Cheesecake Factory – Downtown Seattle

At the beginning of the month, I was lucky enough to visit Tuliptown with Mochi’s family and MilkTea and catch the last of the tulips for the tulip festival. Since Mt. Vernon, Washington was so close to Seattle, we decided to swing by downtown Seattle for a late lunch. Of course we chose to go to Cheesecake Factory after the great time that we had at the Portland, Oregon location last time.

Exterior of Cheesecake Factory – Downtown Seattle

The interior looked the same as the Portland Cheesecake Factory, since it’s a chain restaurant. We started off with a basket of complimentary bread.

Complimentary Bread
5/5

Warm, delicious bread~ The whole wheat brown bread was the winner. It tasted great with butter and it had a sweet taste (from brown sugar, maybe).

Monterey Cheeseburger – $11.95
5/5

This cheeseburger came with melted Monterey Jack cheese, avocado, arugula, and red onion. Avocado and arugula are two of my favourite fruits and vegetables, which was why I picked this burger. I thought it was good, but very filling. It was also quite hard for me to bite it without sauce and filling getting everywhere (it was quite a handful).

Pasta Carbonara – $10.95?
3/5

This pasta consisted of spaghettini with smoked bacon, peas, and a garlic-parmesan cream sauce. The pasta was cooked al dente, and the bacon, peas, and sauce mixed well with each other. However, it was much too salty for my liking.

Barbeque Ranch Chicken Salad – $14.50
4/5

A delicious combination of avocado, tomato, grilled corn, black beans, cucumber, and romaine. It was completed with grilled chicken and topped off with onion strings. I enjoyed the combination of this salad, but I didn’t like how everything was so chopped up in this salad. Otherwise it had a nice mix of everything, and makes for a healthy meal too!

Skinnylicious Turkey & Avocado Sandwich – $9.95
4/5

I’m glad to see a special menu at the Cheesecake Factory for those people who are trying to watch their weight, because most of their food items come in such large portions that it’s hard to control how much you are eating without overdoing it. This sandwich had turkey, ripe avocado, and a couple slices of bacon.

Fresh Strawberry Cheesecake
5/5

Last but not least, we finished off by sharing a slice of Cheesecake Factory’s fresh strawberry cheesecake. My favourite cheesecake flavour from the Cheesecake Factory is still their Red Velvet Cheesecake, but this one was great as well. Their plain cheesecake, topped with fresh strawberries and whipped cream made a simple yet delicious combination. The strawberries were really sweet too! :)

I wish that they can bring Cheesecake Factory to Vancouver!! Their cheesecakes taste much better than True Confections.
Cheesecake Factory on Urbanspoon

Bread Pudding

As I mentioned in my Fleuri post, I attempted to make the chocolate croissant bread pudding after having it at the chocolate buffet in Sutton Place Hotel.

The recipe I used came from allrecipes.com: Bread Pudding Recipe.

I tweaked the recipe up a bit so that it would fit into one loaf pan. I basically halved the recipe, but added extra milk and egg into the pudding mixture. I didn’t add any raisins nor cinnamon. I also sprinkled in some semi-sweet chocolate chips into the bread, then topped it all off with a croissant (broke it into pieces) and more chocolate chips. I personally don’t like it when bread pudding is too sweet, so I added a bit less sugar.

The product:

Chocolate Croissant Bread Pudding

Yum! :) Success!

The result was a bread pudding that smelled like buttery croissants, swirled with melted semi-sweet chocolate chips, and tasted moist and eggy. Mmm~

Suika

Suika means “watermelon” in Japanese. Suika is also the name of a Japanese restaurant located on West Broadway. It is an izakaya, like Guu. For lunch, Suika serve lunch sets; for dinner, they serve small plates. I heard that it’s not exactly a place you’ll get full from if you go for dinner.

Anyway, Mochi, Milktea, JL, and I, along with a few friends, decided to go to Suika for lunch one day.

Suika – Japanese Snack Bar

We arrived at 1pm for lunch and the place was packed. Good thing we made a reservation so we were seated almost right away. It was quite spacious inside, and everything was made out of wood: tables, floor, chairs; it gave the place a nice and rustic look. I especially liked their ceiling lights!

Ceiling lights at Suika made from beer bottles

Mochi was not too interested in their lunch menu, and so he asked the friendly waitress whether he can order from the dinner menu. She replied that it was perfectly fine.

