Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Hokkaido Ramen Santouka

I will admit I'm the type of person who loves fall weather. I know a lot of people hate this type of climate, but for some reason I just love the cold and mood of fall. I guess one reason is because I get to finally wear all of my jackets! (Yes, I am a jacket addict when it comes to fashion!) and also because fall gives me an excuse to go eat as much noodle soup and hotpot as I want! Since my friends and I were not doing anything one Tuesday, we decided to go to Santouka for lunch after our quick shopping trip to Pacific Centre. If you guys haven't been to Santouka before, it's a small Japanese restaurant on Robson street that's pretty well-known for their ramen. On our way there, one of my friends started telling us about how good their pork jowl ramen is and that we have to try it out for ourselves. He even described it in a way that made me salivate even though I was still full from breakfast three hours before! 

Based from what my friends have been telling me about this place, there's usually a long line up that goes past the front entrance of their store especially during weekends, holidays and/or peak eating hours. The size of the place doesn't help much with the waiting part either because they can only fit a certain amount of people at a time. Luckily when we got there that day, they had just opened up shop a few minutes before so we didn't really have to wait long for a table. The three of us ended up deciding on their Toroniku Ramen (the one my friend was telling us about), which is their signature item on the menu that comes with a bowl of noodles, a plate of their famous pork jowl and toppings on the side. What I like about this dish is that they give you the option of choosing your own soup base and whether or not you would like to add on any other additional toppings with your order. I will admit I wasn't sure at first if I wanted to get their pork jowl ramen since I was still feeling the fullness from my breakfast, but after my friend convinced me that it was really something worth trying, I eventually gave in and ordered one for myself. 

When our orders finally arrived, I will admit I was pretty excited to try out the pork jowl especially after listening to my friend's very detailed description of how it tastes like. After taking the first bite into the cheeks.. I would have to say that my friend was spot on right with his descriptions! I was blown away by how soft and tender the pork was! You could clearly see from my facial expression that there was something magical happening inside my mouth! I literally felt like I was on meat heaven! It was just so light and melt in your mouth good that I even took my time chewing and eating it just so I could savor every bite of the pork cheeks!! The creaminess and seasoning of the broth as well as the right consistency of the noodles also helped better enhance the pork jowl and the overall flavor of the dish. If only you guys could see how happy I was right after! I was practically still smiling all throughout our walk back to the skytrain! Even with the long line ups, Santouka (for me) is one place worth waiting in line for. If you guys haven't been there yet, I highly recommend trying out their pork jowl ramen yourself and maybe you'll understand why this place is always full of people.

Toroniku Ramen (Kara Miso soup base)

Pork Jowl
Toroniku Ramen (Shio soup base)

Hokkaido Ramen Santouka 山頭火 on Urbanspoon

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Nordstrom Cafe (Oregon)

My family and I decided to go have a mini family vacation before school started so we decided to go to Oregon to spend some quality time together and do a little shopping for ourselves. We stayed at the Marriott Waterfront hotel in downtown Oregon and did some shopping in the dt area and some of their outlets. I have to say I haven't been to downtown Oregon in a while and the last time I was there, it was still lively and crowded! When we arrived I was so surprised at how much things have changed since the last time I went! Usually we would go to Washington Square for shopping but sadly since we went along with a tour bus and they didn't include this place in their itinerary, we didn't really have much freedom to go anywhere by ourselves. Hence, we couldn't go :( and since we were staying in the downtown area, that's where we did most of our shopping and of course at the outlets. We also didn't get a chance to eat in a lot of places since being with a tour, the food that we had to choose from was most of the time from the food court. The second night that we were in Oregon however, we were lucky enough to have time to eat a nice decent meal and since we were already in Nordstrom, might as well go eat at their restaurant Nordstrom Cafe.

