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Month: September 2013 Page 2 of 3

Papa Murphy’s Pizza


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When was the last time you ordered a pizza that you had to bake yourself? In my opinion it sort of defeats the whole purpose of a pizza delivery. The expectation is you get hungry, you dial a number and should have your pizza arrive within 45 minutes or its free. As soon as you receive it, it’s yours to eat; you don’t want to have to worry about taking another 10-15 minutes to bake it. Or worry that your oven and its settings are not equivalent to the ones at a pizza pallor. 

And yet here “Papa Murphy’s” exists. They claim they make their pizzas on the spot and you take it home to be baked to perfection. But don’t other pizza places make their pizzas upon request as well? And they take it one step further by taking the guess work out if baking. So that you will have it ready as soon as you open the door. 

We were guests at our friend’s house and offered to buy dinner for everyone. He excitedly asked for “Papa Murphy’s”, claiming that theirs is the best pizza he has ever had. So off we went to pick it up, because they don’t deliver. Their slogan, “Take N’ Bake”. 

IMG_1320The store is a counter top. Behind it stood 4 employees looking for something to do. Your pizza options are posted on signs behind them. You can choose from a predetermined “Papa Murphy’s” original or choose to have one with your own toppings. The varieties of pizzas classified as “deLITE”, “Signature & Gourmet”, and “Stuffed”. The “deLITEs” are artisan pizzas built atop their cracker thin crusts. Some include ingredients like artichoke hearts, spinach, sun dried tomatoes, and grilled chicken. These seem to be pitched as the most health conscious of all the other options. The “Signature & Gourmet” pizzas boast the finest and freshest of ingredients to make these classics, and all on traditional crusts.

IMG_1321The “stuffed” pizzas are essentially two pizzas laid on top of one another, then braided together by their crusts to make one super pizza. Considering this was our first “Papa Murphy’s” experience, we didn’t want to get ahead of ourselves ordering the wild ones. And considering you can get a pepperoni or Hawaiian anywhere, we choose the “cheese burger pizza”. It was on special and was a limited time exclusive to the chain. We also got a classic that we know will be good in case: meat lovers. Two girls made our two pizza together. The glass divider separating us allowed us to watch as the dough was rolled, sauced, topped, and wrapped to go. Each pie came on a disposable, ready for the oven tray. And was heavily bound in plastic wrap so that no ingredients would fall and the pizza would survive the car ride, safely to your home. Though if all this required too much waiting, you can grab a pre made cheese and pepperoni pizza in their self server refrigeration unit. But doing so sort of feels lazy, and defeats the purpose of the made fresh before your eyes concept. There are also children sized pizzas in there as well, which can also use used for a grown adult’s individual serving. 

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You take your prize home and as the commercial says “love at 425 degrees”, our host swears it only needs 12 minutes. The cheese burger pizza tasted just like a cheese burger, but in a pizza platform with a chewy bready crust. This was thanks to its traditional cheese burger fixings: ground beef, ketchup, mustard, pickles, and of course tonnes of cheese. We opted out of the diced onions and were able to substitute it for sliced button mushrooms instead. My partner doesn’t like pickles so took the time to disperse it all over one half. And seeing as I was eating with French Canadians, their pizza was enjoyed with butter from tip to crust. I preferred my portions dunked into the cups of garlic and ranch dipping sauces that we got earlier at a $1 each. This pie was able to feed and fill four hungry adults. 

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On previous take out orders I have also enjoyed their pepperoni and hawaiian pizza split, and their garlic bread with marinara sauce for dipping.

IMG_1319Would I come back? – No. I live in the city and have my choice of any pizza pallor to take out or have deliver from. So why leave the comfort of your home when you can get your food brought right to your door? The pizzas were good, but truth is not so different that it is worth the drive to and pick up of. 
Would I recommend it? – Yes. This is a great option for those who live in smaller towns, like our hosts did. If you are craving pizza and have no where that would deliver out to you, what are your options? If you purchase one in the city, by the time you got home to the country it would be cold. Clearly “Papa Murphy’s Take N’ Bake” is your best option for a freshness and taste that you can’t find in a frozen box. Hence all the locations on the outskirts of town. Don’t deny your cravings. 

