The Bottleneck


The name eludes to wine, we could do with some wine. And the sandwich board out front was a good sign. Similarly, the welcome mat. Their cohesive literal “bottleneck” theme was eye catching. Though you may miss this wine bar with its narrow entry way. It looked like the restaurant was only a little wider than a standard door. Though the space definitely opens up inside. And even more so today, as we were the only ones in for happy hour on this weekday.


The room was dark, all the dim lights were focused on the bar. It was definitely the centre of the room, and the only section remotely decorated. It’s backdrop, a multicoloured collection of dots, flanked by two flat screen televisions. Big spot lights shone above the varnished wood bar top. And the row of lights that rimmed it, made the concrete below illuminate in a pale green. It was a very handsome, modern bar that popped. I also liked the rest of the layout. The step up sections cloistered by gating, spacious booth seats, and the large share style table under a projector screen.


We were in time for happy hour, so took advantage of all their appetizer specials. Two for one on the chick peas and olives and 25% off the fries. Not the greatest happy hours deals, but why not take advantage of them anyways, especially as both my guests were vegetarian. Besides, beers go well with snacks that you eat with your hands. Though in hind sight I didn’t enjoy any of it. Everything tastes exactly like you expected, it was boring food. No depth, just eating to go through the motion of eating.


“Crispy chickpeas” with lemon, chilli, Rosemary, and smoked salt. I guess you eat them like you do peanuts, but they just didn’t have the taste to measure up to peanuts. Crispy with the first bite, but grainy in texture overall. Easy to pop in your mouth. But once again, it wasn’t a dynamic eating experience. You couldn’t make out any of the seasonings and it could have used more salt.


The “marinated olives” were just a bowl of olives. Briny and salty. You couldn’t taste the chilli, lemon, or toasted fennel seed that was mentioned on the menu.


The “truffle Parmesan fries” was by far the best. They were hand cut fries tossed in truffle paste, Parmesan, and herbs. They were salty and a little peppery with the sauce. But once again, not exciting. It would have been better as fries with regular old ketchup.


Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – No.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
I have doubts of the food, given my experience with their happy hour specials. Burgers, squid, and pizza; the usual bar fare was all accounted for. So I wouldn’t be apposed to coming back and trying them, but I definitely won’t return for happy hour again. They didn’t offer enough to lure you in. This could be a pretty decent place just to hang out and drink at, but there are so many others places that would have better food and an equally nice setting, with more extensive happy hour features. There are just so many options, and I didn’t see anything uncanny to have me coming back here. What set them apart from all the others, besides the convince of their location on the Granville entertainment strip? Don’t deny your cravings.


870 Granville Street, Vancouver BC, V6Z 1K3
The Bottleneck Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Salt Tasting Room


We were at the “Salt Tasting Room” for their “San Sebastian experience”. From September 8th to October 11th they have partnered up with “Bosa Foods” to create a special tasting menu to partner with their wines. I believe it is a take on their happy hour, as it is only available between 3-6pm.

“Salt” specializes in artisanal cheese, small batch cured meats, and a wide variety of beers, wines, and sherries. Thus making them the perfect place for in between meal snacking, the ideal destination for an after dinner drink, and a good option for a first date where you don’t want to commit to with a full meal. It is located in “Blood Alley”, a back street in Gastown. This alley earned its name from the butcher shops that use to flank it. Today there was no blood, just the smell of urine. Though that inevitably aside, I still appreciate the unique layout and charm of this area. And by far, this is the nicest alley downtown.

As you would expect from the side of the building facing said alley, it wasn’t very ornate. An all black building with a concrete base, flagged by a banner. On the banner, their logo: an upside down salt shaker. Though that didn’t say much. Facing the restaurant head on, there is no sandwich board, no awning, no lit sign. You barely make out the tiny script, “salt”. It was like they weren’t tying to earn walk in customers, that those who know, just knew to come. And looking into the window, you got even less, it just looked like the patrons inside were in a fish bowl.


Inside, the restaurant was set with a brick wall on the left and flanked by their bar on the right. The red brick and mortar ran the length of the restaurant. On it were black boards written with white chalk. One listed their online presence, another gave out the wifi password, and the rest engaged guests to try their salt series. Multiple glasses of wine meets multiple servings of cheese and meats. A more fulsome listing of each was charted on the back wall, more chalk written on a larger black board.


The preparation portion of the bar was boxed off with glass. Behind it was a refrigerator, a meat slicer, boxes of fine cheeses, and all the plates you would need to serve on. On top of the glass counter was a row of piggy banks in different styles and different colours. Some pigs were polka dotted, others had pointed ears, one was speckled in paisley, another stood up right. I didn’t get their significance and didn’t bother to ask. But was it pig for pork and ham they specialized in. Another more realistic pig, sat high above the black board wall, at the back of the room. But they were pretty much the only element here that served no other function outside of decoration.

Looking in and down towards the rest of the restaurant there wasn’t much to it. Their theme was definitely minimalistic. Not that you needed more outside of plenty of wine, fine Cuban music, and one other’s company. On either sides of the room were rows of single bulbs dangling from wire illuminating the scene below. Metal stools set apart, framed a long banquet table for share. They had family style seating where everyone surrounds one table; and if it is full, you are forced to connect with your neighbour. Not necessarily a bad thing if you are looking to make a friend or run out of topics in which to discuss with your current friend. There were also two person tables for those wanting more intimacy, but all those were already taken. Therefore our group of three was seated in the middle of the long banquet table, having both ends already sat. Given the lack of patrons currently in, we were allowed clearance between us an our neighbours to the right. Though were not separated far enough that I couldn’t lean over to see what they were having. I used their dishes as a way to be able to make a more informed decision on what I would order.


