Thursday, April 25, 2013

Business Meeting at Chewie's Steam & Oyster Bar

I've been wanting to check out Chewie's for a long time...since they opened over a year ago (late 2011)...but my efforts do get there just never panned out (cancelled dinners, dining partners who had just eaten there the previous day...etc)
A few weeks ago, one of my bosses from out of town asked that I pick a spot for a dinner and beers business meeting at a location somewhat near the office; which sounded like the perfect opportunity to visit Chewie's!
This seafood and southern-New-Orleans-style restaurant and bar is located in Kits on West 1st and Yew, just a few blocks up from Kits beach. This place was started by "Chewie" a former bartender at Rodney's Oyster Bar in Yaletown who followed his dream and opened his own restaurant and bar. There is definitely a Rodney's-esque quality to this place; the atmosphere is laid back, unpretentious, and fun- and the staff are good looking guys who are helpful, entertaining... and a bit flirty. They've also got a great cocktail, wine, and beer list. I enjoyed a few "Big Ass Pints" (20 oz draft) of Whistler Powder Mountain Lager.

On the table...appetizers

Louisiana Rock Crab Cakes with mixed greens and Creole remoulade ($15) *front center
These were pretty tasty, meaty, crispy, well-seasoned and the remoulade added a nice punch of slightly spicy flavour. There was a good amount of crab in these cakes and not a tonne of filler.

Pan Seared Calamari- local Humboldt squid with jalapeno mint salad ($13.50) *back left
I loved this calamari dish. It's rare to find a non-deep-fried squid dish at most pub-style places and this was one great. The squid itself was very tender and not chewy at all. The side salad was fresh, flavourful, with a nice bite from the jalapenos.

Creole Garlic Prawns- Twelve jumbo prawns, spicy tomato sauce, toasted baguette ($17) *back right

On the table...Mains

Gumbo- Prawns, chicken, andouille sausage ($17) 
It's not the prettiest dish, dark brown and a bit sloppy but I found it quite tasty and jam packed with prawns, sausage,fried chicken, okra, habenero and rice. I would describe it like a Cajun stew. The flavours were rich and packed into the roux, which is kind of a gravy meets broth, the base of the dish. This dish had a nice slow building level of spice that would probably be perfect for most people, but I wish it was spicier.

Seafood Pan Roast- Lobster, scallops, prawns ($21)

Jambalaya- House smoked chicken, andouille sausage, tasso ham, spicy cajun rice ($18)

Southern Fried Chicken- 2 day marinated buttermilk Rossdown farms fried chicken,Cajun honey butter, mash and beans ($18)

An all around enjoyable experience. Great atmosphere, solid service, and everybody enjoyed their food. Their brunch menu looks pretty intriguing... One note: they don't take reservations and this place gets busy...

Chewies Steam & Oyster Bar on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Cheap and Cheerful, Under $10: A Food Crawl

As we finished up our last food crawl, we made sure to set a date for the next crawl and The Leggy Redhead planted the seed for a "Cheap and Cheerful" theme. As we grew closer to the booked date, I started to draw up some guidelines and research. This would be a crawl with "looser" perimeters than the past crawls, which have typically had a narrow dish or ingredient focus.
*Budget for your stop is $10
*The Cheap Eat must be a dish/ meal you've never had before but want to try
*Try to pick good eats that will fill us up, get some bang for your buck
This was a tricky crawl for me personally….there were a tonne of places and dishes that I want to try for under $10, I was really overwhelmed while researching and I actually wasn’t even 100% which of my researched stops I’d be taking my fellow crawlers too when we disembarked for the night. It was a different crawl because we had a new crawler "The Frip", and we were missing our usual 4th, The Bad Jew, who cancelled last minute for a concert.

