We all know now the tail is ‘Yellow’

As a frequent patron of Asian eateries, I can’t help but notice that recently, 60 to 70% of the time, there’re posters, signs and bottles of Yellow Tail inside licensed Asian restaurants. Having been familiar with these restaurants for decades, the above scene created by Yellow Tail has definitely revolutionized the almost non-existing wine-drinking habit amongst Asian dining rooms. In fact, in a recent media event in the famed Lin Chinese Cuisine, I chose the Yellow Tail Sparkling as the reception wine and everyone was very pleased with the choice. 

There is indeed a way to getting the winning formula. I believe these are the essential elements:

1. Competitive price point

2. A popular or common varietal that most of the public could identify with.

3. The wine(s) should be easy drinking and pleasant on the palate.

4. Easy to remember and easy to say brand name.

5. Consistent and trusty-worthy wine quality.

By the look of it, Yellow Tail Shiraz and Cab Sauvignon are winners, especially in Asian restaurants. These are two good characteristic wines which are appealing not only to red-wine drinkers, but beginners and casual sippers as well.  Thanks to the user-friendly name and logo, and the sales template that fits the Asian market, the popularity generated amongst consumers and restaurants make them top choice for both private and social events.  This successfully puts Yellow Tail on most Asian wine drinkers’ dinner table, Asian restaurants’ wine racks, and becomes the best sellers at liquor stores.

The consistency of the wine and easy to identify labels allows consumers to pick the wine without worrying about the vintage. The good price point is easy on the pocket as an everyday wine; and nobody has to break the bank to get their hands on it even after the mark-up in restaurants. It is an entry level, approachable wine that is appropriate for most social functions.

Now on top of the ever popular red and white table wines, Yellow Tail introduces a sparkling wine to complete its portfolio. Their refreshing sparkling is crisp with adequate citrus to complement its flavour; not too sweet on the palate that will go well with appetizers, salads, seafood and white meats; and is a very pleasing and ‘safe’ wine to be had with most Asian dish. It’s a great addition to Yellow Tail’s Portfolio. 

Allow me to introduce you yet to another of their wines that I thoroughly enjoy.

Tasting Note: Fruit forward bouquet with hints of chocolate and slight tobacco.  On the palate is a sophisticated black berry flavour, full bodied and well balanced with smooth tanninI blind-tasted this wine and other Australian wines with a wide price range from $15.99 to $69.99.   Each wine exhibited its own style and character.  However, it took the group by surprise when the price point $15.99 of this wine was revealed.  This no doubt is an apt example of ‘paying more does not guarantee better wine.’ Price and quality do not necessarily follow the same scale of progression.  A wine that is twice as expensive does not mean it tastes twice as good.

What’s the point? You might ask.  Well, that in most cases the business economics of wine is no different than other products. The economy of scale will dictate how to price strategically, implying that price may not always be a function of quality.  Because of the economy of scale, the regular Yellow Tail sells over 700,000 cases in Canada annually. At $15.99, this Reserve Shiraz and Cab-Sauvignon delivers exceedingly good quality, body and flavour. Bravo Yellow Tail!

There’s no need to stroll around the aisles figuring what to buy without spending a fortune.  This “Reserve” is a must try and you won’t be disappointed!

Holiday Affairs

Stephanie Yuen 


Don’t feel like cooking?

1/ Best deal in town – Turkey dinner for 25 from Hon’s

Hon’s is probably the first and only Chinese eatery to embrace western festivities to the fullest.  Well, the fact is, if there’s any Chinese restaurant to offer a complete Turkey dinner to take home, Hon’s is the one.

The Party Combo for 25 includes a whole turkey, 6 entrees of your choice from their Party Menu, plus forture cookies or Vegetarian Spring Rolls.  Guess how much.  $218.00, Hon’s even gives you back $10.00 gift certificate.  For those who want Turkey only, it’s yours for $6.49/lb.

I had Hon’s Turkey dinner many times, for office parties, private functions and for family celebrations when there’re more than 20 people.  This is like the best of both world – a whole turkey to satisfy the western palates amongst us, and sizzling hot Chinese entrees of your choices to please the grannies.  Do ask Hon’s not to chop up the turkey but deliver it whole so someone in the group can have the honour of ‘carving’ the bird – it does taste and feels better!

Ordering desk: 604-688-0871 ext. 290   www.hons.ca

2/ Turkey to go from Sutton Place Hotel

Golden and glittering roasted turkey with all the trimming has to be the desired main staple on many Christmas dinner tables. Sutton Place Hotel has been doing the cooking for those who love to enjoy a traditional holiday dinner without the fuss. Imagine coming home from work on Christmas Eve and a beautiful turkey dinner is ready to go onto the table! The 18-lb minimum Turkey dinner is for 8 – 13 people, and as long as you reserve before Dec 22, 2010, it’s good to go for the 24th, 25th or boxing day.

www.suttonplace.com/vancouver   604-642-2900


3/ Sushi to go – Bento anyone?

Why Bento? When it comes to raw fish, knowing where the fish is from is very important. I’m one of those who hesitate to bring home take out sushi because they are cheap and jumbo-sized.  Bento is the largest sushi company in Canada and serves more than 10 million handmade servings of sushi per year through a network of 22 quick service ‘grab and go’ sushi bars in premier shopping malls, on-site sushi bars in quality supermarkets and food service facilities plus more than 2,000 supermarket and institutional food service locations.  But what grabbed my attention is that Bento is the first Sushi wholesaler to go sustainable, that deserves a round of applause.

But how good is their sushi?  Other than quality ingredients, what else do I look for?  Since each and every sushi piece/roll is hand-made, so craftsmanship and attention to details are the keys.  This is not something that can be judged by saying so, but by their look, by the feel when picked up by your hand or chopsticks; and of course, by the taste and texture.   Check out your local supermarkets if you decide to enjoy sushi at home this holiday.  

