Nuba (Kitsilano) & the Ra Energy 7 day challenge

A couple of weeks ago Wendy and I attended the Ra Energy product launch at Nuba in Kitsilano.  Ra Energy is a local company that produces seed mixtures to top your favourite foods with to add texture, flavour, and nutritional value.  Ra comes in garlic, plain, and naturally sweet varieties.  They teamed up with Nuba for their launch party to allow attendees to sample all three versions of their product in a variety of the restaurant’s dishes.  We took on Ra Energy’s 7 day challenge, but here’s the Nuba portion first:

Nuba and Ra Energy: Red Lentil Soup

To get us started as soon as we walked in we had Red Lentil Soup ($4).  The soup was blended and creamy in texture, and we both found the garlic flavour Ra was a great addition.  They don’t use sodium in any of their products, so they add a lot of garlic powder to ensure flavour in this blend.  It also has a nutty flavour and a crunchy texture that worked well in the soup.

Nuba and Ra Energy: Adam Hart

Once everybody had arrived the founder of Ra Energy (and author of healthy eating book The Power of Food), Adam Hart, gave us a pep talk about his product.  All I can say is this guy is living proof that Ra Energy works; he was so animated and full of energy that I had to snap quite a few pics before I finally got one of him standing still!  The enthusiasm was contagious and everybody was in a great mood when we sat down to partake.

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Maenam

I’ve been wanting to try Maenam for a while now since I’m a big fan of all things Thai and was curious about trying Thai food with a gourmet twist, which is exactly what Maenam offers.  The first thing I noticed was the warm, inviting atmosphere, made apparent through use of light and colour.  I really dug their tabletops as well 😛 (see pics).  We had made reservations for the Chef’s Royal Thai Dinner ($47.50/person) in advance, a 3-course, 9-dish tasting menu of on- and off-menu selections which changes occasionally.  I’m not sure how often, but this one had started just that week.

satay gai, pork rinds, tempura fern, nahm jim, and crispy fried oysters at Maenam

First up was an appetizer platter featuring free range chicken satays (satay gai), tempura made with some thin type of fern, crispy fried oysters (hoi tort), prawn cakes and a couple pork rinds and cucumber wedges.  The sauces included standard homemade peanut, a red chili one, some watery cucumber relish and my personal favourite: the house sauce, nahm jim.  It embodied all of the Thai taste senses: sour, sweet, salty, and bitter (spicy).  Each bite made me forget my surroundings a little at a time, daydreaming of bustling Bangkok streets teeming with the pungent aromas of various mobile food carts.

The oysters were the highlight for me, and the nahm jim worked perfectly with them.  The fern dish was very bland although an interesting idea, and the chicken was just your usual Thai streetfood variety, but were on the dry side.  The pork rinds seemed out of place and had some inedible-y chewy hard bits in them.  But everything tasted good enough when dipped in the nahm jim I suppose.

Maenam: Thai and Ginger

For drinks Wendy ordered a virgin Thai and Ginger which consisted of passionfruit and cassia bark topped with gingerbeer.  She was expecting a bit more kick from the gingerbeer than what was delivered but still enjoyed the drink.  I ordered a pot of lemon ginger tea.  I found it a bit mild as well, but pleasant enough.

Maenam: Mussels

The next course consisted of soup, salad and mussels.  Wendy regrettably forgot to take photos of the soup which is unfortunate since for me it was one of the high points.  It was a hot and sour (tom yum) ling cod soup w/ Thai basil and oyster mushroom.  Needless to say it was tom yummy!  I think I enjoyed it a bit more than Wendy since she didn’t finish hers.  I did notice the absence of any big chunks of ginger or lemongrass which I normally like in this type of soup though. But I guess that’s kind of the point here, this ain’t your traditional Thai food.

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Anatolia’s Gate

While the name might conjure up spooky images of a bad ’80s horror movie or a cheesy black metal band, Anatolia’s Gate is actually a Turkish restaurant offering plenty of delicious and interesting departures from the usual Middle Eastern donairs and such.  We’ve stopped by a few times since I first heard about it through a coworker this summer and each time were pretty impressed with the food so it’s high time for a review.