Bulgogi Sando ($8.49) Beef, egg sauce, kimchi, bulgogi sauce
Miura Waffle Milk Bar
Miura Waffle Milk Bar on Urbanspoon

Miura is located on Davie, with no big signs and from the street it blends in with other stores around it so you might miss it (unless you are on a specific mission like we were). They have a menu full of sweet and savoury Waffle Sandwiches, but at Miura, they call them Sandos! This spot was The Frip's choice. The whole menu looked delicious and intriguing but she singled out their Bulgogi  Sando.
their whole menu looked delicious and intriguing. Everything is made in house. They make the waffles fresh to order, then assemble the sando.The saltiness in the beef and bulgogi sauce, the spiciness in the kimchi and the creamy egg sauce worked very well together. The waffle was nice and fluffy, and crunchy too; it sucked in some of the juices from the filling so it’s got some savoury favours as well. I really appreciate that the waffles are made fresh to order- it definitely ensures the quality.

The Frip: 
Miura... Bulgogi waffle...fantastic taste and texture on the waffle. Nice and crispy on the outside and soft and fluffy inside.  Great combo of beef, kimchi and the egg sauce brings it all together. Will be re-visiting this place to try the wasabi salmon...

The Leggy Redhead:

 I hadn't had a savoury waffle sandwich before.  The Frip chose the house special...egg sauce with kimchi and beef makes it spicy, salty and then somehow buttery creamy from the egg sauce.   Loved the combo.  I think egg sauce should go on everything!  Although fast food style, they made it fresh with love.  I'd definitely go back again.

Pupusas ($2.75 each)
Rinconcito Salvadorean
Rinconcito Salvadorean on Urbanspoon

The interior is basic with a handful of tables and chairs, some palms and a bamboo bar. This place was packed when we arrived, with a short line up. I took this as a good sign! After a short wait, we were seated at the bar, then moved to a small table. We each ordered a beer and an order of 3 pupusas (2 Revuelta with pork, beans, and cheese- and one bean and cheese). According to Wikipedia, pupusa is “a traditional Salvadoran dish made of a thick, handmade corn tortilla (made using masa de maĆ­z, a maize flour dough used in Latin American cuisine) that is usually filled with a blend of the following: cheese, cooked pork meat ground to a paste consistency, refried beans, or queso con loroco (loroco is a vine flower bud from Central America)”. This was my first time trying pupusa and I liked it! Mixed filling pupusa with beans, pork and warm melted cheese snuggled inside grilled tortilla pocket, served with pickled cabbage and salsa. The outer shell was nicely made, because it was soft but slight crispy.They come stacked like pancakes and served with a vinegary coleslaw and mild tomato-based "hot" sauce. Some regulars were chatting with us and recommended that we rip the pupusas in half and fill them with the coleslaw and add the sauce, using the delicious slaw like a relish or sauce. I liked eating them like this because the acidity and veggie crunch cut down on the heaviness of the dough, meat, beans, and cheese.

The Frip: 
Papusa... They remind me of a cheese and bean filled fluffy corn flour pancake. The winning ticket is the pickled coleslaw and the mild spiced tomato salsa. Definately a meal fill for the cost.  Winning ticket is to cut it open and stuff with coleslaw and tomato salsa. There is just something about eating food with your hands :)

The Leggy Redhead:
Pupusas - Another first for me.  I've never tried Salvadorian food before, let alone heard of pupusas.  Super simple, yet really yummy.  Each bit on it's own, nothing stood out...but combine all the flavours(we received tips on how to eat it from the crazy Chilean(?) diners beside us)...awesome simple eats.   The sweet and; yet sour coleslaw mixed with the mellow hot sauce(spicy rather than hot) and then the stuffing inside the pupusa!  All about the combination of the flavours.  Nice surprise.

Sushi Pizza $8.95
Sushi Nanaimo
Sushi Nanaimo on Urbanspoon

I really like this place, I think its a gem. It's busy, with a high energy Izakaya feel and a delicious, well-priced looking menu with some really inventive sounding options. But we had a clear focus: Sushi Pizza. A bed of crsipy fried rice makes up the crust and covered with "toppings" like avocado, cucumber, tobiko, spicy tuna, green onion, and mayo. Essentially, its a lot of delicious ingredients together and it works. Great blend of flavours and textures (crispy rice, creamy avocado, tender tuna sashimi). A bit messy to eat. 


The Frip:
Sushi pizza.. Liked the concept and overall taste profile. Found the rice a little too thick. Would like to check out other sushi pizza avenues to see how they compare.  Liked the venue and the loud tunes!!!

