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Chinese in Vancouver 2007 -


SushiCat
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The duck hot pot is good - but be prepared to really hunt for the meat, its all bones.  The steamed chicken dish is like that also...  What happens to all the breast meat at Hunan restuarants?

Has anyone tried Lin's yet?  By the people who opened The Place.  West Broadway - just one block west of Granville.  I think its supposed to be spicy Sichuan.

It's right by my work so I popped in one day at about 11 am. The interior looked rather sprightly I thought and the steam table although oddly situated in the front window looked and smelled good. I haven't been able to convince my usual lunch buddies to go because THEY went by just after noon one day and decided the interior was uninviting and the steam table more so. I may have to venture in on my own...

Still haven't had a chance to actually eat here but did notice as I walked by last week that they have moved and/or removed the steam table -- at any rate, it is no longer in the prime window space.

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Had two king crab dinners at SSW Richmond over the weekend. Fantastic.

Ordered with the rule of thumb - 2 pounds per person. True - it's alot of crab - but it was the centerpiece of the meal and a real treat. Leg's steamed with garlic, 'knuckles' deep fried with spicy salt and garlic chips. Yee mein tossed in the steamed juices. Really good.

All you need to round out the meal are simple dishes, abalone mushrooms with pea tips, scallops with sugar snap peas, mutton hot pot, chekiang spare ribs - all are good choices. Tax and tip included - works out to $45-50 per person. A very good deal really.

SSW Richmond is so far superior over SSW Main St. And though service can be perfunctory sometimes - for some reason - they had their 'A' game on last night - funny, engaged, enthusiastic that they had happy diners.

As noted about - king crab on special until roughly the end of the month - $13.80 per pound.

I think Kirin and Jade have similiar deals going on.

Edited by canucklehead (log)
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maybe i'll go back to try the cat's ear noodle thing (cuz every place has their good and bad dishes), but honestly i'm in no hurry. sorry vancouver, this is no slight against you, this was just my experience. if any of you are curious about this place, you should go try it yourself and come to your own conclusions.

Thanks for the review of it. No slight taken at all. It is really interesting to see another experience with it. Oddly the one time I visited sha-lin noodle house I thought the noodles were mushy, broth overly salty, and that it was targeted primarily to a non-Chinese customer base.

I have since been back to Peaceful another time and it was an entirely different waitstaff and kitchen crew. I even got an entirely different menu. Very confusing. I wonder if they have some odd staffing schedule and subsequently variation in quality of the cooking.

Cheers!

Went to Peaceful on Friday night based on reccos from here and elsewhere and forewarned by flowbee not to order the potstickers. The Peaceful beef roll was as good or better than promised, and we also really enjoyed the not quite XLB steamed/pan fried offerings. We went for the cat's ear noodles stir fry which now oddly are scored and look more like squid (we were warned of this). They were nicely cooked but the veggies esp carrot and snow peas were underrepresented and overdone. The flavour was subtle. The other item we ordered was the chili wontons, which we half loved (wontons themselves were delightful) and half not loved (the sauce was basically chili flakes in oil). If this report sounds wishy washy, it isn't. We thought the place was great, the service was excellent (really helpful and attentive servers), very clean, speedy (we were in and out in 45 minutes) and we are definitely planning to go back. Next time, we'll get a party of four at least so we can try more of the dishes.

Edited by grayelf (log)
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  • 3 weeks later...

So, with Zen Fine Chinese being declared the best chinese restaurant outside of China by NYT writer Jennifer 8 - my curiousty was naturally piqued.

It is a set menu that you confirm before you arrive - though I did see people who came in later who I think just walked in and were trying to decide which menu order. There was some tweaking - and I ended up with alot more shark's fin than I expected.

Started of cold apple soup. Not sure what makes it a 'soup'.

gallery_25348_1373_22473.jpg

Salad of jelly fish, japanese shark's fin, and citrus. Not sure what the mystery foam was - but it make the dressing creamy as it dissolved. Quite nice actually - very bright and fresh flavors.

gallery_25348_1373_12572.jpggallery_25348_1373_58391.jpg

Baked curried seafood in welk - Macanese style curry. Double boiled soup with shark's fin in young coconut - very fragrant and sweet.

gallery_25348_1373_45660.jpggallery_25348_1373_9113.jpg

Steamed lobster with garlic (this was definitely a value for money entree and the lobster was excellent quality). Cold poached chicken with galangacal (sand ginger).

gallery_25348_1373_2380.jpggallery_25348_1373_69686.jpg

Gai-lan, spare rib rice in bamboo.

