Memosne: September 2011

Life is Guu'd: Guu on Thurlow

Guu is G'uud. At least that's what the motto says. =P I'm the first one to admit that I'm a a Japanophile and I've been more than pleased with the popularity of Japanese Izakaya restaurants around Vancouver. One of the more famous "chains" of Izakaya is Guu. There are a grand total of six "Guu'd" restaurants in Vancouver: Guu on Thurlow, Guu on Garlic (Robson), Guu in Gastown, Guu in Richmond, Guu Garden, and Guu Kobachi. Each of these restaurants has a different specialization and unique "house specials." The cuisine of the Guu's takes traditional Japanese food and give it a nice "twist," it's not necessarily always "east vs west," but instead whatever the chef wants. =P  

The one that I went to this particular night was the original flagship store of Guu, Guu on Thurlow. I will confess to you, my dear readers, that one of my dreams is to eat at every Guu store for lunch and dinner. OH and eat everything on the menu. Haha, but that will have to wait for a time when my wallet is fuller...*sigh*

Anyway, the staff, chefs, and kitchen crew are all Japanese. So you don't have to worry about authenticity. =P  They are very polite and efficient, I wasn't sitting at the bar, but I did notice that the chefs and the diners had a very boisterous and friendly banter. They were even sharing sake! =) As a table diner, I had to share a table with three other parties. The ambient noise level is very high and speaking to my friend next to me was difficult, because the surrounding conversations were loud and then on top of that you had to add the noise from the waiters shouting out orders. The overall decor is very...hard. Lots and lots of hard surfaces. No frills. Just hard bench seats, tables, and a bar.

At every Guu they have two menus, one hand written with specials and seasonal items and the other the "permanent" menu. 

One overarching theme that I noticed with all the Guu restaurants are that their servings are small. I usually have to order quite a bit, or at least a carbo, in order to get my fill. Luckily for everyone, there are many ramen noodle bars nearby so if you're not full from Guu you can stop over at Benkei, Kintaro, of Santouka instead. =P As small as their serving sizes are the dishes are executed well and I don't usually find myself disappointed in anything.

Beef Tataki
Something I enjoy anytime is Beef Tataki. In a sense beef tataki is the "Japanese" form of beef carpaccio, seared beef with a deliciously juicy, ruby, red center. The delicately cut slices are served atop a bed of stringed radishes, fried garlic slivers, green onions with a ponzu sauce and a lemon wedge.

It was fresh, it was good, and it was savory. Citrus flavors with meat and garlic is probably one of my favorite flavor combinations. I enjoyed everything on the plate, eaten together or separately, and was very pleased that the beef wasn't "frozen" for it's preparation. I've had some beef tatakis that are icy in the middle...thankfully this time wasn't one of them. I was picking at this plate for a long time, even though all the meat was gone.

Grilled Sea Bass 
This is the miso marinated black sea bass. Honestly the flavor combination isn't very unique, I've had it at several other Japanese styled restaurants, and it is a staple in most izakayas or sushi bars. The sea bass was perfectly baked and was moist. Through the baking process it had retained a lot of its flavor.

This dish is definitely an oily one, from the natural oils of the sea bass and the addition of mayonnaise on top. It's also a very sweet dish, due to the miso marinade (which probably includes some sugar and mirin) to the natural flavors of the fish. Very good in any case and an oily indulgence.

Sato Imo/Taro Croquettes
Unfortunately this is the dish that I disliked the most: Sato Imo or the Taro Croquette. I love croquette, a fried mashed potato ball, and I love taro so I had high expectations for this dish. I expected a sweet dish with a crunchy outside and a creamy sweet filling. I know it's bad to have expectations and I kept an open mind, but....I didn't like it. I also wasn't very thrilled with the textures and the flavors associated with these little guys.

The fried skin of the croquette was good, but the inner filling was where it fell flat. Once you bit past the crunchy skin, the filling of the croquette was very solid and a bit tasteless. It derived most of the flavor from the sauce on the plate and even then it wasn't enough to make this little croquette very appealing. It had taken the worst qualities of taro, the starchy, sticky, throat "prickliness," and the worst qualities of the potato, flavorless-ness, and made that it's filling.

