Mouthful of Sunshine

Satisfaction in every bite

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)
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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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Oh My! Okonomiyaki Galore – 惚太郎

March 6, 2013
惚太郎, Kamakura, Kanagawa, Japan
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五目(豚肉・エビ・ホタテ・ゲソ)もんじゃ焼 {Subgum (Pork, Shrimp, Scallops, Tentacles)}
シーフードもんじゃ焼 {Seafood}
チーズ もんじゃ焼 {Cheese}
そばカレーもんじゃ焼 {Soba Curry}
チーズもちもんじゃ焼 {Cheese Mochi}
エビもんじゃ焼 {Shrimp}
シーフード(和風味)もんじゃ焼 {Seafood (Japanese Flavor)}
シーフードガーリックもんじゃ焼 {Seafood Garlic}
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ImageAfter exploring the shrine and the cute shops in the market at Kamakura, we were all tired and super pumped for some all-you-can-eat okonomiyaki. This type of traditional Japanese pancake comes with a variety of ingredients – meat, seafood, vegetables, noodles, egg, even mochi(!) – in a variety of flavours – garlic, traditional Japanese, curry. Image

The 五目 (豚肉・エビ・ホタテ・ゲソ) もんじゃ焼 {Subgum (Pork, Shrimp, Scallops, Tentacles)} was perhaps the most traditional. The pork was a little tough since we overcooked it a little. It was hard to judge whether it was done in the center and took a while for us to get used to using the grill. Image

I loved the fresh seafood in the シーフードもんじゃ焼 {Seafood}. The scallops were my favourite and the tentacles were nice and chewy. There could have been more seafood but it was still delicious. 

The チーズもんじゃ焼 {Cheese} one was great for vegetarians. The cheese was really mild and tasted very processed. However, this is Asia so it was not like I expected some lovely aged cheddar or crumbly, salty bleu cheese.Image

The そばカレーもんじゃ焼 {Soba Curry} was very interesting. The curry was very generic but strong and thus provided great flavour. The soba noodles added an interesting twist – grilled noodles!

The チーズもちもんじゃ焼 {Cheese Mochi} was also unique. Who would have thought to take mochi and cheese and grill them together? I always associated mochi with sweet treats and dessert so this was something new for me!Image

The エビもんじゃ焼 {Shrimp} was supposed to be shrimp tempura of some sort, with a little extra batter. More shrimp would have been nice. 

The シーフード (和風味)もんじゃ焼 {Seafood (Japanese Flavor)} had a tangy sweet sauce, which I guess is the ‘Japanese flavor.’ It was actually quite good. I enjoyed the vegetables in this one a lot, along with all the seafood of course!

Finally, we had the シーフードガーリックもんじゃ焼 {Seafood Garlic}. Yay for more seafood! The garlic flavour was there but not particularly strong. It was nice but nothing too outrageously different and unexpected.Image

We also went a little crazy with the three different sauces – a plum sauce, a more traditional barbecue/teriyaki sauce, and mayonnaise – as well as the delicious, moving bonito flakes! Those flakes were dancing and so beautiful yet fishy. We were so full by the end and very much looking forward to the hour-long train ride so that we would have time to wear off our food coma. By the end, we were literally all just picking at our plates and not talking. Imagine getting tired from eating too much! That’s what you get here!

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Comfort in the Rain – 大学城-Beijing

February 26, 2013
大学城 – Beijing, Philadelphia PA
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甜酸菜 (Chinese Pickle Salad w. Sesame Seed)
鱼香干贝 (Scallop in Garlic Sauce)
上海炒粗面 (Shanghai Noodle)
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I just really needed some scallops and some sweet, Americanized Chinese sauce so fear not, I went to Beijing on this drizzly and cold night. Their takeout prices are about $1 lower than their dine-in price, which seems odd as they would be making tips on top of that. However, being a student on budget, I just got takeout.
13-02-26 - 甜酸菜 - 大学城

To start, I got the 甜酸菜 (Chinese Pickle Salad w. Sesame Seed) since I needed some refreshing vegetables without oil. The sweet and tangy pickle flavour was delightful. THe julienned daikon radish, cabbage, cucumber, and carrots were very crunchy indeed – certainly a good starter. 13-02-26 - 鱼香干贝 - 大学城

The 鱼香干贝 (Scallop in Garlic Sauce) was quite expensive, at $9.95 for a small takeout order. However, they were jumbo scallops and were very tender and juicy. I loved the mix of vegetables (straw mushrooms, snow peas, broccoli, black wood ear fungus, water chestnuts, and baby corn) and they were crunchy and tasty. However, the sauce, while coating everything, was not very spicy or sweet and tangy. It was more like a gravy sauce and not a garlic sauce.13-02-26 - 上海炒粗面 - 大学城

The 上海炒粗面 (Shanghai Noodle) were decent. The udon noodles were just a tad overcooked, but I was expecting that since it is very typical of casual Chinese restaurants to overcook udon noodles in a fried noodle dish. The pork was okay and I liked the shiitake mushrooms. I appreciated them heeding my request to hold back on the oil as it was not incredibly greasy.

