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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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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Thai on the Island – Baan Thai Restaurant

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Baan Thai Restaurants on Urbanspoon

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Sippin’ on Guava and Lemons – Blenz Coffee

July 8, 2013
Blenz Coffee, Richmond BC
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Veggie Roll
Rocky Road Bar
Guava Lemon Shaken Iced Hojicha Green Tea
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ImageI biked over to Steveston and decided to stop by Blenz Coffee for a snack and a cold drink. It was a beautiful sunny afternoon that I just could not resist sitting there, sipping on something cold, and enjoying watching passers-by in the quaint little village.

My Veggie Roll was flaky but the filling lacked a little flavour. It had a hint of tomato but I could not really taste the rest of the veggies as it was all mushed together.

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The Rocky Road Bar had mostly chocolate and marshmallows, which made for a sticky and overly sweet treat. A bite or two is delicious but too much can just be a sugar overload.Image

Finally, my Guava Lemon Shaken Iced Hojicha Green Tea was so refreshing. The guava lemon flavour was tangy with a touch of sweet and the green tea was very nice. Nothing beats iced tea on a hot summer day.

The café had some flies inside so I question how clean it is. Considering it is a café, it should not be unsanitary at all – it is not hard to keep a small café clean where all you do is make lattes and bake a few things. The service was friendly, though, and the scenery just wonderful.

Blenz Coffee on Urbanspoon

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Waves of Spritzers – Waves Coffee House

July 3, 2013
Waves Coffee House, Richmond BC
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Sticky Toffee Pudding
Tomato & Spinach Panini
Date Square
Sparkling Pomegranate Spritzer
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ImageWaves Coffee House is a lovely little local coffee chain, certainly giving Starbucks a run for its share of customers. This particular location has a spacious interior with huge windows to allow the light to come into the store. With couches and tables, and free wifi, this is easily a working place.

The Sticky Toffee Pudding looked so tempting. The sticky toffee layer on top was delicious, as were the different layers of crumble and cake underneath. It was extremely sweet but with that deep toffee flavour.Image

The Tomato & Spinach Panini was light and tasty. The panini bread was nicely pressed and had a nice herbal note. The tomato and spinach made it somewhat refreshing, while the sun-dried tomato mayo and pepper jack cheese made it creamier.Image

The Date Square tasted okay with a light hint of date flavour in the paste. The granola crumble was quite dense but I wish it was a little chewier rather than crumbly. More date paste would have made it more like a date dessert rather than granola dessert.Image

Finally, their new Sparkling Pomegranate Spritzer was very refreshing. Tangy, sweet, and carbonated, it was a perfect summer drink. The cold beverage certainly did it for me that afternoon.

I definitely would not mind to grab a sandwich, soup, dessert, and later a beverage while I sat there for the whole day with my laptop. That would actually be very productive and… well… delicious.

Waves Coffee on Urbanspoon

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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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Livin’ Off Convenient Stores – Wawa

March 19, 2013
Wawa, Philadelphia PA
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Premium Honey Smoked Turkey w/ Scrambled Eggs Breakfast Hoagie
Sausage, Egg & Cheese Pancake Sizzli
Rainbow Cookie
Mozzarella Sticks
Sweet Cream Cheese Stuffed Pretzel
Red Velvet Muffin
BBQ Roast Pork Hoagie
Cookies & Cream Donut
Iced Chocolate Caramel Latte
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ImageThere are just those days that Wawa is my go to place for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and snacks, of course. This was just one of those days.

ImageThe Premium Honey Smoked Turkey w/ Scrambled Eggs Breakfast Hoagie was actually great. It was also National Poultry Day so turkey fit the bill. The eggs were hot and fluffy. The turkey was slightly sweet and thinly sliced. The roll was toasted and crispy on the outside. I had a little trouble finding the cheese but otherwise, it was a good breakfast hoagie – more expensive than food trucks but I liked the eggs a lot more.Image

The Sausage, Egg & Cheese Pancake Sizzli was okay. I find it odd to have actual pancakes with no syrup as a breakfast sandwich but it was lightly sweet and nice. The sausage patty was a little dry but had good flavour, as did the cheese. I just was not a fan of the preformed egg omelet.
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The Rainbow Cookie had a lot of chocolate candies, making it so colourful. I loved the crisp that a regular chocolate chip or chunk cookie that just has melted chocolate. I liked the lightly sweetened cookie dough but it was a little over-baked, neither crispy nor gooey. I prefer the latter.
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The Mozzarella Sticks had a nice thin batter on the outside with very stringy, chewy mozzarella inside. I loved the chewiness of the cheese and I could pull it so long without it at all breaking. I was disappointed that if I wanted marinara sauce, I had to pay for it.Image