For the “San Sebastian experience” you order a drink and you get a tasting size dish for free. You make your choice between nine different dishes. The more drinks you get the more dishes you get. For one glass of wine you get on choice. Each flight of three you get, earns you the choice of two dishes, and for any bottle of wine you get to pick six plates. We did the math and found the flights were the best deal, seeing as we couldn’t commit to finishing a whole bottle at this time. Plus one of my guests never had a wine flight, so we wanted to make this her first.


For the flights you can choose any three wines from a predetermined list off the menu. Most of it were wines local to the Okanagan. My guest, who was the wine expert amongst us, did the ordering for us. She specifically choose as many international wines as she could, giving us a good balance of red, white, and sherries for each flight. Our orders were written on pieces of paper that would later be used to set each glass.


For every wine flight we ordered we had our choice of two Spanish tapas, though most came with twos servings on one plate, which was complicated to share when in a group of three.

The “Manchego and chorizo potato croquettes” sounded like the best out of the nine choices, or at least the most heartiest. And when we learned that they were sold out of “Smoked paprika devilled free run eggs”, we double our order of the croquettes. I believe the group to our right got the last egg. So I saw that it was just one egg, cut into half, with its yolk removed and seasoned, then scooped back in, and finally dressed with a cornichon. Though if you are trying to consider more bang for your buck when ordering, the “Salchichon Iberico with quince paste” would do it at $6 a portion. Otherwise most of the other servings were $4 each, including the croquettes. The other exception was the ham below at $8, and it was well worth its price tag.


“Manchego and chorizo potato croquettes” with an aioli of roasted red peppers and smoked tomato. My Cuban guest informed us that when eating Spanish food you have to have chorizo, so as a vegetarian, she was willing to eat around the cubes of chorizo just to try the croquettes. Coming out of an even deep fry, I suggested eating these earlier on. Though warm or room temperature, they melted in your mouth. Once you break through the gold brown and crisp crust, you hit fluffy and smooth potato whip. It is what I imagine clouds to be like: cheesy. The chunks of chewy chorizo gave the bites salt and some texture. Looking at it you would think they would be spicy or that the sauce would have more zing. Though in reality, we found each bundle lacked flavour. It just tasted like potato and cheese, like a fresh tater tot, though that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. More of them, paired with a sirarcha mayo would make for a good late night snack.


“Sliced off the bone, 20 month old Serrano ham”. Just by looking at it, it seemed disappointing. Irregular cuts of meat barely speckling a plate. It didn’t look like it would be worth or should cost $8, luckily I got past it because it was technically “free”. Though tasting the ham painted a very different story. Based on its uneven jags you could tell these cuts were with a knife. It would have been better as an even slice using the precision of a meat cutting machine. Though each irregular piece of ham surprisingly had the perfect amount of fat on it. The gentle gum of fat gave each bite a nice chewy texture, to go along with its smokey nature. I have never had ham this good. It would be a waste to build this into a sandwich, or to pair it with anything else. It is best enjoyed alone, to pick out all its great flavours; especially after a sip of red wine. And apparently you can tell that this was authentic Serrano because it was listed as being 20 months old. That’s how long it takes pork persevered with salt to taste this good.


“Medjool dates stuffed with 12 month old Mahon cheese”. The sweetness of dates and the saltiness of cheese is a tried and true winning combination. A popular choice to have with wine. Though with these I got more sweet than I wanted, and missed a sharp and creamy cheese. They were stingy on the latter.


“Tomato tapenade bruschetta”. I suggest eating this one first and fast. The bread based got very soggy from all the excess juice off the tomatoes. Luckily the bread’s edges managed to remain crisp, giving it some needed crunch. The lack of seasonings really allowed for the highlighting of the freshness of the tomato. Though I would have preferred it to have more olive oil, some salt and pepper, and perhaps a drizzle of aged balsamic, just for a kick that matched that of the wines.


“Warm salad of Spanish artichoke hearts, piquillo peppers, and mixed Mediterranean olives”. Not what you think of when you hear the work salad. This was not chilled, fresh, or leafy. This was warm, preserved, and salty. I have never had warm olives before, it was okay, but I couldn’t pass my focus from the distinct briny flavour that is most familiar cold. I did appreciate that each component was soften to the same texture and enjoyable to take in as little nibbles. Though we could have used a separate bowl for pits. Spitting them out onto the table, in front of your guests, hardly seem dining out appropriate.


As a unique little feature, our bill was presented to us in this cute little cheese box. And even the smallest of details can make an experience memorable.


Would I come back? – No.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
I am the type of person who likes to take advantage of free things. Whether I like or need it, if it’s free I want it. So I was definitely excited to pay for my drink and get some small bites to nibble on with it for free. Though I made the mistake of anticipating appetizers, instead of tasters to highlight our drinks. And as a result, I was disappointed by the selection and smaller portion. Though considering what it is and what the restaurant hopes to achieve, they do a good job. Once again this is the perfect place for in between meal snacking, the ideal destination for an after dinner drink, and a good option for a first date where you don’t want to commit to with a full meal. Don’t deny your cravings.


45 Blood Alley, Vancouver BC
Salt Tasting Room Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Cactus Club at English Bay


Wanting to get one more sunny summer-like day in before fall, we went straight for the beach at English Bay. And what better place to take in summer while enjoying a romantic dinner, than right on the beach as the sun sets? We didn’t necessarily come for the restaurant, but more the stunning water side view. No other restaurant gets this close to the water. No other restaurant is actually on the beach like this one. We were shocked and delighted to be able to find a parking spot only a couple of blocks from the beach, and then further surprised to be able to just walk in and grab a table.

