Saturday, April 23, 2011

What8ver Cafe

Finals are over. Finals are over. Finals are over. If I had to name one thing I learned in school that I would always remember it will be to never take a class with a final at eight in the morning. I walked out that classroom listing Hilary Clinton as the current governor of the Bank of Canada. Don't ask. Anyway. Yesterday night I took sometime out of my busy schedule of doing nothing to give What8ver Cafe another try because J has never tried their Ice-cream Toast before and Facebook did a really good job at advertising. This time however, I was smart enough to make a reservation beforehand and good thing I did - we were aiming to go around 10 but they did not have a table until 11.

The reason I say this is because last time we wanted to try What8ver, they were packed like usual. The server told us it was a fifteen minute wait when in reality, it was going to be more than that because there were already plenty of other people waiting ahead of us. We saw tables being turned over and over, and each time it wasn't ours. When we finally saw an empty table that was just sitting there waiting - we asked our server if it was ours and only then did she mention that there were a lot of reservations and we would have to wait longer. When I asked her how much longer, she couldn't even tell me an estimation. I had to ask her several times before she just uttered another "maybe fifteen minutes?" guess. So yeah, whatever. We left with a bad impression. This time our service was a lot better and more attentive - it was so much better that I wonder if it had anything to do with the fact that J and I were both carrying DSLR's. I have noticed that when you walk in to a restaurant with a fancy looking camera, you get treated a lot better. Maybe next time I should be more discrete about taking my pictures - like bringing the food to the washroom or something.

I really liked their menu design. It's clean, simple, and has a few nice floral accents. Of course, the appearance of the menu isn't as important as the items itself. What8ver is a small Taiwanese Bubble-tea type cafe that sells snacks and a nice array of dessert items like shaved ice, toast and waffles. K and T shared a Icecream toast, while J had his own. I've tried the toast before so this time I chose the Ice-cream waffle with a Calpico Green Tea with Green Tea Jelly; K had the Japanese Matcha with Pearls, T usually orders a slush and this time it was a Passion Fruit slush with Pearls, and J had Ovaltine Milk Tea with Tapioca noodles.

I really like What8ver's Calpico Green Tea. It's really refreshing and I would describe it as a light kind of drink; not too sweet and with just enough flavor. I've never had green tea jelly before and I actually really like it. It toned down on the sweetness because it adds a bit that bitter accent you get with tea. Every one else seemed to enjoy their drinks as much as I did with mine. Not too long after I got my waffle - which was more or less the size of the plate with an equally proportionate tennis ball sized scoop of ice-cream on top and chocolate sauce drizzle. The waffle itself was dense and a bit tough - almost bread-like. Taste wise, it was alright - nothing amazing and it got really sweet near the end. I probably would not order it again and just stick to toast and/or bubble tea. While in appearance and taste, the waffle was nothing special, the ice-cream toast was pretty impressive. The bread-box was filled with toast sticks coated in sugar, topped with vanilla ice-cream and then decorated with a strawberry, bananas, strawberry and chocolate sauce, an Oreo cookie and Pocky sticks. From what I remember from my first visit, the toast sticks were nice and crunchy. With no syrup or anything, you might get a sense that it'll be very dry, but that's where the ice-cream comes in!

Ice-cream Toast!
Overall, I like What8ver. I'm not very sure about the service because at the moment it seems like a hit-or-miss kind of thing, but their prices are fair and cheap compared to other places like Estea (our bill came to about 36$ for four). What makes What8ver stand out really is their Ice-cream Toast. I believe their the only one in this area that has that - actually, it isn't even on their menu, you have to ask for it specifically.

P.S. I re-created What8ver's Ice-cream Toast with a bit of a twist to suit my liking. Check it out on my Kitchen blog, or click here.

What8ver Cafe on Urbanspoon

Ice-cream French Toast

Before I had a chance to visit What8ver Cafe in Richmond, I saw pictures of their Ice-cream Toast all over Facebook. Every picture I saw made me want to lick my screen. Okay, it wasn't that extreme but I love bread and I love ice-cream; to combine the two together was like my ultimate dream come true. I don't know why that idea never occurred to me before. After trying the Ice-cream toast at What8ver, it seemed easy enough to re-create - but with a bit of a twist. While What8ver's version is crispy, inside and out, mines maintain the softness of the bread but still have that satisfying crunch you can get from the toasted bread-box. The toast itself is easy enough to make unless you want to go the extra mile and make your own bread. What I like most about this is that it is easy to change up the flavors to get whatever kind of toast you'd like.

