Popbar: A taste of New York at Metropolis at Metrotown

Say hello to delicious handcrafted gelato on a stick! Popbar, founded in New York, just opened their first location in BC at Metropolis at Metrotown. This follows their first location in Canada at West Edmonton Mall, Edmonton, as well as a soon-to-be third store at HighStreet Shopping Centre, Abbotsford.

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Popbar was founded by Reuben BenJehuda from Italy and Daniel Yaghoubi from Germany, who collaborated their love for authentic, all-natural, gluten-free, low in sugar & fat frozen treats. Today, they offer over 40 rotational flavours of popbars – popGelato, popSorbetto, and YogurtPops, and a customizable experience where you choose where your popbar is dipped and topped!

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Each popbar can be dipped in your choice of premium chocolate dippings, including dark, milk, and white chocolate. With toppings, you can add pistachios, almonds, coconut, chocolate sprinkles, caramel and/or crushed waffle cone. Feel free to let your “Popaholic” know if you’d like to do a full dip, half dip, or even drizzles of the chocolate, or if you’d like half pistachio, half almond toppings. Have fun and be creative with your popbar!

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If you’d like to enjoy the Popbar experience, their beautiful new store with larger than life popbar displays is at Metropolis at Metrotown, near Superstore on Ground Level. For website and hours, click here.

 

Village Bistro now serves brunch!

Formerly known as Lips Resto, Village Bistro on Davie has rebranded for a refreshed new look and feel to the restaurant and menu.

Their new menu features familiar Canadian comfort food, offering well-priced entrees, carefully curated cocktails, and both BC & international wines. Chef/owner Curtis Demyon has made a commitment to serving dishes with fresh, local, and housemade ingredients. With dinner service already up and running since their rebranding last fall, Village Bistro has recently launched their brunch menu again.

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Inside Village Bistro,  the open space welcomes you in, with the warm geometric pendant lighting and warm dark wood tables making for a visually charming space.

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For brunch, I chose the “Smoked Turkey Benedict”, with tomato, spinach, and hollandaise on an English muffin. The eggs were poached beautifully, with a side of crispy hashed potatoes, and fruit. I also liked that the eggs benedict weren’t drowned in the hollandaise, which really helps bring out the flavour of the smoked turkey with the egg and veggies. Yum!

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My partner opted for the “Fried Chicken & Biscuits”, with scallion, coriander, chili gravy, fries, and slaw, with a side of eggs. The chicken was super crispy, with that very satisfying crunch when you take a bite into it. The fries were fresh, crispy and nicely salted, the kind that makes you want eat one after another. The chili gravy has a serious kick to it – if you’re not a big fan of spicy sauce, I would recommend opting to have it served on the side.

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Overall, a great experience – we left very full and satisfied, both in our bellies and wallets. Village Bistro’s brunch menu is definitely at a very reasonable pricepoint, while offering hearty entrees with fresh, local ingredients.

For location and hours, check out their website here: Village Bistro.

Taste of Heaven: Snowy Village Dessert Cafe

This newly opened dessert cafe on Alexandra Road in Richmond is my new favourite dessert spot. And when I say favourite, I mean I’ve already visited five times since they first opened two weeks ago… (#shameless).

Snowy Village Dessert Cafe is a new Korean cafe specializing in “bingsoo”, or shaved ice milk dessert, often topped off with red bean, nuts or fruits. They already have over 80 locations around the world, including Korea, China, Taiwan, Singapore, and more.

Their store is beautifully arranged with a fun green and white colour scheme, complete with lighted signage, and glowing snowflakes on the ceiling. The order counter is made with an unfinished wood design, which gives the feeling of being in a warm toasty cabin amidst snowy weather outside.

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I’ve tried four flavours so far – my favourite is the “Green Tea Bingsoo”. This shaved ice milk is topped with matcha green tea powder, condensed milk, mochi pieces, and red bean. I love that each bingsoo is heaped into a mountain of “snow” or shaved ice, because I just can’t get enough!