Friday night, the crowd was only getting more rowdy and the lines were only getting more lengthy. Drink after drink being slung, table after table being cleared and sat. The business would not be slowing on this night. Not even after the sun set. We wouldn’t be staying that long, but I would like to come back to watch the sun set.

As I mentioned, we managed to get a seat without much wait as we were willing to take one indoors; all the other guests before us were willing to wait for one outside. The line we pass was strictly for the patio. But from where we were sitting, literally and figuratively, we didn’t feel like it was much of a difference. Inside, we were the second table closest to the patio entrance, located on the first floor. With the wall open towards the beach and the sun shining in we felt the heat and had the need for sunglasses. Though, originally we wanted a seat on the second floor, closest to the window. Just looking up at the seated patrons from outside, you can see why it would be a favoured seat. An obstructed view of glistening water, blue skies, and an amber setting sun in the distance. All with the comfort of being indoors, including shade and air conditioning.


Although our ground floor seats weren’t that bad, we were on an elevated platform, so got a better view with the additional inches above the patio. And when the glare became too much the shades lowered electronically to half mass. Hereby allowing you to keep your beach side view without being forced to squint.

We were able to see past the heads of those on the patio. Sparkling waters, tanned bodies, and ocean liners docked in the distance. It’s quite a unique view and one specifics at this restaurant so close to the water. I am amazed they had the ability to buy the space and build their restaurant here in the first place. But based on the amount of staff deployed and the vibe here tonight, they were doing well and could afford more restaurants like it.


The only down side to our seats was the walk by traffic to our left. The isle beside our table was the main one, and because we were adjacent to the bar, it was also the busiest one. Lots of back and forth from servers and fast walking from managers, I got jostled a few times, and a few hands managed to make contact with my arm.

The setting was very modern. Wooden floors to match the wood ceilings and the wooden tables. Faux leather high top chairs at all the tables and along the bar. It was the kind of setting you could drink the night away at. But basically the menu, staff, and vibe were no different than at any or all the other “Cactus Clubs”. Just minus the spectacular scenery and the great architecture.

Though with so many locations I feel one “Cactus Club” could step out amongst the others with a unique menu all their own. They hardly change their offerings and they barely have specials. Each menu is no different from any other. And of all places, this particular location in particular deserves it. You almost expected a specialty list of beach appropriate fare, given where we were. A fancy hot dog, or some gourmet nachos, maybe even snow cones for dessert? Though it is worth noting that they do have a “concession stand”, though I didn’t get a chance to explore it more.


Having said that, they did have a limited edition drink tonight. So I tried their seasonal “Agua fresca”. What better a drink to enjoy by the beach? This beverage is popular at street stands across Mexico and Central America. It is made by infusing fresh pressed juice fruit and herbs with water and a hint of sugar. This one is their “Minted honeydew” made with gin, honeydew, mint, and lime. It was incredibly refreshing. This is the drink I would want if parched and the one I want to be seen with by a pool. Easy to drink and incredibly tasty.


I matched the mild beverage above to the light burger below. “Grilled tuna club” with ocean wise rare-seared albacore, tarragon tartar, bacon, cilantro, and pickled ginger; on a toasted ciabatta bun. The gentle hint of the tuna had its flavours perked up by the accompanying pickled veggies. Though I couldn’t make out the cilantro past the pickles, but that is a good thing. Similarly the bacon was also lost, I didn’t get any smoke char or salty fat. And lastly, the fries and ketchup were not complimentary sides to my fish burger. Their flavours just didn’t compliment. I should have traded fries for the salad or maybe a vegetable soup.


The “Cajun chicken sandwich” was like their Cajun chicken entree, but all done up between two buns. Along with aged cheddar, lettuce, and tomato. The chicken breast was cooked tender and seasoned spicy. The tomato and lettuce helped cut into its heat, but all three could have benefitted with some fresh mayo for the creamy texture it was missing and that tang it needed. Though the yam fries here did match its entree. They were good alone and great with the creamy dill sauce included. Starchy and meets back of your throat burning.

Both burgers were dripping with juices and dropping with sauces within a few bites in. I have never had such messy burgers. Things quickly fell apart and everything quickly became oily to the touch. We were given steaks knives but not forks, so I couldn’t use it to keep my hands clean. Yes I am one of those diners who doesn’t like dirtying their hands, and who has no shame eating pizza or a sandwich with knife and fork.


Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
It’s hard not to avoid a “Cactus Club” as they are one of Vancouver’s more popular casual dining chains, and they originated in our fair city. Though this one in particular is work a trek to if you like food with a view. Don’t deny your cravings.


CACTUS CLUB (English Bay)
1790 Beach Avenue, Vancouver BC
Cactus Club Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Soffee Cafe


My guest stumbled on this one while walking the neighbourhood. A cute little high tea cafe in the area surrounding South Granville. In an area of chic clothing boutiques and high end furniture stores, this cafe was like a hidden gem, a welcomed sight that seemed out of place.

Waking to the cafe you see two sets of tables and chairs for outdoor eating, and a sandwich board encouraging you to “be yourself cause everyone else is taken”. Through the open door and the wide windows you see white lace curtains and frilly doilies. You can’t help but to get excited at the potential of the adorned scene to follow.


A singer sewing machine greets you at the threshold. Surrounded by several tiny jarred succulents and a vase of pale carnations, it is used as a backdrop for their business cards.

The restaurant’s theme is Victorian and it was done very cohesively, flowing from corner to corner, and from dining room to washroom. The classical music playing over head definitely helped to further set this tone. Its melody was airy and dainty, like how I felt just being in the room. There were several different elements within the room, they were all different, yet somehow felt complimentary. Tables of different colours and furniture in different patterns, they all seem to fit together in their contrasting way.


