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

Next Door Kitchen & Bar – Our best meal so far this year

We had an important mission on Friday (April 05) – to pick a random restaurant in South Bank and have some delicious food.

This might sound easy, but there are tons of restaurants to choose from and so many sound good! The second restaurant we stopped at, Next Door Kitchen & Bar had a menu that invited us in immediately. All tapas styled dishes that sounded amazing and the best part: no lining up on a Friday night.

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The restaurant was quite busy, but the staff joined 2 small tables together and we were seated almost immediately.

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Cocktails on the menu were quite appealing but we opted for wine instead. Mike and Meaghan shared a bottle of Dalrymple Pinot Noir and I got a glass of Kiss Chasey Rose.

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It’s not often when you look at a menu and think, “You can order whatever you want, I would be happy to eat it.” But that was the case!

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Because the dishes are meant to be shared, the restaurant recommends 2-3 plates per person. We decided on 7 plates to share, as we also had full intentions to finish the night off at Max Brenner for dessert – needed to save some room!

FRESH BAGUETTE, PEPE SAYA BUTTER & HOUSE MADE SARDINE BUTTER ($9.50) Baguette was nice and crispy on the outside, chewy and dense on the inside – just the way I like it. It was my first time trying sardine butter so I was a little apprehensive, but it was quite tasty!

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GOLDEN FRIED POLENTA CHIPS, SALSA VERDE, SOUR CREAM, PICKLED EGGPLANT ($14.50) The polenta chips were fried beautifully! 6 sticks, a perfect portion to share between 3 people. I especially liked the pickled egglant, yum!

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PEA ARANCINI, GOATS CURD AIOLI, CORIANDER OIL ($14.50) Arancini (fried rice balls coated in breadcrumbs) is something I’d never had until last year. I’ve only had it a few times since and it was delicious this time as well πŸ™‚

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GARLIC PRAWNS, GREEN ONION PILAF, GREEN BUTTER & SNAIL BEIGNET ($16.50) Succulent prawns on a delicious bed of rice. The snail beignet was not strongly flavoured but very nice with the crisp crust.

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CURED OCEAN TROUT, PICKLED BEETROOT, KATAIFI CRISP, DILL MAYONNAISE ($16.50) I normally don’t like cured fish, but the trout was delicious and worked nicely with the beetroot. The kataifi crisp (made from shredded phyllo dough) tasted like a delicious vat of crispy butter. I’m glad it was shared between 3 people! πŸ˜›

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SEARED QUAIL, TRUFFLED WHITE BEANS, RAISIN & PINE NUT VINAIGRETTE ($22.50) The most tender quail I’ve ever had! It’s a hard decision but probably my favourite dish of the night! πŸ˜€

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TRUFFLE PARMESAN FRIES ($8.50) We couldn’t resist! Such a generous portion of delicious, crispy fries – you could smell the parmesan from across the restaurant and the aioli just made them even better. Nom nom nom!

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Service was extremely attentive throughout the night. Mike and Meaghan had their wine glasses continuously topped up. Plates were promptly cleared off the table and we never had to wait long between dishes. The only thing we would change: To serve the fries first rather than last so we can enjoy them alongside the other courses.

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Thank you Meaghan for treating us to a wonderful dinner! We will definitely be back and be recommending this restaurant to our friends πŸ™‚

Next Door Kitchen & Bar on Urbanspoon

Update: Buying textbooks from Abebooks.com

Today I woke up to a pleasant surprise.

I received 2 emails from a supervisor and a manager of Abebooks.com Customer Support regarding an earlier blog post: Buying textbooks from Abebooks.com

In this post, I mentioned my dissatisfaction with some of my purchases which were not as described. I also included pictures of my purchases and email communication with the sellers to support my claims.

The emails I received were polite and professional. They apologized for my bad experience and stated that they would like to give me a full refund for the 2 books I mentioned in my blog post – something that was completely unexpected. Thank you.

The supervisor also mentioned that there was no record of me contacting AbeBooks customer support and that I should use it for future assistance. Honestly, I had no idea customer support dealt with such situations. Always thought I had to contact the seller myself because when you look at your order details on the website there are 2 buttons: Ask Bookseller a Question and Initiate Refund/Return – both of which are direct communications with the seller. With this knowledge, I am definitely more inclined to try purchasing from AbeBooks again in the future.

Lastly, because I mentioned Mike’s book in that post, they’ve asked for his order details so that they can make it right for him as well.

A great example of prompt and excellent customer service. I am grateful and happy – thanks again AbeBooks!

Follow-up: Never order flowers from Dveras Fine Flowers

As promised, below is the closure to a complaint post I wrote regarding Dveras Fine Flowers. You can read that entry here.

Amazingly, the manager I spoke with called my sister quite early the following morning.

She continued to insist that their return policy was that if I wanted my money back, they would have to come and take the flowers (no Return Policy stated on website). She told my sister that she had also offered to replace my mother’s bouquet – both of which I had repeatedly turned down.

My reasoning:

  1. Why on earth do you need to come and take back someone’s present when clearly you were at fault and the bouquet can’t be reused?
  2. If you could provide a replacement bouquet that looks similar to what I ordered, then why didn’t you replace the original arrangement with that that one to begin with?
  3. You thought you could get away with something because this was an international order and now it’s backfired in your face.

