TRAVEL | HONG KONG | Disney Explorers Lodge by Jenn Chan

Disney Explorers Lodge

 

When does Hong Kong feel like Cancun? Or Bali? Or Phuket? When you walk beside an epic pool, framed by the ocean in a carnival-like, jubilant atmosphere. I, like countless others, have happily been indoctrinated with Disney everything from a young age. Sunday dinner in the formal dining room watching the classics and feeling like you're in centre of the universe. Where else would anyone want to be? The 8 year-old mind cannot fathom it!

Regardless of your age the finishes and the sheer magnitude of the Disney Explorers Lodge will suffice for even the most amenity-crazed traveller. Pools, a spa, a gym, restaurants and a gargantuan lobby that stretches 50-60 feet into the air allowing for, during our visit, one of the larger Christmas trees I've been privy to, greet you as you enter.

 

Disney Explorers Lodge
Disney Explorers Lodge
Disney Explorers Lodge

 

Our room was lovely! Very modern and... wait for it... Disney-themed everything right down to the shampoo and conditioner! Two queen beds dominate the space and views across Discovery Bay and its iconic Plaza draw the eye out and the room immediately feels even bigger and fills with light and vibrancy. Outside our window a seawall offers paved walking and biking paths and cyclists, kayakers and murmuring families peddle, paddle, laugh and skip as they pass. The bathroom is very modern and spa-like and the toilet is housed separate from the sink and vanity to allow for families and couples to share the room without issue. We prepared ourselves a few coffees and watched as a family scrambled around the Disney surfboard feature in the gardens below our window. Caffeinated and bubbling with Mickey Mouse energy we set out.
 

 

Disney Explorers Lodge
Disney Explorers Lodge

 

The Chart Room Café was our first stop for some food and view over the gardens. Being after noon and being that I was on vacation I indulged in an icy cold Heineken and enjoyed a quick bite as children raced around the tables in feverish games of unofficial tag; the excitement builds as you watch them! A quick walk around the gardens to admire the landscape architecture, curse the pool's inactivity due to the season and an even quicker daydream about its potential and it's off to the Park. THE Park! The Happiest Place on Earth! I'm going to Disneyland!

 

Resort Grounds

Resort Grounds

Hathi Jr Garden

Hathi Jr Garden

Oceanic Garden

Oceanic Garden

Hathi Garden
Disney Explorers Lodge Restaurant
Disney Explorers Lodge Restaurant
Disney Explorers Lodge
 
Words: Scott Allan
Photos: Jenn Chan
 

PRODUCT | Hitcase - CRIO - for iPhone X by Jenn Chan

Hitcase CRIO with Wide & Ultra Wide Lens

Hitcase CRIO with Wide & Ultra Wide Lens


When you trust your phone to Hitcase it can go from the sweat factory to the glacier to the lake and back again without worry. Poolside Cancun, I've brought it there. Tut tut riding in Vietnam, I've brought it there. Parasailing in Thailand and, ya, I brought it there.


Now I've been loving my iPhone 6 Plus for the last 3 years, but finally it was time to upgrade. I'd been drooling over the iPhone X ever since its announcement back in September and I was able to get my hands on one in November and, of course, I was excited to also upgrade my Hitcase to protect my new baby and I was delighted when I came home a few days ago to a package of Hitcase goodies had arrived in my mailbox!  I couldn't wait to open the package and out came a Hitcase CRIO, 2 Magnetic TrueLUX Lens (wide & ultra wide) and a car mount. I was set!


The main thing to me is, of course, protecting my $1800 iPhone for which I had to pay cash for to keep my sweet cell phone plan, but we'll save that for another post. After a few days' use, I feel the CRIO will do just that. I'm usually pretty careful with my tech toys, but there will be times when I get clumsy and it slips from my hand. The Crio is lightweight, but yet thick enough for a 'harder-than-you-thought' drop onto the table.

 

The Crio also has a built in magnetic plate in the back of its case for all your mounting needs! My package came with this car mount which is super easy to 'mount' onto your car. You simply have to clip the claw onto your vent, lift your phone up to the magnetic circle on the mount, and TA-DA, your phone is now securely mounted onto your car.

 

Hitcase Car Mount

One of the biggest difference I noticed with Hitcase's newest offerings is the new lens system. They're now magnetic, snap-on lens instead of their tradition screw on lens.  This makes obtaining that wide & ultra wide angle that much easier! Just take off the protective plastic caps & let the magnet do its job - VIOLA, now you can capture the whole room without moving 10 steps back!

