Vancouver: Day 02

November 18, 2013

What a good night’s sleep, most definitely needed it! Unfortunately, we woke up to a very gloomy sky. 😦 But that was okay right? Hopefully!

Started off with a delicious breakfast at home with BAGELS: something they really need to start selling in Brisbane because we miss them dearly when not in Canada.

Soon we were heading out and starting the day.

First stop, Stanley Park (huge, 1001 acres) with the hope of riding bikes if it didn’t start to rain. It was looking good! But unfortunately, it started to rain as soon as we got off the bus. So no biking but a little bit of walking around to see what the park had to offer.

Look how pretty it is!

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Lots of seagulls and ducks

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Some fam shots!

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We missed all the wild blackberries! 😦

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We barely made it into the park but it was wet and cold…

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Since it was raining, we thought of going to Science World as it was indoors and would be fun. But alas, they were closed on Monday.

So sad, so my sister decided to show us Granville Island next. A peninsula and hotspot for Vancouver tourism and entertainment, this shopping district includes a large public market, a marina, performance arts theatres, fine art galleries, craft studios (glassblowing, printmaking, jewellers, etc), and much more!

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Oh my gosh, berries so cheap! Australia, why you no have good price like this?

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The public market was bustling with amazing delights like baked goods and fresh fruit. Every stall was appealing in its own way, but particularly because most, if not all, were offering local products including artisan cottage-industry foods and hand-made crafts.

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We also had lunch at the market: perogies, sausages and dessert of cheesecake and macarons – all yum!

Also got some flavoured honey sticks, 4 for $1 – haven’t tried mine (honey lime) yet though!

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The Umbrella Shop. It was hilarious to hear the employee say something along the lines of, “Now, the important thing is that you need to open the umbrella all the way out to dry.” Never heard umbrellas being taken so seriously before!

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The Crystal Ark – had a great time in here just looking at everything. Yes, I like collecting rocks/minerals! And even bought a few items as Christmas presents! 😉

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So many polished stones to choose from!

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My sister greeting some ducks on our way out!

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We decided to head to the University of British Columbia with 2 intentions: To see the Walter’s Harvard Lab (from the show Fringe!) and to get a tour of my sister’s study area on campus at UBC Hospital. We also wanted to go to their Museum of Anthropology, but that was closed on Monday too, so many fails!

And yes, the rain has not let up at all. By now, we (but especially me) were all feeling chilled to the bone and miserable.

So it turns out that what Michael believed to be was Walter’s Lab was a FAIL! Because we had a completely wrong building! I’m pretty sure this is the Iona Building, School of Theology

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The one we really wanted to see was this Chemistry Building. Aieya, I guess next time! Photo credit: As linked

We got a quick tour of the OT area at UBC Hospital and chilled out in their student lounge for a bit. So miserable with the rain and cold! If you know me, I can take anything but rain, I detest rain!

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Soon we headed home in order to meet my sister’s friend for sushi dinner! The sushi restaurant was decent, the company definitely made it better. It was an uneventful evening as we just headed home and hung out after dinner – sorry no pictures!

And that’s the end of Day 02!

Deer Duck Bistro – You disappoint

(Since writing this review, I have been contacted by Nicholas, the owner of Deer Duck. Please take your time to also read his comments and my reply below. Although I thought I would never want to return to Deer Duck Bistro, that is no longer the case. The simple act of taking time to read and politely acknowledge what I’ve written tells me this is someone who cares and I would be happy to visit again for a better experience!)

Mike and I purchased a Groupon Voucher ($99) for a 4-course meal (with a glass of wine) for 2 at Deer Duck Bistro.

We finally redeemed it yesterday (Friday) with high expectations. Boy, little did we know!

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Our reservations were for 7pm and we were promptly shown to our seats. Quirky seating arrangements, I loved the long sofas, but the decor looked tired.

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We were handed menus and offered our glasses of wine. Both of us chose red and were given Sacred Earth Clarendon Hills Onkaparinga Grenache 2007 – We were pretty sure we didn’t get a full serving. The wine was good, but when you can buy it for $5/bottle, I feel a little ripped off.

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This was the menu offered on Groupon when we purchased our vouchers:

deer duck bistro menu

The menu we received. There were a few changes that were a little disappointing, which I will mentioned as we go.

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First to arrive was our entree: Share platter of meats, dips, terrines & freshly baked breads.

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Our visual impression was, “Not bad!” The bread crisp was interesting, the house marinated olives were delicious, the fish (herring I think) was nicely seasoned and the pate with carmelized onions was quite tasty. But the house baked bread was dry, terrine and the other meat were both not very flavourful, and the homemade hummus was quite bland.

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Then onto our mains. Our Groupon voucher stated we were supposed to get a side of either potatoes or vegetables but it was not available to us.

It took way too long for the mains to come out – we waited nearly 45 minutes! In addition, both our dishes were already going cold when it came out. Why did it take so long for our food to be served cold?!

Mike got the Prosciutto rolled chicken ballotine, parsnip & pear puree, whipped saffron potato, chicken jus

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Flavours were okay but this is not the size of a main dish, compounded by the fact we didn’t get a side dish as well.

I got the Duck trio, baby leek, apple, fennel, fondant potato, and baby vegetables.

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Do you see any baby leek, apple, fennel or baby vegetables? None. Instead, both our dishes are adorned by a couple little pieces of carrot, asparagus and radish. Barely enough for a few mouthfuls let alone compliment a protein dish. I’ve mentioned it before in other posts, but when the same vegetables are showing up on multiple plates, it’s not for flavour, only decoration. Unfortunate, because all 3 duck meats were really delicious, although why is the duck breast plated skin down? Why?

