Leonidas

One thing that I do when I am bored is to browse for some good food deals on sites like Groupon and LivingSocial. When Milk Tea told me about a deal for this new Belgian chocolates dessert place near Waterfront station, I was eager to try it out!

Leonidas, situated right beside the Vancouver Convention Centre with a great view of the water, is a small shop that specializes in Belgian chocolates. Leonidas chocolates have been around since 1913, and there are stores all around the world (from Paris to Hong Kong).

When Mochi and I entered the little dessert shop, the first thing we noticed was the large selection of chocolates on display. The store itself was not too big, with only five tables inside (outdoor seating will probably be available when the weather is a bit warmer). They also had a variety of other desserts such as macarons, gelato, and boxed chocolates.

Chocolate boxes

Cakes

Macarons

An assortment of Belgian chocolates on display

More Belgian chocolates - Chocolate cups

With the SocialShopper coupon, we were entitled to two cups of hot chocolate, two chocolate-covered strawberries, two liege waffles, and six Belgian chocolates. Mochi and I decided to have the six chocolates to-go. As for hot chocolate, we had the choice of either white, milk, or dark chocolate hot chocolate. I opted for the dark since I like my chocolates to be less sweet and more bitter, and Mochi chose the milk.

Hot chocolate - dark 4/5

Hot chocolate - milk 3/5

The hot chocolates were served in cups that had an insulating layer so that our hands were not burned. It was a cold and windy day. I warmed my freezing cold hands on the warm cup and took sips of my favourite hot drink. I liked my dark hot chocolate a lot; it tasted very chocolatey, and yet was not too sweet. The milk hot chocolate had a distinct milky flavour, and was sweeter than the dark, but tasted very good as well. According to a friend, the white hot chocolate is very sweet so unless you like your drinks super sweet, the milk or dark would probably be the better options.

While drinking the hot beverages and listening to calm music, the waffles and strawberries arrived:

Liege waffles 4/5 and chocolate-covered strawberries 3/5

The waffles had been warmed in an oven, and sprinkled with some icing sugar. Beside the waffles were two strawberries that had been dipped in milk chocolate, then drizzled with white chocolate. Sweetened whipped cream garnished one corner of the plate, and the plating was complete with drops of caramel and chocolate sauce that had been drawn into the shape of Leonidas’s signature L.

The liege waffle tasted soft and warm, and had bits of sugar in the corners. It was my first time having a Belgian waffle, and in my opinion it tasted really good, especially with some whipped cream. Mochi enjoyed his waffle too.

The strawberries were good, but my favourite chocolate-covered strawberries are still the ones from Wicked Spoon (Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas).

Before leaving, Mochi and I selected six different chocolates. It was hard to make a choice since there were so many different kinds. In the end we chose a dark chocolate ganache, dark hazelnut ganache, “I Love You” lemon cream filled chocolate, tiramisu cup, dark chocolate truffle, and a white chocolate marzipan cup. Their chocolates are smooth and at original price, cost a lot less than Godiva, yet is still good quality chocolates. It is made with 100% cocoa butter and pure chocolate.

For the quality that you get for the reasonable price, I would pay Leonidas another visit the next time I pass by Vancouver Convention Centre.
Leonidas on Urbanspoon

Bonchaz Bakery Cafe

Before going to Bonchaz bakery cafe, I have never heard of a “bonchaz” bread. Milk Tea informed me that it was a yeast milk butter bun that is topped with a crumbly topping and then baked; it’s the Mexican version of the Chinese “pineapple buns”. I really like pineapple buns, so I thought that I would give Bonchaz a try.

So on a cold and rainy January afternoon, Mochi, Milk Tea and I took the number 44 bus from UBC to Bonchaz, which is located near Waterfront skytrain station.

Upon arrival, we were greeted warmly by the server. The interior of the cafe was actually quite large, even though it didn’t look big from the outside. The menu looked very cute too, with all the items written with neon-coloured chalks on a blackboard.

Interior of Bonchaz Bakery Cafe

Bonchaz has a lot of things on the menu, such as sandwiches, coffee, soup, and of course the bonchaz pastries. We only had bon chaz in mind, so we were not really interested in the other items on the menu. However, we were told by the server that they actually ran out of bonchaz and were preparing more. She said that we would have to wait one hour before they would be ready. We had nothing else to do that day anyway, so we decided to wait. Also, my mom was coming to visit from Taiwan that very night, and we wanted her to try some too.

