the best thing on miku’s menu

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the salmon oshi sushi – pressed bc wild sockeye salmon, jalapeño, and miku sauce that’s flame-seared to perfection.

you really can’t go wrong with anything on the menu since everything is so delicious, but where you can make the biggest mistake of your life is if you don’t order the salmon oshi sushi as part of your meal.

and just in case you were wondering what $300 of salmon oshi sushi looked like…

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the day before nightingale opened

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i got the privilege of trying david hawksworth’s new restaurant, nightingale, the day before it officially opened to the public… for $10.  we literally ordered almost everything off the menu. 28 dishes between four people (and the fourth person showed up a little after dish 18).

my personal favourites: the san marzano pizza with buffalo mozzarella (apparently it took two years to perfect the crust, but this was hands-down the best pizza i’ve ever had in my life), the lamb chops (we got three orders for our table), the seared albacore tuna, the pork belly (that went so well with the apple slices on top of it, and all the flavours infused into it), the flank steak, the halibut ceviche, the rockfish, the burrata, the cauliflower, the gelato, and the salted caramel pot.

the ambience was amazing, the service was fantastic, the quality of food was on par with what you expect from a hawskworth restaurant, and i absolutely love the “family-style sharing” concept of the restaurant and how the dishes come out as they are prepared.

i think i have a new favourite restaurant in vancouver, and i can’t wait to go back to try the rest of the menu.

bucket-list item 101. try all the salmon eggs bennys in the world

to add to this list

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aphrodite’s organic cafe (vancouver, bc) – good food, shitty service.

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charlie’s little italian (vancouver, bc) – perfect hash browns, amazing benny, and they also do $4.50 caesars/baileys + coffee on weekends.

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cafe zen (vancouver, bc) – pretty ordinary, nothing special.

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oliver bonacini (toronto, on) – love how the eggs benny came on buttermilk & cheddar scones.

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rustic cosmo cafe (toronto, on) – hit the spot, and also came with a nice side salad.

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forage (vancouver, bc) – not usually on the menu and one of their specials of the day, so obviously had to get it.

sensei sushi

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while i was in the philippines last december, i met up with bea (an old friend that i went to school with in jakarta), who took me to sensei sushi. she always had such great foodporn from this place on her instagram account, so i was excited to check it out.

the place isn’t that fancy, just a little hole-in-the-wall, but their food was amazing! really high-quality japanese fusion food. we ordered a bunch of dishes to share, so we could try a little bit of everything the foie gras nigiri (picture #1) was one of my favourites, along with the tuna tartare on kang kong crisps (picture #5). we were allowed to bring our own bottle of wine in, and they didn’t make us pay a corkage fee, which was nice. our bill still ended up being over 2,000 pesos between the two of us (around $45 – $50), which shocked me since we were in asia, we weren’t paying for any alcohol, and the place wasn’t located in an upscale area or inside a 5-star hotel.

it’s crazy how expensive the philippines is becoming, especially since the average wages are so low! according to this article, the TOP, best paying salary for a recent grad there is around 23,000 pesos (which is $500) a month. the top, best paying salary for an oil and gas ENGINEER that has 1 – 4 years of experience is around 40,000 pesos ($900) a month and the top, best paying salary for those in the IT industry with over five years of experience is 55,000 pesos (roughly $1,200) a month.

According to Jobstreet Philippines, the average monthly salary of a fresh graduate (based on the list of jobs posted on their site) is P16,524 (roughly $372). So if you are earning more than P16,524 you are already earning more than the average of your peers.” – http://www.pinoymoneytalk.com/biggest-paying-jobs-philippines/

the best eggs benny in vancouver.

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the bc benny (smoked salmon, cream cheese, and onions – i get it without the onions) they serve at the sunshine diner is the best eggs benny in town. i’ve tried quite a few different places over the years, and have found pretty good ones across the city, but i am sticking with my claim that this is the best eggs benny in vancouver. the hollandaise sauce that they make is to die for. i’m a fan of trying new things, but i can never deviate from my usual order. i love how over the span of almost 10 years, this dish hasn’t changed a single bit and tastes EXACTLY the same. the only thing that’s changed about it is that now it comes with a side of fresh fruit (that’s actually fresh, and not del monte in syrup from a can) and a bowl of homefries (you used to have to add it on for an additional charge), which are both great changes. they also make a pretty mean milkshake – thick, creamy, rich, and absolutely delicious. you can mix flavours together, so i usually go for the butterscotch espresso combo.

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the place itself is super cute – a legitimate 50’s style diner with comfortable booths, jukeboxes, and all the appropriate decor. great vibes, great service, and the best eggs benny in town.

