Le Parisien

Every story starts with a reservation.

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Hello Dine Out Vancouver 2014! For my first Dine Out meal this year, I took my mom out for her birthday dinner. To be honest, I’m kind of in a foodie rut. 1. I’ve lost my camera (well, technically my mom lost my camera- in Vegas too, of all places. She’s rowdy that way) and 2. Everything tastes the same to me these days! So sad to say. But anyway, I asked my mom where she’d like to have dinner on her birthday and she just said she wanted French food. One of my friends recommended Le Parisien. Okay, that’s where we’re going.

Le Parisien is a little casual French bistro on Denman at Robson. It’s neatly tucked away on the corner of a block, across the street from Kintaro and co. I’ve never noticed it before.

We were seated immediately for our reservation. I guess it pays to be on time. Apparently, there was a $38 menu as well (on the back side) which we completely missed. Oops.

The restaurant was quite cozy. I wouldn’t say it could really seat more than 40 at a time. My tlog class has me calculating their gross potential revenue in the back of my mind. The ambiance is nice, but not superb. What really was superb was the very French maître d’ who was so lovely. Le Parisien had amazing service for sure.

We were brought Complimentary Bread. I hate complimentary bread. It’s always so average. Like what are we, poor? No. Complimentary bread is never good. It’s always stale and disgusting. Even at Gotham. Maybe that’s just me. Oh except at Olive Garden. I could eat buckets of those breadsticks.

To start, we tried the Butternut Squash Soup, Crème Fraîche. The soup was a lot nicer than I imagined. I’m kinda over butternut squash. It seems to be on every menu and it’s literally the easiest thing to make. If even I can make it, then you probably shouldn’t order it. But this one was very flavourful. Unfortunately after I had some of the other appetizer, the flavours of the soup were diluted.

The other appetizer we ordered was the Crispy Calamari, Saffron Aioli, Oven Dried Tomatoes. This was some super crispy calamari. The flavouring was great on this. I actually dislike really garlicy calamari. They did a great job deep frying this because these were some ultra crispy squid! The saffron aioli was nice as well. We used the entire dip. However neither appetizer really blew us away. Later, I find out that the appetizers were actually the highlight of my meal.

My mom had the Duck Confit, Braised Duck leg, Pommes Puree, Brussels Sprout Leaves, Orange Jus for her entree. She enjoyed her dinner but there wasn’t much else to say about it. The Brussels sprouts and mashed potatoes were particularly good though.

I had the Grilled Flank Steak Frites, Cognac Peppercorn Sauce. I wanted the duck as well but to try more of the Dine Out menu, we strategized our orders to maximize variety. This was probably the worst steak I’ve had in a long time. It was tough and just blah. The frites were so crispy though- just like I had always imagined real French fries to taste. The kitchen forgot to serve me a dip for my frites though. I had to ask for mayo. It’s okay, it was a busy night.

By the time we got to dessert, I was so over this restaurant. My mom had the Red Wine Poached Pear, Lady Fingers which was really interesting to try. I’ve never had anything like that before! I would not have been able to finish the entire pear myself though.

Neither of the other two desserts appealed to me so I just went with classic Crème Brulée which I thought they could not screw up. Wrong! I got a freezing creme brûlée which totally sucked but whatever. At this point I just couldn’t wait to pay a ridiculously large bill relative to the quality of food we received and get the heck out of there.

Le Parisien wasn’t a bad restaurant by any means but I just won’t be back there. Sorry mom, we should have chosen a better restaurant! The service was excellent and I’m sure it caters to a certain group of folk that I just don’t belong in. Do give it a try if you’re looking for casual French cuisine I guess. Or don’t. If Urbanspoon had a “meh” rating, that is what I would give Le Parisien. But it doesn’t so I’m giving it a “dislike”.

Thanks for eating with me!

Le Parisien on Urbanspoon

Hitoe Sushi

Do people still even read this blog? I know it’s been ages since I’ve written last. A friend had just let me know that Chowtimes has me listed as a retired blog. Darn. Well, here’s a post for you. Today was one of those days in Vancouver- the kind that Alex Edler claims he waits all year for:

It does rain quite a bit, but you forget about that because the sunny days are so good.

