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While visiting the Commercial Drive neighborhood, we happened upon the Windjammer Restaurant. I remembered this establishment from its previous locals on Main street in the 2000s, and even when it was on Oak Street in the 1980s. I walked past it many times, and glanced at the menu, but never patronized it. This would be the day.

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I recall that in the original location on Oak Street, it was a classic British fish & chip establishment.  But here, the menu is expanded to include burgers and sandwiches.

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The special of the day was fish & chips, and fish-cakes & chips.

I went with the Fish Cakes with chips and coleslaw

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The fish cakes were minced haddock, mashed potatoes, shallots, parsley, and capers, formed into puck-shaped discs, breaded and deep-fried to a light crisp.  It’s served with sides of fried potatoes, coleslaw, a lemon wedge, and tartar sauce.

The fish cakes were pretty good; they had a rather home-made quality to them.  They had some decent flavor, and good seasoning, with a light crisp on the outside.

The fries were crisp on the outside, and tender on the inside.  They looked and tasted like they were made from frozen.  As frozen goes, they were actually not bad.

The coleslaw is shredded cabbage, and carrots, in a tart vinegar based dressing.

The tartar sauce was just okay.  It didn’t have much tang or flavor.

My lunch companion ordered the cod and chips with coleslaw

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The fish was fresh with a light crisp batter. It was moist and well seasoned.

The room is simple, functional and clean.

The server was pleasant, and helpful.

This was, overall, a decent meal at a very reasonable price (especially since we were having the special of the day).

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I attended a banquet at the Fortune House Seafood Restaurant in Metrotown Shopping Center. It’s located on the second floor, on the south side of the mall, close to the bus terminal.

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The opening dish was a cold assorted meat platter

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This is a cold platter of assorted meats, this time consisting of barbequed pork, pork hock, roasted pork belly, barbeque duck, and sliced marinated jellyfish. Roast pork was fairly lean, the cracklins had some decent crunch.  barbecued pork was pretty good.  The jelly fish was underseasoned (it doesn’t have any flavor if its own, the flavor comes from a marinade made from sesame oil).

This was followed by deep-fried prawn ball with almond coating
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Pretty much as named, this is a ball of minced prawn meat, formed into a ball, rolled in duck yolk, then rolled in toasted almond flakes, and deep-fried.  It had a nice crunch on the toasted almonds.  The prawn inside tasted okay but was very firm.  The seasoning was good.

Next came cuttlefish and chicken with snow peas and celery
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This is a stir fried platter of sliced cuttle fish, sliced chicken breast, with snow peas, celery, carrots, scallions and ginger.  The snow peas and celery were crisp and al dente.  The cuttlefish properly cooked, tender with just a little bite.

The next dish was fish maw soup with seafood and dried scallop
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This is a seafood soup made with fish maw (bladder), shreds of dried scallop, and prawns in a fish broth.

Soup flavor was just okay.  The dried scallop and prawns were barely noticeable.  Needed some tangyness from acid, fortunately rice wine vinegar was available as a standard condiment.

Next dish was stir fried lobster with ginger, onions and scallions
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This is two lobsters, segmented, dredged in seasoned starch, and stir fried with ginger, onions, scallions.  Unfortunately, this was slightly overcooked; the lobster meat was a little tough.  It’s a shame since this should be one of the highlight dishes in the menu, and is probably one of the priciest.

No to be outdone (price-wise) the next dish was braised abalone and peashoots
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This is whole braised abalone foot, served over blanched peashoots with a savory brown sauce.

I actually like abalone, but not in this format.  I prefer it sliced thin.  Whole abalone has a rather chewy texture.  But the flavor is excellent, and the seasoning was good.  The peashoots were a tender al-dente (if the word is appropriate for vegetables).

The following dish was steamed whole rock cod
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This is a whole (gutted) rock cod that’s steamed until cooked through, and dressed with soy, sesame oil and fresh scallions.  The server partially fillets the rock cod upon serving. Rock cod is a firm white fish with a mild flavor.  Much of the flavor in this dish comes from the soy, oil and scallion dressing.  This was pretty good.  The fish was the correct doneness, and flavors were on the mark.

