Vancouver Fish Company

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One of those times where I didn’t plan a place to eat, but walked by and stumbled on a restaurant that I found exciting. The large metal propeller out front certainly caught my eye here. And the “now open” on their sign lead me to believe that they were new to the neighbourhood.

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Business had yet to pick up as I walked into the empty foyer. It looked stylish with wood and leather furnishings. A round bar and high top booths. Several chalkboard planks listed all their tap offerings in colourful chalk.

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But the day was warm enough for a sundress, sandals, and a seat on the patio, for lunch. We sat on wicker chairs facing glossy wood tables on a wood deck. Your position gave us a view of one of the many marinas within Granville Island. The murky water’s surface was covered by boats at dock.

Our server was very pleasant. She mentioned specials from memory with excitement, and checked in on us often. My guest brought her new born and she engaged with her too.

This and the setting and menu had me pretty excited for the meal to come, but sadly it would not live up to my expectations.

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Fresh lemonade, which was heavy on the lemon and therefore sour.

They had a feature menu celebrating ocean wise seafood as a “festival”. Oysters, sablefish, prawn, or all of it in a boil. We decided to take advantage of this fresh sheet to our chagrin.

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The “Haida core tuna tacos” ended up being the most disappointing of the three dishes we shared. It was lime marinated tuna with a chipotle slaw, topped with a avocado crema. It didn’t look half as fresh as it sounded from its description. The fish was fresh, but it lacked a light element, some crisp vegetable, something crunchy. The slaw was salty with a preserved flavour, it made things too tangy. Something also made each taco watery and its shell soggy. This gave each bite a grainy texture that didn’t help with the squishy bits of fish. The more you ate of it, the more disappointed you got.

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The “Sockeye salmon tartare” was a little better, more fish had it reminding me of a poke. Preserved lemon, capers, Dijon, parsley, and a cooked egg. It was served with several crostini and a balsamic drizzle. There was not enough crostinis to eat all the fish with, they were needed to give the dish a crunch it was otherwise missing. For the tartare, all of its ingredients were bold, their flavours prominent in competition with one another. The balsamic really came through with sweetened, the pepper was spicy, the lemon added a strong pop of sour, and the distinct flavour of the capers would not be hidden. There was just too much going on on the plate and none seemed complimentary to one another. The fish wasn’t well highlighted, as the star of the dish. It would have been nice to taste its nature, raw flavour and not just enjoy its texture. The egg was the most curious, it didn’t add any flavour or texture to the mix. It looked like cheese, and was without a taste. I wondered if they just brought this many ingredients together for the sake of saying more is better. Whereas simple would have been ideal here.

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We then went for the squid off the regular menu and it was clear we should have stuck with what made it on to the fixed listing. The “Vancouver island Humboldt squid” was buttermilk battered squid, lightly fried and tossed with jalapeño slices. It was served with a lemon caper aioli. The texture of the squid was spot on. Not a hard chew, but an easy to break, tender bite. Each piece had an even batter with plenty of flavour. It was great as is, and just as good dipped into the creamy, tangy dip.

 

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.
The food was disappointing, I did not feel that I got the value that I paid for. When they kept the dish simple it was great, but it felt like they were over complicating things. We actually left still hungry. We could have ordered more, but after two unsatisfactory plates, we didn’t risk getting being disappointed any more. Though as I mentioned, ordering off the regular menu didn’t steer us wrong. I wouldn’t mind trying more from it. Like their seafood platters that offered a little bit of everything to share. It gave you entrees and side with variety at $89.99. I would also be interested in trying how they do a simple seafood boil, there would be no way they can over complicate that. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

VANCOUVER FISH COMPANY
1517 Anderson Street, Granville Island, Vancouver BC, V6H 3R5
604-559 -FISH / 604-559-3474
vanfish.com
Vancouver Fish Company Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Patisserie Fur Elise

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This would be my guest’s first time at a proper high tea service. I wanted the event to be a memorable, a service with the whole song and dance. So I brought her here. A princess-like setting with white lace, white gloves, and the servers in a frilly and floral apron. We even came during the proper tea time, 3:30pm: after lunch, but before dinner.

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The tea salon is perfectly situated within one of the Queen Anne-style Victorian heritage houses, that has been in Vancouver since 1893. It sits amongst three others behind garden paths and picket fences, and between two towering skyscrapers. It gives you the feeling of escape. A hidden respite in the busy go-go of downtown Vancouver; to indulge in French pastry, afternoon tea, and various sweets in.

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The experience starts as soon as you open the door. The first floor is their bakery. A counter with the same treats that they offer for high tea, available for take out. This was a clean display with rows of their in house made macarons in vanilla bean, strawberry, cantaloupe, banana, blueberry, raspberry, pistachio, and mango. All set to the back drop of white shelves and glass cupboards showcasing their pink takeaway boxes.

They also had panna cotta in blueberry, jellied fruit slices, and loose leaf tea in jars with their lids wrapped in patterned cloth. Though considering the amount of counter space available, it was disappointing that they offered so little variety and nothing in baked goods or pastries.

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They attempted to make up for it and fill space with other non edible offerings, like hand crafted jewellery and macaron themed accessories. The former was curated in a cute window display. A mannequin bust dressed in one of the floral aprons, standing beside a side table set for tea. Under both a carpet of artificial grass and wild flowers. The table was an ornate display with a two tier tower, a tea pot, and side plates housing plastic cakes and macarons. Strung all over them were beaded earrings, glossy broaches, and gilded chains.

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On the shelf next to it were macaron shaped coin purses, macaron enamel pins, and macarons drawn on greeting cards. Each came in as many colours as they had their edible macarons in. These accessories also matched the macaron pillows that they had framing their chaise lounge in the foyer.

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Teatime was held upstairs. They had services at select times and saw a full seating during each one. Two hours is the maximum seating. They didn’t accept walk-ins. However you need not be turned away empty handed, with the bakery downstairs. Several of us were left waiting past 3:30pm, waiting anxiously for them to set up. They prepped to serve all tables at once and it this work took time.

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When we climbed up the stairs, we noticed how consistent they were with their frills and lace floral charm. It cascaded all throughout their dining area. Pink walls, cream striped wallpaper, curtains with tassels, and some of the most regally upholstered white chairs I have ever seen.

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Each table was already pre-set with your own individual tea pot, cup and saucer, side plate, and utensils. And between each setting stood an iron frame, waiting for plates to be placed on them. I noticed that our table was a little taller, it had us feeling like little girls all dressed up and having a tea party. We joked about drinking with our pinkies up.

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The menu is laid out for you, but you get your own choice of tea to accompany it. I went for the most interesting sounding one, the “Creme brûlée”. It was described as a “flavoured rooibos reminiscent of dessert” with notes of Carob, blackberry leaves, puffed rice, sunflower, tonka bean extract, and amaranth. It smelled like custard and browning sugar. My guest went for the “Blue earl grey”, which was a black tea flavoured with cornflower blossoms, giving it a distinct bergamot taste. She knew this would be good with milk and sugar.

