Mouthful of Sunshine

Satisfaction in every bite

Leisure Summer Midnight Snack – 俪舍 (Leisure Tea & Coffee)

ImageJuly 31, 2013
俪舍 – Leisure Tea & Coffee, Richmond BC
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芋圆冬瓜 (Winter Melon with Taro Pearl)
抹茶绿奶茶 (Matcha Milk Tea)

椒盐帝王菇&蘑菇 (Salt & Pepper Emperor Mushroom & Mushroom)
综合蜜豆冰 (Assorted Bean Milk Icy)
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A friend from the US came for vacation and I was going to take him to try bubble waffles but Bubble Queen was closed. Craving something sweet to drink, we ventured into Leisure Tea & Coffee.

I’ve never had taro pearls so I ordered the 芋圆冬瓜 (Winter Melon with Taro Pearl). It was so sweet that I had to pour extra ice water into it to make it more of a thirst quencher than liquid sugar. However, I liked the flavour very much. The taro pearls were large, chewy, and just really good!Image

My friend ordered the standard 抹茶绿奶茶 (Matcha Milk Tea) which was okay. It had a nice matcha flavour and was alright.

ImageFor food, we shared a plate of 椒盐帝王菇&蘑菇 (Salt & Pepper Emperor Mushroom & Mushroom). It was rather oily, which takes away all the nutritious values of mushrooms in my opinion. They were still juicy and plump though, just too much oil.

Finally, for something cold – really cold – we had the 综合蜜豆冰 (Assorted Bean Milk Icy). It’s one of those things that despite the sweetness and all that sugar make you feel guilty, it’s too good to pass up.Image

The service here was questionable. They were busy but that shouldn’t mean I have to flag someone down three times for a glass of ice water. The decor with all the tea cups were really cute, though!

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Honestly Huge – Honest Tom’s Taco Shop

June 3, 2013
Honest Tom’s Taco Shop, Philadelphia PA
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Steak and Yucca Burrito
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ImageThinking I should try Honest Tom’s Taco Shop now that I have been to Tampopo since they are beside each other, I went the next day for one of their famous burritos.Image

The Steak and Yucca Burrito was incredibly satisfying. At $8 plus tax, it was huge and included not only the regular rice, beans, salsa, lettuce, sour cream, and cheese, but also creamy avocado. It really provides a smooth texture for the filling, binding everything together. The steak cubes were a little tough and the yucca cubes a little bland so next time, I would probably get chicken or sweet potato instead. Still, the quality was great and it was incredibly filling as well. 

Honest Tom's Taco Shop on Urbanspoon

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Scallops by the River – The Yardley Inn

May 21, 2013
The Yardley Inn, Yardley PA
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Seared Scallops
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ImageAs a start to my internship, I got to have dinner at The Yardley Inn, the best restaurant in the area. The view was really nice by the river and the food quite decent for a small town. They had a lot of variety and seasonal ways to cook the proteins.

My Seared Scallops were served with a fava bean puree, roasted spring onions, almonds, and parsley. The puree was nice with a touch of saltiness and not perfectly smooth, which I thought was a nice contrast to the scallops. The scallops themselves were so succulent and juicy – love at first bite. The onions were a little too greasy but sweet and the almonds added a nice crunch. It was not a cheap dinner but a pleasant one. 

Yardley Inn 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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Bunnies on a Cake – 圣安娜饼屋-Saint Honore Pastries

ImageMarch 23, 2013
圣安娜饼屋 – Saint Honore Pastries, Philadelphia PA
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豆沙包 (Red Bean Bun)
叉烧包 (Roasted Pork Bun)

兔仔蛋糕 (Rabbit Cake)
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Being in Chinatown, I was craving some traditional buns and Asian cakes. Nothing too sweet, too salty, but a nice blend of the two. I had never been to Saint Honore so I thought, why not give it a try. It did have many enticing cakes on display.Image

First, the 豆沙包 (Red Bean Bun) had the sweet ‘pineapple’ crust on top. The crust was not as sweet as I would like but it as crumbly and the bun was rather airy and soft. The texture was moist and a little chewy so that was good. The red bean or azuki bean paste inside was not very sweet so if you do not like the really sweet paste, this is for you.Image

The 叉烧包 (Roasted Pork Bun) was a little different than usual. The bun was good but inside was not your chopped roasted BBQ pork. It was small square slices. The BBQ taste was light but you could really taste the pork in this case.Image

The 兔仔蛋糕 (Rabbit Cake) looked better than it tasted. It was just so cute! The cake was airy and soft, not sweet, just like your average Asian cake. The cream was decent and again, not very sweet.Image

Going into a Chinese bakery, you know you do not have to worry about that extra sugar and overdose as much as if you were going into a western bakery and cafe. Things are just light here. 