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Black sesame mousse. Very nice - almost white chocolately.

gallery_25348_1373_32193.jpg

So - let's immeadiately say that it is NOT the best Chinese restuarant outside of China. It does Zen no favors by saying so. I would argue that it's not even the best on Alexandra Road. The flavors and dishes would be very familiar to any Chinese person - it is not innovative and it does not move the cuisine forward (as Susur Lee does). When you are dealing with simplicity - things like the gai lan and the spare rib rice needed to be complete home runs - and they were not. They were reasonably well put together - but they were not stellar.

BUT - the food is quite good, and room is pleasant and there is a genuine attempt at making authentic Chinese accessible and provide good service. The food is not dumbed down - and there are no easy outs such as sweet and sour or deep fried foods. The ingredients are of excellent quality and the value for money proposition is there ($48 for my 8 courses). You could easily eat better and cheaper at a somewhere like Kirin or Sun Sui Wah - but you would need a larger group and know how to order.

It actually begs the question why Vancouver does not have a truly high end Chinese restaurant - such as Lai Wah Heen in Toronto - where the service and attention to detail is insane. The food quality is certainly top notch in Vancouver - but there really isn't a very serious room. Not since New World Hotel (now Ramada Renansance) closed down Dynasty.

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Thanks for letting us know CH. The jellyfish and sharks fin salad looks to be the most intriguing dish to me, a true departure from a more traditional Chinese plating.

Did you get a chance to ask the chef about his steamed live crab dish? I'm still trying to understand how he does this for less than say 4 people (given the serving sizes that appear above). Unless he does not use dungeoness?

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thanks for the pics and writeup canucklehead. I'd heard about this place but was frankly quite leery based on the review (hyperbole) I read. It's good to have that confirmed but also nice to know that it isn't watered-down chop suey being declared as "the best in etc.".

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Two new 'downs to report: the xiaolongbao-down and the dim sum smackdown

Any recommendations on where to hit would be much appreciated. 

Thanks!

My friends and I have been slowly and steadily pitting XLB vs. XLB, dimsum vs. dimsum, etc. vs. etc. (we have "battles" as opposed to smackdown's but the idea is the same) in Vancouver. Unfortunately, we never tend to try many more than 1 or 2 places as official contenders (graduate school is bad for restaurant battling).

For XLB, I'd suggest trying City Temple of Shanghai restaurant on Main and 22nd-ish. They do a quite serviceable XLB, and is a more manageable size than at The Place (we still like The Place just a tiny bit better though). We tried it before trying The Place (this was back in October). Here's a description I wrote up of what we had:

City Temple of Shanghai Chinese Restaurant

We ordered: chicken w/wine sauce, crispy shell prawns shanghai style, xiao long bao, juicy pan fried pork buns, spicy string beans, fried rice cake shanghai style.

Chicken w/ Wine Sauce. This was really good. It looks like a typical chinese cold chicken, but the flavor was intense with a chinese rice wine. Like sake marinated chicken. Super flavorful, moist and delicious.

Crispy Shell Prawns Shanghai Style. These were also good. I'm not sure what the sauce is that they use when cooking things "Shanghai Style", something soy based and faintly sweet, it sort of melds flavors together. The prawns were nicely cooked, crispy skin with tender shrimp inside, their flavor was still able to shine through the sauce.

Xiao Long Bao. These were very good. The trick to XLB is the wrapping. It must be strong enough to hold together when you pick it up with your chopsticks without puncturing and leaking the soup, however, can't be too chewy; the more delicate the better. Its a fine balance that must be achieved, and these handle pretty admirably (just faintly too thick, but better than leaking). The soup and the pork filling were also quite good, but not as overwhelmingly flavorful that I know XLB are capable of. I would have liked a more intense vinegar and more ginger more finely chopped in the dipping dish; something to help bring out the rich pork flavors of the dumpling and soup. Overall though, these XLB outperform those I've had at dimsum in Vancouver thus far.