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Our tea set was served on a tray along with an hour glass. Pink sand counted down a minute, signifying when our tea had been steeped and was ready. We poured it ourselves, doing so with their decorative strainer set, on a matching porcelain dish. The strainer was a metal bird that sat on the rim of your cup and caught any lose leaves that tried to slip past. My chosen brew did fine without it, but it’s function served my guest well. We said yes to the cream and sugar, when asked. It came in a set that matched our tea pots.

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As far as tea services in the city go, this is one of the more decently priced ones, $30 per person. I have been to a few that go as high as $50 for a similar assortment, if not with less and in a less ornate setting. Here you had a warm start followed by the traditional room temperature assortment of finger sandwiches and scones, followed by various small bite desserts, and ending on a chilled panna cotta.

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The “Veggie crustless quiche” was made with potato, onion, and mushroom; covered with plenty of cheese. Given the heat of its inside and the ramekin itself, you could tell it was served straight from the oven. My guest doesn’t like eggs and the texture of them baked, but she didn’t taste here and actually liked this.

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After this nibble got us feeling peckish, they left us waiting with a long gap in between it and the full tower. But when it finally came, it was photo worthy. The bottom plate was savouries and the top sweets.

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The “Cucumber avocado sandwich” was the traditional light start with the addition of cream cheese, lettuce, and pea shoots. It was a nice transition from just sipping our mild teas.

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The “Montreal smoked meat open sandwich” was seasoned with a sweet mustard. It was made with aesthetics in mind. We found ourselves spreading out the meat and rearranging the slice of cheese before we bit in. Despite its look, it was pretty bland, and the grainy texture of the bread only made it worse. The bread didn’t taste fresh and its crumbly texture went against the other smooth ingredients. It needed another condiment or more mustard.

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“Prosciutto, brie and fresh basil croissant sandwich”. The buttery croissant was the highlight of this, and fragrant basil took away from it. We wished for a more even distribution of the fillings as there wasn’t enough to fill it end to end.

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The “Scone with almond streusel” came with a side of mixed berry jam. It was the best thing on the plate, in my opinion. The scone was chewy, like a hybrid between it and a biscuit. And the sweet streusel was well paired with the mild melty jam.

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The “Caramel choux puff” was a salted caramel and vanilla bean flavoured cream puff. They were generous with the luscious filling that flowed out with one bite. I was happy to have more of it than the dry puff.

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Not sure what this one bite loaf was. The menu lists it as the “Hazelnut financier”, but we tasted no hazelnut in it. It was more like banana bread, but without the banana. Light and spongy, ideal with tea or coffee.

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The “Chestnut mousse cup” was a chocolate lover’s dream. Combining smooth cream and crunchy chocolate gave it a nice texture. I didn’t get any flavour of chestnut though.

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I wish we had the opportunity to choose our own macaron flavours. Especially given how many they had sitting in wait downstairs. I would have liked to try the not often seen cantaloupe. I wondered how it’s mild flavour would translate into something so sweet. But instead we were given a blueberry and a matcha macaron to share. Both had a strong flavour true to its name, but lacked the desired texture. It was a little dense. You didn’t get that light break as your pierced it with your teeth. It didn’t melt, but was more chewy, maybe just because it wasn’t fresh?

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The “Mini Für Elise” was a cube of gelatine-like yogurt flavoured in strawberry, sitting on a buttery biscuit square, and topped with fresh whipped cream. This was the second best dessert with its smooth pudding-like texture and the whole chunk of strawberry hidden at its core.

The best dessert with the blueberry panna cotta that they forgot to bring. Having heard our server mention it earlier and seeing others around the room enjoy it, we knew to ask for what we didn’t get. They seemed more occupied in cleaning up and preparing to close, after this service.

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The panna cotta was a nice light end. A creamy jello and pudding mix topped with the fresh blueberry jam. So good I was tempted to buy some from downstairs to take home with me.

 

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.
Not necessarily my favourite place for high tea, but a great one to take a first timer with fair prices and a one of a kind setting. Don’t deny your cravings!

 

FUR ELISE
847 Hamilton Street, Vancouver BC V6B 6A1
604-684-1025
patisseriefurelise.com
Patisserie Fur Elise Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

TBC Indoor Racing

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Go karting. I haven’t been behind the wheel, and on the track with these pint sized racers for years now. But with a partner who is passionate about the sport, and the right groupon deal, we found ourselves here this Saturday night. After some simple math it came to $16 per racer for 15 minutes.

This is indoor circuit racing, located in an industrial area within Richmond. It’s a great locale to make a lot of noise in, and the roar of the multiple engines certainly do just that.

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The track comes with plenty of waiting room within this large building. Plenty of things to occupy yourself with as wait your turn. Electronic darts, a pool table, and multiple arcade games. The coin operated vending machines dispensed candy, little toys, and stickers to keep you busy. And for those who needed it, energy drinks were available for sale behind the counter.

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There was even a podium worthy of a photo op when the race was complete and the winners were announced.

Despite all the distractions to keep you occupied, they do recommend making reservations, as race times are not guaranteed. At any given time there is a group awaiting their turn. Each team or group gets 15 minutes to race together if they reserve the track. Un-guaranteed drop-ins or smaller parties may have to share the space, which can be frustrating if you are here to compete and earn a fast lap time. Additional racers mean more karts to have to avoid.

There is no membership fee or rental fee, you pay to drive, with prices dependant on the time of day and the day of the week. With the savings of our groupon it was $1 per minute, whereas regularly it is as much as $22 for one 6 minute race. If you want additional time, you pay a little more for each additional race. And after three races they charge a flat rate. They did have $11 happy hour races early mornings or late at night. And hump day specials like $33 for 3 races and $44 for 4.

Every visit begins with the signing of a waiver. Any injury you sustain, they are not liable for. You are aware of the risk of speeding in a small space, with barriers and sharp turns. You register yourself as a racer with your chosen nick name. A couple of us were inspired by Mario Kart with names like Yoshi and Princess Peach. These names will later be used to track your results.

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Before your circuit, your group is gathered to watch a safety video in a separate room. With a push of a button it explains the rules during your time. We all laughed at how it was the exact same video after all these years. The main take aways are the meanings behind all the flags, and that there is no hitting one another. “This isn’t bumper cars!” When the yellow flag is waved you are to slow down and not pass, red is to come to a full stop, and the checkered flag indicates your time is now done.

