[Vancouver, Canada] Rodney’s Oyster House

1228 Hamilton Street

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

(604) 609-0080

Nearest metro station:  Yaletown

 

Official website:  Rodney’s Oyster House

Yelp:  http://www.yelp.com/biz/rodneys-oyster-house-vancouver

 

I had heard from a few people that Rodney’s is a must when visiting Vancouver.  So, it went on the itinerary and I must say that it did not disappoint!  The restaurant is just about a block away from the Yaletown station, so it’s very convenient to get to.  Happy hour, or “low tide” as referred to at Rodney’s, is a great way to sample their well-known seafood.  “Low tide” happens Mondays through Saturdays, 3pm – 6pm, first come first served.  Even though we arrived shortly before 3pm on a Saturday ( in case there was a line), we were seated promptly and handed the happy hour menu.  Within half an hour, the place was packed, so it pays to arrive early!

 

 

The happy hour menu

 

There are about 5 different house sauces on the table, in addition to the different Tabasco sauces.  The sauces vary by spiciness and tanginess.  My favorites were the Seawitch sauce and the White Boy Soul sauce.

 

Fresh warm bread is served complimentary.  I think it’s marble rye?  Soft and tasty!

 

Fresh shucked oysters are CAD $1.50/piece during low tide.  I haven’t had oysters this good since Fishing with Dynamite!  Best part about Rodney’s is the freshly grated horseradish!  I haven’t seen that anywhere else, so it was a real treat.  Highly recommend trying the oysters with the various sauces.  Yum yum yum…

 

Mussels were also awesome!  Mussels are steamed in dill butter, garlic and wine.  They’re so juicy and tender… not to mention, very well-cleaned!  The sauce was great for dipping the bread!  CAD $13.95

 

Will definitely be back to try some other items next time!

[Ketchikan, Alaska] George Inlet Lodge – Crab Feast

11728 South Tongass Highway

Ketchikan, AK

907-225-6077

 

Trip Advisor page:  George Inlet Crab Feast

George Inlet official site:  https://www.catchcrabs.com/

 

I did a bit of research before the cruise to Alaska and this was the one excursion that all the travelers raved about.  Everyone claimed that this was the best crab that they had ever eaten, so I was curious to find out if it really was true.  We took Princess Cruises, and I think the crab feast is bundled with a few short excursions.  For the one that we took (the Rainforest walk with the crab feast), it was about $150 per person.  If you’re not visiting via cruise, reservations through George Inlet’s website are necessary.  Oh, and they do online orders for the crab, although it’s pretty pricey!

 

George Inlet is located right next to the water, very picturesque.  You will need to walk 70+ steps to get down to the restaurant.  Same goes for going back up.

 

The crab feast basically features ALL-You-CAN-EAT freshly caught and steamed Dungeness crab!    The meal also comes with salad and dessert (an awesome crust-less blueberry cheesecake).  All of the reviews were right — the crab is just so succulent and sweet, it is beyond compare!  The crab meat is full of crab flavor, and so tender.  The crab is served table-side, so just raise your hand for more and the waitresses will bring them right over.  The only downside to the crab feast as a cruise excursion is that you’re limited to about an hour of eating time.

 

I think there are also tours/excursions that take you out to the crab boats so that you see how they’re caught.  Will have to try that next time!  🙂

Tofu Village

15128 S Western Ave
Gardena, CA 90247

(310) 527-3737

http://www.yelp.com/biz/tofu-village-gardena-2

 

This is one of my favorite weekday lunch spots, although I don’t make it out here often.  Tofu Village is located in a small strip plaza, near the corner of Western and Marine.  Parking is easy to find inside the plaza. Even though Tofu Village is usually pretty busy,  table turnover is fast, so not much wait during lunch time.  Service is normally good and quick.  Most of the clientele is Korean, so that should tell you about its authenticity!  I like it better than Lee’s Tofu down the street — the taste is more on par with the soon tofu places in K-town.  : )

 

Tofu Village is located inside this shopping plaza.

 

Sample of the lunch menu — all of the lunch specials look pretty good but I’ve only tried the soon tofu so far.

