Icy Bar 利源冰店 – East Van Desserts

What is the best thing when suffocating in this summer heat? DESSERT.

A new dessert shop has recently opened up in the East Vancouver area. By the name of Icy Bar, their generous servings at a very cheap price keeps the store busy at all times of the day. Ever since I found out about the place a month ago, I've been there so many times that I just cannot live without it.

I had used to hate shaved ice. I would think to myself, why buy frozen water drenched in syrup? Not a fan of snow cones either. However, entering the Icy Bar craze, I've instantly grown to love this topping filled frozen water dish. Writing this post in my poorly ventilated room makes me want to head over there right now. They have around 30 toppings to choose from while also serving bubble tea, tofu dessert, and their preset shaved ice options with ice cream.

The first page of their menu - at a mere $6.50, you receive eight toppings with your shaved ice. Yes – eight. My jaw dropped when I first opened the menu seeing that price after glancing around the store seeing everyone’s orders. The colourful array of toppings on everyone’s tables made me want everything. From fresh cut fruits to more of the Asian choices, I had a bountiful list to choose from. Ended up combining:

Taro Mochi
Red Bean
Strawberries
Grass Jelly
Chendol
Peanuts
Mango
Tapioca

...to make this:


Doesn't that look amazing? It tasted even better than it looked. There were more toppings than shaved ice, every bite was something new.  Now what is even better when the server comes with this? Condensed milk, in a bottle, unlimited. The sensation of drenching your giant dish in sweet deliciousness. My day is made.

Note that places like these will slowly start to shrink their portions the more popular they get. A suggestion for you would be to try it out now while it’s still worth it! Calm the heat and discover this icy chilled plate of affordable luxury.


Updated with two additional photos, two more visits. I just cannot get enough of it. One nick picky thing though, I did not like having the shaved ice on top of everything in the photo on the right.

Icy Bar 利源冰店 on Urbanspoon

King Ludwig's Schweinshax'n?

Looking through my vacation photos from last year and remembered that we went to a German restaurant on our trip to Yellowstone National Park. King Ludwig's in Leavenworth, Washington is in the midst of a small village with German/Bavarian styled architectures. The inside of the restaurant was plain and simple with a small stage for weekend performances by local acts.


With our whole tour group seated, we were recommended their special for tours. Some platter that had their key menu items. They're famous for their Schweinshax'n, no idea how to pronounce it but all I know is that it is pork hock. It is accompanied with Bavarian potato salad, rotisserie chicken, pork cutlets, bread, and sausages. 

It was definitely not something I have ever tasted before. With the main piece having such a tough exterior skin, it was not the most pleasant chunk of meat to cut apart. The strong spices made the overall dish rather salty so we ordered some of their Bavarian dark lager to wash it down.

Finishing my first Bavarian meal and I know I will not be wanting to eat anything like this ever again. I need my veggies.

King Ludwig's on Urbanspoon


[Hot Chocolate Festival 2014] Definitely Not A Train Wreck

 Its been a while. I know I have been completely MIA from posting in a while but I am back with a refresher from the 2014 VANCOUVER HOT CHOCOLATE FESTIVAL. Happening throughout January to mid February, the festival is back for its 4th time with 25 participating venues. I decided to try out Mink Chocolates because I was in the area for a meeting. It was a very cozy place in a quiet street but still central to downtown Vancouver. Service was very attentive and all I could do was stare at their menu full of different chocolate variations. Their specialty drink for the festival was called the "Definitely Not A Train Wreck." I have no idea why it was called this but it was essentially a lavender based hot chocolate. 


Topped with purple lavender whipped cream, the strong essence of lavender filled the air as soon as my drink was being made. My first sip, imagine this.

A river of liquid chocolate streaming down with lavender petals scattered across - and you're swimming in it. The warm chocolate gliding down my throat was soothing and perfect for any chocoholic.


It was also garnished with two chocolate covered citrus peels which surprisingly tasted very good. The thought of eating a citrus peel was not appetizing to me but this felt like I was biting into a chewy chocolate covered gummy. The tangy taste complimented well with the dark chocolate.


Others weren't so lucky with their regular whipped cream garnish but it was still photo ready when all the phones were taken out and turned onto camera mode.


What I must say is that the drink took a while for me to finish, it may have been too rich for me but one of my friends downed the drink in a jiffy. So dependent on your love for chocolate, Mink's is a must try.