Juicy Pan Fried Pork Buns. These are essentially like the pan fried gyoza version XLB. For fried gyoza, I think they are quite good, I mean, they have the soup inside which automatically makes them better. However, in contrast to the XLB, they're all thick-skinned and oilier from the pan frying than XLB... Still, quite tasty.

Spicy String Beans. These were alright. The fat pieces of green bean packed a lot of natural sweetness, but I felt they lacked the crisp crunch, either from being cooked a tad long or from being a little old. Also, they didn't really pack much spice. Definitely had better elsewhere.

Fried Rice Cake Shanghai Style. Nice chewy thin-sliced rounds of rice cake, cooked with small strips of pork and chopped napa cabbage in that "Shanghai Style" sauce. Here the flavor melding rendered everything a little bland. I do really like the chewiness of the rice cake pieces though, but a pretty boring dish.

So, the XLB battle is off to a pretty good start. City Temple of Shanghai Chinese Restaurant has some other dishes that were quite nice and has XLB worth a repeat visit for (I rate the XLB a 7/10 on the international XLB scale*.). Thus, there's definitely still room for others in Vancouver to prove their xiao long bao reign supreme.

For dimsum, I'm a pretty big fan of Kirin. Red Star on Granville (a couple blocks from The Place) is also quite good, and they have egg tarts (I grew up eating dimsum every week, and as a kid, egg tarts established themselves as a dimsum standard for me). Kirin doesn't have egg tarts.... :sad: but pretty much delicious everything else.

* I lived in Taipei for almost 2 years. all XLB is scored against Din Tai Feng.

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Two new 'downs to report: the xiaolongbao-down and the dim sum smackdown

Any recommendations on where to hit would be much appreciated. 

Thanks!

My friends and I have been slowly and steadily pitting XLB vs. XLB, dimsum vs. dimsum, etc. vs. etc. (we have "battles" as opposed to smackdown's but the idea is the same) in Vancouver. Unfortunately, we never tend to try many more than 1 or 2 places as official contenders (graduate school is bad for restaurant battling).

For XLB, I'd suggest trying City Temple of Shanghai restaurant on Main and 22nd-ish. They do a quite serviceable XLB, and is a more manageable size than at The Place (we still like The Place just a tiny bit better though). We tried it before trying The Place (this was back in October). Here's a description I wrote up of what we had:

City Temple of Shanghai Chinese Restaurant

We ordered: chicken w/wine sauce, crispy shell prawns shanghai style, xiao long bao, juicy pan fried pork buns, spicy string beans, fried rice cake shanghai style.

Chicken w/ Wine Sauce. This was really good. It looks like a typical chinese cold chicken, but the flavor was intense with a chinese rice wine. Like sake marinated chicken. Super flavorful, moist and delicious.

Crispy Shell Prawns Shanghai Style. These were also good. I'm not sure what the sauce is that they use when cooking things "Shanghai Style", something soy based and faintly sweet, it sort of melds flavors together. The prawns were nicely cooked, crispy skin with tender shrimp inside, their flavor was still able to shine through the sauce.

Xiao Long Bao. These were very good. The trick to XLB is the wrapping. It must be strong enough to hold together when you pick it up with your chopsticks without puncturing and leaking the soup, however, can't be too chewy; the more delicate the better. Its a fine balance that must be achieved, and these handle pretty admirably (just faintly too thick, but better than leaking). The soup and the pork filling were also quite good, but not as overwhelmingly flavorful that I know XLB are capable of. I would have liked a more intense vinegar and more ginger more finely chopped in the dipping dish; something to help bring out the rich pork flavors of the dumpling and soup. Overall though, these XLB outperform those I've had at dimsum in Vancouver thus far.

Juicy Pan Fried Pork Buns. These are essentially like the pan fried gyoza version XLB. For fried gyoza, I think they are quite good, I mean, they have the soup inside which automatically makes them better. However, in contrast to the XLB, they're all thick-skinned and oilier from the pan frying than XLB... Still, quite tasty.

