Archive for June, 2009

 

H-Mart – Korean food fair downtown

H-Mart (wikipedia, website, map, 200 – 550 Robson Street, Vancouver, BC, Canada) is a Korean-American grocery store chain with many locations throughout North America. In Vancouver they are on the second floor at the corner of Robson and Seymour – a prime spot in the downtown shopping district.

From a recent press release by H-Mart Online:

As you enter the store, your eyes are greeted with a foyer full of small electrics, including rice steamers and griddles. From there, you enter a world of household necessities including ‘Joy Gloves.’ Which brings up a point. Some product names just don’t come through translation to have the same impact in English as they did in their native country’s language.

[…] The prepared foods are tasty as well. The kim-chee from the refrigerator case is top notch, as are the fried beef and sesame chicken. In the freezers are everything from squid and octopus to red bean ice cream. Try some of the gyoza or steamed dumplings for a treat. There are also frozen ducks in the case labeled ‘duck, parts missing.’ It’s best to not think too hard about which parts are absent.

I really like their gyoza and kim-chee, as well as their prepackaged sushi which becomes discounted near the end of the day.

But a little-known feature of this grocery store is the food court that is at the north side facing Robson street. Here you can get a variety of popular Korean dishes such as the spicy tofu soup, spicy beef broth, seafood pancake, and many more (menu shown below).

I tried the Item #5 which is described as “Mixed Vegetables and Rice in a Stone Hot Pot” ($8.50, pictured below) – it is called Bibimbap in Korean.

The ingredients are arranged artfully on rice in a super-hot stone bowl, and it’s up to you to mix them up and wait a couple minutes for everything to cook.

In the photos below I’ve shown what the dish looks like before and after mixing the ingredients. It tasted fabulous – the combination of rice, egg, vegetables, and meat was quite filling and satisfying but also was non-greasy and seemed healthy.

The stone bowl remains piping hot for a long time; after resting my chopsticks on it for a minute the wood became almost too hot to touch. The dish is served with some kim-chee (spicy Korean pickled cabbage) and a warm soup broth with green onions.

After enjoying Item #5 for a second time, I’ve decided to make the H-Mart Korean Supermarket one of my regular dining spots. Visiting the food fair is like taking a mini vacation to Korea – most of the other patrons seem to be talking in Korean, and many of the signs are in both Korean and English.

Bibimbap Korean food ($8.50) from H-Mart Market in Vancouver BC Canada - before mixing the ingredients.

Bibimbap Korean food ($8.50) from H-Mart Market in Vancouver BC Canada - before mixing the ingredients.

Korean Bibimbap dish after mixing the ingredients in the hot stone bowl.

Korean Bibimbap dish after mixing the ingredients in the hot stone bowl.

H-Mart Korean Food Fair Menu, located on Robson Street in downtown Vancouver.

H-Mart Korean Food Fair Menu, located on Robson Street in downtown Vancouver.

Beyond Robson has a review of the H-Mart food court from 2007.

31,147 views - Posted Monday, June 22nd, 2009

 

Irashai Grill – Japanese Fusion in Coal Harbor Vancouver (Part 2)

Irashai Grill (web site, map, 1368 West Pender Street, Vancouver, BC, Canada, 604-688-8697) is a newly opened Japanese fusion restaurant in the Coal Harbour neighborhood of downtown Vancouver. Having attended their open house a few weeks ago (see Part 1), I was interested in trying out the restaurant for an actual meal. I was in for a real treat!

My friend and I first ordered the Dragon Roll Sushi ($13.50, pictured below), which looked and tasted amazing. The Dragon Roll was on their special rolls menu (not listed on their web site) and was a creation made with shrimp, tempura, avocado, barbecued eel (unagi), and of course the sushi rice and nori seaweed. It was quite sweet tasting (because of the sauce that the eel is marinated with), and was light and immensely satisfying. I commented to my friend that I could easily eat one of these every day. If only I could afford it!

The Tako Sunomono (a cold salad made with octopus, vermicelli noodles and a sweet and tangy vinegary broth) was $7.50 and was presented very nicely in a large cocktail glass (pictured below). It is one of my favorite appetizers at Japanese restaurants and the Irashai version did not disappoint! I would have liked it to be bigger, but that is just my wishful thinking because it was a decent size for an appetizer after all.

Now comes to the most interesting part of the meal. We were perusing the menu and discovered a very unusual sounding sushi roll item. Unusual I say? Yes! I’ll explain.

In general, for creative dishes that are designed by the chef using a culinary “artistic license”, the name of the dish, if it is somewhat abstract and not a simple description of the ingredients, will relate to the theme of the dish in some way. What this means is, I was curious to see exactly what a Poison Spider Volcano would taste like. No kidding! Would there be an actual spider involved in this sushi, and would this spider have some sort of deadly poison? Also it was very important for me to find out how a volcano would be represented in the form of rice and other sushi-like ingredients on a dinner plate.

