Gozen Lunch at Fairmont Pacific Rim RawBar by Jenn Chan

Fairmont PacRim

Fairmont PacRim

 

Each Gozen plate takes 8 hours to prepare. That's a full work day per platter! Only 10 are on offer per day and I was lucky enough to get one! Hiromitsu Nozaki is the head chef of two Michelin star restaurant Waketokuyama and mentored and collaborated with Fairmont Pacific Rim’s Chef Takayuki, Chef 'Taka', on their creation.


 

Gozen Lunch Menu

Gozen Lunch Menu

 

At Raw Bar even the coffee is special. Served with a hard rock sugar stir stick and made with lusciously rich coffee beans it knocked the cobwebs out for my 11:30 reservation. Swaying slowly to the incendiary PacRim guitar player the soup arrives as I'm halfway into my coffee and my eyes get as wide as the 49th parallel. Salmon Kasujiru: sake lees soup with Burdock Root, carrot, Lotus Root, Sockeye salmon and Yuzu. I will, without hesitation, name it into my top five soups of all time. I generally don't like salmon when it's cooked, but I could have eaten a pound if it!

 

Sake Miso Soup

Sake Miso Soup

Sake Miso Soup
Coffee

 

The platter arrived, all 8 hours worth, and I shivered noticeably. The first dish, I was eating as per the order of the menu for the most part, was sashimi, red tuna and Sockeye salmon. It was topped with grated potato and tossed with sardine/ tofu powder and Kazunoko kelp. The salmon was fresh, not farmed salmon. If you've seen a fish farming operation, be it a large, netted area of the ocean or a tank in a dank warehouse, you have been a witness to cruelty. The fish are often riddled with sea lice and splash about haphazardly, aimlessly, miserably in their tight confines. Their meat sadly often needs to be coloured pink, what manner of chemicals are involved in that process is anyone's guess and likely varies by supplier to varying degrees of toxicity, to resemble its wild brothers. Raw Bar's sashimi is wild salmon, caught humanely and so, so incredibly fresh. Like they tossed a rod in the waters of the Burrard Inlet some 100 meters from where I sat.

 

The second plate was the Taro and Sesame Tofu or “Rikyu Yose”. The dish had a smooth texture and subtle taste with a sesame kick, delicious!  It also came with a Sable Saikyou Miso Grill. Sablefish or butterfish, depending on where you're from, is a buttery, hence the name, delicious aquatic beast! Shrimp tempura coated with crispy mochi. Think prawn tempura with a tasty, crispy mochi, almost Rice Crispie like, covering. It was the best tempura I can ever remember tasting! Rounding out the dish, the four platters boast 32 unique flavour combinations, was rice with baby anchovy and soy beans, carrots and string beans. Hands down my favourite dish!

 

The third dish didn't disappoint either; Roasted Wagyu beef. Beautifully rare and so tender you could cut it with a cross look. Roasting really preserves the juices and it was wetter than a, well, any Spring or Fall day in Vancouver. It came with a simmered piece of  sweet pumpkin. My experience with pumpkin has varied widely. I've had objectionable pumpkin pie from a frozen graveyard and sweet, fresh pie from a 5 star chef, but my experience has been limited, sadly, to pie. I will be sad to discard my rotted, drooping jack-o-lantern next November 31st. You could have been someone Jack. Could have been a contender. Pumpkin done the right way is delicious, sweet and pungent. Rounding out the dish, but taking no backseat, was a sampling of celery, Tamago, salmon rice, and asparagus.

 

By the fourth dish, when the first three are as amazing as these were, your expectations are pretty high. The rolled Cuttlefish with nori is a tangy, flavourful item and way less rubbery a Cuttlefish than I've ever had before. Served with

deep fried Lotus Root, shrimp and Sansho pepper it was incredible! The pepper really adds a kick and the crispness of the lotus root provides a crunch and they all blend seamlessly with the shrimp. While the sablefish dish was my favourite dish the minced chicken with Miso “Matsukaze” Style was my favourite flavour combination. To say it was incredibly delicious would be an understatement! It all came alongside block rice with fried kale and snow peas and was the perfect ending to an incredible brunch!

