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Real, raw, & relatable me. Enthusiastic food & lifestyle blogger living in Vancouver, BC!

Month: March 2013

Pizza Hut, crown pizza

Fit for a King ~

Ever since Travis sent me an ad for “Pizza Hut” asking if I have tried it yet, I have made it my mission to try their “King Crown Pizza”. And what more fitting of a time then Saturday, March 16, 2013: Canucks game, GSP fight, start of the F1 season; and all the night before St. Patty’s day. These events in unison screamed out, “beer and pizza night!”. 


When the pizza arrived it looked as if the delivery man was on a wild car chase. To quote Fred, “He did a couple of barrels”, the only way to explain how some of the slices were flipped upside down in the closed box. And if you can see in the picture above a few slices were slightly folded in half. I am just going to blame this one on Surrey (that’s where we were).
When choosing what toppings we wanted, nothing was more fitting than “The Canadian: pepperoni, bacon crumble, mushrooms, and pizza mozzarella.“; when watching Canada’s favourite UFC fighter.

The limited edition “crown crust” has alternating meatballs and globs of cream cheese all around its crust. To keep everything in place the dough is pinched around them, forming what almost looks like the dips of a crown. If you already like pizzas that have two tastes components to them you are going to add this to your list of likes. Where we had crusts that taste like bread sticks, cheesy bread and hot dogs, we now have one that tastes like bagels. I personally think it is ingenious. As an Asian I love more bang for my buck, so I am basically seeing this as an order of pizza, meat balls and bagels for $17.99. For those who tried it and didn’t like the cream cheese mix they could go for the slices that ended in meatballs, so every one wins. And if there were no meat ball slices left it is easy enough to just scoop out what you don’t want and scoop in what you do like ranch dressing, or butter if you are French Canadian.


I found this a great pizza and a great idea, so great that I am planning to travel to the states so i can try the ones they have only there: “Chicken Fillet and Cheese Burger”. 

Well after seeing the Canucks lose in their vintage millionaire’s uniforms, GSP dominate a crazy Diaz, and an amazing victory for Kimmy and team Lotus, we were still full. And I deemed it all a successful night.

Pizza Hut on Urbanspoon Instagram

Sura Korean Cuisine

Kross over Korean ~

Went to “Sura” in the Korean district of downtown Vancouver. It was full at 8pm with people sitting inside and even more waiting outside, good thing we had reservations  Half our group was running late. Trying to find any roadside, meter parking downtown on a Friday night is no easy feat. As the rest of us waited, the waitress nudged us several times to order, you could definitely feel the push out the door.
The interior of “Sura” is large and newer than some of the other Korean restaurants on the block. The tables in the centre were separated by curtains that flowed from the ceiling. They were used to create individual seating rooms, and did well to maximize the space. Our table was right against the front window. I didn’t really mind it, and it was not that cold with my back against the glass; but I could have only imagine the uncomfortable sight of my flat ass pushed up against the window for potential customers walking by. Not exactly the best store front imagine in my opinion.
On top of each wooden table was a tea light placed into a small measuring cup. Amanda commented that it seems like they just opened their kitchen drawer and decided to use them because they had 16 laying around. I did not understand their theme on this. The walls were not over done trying to be authentic. One showcased their 3 Vancouver Magazine food awards and the other had a list of Top 10 orders . I found the Top 10 list useful in order to see what would be recommendation as a “popular”dish, but truthfully it was easy to decide what you wanted solely with the menu. The menu had pictures of each dish on the opposite page of the numbered orders. (I think every menu should have pictures of all their dishes, this entices you to want to order them.) The selection was large and varied from noodles and rice to stews and dumplings. The one oddities was the $3 add on, “Saam, deliciously refreshing green and red leaf lettuce”, its corresponding picture was a wine glass with radish slices on the bottom and lettuce leaves out the top. I feel this would be a perfect treat if you brought your pet bunny along. And doesn’t a head of lettuce go for $1? Needless to say I did not order this.


We all decided to order our own dishes, instead of sharing small plates style as the restaurant recommended. But in the end we did try and taste from one another’s plates. Nhu and I got the “Jellyfish salad, mouth-watering salad with thinly sliced jellyfish, cucumber, and shrimp omelette tossed in a tangy mustard dressing. It was good, but truthfully I ordered this to be able to take a nice picture of it,. In the menu  I saw it had thin slices of cucumbers onlining  the rest of the salad, together they created a heart shape. And I am a sucker for a pretty food picture opportunity, The taste reminded me of an upgraded Japanese sunomono salad with the cold, lemony, light taste that refreshed you from all the spicy food you had before it. For it being a jellyfish salad, it did not have nearly enough jellyfish for a taste in every bite. Every strand was thin and wispy and not close to the intense flavour of the cold ones you can get from most Chinese restaurants. I liked the shrimp that was also present , but would prefer having more jelly fish in place of it.

Along with complimentary small plates of kimchi, cold seasoned egg plant and bbq beans, the girls ordered some deep fried dumplings. Based on the irregular shape of each one I am going to conclude that it was hand made prior and then deep fried to order. Very crispy bites that tasted fresh and not frozen.

