Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Hoài Hương (Montréal, QC)

5485 avenue Victoria
Montréal, Québec

Since our father couldn't make it to my sister's wedding in Cape Cod, we met up with him for dinner at Hoài Hương. My dad is of Chinese origin but was born and raised in Vietnam, so he loves his Vietnamese food. I asked my mom what hoài hương means - my understanding is that it's "remembering your homeland" in Vietnamese; for my Vietnamese readers, please forgive my loose translation! Hoài Hương is a popular joint in the Côte-des-Neiges area, especially on beautiful days when you can enjoy Vietnamese food outside.


I decided to get Bún Thịt Nướng Chả Giò ($9.25), vermicelli noodles with grilled meat and spring roll. My dad got the same dish, but instead of vermicelli noodles, he ordered the thinner bánh hỏi noodles. This is a dish that you find at most Vietnamese restaurants and I enjoy it every time. I always like spring rolls rolled with chewy rice paper.

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Bún Thịt Nướng Chả Giò.

My sister's then fiancé D (now husband) ordered the Mì Xào Dòn, crispy noodles with beef. He said it was pretty good.


My sister L ordered the nem nướng (pork meatballs) which came with its own dipping sauce. The meatballs were good but they were not as flavourful as I like them. I like the B&T's better and my sister said somehow that's what she was expecting, even though the B&T is in Hamilton!

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Nem nướng.

My sister's and dad's dish came with rice paper to roll. I've been meaning to take a picture of these plastic gadgets meant to wet rice papers in bulk. You place rice paper on the individual plastic disks, dunk it in water and take out one disk at a time to roll your food. My mom brought some Vietnam where they were very inexpensive.

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Rice paper instrument.

Hoài Hương delivers good food. Service was good and food was served quickly. They also serve
phở but it was to hot to enjoy soup on the day we went.

Hoai Huong on Urbanspoon

For other Vietnamese restaurant posts:
Bánh Cuốn Đào Viên Restaurant Vietnamien (Montréal, QC)
* Sing Sing (Montréal, QC)
* B&T Restaurant (Hamilton, ON)

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Eggsquis (Brossard, QC)

6400 boulevard Taschereau
Brossard, Québec

The main reason I was visiting Montréal was that my lovely sister L was getting married and I wanted to take part in all of the pre-wedding celebrations. So upcoming posts will include her bachelorette and wedding! On this occasion, we were having brunch with (female) family friends. After discussing going to dim sum, we decided to meet at a breakfast place so we would have time to chitchat and not be rushed out the door.

Girls only brunch!

Since I was too busy catching up and hosting "How well does the Bride know the Groom?" (on this occasion, very poorly...), I very quickly took pics of our plates and even passed my camera around. Unfortunately, I did not take very good notes on what was ordered and how much. Overall verdict: very big portions of good breakfast food!

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Clockwise from top left: my buckwheat crêpes with berries, eggs Florentine, Le 15 juillet 1995 (2 eggs, baked beans, potatoes for $8.95) and a banana chocolate pancake.

Being the future dainty bride that my sister was, she decided for a healthy option with L'Excellence Classique ($11.75) consisting of smoked salmon, bagel and cream cheese, a salad and fruit.

What a colourful plate!

A crêpe filled with bananas.

Crêpe with raspberries and crème pâtissière (pastry cream).

There are several Eggsquis location across Québec. All breakfast items include coffee and they just bring out a coffee carafe for you to pour yourselves - no need waving down a waitress for coffee. The service was pretty quick.

For some breakfast posts:
* Apple Pancakes
* Baked Egg Florentines
* Berry Fruit Salad
* Breakfast Potatoes
* Crêpes
* Homemade Baked Beans
* Homemade Breakfast Sausages

Friday, June 25, 2010

Lobster and Corn Soup

With some of the leftover lobsters (my mom barbecued the lobster tails), my mom stir fried some and also made soup. I recalled my sister and I really enjoying a seafood and corn soup that came dry from a package. My mom decided to reproduce this soup with lobster.


Lobster and Corn Soup - Serves 4
As mentioned above, my mom used leftover lobster (no tail) - Vietnamese don't waste food! You could use a whole lobster and add the meat from the lobster tail - much more decadent this way!