On the walls hung paintings that reflected the tea culture. Landscapes of Vienna, Moscow, Venice; any where you can find a tea parlour like this. The whole scene was reminiscent of being in your grandmother’s or at least a great aunt’s living room. A curio showcased antiques. Behind mirror and glass were tea pots and matching cups. Rose petals and green leaves painted on white porcelain and shiny brass kettles with tall spouts. This showcase overlooked a handsome dining room set up that we would claim fork itself. A full length table set with a lace cloth, gold chargers, and a sugar bowl. Hanging above a pearl strewn chandelier.


Speaking to the server, we discovered that he and his mother owned and operated this cafe together. He ran the front of house and the customer service piece and his mother worked in the back, helping to prepare everything we would soon enjoy. Not often do you see a mother and son team working together, let alone so well organized, it truly warmed the heart.


Our food was made to order from scratch, so as expected, it did take some time to travel from kitchen to table. Though having to wait in such a charming setting wasn’t a bad thing. We took the time to explore their baked goods and plan our dessert order by the counter. The latter was a refrigerated showcase of sweets and treats that included vegan and gluten free options. Creme burlee waiting to get a sugar coating, apple pecan fritters, and tiramisu pudding. And on the counter top were butter croissants, blueberry yogurt muffins, and double espresso chocolate cookies.

The menu offered soups and salad, and with advance notice, a high tea service. However, so far I have been unable to plan far ahead enough to call 24 hours in advance, to reserve going one of three tiered treat tower. None-the-less I had some really greats dishes below. The following dishes were taken of and written account the two shares visits.


We had the soup of the day, on a Tuesday. It was a carrot ginger with pumpkin. A thick and hearty brew with a deep spicy throb. It felt very fall, warming as the day grew colder. Any soup order comes with a piece of tomato focaccia. It was flavourful, but too dry. It definitely needed help from the the soup to give it some moisture.


This “Seafood chowder” was taken to go. It was a good mix of seafood with several pieces of frozen shrimp and scallops. The chowder was creamy smooth with a zesty peppery tone. Fishy, and best taken with crisp crackers.


“Spinach salad”. The recipe called for almonds, but my guest ordered it without, leaving it as fresh greens meets sweet and tangy dressing.


“Smoked wild salmon panini on house made focaccia” with tomato, cucumber, and their house mixed caper cream cheese. All sandwiches and crepes are severed along side. This was an organic side salad with raisins and a balsamic vinaigrette. The salmon was fragrant, together with the fresh veggies and flavoured cream cheese, it was like a dressed up version of salmon and lox. The balsamic signature was a nice decorative touch. It certainly made the plate more memorable.


“Ham, cheese and egg crepe” with rosemary ham and mozzarella cheese. I strategically ordered this to perfectly compliment with the soup of the day, below. The crepe was like breakfast in crepe’s clothing. We were warned that they all would come coated in agave syrup, regardless of their filling and its intended being sweet or salty. Agave syrup is sweeter than honey and tends to be less viscous. Even though salty and sweet are delicious as they played off one another, I would have preferred a plain crepe with agave syrup or a savoury ham and cheese stuffed crepe. Both but not together. And this crepe was even more savoury, with actual herbs mixed into it batter. I also found there to be too much salty ham for such a light crepe covering. Remove access pieces was an easy fix.


This Wednesday’s soup of the day was a creamy tomato. It was thick yet velvety. Packed full of flavour because of all the herbs mixed in. Best taken with bread and cheese.


“Roasted pull chicken crepe” with sautéed bell peppers and caramelized onions. It is served with a side of their house gravy, along with the expected side salad. The filling could have used some draining as it got pretty mushy. Otherwise the flavours were strong, a nice fall flavour.


For dessert we had their creme burlee. As I may mentioned above, they were premixed and left to set in dishes ready for a good torching. It was removed from the refrigerated showcase and sprinkled with sugar in the back. Then once torched to a nice gold brown it is brought to your table. You get the same initial crack in sugar with the first puncture. But the cream was more liquid pudding than smooth whip. Although even with the texture was off, the flavour was spot.


Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
This was a nice setting to take a breather at, a peaceful stop in a busy area and has become an escape for us. The food feels like something a loving parent would make, you feel taken care of by it and through the diligent service provided. I would definitely like to plan a return trip to be able to try their high tea service and maybe some organic teas. Don’t deny your cravings.


1426 West 8th Avenue, Vancouver BC, V6H 1E1
Soffee Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tacos la Cantina


A road trip to Narin Falls in Pemberton had us in Whistler for dinner. We had no destination in mind, but stopped at the Olympic plaza when we saw this Mexican restaurant. My partner is a big fan of tacos, and doesn’t need a reason to try a new one at a new place. And this cute little cantina not only offered tacos, but burritos and salads as well.


The setting is old timey gas station meets cabin in the woods, with a patio out front. It is purposely rustic and intentionally worn. Chipped paint, dinged corners, it’s all part of its lived in charm.


Inside the interior was like a basement, industrial with red brick walls, ventilation tubing, and caged lights. By the front door, the wall had a sign reading the “mayor’s office”, painted right across the brick, using the restaurant’s actual door as its “entrance”. And what sat underneath it felt just as out of place. An old timey biscuit tin, a metal crock pot, leather luggage, and a bundle of backyard torches. Though if the interior of the restaurant was acting as the exterior of the major’s office, the vintage parking meters a few steps away made sense.


It also complimented the rest of the washroom’s decor. It’s theme, military dressing room chic. A repurpose set of shutters for a mirror, a row of lockers for employee storage, a steel barrel for a garbage can, and an old school top down toilet in functioning order.


