Tuesday, May 6, 2014

The Zoo Cafe

'A smoke and a pancake, a bong and a blintz' ... A crepe and a cigar? I'm a huge Austin Powers fan and apologize if you don't understand my reference from the 1999 film.  The Zoo Cafe - creperie , ice cream parlour, and a perfectly stocked Havana cigar cooler tucked in the back. I'm not kidding. 

Located at 123 Seymour street, just off of 3rd. If the signage doesn't lure you off the street, please let this blog convince you to step in. Please keep in mind: if you're expecting a cute little cafe with French decor and charm, forget it. I am not trying to sound like a snob here, I'm merely trying to paint a picture for your dinning expectations so that you do not show up to the Zoo under false pretences. You are coming here for the crepes, nothing else, and they are absolutely fabulous. You will be sitting on bench seats with Mexican print textiles, will be surrounded by stuffed zoo animals and will gaze out window to see bikers smoking pipes. I will remind you again, you've come here for the crepes, and the are amazing.  The customer service is also out of this world. It is by classic definition a mom and pop shop and is family run. The staff are friendly, their service and preparation is efficient, and the prices are exceptionally fantastique. 

I was raised in a home where turkey leftovers were shredded and stuffed into crepes following Christmas and  I watched as my mom slaved away trying to achieve the perfect consistency and delicacy to her crepes year after year. I was thrilled to find out that Kamloops had it's very own creperie so that I could indulge in one of my favorite dishes more than once annually. I was also excited to find that they serve both savory and sweet crepes, ranging anywhere in price from $4 (for a special) to about $13 for speciality crepes. The Dolphin's Play creation has a filling of shrimp and feta cheese (among other ingredients), which would classify as a specialty crepe. You can build your own by choosing your vegetables, protein and cheese . The dessert crepes can come smothered in Nutella, covered in fruit and whipped cream or dripping of butter and sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar. Crepes can get away with such an array of toppings because of it's smooth, light, and buttery batter which has a pinch of salt, while remaining creamy and delicious from it's dairy components. The Zoo menu features some very creative and innovative uses for the crepe, including the 'Chili Crepe' , which is basically a giganteous crepe filled with everything one would expect in a traditional taco with the addition of beans. It is hearty, humongous, and $5.95!! 

When we think of France we usually envision a place full of romance, gourmet cheese, little berets and snobby accents. Perhaps aside from the great wine which has been provided to us from France, I am particularly enamored with their invention of the delicious crepe. The crepe was in fact invented in Brittany, a western region in France, and as I happen to be a Brittany, I find crepes to be all the more spectacular :) The Zoo Cafe is not romantic, the staff are far from arrogant and you will not see any cute little hats. What you will find is a lovely happening where you are able to potentially discover a new favorite dish from an unlikely local source. The term 'live well' in English is equivalent to the phrase 'mangez bien' in French, which translates as "eat well". So do just that, embrace the Parisian spirit, ride you bicycle downtown, order a couple calorie laden items adorned with rich toppings and fillings, and prepare to fall in love with crepes. Je t'adore, je t'adore, je t'adore. 

Bon appetit. 

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Good things come in threes...

It's a mild spring-like evening and you're walking downtown looking out for a group of complete strangers wearing green a week before St.Patty's Day. You have no idea what you're in for or who you'll expect to meet; what you do know  is that you will be spending at least three hours  dinning with a group of individuals whom you've never met before. You have a meeting place and time, and the rest is a mystery. Welcome to your first Dishcrawl.

