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Entries in Vancouver (2)

Thursday
Sep292011

Bistro 101, Vancouver, BC

At the Pacific Institute of Culinary Art Bistro 101 (Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts) on Urbanspoon

Bistro 101 was a wonderful experience from start to finish.  We had the 3 course prix-fixe ($18!) lunch during our vacation in August and we definitely got our money's worth and then some. 

Our amuse-bouche--ceviche in endive.

We had two wine flights--BC Rose and Sandhill Small Lots. I was especially happy with the 8th  Generation Confidence--a bubbly, crisp delight.

Gazpacho with seared scallops: tangy and flavorful with a perfectly seared scallop.

Balsamic Peach Salad with prawn skewer and cucumber pillow.  Sophie was delighted with this presentation and allowed us to eat the offending shrimp--she doesn't know what she is missing with her seafood aversion!  

Paupiette of Rainbow Trout and Blue Crab with julienne vegetables.  My favorite of the appetizers.  Perfectly cooked--it has been a long time since I had rainbow trout.  Brought back memories of fishing trips with the family.  Except mom usually just panfried the fillets.  Nice to see this fish shine in a more sophisticated dish.

Sophie was happy to see a chicken dish on the menu and ate every last bit of her Saltimbocca with acorn squash risotto, except the dreaded tomato.

Pan-fried Arctic Char with grilled corn salsa, sauteed beet leaves.  No surprise for me to go with all seafood menu here in Vancouver.  I love pan-fried fish, and this treatment seems underutilized in favor of grilling in many restaurants.  Something wonderful about a crispy crust with tender fish beneath.

Ian had the Rack of Lamb Provencal with tarragon sauce, and tomato basil polenta.  As you can see, the lamb was beautifully cooked.  Unfortunately the polenta, that tiny disc underneath the asparagus in the foreground was overcooked and underseasoned.  When I think of polenta, I think creamy and soft, like a pillow to soak up the lamb juices.  Oh well, a very small flaw in an otherwise outstanding meal.

The meal was nicely paced, and portion sizes allowed us to enjoy dessert!  I had fresh fruit tart with creme anglaise.  Taking full advantage of the season with berries, including the golden berry on top--had never seen these prior to Vancouver, the little tart was a perfect bite of summery goodness.

Ian had the espresso creme brulee with churros.  Well, a little bit of churro.  Our fried-dough fanatic ate the other churro.

Sophie was so pleased with her passion/strawberry sorbet and homemade black currant marshmallow we were lucky to get a photo before it was gone.  A wonderful ending to an all-around enjoyable meal.

Sunday
Aug212011

Bao Bei, Vancouver, BC

I know the sign says "dumplings" but it is sooo much more!  We were a little disappointed with the street food offerings at the night market in Vancouver's Chinatown and popped into Bao Bei for drinks and a nibble.  Luckily we beat the rush--got seated immediately in the bar area, prime people watching.

Loved the shabby chic interior.  Service was not shabby.  My favorite waiters are attentive without fawning.  Chopsticks were not shabby--they reminded me of the ones we had at home that my parents had brought back from Taiwan....no wooden snap-apart chopsticks that invariably leave me with one that looks like a giant toothpick.

Gorgeous bar area and cocktail menu. 

The cocktails were unique without being overwrought.  Wish I had thought to take notes on them--we took our time deciding on the perfect beverage.  Since I can't remember the ingredients a picture is worth a thousand words right?

The menuoffers a good selection of small plates that are perfect for sharing.  I wished we had skipped the street food entirely and had room for a bigger meal at Bao Bei.  We settled on the Crispy Pork Belly and were happy the server recommended some steamed rice to soak up the sauce.  The pickled red onion, the edamame, the sauce perfumed with star anise--great flavor combinations, traditional but fresher and brighter.  I gazed longingly at the steamed buns at a neighboring table, filled with braised shortrib, cursing the subpar char siu bao I had already eaten. 

We promised Sophie Chinese doughnuts, and they delivered with these freshly made youtiao accompanied by a caramel dipping sauce and infused soymilk.  She reluctantly allowed us to have a small bite, but you can tell by the care they take with the presentation that these doughnuts are something special.

Bao Bei is a perfect jewel tucked away in Vancouver's Chinatown.  We loved everything about Vancouver, but I would go back just to eat at Bao Bei. Don't miss it!  They do not take reservations but I could happily wait at their bar all night.

Bao Bei Chinese Brasserie on Urbanspoon