Top Disappointment Shanghai Restaurant

Chicken Balls in Spicy Sauce

Chicken Balls in Spicy Sauce

After an enjoyable round at Green Acres Golf Course in Richmond, BC, we asked our playing partners for their restaurant picks. The first restaurant they recommended to us was the Top Shanghai Restaurant on No. 3 Road in Richmond. I couldn’t help but to ask Sylvia Wong for her favourite dishes. I told her we have tried many Shanghai restaurants in Vancouver but we always order the same old thing. The dumplings of course, is standard Shanghai but they are almost the same wherever we go. Sylvia insisted that we order that if we were to go to that restaurant. Along with that, she recommended us to order a roasted duck or whatever duck was on the menu. I asked about a fish dish and she didn’t advise anything special.

When we arrived at the restaurant, it was jam packed. Everyone in Richmond was there. I found the atmosphere almost deafening. There was laughing and loud conversations going on several tables by the wall. When the menu landed on our table, I was impressed. Did I tell you that I love restaurants with huge menus? The menu was like a large coffee table book with pictures. Oh, I love menus with pictures, especially when I don’t read Chinese.

We went through the menu and decided to find the duck that Sylvia had recommended. Instead of a crispy chicken dish, we found a crispy duck dish. We ordered it. Then came the chicken. The name intrigued me. It was something like Chicken balls in spicy sauce.

Out of tradition, we ordered the Shanghai dumplings, even though they were dim sum items. When the food came, no rice was served so we ordered two bowls of it. The chicken balls was a disappointment. First of all, they weren’t ball shaped. I don’t know where we went wrong. The crispy duck was a disappointment too. It was salty, very salty and it reminded me of wax duck that I had when I was a kid. FYI, wax duck is preserved in salt and smoked.

Overall, the dinner was ok. And for the menu, we found out most of the dishes are obsolete and they don’t serve it anymore.

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Italian Cafeteria

Broccolini an Sausage Pasta

Broccolini an Sausage Pasta

To all Via Cibo fans, sorry about the title of my post but I mean it in a good way because I think the owners of it has it right. The pasta is delicious and fast. Who says good food has to take a long time to prepare?

At Via Cibo, join the line at the front door and choose from a menu up high. There are pasta dishes, sandwiches, pizza, salads, drinks and gelato.

I wanted something extra spicy so I ordered the Broccolini and Sausage pasta. There is a milder version but if you want some heat, make sure you ask for ‘extra spice’. You get a choice of penne or linguini so I chose the linguini. The broccolini was chopped up into small pieces, almost unrecognizable small. I forgot for a moment what the green stuff was and thought they were green onions. The sausage was firm and was told it was homemade.

The pizza looked good and authentic. It is like Wolfgang Puck’s pizza, flat and crusty. There’s also a kid’s menu which are smaller versions of the big adult’s menu. The kid sized pizza is a little larger than a DVD and the adult size is more like a frisbee.

Pasta is served with a slice of bread and if you ask, they will accompany your meal with a free glass of iced water. They also serve still and mineral water if you wish.
Via Cibo on Urbanspoon

Little Mouths to Feed

Doctor Fish

Doctor Fish

When I was in Singapore a few weeks ago, I stopped by a foot spa on my way to the Singapore Flyer which turned out to be like the London Eye but over Singapore instead. There were a lot of commotion at this foot spa because people were crowding around a fish tank full of fish and a few people had their feet in it. What kind of foot spa was this?

It turns out that the fish is known to be of the ‘doctor fish’ variety and they like eating dead skin. People paid 30 Singapore dollars to have their feet immersed in a fish tank for 30 minutes. Once your feet hits the water, doctor fishes swarm to them and start eating. It’s like a scene from Indiana Jones with piranha fishes going at fresh flesh.

Azim was a paid customer and had his feet photographed. I asked him how it felt and he said it tickles at first. There are literally hundreds of these fishes fighting to get the dead skin from your feet. You have hundreds of little mouths to feed and an endless supply of dead skin.

These foot spas are very popular in a lot of Asian cities but there are very controversial at home in Canada. FYI, they are illegal here to open and banned in Canada and the US.

iDevice popular on cruise ships

iPad Class

iPad Class

It was standing room only at the ‘iPad, iPhone and iTouch’ orientation class on Celebrity Cruises’ Millenium ship, SE Asia Northbound trip. I couldn’t believe how popular this class was but a lot of people travel with their Apple devices, including me.