Beijing is great in that it is close, but it is more expensive than Sang Kee Noodle House and certainly more so than the food trucks. Thus, it is only worth it to get the dishes not available elsewhere on campus. Otherwise, the flavors are not enough to justify the higher prices.

Beijing on Urbanspoon

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Tap to the Beat – City Tap House

February 9, 2013
City Tap House, Philadelphia PA
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Abbruzzo Pepperoni Pizza
Jambalaya Pizza
Ten Spice Wings
Elise Mussels
Pancho Mussels
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ImageThanks to the snowstorm Nemo, our dance competition was cancelled at the last minute. Thus, our after party was also non-existent; instead, it just changed to a regular old hang out at City Tap House with the rest of the team. Everyone squished around tables, chatted, and had a fabulous start to the Year of the Snake. This was my first time eating at the gastropub and I have to say, the food was better than I expected with huge portions.

We ordered a couple of items to share and the first to arrive was the Abbruzzi Pepperoni Pizza. These are made in-house, with fresh dough and also freshly baked. The crust was thin yet still soft. I loved the cheese, sauce, pepperoni, and the sliced fresno peppers combination. The fresh mozzarella was really light and thus not overly greasy. The texture was very chewy, which I loved. The peppers really added a zing to the pizza that was totally unexpected and quite lovely.
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Our Jambalaya Pizza was also very good, again with a kick from the fresno peppers. There was a decent amount of brie on this but I could have gone with more andouille sausage, fresno peppers, and chicken confit. The creole shrimp sauce was good. This was certainly an interesting pizza, though. It was so fresh that it was going to be good regardless of the amount of toppings and it was very flavourful nonetheless.Image

The Ten Spice Wings were surprisingly good. They were cooked perfectly, so moist and tender throughout. The spice rub was really flavourful as well that I could have eaten it without the house blue dressing. The dressing itself was creamy and flavourful, with a little tang. I loved the crunchy celery and carrot sticks with the dip, though, but some grease got on the vegetables. This was just a great appetizer to share with friends.Image

The Elise Mussels were such a huge portion that four of us ate to our hearts’ content and there was still enough to go around. The tomato broth was very flavourful but the garlic aroma was not strong enough. I definitely could have used a stronger herb flavour, too. However, the basil chiffonade, garlic, and plum tomato chunks in the broth were lovely. The general manager even brought out extra bread at our request to soak up all the remaining broth, the best part! The mussels were a little undercooked, though. A few of them were still closed and very briny, slightly raw on the inside.Image

The Pancho Mussels were very similar in flavour to the Elise Mussels. The broth was pretty much the same, except this one had poblano peppers and spicy chorizo sausage. We thought this would be spicy but there was barely any heat. The sausage slices were good, though, as was the broth. These portions are so huge that they will be a full meal if you do not mind eating just mussels!

Both the service and atmosphere were great – casual, friendly, and relaxing. The vibe was so alive even after midnight, one of the pros of a pub. I was just glad to find the food was quite decent and they do not just care about their alcohol. Overall, I would definitely come back for a fun night out with friends.

City Tap House on Urbanspoon

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Bacon and Bagels – Dunkin’ Donuts

February 9, 2013
Dunkin’ Donuts, Philadelphia PA
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Glazed Donut
Vanilla Frosted Donut
Old Fashioned Cake Donut 
Marble Frosted Donut
Bacon, Egg & Cheese Breakfast Sandwich
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The morning of the conference that we had been planning for the past half a year, we had to be there early. So, the club president bought everyone lots of donuts from Dunkin’ Donuts. At least we did not have to wake up early and starve.Image

The Glazed Donut was simple yet good. The doughnut was soft and moist, with the glaze very sugary and sweet. This will never be the best doughnut ever but it will always be one of those that you can depend on.Image

The Vanilla Frosted Donut was also very generic. The vanilla frosting was sweet and sugary. I loved the crunch the sprinkles provided. The yeast doughnut was airy and light.