It was far too nice out to stick around on campus and lock myself in The Dudgeon at Koerner library. Nicole and I hit up Urbanspoon with sushi in mind and read about this little gem in Kits. Not very far off from campus, Hitoe was a short bus ride away.

Hitoe is a little nondescript hidden family restaurant along W 4th. It’s between Waterloo and Blenheim and pretty easy to miss. Nicole and I almost walked right past it since it doesn’t actually have its name marked on the building.

We were seated immediately by a very friendly Japanese server. I love how sweet Japanese people are. I don’t mean to be racist or make generalizations but I know you know what I’m talking about. It wasn’t busy, with two other parties seated when we entered but it was also 3 in the afternoon. I noticed a name list board on the wall by the door so I assume it does get busy at times.

And why wouldn’t it get busy? With less than 10 tables and a very extensive menu of mostly sushi and sashimi at mostly reasonable prices, I can imagine that this place is quite popular in the neighbourhood. The menu cover was gorgeous but the menu itself was a little hard to decipher. It was kind of all over the place but that attribute only adds to the family business vibe of the place. The decorations gave it a very homey feel. It was nice!

 

Nicole’s lunch special included a Miso Soup, which had tofu, seaweed and green onions. She didn’t comment on it but she did mention that her favourite miso soup is from Suika. If that helps anyone.

Nicole ordered off the lunch special menu and had the Negitoro and Unagi don Combo ($15.95), Chopped tuna toro with green onion and unagi on rice with miso soup. She said it was “good!”. I sent her the -_- emoji.

I had the Sushi combo C ($15.95), Tuna toro 1pc, salmon toro 1pc, Hamachi 1pc, unagi 1pc, tamago 1pc, sockeye 1pc, tuna roll 6pc, salmon roll 6pc. I was impressed by the presentation of both our meals. Their extra efforts put into presentation did not go unnoticed. I mean, I don’t really have to explain because the photo shows it: extremely fresh sashimi.

I think my favourite pieces were the hamachi and salmon toro. The unagi was also good, which I always find hard to swallow because I hate the idea of eating eel (yet every time I eat it and I like it. I’m stubborn that way). The hamachi melted more than the tuna toro did, despite it looking so beautiful in the photo above. The tamago wasn’t the best though. I liked that the rice in every piece was a little sweet. Oh, the only thing was that I think the last sockeye piece was farmed fish which I always have a problem with.

I didn’t realize this until after my meal but the wasabi served was freshly grated. It was really good! Unfortunately I had already finished my meal so instead, I made a smiley with it.

Both Nicole and I concluded that we would return.

Thanks for eating with me!

Hitoe Sushi on Urbanspoon

Recipe: Pecan Pie

It’s that time of the year again. School is in full swing, hockey is back, and the holidays are right around the corner. I love the busyness of the autumn months. Here in Canada, Thanksgiving is coming up in less than two weeks’ time. Although it’s just my mom and I at our home, I still take the holidays very seriously. Despite school and work being so busy, as a Canadian, it’s simply against my values to miss a hockey game. With the NHL back and the Canucks’ season opener tonight, I decided to take a night off and relax. One of my favourite things to do is cook in between periods. It does get a little messy, but I promise it’s better than listening to Don Cherry yap on and on about God knows what. Tonight I decided to do a trial run of the pecan pie recipe I’m using for Thanksgiving dinner.

Nothing beats a good pecan pie. For this recipe, you need all the common baking ingredients. Other than the corn syrup, I already had all of these ingredients readily available in the pantry. I had to go out for the pie crust mix as well. You can make your own crust from scratch (you should if you can) but I have yet to unlock that mastery. The list is pretty short: pie crust mix, eggs, light corn syrup, brown sugar, pecan halves, salt, orange zest (I used a grater. It’s a bitch to clean though!), pure vanilla extract and butter. Sound basic enough?

Begin by creating the crust. If you’re using a mix, follow the instructions on the box. Don’t forget to grease your pie pan before placing the crust in! For some fancy ideas, see Martha Stewart’s gorgeous decorative pie crusts here. Let your pie crust sit aside now. Let it chill until it is firm, which should take at least half an hour. Wanna know a secret? I forgot to chill this pie. I just let it sit on the kitchen counter. Still turned out okay though. Oops. Hey, at least it got to watch the Sharks completely dominate us in the last period?