When it comes to food, Nordstrom Cafe is not actually bad, in fact you could say that they are surprisingly doing quite well in the food department considering that they're a department store. Usually I eat at their downtown Seattle branch and during peak hours, line ups are all the way out to the door but in this branch, the place was practically empty but still thinking from our past experiences in Nordstrom Cafe we weren't that scared to go in even though there were zero people when we walked in. If you guys haven't been to Nordstrom Cafe before, it's Nordstrom's restaurant that's located inside their store (not all Nordstrom locations have this though).  The way their restaurant system works is that you have to pay and order at the front of the cashier then the servers will bring the food to you. The Seattle branch requires you to order first then a hostess will bring you to a table but since the Oregon location was totally empty, we just sat wherever we wanted to. One of the things that we usually order here is their Turkey Sandwich, I just love love their version of it. As simple of a meal as it may sound, I just really like the consistency of how it tastes like and how everything is put together. Their pasta dish is also a good choice to get when your here. The pasta is cooked perfectly (not too chewy and not too hard) and the thickness and amount of sauce that is mixed together is just right. They also have a great selection of salads to choose from but on this trip, we didn't get a chance to order any since their main dishes were very filling.

Even though the place was practically dead, at least the food quality is still consistent through out their cafes.

Half Turkey, Organic baby greens and Tomato Soup
Cranberry Turkey
Angel Hair Pasta w/ Asparagus & Salmon

Friday, August 24, 2012

Thomas Haas Chocolates & Patisserie (W. Broadway)

My sister and I were on our way home from UBC the other day and for some reason we were weirdly craving some Almond Croissants. Where better can we get the best almond croissants here in Vancouver, but at Thomas Haas Chocolates & Patisserie! Located on 2539 W. Broadway (Kitsilano area), Thomas Haas Chocolates & Patisserie has been serving Vancouverites and tourists with their fine chocolates and to die for pastries ever since they first opened up shop here in 2000. Whenever we go there for coffee, snack/dessert or just take out, I always end up buying more than I'm craving for because everything just looks so delicious to eat! Especially when I see my favorites (Almond Croissant, Herb & Cheese Scone, Macarons and their Kalamansi Cooler) on display or just freshly baked right out of the oven, I just can't help myself! You would be surprised at how fast a lot of their pastries get sold out especially when it comes to their almond croissants and scones! (My suggestion is to go early during the day when it's freshly baked and still in stock!) They also have one of the coolest looking packaging designs on their chocolates, not to mention.. very tasty chocolates as well! But if your thinking of going for breakfast or lunch, they also offer a variety of soup and sandwiches on their menu. Normally they are closed on Sundays and Mondays (so you have to find somewhere else to go if your craving for pastries), but they are back in business on Tuesdays to Saturdays from 8:00am until 5:30pm. What I also like about their shop is that the interior of the space is designed with a lot of wooden aspects. It's very clean, simple looking and modern, at the same time very inviting and relaxing for customers to look at. One issue that I find hard to deal with in this location though is street parking. Since it is located on West Broadway, street parking is the only available parking spot for you to park in. Not only is it a pain to look for a nice and close parking spot, but also to do parallel parking when there's a huge wave of cars coming right at you. Since I do really really love their pastries, I try to look past the street parking issue (no matter how painful or annoying the process is) just so I could get myself some of their awesome pastries!


Almond Croissant

Thomas Haas Fine Chocolates & Patisserie on Urbanspoon

Thursday, August 23, 2012


Thierry Busset is famous for his awesome desserts at CinCin restaurant and now he finally opened up his own store that sells his best and most delicious desserts! Located on Alberni street across from Coast and Black & Blue, this place is certainly one of the best dessert places to go to in downtown. Their macaroons and pear financiers are to die for! as well as their super thin apple tarts and caneles! Their cakes and mousses are filled with creamy goodness! And their fruit tarts are just absolutely divine! (especially my personal favorite.. their lemon tart!)

Like any other place in downtown, there are a couple of ups and downs when it comes to going to restaurants/cafes. One of them is definitely parking! Parking as everyone knows is really really expensive in downtown. Usually street parking is the way to go but there's always a chance that you might not be able to find one at all. Also, it costs around $4 just to park for an hour so not only is it a pain to find a good parking spot, it's also very expensive. If you don't want to park on the street however, there are a couple of underground parking lots that do let you park for a couple of hours or up until the next day (It just depends on which parking lot you end up in). Another solution here is to just take the sky train! It's way easier and faster to travel to downtown and costs less than paying for gas and parking (which could also mean less money for parking and more money for food!).