PAPA MURPHY 
papamurphys.ca

2111 Main St Unit 101a, Penticton BC, V2A 6W6
250-493-2440
Papa Murphy's Take 'n' Bake Pizza on Urbanspoon

Beyond Restaurant & Lounge

IMG_1635Our original plan was to have drinks at “Beyond”, located on the bottom floor of the “Century Plaza Hotel”, before catching a show at the”Comedy Mix”, in the basement. So that’s where we were enjoying cocktails, until we got hungry and decided to cancel the comedy show and stay for dinner instead. Usually when you picture a hotel restaurant you imagine things a little more fancy, a little more higher end. By the first blush looks of things “Beyond Restaurant & Lounge” were sure setting themselves up for that feel. You either enter from the hotel foyer by way of the front entrance; or from the side door that also leads you through the bright lights, and tiled floor of the lobby. You know you are heading in the right direction when passing by the three piece canvas art work. It depicts the restaurant’s name and an interpretation of a martini you could have there.

IMG_1632There is not much in terms of decor or art. The simplicity of the wooden table, white chairs, brown booths, and red high back seats are accentuated when looking up. There suspended, are a series of lamps, as functional as they are decorative. We took a seat in the more dimly lit lounge. Over our heads hung red tubes lit up with the rectangular cut outs. I thought them similar to alternating rungs of a ladder. They cast a warming red romantic glow across the room. In the centre, the main light fixture reminded me of a jelly fish, without its tentacles. The round, fluidity found in this body translated well with this bent wire piece. The dining room featured clusters of box shaped lights that glowed brighter than the ones in the lounge. A large low shelf filled wine wine and a curving staircase separated the two rooms.

IMG_1589We were by far the rowdiest group in the place. The other patrons, 3 tables too sat in the lounge. All of which appeared to be in their 50’s and 70’s, and not too impressed by our colourful language and the volume in our voices. So as soon as they finished up, and charged their meals to their hotel rooms, they ascended up the stairs for the evening. We stayed for over three hours and outlasted anyone that came after us. It was a Friday night, but by the looks and sounds of things here today, it played a more convincing Monday.

 IMG_1587IMG_1628The menu was your standard division between appetizers and entrees; with an additional option of making selected offerings of the two into a two or three course set meal. However the Guru (gurucooking.ca) cleverly pointed out that a few items and pairings were cheaper when ordered by dish, as appose to the set price of $35 for a two courses and $42 for a three. When questioned, the server was quick to make a joke to diffuse the situation. He calmly stated it was to “weed out the idiots”, pointing out the Guru wasn’t one. Well done.

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“Caesar salad”, grana padano, romaine lettuce, croutons. This was nothing out of the ordinary.

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This appetizer came highly recommended by our server.
“Prosciutto bruschetta”, grilled baguette, vine ripened tomato, kalamata olives, extra virgin olive oil, maldon sea salt. It lasted as it was.

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“BLT sea scallop”, crispy bacon, artisan lettuce, olive oil, confit tomato, lemon chili gastric. The scallops were flavourful and the tender. Each element was good, and when brought together became slight above average. This was certainly not the best I have ever had. The size of the scallops were inconsistent from one to the other. It was clever of the kitchen to plate them hiding under frizzy leafs of frisse, and to the side of crisp carpets of bacon.

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The Guru (gurucooking.ca) ordered the “BC coastal water seafood risotto”. He was disappointed by the deceiving write up on the menu. The dish was cited as being a risotto with dungeoness crab, mussels, clams, kale, wild mushrooms, and a micro green salad. On appearances alone you can tell this wasn’t a risotto. And with one taste, it was obvious that this more closely resembled a paella. “Risotto” is a class of Italian rice dishes cooked in broth to a creamy consistency. Whereas “paella” is a Valencian rice dish cooked with a layer of toasted rice at the bottom of the pan. The main differences are the colour in the kernels, the moisture in each grain, and the smell of each spoonful. So as you can see, his plate was far from expected. It completely justified the Guru’s disappointment in his chosen dish. So after taking a bite and regretting his order instantly, he sent it back. Then like the rest of the table he ordered the short rib.

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“Alberta beef short ribs, with potato pave, blue cheese crumble, port wine demi glaze, and seasonal vegetables. The green beans were fresh to the point of being too rare. It and all the vegetables lacked flavour. There was the need for them to be eaten along side a bite of the very flavourful beef, for taste. You could pull the shot rib meat strand from strand, it was slow cooked to utter tenderness. The blue cheese sat as dollops, and were flavour accenting without stealing the show. The Guru too found satisfaction in this, his second entree. He deemed it, “a great apology”.

