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Denman / West End Eats: Good times at Kingyo Izakaya

Last night – small birthday party for my hubby and his best friend. 2 bottles of sake and a lot of food later, we rolled out of Kingyo full and happy.

An izakaya is not your standard “”Japanese Restaurant” or Sushi Bar.  Traditionally it’s where you drink and have a bunch of small plates. Many izakayas in Vancouver also do some sushi and sashimi, but it’s not required…the focus is more on cooked food. I LOVE THEM. Beer/Sake and a bunch of food at an izakaya is one of my favourite pastimes.

Now, onto the meal:

The drinks: 2 bottle of Momokawa Pearl Sake – this is unfiltered sake, so it’s very cloudy. Don’t let that deter you from trying it though – the taste is great. And remember, cold sake is good sake. Hot sake bad. Bad!

The Food:
I don’t see a current menu online anywhere, but an older one is available in pictures here. I was too busy drinking sake, so I didn’t take great notes, but here’s what I remember us eating:

– Ebi Mayo – Deep fried prawns with a mayo sauce. Crispy and light. Every izakaya has their version. Kingyo is one of my faves.
– Fresh sashimi of the day: Scallop, Ebi, Hamachi, Salmon, Tuna
Top standout of the night: Pressed mackerel sushi. Thick pieces of fresh, seared mackerel, on squares of rice with an uber yummy sauce. This was soooooo good. So good.
– Chicken Karaage with three dipping salts
– Thinly sliced beef tongue that you grill on a hot rock at your table. Tender and flavourful.
– Spiced & fried squid
– Tofu pot of crisy tofu & mushrooms
– Tako Wasabi – raw octopus marinated with pickles and wasabi rolled in nori. Yum.
Standout #2 of the night: Shrimp tempura rice balls. Fried shrimp on top of a mound of sushi rice on top of crisp and light seaweed. Everyone at the table loved this dish
– Pork rice paper roll
– Grilled black cod/sable fish
– Grilled duck breast
Standout #3 of the night: Grilled kobe beek steak. So flavourful. As my friend put it, “you can taste every cell of fat in the meat” mmmm.

There was more food, but I am getting way too hungry thinking about this.

Service was friendly and speedy. On a Tuesday night, we didn’t wait long for a table but Kingyo gets pretty busy on weekends and summer nights. They take a limited number of reservations each night so call ahead if you can.

Kingyo Izakaya
871 Denman St, Vancouver

Kitsilano Eats: DB Bistro Moderne

I finally made it over to DB Bistro Moderne this weekend for the first time.

My friend and I arrived at 2:25pm, 5 minutes before they stopped seating for weekend brunch – whew!

First,  I just LOVE how different it looks from the Feenie’s days. Finally, that big furry thing of lamp in Feenie’s old dining room is gone. I never got that piece of decor.

Anyways, back to DB Bistro. Beautiful, open room with a red/black colour scheme. Elegant yet trendy. I give DB the edge on decor over Market.

I wanted to eat the burger, but I was not feeling the need for so much beef that afternoon, so I perused the menu for other options. I ordered the Caesar Salad with chicken while my friend opted for the Duck Poutine Lyonnaise (duck confit, cheese curds gravy, potatoes).

The food comes and it’s great. Simple food done right. The chicken with my salad was incredibly flavourful and tender, and the salad perfectly dressed with Caesar dressing. I have to say, I think this is now my favourite Caesar in Vancouver (my other favourite is the to-die-for grilled Caesar at Cru, but it is incredibly rich that I can only justify it on occasion). I snagged a potato from my friend’s duck poutine, which he deemed fantastic…rich and yummy. I’m also wishing I ordered some pomme frites as I saw some at another table and they looked good.

My friend and I were deep in a gossip session and had nowhere to go, so we ordered dessert and coffee. I loved my dessert – an exotic fruit sundae with coconut sorbet and a pineapple cream. Light and refreshing.

By now, it was about 4pm and one by one every member of the staff came into the dining room, each holding a different plate of food for the staff meal before dinner service. We took that as our cue to leave and headed back into the sunshine.

Service was excellent, professional and gracious. I never felt rushed, even though we were the last people in the restaurant for brunch service.

I’ll be back to dinner. I’d go back right now if I could!

DB Bistro Moderne
2551 West Broadway, Vancouver (@ Larch)

Vancouver Good Weekend Afternoon: Go Fish, Beer, and Granville Island

Late afternoon on a grey-ish Sunday afternoon. Walking to Granville Island in the light rain and Go Fish has no line-up! On a weekend afternoon, this is a rarity. I am thankful for the rain. At Go Fish I grabbed a cod tempura tacone, based on a famous salmon tacone. Crunchy and refreshing with a kick of spice – the perfect snack.