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Your are then each given a semipermeable cloth guard to put over your head, before you try on one of their rental helmets. It was a cottony fibre you later throw out in the trash. All rental helmets are left on shelves for drivers to put on and take off, with no sanitation in between. No bottle a spray or even a spritz of scent like they have at bowling alleys for shoes. It is only this thin veil that separates your face from the sweat of all the helmet wearers before you. And people do end up sweating in them. My partner had his own race helmet and gloves so he avoided all that by bringing them with him today. The gloves weren’t necessary, but a nice touch, and helpful for grip for those with sweaty palms. They also have race suits for those who wanting to simulate the full experience in full gear. Though they also serve a more practical use. You often leave the track with a coat of rubber over your clothes and face as it sloths off during the race. These cover-alls protect that from staining your outfit.

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After we found our perfect helmet fit, we were directed to the race track. A walk across the platform and down the stairs to the cars in wait. They were parked in designated spots outline in neon yellow paint. You are asked to look towards a screen to find your assigned kart. The race name you register earlier is attached to a specific vehicle number. Get behind the right wheel allows them to track your progress and lap time. Not doing so means your results aren’t recorded electronically. So was the case for one of our drivers who didn’t listen to the instructions as given by the track employee. He instead got into any kart and sped away.

After adjusting your seat, clicking in the seatbelt buckle, and testing out right foot for accelerate and left for brake; you were ready for the count down. A traffic light went from red to green and off you went.

We raced non stop for 15 minutes, but it didn’t feel like it. It felt more than 7 but less than 12. We could have split our time in to two races, not that it would make a difference. We would not be able to get out of our assigned karts, just park and restart again the race again.

Your success is tracked by how many laps you made, your fastest lap, and on average what was your overall time. I joked that I would be a distraction to the others. Like a penguin or mushroom in Mario kart( there for you to avoid, as I did my own thing. Not that I didn’t try my best, I did; but the other guys that raced with me wanted to do better and had no problem being rough and cutting others off to do so. But then again, that is the theme of this sport.

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My partner wanted me to do well, despite my pushing him away. He insisted that I follow him for the first two laps to learn where to drive for the fastest time. Where the ground was the smoothest, where the apex of each turn was, and when to pump the breaks. As a result his average time was higher, though he did clock the fastest lap out of us 9. I never quite got the hang of racing after 20 rounds. My fear of crashing had my foot on the break allowing plenty of room for other drivers to pass. Apparently you only need to break on the first and last curve of the track.

As for the racing itself, you need to enjoy speed and want a little risk. With only a regular seatbelt strapping you in, it’s not necessarily the most secure of vehicles. Although the lower centre gravity means it is very unlikely that you would flip over and hurt yourself. Though there was the occasion where I spun out and slammed myself against the rubber sides of the track and the other instance were my friend t-boned me by accident. Each time my car was stuck, as per the video, I put my hands straight up into the air to wait for the attendant to come over and redirect me. He did this by simply pushing me by way of the kart, in the right direction. It was embarrassing.

When our time was done the black and white checkered flag was waved, and we were directed into the pit to park our karts. Then one by one we stepped out and walked back into the main building. Replacing our helmets on the shelves and discarding the head guard.

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At the counter, a printer prints copies of your results. Each person is able to have a copy as their memento. I didn’t do so well, so was not excited to see that I was the second to last, just before my friend who even trying.

Even though you weren’t racing for long, there was a certain relief from standing upright and stretching your feet. Comfort in removing your helmet and letting the cool air hit your naked face. I left with a bruised back, sore arms, shaking hands, sweat on my brow, black smudges on my face, and the feeling like I had accomplished something here today. The worst of it was having my shirt roll up during the race, but needing to keep both hands on the wheel and the right foot down on the pedal. And not being able to roll my shirt back down, thus having the friction of the metal seat against my flesh, literally rubbing me the wrong way. Overall it felt like a work out, and I had the sore muscles days after to prove it.

Driving home in my car after, left like driving around in a toy. Where was the power and the speed? The wheels on pavement left so light and the car felt so slow.

 

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.
It was fun, but a little expensive for time actually spent on the track. It’s one of those activities a person like me goes to once in a while to say that they have, and are content for months after. It is also an short-lived activity that requires something to do after or before. And as enjoyable as it was for my partner, even he is unwilling to return often because of the prices. According to him the races were long before, but they began charging more and giving you less time. Still as one of the only indoor, non electric go karting options in town, when you feel need for such speed, they are your go to.

 

TBC
2100 Viceroy Place, Richmond BC
604-232-9196
tbcir.ca

0755 Restaurant & Lounge

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Looking for a place to sit and talk, our travels brought us to “0755”. This was one of our only options, given their later closing hours.

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My guest gave me some background information on the place, including the origin of their name. They were named after a zip code in China. When they first opened, they use to be a full-on night club – lounge. Their current strobe lights, functioning DJ booth, and extensive drink menu really spoke to this. But since it’s initial launch, they have redefined themselves to better suit the needs of their clientele. This change included earlier opening hours, a full lunch and dinner menu, and a more family friendly setting. The latter of course has detracted from their intended, party-boy, night club vibe.

But once again, they kept a lot from their initial launch, including the impressive assortment of cocktails and shooters; and many of their unique decor elements. If I was to ever throw a party, without a budget, and planned to drink myself silly, this would be the place to do all that.

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You notice the place by its neon lights and its completely covered exterior. They had several windows, each lit in purple, with their logo centring each pane of glass.

Once inside, you are greeted by a display of Chinese symbols of luck and wealth, and are approached by the hostess. You are given an option for your seat as their space is divided into left and right. The restaurant with additional dining tables is on the left and the lounge with its wrap around bar is to the right. Before we could proceed to the latter, we were asked to show ID.

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There was so much going on in terms of decor and clutter, that I spent a good chunk of time just surveying the place. Swivelling my head to take in all in, and noticing how most of it didn’t really flow together. Overall the place felt fairly ostentatious and a lot pretentious. The decor screamed for attention, everything was loud. There was row of pink and black chandeliers walking in, empty gold plated frames dangling from the ceiling, dimpled suede booth seats with golden legs, bird case decals on otherwise white walls, white and black marble table tops, and two red velvet and cast iron thrones in the corner. It was like someone liked all this stuff, bought it, had it all sitting at home, and now decided to showcase it here. Everything seemed thrown together, especially when you looked up towards the ceiling and noticed a second floor. A second layer with shelves, boxes, and items sitting in storage.

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Even the washrooms were flashy with neon lights and full length mirrors on each stall door. I did appreciate their shelf of toiletries that offered guests the ability to freshen up with mouthwash, cotton swabs, and perfume.

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It became too much stimuli with the electronic scrolling name tags that each employee wore. They kept flashing and distracting you from any face to face conversation with its wearer. That and it was programmed to only spell out Chinese characters. Although, in order to attract the attention of any staff member, you don’t call out their name, but instead raise a lamp. Each table included a battery operated desk lamp. On it’s base, the instruction to wave it in the air to attract attention and gain help. This was different, and awkward.

We were the only ones in the lounge area, considering we just wanted drinks to sit and talk with, we deemed this the right setting.

