Minami Japanese Restaurant

Minami Japanese fine dining restaurant opened their doors this Spring and it has become my go to restaurant this Summer.

Minami Japanese Restaurant, located in Yaletown and sister restaurant to Miku, a fine dining Japanese restaurant in the heart of Coal Harbour meets high expectations. I’ve been to both, the menu is very similar but, the atmosphere and décor is much nicer at Minami.
The service was impeccable right from when we entered to when we left.
It is a rare treat, when all the dishes scored between 4 -5 out of 5!

Now the Food…

We started with the Shiso Mojito Watermelon and Citrus Cured Scallops, mojito infused watermelon, montchevre goat cheese, micro greens, pickled celery, cucumber, a light salad to prepare our paletes. Creative ingredients that melded so well and gave a refreshing blend of flavours. 4.5/5

watermelon and scallops
We were recommended to try the calamari, everyone that went to Minami raved about this dish.

Calamari, nori tempura batter, brussels sprout chips, pickled tomatoes, tosazu sauce. The batter was heavenly, so light, not the usual American calamari. This is one of their popular dishes. 4/5

calamari

Miso Baked Duck Breast, ginger braised carrots, watercress, sweet potato fondant, orange reduction. This dish is slightly different from the one offered at Miku. I much prefer the duck breast at Minami. Again, this dish was able to hit my entire palette, sour, sweet, spicy, salty. 4.5/5
Duck Breast
Minami and Miku are known for their Aburi Sushi, a roll that is pressed and then lightly seared and, topped with the secret Miku sauce. We tried dissecting the sauce, the two ingredients we all agreed on were sesame and soy sauce but, that is a given, it’s the base of almost all Japanese, Chinese sauces.

Aburi Salmon Oshi Sushi, pressed local salmon, jalapeño, miku sauce, my favourite dish. It was sooo good. 5/5
aburi salmon sushi

Aburi Saba Oshi Sushi, pressed mackerel, miku miso sauce. Once again they hit this out of the ball park, a terrific dish. 4.5/5.
aburi saba sushi

I keeping my fingers crossed, Minami will stay open longer than the other predecessors at this location, Goldfish being one of that recently closed. Their dishes were made with creativity and detail. The ingredients were fresh and, I will be recommending this place to my picky foodies.

Minami on Urbanspoon

Soirette – Macrons & Tea

Soirette is a new Macrons & Tea café in Coal Harbour. Stepping into the cafe, everything looks so pretty, almost too pretty to eat. Alas, my stomach won out.

Soirette Macrons and Tea
Soirette Macrons and Tea

One very positive selling feature is their creative variations of macrons. Ranging from Lavender, never was a big fan of eating lavender, it always reminded me of detergent. Matcha, malibu, lemon, raspberry, pistachio, caramel fleur de sel, passion fruit and etc.

Rose Macrons
Rose Macrons

We decided on half a dozen:
Matcha , rose, malibu, white truffle,  casis, pistachio. My favourite was the savory white truffle macroons. Geesh.. I wanted to stretch that piece of goodness, so I ate with tiny nibbles and rolled my eyes at every bite. The truffle intensity was so powerful without becoming overwhelming. My second choice would have to be the rose macarons, light sweet flora.

Colors of the rainbow  - macrons
Colors of the rainbow – macrons

They also sell a tiny selection of cakes, I didn’t get to try them though.

Saffron Cheesecake and Tiramisu
Saffron Cheesecake and Tiramisu

Before Soirette we hit up Thierry for their macrons and lemon tart (my favourite pastry at Thierry, just the right amount of lemon, amazing!). Thierry was reputed to have the best macrons in Vancouver. While Thierry’s selection is very limited, the quality of the macrons was a tad bit better than Soirette. The texture of Thierry’s macrons was perfect.
Soirette Macarons & Tea on Urbanspoon

Hawksworth at Georgia Hotel – Not Exuberantly Expensive As Expected

One of the most buzzed about restaurant this winter would have to be Hawksworth at The Georgia Hotel. Previous executive chef at West, David Hawksworth had exceptionally high expectations to meet. Most of us have been anticipating Hawksworth opening since 2008!!! That’s when the first hint was leaked.

