According to t.v. lore, Joanie Loves Chachi scored the highest ratings ever for an American show when it first premiered in Korea. The reason? It turns out, “chachi” is a Korean euphemism for the male appendage. Now I don’t know about you, but if I heard ABC was about to premiere a show called Joanie Loves Cock, I’d probably check it out. Sadly, there’s some doubt to the veracity of this legend, but there’s no doubting some of the “lost in translation” mishaps that have dinged companies trying to do business in foreign countries. GM marketed its Nova automobiles in South and Central America, realizing too late that “no va” is Spanish for “doesn’t go”. Colgate launched its Cue toothpaste in France, where the word “cue”(“queue”) is slang for “ass”. And Coca Cola’s first foray into the Chinese market was marred by the news that their rendering of the company name – kekoukela – translated to “bite the wax tadpole”. Occasionally, even restaurants names fall victim to hilarious misinterpretation. There’s London’s “Phat Phuc Noodle Bar”, Vaxjo Sweden’s “Poon Palace”, and, of course, Montreal’s “Ecco Li” (Italian for “here they are“) a.k.a. “The E. Coli restaurant”. Which brings us to Vancouver’s own CinCin Ristorante – cincin, of course, being the Italian celebratory toast, the equivalent to “cheers”…in addition to Japanese slang for penis.
Now at the risk of prompting readers to tag this blog entry “Mallozzi Loves CinCin”, I have to say that I’ve enjoyed some terrific meals at CinCin. However, this wasn’t always the case. When I first moved to Vancouver, I had some truly unremarkable dinners there, prompting me to declare it the city‘s most overrated restaurant. My opinion changed with the arrival of Executive Chef Andreas Wechselberger and Chef Patissier Thierry Busset. Wechselberger’s dishes are hearty yet accomplished, Busset’s dessert creations almost joyously inventive.
On the night of our recent visit, Fondy and I both started with the sunchoke soup (as part of our ongoing effort to sample every version the city has to offer). CinCin’s take, while good, suffered from the inclusion of eggplant which overpowered the delicate flavors of the sunchoke and even battled the more pronounced essence of the white truffle oil. For my main course, I had the venison loin. Served medium-rare and accompanied by chestnut-sweet garlic tortellini, wild mushrooms, and brussel sprout leaves, it was earthy and satisfying – although my wife found it a little too gamey for her taste. It was, admittedly, upstaged by that evening’s feature, Fondy‘s main course, the spit-roasted pork tenderloin – the tender carvings redolent with the sweet smokiness of its roasting and honey finish. We also split an order of a nicely al-dente angel hair pasta with mullet caviar, garlic, and chili. Between courses, we were treated to a couple of amuse-bouche: the first a subtle goat cheese-stuffed rigatoni with a tomato and lemon sauce, the second a crispy-skinned pheasant confit served on a bed of savoy cabbage.
We shared three desserts. Well, three and a bit, really. Fondy’s warm caramelized apple tart was a labor of love – layers upon layers of thin buttery apple-infused pastry. The house tiramisu was another artful construction, the tiramisu enclosed in a perimeter of chocolate tiles and accompanied by a spicy hot chocolate. While unarguably the best-looking dish we were served, I prefer the more marscapone-rich version I had the last time I dined here. The top dessert of the night was the chestnut crème brulee – rich and creamy but not overly sweet, complimented by chocolate chip gelato and soft candied apple slices. To close out the meal we had the dark and decadent handmade Weiss chocolates: gold leaf, cognac, and some other flavor I never got around to for fear it would put me over the edge.
Excellent service all around, from the hostess who welcomed us at the door and had our coats waiting for us on our way out, to our waiter who happily endured our myriad of ingredient-related questions. The dining room is warm yet elegant, making CinCin an ideal choice for a romantic night out. Or a fun ice-breaker if you happen to be entertaining Japanese business associates.