Interior

La Buca is a small Italian restaurant on MacDonald Street. On a Friday evening, I paid a visit to this restaurant with a group of family friends.

Breadsticks

Since we were a group of twelve people, the restaurant recommended the family dinner which the chef uses the freshest ingredients of the day to prepare a ten-courses dinner for people to share.

Mozzarella Salad

Soon after the water was served, the first appetizer arrived – Mozzarella Salad with Cherry Tomatoes. Two plates were served for the table of twelve people. It was a light and refreshing appetizer. The fresh mozzarella went well with the basil leaves.

Smoked Sardine Salad

Then, the second appetizer came. It is the Smoked Sardine Salad. Unlike most sardine dishes I’ve tried, the smoked sardine in this dish is fresh and soft. The savory sardine came with organic greens and carrot puree.

Steamed Clam

The first warm dish, White Wine Steamed Clam, came shortly after the cold appetizers. The steamed clams were tender and fresh. The dish came with some crispy garlic bread.

Beef Bologne with Tagliatelle

Soon, the pasta arrived. The first pasta dish was Tagliatelle with Beef Bologne. The tagliatelle was freshly homemade. Everyone enjoyed this simple yet delicious dish.

Veal and Tomato Pasted Spaghetti

The second pasta dish was Veal and Tomato Pasted Spaghetti. This dish was less popular than the tagliatelle, but it was a well-prepared dish. The tomato and olive paste made the spaghetti a lighter and more flavorful dish.

Home-made Ravioli Filled with Wild Sockeyed Salmon

The last pasta dish was Home-made Ravioli Filled with Wild Sockeyed Salmon. The salmon was tender and it went well with the radish and sweet corn. The raviolio was sprinkled with dried basil and chives as well.

Grilled Duck Breast and Apricot

The Grilled Duck Breast and Apricot came as the first entre. The apricots were quite sour but the flavor went well with the tender duck meat. The barbecue sauce made the dish savory and special.

Ling Cod with Grilled Cherry Tomato

Then, we had the seafood dish – Ling Cod with Grilled Cherry Tomato. The lingcod skin was crispy and the meat was tender but a little dry. The fresh cherry tomatoes brought a unique aroma to the fish. The ladies at the table enjoyed this dish very much.

Porchetta

As the last entrée, the Porchetta was definitely a pleasant surprise. Porchetta is a savoury and moist boneless pork roast of Italian culinary tradition. The body of the pig was gutted, deboned, arranged carefully with layers of meat, fat, and skin. The homemade porchetta sauce at La Buca was highlight of the dish.

Grilled Assorted Vegetable

We had some grilled assorted vegetables after the entire meal. The yellow carrots were delicious and the baby potatoes were nicely grilled. This was an absolute necessity after such a heavy dinner!

Home-made Doughnuts with Vanilla Whipping Cream

Finally, there was the Home-made Doughnuts with Vanilla Whipping Cream. The dessert also came with chocolate lava cake and honeycomb cookies. The doughnuts were crispy on the outside and extremely soft inside. They were coated with sugar but they were not too sweet especially with the fresh vanilla whipping cream.

Overall, the entire party was impressed with the quality of the food at La Buca. The freshness and authenticity of the dishes made the dinner definitely worthwhile.  However, the price of such a family dinner was quite high, with an average of eighty to a hundred dollars for one person without alcoholic drinks.

La Buca on Urbanspoon

ImageRed Star Seafood Restaurant is a popular Chinese food restaurant on Granville Street. During lunch, the restaurant serves dim sum instead of large seafood dishes. Dim sum came from the older tradition of yum cha (tea tasting), which has its roots in travelers on the ancient Silk Road needing a place to rest.

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Even though we arrived quite early for lunch on Saturday, the restaurant was almost full. It was loud and busy at eleven thirty.

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We sipped chrysanthemum tea and looked at the dim sum menu. There is a large variety of dishes to select from, however, most of dishes are small. We ordered some steamed BBQ pork buns and steamed shrimp dumplings first.

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Soon, the deep-fried brown bean chicken joints came onto the table. The chicken joints are crispy and savory. It is a typical Taiwanese dish. The portion is decent but the dish is quite oily.

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Then, the deep-fried prawn meatballs and roast pigeon came. The prawn meatball is covered by sliced almond. It’s light and crispy. The roast pigeon is a signature dish at Red Star. The pigeon is not oily and the flavor is tasteful.

