Tag Archives: fine dining

Zen Japanese Restaurant

Zen Japanese Restaurant on UrbanspoonOur friend of ours wanted to dine at Zen, so the four of us went to West Van to try out the place. It was a warm summer evening, so we sat out in the patio.

A bit higher end than your typical sushi place, we were looking forward to indulge in some fine dining. The water took forever to come out and our thirst seemed worse since we had been outside for most of the hot day prior to this dinner. When they did come, my glass was all scratched up like crazy as if it went through the garburator. It wasn’t dirty, but it wasn’t nice to drink out of, especially at a fine restaurant like this. My friend asked ‘what the heck happened to your glass??’ idearabbit-zen1idearabbit-zen2Their own custom branded plates and bowls! The napkin was folded in a neat way that kept us busy trying to figure out the folds. :P

idearabbit-zen6Negitoro $6.50!

The negitoro was an expensive $6.50 but I didn’t notice anything superior to any rolls for half the price at other places. It wasn’t as flavourful and the nori (seaweed) was really chewy. It didn’t have the fresh nori smell I loved. This is not worth ordering here.

idearabbit-zen5 idearabbit-zen4Tori Gyoza $7.95

The Tori Gyoza $7.95 was something unexpected. It was nicely presented, but it was not gyoza. It was more like deep fried karaage. I guess if you like karaage, then you’ll be jumping for joy, but I love gyoza so it was a bit of disappointment. Not saying that it didn’t taste good, though I found there was too much sauce for my liking. The veggie wrap in the middle was refreshing and nicely put together.

idearabbit-zen3Tuna Tataki $13.95

Tuna Tataki $13.95 was 5 pieces of sliced tuna. This was my favourite dish out of the three. It came with horse radish, ginger and negi (green onions) which went really well with the ponzu sauce. The tuna was really soft and fresh. An excellent dish.

My friend that wanted to try out Zen asked the server what he recommends for a drink. He brought her the Zen Lemon Ginger $10. I had a sip and it was zesty, cold and really refreshing after a hot day in the sun.

Sheepie had the Kimchi Yaki Udon with pork $10.95 which was a decent size and priced fairly.

Another friend ordered one of the Zen rolls. The Millennium Roll $15.95 with dungeness crab, salmon, tuna wrapped in egg crepe with honey dijon sesame. But as him, Sheepie and I always say – the fancy rolls that are so popular these days all taste the same regardless of the content because they drown it with all the sauce. In this cause, we said the crab flavour was lost and the mayo was too strong.

Overall, it was satisfactory but I would not order the Negitoro again. I personally would pass on the gyoza as well since I still prefer the traditional gyoza. The fancy roll is a hit and miss.

 Taste: carrotcarrotcarrot    Price for Value: carrotcarrot

Atmosphere:  carrotcarrotcarrotcarrot   Service:  carrotcarrotcarrotcarrot
Location: carrotcarrotcarrot

Bistro 101

Bistro 101 on UrbanspoonI had read so many good things about Bistro 101, so I wanted to try it out. Since they’re only open during weekdays and Friday seemed to be very popular, I had to book a month in advanced to get a reservation through Open Table. Monday-Thursdays are 3 course meals where lunch is $20 and dinner is $26. You can’t get fine dining for a better price anywhere else! Fridays are West Coast buffets at $22 for lunch and $33 for dinner.

I was aware that the prices are cheaper than other fine dining restaurants because this is where the future chefs learned, studied and experimented their cooking. The hostess wasn’t as friendly as you would expect from fine restaurants, but I had read that they are students and aren’t all that ‘trained’ yet up to par.


So how it works is that the appetizers and desserts are buffet, going up and getting whatever you liked, how much you’d liked. There were some good appetizers, but I thought the clam chowder soup was the best.

The main dish was seafood and this, you had to tell the server when you wanted. This isn’t all you can eat – it’s only a one time thing for that dinner per person. There were 2 large scallops, and a variety of fish and 2 asparagus. This plate would have already cost more than $50 at a fine restaurant, so it was a really good deal. The scallops were delicious! The asparagus was on the rawer side – which I didn’t mind, but Sheepie wasn’t too happy. But knowing how Germans served their Spagel (white asparagus), I guess it wasn’t something he’d like. The 2 slices of tuna tataki was soft and melted in my mouth. The potatoes were a nice complimentary side dish.

idearabbit-bistro101-6 idearabbit-bistro101-5 idearabbit-bistro101-Really good clam chowder soup!


The main dish (dish is not all-you-can-eat)

idearabbit-bistro101-3idearabbit-bistro101-8 idearabbit-bistro101-7idearabbit-bistro101-20 idearabbit-bistro101-21

Chef Christine was energetic despite working at a different location from 6am. She was telling the other customers at the table next to ours. Seems like the chef changes every 6 months at Bistro 101. It was really nice for her to be serving the customer and interacting so well.

idea-rabbit_mascot-joyI was really happy with pretty much everything. The restaurant has a nice atmosphere, not too sophisticated as some fine restaurants, but goes well with the Granville Island feel where it’s located. The place is clean and the selections for the buffet is plenty. Be sure to eat only a bit of appetizer at first since the main dish is quite filling. Then you have unlimited dessert! The price is fair. I’d love to come back and try their 3 course meals!

 Taste: carrotcarrotcarrot   Price for Value: carrotcarrotcarrotcarrot

Atmosphere:  carrotcarrot carrotcarrot  Service:  carrotcarrotcarrot
Location: carrotcarrotcarrot

The Teahouse in Stanley Park

The Teahouse on UrbanspoonTo celebrate my birthday, I held my dinner at the Teahouse in Stanley Park. I kept on looking at the weather forecast and was really disappointed in seeing that it was going to be raining. But as it turned out, it was sunny, allowing nice, warm natural light through the windows into the interior. The inside has a touch of romantic European feel. The patio is nice when the weather is nice. But since we had 15 people to seat, we were inside. We were there from 5:30pm-8:30pm on Sunday. Parking up front is $3.75 an hour. Yeah…it’s best if you can car pool. A couple walked from English Bay – about 25 minutes – it’s a nice walk on a good day. Or you can bike – though that limits your attire unless you bring something to change into. Design or quality into the menu lacks a bit for a higher end restaurant.

idearabbit-teahouse20idearabbit-teahouse1 idearabbit-teahouse2 idearabbit-teahouse3 idearabbit-teahouse4The servers were friendly and patient with the big group. The young busser may need a bit more training as he tried to take my dinner away when I still had my fork and knife on opposite sides of the plate, and I was clearly not done. He also brought me my dessert spoon which they forgot to give me in the first place. He rushed off and came back to hand it directly in my hand. Not sure what the right protocol is in a high-end restaurant, but I thought it would be more appropriate to set it down on the table next to the dessert. Minor stuff though.
I ordered the special soup of day – Lobster Bisque $10. I thought it was pretty good, but my friend who was really into Lobster Bisques was a bit disappointed.

idearabbit-teahouse5Lobster Bisque $10

I was busy talking to everyone that I didn’t end up eating a slice of the complimentary bread until everyone else had finished theirs. That was fine as I didn’t find anything extraordinary about them.
For my main, I had Fresh Haida Gwaii Halibut $32 with lemon caper beurre blanc. I was quite surprised at the portion of the dish. It was nicely done and presented. It was soft and tasty, but a bit too heavy on butter… I was expecting much smaller and was quite filling. I’m glad I didn’t eat too much of the complimentary bread! I was also pleasantly surprised at others’ dishes as well for their portion.

idearabbit-teahouse6Fresh Haida Gwaii Halibut $32 idearabbit-teahouse7Capicolla & Mushroom Flatbread $16idearabbit-teahouse8 idearabbit-teahouse9Creme Brulee $9

For dessert, I had the Creme Brulee $9 – with a candle :) . It was smooth, and light with the crust being thinner than other places.

My friend who was disappointed in the Lobster Bisque mentioned that since it was called ‘Teahouse’ and being a fine-dining restaurant, he tried out their ‘regular’ tea. He was very disappointed to find that it was a pot of Red Rose tea. He’s quite a picky eater, especially with coffee and tea – being a Creative Director of Blenz explains why…lol. But I think I would also be disappointed in getting a cheap Red Rose there. He was fortunately, satisfied with the Flatbread. I had a slice and it was thin, crispy and tasty. A big strong on the goat cheese, but if you’re used to it, I guess it wont bother you too much.

The ambiance is lovely, the food is satisfactory and the location is great for taking photos before and after on a sunny summer day. There was another table that was really close to use, making it a bit of traffic hazard for the servers and my group as people walked around to talk to others. Ok, so it’s not suppose to be a bar where people mingle, but it was a special occasion. Sorry Teahouse staff! I hope we weren’t too much trouble :P

I’d recommend Teahouse! It would be a nice place to take my parents next time :)

(for the ratings under ‘location’, I give it 4 carrots because it’s in a lovely area. However, I often consider how accessible it is in the location as well. For accessibility, I give it 2 carrots, since there are no public transit that goes there. As mentioned in the blog, it takes 20-30 minute walk from English bay area. Parking is quite expensive.)


Sheepie and I had brunch at the Teahouse. This time, we were on the opposite side of the restaurant than last time in the almost green-house like portion. It was quite chilly with the windows opened, so we closed the ones that were nearby. (I did end up catching a cold, but I think it was the combination of flying back from Europe, jet-lagged and being chilled).

idearabbit-teahouse20 idearabbit-teahouse21 idearabbit-teahouse22 idearabbit-teahouse23It was a beautiful day, and the nice big windows (as long as not opened, lol) were very nice to see the scenery outside. The tables were covered with white linen, but the top square part had a thin paper, almost like tracing paper which made it look tacky. Why was it there? To prevent the white cloth from becoming dirty? Perhaps, but it just seemed so out of place.

idearabbit-teahouse24 idearabbit-teahouse27 idearabbit-teahouse25I ordered the Smoked Salmon Raft $17 with steel-head salmon, poached eggs, asparagus, roasted potato cake, hollandaise sauce and a slice of watermelon. I just looooove this benedict like dish! So yummy!!!

idearabbit-teahouse28Sheepie on the other hand got a burger and fries. Seriously? At the Teahouse? lol.
Our server was very friendly with a staff he seemed to be training in his shadows.
It was again, another nice dining experience with great atmosphere and service.

 Taste: carrotcarrotcarrotcarrot    Price for Value: carrotcarrotcarrot

Atmosphere:  carrotcarrotcarrotcarrotcarrot   Service:  carrotcarrotcarrotcarrot
Location: carrotcarrotcarrotcarrot