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Another flavour I enjoyed is their “Oreo Bingsoo”, with chocolate powder and a perfect Oreo cookie on top. I believe their classic is the “Injeolmi Bingsoo”, topped with peanuts, mochi, red bean, and condensed milk.

When it comes to shaved ice, Snowy Village Dessert Cafe takes it to a whole new level. Instead of using ice, Korean shaved “ice” actually uses milk as the base ingredient. This unique tweak to the recipe means the texture of the shaved “ice” is super fluffy with a light milk flavour. Bonus: you don’t get the feeling of brain freeze that you do with regular shaved ice, because the Korean bingsoo doesn’t taste as cold!

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In additional to the shaved ice/milk, Snowy Village also serves a few desserts, including the popular “Taiyaki”, a fish-shaped pastry with a red bean filling (originally Japanese), but with a croissant batter. It’s served piping hot, and the contrast of the sweet crunchy outside and the soft red bean inside is absolutely delicious.

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I am very much looking forward to trying all the flavours, and I can see this dessert cafe becoming very popular when summer rolls around. Snowy Village – thank you for bringing this incredible bite of Korean heaven (that I am obsessed with) to Vancouver!

If you want to taste this unique dessert, check out their Facebook page for their menu items and hours here: Snowy Village Dessert Cafe. They’re super busy on weekend nights, so go early if you can!

Snowy Village Dessert Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Now open in Burnaby: Dinesty Dumpling House

With three locations in Richmond and one in Vancouver, Dinesty Dumpling House has opened its 5th location in Burnaby, on Kingsway across from Metropolis at Metrotown.

Dinesty’s feature dish is their legendary “Xiao Long Bao”, or steamed pork soup dumpling. Their soup dumplings are skillfully handmade and feature natural broth, delicate and juicy pork filling, and an ultra-thin hand-kneaded wrapper.

This new location is a beautiful 3,800 square feet space, with its traditional architectural concept of a “flat-screen open kitchen” and a modulated mirrored ceiling.

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The first dish to arrive was the “Cashew Nut Chicken”, a stirfry of golden brown juicy chicken bites with celery and fragrant cashew nuts.

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Next was the “Deep Fried Tofu Pudding in Garlic Sauce”. The combination of the crispy crunchy exterior with the soft tender tofu inside, dipped in the garlic sauce was delicious. If you like the agedashi tofu at Japanese restaurants, you’d like this!

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This noodle soup may look super spicy, but don’t let its looks deceive you. The “Noodles with Sesame & Crushed Peanuts in Spicy Sauce” is a rich bowl of soft noodles with a distinct nutty flavour. The noodles were a little mushier than I prefer, but the sauce was bang-on slurp-worthy.

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And of course, their signature “Xiao Long Bao”, or steamed pork soup dumplings. There’s a very particular method to eat these, to help prevent you from burning your tongue or mouth. First, with the soup dumpling in your spoon or bowl, gently break open the thin casing to let the fragrant soup escape. Then after a few moments to let the soup cool, you can pop the whole thing in your mouth and enjoy the heavenly juicy pork filling combined with the thin yet chew casing. Delightful!

You can also opt for different dumpling fillers, such as chicken, shrimp, crab, fish, or a combination of these flavours.

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We also orded a pan-fried version of the Xiao Long Bao – “Shanghai Pan Fried Pork Buns”. It’s a little different, as the skin is not as thin and more thick and chewy, but it still has the juicy pork filling, with an bonus crispy bottom.

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This “Stir Fried Rice Cake with Salted Vegetables & Pork” is so addictive. The soft rice cake is chewy and glutinous, flavoured by the tidbits of veggies and pork. I was glad to see that it wasn’t too salty or oily (as it can often be).

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All in all, a great meal at Dinesty Dumpling House. It’s great to see another fantastic lunch/dinner option in the Burnaby/Kingsway area, and I will definitely be coming back for more dumplings. If you haven’t had Xiao Long Bao’s (XLB) yet, you gotta try it!

Dinesty Dumpling House Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

 

Why Not? – Quidni Estate Winery, Okanagan Valley

Tucked in the Naramata Bench in the Okanagan Valley, you’ll find a beautiful new winery by name of Quidni Estate Winery.

