Oh So Special Food at Sha Lin Noodle House

Living in a bustling city feels like a blessing and a curse at times – it is not enough to just realize that you are hungry while you are out of the house. There are thousands of restaurants to choose from, dozens of different cuisines to consider, the (albeit rare for an avid cook) concern over calories-in/calories-out and whether or not I’ve worked out enough to allow an indulgence, and the cost of dining out in a competitively priced industry.

My point? Dining out is an event. I enter into a restaurant’s ‘home’ for some TLC and a culinary adventure, thinking ‘Now I don’t have to do the dishes!’ and hope that I have a memorable experience. I can honestly say that Sha Lin Noodle House provides that welcoming environment for me.

Situated in the space formerly occupied by Via Veneto, Sha Lin Noddle House sits in between Ash and Heather Street on Broadway and has free parking available at the rear of the restaurant.

Walking in, you are greeted immediately and seated quickly – their new property boasts much more seating than their previous one so the wait time is extremely reasonable compared to, say, Peaceful Restaurant. More on them in a later post.

To start: Pan Fried Pork & Bok Choy Dumplings

Image

These babies are so close to my heart. Finally, a dumpling that is not too doughy and bursting with flavor!

Image

Next: Cutting Noodles in Soup with Vegetables & Chicken

Image

The broth was so delicate, exciting yet comforting with a slight ginger zing. The chicken was tender, the vegetables were not intrusive, and the noodles (buried in this photo, my apologies) held their awesome chewy texture despite being immersed in broth. These noodles are hand pulled just as Peaceful Noodle’s are – if you are sick of the line at Peaceful, just mosey on a block down the street. I can vouch that the fried noodles at Sha Lin are better, as is the service.

Duck in for a bite. You won’t be disappointed.

Happy Eating,

kait

Sha Lin Noodle House on Urbanspoon

Advertisements

Afternoon Delights: Thai Terrace

Of all the places in Vancouver to have a hankering for a snack, Kitsilano has got to be one of the best. Located on West Broadway near Macdonald, Thai Terrace caught my eye on an afternoon of errands.

Set apart from its neighboring businesses with it’s polished storefront and inviting Specials board, I went in with my sister around 3:30pm and found an empty restaurant. Our server (the only one working at the time) gave us a warm welcome and invited us to sit anywhere we liked.

Image

The interior was warm and inviting on that cloudy afternoon. A cursory look at the menu showed many comfort food options – some I had never heard of before. Alas, I was not feeling adventurous and instead stuck to dishes that I consider to be prime comfort food.

To Start: Vegetable Spring Rolls ($6.00)

Image

 Light and crispy with bean sprouts, vermicelli noodles, and vegetables these were a perfect sharing option. The sauce was not anything I’ve tasted before, it reminded me of a plum sauce with the addition of red chili.

Next, we both ordered the same thing: Red Curry with chicken ($9.95,) though we could have had beef or tofu instead. Rice has to be ordered extra, which didn’t make a lot of sense to me but also did not break the bank at $1.50. In my mind, if they serve authentic Thai Cuisine and authentically, curries are served over rice, then one would think that simply charging $11.45 for the whole thing would be better, if indeed one serving of rice should cost that much. Vegetarians should also note that ordering the tofu version does not make the dish completely vegetarian, seeing as how the standard red curry paste contains shrimp paste (fermented and ground shrimp mixed with salt.)

Image

Image

Mild rant aside, the curry was delicious. Coconut milk balanced the sweet tang of the curry, the chicken was moist, the portion was generous, the bamboo shoots provided a nice crunch, and there was an addition of lemongrass to the curry that I found very enjoyable. Unfortunately, the rice was cold when it arrived. No matter, I mixed it directly into the bowl and that seemed to solve the issue. This is a filling dish, and I enjoyed the leftovers.

Our server was attentive and welcoming despite a few more parties arriving while we ate, and the food arrived fairly quickly. I will return, perhaps to try a more adventurous menu option.