 

 

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Two Sammies & a Cupcake – Green Line Cafe

March 22, 2013
Green Line Cafe, Philadelphia PA
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Cucumber Cake Cupcake with Vegan Lime Cream Cheese Frosting
Spicy Meatloaf Sandwich
Sweet Potato Burrito

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ImageOn a drizzling, dreary day, I love it when I can just sit back, relax, and spend an hour or so in a small, independent café. I am not a big drinker of coffee but I do love to try various sandwiches and treats, and bringing some back for dinner, of course. That’s how I ended up at Green Line Cafe.Image

The Cucumber Cake Cupcake with Vegan Lime Cream Cheese Frosting was actually quite bad, especially for $2.50. The cake had plenty of grated cucumber but the cake was dense and hard, sticking to the cup. It had air bubbles and was not moist and soft at all. The flavour was at least light. I did like the vegan frosting, despite the lack of lime flavours. It was sweet and slightly dense.Image

The Spicy Meatloaf Sandwich was the special of the month and an absolute delight. It had a great meatloaf with Korean BBQ sauce and Asian slaw served on ciabatta. It had a lovely spicy kick to it, marrying with the juicy meatloaf nicely. The Asian slaw was crunchy, slightly too greasy, but with a nice sweet undertone. The ciabatta was nice once toasted. It was a great fusion sandwich.Image

The Sweet Potato Burrito was just okay. I did like the cubed sweet potato rather than mashed. It did not have extra sugar so it had the natural sweet potato flavours. There was plenty of brown rice and black bean and corn salsa but not enough flavours in every bite of the burrito. I could not really taste the chipotle vegan aioli so that’s probably why it was lacking in flavours. I do like the added spinach, though.Image

Service was great and just a heads up that this is a cash-only café. The atmosphere is just so relaxing and quaint – a neighbourhood gem!

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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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Meal of 270 Flavours – 東方見聞録

March 8, 2013
東方見聞録, Shinjuku, Tokyo, Japan
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居酒屋の定番!! 大盛り枝付き枝豆 (Izakaya-Standard Large Green Soybeans)
茄子の浅漬け (Pickled Eggplant (Tsukemono))
浪速のたこ焼き (Takoyaki (Grilled Octopus Balls))
季節の浅漬け (Seasonal Pickles)
葱めんたいのせ出し巻き玉子 (Japanese Omelette topped Green Onion and Marinated Pollack Roe)
明太カルボうどん (Salted Cod Roe with Carbonara Udon)
選べる胡瓜 (生姜醤) (Cucumber (Ginger Miso Sauce))
揚げピザ&カマンベールディップ (Fried Won-Ton with Camembert Cheese)
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ImageCasey and I were not feeling up to some hardcore partying so we decided to venture out and try our own izakaya at 東方見聞録 near the Shinjuku station. We had seen so many ‘270 yen’ restaurants in the past week. I loved the idea! It was just like having a large variety of a tasting menu. Each item was only 270 yen, with special items – actually quite a few of them – priced slightly higher. It was certainly an interesting experience and I would have loved to try a few more of these if we had more time!

To start, we were served 居酒屋の定番!! 大盛り枝付き枝豆 (Izakaya-Standard Large Green Soybeans). These were boiled perfectly and had the perfect amount of saltiness. The edamame were easy to get out of the pod and soft but not too mushy. Once you start eating these, it is really hard to stop until other plates of food are presented before you.Image

From there, we proceeded to 茄子の浅漬け (Pickled Eggplant (Tsukemono)). I love eggplant and this was decent, but it was not my favourite preparation. The small eggplant was very tender, not too dry, and had a good, firm and chewy texture. However, I found the flavour a bit disappointing. It was salty and a little sour from the pickling whereas I had expected something a little sweeter.Image

The 浪速のたこ焼き (Takoyaki (Grilled Octopus Balls)) were excellent, though. They had crispy exteriors and a piping hot, slightly gooey center. There were not too much octopus inside but the flavour was bang on with the sauces and bonito flakes.Image

The 季節の浅漬け (Seasonal Pickles) were very refreshing with its mix of cucumbers, daikon, and ___. These were a little sour but not as salty as the eggplant, which made it nicer in my opinion. I would suggest them for a nice palate cleanser.Image

The 葱めんたいのせ出し巻き玉子 (Japanese Omelette topped Green Onion and Marinated Pollack Roe) was one of my favourites for the night. The egg omelette was firm but soft and airy. The texture was just excellent, as was the flavour. It was quite sweet, which was perfect for me. Put that together with the salty Pollack roe on top and the sweet and savoury sauce, it was just delicious.Image