The instructor was Apple certified and he knew his stuff pretty well. I have been using iTouch, iPad and iPhone for a number of years but I managed to learn a few new tricks in this class.

They taught us how to “print screen” and why do it. They also showed us how to conserve battery power, how to use our device as a hotspot and share our internet connection and on the newer iPads and iPhone 5, “air drop” was demonstrated. Over 3 days at sea, they had a session at least once every sea day and every session was full house.

As long as I own Apple (AAPL) shares, I’m happy to see how popular Apple products are.

I’m Tongue Thai’d

Basil Chicken

Basil Chicken

I’m just 14 days away from getting on a plane and visiting Thailand for the first time. Last year when I when booked the trip, I promised myself I was going to visit countries that I enjoy the cuisine from. And so, I feel like sharing another restaurant with you that I really like. At Juree’s Thai Place, I like every dish they serve there. My favourite dish is the Fried Fish with special sauce but the Basil Chicken is exceptional too. The food is usually delicious with just the right amount of spice.

Unlike a lot of Thai restaurants in YYC that seem to bring a small bowl of the Tom Yum soup, Juree’s serves it to you in a large bowl that can be shared among the 2, 3 or 4 of you. I’m yet to find a Thai restaurant in town that still serves soup in the traditional slow cooker with a propane flame at the bottom. Please share a comment if you know of a Thai place in YYC that gives you an abundance of soup.

The one thing I really enjoy at Juree’s is the waitresses. They wear traditional Thai dresses that seem to make me feel like I was in Thailand already. They seem to speak Thai which is a good indication that the cook is Thai. Don’t you hate it when you hear Mexican in a Thai kitchen or Chinese in a Japanese sushi bar?
Juree's Thai Place on Urbanspoon

Heaven Fish

Fish with Tamarind Sauce

Fish with Tamarind Sauce

Sometimes you find a dish around town that you absolutely fall in love with. On a late night after golf, we decided to try Juree’s Thai Place on 16th Avenue, just west of the North Hill Shopping Mall. We were worried that they wouldn’t sit us because it was close to closing time but they were happy to accommodate us, along with three other parties after us.

The place is incredibly cozy. I thought I was in Bangkok, sitting in an eatery with waitresses in beautiful and authentic Thai dresses. The menu has everything including soup, salad, entrees and dessert.

We started our meal with Tom Yum Soup which is a clear broth. We were pleasantly surprised that it was served in a large bowl. There were plenty of soup to go around, even if it was just the two of us. The next dish was the fish with special sauce. There were three large filets of Basa fish that was fried to perfection. The coating on it was like panko but it was the sauce that blew us away. This dish is so incredible and tasty that next time, all we are going to order is the soup and this fish. No need for other dishes.

Along with the meal, we ordered coconut rice which adds to any Thai meal. It’s only a hint of coconut but enough to make white rice enjoyable. We made the bad mistake by ordering too much and ended up packing away the Pad Thai which looked good. We ended up eating it the next day for lunch.
Juree's Thai Place on Urbanspoon

Where’s Bobby?

Beef Chunks

Beef Chunks

The best dish in the house is clearly, Beef Chunks with Bobby Chao’s Special Sauce. The restaurant is Bobby Chao Pho House and it is located on 53rd Street in Edgemont. The food is tasty and the prices are reasonable but their service sucks!

This was our second visit in two weeks and we were disappointed with the service or lack of. On our first visit, we ordered bubble tea and dinner for four. After a half an hour, half of our bubble tea order came but no food. After 45 minutes, the first dish arrived and it was the BBQ Pork. Not knowing when the other dishes were going to arrive, we asked for some white rice. After another 15 minutes, the other bubble teas came but we told them we were still waiting for the rice. Another 10 minutes passed and finally, the waitress almost threw the rice container at us. She was in a hurry to get to another table. When every table around us were fully into their meal, the second dish we ordered was served. It would take over two hours to have our dinner.

