Monday, June 27, 2011

Shark Club

What can I say about Shark Club without sounding like too much of a pig?  Lol, you're paying for the view?  Haha, but then again, you're not really because the food here is fairly inexpensive.  Let's just say there's alot of eye-candy for those who like to see a lot of skin =). 

Price-wise, it's basically on par with other places like Milestones, Cactus Club, Earl's etc.  I never really had a reason to go here because it was kind of out of the way, and until now, I stupidly thought it was a "club" like a night club, or someplace that needed membership, which is just not the case. 

The place is basically set up with a large bar in the middle of the restaurant, with booths against the walls, and there are two (I think) large dining areas. 

Chivas Regal
I was thinking about actually eating dinner here, with entrees, but we started off with some appies that were very, very filling.  The nachos were massive, just massive.  The chips were cooked to right before burning (just the way I like them) so they were very crispy.  The cheese was layered so just about every chip had cheese on it, and the whole thing was topped with chili peppers and green onions. 

We also asked for guacamole, salsa and sour cream.
I think this was called the shark platter wich came with wings, chicken strips, prawns, garlic cheese bread and dry ribs.  I didn't try everything but the chicken strips were really good, nice thick, crispy coating, nice tender meat on the inside.  I heard the bread and wings were really good too.

One of my colleagues had recently passed away, and Dina arranged a memorial gathering here.  We got an entire room to ourselves, and the space was more than enough.  The seats were very comfortable, and the room felt like someone's living room.  We had a bit of an issue with one of the couches, and the manager was there right away to replace it. 

It's too bad I stuffed my face with the appies because I really wanted to do a review on the entrees.  What I really liked about our server was the honesty.  When I asked her what the most popular items were, she didn't try to sell me the most expensive items on the menu. 

I kid around about the eye-candy, the skin, and paying for the view, but in all honestly, the service was very, very good.  Our server acted in a professional manner and she was there to attend to us ALOT.  Our water glasses were always full, and if she was away, we never had to wait very long for her to return to see if there was anything we needed.  Most of us were driving so we didn't drink much, but she was still very accomodating in that regard.  Apparently Shark Club provides taxi service for inebriated clients in Richmond.

Anyway, I want to go back and try some of the entrees.  Our server made some suggests, but I got full off the appies =( this time round.  And no, it's not just an excuse to ogle over the view. 

Shark Club (Richmond) on Urbanspoon

Little Bean Tea Station

Little Bean in Yaohan just underwent some renovations.  When they boarded up the place last week, I was a bit disappointed because I thought they were closing for good.  I was pleasantly surprised to seem them open up shop about a week later...didn't want to have wasted my points card!

Bubble Tea has been in Richmond for more than 15 years (18 yrs maybe?) and I'm 99% sure that Bubble Tea arrived in the lower mainland of BC before it spread throughout North America.  Little Bean was one of the earlier shops that sold Bubble Tea, but I'm pretty sure it was Little Tea House and Bubbleworld that started it all here in Vancouver/Richmond.  I used to go here a lot (here and Bubbleworld) but I haven't been for a while trying to cut back - too fat, haha!

Usually, I order matcha ice cream with pearls, but I don't remember it being so watered down.  It still tasted good, but definitely not as much ice cream as I remember.  I'll have to check out Bubbleworld to see if I remember which one I liked better.  Like I said, it's been ages.  My previous favourite was Taro milk tea (not real taro, the powdered kind, haha!).

Little Bean Tea Station (Yaohan Centre) on Urbanspoon

Fujiya - Richmond

I feel weird about reviewing a grocery store, but I had to hand it to Fujiya for making pretty decent, and affordable "fast food".  I don't think they make it fresh here at the Richmond location, but the location on Clark definitely has freshly made bento boxes, as well as made-to-order boxes. 

The tuna combo wasn't too bad actually, decent quality (probably the same supplier as most Japanese restaurants), or maybe even cut from their own inventory.

This was Fujiya's Z-Roll.  basically, it's a hodge-podge of end-peices put in a roll is my guess.  There's salmon, tuna, avacado, cucumber and some other bits.  It's filling because it's so big and overall, didn't taste horrendous or anything.
Saba and Salmon Bento
As you can see, the Saba and Salmon Bento come with variety of side dishes that actaully make the overall meal quite interesting.  There's carrot, broccoli, egg, takenoko, konyaku, yama-imo, and some sort of fish cake
The rice comes with a single umeboshi in the middle = Japanese flag.

The fish are actually incredibly good.  I love saba and Fujiya does it well.  The salmon is also moist and tasty.  A lot of places overcook salmon and it always comes out all dried out, but I've had Fujiya's salmon before and it's always nice and moist.  The flavour always tingles the back corners of my the salmon from Fujiya.

There was one time our sado class was doing chaji, which is about a 4 hour event including the preperation of the charcoal, a kaiseki meal and two different sessions of tea (thick tea and thin tea).  We didn't have time to prepare the kaiseki meal, and for the sake of practice, ordered the meal from Fujiya.  I remember the meal being incredibly tasty, as though it came from a restaurant (or maybe I was just really hungry).  Anyway, as far as cooked food is concerned, Fujiya delivers when it comes to their salmon, their saba, and their beef. 

