The other night, Akemi and I checked out one of the buzziest Taiwanese restaurants in Vancouver, the well-reviewed, foodie favorite: Kalvin’s Szechuan Restaurant. Akemi has a couple of Taiwanese friends who swear by the place and so, more than a little intrigued, we headed out to Victoria Street to see (and taste) for ourselves.
The restaurant is notoriously busy. Reservations are recommended. And arriving promptly for your reservations is also strongly advised. Not wishing to take any chances, we booked a table for 5:30 p.m. and arrived early – only to realize it doesn’t open until 5:30 p.m. And so, after a stroll through the neighborhood, we were at the door – then at our table – on time for our reservations.
It didn’t get busy until 6:00 p.m. or so at which point the tiny room was packed, mostly with – from what I could tell – regulars. Prior to that, however, we had the place – and the staff – more or less to ourselves. The service was attentive, friendly, and downright warm. We placed our orders and our dishes arrived sooner after, all bold, wonderfully balanced flavors. Some of the highlights included…
Not for everyone but I love the texture – crunchy and chewy – and Kalvin’s version is, by far, the best I’ve ever had. We were asked to specify a spice level and we elected to go medium, which packed a nice little kick. Next time, I think I might hazard the hot.
The restaurant offers many traditional Taiwanese dishes but, as the name implies, some Szechuan fare as well – like the above dish, Akemi’s favorite. A robust and, yes, fiery dish. Despite their size, the chicken morsels are moist and tender, a step above the tougher, drier versions I’ve had elsewhere.
This one came highly recommended on a couple of the foodie blogs and I wasn’t disappointed. Also spicy but possessed of an aromatic spice I couldn’t quite place that simply wowed.
We rounded things out with a hearty, slightly sweet corn soup, 5-spice beef rolls, and a spring roll. Throughout our meal, Chef and Owner Kalvin himself popped out of the kitchen – when it wasn’t too busy – to see how we were enjoying what we’d ordered. And then, as more customers filed in, he broke off to greet them – most by name. I felt like I was in the Cheers of Taiwanese restaurants.
According to Kalvin, his restaurant will celebrate 30 years in business this year. 30 years! Given my first-time experience – and the obvious loyalty of his cliente – I’m not at all surprised.
Kalvin’s Szechuan Restaurant (604-321-2888)
Open for lunch and dinner daily (except Wednesdays)
5225 Victoria Dr
Then, on Saturday, Akemi and I paid a return visit to the Bakers Market. This time, Bubba stayed home so Akemi was free to take her time and roam the aisles. Like last weekend, we loaded up on a variety of treats –
Last week, I picked up chocolate biscotti from home baker Giada Vacca’s Treats and Blossoms. On this visit, these caught my eye –
A return visit to my friend at Life’s Lemons…
The owner recognized me from last weekend and asked how I enjoyed the caramel sauce. I admitted that I hadn’t tried it yet because I’d run out of ice cream. “You can eat it right out of the jar,”she assured me. “I won’t judge you.” Well, I forgot to pick up ice cream on the way back home so I did end up trying it right of out of the jar after all. And it was unbelievable.
Don’t judge me!
Finally, what sweet Saturday would be complete without a visit to Vancouver’s premiere chocolate shop: Beta 5. Their selection changes monthly and, this weekend, they kicked off their April Union Pack with an outdoor theme: “On the Forest Floor”. Among the offerings are “deer droppings” (a mix of 63% dark chocolate covered raisins, and 39% milk chocolate covered peanuts), melt-in-your-mouth “candy cap caramels” (earthy, sweet Candy Cap mushrooms captured in a buttery, caramel bite with a flavor reminiscent of maple syrup)…
They ship! http://beta-5.com/
Our Supermovie of the Week Club reconvenes tomorrow with guest film reviewer, Cookie Monster, weighing in on his latest superhero-themed screening: Super Capers. If you haven’t already seen it in preparation for tomorrow’s discussion – spoiler alert! – it’s beyond awful. Don’t bother. But do stop in to check out monster’s thoughts on what could arguable be the worst superhero movie yet.
For Cookie’s previous supermovie reviews (as well as his opinion on Snakes on a Plane and There Will Be Blood), head on over here: http://cookiemonstermovereviews.wordpress.com/