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“Chef’s daily gelato” in cappuccino. Came with a butter cookie. Can’t go wrong with ice cream, a great way to cleanse the palate and refresh the taste buds.

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“Gluten free Tahitian vanilla cheesecake”. Made with baked light custard, wild blueberry lavender compote, lemon curd, elderflower whipped cream, hazelnut crumb, vanilla bean meringue, and mint syrup. This was one of those deconstructed desserts that allowed for an easier differentiation of elements. Its format made it easy to get a little in each bite. The cheesecake fluff was light and airy. The fruit added the perfect amount of sweetness. And the crumb gave some much needed crunch to the plate. I was surprised this tasted as good as it did, being gluten free and all. I appreciated the presentation, and even more the use of plates designed for easy carrying, with it thumb hold on the side.

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Our waiter added joy to our meal by offering us a complimentary “pbb & j: peanut, banana, and jelly bar”. It was cut up into five separate pieces for easy share-ability. The bar was made from a 70% Lindt dark chocolate panna cota top, crisp wafer peanut mousse, extra brute cocoa crust, banana creme, grape jellies, raspberry coulis, and caramel lace. I am not a big fan of chocolate, but I am a fiend for peanut butter. This tasted like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or a peanut butter and banana sandwich, depending on your scoops. The classic you remembered as a child, but all grown up. The chocolate, cream, and strawberry gave this dessert a romantic flare. I may not have been impressed by the entrees, but the desserts did more to win me over.

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Our eating was laced with drinking. We had beer after beer. A round of “pick me ups” made with a shot of espresso. And the Guru enjoyed some ice wine as his “Digestive”. This sweet apple tasting wine helped in the digestion of his meal.

Our waiter was pleasant. We were his only customers and he tolerated our boisterous laugher and challenging tone. He was able to contribute to our discussions and make relevant jokes. By the end we were on a first name bases. He far out shone the food in my opinion.

IMG_1584Would I come back? – No.
Would I recommend it? – No.
I found the menu tiring, looking over it I found no other reasons to come back. The food did little to excite or have us recommending it to others. With 5 people in our group, each looked over the menu and only found interest in the same few dishes, this said something about the food. We had two bruschetta appetizer orders, four short ribs entrees, and two cheesecake desserts. I personally felt the menu was way too common, and its ingredient lists felt unimaginative. I can get roasted chicken, New York strip steak, and salmon loin from any casual dining chain. What was here that set “Beyond” apart? And after our meal I felt far from satisfied. So much so that I had a second meal hours after.

 

BEYOND
1015 Burrard St, Vancouver BC, V6E1J1
604-684-3474
beyondrestaurant.com
Beyond Restaurant & Lounge on Urbanspoon

Buckstop


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Classic barbecue and small plate saloon.

With a particularly fussy partner I am always in search of new places that I can take him to eat at. One that he would actually like, and one that I can write about for this blog. One type of cuisine that never fails is barbecue. So when I googled “BBQ Vancouver”, and “Buck Stop” popped up as a suggestion I have never heard of, it was decided. Through the course of our meal I eventually learned that, “Buck Stop” is fairly new to the Denman strip. The newest successor at 833, after a long list of failed restaurants before it. So much is the case that its name is still not listed on the directory with all the others. They have only been open for 3 months, but already its looks like they are doing well for themselves. They are definitely the nicest looking restaurant along this street. The decor has them fitting right in at Gastown.

IMG_1531Outside, their sandwich board attracts your attention, as it instructs you to, “Eat Meat Repeat”. A catchy slogan and one that you will soon find fitting. The restaurant is a narrow space. Copper colour walls, dark wooden tables, black chairs, and two dark cowboy hats hung on coat hooks. In keeping with their name sake theme they have metal cut outs of deers and moose around the restaurant; And a bust of a buck and a boar made from corrugated cardboard above the bar. The walls are lined with small framed photos of wildlife. In the middle of all this, their most impressive piece was the mini chandler. It was crafted from wood, and made to resemble a mass of antlers in between all the light bulbs. Looked like it could do some damage if it should fall. Options for seating are in booths or on bar stools. We chose the bar top facing out the front window. I immediately found my seat uncomfortable in its downward tilt and awkward to swivel motion. However their location proved to be the most fun. We people watched as our dinner made pedestrians stop to look at our food, and the name of the restaurant. Whenever there was eye contact we made sure to give a smile and a thumbs up in accordance to our meal. A few came in to ask what we had, none stopped to eat. Guess the price was too much?