I skipped photographing a bunch of steps in between from the last photograph to this because it’s difficult to take photos while baking! Once you’re finished with the crust, take out a small saucepan and melt the butter in it over medium heat. Oh before that, you should preheat the oven for 350°F. Once melted, add brown sugar. Whisk the sugar butter mixture until smooth. Remove the saucepan from heat and add in the remaining ingredients: corn syrup, vanilla, zest and salt. Whisk slowly. Be careful not to overdo the mixing, which is what I did in this trial run. This is to avoid white foam from forming at the top of the mixture.

In a separate bowl, beat eggs. Then add in the mixture from the saucepan, slowly, while whisking. Again, avoid overmixing.

At this point, make sure your cat approves of your work so far. You can tell whether he approves by observing his body language. Here, Amberto is clearly showing his approval by rubbing his face on the handle of the saucepan. He’s saying that he likes pecan pie as much as the next guy… um, we mean cat. And yes, that is a Canucks bib on my cat. He’s a big Henrik fan.

Pour the pecan halves on the pie shell. Don’t worry about whether it’s even. Pouring in the filling mixture will even out the pecans.

Pour in the filling, evenly over the pecans. The pie pan I used is a little larger than conventional pie pans. I think it’s 9″? At this point, it looks like the recipe I used did not produce enough filling. I would recommend using a 8″ pan.

Pop that baby in the oven. Bake it at 350°F for about 50 minutes.

Cool completely before enjoying! Please serve this with whipped cream and/or vanilla bean ice cream. Just do it please.

I still have some improvements to make on this recipe before Thanksgiving. I definitely need to be careful of my mixing-happy hand the next time around. I also need to either use a smaller pan or make a little bit more of the mix. It tasted delicious though! Just like store-bought, but with love.

Ingredients:
Pie crust mix
3/4 stick butter (a stick is half a cup)
1 1/4 cups brown sugar
3/4 cup light corn syrup
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon orange zest
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 eggs
2 cups pecan halves

Directions:
Prepare pie crust according to directions on box. Chill pie shell for at least half an hour. Preheat oven to 350°F. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add in brown sugar and whisk until smooth. Remove saucepan from heat and whisk in corn syrup, vanilla, zest and salt. In a separate bowl, beat eggs. Then add filling mixture to eggs, whisking slowly. Fill pie shell with pecans and then pour mixture evenly over pecans. Bake for around 50 minutes. Cool pie completely before serving. Enjoy!

Thanks for cooking with me!

Fish House in Stanley Park

Wow, it’s been so long since I’ve last written a food blog that I just noticed that Urbanspoon has been updated! It looks somewhat different and I like it! I’ve been so busy with school and work that I haven’t had much time to do anything else. On Wednesday, the weather was great and my mood was lazy. My mom and I decided to go for a cruise and have some dinner on the way. We settled on Fish House in Stanley Park. The view is only so-so from the restaurant but you’ll encounter all the good scenery on your drive there.

The restaurant is tucked away inside Stanley Park, but it’s closer if you drive in from the English Bay side. The exterior of the restaurant looks like a someone’s house! I’m sure there’s some history story to be told about the building itself but I know you’re not interested. You just want to hear about the food, don’t you?

I always appreciate good service, even if it should be expected. We arrived near half past 7 o’clock and the restaurant was mostly quiet. It was a weeknight, of course, but it just didn’t seem to be a busy restaurant. We were seated at a small table in a dark section. When our server came, we were offered a booth by the window instead. I thought it was a nice gesture of them to offer. Of course, we accepted.

The interior of the restaurant is boring. It’s not new, it’s not old. It’s very traditionally dressed. It’s dimly lit in some areas and very quiet overall. It reminds me of a country club.

We were started with some Complimentary Bread. It was served with their house lobster oil and some balsamic. I love lobster oil! I couldn’t help but compare it to Joe Fortes‘ lobster oil, which I remember to be better. I wasn’t entirely impressed with the bread here.

