Not My Cup of Tea @ Meloty

Before everything, I just want to apologize for being MIA for a couple of weeks now (busy with work, friends and family are visiting and all that jazz, you know). I did not come back empty handed though since I have tried a couple of new places! :)

There’s been a hype over having high tea in the afternoon as opposed to having light snacks at Mcdonald’s and other such places for a while now, BUT I haven’t really tried it! Some of the reasons that kind of stopped me from trying it are (1) I haven’t got funds–which is all around an important factor and (2) since it IS afternoon tea, it’s kind of hard to fit it in my schedule!

There are very popular places like the Secret Garden Tea Company in Kerrisdale ($15-$40) and in the Fairmont Hotel in Vancouver (starts at around $60-$100 a pop so you wonder why I haven’t tried it), both pretty good according to some people who’ve been there, but I can’t really get myself to think about what makes it so expensive! Long story short, I brought my cousins (some are visiting from Manila) to Meloty, a place that’s kind of okay for first timers to try since it gives you a glimpse of the whole experience without emptying your wallet in the process!

Outside, it’s really not much to look at. You probably wont even know it’s a Fine Tea place based on the signage design but inside, it actually looks pretty classy! The second we entered we were greeted by a hostess, and behind her station was a wall to wall case displaying different designs of fine china (which are also for sale). The ambiance was the first thing I noticed was the high ceiling, a long staircase in the middle of the room, different floor levels– all hardwood floors and decadent plate settings.

It was all good and very exciting…until the food came. Since there were 4 of us, we decided to get the $30 for 2 people including a tower of petite sandwiches and desserts with 2 pots of tea. The tea came in a glass pot with a metal strainer inside for steeping and had quite a few selections (around 20 different ones) but the food was really nothing special. The set came with 4 finger sandwiches, all having the same filling (pretty much your basic ham and cheese sandwich with a bit of cucumbers and lettuce with a choice of either white bread or croissant wrap). Not really something I would look forward to eating away from home.

The pastries were also very disappointing. It wasn’t as good as it looked! Another thing you should know about me is I’m crazy for Tiramisu! Whenever I would go to a shop and they serve Tiramisu there, I HAVE to try it. In this case however, I wish i hadn’t.

The tiny cup was filled with stale tasting cream and literally 3 tiny chunks of ladyfingers! It was topped with soggy looking chocolate powder (the kind that you see after it has been sitting in the fridge for a day or so) and a raspberry. It was nothing like a Tiramisu. The flavor was next to bland and it was the first time I only had 2 bites and I was finished. I couldn’t even finish the teeny tiny cup. The other pastries were similar. Pretty much laden with cream with absolutely no cake. The only saving grace of the whole thing was the creme brulee which was the only authentic pastry in the set. It wasn’t jelly like at all and had a very nice creamy texture and you can see fresh vanilla beans mixed in with the custard filling. If it wasn’t for that, I really don’t have a kind word to say about the food.

Overall, this experience was still fun. It was saved by the ambiance and the creme brulee and probably the service. The tea was also fine and you can ask for refills of hot water for the pot,  but the pastries were just…I don’t even want to say it. It’s a 5/10 for me, probably even a 3 because they butchered my favorite dessert but it’s just my opinion. Apparently, they do have dinner sets as well, but I don’t know If I even want to come back to try those. Ill probably shell out a few more bucks at Secret Garden if it’s going to be better than this. For the first time ever: KAT NOT APPROVED. (haven’t worked on a logo for that yet)

Anyway, here’s the information of the restaurant if you’re willing to give it a chance:

http://www.meloty.com/homepage.html

#1161-8328 Capstan Way
Richmond, B.C.  V6X 4B4
Canada

Tel: (604) 214-4691
Fax: (604) 214-4692

Meloty on Urbanspoon

Chuck’s Creamed Corn Recipe

I was watching The Food Channel the other day and the show ‘Chuck’s Day Off‘ came on! If you’re not familiar with Chuck Hughes, he’s a celebrity chef who owns 2 restaurants in Montreal. He’s actually pretty good since he defeated Bobby Flay in a recent Iron Chef America episode! I got familiar with his cooking style for a bit because he was actually part of last season’s ‘The Next Iron Chef’ (he lost btw. I think he was the 3rd one to go! AWW).

Chuck Hughes

ANYWHO, going back to the food , he cooked a whole bunch of stuff that day including chicken wings and his own style of vodka lemonade, but the easiest thing that he did there was the creamed corn. I have never actually tasted freshly made creamed corn before since I mostly get the ones in a can! :p I decided to give that recipe a try since it’s really foolproof!

