yaletown

FOOD | Lunch at Fayuca, Yaletown by Jenn Chan

Fayuca, Yaletown

 

Yaletown is home to many popular and good quality restaurants.  If you live in Vancouver you’ve probably patronized more than one eatery in the redeveloped industrial area.  Today we are going to Fayuca for lunch.  It is located on Hamilton Street near Nelson.  Open for less than a year Fayuca is garnering good reviews and a solid reputation for top notch food.  North Pacific Mexican is how they brand their style, with the Baja region of Mexico providing inspiration for Fayuca’s menu.

 

Past the planters with small palm trees and through the front door we go.  The room is warm and inviting.  Wood and wicker predominate, ceramic tiles bring back memories of hot days in Mexican resorts, and a large swordfish leaps from one wall.  The music isn’t the clichéd tourist music you might hear in faux Mexican restaurants.  The tunes are new to my ear: pleasant, cheerful and not blaringly loud.  The bar seating invitingly beckons one to settle in and stay a while however we instead sit at a comfortable table by the window.

 

Fayuca, Yaletown
Fayuca, Yaletown
Fayuca, Yaletown

 

The lunch drinks list has several intriguing choices and soon three of them are sitting on our table.  El Diablito is Jenn’s early favourite.  Made of ginger beer (non alcoholic) and pomegranate, topped with lime, the pink drink is a refreshing delight.  The pomegranate is noticed first with the ginger an enjoyable second note.  I claim the Tepache Colada as I am eager to try the beverage made from the peel and rind of pineapples.  In pre-Columbian times Tepache was made from corn.  The modern pineapple version is just fine with me.  Not sickly sweet like pineapple juice, just well balanced flavour and very enjoyable.  The third drink is the Jamaica Canela, a cinnamon infused Hibiscus drink.  Dark red, almost black at first glance.  Sipping it brings back a faint recollection of time spent on a veranda not far from a sub tropical beach.

 

Fayuca Lunch Menu

Fayuca Lunch Menu

Coctails: Tepache Colada & El Diablito

Coctails: Tepache Colada & El Diablito

Cocktails: El Diablito, Tepache Colada, Jamaica Canela

Cocktails: El Diablito, Tepache Colada, Jamaica Canela

Jamaica Canela

Jamaica Canela

 

We’ve barely had time to sample our drinks when a Kale and Avocado Salad is presented.  The base layer is a split pea hummus with the always delicious avocado and fresh kale topping it.  Jenn really, really liked it and I have to agree (despite my normal aversion to leafy greens) that it was quite good.  Pumpkin seeds added some crunch and variety.
 

South of Mexico, past Central America and into South America, we can find a cooking pot from Chile called a Cazuela.  The food prepared in this pot, a thick stock of vegetables and meat, is also called Cazuela.  Fayuca has a Cazuela of Winter Vegetables on the lunch menu and we dove into this hearty comfort food eagerly.  Butternut squash, fennel, sweet potato, red beets, crème fraiche and topped with feta.  The tomato/pepper/olive sauce brought everything together wonderfully.  A bit of crunch is provided by sliced almonds.  This Cazuela is a good choice for a cold winter day, a rainy day, or any old day.  I was also impressed with the grilled bread that accompanied the dish.  It had a touch of charcoal flavour that was so good!

 

Fayuca Lunch Flatlay
Kale and Avocado Salad | green beans and pumpkin seeds on Split Pea Hummus

Kale and Avocado Salad | green beans and pumpkin seeds on Split Pea Hummus

Cazuela of Winter Vegetables | Butternut Squash, Fennel, Sweet Potato, Red Beets in a Charred Tomato-Pepper-Olive Sauce with Crème Fraiche and Feta

Cazuela of Winter Vegetables | Butternut Squash, Fennel, Sweet Potato, Red Beets in a Charred Tomato-Pepper-Olive Sauce with Crème Fraiche and Feta

 

Machaca is often a dried shredded beef but Fayuca’s Machaca con Huevo is made with smoked fish.  The scrambled egg with smoked fish, charred avocado and black bean sauce combination on a hearty ancient grain bread made my mouth water for more!  This is a dish I could eat often and with gusto.  Or maybe I should say “me gusta!”