Patricia and Jennifer ordered “Dolsot Bibim-bap”, which is beef and lightly sautéed vegetables with a raw egg on top, all in a heated stone bowl. The staff traditionally mix it at your table in front of your eyes. With two girl and two bowls, it was clear that one was better than the other.  The pro feverishly tossed the rice around without spilling, her colleague was having trouble, mixing slowly and with none of  same gusto. The stone bowl is hot enough to cook the egg when you toss everything together. Patricia got her bowl with extra sweet chilli sauce, which proved to be a good idea as Jennifer found hers bland and tasteless. So much so that she put some hot sauce in hers, even though she does not like the heat. Nhu’s rice bowl, “Bulgogi Bibim-bap”, despite it being made with bbq beef was no more tastier than Jennifer’s. She was given the option of not having it mixed by the servers and therefore we were able to take a before picture of it all pretty. All three girls with their rice bowls in the end had to scoop out sauce from Amanda’s “Squid Bulgogi, sautéed squid with spicy house special sauce and vegetables in a hot pot”, in order to get any satisfaction from eating theirs. The squid and beef stew came to our table bubbling, and despite Amanda asking for mild, it was still very spicy. But just enough spice to kick start some flavour in the bland rice dishes. Based on how it saved 3 other dishes I deemed Amanda’s stone bowl the best dish that came to the table that night.


Elina and I played it safe with dishes we knew we would like. Hers was the “Beef Ricecakes” and mine the “Japchae, stir-fried savoury potato noodles in sweet sesame oil with beef and mixed vegetables”,  both are a common sight in Korean cuisine. And both I would say were as expected. It was good, but nothing about it stood out enough to blow your mind or put it in the fore front of all the other variations out there.
At the end it came out to be lots of extra food, uneaten. The bigger portions were a good value at the reasonable prices, most plates were $13-16.

The young male waiter was not shy about asking to give us the bill. I believe he was joking, but each interaction with him came across as blunt and hinged on rude. I think based on our similar age range he felt he could casually joke around. We were a party of 6 so an automatic 15% gratis charge was added on.

Would I come back ? –  Yes, seeing as this was my second time here.  
Would I recommend it? –  No, cause my party only deemed it as being fair.  
 According to the menu, “Sura” means, “king’s meal” in Korean. I sure did not feel like I was eating anything worthy of a king, maybe these were his unwanted leftovers?


SURA KOREAN CUISINE
1518 Robson St, Vancouver BC, V6G 1C2
604-687-SURA


Sura Korean Restaurant on Urbanspoon Instagram

Black & Blue, steakhouse

Steak and BJ Day ~

March 14th was Steak and blow job day. You are thinking does this actually exist? Well Frenchy saw this posting on Facebook and it was good enough to convince him that this was an event that we as a couple should celebrate. Apparently this day is meant to be the male equivalent of Valentines Day. Well I am easy, so I was sold. Any reason to have a fancy dinner and dress up is good for me. I knew where ever I took him, steaks had to be involved. The question was where boasted great steaks that was worthy of being eaten on such a prestigious day? We rolled the dice with “Black and Blue”.


“Black and Blue” is part of the Glowbal group and is housed beside its sister restaurant, “Coast”. It was a rainy night and I refused to allow Frenchy to pay the $12 for valet parking, so we had to find meter parking a block away. When we entered the threshold I was surprised that the hostesdid not help us with the heavy door. I mean if they do it at Catcus Club… Instead she stood still and very deadpan behind her desk. Not the friendliest first point of contact.
We were seated in individual loungers under an open ceiling that was railed and lined with tables of two. The bar was a center island and behind it stood this clear giant fridge. In it hung beautiful cuts of meat, some in bone and others marbled perfectly. We were hoping to be able to pick out our own cuts out of the fridge to be prepared for us. But in actuality it was more a decorative feature; and it was doing that wonderfully.

We started our night with a bottle of “Wildcard, Peter Lehmann” red wine, by the bottle. I have always heard you have to have red wine when eating red meat. I was a little surprised that they did not have complimentary bread served before your meal. But I guess food is always better when you are a little hungrier. You don’t want to ruin your appetite with bread as a filler. The menu listed numerous dishes we wanted to try, but in the end we both had beef tenderloin. My tenderloin was done up in a “surf and turf” and Frenchy had his as an 8oz steak with a side of onion rings and loaded baked potato.
I choose the “surf and surf” because it was made as a meal, I did not have to pick my own sides. There were carrots, baby bok choy, and radishes. The potato cake was the best, it was buttery and rich and felt like the fanciest hash browns I have ever had. They looked as good as they tasted too, with flecks of green onion showing through the crispy golden brown crust.
My disappointed came with only getting half a lobster tail alongside my tenderloin medallions. I wondered who got my other half? Frenchy defended this by saying I should not have ordered seafood at a steakhouse. But “surf and turf” is a common staple at any steak house and for $44 why can’t I expect a full tail? Well, what little I had of it was amazing. It didn’t need to be accompanied by butter, as the flavour was infused into every moist, sweet bite. 
We both had our steaks medium rare and each one was a perfect pink. You poked your fork into the centre and the meat would buckle. You could tell this was a high quality cut of meat and therefore would be soft with just the right amount of chewy. Each bite was exciting you did not get tired of the taste. We both concluded that this was the best steak we have ever had and worth every penny.
Our sides were delicious as well, but really nothing to boast about when compared to our tenderloin cuts. I am not
fan of onion rings, but I did try one, I loved the taste and crunch of the batter, but cannot get over the slimy onion texture. This one was not for me. The baked potato tasted as if it was whipped smooth and then had chunks of potato added in afterwards, this gave you a great chewy, mixed combination. It’s only flaw was that there was a little too much sour cream mixed into it. It should of been put on the side as an option, along with the horseradish, BBQ sauce and wasabi. All the above were interesting choices for condiments that were tasted, but not used with our potato.
In between our bites it was hard to have a conversation. Our chairs were regal, but hard to move in order to get close enough to be heard by one another. I also sunk into mine several times, even with the back and butt pillow. At the conclusion of our night we did end up moving them side by side.