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The stir-fried vegetable and the zhaliang came next. The lettuce is stir-fired with garlic and chives. Zhaliang is an interesting Cantonese dish. It is made by tightly wrapping rice noodle roll around fried dough. It is a popular dish in Hong Kong. The Zhaliang of Red Star is sprinkled with green chives, dried shrimp and sesame seeds and it comes with soy sauce.

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Next, the supreme dumpling in soup arrived at the table. It came with red vinegar. It’s a large dumpling in fish broth. It is a specialty dish at Red Star. It is very popular, too. There are chopped vegetables, fish and prawn in the dumpling.

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Lastly, we had the backed egg custards. Egg tarts were introduced into Hong Kong in the 1940s, which was derived from the original “pastel de nata” in Portuguese. They have outer pastry crusts that are filled with sweet egg and milk custards. The ones at Red Star are light and not too sweet.

Overall, Red Star is a great restaurant to enjoy dim sum for lunch. The service is decent and the dishes come to the table quickly. However, it becomes very busy during weekends so it is best to make a reservation in advance.

Red Star Seafood 鴻星海鮮酒家 on Urbanspoon

Zagat is one of my favorite website for restaurant references. I found the restaurants recommendations in US were much more accurate than the ones in Canada. Anyway, I decided to pay a lunch visit to a popular Thai restaurant Maenam, on 4th Avenue, right opposite to Bistro Bistro. The restaurant was completely empty when we were seated. The decorations were simply and modern, and the lighting was bright for photography.

We decided on a lunch set menu (for more than 2 people only), which included an appetizer, a salad, a stir-fry and a curry dish. For soup, we had the North East Style hot and sour soup of pork. The soup came with a large quantity of assorted mushrooms and parsley. The taste of the soup is quite authentic with a strong taste of fresh red chili and limejuice. The soup is hot and came a fairly big quantity for two people.

The Banana Blossom Salad, the Pad Thai and the Green Curry Beef came to the table at the same time, which surprised me. There was a big gap of time between the soup was finished and all the other dishes were brought up. I wonder why they didn’t serve the salad first so that the table wouldn’t be so crowed and the waiting time wouldn’t be too long. Anyway, the Banana Blossom Salad is a healthy vegetarian salad (called Yum Hua Plee). The cilantros and the dried shrimps went well however, the banana blossoms are deep fried in Maenam, so it is not so healthy anymore.

The green curry beef was authentic in the flavor but the ingredients used in the dish were not very authentic. Bell peppers and lots of gingers were used in the green curry beef in Maenam. In Thailand, eggplants, lime leaves, and hot chili would be used in this dish. After all, the taste was fine with the steamed rice even though the green curry sauce is a little to thick.

Finally we moved on to the Pad Thai. This was the most satisfying dish of the this entire lunch. The rice noodles were chewy and fresh, there were many prawns, tofu and egg in the pad Thai. Both the ingredients and the flavor were authentic. With a splash of lime juice and some (extremely) hot chili pepper, the Pad Thai on its own would be a wonderful lunch.

I ordered the cucumber relish as a side dish. The cucumber was finely chopped and nicely pickled. The only disappointment is that the relish is not spicy at all. I was hoping a hint of spice other than the refreshing taste!

Overall, the restaurant was lower than my expectation. Considering that the lunch should be quick and delicious, it took us eighty minutes to finish the lunch and quality could only be considered as half authentic.

Maenam on Urbanspoon

Before we left for Vancouver again the next day (after our small vacation in Whistler), I decided to have lunch at the highly rated Italian restaurant, Il Caminetto, in Whistler Village.

The restaurant was big and empty for lunch. The wine cellar was elegantly laid with many bottles of fine wine. Some plates and pictures were displaced on the wall casually. There were two long tables and many small tables in the room we seated.

While sipping the refreshing Blueberry Frizzante, we looked through the menu thoroughly. The lunch menu is simply but decent. We ordered Zucchini Carpaccio, and Tuscan Minestrone for appetizer to share. For pasta we had Linguine alla Vongole and for main we had Certified Angus NY Steak.

The Zucchini Carpaccio was simply sliced zucchini with vinaigrette dressing and cherry tomatoes. Considering there’s more to come and the portion of the other dishes are big, I wouldn’t complain about the price. If only looking at the Carpaccio on its own, then the price is not worth the dish.

