An entry I don’t want to make: Gogo Tea Cafe

I have been M.I.A. for a bit. I’ve just been lazy – it’s not that stuff at the food-front has been boring, I have been stuffing myself and gaining the pounds and eating out – so I am terribly backlogged for posts! ;D

Anyway, I don’t really like to blog about restaurants I don’t like, so this post has actually been sitting in my drafts for a while now. It is a bit mean to give bad reviews, though at the same time wouldn’t it be cruel to not spread the word about places that are not worth dining at?

Anyway, so here it is, Gogo Tea Cafe – a tea house in Richmond that have waitresses in Cosplay. If you live under a rock, then it doesn’t really matter that you don’t know what Cosplay is – this would just be another tea house with waitresses in funky uniforms. Unfortunately, it is worse if you are into Cosplay, because this would just be another tea house with waitresses in funky uniforms. And not Cosplay. Whatever. When it first opened it was like the “have you been there yet?” “we have to check it out” type of it place. Trendy? Not really. Oh they try. But I expected more from a so called  “maid” cafe.

I will say though, it’s nice that the cafe is upstairs (though the view is not all that spectacular), and the place looks pretty slick:
Gogo tea

Unfortunately, there is a very bad stench from their bathroom, and unfortunately, their bathrooms are located right at their entrance, conveniently killing whatever appetite you have as you walk in.

Again, I will say this: their menu is quite big, and varied, so there are endless choices: fried snacks, noodles, hotpots, sizzling hot plates, all kinds of meat. Not bad. Typical tea house stuff.

First up, chocolate, and mango milk tea. They come with the set lunches, which is good. Unfortunately, the latter tastes just like this instant bubble tea powder mix I bought once at some Taiwanese tea house:
Tea

Tomato rice with an egg on top:
Tomato rice

Vegetable hot pot. There are quite a few things in here, which is good I guess. Although, this is not vegetarian – their choice of soup base is either chicken or pork, or beef. They did not have a vegetable soup.
Vegetable pot

Rest of the hotpot sides: more of what’s already in the hotpot – tofu, mushrooms, cabbage etc. There was also a bowl of white rice. Soy and spicy sauces for dipping, as well as minced ginger and green onions. And I guess it is pretty thoughtful of them to give you a little lychee jelly snack as a dessert:
Veggie sides

Herb Chicken hot pot. They’re not skimping on the chicken, I guess:
Herb Chicken Hot pot

The sides, same kind of stuff, but with (ugh) SPAM:
Herb Chicken sides

I will say I always like little heated pots you get all to yourself for a meal. One of their stoves didn’t really work though, so the pot of stuff never boiled up or even stayed warm. (We ended up just switching the pots mid-meal, nobody bothered to replace the stove.) Neither the drinks nor the food was great enough to have me going back ever again. It was also very empty for a weekend lunch. Despite this, the service was slow and rather unattentive.

Ugh. And I am so done with this post.

Gogo Tea Cafe

2170- 8188 McKim Way, Richmond

604 244 7336

Tropika @ Aberdeen – Been there, done that? Maybe not!

I’ve eaten at Tropika many many times. I went there often when they were next to the Bread Garden mall on Lansdowne Rd, years ago. After they moved into Aberdeen I haven’t eaten there much, nor was I a big fan. It’s not that it’s bad – certainly for the bigger, “chain” Thai/Malay places it is one of the better ones in the city, but I always like smaller hole-in-the-wall Thai/Malay places better. (Plus I always find myself comparing it to Wong Jun Jun in Hong Kong and that makes me slightly depressed that I’m not there XD )

 

It’s definitely not an uncomfortable restaurant to sit in. High ceilings, leafy, spacious… (and never too busy). Frankly I prefer the old Richmond Tropika more. It was always super dark in there but it felt cozy and like a classy Thai place… Aberdeen is very well lit and there are pretty much windows all around.


 

Recently we went for lunch and it was the same old same old – we always kind of order more or less the same stuff when we dine here, such as roti canai:

 

A gado gado (bean sprouts salad with fried tofu and cucumbers and peanut sauce) for me:

Some chicken and pork satays: which are always nicely grilled and pretty delicious – I like their dipping sauces in general.

 

Some boring fried rice that the rice-lovers must always get *yawn*:

 

Except this time I discovered something I really liked on the menu – their Char Bee Hoon 星洲炒米粉 (not the HK style one which is called Singapore Noodle). Maybe I have tried this a long time ago, I don’t remember. Just not in recent memory. This is basically just fried vermicelli with some mixed seafood (squid, shrimp) and julienned cucumber. It’s only very slightly spicy but all the flavours were really well balanced- delicious!

 

And I also tried their meat and vegetable soup, and there was tons of stuff in it – fish, pork, baby corn, peppers, cabbage, bokchoi, shrimp, broccoli, straw mushrooms… The soup itself was pretty good too. 

 

 

Most of the time I go to Tropika and I leave satisfied (especially when I have some of their tasty drinks) but I wouldn’t say super impressed. This time, however, I left pretty happy and thinking I would go back again soon, and definitely not order the same old stuff. 

 

Tropika at Aberdeen

Unit 1830, Aberdeen Centre
4151 Hazelbridge Way

新東記火鍋 Sun Tung Kee Hot Pot

Like soo many Chinese restaurants in Vancouver,  the name 新東記 (Sun Tung Kee) was transplanted from a hot pot restaurant of the same name in 尖沙咀 (Tsim Sha Tsui), Hong Kong. For most of these “transplanted” restaurants, the same name is supposed to evoke some sense of home and supposed-authenticity; there is of course rarely ever any relationship between the two restaurants.

