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Jun 1, 2009 01:10 AM

Day 8: Kirin Mandarin, Medina Café, Anthony’s Fish Bar (Sea-Tac Airport)

First, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the many Vancouver hounds who provided lots of great tips and advice on border crossings. We avoided the 45 minute back-up at Peace Arch by crossing at Pacific Highway which only had a 15 minute wait! We encountered less than a 10 minute wait at Peace Arch driving into Canada last Sunday, so we lucked out both ways.

Now on with today’s eats... We were impressed with Kirin Mandarin’s dim sum offerings at the Alberni location earlier in the week (we had hargow, special steamed dumplings with shrimp, scallop and asparagus, salt & pepper squid and a pound of house spot prawns on our previous visit), so we decided to return to try more items before driving to Sea-Tac in Seattle. Sadly, our visit today was a total miss on all counts. This is definitely a restaurant where one must order carefully for a good meal.

We ordered soy milk with Chinese donut, steamed pork dumplings (XLB), salt & pepper capilene, fried chopped chicken and taro (tasted like a lightly fried savory mochi) and special steamed dumpling with shrimp, scallop and pea shoots. We chose Jasmine tea which we didn’t like nearly as much as their Chrysanthemum tea. Total after tax and tip was $30.

We were seated around 10:40am. Although there were only a handful of tables with guests, our food took forever to arrive. The lukewarm, lightly sweetened soy milk arrived first. The donut which we planned to eat with our milk arrived a good 10 minutes later. Hubby thought the milk was okay, but I really enjoyed the taste which reminded me of the silky soft tofu in warm ginger syrup that I usually order at dimsum. Another really long pause before the steamed items arrived, then another long pause before our last dish item arrived.

The steamed pork dumplings were better than the ones we had at Peaceful (much thinner skins), but that’s not saying much. We were tempted to order the S&P squid again, but decided to try something new. We weren’t familiar with capilene and when we asked our server, we were told “fish.”

We asked which she preferred between the S&P capilene and S&P soft shell crab (both made with previously frozen seafood). She recommended the fish. What we received was a huge plate of what resembled fried whole white anchovy, but far less tasty. Hubby is a huge fan of both anchovy and sardines, but these tasted purely of fish eggs??? We should have stuck with the squid.

We were reluctant to end our Vancouver trip on a low note (especially after our terrible food day in Whistler the day before), so I asked hubby to stop at Medina Café on our way out of town. We arrived at 12:15pm and snagged the last open table, the one by the window, which we thought was the best in the house.

We ordered two waffles (each about the width of a ladies’ closed fist) and selected three dipping sauces - chocolate lavender, raspberry caramel and fig with orange marmalade. Hubby ordered a medium chai (absolutely delicious) and I ordered a small plain latte which I preferred to the chocolate lavender mocha I had earlier in the week. Hubby isn’t a fan of orange marmalade and we could barely taste the caramel in the caramel sauce, but I know we will both be haunted by the chocolate lavender sauce long after we return home. Total after tax and tip was $18.

Our flight to Oakland was delayed so after clearing security at Sea-Tac, we had dinner (takeout) from Anthony’s Fish House counter located next to Anthony’s (large sit down restaurant with spectacular views). We split the spring salmon special which consisted of a grilled salmon taco, cup of clam chowder, chips & salsa and a soft drink for $8.99. We also shared an order of cod fish & chips (3 large filets for $7.99).

We found most items in dire need of salt, but everything (except for the chowder) was freshly cooked to order. The cup of clam chowder was larger than the bowl of French onion soup I had the previous day at Whistler and chock full of clams. Portions were quite generous and a single entrée was definitely enough food for two people. Would recommend if you find yourself in need of food at Sea-Tac airport.

Still to come, final report on Mo:le, Tea at Butchart Garden and omakase at Octopus Garden...

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  1. I'm enjoying your reports a lot; thank you for sharing!

    10 Replies
    1. re: anonymoose

      Yes indeed. Thanks cvhound.

      >>Hubby is a huge fan of both anchovy and sardines, but these tasted purely of fish eggs???
      To me, that would be a good thing ;-). I'm a big fan of anchovy pregnant with roe.

      1. re: fmed

        Fmed, we're fans of roe (love Korean stew with soft tofu and roe), but this one didn't do it for us. Would be interested to hear your thoughts if you ever have that dish at Kirin!

        1. re: cvhound

          I was just telling grayelf last week before you wrote this, the exact same story! We had dim sum @ Kirin - City Square & I ordered friend commented about how many eggs were in them, just as my teeth were squishing down on them. I did try one more, but for whatever reason it put me totally off and I couldn't eat another! I wouldn't order them again...we go to Kirin at least once or twice a month, sometimes once a week. My biggest problem I find with them is inconsistency. Some days everything is wonderful, some days it's awful. Sometimes it's all over salted, sometimes it's just perfect. It's always a surprise.

          I really enjoyed your was like I was sitting beside you at each place watching you eat! Thanks for taking the was very enjoyable.

          1. re: ck1234

            The fish needs to be nice and crispy like the ones we had at the last Chowdown with yimster at Fisherman's Terrace -- otherwise, they do end up being squish-bombs.

            Kirin seems to be having a rough go these days since they expanded - now with five locations. (I really need to eat more dim sum - I've been too busy these days!)

        2. re: fmed

          The eggs are my favorite part too, but I know they're not for everyone. More for me!

        3. re: anonymoose

          Thanks so much, Anonymoose! Hubby recently asked (in the very nicest way possible) if people really enjoyed reading such long detailed posts, so I'll be sure to send him a link to your reply. ;-)

          I found the Western Canada board to be very friendly, warm and welcoming to visitors (special shout out to Grayelf and Fmed). And extremely patient of my endless questions and request for advice. Hence, I wanted to give back to the board as much as possible.

          Now, I just need to find time to finish my final report. It was so much easier to find time to write while away on vacation, when I didn't have to worry about completing errands and chores of every day life, lol.

          Hopefully, my posts will be helpful to others who come along. If nothing else, they'll serve to remind me of the great week I spent in Vancouver!

          1. re: cvhound

            Your reports are most helpful to anyone planning to visit the great PNW I feel. My trip this year has been submarined, but I continue to keep detailed notes from your adventures, planning to put them to use ASAP. Keep up the great work.



            1. re: PolarBear

              Thanks, cv, I just wish we could have made your snacks even better :-(. Now that we know what you like, tips for your next trip (if there is one) should be more successful. And of course I will be picking your brains before our next SF trip!

              1. re: grayelf

                There will certainly be a "next trip" for sure!!! Look forward to meeting up with you in S/F. :-)

            2. re: cvhound

              I have loved reading your accounts. We love Vancouver and now want to return and follow in (most) of your footsteps!

          2. Always fantastic to read such detailed reports. Provides better insight into whether or not you'd like a place if you ever plan on dining at a specific spot. So you can tell your husband not to worry so much!

            I totally miss my hometown and so live vicariously through everyone's else's posts on this board. All your reports had me drooling and looking forward to my next trip.

            Thanks so much!