 

In many places around the world chicken and rice is a common meal.  Common is not how I would describe the Arroz con Pollo that Fayuca serves.  The chicken was marvelous, so tender.  Beneath the chicken was red rice and sofrito, a tomato based sauce (also used in Italian and Spanish cooking) that infused the rice with layers of flavour.  Dribbled over it all was aioli, a garlic sauce somewhat similar to mayonnaise.  This was a hearty, satisfying dish.

 

Machaca con Huevo | Smoked Fish Machaca with Egg Scramble, Charred Avocado, Ancient Grain Bread, Black Bean Sauce

Machaca con Huevo | Smoked Fish Machaca with Egg Scramble, Charred Avocado, Ancient Grain Bread, Black Bean Sauce

Arroz con Pollo | Roasted Chicken with Red Rice, Tomato, Sofrito, Aioli, Greens

Arroz con Pollo | Roasted Chicken with Red Rice, Tomato, Sofrito, Aioli, Greens

 

We sampled four dishes from the lunch menu and all were winners, in my opinion.  Out of curiosity I looked up the translation of the word fayuca and contraband and black market were the results.  I’m not sure how the name was chosen for this restaurant but if the only way to get these dishes was on the black market then I would still want to be a patron.  The lunch menu is reasonably priced and the food and drinks are delicious.  There are some vegetarian options should that be a concern for anyone in your party.

 

Fayuca
1009 Hamilton Street
Vancouver

 

 
 

FOOD | Omakase Dinner at Bistro Sakana, Yaletown by Jenn Chan

Bistro Sakana

 

I finally got a chance to check out Bistro Sakana, a little Japanese restaurant nozzled in with other restaurants and cafes on the Yaletown strip. I'm happy to be able to finally try this spot, especially their Omakase menu.  I'm also very happy that I came hungry to this meal, because it was absolutely filling!  

The Omakase meal has 13 items on the menu, including:

  • Appetizer
  • Dobin Mushi
  • Omakase Sashimi
  • Tsubugai Tsuboyaki
  • Lobster Tempura
  • Smoked Kurobuta
  • Kegani Kanimiso
  • Omakase Sushi
  • Steam Fish
  • Bafun Uni Cahwanmushi
  • Wagyu Hobayaki
  • Madai Gohan
  • Dessert

I was almost full from just reading the itinerary for the evening to come.

 

Bistro Sakana Omakase

 

We started off with the appetizer, which included 3 different little items on the plate: Tuna with Avocado, Uni & Caviar, Radish wrapped Smoked Salmon with Mango & Masago, Sea Cucumber in Vinagrette. As some of you may know, I LOVE Uni and Caviar, so when you combined the 2 ingredients along with tuna to make a tartare, it sent my taste buds straight to heaven. The Sea cucumber in vinagrette was so refreshing and unique, this might be one of the first times I've had this good of a sea cucumber. This is a good start! 

Shortly after, our next course came, the Dobin Mushi. We loved the presentation, it came in a little clay tea pot with a lid that plays double duty as a bowl. I wasn't sure about the lime initially, but it really adds an extra complexity and flavour to the soup. The Sashimi platter came and my eyes could not believe its presentation! (Look below for photos) This platter came with such a wide variety of sashimi, including Geoduck, Miragui, Minadai, Blue Fin Tuna, Shimaaji, Akami, and of course, the main attraction - the Lobster Sashimi. All the sashimi were super fresh, and most melts in your mouth! The lobster also goes perfectly with the Ponzu Sauce that came with it. Did I mention the presentation of this platter? 

 

Appetizer: Tuna with Avocado, Uni & Caviar, Radish wrapped Smoked Salmon with Mango & Masago, Sea Cucumber in Vinagrette

Appetizer: Tuna with Avocado, Uni & Caviar, Radish wrapped Smoked Salmon with Mango & Masago, Sea Cucumber in Vinagrette

Bistro Sakana Omakase Appetizer
Dobin Mushi

Dobin Mushi

Dobin Mushi
Omakase Sashimi

Omakase Sashimi

Bistro Sakana Omakase Sashimi

 

I will just say now that all the courses came looking nothing short of perfect, and I was impressed with the presentation on most of the dishes, it made my job easy as a photographer! Every course was unique and had its own flavour profile and texture to it. The Welk and Clam in liver sauce is no exception, coming on a hot plate, sitting on a bed of sea salt and kelp.