The Old Fashioned Cake Donut was rather disappointing. I remember this doughnut from my childhood and Tim Hortons that it was a very dense cake-based doughnut with a lot of spices and cinnamon. The flavour was a little faint and the doughnut was on the dry side. Perhaps I should go back to Superstore or Tim Hortons.Image

I went out and bought myself the Marble Frosted Donut. The yeast-based doughnut was light and soft, very puffy. The frosting on top looked really cool but tasted very generic. It was simply white icing with a chocolate icing drizzle. Both were sweet and the chocolate icing provided a light cocoa flavour.Image

Finally, because it was National Bagel Day, I just had to get a bagel – on a breakfast sandwich. The Bacon, Egg & Cheese Breakfast Sandwich could have been served on anything but was pictured on a bagel, so that was what I got. Instead of plain, though, I got an Everything Bagel. I loved all the sesame and poppy seeds, garlic, onion, and oats. They added a nice crunch and aroma. The bacon was crispy, the egg omelet very yellow but airy, and the cheese generic and nicely melted. It was a good sandwich for fast food standards.

ImageFor reliable, cheap, and quick breakfast, Dunkin’ Donuts is definitely one of the best options around. However, I still wish they had Tim Hortons here, just because it feels so much more home-y. 

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Famously Garlicky – Famous Kahuku Shrimp Truck

January 5, 2013
Famous Kahuku Shrimp Truck, Wahiawa HI
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Garlic Butter Shrimp
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ImageDespite the storm, we managed to find the Famous Kahuku Shrimp Truck. Coming from Philly, where food trucks are the most popular, I really love and appreciate an old, run-down truck serving up the best fast food around. The concierge at Ilikai told us specifically to go to this truck and not any others. After passing by a few, we finally found it, and boy was it ugly! The truck was old and had heavy graffiti. The tarp overhead at the dining area with picnic benches was also cheap and had definitely seen better days. There were so many customers, though, because the food was amazing.

We ordered the most traditional – the Garlic Butter Shrimp. For $11, you get ten large, fresh shrimp. It was pan-fried in a lot of aromatic and greasy garlic butter. The shrimp was so flavourful and tender inside. I was not a fan of the macaroni salad as it was kind of bland. It also came with some rice, the two sides very typical of Hawaiian cuisine. The shrimp alone were outstanding, though. A north shore classic, do not miss your chance to indulge in fresh shrimp!

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Home (Food) Sweet (& Spicy) Home (Food) – Koryo

ImageDecember 21, 2012
Koryo, Richmond BC
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Koryo Steak
Seafood Udon
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Finally back in Richmond, one of my first stops with Mom was unquestionably Richmond Centre. They now have finished the work on the new food court, called the Dining Terrace. It is a very modern looking, spacious, light, and casual space on the second level where the food court was. With a couple of new concepts and some of the old, Mom and I decided to stick with some comfort food in the form of Korean BBQ from Koryo.

Their special was the Koryo Steak. For under $10 after tax, we got a medium rare steak served with three sides since we asked for no rice. The steak was cooked great, a little on the medium side, but with a wonderful barbeque marinade flavour. The sauce slathered on top also added to the great flavour. It was one of the best steaks you can ask for from a food court. The sides we got were Garlic Potato, Kimchee, and Green Beans. The kimchee and green beans were quite generic and refreshing. The fried potatoes were so crispy on the outside and had a lovely sweet flavour.Image

The Seafood Udon was a disappointment. It was very expensive for just a bowl of noodles. The broth was light and good but there were just endless noodles with some broccoli, green beans, and bean sprouts. There was one measly slice of fish cake, one shrimp, and a few pieces of calamari. Clearly, more seafood was needed to justify the price.

All the prices in Richmond Centre seemed to me on the high side and Koryo was certainly no exception. Definitely go for the daily specials or you will be dishing out a lot from your wallet.

Koryo Korean Barbeque (Richmond Centre) on Urbanspoon

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It’s a Cookie Kinda Day – Quiznos

December 3, 2012
Quiznos, Philadelphia PA
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Chicken Carbonara Sub Sandwich
Meatball Sub Sandwich
Basil Pesto Chicken Grilled Flatbread
Oatmeal Raisin Cookie
Cinnamon Sugar Cookie
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I have wanted to compare Quiznos’ sandwiches to those from Subway for quite some time. They are a bit more expensive, with a small size (or a 6” or so sub) costing almost $5. They do have more creative varieties, especially with their chicken sandwiches. However, it would appear to me that they are seriously overpriced.