I was excited and intrigued to embark on this Dishcrawl event, commencing at Hoja Mongolian Grill downtown Kamloops at 256 Victoria Street. I have eaten at this establishment many a time, knowing that the food is always fresh and amazing and that it's a staple for all things stir fry. I met my group of fellow Dishcrawlers and our host Anita at the back of the restaurant at a table set for ten. The dress code was supposed to be green attire (or so I thought) so I adorned an emerald green top. I was the only one wearing green. Luckily a group of three friends who were outgoing and enthusiastic busted out shamrock necklaces with shot glasses attached to them and green Mardi Gras beads, making me wonder what type of night I was in for. Hoja has a relaxed and casual atmosphere, the lighting is dark, nothing is overly fancy, and it's a buffet style of menu. The focal point of the entire restaurant is the gargantuan flame fired wok at the front of the establishment with the chef dressed in black frying up all sorts of customer-created dishes. You grab a bowl, choose your protein, vegetables, garnishes, carbohydrates/fillers and cover your creation in loads of flavored oils and sauces and hand it to the chef who then frys it up for you. You can be as creative and unique as you want to be with your meal. You can choose a healthy and well balanced stir fry or you can load your bowl with heaps of chicken, beef, pork, lamb and seafood and call it your protein fix. The dinner selection of items is extensive... aside from the meat I mentioned above there are chickpeas, tofu, broccoli, bok choy, pineapple, jalapenos and the list goes on and on. You control your portion size and get to return to the wok with your creation as many times as you'd like. Go back to your long dark table, order a glass of wine and attempt to use chopsticks with your feast. Hoja was/is a great place to eat what you like, never be disappointed with your meal (or it's your own fault) and socialize in a relaxed atmosphere with friends, or new found friends in this case. We spent approximately forty-five minutes eating and getting to know one another then journeyed down the street to our next destination: Indian Aroma.

Hoja Mongolian Grill on Urbanspoon

At this point in the evening I asked myself two questions a) why had I eaten such a huge meal at Hoja, knowing full well two more restaurants were still ahead in the night and b) why had I never taken the time to go to Indian Aroma before tonight. It's a complete hidden gem. I had heard loads of great reviews about it from friends/colleagues but had never bothered to go there. It's in a peculiar spot, located in a food-court below Sprott-Shaw College at 340 Victoria Street, but it's certainly not out of the way at all. If you think you have to go to a sit-down type of Indian cuisine restaurant for authentic exceptional curries, you are completely wrong. I was blown away. Indian Aroma offers dine-in, take away and delivery for it's menu items which include an assortment of naan breads, curry dishes with lamb, chicken, paneer and other options, samosas, and desserts. Enjoy an Indian chai tea with your meal or simply grab a bottle of water to help you tolerate the amazing spices of your dish. The lovely owner had set up a long table for our group and proceeded to greet us with multiple dishes of delicious flavorful menu items including butter chicken, vegetable pakora, naan, and a vegetarian option for me, smothered in the same butter chicken sauce. The prices are incredibly reasonable, the portions sizes are extraordinary and the authenticity and flavors of the dishes are superb. Next time you feel like grabbing fast food, skip going to Subway or McDonalds and go grab a lunch combo at Indian Aroma, I promise you will not be disappointed.

Indian Aroma Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Our final stop of the evening was Sikora Caffe. How I managed to find the room in my stomach to accommodate for another meal is beyond me, little alone how I managed to make room for a THREE COURSE meal at Sikora. Located at 272 Lansdowne Street in the old Caffe Ariana location, Sikora Caffe is lovely cafe style type of establishment with great character and style. Our Dishcrawl party had a private long dinning table set up in the middle of the cafe, surrounded by long windows in a very private and intimate setting. We met the bright and young new business owner Talia who was enthusiastic, creative and sweet as pie. Normally Sikora is only open for breakfast and lunch, but she had stayed open until 9 o'clock that evening eagerly awaiting her dinner guests. Talia later told us that this private event was one she was willing to also offer to the public for dinner upon reservation and special request. Being a graduate from TRU's culinary education program, Talia's dish creations were inventive, artistically created and absolutely delicious. Our first dish was a Thai lettuce wrap with sweet chili creme fresh garnished with sprouts and fresh lime. Followed by homemade gnocchi dressed in a pesto cream sauce with a feta crumble atop and drizzled with olive oil. If you have never heard of or experienced the mouthwatering delectable quality of a homemade gnocchi, please make sure to put it on your foodie bucket list. Every Friday at Sikora for lunch they feature a gnocchi dish... prepare to never want plain ordinary wheat pasta ever again. Our beautiful meal had a grand finale featuring strawberries, peaches and a granola crumble with a hint of sweet basil and a dollop of chantilly cream melting perfectly on top. It was comfort food at it's finest and a perfect way to end the evening. I resisted ordering one of their Italian hot chocolates or Nutella lattes as I knew I would surely burst... but it was so tempting. Sikora Caffe definitely put a great taste in my mouth and propelled me to not only brag extensively about my meal afterwards to everyone, but also made me look at my schedule to figure out when I could fit in coming back for more gnocchi.  It's a MUST.