IMG_1549 Here the vibe is different from other BBQ places. The slow cooked sumptuous food is paired with the drinking, noise, and atmosphere of a bar. All set up against the commonly seen rockabilly type of jazz that plays at most barbecue places. It was Thursday, but with the cocktails and brews it felt like a Saturday. The restaurant doesn’t take reservations, but we didn’t have any trouble walking in and being seated right away. This was the best destination for the large group of middle aged men sitting at the back. They were the loudest with pitchers of beers and glasses of highballs from “Buck Stop’s” full bar. And their bellies were full of slow cooked, fall of the bone meat from “Buck Stop’s” in house smoker.

Upon seating our server asked if we have been in before. She explained that the dinner options were on smaller plates for sharing, and that the BBQ ones were served on large boards. The menu was a page for dinner and a separate one for the BBQ. It was the drink list that was most impressive, four pages bounded between two pieces of mahogany coloured wood. For drinks they offered Southern classics with a modern twists. Sweet teas, dressed with fruit or spiked with liquor. And a cocktail list came with exciting names. The “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” is made with seasonal smoked fruit, for that hickory aroma in each sip.

IMG_1545Coming specifically for the BBQ, we wanted a share platter to be able to sample all that they had to offer. The “Half Stop BBQ” came with beef ribs, St. Lousie pork ribs, smoked chicken, and pulled pork. The sides were cornbread, hush puppies (deep fried corn bread), honey butter, navy beans with smoked bacon, coleslaw, and kennebec shoe string potatoes with house made ketchup. You can imagine the delight in my face as this feast on two boards came towards our table. A requirement for serving here is definitely arm strength. And if you don’t have any, holding these heavy boards up will earn you some muscle. The price is a little steep at $60. But you get all this food and all this variety. Where as a platter of one item is $15-17. We had 4 types of meats and 2 additional sides, so already this was the more cost efficient deal.

IMG_1544The “smoked chicken” was made with a honey orange brine. It was already pretty moist from just being dark meat, but was made more tender in the process of being hickory smoked. Each piece was succulent and juicy with clear drippings. The spices gave heat, while the honey brought the sweet.
The “St. Louis pork ribs” were basted with their black eko red sauce, then smoked with hickory wood. These were my favourite. Bite size portions with hardly the need to avoid a bone.
The “Beef back ribs” were double smoked Texas style with hickory, and too glazed with their black eko red sauce. The meat required some effort to cut from the bone. The two pieces that we had were a little fattier than what we were use to. Over all, a tough piece of meat to chew through with great flavouring.
The house made coleslaw was tangy and refreshing. It provided the best break in between all rich flavours of the meat, and the taste of oil from the deep fried sides. It wasn’t the best I have ever had, but it served the platter well as a palate cleanser.
I am not a fan of the texture of bake beans. I find their sand like bites irritating to have between the cracks of my teeth. Though I did give two scoops of them a try, for the sake of their smokey bacon essence. Still not a fan.
The hushpuppies paired with the honey butter served as more of a dessert. Both were on the sweeter side, the sauce having cinnamon and sugar in it. It and all the sauces were subtle. They paralleled the dishes, and did nothing to overpower it. For those who frequent often, inquire about their other speciality sauces. Your options are a “Caroline mustard sauce”, a “sweet lime BBQ sauce”, a “pomegranate molasses BBQ sauce”, and a jalapeño honey hot sauce”. Sauce is the easiest and cheapest way to bring new flavour into a dish you have long since found exciting.

IMG_1548I found I couldn’t compare anything tit for tat to other BBQ places. The spice palette used at “Buck Stop” differs for any that I have ever had. It is so different in its zesty flavouring. I am sure there was a spice or two in there I have never even heard of. Nothing tasted as expected from past experiences. It wasn’t bad, just more complexed. We left with enough in our doggy bag for a second dinner.