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There was a lot of work put into their drink menus. Each was a bounded book with fully coloured photos. They had a line of 12 cocktails that represented each of the 12 zodiac signs. Pisces was a blue drink to represent the fish and Cancer the crab was a red strawberry cocktail. This was a very clever marketing idea, even if most of the drinks weren’t really representative of the actual zodiac. It was marketing geared towards people like me, those who like novelty and enjoy capturing it in photo. I seriously thought about getting the green leo one, but it wasn’t the best looking cocktail.

I was however very tempted by the shots. One for every colour of the rainbow and some with two or three shades in one. The “superman” was red and blue, the “candy apple” transitioned from green to blue, “geisha” was a cherry blossom pink, and the “blue Tiffany” was more sky than little teal box. They certainly encouraged multiple drinks. A few more popular flavours like the “mango madness” and “honey dew slash” were sold as a rack of 8 for $56. Otherwise it was $8 a shot.

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But if eight of the same shots isn’t special enough for you, they also sold rainbow shooter and other drinks by the set. Like the ice vase of rainbow coloured champagne, in a bouquet of six. An ice box with sliced fruit over ice cubes and shots in test tubes called the “rainbow factory”. And the grand feature: an acrylic staircase winding upwards with three shots on each stair step, 18 different flavours in total. Once again if I came to party, had a safe ride home, and $270 lying about, I would have absolutely gotten the staircase for novelty and just to say that I have. Maybe for my birthday… Invite 18 friends, that’s about $15 a shot not including tax and tip. Okay, when I spell it out like that, $15 for one shot doesn’t seem like a good deal, especially as you need a couple to get tipsy and these looked more like coloured water.

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We ended up with some rainbow gradient cocktails. There was no ingredient listing, so I can’t be sure what we were tasting. Both were noticeably sweet and easy to drink, we soon turned red with the “Asian glow”. When I asked, our server didn’t even know what the name “AMF” for our cocktail stood for. It was a colourful clear drink. Whereas the “One Night Stand, which was also rainbow in colour, had a more murky opaque finish to it.

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Our drinks surprisingly came with a side of sunflower seeds. This offering confused me. I didn’t find them all that complimentary to our drinks, nor did I deem the seeds appropriate for eating and spitting out in public. They were left as an eye sore at our table.

So despite all the makings for a great party destination, business doesn’t look like it is going so well for “0775”. Location often spells success, and as they are not close to transit or within a hub of any late night parties, they don’t get that traffic. Instead it is quiet tables and small gatherings. I did appreciate our ability to have such a large area for ourselves, and to be given such privacy within it. But that is mostly because it was a slower this Thursday after 11pm.

So it looks like their decision to transition into a restaurant, feeding the needs of those in the area, seemed like a good idea. Their food menu appeared to be bringing in the guests tonight, but it did muddy up the theme of the place. I didn’t try any of the food, so can’t comment on it. But the fact that people came in after us and that everyone ordered something, I would assess it to be decent enough. Like the drink menu, this was one of the nicest food menus I have ever seen. Though the way it was bound and presented made it look like a studio quality photo album, meant for the top of a coffee table. Not a menu sitting heavy on your lap or taking up way too much room over your place setting. But everything else that they had within these walls did have a similar, over the top tone to it.

 

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? – No.
This was such an unusual restaurant/lounge, that I recommend visiting it just to assess it for yourself. They are trying to do too much, and be to many things for too many people. And until they focus on being the best in one area, they will continue to struggle in maintain a dedicated fan base. For their unique arrangement and plenty of colourful drinks, don’t deny your cravings.

 

0775
Continental Centre
Unit 2188, 3779 Sexsmith Road, Richmond BC, V6X 3Z9
604-273-0775
0755lounge.com
0755 Restaurant & Lounge Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Gokudo Shabu Shabu Hot Pot

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I wanted something original, since I was coming out all the way to Richmond. My guest suggested shabu shabu. “shabu shabu” is the Japanese version of hot pot. It consists of a variety of thinly sliced meats and vegetables boiled in water or broth. The term is an onomatopoeia, derived from the sound emitted when ingredients are stirred in a boiling pot. The food is cooked piece by piece by the diner at the table, and enjoyed with a dipping sauce.

I advise calling ahead for reservations, they are too busy for walk-ins, unless it’s after 10pm.

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The room was centred around a U-shaped counter. The employees work at its centre, tending to the customers seated facing inwards, towards them. Having been to Japan I knew this set up was very typical. Where more often, individuals eat alone. Whereas in North American, with my myself included, I eat out to socialize. And we were able to do that just fine seated side by side, facing our own individual pot on heated coil.

Towards the back of the room was a television set, it was broadcasting dance music videos and playing their corresponding songs overhead. It made for a very jovial ambience.

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Each setting was very thoughtful, they had everything you would need set before you at arm’s length, even before you sat down. A plate and matching bowl, a miniature ladle, a sieve scoop to fish out the ingredients without the soup, and a bound together set of utensils. Wrapped chopsticks for the raw ingredients, plastic chopsticks for eating with, and a wrapped straw for your drink.

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The menu also functioned as a placemat. Like regular Chinese hot pot, you choose your own broth. You can then order each item and piece together your ideal serving, or go for the combo, as we did. The combo is a set amount of food that defines the best value. We selected our own main, which was a plate of one type of meat, with it came a set serving of vegetables and seafood. The combo is the best deal, with more than enough to eat, and if you wanted more you could easily order it on the side for extra. It comes with the house special soup base and a plate of vegetables like lettuce, tomato, and pumpkin. And seafood that includes shrimp, fish cake, beef ball, and tofu.

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You begin by choosing your main and it determines how much you pay. As rich as $48 for Kobe beef, and as budget friendly as the $15 for chicken slices or regular pork. There was also lamb shoulder, chicken bone in, salmon head, fish slices, mixed balls, and Japanese oden for the vegetarians. Next you choose the type of noodle you want from udon, bean thread, or rice noodles. For extra you can have instant noodles or marinaded ground pork added on. And all this comes with a milk tea drink and dessert. The latter of which we didn’t get and forgot to claim.

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I got the pork neck with bean thread noodles, and paid $2 more for the milk soup base. Outside from its white hue, I couldn’t tell that I was cooking my savoury dinner in milk. It didn’t flavour the meat, nor did it make the boiled vegetables any creamier. And with the dipping sauce, I didn’t taste much outside of hoisin sauce and garlic anyways. For a drink, I choose regular milk tea over green or black milk team.

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My guest got the sirloin with bean thread noodles, and the tomato soup base. She had been here before and claimed the sirloin was a better cut of meat, than even the prime AAA beef at $12 more. She paid a little more for a can of apple soda.

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Your additional dishes are then brought out: sauce, your meat of choice in thin slices, rolled up and stacked high; and the predetermined vegetables.

