Eating and cooking for 1 person. Myself.




I have lived in Vancouver since 2007 after moving out from Calgary for University. Now that I have graduated and am working, I am now free to dine out and cook more foods that I enjoy. I want to share my experiences with you!


Spring Rolls (Cha Gio)

I really craved spring rolls after a friend sent a picture of her family’s. Evil photos. Anyways, after many hours of researching spring rolls I decided to go make Vietnamese spring rolls rather than Chinese spring rolls. I like Chinese spring rolls with a good amount of bean sprouts unfortunately they don’t freeze very well so I went with these instead!

Ingredients:

  • 3 pounds of (normal) ground pork, not lean or extra lean
  • 2/3 pound of shrimp, shelled and de-veined
  • 2 cups of dried black fungus
  • 2 large Chinese carrots
  • 3 tablespoons of fish sauce
  • 2 bundles of bean thread noodles
  • 1 white onion
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • two or three packages of 8” spring roll wrappers (40-50 spring roll wrappers)
  • 6 tablespoons of water and 3 tablespoons of corn starch 

Steps:

  1. Defrost spring roll wrappers following the package’s instructions.
  2. This step is optional depending on the texture of the wanted spring rolls. I personally prefer to cook the pork in advance so  there is less fat but the texture of the spring roll will be different. The recipes that I have read do not cook the pork. The filling becomes more of a pork-sausage if you do not pre-cook the pork. I wanted to reduce the amount of fat in each spring roll so I pre-cooked the ground pork, removed the fat, and set aside to cool. 
  3. Add the fish sauce to the pork.
  4. Mince the shrimp.
  5. Soak the black fungus in hot tap water for 15 minutes.
  6. In a separate bowl, soak the bean thread noodles in hot tap water for 15 minutes.
  7. Julienne the carrots. I used a julienne peeler which helped speed up the process.
  8. Puree the onion in a blender. I personally don’t like pieces of onion in my spring rolls.
  9. Drain and rinse the bean thread noodles and black fungus under cold water.
  10. Julienne the black fungus.
  11. Chop the bean thread noodles into 1 inch pieces.
  12. Combine and mix all the ingredients in a large bowl until combined.
  13. Add salt and pepper to taste. To taste, add a small amount to a heated frying pan, test when cooked, and adjust.
  14. Create a slurry of the water and corn starch.
  15. Add 2 tablespoons per spring roll wrapper and roll like a burrito. Make sure they are wrapped tightly and the spring rolls have at least two layers all around when wrapped. I like a lot of filling in my spring rolls so I used 3-4 tablespoons, wrapped my spring roll then wrapped them again in half a sheet of another spring roll wrapper to get two layers of spring roll wrappers around the spring roll. I made 40 of my large spring rolls (3 packages) otherwise you would be able to make at least 50 of the smaller ones. Like I said, I love my spring rolls with a lot of filling. Place spring rolls on parchment paper side-by-side on a baking sheet. Do not stack.
  16. Heat a heavy-bottomed pot with vegetable or canola oil until bubble forms around a wooden chopstick when inserted into the oil.
  17. Add spring rolls and cook for 8-10 minutes. Remove when the inside when the fillings are completely cooked and the outside is golden brown. This may take some testing depending on your stove/deep-fryer.
  18. If your spring rolls explode (the filling spills into the oil and the wrapper breaks), then increase the oil temperature or if the spring roll is cooked but the spring roll is not golden brown, then decrease the oil temperature.
  19. When cooked, allow to cool on a rack for at least 5 minutes. 
  20. Freeze any remaining spring rolls into the freezer, while on the parchment paper and baking sheet, for 30 minutes. Place partially frozen spring rolls in a freezer bag and store in the freezer. To cook, place the frozen spring roll directly into the heated oil.
  21. Serve with sweet chili sauce, a gochujang sauce, or nuoc mam. 

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Soy Sauce Poached Chicken (Soy Sauce Chicken)

I am surprised that I have never made this dish before considering it is really simple and a dish that I grew up eating. Soy sauce chicken is its direct translation from the Chinese language. To make this dish, you only need a few ingredients and time. The braising liquid only requires six ingredients and 2-4 hours of letting the chicken cook in the poaching liquid as it cools. 