We would absolutely go back and absolutely recommend it to others. If you have the money and like great food in moderate portions, all in a stunning setting that would make any one feel like a boss: this is your place. The attention to luxury in their decor is excellent; wine fridges on the wall, a stunning display of beautiful liquors beside you as you walk up stairs, and a central lighting piece that makes for a great conversation starter. To quote “Guru Cooking Inc.” (www.gurucooking.ca), “These are the only guys in the city that know what they are doing!”. He told me that they do a lot of research before they open’Black and Blue” and that the owner strives for exceptional customer service. The guru had a few great stories to share. Though I would disagree after my first visit.
Next time around we will sit on the upper floor looking down the balcony and order the $135, 60oz highly graded “Tomahawk” steak. “Using only USDA prime, the Double RR Ranch is the top producer in the Pacific Northwest. The cattle are hand- sorted and graded to the highest standard. Steaks are shipped to a limited number of chefs around the world making this one of the world’s most exclusive products. ” If you went in a group of 5 it would come out to $27 per head, 12oz steaks each. A 12oz steak is still a huge slab of meat, most people order 8oz and are satisfied.
In short please go here and enjoy yourself!
And as for the second part of the night I will only add this quote I remembered from somewhere and thought was accurate: “A blow job is work, they call it a “job” for a reason, it is not blow vacation”.


BLACK AND BLUE
1032 Alberni St, Vancouver BC
604-637-0777



Black + Blue (& The Roof) on Urbanspoon Instagram

Trees Organic Coffee


Cheese Please ~

A few things tricks you need to know when trying to entice me to try a restaurant with you. One the word cheesecake. Two plates decorated all pretty for pictures. Three it just opened up. And four not many people know about it.

I love the new and modern design of this cafe’s decor. Once again there is nothing more enjoyable than dining in a clean environment, it makes eating a fancier affair’ and subtly and subconsciously elevates the food. This latest location of “Trees Organic” is located at the kitty corner of Broadway and Arbutus. There is meter parking available front of store, if you are lucky. They specialize in homemade cheesecake, but offer tea and coffee drinks along side sandwiches and other desserts. It is quiet and at 9:30pm it still had students with laptops studying away. 

There were at least 6 varieties of cheesecake to choose from and the staff were not shy about offering samples, I had a bite of the mocha cheesecake, it was splendid; but it was late and didn’t need the extra caffeine on top of the sugar, keeping me up. Instead we decided on the feature flavour: white chocolate raspberry and “Sin”. Each cake had complementary syrup and fresh whipped cream on the side. I am not a fan of whipped cream but when it tastes like this: fresh milk, it is worth devouring.
The White chocolate raspberry cheesecake is as exactly as its name suggests. The tartness of the creamcheese and smoothness of white chocolate flowed seamlessly together . At first taste it is light with a fruity raspberry punch, and then later the thick, rich, and creamy chocolate hits you. An all around light, easy to eat cake. Perfect if you are full, but want a sweet dessert to cleanse your pallet. Or better yet during a picnic on a breezy spring day.



The “Sin” cheesecake was composed of cherry and chocolate. The two are familiarly well known complimentary flavours, and therefor they melded well together. The “Sin” was a denser cake, something if you eat in its entirety would fill you to the brim. One word describes it best: decadence.
All their cheesecakes were soft and creamy, and despite their additional flavoruing it all still tasted like cheesecake. It hugged your our tongue and melted into your teeth.

Would I go back? – No doubt. This is my new favourite cheesecake place, far surpassing the likes of “Cheesecake ETC.” and “True Confections”, and dethroning the fruit and whipped cream ones I adored from “Save on Foods”. It would hold the same for you if you like cheesecakes with a smooth texture that is whipped into a fluffy consistency .
Would I recommend it? – Yes, especially this new location, and the fact that it would not be as busy as its sister location downtown.
If you aren’t convinced on how good it is: You know it’s good when you ask someone to hold your bangs aside so you can lick the plate clean. Doing so was so worth the stranger stares.