Tonight the restaurant was especially packed, large groups came to diner together, not leaving much room for any one person to linger within. You order at the counter and help yourself to any free seat. All the tables lining the windows and the few free standing high tops were all taken.


There was a row of bar seats down the hall, enroute to the washrooms. Though it’s ledge was so narrow that you were almost nose to nose with the window. Any attempt to move back resulted in blocking the way for anyone to pass behind you. So we ended up claiming one of the outdoor two tops. Luckily the weather was temperate, even with the rain trickling around us. The outdoor was signed designating the patio for restaurant diner’s only. Surrounded by stone work and strung with lights it was quite the romantic scene.


The menu was a series of chalkboards listing alcoholic and non alcoholic drinks, street tacos, burritos, and salads. You order and pay, then wait for them to call your name.


“Brisket burrito” with slow cooked brisket and potatoes in a tomatillo sauce, with cilantro and onion. We added avocado for $1.50 when offered the option. We figured it would come like guacamole, smothered within the bundle wrapped by a flour tortilla. Though, it oddly came just as slices of avocado arranged on top of the folded burrito. Not really with the burrito, and not really missed without it. We later used the avocado slices for the bland tacos instead. The filling was heavy like a stew, and hearty with all the beans. Together each bite was filling and warming, and too much for one sitting.


The “Chicken tinga” taco was made with pulled chicken, chipotle tomato sauce, cabbage salad, and cilantro pesto. The tangy pickled cabbage out shone the zesty chicken as the star of the dish. It gave each bite a solid crunch and a needed vinegar tang. I saw the pesto and felt its grainy texture, but wished I could taste it as well. Overall it looked more interesting than it tasted. It needed something crunchy like crispy pork rinds, and something flavourful like a Sriracha mayo. This could have gone so many different ways, to not have it so bland.


The “Fish taco” was fish breaded in their cornflake crumble; and served with guajillo mayo, and cucumber pico de gallo. The fish was definitely the best feature in this taco. Light and crispy, it was so good, but would have been better with a tad more salt. The juicy salsa-like topping was the perfect accompaniment to it, but it too fell flat in the flavour department. Nothing a generous scoop of tartar sauce couldn’t remedy.


Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
If in whistler again, I definitely wouldn’t mind stopping for another snack-able taco or more filling burrito. The food was fresh, it came fast, and we left full with our money’s worth; it is just a shame that they couldn’t make the flavours as bold as their colours. If at all else, the setting is worth enjoying. Don’t deny your cravings.


129-4340 Lorimer Road, Whistler BC
Tacos la Cantina Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


IMG_4931 IMG_4932

A walk through Yaletown yielded the discovery of a new candy shoppe. I didn’t need anything and I wasn’t craving anything, but I just couldn’t resist the beck and call of some of the colourful sweet stuff. Though based on the exterior, you couldn’t really tell what you were walking in to. Looking into the wall to wall windows you saw an all white on white interior. It gave you that sterile clean feeling. Like even though the bins are bulk, and many hands holding tongs have dug behind the plexiglass, things were kept as sanitary as possible. It was comforting, and how I wanted all my spas and salons to feel.


On the right had side were over 80 covered bins housing over 80 different times of candies. And these weren’t your generic gummy worms or fuzzy peach. These were candies free of GMOs, candies free of trans fat, and candy free of high fructose corn syrup. Candy can truly never be good for you, but I did feel better about eating a handful of these in one sitting.


You begin by picking your packaging. Depending on your sugar needs you could choose between two sizes of paper bags or a plastic jar. The latter would be best for gifting, and the former, candy for yourself or for any casual occasion. I was feeling greedy and went for the larger bag, only to choose a little of all that I wanted with plenty of empty bag space left. Next you picked your tools. Hanging on pegs were several tongs and several sugar scoops. You can use either one. To be selective with accuracy I went with the tongs. And finally the fun part: browsing the isle, reading each labels, and making your candy claim.

There was a strawberry bubble gum mushroom cap with a marshmallow like chew to it. Vampire teeth with blood soaked fangs, amongst a regular row of teeth. A merger of six cream filled twizzler rods stuck together to form a flower. Cola bottle gummies with more of a sticky toffee- like chew than a real fizzy gummy cola flavour. I remembered the “red and blue energy” because of its name. A half yellow and half red or blue cylinder that tasted like tangy like lemon.


There were mixed sour lips, coco mallows, super sour strawberry keys, various sour skulls, raspberry drops, bear hugs, and chocolate marbles. Swedish skulls, marshmallow boats, mini fried eggs, caramel and banana marshmallows, and sour strawberry apple wrenches. Sometimes the names were misleading and didn’t really reflect the candy. Like with the liquorice dumble, the one eye monster, and sweet and salty. Once again, nothing from your local grocery store isles, nothing you could get wrapped in plastic.


I now understand the meaning of a kid in a candy store. The sensation of having all those options before you, and being able to go crazy with sugary lust, so long as you can pay the fee. You were charged per pound, a fixed price no matter which candies when in to your bag or jar. A grocery scale was available if you wanted to weigh in as you went. When it was time to pay, you did so at the counter towards the very back. Behind it stood a lone man, servicing the whole shop. He was welcoming from behind his counter, but not to point of leaving its safe confines. Not that I needed any help picking out what colours I wanted from a certain bin, or deciding what I liked the sound of or the look of the most.


As for the candy themselves, they tasted good. They were soft yet firm so you know they were fresh. Everything tasted light and almost guilt free. So good, that I sincerely though of going back the very next day for more. And I may have finished them all in one day. I will definitely stop by the next time I am in the vicinity of Yaletown.


Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
Who doesn’t like candy? Who doesn’t like being a kid in candy store, literally? And these candies are worth trying for yourself. No GMOs, no trans fats, and no high-fructose corn syrup. Don’t deny your cravings.


