aburitoro's Profile

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Farmed Fish at Costco

Lots of nice, responsible farmed fish choices out there these days. Sturgeon, trout (including steelhead), tilapia, and a number of others. Atlantic salmon is almost always irresponsibly farmed, though there are a few exceptions. Wild Alaskan salmon is a much better choice. And as mentioned, steelhead is fine.


Jun 06, 2014
aburitoro in Chains

Au's Kitchen -- New Cantonese in San Bruno

Stick to the rice in clay pot. Get the one with chicken and cured meat. Or the one with sparerib anc chicken feet in black bean sauce. Or the garlic chicken. You won't regret it.

Au's Kitchen
851 Cherry Ave, San Bruno, CA 94066

The Basics: How to Make Basil Pesto

In the recipe above, "parmesan" should read "pecorino." It's much better that way.

As for alternatives to pine nuts, I've used sunflower seeds with decent results. Not bad, but not as good as good ol' pine nuts.

Feb 28, 2011
aburitoro in Features

The Basics: How to Make Basic Steak

If using a nonstick pan, DO NOT put it over high heat (step 2), as it can melt the nonstick surface and create TOXIC fumes. Better to invest in a cast iron or stainless steel pan for this purpose.

If a nonstick pan is all you got, then just use medium heat with a bit of extra oil in the pan to sear (make sure the pan is preheated).

Feb 28, 2011
aburitoro in Features

Help! How to cook a 2lb t-bone steak?

Sear on the stove, then finish in the oven. Use an oven-safe pan, preferably cast iron or stainless steel.

Sep 07, 2009
aburitoro in Home Cooking

Cuts like a knife, and it feels so right: where to sharpen your beloved blades in Vancouver

I would avoid that device. Get some stones and a guide system instead, like an EdgePro Apex system. Here's a pretty good read on the topic:

If you want to take it to the next level, get some Japanese water stones in various grits. I have some up to 8000, which create a mirror finish shine on the blade edge.

Phnom Penh (Vancouver)

We went back to PP a few of weeks ago, and found the service to be far better than our first visit. The chicken wings were of course delicious, and we had the butter beef this time, which was also pretty tasty, though it was a bit much for the two of us (definitely got sick of it by the time we were finished, due to the intense flavor). We ordered one more dish which for the life of me I cannot remember, but recall being satisfied with the entire meal. Will post if I remember.

Congee Noodle House (Van)

Drove by last night, and the windows are still covered up. Their answering machine still says that they are "expecting to open in early January." If you want to check periodically, their number is 604-879-8221.

Michelin HK & Macao debut just out

My girlfriend and I were taken to Lung King Heen tonight by a local friend of ours. The waiter gave us a complimentary glass of champagne and told us that they were just awarded 3 stars. We were pretty excited and surprised to hear this, as we hadn't heard Michelin were reviewing HK. Unfortunately, the meal didn't live up to our expectations.

The lamb we were served were served bone-in, but had small chards of bone in each bite. The fish dish also had some bone in it. The sticky rice dish was a bit too dry. The food was overall good, but nothing about it was spectacular or memorable.

Service was very good, and the staff were all very friendly and attentive. Our only criticism about the service is that the bowls given to us were still a bit wet from the dishwasher.

Would I go again? No, not by choice. Perhaps we just ordered the wrong dishes (btw, I didn't do any of the ordering, so I don't know the name of the dishes).

Barefoot Kitchen

I think Barefoot kitchen has potential to do alright. The price is right, and the food was good (based on my one meal there), and I've heard nothing but good things from people who've been there recently. The one thing that might do Barefoot kitchen in imho is the below-street-level location, which makes it a bit unnoticeable.

By the way, they're open late: 11pm Sun-Thu; midnight Fri-Sat.

Barefoot Kitchen

Barefoot Kitchen is a new-ish place on Davie Street near English Bay. They do Japanese yoshoku dishes. Their menu includes various types of curry rice, tonkatsu, hamburg steak, tarako pasta, chicken karaage, and some other fried goodies. Prices are very reasonable, with most dishes in the $8 range. I understand that they have a shop in Hokkaido as well.

I believe they opened within the last couple of months. I'd been meaning to try this place for while, and finally got around to it last week. The final nudge came from a Japanese exchange student I had met who recommended it. I had the Demigura Hamburg set meal, which was quite filling. The food was good, straightforward, and comforting -- definitely a good bang for the buck. I plan to go again this week to try something else.

Barefoot Kitchen
1725 Davie St, Vancouver, BC V6G, CA

SF- Does the Emperor have no Chowhound clothes?

On a density basis (eateries per square mile), SF proper probably has more diversity and quality than any other area in California, including other localities within the Bay Area. In fact, I might even go so far as to suggest this is true on a per capita basis.

