Birthday dinner #1 – Mosaic Grille

For my big three-o celebration, I had gotten together with some friends for dinner at Mosaic Grille at the Hyatt Regency Vancouver.  Hitman had taken pictures but due to a technical difficulty, they are no longer available =(

Good thing I have friends that also take pictures of their food even though they don’t blog. The following pictures are all from Fannypack.

We were a sizable group so we divided into 2 long tables back to back, which really isn’t the best arrangement I thought.  The whole dinner I had my back to the other table so I had to turn and crane my neck to talk to the others.  I wished they had informed me of the arrangement when the reservations were made.

Hitman and I dined with a VanEats voucher. For $27 we got a three course meal.

Mosaic Grille: Smoked Salt Scones

Everyone got to start with some of their Smoked Salt Scones though.  Our table thought they were REALLY really good, so good that when a friend noticed that the adjacent table had left without touching theirs she jokingly suggested we steal them for ourselves.  So we did!  Then a few minutes later to our chagrin another complimentary plate was brought to our table 😛  They were warm and buttery, and smokey too.   But then our taste buds could’ve been skewed by the fact that we were actually half an hour late to the dinner (the rest of the party waited for us) because of traffic…and we were starving by the time we arrived.

Mosaic Grille: A la Minute Smoked Skuna Bay Salmon

For starters we both had the A la Minute Smoked Skuna Bay Salmon that was served with kale nori and wasabi cauliflower puree.  When it was brought to the table it was covered with a clear glass dome and you could kind of see the smoke swirling inside.  Not sure if it really adds anything to the salmon though…or maybe that’s what the ‘a la minute smoked’ meant….smoked for a minute 😉

When the dome was lifted we were met with a whiff of smokiness though.

My piece of salmon was a bit more cooked than I like.  Hitman’s though was thicker and cooked just to my liking, so he switched his with me.  This indicated to us that there may be some inconsistencies in the preparation.

Mosaic Grille: Seared Baja Ocean Wise Scallops

This was Hitman’s entree: Seared Baja Ocean Wise Scallops with sweet potato, figs, and prosciutto.  From the bite that I had I thought the scallops were done perfectly with the outside cooked and the inside just raw enough.  They were sweet, big, and meaty.  The figs and prosciutto went well together as always.  Hitman had fun playing with the various combinations.

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Victory Seafood (M’s) Restaurant Richmond and Excelsior

It’s that time of year, the most wonderful time of the year as Wendy calls/sings it: king crab season, and her and I got a chance to indulge, not once, but twice!  We decided to treat her parents one weekend, and they kindly returned the favour the next.  For our treat it was M’s Seafood in Richmond Public Market, a relatively modest Chinese banquet place, which is a sister location to the Victory Seafood in Crystal Mall.  Things can get a tad bit confusing here since the same owner runs a travel agency, which shares the same name as M’s in Chinese, which ALSO has locations in Crystal Mall and Richmond Public Market.  Phew!

We had some bewilderment with regards to reservations as well, since we were directed to the Kingsway location after calling the Chinese Restaurant Hotline.  Then we were given someone’s private line by the Kingsway location, but in the end it turned out we didn’t need reservations anyway since the place was completely empty when we first arrived.

I was pretty astonished at how quiet it was considering every time we’ve been out to eat on a weekend in Richmond everything seems to be jam-packed.  It’s only been open four or five months though so maybe that accounts for the lack of patrons, and things picked up with a fair sized birthday party later on in the evening.  On second thought maybe it’s the terrible reputation their Burnaby location has, but thankfully our visit to this new spot was pretty satisfying overall.  We picked the Alaskan king crab set menu for four ($188), and after a preliminary round of tea the first appetizers arrived.

Victory Seafood (M's) Restaurant Richmond: Battered seafood cakes

This was a pretty impressive looking first dish and set the tone for the evening nicely.  Battered seafood cakes drizzled with a sweet chili sauce alternated with cucumber spears and tiny cubes of marinated beef shank, artfully plated with a serving of sesame jellyfish in the middle.  I personally couldn’t get enough of the seafood cake’s perfect textures and the sauce was used sparingly enough to not overpower them. The beef was sweet and satisfying, and the jellyfish tasted better to me than usual.

Victory Seafood (M's) Restaurant Richmond: Fish maw and crab soup

We all got some fairly generous hunks of crab meat in the fish maw and crab soup course, not too much to say about it other than that it was decent.

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Potter’s Garden Korean BBQ

My craving for a good galbi-tang has resurfaced recently…and I’ve been trying to find restaurants locally that have it.  Somehow I came across the lunch menu at Potter’s Garden on Urbanspoon and they do have it at a decent price (around $8) so I made a date with Hitman to go check it out.

