Hello Kitty Cuisine in HK!

In our quest to try as many different kinds of foods I’ve missed out on during the last few years I was away from Hong Kong, we decided to go to Jordan to give Hello Kitty Chinese Cuisine a visit!

I’m not a huge Hello Kitty fan— I guess my relationship with her can best be described as tolerable. But I can’t deny that she’s kinda cute. And I now know she can look even cuter as dim sum!

The outside of the restaurant looked like a classy Chinese restaurant with a splash of Hello Kitty.

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Dine Out Vancouver Festival 2013

Hey everyone!

If you live in Vancouver, and have a Facebook, you may have seen an increase in pictures of food appearing on your Facebook Feed. I sure did, and it is making me crave all the delicious plates of food my friends post up!

A lot of these pictures came from friends who did Dine Out Vancouver, a festival that encourages people to go and eat at the many amazing restaurants around Vancouver. What is so great about having this festival in Vancouver is that our city is the home to many different cultures and ethnicities, which can be reflected in the food we serve. If you look through the list of participating restaurants, you are bound to find at least one you will want to visit!

Dine Out offers set menus at different restaurants, all for a fixed price of either $18, $28 or $38 depending on the restaurant. The set menu still offers a bit of flexibility, as they usually have two to three choices for each course of the meal. Reservations are easy, since you can simply do reservations online for most of the restaurants (though some require you to call them), but I highly suggest you book your reservation well in advance. We had some trouble securing a spot in the restaurants we had picked even though we tried making reservations four days in advance. This is understandable as they are busy, and the dates we wanted were all on weekends, which is when everyone else has time to eat out too.

A group of my friends and I went on the first day Dine Out was offered this year– January 18th. We decided to go to the Sandbar Seafood Restaurant located on Granville Island. We wanted seafood, and a menu that was not the most expensive, nor the least.

We all had a lot of trouble deciding what we wanted to eat, and our waitress patiently waited as we hemmed and hawed. I went with the salmon and shrimp salad for my appetizer, and the grilled salmon with rice for my main. I ended it off with a peach and apple crumble, served with gelato!

Overall, it was a good meal, and I enjoyed the ambiance of the Sandbar. It was not our first time there, since one of our mutual friends had her last birthday there, but with the set menu, it really does force you to try out something you would otherwise probably not have ordered! If I had to put a numerical rating on my meal, I’d give it a 7/10.

The menu

The menu

Warm bread that just kept coming!

Warm bread that just kept coming!

My appetizer

My appetizer

My main course

My main course

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The second time I went Dine Out this year, another one of my friend and I went to Ciao Bella Ristorante & Piano Bar down by Denman street. It was also a $28 menu restaurant, offering dishes with an Italian flair. I ordered the lobster bisque for my appetizer, grilled lamb chops for my main, and as my dessert, I got the tiramisu! My friend who went with me got their dessert of the day: zucchini chocolate cake. Props to her for being so brave and getting the zucchini cake. Turns out that you cannot taste the vegetable, but what it does is make the cake more moist! Overall rating: 7.5/10.

Lobster Bisque

Lobster Bisque

The lamb main

The lamb main

Tiramisu

Tiramisu

A chocolate cake with zucchini!?

A chocolate cake with zucchini!?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So did you guys go try out a restaurant or two during Dine Out Vancouver? Let me know if you have any you recommend!
(Also, I am hopelessly trying to fit pictures onto WordPress, but I obviously am not doing it correctly! I want to place them side by side…is that too much to ask for!? Anyone know their way around positioning images on here? Much appreciated!)

-Karen

Reading break at Portland! Friends, dining, shopping- the perfect trio!

Reading break has officially started! But it felt like it had begun two days ago! My friends and I went on a road trip to Oregon basically right after school ended on Friday. It was a tough ride since the drive took at least 5 hours to get there, but it was worth it! Poor William (our friend who drove)! He had to pick up the car AND drive us there! But, we had a shotgun system where we rotated people who sat in shotgun so that they can keep Will company– even if everyone else was sleeping.

What kind of sucked was that I was a bit sick during the trip. Through my lack of sleep and unhealthy lifestyle choices during midterm exam weeks, I managed to get sick. Joy oh joy. My voice is currently gone from all the talking I tried to do with my sore throat during the trip!

