Hungry in Vancouver

img_6403We try not to repeat restaurants on holiday, but sometimes you find a place so good you simply have to go back — Miku and Kirin are two such places.

Miku offers amazing aburi sushi, or sear-flamed sushi. Hubs and I both got the premium sushi lunch and also shared an extra order of salmon oshi sushi. It was every bit as good as the last time. Little mum had the “Miku Zen” as she’s not that keen on raw fish and it proved to be a perfect balance of cooked dishes and sushi.

If you decide to try Kirin Restaurant be sure to have reservations, as the restaurant is incredibly popular amongst visitors and locals alike. It is arguably the best Chinese seafood restaurant in the Vancouver area. We haven’t had one dish there that hasn’t been amazing, and although the restaurant is insanely busy the staff are all incredibly on point. The deep fried crab is our absolute favourite.

If you aren’t able to get a reservation at Kirin, another very good alternative is Sun Sui Wah Seafood Restaurant (the spotted prawns above are from SSW). The style of cooking is similar to Kirin but at an ever-so-slightly lower price-point.

I was a little skeptical about eating on Granville Island, but I’m glad we ended our quick jaunt through Vancouver at The Sandbar Seafood Restaurant (hmm…can you tell we’re massive fans of seafood?). We were all happy with the great view and beautifully prepared fish. Not to mention, their clam chowder was surprisingly nomworthy — the best we’ve had outside of San Francisco (Sam’s Chowder House is still the best).

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10 Great Places To Eat Around London (v2.0)

Dining out in London is always a treat. And when you’re no longer confined to a student budget, food adventures can get pretty exciting. I still stand by all of my previous recs–you can’t really go wrong with Busaba Eathai or Belgo. Or even a cheeky Nando’s (don’t judge, just enjoy).

Here are some new favourites which I hope you’ll enjoy!

1. Shoryu Ramen (Liverpool Street)

The ramen craze took a while to hit London but it has since brought some very slurpilicous noodles to the city. Gone are most of the ramen shops from my Uni days, and such as well, as the new generation of ramen shops are often on par with those in Japan (and can satisfy the ramen snob in me). We’ll definitely be returning to Shoryu Ramen (perfect post-cricket meal). The tonkotsu broth is rich and creamy and you can really taste the freshness in their house-made gyoza.

2. Poppies Fish & Chips (Spitalfields)

Poppies is something of an institution in London and is a great spot for traditional no-frills fish and chips and delicious jellied eels. Some places have too much batter for my liking but I thought the batter to fish ratio here was perfect. I can’t really describe jellied eels in an appetising way–cool, fishy, slightly salty and gelatinous goodness? You either love them or you hate them and I think most people are turned off by them so they’re actually quite hard to find in London.

3. Pollen Street Social (Mayfair)

Dining at Pollen Street Social is a special affair. They offer a lovely (yet light) course menu, which is accompanied by an adorable arrangement of canapés and a three-course dessert. The food here is not only pretty to look at, but also a delight to eat. I must admit it’s not terribly filling but the portions aren’t so ickle that you’ll leave hangry.

 

4. Masala Zone (Earls Court)

Veeraswamy on a budget–what’s not to like? There are several Masala Zones around London offering fresh and amazing flavours but for a fraction of the price. You can’t go wrong with thalis. Great value=happy hubs.

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I can’t believe I forgot to mention Veeraswamy before, but their food is superb (especially their fish curries) so you must eat there, too!

5. Fancy a Snog? (Covent Garden)

In addition to having a cheeky name, the frozen yoghurt here is on point and I love all the fresh fruit toppings.

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6. Orjowan (Earls Court)

I cannot recommend this Lebanese restaurant highly enough. Everything is fresh and flavourful, the service is friendly, the price is right, and I thought I just about died and went to heaven when I tasted their chicken wings dipped (by the second bite, smothered would be more accurate) in light and fluffy garlic sauce. It’s insanely delicious–a total party for your tastebuds!

7. Hotel Chocolat (all over London)

Quality British chocolates at a reasonable price.

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8. Belgo Centraal (Covent Garden)

Sometimes all you need is a simple meal of moules-frites and a chilled glass of Früli.

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9. Polo Bar (Liverpool Street)

I’m only adding this place because I know it will make the G happy. They’re open 24 hours, offer a respectable menu of British comfort food, which I’d gladly eat when it’s not 35ºC inside the cafe.img_2045

10. Restaurant Gordon Ramsay (Chelsea)

Where do I begin? It was a dream come true to dine here, but we were sadly unimpressed with the Menu Prestige (which put hubs in a sour mood). All of the food was beautifully plated, but I think they forgot that it also has to taste nice (rather, being a 3-Michelin starred restaurant the food should actually knock your socks off). While there were some tasty dishes, most of the courses were either under-seasoned or the flavour combinations were just weird. Having said all that, it’s still a special experience, especially if you’re new to fine dining. But if you’ve dined at other Michelin starred restaurants before I would proceed with caution.

