BR and I dined in the honour of the company of Ben and Suanne of Chowtimes. For those of you who have read Chowtimes, you will understand what I mean when I say I even changed out of my "home clothes" for this occasion. It was THAT SPECIAL!
Even BR knew this was a very special occasion. He matter of factly asked me, "what do you think I should wear?" Without any hesitation or questioning, he simply put on what I suggested.....BR is such a smart boy!
Here is the "great one" in action.
|Ben of Chowtimes, sorry Suanne, I was remiss and did not get a photo of you.|
(BTW, I have Ben's permission to post this photo!)
It was such a pleasure to watch these two amazing bloggers in action. Ben and Suanne have the whole process perfected into a beautifully choreographed dance. They unpack their bag....out comes Cannon and the trusty notebook. Ben seems to handle Cannon the most, while Suanne systematically records everything into the notebook. They actually are so organized and intuitive with one another....they don't even have to speak. Things get placed, dishes are arranged just so, photos get taken, notes are recorded and sometimes not a word is exchanged....amazing!
I have been a passive reader of Chowtimes for many years. Recently though, I have been a bit more active by commenting. Ben is such a dedicated blogger. He usually follows up with the many comments from his readers. When an opportunity came about that I would meet Ben and Suanne....I knew I just couldn't pass it up.
BR and I thoroughly enjoyed meeting Ben and Suanne. In addition to being a lovely couple, they really have their finger on the pulse...... so informed and knowledgeable about the food scene in Vancouver, specifically the Asian food scene. Our conversations were entertaining and packed full of interesting tidbits. We learned a lot and enjoyed a wonderful lunch with Chowtimes!
We especially enjoyed the way they dissect the menu before ordering. Ben methodically reads the entire menu, consults Suanne and together they select things they have never sampled before. Dim Sum with them is not at all about the regular Ha Gow and Sui Mai......no sirreee, Ben introduced us to some new and very interesting dim sum items. We did order Sui Mai though, as it's a BR favorite.
Of course Ben comes very prepared and has background information on Rainflower. Apparently Rainflower has received 2 awards (CRA I believe.....is this correct, Ben?)
The 2 award winning dishes were the Durian Rolls and the Lamb Rack in Chinese Wine Sauce. We were game to try both dishes. There seemed to be a mix up and we ended up with 2 orders of the Durian pastry and no lamb.....guess that is a good excuse to go back to Rainflower.
Ben picked Rainflower for 2 reasons. Firstly, Chowtimes has never been before and secondly, it is actually a place that is conducive to conversation without excessive straining of the vocal cords! It was great choice for our first date!
Here are the dishes we had:
Pineapple Bun with BBQ Pork
BR enjoyed this. I thought that it was OK, not that it wasn't tasty or well done...I just am not a fan of sweet-savory things.
Milk Egg Cakes (Nai Wong Jin Biang)
BR enjoyed this. He loved the rich eggy filling. I also enjoyed this, especially the doughy outside. It has the perfect texture, slightly chewy and bouncy.
Steamed Sui Mai with Pork and Shrimp
BR loved these. He said it's one of the better ones he's had...he's had a lot! I thought the texture was very nice. Nice hand-chopped pork, and big pieces of shrimp, good flavor. They were very tasty, but a bit on the small side, I thought.
Fried Fish with Garlic Spicy Sauce
We both loved this dish, even though is was just deep fried smelt. I guess we like deep fried anything. The smelt had a nice texture, not soft and mushy. The fried garlic and peppers was really the star of the dish. If I wasn't in the presence of greatness, my common manners would have showed up. I would have picked up all the bits off the plate with my fingers and eaten every last bit of the crispy, spicy garlic! BR asked me later if he ate smelt heads. I lied and said yes, just to see his reaction. (He was fine with it!) The smelts were actually de-headed before frying....I guess this is a good thing.
Chen's Village Noodles (Steamed Noodle with Spareribs in Black Bean Sauce)
This was sort of disappointing. Kind of bland and not much too it. Too bad, I was expecting something really tasty. The starch sheet noodles seemed a bit mushy, like they were overcooked and the spareribs where just OK. BR said I could easily make this better at home. I think he's right, but didn't agree right away......as I didn't want to have to go get the groceries and try to make it that night! I do agree, I think I can do a better job with this dish and will try making it one day. For sure I would make it with a lot more jhup (sauce). BR likes his jhup.
Chef's Special Pan Fried Prawns with Basil
These were very nicely flavored. The basil added a nice layer of flavor. The shrimp were a nice size and very well cooked. Just nice on the inside, still crisp to the bite and not overcooked, but the shells were cooked well enough that you could eat the the whole shrimp, shell and all if you wanted to. BR liked this more than me though, I found the dish just a tad sweeter than I like. If I make this at home, I would lighten up on the sweetness just a touch. Sorry about the bad pic...
Award-Winning Durian Rolls
This was very tasty. The pastry was very delicate and very flaky. The durian was definitely there. The usual "fragrant aroma" was quite noticeable. BR ate this, even though he knew it was durian. BR is getting pretty brave with his eating adventures. If you haven't had Durian before click here to find out more about this exotic fruit.
Here's proof that BR ate this....apologies for the bad photography.
BR likes to tell the story about the first time he ate durian.
Just before BR and I got married, my mom insisted that BR try durian. BR was eager to be an obedient son in law, so he agreed to Mom's request. BR had commented many times on the horrible scent when he has passed durian in the grocery stores. In spite of this, he soldiered on and actually ate it!
The funny part of the story was my mom made him eat it outside on the back porch. He wasn't allowed to eat it in the house because Mom thought it was too smelly! BR is a good sport, isn't he?
So overall, we enjoyed the Rainflower. The restaurant is spacious and the ambiance is pleasant. The service is decent. Our teapot was re-filled several times without us needing to ask. I like this! The parking is a challenge, but in spite of that the restaurant was full. Ben had made a reservation, so we only waited about 5 minutes after we arrived. We will be back, especially when we have a craving for lamb.
The cost for dim sum was $45.00 including tax. I think it was quite reasonable for the quality of food.
I am looking forward to Chowtime's post on Rainflower.