30-1020 Mainland Street, Vancouver BC, V6B 2T5

Yummy Coco Cafe


Looking for an after dinner treat, we spotted this one driving by. As per most Richmond cafes and tea places, they had a fun to say name, “Yummy-coco”. And in the moment, that was enough of a reason for us to stop in for dessert. Though we should have known better than to dine in, when there was no one inside, yet plenty of cars continued to park in front of the juice bar across the street. But by the time we got to the entrance of “Yummy-coco cafe” we were sold on its their cutesy decor. Outside, frosted window decals speckled a Paris skyline with asterisks, and a bubbled trim gave the windows the appearance of curtains. It was chic and alluring for any girly girl who appreciates finer things, or at least the illusion of it.


They had some semblance to a Parisian theme with a chic black on white look. Black trimmed detailing, a white fireplace backed by imitation stone, and white shade chandeliers with crystal orbs dripping from its centre. On a few shelves and across the fireplace mantle stood several miniature Eiffel Tower statues, and various knick knacks holding space. Miniature potted plants, empty frames, and two yellow giraffes that seemed out of place.


Each white laminate table was coupled with either a white or black dimple cushioned chair, and set with a miniature carousel. White horses with a pink mane on a flower and jewel encrusted base. It certainly helped to achieve the princess feel they were going for.

I appreciated their fairly animated menu. Coloured photos partnered with stylized borders and scripted fonts. It certainly made we want to flip through the whole thing, which I did. It listed quite an extensive array of savoury snacks, sweet treats, and colourful beverages. Each featured on its own laminated page. They had Taiwanese style light snacks, sweet and savoury style waffles, treats appropriate for a high tea service, ice cream and honey on toast, thick toast with melted spreads, Mille crepes, coconut pudding, taro rice balls, and Hong Kong style desserts. On top of their extensive drinks selection covering everything that you would expect at a bubble tea shop. Red, black, white, green, milk, and flower tea; slush, powder, and fresh pressed juices. All this and still they didn’t see much business, I wondered. Though it wasn’t until we honed in on the asking prices and saw what came before us did we realize why they weren’t as popular as their neighbour across the street. The prices paid for what we got didn’t balance out. Especially as much of what we ordered ended up being prepared ahead of time and simply plated to serve. I wondered if they at least made it themselves, or did they sourced out from a supplier?


The “Milk tea cloud” was at least made to order between the shaken milk tea and the freshly spun cotton candy. However, it was still disappointing. On the menu it was pictured as an oversized cloud-like puff topped with rainbow coloured confetti-like sprinkles. Whereas the reality was, this was literally just cotton candy balanced over a glass of powdered milk tea. It saddened us just looking at it. There wasn’t even any pearls in the milk tea, yet we were charged $7. And what was worst, the cotton candy didn’t even mesh well with the tea. It was very sticky, it melted on your fingers and stuck to your teeth. And when it hardened from soaking up moisture from the tea, it simply melted and stuck steadfast onto the glass, as web-like streaks that wouldn’t budge. It didn’t look much appetizing after that, so we ended up discarding the rest.


We ordered the “Osmanthus coconut pudding”, which turned out to be another case of false advertising. It’s photo showed tiny flowers soaking in syrup, above an even layer of pudding. Instead, what we got was just plain coconut pudding. When we brought it to the clerk’s attention she insisted that what she had given to us was “Osmanthus coconut pudding”, and that the flowers were mixed in at the bottom. We ate the whole thing trying to find one speck of yellow, just one flower petal. Nothing, nor did we taste anything other than coconut, and the osmanthus flavour would have been distinct by comparison. “Osmanthus” is a type of edible flower used throughout East Asia. Its scent and flavour is likened to apricot and peach. I am convinced that she lied to us, and I did not appreciate the deceit. Had she just told us that she had made a mistake, I would have been okay with having the floral syrup on the side, to use as we liked. Instead she committed to her statement and left us. Luckily there was no difference in pricing and we weren’t charged more for less.

And to continue with our grievances, upon its delivery, the same clerk mentioned that they cut the opened incorrectly and that the opening was fairly narrow. Then why didn’t they fix it or give us a new one? Why were they okay with giving us something not up to normal standards? We accommodated, taking the wide spoon and struggling to scoop out what we can without being able to see what our spoon dug into. As for the pudding itself, it was good. The flavour was refreshing and the jello-like consistency was fun to slurp through clenched teeth. And for more texture you could scrape out some young coconut meat to chew along with the firm pudding. This must be a very popular item as the front counter housed the very same coconut pudding in the husks of young coconuts, ready for take out.


We wanted to try a Mille crepe, I never had one and previously thought “Mille” referred to the ingredients used to make this dessert. But “Mille Crepe” is a French cake with multiple layers, “mille” means “a thousand”. It is nod to the cake’s 20 layers done with a combination of fresh cream and vanilla custard between each one. The topmost layer is caramelized to give it a nice smoky sugary flavour. We originally choose the mango flavoured one, but they were sold out. Then one by one we found out their chocolate, green tea, durian, and classic flavour were also sold out. Funny, as it wasn’t too late on a weekday and they didn’t seem to have too many customers coming through. We were eventually given the option of a “Strawberry Mille crepe”, that wasn’t even listed on the menu. We took it. As I mentioned earlier, this was not made to order and I don’t believe even made in house, so it seems unfair to give them the credit of such a luscious dessert. It was delicious, like having yogurt on a crepe.


Would I come back? – No.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – No.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
We left very disappointed, on top of not getting what we wanted, being lied to, we also felt over charged. Things were over priced, nothing was as advertised, and presentation lacked effort. For the amount we paid we expected more, especially given the decor and the set up. Don’t deny your cravings.