My family has been coming to Sun Tung Kee for years – it’s somehow the go-to hotpot place of family gatherings. (It doesn’t change. It’s one of those loyalty things with family dining, and being the youngest I don’t get any say.)

Anyhoo. I don’t mind this place. Note this is not the other place down the street people call Sabo. The service here is quite attentive, the restaurant is spacious, and the portions aren’t bad. 

 

Hmmmm dipping condiments. 

The fish fillet slices… I think it’s cod. I can’t be sure. It was pretty good though.

 

 

Hot pot is not complete with fatty beef, right? They always order the fatty beef. Those dumplings have fish in them, I think.

 

Killing some shrimp in the fruit and veggie soup, and there’s some cod head on the bottom right there.
hotpot

 

As a default we also order that mushroom chicken rice that comes in the stone pot. It’s pretty good. I forgot to take a picture of it. Oh well. There’s always complimentary plum juice and tong shui dessert (this time it was red bean soup) afterwards.

 

Sun Tung Kee Hot Pot

1060-8580 Alexandra Road, Richmond (It’s at the eastern end of Alexandra, closer to Garden City)

More 金磨坊 (La Patisserie) goodness.

Very light, heavenly cream puffs from La Patisserie. They’re tinier, but much better than Beard Papa’s. (I’m not an expert, but this is according to a certain cream puff afficionado). 
cream puffs

Fluffy, fluffy swiss roll. Hmm hmm. They used to sell green-tea flavored ones, years ago. They don’t make them anymore (it was so long ago even one lady working there claimed they never make them, until she was corrected by the owner that it was before she started working there!)

swiss roll

Their pineapple bun? Not so great. The topping/crust was moist and bleh. Even though La Patisserie is my favorite bakery, I must be objective here. (GO TO HAPPY DATE!)

pineapple bun

Related post: La Patisserie

Green Tea Halibut with Edamame and Okra

The inspiration for this dish came actually from a batch of beautiful fresh okra, and a curiosity about cooking with tea.

Okra

I’ve always wanted to try the various ways you can use tea to cook fish (poaching, crusting, smoking). So my first attempt was to marinate halibut with green tea. The marinade also had a bit of miso, wine, and fresh ginger. The fish was then baked, along with edamame beans and whole okra pods. I liked it (and I didn’t expect you can just bake edamame straight and have it kinda crunchy like that and still edible without pre-cooking it first). The tea wasn’t as strong as I thought it would be, there is only a slight hint of it, so next time I will try some stronger stuff- maybe that expensive container of Dragon Well black tea.

Green Tea Halibut

 

Recipe follows…

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La Patisserie – 金磨坊西点

La Patisserie is my favorite Asian pastry shop.

Many Chinese bakeries are known for both traditional Asian goodies (egg tarts, lotus-seed buns, moon cakes), as well as Western-style desserts (mostly of French influence, a lot of cheese cakes, mousses). La Patisserie is one such shop, and makes everything to such excellence. For years they were a small place in a Richmond strip mall, and I remember getting pastries and their sweet, soft loafs of white bread many a times with my mother. They also make my favorite cake here – fresh mango cake: a sponge cake filled with a thick layer of chopped mango and cream inside, and large slices of mango draping the entire outside. The sweetness of the cake comes mainly from the mango, which is really fresh. The cream is not overly sweet or thick at all, and the sponge cake itself is very light and fluffy. So it doesn’t feel like you’re eating a super dense, sweet cake, which I have never liked.

La Patisserie wedges

Often when I go I buy these wedges of cakes, a sampler box of sorts … Here I got a mango one, but not a fresh mango, therefore not my fave, but still good. Another which I believe is some kind of coffee flavored tiramisu. And a green tea one. Anyway, few years ago they expanded into Vancouver, so there is another store on Granville and 66th. Give it a try, and definitely try the fresh mango cake if they have any. I’ve never been disappointed.

 

La Patisserie 金磨坊西点

#2- 6360 No.3 Road, Richmond
Tel: 604-270-3092

8278 Granville Street, Vancouver
Tel: 604-269-0002

White bass steamed with umeboshi (pickled plum) and garlic

White bass is a fresh water bass, and kind of a fishy fish. If you find tilapia fishy (I don’t), this may be a bit fishier than tilapia for you. But the meat is also slightly fattier and juicier, plus it is cheaper than the market tilapia. It’s actually not fishy when cooked with some stronger but still simple ingredients – here it was simply steamed with umeboshi plums and fresh garlic slices, mixed in with some miso sauce, which went very nicely with the umeboshi.

 

Before: It is a good idea to sit the fish on a little bit of something (in this case it was stalks of green onion), to let the steam circulate:
before

After: Steam for about 20 minutes (depending on the size of the fish, this one was a little over a pound), then drizzle with a bit of veg oil, and soy sauce. Garnish with chopped cilantro – as typical in pretty much all Chinese steamed fish dishes! 😀
ume and garlic white bass

 

Delish. Sweet, sour, and savoury – all in one. Made it again simple Cantonese style – just steaming with ginger (minus the umeboshi and miso) – and that tasted fishier (but it was still good for me). If I were to cook white bass again (and I would), I would go with the umeboshi and garlic.