Vancouver: Korean Desserts Obsession

After returning home from Korea, we have been longing for some good Korean desserts. Our opportunity has finally arrived once we set foot in Vancouver.

My favourite place for Korean desserts would have to be Snowy Village. There are multiple locations in Greater Vancouver: Vancouver, Richmond and Coquitlam. They must be doing well because they are planning to open stores in Langley as well as Surrey. For those who have never tried Korean shaved ice AKA bingsoo, let me introduce you to this lovely, super light and fluffy dessert. North American snow cones, Taiwanese shaved ice, Chinese red bean ice, Vietnamese che ba mau and Malaysian ABC cannot compare to this amazingly tasty dessert. In the aforementioned shaved ice, it is literally shaved ice pieces. The ice itself has no taste. It relies entirely on the syrups and toppings to give it flavour. Once you eat all the toppings, the ice is not that appetizing. The chunks of ice can sometimes been so big and hard, that the experience can be quite unpleasant at times. Here, the bingsoo is not only made with frozen milk. It is so finely shaved, that it feels like you’re eating creamy snow. The closest thing I’ve ever had to it was the shaved ice we had at Lot 10 Hu Tong in Kuala Lumpar . As for toppings, you can choose anything from mango to green tea, oreos to the traditional red bean. The serving size even for a regular is quite impressive, so I would recommend sharing one between 2 people. I’ve tried both the green tea and mango and I would have to say my preference is towards the mango one. The downtown location can get quite busy, so you can always get the bingsoo to-go, as they package the dessert in an insulated bag which keeps the dessert frozen for 45 minutes! Haven’t tested this out for myself though since I usually couldn’t wait to consume it right away.

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Mango bingsoo @ Snowy Village.

Not only is Snowy Village well-known for its bingsoo, it is also known for its croissant taiyaki or bungeo-ppang (in Korean), which is apparently not available at all locations. It is definitely available at the downtown location. Those who have followed me on my Asia adventures, would recognize this dessert. Taiyaki is a Japanese fish-shaped dessert most commonly filled with red bean paste. The pastry itself has the texture of waffles. Now imagine that the pastry is transformed into a flaky croissant crust. And voila – the croissant taiyaki! Unlike some of the street vendors in Korea and Japan, these are made to order so they are fresh and hot which makes them even more delicious. The pricing is quite reasonable and you can even get 3 for the price of $10.

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Croissant taiyaki @ Snowy Village.

For those to live in the Hastings-Sunrise area, My. Frosty1 recently opened with pretty comparable bingsoo right close to home! We actually had this the day after we had Snowy Village (for science…), which allowed us to compare the two more easily. I prefer Snowy Village for its taste but for the days/nights that you do not feel like venturing downtown or to the burbs, this is a great alternative in Vancouver East.

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Redbean injeolmi bingsoo @ My Frosty. (We also had the mango bingsoo that day, for direct comparison with Snowy Village.)

Hope you enjoy these sweet delights!

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1. N.B. Many people, including myself, have mistakenly called this shop Mr. Frosty, which I have decided is actually a better name, so I will continue to call it as such. However, for the sake of accuracy, so you can actually find it, I will reluctantly call it My. Frosty here.

Vancouver, BC, Canada: Hiking the Chief

Vancouver, BC, Canada: Hiking the Chief

Photo of the day: The view from the Stawamus Chief.

Coming back to hike the Stawamus Chief made me very nostalgic, as it reminded me of my high school days when we would start off our camping trips with this hike. It is classified as an “intermediate” hike, but it can definitely feel challenging for beginners. The only route that I’ve ever taken is up to the first or the south peak, which is only 500m in elevation but the trail is quite steep so it will definitely get your heart rate up to get you huffing and puffing. The hike takes around 3 hours to complete round-trip at a good pace. On our drive to Squamish, it was pouring, which made me really worried since we will be hiking up a large granite dome, which can get quite slippery when wet. Luckily, the ground was dry when we arrived.

You can find free parking right at the trailhead. Just follow the signs to “Stawamus Chief”. Here you there are simple toilet facilities to use as well as a campsite. The first part of the hike is probably the most difficult. It consists of many steep wooden steps to really give you a good cardio exercise. The rest of the path is less manicured, mostly consisting of dirt paths and large rocks.