I ordered the Double Tonkatsu Set from the lunch menu:

Double Tonkatsu Set – $12.80
5/5

I loved the presentation of this set. The pork loin cutlet was coated in panko (bread crumbs) and deep fried to perfection. It came with two different dipping sauces, a bowl of rice, miso soup, a bowl with sesame seeds, some kimchi, and some grated radish. MilkTea told me that the proper way to eat tonkatsu was to first mash up the sesame seeds, then pour one of the sauces into the bowl (soy sauce). The tonkatsu was then ready to be eaten by dipping them into the two sauces, and the grated radish was to help get rid of the oily taste.

The tonkatsu was crispy on the outside, and extremely flavourful. The miso soup was very good as well, and it had a few pieces of carrot and radish inside.

Deluxe “Suika” Box – $10
3/5

This box came with nine different kinds of appetizers. Some tasted better than others. I really enjoyed the tofu cup and the chicken cup. Others were a bit plain, such as the bread cup and the tomato cup. It was visually appealing though!

Complimentary Salad

Oh yes, I forgot to mention that Suika gave us a huge bowl of salad while we were waiting for our meal to arrive. It was a very simple salad, with lettuce and vinaigrette, but it was very nice of them to do that! :) It made the entire experience that much better.

Sashimi “Shake” Salad – $7.80
5/5

JL’s sashimi “shake” salad. We were wondering why it was called a shake salad until our server brought it over. The salad came in a jar. Basically, the sashimi, vegetables, and sauces are all put into a glass jar and then shaken up, hence the name “shake” salad. The greens and sashimi tasted fresh, and I especially enjoyed the tobico.

Sable fish?
3/5

This was on their special menu for lunch. I think it was sable fish. It was quite a small piece, and in terms of taste it was not bad. I just didn’t like having to pick the tiny bones out, which is why I tend to stick to cod and salmon sashimi.

Tuna Tataki – $6
5/5

Mmm.. Tuna tataki! It was drizzled with homemade chili oil, complete with scallions and sliced onions.

Negitoro Battera – $9.80
4/5

This pressed sushi was topped with tuna belly and avocado, and drizzled with a seaweed sauce. MilkTea really enjoyed this sushi. I thought it tasted good as well, and everything melted in my mouth. However, for almost the same price, I still preferred Miku’s aburi sushi.

The Good:
– Friendly staff
– Great service
– Creative food

The Bad:
– Parking was hard to find
– Have to order a lot to get full for dinner
Suika on Urbanspoon

Nao Sushi

I would pass by Nao Sushi whenever I visited JL’s house, but it never struck me as a restaurant I would like to go try because it was not conspicuous and I have never heard anyone talk about it. However, MilkTea has always wanted to try it out, and after asking around, it seemed like Nao Sushi was actually quite popular! Apparently it’s known for having delicious and authentic Japanese food (since it’s a Japanese-run restaurant), albeit on the pricier side.

Exterior of Nao Sushi

Right off the bat, I wanted to try their cream cheese roll. They call it the JB roll here. I hope that it doesn’t stand for Justin Bieber.

JB Roll – $3.50
5/5

The roll was very small, but each piece was bite-size which was nice. The cream cheese was soft and the flavour blended well with the smoked salmon. Smoked salmon and cream cheese, two of my favourites in one sushi. Mmm~ :)

Alaska Roll – $3.95
4/5

Sushi Garden’s Alaska rolls are still my favourite. This Alaska roll was again, smaller than what I’m used to, but the ingredients tasted delicious and fresh, and the avocado was soft and ripe.

Salmon Sashimi – $9.80
5/5

Sashimi Salad
5/5

Nao Sushi serves delicious sashimi salad. JL always orders a sashimi salad whenever we go to a Japanese restaurant, so I have tried sashimi salad from Suika, Sushi garden, Guu, and now Nao Sushi. Nao’s sashimi salad is different in that it’s topped with tortilla chips, which adds a crunch to the salad. This salad is pretty filling and for one person, it would probably constitute half a meal.

Ichi Roll – $8.50
4/5

The Ichi Roll is one of Nao Sushi’s special rolls and consists of crab, tobico, scallop, tamago, and avocado all wrapped in rice and rice paper instead of nori. It was my first time having a sushi that used rice paper instead of seaweed, but the rice paper didn’t have much flavour. The filling was good, and I could taste the crab.

Dragon Roll – $6.50
5/5

This special roll was eel topped with avocado. I thought that the avocado and sauce combo on top of the sushi looked beautiful. This tasted better than the Ichi Roll, and the avocado was perfect.

Seared Toro (top) – $1.80 & Seared Hamachi – $2.70
4/5 & 2/5

MilkTea has never had seared nigiri before, so we ordered the toro and hamachi. The nigiri had a bit of wasabi between the fish and the rice, and I liked the toro better than the hamachi.

Chicken Kamameshi
4/5

Chicken Kamameshi (inside)

Kamameshi is a Japanese rice dish cooked in an iron pot. It came in a cute little pot, and there was a little rice paddle included as well to scoop the rice into a bowl. There were pieces of chicken, and carrots and snow peas. Overall it was a very healthy rice dish, not too oily, but it lacked a bit of flavour.

Asari Sakamushi
4/5

Asari Sakamushi are asari clams steamed with Japanese sake. It’s simple, yet delicious. The clams did not have a fishy taste, and the broth that the clams were steamed in tasted great as well. It’s the perfect dish to order on a cold winter day.

I would definitely go back to Nao Sushi again. Next time I want to try their lunch specials!

The Good:
– Great tasting food
– Delicious sashimi salad
– Wonderful service

The Bad:
– It’s not exactly cheap, but the quality makes up for it
– Small portions, so you have to order quite a lot to get full

Nao Sushi on Urbanspoon

More Ali Shan Restaurant

Find the blog post on my first visit to Ali Shan Restaurant here: Ali Shan Restaurant

Yesterday I blogged about the visit to Ali Shan Restaurant (from a few weeks back), and today Mochi decided to go there again for lunch. My guess is that he couldn’t resist the picture of the deep fried yam balls! I already had lunch, so I just ordered snacks (deep fried yam balls and shaved ice) while Mochi ordered an chicken filet and tomato sauce omelette.

Omelette Rice, Deep Fried Chicken & Tomato Sauce – $8.20
3/5

This was Mochi’s omelette in tomato sauce, completed with a deep fried chicken filet. I must admit: I stole more bites than I should have. :P The potato salad tasted great, and the chicken was tender on the inside, and crispy on the outside. Yum! The omelette itself was filled with rice that had been tossed in ketchup so nothing too special there, and I didn’t like the way that the egg was prepared today. This tomato sauce omelette paled in comparison to the curry omelette I had last time, both in terms of appearance and taste. I also didn’t like the yellow vegetable. Mochi and I were both unsure as to what it was.. probably some sort of candied vegetable.. Possibly candied sweet potato??

Deep Fried Yam Balls – $3.50
5/5

[For my complete review on this snack, please see my blog post from my first visit: Ali Shan Restaurant]

It was a hot day today, so I decided to give Ali Shan’s shaved ice a try. Their shaved ice actually had a separate menu. You pick toppings and the price reflects that: it was $4.50 for 3 toppings, and $0.50 for each additional topping. I picked the taro cubes (芋圓), red beans, and taro. It also came with a sauce; I went with the condensed milk.

Shaved Ice (3 toppings) – $4.50
2/5

It took awhile for this order to come, because the taro cubes took a long time to prepare. The first thing I noticed was that the whole thing was melting very quickly. The taro cubes were chewy and tasty and it was the best topping out of the three. Red beans were what you would expect, but the  taro tasted horrible. They had a sour taste and did not blend well with the rest of the shaved ice. You can’t really go wrong with condensed milk, but as the ice melted too quickly, the condensed milk all gathered at the bottom and made this dessert too sweet to finish. I probably won’t be coming back again for their shaved ice. ><“

Ali Shan Restaurant

During the school year, Mochi and I had taken a course together which ended quite late in the evening (at around 7:15pm). We usually have dinner together after, and one night we weren’t sure we should go for dinner. Then Mochi remembered this restaurant that was located beside Crystal Mall and suggested that we go there. I didn’t have any objections of course, since they served Taiwanese food and I always enjoy trying out new restaurants.

Ali Shan Restaurant - Exterior

I have often passed by Ali Shan Restaurant when I go to Crystal Mall (which is not often since I find the mall to be too messy and disorganized) but have never ventured inside before since I have never heard anyone mention the place.

It was busy when we arrived, even though it was already past 8pm. We were promptly seated. The interior of the restaurant had nice decor and lighting, with some flat-screen TV’s. Mochi advised me not to order bubble tea, because they don’t make good drinks here.

I looked through the menu and decided immediately that I wanted to get the curry pork omelette. Mochi settled for the braised beef noodle. We also got Taiwanese chicken nuggets and something called “deep fried yam balls”.

For drinks, we could either choose red tea, or their soup of the day (radish soup). We both settled for red tea.

Red Tea – Complimentary
5/5

This red tea tasted just like the kind that I would get back in Taiwan. It had just the right level of sweetness, and a hint of wheat taste.

The first dish to arrive was Mochi’s braised beef noodles.

Braised Beef Noodle – $6.90
4/5

This beef noodle is like the kind that you would find in Taiwan. They gave a generous portion of beef and vegetables, and the noodles were not over-cooked. The soup base tasted flavourful, albeit a little too salty.

Next up were the Taiwanese chicken nuggets:

Chicken Nuggets – $4.20
3/5

These chicken nuggets tasted alright, but I think that they didn’t add enough basil. “The One” still has the best Taiwanese chicken nuggets in Burnaby.

Curry Pork Omelette – $8.20
4/5

The pork cutlet was nice and crispy, without being too dry, and the omelette was filled with curry rice. The curry was different than the usual curry that I’m used to (I’m used to the Japanese kind; this curry was a bit saltier), but it still tasted good. I enjoyed the potato salad as it helped to balance out the meal.

Deep fried yam balls – $3.50
5/5

This was my favourite dish of the night. It was sweet because of the yam, and had a chewy texture. It was kind of like a mix between bubble waffles and mochi. It reminded me of pon de ring donuts from Mister Donuts (see link here: Mister Donut). For some reason, they don’t offer this kind of donut here in Canada.. Which is a shame, because they are my favourite. >_<

All in all, I found the food at Ali Shan Restaurant to be cheap and yummy. Mochi and I were both stuffed by the end of the meal and still had leftovers to take home. Their service didn’t leave much of an impression on me so it must have been okay. :P

The Good
– Cheap price
– Authentic Taiwanese food
– Comfortable restaurant

The Bad
–  Some food were a bit on the salty side
Ali Shan Restaurant 阿里山品味餐廳 on Urbanspoon

Capstone Fondue

There aren’t that many places that offer fondue here in Vancouver. The first fondue place that I have ever tried was Capstone Fondue on Robson Street. I had their cheese fondue and overall, my experience was just average. Nothing special, and too expensive for what you get. This was a couple of years back, and a while ago I noticed that there was a Groupon for 50% off of fondue at Capstone, so I decided to give them another try.

I really like how they have an online reservation system on their website, especially because they don’t pick up phone calls so there would be no way to reserve by phone anyway.

Exterior of Capstone Fondue

Interior of Capstone Fondue

MilkTea, Mochi, JL, and I arrived at around 4pm, and it was already quite busy inside. The colour scheme inside was white and green. It was well-lit and it looked very pretty. They used to have bubble tea, but now they offer teas such as herbal teas and tea lattes (probably trying to change their image from a bubble tea place to a classy tea place).

We were promptly seated but we had trouble flagging down someone who could take our orders for us. After finally making our orders, we waited for quite some time before our orders came. We ordered a decadent cheesecake fondue for two and an ice-cream truffle fondue for two.

Individual pots of melted chocolate with a candle below

I liked these individual sized pots for the chocolate fondue. They didn’t have these the last time I was at Capstone.

Decadent Cheesecake Fondue for Two – $24.95
3/5

This is the cheesecake fondue. It came with cheesecake cubes, ice-cream balls (green tea, mango, strawberry, cookies&cream), lemon cake, banana bread, green tea(?) shortbread, and 4 toppings. The server didn’t even ask us what toppings we would like to choose.

I thought that the ice-cream “truffle centres” were the best, but they had to be eaten quickly because the melted chocolate did not stick well to melting ice cream. My teeth hurt a bit when I bit into the ice cream truffle, but I soon got used to it and it was tasty nonetheless. :)

Ice-cream truffle
5/5

The cheesecake cubes tasted alright, but after being at room temperature for a while, it started to melt and would crumble when we tried to pierce them with the little fondue forks. The lemon cake was too dry, green tea shortbread was too hard to pierce with the forks so we had to use our hands, and the banana cake was probably the next best thing after the ice-cream balls.

Next up, the ice-cream truffle fondue for two:

Ice-Cream Truffle Fondue for Two – $22.95
3/5

This one came with 16 ice-cream balls, shortbread, lemon cake, and banana cake. The only difference between this fondue set and the cheesecake one was that the cheesecake fondue set had cheesecake cubes and this one didn’t. Again, the server did not ask us what toppings we would like to have.

All in all, we were stuffed by the time we finished. The portions were good, and the individual pots were cute, but definitely not worth paying the original price for.

The Good:

– Ice-cream balls
– Individual pots
– Pretty store

The Bad:

– Pricey
– Bad service
Capstone Tea & Fondue on Urbanspoon