Back to the road trip story… We all woke up at around 4am on Saturday and everyone was picked up at their house at around 5am. You can clearly observe that everyone in the car lacked sleep and all eyes were promptly closed around an hour into the drive. I had shotgun responsibilities first so I fiddled around with the music and talked to William while he drove. Honestly, I have not seen Will for a while and I wanted to catch up, but my lack of voice and my throat kind of hindered my efforts! 😦

We stopped by a McDonalds’ on the way, just like we did last time. Connie, Will and I headed over to Hagens to look for fruits or veggies to munch on…sadly we were sidetracked by the bulk section of the store. SO. MUCH. STUFF. Connie bought us all chocolate covered gummy bears, chocolate covered coffee beans and chocolate covered almonds!! Yum 🙂 Afterwards, we went back on the road and continued our drive.

After arriving at Portland, we parked and decided to hunt for their famous street vendors! It took us a bit before we found them…and it was amazing. There were so many to choose from, and I settled on a pulled pork sandwich meal! I have been craving pulled pork for a bit and Portland did not disappoint! I really wish Vancouver had something like this! I mean, it takes up so little room for these vendors and their trucks! Allowing a bunch of them to congregate around a parking lot would be a good use of space and a good source of employment. Anyway, after our tummies were full and our fingers were frozen from the cold, we headed over to our motel. We left again pretty soon after that to do some outlet shopping. We went to SO many different places to shop! So happy! But, my shopping expeditions did not go as well as I planned and I did not get as much as I thought I was going to. 😦

Us and our street food!

At night, we drove by a McDonalds’ to steal their free wi-fi so we could search up good eating joints around town. We finally settled on Le Bistro Montage, which had high ratings from everyone online. We arrived at the restaurant and we thought it looked very sketchy. It was kind of under a bridge, where it was really dark and creepy. It was around the industrial part of town and there was no other restaurants nearby…just the one. BUT, when we arrived, we put down our names for a table and was told that the wait would be one and a half hours! That made us curious as to what restaurant would require that long a wait! The actual wait took around two hours, and by then, we were ready to eat whatever was thrown at us.

Le Bistro Montage’s menu

The place had a nice vibe to it, though it was really dark. There were huge paintings decorating the walls, as well as little trinkets such as a skull of some sort of animal, and a dried puffer fish– things of the like. We all sat down and was ready to order within minutes. I got the buttermilk chicken with garlic mashed potatoes! It was served with veggies and corn bread! Delish! I also ordered a POG juice, which was as combination of passionfruit, orange and guava juice! I am so glad I tried it because I loved it! Wish they had it in Canada..or do they already have it?? Will do some juice hunting. Some of us also ordered oyster shooters, which were so delicious I went and ordered another one. Overall, the place was pretty awesome asides from the wait. I would definitely recommend it as it was not an expensive meal, and it provided a unique dining experience. Oh, and if you have food left, definitely ask them to help you wrap it up! They do the funkiest foil art for you! Connie took some of her Jambalaya to go and they came back with a scorpion-shaped package!

Buttermilk friend chicken and garlic mashed potatoes!

So delicious!

Scorpion shaped takeout!

Later at night we visited a Wal-Mart, where Connie and I freaked out about how big everything was! Big bags of candy? Hell yes! We all started grocery shopping and returned to our motel well after midnight. One thing I dislike about Portland? How far everything is from each other! I cannot imagine what it would be like to commute around that city…honestly, I am pretty sure everyone has to drive. Being from Vancouver, everything is pretty well connected, so it was hard to have to cross a million bridges to get to a certain part of town.

After spending a good chunk of time playing “The Game of Life” (we lost miserably. We as in Connie, Monica and I), we then returned to our respective rooms for a good nights sleep. Which was not that good because I woke up freezing since apparently we forgot to turn up the heat. We are so smart.

The next day consisted of a LOT of shopping. We tried to make use of Portland’s tax-free system, and then we headed over to Westfield Southcenter Mall for lunch at Jollibee. I was kind of excited because back in Hong Kong, so many of my friends ate at Jollibee! It was my first time eating a meal at Jollibee and I thought it was delicious! Sure it was kind of greasy and unhealthy, but delicious all the same! Us girls also split a halo halo, a popular Filipino dessert! It was also my first time trying that and it was DELICIOUS! If I was not getting so cold from the drink, I would of had more!

Halo halo!

Again, I am skipping the details of our shopping expeditions and moving on to dinner. We ate at Olive Garden! It was my first time in that American chain, but I am amazed by all the bottomless dishes! They refilled practically everything! Monica, Josh and I were still pretty full from lunch so we decided to each get an appetizer and share. I got a Smoked Mozzarella Fonduta, Monica got a Italian Sampler, and Josh got a flatbread, though I forgot which one. We ended up not even finishing our three appetizers because it was so filling and big!