Our order came with a bucket for bones and a generous helping of napkins. But when done eating, you still felt the need to wash the stickiness off your fingers and the sauce from out under your nails. This is when you use the washroom. The room was a tiny single stall. Going meant doing so with your nose inches from the door knob.

IMG_1550The restaurant was incredibly hot tonight, and as a result we quickly lost our appetite. Luckily our server kept the water in our mason jars in abundance. Between the heat of the place and the saltiness of the food, this was greatly needed. At one point, right after she checked in on us, and we said we were fine; my guest decided he would chug his water and would need more. He got up to ask the bar, only to have our server jump right in to be the one to help us. I was impressed by her attentiveness. Over all she was calm, cool, and collected. She made us feel welcome by speaking to us as if we have been long time friends. Her causal approached perfectly matched the mellow mood of the restaurant. We were within ear shot of the bartender doing any equally fine job. He spent the time we were there, sharing his knowledge of the city with a guest from out of town. He spoke with excitement as he rattled off other places she had to try. Like our server he set a delightful tone for his patron.

Would I come back? – Yes. Now that I have tried their BBQ, I find I prefer others over their rubs and spices. However I would love to come back to try their dinner menu. Fried dill pickles, in house made potato chips, buttermilk calamari, braised pork belly, brisket wrapped scallops, and a BBQ prawn and watermelon salad. This is a listing of half the menu, each sounds as amazing as they are unique.
Would I recommend it? – Yes. For those who think they have tried all BBQ has to offer, give the recipes at “Buck Stop” a try. And for those looking for the perfect marriage between rich food and complex cocktails, this too is your destination. As I have already mentioned, this is an ideal place for a group of guys to get together to eat, drink, and laugh in a comfortable setting. And who doesn’t like a pound of meat? Don’t deny your cravings.

 

BUCKSTOP
833 Denman St, Vancouver BC
604-428-2582
Buckstop on Urbanspoon

Sammy J’s Grill & Bar

IMG_1269Wow I can’t remember the last time I stepped foot into this casual chain. And when did they drop the “Pepper’s” in their name? Between all the “Cactus Clubs”, “Earl’s”, “Joey’s”, and “Milestones” out there, this would not necessarily be my first choice. However tonight we were in the area, I had an entertainment book coupon, and we were ready to save. It promised a free entree if we purchased another for equal or lesser value, and that was reason enough to try it for the first time in around four years.
We had trouble locating the place. Along the dark back road, there were no signs pointing to where to turn in for their entrance and/or parking lot. After encountering a dead end, we followed all the cars heading to “Boston Pizza” and guessed to continued down to our destination. The only indication, a large sign listing “Sammy J’s” along with “Autoway” and “Dairy Queen”. Through a process of elimination we deduced our desired restaurant, the one in the centre; the only one without a sign on its exterior. We drove around the building to be sure, with no signage, but “open” in sight. We were reassured waking in to see a sketch of their latest, soon to be 4th location in BC.

Inside, the restaurant was a fifth full, lounge and dining room combined. It was no wonder considering the obstacle course and guessing game we had to go through to find the place. It looked like a community centre on the out side, and was decorated as a show home inside. Everything was modern, but lack personality. It almost felt too plain to be a restaurant. The lounge looked lighter in beige furniture, so we choose the more “romantic” dining room with dimmer lighting.

I remembered last visiting its old location by Metrotown, the one now shut down. I recall it being more edgier, with a bigger emphasis placed on drinking their cocktails. However today at the location on Lougheed Hwy, it felt more like a family restaurant. With a family of eight at one table, and three babies over two tables. I almost felt shy to have my partner place his arm around my shoulder, for fear it wasn’t rated “G” enough.

Seating was by the booth. A faux leather finish that matched the colour of the several bent wire, sphere chandeliers hanging above. The feature wall was a splatter painting of whites, blacks, greys, and brown. It certainly gave way to many conversations throughout the room. We both agreed we were looking at a lot of paint. The best seat in the room had its own fireplace, within an alcove carved into the wall. It appeared to be the Chef’s table.