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The terrain of most of the trail.

There was only one true lookout point along the way, looking at Shannon Falls, so it can get a little monotonous. As soon as you see the ladders and chains to help you up the smooth granite surfaces, you are near the summit!

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Climbing up the chains near the top.

The unbelievable view at the top is definitely worth the climb. There are no facilities at the top. It’s just you, the view and some friendly chipmunks. There are also no lifts or gondolas here, so once you go up, you are committed to hiking down. Because the hike is quite steep, you need to be very careful.

 

Overall, I found this to be a nice challenging hike. Those who would like even more of a challenge can try to hike up the second or third peak as well.

Vancouver, BC, Canada: Top 5 Tourist Attractions

I recently came back to my hometown, Vancouver, BC, for a visit and coincidently, my relatives from out-of-town were visiting at the same time. While showing them around, I was able to be a tourist in my hometown for a few days, which allowed me to compile a list of top tourist attractions in Vancouver, BC.

1. Queen Elizabeth Park

If you like beautiful gardens and views of the city and want to make good use of your newly-purchased camera, this is the place to go. It is so picturesque that many people decide to hold their wedding ceremonies and snap their wedding photos here. If you enjoy tropical plants and birds, you should pay the Bloedel Conversatory a visit. Feeling hungry after all the walking around the park? Want to indulge in a nice meal while further embracing the view? Check out Seasons in the Park.

2. Stanley Park

This park is truly versatile and meant to be enjoyed by people of all ages. For those with children, there are waterparks, outdoor pools, and the Stanley Park Train. Those who love the outdoors and staying active can jog/skate/bike around the seawall while enjoying the beautiful coastline of Vancouver. Those who prefer to relax can lounge on the several beaches in the park. The park is situated right beside downtown so finding good food nearby is never a problem.

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The totem poles in Stanley Park.
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The view from Prospect Point in Stanley Park.

3. Downtown and surroundings

First time Vancouver visitors can probably spend a few days here. The waterfront is one of my favourite parts of Vancouver. Here, you can enjoy views of the water with the mountains as a backdrop. You can also see the huge cruise ships docking and the seaplanes taking off. It is also where our Olympic Cauldron is from hosting the 2010 Winter Olympics.  For my shopaholics, there is plenty of shopping either at Pacific Centre or along Robson Street. For those who like gorgeous architecture, you should head over to the Central Library, again a hot spot for wedding photos. For my hipster friends out there, you must check out Gastown with its various local coffee joints and eateries. For those looking for a more snazzy dining experience, head over to Yaletown. Mister is a hip liquid nitrogen ice-cream place to check out here. We were lucky enough to be here on their first year anniversary where all of their ice-cream are ONLY $5. You can deduce what their regular prices are.

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Central Public Library in downtown Vancouver.

4. Granville Island

Another popular tourist spot for first time Vancouver visitors, Granville Island is a great place for everyone to visit – especial lovers of local arts, crafts and food. There is a kids market for those with little ones. There is a local brewery on the island as well as a boutique Japanese Sake winery for some 19+ fun. Take a stroll along the public market to try some fresh produce and goods. Don’t forget to stop by Lee’s Donuts for some deliciously fresh donuts. I personally really enjoyed the honey-dipped one. If you get tired, there are plenty of benches on the island for you to sit and enjoy the street performances. Just watch your heads in case the seagulls decide to give you a little present.

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Enjoying a honey-dipped Lee’s Donut in Granville Island.

6. North Vancouver/Squamish

If you venture to this part of Greater Vancouver, you can visit the famous Capilano Suspension Bridge. If you want to opt for a similar experience without paying the exuberant prices, you can go to Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge instead. By heading further north, you can also visit Squamish. Depending on your preference, you can either hike up the Stawamus Chief or pay $40 to take the new Sea to Sky Gondola up and then do some light trails at the top while soaking in gorgeous views from the viewing platforms. The views from both are surreal but I would highly recommend the hike for a more rewarding experience. Check out my next post for more details about the hike itself.

These places are nice to visit at least once as important landmarks to check out but there are definitely other neighbourhoods that I frequent for food. Stay tuned for the food posts to come!