Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Sweet Ol' Times - White Chocolate Cheesecake

February 14, 2010
Cactus Club Cafe, Richmond BC
White Chocolate Cheesecake
This was such a long time ago. I think it was our first time going to a formal western restaurant as a family, and what better occasion than Valentine’s Day! If I recall correctly, Mom had salmon and Dad had rob's hunter chicken. I had prawn + scallop spaghettini I believe. All the dishes were delicious. The chicken breast is always missing some flavor - it's hard to get the meat to just simmer with flavor. I get it. Unfortunately, no photos exist for those.
I was only concerned about dessert back then and this white chocolate cheesecake was the best I have ever had – sweet but not too sweet, and creamy. The berry compote provided a nice sour complement and the white chocolate taste was amazing. One of the best cheesecakes ever (and cheesecake is already the best dessert one could ask for)!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Spotty + Nutty = Naughty - Spot Salad

December 20, 2011
Whitespot, Richmond BC
Spot Salad

This was a very late dinner (and I forgot to call Dad too... which is what the 'naughty' is about), after watching The Artist in downtown and skytraining back. Rachel and I took forever to decide where to eat dinner. Finally, we narrowed it down to Whitespot since I felt like eating a salad. Their salad never disappoints. Although this is the only one out of the two (the other's a caesar) that I would ever order, the taste is refreshing with dried cranberries and tomatoes but a nice touch with the pumpkin and sunflower seeds. The chat was the important part of the night so all was good.

Traditional Chinese, Western Style - Han Dynasty

November 27, 2011
Han Dynasty, Philadelphia PA
DanDan Noodles
Dry Pot Rabbit
Snow Peas Leaves

Creative? I think so! This is perhaps the darkest Chinese restaurant I have ever been in, with bright red tables and classic Chinese chairs. But there were hardly any lights - totally western style in that sense. Yet, it was one of the best reviewed restaurants for Szechuan cuisine and I was set to find out if that was true. Indeed, it was - sort of.

We started with DanDan Noodles. Not authentic, no. It was nowhere near spicy enough. And zero numbness which is not Szechuan. However, their spicy and sweet peanut/sesame sauce was good regardless - a very unique dandan noodle. There were no vegetables, ground meat, or Chinese sauerkraut. Still, it was good. The noodles were chewy and tender and the thicker kind. Suits me just fine.

I wanted really spicy food so naturally, I picked the one with the highest level of spicy - Dry Pot Rabbit. I don't remember ever eating rabbit, though Dad claimed I have tried it back in China. I don't remember, honestly. So he encouraged me to try it now and try it we did. Such tender meat! I never thought I would fall in love with eating rabbit meat. (On a side note, is rabbit considered red or white meat???) It was really spicy, a bit too much for Dad. But I loved the spice lingering on my lips. The celery, red bell peppers, bamboo shoots, and water chestnuts were nice complements to the meat.

Finally, not wanting to eat unauthentic string beans, we opted for Snow Peas Leaves - very refreshing, very light, and not spicy at all. The leaves were not very...um...嫩(tender?). But the garlic was nice. I ate most of it.

Overall, it was a great last dinner to end the mini-vacation. It would have been nice to see the dishes better though - a little too dark for Chinese food.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Spiced Up Evening - 峨嵋山庄-Emei Restaurant

November 24, 2011
峨嵋山庄 - Emei Restaurant, Philadelphia PA

So when it comes to Chinese restaurants, there tends to be many many dishes on the table, all meant for sharing. Thus, it leaves me too many photos and too many posts if I am writing about individual dishes. Therefore, I shall resort to reviewing everything in one post - if I can fit it in!

峨嵋山庄 started out 小菜(花生米&泡菜) with for everyone. Kind of cute, if you ask me. It was the most formal Szechuan restaurant we could find in Chinatown and the few reviews it had were quite positive.
Their 担担面 was, according to Dad, quite authentic - as authentic as you can get with Philadelphia anyways. The spice and numbness of the sauce was great, and the skinny noodles slippery and tender. I would have preferred more vegetables, though. And more of the meat and sauce. This is usually the case with noodles in a restaurant.
Their 干煸四季豆 was not authentic, partially because it is not really a Szechuan dish. Nonetheless, they fried the beans and it was not spicy which pleased Dad.

Finally, their 水煮鱼 was not authentic either.
It had bok choy and celery on the bottom, instead of the usual yellow bean sprouts.
The soup is supposed to be watery with spicy chili oil but this was more spicy sauce and corn starch. The fish was fried too, instead of boiled. Regardless of authenticity, however, the fish was tender and the flavor was good. Who really cares whether it is authentic, as long as it tastes good right?

I have to say, reading reviews online helped so much in picking restaurants for the day. After three months of non-real food, this day was a huge improvement. Very spicy and satisfying.

Spicy and Skinny - SkinnyLicious Spicy Chicken Salad

July 24, 2011
The Cheesecake Factory, Bellevue WA
SkinnyLicious Spicy Chicken Salad

It's great that The Cheesecake Factory is progressing towards healthier options. This one salad was nicely spiced up. The chicken was indeed a bit bland, but again, all chicken breasts usually are. The beans were the best, I found. The corn and the rice were also nice complements. The veggies added a refreshing taste and a light feel to the dish which was good for the late lunch hour we were there.

I regret not taking pictures of the two cheesecakes we ordered 'to go'. One was 30th Anniversary chocolate and the other, I think, was Kahlua Coffee Creme. Both were delicious, and Mom and I enjoyed that back home. I have to say, though, this location was not as good as the one in Vegas. By chance perhaps, or just the fact that Bellevue is not as fancy as Vegas and the restaurants follow suite. Either way, it was at least less expensive to get there.