TREES ORGANIC
450 Granville St. Vancouver St.
604-684-5060
treescoffee.com

Trees Organic Coffee & Roasting House on Urbanspoon Instagram

Baan Wasana, Thai restaurant

Tight on Thai ~

It was another rainy day, but with ample street parking along Kerrisdale it was not an issue for us, as we slowly drove around looking for a restaurant to “randomly” eat at. I enjoy picking an area I don’t mind driving to, then getting my passenger to choose where they would like to dine. I am not picky of the new places I try and sometimes I rather not have the pressure of choosing a place and having it be a let down. There are so many different eating opportunities in Vancouver why would anyone strictly stick to chain restaurants. I am forever on the search for those hidden gems.
We were greeted with a traditional Thai salutation that was paired with player hands and a bow at “Baan Wasana Thai Restaurant”. Caught me off guard but I feel it is still more inviting then “Itadakimasu”shouted to you as you enter most Japanese restaurants.”Baan Wasana” was authentic upon entry. The walls were lined with traditional art work in simple black frames, they matched well with the rich red painted walls. The restaurant did not look particularly new but at the same time was not old enough so that you would consider it to be dirty. There were as many people coming in to pick up their take out orders as there were seated in the restaurant; 4 tables full in a surprisingly deep restaurant.

My guest tonight was K, she is an equally outgoing diner as myself, except that she does not like Pad Thai. Who chooses to eat at a Thai restaurant and not want to try one of the two most common and liked Thai dishes? (The other one is pineapple fried rice.) Well this fact gave me a chance to try something new, dishes I would not ordinarily pick because I would be too busy deciding between pad thai and pineapple fried rice. I always forget that meat and veggie dishes that are a normal staple to any Asian cuisines, are exotic to a white person. The taste is probably very different from their usual steak and potatoes meals. (at least that is usually what Frenchy eats)


The wait staff practiced the policy of standing a side watching and waiting for you to signal them before approaching your table. I was actually surprised he gave a recommendation and was able to back it up, it doesn’t happen much at most Asian places I have been too, must be the area we were in.
The menu was extensive, even offering a selection of salads. I have never heard or seen a Thai salad, and I would not get to tonight as we did not order one. I sort of feel that salad are not worth paying for, its just ingredients added in a bowl, un-treated. I am sure many of you would argue with me. 


The spring rolls for our appies were nothing special, but you cannot really go wrong with something savory that has been deep fried with a tangy sauce for dipping. 
With the chicken satay we expected the usual BBQ grilled flavour, but at “Baan Wasana” it was marinated in curry spice and glazed with coconut milk. The peanut dipping sauce did not disappoint, we just needed more so every bite could be slathered in its deliciousness. The second condiment was a cucumber, red onion, vinegar and sugar mixture. It was not that great for dipping both with its drippy texture and its taste not being too complimentary to the curried spicy satay meat, but alone I ate it all. It was an interesting idea for a pair up though. The carved carrot garnishes were a nice touch, but you couldn’t help but wonder if they were washed off and reused as needed.

Our Thai server talked us out of getting the “Pad See-Iew” and instead the “Pad Kee-Mao” Both were made with flat rice noodles with the main difference being the veggies. He said the “Pad Kee Mao” had a better taste, I was sold upon reading that there were green beans in the mix. At first bite it was just ok, but delightfully the taste changes in your mouth and its delicious. The waiter recommending choosing the chicken as our protein option over pork and beef and he was right as the whole dish had a mild and gentle flavour and the chicken went well with this.

The sweet and sour shrimp was pretty self explanatory. The sauce was not the thick syrupy one that you usually get over food court sweet and sour pork. And you get enough shrimp to veggie ration. All the dishes we ordered had a chili spiciness to it so I was able to use the cucumber in this to cool my taste buds off.

The star of the meal was the “Massamum Curry”. At first blush I was off put by the crinkled up cuts of beef, that we choose as the meat for this dish. But looks aside it was plentiful and like the potatoes, tender. What made this curry different than all the others was its peanut flavour in the sauce and the whole peanuts melded in with the meat and potatoes.To summarize we like peanut sauces and pickled cucumbers.

Would I go back? – Yes the location is convenient and the food was good and came it quickly, perfect for the hungry.
Would I recommend it? – Yes. It is the best Thai food I have ever had. The typical places for Thai in Vancouver are the “Thai House”, “Basil Leaf”, “Tropika, and “Papaya Hut”. All four are just food, nothing special or unique about their dishes. At “Baam Wasana” everything was brightly coloured and fresh looking with strong solid tastes. If you like Thai I recommend you try “Baam Wasana” in Kerrisdale. 


BAAN WASANA THAI RESTAURANT
21-43 West 41st ave. Vancouver BC, V6M 1Z6
778-371-8971
baanwasana.com



Baan Wasana Thai on Urbanspoon Instagram

Hakkaku Ramen

Raining Miso Showers ~

With the pouring rain outside I thought, nothing better than ramen cooked in warm broth. I choose to try out “Hakkaku Ramen”(info and link at bottom of post), based on it being the highest voted ramen place, that is not downtown, on Urban Spoon: 87%. Was only able to make a reservation because I was dining with a party more than 6. And was later embarrassed for making one because when we got there we were the only guests for about an hour. Had trouble finding the place as google maps directed us to Hastings and Boundary instead of its correct location at Wellingdon. I was late for my pointless reservation.