Immigrants used to move into the cities. Nowadays, they tend to move into the suburbs. Which is where we now find a lot of newer, more contemporary and/or more specific ethnic cuisines. Sure, other Bay Area communities have some nice ethnic food, but diversity is definitely lacking compared to the city.

Vancouver - dessert places?

I believe that's it -- if that's the one just outside the marketplace in its own building.

Also found Butter the other day on Dunbar for take-out sweets (no seating):

They have really good s'mores. We found them by way of packaged gourmet s'mores we saw at Caper's/Whole Foods and Urban Fare. They also have cookies, marshmallows, and some other baked goodies. Their cookies were better than most if not all I've had in Vancouver (but nothing spectacular).

The New XLB Champion in Vancouver

I think I was at Lin's on Sunday, July 6. But I can't say for sure.

Mid-range pasta in Vancouver?

Thanks to everyone for the replies. Some interesting suggestions.

FWIW, I'm usually not a fan of giant plates of pasta or platters for two. I was actually thinking along the lines of pasta (or risotto) dishes small enough such that an average eater would also have to order an appetizer. With that, I think La Buca will be where my next pasta outing will be.

Haven't tried Cioppino's yet, but have been meaning to for quite some time.

The New XLB Champion in Vancouver

My girlfriend's biggest complaint about the XLB at Lins is the coarseness of the meat. We went to Northern Delicacy in Richmond today, and she thought the XLB there was better than at Lins. I had to disagree, but she values a 'smoother' meat filling more than I do.

We also went to Peaceful last week, and were disappointed with their XLB. Not bad - just not as good as Lins or Northern Delicacy.

Mid-range pasta in Vancouver?

Excellent. I'll give those places a go, especially La Buca.

The other day, we ended up trying Cafe Luxy on Davie St. They make their own fresh pasta. I ordered that day's special, which was linguini with mussels and shrimp in a plum tomato sauce. I'm pretty sure the shrimp were frozen, despite the waiter telling me that they were fresh. The mussels were overcooked, and the sauce was quite boring. The serving size was insane -- easily enough for 3 people. At $15, which included a small cesar salad and garlic bread (both of which were mediocre), you might call this place a bargain, especially if you take it home for lunch the next day, and you don't mind mediocre food.

Their lunch dishes are about half the price, and probably much smaller, which to me would be a better deal.

I left very underwhelmed, and would probably been more satisfied with a pasta dish at a chain restaurant. I won't be going back.

Mid-range pasta in Vancouver?

Can anyone recommend a mid-range pasta/Italian place in Vancouver? Something along the lines of a trattoria, with $12-$20 pasta dishes? Nothing fancy, but not a chain either. And preferably not someplace that tries to do 30 different types of pasta.

Any recs appreciated.

WHERE EXACTLY is the "Cheap Sushi" in Vancouver?

If you want sushi rolls, there are cheap places everywhere. But I won't recommend any.

If you want cheap sashimi/nigiri, then hop on the skytrain to Metrotown. Right across Kingsway is Sushi Garden, a Korean run sushi joint that gets packed. You can easily get your fill on sashimi, nigiri, and hand rolls for like $10-15 per person. None of that fake crab salad and excessive rice filler either.

Salmon nigiri are like a dollar each. Toro are like $1.30 each. Hamachi is $2 each. And the cuts of sashimi are obscenely huge, and very fresh.

This place isn't at all fancy, but they do turn over their inventory quickly resulting in very fresh product. And the service isn't the friendliest either. Back in San Francisco, I would easily pay double at a comparable non-Japanese run cheap sushi place, for inferior sashimi.

There might be better cheap places, but I haven't really explored the sushi scene here much. I just often end eating at Sushi Garden when I'm out that way around dinner time, and I'm never disappointed with the bang for buck I get there (I've been there 5 times since January, and first visited on someone's recommendation for cheap sushi). And I can't comment on the rolls, as the only roll I've had there was the negitoro (which was quite good).

Just don't expect good service.

Skip Cupcakes and drive to Seattle's Trophy Cupcakes

I should also add that I'm not a huge cupcake fan. My girlfriend loves cupcakes, and Sprinkles is her fave so far, especially the strawberry.

Phnom Penh (Vancouver)

Very true. Such is often the case with fried take-out. I guess that means I'll have to go back there. Maybe I'll give it a try before the dinner rush.

Phnom Penh (Vancouver)

I will definitely go back for those dishes. I thought about the fried squid, but since we were ordering the fried chicken, we thought we'd vary it up a bit.

I do wish I ordered the butter beef instead of the amok though.

Thanks for the suggestions, and for the lime dip recipe!

Ping's Cafe - Vancouver, Japanese Yoshoku Cuisine, Pictures

Ping's menu did indeed mention izakaya (I think referring to the appetizers).

Thanks for mentioning Hi Genki. I'll have to check that out someday.