It was a deceivingly chilly autumn evening so we opted to share a soup. Here is their Clam Chowder ($12)Manila clams, bacon, Yukon gold potatos. This is definitely enough to share! Because it is a chowder, the consistency is so thick and can be so filling! I could have this on its own as a meal. The kitchen did not split the serving into two bowls, even though our server knew we’d be sharing. Instead, she brought us two spoons, which I guess is friendly and playful. I thought it was cute of her. The soup itself is very tasty. Piping hot and so creamy.

I had the Smoked Cod Linguini ($25), Local smoked black cod, Oregon pink shrimp, Manila clams, Vancouver Island mussels, fish fumé, spinach, confit shallots, garlic. My dish was definitely done first because the top layer of linguini was already dried and cold when I received it! I really liked the cod but there honestly wasn’t very many pieces. There were a handful of small, shredded bite-sized pieces, maybe about 2-3cm. Because it was smoked, it really brought out a flavour in cod I’m not used to having. I really liked it! The shrimp were average, exactly what I use for my lunch salads. And I get mine from freezer aisle at Pricesmart. So not very special. The mussels were great though. They were so tender that I wasn’t sure if they were raw. In general, the seafood was good but the dish overall was very average. The pasta sauce in this situation would be more like an “oil sauce”. It was super heavy by the end. I couldn’t bare to finish it.

My mom had the Salmon Risotto ($28), Haida Gwaii line-caught spring filet, wild mushrooms, asparagus truffle risotto. Doesn’t this dish look lovely? Compared to my pasta, at least, which came to me like a mess! But right away, she commented that the risotto wasn’t fully cooked. She said that I can make it better. I’ve maybe made risotto like one time in my entire life. I don’t know what she’s talking about. Although, I do know that risotto takes a long time to cook. I slaved for 45 minutes over that stove! The salmon, though, was terrific. It was soft, fatty and delicious. Especially the crusted skin, it was awesome in texture and flavour.

We mostly enjoyed our dinner. The food did not wow us but it wasn’t like there was anything wrong with it either. The ambiance is nice and it’s in a great location. The food may be a little overpriced for what it is. I found everything very average, especially when considering the price. All this meal did was remind me that I miss cooking. We probably won’t be back for a while.

Thanks for eating with me!

Fish House in Stanley Park on Urbanspoon

Recipe: Broiled Lobster Tails with Garlic Butter

Wake me up when September ends. Or when these lobster tails are ready. I know I haven’t written a post since July but the last month of summer was just one big crazy whirlwind of an unforgiving, unending storm that is life. Now we’re back to September, back to school. I’m still trying to settle in and find a routine. Trying to balance a full course load at school with 30 hours of work on my days off hasn’t exactly been a walk in the park for me. But I digress. You’re here to read about food, not the mundane concerns of my life.

Any time is a good time for lobster. I found these little buggers frozen in the seafood section of my local grocer’s. I took them home with me on a gluttonous impulse. I didn’t think of buying anything else so I had to work with what we already had at home. For this recipe, I used butter and garlic. I meant to use caper brine as well, but I’ll confess that I forgot to put it in! Oops. I would have also liked a fresh lemon but we didn’t have any.

Before you start, preheat the broiler. Take a pair of kitchen scissors and cut down the centre of the shell to the tail.

Pry open the shell along the slit you’ve cut down the centre. You want to open it outwards from the middle with both hands simultaneously. Be careful not to break the shell, yet at the same time, it does require a bit of pressure to be applied.

When the opening is large enough, turn the tail around. Separate the meat from the shell by detaching it from the bottom using a sliding motion with your fingers. Pull the meat out of the shell and place it so that it’s resting on top of the edges of the shell.

It should look like this. Minus the cat. Preparing lobster tails does not include the cat. Cat sold separately.

In a saucepan, melt some butter and throw in some minced garlic. This makes the garlic butter sauce to be brushed on the tails. I was also planning to add a dash of caper brine but I forgot. The sauce is ready when the garlic becomes fragrant, aka before it burns!

Generously brush the garlic butter sauce over the meat. Place tails directly below the broiler. I cooked mine for about six minutes. It’s ready when the meat is opaque.

So easy and sooo gorgeous. The whole process, prep and cook, takes unless than 15 minutes!