I went in very optimistic, hoping to find a great ramen place that did not require a trip downtown or an hour wait for a table. Between myself and my party we pretty much ordered everything on the menu, and no two people doubling up. Now that is how you strategize a meal.

The restaurant is old and definitely your typical out of style, hole in the wall. The tables were odd, leather wrapped with a sheet of glass on top; and the chairs had a pattern that reminded you of your grandmother’s kitchen dish towels. The only framed “art” on the walls were 15 x 18 sized framed photos of selected menu items. They hung slanted on the aposing walls. When we arrived for our reservation at 7:30pm the place was empty, but by 9pm all but one of the 9 sets of tables had been filled with bodies. The ages varied from late teens to late 40’s and tables were occupied by couples, groups and late lone diners. All the patrons were asian and a few Japanese. So I thought if Japanese guys come here for their ramen it must be the real deal. 

I ate with a group of white folks. I always take pleasure in going to authentic Asian restaurants  (food court Chinese food does not count) with white people and being the only Asian. I get to lead in ordering and recommend with absolute authority what is good. Its a power trip thing. 

We started with some appies. Goyzas, nothing new or different form all those other places who orders pre-made dumpling; ones that you only need to fry in hot oil and serve. This dish was however lazy,  each goyoza was attached to its brethren; and all still dripping with oil from not being dried off thoroughly. 
We also had what they call a “chaushu burger.” Here is one of those dishes I order not to taste it, but because I think it will look awesome as a picture. (yup, pretty sad. If you don’t know me or get this comment read my ,”Into the Madness” post.) The burgers did not look like they had enough sauce. Maybe it was the low expectation I had going in for a bite, but this was surprisingly good. It actually had the right amount of sauce that boasted a unique flavor and was in good company with the fresh green onions. And the chinese “bao” (bun/bread) was soft and moist and it showed that it was properly steamed and not just microwaved warm.


We came to the conclusion that ramen is always served with pork because not only is it a cheap meat, it doesn’t over cook as easily as beef or chicken, and it does well to absorb the taste of the broth. This was a very important fact as with most of the dishes the broth was the only thing giving any ingredient flavour. 
For the pork you were able to choose from pork shoulder which is a leaner cut of meat or pork belly which is more tender and fattier. For the broth your options were regular or a thicker, richer version. For both I choose the latter, I always believe if I am eating out and paying for this I want to go big. If you care about your calorie count when you eat out you are better off eating at home. I am sure this was saturated with much MSG as are most great Asian dishes.


Each bowl of ramen is served with bean sprouts, bamboo shoots green onion, and a couple had half a boiled egg.

We ranked the ramen as being more successful than another with the amount left in each of our bowls. Frenchy who is a very vanilla diner, does not eat seafood nor foods absent from his childhood; he got the safest bet: “Shoyu Ramen”, described as a well balanced soy sauce based soup. After he picked out everything but noodles and the pork he found the broth tasteless. He was unable to rectify this as there was no salt readily available on any table. He barely touched it and therefore this was the “worst” one.

Travis had the “Curry Ramen”, one of the more esthetically pleasing bowls, but at the end he had not touch 3/4 of the noodles. He found there was not enough curry taste and what little of it remained was in the soup broth. The curry powder coloured the noodles with yellow and zero with flavour.

Kristina ordered the “Shrimp Wonton Ramen” in a “smooth and light” soup. It was admirable that the shrimp wontons looked hand made, but that admiration fleeted as she found out they lacked any flavour other than shrimp. As with the others she too had to use her broth for any taste, but it was light and the regular so it fell a little short on the savory meter. She did however end up eating majority of it as she was hungriest.

James ordered the “Spicy Miso Ramen” and I the regular “Miso Ramen”. This being James’ first ramen adventure he really enjoyed the spicy taste and engulfed the entire bowl. At one point he commented on the taste getting stagnant, but he was able to perk it up with the additional chili paste that accompanied his order.

I was jealous of the bonus egg James got by ordering spicy, but I cannot stand the heat. Having been to both “Kinatro” and “Santouka” (2 of the more popular and busiest ramen places downtown off Robson); and not having ramen for the first time tonight, I had a better point of reference. It was simillar in pricing of the above mentioned restaurants, but the portions were much larger. 
And there was the convinence of free parking and a transit stop near by. For each bowl being under $10 with tax and tip, there is not much to complain about. Yes for the other ramen shops their soup may be a little tastier, but if you are hungry, in the area, and need to keep it cheap, this is a “why not?” 
Just be sure to get the “Miso Ramen” in either orginal or spicy as those seemed the most flavourful and had their bowls the most empty; therefore being considered the most successful of the Ramens.


Green tea with red bean was their only dessert option. The presentation is a little silly. The dish is literally just green tea with red bean paste on the side. Together in a bite it was a horrible mix a blend of cold and warm, smooth and chunky, melty and chewy. But seperate they were exactly as advertise just green tea and red bean. If that is what you like it its only $3.50. 