I am rarely in this area so I decided to grab a couple bars of chocolate to go. They have a wide assortment of interesting combinations to make such unique tastes. I decided to go with Mermaid's Choice and Open In Case of Emergency. Not sure if I should gift them or eat them all for myself. The struggles....


Mink Chocolates on Urbanspoon

[Dine Out Vancouver Festival 2014] Five Sails Restaurant - Ambiance is key

     With the Dine Out Vancouver Festival taking place right away the wave of Christmas shopping splurges, I knew that my wallet wouldn't be hurting from clothes anymore - it would be from food. As most know, the culinary scene in Vancouver is unlike any other. Having events like Dine Out Vancouver gives everyone the opportunity to be active in the diverse dining experience.
      After scrolling past restaurant after restaurant, it was decided that we would go here. Located in the heart of Downtown Vancouver Waterfront, Five Sails Restaurant provides a breathtaking view of the Vancouver Harbour. After staring out the window in awe, we were delightfully presented with complimentary starters. The bite sized portion of Lobster Salad with Grapefruit was almost instantly eaten by me after a series of photographs in the perfect lighting. "Perfect lighting" as in shifting the candle left and right, and left again. One thing I want to point out is the lettuce in the back did not please me. It wasn't the fresh crunchy bite I was looking for but nonetheless, I can't say no to complimentary.  

     For my appetizer I went with the Ahi Tuna Tartare. To my surprise, it wasn't screaming the usual "I need more, and I need it now." Perhaps it was the avocado, as an avid avocado muncher I do love my daily avocado meals. Fresh tuna along with the crispy wonton bits created a tasteful combination. The overall taste was well balanced, flavours and textures were clean and on point.

     Taking a moment to allow the ambiance to sink in. The restaurant was completely full but the atmosphere somehow allowed every table to feel as if they were in their own bubble. The overall mood makes you let go of everything and give you a moment to enjoy everything life has to offer. Truly relaxing.

     With our conversations aside, the entrees were presented to us. Tonight I decided not to go with the seafood but rather the Honey glazed roasted Fraser Valley Duck. Even though I took awhile to get the perfect shots, I could taste the perfection in each bite. Cooked to perfection, presented perfectly, and photographed perfectly. Dark roasted skins with soft pink interior, it was calling my name. Tender, moist, juicy, and just enough fat to add to the texture but not take away from the flavours.

     Seeing as it was such a good start to the night, I decided to add the Pan Seared Quebec Foie Gras onto my entree for an additional $10. At first I was hesitant but taking that first bite I knew all my possible regrets and worries were swept away. Beyond flavourful, the port wine sauce complimented the fat of the Foie Gras really well. The red kuru squash puree with potato gnocchi added to the heavenly plate by offering the heavier starch that was needed to balance out the dish. The caramelized mango threw me off at first. None of us were sure what fruit it was because the lime and Szechuan peppercorns masked the taste of the mango fruit we were so familiar with. It provided the refreshing kick to complete the entree. I must say, this dish was executed phenomenally. The squash and gnocchi made me satiated and not overwhelmingly crammed like some entrees can do. The duck and foie gras were prepared to perfection. Sauce and caramelized mango complemented the dish to provide that satisfying smile on my face. And let's not forget the view!  

     After the extremely satisfying entree, dessert had almost slipped my mind. The Banana Chocolate Tango was my pick to finish the night. A smooth chocolate ganache with banana infused vanilla mousse gave a delightful mix along with the homemade vanilla bean ice cream. It gave the hearty bite that I was looking for to complete my meal. I tasted very strong hints of vanilla bean that I absolutely love from the ice cream. It was a dessert well made that I was thankful for, not biting into something like classic cheesecake or creme brulee made my meal at Five Sails a memorable one.

I also had bites of the Luxe Lemon Mille-feuilles of which I was not too impressed with. The tart kick from the lemon cream was not was I was looking forward to. I did like the phyllo pastry but the sour taste from the lemon was not to my liking. I guess I did not like the association of the sour hints to the cake breaded layers. Fortunately, the waitress brought over chocolate ganache bits to cleanse our palettes. The richness from the dark chocolate wasn't too bitter or sweet, giving it a more neutral cleanse. 