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dubai: no taxes and no cold weather, what’s not to love?

visitng dubai has always been on my bucket-list and recently, i finally got a chance to go. what an incredible city: warm weather, an abundance of nice rooftop lounges, and beach clubs everywhere. my perfect city! definitely a bit excessive at times (aka the indoor snowboarding hill found inside a mall, plus the huge aquarium complete with sharks and diving cages, also found at a mall) but this city has it all. if north america and asia had a baby, they’d name it dubai. it was surprisingly clean, which was a shock to me because most cities in the world that i visit usually aren’t (i’m looking at you new york). it’s an expensive city, but with good reason, and at least the salaries people make there match up. friends that live there are making much more than they would doing the same jobs here in canada, and no one gets taxed on what they earn, which makes a massive difference! there’s also an extensive expatriate community there, which i found really refreshing and comforting, probably because of the way i grew up as a tck. amina, one of my best friends that currently lives there, put together the perfect itinerary for my vacation.

bliss lounge at the sheraton on jbr

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bliss was one of the first places i went to during my trip, and i fell in love immediately. i couldn’t believe that such a place was just a short walk from my friend’s apartment! it reminded me of beach clubs in bali and embodied the definition of “vacation” perfectly. beds right on the beach, waiters coming right up to your bed to serve you food and drinks, deep, chill, house music (accompanied by a live saxophonist), and the softest sand beneath your feet. i know the sand is technically “fake”, but it felt as real as the softest, whitest sand i’ve stepped on in tropical islands in asia. i ordered the rainbow roll and the sushi was surprisingly decent, i was not expecting to find quality sushi in dubai.

barasti

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barasti is another beach club that we went to – not quite as classy as bliss, but still relaxing and fun nonetheless. how casual it is was actually quite refreshing, because most places in dubai won’t let you in without proper footwear (aka no flipflops) and a reservation. great drink and food specials during happy hour, and turns into quite the outdoor beach club at night – there’s nothing like dancing to awesome house music while being barefoot on the sand.

shades at the address hotel (dubai marina)

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the address hotels are a huge chain of upscale hotels in dubai, and one of amina’s clients for work. a rocket pesto linguini with prawns from shades makes the perfect lunch. paired with a drink, on a bed, poolside with a view… you can’t really ask for more.

the palace (address hotel downtown)

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the palace is also part of the address hotel chain, and another place we went for poolside drinks… but this time in tents.

helio

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helio is a place i discovered on my own, while amina was at work one day. it was right on the marina, which looks similar to vancouver’s seawall because it was designed by the same guy. i ordered besara (a traditional egyptian recipe made with puree of skinless foul blended with dill, herbs and garlic, topped with crispy fried onions) that came with pita bread, and my own personal shisha (which is very common there, i swear the air just permanently smells like shisha).

barracuda (on jumeirah road)

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my friend mace took me to this amazing seafood restaurant where we were able to pick our own fresh items and have them cooked. it reminded me a lot of jimbaran in bali. we ordered an assortment of prawns, fish, and clams, along with the side salads and pita bread. i was wondering where the alcohol was on the menu, and mace informed me that no restaurants in dubai could serve alcohol since it was illegal, and that the only places that were allowed to serve alcohol were the ones in hotels. ohhhhh that’s why we were always drinking in hotels! 

tom & serg

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cute contemporary brunch place that originated in australia. i ordered the smoked salmon and poached eggs on zucchini fritters, with hollandaise a side of avocado. it was delicious, gluten-free, and they served great coffee there too.

atmosphere at the burj khalifa

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atmosphere is the lounge on top of the burj khalifa, the tallest building in the world. i can’t even explain how incredible it feels to be up that high. there’s something so calming about being so far from the rest of the world. the lounge has a wooden interior, and i felt like i was on a private jet or a high-class yacht. we had window seats and made it right in time to watch the sunset. these stuffed olives (one of the better bar olives i’ve had in my life) and smoked almonds (they almost tasted like meat) were served with our drinks, and both were incredible tasting.

armani lounge

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also located inside the burj was the armani lounge. your dubai experience isn’t complete until you’ve had a glass of champagne here.

i went to a few more places that aren’t pictured here: mall of the emirates, the dubai mall,(the biggest mall in the world), a “dive bar” (which was still really nice and located in a hotel) to watch the hockey game, the le meridien for poolside drinks to the sunset (where we also saw peacocks just randomly roaming around), and also to eat at maya, the mexican restaurant there (we sneakily got in without having proper reservations), and some restaurant next to the burj, which had a great view of the fountain show. one week in dubai definitely wasn’t enough time and there’s so much more i want to do (like the all you can eat and drink brunch at atlantis, the palm) but not to worry… dubai, i’ll be back.

yabu: house of katsu (manila, philippines)

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while i was in manila a few months ago, my sister took me to one of the best katsu places i have ever been to – yabu. their katsu sets (whether you want chicken, beef, or pork) all come with unlimited miso soup, rice, cabbage, and fruit. they give you a bowl and the ingredients to make your own sauce. the meat is tender and it’s breaded to perfection; the sauce is rich and tangy; the rice is soft and fluffy; the combination of all three parts in your mouth results in the utmost satisfaction… and eventually a food coma.