Friday, January 28, 2011

Vancouver: Snacking All Day Long - Day 2

After a good bike ride around the park and stuffing ourselves with JapaDog's delicious creation, we got on the seabus (a ferry) and headed towards North Vancouver which is about a 15minute ride. Our goal was to get to the Capilano Suspension Bridge ASAP since weather forecast predicted rain. When we got there, it wasn't rainy but it sure was gloomy and foggy with clouds that look like doom.

Yes, Capilano Suspension Bridge is somewhat of a tourist trap but seriously, it was cool. I've never been on a suspension bridge, let alone the longest suspension bridge in the world. It's wobbly and hard to balance especially when there's a good amount of the people so it is exciting. The view is pretty spectacular too.

You can find out more about it here.

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Pretty crazy view in the canyon though. On the most right picture you can see there's also these treetop bridges that connect you from one huge redwood to another. (Click to enlarge)

After our 2 hour trek around the forest, and failing miserably trying to take pictures (kinda hard to have a steady hand when the bridge shakes), we decided to stop by McDonald at the seabus station to check out if they have poutine (fries with gravy), but they didn't so we went for these McDonald McMini chicken sandwiches. They sure are small but they ain't cheap either. Where's the 99cent menu at??

Pesto McMini. You can choose between grilled chicken or fried, and of course we went with the fried option :P This was my favorite McMini. Surprisingly garlicky pesto with fried chicken = win.

Spicy Thai McMini. Yea... pretty much sweet & sour sauce with a little kick. It was whatevs.

Mango Chicken McMini. It's actually more like mango chutney on the chicken so it's actually a little Indian twist on the sandwich. Not bad but seriously, take it easy on the mayo Canada. EVERYTHING is mayo-ed up like crazy.

Of course, every country's McDonald has their own unique pies besides apple pie and in Canada, it's banana chocolate cream pie!

Same flaky crust.

Sorry, it's not the most appetizing picture but yes, the cream pie. I'm not a big fan of banana desserts so... yup. However if you do like banana desserts, it is very banana-y :P


Lonsdale Quay Market
123 Carrie Cates Ct
North Vancouver, BC V7M 3K7

Afterwards, right next to the seabus station, it's the Lonsdale Quay Market, which is essentially a farmer's market. Small produce, seafood, and specialty stores can be found in this market with a few food vendors. We met up with Amanda T. and proceeded to search for some more fooood.

First stop, some Canadian pastry, the Beavertail, which is essentially a dough rolled flat, fried, then they add toppings.

History of Beavertail. I don't want to type it out so click on it to enlarge haha.

Savory & sweet options.

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The nice Chinese lady frying up our Beavertail orders (btw half of the vendors are Asians... they are everywhere). They butter the thing up like crazy then pour cinnamon sugar over it to make...

... this! Cinnamon sugar beavertail with lemon. It's bomb. I mean, what's bad about a fried pastry, buttered, then sprinkled with sugar? The lemon is actually an important bit because it's pretty amazing when you squirt the lemon juice onto the beavertail. It's sour yet it works so well with the cinnamon sugar! Can't really describe it.

I wonder if churros will taste just as good with lemon?

We also chose a savory one, Canadian bacon beavertail with cheddar cheese. Of course Canadian bacon isn't your typical smoked bacon, more like ham. In the end, definitely prefer the sweet one.

Next, Michael went to Sweet Carrie's Dessert Shop for some cookies from "down under." It was odd. Maybe Aussies like it really hard and dry. HAH.

Then he got some feta stuffed olives from Prima Italian Market, an Italian grocer. Didn't try it since I was way too thirsty after the beavertails and the combo of olives + feta sounded like sodium overload.


Crystal Mall
4500 Kingsway
Burnaby, BC V5H 2A9

After Lonsdale Quay (coo-way? cui? cay?), Amanda drove us to Cystal Mall in Burnaby, which is a neighboring suburb. There's a huge Chinese population in Burnaby and Crystal Mall is where they all congrgate. Imagine stuffing half of the Chinese from San Gabriel into one indoor mall. Way too many Chinese people there haha.

