Thursday, September 29, 2011

Usual Lunch at Marché Kei Phat

When visiting Montreal, having lunch at Marché Kei Phat has become an enjoyable routine. I can’t believe I only wrote about it twice (here and here)! We’ve been there about half a dozen times – just this summer.

While sipping on iced Chinese tea, our family (minus one) looked over the menu to reaffirm our decisions.


#3 Phnom Penh noodle soup (with rice noodles or egg noodles), #6 Wonton noodle soup with rice noodles (or egg noodles)


#4 Phnom Penh style rice noodles (or egg noodles) with soup on the side, #7 Rice noodle (or egg noodles) soup with beef


#11 Vietnamese style beef stew with bread (top left), #13 Sweet Chinese donut (the sesame covered stuff on the left) or Chinese donut sticks (on the right)


I was debating whether or not I wanted to have something other than the Phnom Penh noodle soup. I was naturally drawn to the stir fried rice noodles with beef and Chinese broccoli (aka my noodles). I’ve had this here before and they do a pretty good version. Tough choices…


In the end, I went off the board and chose the wonton egg noodle soup. Their pork wontons were a bit on the sweeter side, but I still enjoyed them even though they were small.


Mom went with her usual Vietnamese beef stew (aka bo kho) and bread.



Jimmy and Lucy got their usual, Phnom Penh noodle soup and dry Phnom Penh noodles respectively. Dad also got the dry Phnom Penh noodle bowl with a side of pork broth.


Andrew tried the rice noodle soup with beef. It turned out to be a pork broth instead of a pho soup – not that Andrew cared.


And to soak up all the mouth watering, soul boosting soup, we had some Chinese donut sticks (aka youtiao). My uncle's older sister gave us an extra order of youtiao.

Lunch was once again a quite affair. Everyone was too busy with their own bowls of noodles to talk. I realize that we usually don't take pictures when we go because we're so hungry. Next time I go, I'll try getting the stir fried rice noodles with beef and Chinese veg.

If you ever go to Montreal, go try the Phnom Penh noodle soup at Marché Kei Phat and make sure you get an order or two of the Chinese donut sticks too.

(Full disclosure: my uncle's family owns the grocery store and small restaurant.)


Marché Kei Phat
4215 Rue Jarry Est
Saint-Léonard, QC
Marché Kei Phat on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Café Orient

Earlier this year, I was grocery shopping with my parents in Chinatown and got hungry. I was craving beef brisket (egg) noodle soup. The only restaurant that served it -- to my knowledge -- was at the Oriental Café. My parents caved in pretty easily.

20110512 Oriental Café

The beef brisket noodle soup was a bit lacking in flavour. It was there, but just not enough of it. Speaking of which, the soup wasn’t very hot. The tender beef brisket, themselves, were packed full of the beefy braising liquid. If only there was more of that flavour in the soup. Mom was disappointed that there weren’t any tendons, but I told her that I ordered the beef brisket noodle soup and not the beef brisket and tendon noodle soup.

20110512 Oriental Café

20110512 Oriental Café

We also got a plate of fried rice noodles with black bean sauce. The chef wasn’t as heavy handed with the bean sprouts this time. Much appreciated. I actually ate the bean sprouts! As usual, the noodles were on the greasier side of things.

20110512 Café Orient

Dad ordered a plate of beef with Cantonese sweet sauce to eat with rice. There was a bit of miscommunication with the waiter and Dad. The waiter came by and asked if we wanted the rice on the bottom of the plate or separately. Dad just smiled and nodded when the waiter asked that. The waiter confirmed, “are you sure you want the rice under the beef?” Dad smiled and nodded again. Dad actually wanted the rice separately. Fail.

20110512 Café Orient

The last dish of the evening was the soup dumplings (xiao long bao). I remember reading it on Nooschi a while back and always wanted to try it. There wasn’t much soup inside the dumplings but I’m comparing it to the Northern Dumpling Kitchen. The skins of the dumplings weren't super thin or super thick. I didn't mind it.

I believe it’s the only restaurant in Ottawa that serves soup dumplings. If I have a bad craving for them, I’d go back and give them another try. I'd also like to go back and try their beef brisket and wonton noodle soups.


Café Orient
808 Somerset St W
Ottawa, ON
Cafe Orient on Urbanspoon

Monday, September 26, 2011

Cooking and Eating Marathon with the Girls - French Onion Soup

Over the past few years, I’ve been trying to teach some of my friends how to cook. I love cooking and eating, as you know, but I also enjoy teaching others how to cook. Although I do most of the cooking, it’s important that they watch how everything is done before they try it themselves. By watching Mom cook and bake, I learned how to cook and bake.

When my friends and I were deciding what to make, I realized that I don’t cook outside my comfort zone enough. I admit that my heart began to race when someone suggested that we make fish. I was up for the adventure, but I haven’t cooked with fish other than that time my family made coquille St-Jacque at home.

Before we got together, it was decided that we’d make french onion soup from scratch. I suggested that we do a Parisian inspired dinner and it took off from there. Watching Tony Bourdain’s adventures pays off after all!

While grocery shopping, DG told me about having maple syrup glazed brie with crackers at an office party. We didn’t want to get maple syrup because it was expensive. We just needed something sweet to go with the salty and soft double cream brie cheese. DG made a great choice and picked up a small jar of raspberry jam.


We were a tad generous with the raspberry jam. The warm brie cheese went really well with the sweet and slightly tart raspberry jam. Ace Bakery’s white baguette, which we enjoyed with the brie and jam was also really good.

While sipping a french red wine and munching on raspberry jam, warm brie, warm baguette, sweet and crisp red grapes, I worked on slicing the three giant Spanish onions for the soup.



In a large pot, I threw in all of the sliced onions with some olive oil, butter, and a few pinches of salt. The olive oil will prevent the butter from burning quickly and the salt will draw out the water from the onions and also season them a bit. I've heard some people add sugar to help caramelize the onions, but I don't think you need to. Spanish onions are really sweet already.

If I would do it again, I’d probably do it in batches or even save a portion of the sliced onions for VN to try to make the soup herself. It’s okay though. I knew that all the onions would cook down to nothing.


The onions were in the pot for over an hour when I decided that I needed to take out all the onion liquids. That made everything much quicker. Soon after I took out the liquids, the onions began to caramelize (aka create fond). I tossed in some thyme and bay leaves before the liquids fully evaporated. At that point, we needed to keep a constant watch over the onions and deglaze the pot constantly.

That brown sticky stuff along the sides and bottom of the pot is what you want. It's called fond. Don't burn the fond or the onions. Keep the onions moving to prevent the onions from burning. Deglaze the pot by using small amounts of broth, wine, or even water and scrape the fond from the sides and bottom of the pot. The liquid you add will evaporate and create more fond. Just keep repeating these two steps until the onions become dark golden in colour.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Gaspé Trip Round Up

Travelling with family is always a different experience, but it’s nice to travel with people you actually know.

It was my second time visiting Percé and Gaspé. We didn’t have nearly enough seafood during the trip. I understand that there were a lot of people so it could’ve gotten very pricey. That said, we were still able to enjoy seafood.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Gaspé Trip: Day 7

The family spent most of the day in Quebec City after leaving from Rivière-Ouelle. We spent the last morning of our roadie on driving west. We past the depressingly dark clouds around Rivière-Ouelle and found sunny bright skies in Quebec City. It was a welcome change after the past couple of rainy days. We were all hungry, so we parked in Old Quebec City and searched for lunch.


We found a cute bistro along Rue Saint-Jean. It wasn’t as busy as other restaurants and their menu looked good.


EU had their lasagna. It doesn’t look that great, but this was a classic example of how looks can be deceiving. Although there wasn’t much cheese, the lasagna tasted might fine.


My aunt ordered the grilled salmon salad. She didn’t say much about her dish. I think she would’ve enjoyed lunch much better if there was steamed rice. One of my uncles also got the grilled salmon salad.


Grandma had the duck confit with apricots and mashed potatoes. I tried a few bites and it was pretty good.


Grandma couldn’t finish it all, so she made my uncle a sample plate.


AU and one of my uncles had the steak and fries special. We were all surprised and disappointed at how tiny the steak was. AU was more disappointed when he cut into the well-done steak when he asked for it to be cooked medium-rare. He surprised the waiter when he asked for them to fire up a new steak because it was overcooked. Once he got the new one, he was as happy as can be.