 

The banchans (side dishes) are all really good and usually includes kimchi, spicy pickled radish and cucumber, bean sprouts, potato salad and chap chae (Korean glass noodles).  There’s even fried yellow croaker (a small fish), similar to the ones at BCD Tofu House.  You can request for complimentary refills on the side dishes.

 

There’s an assortment of different soon tofu to choose from (seafood, combination, kimchi, etc), as well as the spiciness.  I usually get the combination medium (which has seafood and beef).  Comes with purple rice in a stone pot – the servers will scoop it up into the steel bowl for you.  At the end of the meal,  add water to the rice stone pot to make crunchy rice soup.   Yum yum yum…. $7.99

[San Diego, CA] Cafe 21

802 5th Ave
San Diego, CA 92101

between E St & F St in Gaslamp

(619) 795-0721

http://cafe-21.com/

http://www.yelp.com/biz/cafe-21-san-diego-2

 

My friends and I were in San Diego recently, and wanted to find a relaxing but good place for dinner near downtown / Gaslamp district, as we needed to catch the Amtrak back to LA.  So we turned to Yelp for some guidance.  There are two Cafe 21 locations in San Diego, one in Gaslamp and one in University Heights.  Both are highly rated, so we decided to give the one in Gaslamp a try.  We cabbed there so not sure about the parking situation in Gaslamp.  As always, read all of the street signs!

There wasn’t much of a wait on a Sunday evening, but the restaurant was busy.  They also take reservations.  It’s a pretty chill place and there’s even a tapas happy hour — will have to try that next time.

 

It’s a fairly large restaurant with both indoor and outdoor seating.

 

First time seeing fresh herbs grown by the bar.  Awesome!

 

There are 6 different sangrias made daily.  On the day that we went, 3 were white/light sangrias and 3 were the red/dark sangrias.  Some of the combinations sounded very interesting and creative, such as the kumquat mint, and the grapefruit/red pepper/ cilantro.

 

We decided to try the Flight so that we can sample all 6 of the daily sangrias, which came in a tower of shot glasses.  Since there was 3 of us, the server brought us 3 larger glasses with ice, so that we can add the sangrias to the iced glasses.  The best one was probably the tropical one as that was the sweetest of the 6, and it was meh.  The rest was just too dry/bitter for me.  I’m a little spoiled though – nothing beats the sangria in Spain for me!  $21 for a Flight.

 

Grilled Pear Salad – mixed Greens, butter grilled fresh pear, almond slivers, dehydrated cranberries, feta cheese, house Honey balsamic dressing.  This was light on the dressing but really good.  The pears were grilled perfectly to be caramelized on the outside, and naturally sweet.  $12

 

Cristo Crepe – free range house roasted chicken breast, handmade crepes, mozzarella cheese, house made white wine apricot puree, powdered sugar.  We thought the apricot puree would be an odd accompaniment for the crepes, but it actually was a good pairing.  The crepes are a little denser than what I’m used to, but it was an excellent side dish.  $8

 

Mixed Fries – gluten free rice flour breaded portobello mushroom slices, eggplant and avocado fries served with goat cheese aioli, chipotle aioli and avocado pesto.  Almost all of our dishes were served on the huge wooden boards… and portions are more than generous, as pictured here.  I didn’t really care for the sauces and thought that the fries stood well by themselves, as they are already lightly dusted with salt and pepper.  So good… could not stop eating them…  $12

 

Duck Wings – slow cooked braised duck wings slathered in spicy apple cider glaze.   We don’t usually see duck wings on a non-Asian or French menu so decided to give this one a try.  It was spicy indeed, but really tender.  Would be really good with some beer / Coke!  There were more wings than we expected, but we managed to finish them all  : )  $12

 

Azerbaijani Kabob Platter – Zhatar Seasoned Steak Kabob, Lamb Sausage Kufta, and House Marinated Chicken Skewers, served with Avocado Pesto Sauce, Beet Hummus, Black Eyed Pea Hummus and cous cous.  The meats were juicy and lightly seasoned.  The cous cous is the Mediterranean one, so it’s softer and has more of a rice consistency.  The beet hummus didn’t have much beet flavor, but overall the dish was solid. $27

 

This is definitely a place I’d come back again!  I’d avoid the sangrias next time and just stick with the food.

[Reno] Sushi Pier

1290 E Plumb Ln
Reno, NV 89502

(775) 825-6776

sushipierone.com

http://www.yelp.com/biz/sushi-pier-reno

 

One of the things I look forward to most, whenever I’m in Reno, is eating at Sushi Pier.  For some reason, Reno has an abundance of all-you-can-eat sushi joints; they’re literally all over town!  I discovered this place a few years ago, from Yelp, and have visited a handful of times ever since.  Every time, food has been consistent and service has been really friendly.  It’s actually a very decent sushi joint.   I wish we had one in LA!!!

Sushi Pier is located about a stone’s throw away from the Reno/Tahoe Airport.  So it’s perfect for after a flight or before you get on one.  It’s located in the same plaza as Costco, which means there’s plenty of parking.  This year, Costco also started selling Sushi Pier gift certificates, $80 for $100 value I think, so it’s even a better value dining at Sushi Pier.  Not that it’s expensive to begin with:  lunch (with a limited menu but still AYCE) will set you back $17 and dinner is a very reasonable $23.  The prices that you see next to each menu item, is if you forgo the AYCE option and want to order a-la-carte or to-go.  I don’t think Sushi Pier takes reservations, so typical wait during weekend dinnertimes is 30 minutes to an hour.

My tip is to sit at the sushi bar – you are assigned to a sushi chef who will take care of your meal.  Service is faster, plus your orders will be made as you order.  So take your time, order a few nigiris or hand-rolls, decide on your next sushi orders, then eat some more!  I love it!  You can find the menu here, from the restaurant’s website.

Here are my sushi orders from a recent trip:

My sushi chef behind the counter of fresh fish.

 

The mussels appetizer – it was good but the sauce was a little too heavy for me.  The red drop is Sriracha sauce, so those of you who don’t do spicy, consider yourselves warned.

 

Salmon and maguro (tuna) nigiri

 

Squid, striped bass and seared tuna nigiri

 

Spider roll – yes, it’s included in the AYCE dinner menu

 

Customized salmon skin with octopus hand-roll.  Yummy!  If you’re nice to your sushi chef, they can basically make you whatever you’d like to order, as long as they have the ingredients.  Awesome!  Make sure to tip them well.

 

Topped it off with Happy Ending – tempura-fried banana with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.  And yes, before you ask, dessert is also included as part of the AYCE menu.  The fried bananas were just ok, next time I’ll try a different dessert (if I still have room after all that sushi!)

 

Chunju Han-il Kwan

3450 W 6th St
Ste 106
Los Angeles, CA 90020

 

http://www.yelp.com/biz/chunju-han-il-kwan-los-angeles

 

I’ve been craving a good budae jjigae (aka army stew aka 部隊鍋)  for a while now.  It’s basically a Korean hotpot of mish mash, sort of a hotpot that the army/military used to cook up, with whatever they had on hand.  Typically, it’s a spicy soup base filled with kimchi, rice cake, Spam, hot dog franks, ramen, vegetables, etc.  I turned to trusty Yelp for some recommendations, and lo and behold, Chunju is the highest rated budae jjigae in LA, by a landslide.

Chunju Han-il Kwan is located in a small shopping strip, just about a block from the ever popular Kang Ho-Dong Baekjeong.  The center has its own parking lot (with free valet), but since the shopping strip is mostly eating places, it might be hard to find a spot once the lot is full.  The alternative would be to park on the street.  Be sure to read all of the street parking signs, as K-town is notorious for towing illegally parked cars.

I went on a Friday night and there was about a 20-30 minute wait for a table.  The ahjummas (server ladies) will hand you a menu to peruse and order, while you wait.  Budae jjigae takes about 20-30 minutes to cook, so by the time your table is ready, so will your food.  Service and table turns are fast, as the ahjummas run a tight ship.  Now on to the food!

 

Very Korean decor inside.  The interior of the restaurant is medium-sized, but since tables turn fairly fast, the wait is bearable.

 

The side dishes – lots of choices and they were all tasty!  My favorite was the chap-chae (Korean glass noodles) and the steamed egg.  You can ask for refills.

 

The budae jjigae!  Almost every table has an order.  Portions are pretty generous, I’d say it’s enough for 3.  It’s pretty spicy, and I’m not sure if Chunju can adjust the spiciness level.  As it cooks down, it gets more condensed, which means it gets even spicier! But, oh, it was so good and just hit the spot.  : )  I didn’t see it on the menu (maybe I just missed it), but just tell the ahjummas that you want to order it.  $26

 

We also saw that many people ordered the pancakes, so asked for a recommendation.  The ahjumma recommended the potato pancake.  When it arrived, it was huge!  It was filled with scallions and really delicious.  The texture is different from the Korean-style pancakes that I’ve had before… this one was a little similar to a mochi texture, although not as sticky.  I liked it without the sauce.  $14

 

I loved the budae jjigae here. Will be back!

 

Fishbar

3801 Highland Ave
Manhattan Beach, CA 90266

(310) 796-0200

fishbarmb.com

http://www.yelp.com/biz/fishbar-manhattan-beach-2

 

Fishbar is my favorite Manhattan Beach restaurant lately.  I’ve been here a handful of times and food has always been consistent.  Fishbar is located at the old Sharkey’s space, in north Manhattan Beach, right by El Porto.  It’s a pretty casual place, and set up like a sports bar, with lots of TVs inside!  I haven’t had any difficulty finding parking – there are plenty of metered street parking and there’s even the metered parking structure across the street.  The good news is, the meters now take credit cards!  I think it’s about $1 per hour.

Fishbar is actually a large restaurant and I haven’t had much of a wait here.  I’ve been during brunch, lunch and dinner.  It’s a “Seat Yourself” kind of policy, yet the service is prompt from the moment you sit down.  The only time I experienced some wait was when Fishbar was really busy, and so I had to flag down a waiter in order to get the check.  There’s a daily special almost every day – Shrimp Shack Mondays, Taco Tuesdays, Crab Wednesday, Lobster Thursday, Saturday Brunch, etc.  Check the restaurant’s website for menu details.

Here are some recommended items:

Brunch

I was on the hunt for a brunch place in Manhattan Beach which wouldn’t have much of a wait.  From experience, most of the brunch places in MB (North End Caffe, The Kettle, etc) have at least a 30+ minute wait during the weekends.  I was getting ready to write a post on Fishbar, when lo and behold, I see that they also have brunch.  The menu looked really good, so the decision was easy.  And it turned out to be an awesome idea!

 

The lobster hash – crispy fried potatoes & brussel sprouts tossed in sweet & spicy chipotle sauce, sauteed lobster, two eggs sunny side up, and spinach hollandaise.  The brussel sprouts were out-of-this-world good!  I couldn’t really taste the spiciness of the chipotle sauce, but this dish had the perfect combo of taste and texture.  So good!!!  $14.99

 

Flat iron steak & eggs –  flat iron steak with 2 eggs any style, crispy fried potatoes & brussel sprouts.  My friend omitted the potatoes but really enjoyed this dish and said that we should make Fishbar our new brunch spot!  $13.99

 

Lunch

I’ve been here for Taco Tuesdays lunches for a few weeks now and have tried an assortment of different tacos.  The tacos at Fishbar, are of course, for the most part, seafood!  So here are my favorites:

 

Seared ahi tuna tacos – ahi tuna with cabbage, avocado mousse, pico de gallo and Thai chili sauce.  The Thai chili sauce adds just a bit of a kick, not that spicy.  $10 for an order of 2

Blackened salmon tacos – salmon with cabbage, avocado mousse, pico de gallo and cotija cheese. $8 for an order of 2

Sauteed lobster tacos – lobster with with cabbage, avocado mousse, pico de gallo, taco sauce and cotija cheese.  $9 for an order of 2

 

Hope you guys enjoy this place as much as me!  : )