6211 Buswell Street, Richmond BC
Yummy Coco Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Mega Sushi


There are so many fusion sushi and Japanese places in the city. How does one stand out? How do you choose one place when the others, when they all offer something similar, if not same by another name? Each of these place is trying to make their own mark. They each attempt to craft the perfect roll with the most ingredients, and one that has the most unique ingredients. Replacing rice for cucumber, seaweed for bean curd. Anything that would deem them innovators in the North American sushi game. And when that fails to make a ripple they rely on clever names or funny puns. Sushi named after streets signs, local areas, or familiar landmarks. Or rolls with names have have you taking a second look. Why is it called that? Or that sounds interesting, I wonder how it tastes.


Today we were at one of the more well known fusion sushi purveyors in Steveson. One of my guests have been before and she recommend their sushi for taste and presentation. She was definitely right about the latter. They pull out all the stops with theatrics. I guess people are not just interested in the food anymore, they want a show with it. How is the sushi prepared, how is it plated, and how will it translated into photographs? The rolls below were sushi with a story, maki plated to resemble something else. And when that fails they even use flames to attract attention. You know you are successful in the above when a plate walks by a table and those who see it ask what is it and proceed to order one for themselves.


From the exterior the restaurant didn’t seem very special. You would think they would put just as much effort in to the decor and the setting as they did on each plate. We were given a seat across from the sushi bar. Although built with a counter, the sushi bar wasn’t actually used to seat patron, instead it was home to pitchers of water, excess cutlery, and stacks of dishes. Between us and the other tables close to the entrance/exit was a wooden divide. They dressed up the barricade with potted greenery. Grass in clear cups, and weeds in green platers gave colour to the otherwise dark brown space.


I liked the right wa11 with its uneven wood block build. It had a 3D look with several pieces jutting out further than others. The ledge they created was used to display tiny plastic figures. Hard to see, other than by the shadows they cast. I made out safari and ocean animals, and even a tiny man fishing.

Similarly to a past review of other fusion sushi rolls, at a different restaurant, I too found that majority of the flavours blended well together. They all had similar foundations and used similar ingredients, so therefore tasted alike. It was a even balance of salty and sweet, and tangy with heat. The kind of flavour you get from mixing Chinese hoisin and oyster sauce together. Though each roll had its own way of leaving you with a memorable mark.


The “Dragon roll” had fire. I saw the flame from the sushi counter and immediately told my guest that I wanted it. Little did I know that it would end up before me. It was an avocado, cucumber, and imitation crab in a roll with grilled BBQ eel on top. The roll was cut up and rebuilt to snake in a “S” shape like an Asian dragon would. The fire burning in the dish, at its end was for presentation sake only. This was the breath the “dragon” blew. The gimmick worked on me, before I knew this was ours, I wanted it. I saw it sitting on the counter and scrambled to see which was it on the menu. Essentially the base was a California roll, the glazed eel and raising flame hid this fact well behind smoke and mirrors.


The “Monkey brain” was one ordered for name sake. I don’t know how a monkey’s brain looks like, but I guess this was a decent guess, round and veiny? It is deep fried avocado with juicy crab meat and cooked tuna, coated heavily in two sauces. It pretty much just tasted like the salty and tangy sauce everything was drizzled in. Salty and spicy. Each wedge was fried crispy on the outside, but smooth and paste-like in the middle. It almost melted in between your lips. I really wasn’t able to make out any of the crab or tuna stuffed in. Not that it needed more flavours or additional ingredients. Deep fried anything is win, but even more so when it involves avocado. I liked it texturally the best.


The “Sexy roll”, an eye catching name, but one I wasn’t sure of. Why was it given its name? Was it done so with the belief that eating this would be low calorie and healthy roll equates to being sexy? Avocado, imitation crab, tuna, salmon, ebi, and tamago wrapped with thinly sliced cucumber. No rice, no carbs. It was a clean and simple bite. Refreshing and light, like eating a salad.


The “Blue ocean roll” looked more like the “garden roll”. Especially with it ends crafted to look like bloomed flowers. Though its name actually refers to the fresh raw fish used. Red tuna, hamachi, salmon, radish sprouts, and avocado in soy wrap with a tobiko topping. This was the closest thing we had to authentic sushi, where the fish is highlighted.


The “Tank roll’s” name was clear by its sheer size. Though we would have also accepted “beast roll” or “elephant roll”. It had everything. It was the fusion of a California roll, a Philadelphia roll, and dynamite roll; all rolled into one. Made with prawn tempura, salmon, tuna, tobiko, ebi, smoked salmon, imitation crab, avocado, cucumber, and cream cheese. This one was a two biter, but good luck trying to get it to stay in one piece.


The “Godzilla bite” was tuna and salmon on a deep fried seaweed and rice base. It is then torched before being topped with spicy chopped scallop, alfalfa sprouts, and tobiko. It and the accompanying ring of salad greens was then seasoned with their special dressing. The vinaigrette had things tasting of mustard. This was essentially a pancake of rice and seaweed flattened, fried, and then cut into bite sized pieces to be used as the base for fish and scallop. They reminded me of sushi canapés. This was my favourite of all the rolls. I liked the charred flavour and the fact it was served warm. And the alfalfa stood out, giving things a peppery taste.

Our meal ended with milk based candies accompanying the bill. Melon, banana, and a milk flavoured milk candy.


Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
It wasn’t the best sushi I have ever had, but it was some of the best and most creative sushi presentation I have ever seen. The extra embellishments really set it apart for me, reason enough for a revisit. Don’t deny your cravings.