 

Tsubugai Tsuboyaki

Tsubugai Tsuboyaki

Lobster Tempura

Lobster Tempura

Kegani Kanimiso

Kegani Kanimiso

 

I feel like I'm repeating myself a lot here with the presentation, but look at this Smoked Kurobuta! Two smoked out domes arrived on our table and we were initially left with guessing what's inside. When the lids were lifted in a skillful manner, we were able to smell the smoke, which added a great smokey flavour to the fish.

 

The sushi was next, and we were instructed to eat them in this specific order: Ashiaka Ebi Sushi, Hairy Crab sushi, and then the Wagyu Beef Sushi. The Ashiaka Ebi is a very juicy and sweet shrimp, and the wagyu is so tender that it literally melts like butter in your mouth. The garlic chips on top gave it an additional flavourful crunch.

 

Smoked Kurobuta

Smoked Kurobuta

Smoked Kurobuta
Omakase Sushi: Hairy Crab Roll, Ebi Roll & Wagyu Beef Roll

Omakase Sushi: Hairy Crab Roll, Ebi Roll & Wagyu Beef Roll

 

These cute little packages came next, and as we undid the ribbon, we revealed a great rolled up Madai (Sea Bream) with enoki mushrooms rolled up inside in a natural dashi broth. This bite-size piece left me with a mouthful of flavour and wishing there was more of it! 

 

Steamed Fish

Steamed Fish

Steamed Fish
Bafun Uni Chawamushi

Bafun Uni Chawamushi

 

By this course, we were both starting to get pretty full, but out comes the Wagyu Hobayaki. It was my first experience to have beef cooked tableside, on a little grill, on a Houba leaf. We were told that the leaf was so thin that the wagyu is able to cook overtop, as well as add flavours to the meat. The experience itself is a 10/10 for me. Again, their wagyu is like butter, super smooth, and absolutely delicious with the secret sauce that was cooked with it.

 

Wagyu Hobayaki

Wagyu Hobayaki

Madai Gohan

Madai Gohan

 

Do you recognize this lobster? Do you feel like you might have seen it before? Well, you are not wrong if you thought it looks familiar, it was the same lobster that we had back in course 3, the sashimi course. This, in my opinion, was a great way to end and round up the meal. The miso soup was so full of flavour, especially with the little bits of lobster meat that came off the shell! 


 

Lobster Miso

Lobster Miso

 

Confession, I have never had a Panna Cotta before. Yes, I know, SHOCKING! I'm shocked myself, and I can't even think of a reason why this might be the case. So, thank you Bistro Sakana for giving my first ever Panna Cotta, and a matcha one at all! They know my heart! The panna cotta was silky smooth and creamy. I loved the bitter taste of the green tea, which matched well with the sweetness of the red bean. I'm not typically a dessert girl, but I ate this whole dessert up, and slurped up every last drop. Boy, am I full!!!

 

Green Tea Panna Cotta

Green Tea Panna Cotta

 

Overall, everything was delicious and left me feeling very full and content. I felt like I needed to be rolled out. A complex menu, amazing selection, absolutely fresh ingredients - I will definitely recommend going in to try their Omakase Dinner!

 

 

Dine Out Vancouver 2017: Minami Yaletown by Jenn Chan

Minami Yaletown

 

Welcome to Minami, bienvenido a Minami! Head Chef Jay Pugong has headed the Minami kitchen for 2 years, is self taught, having eschewed an engineering degree at SFU, and, I'm sure you'll agree once you try the food, he made the right choice! Our server, Krystle, named for a popular character on the soap opera Dynasty, was our first official welcome. She was very pleasant, knew her stuff and was quick to offer fantastic recommendations!

 

Minami Yaletown
Minami Dine Out Menu

 

We started out with a few cocktails while awaiting the first course of Minami's set Dine Out menu. I had an Ono No Chi made with jalapeño tequila! Now I brush my teeth with Sriracha and beg waiters to make my Butter Chicken "Indian spicy" at my favourite Indian restaurants so this was right up my alley. Jenn tried it and said a curse word so you know it's good spice/ tequila fans of which I know there are many! She asked Krystle for a recommendation for a fruitier drink and came back with a Miyasaki #2 - a beautiful mango drink with meringue-y foam on the top; delicious!