Sikora Caffe & Restaurant on Urbanspoon

With an overly full belly I parted ways, after spending three hours with a group of fellow foodies discussing everything from politics to health care to everything in between while indulging in multiple savory fares. It was a remarkable and interesting way to spend a Wednesday evening, and one that I hope appeals to many others who may join in on the next Dishcrawl adventure. Variety is absolutely the spice of life, and if you find yourself longing for an existence with a tad more spontaneity or to pursue a more outgoing nature within yourself, look up Dishcrawl Kamloops on Facebook or the web and live a little. All you really have to lose is a few extra inches of comfort from the waistband of your jeans.

Bon appetit.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Baby, let's go out for dinner tonight...

Decisions, decisions. Desperately in need of a night out on the town but not sure where to go? I've been there. Shall we go to the pub around the corner which we frequent weekly? What about that new place everyone has been raving about? Maybe we should just go to the place that is always decent and order the same thing we always do....

But why?

Add some excitement to your night, what about if an evening out for dinner was more than just that; what if you could actually enjoy a culinary dinning EXPERIENCE? How appealing does a full night out on the town dinning at multiple local restaurants sound? Not just one, but four. Four different experiences, four different businesses, all right outside of your front door. Discover your new "go to" place, indulge in a meal worth bragging about, find your new local favorite. It's worth a try.

Dishcrawl is an online community for culinary events spanning over, over 200 cities across Canada and the US established to connect individuals to food, drink and culinary experiences in their community. Never heard of it? Well look them up at Dishcrawl.com . Kamloops is fortunate enough to be included in the Dishcrawl community, led by Anita, the Dishcrawl ambassador. She's inviting you to open your mind and excite your savory senses to what Kamloops has to offer.

Dishcrawl Kamloops' last event, a Wanderlust for Dinning in Downtown Kamloops on October 30th, featured four of Kamloops' spectacular restaurants: Ploughman's Lunch & Coffee, Maurya's Fine Indian Cuisine, Mountain High Pizza and Cafe Arianna. The foodies who attended the event enjoyed menu items such as homemade bread with aged white cheddar and gouda, butter chicken, pesto/vegetarian pizza and a multitude of desserts including chocolate macaroons and meringues. A three hour event full of great company and a potential to meet like-minded individuals who share your passion for dinning out and discovery.

On Wednesday March 12th Dishcrawl Kamloops will be once again hosting an event, entitled "The St.Patrick's Day Crawl". I am fortunate enough and flattered to be invited to attend this event, touring four "secret" locations between 730pm-930pm in our lovely city of Kamloops. The reason I say "secret" is because the locations that we will be stopping at will not be released until 48hrs before the actual event. I encourage you to browse the event, and would be excited for you to come and dine with me :) I will be blogging about the fantastic dinning happenings that I embark on that evening, and I have no doubt that they will be anything short of spectacular.

For more information, please visit http://www.dishcrawl.com/dishcrawl/3160 for a direct link to the event and to connect you with ticket purchasing opportunities.

Let's set about on a foodie adventure, I dare you.

Bon appetit.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

JamCan Cafe

Escape to Jamaica... in Kamloops. Take a trip to what may very well look like an industrial business area in Kamloop's North Shore; step inside JamCan Cafe and be swept away, you will completely forget about the city streets adorned with snow that are outside. I promise.

JamCan Cafe is located at 1157 12th Street, amidst various warehouse type buildings, in a strip mall. Although it's location may seem a little bit out of the way, unless you reside in the Brocklehurst  area, it is well worth the drive to be discovered. Please note the Canadian/Jamaican flag mashup that adorns it's signage, very cleverly done, and completely suiting.

JamCan has a very warm and attractive interior, with diner style booths and tables with palms sitting in every corner. On the counters you'll spot woven baskets filled with plantains and other exotic fruits. A giant banana wearing a Rastafarian hat hangs from the wall, along with, yes of course, photos of Jamaica and Bob Marley. Reggae music is playing softly in the background, and the inviting smiles of the staff await you as soon as you walk in. Bottles of multiple types of ginger beer and coconut water sit on the service counter, beside their dessert display of an assortment of cheesecakes. Calypso mango sauce is sitting on every table, and your water comes with a wedge of fresh lime, a great added touch. The restaurant was at least half full of customers and there were also many people on their lunch breaks popping in for take-out orders. I must add that the bright-smiled oober friendly gentleman with dreadlocks in the back made a point of coming out of the kitchen to greet the take-out clientele and even offer them fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies which he had just whipped up. 

