I've been busy though. Birthdays, birthdays, birthdays, and also finishing up Uncharted on the PS3. Since this is my first post in a while, here's two mini reviews of Tutti Melon and Thu Hien Deli on Kingsway.
I first heard about Tuttimelon early last year when there was a slight boom for frozen yogurt franchises in the lower mainland, then again when Sherman had posted about them (and the consistently bad Richmond drivers. lol!). While Tuttimelon is somewhat close to where I work, I couldn't fathom driving out of my usual commute for dessert, especially when I knew how dense Alexandra Road was and how I *hate* looking for parking.
I finally had the chance to try them out after a weekday lunch. And you know what? The usual Alexandra traffic jam was nearly non-existent! Bonus!
I ordered a medium tart yogurt with dragonfruit and strawberry. I thought the clerk was going to skimp on the toppings, but he basically mounded them on (even the dragonfruit!).
Sadly though, before I could take a photo, he'd slapped a dome lid on to the pretty dessert and all I got was the photo taken in the car. I actually twittered about it - I'm pretty sure if you were there in person you would have seen my shoulders slump a little as he ran his finger around the edge of the lid to fully close it off.
Once I got back to the car, the disappointment increased as I realized I'd have to make it back to the office before tasting anything - Richmond driving plus open Tuttimelon would have resulted in leather seat hazards! (Did I mention the mounds of strawberry and dragonfruit?)
I liked the abundance of fruit, but didn't really like the yogurt though. The tart flavour wasn't tart enough, and the texture of the dessert was more sorbet than yogurt. There was an ample amount of syrup / liquid at the bottom of the cup (clear, not yogurty!) and the mouthfeel should have been creamier than the watery, almost icey texture that was present. The price was also quite elevated; the medium tart flavour (I believe it was even more for flavoured yogurts) plus two toppings worked out to nearly six dollars. Six dollars! I could have had better tasting frozen yogurt at Qoola, plus have the karma effects of having supported a "green" company.
Initially, I'd wanted to return to try their gelato, but I do not believe I will make it. Above average price for below average product, sorry, I'm not a fan.
8391 Alexandra Road
For a while, I thought I'd keep Thu Hien my little banh mi secret. Location wise, it is convenient for me as I can head straight down Knight street after work and pick up a light snack or meal on the way home. I've visited a couple times when I've been craving a warm sandwich on crisp baguette, and meant to blog about it...but honestly, those sandwiches don't really stand a chance once they get in the car. I either stop by my mothers on the way home and nosh there, or pull over and simply start eating. (Even to veteran commuting eaters like me, Banh mi is a little bit of a task to eat while driving. Don't eat banh mi and drive kids!)
I've tried their cold cut special (left), chicken (right), and meatball sandwiches, but I have to say the chicken is the clear winner. Moist, hot chicken with flavour marinated into it, then grilled. They're not stingy with the protein either. In fact, I would think the chicken banh mi has the most meat.
In addition to your choice of meat, they fill the crisp baguettes with cold-pickled daikon and carrots, sprigs of cilantro, a spear of cucumber, and a smear of mayonnaise and chili sauce. It is *right* combination of salty, tart, spicy, texture, and freshness. And that is why I crave it! Generally, the baguette is shattery-crisp (they get them from Ba Le); however, the last time I went, the baguette was a little chewier than usual. It was an anomoly.
I've also noticed regulars coming in to Thu Hien and ordering the rice crepes (with a bag of fish sauce accompanying it). After reading Noshwells' account of how big the portions are for the rice crepes, I know I have to try them soon.
Thu Hien also sells ready made meals and spring rolls. Although they look tempting, I've only ever tried their banh mi. The deli does offer a seating area, but I've rarely seen people purchase and eat their meal there. Parking can be a pain - there is limited street parking and you may need to park a block or two away during rush hour.
In any case, love the banh mi, want to try the rice crepes.