After finishing our mains, we proceeded to wait for our cheese platter to share. We waited and waited and waited. What on earth takes so long for a dish that doesn’t even require cooking?

The menu said: Cheese plate, lavosh, house baked breads, fresh & dry fruits.

Look at the plate that finally came out…

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Old grapes, 1 strawberry sliced in half, and the same dry bread and bread crisps (not lavosh) as the entree plate. 2 slices of cheddar cheese and a wedge of brie, compared to Millawa goat blue and Pont Leveque cheese on the Groupon menu. Not the same cheeses as advertised deal, which was a disappointment because we felt these cheeses weren’t as special and possibly cheaper substitutes.

By now, we were both frustrated and unimpressed at the quality of the food. After a full day at the clinic, we were also quite tired which didn’t help.

Again, we waited and waited for dessert to come out, which was no longer a surprise.

Mike got the Lemon meringue roulade. Why on earth is there burnt crumbled meringue on the plate? We have no idea.

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I got the chocolate Chocolate tart with chocolate ice cream. The good thing about this dessert? The ice cream and berries underneath. The tart was not even close to being decadent, I probably could’ve found something tastier in the Coles bakery aisle.

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We left immediately after dessert around 9:30pm. It took us 2.5 hours to finish a “4-course meal” where only one dish required cooking. Unbelievable.

Although service was friendly and polite (dishes promptly cleared, never had to ask for water), the dishes were not true to the menu we were given, the quality of food was sub-par, and the wait times were unacceptable. We also noticed that some dining tables had a direct view of the toilet and at one point during dinner service, a less-than-impressed diner had to actually get up and close the door.

Our dinner was most definitely not worth the amount we paid. For the quality of food we received, we would never come back and pay the regular prices. Heck, even if the same Groupon deal was available again we wouldn’t consider buying it. This dinner was possibly the worst dining experience we’ve had this year, what a waste of time and money. 😦

Deer Duck Bistro on Urbanspoon

Harajuku Gyoza – A long time coming

Michael is a huge fan of dumplings – so am I.

We’ve also passed by Harajuku Gyoza many many times – each time itching to go in but holding off. We finally went on April 04 during Meaghan’s visit.

Super friendly service with shouts of ‘Irasshaimase!’ (welcome) as soon as you walk in the door. Great decor as well, I really liked the plates and the lights.

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The menu is simple but offered a variety of dumplings averaging $8 for 5 pieces.

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We ended up ordering edamame (boiled young soybeans), chicken karaage (marinated and lightly battered fried chicken) and 5 gyoza (dumpling) dishes, all grilled with pork, duck, chicken, vegetable, and Moreton Bay bug filling.

Food verdict? VERY AVERAGE, nothing special.

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Edamame was great, although it’s hard to get that wrong.

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The chicken karaage had too much batter and skin for my tastes – I’ve had much better.

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The dumplings were not very flavourful. If I didn’t know what we had ordered, it would’ve been hard to tell the difference between the pork, duck and chicken gyozas. The vegetable dumpling had interesting (edamame in the filling) texture, although not great flavour. This was also my first time tasting Moreton Bay bugs – it was tasty but I wouldn’t be able to say if it was cooked well or not 🙂 I also wish the gyoza wrappers were more chewy and crispy.

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Even though the food was a little lacking, it was clear everyone (including us) were enjoying themselves. The restaurant was soon filled to capacity and buzzing with conversation. Every time a sake shot was served (from a huge bottle), the staff would yell out leaving customers laughing and a little self conscious 😛

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For dessert, we shared an apple gyoza with icecream and a peanut butter & white chocolate gyoza with icecream. Each came with 3 pieces of deep fried dumplings and a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Delicious. You simply cannot go wrong with those flavour combinations… deep fried. I was so excited to eat it, I forgot to take pictures 😦

A really enjoyable evening but we probably won’t come back unless it’s with a large group of friends for the atmosphere. We will try out other gyoza restaurants before coming back to Harajuku solely for the dumplings.

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Harajuku Gyoza on Urbanspoon

Overdue food update

Haha, haven’t seen food on here in a while!

Bunch of dishes from past months 😀 There will be a few repeats from my Photo a Day project and a couple of dishes made by my mom while my family was here visiting!

The first dish I made since exams this past Saturday – yum! Pan fried dumplings with homemade kimchi

Gnocchi, garlic bread and eggplant tempura

Toast, curried eggs and garlic yoghurt brocoli salad

Easy dinner – pasta!

Crispy pita with sauteed spinach with garlic and melted cheese

Fajita night

‘Banh hoi’ with roasted duck, roasted pork and veggies – always such a treat!

‘Banh cuon’ filled with thit nuong (BBQ ground pork) – one of my favourites, thanks mom!

Toasted baguette with lightly sauteed spinach and veggies

Butternut squash soup

Rice with spinach and mushroom stuffed peppers

Rice with beef curry, thit kho and stir fried snow peas

Hors d’oeuvres with buttersquash, curry, and spinach stuffings – so easy to make and fun to eat!

‘Bun xao’ – thanks mom!

‘Bun rieu’ – thanks mom!

Apple and cheese puff bites

Now that my oven is fixed, I’ve also been trying to learn how to bake (from scratch) and creating my own recipes. Can do better, but still many successes – yay!

Lime cupcakes with lime icing

Red velvet creamcheese brownies

Carrot muesli cookies – healthy and delicious!

Carrot and banana cupcakes – perfected my own recipes, yay!

Chocolate lime cupcakes