JamCan serves breakfast, brunch and lunch items and it's colorful menu is not only great to look at, it reads well too. I know I've found a great gem when while reading a menu, I have a horrible time deciding what I'd like to order because all of the items sound so amazing. There is also a lunch special board at the entrance which had great items listed as well. So many choices! Thankfully my date and I were only privy to the lunch menu, as the breakfast menu was now finished,though it was still two full pages long! It included salads, desserts, such as Jamaican rum cake, a variety of Jamaican lunch items, which included Jamaican jerk sauce, curry's and bbq, burgers, sandwiches and kid meal items. 

We decided to go with the soup special of split pea and jerk pork soup, along side a Jamaican club house and Jamaican jerk wrap. I was pleased to have a great variety of options for bread offered for the sandwich, including sourdough, multi grain, brown or white. The split pea and jerk pork soup was wonderfully hearty and flavourful. Huge chunks of perfectly seasoned pork portions fell apart in my mouth and left me scraping the bowl. For those who have not had the pleasure of trying jerk seasoning, I will elaborate on what it tastes like. It's a rub, that is both smoky and spicy without overwhelming the piece of protein it is rubbed into. Composed of hot peppers, garlic, cinnamon, brown sugar, nutmeg and soy sauce, it's unlike any other sauce you'll experience, and even if you do not like overly spicy food, I assure you, you can find a menu item with just a hint of this jerk to get a taste for it. And so, I would recommend exactly what I had, the Jamaican jerk chicken wrap. A typical type of wrap, filled with tender pieces of seasoned chicken, fresh peppers and a light cream sauce, it has just enough bite to experience the flavour of Jamaican jerk without having to pound back the water after every bite. I enjoy my food extra spicy, and as much as I enjoyed my wrap, I could have had extra jerk sauce added to mine to kick it up a notch. It had a beautiful flavor profile and made for a great light lunch. At the other end of the spectrum, my date ordered the Jamaican club house, which was enormous! A three layered clubhouse with smoked bacon, mayo, tomato, and heaps of spicy Jamaican jerk chicken. I only had a small piece from one of it's sides and my mouth was watering... it was delicious and a great portion size. 

After finishing our meal our conversation carried on and on about how amazing our meal was, how excellent the service was and how fortunate we were to have found this hidden gem. That same gentleman who had made the cookies, had now finished baking rum cake, and came from the kitchen to greet us. He asked how we had found JamCan and what we thought of the service and food etc. He was pleasant and lovely, and I was surprised to hear that their location had been open for over a year! All of the staff were energetic and happy, the food was amazing and authentic and the price was perfect. Two soups, a wrap, a sandwich and a cup of what I 'm told, was AMAZING coffee, came to $22 after tax. I was grinning with delight just as much as the banana in the Rastafarian hat on the wall. My next thought after my meal was when I would find time to come back again and who I would bring. JamCan is the ultimate hidden gem.

If you are looking to try something new, heat things up a bit in a tropical paradise within four walls by experiencing authentic Jamaican cuisine, for breakfast or lunch at JamCan Cafe. Relax with a ginger beer, sway to the reggae and feel your troubles ease away. One of the slogans that identifies with Jamaican culture is  "Jamaica no problem", your only problem at JamCan Cafe will be how to narrow down your choice from the delicious menu items when the smiling waitress comes to take your order. My solution (in my best Jamaican accent) : Betta belly buss dan good food waste. Translation: It is better to overeat than waste great food, so order one of everything :)

Bon appetit.

JamCan Cafe on Urbanspoon

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Hu Ahyi Bubble Tea Place

Imagine you've been invited to a friend's house on a lazy Sunday for dim sum... you walk in, are greeted by friendly family members, children are sitting with their school bags and laptops, there is an AC in the corner and a few television sets scattered throughout, all are turned off. It's eerily quiet, minus the clinking of pots and pans from the kitchen. Your eyes are drawn to the golden wallpaper and glass table tops with lemon colored retro chairs. The pointsettas and Italian chef figurine are included in the decor along with traditional Chinese textile portraits on the walls... welcome to Hu Ahyi Bubble Tea Place. 