Reasoning #3 was made even stronger when my sister gave me the manager’s explanation: They had run out of white lilies so had to work the colour scheme of the bouquet around tiger lilies. Bull! The bouquet would’ve looked perfectly fine even if only orange lillies were substituted, not to mention every other flower was substituted or replaced with cheaper ones. And she initially used roses as her excuse with me.

My sister eventually decided against the refund because it was not fair to my mom to have them come and take away her birthday flowers. Instead, Dveras Fine Flowers apologized by sending my mom an additional bouquet with light flowers as well as a plant – both of which were nice.

Unfortunately, despite the positive resolution, with all the trouble that I went through and the dishonesty I felt from Dveras Fine Flowers, I stand my ground and will not be ordering from them in the future.

Never order flowers from Dveras Fine Flowers

I ordered a bouquet of flowers for my mom’s birthday this past weekend.

After looking through many websites, I finally settled on Dveras Fine Flowers for 3 reasons:

  1. They are based in Ottawa. I had walked in to buy flowers before and they were of good quality. Also, since I was ordering from Australia, I thought they would be trustworthy as the delivery address was local. And if there were any problems, easier for my family to get in touch with them
  2. Their prices were okay. Not cheap by any means, just not as expensive as other florists in Ottawa
  3. I really liked, and believed my mom would like the arrangement I picked – Arrive in Style

The Arrive in Style bouquet looked like this:

The description, taken directly from their website stated:

This beautiful bouquet will most certainly arrive in style! Ready for the runway, as it were. A delightful combination of light colors and lovely flowers, it’s simply beautiful.

Light pink roses, white asiatic lilies, alstroemeria, cushion spray chrysanthemums and statice are delivered in a stylish vase. Style to spare!

The bouquet that ended up being delivered to my mom looked like this: Hideous

Not only were ALL the flowers substituted for different colours, there were no signs of alstroemeria, yellow carnations in place ofΒ chrysanthemums and purple baby’s breath was used in place of statice!!

But none of this could’ve been a problem, except they didn’t even try to obtain consent for ANY of the substitutions.

On their website, their Substitution Policy is:

Occasionally, substitutions may be necessary to create your bouquet due to the availability of certain flowers in various parts of the country. Care is taken to maintain the style, theme and color scheme of the arrangement, using flowers of equal value. Additionally, the substitution of certain keepsake items may be necessary due to increased demand, especially during major holidays. In single-flower arrangements, such as an all rose bouquet, or orchids, we will make every attempt to match the flower type, but may substitute with another color.

If this is how they work around their Substitution Policy, they may as well replace the entire paragraph with:

“The entire bouquet may be replaced, at anytime for whatever reason we chose, with another containing entirely different colours and flowers.”

Obviously, I called to complain and the manager knew right away which order I was referring to. The phone conversation ended up somewhere along these lines:

  1. Her initially telling me, “Oh I had to substitute the original light pink roses with hot pink ones.” Really? That’s the only thing? What about the purple flowers, tiger lilies, purple baby’s breath and chrysanthemums!
  2. Why didn’t you ask me for my opinion on any of these changes?! “Oh, because when we first called the contact number, your sister said you were in Australia.” That’s why I gave you my sister’s contact number! It doesn’t matter where I am, you should’ve called the contact number!
  3. I am not satisfied, I want my money back. “I’m sure your mom loved the flowers. It was the exact same floral arrangement, only the colours were changed but it was a very nice and bright bouquet.” Loved? Are you kidding me? There is a reason I chose Arrive in Style – because it was light and elegant, not bright and tacky. How does the one you sent her look anything like what I wanted? Do you know what she likes? And it was most definitely not the same floral arrangement!
  4. “You know, the bouquet was only $36 and that it was already a really good deal.” Are you kidding me? I paid a lot more than $36 with tax and delivery! And price has nothing to do with this!
  5. I am not satisfied, I want my money back. “We can deliver a substitute bouquet to your mom instead.” Really? How about NO. How are you going to guarantee that it will look anything like what I ordered in the first place?! And if you can guarantee it, how come you didn’t deliver that one to begin with? “Well… well, if you want a refund, we are going to have to pick up the bouquet.”
  6. Are you serious? You want to come and take the flowers away. Why? Is it not bad enough that you screwed up majorly, but now you want to take her birthday present back? Are you going to use the flowers in another person’s bouquet, is that why you need to pick it up? “No… but…” How about you just give me my money back.
  7. “Let me call you back tomorrow.” Excuse me? You’re going to call me back? To my Australian number? “Yes, I’ll call you back tomorrow, if I don’t call you, you can call me.” You don’t even know my Australian number, call the Canadian number I left on the contact form, talk to my sister.

So that was how my phone conversation went. Got nothing out of it! And received absolutely no apologies for their errors with my order. She only said, “I’m sorry you’re not happy with the bouquet, but… (insert another excuse here).”

In conclusion,

  • I’m sure she will not call tomorrow because she doesn’t want to deal with this problem, which is why she hung up in the first place.
  • I’m sure I will never purchase flowers from them again.
  • I’m sure Dveras Fine Flowers thought they could get away with these “substitutions” because I was ordering from Australia.
  • I hope none of my readers will be ordering from Dveras Fine Flowers in the future. There are many other local florists that do a great job and have good customer service and satisfaction.
  • I hope Dveras Fine Flowers comes across my post when they Google themselves.
  • I hope they do call tomorrow and rectify this problem so I can come back and edit this conclusion to make it more positive.