 

Miyazaki #2 & Oni No Chi

Miyazaki #2 & Oni No Chi

 

Out came out first course. A lovely beet salad with goat cheese. I thoroughly enjoyed it! The beets were fresh and slightly crispy and the dressing was light and the goat cheese was pungent, but not overpoweringly so. 

 

 

Market Beets and Citrus with Sake Pairing

Market Beets and Citrus with Sake Pairing

Market Beets and Citrus - Okanagan goat cheese mousse, wild baby arugula, basil pesto, yuzu marmalade, soy balsamic reduction

Market Beets and Citrus - Okanagan goat cheese mousse, wild baby arugula, basil pesto, yuzu marmalade, soy balsamic reduction

 

The next course was the quintessence of Minami! A sushi platter featuring their best Oishi, or block sushi. Each gets a charcoal sear with a blowtorch before your eyes in the open kitchen and the aromas fill the air. The first sushi, the name of which alludes me, but please check the gorgeous photograph as we'll go in order, and you can comment below,  if you know it, was very good. The second was an amazing scallop offering which melted in your mouth. Toro means belly in Japanese and when you see Toro anywhere on anything purchase it to eat! The tuna toro is worth a one hour forty five minute drive to visit this restaurant. My people in Hope I'm looking at you!

The Dine Out Vancouver Festival is Canada's largest food festival and runs 17 days starting January 20th. 279 restaurants in the Lower Mainland put together a set menu for either $20, $30 or $40. Go check it out: dineoutvancouver.com. Which brings me to sushi #4, a Dine Out exclusive, Spicy tuna with a delicious strip of ultra lean roast beef wrapped around it. Jenn thought it was a "flavour party" while I was more drawn to the pepperiness brought out by the beef.  The must sell 1,000,000 Ebi Oishi a year! So lemony and soft. I'm willing to bet the prawn was caught within the week; gorgeous! If they sell a million Ebi Oishi they must sell a billion Salmon Oishi. It's a good thing they plate two or else... riots... beheadings... Who knows?

 

 

Minami Signature Sushi

Minami Signature Sushi

 

In between the appetizers and main course and, yes, this gorgeous sushi platter was an appetizer, we partook in a Kochi 5, which lavished with lavender and lemon, not just clever alliteration, they GO TOGETHER marvellously! I had a Vespa because James Bond is an idol of mine and if you're expecting a 40 proof face punch you'll find the Vespa to be lighter than most of her martini cousins. This might be as good a time as any to highlight the sake pairings: Aburi ginjo for her first salad and sushi latter with its light vanilla tones.

The Nightingale accompanied the soon to be drooled over main course and is a bit more grassy than the first. "I've never had grass so it's hard for me to say" was Jenn's contribution to my sense of it. She tries. The Indigo is their dessert sake and it is absolutely delicious, light and fruity.

 

 

Kochi 75 & Vesper

Kochi 75 & Vesper

 

Entrée is a fun word to say. As a bilingual French and English speaker I revel in French words we adopt and don't butcher. Did you know cul-de-sac means bottom of a bag in French? Knowledge is power people!  There is a choice of two entrées on their 2017 Dine Out menu: a 2-hour braised beef ankle with a coconut and garlic lobster tail or a decadent Miso Sablefish again with the lobster tail and each with a mixture of market vegetables. The ankle of a cow, an all too infrequently enjoyed delicacy, is a dense yet tender cut of meat and is braised until it melts in your mouth. Sablefish used to go by many different names. The most , or least, popular of which was Black Cod. In those days it was a 'junk fish' and was sold cheaply. Once palates became accustomed to the taste, and a masterful rebranding was undertaken, Sablefish is common amongst the world's best restaurants in whose company I would include Minami and her sister restaurant Miku! The sablefish was buttery and fresh and the lobster tail was a playful combination between the sweet of the coconut and the tang of the garlic. The garlic wins the flavour war and the freshness of the seafood is evident, the folks at their supplier 7Seas Fish Market know their stuff!