We thought to indulge ourselves during lunch. The décor is opulent with the huge hanging chandeliers and a pristine dining room.  Get ready for some spectacular people watching spot too.  I was a bit hesitant to go at first,  thought it would cost me an arm and a leg but, the prices are just a tad more than Cactus’s, at least during lunch.

Now the food…

Bartlett pear salad speck, burrata, roasted shallot $16. The salad was light and on the bland side.  It was however, a good choice to clean your palette. Burrata, a type of creamy Italian cheese made from mozza and cream gave the dish a buttery texture. 2/5
Bartlett pear salad

48 hr beef shortrib black pepper jam, honeydew, green papaya, peanut, Thai basil $16. This was our favourite dish. I can’t believe the shortribs were still intact after 48 hours of braising.

HOW?!?!

Even when you slice through it, was very tender but still held its shape. The combination of the short ribs with the peanuts and honeydew were delicious. 4/5

48hr shortrib black

Hawksworth beef burger applewood smoked bacon, aged cheddar, frites $18. It’s a regular burger, the patty wasn’t juicy. Now the burger at Mahoney and Son’s, located at the Convention Center is a BURGER. 3/5

Hawksworth Burger

Hawksworth Burger. 2jpg

Hawksworth on Urbanspoon

Giovane Cafe – I’m Only Here for the Sweets

Food enthusiasts and bloggers from Vancouver’s food bloggers meetup, gathered at Fairmont Pacific Rim, Giovanne Café to sample some of their delicious delights.  Before I launch into my review, I recommend anyone partaking in a few events if you consider yourself a food enthusiast. Trying out food and meeting new friends…it’s the perfect marriage!

Now the sweets….

Signature Sugar Bun with Vanilla Cream filling. This was not heavy or overly sweet. The texture was creamy and light but, the flavor was just not there. Yes, it is a simple pastry but, as a signature item, I found that it lacked oomph. 2.5/5

sugar bun

Yule log was my favorite.  Nice light hazelnut mouse with chocolate and wafers to add a crunchy texture.

yule log

Indulgent, check.

Overload on chocolate, check.

Intense explosion to the senses, check. 4/5

Lastly we sampled the black forest cake, a nice take on a traditional pastry. Still trying to decipher what was in the cream, I believe it was Kirsch. Lighter than the black forest cakes I previous had but, if they kicked it up a notch and infused a stronger cherry flavor it would have been perfect. 3/5

black forest (1)

Local bloggers Simon Life in the Lower Mainland, Jenny EatwithJenny, Vicki foodieonthe49th will be posting their experiences of Giovanne Café.

Giovane on Urbanspoon

Black and Blue – Trendy Steakhouse

Glowbal Group Black and Blue

Black and Blue, another Glowbal addition to Alberni’s entertainment corridor receives a successful start.  The decor and atmosphere reminds me of Tao in New York, dark, posh and full of pretty people.

Trying to compete with high-end steakhouses such as Gotham and Hy’s, Black and Blue just misses the mark.

Appies…

Short rib poppers -$12, potatoes, cheddar cheese, horseradish.  If you expected short ribs as the featured ingredient, you will be sorely disappointed, reminded me of bar food. 2/5

short rib poppers

Pan seared foie gras -$19, I love foie gras the tartness from the apricots gave an otherwise heavy dish a refreshing twist. 3.5/5
pan seared foie gras

Steak tartare with quail egg and blue cheese crustini -$16, the grade of the steak was superb but, it was submerged in oil. The blue cheese was so overpowering, I couldn’t taste any other flavours. 2/5
steak tartare