 

Hitcase CRIO with Wide & Ultra Wide Lens

 

Here's some of the tech specs from their website:

THE NEXT GENERATION OF TRUELUX OPTICS

Completely redesigned for even better optical clarity. Available for HITCASE PRO, SHIELD LINK & CRIO

  • Refined optical design produces the sharpest image in its class

  • No vignetting, edge to edge clarity

  • Very low chromatic aberration

  • Completely waterproof, dust-proof, snow-proof with or without a Hitcase

  • Two start thread and magnetic LINK™ mounting for ease of use between all Hitcase products

  • Anodized aluminum construction

  • Anti-reflective and anti-scratch coatings on all lens elements.
     

THE NEXT GENERATION OF TRUELUX OPTICS

THE NEXT GENERATION OF TRUELUX OPTICS

Hitcase Wide & Ultra Wide Lens

Hitcase Wide & Ultra Wide Lens

Regular iPhone X lens

Regular iPhone X lens

Hitcase Wide Lens

Hitcase Wide Lens

Hitcase Ultra Wide Lens

Hitcase Ultra Wide Lens

 

I can highly recommend Hitcase and have counted on them, almost from their inception, to keep my iPhones safe, especially on vacations, as well as allowing me to capture some spectacular angles without having to lug my 90 lb DSLR around everywhere!  I can't wait for the Pro & Shield to come into rotation for the iPhone X and I'm sure I'll write another review!

 

 

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

 

 
 

TRAVEL | DRINKS | Ce La Vi Rooftop Bar, LKF, Hong Kong by Jenn Chan

Ce La Vi Rooftop Bar

 

When you hear "c'est la vie" spoken in polite company it is usually with an exasperated tone and the words signal a kind of indifference as to the outcomes of the day as though they were completely out of one's control; "that's life". The Cé La Vi club lounge/ restaurant/ sky deck, in the decadent, vibrant niche of Lan Kwai Fong in the Central area of Hong Kong, isn't indifferent at all in their pursuit of creating a fun, plush environment to enjoy some pretty world class mixology!

Two words that instantly capture the attention of any photographer/ socialite; rooftop bar. You invite me to a rooftop bar you can be pretty well assured that I will be attending! The shooting from up top was amazing and the service was excellent! The cocktails were very imaginative and well priced compared to the incredible surroundings. Professionals in suits mingled with tourists in t-shirts and groups of ladies dressed to the nines. A birthday party was set up in the corner of the large 25th floor deck celebrating and cackling with that distinct almost musical flurry of giggles and feminine merriment.

 

Ce La Vi Rooftop Bar
Ce La Vi Rooftop Bar
NEW YORK SOUR

NEW YORK SOUR

PASSION ON 25

PASSION ON 25

NEW YORK SOUR & PASSION ON 25
Ce La Vi Rooftop Bar
Ce La Vi Rooftop Bar Views

Ce La Vi Rooftop Bar Views

Ce La Vi Rooftop Bar Views
Ce La Vi Rooftop Bar Views

 

After spending the better part of the evening enjoying cocktails and bottles of wine lavished upon us by some very gracious fellow patrons out celebrating... something... Jenn and I retired to the streets and went pub hopping with some of our new friends. As soon as the elevator doors open onto LKF, and it's pedestrian only roadways packed with revellers, it hits you. Cé la Vi is the best bar in LKF. And that is saying something! Tell them you read about it on Jenn Chan Photography and they'll take good care of you!

 

Ce La Vi Rooftop Bar Views - NIGHT
 
Words: Scott Allan
Photos: Jenn Chan
 

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!

 

 

PRESS RELEASE | Mon Amour & Valentine's Menu at TWG Tea by Jenn Chan

Mon Amour Tea

 

This Valentine’s Day, TWG Tea invites you to embrace the season of flowers and romance with TWG Tea’s collection inspired by the blush hues of the delicate rose. Capturing the essence of love in a sensual Darjeeling tea blended with delicate rose blossoms, Amour de Thé is an enchanting potion elegantly packaged in blush pink and gold caviar tin tea and gift box, making it the ideal gift to dazzle the hearts.

On February 14th, beckon your beloved with a cup of Mon Amour Tea, a magical potion composed of a rich black and sweet notes of quince, the sacred fruit of the Goddess of Love.
Perfuming the air with rare and precious essences, the Bain de Roses Tea Scented Candle perfectly accompanies evenings of sweet romance. The dusky Grasse roses of envelop you in an intoxicating perfume combined with a secret bouquet of black tea, heady notes of white sandalwood, warm vanilla and fresh grapefruit.

 

TWG Tea Mon Amour Tea
Macarons in 24 count TWG Tea
Bain de Roses Tea
 

The Valentine's Day Menu will be available on the following dates & times:

February 1-13:

Monday to Friday, 10am-7pm
Saturday & Sunday, 10am-8pm

February 14:

10am-9pm

Valentine's Set Menu TWG Tea
TWG Tea Valentine's Menu

 

Reservations may be booked by phone at (604) 692-0071 or by email at TWGCanada@VanSingDG.com.