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Eat Snap Repeat

Vancouver's tastiest food blog. Defunct since 2010 :(

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Richmond

Si Chuan First – It hurts so good.

I’ve been training myself to eat spicy food. It all started around a year ago when I was on vacation in China. While looking for restaurants to dine at, I found that spice (chili) was an important player in many of the dishes favored by the locals. Most of the spicy dishes had heat beyond my capacity, and I was left to believe that spicy food was just not my thing, that I would go on living a dining life that was contently void of the red bits.
After returning to Vancouver, it became clear to me that I had missed out. I’ve rejected a style of cooking that was in every way as significant as, say, sushi (of which I can’t imagine life without). Saying no to food is not a habit I want.
From then forth, I was determined to remove “too spicy for me“, “just a little“, or “I’ll have the mild” from my restaurant ordering vocabulary. I had a plan. When given the choice of mild/medium/hot, I’d pick hot, and where there were chili’s on the menu, I’d favor the chili.
It wasn’t pretty at first. Stacks of tissues, glass after glass of water, red faced choking at times, panting like a dog. Now, a year later, I seek for the red stuff. ‘Hot’, on most menus draw little sweat from my brow, and “can I get some hot sauce” is not an uncommon saying when dining out.

Some people hold the impression that when food is spicy, it just masks all other tastes. I use to feel that way. But that also means building up a tolerance for spice was the only way for me to start detecting the layers of flavor in dishes, and to be able to tell the difference between using spice as flavor cover-up, and flavor complement.
Si Chuan First
A friend introduced Si Chuan First to me when we went together for one of their 6 person set dinners, which includes over a half dozen different dishes typical to the region (not all of them are pictured in this post). Though we went with the medium spice option, the plates all had generous helpings of red chili and chili oil. Perfect. It was what I was looking for at the time, as Golden Szechuan in Richmond and Alvin Garden in Burnaby had both left me disappointed a week prior.

The cold dishes come first. The correct way of serving in China. The tangy bean noodles, roasted peanut shavings, and fragrant cillantro prepares the palate for the main dishes. The spice level on these two were mild, and I suspected them to turn it up the heat with the more pungent, meat dishes. My glass of water remains untouched at this point.
Si Chuan First
Get ready to sweat.
Si Chuan First

In the next few dishes, flavors are fuller. Mouths already watering from the introduction, will hopefully cushion the blow of the chili. I’m on my second bowl of rice now, glass of water’s had a few sips, tea gone, beer half ingested. Brain thinks mouth is being attacked, releases dopamine in response. My dinner mates must be feeling the same, as a heightened sense of energy can be felt at the table. Voices become louder, movements faster. Chopsticks race from dish to dish.
Si Chuan First
That’s lava.
Si Chuan First

You’ll find no relief here.
Si Chuan First
 
The meal finishes with a small desert and emptying of glasses. It felt like a hike, with scenic stops of varying flavors, and tests of endurance. It hurt so good.

I returned a week later and had their 4 person set meal, which has a few dishes removed, but still a broad sampling. The dishes are well prepared, and would stand well along any level of spiciness. My next visit will no doubt be ordered with 大辣 (lots of spice).

 

Si Chuan First (map)
Richmond
6611 Buswell St
Richmond, BC V6Y

Best enjoyed with a few salivating friends.

-Dan

Si Chuan First on Urbanspoon

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News: Summer Night Market 2009 has begun!

Summer Night Market 2009 logoIt’s that time of year again…

The Richmond Summer Night Market opened its doors tonight for yet another iteration of the popular summer festival. It’s open every weekend until October 4th, 2009.

Same venue: 12631 Vulcan Way, Richmond, B.C. (behind the Home Depot)
Same hours: 7PM – 12AM on Fridays & Saturdays, 7PM – 11PM on Sundays
Same crappy merchandise.
Same headache-inducing parking.
Same claustrophobic crowds?
Same delicious street food!

We’ll be visiting soon.Will Ed continue his tradition of eating a Mango UFO? Will Dan get arrested for purchasing pirated DVDs? Will the Summer Night Market be shut down by a federal court ordered injunction?

All these questions will be answered soon! Stay tuned!