This next dish (according to the menu) was supposed to be soy sauce braised whole chicken.  But instead, it was crispy skin chicken with prawn chips
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Not sure if we were presented with the wrong menu, or there was a last-minute substitution, but regardless, this is a whole chicken, air-dried, seasoned then blanched with searing hot oil until cooked.  It’s butchered into bite sized pieces and served with crunch prawn chips. This was well executed.  The meat was cooked to the right doneness and was still moist, with the skin crispy.  The seasoning was spot on.

The next dish was seafood fried rice with abalone sauce
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This is finely diced chicken and scallops, stir fried with carrots, dried shiitake mushrooms, and shredded dried scallops, then served over white rice with a savory sauce. This was a little disappointing because it was under seasoned, needed salt.

The companion dish to the rice, was braised e-fu noodles with enoki mushrooms and shrimp
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This is e-fu noodles, blanched in hot water, and drained, then stir fried quickly with small shrimp, enoki mushrooms, sesame oil and oyster sauce.  This was noodle dish was just okay.  The noodles were a little over done, and were a bit mushy.  And the season was off, it probably needed more oyster sauce.

The meal was followed up by two dessert courses, the first was chinese petite fours (peanut cookies and lotus bean pastries)

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The peanut cookies were light and crunchy with a nice peanut accent from whole roasted peanuts. The lotus bean pasty is just that, a flaky wheat pastry (not unlike filo) surrounding a center of lotus bean paste, baked and served warm.  I don’t care for this pastry.  Not because of poor execution, it was prepared well enough, I just don’t like the wheat pastry; it’s bland and tasteless (I think it’s supposed to be like that).

The last dish was red bean soup with rice balls
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This is a chunky sweet soup made from partially pureed sweet red beans and dried tangerine peels, served with several glutinous rice balls.  The rice balls are filled with sweet black sesame paste.   The red bean soup was okay, I could barely taste any tangerine peel (which is a good thing, since I don’t care for it), but the rice balls were a little firm and hard.

The service was as can be expected from a chinese restaurant (efficient but otherwise aloof).

The room is expansive, but still someone crowded.  But it’s well light and otherwise comfortable.
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“East is East” is an eastern fusion restaurant with locations in the Riley Park neighborhood of Main Street, and in the West Kitsilano portion of West Broadway. The menu combine dishes that originate from Afghanistan, India and Persia.

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The room is very rustic, using wall hangings and decorations that allude to the middle east.

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Upon sitting, the server offered some complimentary chai tea

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I’m generally not a big fan of chai tea, so I can’t really say if this was a good or bad example of it.

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The server brought  a small tray of sauces to compliment the pending entrée.  This consisted of cups of tamarind sauce, mint and yogurt, and a cilantro pesto.

The entrée we ordered was eastern roti rolls

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Roti is a unleavened whole wheat flat bread that originates from India (in contrast to naan, which is yeast leavened).

This dish came with two roti wraps.  The first was the “silk road” (miso salmon in mild green Thai curry)

and the second was “Persia’s favorite” (lamb kabob with spinach and basmati rice).

The salmon in the “silk road” was nicely prepared.  It was cooked to the right “doneness”, properly seasoned and the aromatic flavors of the green curry came through.  The lamb in “Persia’s favorite” was tender and properly seasoned, with some good lamb flavor.  The spinach provided some decent green flavor. The roti wrapper itself was tender with a decent chew and flavor.

This was accompanied by a side salad of Baby spinach, greens, avocado and sprouts with hempseed pesto dressing.  This was a fresh crisp salad, and the dressing was surprisingly good (I say surprising since I had no previous experience with hemp, and didn’t know what to expect).

The other cup was Dhaal Soup, consisting of three different kinds of lentils, cauliflower, spinach, herbs and spices.  I’m generally not a big fan of dhaal, but this was actually pretty good.

Our server was very pleasant and genial, and was very happy to explain the dishes and ingredients to us.
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Generally, if I’m at Granville Island and I’m thinking fish n chips, I make a bee-line for Go Fish Emporium by the wharf. But on this occasion, I decided to try Tony’s Fish & Oyster Cafe on Anderson Street, by the Theatre Sports auditorium. This place has been on Granville Island for a long time, but I hadn’t patronized it in probably six or seven years. I’m sure the ownership has turned over several times since. It appears to have undergone a reno or two in the interim as well.  It was a full house upon arrival (midday on a weekend), and I had to wait 5 minutes for a seat at the bench.