To be given the opportunity to dine with a spectacular view is truly a gift. The atmosphere was so relaxing that I felt relieved from all the constant thoughts running around in my head. I recommend Five Sails to anyone that wishes to enjoy an extraordinary dinner with a divine view of what Vancouver has to offer. I would definitely say that this was one of the best dining experiences I have had so far. 
Ambiance is key.
Five Sails on Urbanspoon

Bring a Ben, Get a Benny | Complimentary Brunch from Grain Tasting Bar

"Why am I named Benton?" 
Well, that is something I will never ask myself ever again. A 19 year gap between birth and this day has been justified. BentonTheIncr.Edible has a purpose. This is my destiny.
Benton - a food blogger, it all makes sense now. Just look at one of the best marketing strategies I've come across:

"To celebrate the brunch menu at Grain featuring five kinds of Eggs Benedicts, Grain Tasting Bar is serving complimentary eggs benedict to all the Ben’s of Vancouver with their ‘Bring a Ben, Get a Benny’ promotion.
Starting at 11AM on Saturday February 1 until 4PM on Sunday March 2 join Grain Tasting Bar for brunch with a friend named Ben (Benjamin’s, Benedict’s, Benji’s, Benoit’s and other Ben variations welcome) and receive a complimentary eggs benedict.
Grain Tasting Bar’s menu was created by Chef Thomas Heinrich, who is also the executive chef of the Hyatt Regency Vancouver. The menu is focused on highlighting fresh and local ingredients. Grain Tasting Bar also specializes in artisan cocktails, regional wines and craft beer. Drink recipes are creatively designed to highlight regional distilleries and fresh ingredients. Five draught handles feature the best in local breweries, while our wine program is VQA focused with selections ranging from established wineries to up-and-coming winemakers.
For reservations please call 604.639.4771. For more information about Grain Tasting Bar or the ‘Bring a Ben, Get a Benny’ Promotion, please contact Shakeira at 604.729.7274."
‘Bring a Ben, Get a Benny’ Promotion details:
Location: Grain Tasting Bar – 655 Burrard Street, Vancouver, British Columbia V6C 2R7 (Hyatt Regency Hotel)
Start Date: 11am Saturday, February 1st
End Date: 4pm Sunday, March 2nd
  • Bring a Ben with you for brunch, get a benny on the house.
  • A minimum of one paying customer per table and a maximum of one Ben (or free benny) per table.
  • Only available during weekend brunch hours. No substitutions.
  • Cannot be combined with any other specials or offers.
  • Reservations are recommended.Any name starting with Ben should be jumping for joy reading this. I currently am while typing this.
Menu:
All served with breakfast potatoes

Grilled Chicken - barnston island spinach | avocado | diced tomato
Smoked Tomato Bruschetta - g.b.e. farms tomatoes | aged balsamic vinegar

Oyama - pamplona chorizo | red wine prosciutto | arugula 
Dungeness Crab - tomato | lemon | fresh herbs
Prime Rib - blue cheese | pickled onions | horseradish 

#BringABen

Follow me on social media: Instagram | Twitter @Bentonli

Dine Out Vancouver Festival 2014 Menu Extensions

I have not fallen off the face of the Earth. I have a bunch of reviews to put out but I can't seem to find time to properly sit down and type for hours. I'm making a small exception this time away from my studies to give you an exciting update!

Selected restaurants that have participated in The Dine Out Vancouver Festival from Jan 17th-Feb 2nd are deciding to extend their menus! I only got the chance to go to two restaurants this year (Yes, I will review them before the next week) and now I can't wait to cross off a couple more restaurants off my list.

The selected restaurants have extended their menus until the following dates:




Click the restaurant name to see menu options

FEBRUARY 7th

Cardero's - $28
Sandbar Seafood - $28
Seasons in the Park - $28
The Teahouse - $28

FEBRUARY 9th
Black & Blue - $38
C Restaurant - $38
Coast - $38
Copper Chimney - $28
Glowbal Grill Steaks and Satay - $28
Hapa Izakaya - $18 & $28 menu available, dependent on location
Hart House - $38 (Went last year, no photos but I loved it!)
Italian Kitchen - $28
Society -$18
The Fish Shack - $18
The Granville Room - $18
Trattoria - $18

FEBRUARY 11th
Miku (Dinner only Sun-Tues | Lunch $28, Dinner $38, Vegetarian Dinner $38 Menus available)
Minami (Dinner only Sun-Tues | Lunch $28, Dinner $38 Menus available)

FEBRUARY 12TH
Bistro Pastis - $38

FEBRUARY 13TH
Cibo Trattoria - $28
Cloud 9 - $28
Edible Canada - $28
Graze - $28
Le Parisien - $28

FEBRUARY 28TH
Bitter Tasting Room - $18
Miku (Lunch $28 on weekends)
Minami (Lunch $28 everyday)
Salt Tasting Room - $28
TenTen Tapas - $28
Thai House - $18

All menus provided are for Dinner only, unless otherwise specified.