Founder Marty Gunderson, who actually didn’t know much about wine-making, decided to partake in an adventure to open a winery to bring good people together through outstanding wine because… why not? The word “quidni” means “why not” in Latin – this was the inspiration behind their humble beginning.  Today, each bottle of Quidni wine reflects their philosophy of taking risks, leaving excuses at the door, and living life to the fullest.

Quidni Estate Winery

Quidni Estate Winery has a rustic wine tasting room, an outdoor patio, and three beautiful private luxury suites available for guests. I stayed in Room 1, complete with a king-sized bed, an incredible panoramic view of the vineyards below and mountainside, and of course, a mini-fridge for all of my wine purchases (… sorry wallet!).

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They offers a fantastic selection of reds and whites, including a few Barrel Selects, and their signature WhyNots. In their few short months of operation since opening in April earlier this year, Quidni has already won four awards for their wines (Viognier, Merlot, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris Viognier) – surely a testament of winemakers Todd Moore and Robert Thielicke’s expertise. Quidni Estate WineryMy personal favourites are the 2013 Merlot, 2013 Pinot Gris Viognier and the 2014 WhyNot Red & 2013 WhyNot White.

2013 Merlot: This red wine was full of sweet berry fruit aromas, and its full-bodiedness fills your mouth with such richness and opulence. There is also an added depth and complexity, having been aged in French oak.

2013 Pinot Gris Viognier: I was forewarned before my winetasting that this wine had actually sold out only just earlier that day. After I had my first sip, I was sorely disappointed – I would not be able to buy a bottle (or two) to take home! This wine was a wonderful balance of the intense, flavourful Voignier (30%), with the more gentle Pinot Gris (70%), giving it a clean finish that makes it so easy to drink and enjoy.

2014 WhyNot White and 2013 WhyNot Red: The WhyNot White is a blend of the Gewurtztraminer and Riesling – for light, sweet wine-lovers, this is the perfect wine. It has a fruitness that is light on the palate, and as Quidni’s “summer sipper”, would be a fantastic wine to enjoy on a patio on a hot summer day. The WhyNot Red is also a blend, balancing out the full-bodied Merlot, with the light to medium bodied Cabernet Franc, to create a smooth red wine.

An honourable mention goes to Quidni’s 2013 Gewurtztraminer – a wine that is a difficult mouthful only when pronouncing its name. This fruity white wine has notes of sweet grapefruit and lychee, that is crisp and refreshing with its lovely citrus-y finish.

You can browse through and order from their full wine collection online on their website: quidniwine.com.

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What makes this winery so special were the people that I encountered during the trip. Leanne, a Wine Tasting Associate, kindly guided us through a (non-intimidating) wine tasting, peppered with Quidni tidbits, allowing us to learn more about both the wine and the winery.

Dustin, the self-proclaimed “cellar-monkey”, has such a friendly and vibrant personality, whose passion for wine and the wine-making journey emanates brilliantly through his character. We were lucky to catch him in action, and he was very kind in showing us the downstairs area and cellar where all the action happens, despite it being past closing time. If you have a chance to meet either Leanne or Dustin, I promise you, they will make your journey to the Okanagan Valley worth it!

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I’m looking forward to seeing Quidni Estate Winery’s guaranteed growth in the upcoming months and years. With the team aiming to double their wine production, a lounge license and a fragrant rosé already in the works, this winery is bound to be the talk of the town. Next time you are in the Okanagan Valley, I would definitely encourage you to drop by and taste their wine. As Quidni’s motto goes … ask yourself why not, and see where it takes you!

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Tasting Plates – Kitsilano West

Following Vancouver Foodster’s adventure in Downtown South, September’s Tasting Plates explores Kitsilano West. The restaurants featured are Essentia Cafe, Bon Macaron, The Juicery Co, Tera V Burger, and Darby’s Public House and Liquor Store.

