Food Nazis & Hot Pot @ Toyotomi 豐臣家

Toyotomi had opened for quite some time now -- I remember wanting to try it after reading Chowtime's post over a year ago.  I tried going back then, but it was absolutely packed and impossible to make a reservation without a few days notice.  The reason being that it was super cheap -- around $13 for AYCE hotpot (normally $19 at other places).  Somehow I had forgotten about this place until Doro found eatwithkirby's post.

The photos are bad quality, since I forgot my SD card at home. Ha. But the quality of the photos represent the meal quite well, I think.

When Doro called to make a reservation in the afternoon, no one picked up.  Surprisingly, they called back to check if she called.  That's pretty considerate.  But the other reason may have been because it was pretty quiet the whole night there.  It was very different from the Toyotomi a year ago. Wonder why.

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
The menu is fairly simple and doesn't have a lot of traditional Hong Kong hot pot foods, such as fish and beef balls or tripe and all that.  Instead, they actually provide an option of doing just hot pot for $13.99, with optional items for $6.  I feel like they tried to make seem like your normal hot pot experience would be only $13.99, with sashimi at an optional $6.  No.  At the very bottom of the menu, you will see that the normal hot pot "snow" beef is not included in the $13.99, but rather, you have to add $6.  Fair enough, hot pot at any other place is $19 anyways, so basically you're getting the option of sashimi as well. Or so we thought.

There is a sign stating that for any food wasted, they will charge $1.  Posh has a similar rule for their beef and pork, but they donate the funds to the food bank.  I don't really know how they measure what's $1's worth here.  Also, Posh doesn't threaten to check inside the pot and under the tables in Chinglish.

We ordered some appetizers while waiting for Bo: chicken nuggets, deep fried fish balls, and... chili fries.  Unimpressed much? We totally did not expect the fries to be like this -- they were pretty much of the frozen variety with some shichimi powder.  Are you kidding me? If anybody likes this stuff, let me know and I'll open a night market stand next year. The chicken nuggets were kind of like cardboard and tasteless.  Fish balls were okay but oily.

From the $6 options, we ordered the "crispy wings" (according to the menu) which were not crispy and rather oily and boring.  The frozen pineapples were really frozen.  Kind of felt like we were chewing ice cubes except they weren't crunchy.

For sashimi, we had:
 - salmon (which was a little slimy but bearable)
 - spicy salmon (which I don't like. They said it was better than the normal one.)
 - ika - cuttlefish (slimy)
 - saba - mackerel (very fishy)
 - tai - red snapper (usually my fave, but quite fishy here and weird texture)
 - tako - octopus (alright, a bit tough)
I was thinking, fine, AYCE sushi is pretty horrible anyways and I never eat it.  Surely they can't mess up hot pot.

The beef sashimi was actually one of the better things, though we were expecting more of a tataki that was lightly grilled on the outside before cutting.  This seemed to be entirely rare instead, but still alright.

For the soup base, we ordered two ($8.36): the Japanese chili and beef bone soup.  I wasn't a fan of the chili, but Doro liked it.  I really liked the beef bone soup since it was really rich compared to the other soup bases at HK hot pot restaurants.  Although there was a bone inside, I kind of felt like most of the flavour came from MSG.

If you went with the $13.99 hot pot only option, you would've been able to choose only the fatty beef (on the bottom).  That's some serious fat, but it was not bad.  My arteries probably hated me for eating that, but not as much as when I had the pork (on top).  It kind of looked like bacon, but was much more horrible and not as delicious.  The only good meat was the "snowy beef" (right) which you had to add $6 for.  I was pretty satisfied with it.

There were also some other meats, such as sirloin (bottom) and "thousand layer" beef (top) for the $6 option.  They were both alright, but the snowy beef was the best.

We also ordered a lot of veggies, though there wasn't any tong ho (garland chrystanthemum).  Wintermelon and napa were pretty standard and good.  The konnyaku bundles (you know how I love them), were not that good and much thicker than normal -- I didn't like it at all.  One of the cabbages and watercress were kind of yellowing.  The taro (which was not pre-fried) was hard, and it felt like they gave us the rind parts.  The oyster mushrooms were also really brown.

