Dinner at Golden Sea City Restaurant: Snake Soup Starter!

Wendy’s parents recommended this restaurant for a recent family dinner since it’s one of her and Wendy’s favourite dim sum spots (see Wendy’s review here –sad to say that apparently they no longer have the food carts though).  I wasn’t planning on a review since it had already been done…until I saw an especially interesting menu item: snake!  I’m always up for trying new and exotic foods and this was both to me.

Golden Sea City Restaurant: Snake Meat with Bamboo Shoot and Fungus Thick Soup

The snake comes in a soup, Snake Meat with Bamboo Shoot and Fungus Thick Soup ($18.80 or $6.80 per head) to be exact.  You can season the broth with white pepper but it had enough flavour on its own for my taste buds, including small amounts of preserved orange peel.  The fungus and bamboo shoots were present along with a few morsels of pork and little slivers of ginger for a bit of kick.  There was cilantro and some type of airy wonton crisps which immediately changed texture when added to the soup and were a welcome addition.  As for the snake meat, the white portions tasted like chicken and the darker pieces where you could see the spine indentation like the one top right reminded me of eel.  Overall a dense, satisfying soup that was nuanced in flavour and texture.

Golden Sea City Restaurant: Bean Curd Sheets with Veggie in Fish Broth

The Bean Curd Sheets with Veggie in Fish Broth ($9.88) consisted of bok choy and mushroom along with the bean curd in a fish broth.  I always find these fish broths a bit bland but it did make the otherwise unappetizing bean curd taste pretty good when soaked in it, and it enhanced the flavour of the bok choy without smothering it.

Golden Sea City Restaurant: Pork Soft Bone with Bean Curd Sheet and Pickled Veggie in Hot Pot

The Pork Soft Bone with Bean Curd Sheet and Pickled Veggie in Hot Pot ($12.80) was an interesting dish, and one that not everybody liked.  Had the bland, milky pork been served on its own I wouldn’t have had more than a bite, but when combined with the strong taste of the pickled veggie it worked to an extent.  For me it was hard getting past the texture of the soft bone, which was somewhere between a tendon and a bone in firmness.  I thought it was the actual rib bones at first since that’s exactly what it looked like, but turns out it’s just cartilage that joins the ribcage to the spine.  Either way…meh.

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Merchant’s Oyster Bar

A mutual friend of Fannypack’s and mine was visiting from out of town and Fannypack had the task of choosing a place for dinner.  She then of course passed it on to me even though lately she’s been eating out way more often than I =P.

Upon googling I came up with Merchant’s Oyster Bar which is located on “The Drive” (Commercial Drive).  What drawn me to this restaurant was its high rating on Urbanspoon plus the affordable $29 Prix Fixe menu.  I later learned that this establishment is from the same owner as Cork & Fin.

Merchant's Oyster Bar

Merchant’s Oyster Bar has a great nautical theme going on and I especially loved the rope embellishments right on top of the bar.  It’s also a very small restaurant and apparently the largest party size they can accommodate is 6.

Merchant's Oyster Bar: Freshly Shucked Oysters

Between the whole group we were able to try most of everything I would’ve wanted to try here.  I of course went with the prix fix menu.  For the first course I picked the Freshly Shucked Oysters served with a Champagne Mignonette and fresh grated horseradish.  Three different oysters were served but unfortunately, aside from the usual kusshi oysters, I couldn’t catch the name of the other two due to the high level of noisiness in the small restaurant, more on that later.

However it was no matter to my unrefined oyster tasting palette 😉  All three tasted great and fresh to me.  One in particular though (not the kusshi) had a more defined alkaline lingering on the tongue afterwards, and that was my favorite part.

Merchant's Oyster Bar: Roast Bone Marrow

Fannypack and I also ordered the two bone portion of the Roast Bone Marrow ($13) served with the usual baguette slices, parsley and tomato salad.

I must say the amount of marrow served was not enough to even cover the two slices of baguette each.  Not even to thinly coat, and to actually taste the marrow goodness you can’t really thinly coat the baguette or else all you’ll taste is baguette.  So in the end it was only enough to cover half of each slice or one slice total each.

But whatever I was able to taste, tasted divine.  It was buttery and satiating.  I’ve tried recreating this at home before, without having tried it at a restaurant.  Now that I have, I think I’ll attempt it again.