Going out? 

Going to Sutton Place Hotel for their Yuletide Lunch Buffet has become a holiday ritual for many of my friends and colleagues. This is another popular festive event where families greet and meet to kick off the holiday spirit, girlfriends take a quality luncheon break in between their Christmas shopping and managements take their staff out for to say, “thank you”! Yuletide Lunch buffet is on weekdays till Dec 23rd

Those who are visiting Burnaby Village Museum for some historic yuletide fun, Hart House

Restaurant is just around the corner.  The $35pp Dickens Luncheon Buffet, also available weekdays till De 23rd, has been the perfect get-together place for friends and colleagues.  There are two seatings: 11am or 1:30pm.  Please reserve by phone only. 604-299-4278  For information on their Christmas and New Year dinners, go to www.harthouserestaurant.com

While checking out Festival of Trees, the annual BC Children’s holiday fundraiser at The Four Seasons Hotel (On till January 5), stop by Yew Restaurant to see if there’s any “Stollen on a Snowboard’ Christmas cake. Made by retired legendary baker Gerhart Weitzel, a Four Seasons Hotel Alumni who has many fans, only 1500 pieces are baked. For only $29pp, treat yourself to a 3-course Five Days of Christmas Lunch throughout December.  For other holiday dinners, log onto www.fourseasons.com/vancouver or yew.vcr@fourseasons.com  604-692-4939

Over at Fairmont Waterfront Hotel, Herons Restaurant’s famed Jingle Bell Brunch Buffet returns for just three appearances on December 12th, 19th and 26th. Add in a spectacular view of the North Shore’s snowcapped mountains and a little tickling of the ivories for entertainment and Sunday Brunch is a festive affair. Adults $49 | Seniors $40 | Children ages 6 to 12 $22.  For reservations 604-691-1865  herons@fairmont.com

For kids and those young at hear, and all things sugar lovers, check out The Fairmont Hotel Vancouver’s candy-decorated castle on the lobby level, be awed by the different shapes, sizes and style of  every candy imaginable. Executive Chef Robert LeCrom and his team has been busy preparing a scrumptious line-up of festive celebrations: Dickens Holiday Luncheon Buffet, Nutcracker Tea or Christmas Day Brunch, table d’hote dinners and a la carte menus.  Give them a call at 604-647-0517 or go to www.fairmont.com/hvc/celebrateholidays

For seasonal entertaining at Fairmont Pacific Rim, a Festive Lunch Buffet is available in ORU weekdays from December 6 through 24, and at $29 per person will bring a smile to your accountant’s face.  Highlights include eggnog smoothies, a sushi chef, selection of dim sum, house favourites such as butter chicken with pappadums and mint chutney, nasi goring, lamb satays with peanut sauce, hot pot of mussels, clams and prawns in coconut milk, Kaffir lime-dusted Pacific salmon with green Thai sauce.  There is also carving station with roast turkey and all the trimmings, an array of salads, local and house cured deli meats, and our Pastry Chef’s selection of holiday treats. 

For an intimate celebration, consider the private dining room for groups of up to 14.  In the evening, tasting menus are available from $50 per person for groups of ten or more.  For menu information, visit www.orucuisine.com. Reservations are recommended and can be made by calling 604 695 5300.

Hot pots for cold nights


Stephanie Yuen

Europeans call it fondue, we call it Hot Pot.  In fact, it is ‘For-Wor’ in Cantonese and ‘Hor-Guo’ in Mandarin. For or Hor, it means fire.  Wor or Guo, it refers to the pot on top of the fire. 

In the old days, the fire was lit using charcoals and a simple stand made of stone, on it stood a large clay pot of water or soup used as the cooking devise throughout the meal. Hot pot, often enjoyed in cold weather, was a mean of getting warm. Meat, roots and vegetables were the main ingredients, yet it’s nothing really extravagant.

But these days, we use mobile butane stove and a stainless steel pot divided into two compartments known as ‘yingyang pot’, pus a tableful of food! Some insist having a good soup stock; so different soup bases are offered when you eat out: spicy hot, chicken broth, pork soup, seafood stock, Szechuan chili pot, even congee. Others find water with few slices of ginger and stalks of scallions good enough.  It’s what goes in that matter!

What also matters is the condiments.  Crack an egg, whip it with satay/chili/soy sauce, they say this egg swirl helps cool down the cooked food to edible temperature so you won’t burn your tongue. Mix hoisin with sriracha, it’s great with sliced meat. Add some sizzling oil to a bowl of   chopped fresh chili pepper, then pour in soy sauce. Mix sesame oil & Maggi sauce;

Dilute oyster sauce by adding water and sugar…Hey, you can even use wasabe, tobasco or dashi!

Since this is a ‘you-cook’ style repast, anything that needs cooking goes. So be creative, throw in fresh crab pieces, fish chunks, lotus roots, taro roots, wild mushrooms, chicken wings, meatballs, wontons, dumplings, udons, lots of greens and yes, tofu!  

Hot pot tools & tips:

-There are special sections selling hotpot ingredients in most Asian supermarkets, including already packages of sliced meat and assorted meat and seafood balls.

-Make your own stock with turkey drumsticks or necks which have less fat content.  Just add in few slices of ginger (skin on) and chunks of daikon which will be ready to eat at hotpot time.

-Make sure there are extra butane gas tubes.

-Use wooden chopsticks for cooking.

-Small individual drainer is good for scooping but is optional.

-Fast cook watercress, Chinese lettuce, siu-choy and baby bak-choi are popular hotpot vegetables.

-Do not let cooked food ‘swimming’ in the soup, scoop them up once they’re ready to be enjoyed.