Brunch · Fusion · poke · Restaurants

ZCrew Cafe – Brunch with Haskayne 3.0

L drove me to my brunch with Haskayne 3.0. He accidentally dropped me off at the wrong location and I had to hoof it for the last seven blocks. When I got to ZCrew Cafe, Screamy asked me why I didn’t just call L to pick me up again. That idea never even occurred to me. She inquired why L didn’t come with to brunch. I said because he wasn’t invited. Screamy said it should be assumed he’s invited, as he’s my husband. I told her that in the future, she needs to be more specific with me. For this post, let’s listen to Shakira & J. Lo’s Superbowl performance.

Though I was uncharacteristically late, Strong Zero, Queen B, and Shady Bones were even tardier. I guess we aren’t on Japan time anymore! After fielding more questions about L’s absence and whether or not I should call him, we ordered food. Geez – I had no idea L was so popular. Why would they want him when they already have me?

tea

I enjoyed my pot of Jasmine Dragon Pearl Tea ($5.50). The blooming flower inside the clear pot was aesthetically pleasing. The tea was mild and fragrant with a subtle sweetness.

tofu

Screamy enjoyed her Crispy Tofu Bowl ($15). She said the tofu wasn’t crispy but it still tasted good. Her favourite part of the dish was the kimchi as it brought all the ingredients together.

matcha

Shady Bones ordered the Matcha Pancake ($17). She spent a good five minutes debating whether or not to eat the orchid. She shared her dish with Strong Zero.

burger

Strong Zero ordered the Monster Bao-Ger ($19). Man, this dude is precise. He cut his burger and the pancakes into half with surgical precision. Strong Zero said the little potato doughnut tasted like sweet, spicy balls. He offered me a bite of his food and I didn’t think before I spoke and said, “Why, don’t you like it?” He looked taken aback and responded he did like his food, he just wanted to know if I wanted to try it.

fried chicken

Queen B ordered the best looking dish – Korean fried chicken and waffles ($19). You could hear the skin crackle as Queen B cut into the chicken.

poke

My Special Poke Bowl ($17) tasted healthy. The wasabi mayo and teriyaki sauce were minimal, allowing the natural flavours of the vegetables to shine through. The rice was a little hard and I found a fish bone in the salmon. Overall, a tasty bowl.

ZCrew Cafe offers some seriously Instagramable meals. It’s a cool little spot offering brunch with an Asian twist. I can see why it’s such a popular spot with the kids.

ZCREW Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

 

Brunch · French · New York · Restaurants

New York – Buvette

Beep Beep wanted to check out Buvette because it was a Michelin recommended restaurant. We stopped by for a glass of wine and found the bistro so charming, we went again the following morning for her birthday breakfast. We arrived when the restaurant opened at 7:00 a.m.  so we could make it in time for the Wendy Williams show. For this post, let’s listen to the show’s theme song. 

Everything inside the bistro was adorable. I like the Parisian décor and the tiny seats and chairs. The narrow wooden stairs and brick walls added to the room’s vintage vibe.

Beep Beep ordered a latte ($6.5) and I requested an Americano ($4). I don’t normally like lattes but Beep Beep’s beverage was excellent. The foam was thick and creamy. The coffee was strong with just the right amount of milk to take the bitterness out of it.

We ordered Saumon Fume ($16) and the daily Omelette ($16). The steamed eggs in the salmon dish was smooth and custard-like. The salmon wasn’t like the frozen stuff I’m used to eating in Canada. The fish was thicker, fresher and tasted more sashimi-like. I loved the addition of the crème fraiche and the sourness of the pickled caper berries. I’d order this again.

eggs

The omelette was fluffy and moist. Simplicity at its best – I didn’t know eggs could taste this good. The generous layer of chevre was light and melted in my mouth.

Beep Beep and I got out of Buvette and in line for Wendy’s show by 7:55 a.m. As it was her actual birthday, Beep Beep was given a tiara to wear on the show. However, since she had already brought a tiara and it was far nicer, she gave it away. Beep Beep also brought a pink feather and rhinestone crown for me to wear.