This is where I have to vent a bit: we tried to leave the taro and cabbage since they were pretty horrible.  THEY WOULDN'T TAKE IT and pretty much threatened to charge us for them. You know how people return horrible dishes back to the kitchen? This was the first time the kitchen returned horrible food back to me.  Food nazis.

Still hungry, we ordered more food: salmon sashimi this time kind of felt like salmon belly instead.  Bo got his pig intestine, which he loves normally, but absolutely hated here.  I won't quote him since it was not very PG-friendly, how he described the pig intestine.

We also ordered ONE piece of beef sashimi.  Right.

Another picture of fat and disgusting-ness
Anyways, it was a really bad dining experience that was only made a bit better by funny/crazy friends who are as bitter as me.  We went to Bubble Queen after since we all died of having too much MSG, so that was happy.

Just don't go. Not going to summarize, either read the post or trust me.  I actually wrote this post the night after coming back so I remember what to vent about. (I scheduled this post after Christmas because I don't want to be a Grinch.)  Wow, I can't believe I was so angry.

Toyotomi 豐臣家
110 - 8111 Anderson Road
Richmond, BC
(778) 297-6186
Toyotomi 豐臣家 on Urbanspoon


Clay Pots & Soup @ The One Spot Soup House (湯.com)

Clay pot rice is one of my favourite Hong Kong style comfort foods.  Essentially it's just rice and toppings cooked in a personal size clay pot.  Besides the fact that the rice is flavoured from the toppings, cooking each individual portion in a clay pot results in a layer of crunchy and crispy rice at the bottom.  Locally, I didn't know many places that specialized in clay pot rice, just James' Snack.  It wasn't until Kevin invited me to dinner that night that I knew The One Spot Soup House even existed. 

The store is very small, fitting less than 20 people.  Although it was a Wednesday, the place was full at dinner time.  Also, just throwing this out there, but I have no idea why the Chinese name is 湯.com.  I typed "湯.com" into the search bar and got to some Japanese site.  Just sayin'.

Every clay pot rice comes with a little snack and soup to entertain you from the long wait.  I don't really know what the soup was, but it wasn't that great.  (I think it may have been lotus root soup.) They offer a lot of soups that are double-boiled -- most of them are $4.95 to $5.95 which really isn't that expensive considering double-boiled soups at Chinese restaurants are pretty expensive.

The pork rib topping ($6.50) was quite popular.  I'm not sure what sauce they ordered it with (there's the option of black bean, garlic, or satay) since I didn't get to try it, but I'm thinking it was the garlic.

My pork jowl with sausage ($7.50) was pretty good.  This one is more expensive because sausage is $1 extra.  The sausage was super salty even though it was so thinly sliced.  It was good with rice though.  I liked the pork jowl since it was quite tender.

On another visit, we got the sliced beef with egg ($6.95).  The beef here was actually not that overly tenderized using baking soda -- just a bit.  Still, I didn't really like it so much because of that.  I'm not a fan of hardboiled eggs, which this is not, but the yolk was not runny so it was just alright for me -- not amazing.

Being a bit curious, we also got the oyster and Japanese style sauce ($7.25), which was really just a lot of oysters and canned (and overly salty) mushroom slices on clay pot rice topped with mayo.  At first it was not bad, but as the rice cooled down, the oysters got more and more fishy and the texture got really crumbly.

By the end I didn't want to eat the oysters anymore, so I just finished the rice.

That's one of the downsides of having clay pot rice; if it's done correctly, you have to be patience.  But patience is also rewarded with fan jiu (which sounds like "thank you") which is rice that has hardened when touching the clay pot.

I actually like it a lot despite the bad experience with the oyster rice.  I would probably stick with more conservative things such as pork though.  I am also dying to try their double-boiled soups!

The One Spot Soup House (湯.com)
5857 Victoria Drive
Vancouver, BC
(604) 568-7773
The One Spot Soup House (湯.com) on Urbanspoon


Gristle & Steak @ Flo Tea Room

Since we wanted something quick and kind of felt like Taiwanese food, we went to Flo Teahouse in Richmond.  Well, that was kind of a mistake.  I had always thought it was a Taiwanese restaurant like Pearl Castle since when I passed by the older one on Cambie street, the font and styling gave it a Taiwanese vibe.  Plus it said 時尚食品, which I thought kind of implied Taiwanese cuisine.
To me, cute-ish fonts and weird words AND bubble tea implies Taiwanese food, I think?