Quickly after the Zucchini is finished, the Tuscan Minestrone soup came to the table. The portion was decent with virgin olive oil dripped casually on the soup. The soup was hot and delicious with different vegetables such as carrot, cabbage, mushroom, fresh parsley and potato. We enjoyed the combination of the cold Carpaccio and the hot Minestrone.

The linguine came right after the soup was taken away. I agree that the photograph doesn’t look so appealing the quality of the dish was impressive. There was a large quantity of clams, wild salmons, surf clams, and prawns on the linguine. The pasta was cooked with a garlic broth. The seafood was fresh and nicely cooked and the linguine is clear without the common creamy taste. The only disappointment was the fact that the pasta was not house-made which surprised me because most high-end Italian restaurants such as Q4 would always make their pasta fresh daily.

The Angus Steak finally came with some potato and vegetables. I ordered the steak as medium and it was just about right. The potato was crispy on the outside and soft inside. I like the sauce of the steak and it went wonderful with the potato.

After lunch, we had time for a short walk in the Whistler village. The stone-covered streets were clean with not many visitors. There were many store in the village and we walked past several other great restaurants besides Il Caminetto that were on our to-eat list for next time.

While walking in the village, we discovered a small gelato shop called “Bocca Gelato”. I decided to have a gelato as dessert since I didn’t order any at the restaurant.

All the flavors seemed ordinary but one top of each kind of gelato; there were the real version of the flavors on them. There were Oreos on the cookie and cream gelato, strawberry on the strawberry gelato, coffee beans on the coffee gelato and even marshmallow on the dream rocky gelato.

I chose the low-fat strawberry gelato on a cone. The waffle cone was crispy and freshly made and the gelato was refreshing, too. The quantity and quality of the gelato were worth the price so I would recommend this gelato shop in Whistler.

Both the lunch and the dessert were fairly satisfying for both the price and the driving all the way to Whistler. Summer is a good time to explore Whistler and enjoy all the great food in this quiet summer reserve for foodies!

Il Caminetto on Urbanspoon

A trip to Whistler is the perfect opportunity to explore delicious food there. I did a thorough research on the Internet and decided to start with RimRock Café, a highly profiled restaurant in different websites. It is located right beside the sea-to-sky highway, we almost missed the exit.

The house of the restaurant was uniquely laid out, as the first floor had no tables. There was a huge wine cellar with a big window displaying all the fancy wines. Many pictures of celebrities and awards were hung on the wall.

After seated in the corner of the restaurant, we ordered fresh pressed orange juice and studied the menu slowly. We decided to have sautéed wild mushroom salad and four oysters on the half shell for appetizer, duck “two ways” and half Atlantic lobster as the main courses to share.

I admit that the mushroom salad doesn’t look like the most appealing dish of all time but the taste was absolutely wonderful. The fresh wild mushrooms were sautéed lightly, placed on a bed of greens and topped with shoestring potatoes. The sesame vinaigrette mixed well with the special flavor of the vegetables.

If you enjoy raw oyster by any chance, RimRock’s raw oysters should definitely be your first choice in Whistler. The mini oyster with vodka, crème fraiche & cavier (on the left) tasted rich in taste and tender in texture. The other one with champagne vinegar & shallots (on the right) was refreshing. The two baked oysters were not as delicious and tender, so I wouldn’t recommend them.

The Duck “Two Ways” was composed of a duck confit with crispy duck skin on top and grilled duck breast with special barbeque sauce. The duck confit was well cooked with a hint of wood and coal. The duck breast was tender but not as flavorful as the duck confit.

The half lobster at RimRock is a real lobster tail. Period. Compare to the frozen lobster from Black + Blue, this seems to be a decent compensation for the disappointment last week. The asparagus risotto under the lobster is quite original, the creamy taste of the rice went well with the freshly grilled lobster meat.

As for dessert, we decided to try a Rimrock Dessert Medley which had a miniature version of all the good dessert at the restaurant. There were (from closest to furthest) sticky toffee pudding, vanilla ice cream with house-made biscotti, chocolate ganache cake, hand-made chocolate truffle, white chocolate raspberry crème brulée, and hazelnut dark chocolate. The assortment of dessert was quite an intense work after all the duck and lobster but I still managed to choose my favorite one. The toffee pudding is extremely sweet, but warm and sticky, probably the most ideal treat after a long day of skiing in the winter at Whistler.

This is one of the most satisfying dinner I’ve had in a while in terms of the food. The service is not as good as the restaurants in Vancouver but the server was still friendly. This restaurant would be my first choice among all the restaurants in Whistler.

