Lunch Date with Mike @ Gyoza Bar ANN

On Friday, we were able to get out of the hospital earlier than usual. That meant an opportunity for a late lunch date!

Gyoza Bar Ann had been on our list of places to try, specifically for their dumplings. We arrived a little after 2pm, loudly greeted at the door by very friendly and hospitable staff.

My date!

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The lunch menu included Tower Lunch Boxes ($12 each), which of course, we each got. Each Lunch Box comes with steamed rice, a green salad and the choice of one out of 12 main dishes. 6 of the choices are gyoza (dumplings) and the other 6 vary from teriyaki, karaage, sashimi and tofu.

We missed the lunch rush πŸ™‚ Lovely restaurant almost all to ourselves!

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Without much deliberation, Mike chose the spicy gyoza (made with pork) and I chose the cheese gyoza (made with chicken).

And, since it was Friday, we got drinks! Asahi for Mike and a Chu-Hi Lychee cocktail for me πŸ™‚

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We didn’t have to wait long for the food, even though it says 10-15 minutes on the menu. Our dumplings came out on a sizzling hot plate with some onion and green beans. The staff brought over the gyoza sauce which we poured into the hotplate and let the flavours sizzle away for a minute more.

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Rice was slightly overcooked but good flavours. Salad was fresh with a lovely dressing.

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The dumplings were crisp with flavourful filling. My cheese gyoza also had tomato in it, added to the juiciness of the meat. Mike’s dumplings were oh-so-spicy – I couldn’t handle more than one.

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A really nice experience, we will definitely come back to try different dishes soon!

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Ann Gyoza Bar on Urbanspoon

Tina & Vinh’s Pre-Wedding Nostalgic Party

Vinh and Tina’s wedding is tomorrow – so exciting!

As an opportunity to reminisce the good old days, Elvin organised “Tina & Vinh’s Pre-Wedding Nostalgic Party” for this evening in Canada (June 21).

The event info:

In early celebration of Tina and Vinh’s wedding and also for the sake of good times and great friends’ company, join us for a fun time at Marion Common Room!

We it will be a pot-luck-style event with perhaps Pizza Pizza just like old times!

Please bring any food, games, activities and memories to share with the group just like we did in undergrad!

Think: juice boxes, meech, werewolves, card games etc.

It will be great times!

For those who don’t know, Marion is the main science building at the University of Ottawa… where we spent so much of our time in undergrad together – lots of great laughs and fun memories.

I’m so glad to have been able to hang out with everyone (via Facetime, woo hoo!) Brought back lots of memories, I can’t believe so much time has passed since we’ve last been in that room together. Many of us are all in different cities now, back in Ottawa especially for Vinh and Tina’s wedding. I only wish I could be there in person to watch these wonderful 2 get married tomorrow but I will live vicariously through everyone else πŸ™‚

I took some screen shots during the game of Cards Against Humanity – so much laughter went on.

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Yo, check out Amin’s sunglasses πŸ˜‰

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Group picture – Miss you guys! Thanks for including me in such a special night! πŸ™‚

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Night out with friends @ Moda Restaurant

Xuan and Amanda joined us for a 50% Dimmi special at Moda Restaurant this past Wednesday. We had looked at the menu before arriving and were certainly excited to try many of the delicious sounding dishes.

We were immediately greeted and shown to our table. I was a little skeptical to be sitting outside on a cold breezy evening but it was surprisingly nice and warm! Francois, the front of house host, also came by to check up on us multiple times through out the evening.

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Our server (I’m sorry I didn’t get his name!) was extremely friendly and pleasant, recommending dishes and answering our questions.

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We started with bread ($3/pp, homemade Ciabatta) and house olives ($5). Good conversation starter and I liked having the small bottle of olive oil at our table.

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We soon decided on a share plate (5 items) for 4 – $78. The dishes all came out to be enjoyed at once. (I’ve taken the menu items straight from the website, but I think some of the menu may have changed the night we were there)

Black pudding (blood sausage) with white onion puree. Tasty but did not stand out by the end of the night.

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White anchovies with heirloom tomatoes. Personally, I’m not a fan of anchovies and found the pickled taste overpowering but everyone else really enjoyed them!