* 6 cups (1.5 L) water
* 1 lobster, uncooked
* 1 piece of ginger
* 2 ears of corn, kernels sliced off - save the cobs
* 1 beaten egg
* green onion, sliced thinly

Boil water and add the lobster.
Add a piece of ginger and the corn cobs.
Skim the scum off the surface.
Once the lobster is cooked, remove any lobster meat and roe you can get.
Add the sliced corn kernels and the lobster back into the soup.
Season with salt and pepper.
Turn down the heat to a simmer.
Slowly pour the beaten egg while stirring the soup with a fork (or chopstick!).
Top with green onions.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

BBQ Lobster

Before I went home to Montréal, my mom kept telling me about the lobsters that she had bought on sale, how she barbecued them for the first time and how awesome it tasted! Thanks mom...! So finally when I arrived home, my mom bought lobsters to barbecue.


Cutting out Lobster Tails
My mom only barbecued the tails and the claws. We (Vietnamese) will pick at the bodies but she found that it took to look to cook on the grill. To cut out the tails:
* First, if you're leery of the lobsters moving, you can freeze them so they fall "asleep". (My mom skipped this step - she's not leery of live animals!)
* To cut out the tail, just find the spot where the body meets the small sections of the tail (top right) and cut through.
* Slice through (it seems my mom pulled with her hands - bottom left).
* Placing the tails with the back on the cutting board, slice through the lobster meat lengthwise, leaving the shell intact.

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To cut lobster tails.

Seasoning the Lobster Tails - Serves 6
You can come up with your own seasoning but we like the green onion and ginger combination that Chinese restaurants use.

* 1 bunch green onions, sliced thinly
* 1 knob of ginger, minced
* ¼ cup of oil
* salt, to taste
* pepper, to taste
* 6 lobster tails, sliced lengthwise

Mix the onions, ginger and oil in a microwaveable bowl.
Season with salt and pepper.
Microwave for 2 minutes until onions are cooked.
Spread generously with onion mixture on the lobster tails.
Barbecue 10 minutes on each side, or until cooked through.

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Green onion mixture and lobster tails ready to be barbecued!

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Grilling the lobster tails.

The red pieces are lobster roe (which is green when uncooked).

P.S. My sister L wanted to use her new DLSR - again better resolution!

For other BBQ recipes:
* Corn, Chicken Drumsticks and Ribs
* Grilled Pizza with Pesto and Buffalo Mozzarella
* Grilled Pork Meatballs
* Korean Short Ribs
* Quesadillas on the BBQ
* Vietnamese Style Grilled Meat

Monday, June 21, 2010

Cho Sun Ok Korean BBQ Restaurant (Hamilton, ON)

273 King Street East
Hamilton, Ontario

I've always noticed Cho Sun Ok Korean BBQ on Queen Street but for whatever reason I was intimated to go in. I think I imagined that I would be forced to sing karaoke. Don't ask why I got this idea. Anyhow, when a new location opened very close to A's place, we talked about checking it out. On the Friday evening before I left for Montréal for a week, we went downstairs to eat Korean.

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We were greeted by a television playing relatively loud Korean music videos. We were also seated right underneath it. The videos and dancing really amused us and kept us entertained. Going through the menu, it was difficult to find a vegetarian option for A. After many questions and responses along the life of "Is there meat in this?" "No, just beef", our cute little waitress conferred in the back and informed there was one item that was not on the menu that had no meat, nor fish. I decided to order the bibimbap.

Luckily, the jeon (Korean pancake) the waitress served us was vegetarian. We had a hard time eating the jeon with the thin, flat metallic chopsticks, at which point the waitress brought out a fork for A only. HA!

Jeon with carrots and zucchini.

The waitress then came out with a cart of banchan, including kimchi, that were also all vegetarian.

Six small plates of banchan in the background.

A was slightly disappointed that his dish consisted of cold noodles. It was good but I think he didn't expect a cold dish. I quite liked the spicy red sauce that he had to mix in with the noodles. The bibimbap came hot in an earthenware bowl. Unfortunately, I could not share any with A since it had ground beef. I mixed in the accompanying sauce with the various vegetables and ground beef into the rice, as well as the fried egg on top. I liked that the rice got crusty when in came into contact with the surface of the bowl. It was a lot more than I could eat but I did my best!

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A's mystery vegetarian noodles and my bibimbap.

I definitely would like to try this out again, maybe check out the japchae. It was a bit hard to communicate but that added to the experience (with the loud Korean music).

P.S. All pictures were taken by A since I didn't have my camera with me. This explains the better resolution!

For other Korean restaurant posts:
* Baramibunei, Hamilton, Ontario
* Road to Seoul, Los Angeles, California

Friday, June 18, 2010

Safin Grill (Hamilton, ON)

95 King St East
Hamilton, Ontario

Everyone should have a favourite hole-in-the wall place for shish taouk or shawarma. My go-to place is Safin Grill. One of their locations is close to my place in downtown Hamilton. It's a bit of a sketchy area (there used to be a stripper bar I think but they do have other locations) so I usually take out.