Will I go back? – Yes, but I will not go out of my way to do so. If a friend wanted to go and asked me to accompany them I would not presuade them out of it and be their companion for the night.
Will I recommend it? –  No, becasue after trying everything on the menu we found it too inconsistent with equal hits and misses. 
But in terms of value it is absoluetly there. To the right is a bowl of “Miso Ramen” from “Santouka”, simillar in colur of the soup and greyness of the pork, and it even bamboo shoots. The only special compenent is the pink spiral fish cake. So as a smaller bowl at a slighty higher cost is not necessarily any better. (The asian in me loves a good deal, most for the least amount of money.)
   


HAKKAKU RAMEN
4530 East Hastings St., Burnaby, BC V5C 2K6
604-558-3386


Hakkaku Ramen on Urbanspoon Instagram

Scandilicious & Miura Milk Bar, waffles

LEGGO not your ordinary EGGO ~

Waffles in place of bread seems to be the trend right now, with crepes being the it “sandwich” of the past. Went for a snack at “Scandilicious” on Commercial (info and link to website at bottom of blog)

Any cafe or restaurant along commercial drive has ample parking with meters by the road and limited residential parking. 
At 3pm this was a perfect place to sit and talk with a friend without being rushed out. The cafe has only been open for a month and it showed. All the fixtures and furniture were still new and un-chipped. Everything had a clean feeling to it. I feel the most important thing about a restaurant should be how clean it is. Do you really want to put something in your mouth that has been in a space filled with dust and dander? The downside to the decor was the limited seating area: 4 tables, packed tightly together; when another couple came in to snack there were times of awkward silence between our two tables and whispering as we could hear each other’s conversations and needed to watch what you said.
I asked for a business card for the lone woman running the shop (as per my usual dining ritual), I was surprised when she said she would give me her card and it was one for the district manager. It is refreshing to see someone in upper management working the front line. Whether this was a regularity or she was covering a shift, she was fantastic. Not only was she friendly and answered all our indecisive questions she also offered up two 10% off coupons for each of us for the next time we come in.                                                   
My friend ordered a caramel macchiato, and even though they did not make one at “Scandilicious” the District Manager did her best to make a close proximity. Which is a sign of top notch service and proof that you do not need to be a big chain to be able to go over and beyond for your customer.
As with most waffle places they offered both a sweet and savory selection, all the options sounded amazing with ingredients like salmon, avocado, brie, dill and pickled herring. With my boyfriend being French from Quebec, when I saw the bacon and maple syrup option I had to get it. I wanted to try it to be able to tell him all about it. He has the biggest sweet tooth I have seen in any guy. It is adorable when he has good maple syrup, his eyes roll back and he lets out a deep, “MMmmmm”. We also take pictures of our food and send it to one another throughout the day, so this was more for him. But it was delicious for me. Truthfully I am not a big maple syrup fan. But I am a fan of trying new things I think people will like, that I can later direct them to .
“Valhalla: maple bacon jam, Canadian back bacon, bacon bits, maple syrup”, $7.50.  If you didn’t already know the sweetness of maple syrup and the saltiness of bacon make and excellent duet. This couple have made their way onto the likes of cupcakes and ice cream, so on a waffle for breakfast is not a huge stretch of the imagination. I keep forgetting Canadian back bacon looks and tastes more like ham. Everything had its own unique taste and all together it made every bite delicious. The maple bacon jam was my favourite part, it had a hint of apple and was not too sweet, coupled with the syrup and my green tea. Though 3/4 of the way through it did start being a little too much. I absolutely recommend coming here with a a friend and getting two different waffles to share.
                                                             
Both my friend and I delightfully found we ate our waffles one “checker” at a time.

My guest, who is less adventurous of an eater got a sweet waffle. You can customize it with a wide array of butters, spreads, fruits, jams, ice cream, syrups, drizzles, cream and yogurts, candies, nuts and dustings. The possibilities are endless and far too many to name.  So there should be no reason you can get bored of their offerings. Come summer, my prediction is that this will be the it place for a cool treat. 
Here she chose strawberries with strawberry ice cream on a waffle, as simple as it gets. She likes playing it safe.
The waffles are in house made and according to their take out menu known as “A Brussels Waffle, light crisp and delicious the queen of waffles”. I personally found them to be simple a thicker, fresher version of an Eggo waffle, the taste profile is exactly the same, eggy and buttery. The toppings are really what makes the dish sing. Basically its like white bread or white rice, there to blend the taste and fill you up. I am not taking away from them, but they were not the main attraction to me.

As a comparison, I recently had some savory and sweet waffles at “Miura Waffle Milk Bar” on Deman. They had an entertainment coupon for buy one menu item get one free, so the asian in me had to go. I had one with Teriyaki sauce and vanilla ice cream. Yup, weird but actually sweet and tasty. I would order this again. As you can see I like to order for the sake of novelty, like my bacon and maple syrup order this was salty and sweet; and reminded me of dunking your french fries into soft serve ice cream at “McDonalds”. At “Miura” I found their waffles had a taste of their own, buttermilk and some thing I would not mind eating as is. I also prefer their “sandwiching” of it to “Scandilicious” flat approach.