Ingredients:
2 lobster tails
1 tablespoon butter
4 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon caper brine (which I forgot)
1 lemon to serve

Directions:
Preheat broiler. Prep lobster tails by removing meat from tail. Create a simple garlic butter by melting butter in a saucepan. Throw in minced garlic and heat until fragrant. Brush garlic butter liberally over lobster meat. Place tails directly under broiler and cook for 6-9 minutes, depending on size of tails. Serve with lemon wedges and more butter, if you’re into that kinda thing (but honestly, who isn’t?).

Thanks for cooking with me!

Joe Fortes Seafood & Chophouse

How does one spend summer in Vancouver? Why, tanning at English Bay followed by Happy Hour at Joe Fortes’ patio of course. I love this city so much. I could never leave. This is the curse of living in Vancouver: for only two months of the year, you live in the best city in the world. And for the other ten months of the year, your skin so badly craves the unforgiving heat of the Equatorial sun. It’s an ironic misfortune of life in Vancouver, a city too beautiful to ever leave. Even in October because you know the sunny days are so good. I’m a Van lover, can you tell?

Joe Fortes is on Thurlow at Robson. A very convenient and accessible place to dine when downtown. It’s marked by a big old-fashioned yellow taxi thats always parked outside. Super cute! Their Happy Hour runs from 4 to 6pm daily and it’s first come first serve at the bar. And you actually have to seat yourself, which displeases me a little. We were sitting at the bar until we spotted some people leaving at the patio. I guess the perk of seating yourself is you can get up and leave whenever you want to. We sat on the patio instead and that was lovely.

Our view overlooking Thurlow at the busy Robson intersection. It’s perfect for people watching during a relaxing afternoon conversation. Actually, we were originally hoping for patio seats upstairs but they were completely packed already! The servers were really accommodating to us though and really tried their best to get us a seat right away. We waited for maybe ten minutes when we decided we had better just sucked it up and sit downstairs instead before it got really busy. It was a good idea, too, since by the time we finished, there was a line up for Happy Hour going out the door!

I had Raspberry Lemonade ($4.25) which tastes exactly the same as Starbucks’ Passion Tea Lemonade at half the price. We opted for non-alcoholic drinks during this Happy Hour. I felt all sunned out and I find that mixing alcohol and a borderline heat stroke is no fun at all.

Our other drink was Peach Fuzz ($4.50) which was much, much better than mine. It was still average at best though. I’d suggest to skip these non-alcoholic drinks. They’re not very good and they’re quite pricy considering that they seem to be made from just powder mixes.

We were served some Complimentary Bread with house-made lobster oil. The lobster oil was amazing! I’ve never had anything like it before. It was so savoury and very tasty, just like real lobster. Apparently you can make this at home by boiling down lobster parts and the shell in some oil. Sounds easy enough! Sometimes the simplest things are the tastiest. The bread itself was so-so. But you can never complain about complimentary bread hey?

During Happy Hour, Joe Fortes has Buck A Shuck oysters. You can’t choose which type as they only offer one type for Buck A Shuck. The bartender who took our order hated his job so we didn’t even get to learn where these came from. We went with a dozen oysters to share between two. They were served with your typical condiments: cocktail, freshly grated horse radish, mignonette and an unidentifiable dark vinaigrette. I liked the mignonette the best but I didn’t find any of the sauces particularly special. My favourite oyster condiment is Oyster’s house-made cocktail sauce. The best, ever. I could eat that on its own. In fact, I did, just yesterday. You can see my previous visit’s post for Oyster here. The oysters came relatively quickly. For the most part, they were shucked well but we did taste a few bits and shells throughout our slurpage. The physical appearance of some of the oysters were off-putting. The most interesting part was the taste of these oysters. They were extremely heavy and creamy. I really enjoyed them actually but he thought they tasted weird. He didn’t like the weird creamy aftertaste of these at all. I actually loved them though.

After finishing the oysters, we decided to try one of the half off appies on the Happy Hour menu. We tried Truffle Parmesan Frites ($9.95)Grana padano, herbs, sea salt after seeing how delicious they looked on the table next to ours. These fries were actually extremely good. And a good deal too, during Happy Hour, at five bucks! I was completely stuffed to the brim and I still wanted to keep eating these fries. I’d love to come back to try all the other Happy Hour appies. We came right after having lunch at Nicli so I wasn’t my usual eat-everything-in-sight self.

