Eating Out: Huong Lan Vietnamese Restaurant

Dining at an ethnic restaurant is supposed to transport diners to the exotic country of the cuisine’s origin.

Most of the time they do not.

The end result is palate numbing combination of forgettable fusion and perpetual fortune cookies with traditional recipes being tailored to suit Western palettes. Huong Lan Vietnamese Restaurant however is the rare exception.

Seafood Chow Mein at Huong Lan Vietnamese Restaurant Continue reading

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Fab Food Photo of the Week: Fish Tacos

Here at the Flirty Foodie, we love a good fish taco.  A popular snack food in Mexico, they are delicious combination of crispy battered or grilled fish, pico de gallo and pickled veggies.  They are ranked high on the list of our go-to dishes and get ordered A LOT!  We’ve sampled tacos all over Vancouver Island from the cult classic Tacofino trailer in Tofino to Penny’s Palapa’s halibut tacos right here in Nanaimo.  Paired with a ice cold bottle of Negro Modello, a fish taco is unbeatable and is a must eat summer staple on those searing summer nights.  We can’t think of anything better…apart from more fish tacos!  Ling Cod Fish Tacos

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Visiting St. Jean’s Cannery and Smokehouse

St. Jean’s Cannery is a family owned and operated business that has been a mainstay in Nanaimo for fifty years.  Started by Armand St. Jean in 1961, today it remains a family affair with son Gerard taking over from his father’s humble beginnings, selling his home-smoked oysters to local bars.  In a West Coast fishing industry that has been in steady decline for years, business is booming at St. Jean’s making it a remarkable success story.  So when Armand’s grandson Dave St. Jean invited us to tour his family’s cannery, we were gung ho and ready to view (and hopefully eat) a ridiculous amount of seafood.

boxes of pacific smoked oysters from St. Jeans Cannery and Smokehouse

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Recapping the 2012 BC Shellfish Festival’s Chefs’ Dinner

Each year seafood lovers gather in the Comox Valley for the BC Shellfish Festival, the largest of its kind on the West Coast. Celebrating its 6th anniversary, this year’s festivities kicked off on Tuesday, June 12th with a screening of the documentary “Shellshocked” followed by the Mott’s Clamato Best Caesar in Town Competition on Thursday, which we had the pleasure of judging. Next on the festival calendar was a seafood extravaganza also known as the Chefs’ Dinner. We were kindly invited to take part in this wonderful celebration of locally produced shellfish.

As we raced down the highway, rocking out to Van Morrison dressed in our formal wear, our mouths watered in anticipation of eating freshly shucked oysters, clams, mussels and geoducks. With over 200 guests to be treated to a gourmet, six-course seafood feast by an all star chef line-up, this sold out dinner was the hottest ticket in town. Each chef collaborated with a BC shellfish grower and their product to bring their original seafood creations to the guests. Factor in a bottle of BC wine paired with each course, and you got a sense of the urgency we were feeling with a 120 kilometre drive separating us from this seafood gorge fest. Continue reading

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Eating Out: Bistro Taiyo Sushi Bar & Izakaya

A Japanese salad of burdock root and carrots with sesame oil

Bistro Taiyo Sushi Bar & Izakaya, located in the heart of Nanaimo’s Old City Quarter has served up authentic Japanese home-style cuisine for years. Under new ownership since 2011, Takeshi Hirose and Shin Koshimizu have given it a sophisticated remodel while still keeping true to the character and friendly atmosphere of its previous incarnation. From the moment you are warmly welcomed by the gracious all Japanese staff, you feel as though you’ve stepped into a small restaurant in Tokyo, minus the happy hour crowd in suits. The space though modest, features a sleek sushi bar where one can get a front row seat of sushi chefs in action. In addition, there are tables lining a bench and wooden chairs with traditional paper lanterns floating from the ceiling. While we do recommend that you pull up a seat at the sushi bar, we grabbed a table in anticipation of the serious spread we planned on ordering. The extra table space was needed. Continue reading

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West Coast Salad Rolls

Vietnam will always have a special place in both of our hearts and our livers (thanks to the mass consumption of Vodka Vietnam). We met and worked at a pho restaurant and spent the better part of two months backpacking through the bustling streets of Hanoi down to the serene waters of the Mekong Delta. It’s only fitting that our first food post paid homage to our ongoing fling with Vietnam.

Salad rolls (Goi Cuon) are a popular light Vietnamese snack food served cold or at room temperature. Ubiquitous in Western pho houses everywhere, our version comes with a West Coast twist; with smoked salmon lox and grilled scallops replacing the usual chicken and shrimp. For added flavour, we grilled our veggies, marinated our scallops in spicy peanut sauce and used Thai basil as well as cilantro. While most Western recipes calls for a peanut dipping sauce, our rendition is served with the traditional fish sauce (Nuoc cham). This was an experimental recipe with delicious results. These can be made well in advanced, perfect for entertaining guests.

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