I’ve never even seen an episode of Wendy so I wasn’t sure what to expect. Instead of doing her usual Q&A routine, Wendy announced that she was living in a sober house. I was shocked – as was the crew when they stopped filming. Beep Beep spoke to Wendy after the show and gave her words of support. Wendy nodded and asked if it was also my birthday, since I was wearing a tiara. Nope, I’m just a victim of Beep Beep’s love for you.

I told Beep Beep afterwards that I was surprised she didn’t try to shake Wendy’s hand or give her a hug. She told me that she knows better – Wendy is known for slapping fans away when they try to hug her or touch her microphone. Watch the video below for illustration.

Congratulations Beep Beep, that’s one off your bucket list. Next – to Café China – a one star Michelin restaurant. Whoot whoot!

Buvette Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Japanese · Restaurants · Tokyo

Tokyo Eats – Sakura Cafe

Back in Japan! Due to L’s work, we spend three weeks in Japan. In Tokyo, our group stayed in Ikebukuro, a lower income area known for a surplus of girlie bars. There are a few seedy streets, but other than that, Ikebukuro does the trick.  For this post, let’s listen to Plastic Love by Takeuchi Mariya.

For breakfast, L always goes to Sakura Café, which is part of our hotel – Sakura Ikebukuro. The 24 hour cafe has a large outdoor patio, a rarity in Tokyo. Last year, the cafe was quiet and filled with mostly tourists. This year, the cafe was packed with locals and tourists. In the previous year, the staff allowed our group to meet inside the cafe.

On our first morning in Tokyo, I knew our group was in trouble. A bunch of them came in and ate their store bought food inside the cafe and threw away their plastic bag and containers in the cafe’s bins. Japan is very strict regarding where you dispose your garbage. The appropriate thing would have been to keep your garbage with you and dispose of it in our hotel room or the hotel’s garbage bins.

Screen Shot 2018-06-01 at 8.41.11 AM.png

Other customers looked annoyed at our group, as the communal volume deafened all other conversations inside the patio. When we left, a staffer informed TJ that our group was too large to meet inside the cafe and no one was allowed to bring outside food to consume inside. We were also told that our group was too loud and implied we were being obnoxious.

L likes the breakfast at Sakura Cafe. For 350 Yen, you get all-you-can-eat white toast, Asian soup, coffee and tea. L ate here every day because he prefers a light breakfast and he could work while the group could find him if they had questions. I joined him a few times. I would get there early in the morning and drink three tiny cups of soup. I always scooped up the goodies on the bottom of the pot (bits of meat, seafood, vegetables). By the time I got my third cup, the pot of soup was mostly broth. I thought it was funny but when I told L, I could see he disapproved. I didn’t feel bad that other customers only got broth. It’s not my fault the cafe skimps on the good stuff.

Screen Shot 2018-06-01 at 8.41.51 AM

The coffee was weak and the toast reminded me of Cobb’s white bread. A flavourless margarine and three types of jam were offered for the toast. I preferred picking up oden from 7/11 and then buying a coffee at Sakura Cafe so I could sit with L.

Oden.jpg

Most convenience stores don’t sell oden in the spring or summer season. However, the 7/11 by our hotel did. I would eat three to four pieces – usually an egg, daikon, kinchaku, wiener-maki or shirataki.  Each piece ranges from 80 to 120 Yen. The broth was light, salty and savoury, made from a combination of soy and dashi. This simple stew looks strange but it’s tasty and warms you up first thing in the morning or late at night.

hamburger-gratin.jpg

Our hotel gave us a coupon for a free glass of wine or sake with the purchase of an entree. After a long day, TJ told us she wanted to grab a bite for dinner.  I knew from past experiences that when she’s hungry, she doesn’t want to wait for a table or to take the time to look around for a good restaurant. TJ only cares about the three Cs – convenience, cheapness and copious portions. I suggested we eat at Sakura Cafe even though I knew the food was the equivalent of Calgary’s Chili’s.  The wine taste like apple juice so I requested some ice cubes to enhance the flavour.