Phnom Penh (Vancouver)

My girlfriend and I went to Phnom Penh a couple weeks ago. We ordered the amok, papaya salad, and the fried chicken wings.

I've only had amok in Cambodia, where I enjoyed it very much. The amok at Phnom Phenh was a bit too lemon-grassy for my taste. If they cut the lemon grass in half, I probably would have enjoyed it more, though I'm starting to think that maybe I actually don't like amok that much, and my experience eating it in Cambodia was only enjoyable since I was on holiday.

The papaya salad was huge -- definitely enough as a starter for 4 people. Maybe even 6 people at an upscale place. I assume they make it that big to justify the $14 price tag. It would have been nicer to see it at $8 at half the size. In any case, the salad was good, and had some really nice pieces of dried pork. There were also lots of shrimp, which were nothing special. I would've preferred less shrimp and more dried pork.

The fried chicken wings were very tasty, and were the highlight of our visit.

The service was horrible. 30 seconds after getting our menus, we were approached by a server asking us if we were ready to order, followed by 4 other servers asking us the same thing in the 3-4 minutes that followed. Each time I asked for another couple of minutes, the servers gave me a look of annoyance, and walked away.

With a menu as extensive as theirs, how can anybody make up their mind that quickly? I also noticed the same thing happening to other tables. Mid-meal, I tried to flag down a waitress for some more water, and as she walked by, she stuck her hand in my face and turned away (e.g "talk to the hand"). She did return shortly after to ask what I wanted though. I don't expect good service at places like this, and I usually don't mind bad service at cheap divey places. But the servers' miserable facial expressions and the downright rudeness were a bit much for me. I guess it works for them though, since they always seem to by packed.

To be fair, there was one young waiter who looked happy, and one waitress who I saw smiling (kind of) to customers a couple of times. Neither of them served us -- only the misery squad did.

If I go back, it'll be for the chicken wings, and I'll probably take it to go.

Ping's Cafe - Vancouver, Japanese Yoshoku Cuisine, Pictures

My girlfriend felt like eating omu-rice the other day, so we decided to go to Yoshoku-ya on Denman, but they were closed. I remembered Ping's mentioned here so we thought we'd try it out. I was a bit skeptical walking in there, since in my mind, the decor felt a bit too trendy and loungy for this type of cuisine. I've been to way too many places that emphasized such atmosphere over food. My girlfriend and I looked at each other with a look of wariness, and we only decided to stay because we were starving. It's a good thing we did, as the food did not disappoint.

We ordered the niku jaga (meat and potatoes), the chicken karaage (fried chicken), and the hambagoo coated eggs dinner (boiled egg with a coating of hambuger, breaded, and deep fried, served with a veg salad and potato salad).

Niku jaga was good. Very straightforward, wholesome, comforting. We only ordered the karaage since they serve it with daikon oroshi (grated daikon) and ponzu (citrus soy sauce), and while at first we wanted mayonnaise, we were very happy without it. The daikon and ponzu are a refreshing condiment to the karaage. The hamburger-egg was good as well, but I think I might have preferred straight ketchup over their yoshoku sauce, only because that's how I ate similar dishes growing up. Nevertheless, it was good.

The price was a bit high for the serving size, but I'm sure that can be attributed to the decor and the presentation of the dishes (I didn't care for either). Our bill came to $30 for 2 appetizers and one dinner, which was just barely enough for the two of us (we could have eaten another appetizer). To be honest, I'd rather save a few bucks and eat these dishes in a divey place with less attention to decor, being comfort food and all.

The service was very warm and friendly.

Skip Cupcakes and drive to Seattle's Trophy Cupcakes

I tried Cupcakes twice. Once with my girlfriend, and another time some guests brought some back home. Both times, they were plain and boring. I have no desire to go back.

My favorite cupcakes are from Sprinkles in Beverly Hills. I believe they opened (or are planning to open one) in Palo Alto. Something to look forward to when I return to the Bay Area.

Vancouver vs Richmond

My guests have left this morning. We went against the recommendations of Aberdeen Guu and Alberni Kirin for convenience sake, but did skip Sun Sui Wah.

Aberdeen Guu was good. It was actually a bit crowded when we got there, as we arrived just as the shops in the mall were closing. The service was good, but just a tad slow and chaotic, as they seemed a bit understaffed (a help wanted sign was posted outside). The best dish was what they call "Crazy Salmon" which is basically a salmon belly nigiri sushi that's been seared on one side and seasoned with salt, pepper, garlic, and black sesame (minus the seasonings except for sea salt, itt's called aburi-salmon in Japan). We also ordered a grilled salmon head and neck (rich and delicious), marinated beef tongue, pumpkin korokke, bibimbap, broiled avocado/shrimp/mayo, mentaiko-kimchee udon, and a veggie trio consisting of eggplant in soy sauce and galrlic, goma-ae, and asparagus with mentaiko-mayo. Everything was excellent, except the avocado, which was just so-so. And yes, the vibe is different from the downtown Guus, as this one had more families, including a few screaming kids.