Spicy String Beans. These were alright. The fat pieces of green bean packed a lot of natural sweetness, but I felt they lacked the crisp crunch, either from being cooked a tad long or from being a little old. Also, they didn't really pack much spice. Definitely had better elsewhere.

Fried Rice Cake Shanghai Style. Nice chewy thin-sliced rounds of rice cake, cooked with small strips of pork and chopped napa cabbage in that "Shanghai Style" sauce. Here the flavor melding rendered everything a little bland. I do really like the chewiness of the rice cake pieces though, but a pretty boring dish.

So, the XLB battle is off to a pretty good start. City Temple of Shanghai Chinese Restaurant has some other dishes that were quite nice and has XLB worth a repeat visit for (I rate the XLB a 7/10 on the international XLB scale*.). Thus, there's definitely still room for others in Vancouver to prove their xiao long bao reign supreme.

For dimsum, I'm a pretty big fan of Kirin. Red Star on Granville (a couple blocks from The Place) is also quite good, and they have egg tarts (I grew up eating dimsum every week, and as a kid, egg tarts established themselves as a dimsum standard for me). Kirin doesn't have egg tarts.... :sad: but pretty much delicious everything else.

* I lived in Taipei for almost 2 years. all XLB is scored against Din Tai Feng.

Nice. This sounds like some kind of tournament style (march madnessesque) 'down. i love the idea.

Jason

Editor

EatVancouver.net

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  • 4 weeks later...
Went to Peaceful on Friday night based on reccos from here and elsewhere and forewarned by flowbee not to order the potstickers. The Peaceful beef roll was as good or better than promised, and we also really enjoyed the not quite XLB steamed/pan fried offerings. We went for the cat's ear noodles stir fry which now oddly are scored and look more like squid (we were warned of this). They were nicely cooked but the veggies esp carrot and snow peas were underrepresented and overdone. The flavour was subtle. The other item we ordered was the chili wontons, which we half loved (wontons themselves were delightful) and half not loved (the sauce was basically chili flakes in oil). If this report sounds wishy washy, it isn't. We thought the place was great, the service was excellent (really helpful and attentive servers), very clean, speedy (we were in and out in 45 minutes) and we are definitely planning to go back. Next time, we'll get a party of four at least so we can try more of the dishes.

I've been back a few times since as well. I have to say my favourite dishes there are now the sesame flatbread with cumin beef (served as a deliciously spicy and crunchy sandwich), the lamb dumplings, and the shan-xi noodle soup (one of the chefs makes it with a nice spice kick).

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Went to Peaceful on Friday night based on reccos from here and elsewhere and forewarned by flowbee not to order the potstickers. The Peaceful beef roll was as good or better than promised, and we also really enjoyed the not quite XLB steamed/pan fried offerings. We went for the cat's ear noodles stir fry which now oddly are scored and look more like squid (we were warned of this). They were nicely cooked but the veggies esp carrot and snow peas were underrepresented and overdone. The flavour was subtle. The other item we ordered was the chili wontons, which we half loved (wontons themselves were delightful) and half not loved (the sauce was basically chili flakes in oil). If this report sounds wishy washy, it isn't. We thought the place was great, the service was excellent (really helpful and attentive servers), very clean, speedy (we were in and out in 45 minutes) and we are definitely planning to go back. Next time, we'll get a party of four at least so we can try more of the dishes.

I've been back a few times since as well. I have to say my favourite dishes there are now the sesame flatbread with cumin beef (served as a deliciously spicy and crunchy sandwich), the lamb dumplings, and the shan-xi noodle soup (one of the chefs makes it with a nice spice kick).

Vancouver, that cumin beef dish is so tempting but every time we've been back it's with new people. I just have to get the Peaceful roll so they can try it and I've resisted getting the cumin beef on the grounds that it may be too similar. Can you comment? Also thanks for the tip on the shan-xi noodle soup. We tend to focus on the snacky things they do so well and have been missing out on the noodle soups.

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Any recent reports or guidance on Lin's?  Thinking of heading there for lunch this week.