You can see in the picture that another party, other than us, had ordered it as well and it is a staple on the Guu menu. However, I'm just not a fan.

Ton Toro
This particular dish was the Ton Toro, the grilled pork cheek. In contrast to the last dish, I loved this one. Again, the portion size was small and sharing with someone else, I felt like I ate 75% of the dish *oops*. I'm not typically a fan of pork, but the way that the pork cheek was grilled... it exemplified its tenderness, juiciness, and natural flavor. It's hard to say no to that winning combo. The main flavors were smokiness derived from the grill and hints of yuzu taken from the lightest drizzle of the sauce on top. The meat was very tender, but had enough resistance to make eating the dish...addictive.

The sauce that you see pooling at the bottom of the dish is a light yuzu ponzu sauce, again proving that the ponzu + meat combination is killer. In the good way! =P

Kimchi Udon
To seal off the meal, my friend and I ordered a carbo option since we were both still hungry. What we decided on was the Kimchi Udon. This is actually a "spin" on one of my favorite dishes, Mentaiko Udon, but instead of just straight up adding the Mentaiko they also decided to add kimchi to give it a spicy twist.

Good, buttery, and carbo-y. This called out to my childhood. I liked it a lot.The only problem we really ran into was mixing it all together. We were left over with quite a bit of kimchi and neither of us particularly liked to eat a pile of kimchi straight. So my word of caution with this dish is probably just: MIX WELL.

Overall, Guu on Thurlow didn't really differ from my previous Guu experiences. Good atmosphere, excellent execution, and polite service. I recommend that you give this Guu a try. Thanks for coming!

Kid Friendly: I would lean towards no, very cramped and items on the menu are definitely for bar faring adults.  
Price: $$$ out of $$$$$
Repeatability: Yes

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Lette Macarons/Photos

My sister studied in LA for the summer this year, what a dedicated student (!), and whenever my dad went to visit her he always brought up a carton of macarons for the rest of us in Canada. They were always different flavors: earl grey, caramel, almond, lemon, coffee, pistachio, etc. and good lord. They were ambrosia. A Unicorn Party IN MY MOUTH. Orgasmic. I can't impress upon you guys how perfectly light, crispy, flavorful, and chewy these little babies were.    

I was supposed to share. I really was. I ate 75% of the macarons meant for my mother, my father, my boyfriend and me. I couldn't help it! SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST....macaon eater. I highly, highly recommend that if you're ever in LA to go find and devour every flavor of macaron in the lette shop. It's totally worth it. The only flavor I wasn't really fond of was Earl tasted like fruit loops. Haha.

My sister told us that when she was buying one last box of macarons, she was deciding on what flavors to get when another patron cut ahead of her and completely bought out all the caramel ones. D= Despair!

I've never been there in person and I don't know the price range, but I can tell you guys where to go and how fantastic they were. I really hope that you do give these a try. =)

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Now here are some photo poots.

Lonely Lantern in Hualian 

Photo Mosaic in Taipei

Whistler Peak 
Longshan Temple in Taipei, Each candle has a name written on it for good fortune. 

Poi Dancers in Taizhong

Poi Dancers in Taizhong

I won't take myself seriously....ever. 
Thanks for reading guys. <3 Keep it real!

+ Love

Scarab Eyes

BCBG Generation Sweater, BDG Highwaist Cutoff Jeans, Miu Miu Purse and Vintage Jewelry

I can't be bothered to dress up nicely for school when I'm carrying half my body weight in textbooks on my back. Sometimes I wonder why I chose to be in the Arts Faculty. I see all the Commerce students zipping around with their iPads and thin notebooks, as a trudge along with a complete anthology of Japanese literature on my back. It's like comparing a turtle to a hummingbird! *sigh*

Usually outfits like this are what I wear on the daily to school. Simple with some accent pieces. Since I'm running from class to class (our campus is huge) and have a heavy load to carry...heels and cutie skirts don't really cut it. Unless it's on one of my lighter book days. >< I needed to add to my collection of flat shoes, so before I left Taiwan I bought a super cheap pair of brogues to bring back. I'm thankful for my decision, but since they were so cheap the traction on the sole of the shoe is terrible. =(

The jewelry I'm wearing actually belongs to my mum. She gave them to me because she used to wear them in it's only fitting that I have my turn. =P They're little scarabs carved from a variety of semi-precious stones. They're very darling. I have the best mum.