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The enjoyment of the cooking process is one best done chatting with a friend. You take your time dunking in beef, and pulling it out for a rare cook. The vegetables sink to the bottom and stay there for longer. The noodles absorb the broth. Once again it doesn’t seem like a lot of food, but you fill up during the cooking and talking portion of your experience. We left too full for dessert, that’s why we forgot to ask for it.

 

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.
It was delicious, but at a couple of dollars more, you can get all this and more from an all you can eat Chinese hot pot place. I would come back, but it would not be my first choice, even if they are the only ones with a milky broth like this. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

GOKUDO
3779 Sexsmith Road, Richmond BC, V6X 3Z9
604-232-9078
Gokudo Shabu Shabu Hot Pot Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Juice King

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I was in the mall visiting the “Osaka” grocery store. Having some extra time on my hands I decided to walk the food court. It’s not often that I visit “Yohan Mall”.

Despite there being several bubble tea and juice stalls, this one caught my attention. But it wasn’t their liquids that I was eyeing, it was their waffles. A giant sign advertised their varieties and the ability to have bubble waffles in split flavours and even three flavours in one. I wasn’t really hungry and was actually going to dinner right after, but I don’t venture into Richmond often and couldn’t miss the opportunity. I have never been given this option from other bubble tea waffle places.

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But getting the attention of the staff, to be able to order my treat would be a struggle. I stood there calling out “hello, hello…” to the employees walking past the front and to the one with her head down, avoiding eye contact. I didn’t get it, they weren’t even busy. I was the only one lining up at their cow speckled food court stall. The only one with a cow mascot wearing a crown. I wondered why they decided on a cow for a mascot given their name. Maybe the name should be “Milk King” instead?

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Their cartoon character made their business more eye catching, when compared to the other venders with their bombardment of signs and loose pieces of paper advertising specials. It also didn’t help that the food court was so dark and its lights, a sickly yellow, casting shadows. Either way this was the newest and most modern looking stand. It too had many menu advertisements, but it was neat and clean on televised screens. I never knew there were so many non alcoholic beverages existed. Slushes, real fruit juices, milk teas, milkshakes, fresh fruit milkshakes, special teas, and special drinks. It was easy to navigate but overwhelming with options. Over 100 drinks typed in Chinese and English. The recommended specials have their own signs. “Super mango” with mango chunks, pomelo, coconut, and sago. 100% real fruit mango, strawberry, and papaya juices. A “special bubble tea” pictured with floating black tapioca pearls, fresh fruit and matcha slushes, and tofu desserts. They also had something called “salty cream” which was a foaming cream over your chosen drink.

But back to really having to work at attracting the staff’s attention. Just standing at the stall is not enough. They don’t look up, want to chat, or answer your questions. Even if it was just a quick and easy business transaction. Luckily for such stalls and such malls in Richmond, you don’t expect service to even be a consideration. You pay for what only for what you get, and leave.

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The reason why I wish I lived in Richmond is for treats like these. This looked as good as I hoped, although I purposely choose contrasting colours to make the shades pop. Green matcha, yellow mango, and pink strawberry. But they had other interesting flavours like cheese, coconut, red bean, and seaweed with pork floss. Although as good as they looked, they were disappointingly overcooked. The bubbles just felt apart from one another with the lightest jostling of the paper bag that they were in. However, each was still spongy inside. I heard the girls talk about it to one another. Clearly one had questions on how it was being made. I wish I asked a few of my own. Either way I took it and away I went, and as a result was left with tough bubbles.

 

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.
When and if in the area I wouldn’t mind coming back for better bubbles or to try a specialty drink. They both make a good snack. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

JUICE KING
1060 Yohan Centre
3700 No. 3 Road, Richmond BC, V6X 3X2
604-370-6969
Juice King Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

On Yogurt

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Have you ever had ice fried yogurt? I have heard of battering and deep frying ice cream, but this was something different all together. Something I had to try it.

The location isn’t easily accessible by transit or is there parking out front, and it isn’t in a high trafficked area; but it’s certainly worth the travel, to try something as unique as this.

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This would be my first time trying ice fried yogurt. But what is ice fried? Ice frying is treating yogurt or gelato on an ice pan, at temperatures lower than -35 degrees. We were having the healthier option of yogurt today, which was their best seller. The ice pan freezes the yogurt into a creamy condensed state. It is mixed and chopped with two spatula-like tools to give it a more airy texture and a creamy feel on the tongue. It could be left as is or flavoured by mixing in fruit, syrups, or crunchy ingredients. The mixing is once again done using the chopping motion of the spatulas.

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Half of the serving is placed at the bottom of a plastic cup. The other half is smeared against the ice pan. It is then scraped off in curls with a steady hand. These curls are then placed vertically into the same cup. The lot of it is then dressed according to your flavour choice.

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The choices were listed on the chalkboard behind the counter, as a list on top of the counter, and with visuals in a photo album. Their yogurt combos included “rainbow” with mini rainbow marshmallows and rainbow sprinkles. “Going nuts” had almonds, cashews, peanuts, and caramel. And if you didn’t read anything that you liked you could easily customize your own with toppings. Fruit like peaches, pineapple chunks, dried kiwis, coconut flakes, and dates. Crunchy bits like granola with honey nuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, flaxseed, and even a salty and sweet trail mix. Crushed chocolates like skor toffee bits, Oreo, Reese’s pieces, and other bars. And miscellaneous candy and cakes like marshmallows, jelly beans, sour poppers, waffle cone pieces, and chunks of cheesecake. There was a lot to read through, you are pretty much guaranteed go stay with neck tilted back going through it all as you keep the clerk waiting to process your order. Luckily each order takes time and you end up waiting quite a while for those in front of you.

Both my guest and I were overwhelmed by all the options, so we kept it simple. She choose the first item on the first page of the photo album menu and I, went for this month’s limited edition special.

Given the appearance of each ice fried roll, I expected it to be creamy and melty. Instead it was sticky and tacky, dense like caramel, and not considering the caramel in my portion. Though the syrups and toppings did help to break this dense cream apart. It wasn’t quite yogurt and wasn’t quite ice cream. A tangy hybrid, deserving of its own category.

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“Mango ice fried yogurt”. The mango was the star of this cup. Fruity and sweet it paired well with the tart yogurt.

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“Crispy salted caramel ice fried yogurt” with Rice Krispie cereal, Italian Arborio rice, Brazilian sea salt, and caramel. The crunch of the rice was a nice contrast to the stringy cream.

I wondered how the gelato ice fried version faired. It’s essentially half yogurt and half milk/cream, making it less sweet and a healthier alternative to traditional gelato. These came in flavour choices like matcha, peanut butter, chocolate, and earl grey. I suspect that I would have liked this version more than just the full yogurt mix. It would have been more like ice cream, more like what I expect. Less healthy, but better tasting as many things full of calories and fat tends to be.

