Vancouver report (plus one Whistler mention)
Just returned home, stuffed, from another blissful Vancouver weekend. Mostly we stuck to places we've been to before and have loved.
Sha-Lin (Broadway just west of Cambie)
My favorite noodles in the whole wide world. Doughy, chewy, thick, bouncy -- they stand up to fiery oil when fried and their irregularity makes every sauce cling. This time I had the cutting (knife-shaved)noodles, the dragging (hand-pulled) noodles, and the boiled dumplings. My very favorite dish was dragging noodles fried with BBQ pork and vegetables; I asked them to hold the bean sprouts and got extra broccoli and bok choy. The only improvement would have been Chinese broccoli or another green that had more bitterness.
Kintaro Ramen (Denman near Robson)
Great rich broth. Wish the noodles were thicker, but for thin noodles they were surprisingly firm. Good as ever. I'd give the nod to Ramen Halu in San Jose because of Halu's thicker noodles, but otherwise Kintaro is every bit as good.
Banana Leaf (Denman)
First time for me here. I loved the black cod in the sweet (kecap manis) sauce with ginger and shallots. Perfect texture on the fish, though I wouldn't have breaded the fish before saucing it. I liked the Singapore laska, though my partner thought it dull.
Guu with Garlic (Robson)
As good as ever -- better than any izakaya I've been to in the SF Bay Area. My favorite was the grilled saba, on some onions and sliced lemons with chopped tomato and garlic chips. The mackerel oil essentially poaches the sliced lemon and onion, making a complex and strongly flavored base for the otherwise simple fish. Also, I really liked the kakuni (stewed pork belly). I wasn't as into in the deep-fried dishes: the tako-yaki was too much batter and too little octopus for my taste, though I don't know if that's in keeping with the traditional Osaka style.
Fantastic dan dan mien: soupy, rich, and spicy. Also loved the szechuan green beans.
The weekend's only disappointment. The truffles were nothing special -- I tried the Kahlua and the matcha. The hot chocolate was weak -- it should have had half the water for the amount of chocolate they put in. And the server was coughing all over everything. Although this place has gotten lots of attention, I don't get it.
Love those cookies. I couldn't decide whether I prefer the sparkle cookies or the fleur de cacao, so I needed to keep running taste tests. And the truffles were far better than those as Chocoatl.
And in Whistler:
Sachi Sushi was terrific. A Chowhound poster mentioned Sushi Village as the only good sushi choice in Whistler, but apparently the Sushi Village owners opened up Sachi as a more informal place. Especially great were albacore toro and saba. Unagi might have been the best I've ever had: firm, well-broiled, and minimally sauced.
To my knowledge Sachi isn't owned by Sushi Village - yes they do have a wonderful atmosphere, but the fish and rice is just not the same + the amount of MSG they use is uneasy. I have given Sachi numerous times, but each time we leave disappointed. If sushi is on your list I would recommend Sushi Village or Zen.