The 明太カルボうどん (Salted Cod Roe with Carbonara Udon) was also a very nice dish, and one of the only ones that was more like an entrée. The udon noodles were cooked nicely to al dente, and coated in plenty of the creamy carbonara sauce. What I loved was the spicy roe in the carbonara, giving the creaminess a little kick.Image

Wanting more vegetables, we went with the 選べる胡瓜 (生姜醤) (Cucumber (Ginger Miso Sauce)). The cucumbers were certainly refreshing, especially with the ginger miso sauce. It was coarsely pureed ginger flavoured with miso, a little bit too salty but had a nice gingery kick.Image

Finally, the 揚げピザ&カマンベールディップ (Fried Won-Ton with Camembert Cheese) was another very interesting dish. The fried wontons were crisp and lovely and I thought the camembert cheese dip was a very creative twist. Perhaps not my favourite dish but it was certainly an interesting one. Wontons and cheese, who knew?

The meal was not exactly a filling one, since it was more like small bites of various items. It was a great experience though. My only complaint was that smoking was allowed inside and we almost ended up beside some heavy smokers. The food, though, was exquisite – a splendid final dinner in Tokyo!

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Swimming Waffles – 鯛プチ (Tai Putit)

March 6, 2013
鯛プチ (Tai Putit), Kamakura, Kanagawa, Japan
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チョコレート (Chocolate)
カスタード (Custard)
抹茶 (Maccha)
いちごミルク (Strawberry Milk)
バナナ (Banana)
プレイン (Plain)
十勝あん豆乳入り (TOKACHI Anko in Soymilk)
黒糖 (Kokutou)
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ImageGetting off the hour long train to Kamakura, we were all very sleepy. What woke us up was the wafting aroma of these taiyaki or petit sea bream, mini fish-shaped waffles with various fillings – chocolate, custard, banana, strawberry milk, TOKACHI anko in soymilk (red bean paste), kokutou (brown sugar), matcha, and plain. One of my favourite was the kokutou that tasted like melted maple sugar. The matcha, custard, strawberry, and banana were both creamy and the red bean paste was a classic. The chocolate was not too sweet and the plain was, well, plain. The waffles themselves were sweet and warm. These were so addicting!

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Gimme Gimme that Shabu-shabu – えこひいき

March 5, 2013
えこひいき, Taitō, Tokyo, Japan
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豚のしゃぶしゃぶ鍋 {Shabu-shabu}
“まずは”枝豆 {Edamame}
サーモンカルパッチョ {Salmon Carpaccio}
マルゲリータのナンピザ {Margherita Pizza}
揚げジャコのカリカリサラダ {Fried Crispy Sardines Salad}
白身魚のフライとポテトフライ {Fish & Chips}
うどん {Udon}
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ImageA huge group of Eiichiro’s friends took us shopping around Asakusa and then we all went to have all-you-can-eat shabu-shabu nearby. What a party it was! All of it surrounded by delicious, spicy food that left all of us in a food coma very quickly.Image

First, the 豚のしゃぶしゃぶ鍋 {Shabu-shabu} was a spicy broth base served with unlimited plates of pork, bean sprouts, and cabbage. The pork were not incredibly thin and stuck to each other. The fat made the soup very oily and I had to clean the oil in it half way through so it did not become too disgusting. I loved the spicy soup and the slightly sweet cabbage together, though!Image

A few appetizers were also served, including the “まずは”枝豆 {Edamame}. These were boiled to perfection, soft but not mushy.Image

The サーモンカルパッチョ {Salmon Carpaccio} was nice but very fishy. The fish was so fresh and chewy though! I loved the texture. The sauce was okay and I actually enjoyed the pureed daikon on top. Image

I’m not sure if what we had was their マルゲリータのナンピザ {Margherita Pizza} as it did not have basil, just some parsley or other herbs on top. However, it was very cheesy and delicious. I love gooey, melted cheese and a flavourful marinara sauce. The crust was chewy and soft. The shape was kind of funny, I thought.Image

I’m also unsure of the salad, which seems – after some online searching – to be 揚げジャコのカリカリサラダ {Fried Crispy Sardines Salad}. It was more like a green salad with tomatoes, small radish slices, lots of romaine, and a small mound of some sort of bonito flake-like strips on top that were very fishy. I loved the acidic yet sweet salad dressing. The Asian taste is very much suitable for my palate!Image

Another dish came halfway through – the 白身魚のフライとポテトフライ {Fish & Chips}. The fish was moist on the inside and crispy on the outside. I enjoyed this comfort food, although, like the pizza, it was out of place at such a restaurant! The fries were very generic.Image

Finally, we also got small dishes of うどん {Udon} to put into the shabu shabu. They were quite al dente and went nice with the spicy soup.

Such a nice party, filled with way too much food! It is amazing how crazy large parties with university students can get. Lots of food and lots to drink, and everyone laughed the night away.

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