 

 

Dine Out Entrées: Sesame Soy Glazed Obie Briaser & Coconut Poached Half Lobster Tail + Miso Sakekasu Baked Sablefish & Coconut Poached Half Lobster Tail

Dine Out Entrées: Sesame Soy Glazed Obie Briaser & Coconut Poached Half Lobster Tail + Miso Sakekasu Baked Sablefish & Coconut Poached Half Lobster Tail

Miso Sakekasu Baked Sablefish & Coconut Poached Half Lobster Tail - sunchoke cauliflower purée, shaved candy cane beet, spiced broccolini, wasabi ginger relish

Miso Sakekasu Baked Sablefish & Coconut Poached Half Lobster Tail - sunchoke cauliflower purée, shaved candy cane beet, spiced broccolini, wasabi ginger relish

Sesame Soy Glazed Obie Briaser & Coconut Poached Half Lobster Tail - market vegetables, baby potato fondant, wasabi horseradish

Sesame Soy Glazed Obie Briaser & Coconut Poached Half Lobster Tail - market vegetables, baby potato fondant, wasabi horseradish

 

Reeling from the wholly satisfying meal we sat back and relaxed as our Hojicha Mousse came to our table and we turned to our Indigo sake to accompany it. The flavours blended so well together as we took a nibble of mousse and washed it down with the sweet sake. What an exhilaration! Minami could be visited for any of the courses alone or just the beautifully crafted cocktails or sakes while you sit at the bar in front of an incredible 40 foot by 10 foot single slab of fantastically lovely marble; breathtaking!

 

 

Hojicha Mousse - white chocolate shortbread, ginger crumble, raspberry coulis, fresh berries

Hojicha Mousse - white chocolate shortbread, ginger crumble, raspberry coulis, fresh berries

 
Words: Scott Allan
Photos: Jenn Chan
 

Top Patios in Vancouver Series: Rooftop Patio @ The Keg Yaletown by Jenn Chan

The Keg Yaletown

 

The Keg in Yaletown is a Vancouver hot spot frequented by Canucks players, celebrities, socialites, construction workers and everything in between. High class fare, world class surroundings and an exceptional selection of drinks; all in a laid back environment.

 

The Keg patio is a bright, airy space and the sun was shining making the surroundings sparkle and the wide smiles at tables as we passed were hard to miss! We started out with a few Keg signature cocktails: the Keg Caesar and a delightful mango mojito. The Caesar had the perfect amount of spice, a rarity, and the mojito was a refreshing blend of muddled mint and crisp mango flavours.

 

The Keg Yaletown
The Keg Yaletown
The Keg Yaletown

 

Our first course was escargot with stuffed mushroom caps and the special of the day, a tangy, flavourful lobster bisque. Both dishes arrived promptly with a genuine smile from our congenial waiter and did not disappoint! The snails were fresh and the herbs and garlic were well proportioned blending together seamlessly, neither overpowering the other. The bisque was served at the perfect temperature and had a smooth, not overly lumpy, consistency and rich flavour. Both dishes disappeared quickly!

 

The Keg Yaletown Cocktails
The Keg Escargot
The Keg Lobster Bisque

 

The main event was a medium rare prime rib with a lobster tail and a blue rare filet mignon with king crab legs. My first impression of each cut was excellent, on par with steakhouses that charge exponentially more; well trimmed, thick and hearty! Unable to resist, and forgoing the usual varied order necessary for lifestyle bloggers to make a full and fair assessment, we both ordered the legendary Keg twice baked potato. If you are allowed one potato before you die make it the Keg twice baked potato, it's that good! 

The prime rib was cooked to perfection, the perfect medium rare, and could have been cut with a spoon. The lobster tail was clearly fresh, skillfully cracked and presented for ease of inhalation. From time to time you get a bad piece of lobster, no really, a bit chewy, gamey to the nostril and salty, but this was a healthy specimen. I soft texture and very sharp, elegant lobster flavour, a must try! 

 

The filet was grilled to a perfect blue rare. That is the first check mark on a long list of boxes this dish ticked. Thick, but not too thick, and wrapped in a deliciously smoky applewood bacon. Accompanied by crisp, fresh green beans and, not to be overshadowed by vegetables, the king crab legs. Again, thoughtfully cracked for convenience, who wants to work that hard for their food anyway? A wise man once said "what we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly" and though these crab legs were easy to de-shell (obtained cheaply) I esteemed them highly! A perfect flavour and straight from the ocean-type fresh!

