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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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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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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Out of the Water and Onto the Plate – 築地すし鮮 (Tsukiji Sushi Sen)

March 8, 2013
築地すし鮮 (Tsukiji Sushi Sen), Chūō, Tokyo, Japan
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とろろ茶碗蒸し {Chawanmushi}
イタキャタピラオーバーロール {Caterpillar Roll}
海鮮たっぷり丼 {Seafood Don}
玉子 {Tamago Sushi}
[Miso Soup]
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ImageAfter our incredibly cool visit to the Tsukiji Fish Market and looking at the variety of fresh catch of the day, we were craving to try some of the freshest seafood for ourselves. The samples we tried were so good that we could not pass up this opportunity for another amazing sushi lunch. Thus, we found the Tsukiji Sushi Sen and decided to step in.

We started off with complimentary とろろ茶碗蒸し {Chawanmushi}. The egg custard was so soft and delicate. I loved the shiitake mushrooms inside this traditional appetizer!Image

Casey opted for a very cute イタキャタピラオーバーロール {Caterpillar Roll}. The fish roe eyes just stared up at us. The seafood was very fresh and the avocado creamy. The salmon was really good and so was the rice. However, there was nothing amazing flavour-wise. The mayonnaise did not do much to elevate it. Image

I ordered the 海鮮たっぷり丼 {Seafood Don} with various pieces of fresh sashimi. The fish was incredibly fresh and of top quality. From left to right, I had (I think): octopus, halfbeak, pink snapper, salmon, squid, bluefin tuna, scallop, and medium fatty tuna. The bluefin tuna was especially tasty. The octopus (tako) and squid (ika) were so chewy and hard to eat. They were also very fishy. The other assortment were all decent and paired nicely with the bowl of tasty sushi rice. Image

Another friend ordered many pieces of 玉子 {Tamago Sushi}. The sweet egg was so fluffy and airy but firm enough. I love these sweet egg omelettes. These were particularly chewy over delicious vinegary rice. 

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The [Miso Soup] was very good as well since it was made from fish bones. I love a rich bowl of miso soup, not greasy and very refreshing and flavourful. This was such a great lunch and on this super warm and sunny day, our moods were all lightened and it was just delightful to be able to spend the final day in Japan this way. 

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Simple Yet Sophisticated Sushi – 鮨善

March 6, 2013
鮨善, Minato, Tokyo, Japan
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並すし {Average Sushi Set}
ちらし {Chirashi}
{Miso Soup}
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ImageI had been waiting ever since we got to Japan for some legit sushi. I mean, who goes to Japan without eating the best sushi ever? So, we all went as a group to 鮨善 in Minato. I loved the cushion seats and the whole feel of the restaurant. It was small but meticulous, with colorful photo depictions of all the different types on the walls in both Japanese and English.

I ordered a large (1.5 size) 並すし {Average Sushi Set} for 1580 yen. From the top left, going clockwise: tekkamaki (tuna roll), hirame (flounder), sayori (halfbeak), ebi (prawn), tamago (egg), maguro (tuna), hamachi (yellowtail), another maguro, iwashi (sardine), tako (octopus), and saba (mackerel). I like how the wasabi is already put in between the fish and the rice, and it was particularly strong and fresh. The rice was very chewy, a little underdone, the way I like it. The sweet and vinegar tastes were great. My favourites were the tamago and the tuna. The tako (octopus) was really hard to chew and some of the other fish were very fishy, especially the sardine, which I did not enjoy as much. The ebi was okay and I am not a sushi connoisseur to be able to comment on the hirami, sayori, hamachi, and saba.Image

The ちらし {Chirashi} was also an array of fish, some of which are the same as the lunch set. This had a lot of rice underneath so you can eat sashimi and rice in the ratio of your own choosing. I really enjoyed the pickled, yellow daikon and cucumbers in this one, as well as the side of what I believe is some mix of plum and seaweed. Actually, I’m not really sure, but it was salty and good!Image

Finally, they served everyone a bowl of miso soup that was made with fish bones. The broth was really savory and delicious, pairing with the sushi very nicely. Overall, this lunch was very satisfying for all of us!

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Rah Rah Ramen! 一蘭-Ichiran

March 4, 2013
一蘭 (Ichiran), Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan
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ラーメン (Ramen)
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ImageOur lovely leader showing us around Tokyo really wanted to take us to his favourite ramen place when we had some free time in Shibuya. Also, it was just perfect as March was National Noodle Month. Finally, some legit noodles! It was so busy, people bustling everywhere and just generally crowded. It was a must-try – ramen – when you go to Japan, obviously, so my friends and I decided to follow our leader and try a bowl for ourselves at 一蘭 (Ichiran).

Their type of ramen – they only offer one type – is simply called ラーメン (Ramen). It is a tonkotsu (pork-based soup) ramen with a secret sauce and some chilli paste to give it a spicy flavour. We got a ticket from the machine, put our money in, and then filled out a form to customize our ramen. I opted for ‘strong’ flavor, ‘light’ richness’, regular garlic, thin green onion, sliced pork, regular secret sauce, and medium noodle texture. Image

The noodles were thin, al dente, and really tasty. The spicy broth was rich and extremely flavourful. I could have used more spicy flavour, though. The pork was tender and thin and overall, I was extremely pleased. The green onions made it refreshing and I just could not stop drinking that soup! It was just so, so, SO good. The tonkotsu broth really made it just absolutely wonderful. This was literally the best ramen I have ever had, although that does not surprise me one bit.

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