We all ordered the cafe’s specialty – Hamburger Gratin (1, 290 Yen). Basically, it’s a hamburger in a bun, covered in a creamy, cheesy sauce and baked until it’s a hot molten ball. I ordered a side of fries (490 Yen) to mop up the sauce and scraped most of the bun under the cast iron pan on top of my plate. L made a face because of the mess I was making. I told him I’d put the discarded bun back on the pan after I was finished dipping my fries with the sauce. I needed to move the bun otherwise the bread would soak up all the sauce. He pretended he didn’t know what I was talking about. After eight years, I can read L like an open book.

Highlight – my newfound love for oden. It’s a low calorie and a guilt-free option.

Lowlight – getting reprimanded for our group’s behaviour. Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.

 

Brunch · Burgers · Restaurants · Vancouver/Richmond

Richmond – White Spot – Part Deux

I asked my father Ludwig where he wanted to go for breakfast. White Spot he responded, without a moment’s hesitation. However, he stressed that we were not to eat at the location inside Richmond Centre. Though I didn’t ask him why, he proceeded to inform me the reason. First, let’s put on some music. As my father stands firm when he makes a decision, let’s listen to Johnny Cash I Won’t Back Down.

Here’s the story. My father went to the White Spot located inside Richmond Centre. He noticed that there was all new staff. He emphasized that he did not recognize any of the employees. He ordered his usual – fish and chips with extra lemon. When his food arrived, the fish was so poorly cooked he didn’t eat it. It was not just the fish that tasted poorly. The fries were little shards of dried up potato and the coleslaw was not fresh. When the server came to clear his dish, she asked him if he wanted to pack up the leftovers. Ludwig responded, “I’ve been coming to the White Spot since I was a young boy. When I attended UBC,  I would drop by at the Broadway location after my classes. This was in the 60s. Since then, I have eaten at numerous White Spots all over the province so I am well aware of what the food should taste like. I am now 76 years old. I have to say this was the worst meal I have ever eaten at a White Spot.” The server said she could take $8.00 off the bill. Ludwig said that was a nice gesture but he would never return.

To sum up Ludwig’s story succinctly, he will now only eat at 5880 Number 3 Road, not the one at 6551 Number 3 RD. I wanted to cut some calories so I didn’t order my own plate. My vegetarian father ordered Nat’s Hearty Breakfast ($13.49). He picked scrambled eggs, three sausages, smash brown potatoes, and two pancakes with diabetic maple syrup.

whti spot b.jpg

My father weighs 124 pounds and he’s 5 foot seven. Yet he ate everything on his plate and ordered another refill for the potatoes. I don’t know where he packs it away. And why didn’t I get his metabolism? I did eat half a pancake and half a sausage. It was pretty tasty. The pancake was light and fluffy. The sausage was juicy and tasty, not like the tiny tasteless ones you get at Safeway. Ludwig disagreed with my observation and he said it wasn’t that much food as he had given me a pancake and a sausage.

breakfast.jpg

L ordered the Breakfast Quesadilla ($14.99) and shared it with me. This is a breakfast I can get behind. Two crisp tortillas were filled with mushrooms, fresh spinach, three cheeses, green onions, scrambled eggs, and chorizo sausage. The filling wasn’t uniformly hot, the cheese and spinach were warm but the eggs were colder. The cilantro in the sour cream was quite subtle so I enjoyed it.

pita

I’m all White Spotted out. Next!

White Spot Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Bakery · Brunch · Dessert · Restaurants

Thierry Chocolaterie Patisserie Cafe

My last day in Vancouver. Naomi chose Thierry so we could enjoy our breakfast in the sun. We managed to get a table by the front of the business. There was a Chow Chow dog tied up near our table. Tourists walking by assumed it was my dog (because the breed is originally from China?) and after petting it, told me my dog was a cutie. I just nodded and accepted their compliments as graciously as I could.

I love Thierry for their pastries. Naomi ordered a pain au chocolat ($3.95), a pear danish ($2.95), croissant au jambon, two americanos ($2.75) and a cappuccino ($3.25).