Anyway, thanks for coming. =)


A Cut Steakhouse - Taipei

Ohohoho. Being a carnivorous meat eater living in Asia essentially means taking a vacation from some of your favorite "Northern Hemisphere"-centric comfort foods. For me there's only one gastronomic concept that I really miss (besides good Mexican food) and that's....steak. Sweet, juicy, tender, lovely steaaaaaaaaaak. Whenever my father comes to visit, he's the kind of man that's down to eat steak anytime, I incept him into taking me to eat a wonderful steak dinner. More specifically a wonderful steak dinner at A Cut Steak House. The menu is seasonal and changes every so often, so it's never a bore to eat there. =)

Located in the opulent Ambassador Hotel in Taipei, A Cut Steakhouse is nestled in the basement of the hotel away from the hustle and bustle of incoming and outgoing guests. I have to apologize in advance for the photos...I post the food reviews out of order and I think my skill with the camera has gotten better since this particular meal.

From the staff to the decor the restaurant exudes a sort of modern classiness. The waitstaff all have prim and proper uniforms, while the somalier and MaĆ®tre'd are uniformed in suits. The service was impeccable and the entirety of the waitstaff was very attentive, knowledgeable and ready to help. I find when a waitstaff excels at their job, the diners do not mention it. It's only when they go above and beyond average service or, to the other extreme, of terrible, terrible service is the only instance when people mention it. Good service goes unmentioned. =) ~<3 So thank you polite, efficient servers of the world!

A Cut utilizes a color palette of chocolate brown, beige and cream, while the entire restaurant is "dimly lit" for a romantic and intimate atmosphere. A Cut incorporates lots of clean materials: leather, stainless steel, and marble into the restaurant's overall theme and design. You'll notice leather booth seating, a leather menu, stainless steel salt and pepper shakers, and other stainless steel accents around the room.  

As for the meal...

Tickled Pink

Fa Chai always cowers by his food when we bang around in the kitchen.
I have a habit of waiting a really long time to peruse blogs that I really enjoy, so that way there are more blogs posts for me to read at one time! I always wonder if other people do that same thing. How are you all? How's school? How's everything?

School is starting! It seems like I just got back here from Taiwan, blinked, and the sky was grey and cloudy. Summer is never long enough, but I guess if summer lasted forever I would be way too sedentary. As I type this, the weather forecast for the rest of the week is overcast with showers. =/ Oh Autumn. I guess this means I get to break out the sweaters. =D 

As for this particular outfit of the day, it's one of my favorites for the summer. Delicate, ladylike, and incredibly detailed this akiko top won my heart the second I saw it. The length is such that it's too short to be a dress, but when shorts are looks like you're going pants-less. Oops. Rest assured though! This time I wore cute lace shorts, but as with most everything paired with this top, it looks like I'm not wearing anything. ><  

I wanted to give you guys a close up on how absolutely beautiful this beaded top is. You can tell a lot of effort was put into beading and ruching at the collar of this tunic, allowing every woman to look good in its fit. Since the collar was so detailed and decorated I don't feel like it needs any additional necklaces or accessories. Instead, I accessorized with a linen Fendi scarf, a late birthday gift from my mother and father, and some simple gladiator sandals. 

You can only see it barely here, but the infamous Fendi "F" pattern runs throughout  the scarf and make simple and classy. =) Thank you mom and dad!!

Anyway, thanks for coming!

+ Love 

Romer's Burger Bar - Vancouver

Burgers = good. It's one of the simple lessons in life. <3 Boif and I were invited by a friend to try out this restaurant. Although I've never heard of it before, my friend had only heard great things about this restaurant and I was eager to try their burgers.

Their decor incorporated a lot of dark colors and had minimal lighting to give diners a more intimate feeling when eating. Overall the bar had a very "industrial diner" feel to it, with exposed beams, sheet metal, and exposed brick walls with some quirky juxtapositions: cozy red leather seating, large booth seats, and a warm open kitchen. Romer's also has a large bar area that was pretty popular for diners who were waiting for a table to open up. The service was good, the waitresses are all very pretty, and they are quite friendly. However Romer's was incredibly busy when we were there, which meant that the waitress didn't come by to refill our water glasses often. =( 

Romer's has made their own tasteful additions to the classic burger with some gourmet ingredients. Unfortunately, the burgers do not come with any sides...if you want fries you have to order them separately. 

