I do believe that I got overstimulated last weekend when we went slightly bonkers in terms of dining out. It consoles me that there was one other, not NPY, who also managed to be at all the eating events!
On Friday, we dined “in style” at Azia downtown. There were audible mumblings that prices were a rip off: “cheat Caucasians” in a town where you can get a fried rice dish for half as much as they were charging. But you don’t get beef rendang curry at the places I like to go to for any cheaper so I think NPY did well to have ordered it. It was the service that was most lacking – granted, we were a larger group of 20 or so, but there were just a few too many mix ups as far as I could tell from my corner seat of the long table.
Saturday night, we ordered in from Anton’s Pasta Bar. We do not understand why there is a long queue outdoors to get a table whether it’s for a very early or late dinner… or even on a crummy weather day! Oh yeah… their portion sizes. The pasta tastes fresh but I’m pretty sure, from the several times we’ve ordered, that they take a very heavy hand towards the sauces, that is, they taste really unhealthy for you! The smartest option is to get takeout — bypass that line waltzing in and out with your food.
On Sunday afternoon, I arranged for a few of us girls to have French-style tea at Provence in Yaletown. I was a little surprised it wasn’t more traditional and French in the restaurant but more like a casual bistro, at least by day. The tea service was quite good – lighter than the British ones I’ve had such that I didn’t feel sick when we were finished eating. However, there weren’t quite enough items that I loved without reservation that I was mildly disappointed. Oh, but the presentation was very nice and colourful!
The meal that I remember most fondly was the lunch we had on Saturday spontaneously arranged since we were all awake and available early in the day. We went to Western Lake in East Vancouver, a restaurant new to me in that 15-block stretch of densely packed Chinese grocers, bakeries, and restaurants. One huge convenience of the restaurant is that they take reservations. We still waited 15 minutes after the reservation time but the group of 7 of us were rockstars by comparison to the masses waiting for 60 to 90 minutes.
The last best dim sum dessert I had was at Happy Valley further east, near Burnaby. For some reason, I don’t have pictures from that lunch so I can only describe the pastry known as “Running sand bun” (transliteration from “lao sa bao”, 黄金流沙包). A euphemistic name in English is “egg custard” bun and there are two varieties, in fact. One variety that I truly agree is “egg custard bun” (“nai wong bao”, 奶黄包, literally means “milk yellow bun”) has this slightly jelly coconut-egg paste. It is not bad but I don’t drool for it — I like my egg tarts better. The second, less prevalent variety I really do hesitate to call it “egg custard bun” for the filling is a molten, nearly runny sweetened coconut-egg paste (sauce?) that has a lovely grainy texture — yum — that is a perfect Cantonese balance of salty and sweet. Even Chowhound devoted an article to the best of the runny variety, the true “lao sa bao”.
I’m quite loathed to go to Richmond for the famous and good dim sum spots given the silly extreme traffic on the main Richmond roads so it’s really great to find good dim sum spots in the city. Yes, I can spend all of my Vancouver days just in Vancouver municipality!