A report from my first visit with somewhat Chow-ish work colleagues at the end of March:

So five of us hit Lin's for lunch today, eschewing the 6.99 lunch specials as we had a big enough group to try out the a la carte options. We ordered the XLB (6 for 4.99, number 6 on the menu "Shanghai style juicy dumplings", handmade in front of us 'cause we had the back table near the kitchen), tan tan noodles 5.99, number 36), lemon chicken (10.99), fried green beans Szechwan style (9.99), braised beef noodle soup (6.29, numbeer 44), pan fried dumplings (6 for 4.99, number 7) and sizzling house special fried noodles (9.99, number 96). The last two items were add ons when we decided we hadn't ordered enough food.

General comments: The room is pleasant and a bit cosier than many Chinese restos IMHO. The service started out well but fell apart a bit in the latter stages, as it appears all servers serve all tables (potential for chaos and wasted steps very high with no overall plan). Oh and we had to ask for tea which was a bit strange. Communication was a bit of an issue as one of the servers only spoke Mandarin, as we discovered when one of my Cantonese-speaking fellow diners attempted to request something. In their defense, they were pretty slammed by 12:20 and stayed busy for the full hour and a bit we were there.

On to the food: the XLB were X-L-ent (sorry, couldn't resist). I'm no expert but yum. I forgot to warn one XLB newbie about the squirtiness but hey we've all been there, right? We would have had another order but by the time we asked for it they had run out (downside of making them by hand I guess).

Tan tan noodles: very different than any I've had before, crushed peanuts on top only, broth very dark (almost black) and super garlicky with almost none of the sweetness that often characterizes this dish. The noodles themselves were delightful, soft but firm, I suggest housemade or at least super fresh. I really liked this version of a favourite dish.

Lemon chicken: I have a soft spot for this dish when done well (thin coating, yellow not nuclear pink/orange sauce, tender chicken) and we all gave high marks to Lin's version.

Green beans: really well executed, done to the perfect tender crisp, dried garlic topping not too gnarly but flavourful, perhaps slightly less spicy than the other local contender at Szechuan Chonqing, which I think these beat. Another winner for all.

Braised beef noodle soup: same noodles as tan tan and just as good, beef was tender and not gristly (except for one small piece), group was split on the broth, which a couple found an odd colour and oddly spiced but others liked. All but one felt it might have benefited from the addition of spinach or sprouts.

Pan fried dumplings: very tasty, thin but not too thin wrappers, nicely fried, not too greasy

House noodles: probably my least favourite as it was basically a version of chow mein which I'm not a huge fan of. The veggies, chicken and shrimp were all nice but likely would not order it again because I think there are other more unusual dishes to try.

Summing up: no failures, some really great dishes and some good dishes. We paid $14 each including tax and tip. Will definitely be back to try more of the dumpling options. Great to have this option so close to both work and home.

*Note: I have seen the service issues mentioned in postings on other boards so I think this may be a bit of an on-going issue.

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Vancouver, that cumin beef dish is so tempting but every time we've been back it's with new people.  I just have to get the Peaceful roll so they can try it and I've resisted getting the cumin beef on the grounds that it may be too similar. Can you comment? Also thanks for the tip on the shan-xi noodle soup. We tend to focus on the snacky things they do so well and have been missing out on the noodle soups.

It is fairly different. The cumin beef has a lot more spice kick to it, and I find it much more flavourful overall. The bread is also less greasy than the beef roll from the times I've had it. The cumin beef dish really focuses more on the beef and less on the wrapping. The beef roll seems to focus on the wrapping more, and also gives you the dipping sauce as well. Try it once, it is fairly small and inexpensive. Can't hurt to add one extra dish! :)

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Vancouver, that cumin beef dish is so tempting but every time we've been back it's with new people.  I just have to get the Peaceful roll so they can try it and I've resisted getting the cumin beef on the grounds that it may be too similar. Can you comment? Also thanks for the tip on the shan-xi noodle soup. We tend to focus on the snacky things they do so well and have been missing out on the noodle soups.

It is fairly different. The cumin beef has a lot more spice kick to it, and I find it much more flavourful overall. The bread is also less greasy than the beef roll from the times I've had it. The cumin beef dish really focuses more on the beef and less on the wrapping. The beef roll seems to focus on the wrapping more, and also gives you the dipping sauce as well. Try it once, it is fairly small and inexpensive. Can't hurt to add one extra dish! :)

Thanks for the intell -- will definitely try it next time.