Lots and lots and lots of vendors of shop in the circular mall. Felt like I was in one of those newer Taiwan traditional markets.

There's also a food court. The difference between US and Canada is that... you can expect to find authentic and legit food in Canada's.

Tea Plus. Haven't had real milk tea yet so when I got the chance, I went for it.

Earl Grey Milk Tea. Genuinely surprised that they have this. Very nice earl grey fragrance. They use powered milk for the dairy, and shaken in that crazy shaking machine for quite awhile so it was mixed well. I believe the guy who made my drink fresh brewed my tea. Maybe it's because early grey isn't as ordered as much so it doesn't sit in those big gallon jugs.

Notice the Nike logo on the cup XD

Next, Wang's Shanghai Cuisine for some xiao long bao, since Michael's been dreaming about this place ever since he came here last time.

Xiao long bao. 5 for about $4. Again, I'm surprised at how legit the food is here. It's a food court so you would expect fast food quality stuff here but this is good. Beats any average restaurants any day.

Connie was able to find a stand that sold "gai dan zai" aka egg puff pastry. Sorry if I butchered the Cantonese pinyin but hey, Cantonese is hard :P It wasn't that good since I'm guessing the machine was too hot and it crisped the outside too fast, leaving the inside still slightly soggy.


By the time we finished all that it was about 7:30pm. You would think we were full but not even close as we were about to try out the world famous Vij's (next post). All that food was just the beginning!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Vancouver: Japadog, the Perfect Snack after Biking - Day 2

For Day 2 of our stay in Vancouver, we had all the touristy things lined up, like bike riding through Stanley Park and visiting the Capilano Bridge, so rather than going to a sit-down place for breakfast, we decided to go to McDonald. Of course, even in Canada, the menu for McDonald is different and to be honest, I actually like their breakfast more.

On the way to McDonald, we saw Santouka Ramen! Santouka is a famous chain from Japan specializing in Hokkaido-style ramen. There's several locations in SoCal but never expected one in Vancouver, and so close to our hotel!

McDonald. I seem to only eat McDonald when I travel haha.

My egg, bacon & cheese bagel sandwich combo. Yes, bagel sandwich.

How come we don't have egg, bacon & cheese bagel sandwich in the states! It's good and the bagel is pretty chewy. The size is about the same as a biscuit. McDonald in Canada is more expensive though.

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After McDonald, we each rented bikes and began a 3mile bike ride around Stanley Park, which is actually bigger than Central Park in NYC. Part of the park actually borders the ocean so it's pretty neat to ride around. There's also a place where a few First Nation totem poles sit, and First Nation is essentially the region's natives.

After the bike ride, we were on our way to try out a really famous food cart in Vancouver, but first I saw La Boulangerie Cafe, which is a small bakery on the famous Burrad St. in Vancouver and decided to make a small stop.

Went for the almond croissant. I love how almonds cover the top of the croissants. Not as buttery as I liked though. Around $2 for one, so it's kinda pricey, but I had to at least try some sort of bakery in Vancouver :P


JapaDog Cart (Burrad St. Location)
899 Burrard St
Vancouver, BC V6Z 2K6

Now, Japadog is essentially Vancouver's most popular street food. They fuse Japanese flavors and ingredients with all sorts of different hot dogs for their awesome creations. Sorta like... LA's Kogi with Korean & Mexican, except JapaDog is Japanese & American fused together.

There's many locations sprinkled throughout Vancouver and each place has their own menu. Most are the same with a few special items that you can only get at that specific location.

We ended up getting four JapaDogs to share.

Wanna know what a dog would taste like if you apply okonomiyaki toppings and tonkatsu sauce to it? Then the Okonomi dog is your answer. Okonomiyaki is essentially a Japanese pancake with bonito flakes, mayo, cabbage, and the special sauce. They used the same toppings to create that taste on a pork hot dog. It's savory, vinegary and the bonito flakes adds a great deal of flavor!

Yakisoba is their new creation and it is essentially yakisoba noodles piled on top of a hot dog. If you're a fan of the sauces for yakisoba, you'll love this.