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The menu looks more or less the same.  Fish & chips, clam chowder, fried oysters, mussels & fries, calamari.

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I went with the classic 2 piece cod & chips.

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So this is two cod fillets, dipped in batter and deep-fried to crunch, served over a mound of crispy hand cut fried potatoes.  It comes with a side of cole-slaw and a cup of tartar sauce.  The fish is fresh, and the batter is airy and very crunchy indeed, one of the crunchiest I’ve ever had. I’m pretty sure this is a rice flour (or a rice flour blend).  But it is a little light on seasoning, the batter could use some more salt.  Likewise, the fried potatoes are crispy (some bordering on crunchy) and a little light on seasoning.  At least each table has a small condiment tray that includes salt, pepper, malt vinegar and ketchup.  Because the fried potatoes and fish were served in a wax paper lined straw basket, the wax paper doesn’t absorb oil, so a thin pool of oil formed on the bottom.

The cole-slaw was pretty good, consisting of shredded green and purple cabbage, slivered carrots  It was fresh, and probably more sweet than tangy.

The tartar sauce was okay…. not sure, but I don’t think it was house made, it tasted industrial.

 

Tony’s is a small place, probably seats about 25.  The decor is pretty simple and rustic, and a little cramped.

My server was pleasant helpful and prompt.

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After attending a private function catered by Chau Veggie Express (which, by the way, was a non-vegetarian menu), I was intrigued enough to give the restaurant a try.

Chau Veggie Express is a modern vietnamese vegetarian restaurant.

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We arrived on a weekend afternoon, and seated ourselves at a communal long table.   The space is bright, airy and rather eclectic.  It appears to be the result of joining unrelated neighboring retails spaces into a single space.

We placed our order at the counter, and received a plastic figurine that would uniquely identify our order.

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I ordered the rickety rickshaw bowl

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this is a rice vermicelli bowl, topped with crispy shallots and mung beans, thin slivers of pressed tofu, matchstick cucumber, pickled carrots and daikon radish and a crispy kale spring roll.  It came with a small cup of nuoc cham (sweetened vinegar and fish sauce).  The noodles were tender, and the vegetables were fresh and crisp.  The fried shallots and fried mung beans provide nice flavor and crunchiness.  The slivers of pressed tofu provide some contrast with their soft, slightly chewy quality.  I liked the kale spring roll, it had some decent flavor and was very crisp.

My lunch companion ordered the night market salad
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This is a green papaya salad, with slivered carrots, apples, with roasted peanuts & mung beans, crispy shallots, orange zest citrus dressing, slices of firm tofu.  The crispy green papaya, slivered carrots and apples were very fresh and crisp.  The fried peanuts and mung beans were lightly crunchy.  The slices of firm tofu were… just kinda there.  Tofu, by itself has a very mild flavor, it absorbs the flavor of marinades and sauces easily, but there was no apparent marinade here.  This was probably one of the best green papaya salads I’ve had in the lower mainland.

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We finished off with a little dessert.  This is a mason jar of coconut tapioca pudding, topped with mango puree, toasted peanuts and sesame seeds.  This is quite tasty.  The coconut pudding is lightly sweet, and buttery smooth.  The tapioca beads were very soft,  if I closed my eyes, I wouldn’t even notice them.  The mango provides a fruity tone to the pudding, and the crushed peanuts and toasted sesame seeds provide a little crunchiness.

The service is fairly minimal, but the counter workers are pleasant and nice enough.  The room is bright and airy, the room is clean (and eclectic and quirky).  The communal tables take a little getting-used-to.

Pho Japolo is a local chain of Vietnamese restaurants (plus one sushi place). Their newest location is in Kitsilano on West Broadway, just off MacDonald street. It took over the former “Tang’s Bistro” location.

We stopped in a for a quick weekend lunch. We were seated immediately upon arrival.  The menu is fairly standard as vietnamese restaurants go.

This is the grilled pork and chicken with rice

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This is a fillet of boneless chicken, marinated in lemongrass and garlic, grilled lightly.  Its served alongside a thin boneless pork chop, similarly marinated in lemongrass and garlic.  They served over white rice, with a side of shredded lettuce, matchstick carrots and slice cucumbers.  It’s dressed with a sweet oil and scallion sauce, and served with a cup of dipping sauce (made from vinegar, fish sauce, sugar and crushed chili peppers).