>Can't hurt to add one extra dish

That will be engraved on my tombstone...

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The food quality is certainly top notch in Vancouver - but there really isn't a very serious room.  Not since New World Hotel (now Ramada Renansance) closed down Dynasty.

I've not been to either Lai Wah Heen or Dynasty, so I do not know your definition of "serious" room. Have you been to East Passion on Hornby in the HSBC building? Does that qualify as a "serious" room?

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Vancouver, that cumin beef dish is so tempting but every time we've been back it's with new people.  I just have to get the Peaceful roll so they can try it and I've resisted getting the cumin beef on the grounds that it may be too similar. Can you comment? Also thanks for the tip on the shan-xi noodle soup. We tend to focus on the snacky things they do so well and have been missing out on the noodle soups.

It is fairly different. The cumin beef has a lot more spice kick to it, and I find it much more flavourful overall. The bread is also less greasy than the beef roll from the times I've had it. The cumin beef dish really focuses more on the beef and less on the wrapping. The beef roll seems to focus on the wrapping more, and also gives you the dipping sauce as well. Try it once, it is fairly small and inexpensive. Can't hurt to add one extra dish! :)

Who'll get there first greyelf? I'll race ya. ;)

fmed

de gustibus non est disputandum

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I look forward to hearing from both of you what you think of it! Honestly that was the first of the two I tried there. I had it several times and loved it. Then because everyone keeps talking about the beef roll I tried that. I decided I would go back to the cumin beef on sesame flatbread going forward!

Edited by Vancouver (log)
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The food quality is certainly top notch in Vancouver - but there really isn't a very serious room.  Not since New World Hotel (now Ramada Renansance) closed down Dynasty.

I've not been to either Lai Wah Heen or Dynasty, so I do not know your definition of "serious" room. Have you been to East Passion on Hornby in the HSBC building? Does that qualify as a "serious" room?

What's the food like at East Passion? I've walked by a number of times - but I haven't had the chance to try it. Have you been akl?

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The food quality is certainly top notch in Vancouver - but there really isn't a very serious room.  Not since New World Hotel (now Ramada Renansance) closed down Dynasty.

I've not been to either Lai Wah Heen or Dynasty, so I do not know your definition of "serious" room. Have you been to East Passion on Hornby in the HSBC building? Does that qualify as a "serious" room?

What's the food like at East Passion? I've walked by a number of times - but I haven't had the chance to try it. Have you been akl?

I have been there a few times. I prefer not to comment on the food, but I really like the room.

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I look forward to hearing from both of you what you think of it!  Honestly that was the first of the two I tried there.  I had it several times and loved it.  Then because everyone keeps talking about the beef roll I tried that.  I decided I would go back to the cumin beef on sesame flatbread going forward!

Almost went last night but SO was craving Vietnamese egg pie. I think fmed will win this race -- we are off to San Francisco on Thursday for 4 days of decadent dining, so I've vowed to cook at home till we leave.

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I look forward to hearing from both of you what you think of it!  Honestly that was the first of the two I tried there.  I had it several times and loved it.  Then because everyone keeps talking about the beef roll I tried that.  I decided I would go back to the cumin beef on sesame flatbread going forward!

Almost went last night but SO was craving Vietnamese egg pie. I think fmed will win this race -- we are off to San Francisco on Thursday for 4 days of decadent dining, so I've vowed to cook at home till we leave.

Please report back on your SF expedition.

fmed

de gustibus non est disputandum

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I look forward to hearing from both of you what you think of it!  Honestly that was the first of the two I tried there.  I had it several times and loved it.  Then because everyone keeps talking about the beef roll I tried that.  I decided I would go back to the cumin beef on sesame flatbread going forward!

Almost went last night but SO was craving Vietnamese egg pie. I think fmed will win this race -- we are off to San Francisco on Thursday for 4 days of decadent dining, so I've vowed to cook at home till we leave.

Please report back on your SF expedition.

Fear not, I plan to. You (and the California board) may rue the request by the time I'm finished :-)

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