On the first visit we ordered Chicken Guvech, Urfa Kabob, Ezme, and Lavash.  There were a couple of mistakes with our orders but the staff was extremely polite and friendly so all was forgiven.  And besides fixing our orders they let us keep an extra order of lavash on the house so that was nice too of course 🙂

Anatolia's Gate: Lavash

The Lavash bread ($2-$4-$6) is the star of the show at this restaurant and was selected as one of the 101 things to taste in Vancouver by Vancouver Magazine.  My coworker had gushed endlessly about it at work and seemingly drooled at the mere thought of it, so Wendy and I made sure to include it in our meal.

Anatolia's Gate

Anatolia's Gate: Lavash

It’s baked to order right in front of you at their traditional hot stone oven along with many of their other dishes.  You can choose whole wheat or white for this or any of their other dishes that use this dough and we ended up trying both (they’re both equally delicious).  Sprinkled with oil and sesame seeds and served up warm and fluffy with a side of haydari/cacik dip (not listed on the menu but it was one of these Turkish dips which are similar to a tzatziki), it’s something we have since stopped by to pick up just to have as a side dish for a home cooked meal.  So it’s good enough that a trip for lavash alone is worthwhile!

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Tsuki no Shizuku 月の雫 – Shin-Osaka

I absolutely LOVED, LOVED LOOOOOOOOOVED our first dinner/meal in Japan.  As we arrived quite late in the day in Osaka, we decided to spend the night at a hotel near the airport in the city of Shin-Osaka.  After we checked in, we walked around in search for food.  We were hungry!!

Tsuki no Shizuku, Shin-Osaka

Just across the intersection of our hotel, we saw this big light box with the words “Everything 270Yen”.  It was Tsuki no Shizuku.  They had their menu placed outside so we took a look.  They even had a sign that says they had English menus!!!  As we were hungry, we quickly decided this would be the place and we stepped inside.

Tsuki no Shizuku, Shin-Osaka: touch screen menu

And MAN the Japanese are AWESOME!!!  When they say they have English menu, they meant that their TOUCH-SCREEN MENU has English!!!  A TOUCH-SCREEN MENU YO!!!  It was really fun and awesome!!!

Oh ya, we started off with Plum-wine drinks.  I had the Apricot Brandy and L had the Green Tea one. You got to pick it “on the rocks”, “with water”, “with soda water”.  We both had it with soda water.  It was a pretty big mug when it arrived.  We were so estatic~!!!

I found the apricot better as the green tea kind of brought a weird flavor to the plum wine.

Tsuki no Shizuku, Shin-Osaka: Homemade tofu

When we sat down one of the servers very enthusiastically, using a combination of limited but passable English and hand gestures, recommended their homemade tofu.  As that’s one of the things I’ve always wanted to try while in Japan, we ordered it.

It was really really nice.  The aroma of soy bean was very prominent.  The texture was not what I expected though.  It was more of a grainy texture, not yet gritty though.  It was simply served by a sprinkling of salt on top.  I loved it.

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Simba’s Grill on Denman

Been wanting to try foods of a different culture for a while.  Finally my chance came when I went to dinner with G.  He gave me 3 choices: Korean, Ramen, or African.  I picked African right away.

Simba's Grill on Denman

So that became Simba’s Grill on Denman (they also have a location in Burnaby).  Apparently another coworker had raved about it.

I immediately looked up the menu online and I’ll have to admit, I was slightly disappointed to find out that it’s more “African Fusion” and the food is more like Indian-African.  In other words they really serve curries and such.  They do also serve kebabs hence the “Grill” part of their name.

But then, I guess I wasn’t really hoping for lions and elephants.

Simba's Grill on Denman

The interior is nicely decorated.  Very low lighting so it’s quite romantic really.  Aside from the boss guy, they servers were Japanese dressed in (?) African attire.

Simba's Grill on Denman: condiments

From the start they placed a place of condiments down.  The server did forget to bring us water though, we had to ask for it.

From the top, is a savory coconutty sauce, next is a spicy tamarind sauce and then it’s a thick yogurt-type dip.

The boss guy came around to every table to greet everyone.  When he arrived at ours, G asked for recommendations.  He asked if we liked Lamb and I do, but unfortunately G doesn’t, so we digressed.  He did give a few recommendations such as the cream curry and the grilled lamb.  Alas, we did not go with his recommendations.

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