Ingredients

  • 1 whole chicken
  • 1 cup plus 2-3 tablespoons of dark soy sauce
  • 1 cup plus 2-3 table spoons of soy sauce/ light soy sauce
  • 1 knob of ginger, sliced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 1/2 cup of yellow rock-sugar
  • water
  • 1 1-inch piece of cinnamon (optional)
  • 2 star anise (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon of sichuan peppercorn (optional)

Steps

  1. Thoroughly wash the chicken
  2. Dry the chicken by patting the skin of the chicken with paper towels
  3. Rub the chicken with 2-3 tablespoons of dark soy sauce and soy sauce/light soy sauce and leave aside in a large bowl.
  4. Place all the remaining ingredients into a large pot, tall enough and wide enough for the entire chicken to be submerged. 
  5. Depending on the size of your pot, add 6-10 cups of water, enough that would submerge the entire chicken in the braising liquid.
  6. Bring the braising liquid to a boil and reduce to a simmer for 30 minutes.
  7. Add the chicken breast-side down and any remaining soy sauce at the bottom of the bowl to the braising liquid.
  8. Add water to submerge the chicken if needed.
  9. Cover the pot with a lid.
  10. Increase the stove’s heat to medium-high and bring to a boil.
  11. Reduce the heat to a simmer immediately after the poaching liquid comes to a boil.
  12. Leave the lid on the pot and simmer for 10 minutes.
  13. Turn off the heat and leave the pot with the lid on for 2 hours. This process is important to impart color into the chicken’s skin and flavor the chicken’s meat.
  14. The chicken will still be hot so be careful when removing it from the liquid. Allow to cool for 10-15 minutes before cutting so the juices don’t run out.
  15. Serve with green onions and some poaching liquid.

My apologies for my photos being horrendous… I had horrible lighting since it was a little past sunset after I started taking photos. I personally prefer this dish with the optional ingredients, listed above, because they add a hint of flavour without overpowering the soy sauce and the natural flavour of the chicken. Enjoy this dish hot, room-temperature, or even cold.

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This recipe was adapted from http://3hungrytummies.blogspot.ca/2010/06/aromatic-soy-poached-chicken.html


Old Barvaria Haus and My Slice Pizzeria

Old Barvaria Haus

Over the past week, I was able to catch up with a few of my colleagues from one of my previous projects at my previous job. 

We shifted to good and less-busy restaurants because it’s hard to hold a conversation while the background noise is incredibly loud. We decided to have dinner at the Old Barvaria Haus because of their schnitzel! I started with the escargot and had the schnitzel and bratwurst. 

The escargot was okay. The sauce had a good amount of garlic, which I enjoyed. The mushrooms were okay but kind of a filler. I enjoyed taking their complimentary bread and soaking up the sauce. Yum.

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Surprise! The waiter mis-heard bratwurst for shrimp. A slight awkward exchange of “Oh… well I heard….” and “well, I can take it back for you.” My coworkers clearly heard bratwurst, and they wouldn’t lie since they are all responsible adults! I accepted the schtnizel and shrimp dish because everyone was served their entree’s at the same time and I didn’t want them to wait or feel bad for starting without me.

The shrimps were not fresh because they had the frozen/thawed seafood taste and the sauce was bland. On the plus side, the sauerkraut was good but I think it was toned down in flavor/intensity to suite the general population. The vegetables still had bite and weren’t over cooked. The potatoes were also well done. I was not disappointed by their sides at all. Now, the main focus of the dish: the schnitzel. It was crisp, lightly battered, and flavourful. I’ve read comments from previous bloggers that it is dry but it’s normally slightly dry because it’s a lean piece of pork that’s pounded thin. The sauce also helped add additional moisture to the dish. I remember the plain schnitzel I had in Vienna was very similar served with a lemon wedge. The amount of food on this dish was also a lot. I think it’d be wiser to share a few appy’s and a main entree and have the dishes come out at the same time.