After the tacone, my hubby and I walked into Granville Island and were feeling thirsty, so we dropped by Granville Island Brewing for some Winter Ale. Next, onto the Net Loft so I could check out the newest outpost of Dream Apparel, which specializes in Canadian made designs. Some really great items at the store, many on sale too…but I managed to resist this afternoon. I’ll be back.

Okay, back to the task at hand – buying food for dinner! We walked into the market and were distracted by Lee’s Donuts (you need to get a Lee’s donut every time you’re on GI!) and bought a few honey dips. THEN we scurried around picking up food and took a lovely walk home along the sea wall.

An unexpected lovely Sunday afternoon in Vancouver.

Downtown Spas: Breathe Spa

I never thought I could love facials so much until I discovered Breathe Spa.

Breathe Spa is a boutique style spa that just moved into a beautiful space at 464 Granville St (b/w Pender and Hastings).

What makes the facials so extraordinary? Well.

First, it’s a full 2 hours long. And while they follow the 2 hour time frame, you never get the feeling like they’re watching the clock. For $140, a 2 hour facial is rare at spas. Usually facials are closer to 75-90 minutes.

Second, it’s an AMAZING 2 hours. First, they give you water/tea, a warm foot bath, and sit with you and discuss your skin. Next, you’re on the bed and your face is nicely cleansed and massaged.  While the cleansers and masques are penetrating your skin, they get to work on relaxing you. Long and lovely massages of your neck, shoulders, arms, hands, feet, legs. You’re completely relaxed as they move into the least fun part of facials, extractions. After the extractions, it’s back to relaxation time again. More masques and “facial stuff” (as you can see, I’m very technical), and more massage, including a longer rub of your neck, upper back, and shoulders. Then, a final masque that sits for about 15 minutes – I usually doze off at this point. Finally, they take the final mask off, and give you a scalp massage. And THEN you’re done. It’s the best 2 hours ever!

Here is the actual description of Breathe’s Signature Facial from their site:

2 Hours of complete bliss. Prepare to experience the best facial you will ever have.

The Breathe Spa facials are individually tailored to each client’s specific skin care needs, and are performed with the highest quality, professional European skin care from Geneva, Switzerland – “Method Physiodermie Skin Care Line”.

The Breathe facial involves: Full skin analysis, Deep cleansing, Aromatherapy Steam, Extraction, Oxygenation and Hydration of skin, Active blends of creams and oils to rejuvenate the skin, Lymphatic drainage massage of the face, neck and shoulders, Gel based treatment mask, Foot and hand massage.

In addition to the signature facial, they’ve recently expanded the different types of faicals they provide. They also specialize in hot stone massages and pedicures. Manicures, Make-up, and Waxing are also availalbe as add-on services (ie. you can’t book a manicure, but you can book a manicure with a pedicure).

The owners, Victoria and Toby, are warm and amazing at what they do.  I always look forward to my visits to Breathe Spa. They manage to deliver on what a spa experience should be – a place to truly relax, forget about the outside world, and be completely pampered.

If you are a spa person, or want to try a spa, go to Breathe – they’ll treat you right.

Breathe Spa
464 Granville St, Vancouver

Kitsilano Coffee: Caffe Dolcetto

Caffe Dolcetto 2967 West Broadway Vancouver BC Canada.

Anything related to Cru Restaurant is great in my book. I stopped by Cru’s Kitsilano cafe Dolcetto yesterday for a quick look.

Super small cafe, maybe 10-15 seats inside plus four seats outside. Dolcetto serves 49th parallel coffee plus breakfast, brunch, and lunch items (mainly paninis and your standard cafe items). My Americano was perfectly declicious.

If you live in the ‘hood, lucky you. It sure beats the other coffee options in the neighbourhood. At least untl Caffe Artigiano opens.

Caffe Dolcetto
2967 West Broadway, Vancouver
(between Bayswater and Carnarvon)
Open until 6pm daily

Kitsilano Eats: Patisserie Lebeau

Waffles are good. And I am lucky enough to live by the best waffles in town.

After a spirited food adventure on Granville Island today, my friend and I opted to bypass the long line at Go Fish and dropped by Patisserie Lebeau for a snack.

They had lots of samples out (and I think my friend ate half of them!), and we ended up sharing a couple waffles:

1) Classic Brussels Waffle with poached pears and caramel sauce
2) Savoury waffle with green onions and cheese.

The waffles here are light, crispy and fresh. The perfect snack or light meal. You can also by them pre-packaged and frozen for home.

Other items include: chocolate croissants, rice pie, apple pie, salads, baguettes, and more. They sell out of baguettes fast, so stop by in the morning. The whole place is a big yum. Plus, after your waffle you can go to Les Amis du Fromage and Barbara-Jo’s  Books to Cooks for more foodie fun.

Patisserie Lebeau
1728 West 2nd Avenue, Vancouver