Mouthful of Sunshine

Satisfaction in every bite

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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Japanese Temptations – Tampopo

June 2, 2013
Tampopo, Philadelphia PA
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Fresh Crunch Roll
Vegetable Bowl w/ Chicken Breast
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ImageI have heard of Tampopo, a casual Japanese restaurant a few blocks off campus, since last year but not until recently did I go with a group of friends from dance after a weekend lesson. I liked it so much that I went back for dinner that night as well.

The Fresh Crunch Roll is one of their special rolls for the summer. Inside the cucumber-wrapped rice were ebi, unagi, and avocado. It was certainly a sweet and crunchy mix that was very much to my liking. The thick cucumber was a much better wrap than the regular nori, making it very fresh, just like summer. The sweet unagi paired well with the creamy avocado and the ebi added a chewier texture.Image

That evening, I went back for the Vegetable Bowl w/ Chicken Breast. It was a total of seventeen vegetables – bean sprouts, broccoli florets, broccoli stems, carrots, red peppers, green peppers, celery, mushrooms, snow peas, bok choy, and a couple others that I cannot recall – with a sweet teriyaki-soy sauce over brown rice. The chicken breast was sliced and a little tough and dry. It was lightly seared and tasted okay only when I soaked it in the sauce. Still, it was such a satisfying meal.

Tampopo on Urbanspoon

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Locally Creative – Local 215

May 23, 2013
Local 215, Philadelphia PA
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Pork Fritters
Duck Buns
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ImageLocal 215 is one of the few food trucks using local products and making gourmet meals out of a truck. Their brown truck may not seem as pretty but their food cannot be found elsewhere in University City. However, the taste to me does not justify their higher prices. It was not bad by any means, just not as outstanding as I had expected.

The Pork Fritters were fried to the perfect crispy texture on the outside. Inside were, besides shredded pork, pistachios and capers. The fritters did not have any pronounced flavour. I did like the hoisin sriracha dipping sauce that had a touch of sweetness but was very flavourful with a small kick.Image

The famous Duck Buns were decent, with juicy, tender pieces of duck. Sandwiched in between the pita-like flatbreads were pickled veggies, cucumber, and a sesame chili aioli. The aioli lacked a little flavour and the buns overall were a little greasy. They were also messy to eat and got soggy quickly.

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Happy Mother’s Day – 九记-No. 9 Restaurant

May 12, 2013
九记 – No. 9 Restaurant, Richmond BC
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干煸四季豆 (Minced Pork & Green Bean in Chili Sauce)
豉椒牛肉饭 (Beef w/ Black Bean Sauce on Steamed Rice)
柠檬虾球 (Lemon Prawns)
鱼香茄子 (Minced Pork w/ Eggplant)
宫保鸡丁 (Diced Chicken & Cashews Marinated w/ Chili Peppers)
干炒牛河 (Soy Beef Rice Noodle (Dry))
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ImageGrandma liked 九记 (No. 9 Restaurant) during her last lunch there so we went there for Mother’s Day. It was one of the few restaurants that did not have a wait. It has been there for as long as I can remember, way back when there were only a few Chinese restaurants in Richmond. We did not like it back then. Now, it’s just place for a quick meal and family gathering.

We started with the 干煸四季豆 (Minced Pork & Green Bean in Chili Sauce) which was actually pretty decent. Deep fried green beans are just something you can’t do at home. The minced pork had quite a good, spicy and savoury flavour.

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The 豉椒牛肉饭 (Beef w/ Black Bean Sauce on Steamed Rice) was very generic but perhaps that’s why it was quite satisfying. The beef was tender and the black bean sauce thick and covering the rice. The peppers and onions were still crisp.Image

The 柠檬虾球 (Lemon Prawns) were not my favourite. The shrimp was still tender but the batter had no flavour. The lemon sauce was very sweet and made it kind of weird. It was like eating dessert with an entree.Image

The 鱼香茄子 (Minced Pork w/ Eggplant) was not as good as the previous time, according to my mother. It was not cooked long enough so while the eggplant were tender, the flavour did not penetrate the thick, long pieces. The sauce was good but it was just lacking some more time in the wok.Image

The 宫保鸡丁 (Diced Chicken & Cashews Marinated w/ Chili Peppers) was not authentic at all. There was a lot of cashews, though, despite somewhat lacking chicken. At least they did not just put in a bunch of peanuts. It needed more of a kick from the chili peppers.Image

The 干炒牛河 (Soy Beef Rice Noodle (Dry)) was actually more like a beef dish with accompanying rice noodles. It had a decent soy sauce flavour and the beef was plenty and flavourful. It was such a large portion that it did justify the price.

Overall, the portions were all humongous. The food is by no means fine dining quality, but for a casual restaurant serving up comfort food, it was decent enough!