Recipe:

3 ears of corn

1 cup whipping cream

1 to 2 Tablespoons butter

coarse salt

freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

Husk the corn, and slice the kernels off the cobs, and place into a medium saucepan. Add the cream and bring to a boil, lower to a simmer, and let it cook and reduce until the liquid is thicker, the corn is plumped up, and the volume of liquid is reduced by about half, about 10 minutes. Take the saucepan off the heat, and stir in a good nub of butter, add some coarse salt and pepper, to taste. The finished result will still be a little firm to the tooth, but sweet and creamy, as well.

My Creamed Corn

I followed the recipe and it literally took less than 20 minutes for everything to cook. Mine didn’t go as thick as I thought it would be even after I let it simmer for over 10 minutes. I didn’t want to overcook it and turn the corn into mush so I took it out of the fire and just finished it with the butter plus the salt and pepper. One of the tricks to this though is while its simmering, DO NOT STIR FOR 10 MINUTES. Chuck said on the TV show to just leave it alone for 10 minutes and it’ll make a huge difference. I think I might have swirled it around a couple of times that’s why it didn’t turn out as it was supposed to! :p It’s very good though! Simple enough!

Part of the reason why it’s so good though is you have to pick SWEET CORN. It’s actually not in season right now in Vancouver and I just kind of lucked out that the corn is actually pretty sweet. I’ll probably try the recipe again around July-August and see how it is with the ultimate corn hahaha

Crazy for La Chocolaterie

I fell in love with La Chocolaterie’s handmade deliciousness last year during a closed wine & cheese charity event at Richmond Centre. They had a small station there with about 8 different flavored chocolates and they were giving free samples of them to everyone. It was literally love at first bite! There were some flavors that you wouldn’t even dream of mixing with chocolate, but they make it work superbly! If you were there, you’d probably have seen me going around in circles and eating about 20 pieces of chocolate during the span of an hour. It was so good that I actually looked for their shop the very next day to bring some home with me!

It’s been a while since I was last there and the owner still remembers me! In the couple of months since I last visited, they have yet again created a dozen more crazy flavors like carrot, tomato, kiwi and even kale! I personally haven’t tried those flavors yet, so I can’t speak for them, but if you’re around the area, leave me a comment down there if you got a taste of it! :) Despite all the new flavors, they still kept all the beloved traditional flavors that I got so addicted to!

Since the shop is inside the Izumiya (A Japanese supermarket chain), the front has a very simple facing and signage that’s very zen. It’s clean and sleek, and they let the wonderful colors of their tasty concoctions speak to the customers.

Another interesting thing about this place is that it’s run by power couple Kayoko Hamamoto and Takanori Chiwata, both chocolate researchers in Japan. Takanori had a hand in the invention of the popular Melty Kiss Chocolate by Meiji and Kayoko has perfected the blend and the optimum roasting technique for chocolate that allows it to be combined with any ingredient in the world.

You can learn more about the history of their growing business here: http://tkchocolate.com/about-us.htm

After spending about an hour making up my mind and countless samples later, I settled on getting 4 different flavors today. Japanese Citron, Strong Green Tea, Earl Grey and Cherry Blossom (which is a seasonal item for spring).

(From top left clockwise: Earl Grey, Strong Green Tea, Japanese Citron, and Cherry Blossom)

If you taste this chocolate, no matter what flavor you have, it melts in your mouth. It’s so pure and delicate, the way chocolates are supposed to taste like.

The Earl Grey is definitely for those who love the taste of the tea. I’ve seen it in bubble tea, in cakes and even mixed in to cream puffs, but  this is the first time I’ve had it with chocolate. It’s not just a hint of earl grey but it’s like you taste both the tea and the cacao at the same time. Highly recommended for those who love earl grey (like me!)

The Strong Green Tea is probably one of the things you should get a taste of to experience authentic Japanese flavors. It’s definitely very rich, but a perfect mix of bittersweet. Compared to the earl grey, the green tea is more dominant than the cacao taste, but the distinctive flavor is what makes it so good. The Green Tea flavor is VERY strong, so if you’re not a big fan of green tea, I’d probably ask for a sample first. :) I would say this is a bit of an acquired taste.

The Japanese Citron is my new favorite! This is the first time I’ve tried this and I’m totally in love with it! The citron is a citrus fruit that you can find in Japan and Korea. It has the tang of the lemon and the sweetness of the orange. Plus, it’s very fragrant. The chocolate tastes great with the right ratio of both flavors. There’s also some zest mixed in there which makes it even more flavorful.