Tenku Bakudanyaki – Small venue, big balls

Tenku Bakudanyaki - Trailer
Tenku Bakudanyaki brings to Richmond a very innovative offering from Japan. Super sized takoyaki. Or literally translated from the name, grilled bombs.
Served hot off of the back of a mobile kitchen, these tennis ball sized spheres contain almost a dozen different ingredients (squid, cabbage, shrimp, mochi, shrimp, …), and are covered in okonomiyaki sauce, Japanese mayo, and a variety of toppings. We had a hard time finding their truck because we just didn’t expect it to be smack in the middle of a parking lot on the southeast corner of Elmbridge and Gilbert.

A few topping flavors are available on the menu, all for $5 each (same price you’d pay in Japan), along with a daily special. We went with the original and the special of the day, garlic mayo (dried garlic sprinkles)

Tenku Bakudanyaki - Original Tenku Bakudanyaki - Garlic Mayo
There’s a good variety of flavors served in that small take out box. Because of the large number of ingredients, every bite is kept interesting. One’s not enough for a meal, but luckily Aberdeen is just minutes away.

P.S. The owner said he has plans to expand to several locations. I hope he meant outside of Richmond. They’re already on twitter @Bakudanyaki (and a lot less annoying than @Japadog).

P.P.S. There are a few bakudanyaki chains in Japan. If you’re wondering what they’re like, check out herehere, and here.

Bakudanyaki Tenku on Urbanspoon

Cafe D’Lite Express – More Aberdeen Center Goodness

The Aberdeen Center foodcourt in Richmond is best known for greasy chicken wings and Beard Papa cream puffs, but those are just the tips of the iceberg.

2009-04-05 at 15-28-23

As Dan said, there are many hidden treasures. The best part about all this tasty food is that it’s super affordable: something you’d expect when eating at a foodcourt. Something you might not expect from a foodcourt is just how nice the space is. You’re still going to be carrying your meal on a tray and seating yourself, but the bright modern interior (and free Wifi if you’re geeks like us) is definitely nice.

Cafe D'Lite Express

Anyway, too many chicken wings can’t be healthy so I was happy to discover that one of my favorite Hainanese Chicken places, Cafe D’Lite on West Broadway, had opened an “express” location right next to Wo Fung Dessert (aka. “the chicken wing place”) in Aberdeen Center.

Hainanese Chicken Rice is a Singaporean/Malaysian dish with Chinese origins. The chicken is boiled whole in stock which keeps the meat very moist and fragrant. The rice is not your plain-Jane white rice.  Like the chicken, the rice is also prepared using chicken stock. This produces rice that’s more oily and tasty than normal rice – no wonder why it’s called “oily rice“. The chicken is served at room temperature or cold (cool in Cafe D’Lite’s case) and comes with chilli (the red sauce) and ginger sauces (the green wasabi-looking sauce).

Cafe D'Lite Express

Cafe D’Lite Express’ version of the dish is, if my taste buds recall correctly, pretty much the same as the one they serve in their Kitsilano restaurant. It’s great. The chicken is succulent and fresh and the rice is so good I could probably eat it on its own. It also comes with a bowl of soup. I really like this dish because it’s so simple; the cool chicken tastes great on a hot summer day too.

I’m sure there are better interpretations of this dish in more traditional restaurants but for the low, low price of $6.50 this is really hard to beat (I sound like an infomercial, no?).

Now, if only Wo Fung and Cafe D’lite could collaborate and cook me some “deep fried Hainanese Chicken wings”…

Cafe D'Lite Express on Urbanspoon

Sad News

You’ve probably noticed that we haven’t been posting much lately. No, this isn’t because we’ve been lazy or anything. It’s because we’ve been going through some personal stuff, to say the least.

A couple weeks ago, one of our bloggers (esr is was a 2 person team) visited a restaurant in the Metro Vancouver area and enjoyed a nice meal with friends. When he got home, he started feeling ill.

Fast forward a couple days and he was still feeling “off”. He went for a checkup and it was discovered that he had gotten botulism from his meal that night. Botulism is a rare but serious paralytic illness caused by botulin toxin. Sadly, it turned out to be deadly in this case.

Due to legal reasons, we can’t mention the name of the restaurant yet. Rest assured though, that once the legal restrictions are lifted we’ll post our review; it’ll be less than glowing.

Although we’ve lost a key member of the ESR team, we’ll soldier on. Stay tuned to our blog. We have some killer restaurant reviews coming!

Eat safe friends.

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