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Posts Tagged ‘day trip’

Cherry and I took a day trip to Vancouver yesterday and had a recommendation to eat at Pinpin, if we had the chance. Although the sign says “Filipino-Chinese Cuisine”, it’s definitely a 100% Filipino restaurant. The Chinese refers to a few “Chinese style” dishes in the back of the menu that are still very Filipino. With two locations in British Columbia, we went to the Surrey location, which was pretty big and quite clean upon entering. We were greeted, immediately seated and eagerly browsed the menu.

 

The Food:

 

 

bagoong rice 1

bagoong rice $9.95 ca

The bagoong  rice(pronounced “bah-goh-ong”) looked intriguing so we had to order it. Bagoong is essentially a fermented shrimp paste that is heavily mixed with salt. It is a very common ingredient is Filipino food. When it came out, it looked like a Filipino version of Bimbimbap, a Korean rice bowl with all the toppings neatly organized atop for you to mix in. This bowl came topped with diced tomato, red onion, green onion, scrambled egg and slivers of mango. The rice had a pink tinge to it from the bagoong paste. When mixed, all of the ingredients came together nicely. The red and green onions provided a bright and sharp bite while the tomato and mango added creamy, sweet and earthy tones. Egg always makes everything better so no need to get too detailed about that. If you’ve ever had bagoong by itself, then you know it packs quite a punch, which is what I was expecting. However, the rice had a nice delicate flavor of the fermented shrimp paste that worked very well. One thing worth noting is that the serving size of this bowl was HUGE and we weren’t complaining 🙂

 

 

pork sisig 1

sisig $11.5 ca

We were recommended their sisig which is the Filipino “sizzling plate.” Pork sisig is the universal version and comes with chopped and fried pork mixed with onion and topped with lemon slice. The sisig at Pinpin was seasoned well and really showcased rich flavors of the fried pork. One thing that stood out was how crunchy it was – there were bits that was borderline rock hard. Those with fillings or any kind of dental work best heed caution. Another thing I noticed was lack of any substantial pieces of pork. This was pretty much sizzling plate of diced chicharrĂłn. I literally pressed a piece with my finger and it broke down to tiny specks of coarse sand. The sisig I’ve had in the past actually had discernible pieces of pork.

 

inihaw na pusit $10.5 ca

The inihaw na pusit is their grilled squid which was also my favorite dish. The squid was perfectly grilled with great texture and bite. The bbq glaze had a good balance of sweet and savory that complimented the dish well. There was also a small cup  of vinegar you use as dip, which did an excellent job countering the sweetness of the glaze. There are three different size of the inihaw na pusit (small, medium, large) and we ordered the small – which was more than enough to share between two people.

 

Conclusion:

We walked out happy and full. The food was delicious and the service was great. There was always a server at our table the moment they saw our water was low or when our table needed clearing. With an expansive menu that we virtually walked away untapped, we’ll be back soon to explore more of their offerings.

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Cherry and I recently took an anniversary day trip to Bellingham, which is where we met 10+ years ago, but more specifically, at our Alma Mater, Western Washington University (Go Vikings!). It was extremely nostalgic walking through campus and reminiscing our college years. I’m sure Cherry and I stood out like a sore thumb as the only ones on the entire campus pushing a stroller around! After visiting, we decided to hit up a local spot, Coconut Kenny’s. Located on James St. near downtown Bellingham, Coconut Kenny’s is a fun restaurant specializing in Hawaiian Sandwiches and tasty pizza. There are three other locations; Ferndale, Sedro Wolley, and Burlington. “Aye Brah, where’s the love for Snohomish and King County!?”

 

coconutkenny_entrance

entrance off james st.

coconutkenny_counter

island flare

 

The Food:

 

coconutkenny_cheeseballs

 cheese balls $4.99 (1/2 order)

When it comes to cheese bread, these may be the top of the list!  Hawaiian bread already carries a subtle sweetness to them that make them tasty by themselves. But the addition of butter, garlic and cheese really take this dish over the top. The cheese was melted perfectly, providing excellent goo and the marinara added a bright component to each bite.

 

coconutkenny_kingmahalo

 king mahalo: chicken breast, bacon, red onions, cilantro, bbq chipotle sauce, cheddar cheese $8.29

Cherry went with the King Mahalo sandwich which apparently has been voted as a Top 5 Sandwich in Whatcom County. All of the sandwiches at Coconut Kenny’s are served on freshly made Hawaiian bread then baked with all the ingredients atop to provide a great sandwich. Everything about this sandwich worked. The cheddar cheese was also perfectly melted and acted like a savory blanket covering of the ingredients beneath. It had nice bite from the different textures of the chicken, bacon and onions but unfortunately, like many bbq sauces tend to do, it overpowered everything. It was also a little sweet for my taste, but being a Hawaiian themed restaurant, it fit. I  prefer more heat and bite to my bbq sauce.