Happy Eating,

kait

Thai Terrace on Urbanspoon

Kait’s Recipe: Proscuitto Wrapped Asparagus Spears with Parmesan and Garlic

If you were to view a meal as a cast of characters, you would of course need to focus not only on your star characters but also your supporting roles; the award for Best Supporting Actor was not invented for nothing. My point? While your entree is an important part of any meal, your side dishes play an integral role: tying it all together. With that, it is smart to have some easy go-to recipes within reach when entertaining.

Asparagus spears are cut in half lengthwise and dipped in extra virgin olive oil, then wrapped with thin strips of proscuitto and topped with freshly grated parmesan, minced garlic, and the juice of a lemon wedge. The actual crafting of this side dish (or appetizer, if you so desire) is deceivingly simple and looks beautiful once presented.

 

My Favorite Proscuitto Wrapped Asparagus Spears with Parmesan and Garlic

Ingredients:

  • 1 bundle asparagus spears, sliced in half lengthwise
  • 75g proscuitto, sliced thinly
  • 1/4 lemon
  • 50 ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced

 

Method:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Combine pepper and olive oil. Dip each asparagus spear into mixture.

Bundle two or three asparagus spear halves together and wrap with 1 slice proscuitto. After using non stick spray on an oven safe dish, place bundles (end of proscuitto side down) inside.

Once all asparagus bundles are in the dish, evenly distribute minced garlic and grated parmesan overtop and pop in the preheated oven for 20 minutes. Squeeze fresh lemon juice overtop and serve.

 

Happy Eating,

kait

Recipe: Homemade Cranberry Sauce

This is good. Why? Because it’s simple. When you’re in charge of a Thanksgiving feast, your best friend is preparation.

The Boss’ mom is in town and since I love her and I love turkey, I thought we should do an early Thanksgiving of sorts. I’ve hosted Thanksgiving before, and while it can be a bit of a frenzy, it doesn’t intimidate me.

And so, my friends, follows a recipe for Cranberry Sauce, made two days in advance. Simply cover and refrigerate, then bring to room temperature or heat slightly before serving. Pretty please try making your own cranberry sauce – you’ll never go back to the canned stuff!

Ingredients:

  • 600g frozen cranberries
  • 1 1/4 cups orange juice, no pulp
  • 2/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup white sugar

Method:

Thaw cranberries in a bowl on the counter. This will take a couple of hours. If you can, mix them with your hands once or twice while thawing.

Throw all ingredients in a pot on medium high heat, stirring, for 15-20 minutes. It will reduce down and the cranberries will start popping – this is good.

Image

That’s it! Garnish with some lemon zest, and you’re good to go. EASY. Do it.

Happy Eating,

kait

Restaurant Review: PinPin Restaurant

PinPin Restaurant is a bustling Filipino joint located on the corner of Fraser Street and 45th Avenue in Vancouver. I’ve wanted to get to know Filipino food for a long time, and who better to give me a crash course than a good Filipino friend? Pregnant with her first child, JP was eating for two. This was a good excuse to order pretty much anything that tickled our fancy.

We arrived to see that the restaurant was hopping! JP explained that on Sundays there is usually a lineup  out the door with families wanting to enjoy a good meal after church, but we went on a Saturday and were lucky enough to be seated at the last free table.

To start, we shared the Shrimp Balls. Deep fried to a golden perfection, the crispy coating was a great outer layer holding tons of chopped shrimp. This was served with a sweet chili dipping sauce.

Image

Next came the dish I was most excited to try – Crispy Pata. Pata is a Spanish word for ‘pork feet.’ This was delicious – Crispy, flavorful skin with succulent meat on the inside. It was served with soy sauce, and JP asked our server for a side of vinegar. I was curious as to the reasoning, but understood when the vinegar cut the crispy skin perfectly. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. JP explained that PinPin is not necessarily known for making the best Crispy Pata, so I can’t wait to try it elsewhere to compare notes. You know, for science. Ahem.

Image

Next came the House Special Fried Rice. For $8.50, this was a great deal. A giant, steaming plate of friend rice was served to us, complete with vegetables, egg, shrimp, and pork. I could not stop eating it.