Ice-cream French Toast
Yields ~ 2 Toast boxes.

1 loaf of unsliced bread (I prefer white)
3 eggs
1/2 cup of heavy cream or milk
1 heaping teaspoon of cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoon of sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla

2-3 strawberries
1/4 banana
2 chocolate wafer sticks
chocolate ice-cream
chocolate sauce
whip cream

Toast Box:  Preheat your oven to 300-350 degrees. Take the loaf of bread and cut it in half. Half a loaf of bread was the right sized box for me, but it can be easily adjusted to whatever size you like. To form your box, use a serrated knife and cut out the center of the bread by running it along the edges. Carefully pull out the bread - separating it from the crust. The neater you do this part, the neater your toast sticks would be. Cut the bread into rectangular bread sticks.
Heat up an oiled frying pan while you combine the eggs, cream, cinnamon, sugar and vanilla in a small bowl. Dip the toast sticks in the egg mixture, one at a time, with just enough to coat the bread; it shouldn't be soggy. Do this quickly or the bread will soak up too much of the egg. Place the dipped bread into the frying pan, flipping them every now and then until all sides are golden brown. I did mine in batches because my pan was not big enough, so while my second batch was just about done, I coated the toast box with left-over egg mixture and then popped it into the oven to be toasted. You can do this step whenever - depending on how toasted you want your box to be. It's also probably best to do this step just before you are about to serve it. And in the last few minutes, I also run it under the broiler to brown up the top.

Assemble: When everything - toast box and french toast sticks - are finished, you can assemble! Arrange the french toast sticks inside the bread box to form a kind of grid pattern. Drizzle a bit of chocolate sauce and nutella onto the toast sticks. Slice up the bananas and strawberries.
Place a scoop of ice-cream on the corner (or wherever else you would like it), add some whip cream on the side and then arrange your fruits. Finish it all off by drizzling a bit more chocolate sauce or nutella on top.

Variation: Aside from this version, I think a Matcha Toast box would be really good. Prepare the toast box the same way, but instead of chocolate ice-cream and drizzling sauce on top of the toast sticks, use red beans and Matcha icecream.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Jang Mo Jib - Robson

I remember a few years back I went through a crazy Korean drama/K-pop phase. That was a few years back and I mean few. Several even. If you remember who Shinhwa was - yeah, that's how long ago it was. But while my love for Korean pretty boys and complicated love quandruplangles has died down over the years, my love for Korean food has grown. Oh, that line was so cliche but oh so true. There we go with the cliches again. Ha. What I really looked forwards to in those Korean dramas were the parts where I get to see what they eat. In the drama "Full House", when Song Hye-kyo made bimbimbap? Oh yeah. I was craving that for days. And all the dinners she cooked for Rain? Oh man. It all looked so good. Early attempts to recreate what I see my favorite drama characters eat was a failure mainly because I didn't know what to order. For a few years I only ordered what I knew was good. It was all so foreign to me - until I made a Korean friend who introduced Korean Hotpots to me.

Out of all the places I have tried, Jang Mo Jib on Robson has got to be the best one and I'm not the only one to think that as they won readers choice gold for "Best Korean" 2011! I have tried the Richmond one a couple of times and it's not the same. Out of five possible hot pot choices, I have tried three: Gam Ja Tang (pork-back & neck bone in homemade soup), Dduk Bok Gee (Rice cakes, noodles & fishcake in spicy sauce), and the Boo Dae Jzi Gae Jun Gohl (Rice cakes, bacon, ham, sausage, cheese, vegetables etc. in soup). While the names might be difficult to remember because they're in another language, they have really appealing pictures of each hotpot - that actually looks like the actual dish - next to it's name. This time, I was lucky and got the chance to try Gahl Bee Jim (Beef short-ribs stewed in a sweet and savory marinade) with B because all the other times I went, they didn't have it in stock or were already sold out. Oh yeah, and we also ordered a coke because it came in a glass bottle and looked cool. Not long after ordering, we got our complimentary side dishes: sweet potatoes, two kinds of kimchi, and marinated seaweed.

When the hotpot came, B and I both kind of went speechless because we forgot how big these hotpots are. I would say each hotpot could comfortably feed four and we we were just two. The stone pot was shallow but filled to the brim and more with beef short-ribs, rice cakes, green and red peppers, sweet potato noodles, and julienne egg for garnish. The meat was so soft, it fell right off the bone - but it still had that bite to it like a good rib should have. It was seasoned well - full of flavor and went great with the sweet and savory sauce that it was cooked in. The noodles came uncooked, as were the rice cakes, so we let those sit for a while and soak up all that sauce. The noodles were able to absorb most of the sauce, the rice cakes however, were still a bit bland - but I loved the chewiness of it nonetheless. This dish was flavorful and had ton of different textures. If you are a person, like me, who enjoys the texture of food as much as taste, then these Korean hotpots are really something worth trying. It was so good, that B and I basically finished half of it and we weren't even that hungry to begin with. It was so good. No wonder it gets sold out.

Oh, and our coke? Gosh, it was the best coke ever. Probably because it came from a bottle and not a can. Mind-tricks, you say? I think not. Definitely has something to do with the glass.

Jang Mo Jib (Robson) on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Vancouver 125

What a nice sunny spring day in Vancouver - perfect to celebrate Vancouver’s 125th Anniversary!
Celebrate Vancouver’s 125th Anniversary on April 6 with Birthday Live – a free, all-ages event at Jack Poole Plaza, site of the Olympic Cauldron. The celebration begins with a street hockey tournament for youth and adults at 2pm and continues until 10pm with live music, DJs, food, street arts, spectacular video art, special performances and more. Vancouver’s Mayor Gregor Robertson and other dignitaries will be on hand for official ceremonies including lighting the Olympic cauldron and cutting a BIG birthday cake! Close to transit, free bicycle valet on site.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Roast Chicken - my comfort food.

There is no doubt that after a long hard day most people would want to go home relax and hopefully skip the dinner chores, but I on the other hand would say cooking is great therapy for me after a long and stressful day. Like today for example, I couldn't wait to get home and make myself a delicious meal! Today was the kind of day I needed comfort food... my idea of a comfort food would be mangoes and lots and lots of cool whip =) But unfortunately the significant other would not agree, so having to consider T's feelings on what to have for dinner I decided to make the next best thing... a ROAST CHICKEN. The thing I love about roasting a whole chicken is the delicious smell that fills the room and that's when I know the night will be a very satisfying night.

Its quite easy to roast a chicken here is one of my favourite recipe.

1 whole chicken about 3 to 5 pounds, a few sprigs of rosemary, mint, thyme, and basil . 1 small onion peeled and quartered 2 carrots peeled and cut into thirds 1 lemon cut in half, save one half and cut the other half into slices A stick of butter partly melted in a bowl 2 cups of chicken stock

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Wash and pat the chicken dry with some paper towels. Season the outside and inside of the chicken with salt and pepper I usually season the inside a bit more than the outside. Make a small cut in the skin and use a brush to brush the butter underneath the skin, do this thoroughly and be generous with the butter. Place 3 to 4 lemon slices underneath the skin on top of the breast area I would also recommend putting some of the herbs underneath the skin too. Stuff the chicken with the carrots and onions and the rosemary, mint, thyme and basil. Stuff the remaining lemons inside the chicken too. Use remaining butter and brush it ALL over the outside of the chicken - this will make the skin really nice and crispy. Place the chicken in a deep baking tray and pour in the 2 cups of chicken stock - this will keep the chicken nice and moist.

Roast the chicken for 90 minutes - basting every 30 minutes this will keep the chicken nice and moist. I usually like to serve this with a nice garden salad and some crusty baguette on the side. This is definitely my idea of comfort food. I also like to save the left over sauce and chicken bones to make a carrot soup and serve the soup over macaroni and this makes a great lunch!

The pictures are courtesy of W when we made this last time at Dot's kitchen, it was my first time roasting a chicken with W and it turned out so yummy!