No.9 Restaurant 九記 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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Red Eggplants and Chicken – Lovash Indian Cuisine

April 29, 2013
Lovash Indian Cuisine, Philadelphia PA
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Chicken Tikka
Bengan Bhurta
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ImageLovash Indian Cuisine is another one of those food trucks that I was aware of since I first got to campus but never got around to trying. They are the only Indian food truck left so I was excited to see what they have to offer. While they are priced slightly above the Chinese options, I do enjoy having the different flavours.

The Chicken Tikka was freshly cooked on the grill with yogurt-marinated chicken and assorted vegetables. The chicken had spices on the outside but the inside was a little dry and bland. The vegetables were nice but I found them a little greasy from the grill. At least there was celery to celebrate National Celery Month! I think a sauce would have been better so maybe the tikka masala next time would be better.Image

Being a fan of eggplant, I had to try the Bengan Bhurta. Unfortunately, it came out of a warmer tin rather than being made to order. The eggplant was half mashed and the sauce it came in was quite good with a light, creamy tomato flavour but still some spices mixed in. It went well with the rice.

Apparently, the menu gets changed once in a while so it will be nice to try some other dishes. Indian food is just another one of those that I crave every once in a while and the only food truck specializing in it is Lovash. 

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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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Fairly Satisfying – Pure Fare

April 16, 2013
Pure Fare, Philadelphia PA
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Grilled Veg & Provolone Sandwich
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ImageI was in near the Rittenhouse Square area and happened to pass by Pure Fare. Not a vegan or a vegetarian, I do appreciate healthy, high quality foods, so naturally (pun not intended), I went in and took a look.

ImageMy Grilled Veg & Provolone Sandwich, which had teff bread, was actually quite decent. I loved the roasted peppers, Portobello mushrooms, and broccolini. It was National Mushroom Day so what’s better than some juicy, chewy portobellos? The provolone cheese had a nice, mild flavour. What I really liked was their own roasted pepper spread. It was slightly tangy and creamy, pairing well with the gluten-free bread and vegetables. I got my sandwich half off because it was day-old; otherwise, their foods are not exactly cheap but the quality is certainly good.

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Special Seitan – Just Jackie’s Food Truck

April 5, 2013
Just Jackie’s Food Truck, Philadelphia PA
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Maple Glazed Seitan Sandwich
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ImageI made it just in time to catch Just Jackie’s Food Truck at The Porch at 30th Street Station. It was such a beautiful day to try out this new food truck.

The Maple Glazed Seitan Sandwich, at $7, was pretty good. I loved the sweet but not overwhelming maple glaze on the chopped seitan. The seitan was really hard to chew, though, and got caught in my teeth – a lot. I loved the sweet sauteed kale, peppers, and mushroom the most, especially the kale! However, I found there to be too much of the vegan horseradish mayo. It was a little too creamy and spicy, and some bites took over the rest of the ingredients. The bun was fresh and chewy, which was good. Overall, I liked the uniqueness of the sandwich, something you rarely find on a food truck. 

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Nibbling on the Train – Au Bon Pain

March 29, 2013
Au Bon Pain, Philadelphia PA
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Garden Veggie Breakfast Sandwich
Chocolate Trio Cake
Golden Raisin & Crème Torsade
White Chocolate Macadamia Cookie
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ImageBefore heading to New York via Amtrak, our group met up outside Au Bon Pain so I stepped in to grab some food for my first train ride on Amtrak.

Their new Garden Veggie Breakfast Sandwich was actually quite good. The ciabatta could use a crispier exterior but was otherwise warm and chewy. I really enjoyed the sweetness of the caramelized onions with the roasted red and yellow bell peppers. The cheddar cheese faded into the background but the eggs were nice and still tender. The veggies made it good.Image

Also new was their Chocolate Trio Cake, a mini chocolate Bundt cake filled with chocolate chips and topped with lots of walnuts. The walnuts added a nice crunch and nutty richness to the otherwise sweet and chocolaty dessert. It was dense and moist, especially with all the chocolate chips. The chocolate drizzle on top did not stand out but the other flavours were more than decent.Image

The Golden Raisin & Crème Torsade was okay. The pastry was not too flaky, which appealed more to me. There could have been more raisins and crème as both were lacking so the pastry was not exactly very flavourful. I did like the sticky glaze on the outside but it made my fingers sticky.Image

Finally, the White Chocolate Macadamia Cookie was also just okay. I prefer my cookies to be ooey gooey. This one was barely soft enough in the center and the edges were too hard and crunchy. At least I still enjoyed the white chocolate and macadamia nuts.Image

Au Bon Pain can be quite pricey but their products are at least very fresh. It is sad that we no longer have one on campus, just when I was really looking forward to eating their food everyday. Thankfully, 30th Street Station is not too far away. 

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