Meyer Lemon Soufflé Pudding Cake

It has been a long time since I tried my luck at baking. My previous baking fiascos (see my [in]famous Moomin Pancakes that were showcased in Buzzfeed’s 50 Lessons That Moomins Can Teach You About Life and my failed lemon Moomin biscuits) left me so discouraged I couldn’t stand the thought of more failure in the kitchen.

That said, lately I have been craving lemony desserts and when I found this beautiful Lemon-Soufflé Pudding Cake recipe in Bon Appétit I decided I had to give it a go. I actually had the real deal from the precious luncheonette, Maurice, in PDX. So I was excited to see if I could replicate the exact textures and flavours of the restaurant version. Although the recipe doesn’t indicate the specific use of Meyer lemons, I used them because I love the sweet fragrance of Meyers.

Something usually goes wrong when I try to follow a recipe. And with all the steps involved in this one (although quite easy to follow), there were plenty of instances things could have gone wrong. That said, everything, and I mean everything turned out perfectly! I’m super chuffed and quite pleased with myself. The result was a light and fluffy cake on top and the bottom layer a sweet and tangy lemon pudding.

Lucky for hubs’ new workmates,  instead of eating all 8 servings I packed several samplings of the pud for him to share. Have you got a favourite lemon dessert recipe? If you do, please share it in the comments section below!

Turku: Medieval Markets and Marathons

Our Finland adventure was comprised of two parts: Helsinki and the Turku archipelago. When we booked our stay at the Radisson Blu Marina Palace Hotel, we had no idea there would be hundreds of athletes staying there with us in preparation for the Paavo Nurmi Marathon. The marathon is an annual occurrence in Turku, which we got stuck in when trying to leave our hotel. It didn’t take long for the roads to clear and it was fun watching all the runners speed past our car, but I thought it should be something to make note of when planning your visit to Turku in summer.

The Medieval Market in Turku is also an annual summer affair, and yet another event that we stumbled upon during our stay. Succulent pig roasting over an open fire, fried white fish and grilled salmon, candied apples (that staple of medieval Europe), roasted root vegetables and bottomless cups of mead. Perhaps not the most historically accurate medieval meal, but a wonderful spread to be found at any festival. There were crafts and souvenir stalls set up along the Aura River, and lots of friendly, creative folk dressed up in medieval fashion, dancing and singing what I am assuming were medieval-ish songs. Plenty of merriment to be had by all!

 

Hungry in Helsinki

We visited Finland a week before the start of the Finnish summer holiday. I thought it would be enough time to fit in a few tasty meals before the entire country shut down. Sadly, a lot of the restaurants that were on my food itinerary were either closed for renovation or for an early start on the summer holiday.

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Hyvää huomenta! Breakfast was included in all of our hotel stays–lots of meat, dairy and rye.

That said, we were still able to sample a variety of the local fare. I loved the full Finnish breakfasts served in our hotels, the Hotel Scandic Paasi, Helsinki, having the best selection. We had a lot of salmon soup and fried whitefish (the Kauppatori stalls served the best soup), as well as a bit of reindeer and mash and fresh berries.

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Kauppatori Food Stalls

Our favourite restaurants were Gastrobar Emo and Ravintola Gaijin (literally means Foreigner Restaurant in a blend of Finnish and Japanese). Emo served a refreshing menu featuring a lot of seasonal vegetables, although I’ll admit we were a bit hungry after the meal.

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High Five Menu at Gastrobar Emo

Although the food scene is slowly becoming more diverse, ethnic food is still harder to come by in Helsinki. We craved steamed white rice after 10 days of rye and potatoes so decided to go back to our gaijin roots on our last day in Finland.

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Ravintola Gaijin’s Tasting Menu – Menu Gaijin

A lot of our friends were surprised we chose Finland of all the Scandinavian countries to visit because we’re so big on food. We got a lot of “You should’ve gone to Norway!” I had no idea that Finnish food ranked so low on people’s ‘must try’ lists. In any case, I had to see Moominvalley with my own eyes. And why not Finland? Although we did not find as many choices for food as we may have had on our other travels, we enjoyed almost everything we tried.

If we ever have a chance to return to Finland, I would like to try Ravintola Juuri (you really broke my heart last summer…we had reservations, but due to delayed renovations they were cancelled) and Patisserie Teemu & Markus (the mere thought of how disappointed I was when we finally found you and you were CLOSED makes my tastebuds ache for you all over again).

Moomin x KFC

Japan does a lot of things well, especially in the design and marketing department. So of course it should come as no surprise that for a limited time KFC have teamed up with Moomin and you can get your fried chicken fix and take care of your Moomin needs all in one go! There are four set menus to choose from and 3 Moomin soup mug designs: I’d like the red and green mugs, please. And all just in time for Christmas! In case you’re wondering what Christmas has to do with KFC, here’s a great read from Smithsonian.com on the modern Japanese tradition. Moomin x KFCIn addition to Moomin soup mugs, KFC Japan offers a “Smile Set” (think Happy Meal) for kids and of course it comes with all sorts of Moomin fun. There are 6 goods to choose from: a desktop calendar, snack tray, playing cards, cookie cutters, and 2 different coaster designs. If I were forced to eat junk food (doesn’t take much convincing, really), I could think of nothing better than Moomin and KFC–a match made in heaven (especially if we could get Zinger chicken involved)! What would be even more brilliant is if KFC were to bring Zinger chicken back (full menu) and offer the same Moomin cuteness in the UK and US. Never mind the ‘eat healthy’ campaigns–a happy heart is a healthy one, and KFC and Moomin do just that.