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Reef fish ceviche with rose water and berries. Lovely combination of flavours with the sweetness of the pineapple and tartness of the blueberries. The roe added a pop of flavour but the texture of the fish was quite stringy/chewy which I thought was odd when it was supposed to be raw and fresh.

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WA Octopus with persimmon and passion fruit. Easily the favourite at our table. Tender grilled octopus on slices of fresh persimmon – one of my favourite fruits. So yummy!

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Half shell scallops with cauliflower & saffron and jamon. These were delicious and the second favourite dish between us. The cauliflower added a nice creaminess and the jamon was thin, crisp and flavourful – such a treat!

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It was only afterwards that I realized the prices: $78 for a tasting plate of 5 dishes ($15.60 each) or $16 to order them individually – not really sure why there’s this option when you end up saving only $2. The portions were also quite small, especially the scallops – there were only 2…

We then moved on to mains:

Mike got the Beef cheek with horseradish mash and King Brown mushrooms ($35). He found no fault with this dish, the cheek was so tender it fell apart in your mouth. I think he wanted more πŸ˜‰

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Xuan got the Angel hair pasta with scallops, clams, prawn and aioli ($37). He was pretty disappointed with this dish, which he found similar to fried noodles and the aioli sauce an odd combination.

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Amanda decided on the John Dory with pancetta, potatoes, rosemary and garlic ($39). I remember she said this dish was okay, a 7/10

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And after changing my mind a few times, I settled for Venison Pie with persimmon and Goat’s curd ($36). The best thing I put in my mouth that night. The flavour combination was so unique and delicious to me, I just wish it hadn’t been SO TINY. Really… the pie should’ve been at least double the size!

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Because almost all the portions were tiny, we had plenty of room for dessert. There were 4 options on the menu which made the decision easy – one of each.

Spanish creme caramel with mini meringues and lemon sauce ($17). None of us were expecting such a… texture. It was very thick with a strong flavour of egg yolk and sweet like condensed milk. Interesting but I wouldn’t order it myself again.

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Creme catalana with white raspberries and honey comb ($18). I’ve never had creme catalana before, and when I looked it up, Google tells me it’s also known as creme brulee. That was certainly not what we were served but it was my favourite dessert of the night. A glass of foamy, delicious, spicy creaminess with a nice crunch and sweetness from the honey comb. There was also some sherry (made into a jelly) at the bottom of the glass which added nicely to the dessert.

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Valhrona Chocolate Fondant with orange marmalade ice cream ($19). Like molten lava cake… it’s hard to go wrong with this decision! πŸ˜‰

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And lastly, Rice pudding with poached pear and vanilla bean ice cream ($18). I am not a fan of anything porridge like, whether sweet or savoury. I found the texture of rice a little too hard for a pudding, made me think of a sweet risotto, haha! The others enjoyed it though! I forgot to take a picture of this dish – haha, sorry!

Service was easily the best out of all the places we visited so far this year. We were lucky to have been able to dine here for 50% off our food. Despite the good experience, we all found it too expensive to return here (at least anytime soon as poor international students) at regular prices. Additionally, the portions were quite small when compared to the prices and our expectations. With that being said, the ambiance is fantastic (although I wish the lighting had been better for pictures) and I would definitely recommend this restaurant to others looking for a special night out.

Moda Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Local sushi fix at Sakura Sushi

It’s about time I write about Sakura Sushi – we’ve been here enough!

Just a couple of minutes walk down my street, Sakura offers fair priced, decent quality and freshly made sushi and other dishes. A sushi train takes up the majority of the restaurant while workers prepare the food within the track where you can watch.

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It has been the same friendly staff greeting us since we started visiting last year and service is always the same – prompt and happy.

There are 2 options when it comes to eating:

  1. There is a menu but you can choose from whatever is being made and put on the sushi train
  2. If you don’t see what you want, you can order it directly from the staff and they’ll make it on the spot

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Super tasty BBQ pork steam buns! And crab claws!

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Chicken and avocado wrapped in egg with a dollop of mayo

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Tempura prawn and vegetable (I forgot the name!)

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Tempura prawn and avocado

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Fried wontons

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One of our favourite: Grilled salmon

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Great value and we always leave with happy bellies!

Side note: There’s a bowl of assorted candy by the cash register. Every time we leave, I make an effort to pick a tasty candy while Michael randomly picks one. He always ends up with a delicious candy and I always get a gross one with weird texture. How?!