The Cherry Blossom is of course the seasonal flavor so I had to try that! I haven’t tried eating cherry blossoms (I don’t even know if it’s edible) but the flavors of this chocolate is very fresh and in my head, very reminiscent of the cherry blossom. It’s sweeter than the other flavors and has the freshness comparable to strawberries with a hint of coconut. A very good and refreshing combination! I’d only wish they’d make it a permanent addition on the menu.

(Me with owner Kayoko Hamamoto)

Overall, La Chocolaterie never fails to exceed my expectations! Maybe next time I’ll be brave enough to try the more interesting flavors especially since you get a 10% off coupon on your next purchase every time you shop! (Coupon expires after 30 days) The price is a little bit more on the expensive side but you get what you pay for! The 10 piece cups are $5 each and the 2 piece chocolates (like the cherry blossom one) are $1.50 each. They have other packages too and even gifts and party favors but you have to contact them to make arrangements and get a quote on the price. :)

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La Chocolaterie

160-7971 Alderbridge Way, Richmond BC V6X2A4

604-214-6607

info@tkchocolate.com

La Chocolaterie on Urbanspoon

Big Flavor from the Little Ongpin

Looking for a good Filipino restaurant in Richmond is like looking for a needle in a haystack (pardon the cliche). I can only name around 3 as opposed to the hundreds of popular Chinese dimsum places in this city! One of the more popular Filipino restaurants though is called the Little Ongpin located on No. 5 road behind the huge Shopper’s Drugmart. The exterior actually looks like a mix between traditional Filipino and Chinese designs– the use of eye catching color and big bold letters that’s easy to read from afar. Inside carries the same theme of simplicity through the choices on fixtures and decor that’s actually very Filipino. The top half of the walls are lined with mirrors that actually help make the place a lot brighter and more welcoming. The bottom half is covered with neatly lined bamboo sticks that give it a more oriental feel.

We were greeted almost immediately by the staff with smiles and showed us to our seats. The table setting is definitely simplistic, not at all cluttered with different sauces and spices (since most dishes that come with a sauce is just served with it) which brings us to our next agenda: The Food.

One thing you should know about me, I LOOOOOOOOVE (I can’t stress that enough) coconuts. Everything about them is good. The meat, the juice– I’ll eat everything and spare none! Usually it costs around $3-4 each in your local grocery store and you’re not even sure if the fruit you’re getting has a lot of juice or not! It was wonderful to see that they actually have fresh ones that you can order. I understand that this is a seasonal item on the menu so consider yourself lucky if it’s there when you visit!

The hull of the coconut is expertly chopped at the top, kind of creating this ‘mug’ with a straw and a spoon for getting all the meat out. The juice is refreshing! Definitely no preservatives there! It’s full to the brim and it’s chilled. (Plus, it’s good for your kidneys and for cleansing toxins!)

As you can see, I am very much addicted to this fruit! I threw away the straw and just drank from the hull itself. When that was done I just attacked the meat! If you haven’t had this yet, I suggest you buy it at least once in the grocery store and try it! I guarantee you’ll come back for more.

Since it was raining, we also ordered one of the most popular dishes in Philippine cuisine, a tamarind based soup with shrimp or in popular terms, sinigang. The soup is very mouthwateringly sour! It definitely increases your appetite! The flavor of the shrimp is beautifully mixed in with the broth and the shrimp itself is cooked very nicely. It still has that crunch and not at all rubbery, which is hard to do when you’re simmering it with soup (there’s always a tendency to overcook it). Overall it’s quite good and an order serves around 4 people.


The reason why I ate here in the first place is because of the main event: The Crispy Pata or the fried pork hock. If Andrew Zimmern’s* praises for this fine delicacy still doesn’t convince you to try it, I hope this review will! :)

This beautiful piece of meat is cooked for a very long time. First it’s lightly seasoned and boiled for a few hours until the meat is extra tender and cooked through. Then it’s dried out until all the water from the skin has evaporated. It is then dunked into a deep fryer and the shock of the cooled pork with the hot oil actually forms air pockets on the skin creating a nice, ultra crispy skin that you would crave all year round. I usually peel off the skin from the meat and eat it separately so I can savor the slightly salty taste of it.

The meat itself is very tender, very much the opposite of the skin. The dish is served with a soy sauce and vinegar concoction with an extra added spice from chopped onions. This goes very well with the meat that’s just very lightly seasoned. The price range is very reasonable as well. The small starts at $9 and only a dollar difference from the medium and the large. This is definitely the dish to eat when you stop by the Little Ongpin.