I love Naomi. She is one of my closest friends and her alpha female traits have served her well in life. However, when someone argues with her, she goes full on mortal combat. There was a mix-up at the counter when Naomi ordered all her pastries and at one point I was worried she’d bring out her nunchucks. Thankfully, all it took was her receipt as proof to clear up the confusion.

Screen Shot 2017-03-26 at 3.24.42 PM.png

I ordered a cappuccino and a ham and cheese croissant ($4.99). I think the sweets, like the cakes and danishes are the best items to try at Thierry. My croissant was flaky and the cheese tasted like it was gruyère. The ham was thickly sliced, folded over and it tasted like it was good quality. My cappuccino was alright. The foam was nice and light, but I prefer my espresso to be stronger and heavier on the creama and less milky. I think Mercato in Calgary makes the best cappuccino.

Screen Shot 2017-03-26 at 3.24.34 PM.png

If you’re in the hood, I would make this a destination for dessert and an after dinner drink. There’s also gorgeous macarons, chocolates and treats you can purchase which make for great gifts.

Thierry Chocolaterie Patisserie Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Burgers

Angel’s Drive In

Screen Shot 2016-10-01 at 2.39.27 PM.png

EA Supreme and I were in Bowness Park for a community event. I had heard a lot of positive comments about the food at Angel’s Drive In, which is a couple of blocks away from the park. EA Supreme said she’s been coming to Angel’s for over a decade. My boss Tread Lightly has an obsession with the mushroom burger. He informed me that he’s eaten at Angel’s at least a thousand times.

screen-shot-2016-10-01-at-2-39-17-pm

One thing you should know about Angel’s is that it isn’t fast food. Bugers are cooked to order, so it does take time. The clientele is a mix of 50 plus and hipsters. When I sat outside on the picnic bench, I watched a steady stream of cars and customers passing through the parking lot.

Screen Shot 2016-10-01 at 2.39.35 PM.png

I ordered a mushroom burger ($5.50) with onion rings, battered mushrooms ($5) and a chocolate banana milkshake ($5). The onion rings and mushrooms were covered in a delicious crunchy batter. Careful of the hot juice of the mushrooms, these babies were juicy. I really enjoyed the side of ranch sauce for my onion rings and mushrooms, way better than ketchup.

Screen Shot 2016-10-01 at 2.39.43 PM.png

The mushroom burger was yummy. The bun was big and soft. The 100% beef patty was covered in homemade mushroom sauce and plenty of thinly sliced mushrooms. I liked how the white cream sauce would ooze out from the bun.

Screen Shot 2016-10-01 at 2.39.51 PM.png

The milkshake was velvety smooth. The addition of the fresh fruit gave it a mellow sweetness. I noticed that the ice-cream didn’t melt right away and held its original consistency the length of time it took me to drink it.

I’m already salivating thinking of my next meal at Angel’s. Next, I want to try the mozzarella burger, fries, breakfast dishes and of course, those onion rings and deep-fried mushrooms.

View my food journey on Zomato!

Angel's Drive In Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Brunch · Seattle

Seattle – Tilikum Place Cafe

Screen Shot 2016-08-27 at 4.54.17 PM

I’m starting to know Seattle pretty well. In my twenties, I would come with friends for a weekend away. When I hit my thirties, my husband and I would visit so he could get his Nordstrom fix. The purpose of this particular trip was to celebrate my friend’s pregnancy. Beep Beep and I did our usual round at Pike Place Market and then walked over to Tilikum Place Cafe in Belltown for brunch.

Screen Shot 2016-08-27 at 4.55.13 PM

I was impressed with our server and our table. We sat right by the window. Look upwards and you can see the Space Needle. Our server made excellent recommendations for portion sizes, food and booze.

Screen Shot 2016-08-27 at 4.55.19 PM

I ordered a glass of rosé ($9). As Beep Beep’s pregnancy makes her hungrier than usual, we picked three dishes. We ordered a stack of crumpets with plum preserves and ginger butter ($10), poached egg avocado toast ($14) and Dutch babies – baked blueberry pancakes with powdered sugar (14).