The pork and chicken had some really good flavors, but both were slightly tough.  Not sure if it was over cooking, or lack of tenderization.  The greens were crisp and fresh, and the sauces were aromatic and sharp.

We also had a small side dish of deep-fried chicken wings.

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This is five chicken wings, marinated and dredged in (probably) tapioca starch and rice flour.  It’s deep-fried to light crisp and served hot.  These were nice wings.  They were hot and very crisp, and still juicy inside.  But they kinda lacked in seasoning.  There was some salt in there, but that’s about it.  It could use some white pepper or something else to give it some more oomph.

The room is a decent size (probably seats 40-50), it’s clean and bright.

The servers were efficient, but not especially warm or helpful.

The prices were a little high for Vietnamese cuisine, but probably what I should expect on the west side of town.

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This is a relatively new restaurant in the Riley Park-Little Mountain area of Main street.

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We had reservations are were seated immediately upon arrival.

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It’s a decent sized space… not too crowded. Quite clean and new.

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We ordered from a set menu.  The first to arrive was soup.

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This is a bit like a larger version of what Hong Kong Cafes refer to as “borscht”.  It’s a beef and vegetable soup, loaded with carrots, onions, cabbage and large chunks of beef, in a thin savory tomato and beef based broth.

Second arrival was a cold appetizer plate

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This consisted of marinated wood ear mushrooms and fried tofu cubes dressed in a sweet and spicy sauce.

The tofu is semi firm and spongy, with some nice texture.  I liked the sweet and spicy flavors of the sauce.  I the wood ear mushrooms have a texture that borders between chewy and crunchy.

This was followed by a crab dish.

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This is dungeness crab stir fried with ginger, onions, scallions and garlic.  It’s a good dish.  The crab is fresh and cooked to the right doneness.  The ginger, onion and garlic sauce provide a lot of savory aromatic flavor.

Next was the Beef and rice vermicelli noodles with satay sauce.

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This is stir fried beef fillets, dressed in a thick savory spicy satay sauce, studded with green peppers, onions, and pineapple cubes.  It’s served over thin rice vermicelli noodles.  This is a curious dish.  I like the savoriness of the beef and satay sauce, but I found the pineapple cubes distracting.

Next came a vegetable dish.

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This is braised bak choy with bean curd sheets and garlic.  It’s served in a thin chicken stock.  I found the bak choy bitter.  But the bean curd sheets were thin and light and the broth had good flavor.

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Next was sweet and sour deep-fried fish.  This is small fillets of fish (I think it was cod) dredged in seasoned starch and deep-fried to a light crisp.  It’s topped with sautéed slivered onions and red & green peppers and a sweet and tangy vinegar based sauce.

At this point we thought the meal was finished, but to our surprise, one last dish arrived.

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This is crispy skin chicken.  It’s a half-chicken that’s seasoned and air-dried, and poured over with searing hot oil until the chicken is cooked through and the skin is crispy.  It’s chopped in small portions and served with a small dish of sweet chili sauce. This was a pretty good chicken.  It was properly cooked through, and well seasoned with some nice crispiness.

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Lastly came tapioca and coconut soup.  This is a cold coconut milk soup, studded with small tapioca pearls.

This was pretty good.  Nice sweetness, but not overly so.  The tapioca pearls were very soft.

The service was decent enough.  Efficient and attentive but chinese restaurant standards.

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To celebrate my dinner companion’s birthday, we decided to try “The Flying Pig” at the Olympic Village.
Flying Pig bills itself as a “nouveau Canadian bistro”, meaning local seasonal ingredients in a casual atmosphere, and at a reasonable price.

The Olympic Village location on West 2nd Avenue (between Manitoba and Columbia street) is the newest one, open since late December 2014.  The others being the original location in Yaletown on Hamilton Street, and in Gastown on Water Street.

The restaurant did not accept reservations, but we arrived on a Wednesday night, and there was ample seating available.

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While examining the menu, the server brought out a complimentary basket of bread, with a plate of extra virgin olive oil and aged balsamic vinegar.

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The olive oil was fruity, and the aged balsamic vinegar had some nice sharpness to it.  The bread was quite soft and tender, but not especially crusty.  There actually four slices of bread, I was slow on the camera.