 

Gozen Lunch: 1) Sashimi: red tuna & salmon sockeye sashimi topped with grated mountain potato, tossed with sardine and tofu powder and kazunoko kelp ; 2) Taro and sesame tofu "rikyu yose", sablefish saikyou miso grill, shrimp tempura coated with crispy mochi, rice with baby anchovy and soy beans, carrots and string beans; 3) Roasted wagyu beef, simmered sweet pumpkin, celery "kimpira", tamago, salmon rice, and asparagus; 4) Rolled cuttlefish with nori, deep-fried lotus root with shrimp and sansho pepper, minched chicken with miso "matsukaze" style, rice with fried kale and snow peas

Gozen Lunch: 1) Sashimi: red tuna & salmon sockeye sashimi topped with grated mountain potato, tossed with sardine and tofu powder and kazunoko kelp ; 2) Taro and sesame tofu "rikyu yose", sablefish saikyou miso grill, shrimp tempura coated with crispy mochi, rice with baby anchovy and soy beans, carrots and string beans; 3) Roasted wagyu beef, simmered sweet pumpkin, celery "kimpira", tamago, salmon rice, and asparagus; 4) Rolled cuttlefish with nori, deep-fried lotus root with shrimp and sansho pepper, minched chicken with miso "matsukaze" style, rice with fried kale and snow peas

Gozen Lunch
Assorted Nigiri & Sable Motoyaki Roll

Assorted Nigiri & Sable Motoyaki Roll

Kanmi - Fresh Seasonal Fruits & Red Bean Dessert

Kanmi - Fresh Seasonal Fruits & Red Bean Dessert

Red Bean Dessert

Red Bean Dessert

 

 

Fairmont Pacific Rim is one of the best, if not the best, hotels in Vancouver. It's conveniently located right beside the Vancouver Convention Centre in tony Coal Harbour. Mere steps to the Olympic torches, the world famous Seawall and the Vancouver skytrain. The Lobby Lounge is a perfect place to people watch. Regular Vancouverites and wide-eyed tourists stopping in for a drink mingle with CEOs in them for a conference and trust fund babies who can barely see over the steering wheel of thei Ferraris. The ambience isn't something you can ignore and the grandeur isn't something you'd want to. It is a beautiful place for a meal, a quick drink or to peruse the frequent free art installations in the lobby. A must see!

 

Muji Pop-up Store

Muji Pop-up Store

Muji Pop-up Store
Popular Pens at Muji Pop-up Shop

Popular Pens at Muji Pop-up Shop

 

Words & Photos: Jenn Chan 

 

Valentine's Day Menu: Notch8 at Fairmont Hotel Vancouver by Jenn Chan

Notch8 Valentine's Day Menu

Notch8 Valentine's Day Menu

 

Our server Kristina was a gem! Colloquial, but with a sophisticated edge and endless kindness. She suggested a couple of cocktails for us. JC had the Bubbles and Berries: Finlandia Vodka, fresh raspberries, fresh lemon, Sumac Ridge Sparkling White Wine. Champagne based cocktails are a crap shoot. Generally they'll mask the offensiveness of the $5 bottle of champagne with fruits and syrups and what-have-you, but Notch8 does things right and the result was a delicious, well balanced concoction. I had the Lilloet Daisy Zubrówka: fresh lemon, blueberry syrup and elderflower liqueur served in a tiki mug. It was sweet and absolutely delicious, elderflower is my bae!

 

Bubbles & Berries Cocktail

Bubbles & Berries Cocktail

The Lillooet Daisy Cocktail

The Lillooet Daisy Cocktail

 

The long weekend is owing to BC's newest statutory holiday, Family Day which, to my mind, will be Premier Christy Clark's only positive legacy. You'd be hard pressed to find anything else nice to say about her tenure. From being the only BC Premier to lose her own riding to her trying to sell the rights to mine our natural gas resources to foreign interests... you get the idea, I'm not a fan, but for letting us turn up on a Sunday we salute you. I guess.

 

The first course was called Roses by the Sea and for good reason. Rose poached shellfish, caviar, rose petal creme fraîche, green apples, rosewater mist. I had to stop Jenn a few times to alert her to the deliciousness of the bite I'd just had. Crab meat with caviar, shrimp with green apple or scallop with rose petal crème fraîche... that wasn't even all the incredible combinations in this one dish!? Amuse bouche... This was only the amuse bouche!? Right then I knew we were in for a good night! It was paired, quite elegantly, with a Kanazawa Sakura rosé. Strawberry notes dominate, but in a good way, not in a 14 year-old's first $5 strawberry wine kind of way.

 

Roses by the Sea + Kanazawa Sakura Rosé

Roses by the Sea + Kanazawa Sakura Rosé

Roses by the Sea - rosé poached shellfish, caviar, rose petal crème fraîche, green apples, rosewater mist

Roses by the Sea - rosé poached shellfish, caviar, rose petal crème fraîche, green apples, rosewater mist

 

 

Stop it Chef Will! Just stop. We came to Notch8 a few weeks ago to highlight their Dine Out Vancouver 2017 menu and Chef Will wowed us with his presentation; a frozen pond inspired oyster dish. Today he came out again, thanked us profusely for our previous post, and presented us with a 62 degree egg, beef tartare, uni and sea buck thorn gelee all served in a glass, smoked-filled globe. Stop it Will! It came with nori chips, they themselves would have been absolutely incredible in their own, and the tartare was hands down, no question, the best I've ever had! The egg, once pierced, oozed into the raw beef and formed a cacophony of savoury flavours. I mouthgasmed.


Chef Will Special

Chef Will Special

Chef Will Special
Chef Will Special
Chef Will Special

 

 

Reeling from first two dishes Chef Will brought out Notch's Savory Tart: foie gras, duck confit, sous vide quail egg, candied hazelnut and brandy apricot compote. This is not the slimy, bitter liver I was forced to sit at the table, as a young boy, until I ate it all. This is foie gras, fat liver. I know that translation isn't going to inspire a ton of food lust, but paired with a Meyer Family Pinot the two combined perfectly not unlike the Sedin twins or peanut butter and jelly or oxygen and human life. I would gladly choose to eat nothing else for the rest of my life regardless of the nutritional value. That's all I have to say, go get some!

 

Savoury Tart + Meyer Family Pinot

Savoury Tart + Meyer Family Pinot

Savoury Tart - foie gras, duck confit, sous vide quail egg, candied hazelnut, brandy apricot compote

Savoury Tart - foie gras, duck confit, sous vide quail egg, candied hazelnut, brandy apricot compote

 

To Share and to Savor: dry aged beef strip loin, cognac jus, black truffle, gold leaf butter and marrow roasted potatoes. Jenn called it the "best steak I've ever had". An inch thick, aged striploin bloody as can be and as delicious as any striploin I've ever had! I'll acquiesce to the fact that the mashed potatoes were definitely top five of my life. Bone marrow anything is delicious and this was the first time that flavour had been infused into mashed potatoes and it was triumphant!! This platter itself would have been enough for 3-4 people. The fact that it's just one of many dishes on this Valentine's Day menu at Notch8 shows the caliber of cuisine they're determined to push out. As previously mentioned we attended Notch for Dine Out. Unequivocally it was our favourite of the Dine Out festival and it will be a go-to for the rest of our lives. It's simply that good!

 

To Share and to Savour - dry aged beef striploin, cognac jus, black truffle, gold leaf, butter, marrow roasted roots

To Share and to Savour - dry aged beef striploin, cognac jus, black truffle, gold leaf, butter, marrow roasted roots

To Share and to Savour

 

And now to discuss the Chocolate Cave. About halfway into the grand ballroom that is Notch8 you smell it... it's not what the Rock is cooking it's chocolate. Maybe someone ordered something at a table nearby I thought. NO. It's an entire room at the back of the restaurant where the walls and every offering is chocolate. CHOCOLATE! I had to waddle down the steps due to over consumption, but there was still room for a chocolate chip cookie, red velvet cake, banana flambé, chocolate peanut brittle and truffles... omg you get it, they rolled us home! Luckily we live a 2 minute walk and no dogs had desecrated  the sidewalk so we arrived at our condo clean and satisfied. When I lay in my bed I'm blessed to enjoy a beautiful view of Hotel Vancouver's stunning architecture and knowing Notch is contained within those walls makes me smile. And hungry, it also makes me hungry! Do yourself a favour and pay them a visit!

 

The Chocolate Cave

The Chocolate Cave

The Chocolate Cave
The Chocolate Cave
The Chocolate Cave
The Chocolate Cave
 
 

Valentine's Day Menu: TWG by Jenn Chan

TWG Valentine's Menu

 

The TWG Tea Salon and Boutique is a gorgeous space and their chef Cliff Hohl is a very nice man. He was gracious enough to hang out with us table side and explain the various dishes that make up their Valentine's Day menu. He was so happy and proud to tell us that TWG was "officially Oceanwise as of yesterday". Oceanwise, if you're not familiar with it, is a sustainability program championed by the Vancouver Aquarium. Take a few minutes and give it a google, a very worthy cause!


 

The tea pairing, Mon Amour Tea, is one of the best I've tasted. Inhaling deeply from a tin of it left at our table, presumably for photography purposes, I harkened back to the days when Bubble Tape was first introduced. Remember that?  Grape bubble tape, the kind bootlegged in my school yard, seriously, was the first thing that came to mind. Absolutely delicious!

Bain de Roses Tea infused sparkling wine cocktail

Bain de Roses Tea infused sparkling wine cocktail

 

 

Have you ever had really, really good iced tea? Like the stuff plantation owners must have enjoyed on the wraparound decks of their palatial mansions? Love me Tea must be one of those! I wasn't raised extravagantly. I had everything I needed, but some years were tough with my mom going back to school for a time and my dad being unemployed for a time when Safeway closed the bread plant, where he plied his trade as a mechanical engineer, to bust his union and move the plant a little ways up the road. As such I have humble tastes: Nestle's Quik trumps any and all hot Chocolates at your froofy cafés and peanut butter is good on anything. This iced tea is not the sickeningly sweet, powdered offering of my youth, but a subtle, semi-sweet and refreshing upgrade. This is progress we can all get behind! Make iced tea great again!


 

Mon Amour Tea & Love Me Tea

Mon Amour Tea & Love Me Tea

 

 

TWG's scallops are the polar opposite of rubbery. Fresh, tender and flavourful. They really soak up the dashi broth and blend marvellously with the dragon fruit and "white desire" tea infusion. Korean brown rice is just better than regular rice, it just is. Again the dashi, the root of everything miso, soaks in and competes with the garlic for flavour supremacy. The time and effort spent to curl the carrots and cucumbers into tight spirals speaks volumes about TWG's commitment to presentation and elegance. Chef Hohl intimated as much, "the team is excited about this menu", he exclaimed between self deprecatingly deflecting praise and promising to bring us the meal's "Cliff notes" that he was having trouble finding thinking he'd left it on his "Cliffboard". Oh Cliff! I was proud to hear he had tried to model his summation after my writing. High praise from an artist to a financier dabbling in the written word and hardly an artist by any stretch of the imagination. Words are words, people use words everyday, but the culinary arts nourish people, inspire people and have the ability, with minimal exaggeration, to bridge cultural divides.

 

 

Pan-seared scallops complemented by a dashi broth infused with White Desire Tea

Pan-seared scallops complemented by a dashi broth infused with White Desire Tea

Pan-seared scallops complemented by a dashi broth infused with White Desire Tea

 

 

The dessert came out looking as glossy and beautiful as a $10,000 paint job on a $1,000,000 car. The vanilla bourbon ice cream is amongst the best, top five, ice creams of my life! Decadent, but with that natural vanilla flavour that reminded me of my first independent car ride with a peer as a 16 year old. That vanilla air freshener dangling off the rear view mirror signalled a freedom, an independence that vanilla always brings back for me!


 

Bain de Roses Tea infused mosse and raspberry confit, served with scoop of Vanilla Bourbon Tea infused ice cream and fresh berries

Bain de Roses Tea infused mosse and raspberry confit, served with scoop of Vanilla Bourbon Tea infused ice cream and fresh berries

 

 

The TWG Tea Salon recently underwent an extensive renovation and the room is incredible! Brightly coloured containers of the world's best teas line the walls. Ornate tea pots encased in glass for the dining area and smiles everywhere. What makes you smile? For me it's kindness. For me it's joy. For me it's socializing. I promise you, from the bottom of my heart, that going to TWG will make you smile! Go hungry and leave happy!


 
 

New Restaurants in Vancouver: Heritage Asian Eatery by Jenn Chan

Heritage Asian Eatery

Heritage Asian Eatery

 

Heritage Eatery is nestled amongst the skyscrapers of the financial district in Coal Harbour. It's a lovely space and was very busy when we visited. Ladies and gentlemen in their suits and skirts popped in and out of doors taking away bags and munching quickly on their lunch breaks. The staff were kind and efficient and the atmosphere was very laid back and smelled wonderful!


 

Heritage Asian Eatery
Menu

Menu

 

Chef Felix and his team at the Heritage Eatery know chicken wings. Their fried chicken wings, deep fried in pure deliciousness, are crispy and seasoned to perfection. These are worth a trip down all on their own! They are marinated for 4 days then steamed and dry rubbed with 5 spices. The Eggplant appetizer was very nice and I generally dislike eggplant, but these were firm and flavourful. The wings came out alongside Heritage Eatery's famous Duck Bowl. The duck was incredibly sweet and tender and served half breast and half confite on a bed of rice. I could have stopped there and left satisfied, but Felix wanted us to try a few more things and I'm glad he did! The Pork Belly Bao boasted huge, immense, pieces of tender, succulent pork belly. The Bao was perfect and incredibly fresh. The sauce was tangy and sweet. The Cotechino Bao is equally as good!  Cotechino is a peppery Italian sausage and not something I've had in a bao before, but works so wonderfully! Jenn loves udon. A lot! She once had udon everyday for a full week. My right hand to God! Heritage Eatery's House Udon with char shiu was very good, "cute mushrooms and tender noodles" was Jenn's succinct summation and I really liked it as well. The broth was very flavourful and was the highlight of the dish.

 

Duck Rice Bowl, House Udon with Char Shiu, Wings & Eggplant

Duck Rice Bowl, House Udon with Char Shiu, Wings & Eggplant

Wings with 5 spice

Wings with 5 spice

Eggplant

Eggplant

Rice Bowl with Duck & shredded Pork Belly

Rice Bowl with Duck & shredded Pork Belly

House Udon with Char Shiu

House Udon with Char Shiu

Chowing down on a Pork Shoulder Bao

Chowing down on a Pork Shoulder Bao

Bao Trio: Cotechino, Pork Shoulder & Shitake

Bao Trio: Cotechino, Pork Shoulder & Shitake

 
 

Top Japanese Restaurants in Vancouver: RawBar at Fairmont PacRim by Jenn Chan

PacRim RawBar

PacRim RawBar

 

Have you ever woken up the day after a birthday party, with its accompanying revery and libations, only to realize you forgot you had a cocktail brunch to attend early the next day? I have and the beautiful Raw Bar at the Lobby Lounge in Fairmont's Pacific Rim did not disappoint! The old saying 'hair of the dog that bit you' or just 'hair of the dog' stems from the belief that if you drank a gallon, or ten, of a particular alcoholic beverage the night before a glass of it will help cure your hangover the next day. The Germans call it a 'counter-beer', Austrians a 'relief beer' while the Spanish and Italians believe 'a nail pulls out another nail.' There can be no other reason for a cocktail brunch and there need not be! This was the best, the absolute best, brunch I have ever had!

 

PacRim RawBar
RawBar Brunch Menu

 

The first of our five courses, yes five, was the Red Tuna Tataki. It was served with a yuzu kosho vinaigrette, soy gelée, daikon and micro greens. The mouth watering tuna has a distinct soy taste and was melt in your mouth fresh. It was paired marvellously with their LIght-Zaiten cocktail. A mixture of gin, organic green tea, dry vermouth, rosemary, cucumber, lime. The subtle cucumber taste accented well by the rosemary and it washed the tuna down as though they'd been preordained from birth to do so!  We also ordered the Torched Wagyu Beef Salad because not only do we need to be thorough in our culinary reviews, but also because we are gluttonous hedonists. No excuses.  The wagyu beef was served with red onion, sake-beet purée, scallion-ginger emulsion, nori chips and miso crème fraîche. Wagyu beef is the best beef on earth, move over Kobe, so tender and flavourful! Miso crème fraîche is also one of my new favourite thing! If they made a flavoured toothpaste I'd buy it. Heck if they made a miso crème fraîche shampoo I'd use it. They paired the beef salad with an amazing Bloody Mary: vodka, lemon, tomato juice, sriracha, horseradish, salt and pepper. Americans don't believe clams and tomatoes belong together, they just don't. Call it forbidden love, but they don't see the correlation and I can't blame them. I can't even fathom who first thought they ought to be combined, but I ain't mad at cha, got nothing, but fo ya! Hence the Bloody Mary instead of the Canadian treasure, the Caesar. Add Sriracha to anything and I'm in, it was simply delicious. So much so I had to order another just to make sure their mixologists were being consistent. Ya, that's what it was.

 

Red Tuna Tataki & Torched Wagyu Beef Salad

Red Tuna Tataki & Torched Wagyu Beef Salad

Red Tuna Tataki + Light-Zaiten - Yuzu Kosho vinaigrette, soy gelée, daikon, micro greens

Red Tuna Tataki + Light-Zaiten - Yuzu Kosho vinaigrette, soy gelée, daikon, micro greens

Torched Wagyu Beef Salad + Bloody Mary - wagyu beef, red onion, sake-beet purée, scallion-ginger emulsion, nori chips, miso crème fraîche

Torched Wagyu Beef Salad + Bloody Mary - wagyu beef, red onion, sake-beet purée, scallion-ginger emulsion, nori chips, miso crème fraîche

 

 

Starting to feel human again I salivated as the next course, a steaming bowl of their Signature Bacon and Sable Miso soup, was laid in front of me. Hands down the best miso soup I have ever had!! Two exclamation points. Bacon dashi, house-cured sable, ginger and scallion in a magnificent miso broth. Bacon, bacon, bacon! As an aside, In 2013 65% of Americans polled would gladly have named bacon as their national food. I started with the broth and, wow, it is amazing. Miso with a touch of sweetness. The bacon dashi may have been the best bacon I've ever tasted! Even the tofu, renowned as the world's blandest food, was delicious as it took in the flavour of the divine broth. They served it with their Beer Makes Miso Happy: Grand Marnier, wheat beer, ginger, lemon. I chortled when I first read the name. Apparently I'm not the only one who tries to let their personality shine through their writing, hats off! It was tangy, well balanced and refreshing! Again, for consistency's sake, I had to order another and the second was even better than the first. 

 

 

Signature Bacon and Sable Miso + Beer Makes Miso Happy - bacon dashi, house-cured sablefish, ginger, scallion

Signature Bacon and Sable Miso + Beer Makes Miso Happy - bacon dashi, house-cured sablefish, ginger, scallion

 

 

The next course came and I was excited; this was what I'd been waiting for! The Wild Salmon Motoyaki “Benny”. I love eggs Benedict and I always have. I still think back, at least once a month, fondly to one time when I ordered a king crab Benny and my date had a lobster Benny and we each traded one... And it's been 3-4 years... Raw Bar's offering featured a poached egg, sweet milk bread, ikura, miso hollandaise and avocado. I frequently judge a Benny by its muffin. Fresh and airy English muffin and you've got yourself a good Benny. Deliciously fluffy sweet milk bread as the base is my new gold standard, excellent! Farmed versus wild salmon really makes a difference. Google all the health benefits, and they are myriad, but the taste benefit cannot be overlooked. Adding a touch of miso into the hollandaise is a stroke of genius and the ikura was fresh and flavourful. It paired well with the Pepe Le Pew, a meeting of Lillet rosé, sherry and sparkling brut. The sherry really mutes the sweetness of the brut and balances the cocktail perfectly, but the name of the cocktail had me in stitches. Chris Rock brilliantly satirizes Pepe in one of his standup acts. Give it a Google!

 

 

Wild Salmon Motoyaki "Benny" + Pepe Le Pew - poached egg, sweet milk bread, ikura, miso hollandaise, avocado

Wild Salmon Motoyaki "Benny" + Pepe Le Pew - poached egg, sweet milk bread, ikura, miso hollandaise, avocado

Wild Salmon Motoyaki "Benny"

 

 

Jenn ordered the Kurobuta Pork Kakuni, a braised pork belly, 62°c egg, sweet soy broth, daikon, carrot, potato with tamanishiki rice. The pork belly was very tender and breaks apart easily, no knife necessary! They perfectly made the 62 degree egg, very gooey. Bite size potato, carrot and daikon. Dip the rice in the sweet soy broth and include a mouthful of pork and it's worth the trip on its own. It came with the Pork ‘N’ Cider which consists of Lonetree cider, sweet vermouth and sherry. It was sweet and tasty and Jenn liked it the most of all the selections to that point.

 

 

 

Kurobuta Pork Kakuni + Pork 'n' Cider - Braised Pork belly, 62*c egg, sweet soy broth, daikon, carrot, potato, tamanishiki rice

Kurobuta Pork Kakuni + Pork 'n' Cider - Braised Pork belly, 62*c egg, sweet soy broth, daikon, carrot, potato, tamanishiki rice

 

 

Now for what Raw Bar is famous for, sushi! The Sushi Omakase featured maki, nigiri, hako and temari and was paired with a delicious Sparkling Junmai Sake. That's right champagne sake and it is good as it sounds! The rolls were as close to perfection as one can get: incredibly fresh sashimi, you'd expect nothing less in the lobby of Vancouver's premiere hotel, inventive flavours and even the sardine sushi was really good. These aren't those pickled, smelly sardines from a can, you could tell immediately this guy (or girl) was swimming only days or weeks earlier! 

 

 

Sushi Omakase + Sparkling Junmai Sake - maki, nigiri, hako, temari

Sushi Omakase + Sparkling Junmai Sake - maki, nigiri, hako, temari

Sushi Omakase

 

 

The dessert was equally as inventive. The Yakult Shooter came out on an actual oyster shell, cleaned of course, and featured plum gelée, pear, matcha green tea, black sesame powder and yuzu pearl. It disappeared in an instant and was sweet and delicious. Just the right size for a fifth course. You wouldn't want to try and dig through a 1,000 calorie piece of cake after all that! It came with the Wakayama Beach: gin, yuzu, basil, coconut water and ginger. The yuzu flavours really shined through from each and they went together like peas in a pod, very, very good! Leaning back in our chairs and enjoying the soulful pianist tickle the ivories we couldn't help, but wonder what else the menu might have in store for us. We requested one from our lovely server and oooo'ed and awed over Raw Bar's regular selection and vowed to be back with a fortnight. And we will!

 

 

Yakult Shooter + Wakayama Beach - plum gelée, pear, matcha green tea, black sesame powder, yuzu pearl

Yakult Shooter + Wakayama Beach - plum gelée, pear, matcha green tea, black sesame powder, yuzu pearl

 
 

Dine Out Vancouver 2017: Notch8 at Fairmont Hotel Vancouver by Jenn Chan

Notch8

 

After a treacherous 3 minute walking commute from Jenn's apartment we bellied up to our lovely, intimate table and were approached by our very gracious server Sherrie with a cheerful "hello Ms. Chan!" A very good start! I would be remiss to forget to mention the grandeur of the beautiful Fairmont Hotel Vancouver, my personal favourite building in the downtown core, nay the province! Its signature blue roof now boasting colour changing LEDs at night and its castle-like exterior projects strength and stability. As the automatic doors from another era 70's Star Trek-style slide open you're struck by the height of the ceiling and the elegance of the marble floors as you pass windows of Louis Vuitton and Gucci displays. I myself stopped to drool over some lavish, embroidered Gucci blazers. My closet is already bursting with suits, some 30 or so, but I'd have traded 10 or 20 for this particular white and black emblazoned jacket! Notch 8 doesn't boast huge windows with views, but the size, opulence and sophistication of the room can leave you dumbfounded.

 

 
Notch8
Notch8 Dine Out Menu

Notch8 Dine Out Menu

 

At Sherrie's cajoling Jenn ordered the Fra-Gee-Lay which is served in a foot tall leg lamp glass à la A Christmas Story. Ya. Happy to report she didn't shoot her eye out! I ordered the Lagonitas IPA which wasn't very photogenic, but delicious! Quick on the heels of our refreshments came our appetizers and a little surprise from Chef de Cuisine Will Lew. Half the surprise was his presence at our table, what a nice man, and the other half of the surprise was that he brought with him a pet project. A large marble bowl with moss and rocks that had been filled with water and frozen like a winter pond! It was made to carry two very special oysters; Kusshis with cured salmon that were simply delicious. 

 

Our appetizers followed: the Savoury Macaron and Forest Mushroom Tart. The macaron, semi sweet, came piled with caviar, smoked salmon, scallop mousse, roe, crème fraîche, tiny, edible flowers and micro dill. It was delicious with a little bit of sweet and the explosive flavour of the smoked salmon, incredibly fresh, and the delicious crème fraiche. It was very satisfying! If you're a regular reader you know that I hate mushrooms. Bad childhood experiences with those horrid canned 'mushrooms' coupled with a traumatic visit to a mushroom farm *shudders*. BC Winter Mushrooms, as served in this decadent tart, may have saved me from an upbringing of fungal fear, but, alas, the past can't be rewritten. Add in the fromage frais, chestnuts, wild onion, yet another childhood nemesis, sweet elderberry and spruce and this tart is incredible! The mushrooms had a lovely flavour and texture and blended wonderfully with the cheese and onion, worth a trip on its own! These dishes were expertly paired with a Cedar Creek Pinot Gris 2012 and was the perfect start to our culinary adventure. 

 

 

Fra-gee-lay

Fra-gee-lay

Lagonitas IPA

Lagonitas IPA

Savoury Macaron, Forest Mushroom Tart + Frozen Pond

Savoury Macaron, Forest Mushroom Tart + Frozen Pond

Frozen Pond - Kusshi Oysters wrapped with cured salmon

Frozen Pond - Kusshi Oysters wrapped with cured salmon

Savoury Macaron - caviar, smoked salmon, scallop mousse, roe, créme fraiche flowers, micro dill

Savoury Macaron - caviar, smoked salmon, scallop mousse, roe, créme fraiche flowers, micro dill

Forest Mushroom Tart - BC Winter mushrooms, fromage frais, chestnuts, wild onion elderberry spruce

Forest Mushroom Tart - BC Winter mushrooms, fromage frais, chestnuts, wild onion elderberry spruce

IMG_7543.jpg

 

The entrées came out with a lovely Cedar Creek Pinot Noir 2014 which was beautiful. I ordered the Wagyu Short Rib and JC had the Maple Ash Lingcod. The lingcod came with a king crab bisque, smoked oyster cream, shallot petals, sunchoke, violet endive and dulse. The king crab bisque and smoked oyster cream could have been a meal all on their own, incredible! The fish was browned perfectly and was a very lean, fresh cut. It paired well with the Pinot Noir, but the Notch 8 sommelier Jean-François was gracious enough to come to our table and suggest a Reisling that paired perfectly with Jenn's Lingcod. She of the white wine preference was very grateful to get it and the Tantalis Reisling 2015 from Kelowna was a bit sweeter and delicious. 

 

The short ribs came out accompanied by truffle, marrow-pumpkin puree, chanterelles, red winter wheat berries, huckleberry-black garlic-aged balsamic and cipollini. Unbeknownst to me wagyu is Japanese for 'Japanese cow'. Yup. I've eaten wagyu many time and always assumed, like Kobe beef, it was named for some region of Japan and received Daily sake massages, but that is not the case. The beef gets its reputation, not to mention its incredible taste and luxury price point, from its predisposition to marble. Marbling is the way the fat spirals throughout the meat and leaves the meat incredibly tender as it melts during cooking. This dish is a near perfect 10/10, stop reading and head to Notch 8 right now!

 

 

Maple Ash Lingcod - king crab bisque, smoked oyster cream, shallot petals, sunchoke, violet endive, dulse

Maple Ash Lingcod - king crab bisque, smoked oyster cream, shallot petals, sunchoke, violet endive, dulse

Maple Ash Lingcod
Braised Wagyu Short Rib - truffle, marrow-pumpkin puree, chanterelles, red winter wheat berries, huckleberry-black garlic-aged balsamic, cipollini

Braised Wagyu Short Rib - truffle, marrow-pumpkin puree, chanterelles, red winter wheat berries, huckleberry-black garlic-aged balsamic, cipollini

Braised Wagyu Short Rib
Wintery Field - winter roots & greens, milled grains-oats-corn grit polenta, blue juliet, pumpernickle crumb, goat cheese 'snow'

Wintery Field - winter roots & greens, milled grains-oats-corn grit polenta, blue juliet, pumpernickle crumb, goat cheese 'snow'

Wintery Field

 

The desserts came out with a 2014 Cedar Creek Merlot which was very smooth and hit the spot. Notch keeps it simple only offering one dessert option. If you've been to Notch's Dine Out you know that dessert is like putting one more straw on a camel's back before it breaks, so much food! They served us each a Brie Walnut Ice Cream which they made in-house. It comes with black current gelee, nut wafer and fingerlime and to say it is good ice cream is like saying Michael Jordan was a good basketball player or that Wayne Gretzky had good hands with the puck. It is great ice cream, amongst the best I've ever had, and works wonderfully with the the nut wafer and fingerlime. 


 

Brie Walnut Ice Cream - black currant gelee, nut wafer, fingerlime, paired with Cedar Creek Merlot

Brie Walnut Ice Cream - black currant gelee, nut wafer, fingerlime, paired with Cedar Creek Merlot

 

All of a sudden, before we realized 3 hours had passed, it's 10 o'clock and the lights go down at Notch 8. No, we aren't being asked to leave, but we are being asked to enjoy the sexy, sultry vibe as dinner hour makes way for cocktail hour. The live musician takes his cue and smooth jazz fills the air. We sip contently on our Merlot as an elegant, embroidered box passes by. "What is that?" we wonder to ourselves. Literally one second later Sherrie comes to see how we are doing and we ask her. It's Notch 8's Old Fashioned Dice Game. Roll 3 die and the first dictates the whiskey, the second the syrup and the third the bitters. Well we better try. Just for the completeness of the review. An old fashioned is one of those cocktails that your grandpa probably liked and wouldn't be out of place in a 1920's speak easy, but is making a comeback in a major way because of its simplicity yet complex flavours. There's no wrong roll as both mine and Jenn's drinks were very good plus if you roll 8 during Happy Hour the drink is on the house! 

 

Old Fashioned Dice Game

Old Fashioned Dice Game

Old Fashioned Dice Game