Entrees…

Beef wellington, with mushrooms foie gras and red win jus -$31. Quality of the meat once again was excellent. The pastry was flaky and the steak cooked perfectly.  4/5
beef wellington

Berkshire pork chops -$31, a simple dish that was executed perfectly. Pan seared with s&P, the meat was moist and tender. 3.5/5
berkshire pork chops

Sweets…

Chocolate soufflé was amazing!! This warm gooey chocolate concoction is guaranteed to make you go back. Drizzled with either vanilla our chocolate sauce, we had both. I can’t stop raving about it.

chocolate souffle

Undecided whether we would come back for the entrees, definitely, for the dessert and drinks. They had a few table side options like the crepe and the banana pudding. If there is one thing I know, where Glowbal excels, is the pretentious and trendy. So if you are searching for the next resto  to prowl in your Christian Louboutins and Prada suits, we’ve found your new fave hotspot.

Black + Blue on Urbanspoon

Ki Modern Japanese & Bar

**updated: closed** July 25, 2013
Upscale and modern Japanese Tapas Bar at the Shangri-la. The space is very spacious and modern, reminds me of Tao in New York. Definitely would not mind lounging here for a couple of hours. On a Wednesday night this place was pretty empty.

Now the food…

Keep in mind it is a tapas bar so the dishes are fairly smaller and meant to be shared. Dishes range from $12 – 23 per dish.

Toro Tower, it was nicely seared but, maybe we were just too used to toro sushimi. I don’t think I have ever eaten any toro that was as fatty as this. My friend’s piece was 80% fat. 3/5

Toro tower

Kiwi Tuna Rolls, you could barely taste the mango sauce but, it was decent. Nothing out of the ordinary. As one of the more creative rolls being offered this was barely mundane.  3/5

kiwi tuna roll
kiwi tuna roll

Sake Porkbelly with Ponzu Chilli Sauce. Porkbelly is THE ingredient of the season. To be fair we had high expectations.  This was a major let down. The meat was ridiculously overcooked to the point that my jaws began to ache.

The meat was stringy. Out of the 6 pieces of porkbelly only one was not overcooked. Aside from the doneness the flavour of the dish was good, so I’m throwing in an extra 1/2 point 1.5/5

sake porkbelly with ponzu chilli sauce
sake porkbelly with ponzu chilli sauce

Rock shrimp with wasabi mayo, we agreed this is far better than the regular shrimp tempura. We debated for a while whether it is better than KFC popcorn chicken – now that is good! 3.5/5

Rock shrimp with wasabi mayo
Rock shrimp with wasabi mayo

Black Cod, the fish had a chewy texture. The sauce on the other had been what saved it. The mango sauce, I could drink that 3.5/5

black cod


Creme brûlée lemongrass and chamomile infused and sugar cookies, well I liked the sugar cookie. Yet AGAIN! Another dish that was overdone. The texture was lumpy, which meant the eggs and the cream began to cook. 2/5
creme brûlée lemongrass and chamomile
There is one plus the service was impeccable. My friend went out to feed the parking meter. He was attentive, informative and always kept our table cleaned and refolded napkins when needed.
We were so disappointed with our meal we went across the street to a bustling Coast Restaurant and drowned our sorrows away with some fine wine and oysters.
Ki Modern Japanese & Bar on Urbanspoon

Cardero’s – Where the views matter as much as the food

sangria & mussels
sangria & mussels

On a warm lazy Summer Sunday afternoon, we chilled on Cadero’s patio, overlooking Coal Harbour Marina and the North Shore mountains.  With a cold and refreshing pitcher of Sangria and a plate full of mussels I was in heaven.

This is a tourist hotspot so come here early or be prepared to wait, especially for a patio seat but, it’s worth it.

Cadero’s Dining Promotions (Ongoing):

Mussel Mania – Every Weekday 3 – 6pm. $10 for a Granville Island brew and mussels

Sangria Sundays – $14 for a pitcher

Cardero's Restaurant on Urbanspoon