My dinner companion’s starter was Salt & Pepper “Humbolt” Squid.

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This is tender strips of squid, battered and deep-fried, garnished with salt, pepper, diced raw red onions, and served with lemon and dill yogurt dipping sauce.    This tastes and feels very much like a greek calamari to me.  It’s good.  It’s tender and well seasoned, and tastes pretty good,  but misses a little because there’s not much crispness.  If its deep-fried, I expect a little crispness.

 

My starter was Rocket and Watercress Beetroot salad.

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This is a green salad of rocket and water cress, tossed in an olive oil and balsamic vinaigrette, served with candied walnuts, fresh soft goat cheese slivers of fresh pear, and large cubes of roasted beets. This is a nice salad.  The greens are fresh and crisp.  The beets are roasted to a firm (but tender enough to cut without effort) al dente.  The walnuts are slightly sweet and nicely crunchy, and the goat cheese provided some creaminess.   I kinda thought the beet cubes were a bit too large though.

My dinner companion’s main was Pan seared BC Sablefish.

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This is a large filet of sable fish, seared on the skin side and finished in an oven, then served over a lobster bisque risotto, with vegetables and a chive beurre blanc sauce.  This was a very nice dish.  The risotto was tender and creamy with a light hint of lobster.  The sablefish was perfectly seared and roasted to just the right doneness.

My main was Blackened Steelhead Trout.

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This is a fillet of steelhead trout heavily seasoned with Cajun spices, and heavily seared on one side and finished in an oven.  It’s served over a ragu of shrimp and chorizo sausage pasta, studded with peas and zucchini.  This was a terrific dish.  The trout was boldly seasoned and cooked to the right doneness.  The pasta was spicy and held up well against the Cajun flavors of the trout.

We finished with a shared dessert of Bourbon maple creme brulee.

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This is a rich creamy custard, topped with carmelized maple bourbon sugar.  It’s served with fresh fruit and an oatmeal cookie, and dusted with powdered sugar.  This was a superb creme brulee. The custard is silky smooth and creamy, with just enough sweetness.  The bruleed top quite thick, but wonderfully sweet and crunchy.  The cookie was nice, but not especially noteworthy, next to the custard.  It’s a fairly large serving, and it was enough for two, given that we were pretty full from the rest of the meal.

The dining room is expansive and open, and quite loud from the ambient music.  It’s clean and little on the dimly lit side.

Our server was very attentive, and cheerful.  She also comped the dessert when she learned we were there to celebrate a birthday, so she gets bonus points for that.

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Mui Garden is a local chain of Hong Kong style cafes, with a little bit of a malaysian influence. This stop was in the Main Street location in the Riley Park neighborhood.

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As with many HK style cafes, they have an expansive menu that covers north american influence dishes like sandwiches and ham & eggs, to cantonese comfort food like congee and stir fried noodles.

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We decided to grab a “combo” off the lunch menu, and a “snack.

The combo includes a large bowl of soup.

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It’s a decent soup.  There’s some good flavor in the broth and it’s a generous serving size.

This combo featured a malaysian influence stewed brisket.

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This is cubes of brisket beef that are seasoned, browned and simmered in curry coconut sauce for hours until the beef is soft and tender.  It comes with a side dish of rice.

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This curried brisket is, as I understand, one of Mui Garden’s signature dishes, and with good reason.  It is really good.  The beef is fork tender, and well seasoned.  The curried coconut sauce is rich and thick and savory, but with very little heat.  There are cubes of potatoes in there as well, and they too are tender, and permeated with the same flavor of the curried coconut braising liquid.

We also ordered some fried chicken wings with fries potatoes as a “snack” item off the menu.

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This was four chicken wings (no drumettes), seasoned, dredged in (probably) starch, and deep-fried to a golden crisp.   The wings were nicely cooked, and had some decent flavor on the inside, but I couldn’t help but think it needed something else on the outside.  Some extra seasoning in the dredging, or tossed with some garlic and chilies….  The fries were okay, pretty sure they are the frozen variety… they needed salt.

The room is spacious and reasonably clean, but very tired and in need of a refresh.

The service was, actually a little slow… by the standards that I use to measure chinese restaurants.  Given that the restaurant was fairly quiet at the time, I would have expected more prompt service.