Moomin and KFC Smile Set

A Taste of Vancouver

It’s official, I’m in love with Canada. Although we’ve only seen glimpses of the country, from the Northwest Territories to British Columbia, each region has it’s own unique expanses of beautiful, unaltered nature to show off to the world. And then there’s the food. Although Yellowknife was limited in what it could offer, the local fish and game more than made up for what it lacked.

Vancouver is heaven for foodies–offering some of the best culinary delights from around the world–especially Chinese cuisine, which some may argue is better than what you can find in Hong Kong or China. We certainly enjoyed our share of Japanese, Chinese, and Canadian cuisine, not to mention boxes and boxes of maple cream biscuits!

First stop: Miku offers amazing aburi sushi, or sear-flamed sushi. We all had the premium sushi lunch and shared a couple of starters. The salmon and saba oshi sushi were my favourite.

Next stop: Kirin Restaurant. A note of caution before selecting anything that is listed as ‘Market Price’ or simply ‘MP’. Ask what it is unless you want your jaw to drop at the end of the meal. We were so excited to try the local geoduck, which they prepared for us two ways (blanched with dipping sauces and geoduck porridge), but were utterly shocked when we received the bill. Try $140CAD just for the geoduck alone!

Last stop: The Flying Pig. Salmon fishing is fun but there’s nothing better than tucking into a lovely tasting of local salmon when you’re not able to catch your own. The Flying Pig offers much more than pork. In fact, it doesn’t actually have that much pork on the menu. Their poutine, aka Canada’s national dish, was also very tasty!

 

Moomin Halloween

Things have been a bit hectic this month, hence the radio silence. But I wanted to wish you all a very Happy Halloween, and a very Moominy one at that! I decided to make my own Moomin cupcake toppers for our work do, using toothpicks and Moomin washi tape.

Moomin Cake Toppers

People seemed to enjoy the lemony cakes, even though I wasn’t too impressed with how they turned out. Hopefully I’ll have more time to write in the coming weeks, but until next time, be well and have a fabulous and safe Halloween!

Moomin Cupcakes

Trending: Edible Nori Cups!

Apparently this is old news amongst Japanese mums and housewives, but I was so excited to find about edible seaweed cups or, if you prefer a direct translation, ready-to-eat nori cups (そのまま食べられるのりカップ) that I just had to try them!

Edible Seaweed Cups

I don’t often make bento for myself or the hubs but I thought we could have mini sushi parties at home and the size of the cups would help with portion control! The “M” sized cups are only slightly larger than the size of mini-cupcake wrappers so they’re great for making bite-sized sushi. Each cup is separated by paper liners, making it easy to unstack the individual cups.

Nori CupsThe roasted seaweed tastes great and the cups are easier to use than expected. When filling these cups, it is best not to use ingredients that contain too much sauce and the rice needs to be cooled. Serve immediately to avoid the cups losing their shape.

Nori Cup SushiNot only do these nori cups make for a healthy snack, they also cut down on packaging waste, so they’re good for you and the environment!

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Snacking on Mt. Fuji

I’ve been obsessed with Mt. Fuji since our recent trip to Japan and it’s nice that my relationship with the majestic mountain does not have to end there! Since we had already overloaded our luggage, I was banned from buying anything from the duty free in Japan but thanks to Mr. S, I was able to quell my desire for some “Mt. Fuji” Kit Kat as he just so happened to buy a box on his recent trip home.

Mt.Fuji Kit KatIt’s actually just strawberry cheesecake flavoured Kit Kat, in Mt. Fuji themed packaging. Call me a fool (or a marketing man’s dream), but I believe packaging does matter and in this case enhanced the relatively unimpressive and bland flavour of the actual Kit Kat. I wouldn’t be so obsessed with just plain strawberry cheesecake Kit Kat, if it were not for the Mt. Fuji box it came in.

I also recently received a delicious box of Mt. Fuji chocolate crunch from Mr. K. I had also seen these at the duty free and was curious but skeptical of their taste, but to my surprise they were lovely. And they get extra points for being shaped like miniature Mt. Fujis. Arigato, Mr. K!

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While we’re on the topic of Japanese sweets and snacks, I might as well introduce my favourite Kit Kat flavour: Sakura Matcha Kit Kat. The subtle floral essence combined with matcha make for a lighter, more fragrant green tea flavour. It’s not too sweet and great with tea!

Sakura Matcha Kit Kat

What are some of your favourite snacks from Japan or elsewhere?