The Leggy Redhead:

Sushi pizza- This one was my choice-  I love my sushi pizza at Sushi Yama so wanted to try somewhere new and close to home that gets great reviews...enter Sushi Nanaimo.   The chopped spicy salmon with the avocado, light sweet and salty Japanese drizzle and then the rice 'crust' -  tasty but overall the flavours were a little too mellow.  Always great to try somewhere new.   Lots of great looking dishes walked past us as we were dining.  Young hip crowd, prices super affordable and great presentation. I'd definitely go back to try other sushi dishes. 

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Sunny seawall eats: Go Fish!

This easter weekend was GORGEOUS! Sunny, warm, bright- perfect for sitting outside to soak up some Vitamin D to catch up with friends and eat.

I've heard nothing but rave reviews about Go Fish! and this "Ocean Emporium" has been on my want to try list for a long time. I've also heard a lot about the long long line ups that are unavoidable if you visit the fish shack on a sunny weekend day. This was a leisurely Saturday and no one in the group was in a rush that day. Sure enough when we arrived at Fisherman's Wharf just west of Granville Island, there was an epic looking line winding around the corner. With sun and warm weather and great people to chat with, the 30 min wait in line went by quite quickly. We found seats and then eagerly waited about 15-20 minutes for our orders to be called out from the kitchen. The food is made to order- so you know you'll be eating fresh. Also, it's worth mentioning the Go Fish! has partnered with Oceanwise and they serve only local line-caught seafood.

Location, Location, Location. Go Fish! has a beautiful view of the fishing boats, across the water to yaletown, and granville island just to the east. You definitely feel like you are going to be eating fresh product when you are this close to fishing boats.

The Super Asian Director treated me to lunch and I ordered a 2 pc Cod Fish and Chips ($12) served with Pacific Rim coleslaw, classic pomme frites and condiments so I could try "the classic dish", try the coleslaw, and so could all split the fries. Go Fish's fish and chips are served in a Chinese bamboo steamer. The portion size looked pretty big and everything smelled and looked delicious. MMMM. Crispy and golden brown. They absolutely nailed the batter; light, thin, crispy and wonderfully flavoured with Granville Island beer. The cod inside was fresh, light, flakey, and juicy. Normally, I would heavily sauce fish and chips but the lovely flavours of this fish were absolutely wonderful and ate this fish pretty much naked. Without sauce that is.The chips were also wonderfully crispy, well seasoned and salted but I definitely sauced these bad boys up with spicy ketchup, mustard, and hot sauce. I'm not a huge tartar sauce fan, but I did use a bit of this sauce and thought it had a nice fresh herbacious zip to it. I really liked their coleslaw, no creamy mayo dressing here. It definitely feels Asian-inspired with a zing of rice wine vinegar and aromatics of sesame oil.  I don't know how they do it, but this basket full of fried goodness doesn't feel overly greasy or leave you with the greasy mouth feel. I didn't feel too weighed down with this meal and felt pretty good on my bike ride home.

Other items our group ordered were:

Tacones ($5 for one Tacone, $9 for two Tacones) "Our take on fish tacos. Grilled salmon, cilantro-spiked salsa, chipotle crema and our slaw, rolled into a white-flour tortilla cone." Rave reviews all around. The fish is well seasoned with spices and herbs, then gets a smoky flavour from the grill before rolling in a flour tortilla with the same coleslaw, fresh salsa, cilantro, and chipotle crema. On this particular day, they were offering a salmon and tuna version. Thumbs up for both.

Oyster "Po Boy"($9.5), "3 still juicy BBQ local Oysters, shredded iceberg lettuce, chipotle crema, sweet onion and Gordo's tartar sauce." This is the Super Asian director's favourite menu item at Go Fish! There were three fairly large oysters on a slightly toasted brioche type bun with caramelized onions, lettuce, pea shoots and sauces. Everyone in our group enjoyed their meals. Good food. Great experience. BUT- a few words of wisdom. Don't come to Go Fish! if you are in a rush. Don't come to Go Fish! if you are famished. I'm curious if its this busy on weekdays....

Go Fish Ocean Emporium on Urbanspoon