Most of the time though, I usually go to Thierry after dinner or in the late afternoon. From what I've seen and experienced at Thierry after dinner, there's usually no tables or chairs left for us to sit on because this place is always full! When someone leaves, there's always someone waiting on the side to take their table/chairs. What I've learned from going to Thierry over and over (after dinner) is that you have to be quick in action! If not then you just have to patiently wait for the next table to leave or just order their desserts to go and then find somewhere else to enjoy their pastries/desserts/drinks. After lunch time isn't as bad as compared to after dinner because there's still vacant tables and chairs whenever I go there in the afternoons. I do find however that they have way more options to choose from during the day as opposed to their selections at night. They do restock their items but it seems that sometimes a lot of what I want is already sold out by the time I go there for dessert after dinner. I try to see this as a good thing though because at least it gives me a chance to try out some of their other items on display. Thierry also has an all day soup and sandwich menu, just in case you haven't had anything to eat yet, Thierry has totally got you covered! Their soup and sandwich specials do change from time to time but if I were to pick a favorite, I would have to say their Mushroom soup is the best! I haven't had a chance to try out any of their sandwiches yet but for sure I will find a free day just to go back for their sandwiches. What I also find very cool here is that they make their own sodas! I definitely would recommend you guys to try them out because they are pretty awesome! White Plum soda is what we usually order but they have a couple more options to choose from. Last time I went, all of their sodas were sold out! (Bummer!) but I guess this just goes to show how good they are since they actually run out of their own soda.

Unlike Thomas Haas, Thierry is actually open every single day! (Thank God!) From 7am to midnight on weekdays and then 8am to midnight on weekends and holidays. So no matter what day of the week it is or how busy you are, Thierry is still open (til midnight) to cater to your (sudden) cravings of sweets and pastries! 

Day time
Night time
Night time
Night time

 White Plum Soda
 Carrot Ginger Soup
Coconut Tuile
 Caneles: If you guys don't know what caneles is, it's a soft french pastry that has a caramelized outer shell with a soft and custard center. Thierry's version is I think the best one that I've tried so far. Although it looks burnt on the outside, it's actually really soft to eat. It's not too sweet and too heavy so you won't feel as guilty eating two in one sitting.
 Apple Tart: Its a thin layer of apple pastry but it's very good! It's a delicious choice for a light snack and it's covered in thin apple slices. Most of the time when you think of apple tart or pastry, it's usually a bit heavy because of the crust or pastry part but Thierry's apple tart is exactly the opposite of that!
 Tiramisu: What I love about their version of the tiramisu is that it's not fully covered in chocolate powder at the top so you won't get all chocked up after inhaling the top part of the cake by accident. Also the cake itself (after taking off the chocolate sides) is very soft and creamy which makes it even better to eat.
Lime Mousse: The right balance of sweet and tangy!
Opera Cake: I didn't like eating this cake as much because I found it a bit too rich for my liking but if you like eating rich chocolate cakes, you'll love their Opera cake.
Salted Caramel, Blackberry (purple), Lychee (pink), Earl Grey
I adored all four! Each one is exactly true to their name and flavor! And what I like about this set is that each one is not heavy on the coloring.
Chocolate Trio (Left): Unlike their Opera cake, the chocolate trio is actually lighter even if the whole cake is made entirely out of chocolate. It's creamy, soft and light as well as not overly sweet.
 Macaroons: Apple Spice, Pistachio, Pumpkin, Raspberry
The apple spice is (for me) the best one out of the 4 here! All of their fruit flavored macarons actually have a fruit at the center of each macaron so the Apple spice one has a small piece of apple in the middle. All of them actually taste good but it just depends on what type of flavor you like better. I like the apple more because although the flavor was simple, it's also very light, flavorful and not heavy on the coloring so it doesn't leave any coloring on your mouth after you eat it.
 Coffee and Gianduja Macaron: The Gianduja is also one of my favorites!
It reminds me a lot of my Ferrero Rocher because of it's hazelnut and chocolate flavor.
 Citrus Madeleine: They were okay
 Almond Pear Financier: Absolutely one of my must buy/favorite items here! Their financier actually comes in 3 flavors but the almond pear financier is definitely the best one out of the three! These were super soft and moist to eat! You can also taste very well the almond and the pear flavor that's incorporated into each of the tiny financier.

Thierry Chocolaterie Patisserie Cafe on Urbanspoon