The Chicken Carbonara Sub Sandwich tasted decent. The chicken was tender and went well with the mozzarella cheese and parmesan alfredo sauce. The smoked bacon was crispy. I ordered this on a garlic focaccia roll. The garlic flavour was very light and not very obvious but aromatic all the same. The flavours blended well together but overall was quite mild.Image

The Meatball Sub Sandwich had much more of a punch when it comes to flavour, although that of marinara sauce is quite generic. The tangy tomato goodness went well with the mozzarella and three-cheese blend. I chose the rosemary parmesan roll for this sandwich, and as I predicted the herb and cheese flavours went well with the sandwich. The server did not ask me if I wanted any vegetables in my subs so they came without any other ingredients. For the Meatball, this ended up being really plain. Thankfully, I got some vegetables on the side.

ImageThe Basil Pesto Chicken Grilled Flatbread was actually quite good. This is something that Subway does not carry so I would go to Quiznos for it. The flatbread was chewy and had the nice, plain dough flavour. The chicken was tender and the lettuce crisp and refreshing. There was a lot of pesto sauce and the flavour was quite nice and strong. However, there was perhaps a tad too much olive oil in the pesto, making it drippy and getting oil all over my hand. It also made the flatbread very slick and sticky.

ImageIt was National Cookie Day but unfortunately, the Quiznos on campus did not offer the free cookie promotion most regular stores did. I still tried two though. The Oatmeal Raisin Cookie was extremely soft and chewy. The oats added a nice, rough texture and the raisins gave it the tart and sweetness. The cookie dough was also very sweet, just the way I like it.

ImageThe Cinnamon Sugar Cookie was even sweeter and thus even better. The cinnamon chips had a good, cinnamon spice taste. The cinnamon sugar added to the already very sweet cookie dough. It had a slight under-baked taste to it, ensuring it is soft and chewy throughout. Now only if it was warm.

For similar items, Subway is definitely the way to go. However, for unique items, you have no choice but to go to Quiznos and dish out a few extra bucks. At least the ingredients are all just as fresh. Just don’t forget to ask for your toppings!

Quiznos on Urbanspoon

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Royalty Fast Food – King’s Wok Chinese Food

ImageNovember 2, 2012
King’s Wok Chinese Food, Philadelphia PA
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General Tso’s Chicken
Eggplant Shrimp
Beef Chow Fun
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This was my first time at King’s Wok because it is quite far from where I normally venture. However, I decided to give it a try since i have heard decent reviews and see people walking from that area all the time with take-out containers. 

The General Tso’s Chicken was kind of odd. It had three huge pieces of slightly fried chicken. It was not white meat and it was not tender throughout either. The sauce was just a very light soy sauce with some other ingredients and chili sauce dabbed on top. The vegetables were also in huge pieces, especially the broccoli. It was definitely not authentic, if there is even a thing as authentic General Tso’s chicken Image

The Eggplant Shrimp was decent. I could have used more of the sweet and spicy garlic sauce, but it was flavorful. The eggplants were large enough that the inside was still soft and mushy after being fried. The shrimp were overcooked but it was frozen shrimp to begin with so i am not expecting anything more. At least there were linty of eggplant pieces and a decent amount of shrimp coated in garlic sauce. Image

The Beef Chow Fun was not that great. The portion was very generous, but the pieces of beef, while tender, were tough to chew through. Also, there was not that much beef to begin with. The flat and wide rice noodles kind of stuck together in plenty of places, but was not extremely overcooked, which I was glad about. They could have been more al dente but they were decent. More flavor would have been nice, though; it was just the slightest bit bland. More onions and bean sprouts would have added more crunch as well.

At least King’s Wok stir fry their dishes to order, which is more than I can say for a few of the Chinese food trucks on campus. However, i do not think the quality or price beats Yue Kee or Kim’s, though they do give a free can of soda for every order. Also, for me personally, the distance is just not worth it. 

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Seemingly Scallops – Le Anh

ImageSeptember 21, 2012
Le Anh, Philadelphia PA
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Scallop w/ Fresh Mushroom and Mixed Veggies
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Yet another Chinese food truck I have not tried was Le Anh. Apparently, both this and The Real Le Anh used to be owned by the same lady but this one was sold to her friend. This friend was also very friendly, with her smile and accented English, explaining to me they have different sauces that I can choose from if I preferred something not according to the menu. 

I got the Scallop w/ Fresh Mushroom and Mixed Veggies, which came with the garlic sauce that I wanted anyway. I still am not sure whether the scallops were fake, but they seemed like imitation crab meat except a bit coarser and thicker. The sheets of what I am guessing is some kind of tofu product were rolled together and cut into scallop shapes. They were tender and had a nice, slightly sweet flavor, though. I got fried rice and the lady was very accommodating with giving me less rice and more vegetables. The vegetables and mushrooms were steamed, as were the scallops. Then, garlic sauce was ladled onto everything. I would have preferred an actually stir fried dish, but it was not greasy and a rather flavorful and healthy lunch.

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