Mui Garden 梅園粉麵茶餐廳 on Urbanspoon

Au Comptoir is a relatively new french bistro in Kitsilano, just across the street from Whole Foods. Roughly translating to “The Counter”, this little bistro does it’s best to capture the look, feel, sound and taste of a small parisienne bistro. And it does a pretty good job of it.

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We started with a basket of complimentary bread with butter

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The baguette was crusty on the edges, chewy and tender inside.  It came with a small cup of unsalted creamery butter.  This was nice bread.

D’s starter was the thursday night cheese platter special

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This consisted of Roquefort, Camembert, apple slices, fig jam… and a couple of other aged cheeses that I couldn’t get the name of (noisy room plus the server’s thick french accent).  I liked the creamy roquefort cheese, and loved the sweet fig jam.

E’s appetizer was the Oeufs Meurette

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This was eggs poached on a warm shallot red wine sauce, with crispy bacon, garnished with perigord truffle shavings.  It was served with a couple of slices of crusty bread.

J’s appy was Bloc de Foie Gras.

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This was goose liver, seasoned, cured, and rolled into cheesecloth and aged.  It’s then sliced into discs, and served with toasted brioche.  I’ve only had foie gras once before, and while I thought it was pretty good, I was, and still am, at a loss to understand what all the fuss is about.  After this, I still feel the same…. it’s good, but to me it’s still just pate with toast.

This was my starter….Salade Vercingétorix.

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This was crisp baby gem lettuce, dressed in a garlicy mustard vinaigrette, topped with a soft-poached egg, gruyère, and anchovies.

My instinct is that this is a twist on a caesar salad.  The anchovies, the egg yolk, the croutons, etc.  I split the egg, and mixed it into my greens to produce a rich thick dressing.   It was pretty good.  The greens were fresh and crisp.  The croutons were crunchy.  The dressing was tangy with some good saltiness from the cheese, and the egg yolk provided some serious richness.

J’s main was Faisan Roti et son pithivier.

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This was roasted pheasant breast, chestnut pithivier, with coffee-roasted carrots.  The chestnut pithivier was the most intriguing part of the dish.  It’s basically a savory miniature chestnut pie.

D’s main was Magret de Canard.

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This was seared duck breast, gratin dauphinois, pickled raisin purée, endive.  The duck was beautifully done, good duck flavor, well seasoned.

E’s main course was Blanquette de Veau.

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This was a classic creamy veal stew served with rice.  The veal was incredibly tender and rich.

My main course was Bavette Pommes Dauphines

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This is skirt steak, seared and finished to medium, dressed with a shallot and red wine vinegar reduction, served with greens and mashed potatoes formed into balls and deep-fried to a light crisp.  I actually requested a medium-rare steak, but I anticipated that it would arrive at my table closer to medium.  This is just my experience… most of the time, steak will arrive slightly more “done” than requested, and this was pretty much what happened.   It had some good beef flavour.  It was properly seasoned, with a good char on the top and bottom.  The shallot and red wine sauce provided some sweet and tartness.

The pomme dauphine are whipped mashed potatoes, combined with the dough of choux pastry, formed into balls and deep-fried to light crisp.  These are fabulous.  They’re crispy on the edges, but pillowy soft and tender in the middle.

J’s dessert course was Paris Brest

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This is a choux pastry, filled with butter creme, dusted with powdered sugar.

E’s dessert was Creme Caramel

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This was a traditional vanilla bean caramel flan, served with a biscotti wedge.

D’s final course was Tarte Citron.

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This is a lemon curd served in a pastry short crust, topped with a light meringue.

My dessert was Tarte Tatin.

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This is basically an upside down apple tart, topped with a scoop of salted caramel ice cream and a square wafer of dark chocolate.  The pastry crust was short and crumbly, rather than delicate and flaky.  The apple was thick tender and caramely sweet.  The salted caramel ice cream was probably my favorite part of this dessert (the fruit and pastry were …. just okay).

The room is warm and inviting, with a distinctly french charm.  It’s not too crowded or cramped.

Our server was very good.  He was pleasant and friendly, and patient and willing to please.  He sported a thick parisienne accent, which adds to the charm of the experience, but also occasionally makes it difficult to understand the description of the menu.

Au Comptoir on Urbanspoon

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