While waiting, we discovered a cozy seating area near the back of the cafe, with a bookcase full of board games beside it. Mochi wanted to try Scrabble, so we learned how to play Scrabble while waiting for the bonchaz. One hour went by very quickly, and the next thing we knew, the bonchaz were done!

We got a box of 6 for $8.95, and got all four flavours: the Original Bonchaz, Banana Walnut, Chocolate Truffle, and Flavour of the day (which was green tea).

Mix and match 1/2 dozen $8.95

The Original Bonchaz 3/5

This original bonchaz is dusted with icing sugar. The bread tastes soft and is topped with a sweet and crumbly topping. It is not too sweet and it tastes the best after heating it for a few minutes in the oven because if it is left out for too long, the topping becomes soft and less crumbly.

Banana Walnut Bonchaz 3/5

This bonchaz is topped with California walnuts and filled with a fresh banana filling. Again, it is not too sweet and the crunchy topping with the toasted walnuts tasted great with the banana filling.

Chocolate Truffle 4/5

This one is my favourite flavour out of all four of them. It is topped with chocolate sprinkles and filled with a 70% cocoa filling that tastes rich and chocolatey.

Flavour of the day: Green tea bonchaz 2/5

I didn’t really like this one as much as the other flavours. The green tea bonchaz is topped with toasted coconut and filled with a green tea filling. I thought the green tea filling tasted a bit sour compared to the rest of the pastry bun.

Overall the service was great though. The server who helped us gave us a discount since we waited over an hour for our order, and she was very friendly and nice.

It was nice to spend a cold and stormy Friday afternoon in this cozy cafe, listening to nice music and playing Scrabble with Milk Tea and Mochi. I was temporarily able to forget all my worries from school and life and just lived in the moment. :)

Food 3/5
Service 5/5
Ambiance 3/5


Bonchaz Bakery Cafe on Urbanspoon

Jean Philippe Patisserie

Over the Christmas holiday when I was in Las Vegas, I had the chance to visit Jean Philippe Patisserie. There are two on the strip; one in Bellagio and one in Aria. The one in Bellagio is the original one, with the world’s largest chocolate fountain that holds the Guinness World Records, measuring 8m tall.

The chocolate fountain in Jean Philippe's. The mirrors above the fountain create the illusion that there is chocolate flowing towards the ceiling.

I have never heard about Jean Philippe Patisserie until I saw it in Las Vegas,  but Milk Tea informed me that they are famous for their desserts. Of course we had to try it, since they don’t have Jean Philippe’s in Vancouver!

On our last night in Vegas, we decided to have a late midnight snack in Aria’s Jean Philippe, which is conveniently located right across from our hotel (Vdara).

A long line-up in Jean Philippe's at Aria

When we arrived, it was already 11pm, and yet the line-up was still so long! It was beautiful inside though, and everything looked fancy and delicious. From gelato to chocolates, the choice was endless.

Candies and chocolates

Sandwiches and panini's

Crepe and toppings

Chocolates at Jean Philippe's

I heard from Milk Tea that their chocolates are not that good, considering that they are quite expensive so it’s not worth the price.

Cakes and pastries

More cakes and pastries

Gelato

There was a really long line-up for the gelato, so it must be very good! I wanted to try some, but I was craving for something savory so I made up my mind to get their crepe.

Crepe with chicken breast, mushrooms, and Mozzarella cheese 5/5

I think all of the savory crepes at Jean Philippe’s are made from buckwheat, which gives the crepes a brown colour. This crepe was one of the best crepes I have ever had. I was pleasantly surprised that it came with a side of salad (which was a delicious blend of cherry tomatoes, arugula, and other greens). The crepe had everything I enjoyed inside it: cheese, mushrooms, chicken. It was a bit pricey, like everything else on the menu, but it did not disappoint.

Sweet crepe with caramelized bananas and whipped cream 4/5

This was Mochi’s crepe. He prefers sweet crepes over savory ones, so he decided to try the one with caramelized bananas and whipped cream. I thought it was interesting how the sweet crepes and savory crepes were folded and filled differently. The savory crepes had filling inside the crepe and folded into the triangular shape that I am used to seeing, whereas the sweet crepes had the fillings placed on top and was folded into a rectangular shape.

The trays used to hold the crepes are very beautiful too. The packaging is first class here! If you request your crepes to go, they have large lids to put on top of the trays as to not squish the crepes.

Raspberry tart 3/5

This was Milk Tea’s raspberry tart. It was made with fresh raspberries and filled with a pistachio and raspberry filling. The raspberries were a bit sour, and balanced out the sweetness of the tart below. I thought the design was very creative as well.

Tiramisu 5/5

JL had the tiramisu. I tried a small bite, and it tasted like heaven. It was topped off with Oreo crumbles and two pieces of handmade marshmallow cubes. The layers of cream and chocolate below were not too sweet, and melted in my mouth. I would definitely get this the next time I’m back at Jean Philippe’s!

Overall, Jean Philippe Patisserie was pricey; but for the great quality food that you get, it was well worth the splurge.
Jean Philippe Patisserie (Aria) on Urbanspoon

Fleuri

On Valentine’s Day, Mochi took me out for dinner at a nice restaurant in Sutton Place Hotel. It was on Valentine’s Day, so there was a set menu everyone had to get. It was a three-course dinner with a chocolate buffet at the end.

Fleuri's Valentine Menu

Fleuri is quite a big restaurant; there were quite a bit of people, but it was not crowded and there were empty tables, which meant hardly any line-up at the chocolate buffet!

To start, we were served complimentary bread and butter.

Complimentary bread with butter

The bread wasn’t warm, but they were soft and there were three different types: two different white breads, and a whole grain one with walnuts inside. I had the walnut one and it was delicious!

The first dish was an Albacore Tuna Crudo.

Albacore Tuna Crudo with orange, squid ink, cod roe, and crispy salami

Mochi really enjoyed the squid ink, as did I. I think the presentation of this dish is really beautiful and artistically plated. It tasted great too! The crispy salami and single piece of what I presume to be deep-fried noodle(?) really added flavour and balanced out the taste of the tuna and squid. The orange pieces added some sweetness to this dish. This unique dish was a great appetizer and all the flavours blended well together.

The next dish was the butter poached lobster:

Butter poached lobster with carrot pudding, carbonnara, fennel, and micro greens

The lobster was succulent and fresh, and the plating of this dish was again, elegant and beautiful. At first I thought the orange pudding was pumpkin, but it was actually carrot~ The greens served with all of their dishes also tasted very fresh and delicious.

For the main, I could pick between either the beef tenderloin or the sablefish and shellfish pot au feu. I picked the tenderloin, so Mochi picked the sablefish.

Beef tenderloin with forest mushroom ragout, horseradish foam, and aged cheddar croquette

Sablefish and shellfish pot au feu with creamy curry emulsion and consomme, clams, mussels, sweet peas, and curry squash

I asked for the beef tenderloin to be cooked medium, and it was cooked perfectly. It was tender and still pink inside. It was pretty filling though, and I had to give Mochi a lot of mine.

The sablefish that Mochi got was very delicious. A broth was poured over it after it was served on the table, and if you enjoy seafood, this is definitely a good dish to try! There was a generous amount of mussels and clams, and the sablefish flaked nicely and it tasted scrumptious with the soup. The only thing I did not like about this dish was the bitter plant that they put in this dish; I’m not exactly sure what plant it was, but it looked like a skinny carrot, but it was a lot paler in colour. It was some kind of root.

For dessert, we tried Fleuri’s chocolate buffet. Fleuri’s chocolate buffet is rated as being the #1 chocolate buffet in the world, and I can see why! I didn’t get to try every single thing, but from what I had, I enjoyed all of them. My favourite though has to be the freshly-made crepes.

Freshly made crepes

Crepe toppings such as whipped cream and Grand Marnier pastry cream

My crepe with a scoop of vanilla gelato

They offer other gelato flavours (such as chocolate, strawberry, and caramel) as well as sorbets to top off your crepe. The crepes here are one of the best I have had. They taste a bit chewy, and makes me wonder if they added mochiko flour into it? It reminds me a bit of the crepes that they serve at the Japanese konbinya on Robson st.

Here are some of their other desserts:

Chocolate mousse cup

Triple chocolate croissant bread pudding

This bread pudding was so good that I attempted to make it a few days after (and succeeded). Yum~ I’ll post up the recipe if I ever get around to it.

Almond macaroons

These macaroons are so cute; they are heart-shaped (for Valentine’s Day)! They tasted quite chewy, and the shell was a bit crunchy. Macaroons were not my favourite dessert (until I tried Soirette’s). At least the ones at Fleuri were not as sweet as the ones served in the Wicked Spoon buffet in Las Vegas.

Chocolate fondue with fruits

There were many different fruits, such as cantaloupe, honeydew melon, strawberries, grapes, and pineapple.

Additional toppings for the fondue

These are additional toppings that you can coat your fruits with after they have taken a bath in the chocolate pool. The dark chocolate shavings were great, and so were the toasted almond slices.

Cream puffs

I thought these cream puffs would be filled with pastry cream or whipped cream, but nope! Since this was a chocolate buffet, they were filled with chocolate mousse~

Opera slice

Here are some other desserts that I did not try:

White chocolate cheesecake

Milk Chocolate Raspberry Mousse

Pecan brownies

Silk Pie

Chocolate truffle cake

By the end of the night, I have eaten enough chocolate to satisfy me for an entire month! It was a delicious dinner nonetheless. Fleuri was also very thoughtful and gave each lady a beautiful long stem red rose at the end of the evening.

<3

Next time I will go back just for their chocolate buffet.

Thanks for the lovely dinner, Mochi! I had a great time. :)

Fleuri on Urbanspoon

Happy Valentine’s Day

Happy Valentine’s Day to everybody (one day late)!

I hope that you all had a good day with your loved ones. Valentine’s day might be seen as overrated to some people, but I think it’s just a day to celebrate all the people that you love, whether that’s a friend, a sibling, or a partner. In this day and age when everybody is too busy with their own lives, at least there’s still a day in the year when we remember to stop and say “I love you”.

Happy Valentine's Day! <3

Italian Tomato Restaurant

Yesterday I attended a friend’s birthday party. She decided on Italian Tomato, her favourite restaurant, for dinner. I was very excited because I really enjoy Italian cuisine and I haven’t had pasta in a while!

Italian Tomato - Exterior

Entrance

This restaurant is situated in Richmond and from outside it didn’t look like much. It wasn’t too hard to find by car, so Mochi drove us there right on time. It is also located near the Canada Line (Bridgeport station).

The inside of the restaurant looks very lovely, with a nice Italian look to it. The kitchen was clearly visible, and there was also a bar to serve up alcoholic drinks.

Interior of the restaurant

The menu contained soups, salads, pasta, specialty dishes (such as lasagna), pizza, and calzones. I have never had a calzone but it’s basically a rolled-up pizza. Someone ordered one and it was shaped like a football (around the same size too!) with pizza filling inside.

Menu

After we ordered, we received complimentary bread. It was just white crusty bread (similar to the loaves sold at Superstore but with less crust). The bread would’ve tasted a lot better if it was warm, but it was quite cold. The butter was cold too, which makes it hard to spread the bread with. However, the bread was soft and I was starving since I waited for an hour for everyone to arrive, it really helped to satiate my hunger.

Complimentary bread and butter

For pasta, you have to first choose what kind of pasta you would like, and then choose the sauce. I selected penne for my pasta and funghi for my sauce (a cream sauce with mushrooms). Mico ordered the polpette bolognese (basically just spaghetti with meatballs). I wish I had shared the dish with Mochi because the plate was huge!! Too bad there had to be a minimum order of $14.95 per person.

Penne with creamy mushroom sauce $16.95

Polpette Bolognese (spaghetti) $20.95 - see the meatballs in the next image

Meatballs that go with the Polpette Bolognese

I ended up only finishing half and I had to pack up the rest. Out of the 15+ people who were there, only one person managed to finish everything on the plate.

Frankly speaking, the quality of the pasta wasn’t the best. It tasted good (until I was stuffed and felt a bit nauseous). I felt like it was more quantity over quality. For the same price you can get good quality pasta with just the right portion. I still prefer Frankie’s Italian Kitchen and I wouldn’t recommend Italian Tomato to anyone who’s looking for good quality pasta.

My complaint for Italian Tomato is that if they know that almost no one can finish their dishes, why not let two people share a dish? However, they require a minimum order of $15.95 per person. To be honest, I find that to be quite unnecessary. Also, after I took my food home and microwaved it for lunch the next day, the cream sauce completely melted into a pool of greasy oil. I don’t know if that’s supposed to be normal or not but it was a bit gross.

Italian Tomato on Urbanspoon