What also added value to this visit was I found out that it was run by husband and wife team Eduardo and Mercy Lee. They were both in the store at the time and were definitely very open to a short interview. Eduardo Lee was actually born and raised in the Chinatown of the Philippines that the locals call “Ongpin” (hence the name). His family already owned a restaurant called the “Shining Star” (which was actually quite popular at the time because my mom still remembers it) back in the 70′s and that was where he first learned the basics of cooking. To this day, he personally cooks and oversees every single meal that comes out of the kitchen and his wife on the other hand runs the front of the restaurant! How’s that for quality control?

(L-R) Me, Mercy and Eduardo Lee, and Asst. Manager Maureen

Overall the experience was awesome! Not only did they warm my stomach (does that phrase sound wrong?), but they warmed my heart as well with their stories and their hospitality! I hereby give them my seal of approval! :D

I am literally counting down the days ’til I next eat that pork again hahaha :D

Little Ongpin

4093 No 5 Road Map.4fc0dee
Richmond, BC

(604) 278 – 4667

Hours: Serves Lunch and Dinner

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*Andrew Zimmern is the host of the TV show Bizarre Foods and is a notable food critic. He was featured in an episode of “The Best Thing I Ever Ate” where he actually talked about the crispy pata and even went through the whole cooking process of it. You can find a brief overview of the episode and (hopefully) the video of it here: http://www.foodnetwork.com/local/il-chicago/rubys-fast-food-restaurant/index.html

Little Ongpin on Urbanspoon

Bullseye for the Sockeye City Grill!

I finally got a day off today and I’m lucky enough that the sun’s out! Perfect time to actually go out despite the cold and take a walk in one of the best places to visit in Richmond: Steveston Village*

I’ve been eating a lot of meat lately so I wanted to get out and get a hearty meal with greens and seafood with my sister! Of course, there’s so many awesome seafood places in the area so I made my choice based on (1) I wanted to eat somewhere I’ve never tried before and (2) I’m going for the place that’s getting a lot customers at 11 AM. The Sockeye City Grill had both! I was still taking pictures of the dock and the exterior of the restaurant when a wave of people started entering once the sign on the door was flipped to “Open”. That was enough to convince me to try it out!

From outside, the restaurant is quite large with the typical ‘wharf’ look. Wooden planks, green and beige motif, a red streamer lining the edges of the roof and a huge ‘Take Out” sign with all their seafood specialties on the menu.There’s also a lot of seats on the patio for people who want the fresh air during the summer (BAD idea in this weather hahaha).

Inside is very inviting with a brighter color scheme of yellow and blue but still has a definite ocean vibe. The walls are lined with paintings of the sea as well as wood carvings of ships. The decor is very eye catching but still very much in line with the seaside theme. It actually mimics the concept of ‘open restaurants by the water’ with its row of lamp posts, and the railings dividing the first floor reminds me of “decks” that’s reminiscent of being aboard a ship! There’s also a bar situated at the front of house next to the hostess’ station for those who want to order any mixers and beer (to be delivered to you)!

The menu is definitely a seafoodfest of sorts ranging from fresh fish (salmon, halibut, cod) to fresh shellfish (crab, lobsters, oysters)! For those meat lovers out there, you’d be happy to know that they also have steak and chicken on the menu! :p I’ll post a link to a copy of their menu at the bottom for those who are interested! :)

tantaraannnn!!

For the main event, we actually ordered a total of 4 things on the menu including an appetizer and a dessert.

APPETIZER

WEST COAST CRAB CAKES - pan fried crab cakes with a charred tomato aioli and mixed greens ($12)

I’ve tasted a LOT of crab cakes and most of them are very dry. Plus, you just know that it’s filled with frozen or canned crabs that’s been in storage for months! THIS one on the other hand was beautifully fried with a crispy crust without the oily residue. Inside though is a completely different story. The filling is soft and very textured with a whole lot of crab! You can actually see the little strings of chopped crab meat mixed in there! It’s such a simple dish, but the play of flavors is right on the money. The tang of the tomato aioli goes really well with the sweetness of the crab. There’s a hint of citrus in there from the freshly squeezed lemon and just a bit of earthy taste from the chopped celery. This plus the crispy golden brown crust makes one of the best crab cakes I have ever tasted! As an added bonus, the side of greens was drizzled with a homemade blueberry vinaigrette dressing that’s organic and vegetarian.