Hu Ayhi Bubble Tea Place is situated at 910 Columbia Place behind Kamloop's Great Canadian Superstore near the TRU campus. It's location is ideal for university students, and it's hours of operation are incredible, they're open until 10 through the week and even until 9 on Sundays. This is not somewhere you go all dressed up on a Friday night, I cannot stress enough that the atmosphere here feels identical to going to dinner at a friends house randomly one evening, please do not bring a date here. With that being said, I'm glad that after a hike out in the woods, I brought my mom here for her first bubble tea experience. 

Hu Ayhi Bubble Tea Place of course serves bubble tea and this was my first Kamloops experience of enjoying it locally as I've only ever had it in larger cities. For those of you who do not know what bubble tea is, I will get into that further along in this post. The menu also includes rice and noodle dishes such as bamboo ribs on rice, stewed beef on rice and special chicken thigh on rice. Soups, including miso and wonton, and your dim sum options. Dim sum refers to a traditionally prepared bite-sized or individually portioned food, served in either a steaming basket or on smalls plates. The dim sum menu items consist of wraps, steamed wontons and even steamed chicken feet, which my mother insisted that she would not dare try or even watch me order on this late lunch date.  We decided to both order a bubble tea, start with the seaweed tofu soup, followed by the dim sum dishes of BBQ pork buns, spring rolls and shrimp dumplings.

Bubble tea, or Boba tea, is a tea-based beverage blended with either fruit or milk in a variety of flavours from lychee, raspberry, coconut, vanilla and watermelon to name a few. There really isn't a flavour of bubble tea that doesn't exist in all honesty, I was so tempted to be festive and try the peppermint this time around but I wasn't feeling too outgoing this afternoon as my mom had already trumped by idea of ordering chicken feet. The bubble tea can be served warm, cold or slushy, and at the bottom, are wonderful tapioca balls called pearls. They have a gummy-like consistency with no flavour, and as you sip from the large bore straw they shoot into your mouth and if one is not careful, you will choke, but they are wonderful and fun. I have always steered clear of fruity flavored teas as the serving size of this beverage is often quite enormous and I could never handle that much sweetness, therefore I've always stuck with a milder sweetness milk version. I ordered the honey green milk tea cold with pearls and my mom had the vanilla milky hot tea with pearls. They were delicious, both were creamy an delightful, but I also felt like I was enjoying dessert before my meal. I would recommend enjoying your first bubble tea experience, or bubble tea in general, on it's own and not in accompaniment of a multiple course meal. 

Next I was greeted with a large mug-type soup bowl of boiling hot seaweed tofu soup. An oily plain broth filled to the rim, with heaps of hot seaweed and plenty of medium-firm tofu pieces immersed. It was a generous serving for one individual and I was very pleased with the taste of the dish itself. It was not salty like I had expected from the seaweed, the texture combination was great and it definitely warmed my stomach and filled me up. I usually opt for a miso or wonton soup, though I was happy to have experienced this alternative.

Our lovely waitress forewarned us that the wait for any steamed dishes, which would be our dim sum items, would be about 15-20 minutes, which was fine. I understand that any appetizer-sized items in any restaurant require more time to prepare and are more meticulous to create. We were presented first with our spring roll dish on a small multicolored plate with a side of sweet chili sauce ( not sure why plum sauce wasn't included rather than a Thai sauce but it was nice nevertheless). There were three spring rolls with a slightly oily/crispy exterior and a chewy pork filling which was decent, they definitely had a "home-cooked" taste to them and would be satisfying for an individual to enjoy after a long night at a Christmas party, I'll leave it at that. Next, on another mismatched plate, came our BBQ buns and shrimp dumplings. As having never ordered these items before, I did not realize that our plate would be overtaken by all white components, did it look appetizing? No. Were the elements of each piece delicious despite their attractiveness? Well.... The BBQ pork buns were mainly a thick dumpling batter which was of a slightly sweet doughy consistency, yet once you got to the center, there was a modest amount of shredded pork awaiting you. They were satisfying, though also very heavy and probably not the best choice for a light lunch. The shrimp dumplings however, were perfectly steamed wontons filled with a delectable shrimp that was light and mouth-watering which made me wish that we had ordered another steamed wonton option rather than the heavy battered pork item. 