At Olive Garden

Afterwards, we spent a good portion of time fooling around in the parking lot and rearranging our shopping bags and luggage. At some point, we accidentally set off a car alarm when we were messing around with breadsticks. Do not ask.

I am so happy that my reading break is off to such a great start! Friends, dining and shopping– the perfect trio! Hopefully I will also have more time to blog amongst other things! 🙂

What I’ve learned this week

1) How to play mahjong

2) I cannot eat as much as I think I can

3) Santa Claus is Canadian

4) The idea of watching movies alone

So starting off with number 1, I finally learned how to play mahjong! Okay, so I am not at the level where you can play the version where you tally up the points, and you play certain different combinations, but I learned how to play the regular matching three up one! Honestly, in my 18 years of life, although I have watched my parents and many aunts and uncles around me play mahjong, I have never thought about learning it. However, now that I have, I cannot believe I never did! It is actually very fun, and I feel more connected to my Asian heritage. Okay, maybe not so much the whole connected thing, but it was still fun! Funny (or not so) thing is that we play at the UBC library. I think half the people wanted to kill us at Irving K. Barber and the other half wanted to join us. Okay, before you start tutting at me, you have got to realize that Irving is infamous for being the library you to go when you do not want to study. It is the nosiest library in the whole of UBC. At one point, some random guy came up and asked if he can join us for a round. Of course we agreed, but he had to leave before we finished our own round. 😦 Overall, I would say it felt like I have acquired another life skill.

Mahjong at the library...I won three times in a row!

Now to number 2…it all began (and ended) at Anton’s. So after everyone’s classes ended today, us hungry university kids were starving and William, one of my friends, said he knew a place. We all listened as he described how although it is like $20 a plate, the spaghetti portions were huge and you win a prize if you actually end up finishing it. Being who we were, we were like

It turns out that this place was Anton’s Pasta Bar, on Hastings and between Carleton and Madion. We got there and I was so hungry I declared I could eat half a cow. My friend said she was so hungry she would resort to cannibalism (*cough* Monica). There was a line, as my friend had warned, since it was such a popular joint. After sitting down, we basically took ten minutes before quickly flagging down the waitress so we could order. Looking around the restaurant, I saw everyone asking for a box to take away their leftovers. I was criticizing how people could not even eat one-third of their plate of spaghetti. WEAK! When our food came, we all dug in. Although there was five of us, we ate in silence for 10-15 minutes. That is how hungry and into our food we were. I got the Spinach Fettuccine Alla Fillippo, which was basically a white sauce spaghetti with spinach and chicken. Delicious! Charlie also got a white sauce spaghetti (the Fettuccine Alfredo), while Monica and Kody got the Fettuccine Creola. William was the only one who got something really different, the Tortellini Alla Panna. After a while I realized that this was an endless battle. In the end I think I ate 1/3 of my plate max. Kind of sad when you walked in with such high expectations of yourself. And I wanted the prize too (a pen). Sucked watching some table behind us claim a pen. Anyways, defeat aside, that restaurant was delicious! Probably not the place you would take someone on a date, due to having to pig out and dig through a heaping plate of pasta, but a great place with a cheerful environment for hanging out with friends.

Anton's Past Bar storefront featuring Valentine's Day

Our spaghetti 🙂

A feast! Challenge accepted!

Before challenge...

Challenge failed...though you have got to admit, I did plough through a lot!

And we shamefully walked away with half our plates in these containers...

Point number 3 came up as we were waiting for our takeout boxes at Anton’s. We narrowed down Santa Claus’s nationality as either Russian, American (from USA) or Canadian. We all started arguing our points and the argument went on from there. My friend and I argued that since he wears white and red, is super nice, and our coin (the quarters) has a picture of a caribou, which is the same as a reindeer, Santa Claus is Canadian. No one seemed to have as much evidence as we did so we kind of left that there. 🙂

Lastly, I was having a conversation with my mom the other day, complaining how I do not think I know anyone who would be willing to watch “The Artist” with me, though I desperately want to! All my friends definitely do not seem like the type to be into that type of movie…so I was stuck in a dead end. I jokingly said “I might as well go to the cinemas by myself.” My mom then told me that watching a movie by yourself is a whole new experience. When I thought about it, I realized how true that was. You do not have to censor your feelings and you can fully concentrate on the film! I really am thinking of trying it out one day, just to see how I like it. Who knows? It may even become a thing I do! Honestly, after consideration, I would most probably want to watch those cry-your-eyes-out movies alone because it gets so hard to control your tears when you are into the movie.

So for now, that is what I have learned this week! 🙂 Have a great weekend everyone!

-Karen