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The service was nice and the waiter joined in our conversations. My only negative comments was being served mistakenly the wrong dish and also being charged the price of the wrong dish. It was an additional $2.00 plus tips difference that I shouldn’t have paid (me being a penny pincher in this case). Usually restaurants wouldn’t charge you the price for the wrong dish…

Almost forgot! Their potato pancake’s are amazing. I had a bite from my friend’s and it was flavourful, light, and crisp. If I were to go back, I would go back to try their schnitzel and bratwurst and definitely order their potato pancakes over the escargot.

Old Bavaria Haus on Urbanspoon

My Slice Pizzeria

This is my second time I’ve been to My Slice Pizzeria because I want something quick to finish lunch within 30 minutes. They have a two slices special for $4.70 (with tax) or three slices and a can of pop for $6.70. I may be wrong in the pricing but it is definitely + or - $0.25. I recommend going during lunch rush because it guarantees hot and out of the oven fresh pizza. A lot of locals seem to swing by for a quick bite so the workers are constantly needing to bake pizzas to keep the showcase full. They have four pizzas that you can choose from. I had two slices of pierogi pizza  and one slice of the meat lovers pizza. The pierogi pizza was amazing. It had just enough sauce and loaded with tender, not over cooked, slices of potato. I really underestimated how filling the pizza would be and two slices was enough for me. The meat lovers was good and I think I should have waited another 5-10 minutes for the pizza to cool down so the sauce, toppings, and cheese will settle and be less messy to eat. The meat lover’s was pretty standard and had a good amount of meat but it wasn’t ‘wow.’ The dough of their pizza was great for a ‘western’/non-thin-crust pizza because it wasn’t overly chewy and moist (e.g. Pizza Hut) and the bottom was nice and crisp. It is how non-thin-crust pizza’s should be made.

I highly recommend My Slice Pizzeria if you’re in the area and need a quick bite for lunch.

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My Slice Pizzeria on Urbanspoon


Mazuya Sushi, TimKee Kitchen, and Romer’s Burger

So, I’ve been really lazy to post… so I am now posting three review in this one post! 

Mazuya Sushi

Two weeks ago, I was craving sushi. I miss being able to go to Sushi Garden or Sushi Town on my way home from work. I could go to Sushi Garden but it’s a trip from Sushi Garden to New Westminster via Transit and even further (and probably more painful) if I get take out from Sushi California on Broadway. I had to start the workday early so it gave me a little more time for lunch to quickly eat out by myself. Nearby, Mazuya Sushi is tucked between a Greek and Chinese restaurant. 

I ordered a combo that costed approx $12.50 after tax and tip and it included a dynamite roll, deep fried yam roll, and california roll. In hindsight, I should have tried their raw fish but I really wanted to take another type of gamble: a roll that is crunchy. I’ve had my fair share of dynamite rolls and yam tempura rolls where the batter is mushy by the time it arrives in front of you. Thankfully, Mazuya Sushi made it correctly. It was delicious because the tempura was still warm and the batter was still crisp. Most of the time, the tempura is cold and the batter is mushy. I don’t like or dislike their california roll. Usually california rolls have either imitation crab meat and avacado or imitation crab meat and cucumber. Mazuya Sushi uses both avocado (just-ripe avocado) and cucumber that is nice because you get creaminess and crunch but I have a preference for one or the other. I consider myself a purest when it comes to california rolls. I want to definitely go back!

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Mazuya Sushi on Urbanspoon

TimKee Kitchen

It’s been a really long time since I’ve had beef and rice noodles (beef chow fun) especially at lunch time. I didn’t get a chance to order it when I was at Aberdeen mall from Mambo Cafe since I had Dim Sum that morning at Fisherman’s Terrace before my haircut. Anyways, back to TimKee Kitchen. I’ve passed this restaurant a few times and noticed that they have beef chow fun on their lunch menu for a reasonable price. I give family-run/hole-in-the-wall chinese restaurants a chance because for whatever reason, you can be pleasantly surprised. I just had to take a picture of the table because I couldn’t resist because I have never seen anyone make a condiment tray like this.