Rather than having just Taiwanese cuisine (which they indeed did have), they had cha chaan teng food, such as those mix-and-match combos, Szechuan food, and individual dishes of veggies and meat to be shared.  I was super confused because there were way too many choices.  It really reminded me of that episode of Happy Endings where Dave thought of creating his own super-restaurant called Pangea where it would have every single cuisine in the world.  I kind of felt that way at Flo.


Sadness & XLB @ Shanghai Ting 上海亭美食

I've been a bit of XLB craze lately.  After going to Shanghai Wonderful and Dinesty, I still want more (and as I'm writing this post, I really wouldn't mind more right now either).  After raves by krispymilk about Shanghai Ting, which is a food court stall at Empire Centre food court, I decided I could just have a steamer full of XLB all to myself.

If you look at the very top right of the store sign, they have this teppanyaki thing with unknown meat,
macaroni, and egg.  I don't think they actually sell this.


Macarons & More @ Thierry Chocolaterie Patisserie Cafe

Thierry Chocolaterie Patisserie Cafe, which is operated by Top Table Group (CinCin, Blue Water Cafe, West, Araxi), is well-known for it's chocolates and macarons, as well as its pastries and desserts.  I love the doors, and it's a really good place to just relax and chat with friends over coffee (or tea for me) and wine.  

I've actually been a bit lazy and delaying this post, though it really shouldn't be delayed since it's pretty good.  It wasn't until making macarons at home that my appreciation for a well-made macaron has increased tenfold. But I visited it a few times, so there will be more material in this post! After dinner at Aki with Amy, Diana, and Gloria, we went to Thierry Patisserie since it was pretty close by.  


Sea Snails & Saba @ Sushi Hachi 鮨八

After some initial planning to meet up with both krispymilk and eatingwithkirby, we found out we all lived in Richmond! Yay for Richmond bloggers! I kinda figured since they have quite a few posts on Richmond, and they knew Richmond pretty well.  Since exams were approaching, we opted to meet somewhere in Richmond.  Sushi Hachi has been on both my own and krispymilk's wishlist for a while.

The restaurant looked pretty empty, but it was early and every table had a reserved sign.
 Operated by an older couple, it seems to be pretty hard to get a table since they are only open Tuesday to Saturday for dinner from 6 to 9pm.  That's only 15 hours per week! We guessed it had to be pretty good to stay in business for so long.


Fridays & Steak @ Eh! Restaurant

Since our wallets were not very pleased with us after buying our Feist tickets, I took Kem to Eh! Restaurant since I had a group buy coupon for $20 worth of food.  Besides that, they have Friday Steak Nights, where steak is only $10.95!

The restaurant is actually supposed to be apart of , which is located on Alberni Street, right next to Coast.  It's pretty unnoticeable if you don't look out for it.


Love & Butter @ Footo Delights

A while back, Brenda from Footo Delights graciously invited me to try their croissants.  It took me a while to get around to it because of projects and exams, but I finally brought Mel with me for a visit.  Located right near the Vancouver Library, Footo Delights (which stands for "fresh out of the oven") is a small shop specializing in croissants -- well, made fresh out of the oven.

When we stepped in, we were welcomed by a strong buttery smell and it was quite warm inside from all the baking being done.

They make the croissants in small batches to ensure that they are fresh while waiting for the customer. The kitchen is in an open area so you can see everything being made from scratch.

When we arrived, there was a batch in the oven, waiting to come out.  Since it was just a 10 minute wait, we just chatted over a bit of dark hot chocolate ($2.75)It wasn't too sweet like I requested and it was made from chocolate bits, rather than syrup, so there was a bit of a wait.  Microfoam wise, it was not bad, better than the matcha latte I had earlier in the day.

Mel insisted I take a picture of all of them together.

We actually tried the plain croissant ($2.25) last, but I thought it'd be good to talk about this first.  This was actually Mel's favourite after trying all three of them, since she preferred it to be savoury.  Being footo (ha, see what I did there), it was actually really hot, but definitely better than having ones that have sat for a bit.  The outside was very delicate and crispy with its light glaze.  The inside was really soft.  It wasn't super heavy on the butter, but I could still taste it quite well.