The Sweet Cream Cheese Stuffed Pretzel was chewy with a crisp exterior. The inside was filled with delicious sweet cream cheese. It was a nice balance between the sweet filling and the salt on the pretzel. I wished there was more of the cheese filling inside. I love the light sweetness of it.Image

The Red Velvet Muffin was so red that it was food colour overdose. The muffin was moist and dense with a crisp top. Inside was filled with sweet cream that was a little too buttery. The muffin was good though, compared to some smaller independent cafes.Image

The limited-time BBQ Roast Pork Hoagie was overloaded with Baby Ray’s BBQ sauce. The sauce was great on the hot roast pork. The pork was juicy and decently tender. The BBQ sauce covered up the provolone cheese, though, and all the juices made half the bread somewhat soggy.Image

The Cookies & Cream Donut was actually good. I liked the cookie crumble with the frosting, and especially the cookies and cream filling. It was not too sweet but not greasy either. The doughnut was also fresh since it was still early in the day.Image

ImageFor National Chocolate Caramel Day and American Chocolate Week, I tried the Iced Chocolate Caramel Latte. It was decent, just milky enough and had the tastes of chocolate and caramel, although it was not very sweet. I liked how the ice is crushed ice so not large cubes. The whip cream with chocolate drizzle did not add much but it was refreshing.

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Oatmeal and Chocolate – Penn Bookstore Cafe

ImageMarch 18, 2013
Penn Bookstore Cafe, Philadelphia PA
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Toffee Nut Latte
Strawberries & Cream Cupcake
Oatmeal Raisin Cookie
Heath Blondie
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It was National Oatmeal Cookie Day and American Chocolate Week so I decided to sit back and relax in the lovely Penn Bookstore Cafe. I love the smell of coffee, a delicious dessert, and newly printed pages.

The Toffee Nut Latte was decent enough, slightly nutty and sweet, although it was hard to tell that it was specifically toffee. It was smooth and warmed me up from the drizzle outside. It was not too sweet, just the right amount.Image

The Strawberries & Cream Cupcake looked irresistible and tasted just as wonderful. The strawberry flavour reminded me of my childhood and the buttercream was not too oily and rather, was nice and sweet. I loved the shaved white chocolate on top. The cake was also moist, a little dense but still airy.Image

Now onto the Oatmeal Raisin Cookie. It was huge but a little too crunchy for me, especially the edges. It was a little greasy and the raisins were rather hard and dry rather than plump and juicy. Image

Finally, the Heath Blondie was great. I wish there were more Heath pieces inside, but there were plenty of semi-sweet and white chocolate chunks. The blondie itself was dense but moist and soft.

This cafe is always so full that I was lucky to find a seat. A wonderful place to study, it also has a great view of Walnut Street with its floor to ceiling windows!

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Sayonara, Shinjuku – Starbucks

March 9, 2013
Starbucks, Shinjuku, Tokyo, Japan
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ダーク モカ チップ フラペチーノ (Dark Mocha Chip Frappuccino Blended Coffee)
ほうれん草とハムのキッシュ (Spinach & Ham Quiche)
メイプルクリームの全粒粉スコーン (Maple Cream & Whole Grain Scone)
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ImageThere were still so many things to try at Starbucks and I knew I could not get to all of them. So, I had to be selective for my final breakfast in Tokyo.

The ダーク モカ チップ フラペチーノ (Dark Mocha Chip Frappuccino Blended Coffee) was incredibly good. It had the sweetness of the chocolate in the mocha sauce but it was also made from dark chocolate, giving it a slightly bitter but richer taste to it. The ice was blended finely and the drink was not overly sweet. The whip cream was quite watery and not as greasy as back in the US. I really liked that. It was a finely made drink.Image

The ほうれん草とハムのキッシュ (Spinach & Ham Quiche) was also delicious. The pastry was flaky and buttery, although it was a bit hard to cut into with a fork. The egg and spinach filling was so good that I wished there were more of it. The ham was savoury and I enjoyed the vegetable stems inside. However, I also got large pieces of potatoes under the ham, which just made it creamy but slightly bland.Image

The メイプルクリームの全粒粉スコーン (Maple Cream & Whole Grain Scone) was better than I expected. It was just whole grain scone with a little bit of maple cream spread into the middle. I wanted more of the sweet cream, but for what was there, the maple aroma was strong. The whole grain scone itself was crumbly but slightly dry. However, it was sweet and for that, I loved it.Image

My last visit to a Japan Starbucks for at least quite a while was definitely a good one. Starbucks service is already great to begin with. Add to that a country that prides itself on the respectful culture, you have got a café with perhaps the best service around.

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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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