Day 2 in BC. Really? (Pinch, pinch).
Rise and “shine”, Beautiful City. 🙂
We woke up to A.M. drizzles. If waking up was hard to do, decision-making was even harder. With only four days to venture around Vancouver, Mr. Chi-Town and I caught ourselves silently going back-and forth with our to-do list. Priorities change once you get to your destination. I’d had too many to begin with. You know, Banff, Whistler, Victoria Island. Island hopping here and there. Check out the seaplane flights. May be even do a cross-country to Niagara Falls? Oh yea, was that crazy or what. My travel buddy, on the other hand, coolly refused to budge. His head was in the right place. Mine was all over Canada. Then hunger got our attention.
Still sore from last night’s dim-sum disappointment at Kirin, we decided to seek some sweet revenge. Fisherman’s Terrace Restaurant in the Aberdeen Mall in Richmond– again, was highly recommended by daughter #2. By making one stop, we’d kill two: must-eat-must-shop. By the time we hit the glistening wet roads, Mr. Chi-Town was already showing subtle signs of java deprivation. I, on the hand, was dreaming of a pot of hot, florally jasmine tea.
On the way, I caught a glance of what I first thought was Whole Foods? Well, as they say, “Don’t trust your eyes.”
Something told me that I shouldn’t leave BC without paying pilgrimage to this fancy-looking big W. More on this later.
When we got to the Aberdeen Center Mall, our excitement was short-lived. Why? The countless sections in the freezing cold underground parking lot were a doozy. And that Fisherman’s Terrace sign posting was nowhere to be seen. Anyway, we parked the car, took a pic of Little White, and randomly walked into a Chinese travel agency called “Charming Holidays” to inquire. A friendly Chinese agent gave us the direction “Walk out of this building, cross the parking lot, and walk into the other side of the building.” It was hard to wrap our heads around what exactly she was trying to say.
Frustrated and hungry, we got out into the freezing parking lot all over again. This time went with Mr. Chi-Town’s in-built GPS — the one he acquired as a Chicago cab driver in his 20s and entered one of the many different mall entrances. “Voila! There it was. About a 100 feet away. The Fisherman’s Terrace. Feeling famished, we brisk-walked into the restaurant burning the last bits of the calories from yesterday’s CAVU. An English-speaking Chinese waitress immediately sat us down. Little did we know that she was the only one who spoke English in the entire restaurant.
Before we could settle into our seats, my dream pot of hot jasmine tea came flying out of nowhere at lightning speed. As you can see, the tea came in a pretty little pot.
As hungry as we were that morning, the plan was not to over-indulge. Daughter #2 had told us to check out a few other eateries in this mall itself. While we were going through the extensive menu, an expression-less hawk-eyed waiter kept checking on us to see if we were ready to place an order. Feeling pressured, we went through the menu like lightning and placed the order. We also asked for some good chili sauce. Any chili sauce. It came. As ambitious as we were, all we got was a tiny dollop the size of toothpaste on a toothbrush smeared in a white porcelain dollhouse-sized saucer. Our hawk-eyed waiter disappeared. A few desperate attempts to flag down a substitute waiter or waitress were to no avail. We gave up and indulged.
First, we tried the siu mai. Oh my, it was juicy and seafoody. The little white “pearls” of fish roe generously garnished on top of the siu mai kicked the seafoody-ness a couple of notches. If you dig strong, “seafoody” flavor, this is YOUR siu mai. Mr. Chi-Town kept wolfing down these babes. I thought he dug ’em. This was the last siu mai standing. Pretty huh?
Next, we opted to try one of our big time favorites: Stuffed shrimp and eggplant. It’s actually shrimp paste smothered on three fluffy slices of eggplant and then pan-fried. I tell ya these springy, pillowy bombs were sitting in a little pool of ooey-gooey, sauce.
This shrimp and eggplant dish disappeared as fast as it came to the table. If I were to return to Fisherman’s Terrace, this is what I’d fish for. And oh, without question, I’d BMO sambal oelek.
Next, we had shrimp dumplings in a pretty yellow wrap (I call it “yellow jacket”). It was tasty, too. The big chunks of shrimps were delightful. They were very filling.
No dim sum is complete without the you know what? Char Siew Pau. These fluffy, irresistable steamed barbecue pork buns were pretty good actually. The snow-white dough was light and puffy. The rosy-red meat filling was not too sweet. Together, we downed two orders! This was the only dish that didn’t smell or taste too seafoody at all unlike the previous two.
Wow! Have you seen a “photogenic” pow like this before? Seafood Terrace places a lot of attention to detail. In other words, they focus on the freshest catch and makes sure the good stuff that comes out of the steamer has that red carpet look.
We could have kept on eating, but we had to save some space for any unexpected “surprises” while we were still in the mall. Our tummies were happy, but we needed to “burn” the pow, the “yellow jacket”, and the siu mai. Mooching around Aberdeen Mall filled with loud sounds, music, and strong whiffs of soy sauce, sesame oils, and baking butter, the Asian bakeries and clothes stores were fun to see. In many ways, it transported me back to the malls in Malaysia with their loud chatter.
I like bowls. If the bowls are Asian-themed, I love ’em! So a lovely art gallery-like store called “Utsuwa-No-Yakata” was interesting to browse. The people who ran the store were very friendly. With their kind approval, I took a few shots. See that cheeky polka-dotted Dory peeking at me?
If those weren’t enough, take a look at the ones below.
And oh…there was more here-lah! Waaa…pretty bowls complete with chopsticks fit for rice or noodle-loving aristocats.
Cute, cute, cute! Those little saucer-like plates? I’d use it to serve hot sambals and sliced chilis for roasted chicken rice, stir fried noodles or mee soup. What about you?
We continued to mooch around hoping to burn more calories. An Asian baby store reminded me of Bubbles, so I couldn’t help but buy a few niceties for her. I did see a cute qi pow for her, but it was a tad too big for her teeny-tiny size. The young lady told me to buy it and keep it until Bubbles is ready to wear it. Nice tactics, young lady!
Soon, we were overcome with smells of garlic, ginger, and soy. Mr. Chi-Town spotted a small, bustling Chef Hung Taiwanese Beef Noodle restaurant. It’s open kitchen concept with chefs messing with noodles and woks resembled Din Tai Fung except this place specialized in a stunning variety of award-winning beef noodle soups apart from other Taiwanese delicacies. Take a read at the info below.
See what I mean? It’s an award-winning beef noodle, folks! Couldn’t go home without sampling the smiling Chef Hung’s or I’d kick myself for not doing so. Mr. Chi-Town and I, though our bellies were still half full, sat down to split a signature “buttery” beef noodle soup with the special chewy noodles, which according to the personable waitress (thankfully she spoke fluent English!), was her #1 favorite. We took her word, splurged on a bowl, and added a bunch more calories.
Chef Hung’s was so worth it!
The broth was super beefy. It’s light anise-y flavor tasted something like it’s Malaysian counterpart bak-kut-teh. The beef was super tender and the broth was super belly warming. As it rained outside the window, we slurped in the delectable noodles. We both agreed that Chef Hung’s noodles were different and tastier than DTF (Sorry, Din Tai Fung.)
Golly! See how perfectly al dente they are?
We left the restaurant feeling a sense of accomplishment. There were lots to report to our family. It was already late in the afternoon and it was time to hit the road. Mr. Chi-Town kept mumbling about coffee, so we stopped at yet another quaint little glassy place called Beaucuop Bakery & Café.
The gentleman who manned this bakery was very outgoing. Even though we’d happened to arrive when they were about to close for the day, he and his assistants welcomed us warmly. While Mr. Chi-Town was waiting for his brewed coffee, I inquired about his baked goods. He proudly claimed that the croissants were one of the best in town. The spirally-textured croissants did look unusually delightful the way they were expertly rolled and baked. Plus, they were incredibly aromatic like the ones I used to eat at a bakery in England as a student. I had to try one. There and then! The one with dark chocolate.
I quickly tore open my beautiful croissant and took this lousy picture. Ah well. It was a picture taken in a hurry. At the back of my mind, Beaucoup was closing fast. I couldn’t afford to ask my croissant to pose for a photo, can I?This dark chocolate croissant was fluffy. Crisp and light on the outside and buttery-tender on the inside, boy, am I glad I tried one? With a smidgen of dark chocolate, the beautiful pastry was very light, airy, and fabulously flaky. Back in the car, I continued savoring it layer by layer unperturbed by the crumbs flying all over the car like confetti.
Sadly, I wasn’t lucky enough to take any photos inside the bakery since Beaucoup had sold out most of their goodies for the day. As a token of thanks, we bought a couple of desserts that were about to be cleared in the showcase as a takeout. The manager, fascinated that I was originally from Malaysia, picked out a box and placed a surprise in it and told us to enjoy it. Until today, it’s hard to believe how friendly and wonderful he was.
Let’s take a look at the goodies we got from Beaucoup Bakery & Café. First of all, Mr. Chi-Town likes anything citrusy. Like this sharp-looking lemon yuzu tart…
“It’s got a good crust. The lemony part is nice but soft, almost runny texture. Perhaps I should’ve eaten it at the bakery itself while waiting for my coffee” Mr. Chi-Town opined.
Beaucoup’s (deconstructed) apple tart like this one below aroused my curiosity. In my mind, I named it “the apfel tower.”
Verdict: Nice buttery crust. The vanilla bean custard filling was nice, not too sweet. And the thick “compressed” Granny Smith apple gelee-like square on top of the custard was actually quite interesting. It had a nice apple-y tartness to it. A thin slice of mojo-looking Granny was like a feather on the tart.
See those tiny bits of vanilla bean? Go ahead. Eat with your eyes.
The pretty box below was compliments from the manager.
Guess what the surprise was?
It was the most delightful-looking honey grapefruit and tarragon cheesecake.
It was a light cheesecake with a subtle grapefruit flavor. It wasn’t too sweet. The toppings included nice red and white grapefruit chunks and sweet cookie dough-like crumbs. How creative is that?
That evening, our hotel room became a danger zone. With all these remarkable-looking Beaucoup desserts staring at us, we decided to spare the mini fridge and serve ourselves. But there was one regret though. My mind kept going back to that croissant. I kicked myself for not packing a bunch home.
So much for Day 2. What an adventure! The trip to the Aberdeen Center, Fisherman’s Terrace, Utsuwa-No-Yakata, Chef Hungs’ Noodle, and Beaucoup Bakery & Cafe were memorable. The people we met along the way made us feel at home.
We were already dreading the idea of leaving Vancouver in a couple of days’ time. If Day 2 was a doozy, Day 3 was doozier. There was still so much more to explore. Time was my enemy. As I went to bed that night, I pinched myself again. Yes, we’re having a blast in BC, and yes, we need to check out that big W, and YES, that was one bad chocolate croissant!”