Rimrock Cafe and Oyster Bar on Urbanspoon

Most people know Whistler from the Winter Olympic, but Whistler can also be a perfect short vacation escape for people who live in BC or even Alberta. We drove to Whistler in a warm morning at around ten and got there quite early at twelve thirty.

Generally, Whistler is a few degrees colder than Vancouver but the weather is wonderful in summer. Flowers are blooming everywhere. Both Vancouver and Whistler basically have two seasons, summer and winter. Most flowers blooms in late May or even June.

The Whistler Village has many pedestrian streets that are bike and skateboard friendly. There are many stores and restaurant in the village. It is popular gathering place for both summer and winter.

Roger’s Chocolate started in 1885 by Charles “Candy” Rogers in the back of his grocery store in Victoria, B.C. I had a chance to try some of its chocolate for the first time in Whistler. The shop is small but packed with all different kinds of chocolate, cookies and candies.

Roger’s just came up with a new collection of chocolate inspired from different cocktail. They have different flavors such as Mai Tai, Mojito, Crantini, Cuba Libre, Pina Colada and Lemon Drop. You can get a six truffles pack with all the flavors. I bought a pack of cocktail chocolate and also two dark chocolate truffles, two salted caramel truffles and two ice wine truffles.

Most streams and rivers in Whistler are extremely clear because the water came from the ice glacier of the mountain. However, please don’t try to drink the water not because it’s not clean but because the flows are often very fast!

There were many benches at the sides of the streets; we found a long bench beside a stream when we got tired. I tried the ice wine truffle and the salted caramel truffle while enjoying the warm sunshine in the afternoon. The ice wine truffle used local BC ice wine and dark chocolate so the flavor was clear and pure. The salted caramel was decent because I prefer the caramel not to be too sweet or else it tastes too buttery.

If you like beer then the Brewhouse is high recommend. The clock tower is part of the Brewhouse and it’s always packed with people socializing and resting after a day of exploration. The Brewhouse is also in the middle of the Whistler Square. In the summer, sometimes there are outside concerts at the Whistler Square too.

Many restaurants in Vancouver don’t open for lunch, which causes most of my restaurant exploration to happen for dinner. However, if you are in Richmond by any chance during lunch, you can pay a visit to Jang Mo Jib.

Jang Mo Jib is popular chain Korean restaurant in Richmond; you can find the same restaurant in Burnaby and Downtown. The restaurant was empty during lunch and we were seated quickly. I flipped through the menu and decided to order Gam Ja Tahng (Pork Bone Hot Pot), Tohng Gahl Bee (BBQ Beef Rib), Hae Mool Pah Jun (Seafood Pancake), and Dol Sot Bee Bim Bahb (Hot Stone Rice).

The appetizer came quickly after we ordered. There were pickled white turnip, sauté potato, sauté soybean sprout and kimchi.

After awhile of chatting and sipping tea, the Gam Ja Tahng came onto the table. Gamjatang originated in the southern Korea in the province of Jeolla, a hot pot dish that was often served for big celebration. Since cows were much more valuable than hogs in that specific region, pork was used as the meat in the dish. Jang Mo Jib makes an excellent Gam Ja Tahng with lots of spice, spring onion and chili. The highlight of the dish was definitely the spicy soup, topped with some wild sesame seeds made it an exquisite dish.

The Tohng Gahl Bee followed soon after the pork bone hot pot. Since we chose the AAA+ beef rib, the meat was extremely tender. The scent of burnt wood was added to the flavorful beef. The cabbage and turnip salad with vinaigrette dressing went well with the beef.

Hae Mool Pah Jun was served with a small bowl of soy sauce. The seafood pancake contained simple ingredients at Jang Mo Jib. There were fake crabmeat, squid, and spring onion. The pancake was crispy on the outside and thoroughly cooked. 

Lastly, we had the Dol Sot Bee Bim Bahb which literally means “mixed meal” or “mixed rice”. It was served with a bowl of warm white rice topped with namul (there are zucchini, white turnip, spinach, carrot and bean sprout) and gochujang (which is the spicy chili paste). A fried egg and ground beef were added to the rice too.

All the dishes of this lunch were delicious and my favorite dish is definitely Gam Ja Tahng. The service is decent but a little slow. However, the overall experience is great and I would probably come back here again for lunch another time.

Jang Mo Jib (Alexandra Rd) on Urbanspoon

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