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I have seen several pictures of their “culinary cocktails” online, and finally I was able to try one for myself. “The ultimate Cheeseburger Caesar”. Clamato and Smirmoff Vodka spiced with their own signature pepper infusion. Garnished with a plethora of finger foods: bacon, chorizo sausage, harvarti cheese, tiger prawn, a blazes bean, olive, a pickle wedge, celery, and a cheeseburger slider. At $13.99 for a single, this was the most expensive drink I have ever had. It ate like a meal, or at least an appetizer. They cleverly brought a plate and an extra napkin, knowing its necessity. All this took over 10 minutes to make. When delivered another server apologized for the wait, and explained their was a miscommunication surrounding my drink order. Does that mean when our original server said “it just takes longer to make”, she was lying? The burger was good. Everything else was extremely salty. I finished my drink faster than intended because all its accompaniments were so salty, and made me so thirsty. The drink itself tasted watered down. Too much tomato and no spice or vodka kick. A delight to see before me, but not something I would order again.

I couldn’t settle on anything that I really wanted to eat. Nothing jumped out or sounded amazing by description. I was also a little apprehensive. At a place like this do I really want to get a steak or a “Kung pao” noodle bowl? I decided to forgo the pizzas, salads, and skillets and stick with the safe bet: burgers. Without many customers, and nine waitresses, our food came fast

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I wanted to try one marked as a “Sammy J’s signature” so ordered “The boss burger”. It was topped with slow roasted short rib medallions, aged cheddar, horseradish Dijon mayo, drunken onions, and arugula. After one bite the whole thing got soggy. I proceed to eat the rest of my burger with knife and fork. I didn’t like the texture of the burger bun or the wilted arugula so stuck to carving out pieces of the burger meat and short rib with caramelized onions in each bite. The short rib medallions were cut into squares and they tasted amazing. Tender and moist, with just a little fat to make it melt in your mouth. Needless to say more than half my plate was left by the time I was done.

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My guest got the “Cajun BBQ chicken club”. With a blackened BBQ chicken breast, aged cheddar, bacon, greens, red onion and tomato, on a toasted ciabatta bun. He substituted yam fries for a little extra. The fries were crisp and delicious despite their singed exterior. His bun stayed dry and chewy. The chicken he found far too spicy to finish without taking a pause. Other than those two elements it was a run of the bill burger. Nothing fancy.

We immediately noticed the smaller portions for both the burger and our side of fries. Not that we necessarily needed more food, but at other casual chains, if you ordered a $17 burger it would a have been a lot larger. Here Sammy’s signature burgers were the same size as a regular quarter pounder at McDonald’s. And small enough to be held in one hand. I didn’t see a need for a skewer through the bun to keep everything in place. Disappointing.

After we presented our entertainment book coupon we had it stamped and return to us. Our server said we would be able to come back and use it a second time. This was a nice touch, especially with the stamp reading, “just because you are awesome”. Was this a much needed way to improve business?

Would I come back? – No. I have already tried their crazy Caesars, so judging by the menu, there is nothing left warranting my return trip. The food was only ok, the portions disappointing, and the trip out here long and confusing. Does anyone need an entertainment book coupon?
Would I recommend it? – Yes, for the Caesars, they look better in person. If you decide to make a trip down I suggest it be on a Monday for their “Monday night football specials”. Numerous drink and menu items are discounted. Even the Caesar was a dollar less on Monday.

 

SAMMY J’S
1075 Louheed Hwy, Coquitlam BC
604-524-1422
sjpeppers.com
Sammy J's Bar & Grill (Coquitlam) on Urbanspoon

Chungdam Ahn

IMG_2832 Exploring around Vancouver’s Korean restaurant district, we settled on “Chungdam Ahn”, just off Robson. There weren’t any lines and my guest has been here before, and he enjoyed his last meal here too. Think, everything you like about Japanese tapas, but with Korean cuisine. The restaurant is open late, and makes for the perfect one stop for a night of eating and drinking. Everything is done in small plates for sharing, with drink specials to ensure everyone leaves tipsy without leaving their pockets too empty. 

You walk in and are engulfed by the dark that sets the ambience. Dimly lit golden tea lights at every table. And a few strategically placed to highlight the kitchen’s window pass. Majority of the tables are two tops, they are easily assembled to seat larger groups. They like everything else has a dark wood finish. 

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Our meal starts with complimentary snack sticks. Long uncooked spaghetti like strands placed upright in a tall glass. They hardly have a taste nor do they fill you up. You munch on them more for their texture and the action of eating. With our meal we ordered a pitcher of aloe soju to share. A distilled beverage native to Korea. It is traditionally made with rice, wheat, and barely. It’s taste is most comparable to vodka when taken neat. Here it is flavoured with fruits and syrups to add sweetness and additional notes. The aloe one had actual pieces of aloe floating in the mix. They offered a bit of chew per sip. This was a dangerous drink as it went down smooth and I could have glass after glass before I felt the least bit drunk. 