Screen Shot 2016-08-27 at 4.54.30 PM

I’ll start with the savoury – the avocado toast. The bread was thick, crusty and rustic. An appropriately hearty vessel for the buttery smoothness of the avocado. Personally, I would have liked more than one egg. There wasn’t enough yolk to eat with the carbs. The toasted Middle Eastern spices over the eggs also nicely accented the salad. I loved everything about this salad – the mix of fresh greens, the assortment of herbs, the light dressing and the generous slices of grapefruit. So refreshing, I could eat this salad all day long.

Screen Shot 2016-08-27 at 4.54.23 PM

The crumpets arrived steaming hot. I watched as the ginger butter trickled down the sides of the fluffy crumpet tower. The sugar icing added a touch of sweetness to the tartness of the plums.

Screen Shot 2016-08-27 at 4.55.29 PM

Beep Beep liked the baked blueberry pancake. The texture was smooth and eggy, like a hot custard. The exterior was crispy and the interior reminded me a bit like quiche.

Screen Shot 2016-08-27 at 4.54.48 PM.png

We walked around some more and found my  friend Buzzy’s favourite spot for coffee, Top Pot Doughnuts. We were too full to try the doughnuts but I did get a coffee. I can’t believe how cheap everything was – a dollar for coffee or a doughnut. With its free Wifi, friendly staff, cool set-up and inexpensive food, I would frequent this place if I were a local.Screen Shot 2016-08-27 at 4.55.51 PM.png

Screen Shot 2016-08-27 at 4.54.54 PM.png

On our way back to our accommodations, we picked up some mugs at Starbucks to bring home for our husbands. I found another thing Seattle has over Vancouver and Calgary… wine is served at select stores…. Where was this when I was a barista?

Screen Shot 2016-08-27 at 4.55.43 PM.png

 

View my food journey on Zomato!

Tilikum Place Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

View my food journey on Zomato!

Bakery · Brunch · Sandwiches

Canmore and Banff Day Trip

Screen Shot 2016-08-13 at 1.24.25 PM.png

My colleague EA Supreme took me out to Banff and Canmore for an afternoon retreat. She picked me up at the parking lot of a McDonald’s in Bowness, and off we rode off in her big red truck. The ride up was scenic, lots of green fields and a view of the looming mountains.

Screen Shot 2016-08-13 at 1.25.04 PM.png

Our first stop was at her favourite breakfast spot, The Summit. According to EA Supreme, this cafe is always busy, filled with hikers fueling up for the day. The food is simple and homey, something my father would make for us when we were kids. EA Supreme ordered the breakfast bagel ($6) and I ordered the breakfast sandwich ($7.50). The egg was flat, the orange yolk still warm and gooey. The piece of lettuce, tomato, cheese and bacon was also thinly sliced.

Screen Shot 2016-08-13 at 1.24.54 PM.png

Before we left for Banff, we stopped next door to Fergie’s, a convenience store with homemade baked goods. EA Supreme told me the owner is French. At the front by the cashier, you can buy freshly made doughnuts, cinnamon buns and the best, hugest apple fritter. I could not stop eating this over sized treat ($2.99 or 2/$5.00). The exterior was crunchy, greasy and drenched in a sweet glaze. The interior was soft but not doughy. Just thinking of it makes my mouth water.

Screen Shot 2016-08-13 at 1.25.22 PM.png

Screen Shot 2016-08-13 at 1.25.50 PM.png

Once in Banff, we went up to the gondola ($42) on Sulfur Mountain. I was initially reluctant to go along as it was foggy. However, the staff informed us that there was an inversion, so once we made it past the dense layer of fog, the view was spectacular. When we arrived at the top, we spent an hour walking on the hiking paths and soaked in the sights.

Gondal

 

ea and me

EA sumpreme

When we came down, we walked over to dip into the sulfur hot springs ($7.00). Most people were with their significant other. Both our husbands dislike this sort of day trip. EA Supreme and I joked this was a romantic trip so far. I asked her if she wanted to hold hands but she declined the offer.Screen Shot 2016-08-13 at 1.25.38 PM.png

Screen Shot 2016-08-13 at 1.25.30 PM.png

From the hot springs, we walked past the Banff Springs Hotel into the touristy downtown core. After I spent too much money on workout gear, EA Supreme and I checked out Bow Falls for a few photos.