Would I go back to “Scandilicious” and “Miura” –  Yes. Would I recommend both to others – Yes.
Which one is better? – it depends on your location.
Both have completely unique toppings I would say “Scandilicious” is more westernize in its approach and “Miura” has strong asian influences in its offerings. Well one is Scandinavian and the other Japanese…
So try both when on Commercial and Downtown Vancouver.

SCANDILICIOUS
1340 Commercial Drive Vancouver
604-879-7226
scandilicious.com


MIURA WAFFLE MILK BAR

829 Davie Street, Vancouver BC V6Z1B7 Canada
604-687-2909
miurawafflemilkbar.webs.com



Scandilicious on UrbanspoonMiura Waffle Milk Bar on Urbanspoon Instagram

Into the Madness

I started this little side project as a response to my co-worker saying I did not have a hobby. He is correct, I don’t. I love doing things, like eating out and taking pictures of my food, painting my nails, trying new beauty products and shopping for clothes and shoes. Basically every cliché “girly” thing out there. He suggested that I should blog about my interests and that through this transaction of transforming my doing into writing, I would have created a hobby for myself.

So I sat and I thought what could I blog about? What could I add to the internet that people would like? And through this train ride of thinking I came upon an revelation.

I don’t think there necessarily needs to be another food or makeup blog out there, and I am not even sure there is any more I can add to that sphere.

No, that is not my true intent for this project. This will be an outlet for me. I have this innate fear of forgetting things. I obsessively keep trinkets, candy, tiny pieces of paper, anything that will remind me of an event where I enjoyed myself and would like to reflect back upon one day. In my youth I have collected all of these things and stored them into neat “memory boxes”, boxes of things that would remind me what fun I have had, that I have friends who care for me, and that my life has been amazing so far. They are like time capsules, my life summed up into 8 boxes… so far… I have a bus ticket from when it was still 75 cents and movie stubs when they cost $8.75. that is insane, both the prices and me holding on to them.

Until I moved in with my current boyfriend (I call him “Frenchy“) I thought this is (was) normal behaviour. I was rudely told I was mistaken. Upon reflection I should have seen the signs. We gave my co worker a birthday card and flowers. She left them displayed in her mailbox. Had it been for me the card would be in my recent memory box that night and the flowers hanging upside down to be dried or pressed. I mean any card: be it Valentines, Christmas or birthdays I still have them all of them from all the way in the 90’s, yes that is long ago. I have neatly folded notes detailing who my friends and I had a crush on in grade 9 and cartoon pictures to match. Names and faces of boys I have probably long forgotten. I thought why do I need to keep any of this? What was I afraid of losing by letting any of this go?

As it stands I still feel the need to keep them, even though I do not go through them and probably have forgotten what majority of memories these items are attach to. Frenchy is understanding and has allowed these waste of space boxes in our home, but I myself want to detach from them.  It is through this blog and through my picture taking I hope to change this potential serious hording behaviour and slim down on all that I feel I need to keep. As my boyfriend pointed out, “if you cannot remember something that happened without an item, it is not good enough of a memory for you to keep”. So this blog is me weaning myself off this behaviour.

So to fill you all in, currently this is my dining out experience. I go to a new restaurant, I order dishes based on how original and beautiful I think it would look in a photo, I take pictures of what I eat and what my guests orders; they all know they have to wait for me to finish my picture taking before they dig in, that’s a sign of a true friend to me. As a divergence in topic, this is also how I eventually came to the realization that an ex of mine wasn’t the man for me. He always complained of my taking pictures during meals. But now I have Frenchy who encourages my photography in gastronomy, to the extent that he takes me to new places and poses his food in the best light and angle so I get the best photos.

I end every dining experience out by taking a business card. Without one my eating out feels incomplete; there is that attaching an event to an item again, at least business cards are flat and small and easy to store.  Anyways the business card goes into my rolodex and my pictures get upload onto Facebook. Now and then I like to go through all of my cards and pictures; Like a serial killer reliving their kill, and with each picture I experience all the smells, flavours and memories anew. (I watch way too many crime dramas).

Here I would also like to add that I think I was taking pictures of my food way before it became trendy, I have pictures of meals my mother made growing up as a late teen, circa 2005. Back then food was instant noodles and sandwiches, but I still took pictures.


So here I am now. You have read the ramblings of a mad woman. If you would like more please follow me on my journey as I catalogue foods I have eaten, things I have purchased, and nails I have polished.

I hope you enjoy.

This Blog is dedicated to Falk,  my make shift male role model who gave me the idea.
And Frenchy the man who helps me become a better me without out right telling me to change.

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Red Sea Cafe, Ethiopian Restaurant

Easy on the Ethiopian ~

Having to accommodate a vegetarian on her birthday, we decided to try Ethiopian food for the first time. We settled on “Red Sea Cafe”, the most well known and most word of mouth recommended Ethiopian restaurant in Vancouver. (info and link to their website at the bottom of this post) Not only was is easy to get to, but there was meter parking in front and free parking when you turned into the residential blocks. Parking is one of the most important things I look for when choosing where to eat. You shouldn’t have to work so hard before you have to pay for your food.