 

The Keg Yaletown Entree
The Keg Filet Mignon & King Crab
Medium Rare Prime Rib & Lobster Tail

 

For dessert a Billy Miner pie, Mocha ice cream on chocolate crust with hot fudge, caramel and almonds, seemed in order though we were bursting at the seams. A legendary Canadian treat and one that never misses. It was delicious!

 

 

The Keg Billy Miner Pie

 

The Keg has been around since 1971, a lifetime in a country only 149 years old itself. 86 Keg restaurants sprawl across this great land and each runs to the standards originally set by founder and restaurant legend George Tidball. Head to their website, find the one nearest you and go!

 

 

Words: Scott Allan
Photos: Jenn Chan

Top Patios in Vancouver Series: WildTale Coastal Grill by Jenn Chan

 

I once worked a summer in a car dealership. The location was brilliant, right beside two main arterial roads with 10,000's of cars per day whizzing by, and it wasn't long before I so envied my very kind and generous new boss and his business acumen. 

 

As a lot attendant, Mr. Do-Whatever-I-Was-Asked, I sometimes caught myself daydreaming about one day, not only owning my own dealership, but THIS dealership. The owners of Wildtale Coastal Grill can scratch that daydream off their own to-do list! Former Glowbal Grill Chefs were quick to pounce on the revered Glowbal Grill's space, when it relocated up the street in Yaletown, and Wildtale was born!

 

WildTale Coastal Grill
WildTale Coastal Grill

 

Created as a celebration of coastal living, and the bounty we are blessed with living on the Pacific Ocean, Wildtale's main fare is seafood. Our host brought us a complimentary taster, a lovely seared scallop in a beautiful, lemony risotto. It was a very enticing symphony of flavours between the scallop and risotto. We ordered some Baked Dungeness Crab Cakes served with a jalapeño aioli and roasted red bell pepper coulis, an exquisite tuna tartare and a dozen oysters the selection of which we left up to our gracious waiter. We could have excuses ourselves after our appetizers and I would still recommend you visit the Wildtale! 

 

Scallop & Risotto Taster
Various Oysters

 

The crab cakes had a crunch and freshness I look for, nay insist upon, whenever I partake and the oysters, I'm told as I don't like, eat nor even touch them, were extremely fresh and the variety amazing. The tuna tartare is, for me, a litmus test for a seafood restaurant; done well and I know the rest of my meal will be amazing, done poorly, too much onion, lemon or what-have-you, and I'll order a chicken dish. Be forewarned! I will order a gosh darn chicken dish at your seafood establishment if you fail with your tartare! I happily rank Wildtale's tuna tartare among my top five of all time and I've ordered it in 5 diamond restaurants. Fresh, well balanced and tangy; it was excellent!

 

Tuna Tartare
Tuna Tartare
Crabcake

 

Keeping with the local theme we ordered our drinks and both were made from ingredients from idyllic British Columbia. Gin from the Longtable Distillery, a short 10 minute walk up the street, formed the basis for the delightfully constructed orange/ elderflower cocktail and Fat Tug from the Driftwood Brewery on Vancouver Island. If you haven't tried either I implore you to hit your Googles right now!

 

 

Our main courses arrived with subdued panache. I spotted them from across the room and watched as they sauntered up seductively without ever breaking eye contact. It was love at first sight, plain and simple! Placed in front of was a lovely AAA cut of sirloin steak with some crisp, flavourful fries. My partner drooled noticeably as her Slow Braised Lamb Shank with whipped potatoes, grilled asparagus in a white mushroom pan jus was placed in front of her. 

 

Slow Braised Lamb Shank

 

The steak was cooked to perfection, blue rare, and was seasoned very well! The crisp, homemade fries were the perfect accompaniment and I devoured everything with gusto. In a generous mood my partner decided to share some of her lamb and, after a gentle nudge with a dull spoon, it collapsed off the bone in a moist, juicy pile. Perfectly cooked and flavoured expertly it was a perfect 10!

 

Words: Scott Allan
Photos: Jenn Chan