I have put the prices beside each restaurant as I know some are more price conscious (because I am). This festival brings out the countless restaurants we have in Metro Vancouver into the spotlight, so don't miss out because it's such a great deal! 
For the two I have visited, I am ecstatic over how my experience has been. I cannot tell you where I went just yet, so keep checking back. You can follow me on all social media platforms for the quickest updates.

Instagram | Twitter @Bentonli

Faubourg - Bite-sized Jewels

I am finally back from my hiatus of studies and work! Cannot believe it's been so long but I have been really busy with exams and transitioning into a new job and just the overall terrifying state that is life itself. My apologies but at least I'M BACK NOW! I finally have time to sit down and properly type type type away. I have not even touched my camera is what it seems like forever. So today I bring to you a box of goodies from Faubourg

This is the small sized assorted pastry box with 8 pieces of beautifully bite-sized portions of perfection.



I'm going to start with my favourite of the bunch, which would be the Coffee Opera. Topped with the Faubourg logo printed chocolate piece, it is made with a almond sponge cake soaked in a coffee syrup, layered with a dark chocolate ganache and coffee butter cream finished with a chocolate glaze. Doesn't that description make you salivate? Just a little bit?
Biting into this classic cake was an extremely moist and rich kick of coffee which I absolutely loved. The coffee balanced the chocolate ganache enough that it wasn't too overwhelming. I'm not a crazy fan of chocolate so this was perfect for me. Hit all the right spots!


Next up, I tried the Lemon Tart - their best seller supposedly. I must say, I do not like lemon pastries - period. I like honey lemon tea. I like lemon juice on salmon. I like lemons. Just not lemon infused pastries or cakes. Not sure why but something about having lemon in a pastry changes the taste of what a natural lemon tastes like. Something about the tangy flavour I must not like. I probably do not even make sense but, you know me.

Loved the texture of the tart, it was a smooth lemon curd with pearls of crystallized sugar which gave the most interesting texture to it with you bite into it. The buttery tart was on par and added to the overall harmonious texture. You can tell whoever made this gave their utmost attention into each detail from the taste to the texture. Everything was good for me except me not liking the taste of lemon. But other than that I can see how this is one of their best sellers.




Now the Blueberry Tart and Raspberry Tart had no surprises. It was a standard fruit tart. Buttery shell, fresh fruit, and a vanilla cream. Wasn't great, wasn't bad, but would never buy the full sized portion - it just wouldn't be worth it.

I believe this was just called a Chocolate Tart. Right next to the blueberry tart, this was a VERY rich piece. Overpowering wave of chocolate hits you when you bite into this. If you love chocolate, you will certainly love this. A chocolate tart made with three forms of chocolate - a piece of chocolate, a chocolate ganache, and a chocolate cream filling. For me personally, it was too much, like I said earlier that I am not the biggest fan of chocolate. I have the occasional craving for chocolate but not a 24/7 urge to eat it like some people I know.
Lastly, the Passionfruit Opera in the back second from the right. This was unique I must say. Like the coffee opera but instead of the coffee cream it was a passionfruit butter cream with a passionfruit glaze on top. The passionfruit taste was very pronounced but again, I think the tanginess of the passionfruit makes me not love the pastry. The execution of the delicate layers are amazing but the actual taste of it just did not amaze me. In fact, it was a little bit weird for me. Imagine tangy, then rich chocolate, then back to that sour tangy taste. Like orange flavoured chocolate - something I will never understand. I guess it's all about balance and I just.... do not like that form of balance between tangy and rich sweetness.

Overall I love the idea of the product, it gives the customer a chance to try an assortment of the beautiful pastries they offer. Although it is assorted, I would have liked it to have each pastry be of a different kind. Seeing the doubling of not one but two kinds of pastries makes me miss out on the chance of trying 2 different kinds. They could have easily added two of their amazing macarons into the box. Until next time!

Faubourg on Urbanspoon
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