not add much to the sandwich. I think I will stay away from turkey bacon from now on… and Terry Cheese Steak. 

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King of Fast Food Specials – Burger King

March 23, 2013
Burger King, Philadelphia PA
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Sausage Burrito
Bacon Gouda Muffin
French Toast Sticks

Chipotle Chicken Wrap
Loaded Tater Tots
Veggie Burger
Peach Iced Tea
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ImageA day of competition in center city entails getting something quick yet unavailable in University City. With so many more specials than McDonald’s, Burger King was, I decided, the place to go. Image

The Sausage Burrito, at only $1, was certainly decent. The sausage was seasoned nicely and adequately juicy. I liked the onions and peppers with the melted American cheese. The tortilla was holding everything together, toasty warm.Image

The Bacon Gouda Muffin was their new, limited-time breakfast offering. On a toasted English muffin were strips of crispy bacon, a slice of gouda cheese, folded eggs, and a herb spread. The taste was quite light from the cheese but there was a nice garlic and herb undertone to the spread that made it different from your regular breakfast sandwich.Image

The French Toast Sticks, served with syrup, was a little too chewy. The outside was not exactly crispy and it was hard to bite and very greasy. Image

For lunch, the new Chipotle Chicken Wrap, which I got with grilled chicken, had a nice chipotle mayo that had some kick. The chicken was dry and tough, though. The lettuce, tomato, and pepper jack cheese did not add much in way of flavour. What I did like was the crispy bacon with the caramelized onions. The onions could be cooked a bit more, though, but it was still nice.Image

The Loaded Tater Tots were disappointing. There were barely any bacon bits and I could not taste any onions. It was just mushy potato with a semi-crispy fried exterior. These were certainly not satisfying. Image

The Veggie Burger, on the other hand, was great. I loved the veggie patty with the usual lettuce, tomatoes, and onions. What I really liked was the ratio of the ketchup to the mayonnaise that reminded me of sandwiches I used to eat when I was little. I finally found that flavour combination!Image

Finally, the Peach Iced Tea was rather refreshing. It had strong tea and peach flavours but I found this to be a bit pricey at around $2 for a small.Image

Burger King’s menu is now so much more interesting than McDonald’s. It’s a shame they do not have one on campus. I am now curious as to what flavours they will have over the summer.

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Specials, Specials, Specials – Dunkin’ Donuts

ImageMarch 13, 2013
Dunkin’ Donuts, Philadelphia PA
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Irish Creme Iced Coffee
Irish Creme Donut
Angus Steak & Egg Breakfast Sandwich
Angus Steak & Egg Wake-up Wrap
Big n’ Toasted
Hash Browns

Lucky Mint Donut
Cinnamon Cake Donut
Apple Cheese Danish
Triple Chocolate Chunk Cookie
Chocolate Chip Muffin
Corn Muffin
Caramel Latte Lite
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ImageWith a bunch of coupons in my possession, St. Patrick’s Day promotions, and featured steak menu items, I basically had a day of just Dunkin’ Donuts food. Well, it was nice to share sweets with a friend, but still, the sandwiches were filling. However, I love breakfast all day long so it was no problem. Image

The Irish Creme Iced Coffee, which I had with some skim milk, was creamy and sweet. I loved the traditional Irish creme flavour that was quite prominent, especially near the bottom of the cup. Image

The Irish Creme Donut was filled with a flavoured cream that was just as sweet and just as good. It looked very plain and unappetizing though so I think a warmer brown or a different colour altogether would have been nice. Image

The Angus Steak & Egg Breakfast Sandwich that I got on a plain bagel – just like their advertisements – was just okay. The bagel was nicely toasted and I liked the simple cheese and freshly fried egg. However, the steak was a little dry. Image

The Angus Steak & Egg Wake-up Wrap was the same, with a good toasty tortilla, gooey melted  cheese, half an egg patty, and dry steak. I really wanted some juicy meat so this was disappointing. 

The Big n’ Toasted was pretty good. The toast was nicely browned and thick enough. I liked the egg and cheese combination with the bacon. The bacon could have been a little crispier, I thought, and it was not as big as I had expected it to be, especially since the bread got moist again after being in the bag. Image

The Hash Browns were actually not bad, just too greasy. They were just the right size and crispy on the outside while the inside was mushy. It had decent seasoning, too. Image

The Lucky Mint Donut was certainly prettier than the Irish Creme one despite having the same, delicious filling. It was green and thus perfect for celebrating St. Patrick’s Day.Image

The Cinnamon Cake Donut was a little dry and a little bland on the inside. However, I did like the sweet cinnamon sugar, though it was messy to eat. 