First thing I noticed and was off put by: was the decor. Everything looked old and dusty, but there was clearly an attempt to be authentic. Tanned animal hides made into artwork hung on the walls and a photograph of a camel was settled under the glass of the table we were seated at.I appreciated this one off mom and pop owned shop, but I did not get the basic level of service I expect from any restaurant. I have spent 10 years in several retail management positions, training my staff on delivering exceptional customer service; as well as working a couple of years in the restaurant industry, from hostess to server. So I do know a thing or two about serving customers.

Yes, with a prices form $5-15 I do not expect too much, but approaching the table to ask us if we would like to order and checking on us after we have tried a bit of the food seems the minimum. Chasing the only server did dampen the experience. (Not that more than one was needed) And unfortunately this negative was exacerbated when she brought the cake out without the candles (both of which we brought in and gave to her before our dinner to bring out when we were done eating). Instead this all was placed on a tray she sprayed and wiped down close enough to our table that I got a clear view of the dirty rag she used. I guess I can’t expect too much from a meal that cost $40 for 3 people after taxes and tip.

The restaurant had 4 tables seated including ours and other parties came in as our dinner progressed, pretty impressive for a small cafe on a Thursday after 8pm. There was a diverse mix of people, friends and daters from 23-33 years old. One table ordered alcohol, so that was available but I would refrain from ordering drinks from a place without a learned bartender. 
When I dine I like to take a picture of the menu so I can ensure I spell everything correctly, and list what is in the dish when I post the picture, but for the first time ever I was told I would not be able to as it was their restaurant’s policy. I explained why I do it and that its for this blog. Ironically all this is online, so I do not understand all the hush hush over it is for. Anyways, here is what we ordered with their names and descriptions from “Red Sea Cafe’s” website.

Once again keeping in mind the price for the value, it all was not too bad.
Ful” was their only appetizer at $6.95. “A mixture of Fava beans, jalapeno pepper, tomatoes, onions mixed with oil or butter and spices served with multi grain bread.”
We all agreed this was the best thing we had that night. It was similar to a zesty 7 layer bean dip you would serve with tortilla chips. Was disappointed that the bread was not fresh though. 


This being my first time here I asked the server what she recommended and what was the most popular of their lamb dishes (there were 4 of them, and when there is a lamb option I will always chose lamb) She was unable to help me much. I think it shows something about the staff if they do not have a fvaourite dish at the restaurant they work at or know which is the customer’s favourite. A the end she was able to boil it down to whether I wanted my meat in a stew or sautee form. After some wavering I choose sautee, hoping it would be a more handsome dish for photo taking. 


Kilwa Tsada/Yebeg Tibs, lamb chunks sauteed with spiced butter, jalapeno peppers, onions, garlic and flavoured with other exotic spices” at $11.


My fellow carnivore also opted for the more rarer of meats on the menus: lamb.
Zignee, tender lamb pieces stewed with chili, simmered with spiced cardamom and other exotic spices” at $11.25. 

This dish boasted “tender” pieces of lamb, which was not the case, had they left it “lamb pieces” it would satisfy its menu’s description.

The vegetarian in the group chose the “Vegetarian Combo for One, choose any four vegetable dishes” for $10.95. They were spinach, okra, roasted peas, and a carrot and potato mixture. According to her they were all flavourful with spices spice and not just oil spice. I did not want to try it based on the colours and textures, they do not resonate with me.




Every dish was eaten with “Injera, flat bread”, in place of cutlery. You would scoop or pinch morsels of food with them helping you to not get your hands saucy, unless you wanted to. It was a fun novelty, but we opted out and asked for spoons after 3 bites. I have long nails and eating with my hands is not a good option for me.You got full fast with this carbohydrate filler, and i am trying to cut down on my carb intake for dieting purposes (read the book “Wheat Belly” and you would too). No table finished all their “InjeraAll the dishes were over salted and you needed the flat bread to tone down the flavour. By the time you got to the one on your plate that your meat and veggies were served under, it had absorbed all the sauce and salt to the point it that the saltiness made it taste bad, like drinking a shot of soya sauce.

We all agreed coming into this new the first bite was surprisingly good, but all the dishes had one singular note each and it got old fast. There was an option for veteran diners that allowed everyone to eat from a singular large bowl and share all the dishes, which I suspect would help to keep the flavours exciting on your pallet. This is the kind of food that you would want as small plates for sharing.

To rate this my guest gave me the idea of it simply being would I recommend it – No, would I come back again – No. But I eat meat and seafood and will try everything at least once, so there are numerous options to me. But for a Vegan or Vegetarian on a student’s budget this place is the bee’s knees. So I will mention this as an option for those people I know
In addition despite my souring review I believe everyone should try everything at least once and be the judge for themselves, you can’t say you dont like something unless you try. So if you are hankering to try something new and are along East Broadway with $15 in your wallet, stop to try “Red Sea Cafe”



RED SEA CAFE
670 E Broadway, Vancouver, BC V5T 1X6
604-873-3332
redsearestaurant.ca

Red Sea Café on Urbanspoon Instagram

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