Kurobuta Terimayo dog is from their popular terimayo menu and it's... Kurobuta pork hot dog with sweet mayo and teriyaki sauce then topped with a little seaweed. What a quintessential Japanese hot dog! And yes, taste exactly like what you're imagining right now. As for Kurobuta, it is a breed of pork and can be considered as the Kobe beef of pork (boo sorry I didn't realize the lens wasn't focused).

Negi miso is a turkey dog with a miso glaze. Personally I thought it was amazing. The dog isn't too fatty and the miso glaze is wonderful. However, it being a turkey dog, it does have a weird bite and softer texture that you wouldn't expect from a hot dog.

After we finished, I liked it so much and decided to order another dog, the Oroshi, which is actually my favorite. Rather than pork hot dog, it's bratwurst so it's extremely juicy, since bratwurst is naturally fattier. They add grated daikon radish and squirts their special soy sauce, then topped with green onions. Bratwurst by itself would be pretty heavy but the daikon radish definitely cuts into the heaviness. A very Japanese-eque dog.


I pretty much had two hot dogs so by the time I finished and nothing is worse than food coma hitting you when you are traveling, so after resting a bit at a Starbucks nearby, we set off towards North Vancouver for the world's longest suspension bridge, Capilano Bridge.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Vancouver: Raw Canvas on Hamilton Street - Day 1

After Chinatown, we went to downtown, hoping to find some shops open but for some reason almost everything closes around 7pm on a Friday. Not the best since we had no idea where to go and not having 3G in Canada meant that we couldn't go on our phones. I think that was the first time I was reminded I'm actually out of the country :P

Arrived in Gastown which reminded me off Gaslamp is San Diego.

Saw this cool steam-engine powered clock. Only one of the few in the world.

Steam coming out from the top.

Since there wasn't much besides restaurants and a few bars in Gastown, we decided to check out Yaletown in downtown Vancouver, specifically Hamilton Street. The street is lined with restaurants for the whole length of the street and we decided to check out this wine bar we stumbled upon.

Raw Canvas
1046 Hamilton St
Vancouver, BC V6B

Outside of Raw Canvas. Very small place.

Not a big place with a few big communal tables, small tables near the entrance, and few seats at the bar area.

Now the reason the place is small and why it is called Raw Canvas is because it is actually a wine bar and artist studio combined. On the menu, you can actually buy canvas & paint, head over to the back and let your creativity flow, maybe after you've had a glass or two. Very cool idea.

Lots of people. There are people to help you out if you don't know what you are doing but I saw several paintings that were quite good!

Of course for me, wine is the main focus here :]

The wine/drinks menu.

For the first glass, opted for the Emiliana Eco Balance 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon from Chile. A lot more fruity than your typical cab! Quite smooth as well.

Here's Diana posing very very happily with her customized drink made by the bartender. Lots of fruit juices went into this vodka mixed drink haha. Forgot to take a picture of the white Connie had... oh well.

We also ordered a sampler plate to go with our wines. It came with (from left to right): Piave Vecchio cheese, dried apricot, Parrano gouda, organic walnuts, elk & juniper salami, and fig & walnut wine spread. It also came with a bowl of baguettes.

For $15, it's pretty expensive for a sampler, but the Piave Vecchio, elk & juniper salami, and the fig & walnut wine spread were definitely good eats. I'm now a fan of Piave, which is a kinda of hard cheese with a very nutty flavor. Elk salami was surprisingly good. Not much gaminess and not as fatty as typical salami. The sweet fig spread is just as good as it sounds.

Went for the Trio 2008, which is a syrah and tempranillo blend from Spain. Being a syrah, it definitely packs a more intense aroma and you can taste a hint of spice from tempranillo grapes.

Diana's second drink: another customized drink from the bartender. Don't remember what was in there but again, very fruity.

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Where we called home for the next two nights (and Michael for one night). I love Priceline haha.

For the first day, we ended up going all over downtown, from one end of it (our hotel) to the edge (Gastown and Chinatown). Favorite ended up being Yaletown with Hamilton Street since it was the liveliest part of DT and with all the restaurants there, definitely seems like the place to be.