Kiss Me Organics Matcha

idearabbit-kissmeorganicsI was asked to review their product and was given this package. I am neither paid or sponsored by the company to write this review. I am very honoured and happy to be asked to do this review! but I will be giving my unedited and honest review.

First of all, as a designer, I am already a bit thrown off by the packaging design. There is nothing wrong with the packaging if they are just trying to get their product as an average item, but it doesn’t scream high-end quality from the metallic zip lock bag.

I am not an expert on matcha, though I feel I should know more since I come from the land where they originated. One of my best friend works for a company that deals with coffee and tea, especially matcha in particular. He talked about the importance of colour, bitterness, sweetness and origin.

I was skeptical to also see that this product is from China. Even the friend who himself is Chinese said ‘good matcha is only from Japan!’. Now I know I mentioned that Matcha is from Japan, yes, but if you go back to 60 AD, matcha’s origins actually come from China, when it was first introduced and adopted by Chan Buddhists. It wasn’t until 1191 when a monk by the name of Eisai brought it over to Japan. Ok, so way back then, the idea may have originated from China, but high quality, good matcha has been perfected over the centuries in Japan. Hence, if you’re looking for high quality matcha, it is likely from Japan.

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Comparing Esprit (left) and Kiss Me (right)

Upon opening the bag, I noticed that the colour of the powder wasn’t as bright green as the packaging. Even comparing to Esprit Tea which was opened over an year ago (and given to me by the Chinese friend), you can tell that the colour is muted and grey for a freshly opened package.

At $29 for 113 g, it’s on the cheaper side of matcha powder, compared to about $37 for just 30g of Esprit matcha (comes out to $0.26/g for Kiss Me and $1.23/g for Esprit) However, keep in mind that there are two type of matcha. One for ceremonial – which is the higher quality (which Esprit is) and there is the culinary (Kiss Me Organics) which is mostly used for cooking purposes so it tends to be lesser in quality and cheaper.

For my first test, I mixed it with hot unsweetened soy milk. I immediately saw that the drink with Kiss Me Organic matcha became really grey. The taste wasn’t vivid as the matcha I am use to. While the Esprit drink was greener. The winner? Esprit.

idearabbit-kissmeorganics5Comparing Esprit (left) and Kiss Me (right)

I decided that I would also make one with plain hot water to see the colour. Again, the Kiss Me Organics was a bit greyer and had a much grassier taste. Without the soymilk, it was really bitter and difficult to drink. As I sniffed the cups, I didn’t notice much smell from the Esprit, but noticed a bit of chemical smell from the Kiss Me Organics. So then I sniffed the powder from the packaging and noticed a really strong, repulsive chemical smell, likely from the metallic bag. Yes, I know it’s USDA certified and says it’s organic tea from China, but the unsettling smell put me off. The winner for hot water test? Esprit.

For my last test I mixed them with vanilla ice cream to make matcha ice cream! :D Again, I would have to say that I prefer Esprit’s authentic matcha flavour seeping through the sweetness of vanilla. The colour was also more appealing. However, perhaps because Kiss Me Organics is meant for culinary purposes, the ice cream made from their powder wasn’t that bad. I made a batch and shared the two at my recent potluck party (whom were not professional food critics or anything). Most liked the Esprit, though some didn’t mind the Kiss Me Organics version.

idearabbit-kissmeorganics20Esprit on left, Kiss Me on right

So my conclusion? Esprit is the winner. Though it’s quite expensive so it’s not really for your everyday drink kind of thing. Unless you’re a matcha fanatic or get it as a gift, it can really eat up your wallet. Kiss Me Organics on the other hand is affordable, and I assume that most people wont be consuming it with just hot water. You’ll be mixing it in your smoothies or baking it in your cookies or cake. I think I will be eating it with matcha ice cream lol.

Perhaps it’s not fair to compare two types of matcha. As I have mentioned above, using Kiss Me Organics is pretty decent even if it’s not on a par to the higher quality one. I personally am not a super picky matcha person so I would buy Kiss Me Organics over Esprit. The only thing it loses big points from me is the really bad chemical smell from the bag it’s in. It doesn’t smell healthy and I’m not sure if I should transfer it into a different container.

Interested in learning more? Check out another blog which reviews on many, many matcha products out there!

http://kblog.lunchboxbunch.com/2014/03/matcha-green-tea-brand-reviews-buying.html

Kinjo Sushi & Grill

Kinjo Sushi & Grill on Urbanspoon From what my father had heard, the place spent over $1 million dollars in renovating the restaurant. I was looking forward to this new restaurant that my parents now often went to. Growing up in Calgary, there weren’t that many sushi restaurants and when there were, they were often expensive and nothing like the sushi-scene in Vancouver – though that could be said the same for Vancouver when we immigrated to Vancouver first in 1989 from Japan.

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After going to Tango Vietnamese restaurant in a strip mall, I wasn’t too surprised to drive up to another strip mall. Seems like it’s common in Calgary. I know Sushi Boat which my parents go to every week is also in a strip mall like area. From the outside, there’s nothing extraordinary about the place. It seems like another western restaurant. But once you enter, it’s another world. It’s a really large restaurant and the interior design is modern, slick with a lively atmosphere. The AC is blasting cold, but I did like the comfy U-shaped booths.

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The menu is pretty extensive with a photo to each item making it easy to decide for first-timers. The prices were on the higher side, but since it had been three years since I got together with my family to dine, it called for a bit of indulgence :P

We got there around 4:50pm on a Saturday, and it was about half occupied. My mom worried that if we came after 6pm, it would be super busy with a long line up. Indeed, when it got closer to the time for us to leave, it was almost full.

The green tea was of good quality though a bit odd to be served in a white Chinese tea cup. Our bill indicated that ’2 Tea’ was $3, so not sure what that means. We were three people…though we only got one pot.

idearabbit-kinjo7A complimentary plate (to share) with pieces from different rolls.

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We started off with Special Tataki $5. This was a disappointing start as the tataki were not seared at all. It was only slices of salmon and tuna drowning in sauce with crispy tempura on top. They were not tataki, but just ordinary sashimi. There were too much of the crisps and they overwhelmed the flavour of the fish, if not already by the excessive sauce.

idearabbit-kinjo10Luckily, the other dishes were good. The salmon nigiri (2 for $3.45) was really good. Nicely cut thin and just the right amount of rice.

idearabbit-kinjo8Negitoro  $3.95 was the first time having it as a nigiri rather than a roll. The content was very good, but I think I still prefer eating smaller roll pieces instead. Pricey for the amount.

idearabbit-kinjo16Red Tuna $5.20 Must haves for my parents whenever they go to a Japanese restaurant. I didn’t have any.

idearabbit-kinjo9Avocado roll $3.45 Seemed a bit pricier for such a simple roll and smaller since it was a maki and not the one with rice on the outside, nonetheless, it was still good.

idearabbit-kinjo14Okinawa Roll $12 It was pretty to look at, but nothing super different about it.

idearabbit-kinjo12Assorted Vegetable Tempura $4 (4 large pieces) Hot like right out of the deep frier.

idearabbit-kinjo13Ikayaki $8.80 This is probably my favourite dish. The squid were nicely flavoured and the tobiko on top was a nice decor as well as to eat it with. The mayo went really well with the squid and the price is reasonable.

idearabbit-kinjo42Crab Claw $6.80 Very good!

idearabbit-kinjo15Grill Long Bean $4.90 Cooked to perfection, but quite salty. Would have went really well if I had some white rice.

idearabbit-kinjo11Coconut Surprise $5.25 For dessert, we had icecream. We only ordered one for 3 of us, but it was perfect cuz it was pretty large, and all three of us weren’t big ice cream eaters, so the amount was just right to share. Presented very cute with a paper umbrella and two Pocky sticks. The flavour of coconut was rich and my mom fell in love with it. My dad and I really liked it as well.

During our dinner, there were two birthdays performances in which about a dozen staff would surround the table with tambourines and drums as they sang and clapped for the birthday boy/girl.

In the end, they brought some boxes of Pocky sticks to your table – with a choice of either chocolate or strawberry flavour. I was shocked to find out that they only give the boxes to females or children! I couldn’t believe this! How discriminatory is that! Ok, I can understand if they were only for children, but why only female adults? My mom told be that it seems that if the guy asks for one, they wont say no, but they wont present you one in the first place. In this day and age, I was sad to see this. I actually wouldn’t be surprised if it happened in Japan, but this was Canada. So, only my mom and I got them and my dad didn’t :( If I had brought along Sheepie and my Chinese friend, I think they both would have been p****. My brother? Not sure. But maybe I’m making too much of a deal of this? I have only read reviews of how happy one was in getting the Pocky – but then again, they were girls. I read only one guy who was upset for not getting one.

On the bill, you may see a certain number of “Love from Kinjo”. We had 777 of them for $0. I guess it’s another service to show their appreciation for the customers. The food was for the most part good, though I don’t think I’ll order the tataki, Okinawa roll, avocado roll again. The tempura is not my preference, but my mom loves them, so if I dine with her, she’ll order them for sure.

Our server was very cheerful and friendly. The atmosphere and decor was great. A little pricey for the quality. The only thumbs down is the Pocky.  To me, their extra service is backfiring. It would be better not to do it at all if they can’t give it to everyone. Your thoughts?

 Taste: carrotcarrotcarrot    Price for Value: carrotcarrot

Atmosphere:  carrotcarrotcarrotcarrot   Service:  carrotcarrot
Location: carrotcarrotcarrot

Tango Vietnamese & Thai

Tango Tropical Grill on Urbanspoon
My friend whom I was meeting up with said that she really liked this place so I was invited to have an early dinner with her.

As I drove up to the dull strip mall, I wondered what the place would look like inside. Most of the Vietnam restaurants that I’ve been to in Vancouver have been a bit run down, cheap and dirty places.

To my surprise, as soon as I opened the door, I noticed sparkling chandeliers and a very slick, modern and high end look. I immediately liked the interior decor.

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Water was actually served in glasses and not plastic ones! Yay! Their menu was quite extensive and very reasonable prices.

My friend had ordered a plate of Beef Spring roll (4 rolls), and I had one. It was super hot and very tasty. Delicious. One of the sauce had hair in it, but since there were 3 little bowls of the same sauce, I just used the other one.

idearabbit-tango2idearabbit-tango3My Pho Bo Vien $7.95 with beef ball rice noodle soup; served with a side of fresh bean sprouts, basil and lime was excellent. They only have a Large which I ordered for $7.95 or an extra large.
I’m glad I ordered Large (the smaller size) since it was pretty large portion! I couldn’t completely finish it (meaning a few strands of noodles and sprouts) which has never happened before. Yes, it could be because I had a large dim sum lunch and it was only 5pm, but still. I always have room for noodles :)

Service was excellent. Other than the hair in sauce, everything was really good. I would love to come back – unfortunately, I don’t go to Calgary often. Would like to see something similar in Vancouver! Thumbs up.

 Taste: carrotcarrotcarrotcarrot    Price for Value: carrotcarrotcarrotcarrot

Atmosphere:  carrotcarrotcarrotcarrot   Service:  carrotcarrotcarrotcarrot
Location: carrotcarrotcarrot