I would like to emphasize that I have nothing completely negative to say about Hu Ayhi Bubble Tea Place, although my critique of the menu items we ordered may appear to be in the contrary. If I had been hungrier, had it not been my first meal of the day, and most likely if I had had the opportunity to order the chicken feet with my bubble tea as dessert rather than as a starter, I imagine that this post would have much more positivity throughout. It's a hole in the wall restaurant, the atmosphere feels like you're in a strangers home filled with lovely relatives, the menu items are VERY inexpensive which allows you to be open-minded and give new/exciting dishes a try and we are extremely fortunate to have a bubble tea option in Kamloops. 

If you're in search of a home-cooked Chinese meal, welcome home to Hu Ahyi Bubble Tea Place. Ask them to turn on the five o'clock news, order a hot bowl of soup and finish with a boba tea with peals, relax in it's awkwardly quiet environment and remember: even though it feels like you're at a friend's house for dinner, you don't have to offer to help with the dishes.

Bon appetit. 

Hu Ahyi Bubble Tea Place on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Burger & Cafe JOY Authentic Teriyaki Burgers & Green Tea Sweets Cafe

This very well may be the only burger joint I frequent for as long as I'm living in Kamloops, what a Joy indeed.

Burger & Cafe JOY is located in Kamloops' Sahali mall at 945 Columbia Street. I have yet to include a website link for any of the restaurants I've blogged about, though I'll be sure to include Joy's, as it is visual appealing. I wish that it had an "About Us" section however so that I could understand fully how this Teriyaki burger & green tea sweet cafe came to be in the small city of Kamloops.

I'm not a hipster, but I would like to start by stating that this very well could be one of the coolest "hipster" burger joints in Kamloops. Instagram would be filled with photos of Joy's decor and dishes: #zen #cool #foodporn. This small space sandwiched between what I believe was a hair salon and ink refill store, is a chill retreat from the cream colored mall walls and tile. Black streamlined sofas, wooden slatted tables with seating for groups of two or four and bar seating at the window. A LED screen displays their menu items, there is free Wifi, and just in case you were in the market for smart phone accesories, they've got some of those for sale too. I treated myself to lunch here and was one of three individuals dining alone. A precious rendition of "Is This Love?" by Bob Marley was playing, covered by a a soft-spoken female artist, and that, along side the smiling and charismatic Japanese hostess, made me feel like I could spend the afternoon there sipping on a green tea latte. It was ideal.

Joy is exactly what it claims to be, a teriyaki burger and green tea sweets cafe. The menu includes beef, chicken, pork, seafood and tofu burgers along side various options to accompany their deliciousness, such as edamame, miso soup, seaweed salad, and their new, squid salad. Traditional french fries are also an option. They have daily specials of more traditional Japanese dishes to boot. In terms of their green tea cafe items, let me tell you, I had to hold off on ordering one of everything, as they all looked luscious. Green tea roll cake, green tea pudding, green tea ice cream and both hot/cold green tea lattes, to name a few. I decided to go with a teriyaki tofu burger with a side of seaweed salad and a bottle of water. My bill came to $10.20 all in, it was fabulous. 

Seaweed salad is something that I actually have cravings for, and when I see it on the menu, regardless of it's cost, I will order it. When one imagines a seaweed salad they made wonder what it's texture is like. It's most likely exactly like what you've imagined. It's cold, slightly slippery, though has a crunchy texture and amazing bright green color and tasty flavor. I have purchased seaweed salads comparable to this one in terms of it's portion size for almost $6 before - this side was $3.35. If you're bored by a tossed salad, opt for this one next time.

Next I sunk my teeth into a teriyaki tofu burger, I have yet to enjoy a veggie burger as much as I enjoyed this tofu option. To make a teriyaki dish an item is first broiled, grilled or baked after being marinated in a teriyaki sauce giving it it's sheen (teri). My lightly breaded gigantic serving of medium tofu was warm and perfectly glazed. Caught between a fresh hot white bun with a slice of fresh juicy tomato and lettuce for garnish. It was juicy, it was messy, it was mouthwatering and amazing. If Joy managed to grill my tofu to perfection, I wondered what they are able to do with a chicken breast or fish fillet. I will definitely be bringing a few protein-hungry male friends along with me next time to try those options out.