Fujiya (Richmond) on Urbanspoon

La Chocolaterie

Located in the recently renovated Izumi-ya Japanese grocery store, La Chocolaterie is one of the newest, of Japanese-style shops/eateries popping up around town.  The Japanese style chocolate here is hand-made, and this tiny little shop really gave me this feeling of Japan.  Was it the presentation?  The way the staff greeted us?  I wasn't really sure, but I had to try their chocolate.

Samples of the variety of flavours they produce.  I tried just about every single one, and wasn't a big fan of the yuzu, but really liked the matcha, coffee, and strawberry flavoured chocolates. 
These gift packs are a great idea, I wonder if they wrap them too?

The smaller packs are more appropriate if you like a particular flavour and you just want to nibble on them some times.

Being a student of sado, I've come to really appreciate matcha, and though I'm still quite a beginner, I could tell that the grade of matcha isn't you're run-of-the mill $10 can of matcha from Osaka/T&T in Yaohan - it's actually of pretty good quality, and fresh too.  The chocolate is rich, but isn't overwhelming or overly sweet.  It blends perfectly with the matcha.  I guess one way to discribe it is it's like a high-quality, custom-made Melty Kiss.  But of course, La Chocolaterie's confections are in a league of it's own compared and shouldn't really be compared to a Melty Kiss, lol.

La Chocolaterie on Urbanspoon

Monday, June 20, 2011

Copa Cafe (Cambie)

I've heard about this place for a while now and finally got a chance to visit this weekend.  After practice, my pal Vince from Iaido suggested we grab a bite to eat at Copa Cafe is on Cambie, just up the road from Gloucester Cafe.  It's nice to know there's a little competition in the area as far as HK Cafes are concerned.
The front of the restaurant is easily accessible, but at times, it's hard to find parking on Cambie....the perk - it's free parking in this area.
There's also some parking in the back, but good luck not getting your car back without a ding in your door....or a scratch or dent........
The clientele here demonstrate that clearly money can buy just about anything except for driving/parking skills and common sense so it might be safer to park on the street.
The interior of the restaurant really contrasts the front and back because as soon as you step in, it gives you the feel that the place is a bit more upscale than your typical HK Cafe, which seems to be the trend now.
The Iced lemon Tea

I had the Ice Milk Tea, which was pretty good.  I'd say it was probably on par with Alleluia.  I wonder if they have a free refill?  Never thought to ask.
They had a few soup options, but the soup of the day was either cream soup or borscht.  I had the cream soup and it turned out to be a very, very rich and creamy Cream of Mushroom, with a sprinkle of dill.  There was a strong butter flavour which made every spoonful a guilty pleasure. 

My meal came with a freshly baked (or reheated) bun, which came with a packet of butter.  Yes, I used the entire packet just because it was there, haha!

The Linguine Bolognese with Cheese was *$%&*#@! good.  It was different in so many ways than what I've had before, and because I didn't order it, I want to go back to Copa Cafe just to have it for myself.  I had a taste and could tell there was effort put into the bolognese sauce.  For those of you who don't like sauce, heavy on oil, stay away.  For me, it was perfect. 
There was a lot of cheese, haha, as you can tell from the video below, but besides that, there was almost a charcoal BBQ flavour to the surface which was a nice bonus.  I had a bite and was almost floored....I wanted to change my order, but figured it would just give me an excuse to come back and try it for myself.
"That's a lot of cheese...."

I ordered the B+B+B set for $17.95  My first reaction was holy crap, that's expensive for an HK Cafe (get the A+A combo and you're shelling out $24).  Usually, my three item combos at Alleluia never set me past $12.00, even with the yam fries substitute.  But I did have to factor in that they have a few items that are a bit higher end than the typical Cafe, like crab cakes as an option.
Vince got the 6 oz Alberta top grade rib eye steak, the pork chop cutlet , and the pan-fried chicken steak.
I got the same steak and pork chop, and the prawn cutlets.

I asked for rare as possible, but it came well done.  There are a few reasons why I'm okay with the turnout.  First, I had no expectations as it was not a steak house, second.  The steak was so thin that it would have easily overcooked on the hotplate/skillet that it was served on.  Haha, next time, I'll just ask them to toss the steak on raw.  It was seasoned nicely though, even used peppercorn =).
I also asked for mashed potato but got a potato salad, HK style.  A lot of Chinese-style potato salad isn't salty, in fact, it often comes with fruit and is almost sweet.  I don't like to waste food so I kept it as desert and it turned out quite tasty. 
Copa Cafe has a large variety of gravy to go with the meals.  I was tempted to order Linguine with my B+B+B combo and then get the creamy mushroom sauce...make my own little "side pasta" but figured I had to try the lobster shrimp roe sauce at least once.  It tasted pretty good and definitely had a strong lobster taste to it.

Despite the overdone steak and the potato salad/mashed potato mix up, my experience overall was pretty good at Copa Cafe.  The service was spectacular and that was surprising. The manager was always attending us, and doing a lot of the grunt work as well, like keeping our teacups full, and helping with the food delivery.  He even was even there to hold up a paper "shield" when the steaks were delivered on the hot plate (to protect the customer from grease spatter as they sizzled on the hot plate).  We were there for hours, went through a shift change and were never hounded once about paying the bill.  Between the manager and the rest of the staff, we must have had our teacups refilled more than 20 times in the hours we were there.

I've said this before (see Angel Cake Cafe), and I hope I don't jinx it, but I've found another nice alternative to Alleluia (which I still like a lot).  I will definitely come back to try some other menu items.

Copa Cafe (Cambie) on Urbanspoon

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