They are known for their yogurt, but they offer so much more. Full meals and drinks like like sandwiches, waffles, shakes and bubble tea. And like their yogurts, they are offered in many varieties to choose from. With some pretty interesting options like butter chicken and Thai chicken sandwiches. And waffles with the same topping available as the yogurt parfaits. There were so many options that I got overwhelmed again, but at the same time noted that there was plenty to satisfy any palette.

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Not mentioned on the chalkboard or on any of the hand written signs were the ingredients in the bins, behind the glass. Each was labelled for easy identification. Most were familiar ingredient add-ons for milk tea. Coconut jelly, mochi, red bean, tapioca pearls, grass jelly, taro balls, and various fruit popping jellies. That’s why it made sense that they also offered bubble tea.

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We had a green milk tea and a Hong Kong style milk tea with pearls. To my delight the tapioca pearls were mini sized. The perfect little chew at the bottom of your cup. I preferred this sizing over the more common, larger ones that fill most cups.

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If you didn’t want to eat, you could spend your money on their shop. They had a collection of animal mugs with unique handles, coloured mason jar with black chalk board plaques, fridge magnets, glass water bottles, and aprons and bags with their bull dog logo for sale.

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We grabbed a seat in their dining area. It was decorated as the perfect reading nook. A shelf of magazines, including an adult colouring books but no pencil crayons, plenty of green foliage finding home on an old organ, a cork board of postcards, and a basket of board games. For seating they had a counter facing out the window, a family style dining table, and two cushioned chairs in the corner. It was comfortable enough with the sun streaming in, but we preferred taking our treats to go, and enjoying at the nearby park.

 

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 enjoyed the novelty of ice frying. The artistry and the show they put forth in bringing this to me. However for taste I much rather soft serve ice cream or frozen yogurt. This was not quite either and not quite satisfying for me as a dessert. But I imagined with the right mix of toppings, this would be a more healthy option. A good way to manage your cold sweet intake for summer. Though I wouldn’t mind returning, if already in the neighbourhood, to try the ice fried gelato. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

ON YOGURT
95 Smithe Street, Vancouver BC, V6B 1C2
778-788-8691
onyogurt.com
On Yogurt Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Kaya

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Another one of my specialty posts. This one is written with the insights of a specialist in Malaysian cuisine. Having been birthed there, and having lived there a greater part of his earlier life, my guest tonight would teach me a thing or two on authentic Malaysian cooking. He was preparing for a trip back to Malaysia, and we called this meal acclimation.

We had wanted to stop here for dessert earlier in the week, but it’s 10pm closures impeded us. So here we were back to try again for a full meal.

On this Wednesday it wasn’t busy. We were the only other table sitting down for dinner just after 8pm. Our neighbour was just clearing up. They had live music playing today, in hopes of drawing in a crowd. But sadly the musicians became just another patron, sitting and eating in between sets. The music was lovely it matched the exotic notes of the cuisine and we were surprise to learn a lot of it was unrehearsed, and done on the fly by the talented artist. So impressive that my guest approached them for a CD Sadly their talent and the restaurant’s quality of cooking was not being fully taken advantage of tonight. I sincerely wished it was busier when we came. It could have also made being the only ones to clap with the staff after each song less awkward. Given the business towers nearby, I imagine them fairly popular during the weekdays for lunch. They did have a set menu with meat and vegetable on rice for the noon hour.

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The setting was simple. The entry was a narrow path lined with lit boxes on the left. From them stood a row of plastic grass and wheat bound to add interest to the isle way. The room was painted with a plum-maroon tone that transitioned into a citrus yellow sunshine. On the opposite wall was a canvas of hibiscus flowers that ran down the entire dining area. In the middle was all dark brown furniture.

We were delighted to learn that today their tapas was 50% off. We took advantage by trying a few appies.

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There were no regrets with the “Mini soft shell crab”. The crabs were sautéed in fresh onion, garlic, and shallot; with mild chilli and fresh Indian black peppercorn. It was delicious. The breading was thick enough to easily hide the fact that you were literally eating a crab whole. The shell was crispy, the legs extra crunchy, and the insides just melted. It had a distinct pungent taste that meshed with the curry like paste coating it. And the crisp lettuce and onion salad under it gave the seafood the freshness it needed for balance. My description doesn’t make it sound all that good, but this is one that I will come back for and recommend fully. Plus at 50% off you don’t like it, you don’t feel as bad.

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We had a mix of satay, two each of their three varieties: chicken, beef, and lamb. These were charcoal grilled, marinated skewers with a spicy peanut dip. When they arrived, we could smell the smokey char of the meat. The beef was a little dry, and by comparison the chicken was perfectly tender. And each was a great price at 88 cent per skewer because of their 50% off deal.

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The “Lamb murtabak” was something my guest order for nostalgia, but didn’t come as he had anticipated. Instead as they were described: “a roti wrap stuffed with lamb and vegetable”. The greens inside was the same salad that it was sitting on”. It came with curry for dipping, that didn’t add much to the dish. I found it odd that the dish was served with the blade jutting out, but it was what was probably used to cut the wrap in half and just left their for aesthetics.

Traditional “murtabak” was more like two fluffy square pancakes sandwiching a meat-cake like square. This was not what he ordered. This was more like a Taiwanese beef wrap or spring roll. Compared to the other two appetizers, this fell short with not enough flavour. You could see the lamb, but there was not enough of it to taste it. Even soaking each the wrap in the curry didn’t help. Though it would have if we had taken a sip or shot of curry with every bite. The roti was good, I wished we just ordered a regular plate of it instead.

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For the entrees we got more of his childhood classics. The “Rendang beef” was what he would have for breakfast. A much heavier meal of tender beef stewed in coconut, gravy, and spices. For breakfast my guest would have had the meat prepared in the rice. I imagined it as an easy to grab and go rice burrito. This was also not as spicy and flavourful as he remembered.

In reality the stew was a hearty curry. A savoury mash of meat and potatoes. I would have liked some more vegetable with it like carrot or even more potato. Something to give it some freshness, a break from the chewy shreds of beef.

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The rice wasn’t part of the entree, we had to order a side of coconut rice for extra. Although the presentation soften that blow for me. Wrapped in a leaf to keep warm, the rice had a milky finish to it. Wished there was more of it per serving, especially to have with the fish below.

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The “Otak sole fillet” is a classic Nyonya dish made with fish fillet, spices, and herbs. “Nyonya” is a term used to describe the nomadic people of Malaysia. This too was not as expected, but tasted just as good. He thought it would be wrapped in pandan leaves, but came in tin foil instead. It looked like Chinese style sweet and sour style fish, where as “Otak sole fillet” is typically coated in a thick curry paste. Either way the fish was flaky tender and full of flavour. The breaded coating gave it some needed texture, so I was sad that it was mushy with the sauce it absorbed.

We saved room for dessert, but I was crushed that they were out of their new “pandan cheesecake with pineapple filling in the middle”. It sounded amazing. There aren’t many pandan dishes out there, let alone one that was a stuffed cheesecake. Instead we had two of their other unique desserts, but they fell short to the imagery I had for the cheesecake.