As my meal's finale, the lovely hostess/waitress timidly approached my table and placed down my "Thank-you". A petite crisp cookie with creamy smooth chocolate spread between it's layers and a thin single pretzel like cookie dipped in strawberry yogurt. It was a great finish, they were pretty, cute and very satisfying after a savory meal.

If you want to take yourself for lunch, please check out Joy. Relax at a table, take your time, sip some antioxidant rich green tea and get messy with a scrumptious, juicy, teriyaki delight, no one will judge you. The ingredients are fresh, their combination in the menu items is innovative and pleasing. Forget your previous favorite burger location and breathe in the calming relaxation inside the four walls at Joy. Tanoshimu = Enjoy.

Bon appetit.


Burger & Cafe JOY on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Quilas Mexican Restaurant

Step in from the cold streets of downtown, experience the passion and warmth of Quilas.

It's -10 degrees outside... You need to intensify the heat, Mexican cuisine is amazing for that. From sensual Latin music, to warm inviting decor, the friendly presence of the wait staff and yes , the salsa that pairs perfectly with every dish you devour ... Welcome to Quilas, one of two Mexican cuisine restaurants situated in Kamloops. 

Quilas is located at 330 Victoria Street, downtown Kamloops. It is a small space, though the decor commands a great impact. It is intimate and sexy, with crystal chandeliers strung from the ceiling and fascinating over sized mirrors placed on the walls . This is the ideal place to take a lover to . The staff are energetic and accommodating, and their accents are intriguing. 

Quilas menu is lovely. A compilation of delicious appetizers, salads, main courses and desserts. The meal descriptions and ingredient listings even sound romantic and interesting. There are you traditional Mexican fare options, which a North American may be familiar with, such as fajitas, chimichangas, and burritos, though once again, I would like to plea with you, try something new. Ask your server which items are popular or favorites in his/her home town. What do you really have to lose? You can go to Taco Bell any day of the week for a burrito. With that being said, my date and I decided on the guacamole to start, followed by the steak fajitas for two (which neither of us had had the pleasure of enjoying for quite some time leading up to this meal).

I chose to kick off this  experience with a beautifully blended mojito. White rum, soda water, sugar muddled with mint leaves and fresh lime, it is a must try if you have never experienced one . I might add, Quilas also has an apple cinnamon flavored mojito which is divine, and a go-to cold cocktail for a brisk night out . Our water (and my mojito), was accompanied by a decent serving of fresh tortilla chips and homemade salsa to start. The salsa, as pointed out by my friend, was slightly salty, though did not deter us from finishing the entire serving before our appetizer. 

You must experience Quilas' guacamole. On the menu it indicates that the guacamole will be prepared at your table, which it certainly is. In walks our server, Ricardo, with an inviting smile, his fold out table and his numerous bowls of ingredients along side fresh avocados. He cleans his hands then proceeds to add the multitude of ingredients to a stone bowl and mash the avocado right before your eyes. The guacamole is certainly fresh. It is spiced to perfection, and the consistency is delectable. 

Let us proceed to the fajitas. If you are not familiar with the term "fajita", let me enlighten you. It is in Tex-Mex cuisine, commonly referred to any grilled meat usually served as a taco or on a flour or corn tortilla. First we were presented with a platter of garnishes, including salsa, avocado, Mexican rice , sour cream and shredded cheeses. Next, a container filled with warm, soft, flour tortillas. Finally, a smoking hot skillet with steak, onions and bell peppers grilled to perfection. Ordering a dish of fajitas is in itself, an experience. An experience worth the 28$ price tag. The course was not only satisfying for a party of two, it was also mouth watering and fun to put together and customize our own individually.

Quilas warmed not only our stomachs, with it's delicious spice and fresh ingredients, it also warmed our hearts with it's seductive decor and atmosphere. No need for hot company to join you for this experience. Whether dinning alone as a single, as  a group of friends out on the town, or as an intimate night out for two, prepare to fall in love. Let Quilas Latin flare and passionate ambiance entice you, to not be so modest, to crank up the heat , and to let your senses guide you into a uncontrollable desire to have , just one more bite of guacamole and sip of wine. Experience the sultriness of Quilas, I promise you will not be disappointed. 

Bon appetit. 

Quilas Mexican Restaurant on Urbanspoon