Image

The fried rice was a great accompaniment to the next item we received – Kare Kare. Pronounced ‘carrie-carrie,’ the dish consisted of oxtail and beef tripe, served with vegetables and peanut sauce. It was amazing. The meat was so tender and fell apart easily, while the peanut sauce was not as heavy as I was expecting. JP mentioned that some people don’t like the taste of the shrimp paste that is served with it, but I wanted to try it as it was meant to be eaten. I found the addition of the shrimp paste to be delicious!

Image

I must admit that at this point in the meal, I was feeling quite full. We weren’t finished, though. My lugaw arrived next – Filipino style congee with chicken and beef tripe. This was thick and flavorful, especially with the toasted garlic and scallions served on top. The soup was filled with meat and would be a perfect comfort dish on a cold day.

Image

For dessert, I ordered the Leche Flan. Made with egg, caramel, & custard, this was a sweet and refreshing way to end my meal. JP ordered the Halo-Halo (a Tagalog word for ‘mixed’) which I neglected to snap a picture of. I did try it though, and found the mixture of icecream, shaved ice, milk, & plantains to be really good and not too sweet, though filling.

Image

I would come back to PinPin Restaurant in a heartbeat. I will admit that at times I am intimidated by the thought of walking into restaurants when I have never tried the food before – it is shyness on my part mixed with being unsure what to order, and not wanting to look silly. I am happy to note that I do not feel such qualms anymore, after a warm welcome and a wonderful lunch.

Happy Eating,

kait

Pinpin on Urbanspoon

Roasting A Chicken – Recipe & Gluttony

Roasting A Chicken

Yes, you could buy a whole rotisserie chicken from the store. Yes, it would probably be just fine. But that’s the thing, you see. It would be just….fine. Here at kaitlovesfood we have higher standards, and those high standards don’t always entail slaving over a hot stove for hours. Roasting a chicken is easier than you may think.

As soon as you begin prepping this chicken, all of your senses are involved. Slathering extra virgin olive oil and herbs onto the chicken almost feels like a loving caress, when you know that the result in just over one hour’s time will yield crispy, delicious chicken skin that crackles with every bite. In fact, that alone is my reward. I have been known to sneak my hand into the covered serving plate and rip a generous portion of skin off for myself. What? It’s good, and if I don’t snag it, you will.

Ingredients:

  • 1 2kg (4.5 lb) chicken, innards removed
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp fresh cracked black pepper
  • 1 tsp each rosemary, thyme, & oregano
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 3 mushrooms, stems removed, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon all purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons margarine

Method

Preheat the oven to 375. Line a roasting pan with tinfoil. Combine olive oil with all seasonings in a small bowl, and slather it on the chicken by hand. Make sure to cover the entire surface of the bird!

Image Once your oven has preheated, pop that baby in the oven for 75 minutes. Warning: You will hear sounds emanating from the belly of the oven that will tempt you to curl up in front of it and bask in the smells and the sounds. Don’t. Go be productive. Go do the laundry, go watch TV, open that bottle of wine. This is the beauty of roasting a chicken, you can take an hour for yourself and still technically be making dinner.

Image

After that hour has passed, remove the roasting pan from the oven, then remove your chicken to a serving plate and cover it with a towel. You’ll want to let it rest for 20 minutes at the minimum.

I give myself permission to start doing this after about 15 minutes or so –

Image

In a saucepan heated to medium, melt your margarine. Add the flour, and whisk. This is the roux you will need for your gravy. After the color has darkened slightly, add the drippings from your roasting pan as well as your onions and mushrooms. Continue whisking until the drippings are fully incorporated into your roux. Let it simmer for 5 minutes or so.

Deconstruct your chicken, and keep that carcass if you like chicken stock! Freeze it if you have no immediate use for it. http://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/chicken-recipes/easy-chicken-stock

I like to serve my chicken with a simple salad, roasted veggies, & tons of gravy. To each their own! The TLC you gave this chicken results in a very tasty meal – the meat is tender, juicy, and full of flavor.

Image

Happy Eating,

kait