Make no mistake though, Romer's is definitely a burger joint and there isn't much else to the menu than burgers. It's a veritable burger heaven. There are burgers for essentially every dietary creed and need: gluten intolerant, pescatarian, vegetarian etc. Unfortunately, most of us that night were meat most of the burgers below are of the meaty kind. As said before the burgers don't come with any sides and honestly, I was a bit disappointed with that. The presentation is very clean, but burgers actually look quite lonely on the big plate without any sides. Especially for people with large appetites, I would venture to say that one burger might not be enough for a whole meal. As for a general statement for all the burgers, the patties are moist, hold together, and are incredibly beefy. 

This is heaven on a bun, otherwise known as the {Port and Stilton Burger}. This is the burger that I ordered for myself and let me tell you: Purple Onions + Blue Cheese = loveeeeeeeeeeeee. I am a blue cheese fanatic. I won't try to hide my love of strong,smelly cheeses or mold growing upon mold. The combination of the tart blue cheese with the sweet purple onion was perfection, a simple yet frank duet of flavors in my mouth. The "runny-ness" level of the juices from the caramelized onions and the melted cheese don't make it too difficult to eat. Sometimes a fork and a knife are necessary, but generally you can eat this burger pretty comfortably with your hands. I highly recommend this burger. 

This is the Man's Man Burger, the burger that the boif ordered for himself...very appropriately of course. =P He's very manly (ooh la la!). I was lucky enough to taste some of his burger before he gobbled it down for himself. The tastes are very traditional: salty bacon, moist beefy patty, fresh tomatoes, and sharp cheese, but they all harmonize well together. I especially liked the textural element of the crunchy onion strings against the softer elements within the burger.Very delicious, whether you're male or female.  

This beauty is the magic mushroom burger. The burger is incredibly creamy due to the boursin cheese and the sauteed onions, but the arugula cuts through all the richness with its bitter bite. A friend of mine ordered this burger, so I only got a couple of bites, but the outstanding flavor I got from the burger was cream. It was very rich and somewhat difficult to eat the amount of liquid runoff that came from the boursin cheese and the mushrooms made the bun incredibly soggy. Fork and knife definitely needed! 

However there is one grievance that the whole table had to share with Romer's. The fries. =( I can appreciate the fact that Romer's chefs hand cut and make the fries from fresh potatoes, but on that particular night the execution was a bit sloppy. As we had a six person party at the table, we all decided to order two types of fries: poutine and seasalt.

As a Californian, I have never tasted genuine poutine before. All the other guests at the table, native Canadians with poutine in their hearts, were really excited to introduce the Canadian delicacy to the boif and I. Even the waitress assured us that at Romer's they used real cheese curds to create authentic poutine. However, when the above dish was delivered to our table I think everyone was a bit disappointed. The fries were cold, the curds were not melted and the gravy was sparse. I think a friend of mine even remarked that when he bit into the cheese curds the center was still very cold. =( I'm still trying to find a "authentic poutine" place on the west coast. If anyone has any suggestions, please give a shout! I might just have to go to the Eastern side of Canada to finally figure out what's what. ><

As for the sea salt fries...they were just sub par. Two words I would use to describe them would simply be: cold and flaccid. Usually with "fresh" fries, unless you double fry them, are pretty soft. However, if they're delivered cold they just taste unappetizing and soggy. =(

All in all, I would definitely go back to Romer's for the burgers and I'm willing to give them a second try on the fries. =) I encourage you all to try them out! ^__^ Thanks for coming!

+ Love

Kid Friendly: Yes and No (They do offer a kids menu, but the choices and vibe makes the restaurant seem dedicated to more mature diners)
Price: $$$ out of $$$$$
Repeatability: Yes!

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Feb 11, 2013,
I went back recently for their lunch service and the burgers were a bit dry, while their new "chickpea pancake" wasn't very good at all. I posted a photo on instagram: here!