 

coconutkenny_waikiki

waikiki pizza: chicken, bacon, red onions, cilantro, smokey chipotle sauce $7.49 (small)

The Waikiki pizza was the daily special for $6.5,  so I ordered that without much thought about the ingredients. When it arrived, I had a “Doh!” moment and realized that the Waikiki pizza is the exact same thing as the King Mahalo sandwich, just in pan pizza form! After laughing at my oversight, we went on with our meal. The Waikiki had the same tasty ingredients as the sandwich but unfortunately, it also had the same overpoweringly sweet chipotle sauce.

 

My Conclusion:

Coconut Kenny’s is a fun and family friendly spot offering unique sandwiches and pizzas with a sweet Hawaiian flare.  I want to try their other offerings but am not thrilled , that in order to do so, I will have to drive 45-minutes each way. One thing I forgot to mention is that you place all orders at the counter and the workers will then bring the food to the table. And don’t forget to bus your own table!

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Seeing as it was Labor Day weekend, Cherry and I decided to make take a day trip north, to visit the United States’ red-headed step sister – Canada. Oh, we also have family in Vancouver, so aside from a day of eating; we actually had a reason to visit  Our first stop after the crossing immigrations… Richmond! Just to give you an idea of how great Richmond is, it is essentially your local “Chinatown” district stretched over 49.91 sq mi (127.3 km² for the rest of the World.) The streets are lined with Asian influenced shops, restaurants and businesses (primarily all Chinese.) One thing in particular that Richmond has over Seattle, I’m sad to say, is a much larger selection of All-You-Can-Eat (AYCE) Sushi spots. As a matter of fact, unless I’m badly mistaken, I can count on one hand how many AYCE sushi restaurants there are in Seattle – what’s up with that Seattle!? During my undergrad years at WWU, my father and I would regularly come to Aji Taro and in reminiscent fashion, I decided to bring Cherry here as well. Located off No. 3 Road in Richmond, Aji Taro is a moderately sized Japanese Bistro. Contrary Americanized Sushi (what’s becoming more and more popular in the States) you won’t find fancy and spruced up rolls or sushi. No tempura fried sushi. No spicy mayo. Just Japanese food as it is meant to be – simple.

small sushi bar

make your selections

 

 

The Food:

house special roll (salmon, krab, cucumber, avocado), dynamite roll (tempura shrimp, cucumber, avocado, lettuce), california roll, spicy tuna roll

 The first worth noting is the amount of filling used here. I have eaten at many sushi places that give a minuscule amount of filling and an enormous amount of rice. Particularly in the House Special Roll, there’s a nice slice of salmon sashimi, and a generous amount of krab filling. In the Dynamite roll, two pieces of tempura shrimp are used as opposed to the one piece that you will find in a majority of other places. All the rolls were tasty and really satisfy. The spicy tuna roll had a perfect amount of spice and left a subtle heat on your tongue.

 salmon and tuna sushi

 Both the salmon and tuna were very fresh and clean. They served albacore tuna instead of the more common yellowtail which is a little fattier and traditionally has a lighter flavor. Both were generously sliced and very delicious.

 chopped scallop

 spicy tuna hand rolls

 Hand rolls are exactly that – shari (vinegared rice) and filling wrapped in nori. They usually come out in a cone shape and are fun to eat! The chopped scallop was fresh and had a creamy flavor and texture from the mayo and tobiko  that it was mixed with. The spicy salmon also had great flavors. The spice level was nice and did not overpower the salmon at all – the freshness of the fish was not masked.

 clockwise l-r: agedashi tofu, ika karaage, shishamo karaage, beef short ribs

The agedashi tofu was deep fried and carried a light flavor, but there was virtually no tentsuyu sauce (tempura dipping sauce.) The ika karaage (deep fried squid) was not very tasty. It had a pretty fishy flavor – I’m guessing due to them using the same oil to deep fry all their fish. I can tolerate most flavors, however Cherry was hugely turned off by how fishy the calamari was. There were also flavors of salt and pepper that I could taste that was most likely tossed in before serving. The short ribs were flavorful and tender and one of the better non-sushi items served. The shishamo karaage was also average – lightly battered and deep fried little fish with roe intact providing a salty and fishy bite.

  

clockwise l-r: sanma shioyaki, yaki tori, shime saba

 The sanma shioyaki (pacific saury) had very clean flavor and nice char from the grill – not fishy at all. The yakitori was also very good and simple – skewered and gilled chicken brushed with some teriyaki sauce. My favorite of the three was the shime saba (mackerel.) Extremely clean flavors and the grilled skin of the fish was like a crispy chip – providing a nice salty crunch. I had to exercise caution when eating these fish due to the small bones throughout.

My Conclusion:

Not the pinnacle of the sushi world but that’s ok by me. Everything is made to order and literally within five or ten minutes of handing the server your selections, its on your table straight from the sushi bar. With a price of $14.95 (CND) per person (for lunch), it is a bargain – even with the US dollar being worth less than the Canadian dollar these days!  Aji Taro did my father and I well from 2006 – 2010 and still continues to satisfy my sushi fixins’ anytime we visit! 

Ohh.. and this was our lunch… stay tuned for what we had for dinner!

 

 

 

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