My first stop after picking up my Tasting Plates card, was Darby’s Public House, a local and independent establishment that has been part of the Kitsilano community for over 30 years. I had the pleasure of tasting a Mini Broadway Burger, Smoked Chicken Drumette and Quinoa Salad. The mini size of the burger was perfect for Tasting Plates, but I could see myself ordering the full size one when I return.

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Next was The Juicery Co, a family-run organic cold pressed juice and nut mylk shop. Owner and co-founder Christina was super friendly and more than happy to share her story and knowledge of juicing with us. Thanks Christina!

I sampled the Local Rose Juice, The Original, and Dads Juice, all with a combination of 4-7 different fruits and vegetables. Christina warned us that it may be overwhelming for those who don’t eat fruits and veggies regularly, but I thought the three juices were absolutely delicious. The Mini Acai Bowl would be great in the morning as breakfast – frozen Acai blended with raw cococa, maca, homemade nut mylk, frozen banana, topped with gluten free granola and fresh banana. Terrible photo below (sorry), but so tasty!

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Essentia Cafe is a bright, quaint spot offering European-style cafe. Their tasting cups included a Freddo Cappuccino, which is an iced version of cappuccino with a thick layer of cold whipped milk, and a Con pana, a popular Italian single-shot espresso served hot with whipped cream.

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As for tasting plates, I was treated to a wonderful pumpkin cheesecake, and a mango shortcake. I am always a sucker for anything mango, but this pumpkin cheesecake came a close second! I would definitely recommend trying it out if you have the chance to visit Essentia Cafe.

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Tera V Burger prides itself on being more than just a restaurant, but a movement to be beneficial to the planet, and mankind. Their menu is all vegetarian, but satisfies your cravings with burgers like the No Bull Burger, and the BBQ Tempeh Burger. Their potato fries are baked, but fried, for a healthy yet delicious indulgence. Not pictured (because I finished it too quickly… oops) is the Super Food Smoothie, with kale, spinach, carrots, banana, strawberry, blueberry, and touch of honey.

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A visit to Bon Macaron is a sweet visit indeed, especially as the last place of Tasting Plates. Co-owner David Boetti handpicked three flavours of macarons for me – (from left to right) Lemon Poppyseed, Oreo, and White Chocolate & Wasabi. The last one, White Chocolate & Wasabi, actually tastes like wasabi. Don’t believe me? Try it for yourself!

Their macarons are beautifully crafted, with an inventive and constantly changing and expanding array of flavours. Some of the most creative ones I saw were White Truffle Sea Salt, Bacon, and Bubble Gum.

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And that wraps up Tasting Plates in Kitsilano! As always, thank you to Richard of Vancouver Foodster for inviting us on this tantalizing adventure for our tastebuds.

The next Vancouver Foodster event is Food Talks, Volume 13 on October 27, at Sage Restaurant at UBC. Get your tickets here: Eventbrite Food Talks Volume 13.

Glowbal Grand Opening at TELUS Garden

After the closure of the original Glowbal Grill Steaks & Satay, Glowbal has now been reborn at the new TELUS Garden building in downtown Vancouver. As Glowbal Restaurant Group’s namesake, the new 17,000 square foot flagship restaurant is without a doubt, bigger, bolder, and better than ever.

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The restaurant has a beautiful and vibrant open space with a dynamic open kitchen featuring Canada’s first custom built Robata grill. The decor emanates a warm atmosphere, especially with the giant reflective golden orb above.

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Private dining rooms inside each offer a distinct personality, and seats anywhere from 12 to 60 people. Floor-to-ceiling windows allow for a fantastic view of Vancouver’s streets while wining and dining away.

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Outside, the patio is truly something else – 150 seats with unique human-sized bird cages for group seating. The space, framed by a dramatic wood-and-glass awning, provides a perfect place for people watching while enjoying Glowbal’s Famous Truffled Spaghetti & Signature Meatballs, or Miso Marinated Sablefish.

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If you’re interested in enjoying their adventurous and delicious North American cuisine, from executive chef Pedro Gonzalez, Glowbal is now open for lunch and dinner daily. For myself personally, I’m looking forward to tasting their weekend brunch, to be launched in September. Glowbal, I’m coming back for more!