The subtle acidity of the parsley salad as a palette cleanser balanced out the fatty richness of the marrow.  I was actually surprised at how much I enjoyed the parsley salad as parsley is probably one of my least favorite herbs.

Anyway Fannypack and I tried to quickly finish up this course as the others had to wait until we finished this extra helping until their second course arrived.

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Korean Cuisine Restaurant DOODAEMON – Insadong, Seoul Korea

This trip to Korea was one fabulous foodie trip as I did not stop eating.  One of our most memorable meals was in Insadong for a taste of Korea’s soy marinated raw blue crab gaejang.  Yes, raw crab.  Please don’t be squeamish.  This was probably the yummiest meal we had.

We had pinpointed a restaurant in Insadong to indulge in this delicacy but we didn’t anticipate how much there was to see there and so we lost track of time, and the restaurant we planned on going was close to closing for the afternoon, so we had to make other plans.

Doodaemon in Insadong, Korea

Luckily, we had been exploring a bit earlier in the day and had seen a few other interesting looking restaurants also offering this dish, so we decided to just pick one of them. Another lucky thing was that all the ones we saw were offering it for a bit cheaper too!!  The restaurant we ended up choosing was Doodaemon.

From what we’ve researched, Insadong is more a traditional and cultural city, so a lot of the original buildings and structures were retained. It seems like Doodaemon is one of them. Or else the designer did a very good job of keeping the old world charm alive.

Doodaemon in Insadong, Korea

Doodaemon in Insadong, Korea

It’s very chic-ly decored…pairing both old style wood with large, chandelier embellishments.  A thing we noticed though….it’s March and many, many of the shops and stores still have their Christmas decorations up…even at the Incheon International Airport =/

Doodaemon in Insadong, Korea: gegangjang

A single person serving of gegangjang was only $26, and it includes lots of banchan and a spicy seafood soup and rice. However we were not aware of that so we ended up ordering an extra seafood tofu hotpot… So we ended up with more food than we had wanted to order.

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Oyster eXpress

Oyster eXpress Vancouver

Fannypack recently informed me of this little place in Chinatown that has Buck-a-Shuck happy hour…and get this…it REALLY is a buck for a shuck!!!  Not $1.75, not $1.50, just $1!!!  When I heard of this, I quickly scurried Hitman to the magical Oyster eXpress with me.

Oyster eXpress Vancouver

This corner restaurant has a very rustic log house interior…the birch color scheme a la Ikea is very pleasing to the eyes and brings a warmth…especially on a night like tonight when it was a huge downpour.

Their Buck-a-Shuck deal is only during Happy Hour Tuesdays to Fridays from 3pm-6pm.  We arrived at around 5:15pm and were the only ones here on a Tuesday night.  A few more patrons came in afterwards though.

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East Meets West and Gets an Elbow to the Head at Top Cantonese

Not to be outdone by my anniversary surprise, Wendy planned a veritable feast of Chinese delicacies I had been wanting to try for my birthday.  I should insert a disclaimer here that Wendy is originally from Hong Kong while I’m Caucasian.  You’ll see why in a moment…  Acting on a friend’s recommendation we chose Top Cantonese, a banquet-style restaurant on Kingsway.

Top Cantonese

After making the reservation we found out that a Chinese couple we know had celebrated the wife’s birthday there just days before so we took that as a good omen.  Upon arrival we got off to an awkwardly humorous start that was to set the tone for the evening; while standing in the entranceway waiting for the group ahead of us to be seated, I was leaning with my arm outstretched against the wall.  Just as I was lowering my arm a straggler from the group darted underneath and I wacked her full force on the head with my elbow.  My immediate reaction was to apologize profusely and pat her softly on the head where I had hit her, but this seemed to cause even more consternation.  I felt like I had broken some obscure ancient tradition ie “do not touch the head or you will steal the person’s soul”.  Oh well on to the food…

Top Cantonese: Honey badger vs. cobra vs. crab

Honey badger vs. cobra vs. crab

For the main we had picked dungeness crab, so our waiter brought a fair sized live one to the table for our appraisal.  Looked good to me but I had Wendy ask if I could hold it just to be sure 😛 The crab was clamping onto my wrist…for some reason this came as a shock to me but felt kinda cool like the crab was trying to cuddle up or something.

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