MAIN COURSE

QUEEN CHARLOTTE HALIBUT – Steamed or pan seared halibut with a choice of lemon caper dill butter sauce or cream mushroom leek sauce with steamed rice and seasonal vegetables ($22)

I had mine pan seared with the lemon caper sauce and it was awesome! The fish was perfectly cooked and not overly seasoned so the sweetness of the fish actually comes through (this is why i love halibut!). It has a beautiful sear on both sides which gave the fish an almost crispy exterior that works beautifully with the flakiness of the fish. They’ve definitely lived up to their name since the halibut is one of their specialties! :)

SOCKEYE BURGER – Grilled wild BC salmon with caramelized onion jam finished with honey mustard glaze finished with a side of fresh cut fries ($15)

My sister ordered this but I did take a bite or two or three so I know how it tastes like! First off, what surprised me the most was the portion! It’s definitely way huge, almost the size of 2 regular burgers! We had to cut it in half so it can fit in our hands! The salmon is definitely very good, although I find that the sauces in the burger overpowered the fish a little. It all still works, but I probably would’ve preferred it with lesser dressing.

DESSERT

SEASONAL CRUMBLE – Berry crumble served with vanilla ice cream ($5.75)

This is probably the highlight of my meal! Fresh, out of the oven ramekins filled with seasoned blueberries, strawberries and raspberries with just a hint of sugar makes it the perfect fruity dessert. The flavors are so fresh it tastes like you’re eating freshly picked fruits that got turned into a homemade jam with lots of chunks! The already perfect concoction is topped with crunchy oats plus a dollop of ice cream makes it the perfect combination of contrasting textures. The crunchy and the juicy + the cool creamy vanilla ice cream and the warm tang of the fruits literally creates a party in your mouth that blew me away. I would seriously drive back there just to eat this baby! This is definitely a MUST TRY!

Ultimate Berry Dessert

Overall, my lunch at Sockeye City Grill was definitely topnotch! Even the service was excellent. I even got to talk to the manager for a bit despite it being crazy busy by the time we were halfway done with our meal. I learned a couple tidbits about the restaurant as well from our quick conversation. The restaurant has been around for almost a decade now and the manager, James Vernon, has been managing it for half that time. He personally trains all the employees regardless of their positions which adds to the consistency of the place. It’s definitely well run, so I’m hoping it’ll be around for years to come! :D

OTHER INFORMATION ABOUT SOCKEYE CITY GRILL

Seating Capacity: 140 guests (Great place to bring your family)

Hours of Operation: 11:00 AM – 9:00 PM (depending on how busy)

Phone Number: +1-604-275-6790

Address: 108-3800 Bayview Street Steveston, BC V7E6K5

Website: http://www.sockeycity.com

MENU: http://www.sockeyecity.com/qs/page/3294/0/-1

Sockeye City Grill on Urbanspoon

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*For those who haven’t been to Steveston Village, it’s definitely a very good place to visit on a sunny day or if you just want to chill and take in the fresh air! It’s right beside the water so it’s extra cold during the winter, but it’s still pretty much an amazing place to kick back and relax if you want to go somewhere else other than the mall! Different quaint shops ranging from small patisseries, a multitude of restaurants, bookshops, small vintage antique shops, and little specialty stores are sure to pique anyone’s interest (Definitely kept me there for over 2 hours! Would’ve stayed an extra hour if I didn’t leave my scarf at home :p). I’ll probably do a lot more posts on the different shops here since there’s just a lot of hidden awesomeness (hehe) in this area. So stay tuned for that! :D

Launching the Kat in the Bag logo!

I don’t really have much of an experience with using adobe illustrator so it took me around 4 hours just playing around with the buttons! I finally got the hang of it after a while an I was finally able to create my blog “mascot”/ “logo” who will appear in almost every post depending on the review! If it’s either good food or good places to visit, SHE or HE (haven’t named it yet haha) will appear at the end of the post as a stamp of approval from yours truly! :D

Image

I gave IT crazy, excited eyes mimicking the way mine looks when I’m either over excited about something or on the brink of getting addicted to a type of snack (Got this from my sister who sees this happen to me all the time :p)

If you guys have any suggestions about its name that would be awesome! :) Leave a comment below if you have any ideas!

Cheers!

-Katlog

Joining the Bandwagon?

Hey Everybody!! :D

Very VERY excited to start my blog about food, travel, health and beauty! I always tell everybody to relax and indulge every once in a while since this is the only life we’ve got! I have absolutely NO idea what the standards are for blogging (if there’s a blog police or whatever haha *lame*) but when it comes to food and places i’ll be as thorough as I possibly can and give you guys a truckload of information about the brief history, area, ambiance, prices, and menus of the places I visit! I want to be able to not only introduce the food from the restaurants but the geniuses behind it as well!

This may be the start of a grand adventure for me, but I will do what I can to take you guys along this (soon to be awesome) ride! :D

See you guys soon!

REMEMBER TO LIVE, EAT AND BE MERRY!

-Katlog :)