Kirin on Alberni was fair. My experience at the Richmond location was better. Part of this had to do with what we ordered. To me and my girlfriend's disappointment, we ended up ordering a bunch of old-school dishes like siu mai, hargow, charsiu bau -- not because of our guests, but because of another couple that joined us. Nothing was bad, but some of it was pretty MSG-sy. Service was good though.

We also went to Peaceful one day for lunch, and left a bit disappointed. The pork chop in our noodle soup was extremely tough (though the soup and noodles were good). They were extremeley skimpy with the green onions in the otherwise fine beef roll. The pan fried buns were thicker than I recall, and a bit doughier. The XLB skin was too thick.

We considered going to Sea Harbour for dinner, but my guests wanted Japanese that night, which is why we ended up at Aberdeen Guu. Good thing too, as that was their favorite meal while in Vancouver.

Thanks for the replies!

Vancouver Early Bird Prix Fixe

West still has the early bird prix fixe, according to their website. I had it a while back, and thought it was decent at $50 per. Not good enough to go back for their regular menu though.


Kingyo: an awful izakaya

I went to Kingyo yesterday with your review in mind. This was my second visit there -- the first visit was a few months ago. I can't really comment on the shochu, since I didn't order it straight. But I did have a shochu cocktail, and they were a bit skimpy with the shochu. The shochu cocktails are definitely stiffer in Tokyo izakaya. But drinking wasn't my reason for the visit.

We enjoyed our meal quite a bit. We started off with the agedashi kinoko tofu with okra. I generally like agedashi tofu, but usually not enough to order it unless it's at a restaurant with a really boring menu. Well, the enoki mushrooms and okra tempted me, and good thing it did, as it was pretty dang good. The sliminess of the okra made the tsuyu that much better.

We then had the gyutan (beef tongue), which was also quite good, but nothing spectacular (I've had better, I've had much worse). It's served raw alongside a hot stone, which is used to cook the tongue at the table. Sure, a bit novelty-ish, but probably still enjoyable and fun for many.

The grilled pork cheeks were next, and they were quite delicious. The texture of the meat is firm with a bit of a crunchy bite. And the meat is nice and fatty and very flavorful.

The mentaiko-kimchee udon came after that, and it was good, but nothing I couldn't make myself at home. It also seems to be a standard item at many of the izakaya here in Vancouver. We only ordered this because I felt like eating some starch.

Our final dish was the kakuni man (stewed pork belly chinese style steamed bun), which sounded more interesting than it actually was. The bun was a bit dense - it definitely could have been fluffier and lighter, and the pork was a bit above average, as far as kakuni goes. It was served with a dab of hot mustard, just as both kakuni and niku man (meat bun) usually are.It was still good though, and I'd consider ordering it again. I think our expectations were a bit too high when we ordered it.

The meal was quite good, but it wasn't mind blowing or anything. I didn't order any of the wasabi-mayo or teri-dressing concoctions either. $50 for the five dishes and a couple of drinks -- I really can't complain for the meal we were served. I'd say it's comparable to Guu, but maybe 25% more expensive (maybe even more if you want to get drunk).

I don't think it's really fair to compare izakaya experiences btwn North America and Japan, as they are fairly different (then again, I've never done the izakaya thing in NYC). The customer base itself changes the vibe entirely -- without the drunk Japanese businessmen, how can anything in the western world compare to an izakaya in Japan?

From my izakaya experiences here in Vancouver, I'd say that Thurlow Guu comes the closest to the real deal (vibe-wise), primarily due to the Japanese to Gaijin customer ratio. Lots more drunkenness and screaming and such. And many of the more old-school izakaya in Tokyo offer traditional menu items I don't even see here (especially Hoppy!).

I'll be going to NYC for a short visit again in September,and I definitely plan to hit a couple of izakaya out there this time. Can't wait :-)

Vancouver vs Richmond

Thanks for the suggestions. My guests will be an older couple who moved to the states from HK ~12 yrs ago, and they actually suggested Sun Sui Wah, as they heard great things about the seafood there.

We thought we'd take them to Japanese, and figured that the downtown Guu's might be too crowded and rowdy for them. So we initially considered Gastown Guu, which is great for larger parties since it's more spacious, but thought I might as well ask about the Richmond location. I figured it wouldn't feel the same as the others, being in a mall that caters predominantely to Chinese patrons, but thought it might be okay for my guests. So I still might try it... Is the food actually bad? And do you know if it get as crowded as the downtown locations?

My girlfriend, who recently arrived in Vancouver actually has her heart set on going back to Kirin. This will be her second visit, the last one being several months ago. I just might save Shanghai River for another trip.

Thanks again for the response!