#100-3131 Chatham Street, Richmond BC
Mega Sushi Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Teppan Kitchen


Aberdeen centre’s food court snakes around and allows over 20 different stands to have their own dedicated space. Lots of effort was put into decorating each stall. Each had its name in bold, a menu with photos, and some even a display of items served utilizing accurately portrayed plastic food. Not surprisingly, most of the writing used was Chinese characters, but the coloured photos and the glossy fake food helped to bridge the language gap. I will be covering all 20 of the foodcourt dining options across several posts.

“Teppan Kitchen” specializes in cooking on iron plates. “Teppan” means iron plate. It is used in this more portable version of “Teppanyaki”, a style of Japanese cuisine that uses an iron griddle to cook food on. This stall and their style of cooking is a trend that has suddenly become popular in Vancouver, thanks to the pageantry and price point of “Pepper Lunch”, a teppanyaki restaurant also located in Richmond. Given how popular and busy that location is, it is nice to see another vendor offering something comparable in a setting more convenient.

The menu lists protein and/or veggies on said iron plate. Each order comes with rice, leaving you to decide what meat, seafood, or vegetables you would like to accompany it. Like the other Japanese themed food stalls, this too included a visual showcase of plastic food, along with their photographic menu. You can choose from different cuts of beef like rib eye or NY strip loin, a 14 spiced chicken, Atlantic salmon, eel, or pork. They even cater to the North American palette with a creamy seafood linguine or fresh potato fries, served on the same trademark iron grill plate.


We had the “Grade “A” ribeye teppan” with egg and corn on rice. The hot iron plate sat on a wooden base, to protect the heated metal from melting the food court tray. The tray you used to bring it all to your chosen table with. This being in a food court, I can see the potential problems of bringing your own tray from stall to seat. Trays being too heavy and trays being dropped, or crowds being pushy and a trays being jostled. The hazard of heated iron on someone’s foot is not a pretty picture. Each iron plate was outfitted with a circular trim of paper. It acted as a written warning and a visual caution from touching what could burn you.


The meat and fried egg continued to sizzle at our table. The tender cuts of beef went red to cooked before our very eyes. Though any additional lingering before eating could result in overcooked and dry beef or burnt rice. And if that happens, you only have yourself to blame. Especially if you are like me, and were too busy taking multiple photos to eat when the food was still hot. The sunny side up egg was perfect to mix into the crisping rice. If done while the plate was still smoking you could essentially make your own fried rice. The meat was luscious, a few pieces stayed pink, which made them all the more tender with the gravy soften rice. Simple and delicious home style cooking. It’s appeal was definitely in its theatrics.


To drink we had their “Iced honey matcha tea” was similar to a steeped and chilled green tea, but with additional sweetness thanks to honey.


Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
As I mentioned earlier, if you like “Pepper Lunch”, but not its lines, “Teppan Kitchen is a fine substitute. Located in a convenient mall, with easy transit access and free parking. I found the food just as good, with its limited selection. The prices were comparable, if not less. Don’t deny your cravings.


Aberdeen Centre foodcourt
4151 Hazelbridge Way, Richmond BC, V6X 4J7
Teppan Kitchen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Saboten Express, Japanese cutlet

IMG_5963 IMG_5964

Aberdeen centre’s food court snakes around and allows over 20 different stands to have their own dedicated space. Lots of effort was put into decorating each stall. Each had its name in bold, a menu with photos, and some even a display of items served utilizing accurately portrayed plastic food. Not surprisingly, most of the writing used was Chinese characters, but the coloured photos and the glossy fake food helped to bridge the language gap. I will be covering all 20 of the foodcourt dining options across several posts.

The “Saboten, Japanese cutlet” food court stand specializes in authentic Japanese tonkatsu. “Tonkatsu” is breaded and deep-fried pork cutlet in either fillet or loin. This was one of the stands that had fake food behind a glass window. It helped to illustrate how their food would look. And helped in luring you in. This presentation looked clean, minimalistic. Each set option came with various sides, some included shredded cabbage, rice, soup, pickles, and additional sauces and spices to season to your tastes. Though it was hard to distinguish each piece from part when they all have the same golden orange batter coating them evenly.

The options for the different sets are tenderloin, loin, tenderloin and loin, or shrimp. We went with their their “Saboten set”, that had one of each. It included breaded and deep fried prawn, pork tenderloin, and pork loin. But if you want a little more kick in your meal you can also have your “tonkatsu” with a side of Japanese sweet curry, instead of rice and cabbage. Or make it even more simple and just sandwich your “tonkatsu” in between two slices of white bread; thus giving you some of the most evenly rectangular sandwiches I have ever seen.


But back to our “Saboten set”. Its presentation was definitely on point, the way the meat was propped up just so, on the mound of evenly shredded lettuce. And the way all the elements were placed strategically on the one food court tray. With all the extra features you got, it made you feel like you got more than what you paid for. Despite the thorough frying, the meal was not heavy with grease. There must have been a equally thorough blotting after dips in oil. Each piece of pork was crispy on the outside and perfectly cooked in the centre. Not too dry, not too salty. I am not a big fan of pork, but I could be if I eat enough of this. The prawn stick was best coated in tartar-like cream sauce. And the black sauce gave everything else an extra savoury kick, when it all started tasting the same. The pickles were equally helpful in mixing things up. They gave the dish the acidic tone it was missing.


Their “Iced genmaicha” was just regular Japanese green tea on ice.


Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
Having been to Japan, I have tried a few tonkatsu; and out of all the ones I have tried in BC, this by far is the most authentic. I now know where to go when I get that specific craving. Don’t deny your cravings.


Aberdeen Centre foodcourt
4151 Hazelbridge Way, Richmond BC, V6X 4J7
Saboten Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato