Kakao – Seattle, WA


Kakao Chocolate & Coffee Cafe
415 Westlake Ave N
Seattle, WA
(206) 833-5467

I admit freely to having some cravings for sweet stuff and giving in.  The times are few and far between though, so thankfully I’m not on a permanent sugar high like some people I know who guzzle litres of pop a day or never are without a sugary doughnut with their morning coffee, a candy bar at their work desk,  or pass on a daily dessert at dinner time. When I do crave something with chocolate as its primary ingredient, its often a dark variety bar.

Earlier in August, I was exposed to a variety of sample product from a Vancouver-based XOXOLAT ahead of a private function.  The use and dedication to serving single origin chocolates struck a chord with me, as it reminded me of what a segment of the coffee scene is like with its strive to procure ingredients from reputable and solo operations.

While on this recent trip to Seattle, we came upon the Kakao Chocolate & Coffee Cafe, located right by the Tesla showroom and an outpost of Serious Pie.  A very large and open concept space, outfitted with a mishmash of comfortable looking and more stiffer wooden furniture.  Big bright windows and high ceilings, led me to think this used to be some kind of industrial or commercial storage facility before it was transformed to the people-friendly business it is today.  While primarily concentrated on the chocolate realm, they do give ample attention to their coffee beans as well for their espresso (provided by Seattle roaster Herkimer Coffee) and the loose leaf tea on the menu is from Miro Tea.

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Laleh Bakery – North Vancouver, BC


Laleh Bakery
130 W15th St
North Vancouver, BC
(604) 986-6364

North Vancouver’s Laleh Bakery specializes in Persian cookies that you serve to accompany traditional afternoon tea. These melt-in-your-mouth treats pair well with tea drinking. They come in a variety of textures that complement the ritual – often slightly dry, flakey, and grainy – with crunchy punctuation provided by walnuts, or pistachios. Some are sticky sweet, or are covered in powdered sugar.

Butter and semolina lend their richness, and the subtle flavour of cardamon or rosewater permeate many of these confections. Date and fig jams are used as spreads sandwiched between cookie rounds or as fillings. Preserves such as apricot, or berry jam serve to fill thumbprint indentations.

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Stumptown Coffee – Seattle, WA


Stumptown Coffee
616 E Pine Street
Seattle, WA
(206) 324-6755

The Capital Hill area of the Emerald City is an intriguing one to go for a stroll around in.  Bars, live music venues, theatre houses, fashion boutiques, bookstores and coffeehouses abound.  I think you could spend a full day up and down the main streets of this area and get in a complete day of good eats and entertainment.  One of the most popular places to unwind and get a solid cup of coffee is Stumptown‘s location on the steeply inclined East Pine Street.

My only previous experience with their coffee was when I picked up some of their roasted beans in Vancouver’s Chinatown district.  So I was keen on actually going to one of their two cafes in this part of Seattle.  With limited seating outside and big glass windows leading inside, it was quite inviting from the sidewalk when you approach it.  Stepping inside, you are in direct line of sight with the main service counter.

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Go Fish – Vancouver, BC


Go Fish Ocean Emporium
1505 W 1st Avenue
Vancouver, BC
(604) 730-5040

“Thirty minute wait for anything fried and ten minutes for the grilled items”.  That’s what was being hollered out to the still not fully depleted lineup as the last business hour of the day approached this fine sunny weekend day.   With hungry bellies, our rat pack of five quickly huddled and decided we’d opt for the healthier and quicker grilled menu choices, and that was by no means a default as these creations as you’ll see here did not disappoint or a downgrade to the more popular deep fried dishes like their fish ‘n chips.

In reality, the wait was indeed longer than advertised, but I assumed their time clock began once they could actually begin cooking your order, and not from the point of time when the order was actually received and paid for at the til.  But with the nearby bench seating providing a view like this, the clock moving slowly isn’t all bad…

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88 Supermarket – Vancouver, BC


88 Supermarket
4801 Victoria Drive
Vancouver, BC
(604) 876-2128

88 Supermarket is one of the many reasons why I feel privileged living in the East Side.

As an avid cook and general enthusiast in all things pertaining food, I’m always on the lookout for great sources for ingredients. When I am cooking Southeast Asian food, I would usually head on over to stock up.

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Madras Dosa House – Vancouver, BC


Madras Dosa House
5656 Fraser St
Vancouver, BC
(604) 327-1233

Recently my daughter told me that her favourite cuisine is South Indian vegetarian…this is after many years of sushi as here top choice when dining out. A couple of years ago, I had taken her to the Vancouver location of Saravanaa Bhavan – a restaurant chain hailing from the city of Chennai that specializes in the cuisine of Tamil Nadu. She was smitten. She always asks if we can dine there whenever we are nearby and she held here birthday party with her friends there recently. (She and a number of her friends are verging on vegetarianism). I am only too happy to oblige her.

Being a carnivore, I find Indian vegetarian food to be the only meatless food that truly satisfies me. Unlike the typical “beans and tofu” vegetarian cuisines endemic to this city, I truly do not miss meat at all when I eat this food. Also, I had traveled through that part of India a couple of decades ago and fell in love with the cuisine and had always wanted to explore it first hand. With impetus, I am now in the midst of exploring this cuisine with my daughter by learning to cook it. I would like her to grow up knowing that vegetarianism can actually be a delicious lifestyle. I have stocked my kitchen with the requisite pantry items – luckily all very easy to find here in Vancouver. I already had a number of great cookbooks (I’m a bit of a cookbook hound), and there is no shortage of websites from which you can learn this cuisine.

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Kalvin’s – Vancouver, BC


Kalvin’s Szechuan
5225 Victoria Dr
Vancouver, BC
(604) 321-2888

As far as Food Trends go, Pork is an odd duck. After many years (even decades) of virtual banishment from many restaurant menus, this “other white meat” has surged with a vengeance. Pork Belly Anything, Pulled Pork on Anything, and Bacon Anything is all the rage in restaurants from casual breakfast joints, all the way to fine dining establishments. It is getting quite tiresome to be honest. The Chinese diner, insulated and bemused by these strange Western trends, have never shied away from this beautiful meat. Kalvin’s – a relatively unsung Chinese restaurant on the East Side of Vancouver serves two of the finest examples of Pork dishes in town.

Kalvin’s Szechuan, is a Taiwanese-run restaurant that specializes in Sichuan cuisine by way of Taiwan. Taiwan became an incubator for Sichuan-Taiwanese cuisine when the civil war forced the defeated Chinese nationalists to retreat to the island of Taiwan and declare the Republic of China (Taiwan) as a sole governing authority over all of China. The connection to Sichuan (and thus its cuisine) is a primarily symbolic and spiritual one as Sichuan province was the last stronghold of the Republican forces and the last to fall to the Communist troops. Chongqing (in Sichuan province) was also the home base of Chiang Kai-Shek’s Republic for many years.  The two dishes examined here, however, are not Sichuan in nature – they both probably originate from other parts of China. We will have a look at the Sichuan inspired dishes here in a later post.

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