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The Hungry Nomad: 03/01/2012 - 04/01/2012

March 28, 2012

Gyoza King (Vancouver, Canada)

Its hard to have one favorite Japanese spot in Vancouver since there are so many to choose from, especially in the lower Robson/Denman area. But Gyoza King has stood the test of time as being my ultimate favorite downtown Japanese tapas joint.

I've been going here regularly since '04 (whenever I'm in town that is) and was happy to see that nothing has changed on my most recent trip: same great service, great food and menu. If you go on the weekends be prepared for a long line up. This isnt the place to be if you have a large party as the restaurant itself is pretty small and filled up with a lot of regulars. For the Gyoza lovers out there, this place has amazing gyozas. My personal favorite is the ebi-nira (prawn, pork and chives), not to say that the others aren't great since they are all pretty amazing. The Gyozas are hand made to perfection and everything else is en par.

Always on my list of orders are the beef sashimi, tuna tataki, agadeshi tofu, kimchi udon, ebi mayo, cheese croquettes, chicken karage and takoyaki.  Did I just list everything off the menu? Its probably because everything here is so delicious. 

The beef sashimi was slightly seared on the outside and perfectly tender on the inside. Drizzled with ponzu sauce, sprinkled with sesame seeds served with chives and other goodies. 

The tuna tataki- another personal favorite is  also slightly seared served in a small bowl drizzled with sauce and served with chives and turnip. 

BBQ Tongue
Being with a group of adventurist foodies we decided to try the tongue. It was very chewy and nothing extraordinary. I probably won't order it again given that there are so many other delicious options on the menu. 

Prawn, Pork and Chive Gyoza
The best part of the meal is always the handmade gyozas. You can order them steamed or deep fried with a variety of different fillings, including a vegetarian option. I always get the ten piece and can honestly probably have 20 myself..they are THAT good. 

Agadeshi Tofu
Agadeshi tofu is a staple Izakaya dish. I love the combination of the crispy outside and soft inside of the tofu mixed with the delicious sauce which I end up drinking like soup.  And I absolutely love the one served at Gyoza King. 

Takoyaki, otherwise known as octopus balls, otherwise known as deep fried octopus batter served with mayo and a variety of delicious spices and flavors is also a personal favorite. You can never go wrong with this one. Just be careful as they are very hot. I usually poke them to let out some of the steam...having burnt my tongue one too many times. 

All in all, if you are looking for a solid Japanese Izakaya restaurant in the downtown core, serving good food at relatively cheap prices in a great atmosphere then you must try Gyoza King. Or if you just want to try some of the best Gyozas in Vancouver then you should also make your way over to Gyoza King and enjoy.

Gyoza King on Urbanspoon

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March 26, 2012

Finchs Tea & Coffee House (Vancouver, Canada)

There are sandwiches...and then there are Sandwiches. Some do a great job in filling you up others are a work of art.  

Finch's Tea & Coffee House serves delicious, mouth watering art on a platter. The sandwiches are all prepared with care and detail mixing flavours and ingredients which you wouldn't normally imagine together but are happy they have, once you try. I'm ashamed to admit that I work a block away and have walked by many times yet I only got around to trying it this week. And oh my- when I discover little treasures like this its always bitter/sweet: sweet because I've discovered it and bitter because I waited so long to try. 

Finch's has been around forever and I've heard nothing but great things about it from each and every person that has had the chance to try it out. The must haves are the proscuitto, pear, baked blue brie, walnut sandwich which apparently is to die for. Others that we tried which were amazing were the proscuitto, blue brie and lettuce. 

To finish off we had the house made cookies made from free range organic eggs. Their coffees and teas are all fair trade and organic. All in all- this place is amazing for sandwiches and its a definite must! 

Finch's Tea & Coffee House on Urbanspoon

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March 22, 2012

Joyeaux Cafe & Restaurant (Vancouver, Canada)

Joyeaux Cafe- when you hear the name the last thing that comes to mind is delicious Vietnamese treats...instead you are given the impression that perhaps its French.  Not until you step inside this unassuming restaurant do you discover that its one of the best Vietnamese places in the downtown core and also very popular amongst downtown workers. I myself am a frequent customer.

Whenever its cold, grey and wet (which seems to be most days in Vancouver) I find an excuse to wonder over to Joyeaux Cafe for lunch. If you go during the week at lunch you will find yourself waiting in a line up. However, don't let the line deter you as there is a high turnover rate.  Most people come on their lunch break, grab a quick bite to eat, and leave right after. 

I have tried several dishes on their never-ending menu which is plastered all over the walls and tend to favor the pho and the Korean bbq short ribs. You can't go wrong with any of the wide range of phos served at Joyeaux nor the other not so Vietnamese dishes. Just remember, this isn't the most ideal place to go with friends if you are looking for ambiance, décor or sit down service. However, it is a great place if you want fast and efficient service and good food. 

Beef Ball Pho- #1

Joyeaux Cafe & Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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March 19, 2012

Sabzi Polo Mahee (Fish and Persian Herbed Rice)

The weather has warmed up, the cherry blossoms are in full bloom, the Canadian geese are back from their winter trip down south in Mexico (I admire them). It can only mean one thing: Spring is here which means its also time for Persian New Year. On the day of the new year, Persians all over the world get together with family to have the famous sabzi polo meal. This is equivalent to Turkey dinner at Christmas. 

Sabzi polo is a colorful green version of the famous Persian polo (rice) dish. The green comes from a variety of fresh herbs including cilantro, parsley, dill and scallions. Sabzi polo is traditionally served with white fish but in my family we have replaced it with  fresh sockeye salmon given that we live in the mecca of fresh salmon. It is a really healthy meal and perfect for any time of year.  Here is the recipe for those craving this dish on Norooz or any other day of the year. 

Norooz Potluck with Friends
And happy Norooz to all Persians worldwide. 


4 c. Basmati rice
4 tbsp canola oil
1 large piece lavash bread or lettuce
1/2 c. scallion tops (greens only), washed & chopped fine
1 1/2 c. flat leaf parsley, washed & chopped fine
1 bunch (4-5 stalks) green garlic, washed but left whole
1 c. cilantro, washed & chopped fine
1 1/2 c. dill, washed & chopped fine

  1. Soak the rice in well-salted water for a few hours before cooking, changing the water once towards the end of the soak.
  2. Fill a large, heavy pot halfway with water and bring to a boil. Add a pinch of salt.
  3. Add the rice (and the water it was soaking in), and bring it back up to a boil.
  4. Stir gently a couple of times, and keep an eye on the grains - as they begin to turn translucent on the ends, occasionally take one out and chew it - you're looking for something slight on the crunchier side of "al dente", but chewable.
  5. Drain the rice in a colander, and run some water over it to rinse off the excess salt.
  6. Add the oil to your pot, along with 1/2 cup of water or milk (to make tahdeeg), and lay the lavash bread  on the bottom in one layer (an alternative to lavash bread is lettuce)
  7. Begin adding the rice and herbs into your pot, but "mounding" everything so that you have a pyramid of sorts at the end. You want to lightly "fluff" the herbs into the rice to incorporate as you go along. The garlic you want to lay about halfway through the mound in one or two layers as needed.
  8. With the handle of a wooden spoon, make a few holes around the mound of rice to create "steam vents"
  9. Wrap the lid of the pot in a clean kitchen towel and secure it, ensuring that the towel is well out of the way of any flame. 
  10. Drizzle a couple of tablespoons water or oil over the top of the rice, and put the lid on (the towel will help absorb the steam so water doesn't drip back onto the rice).
  11. Cook on high heat for 5-8 minutes until you see steam, and hear a sizzling/crackling coming from the bottom of the pot.
  12. Reduce to medium, and cook for another 15-20 minutes, keeping an ear and nose on things - you don't want to smell smoke, but you do want to hear light crackling/popping.
  13. Finally, reduce again to medium-low, and cook a final 10-15 minutes. You'll know it's ready when you smell a "toastiness" from the tahdeeg on the bottom, and the top grains of rice are tender.
Serve this with the fish, which you warm slowly in the oven, and narenj (bitter orange, which is actually tart-bitter). If you can't find narenj, lemons will do.
Traditionally, this dish is served with white king fish however I choose to use salmon. You can really substitute for any type of fish that you fancy cooked in any way you know best. 
My recipe for cooking the salmon is to place the pieces of fish in foil add lemon pieces and a bit of olive oil to the fish, wrap the fish in the foil and place it in the oven for 15-30 minutes depending on how many pieces of fish you are using. The fish will cook in its own steam leading to one delicious, juicy and healthy dish. 

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March 14, 2012

Brunch at Glowbal Grill Steaks and Satay (Vancouver, Canada)

Brunch at Glowbal was A-Ok. It wasn't anything extraordinary nor was it awful in anyway. It just so happened that our service was slow: our food took an hour to arrive from the moment we ordered and when it arrived it was cold. However when the staff became aware of this fact they offered to remake our meal and in the end gave us a discount which I thought was very nice. 

The food was good. I imagine it would have been tastier if it was served hot. The prices were en par with other fancy brunch spots around town. We ordered two eggs Benedicts: the smoked salmon Benedict served with dill cream cheese, hollandaise sauce on a cheddar biscuit with a side of potato hash and salad and the Atlantic lobster Benedict served with poached eggs, hollandaise, crispy pancetta on a cheddar biscuit. We also ordered the Wild blueberry panettone French toast served with a milk chocolate 'shot', and a organic rosemary honeycomb (see menu). Despite the temperature the dishes were all really good. The eggs Benedicts were perfect. I always like my eggs Benedict a bit soft in the middle so that when I chop through the poached egg with my fork the egg yolk can start oozing out onto to the biscuit.  The French toast was really great too although the portion was huge. My friend and I split the two plate and got to taste a bit of each however I think by the time I made my way to the French toast I had already filled up on the donuts and the eggs Benny. 

By the time the food arrived I had already filled up on the complimentary mini donuts we were served once we sat down. I would go back just for those mini donuts. Tender and crispy on the outside yet soft within and soaked in oil topped with powdered sugar.

The Complimentary mini donuts

Smoked Salmon Eggs Benedict served with a side of greens and hash browns

Wild blueberry panettone French toast 

Glowbal Grill Steaks and Satay on Urbanspoon

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