The chocolate croissant ($3.25) had chocolate wrapped inside the layers before baking, rather than being filled with it afterwards.  It wasn't too heavy on chocolate, but rather quite subtle.  Kind of depends on how you like your desserts, but I'm not a fan of biting into chocolate or cream-filled pastries (except che lun bing) since it usually results in a lot of unexpected sweetness.  I thought this could have a tad more chocolate though.  The chocolate on the outside was melted only because we couldn't wait for it to cool before trying!

The other one we tried was the chocolate hazelnut croissant ($3.25).  I felt this one had a bit more filling than the chocolate one.  Chocolate and hazelnut is a good combination with everything, and this was no exception.  It kind of reminded me of Nutella / Ferrero Rocher.

We were quite full after the three croissants and a brunch earlier that day, but Brenda brought out an experimental flavour for us to try: blueberry poppy seed with lavender on top.  Since she's still experimenting and trying out what works best with the croissant, it'll probably be improved.  It was quite interesting and less traditional than the chocolate varieties.  The lavender on top was quite subtle and we had a hard time guessing what it was initially since it was toasted!

If you didn't realize yet, all the croissants I tried were complimentary.  Still, the croissants were already in the oven, which meant that they were pretty much the standard ones.  I don't think that there can be that much variation to those that you can normally buy.

This was actually my first time having croissant at such a specialized shop! (I don't know why, I don't usually order croissants much.) I can't even compare this to the supermarket or Tim Horton's stuff.  Price-wise it is more expensive, but these ones are made with love and good ingredients.  I probably wouldn't frequent this place much, but I would head back for an occasional treat.  I do suggest tweeting or calling to see when croissants will be coming out that day since it seems fresh ones are the most delicious.

Footo Delights
820 Homer Street
Vancouver, BC
(604) 568-6500
Footo Delights on Urbanspoon


Winter & Boiling Foods @ Clay Pot Hot Pot

One of my favourite hot pot restaurants a while back was 沙 or Claypot Hot Pot.  I know, before that it wasn't the cleanest place on earth (cleaner than HKYK though), but the beef was good and you actually got what you ordered.  I was a bit distraught when they were sold off to another owner, since it wasn't up to standards then.

After that I didn't return until recently.  It had undergone a renovation and looked much better than before with its apple green walls.  The tables are new and fancy now and made out of granite.  The same stoves are still used though, which I prefer over those flat electric stoves.  There is something about the huge flame underneath the pot that makes the experience more enjoyable.


White Chocolate & Earl Grey @ Berry Good

After a long day's worth of work (not really), we wanted either bubble tea or dessert. Since it's now winter and we didn't want to drive out of Richmond, we went to Berry Good, which is in the same mall as Top Gun on McKim Way.

Berry Good is really small and cute, about the size of Sweet Revenge, if not smaller. We went there at around 9pm on a Saturday and there were already a few tables there, but with room to spare.  By 9:30pm or so, it was full and there was a wait.


Rice Cakes & XLB @ Dinesty Chinese Restaurant 聚

Dorothy wanted some dim sum, and I thought she meant Hong Kong style dim sum initially. But wait, she's Shanghainese so I guess it was natural for her to allude "dim sum" to Shanghainese dim sum. Anyways, since the last time at Shanghai Wonderful didn't satisfy my xlb craving, we went to Dinesty.

I hadn't been to Dinesty for quite some time now, even though I really want to go there for dinner a lot of times. However, everytime we pass by it's quite packed and I don't want to bother with long waits. This time we made a reservation for lunch.


Unagi & Seafood Rice @ Aoyama Cafe

It has been a long while since my last dinner at Aoyama and since we wanted to go to Daiso, we went there for dinner. In my last post, I mentioned that they had a dinner special for $14.95, which included a selection of entrée, a salad, and a tea/coffee. Now, it changed to $15.95! We still ended up getting this in the end though. Since it was a Wednesday, the selection of entree was from the baked rice casserole section.

The salad that came with the deal was alright. The dressing was the Japanese vinegarette type, which I liked, but the weird mix of iceberg lettuce and other greens wasn't that fresh. There was some browning on the edges of the lettuce, and I found it a bit weird that it came with a slice of pineapple.