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The “Deep fried durian ice cream” was made with real durian, but not enough of it. It was like a corn dog of ice cream, but too much breading and not enough filling. It was a ball of ice cream that did not reach end to end of the corn dog. Though the mango drizzle did help to give all the extra breading some taste. But I wished I had just ordered a serving of durian ice cream instead. For those who have never had it, the taste and smell of durian is not for everyone. I find that you tend to have to be raised on it, to love, to crave it, and to want to pay for it. It reminded me of Brunei and childhood.

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The name “Kuih dadar” was misleading, where the description was more accurate. I expected a thick slab of glutinous cake. These were “hand rolled crepes flavoured with pandan juice, filled with grated coconut, steeped in Malaysian Palm sugar”. The colour was there, but there was no pandan flavouring. It and the coconut shreds were very dry together, with not enough sauce pooled at the bottom of the plate to help moisten it. Some condense milk on the side would have been nice.

 

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.
The food was so good that I was sad that they weren’t more busy or more popular. Though in general, if well cooked, I have never had a bad Malaysian meal. It is one of those cuisines I like to recommend, and this is one of those places I like to bring people to for a unique cuisine profile. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

KAYA
1063 West Broadway, Vancouver BC
604-229-5872
kayamalay.com
Kaya Malay Bistro Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tractor, Healthy Food

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I often insist that my guests choose our dining destinations, or I have them make a genre suggestion. This is so I visit restaurants and try things I wouldn’t normally think to. For example, today my guest’s only request was that we go for “healthy food”. Something that isn’t typically in my wheelhouse, but I was not disappointed, in fact, I was pleasantly surprised.

Having past by it on occasion, “Tractor” was the first thing to come up to mind now. I was confident in my selection, their catch line even boasted, “healthy food, every day healthy food”.

I was intrigued looking in, the space was light and clean. But when I got closer I was disappointed to learn that the restaurant was more a cafeteria style setting than for sit down dining. You order by pointing, at most of what is already there. You wait for your food to be packed in plastic and set onto your tray. You pay for your purchase before taking it to any free table of your choosing. To dine in, you help yourself to napkins, cutlery, and water; at a station towards the back.

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The menu of salads were premade. We came late enough that we saw the bottom of the white bins they were stored within. Many were empty, but a few were still available. Kale salad, quinoa salad, and kale and quinoa salad. They also had some real interesting combinations that I wish I had a chance to try. Bold colours, mixed with couscous and nuts, and not just your regular leafy greens. Each label on each bin came with a rundown of all the ingredients. None of them were given names, only a description and if it met any dietary restriction needs. Vegan, gluten free, dairy free, or nut free.

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There were double the amount of people coming in to take out than to sit down and eat in. We were easily able to grab a seat at one of their two top tables, or the share style table in the centre of the room. However, we found our own nook at the counter facing out the window.

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The quinoa salad was made with organic quinoa, kale, blueberry, and butternut squash. It was coated in a mint, basil, and lemon dressing. We got it in a to-go container, my guest found it interesting. The greens were tart, the orange squash was mushy; and despite the whole of it glistening, it didn’t taste like there was any dressing. We found it little bland to have on its own.

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My guest had the last of the arugula salad with grilled pears, candied walnuts, and blue cheese; all in a lemon champagne vinaigrette. She added a grilled protein and paid a little extra. She choose the $6 chicken breast with lemon over the albacore tuna, tofu, or half avocado. The meat was grilled to order on a hot plate in front and of us. Between the salad bins and the cash register, protected by glass. The same cooking process went for the protein in my sandwich below.

The salad had just enough dressing, a light tang that complimented the sweetness in the pear well. The candied walnuts were a nice bite to look forward to. But she didn’t like the blue cheese, shame as they were heavy handed with it. I imagined the pungent cheese offered the salty flavour that was missing from a very balanced salad. No wonder this was the last of it that she got. I can see this being a popular choice.

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To wash it all down she had their “Blueberry mint lemonade”, which was already spinning in their drink dispenser. It just tasted like coloured lemonade without the distinct flavour of mint. At least it was healthy.

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I had a whole chicken sandwich with grilled chicken breast, arugula, pear, and provolone cheese; on toasted sourdough bread. $9 for the whole sandwich, but also available as a half for $5. It was a delicious sandwich, never mind healthy. It was similar to the pear salad above, with many similar flavour profiles. The tart greens, sweet pear, and salted cheese with meaty chicken and crunchy bread.

I like my sandwiches with a creamy soup and had my choice between tomato, squash, or lentil, which were actually more lumpy than creamy. I was leaning towards the safe choice of tomato, and the clerk heard my humming and haa-ing. She volunteered a sample of the squash to quell any hesitation that I may have had for it and cauliflower together. I have never been offered to sample soup before, the gesture won me over.

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This was yet another great and tasty dish that I expected to be bland or boring because it was healthy. It was spicy with pepper, and thick from the pureed vegetables. A warming and hearty mix that I was able to dip my sandwich into. Though sadly I had to get it reheated. The soups are kept warm, they easily scooped out my serving before I had a chance to pay. But the sandwich did not come quickly after. I was kept waiting. I think me asking for my soup to be reheated reminded them of my sandwich that was to come. When the soup returned, it was nice that it came with a slice of herb focaccia.

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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? – No.
Not my first go to when hungry, or a place I would head to, to meet up with a friend. Instead, I would recommend this spot for lunch or for grabbing a quick meal on the way home from work. Their premixed salads and travel easy options make them an solid choice. They also had smoothies and dessert bars as quick snack options. Their food was flavourful and healthy, although the portions were on the smaller side and the prices a little steep. So maybe not for everyday, even though that is the intent. You definitely get what you pay for here, quality at a price. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

TRACTOR KITSILANO
1903 West 4th Avenue, Vancouver BC
604-222-2557
tractorfoods.com
Tractor Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Claypot Hotpot and B.B.Q.

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Hotpot, barbecue, and steamer all in one kitchen gadget!

 

I like food, I eat when I am happy, I eat when I am sad, I eat when I am bored, and I eat to say I have eaten it. Today I wanted to eat my feelings and my guest suggested hot pot. Hot pot is one of those comforting meals where you cook the food at your table. The process of eating as you cook gives you plenty of time to talk. The goal is to eat all that you can and claim your money’s worth.

This particular hot pot restaurant has long been on my list, so when the stars aligned and we found ourselves here. I opted for an earlier dinner time to allow us the opportunity to digest after such a heavy meal, before bed.

They are known for all you can eat hot pot on one of the most unique contraptions built for dinner theatre. This was a hotpot boiling pot, barbecue grill, and steamer all in one. Three tiers for you to cook your meat and vegetables on. The ability to boil a wonton in soup, grill it like a gyoza, or steam it like a dumpling, right before your very hands. Each method was not only delicious, but it allowed you variety, and offered you a way to rejuvenate a would be one-toned taste.