I always go for the chicken shawarma, a pita filled with pieces of chicken, onions, lettuce and tomato, topped with a garlicky and hot sauce if that's your preference. Some of my friends prefer to order the chicken with rice.

It's messy but good!

The well seasoned chicken is cooked for a long time so has a bit of a shredded texture. I love the cooked onions that add another dimension. And of course, I'm all about the sauce. For $6, go and enjoy!

The onions add crunch.

Safin Grill on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Bánh Patê Sô - Pâté Chaud (Vietnamese Meat Pies)

Bánh patê sô, or pâté chaud in French (which translates to hot pie), is a very popular Vietnamese snack. I have never encountered a French version of this dish so I assume that this is a Vietnamese recipe with French influence. I really liked eating these in Vietnam. I had a couple of these when I was in California, and Ravenous Couple's post made me want to try making them myself. The perfect occasion presented itself when it was my turn for weekly treats (Every week, 3 people are assigned to bring treats on Friday at work. We congregate at 10 am to snack and chichat.).


Bánh Patê Sô - Pâté Chaud (Vietnamese Meat Pies) - Makes 16 x 3
I made a lot of filling so had to use a lot of puff pastry. Reduce the recipe to make just enough. However, these can be easily frozen and baked at your convenience. I had originally planned to make round pies like typically found at Vietnamese food stores but it was easier (and less wasteful!) to make little square pies. Shape them as you wish!

* 1 lb. ground pork
* 150 g pâtê
* ¼ onion, diced finely
* ½ salt
* ¼ tsp pepper
* 3 packages of puff pastry, thawed (if not rolled, roll into a square)
* 1 egg, beaten

Mix the ground pork, pâtê, onion, salt and pepper until well mixed.
Form a little patty and fry it up in a pan.
Adjust seasoning to taste.
Cut puff pastry into 16 squares.
Place a tablespoon or so of filling on one of the squares.
Top with another squares.
Crimp the edges with a fork.
Brush each square with the egg wash.
(To freeze, place each square on parchment lined baking sheet and freeze until the pies are rock hard. Then move them to a plastic bag. If not, they will stick together.)
Bake at 350F on parchment lined baking sheet for 12-15 minutes or until golden.

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Mixing the ingredients at the top.

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I first placed 16 pieces of meat filling, topped them with a whole puff pastry sheet and then sliced each.

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I thought it gave more even square by cutting the squares first.

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Before and after baking.

All my colleagues really enjoyed my Vietnamese meat pies and I still have some in the freezer whenever the craving for bánh patê sô hits me!

I love the big chunks of black pepper from the pâté.

Thursday, June 10, 2010


Growing up in the province of Québec, where everything is influenced by French culture, I was always familiar with crêpes, the thinner cousin to the pancake. When I discovered pancakes, I didn't understand why anyone would pick the thicker version over thin and dainty crêpes, slathered with maple syrup.


Crêpes - Makes about 8-10 crêpes
From Take Home Chef - Curtis Stone.
Have them on their own for breakfast with maple syrup, add cheese and vegetables for a savoury dish or it's perfect as dessert, folded up with ice cream and drizzled with chocolate. I don't think you need a recipe per se; my sister would probably say to add ingredients until you get the "right" consistency. However, I've been using this recipe for a while and it works every time!

* 1-¼ cups whole milk
* 1 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
* ½ cup heavy cream
* 2 large eggs
* 4 tsp sugar
* pinch of salt
* 1 tbsp unsalted butter

Mix milk, flour, cream eggs, sugar, and salt (the recipes calls to blend it, but I just mix it by hand).
Set aside for 30 minutes allowing the flour to absorb the liquid and the foam to dissipate.
Strain the batter through a sieve to ensure there are no clumps.
Preheat oven to 200F.
Heat a heavy 8-inch nonstick saute pan over medium-low heat.
Dab some of the butter on a paper towel and wipe the pan with it.
Pour a ladle full (or 3 tbsp) of the batter into the center of the pan and swirl to coat the bottom thinly.
Cook until the edge is light brown (and large bubbles form), about 1-½ minutes.
Loosen the edges gently with a spatula, and carefully turn the crêpe over.
Cook for another minute.
Place the crêpe on a plate and keep warm in the oven until ready to serve.
Serve with maple syrup or maple whipped cream.

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Mixing the batter, straining and cooking a crêpe!

Nothing better than a stack full of crêpes waiting for you at breakfast!