Monday, September 05, 2011

Gaspé Trip: Day 5 & 6

The 5th day of our roadie was disappointing. We woke up to the rhythm of raindrops. Since the rain was supposed to last all day, we decided that we should keep driving instead of wasting a day in Percé.

Just as we were about to eat breakfast, the rain stopped and waited for us to finish eating and packing up.



We drank coffee, hot chocolate, or a mix of both. I have no idea why there’s a marshmallow in the coffee.

I can’t remember what we ate for breakfast, but after we packed up our camping gear, we made some instant noodles to help warm our bodies.



There was leftover rotisserie chicken that my aunt shredded and tossed into the instant noodles. Wow, I just realized that the instant noodles were chicken flavoured.

The rain resumed and so we drove to our next destination – Paspébiac, Quebec. We found a fish market and bought 4 lobsters and about 10 lbs of cooked snow crabs for dinner. Since we didn’t have a place to stay yet, we grabbed lunch at Subway and brainstormed ideas.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Gaspé Trip: Day 3 & 4

On the third day of the Gaspé road trip, we had breakfast at our campsite and then drove to Gaspé to do a bit of grocery shopping. While in the grocery store, one of my uncles talked to a local resident and asked him where we should go for lunch.


The gentlemen recommended Dixie Lee, a fried chicken restaurant chain.


The kids wanted poutine. They just couldn’t wait for the better stuff later on. The crinkled fries were soggy without all the gravy. Whoever made this poutine was very generous with their salty gravy. It tasted powdered or canned to me. The cheese curds weren’t very squeaky between our teeth. My younger cousins loved it though. MT especially, but that's because she loves poutine.


Someone ordered fried clams. I didn’t even know it was seafood when I ate it, because I couldn’t taste anything but the breading. AU enjoyed them, but that’s probably because they were deep fried.


As soon as the bucket of chicken arrived at our table, everyone grabbed the dark meat.



I was left with the white meat. It was so dry that I needed to dunk every piece of chicken into the St. Hurbert-like dipping sauce. AU and I shared the plate and cleaned it.

After lunch, we drove back to the Forillon National Park and decided we’d go hiking. But as soon as we got to the start of the trail, dark clouds appeared. We changed our minds and ended up walking along the pebble beach.



The dark clouds disappeared and left an overcast sky. We discovered a few waterfalls near the trail.

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Gaspé Trip: Day 1 & 2

It was about 4 years ago when I visited the east coast of Canada. I had a lot of fun and had the chance to try new things, like whale watching and going to Prince Edward Island (aka PEI) for the first time.

I'll link all the articles of this trip on one page eventually. Edit: Here's the Gaspé Trip Round Up.

When I was asked if I wanted to go back to visit Percé, Quebec, and the east coast again, I jumped at the opportunity. But there weren’t any concrete plans for the road trip. Yay… … … I’m not a fan of this philosophy when traveling – as you can probably tell. My parents have ruined it for me unfortunately.


On the first morning of the road trip, nine other members of my family departed Ottawa and began to drive east. We stopped by Casselman, Ontario, for some breakfast. Casselman is our usual pit stop when we go to Montreal.


We usually go to Tim Hortons, but it was packed because it was a long weekend. Instead of waiting, we drove across the road and had our breakfast/break at McDonalds.

After everyone had eaten and gone to the bathroom, we had driven back onto the eastbound highway. While in the car, I decided to start writing about the trip in my journal/travel notebook. I felt carsick within an hour and had to stop writing. As I sat in the car, I couldn’t help but think about the symptoms of carsickness and how they progress into the end result of… you know.

Let me share my thoughts; let’s say there are 5 stages of car sickness/motion sickness, with 5 resulting in… how should I put this… a mess.

1st Stage: You begin to feel a bit disoriented.
2nd Stage: You get dizzy, but you aren’t nauseous yet.
3rd Stage: You start to feel warm and start perspiring a bit.
4th Stage: You get hotter and feel nauseous. Get a bag! If you smell anything gross, eat anything, or think about throwing up, you won’t be able to stop it from coming up.
5th Stage: You lose control and make a mess.

Is this pretty accurate? This is just what I usually experience. Anyway… getting back to the trip.


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