Sakura Sushi on Urbanspoon

Groceries and study break at Cafe Siena

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Cafe Siena is located in a convenient corner at Westfield Chermside Shopping Centre, next to Coles. The cafe is bright, spacious and inviting – the perfect place to have a bite and study for a couple of hours before doing some desperately needed grocery shopping.

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The menu looked enticing and we soon found ourselves soon ordering at the counter, looking forward to a nice couple of hours. Service was extremely friendly and full of smiles.

It wasn’t long before our food arrived. Mike ordered the turkey panini with a flat white and I ordered the chicken panini with a side of chips to share.

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Hungry and excited to dig in…

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Unfortunately, despite the nice service and dining area – the best part of our meal were the chips. The panini bread was very white and just too crumbly in texture (you can probably see it in the picture above). There was hardly any chicken in my sandwich and I had to pick through rotting lettuce in my side salad.

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Despite the meal, we will probably visit again. It is a good priced area away from the chaotic throng of shoppers, however, I think we will stick to the bakery items from now on. πŸ™‚

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Cafe Siena - Westfield Shoppingtown on Urbanspoon

Sono Japanese Restaurant for Amanda’s 22nd Birthday!

Thanks to Kee Ping for organising the surprise birthday party for Amanda on Saturday, June 16th! We had the private function room at Sono Japanese Restaurant with 17 people altogether.

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The privacy of the room was pretty nice, although I wish the 2 tables weren’t so segregated. Unfortunately, it was impossible to facilitate conversation between both tables at the same time. Service was very friendly, the servers wore lovely Kimino outfits and were very accommodating. Even though we were in a closed room, we weren’t forgotten and constantly checked upon.

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The food, however, was quite expensive and dishes were hit-or-miss. Some people were quite happy with their dishes but others found theirs lackluster.

Here were a handful of dishes at my table:

Ebi (prawn) Tempura. Delicious, but expensive at $15 for 3 prawns.

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Unagi (eel) Kabayaki ($28) – thick cuts and very flavourful!

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Soft Shell Crab with Shiso Salsa ($15) – Great dish with nice flavour and acidity. A little too much salsa than needed for the burst of flavour so the crab quickly got soft.

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Tenzaru Soba ($19) – This was my dish, which I chose because I had never had cold noodles before and wanted to try something new. The dish was quite bland if not for the tempura and unfortunately, I got really bad food poisoning later that night (the only one in our group who got sick and who had this dish). I’m almost sure it was from the cold noodles itself, probably Bacillus cereus, which is often associated with improperly stored starchy foods (ie. rice, noodles, pasta). Seriously the worst pain of my life, thank god it was over quickly.

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The most interesting, but unfortunately, the most disappointing dish of the night: Seafood Houbayaki ($26). Individually served and cooked at the table, rice is extra.

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Extremely bland! You can even see there seems to be no seasoning involved.

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Moving on to dessert and festivities with the birthday girl! πŸ™‚

Amanda was puzzled, trying to guess who was the person who ordered the chocolate cake decorated with macarons. Turns out it was from her sister back home in Malaysia!

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Taking pictures!

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Many sweets! Chocolate cake from her sister, cheesecake from her friends and I made some pear cupcakes!

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All smiles! Happy birthday girl!

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Great night and got to meet some lovely people! πŸ™‚

Would we come back to Sono? Probably not. Don’t get me wrong. We had a fantastic evening – service was great, with lovely traditional decor and great ambiance. However, most of the group agreed that it was too expensive for less than impressive food. It seemed like half the group really enjoyed their food and the other half (which included the 4 people who ordered the Seafood Houbayaki) simply thought, “Meh.” Also, the food poisoning was unfortunate and extremely unpleasant!

Sono Japanese City on Urbanspoon

Surgery: You’re full Vietnamese?

During a chat with one of our patients, it was mentioned that both my parents are from Vietnam.

“Both your parents are Vietnamese?!” This pleasant gentleman asked.

Yep!

“So you were born in Canada?”

Yes I was!

“I wouldn’t have guessed you were Vietnamese!”

I’ve heard this many times before, so I responded with, “A lot of people have said I look Chinese or Japanese.”

He said, “Well… I thought you were a half case…”

A what?

“You know, a mixed race. Because you speak English perfectly!”

Why yes, that’s because I was born and raised in Canada!