Potter's Garden Korean BBQ: Banchan

Only 3 banchan…nothing too exciting here…we didn’t ask for refills.

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Victoria Weekend Trip Part 2 – Caffe D’Amore & AYOeat

Executive House Hotel in Victoria

We were fortunate to come across a pretty good deal on LivingSocial for our hotel stay for this Victoria trip.  Hitman and I got a pretty nice room at the Executive House Hotel in downtown Victoria.  It was within walking distance to pretty much everything (unless you’re in heels like I was…then it was excruciating =P) and we got a room on the 14th floor with a pretty side view of the harbour.  The nightview was pretty awesome, so we were happy.

Included with the voucher was full breakies for 2 people at the onsite Caffe d’Amore.  Hitman chose the Corned Beef & Hash ($9.99) with a tea and I had the Blackstone Benedict ($10.99) which was an eggs benedict with grilled tomatoes and bacon.

Both breakfasts were solid.  Hitman’s was a decent portion with lots of onions, green peppers and mushrooms mixed in.  Mine was also pretty good.  The hollandaise sauce was not the best though and the eggs could be poached a tad softer and runnier but really not too much to complain about.  Both were served with mediocre hash browns.

Now, we got up especially early so that we could fit in both breakfast AND lunch before we headed to the wedding ceremony at 2pm.  This is because as stated in the previous post, prior to the trip, we had already researched where we wanted to eat.  Our next destination was to AYOeat.

 Market Square in Victoria, BC

It took us a little bit to find AYOeat as google maps on my phone did not give the correct location.  I should’ve read AYOeat’s website clearly because it clearly tells you that it’s inside the courtyard of Market Square.  By the way it’s a very nice courtyard.  If we weren’t in a hurry and it wasn’t that cold out and I wasn’t in a skirt and heels, totally would’ve sat there to feast.

It’s a little food stand if you will along the shops of the courtyard.  Vibrant red, can’t miss it.  Plus the directory of the square is pretty clear too.

AYOeat

And it’s literally a hole in the wall.  It’s just the kitchen plus a fridge that’s it.  The menu’s on the door.  Chef Bana is very friendly, even offering us water while we waited.  But that’s probably because it does take him a little while to make the food.  I wouldn’t call it fast food.

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Victoria Weekend Trip Part 1 – The Mint

Howdy, it’s Hitman here to start off this post where we’re going to review several restaurants we dined at during a recent trip to Victoria for my sister’s wedding.  Victoria is notoriously hit and miss for the food scene, and I’ve had my share of misses there but thankfully this trip we lucked out and would highly recommend any of the following eateries.

The Mint Dining Lounge in Victoria

While we were deciding whether to have Thai or Indian food for our first meal in the city, which was a Friday night dinner, I rang up a local friend to see what they recommended.  He was eating at a place called The Mint dining lounge which was just a short walk from our hotel and after a quick google search (I’ve been steered wrong by the locals before….seems in Victoria sometimes places get popular just by virtue of being “hip” regardless of the food so we weren’t taking any chances), we decided to join them for some crazy Indian/Thai/Greek/Italian/Tibetan/Japanese/whatever fusion.

We could hear music playing as we descended the dimly lit, glitter covered concrete steps which was a sign of the funky, cool atmosphere to come.  Once inside we could see the place was packed, but thankfully no lineup–everywhere we went in the downtown core we saw some pretty crazy lineups for clubs, pubs, restaurants etc.  Even a lineup for a pho place!!  We will be hitting that one up next time as we could smell the broth half a block away and it was intoxicating, even though we had just ate!  Back to Mint, the lighting was quite impressive in the opening dining area, with small Xmas-style light bulbs strung along the ceilings which cast the perfect illumination to set a romantic mood, even though the place was batshit noisy.  Part of this noise was coming from a live DJ spinning on a converted stovetop setup complete with kettle!  Some nice electro beats on this particular night, nothing too overwhelming but a nice compliment to the hipster ambiance.  The decor was quite a mixed bag, dropping hints of the eclectic menu: Thai and Indian masks, elephant statues, modern wildlife artwork including some with the wildlife engaged in sex acts…daily specials written on a giant circular saw hanging on the wall behind the bar.

The Mint Dining Lounge in Victoria: Water Buffalo Momos

There wasn’t room at the table the friend was at as they had a big party going on so we didn’t join them until some guests left later, so we settled in to our own table and ordered Water Buffalo Momos to start which were a special for $8.95.  They were practically thumbnail size so we didn’t feel like we got anywhere near our money’s worth.  They appeared to be deep fried instead of the steamed style we were used to…not as good in our opinion.  It came with an achar that tasted like a salsa with a slight pickled flavour.  Maybe they can find a better use for it than the momos because it was kind of interesting.

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