And here I am, one happy camper. Such a lovely way to spend a hot summer’s afternoon. Very recommended for Happy Hour.

Thanks for eating with me!

Joe Fortes Seafood & Chop House on Urbanspoon

Nicli Antica Pizzeria

I had been dying to try Nicli Antica Pizzeria for months now. During the school year, my girl friends and I would try to make dinner plans at least one night a week. I remember begging them to come here but for some reason we never made it. So I finally got to try it and man, they missed out! Nicli Antica Pizzeria is hugely popular in Vancouver. I’ve heard that there is always a long line up for dinner, like we’re talking an hour’s wait! They serve authentic Neapolitan style pizza using all fresh ingredients, baked in a wood fired oven.

Nicli is on E Cordova and you do have to walk quite a ways into Gastown before you reach it. It’s like so deep into Gastown that if you walk just another block down, you’ll accidentally walk into the wrong part of Chinatown and let me tell you honestly, from a Richmond Bubble Syndrome sufferer, you do not want to do that. But there are loads of street parking spots available. Next time we’ll just drive.

It was completely empty around 2:30pm on a weekday afternoon. I hadn’t expected it to be busy but there were literally two other tables, other than us. Both of them were able to leave, making me feel uneasy. I don’t know if its just me but I hate being the only table in a restaurant. Our server served us water at our table immediately after seating us. She also let us know their special for the day, with the price included which is appreciated. I hate restaurants that just orally dangle fancy dish names in front of you and you’re like okay, I’ll get that and bam you’ve accidentally ordered a $40 entree.

Nicli has a gorgeously simple and clean design idea. The interior is very modern and chic and immediately, you forget about the shadiness that you just had to endure on your way here. Huge walls of mirrors are hung above the bar and wine shelves, really creating an extra dimension to the room. I love that they chose red to accent the simple white decor. It really pops and brings so much sass to the ambiance. I love sass.

There are maybe enough tables to seat about 30 people, excluding the bar. It’s an open kitchen at the end of the restaurant, with the wood fired oven available for viewing. On the counter is also a micro herb garden so that herbs can be picked right before cooking!

Their menu is very limited. There are maybe less than a dozen flavours of pizzas to choose from, a handful of salads and that’s it. We went with the Insalata Di Rucola E Finocchio ($10.00)Arugula with oranges, castelvetrano olives and shaved parmesan. The salad had super fresh everything! Lovely clean pitted olives that were so flavourful, juicy oranges and thinly shaved fennel and parmesan. It was good but kinda spicy. I can only handle arugula in moderation. But definitely not worth ten bucks! I’ll skip the salad next time. More pizza is the way.

We received these condiments for the pizza. One is rosemary infused oil and the other is chilli infused oil. The chilli oil really had a kick to it. I liked the rosemary oil but I felt like I was serving myself a heart attack waiting to happen.

We shared a Prosciutto E Rucola ($19.00)Pomodoro, grand padano, fior di latte, parma prosciutto, arugula. Their pizzas are priced from $9 to $20 and they’re all about 12″ in diameter which translates to a Medium sized American pizza. I used to work for a pizza company. We thought it was adequate for sharing. Before we even started with the pizza, our server brought us new plates after the appetizer. She even brought me a new one after she spotted something on the plate before I did. The plates do look like they need to be replaced though. Our pizza was started after we were served the salad so that it’d be still fresh. It looked gorgeous when it arrived and smelled absolutely heavenly. The prosciutto was so thinly sliced. Because of the open kitchen, I was able to watch the chef slice it. The whole pizza was quite oily though and it was definitely difficult to cut. It does not come pre-sliced but I really wished that it did. This pizza had the freshest tomato sauce I’ve ever had on pizza. It was completely and wholly delicious. According to their website, Neapolitan pizza features a light and fluffy crust with a soft thin centre. They forgot to mention that Neapolitan pizzas also feature deliciousness.

So good. I’d love to go back again. Like tomorrow.

Thanks for eating with me!

Nicli Antica Pizzeria on Urbanspoon