The good old poison spider and its friendly volcano home ($16, pictured below) was made with asparagus, soft shell crab, cream cheese, and was sprinkled with cheese. It was baked before serving and then topped with a super spicy miso sauce. Super spicy is an understatement! The powerful spicy sauce reminded me of the Crazy Boy Roll at Mr. Sushi but the Poison Spider Volcano sushi had a much more complex and rich flavor (thanks to the cheese and cream cheese). It was very filling, which is a good thing in my books. My vote: thumbs up, but the sauce was too spicy for my friend.

For dessert we tried their Marscapone Tiramisu ($5.50, also pictured below) which was a generous amount of cool sweet marscapone cheese served in an interesting ceramic tray topped with a layer of dusted cocoa. The cocoa was very fine and powdery. This was a wonderful contrasting dish to calm things down after the spicy spider!

Dragon Roll Sushi from Irashai Grill Japanese Fusion Restaurant in Vancouver BC Canada ($13.50)

Dragon Roll Sushi from Irashai Grill Japanese Fusion Restaurant in Vancouver BC Canada ($13.50)

Tako Sunomono Salad ($7.50) from Irashai Grill in Vancouver BC Canada.

Tako Sunomono Salad ($7.50) from Irashai Grill in Vancouver BC Canada.

Poison Spider Volcano Sushi ($16.00) from Irashai Japanese Restaurant in Coal Harbor, downtown Vancouver BC Canada.

Poison Spider Volcano Sushi ($16.00) from Irashai Japanese Restaurant in Coal Harbor, downtown Vancouver BC Canada.

Marscarpone Tiramisu dessert ($5.50) from Irashai Grill Japanese fusion restaurant in downtown Vancouver BC Canada.

Marscarpone Tiramisu dessert ($5.50) from Irashai Grill Japanese fusion restaurant in downtown Vancouver BC Canada.

Irashai Grill on Urbanspoon

17,027 views - Posted Saturday, June 20th, 2009

 

Gorilla Food (Raw Vegan restaurant downtown)

Gorilla Food (map, web site, 101 – 436 Richards St. Vancouver, BC, Canada, phone: 604-722-2504) is currently one of the only restaurants in Vancouver that serves all raw, vegan, and organic foods.

I have a friend who follows a raw vegan diet, which means that he doesn’t eat any animal-related products (vegan) and foods must be unprocessed and not heated above 46 degrees Celsius (raw). He blogs about the Raw Vegan lifestyle on Eat Raw Vegan. I was interested to see what a Raw Vegan meal would taste like!

Raw Vegan food preparation takes a lot of creativity to make food that is satisfying and interesting to eat without using cooked or processed ingredients, and without meat or dairy products. Amazingly, all the dishes pictured below are raw vegan dishes. I must say that I was quite happy and full after the meal.

The Raw Vegan Cashew Alfredo Zucchini Linguini ($10, pictured below) was made with zucchini “newdles” smothered in a rich white cashew cream. It was served with a green leaf salad. It tasted cool and refreshing, and was amazingly creamy considering that no dairy products were used.

The Maui Waui raw vegan pizza ($6.00, also pictured below) is a sun-dried tomato and fresh tomato herb sauce topped with a mix of tenderized kale and seasonal greens then topped with fresh pineapple bits and a crumbly walnut “cheez”. It is served with a sprouted sunflower and buckwheat, flax and carrot crust.

For an appetizer we also tried the Raw Vegan Zucchini Hummus and Crackers ($7.50, pictured below). This tasted amazingly good, better than ordinary hummus I thought! The bean-free garlicky hummus dip is served with house-dehydrated crackers.

Other notable items included the Freshly Squeezed Orange Juice ($5.25, pictured below) – this is heavenly if you like orange juice; in fact I thought it was some of the best orange juice I have had in Vancouver! The raw vegan chocolate cake (also pictured below) was really fudgey and chocolatey, a treat not to miss!

The restaurant is open every day from 11am until 5pm.

Raw Vegan Cashew Alfredo Zucchini Linguini, from Gorilla Food in Vancouver.  $10.00

Raw Vegan Cashew Alfredo Zucchini Linguini, from Gorilla Food in Vancouver. $10.00

Maui Waui Pizza ($6.00) raw vegan food from Gorilla Food restaurant in downtown Vancouver.

Maui Waui Pizza ($6.00) raw vegan food from Gorilla Food restaurant in downtown Vancouver.

Fresh orange juice ($5.25) and Green Glory drink ($5.50) from Gorilla Foods in Vancouver.

Fresh orange juice ($5.25) and Green Glory drink ($5.50) from Gorilla Foods in Vancouver.

Raw Vegan Zucchini Hummus and Crackers ($7.50) from Gorilla Foods in Vancouver.

Raw Vegan Zucchini Hummus and Crackers ($7.50) from Gorilla Foods in Vancouver.

Raw Vegan Chocolate Cake! (From Gorilla Food in Vancouver, downtown).

Raw Vegan Chocolate Cake! (From Gorilla Food in Vancouver, downtown).

Gorilla Food on Urbanspoon

48,337 views - Posted Wednesday, June 10th, 2009