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The room was cold, the kind of cold that had you folding your arms to keep warm. But it would soon quickly warm with the heat of several flames bringing several pots to boil. Each table had a burner built into it, ours was already on and flickered when we sat down. A little dangerous considering that first part of the dinner involves checking off a flammable piece of paper, doing so by passing it back and forth over this flame.

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The menu is two pages front and back. One dedicated to the traditional hot pot fare with pre-cooked sides, sauces, and drinks. Another with thicker cuts of meat, ideally for the barbecue platform. However you can put anything anywhere at your discretion. With pencil you go over each option checking off what you wanted and listing how many pieces you believed you could eat.

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You begin by choosing your broth. As is often the case, there is a separate cost for the soup. You have to have soup to have hot pot, so it is disappointing to have to pay the separate charge for it. $9 was the standard price, with $18 being on the higher end. “Silky chicken with ginseng”, “winter melon and chicken feet”, “parsley and preserved egg”, and “preserved vegetable and pork belly” were the most adventurous of all 13 options.

We went with the ability to have two $9 soup bases for $13. Our pot would be divided, on top of having the additional layers protruding from its centre. If you didn’t plan to barbecue you could request the regular hot pot vessel, just the cauldron.

The “Thai Tom Yam Kung” soup based was a red-ish Orange brew with a nice warming spice. The “Peppered pork stomach” is one I wouldn’t recommend. The broth was littered with peppercorn pearls and each bite into one unleashed the full force of spicy pepper. And the rubbery stomach meat was no better.

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The second tier was for barbecue grilling. It is interesting to note that you lay the raw meat or seafood directly on to the thin piece of white paper, protecting said grill. This layer shields it from the burning of grease, and doesn’t affective the cooking process or the finished product.

The top layer was a steamer basket with lid. As the hot air from the cooking below rises, it steams everything at the top of the tower.

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As for ingredients that went into the boiling broth? This was one of the most comprehensive lists I have ever had the pleasure to scan though and choose off of. Everything was available to order piece by piece, in a set of four, or by the bundle or plate. It was hard to decide and commit to six pieces of pork skin or four pieces of black fungus. I preferred the guess work out of my hands, and to be able to order by a set or by the plate. A plate of beansprouts or a medley of mushrooms. Bring me what you think I could finishing. Especially as we weren’t able to eat all that we ordered and we only ordered one round. I think this is one of the only places that actually gives you everything that you check off. They don’t hold you back, or use their best judgment and experience to restrain you from over ordering, and ultimately wasting food. This was the one time I wished we didn’t get what we asked for at a restaurant. More than five plates were left uncooked and much more sat over cooked, hidden at the bottom of the split pot.

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Seafood like fish fillet and salmon heads, various squid parts, octopus, and mussels. Oysters were available too, but the menu was specific to say only two each. We were initially upset by the restriction. This was all you can eat but with a limit, it defeats the purpose. Though either of us liked how the cooked oyster came out. We avoided the shrimp in shell because peeling it was tedious. Although it was easier to peel after a quick grill and was delicious because of it.

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They had six different dumplings choice available, but the minced fish one were crossed off. You couldn’t really tell the dumplings apart, they were cooked in the same broth and dipped in the same sauce, so they essentially tasted the same. Although their different shapes and various dough wrappings were visual appealing. Pork and chives, pork and fungus, pork and vegetable, fish, and wonton.

The “meat” choices were sheered thin or rolled into curls. Sliced rib eye, short rib, pork belly, regular pork, and lamb shoulder. They also had meat by the bone or in cubes. Chicken wings and luncheon meat. And for the more adventurous they offered beef tripe, stomach, and tendon. They had pork jowl, stomach, liver, bung, and even cooked pork blood cubes. We avoided all of this, as I was not daring enough to try any of it. Such ingredients are so strong that they often change the flavour of the soup and therefore everything cooked in it. My guest was of the same mind set.

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The vegetables were more appealing. With six variations of tofu and bean curds. Five different types of leafy greens washed and served on a plate. And taro, lotus root, turnip, and pumpkin, just to name a few.

My hot pot favourite has always been the balls. Minced and mashed meats formed into round balls. They had eleven options including all the basic proteins and more exotic ones like cuttlefish and dace fish. Imitation crab meat fell under this category as well.

They also had a bevy of noodles to boil and eat it all with. Udon, vermicelli, bean thread noodle, glass noodle, instant noodle, and the noodle in wonton soup. I like the chew of such carbs and especially the slices of rice cake and the tubes of gluten. However, I advise not filling up on it, as it is the cheap stuff. And in order to get more bang for your buck, you want to gorge on everything else, specially the proteins.

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If you run out of sauce you could always order more. I find the meal is nothing without a strong salty mix to dip meat into and/or to drench noodles with. We started off with soy and satay sauce, and had plenty of it to go finish our meal with. But if we ran out or wanted a different flavour profile, all the varieties were priced at a $1 more. Hot chilli pepper, chopped garlic, shredded ginger, cilantro, sesame oil, or persevered egg.

And if you are too lazy to cook, they actually offered pre-cooked appetizers and entrees. Seaweed and pork ear salads, rice with chicken, and deep fried rice cake.

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Each table included a metal rack with three shelves. This was so that there was enough room for everything you ordered, and that you were given enough elbow space in which to eat it all.

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Overall, I can’t really comment on the food. We were the ones cooking it. And seeing as we were busy talking instead of concentrating; all the meat came out burnt, the seafood was fished out overcooked, and the dumplings stuck on to the grill in a melted mounds. Although with the use of the soy and satay sauce it all came out tasty. Once again I left another hot pot meal
too full and without tasting the finished broth/end product. The soup ends up tasting like what you put into it throughout the cooking process, which ends up being nothing like its original brew.

The meal was to end up in a bite of tofu for dessert, but we were too past full to indulge.

There were plenty of staff to tend to each table. Almost one person per seating looking out for you. Each raise of your hand or a look in their direction had them approaching you. They weren’t ready on the tea refill, but were quick to jump as soon as I called. Although at the same time I felt judged by some of my requests. There was no communication from them to say they understood, but instead a contorting of the face to question my request. I wanted a plate to store the excess food being over cooked in soup. I got one bowl. I wanted more napkins to clean my hand, I got just a one.

 

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.
The drive to was a little out there for me, but very much so worth the effort. A unique experience with a large array for food at a good price. All you can eat enoki mushrooms and quail eggs where other places charged an extra dollar or two for either. The point of this visit was to enjoy the special pot, and it delivered, giving us a unique dining experience. Overall for the cost and the value, I have no regrets. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

CLAYPOT
105-8291 Alexandra Road, Richmond BC, V6X 1C3
604-284-5181
Claypot Hotpot and B.B.Q. Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato