Banana Leaf Vancouver BC
I was in Vancouver, BC 2 weeks ago and I went to Canada to run the Lululemon SeaWheeze half marathon. I run with the Lululemon running group here in my neighborhood and enjoy the experience and camaraderie immensely. Multiple studies have shown and I can attest to the fact that exercising in a group or with a buddy is the surest path to success. My running group keeps me accountable and they make those dang miles fly by quickly! Lululemon SeaWheeze Half Marathon I have made it my mission to try Malaysian restaurants whenever I travel and boy was I lucky! Vancouver has 5 Malaysian restaurants but unfortunately I only had time to try 1! Banana Leaf Vancouver BC has five locations and I ate at the Davie St location. The restaurant space is larger than it seems on the outside. It has a nice SEAsian decor with Malaysian batik cloth and wooden carvings tastefully displayed on it’s brightly colored walls. It is most definitely a casual restaurant, more of a cafe atmosphere and reservations are definitely highly recommended as they fill up quickly. All food descriptions were taken from the menu. Location Cocktail Lychee Mojito Appetizers Roti Canai Flaky layered bread served with coconut curry sauce. One of India’s great culinary contributions to Malaysia. Gado Gado Hot bean sprouts and tofu, with cucumber, potato and green beans. Topped off with egg and satay peanut sauce Entrees Beef Rendang Boneless lean beef stewed in spicy coconut gravy. Char Kuey Teow Fried flat rice noodles in sweet chilli, soy sauce, egg, bean sprouts, shrimp, fish cakes and squid. Dessert Kuih Dadar Pandan flavored crepe filled with dried coconut which has been steeped in gula melaka or palm sugar. Overall Review I feel a little ridiculous saying this but everything was truly terrific! The beef rendang curry and Char Kuey Teow were true standouts. The beef rendang curry had so much flavor as should be when this dish is braised properly. There are no shortcuts to a good beef rendang and it was so nice to have such an outstanding one outside of Malaysia. The Char Kuey Teow was simply amazing. It had that all important wok hei or fragrance from the wok akin to the barbecue flavoring that accompanies grilled meats. The wok hei makes this dish almost impossible to replicate for home cooks unless you are one of the fortunate few who have access to a very large cooking flame (which is also a sure sign that you should try out for Iron Chef)! Char Kuey Teow is one of my all time favorite comfort foods, so a big thank you goes out to Banana Leaf Vancouver BC for all the wonderful memories that this sublime dish evoked! The service was excellent. Our waiter was very knowledgeable and attentive to our dietary needs and requests. They have a large menu which also includes some Thai and Indonesian dishes. They also have a fixed price tasting menu for lunch and dinner. Most entrees cost around C$15 and they are open 7 days a week from 11:30 am to 10:00 pm on weekdays and 10:30 pm on weekends. Vancouver, BC Of course, I can’t end this post without posting some of the photos I took of beautiful Vancouver. I also especially want to thank Gillian, a fellow food blogger whom I met at the Food Fight Write Conference here in Las Vegas last year. Gillian hosted me for a few days in Vancouver and we got to visit Granville Island and most importantly try some terrific food. Gillian is today’s epitome of a renaissance woman. She is a retired physician and biochemist who reviews restaurants, wine, theater performances, books, travel and also somehow manages to find time to ballroom dance! She writes at Review from The House. It really was such a fantastic trip; a sort of homecoming for me because I went to high school in Vancouver and this trip brought back such wonderful memories. I’ll most definitely be back next year and can’t wait to explore and rediscover more of beautiful British Columbia! I was in Vancouver, BC 2 weeks ago and I went to Canada to run the Lululemon SeaWheeze half marathon. I run with the Lululemon running group here in my neighborhood and enjoy the experience and camaraderie immensely. Multiple studies have shown and I can attest to the fact that exercising in… Banana Leaf Vancouver BC Banana Leaf Vancouver BC 2015-08-28 Lila Asnani Lila's Review Service Flavor Price Cleanliness 83 Most definitely worth a visit. Terrific food and ambiance and great value for the high quality. User Rating: No Ratings Yet ! 83
IFBC 2015 Seattle
IFBC 2015 Seattle I am always looking for opportunities to improve myself as a blogger and conferences are a great way to do just that. They are good opportunities to learn new skills (like social media promotion) and hone in on current skills, which always involve writing in some shape and form for me. I also really enjoy meeting other bloggers and networking with them. There are also many different sponsors that attend these events, so the conferences are always a good test of your social skills! Last month, I attended the IFBC (International Food Blogging Conference) which was held in Seattle. I am doing a 3 part, interspersed series on my IFBC 2015 Seattle experience and this is the first installment. (Consider this a diary of sorts.) I last visited Seattle 4 years ago and Seattle has changed a lot since then. It has a thriving and exciting food scene and I love their emphasis on sustainability and local products. This shouldn’t be surprising when you consider the abundance of nearby farms, in addition to all the amazing seafood that comes from the Pacific ocean and of course Alaska. I also love it that they have an extremely efficient light rail system that brought me from the airport to my hotel in downtown Seattle, for $3 in 35 min! I explored Seattle a little and one of the highlights was my visit to Pike’s Market. My sister in-law, Gina runs a lavender business at the market. Lejardindejordan is a small family business that hand makes all their products. Gina imports the lavender locally and from France and sells items like lavender bath and linen sachets, linen sprays, bath soaps and stress balls. Pike’s Market Seattle Gina’s stress balls are filled with lavender flowers so they release the soothing and pleasing lavender fragrance when squeezed. No oils or perfumes are used, so the fragrance lasts longer, and the more the stress balls are squeezed, the more fragrance is released. I’m a natural fidgeter so these stress balls come in mightily handy when I am mulling over my writing. The squeezing motion accompanied by the lavender fragrance does wonders for my concentration and helps me refocus on the subject at hand! Lejardindujordan Lavender Stressballs A study by the University of Maryland on the health benefits and history of lavender explores the use of “this herb as a remedy for a range of ailments from insomnia and anxiety to depression and fatigue. Research has confirmed that lavender produces slight calming, soothing, and sedative effects when its scent is inhaled”. The study also discusses precautions and possible interactions and I highly recommend that you peruse this study if you would like to learn more about the healing properties of lavender. Lejardindujordan Lavender Products Gina also does mail order and I have given her lovely bath sachets as baby shower favors to much success. So if you’re ever in Seattle, drop by her market stand and tell her I sent you. If her high quality products don’t charm you then her personality and sweet smile surely will! Another highlight was my dining experience at the Space Needle. The Space Needle was built for the 1962 World’s Fair and drew over 2.3 million visitors! Did you know that they still hold World’s Fairs? This year it is in Milan, Italy and I wonder what the Italians will build to mark the occasion? The Space Needle is 605 ft high and 138 ft wide. It is built to withstand winds up to 200 miles/hr and a 9.1 magnitude earthquake. There is an observation deck at 520 ft and the rotating SkyCity restaurant is just below, at 500 ft. Seattle Space Needle We dined at the SkyCity restaurant and I had Caesar salad and mushroom bisque. I truly couldn’t have eaten a full meal. You see, the thing about Food Blogging Conferences is that they always feed you and they feed you well! So I had spent the whole day nibbling on delicacies like fresh oysters, smoked salmon, charchuterie, cheeses and of course, wine, wine and more wine. I know, it’s a tough life but someone has to do it….! These were 2 of my favorite outings during my time at IFBC 2015 Seattle and I will write more about the actual food workshops in upcoming posts which will be published in between new restaurant reviews.
As many of you know, my hubby is a US Men’s National Soccer Team super fan. We try to attend as many of their games (nationally and internationally) as possible. Two weeks ago we traveled to Washington, DC to watch the USMNT play an international friendly game against Peru. USA vs Peru RFK Stadium Aren’t all games friendly? Yes, (well somewhat depending on the rivalry and crowd response) but some soccer matches are specifically called friendlies because that’s just what they are; a non competitive exhibition game between 2 teams. National teams will usually play friendlies before a big tournament because it can help the coaches and managers select the best players for the upcoming competition. The USMNT has a big upcoming match against Mexico on Oct 10th,2015 for the CONCACAF cup in Pasadena, so this game was a great opportunity for the USMNT coach, Jurgen Klinsmann to assess his players. Go USA! Sometimes I even surprise myself! All that soccer lingo and jargon that my hubby has been imparting towards me in our 24 years of marriage has apparently sunk in more than even I could have ever predicted! We also did some sightseeing while we were in DC and I maybe just a tad bias, but every visit to Washington, DC reaffirms my belief that it is one of the prettiest capital cities in the world. Washington, DC We ate at a Malaysian restaurant, Penang Bethesda on our visit. It was located in Bethesda, Maryland, in a very charming neighborhood which is surrounded by many diverse eateries. The restaurant itself is located at about a 10 min walk from the downtown Bethesda metro stop, very manageable especially on a lovely Summer evening. The interior decoration was interesting. They mention that they had just undergone a renovation and I suspect they’re going for swanky but I would call it more family friendly. Bonus: there were lots of Asian even Malaysian families eating when we were there on a Saturday night, so I reckon it is a pretty good indication of their authenticity. We were seated immediately and the restaurant was bustling that evening. All food descriptions were taken from the menu. Location Appetizer Roti Canai: Malaysian crispy Indian style pancake with curry chicken as dipping sauce. Verdict: homemade and buttery. Entrees 1. Bak Kut Teh: Chinese HERBAL soup with pork rib, tofu & mushroom. Verdict: Tender pork ribs and hearty flavored. 2. Char Kway Teow: Penang’s famous stir fried flat rice noodles in home-made soya sauce with shrimp, squid, chive, bean sprout, egg and chili paste. Verdict: Fair and had the requisite wok hei or smoky flavor. Technically this particular dish should be called Char Mee ( fried thin noodles) because Kway Teow(refers to wide rice noodles). It’s like ordering fettuccine and getting spaghetti. Sure, they’re both noodles but the whole point of this dish is the use of wide rice noodles so I am a little puzzled about this interpretation. 3. Pad Thai: Stir fried flat rice noodles in Authentic Thai chili sauce with tofu & bean sprout, top with crushed peanut. Verdict: “Best Pad Thai Ever!” according to my daughter who orders this dish at every SEAsian food outing. Dessert 1. Mango Pudding: Cold mango Jell-O topped with fresh mango, shaved ice, syrup & milk. Verdict: Refreshing and loved the fresh mango slices. 2. Chendol: Shaved ice served with red bean, green pea flour strip & brown coconut sugar. Verdict: sweet and a must try especially if you have never tasted brown coconut sugar. Yes, I know the green pea flour strips look a little weird but they’re like plain jello (a little flavorless) and it’s added more for color and texture. Overall Review Outstanding dishes: Roti Canai, Bak Kut Teh and Pad Thai. The service was just OK. The waiters were not surly but they weren’t exactly friendly either. I would expect this standard of service possibly if we were dining at the neighborhood cafe or kopitiam in Penang, Malaysia but even that maybe a stretch. The last time I visited Penang, Malaysia the service at most cafes and even hawker stalls were actually quite good, probably due to the large number of international tourists that have now discovered the foodie heaven of Penang, Malaysia. This Penang restaurant is part of the Penang chain of restaurants here in the US. They are a franchise so each Penang restaurant is individually owned which may account for the varied quality in food and service that I have encountered at the different Penang restaurants around the nation. The Penang Bethesda restaurant has an extensive Malaysian and Thai menu and deliver within the Bethesda area. Most entrees are around $15 unless you order specialty items like jumbo prawns or whole fish. They offer lunch specials and are open daily from 11:30 am-9:30 pm (10pm on fri and sat). Lastly and I really hate that I have to mention this, but the restaurant would benefit immensely from regular restroom checks. As many of you know, my hubby is a US Men's National Soccer Team super fan. We try to attend as many of their games (nationally and internationally) as possible. Two weeks ago we traveled to Washington, DC to watch the USMNT play an international friendly game against Peru. [caption… Penang Bethesda Penang Bethesda 2015-09-16 Lila Asnani Lila's Review Service Flavor Price Cleanliness 60 Good food but needs improvement in service on all fronts. User Rating: No Ratings Yet ! 60