Screen Shot 2016-08-13 at 1.26.25 PM.png

On the way home, we stopped by my favourite poutinerie, La Belle Patate. We shared a large deluxe poutine ($15) which came with sautéed mushrooms, grilled onions, smoked meat, cheese curds, gravy and fries. The toppings were enormous, piled high on our foil takeaway container. I was so full, that I didn’t eat dinner that night. The dish is salty, which makes sense given the ingredients. I prefer the traditional poutine, as the fries stay crisper. Next time I’m in, I think I’ll share a small classic poutine with a side of extra curds.

Screen Shot 2016-08-13 at 1.26.16 PM

Thanks EA Supreme for taking me on such a delightful day trip. It’s a shame I don’t get out more often to enjoy Alberta’s unique and beautiful landscape. Next, I want to visit Jasper and Drumheller.

 

View my food journey on Zomato!

La Belle Patate Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Brunch

Monki Breakfast Club and Bistro

One of Jaime’s favourite brunch spots is Monki. She raves about the the prosecco hollandaise sauce on the eggs benny. Last Sunday, I arrived at Monki at 12:45 pm. I was told our table would be ready by 2:00 pm. Jaime and I shopped around to kill time. At 2:00 pm we checked our status at Monki. Turned out someone tried to call me but I didn’t see it on my phone, nor heard it ring. I blame my brothers for their constant texting about Walking Dead. Our table was long gone, but Jaime sweetly asked if it was still possible to get a table. Lucky for us, we only had to wait another ten minutes.

Screen Shot 2016-04-05 at 8.09.32 PM.png

Monki is a tiny restaurant. I remember when it was Petite, one of the first nice restaurants I experienced in Calgary when my husband and I were dating. The vibe is funky and eclectic. I enjoyed the music, boisterous tunes ranging from 60’s to 80’s.

Screen Shot 2016-04-05 at 8.09.43 PM.png

Our server was friendly and despite how busy it was, he was around to refill my coffee and our water. The action in the open kitchen was awesome. We could see flames flaring up from our table.

Screen Shot 2016-04-05 at 8.10.12 PM.png

I ordered Fratello coffee ($3.00) while Jaime opted for a decaf cappuccino ($4.50). I liked that the coffee was piping hot. For food, Jaime ordered a vegetarian benny while I took my server’s recommendation to try the Spanish Chorizo Benny.

Screen Shot 2016-04-05 at 8.09.24 PM.png

I enjoyed popping my yolks and watching the bright dark orange liquid flow over the egg whites. Jaime said she could taste the prosecco and some orange zest in the hollandaise sauce. My tastes are not so refine. I just tasted deliciousness.

Screen Shot 2016-04-05 at 8.10.18 PM.png

I liked the texture of the ground up chorizo, soft and mealy. The caramelized onions and goat cheese complemented the spicy heat of the sausage. The potatoes crispy, chunky, and well seasoned. I thought the spices tasted a bit like what you get in ketchup chips, sweet and tangy.

Screen Shot 2016-04-05 at 8.10.26 PM.png

The side of fruits is worth eating. I normally pass on fruit cups, but at Monki, we were treated to blood oranges, grapes, mandarin oranges, melon and pineapple. I found out from our server that they buy all the fruit from the Farmer’s Market.

Screen Shot 2016-04-05 at 8.10.04 PM.png

For dessert, we received fortune cookies. I received two while Jaime got a lame fortune. Jaime’s fortune isn’t worth a picture, but I’ll tell you what it said, “The best way to get rid of an enemy is to make him a friend.” Now that’s a bad fortune. Like hell I’d make an enemy a friend. Life’s to short to surround yourself with frenemies. Jaime just needs to hang around me more often and avoid sh%!#y advice.

Jaime likes Monki more than Parc because she says the food is more flavourful and unique. Prices are very reasonable considering the quality. I want to go back to try the Frittata and panini. Thanks Jaime for recommending this popular brunch hot spot.

View my food journey on Zomato!

MONKI Breakfast Club & Bistro Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato