Fairmont Pacific Rim

Botanist Restaurant at Fairmont Pacific Rim by Jenn Chan

Botanist Restaurant

 

 

My experience at Botantist started right at the hostess stand, when she greeted me with a big smile and helped put away my raincoat, she even helped hold my DSLR while I struggled with my jacket! I took a quick look around the room, it was absolutely stunning. They have paid incredible detail to every little thing, from the plants, to the lighting, to little decor on the bar tops. The room buzzed with conference go-ers at the Champagne Lounge to my left, and business people at the bar to my right. There's even a VIP room you can book for a special occasion! I was then whisked away towards my table, and along the way, I caught myself "WOW-ing" a few times just looking at the abundant indoor plants surrounding the dining room!
 

 

Botanist Restaurant

Botanist Restaurant

 

 

All the names of the cocktails are super fun, like "Can't Beat a Root", "Yes Whey", and "What the Flower" were some of my favourites. Our night started with trying 3 different cocktails: Poetry in Motion, Apple Seed Lane, and the Lillemonade (THIS is a fun one to say). All 3 cocktails were delicious and we gulped them down quickly! Along with our cocktails, our server also brought out their special seeded bread. If you know me, you know I'm not typically a bread person, but this was amazing! Together with the whipped butter, each bite was a little taste of heaven. Bread with seeds have no calories right?

 

Cocktails: Poetry in Motion, Apple Seed Lane, Lillemonade

Cocktails: Poetry in Motion, Apple Seed Lane, Lillemonade

Lillemonade
Cocktail: Apple Seed Lane

Cocktail: Apple Seed Lane

Seeded Bread

 

 

Our server then surprised us with a little amuse bouche - the White Gazpacho (which is on their menu). The White Gazpacho was very refreshing with side stripe shrimp, cucumber and little delightful balls of grapes! I can see myself ordering this a lot in the summer!

 

White Gazpacho

White Gazpacho



Next up is our appetizers to share. We order 3 of the top recommended appies, the Heirloom Tomato Salad, Hand-Cut Tagliatelle, and Nova Scotia Lobster Tail. The tomatoes of the Heirloom Tomato Salad is grown hydroponically, which means they're grown without soil using mineral nutrient solutions in a water solvent, how cool is that? This dish tasted so fresh, and the flavours combined so well together with the burrata & hibiscus vinaigrette. 

 

Have you ever had Lobster Tail as an appetizer? Me neither. But there's always a first right? When I saw this on the menu, I couldn't pass it up, and it did not disappoint. The flavours blended together masterfully. The light fluffy lobster foam pair beautifully with the rich flavour of the lobster tail. The lobster foam reminded me of a lobster bisque. To even out the flavours, they've added chopped up bits of fennel to give the dish more texture - Such a balanced dish!

 

I tried the Hand-cut Tagliatelle next, and WOW was it exquisite. The hand-cut tagliatelle is so fresh, and I love seeing the not so perfectly cut pasta.  I'm also a huge fan of foraged mushrooms,, it went so well in this dish with the creamy and rich sauce. This came in the perfect portion, not leaving you weighed down and too full for the main course.

 

Appetizers: Heirloom Tomato Salad, Hand-Cut Tagliatelle, Nova Scotia Lobster Tail

Appetizers: Heirloom Tomato Salad, Hand-Cut Tagliatelle, Nova Scotia Lobster Tail

Heirloom Tomato Salad

Heirloom Tomato Salad

Nova Scotia Lobster Tail

Nova Scotia Lobster Tail

Hand-Cut Tagliatelle

Hand-Cut Tagliatelle

 

Our main courses are here, and I am so glad I was hungry enough to have room to savour my entree. I ordered the Lamb Saddle in Medium Rare. The flavours blended really well together. I loved the perfectly made Lamb, I've had plenty of lamb in my lifetime, and this one was soooo flavourful and juicy, I wanted more of it! The mushrooms, broccoli and baby carrots along with the au jus were absolutely perfect!

 

I didn't get to try the Sablefish or the Halibut but was told they were amazingly delicious as well. I mean, just look at how the Halibut came! The squid ink on top of the Halibut was pure art! Botanist has made my job as a photographer easy, every plate came out looking perfect and like a piece of art. It would be a challenge to take a bad photo of it! And we all know, we eat with our eyes first! Wait... I did get to try one of the skin-off cherry tomatoes, and I have to say, it's one of the best tomatoes I've ever had! Because the skin of the tomato has been taken off, the meat had the chance to soak up all the flavours, and when you pop one of those cherry tomatoes, you got a mouthful of rich & well rounded flavour. Yes, I am just talking about a little cherry tomato here!

 

 

Main Course: garlic panisse, broccoli, shallots, natural jus, HERB-CRUSTED LAMB SADDLE

Main Course: garlic panisse, broccoli, shallots, natural jus, HERB-CRUSTED LAMB SADDLE

Wine Pairing - Le Vieux Pin 2015 Syrah

Wine Pairing - Le Vieux Pin 2015 Syrah

Main Course: onion nage, fermented vegetables, puffed tapioca, SEARED SABLEFISH

Main Course: onion nage, fermented vegetables, puffed tapioca, SEARED SABLEFISH

Main Course: tomato, squid ink, local greens, OLIVE OIL POACHED HALIBUT

Main Course: tomato, squid ink, local greens, OLIVE OIL POACHED HALIBUT

Main Course: tomato, squid ink, local greens, OLIVE OIL POACHED HALIBUT

 

When dessert came around, I was ready to explode, so I passed on them, but my friends decided to order the Strawberries with Chocolate & Almost Cream, as well as the Beetroot Cake with Hazelnut and Gewürztraminer Gel. I opted for a delicious ice wine that Jill had recommended to me, it had a fruit forward taste of apricot, and full bodied. It was the perfect night cap for me. When their desserts did come though, I couldn't help myself and had a sample of each. Of course, I had to try the Gewürztraminer gel, I've never heard of such a thing, let along try it! It tasted like jello to me. The beetroot cake didn't taste like what I had anticipated, I had imagined it to taste like Beets but it tasted more like a delightful fluffy cake!

DESSERT: hazelnut, vanilla, gewürztraminer gel, elderflower frozen foam, BEETROOT CAKE

DESSERT: hazelnut, vanilla, gewürztraminer gel, elderflower frozen foam, BEETROOT CAKE

DESSERT: almond cream, chocolate cremeux, peppercorn lace, mint ice cream, white balsamic, STRAWBERRY

DESSERT: almond cream, chocolate cremeux, peppercorn lace, mint ice cream, white balsamic, STRAWBERRY

DESSERT: almond cream, chocolate cremeux, peppercorn lace, mint ice cream, white balsamic, STRAWBERRY

 

I had an absolutely great night at Botanist, from the atmosphere, to the service, to the aesthetically beautiful and delicious food, everything was a 10/10 to me. It's completely unlike any restaurants you're used to at a hotel, this is an experience all on its own, and should almost be considered as a stand-alone restaurant you would go for a birthday celebration, date night, or just a regular Thursday night out!

 

I'll definitely be back, and I'll see you there!

 

Botanist Restaurant
 
Words & Photos: Jenn Chan
 

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 

 

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