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Enough of that. The beef chow fun arrive shortly because I arrived shortly after the restaurant opened and before the lunch time rush. The beef chow fun was presented in front of me and the portion was quite large for $9.00 (after tax and tip). I should have asked for a bowl because I find it really awkward to eat from a dish that’s meant to be served/eaten family style; I don’t mind constantly putting food into my bowl. After taking a few bites, I confirmed that I did not like the dish. I still ate until I was full because I don’t like wasting money.

The beef chow fun was incredibly oily, was bland, and not fried well (I don’t think it was cooked at a high enough temperature). It was so oily, it’s all that I could taste. The color was nice but it didn’t have any soy sauce flavor. I’m also fairly certain that the beef was not fresh because I tasted an off-taste in the beef possibly due to older or improperly thawed beef. The only plus side was the fresh beansprouts that still had its crunch. The only dish that drew me into the restaurant was not satisfactory so I probably wouldn’t go back.

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On a side note, this place appears to be family run based on the loud conversation the staff had in the kitchen…it was awkward to overhear their conversation (Cantonese) because it was very loud and audible from the dining area. Nothing bad was said (I don’t think) but the volume at which the staff should speak when someone is in the dining area probably should be turned down a notch. It makes me feel like I’m unintentionally ease-dropping in a conversation. 

Timkee Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Romer’s Burger Bar

I’ve wanted to go to this restaurant for many years after a friend posted a picture. I never had a chance until now to go to Romer’s because of its location. I usually end up going to a Red Robin’s when I want to have have a burger in a restaurant with service. If I’m in Calgary, I hit up Peter’s Drive-Thru for a burger and their awesome onion rings. I have digressed. I have mixed feelings. I would go back to Romer’s if other people I know wanted to go but I would not have the Romer’s Righteous Rib Burger.

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I’ll start with the positives. The fries, the bun, and the garlic sauce was really good. The rest of it was okay teetering on the edge of bland. I expected a really great burger but it wasn’t. The burger was a little dry, which is surprising for a burger-focused restaurant. I don’t think the shortrib did anything for the burger other than add texture when it should have also added a punch of flavor. The burger left me wanting more. The next few burger-specific joints that are on my to-eat list are Burger Heaven and The Spud Shack Fry Co.

Romer's Burger Bar on Urbanspoon


Lemon and Chia Seed Cookies

While browsing the internet for summer baking recipes, I somehow came across this recipe and wanted to give it a try. It looked super simple and I had most of the ingredients on hand so it was a no-brainer decision.

The original recipe can be found here and I’ll use that as an excuse to not re-type the recipe. 

My recipe came out completely different than what is posted on the website. It turned out similar to shortbread cookie which is understandable because the recipe resembles a shortbread cookie recipe with the addition of an egg: flour, butter, and sugar. 

Maybe Vancouver pales in comparison to the humidity where the author lives, but mine came out more like a shortbread cookie rather than something shown in the author’s photos. When it came time to roll the dough, my dough couldn’t be rolled out easily; it was still crumbly and dry. I even added another tsp of lemon juice that helped a little. I was hesitant to add more because I didn’t want to make the cookies too be supercharged with lemon flavor. I placed it into the fridge to firm up a bit and it helped but it was still very dry and crumbly. However, I was still able to cut out circles with a glass. However, I definitely overworked the flour to be able to roll it out. 

Ignoring the fact that I slightly over-baked them because I wanted to get more color on them, my final product is in the photograph below. Yes, most of them really were that pale.

The final product came out as a shortbread with the egg having very little effect on the dough.

Compared to the Author’s pictures, you can clearly see the dough was more plyable and the cookies turned round (after baking) which indicates that it had a lot more moisture than mine! The flavor was alright, The amount of lemon was enough to combat the unique taste of chia seeds and I think the flavors would work well with a cup of tea as an afternoon or post-dinner snack. This was an interesting recipe to try but it didn’t work out for me.


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