The Apple Cheese Danish was nice and flaky, with some chew and density to the pastry. I liked the apple filling but could have used more sweet cream cheese inside to amp up the sweetness of the glaze and icing drizzle a bit.Image

The Triple Chocolate Chunk Cookie was not that good. I prefer an ooey, gooey, and very soft cookie but this was only slightly soft and moist in the center. The edges were a little crunchy hard for me although the different kinds of chocolate was nice. Image

ImageThe Chocolate Chip Muffin had a lot of chocolate chips inside but the batter was a little dry, especially on the edge. I did like the sugar topping on top though to give it more sweetness.Image

The Corn Muffin was like a cornbread and moist and crumbly at the same time. It was not overly sweet but you can definitely get that corn aroma coming through.

Finally, the Caramel Latte Lite had a faint but nice caramel flavour. It was a decent latte that I probably would not have gotten had it been for the coupon. I just do not think their espresso is as good as those at other places.Image

There are so many more options to choose from at the store in 30th Street Station. The one on campus is just a little limited. Both seem rather clean and accommodating though. So many coupons that it was all for great value. 

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Munchin’ at Midnight – McDonald’s

March 9, 2013
McDonald’s, Shinjuku, Tokyo, Japan
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プチパンケーキ (Petit Pancakes)
ベーコンレタスバーガー (Bacon Lettuce Burger)
チキンクリスプ (Chicken Crisp)
マックフルーリー マーブル オレオ (McFlurry Marble Oreo)
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ImageNot being overstuffed from dinner for once, Casey and I were craving some sort of midnight dessert. However, we could not find any small, quaint, Japanese cafes in Shinjuku around midnight. So, as we went back to the hotel, we settled on McDonald’s.Image

The プチパンケーキ (Petit Pancakes) hit the spot. These mini pancakes were soft, fluffy, and just adorable! They were not overly sweet so adding the apple syrup and cream made them delicious. I loved the idea of the apple syrup combination to make traditional pancakes more interesting.Image

The ベーコンレタスバーガー (Bacon Lettuce Burger) was decent. The bun was slightly sweet after being toasted, the lettuce and bacon were crisp, and the ketchup made it just simple. The beef patty was not bad and on average, this was okay for McDonald’s.Image

The チキンクリスプ (Chicken Crisp) was like the English muffin version they offer for breakfast except that it was served on a burger bun. The chicken had a nice, thin and crispy exterior and the mustard sauce added some zing.Image

Finally, I decided I needed ice cream. The マックフルーリー マーブル オレオ (McFlurry Marble Oreo) was just a regular Oreo McFlurry with added chocolate sauce. It was blended nicely and the soft serve was icy, sweet, and yet not overwhelmingly creamy – a perfect addition to a sweet bite at midnight.

I am just so impressed with the quality of McDonald’s in Japan. All the restaurants I visited were clean and had fantastic, friendly service, just like the rest of Japan, I guess. Too bad this is not the case back home, but I sure wish every McDonald’s I go to is just as sophisticated, or as nice as fast food can get, anyways.

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All Star Fast Food – McDonald’s

March 7, 2013
McDonald’s, Chiyoda, Tokyo, Japan
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マックシェイクブルーベリー (Blueberry McShake)
ジューシーシャカシャカチキン レッドペッパー (Juicy Shaka Shaka Chicken Red Pepper)
ジューシーシャカシャカチキン チェダーチーズ (Juicy Shaka Shaka Chicken Cheddar Cheese)
シャカシャカポテト アメリカンバーベキュー味 (Shaka Shaka Fry American BBQ)
アイダホバーガー (Idaho Burger)
てりやきマックバーガー (Teriyaki McBurger)
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ImageThe good thing about eating with one or two other people is you can share and get to try a variety of things without it getting awkward. This is how I got to try most of the items on McDonald’s Big America ALL STARS promotional menu.

First was the マックシェイクブルーベリー (Blueberry McShake). It was not overly sweet and had a light blueberry aroma. The ice cream milk shake was surprisingly refreshing in that lovely sweet way, with pretty lilac swirls. This is Japan after all, so I guess it makes sense not to be too heavy on the pure sugar. Image

Although not part of the special menu, the ジューシーシャカシャカチキン レッドペッパー (Juicy Shaka Shaka Chicken Red Pepper) was on my to-try list. The chicken was extremely juicy and tender on the inside with a very crispy and lovely exterior. The red pepper powder was slightly spicy and very flavourful. Image

The ジューシーシャカシャカチキン チェダーチーズ (Juicy Shaka Shaka Chicken Cheddar Cheese) was also tasty. I sometimes prefer dark meat chicken over white meat, especially when it is so moist and juicy like this. The cheddar cheese powder was surprisingly strong in cheese flavour.Image 

Part of the Big America ALL STARS menu, the シャカシャカポテト アメリカンバーベキュー味 (Shaka Shaka Fry American BBQ) was just okay. The BBQ powder was very tasty, savoury and sweet, reflecting barbecue sauce very nicely. However, it was not exactly too creative and french fries had never been my favourite. Image

The アイダホバーガー (Idaho Burger) was interesting. This had a beef patty, a hash brown, onions, bacon, pepper relish, a cheese slice, and ketchup on a toasted sesame bun. I guess even the Japanese know that Idaho is famous for its potatoes now! It was an odd combination and did not taste incredible to me. The hash brown had a nice crispy outside and mushy inside but lacked flavour. The beef patty was juicy and the bacon crispy but I found the onions a little overwhelming. The pepper relish, cheese, and ketchup gave a nice combination of flavours. All it all, it seemed odd.Image

Finally, the regular menu てりやきマックバーガー (Teriyaki McBurger) is by far the best thing I have had in McDonald’s burger-wise. The pork patty was so tender and juicy. I especially LOVED the sweet teriyaki sauce with the crisp lettuce and the slightly sweet sesame bun. It was just a sandwich of great flavours and combinations – the best, must-try, burger according to not just me but all the Japanese students I have met!

Regional menu items are certainly awesome, especially when the flavours are so appealing to my palate. Oh, the Japanese just make everything so much better!

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A Memorable Morning – McDonald’s

March 7, 2013
McDonald’s, Shinjuku, Tokyo, Japan
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ツナマフィン (Tuna Muffin)
チキンクリスプマフィン (Chicken Crisp Muffin)
マックホットドッグ クラシック (McHotdog Classic)
メガマフィン (Mega Muffin)
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ImageOne thing about vacations is that breakfast is utterly important. In this case, it was breakfast, lunch, and some more food for a snack whenever I am a little hungry. Walking for hours straight every day really makes you worn out! Thus, a good start is just crucial. While many of the other people get their onigiri fill from FamilyMart every morning, I decided to drop into McDonald’s. 

The ツナマフィン (Tuna Muffin) was simply good and delicious. The English muffin was nicely toasted and the lettuce crisp and refreshing. The tuna salad had plenty of mayo but was not overly creamy. The tuna was nice, savoury, and plenty good. Image

The チキンクリスプマフィン (Chicken Crisp Muffin) was interesting. Fried chicken and mustard for breakfast was new to me. However, the chicken was not too greasy and the mustard and lettuce cut into that richness nicely. On an English muffin, I guess it could count as breakfast.Image

I found it hilarious that Japanese McDonald’s served マックホットドッグ クラシック (McHotdog Classic) for breakfast. You cannot get more American than a hotdog, but for breakfast? The bun was airy and soft and the sausage was tender and juicy. It had a great bouncy texture and the taste of simplicity, especially with the mustard relish and ketchup. An interesting note is the combination of mustard and relish together, sweet, tangy, and with a kick!Image

Finally, the giant メガマフィン (Mega Muffin) was just awesome. Two savoury, seasoned sausage patties that were juicy, crispy bacon, fried egg, and a slice of cheddar cheese was just a combination of all the good breakfast stuff I am used to back home. Finally, I did not have to choose between bacon and sausage. I did like the tangy and sweet flavour provided by the ketchup, which is not present on the sandwiches in American McDonald’s despite being a popular choice at other restaurants and food establishment. 

Another thing I was truly impressed by was how quiet and clean the restaurant was, despite being almost full. Everyone had a book or newspaper open. I love how wonderfully educated the culture is in Japan! Imagine novels in McDonald’s – something you definitely do not see in the US. 

 

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Crispy and Fishy – City Tap House

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

City Tap House on Urbanspoon

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