Our second visit wasn’t much better. We decided to go for an early supper and sat down at 4:30pm. The restaurant was empty at the time as we put in an order for bubble tea and about three dishes including the Beef Chunks with the special sauce. Again, the bubble teas took about half an hour. Another couple sat down behind us and ordered. Twenty minutes later, their order was served as we sat disgusted. We inquired about our order and they said it was coming. After another twenty minutes, the couple who came in after us had finished their meal and left the restaurant. We flagged the waitress down and inquired about our dishes. She kept saying it was coming but there was sign of any food coming out of the kitchen. “Where’s Bobby?”, we asked. She just shrugged her shoulders.
Bobby Chao's on Urbanspoon

Wonderful Broth at Muku Ramen

Tonkatsu, Spicy Ramen

Tonkatsu, Spicy Ramen

You can tell a lot about a restaurant from the broth they make and at Muku Japanese Ramen, the broth is delicious. If you want to get out of the rain and into a warm, cozy hangout on the 14 Street corridor then come in to Muku. It is very popular hangout for people who live in the area and there’s plenty of parking there too. They actually share the parking lot with Globefish, the sushi restaurant.

Muku does not serve sushi whatsoever. They even post a sign on the door that no sushi is served. Muku serves noodles and appetizers. Don’t expect to see teriyaki chicken or katsu don or sashimi because there’s nothing like that here.

The menu is simple to navigate. Basically they have a map of Japan on it to highlight three main broth styles. I chose the Tonkatsu ramen with a large scoop of hot sauce served in my broth. Once stirred, the broth is rich and flavourful. For those of you that cannot take the heat, take your spoon and scoop out some of the red stuff. The broth is made from cooking pork bones in high heat for a long time. The bone marrow is released into the broth and gives it the richness.

Garnished with my broth are green onions, baby corn and slices of lean pork. The other two broth styles are from northern Japan and central Japan. They are both equally tasty but I wanted something different this time around.

After the ramen, I was still a little hungry and needed something from their appetizer menu to round off my meal. I chose their deep fried baby octopus. For $6.50, you get about 6 battered baby octopus fried and served with a nice mayo mixture.

Muku Japanese Ramen on Urbanspoon

Best Muffler Service

Calgary Mufflers

Calgary Muffler

If you need an honest opinion about something underneath your car or truck, head over to Calgary Muffler at 58th Ave and Macleod Trail. Like a medical clinic, you don’t need an appointment. You simply show up with your vehicle and they will jack it up and assess your situation. 

These guys are honest and are AMA approved. Before dropping by, I called Canadian Tire and asked them about replacing my muffler. They couldn’t help me. They said they were not familiar with a Land Rover and if they could find the part, it would be well over $500. I sure didn’t feel assured.

I called Calgary Muffler next and asked the same questions. They said they would replace it for about $250 but they had to see the vehicle. With a loose muffler, I took care in driving down to Chinook where Calgary Muffler is. 

Once they had an empty slot, they motioned me and I drove into the bay. They hoisted my Land Rover up in the air and they went underneath it. They pointed out that my muffler was completely rusted and it was about to fall off. They said they would put a brand new tailpipe in for under $258.

I told them to go ahead. After an hour, my truck was ready to go. These guys rock!

Crab Envy

Ginger and Green Onion Crab

Ginger and Green Onion Crab

When in Vancouver, you have to eat Asian food and ordering crab is a must-do. But be forewarned – it is one messy meal and you can’t eat it on the sidelines neither, meaning that you have to get in with both hands.

You can ask for a finger bowl but good luck on someone understanding what you want. Instead, make yourself one by taking your rice bowl and pouring some hot tea in it. If you can get yourself a slice of lemon, squeeze some juice into the tea and you have yourself a ‘finger bowl’.

Now get your fingers dirty by grabbing a piece of crab and tasting the sauce by sucking the juices off it. Let me recommend the Ginger and Green Onion sauce because it’s the tastiest and most popular.

Where to go? In Burnaby, you have to go to Rose Garden Seafood Restaurant on Kingsway, just east of Joyce Street. Order the special meal for 4 or 6 or 8 people and you’ll get the crab dish for free.

There will be plenty of food because their servings are very generous. And everything is so delicious there.
Rose Garden Seafood Restaurant 嘉好海鮮美食之家 on Urbanspoon