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Beef stone bowl. The meat, vegetables, and rice were only partially cooked before being scooped into this oven heated bowl. From there the ingredients get baked to perfection by residual heat. You stir it all together and the egg gives the rice a coating with a crisp similar to fried rice. It was still sizzling and steaming by the time we finished stirring it all up. I suggest leaving everything in there to simmer for longer, and to cook thoroughly for the perfect texture. Generous chunks of beef ensured you got meatiness in every bite.

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Seafood pancake. Large chunks of immigration lobster blended in with dough, onions and cabbage. It was crispy on the edges and moist in the middle. With four pieces this was more than enough for two. After the first one I could have used some sauce to renew the taste though. 

Service was prompt. The food came quick and our glasses stayed full. We knew what we wanted and got what we asked for. No more no less. We were not pushed out nor were we made to feel unwelcomed. Judging by the rounds of empty dishes and cups on the other tables around us, they all seemed to have been here for a while. And for the most part each table remained quiet in their individual pods. The restaurant was bustling, but the lower noise level allowed you to have private conversations without yelling. 

Would I come back? – Yes. The food was good, the atmosphere chill; both made for a solid Saturday night destination. 
Would I recommend it? – Maybe. Not more than I would any other tapas place or Korean restaurant. There are so many options out there to choose from and “Chungdam” didn’t really stand out from the pack in my opinion. None the less don’t deny your cravings. 

 

CHUNGDAM AHN
832 Cardero St, Vancouver BC, V6G 1C7
604-688-3632
Chungdam Ahn on Urbanspoon

The Eatery

 IMG_1186My first visit was full of fancy. “The Eatery” is a long time Vancouver hot spot, established over 30 years ago in 1983. And since, has been talked up by friends and former guests alike. So when I originally entered the threshold I was caught up in all the hype and spellbound over all the decor pieces. If you have never been, there is so much to see that it would have your head spinning. Astro Boy is their unofficial mascot, a half robot, half boy anime character. His face is laminated on their menus, plastered on their cards, and scattered all around their restaurant. The most impressive of which is a larger than life figure of the cartoon character suspended from the ceiling. It is an assembly of toys, do dads, and bits and bobs; arranged by colour to form this collage. A yellow school bus, a spinning top, and a plastic toy monkey are a few that make up astro boy’s yellow complexion. The rest of the room if filled with similar oddities that make for great conversation starters. A pop art portrait of Queen Elizabeth in neon hangs on the wall. Mental crafted lamps are strung up around the room, they allow dim amber light through their cut outs. A row of multicoloured lava lamps line the bar. By the front hostess booth their is a show case filled with “Eatery” themed merchandise for sale. Astro Boy tees, various pins and stickers, and sloganed thongs. Pictures of the latter were available by the washroom, as warn by female customers in coloured photos. This is the one time women wanted to be caught on film with their pants down. I can go on and on putting words to the decoration, but there is no way to accurately describe everything. There is just so much that your eyes and mind won’t be able to take it all in over the course of your meal. 

IMG_1184The restaurant has a slight underwater theme. A wall of portholes divides it into two. Hanging from the ceiling are paper mâché sea people, plastic sharks and octopi, and rainbow coloured fish trapped in strung up nets. Each table is topped with a tall and slightly melted candle stick squeezed into the lip of a reused Dad’s root beer bottle. They only get lit up at night. The green candles have a green flame to match, it sets the mood against the red found draped over the rest of the room. 
The menu reads like a book. Page after page of creative sushi combinations. Each one colourful and decorated with cartoon characters standing in corners or flying across headers. Each sushi roll even had its only shrunken sized picture mascot next to its name and description. Though basically the sushi options are the same four ingredient rolls, with one ingredient added and/or one removed in place of another. Each roll cames with its own quirky name. Most of the time, it is unrelated to what is actually inside. I always find that it is difficult to remember what I wanted, having gone through them all. The only solution was to write a memo on my phone, and to repeat to our waitress when it came time to order. As great as all the options were, it does eventually get redundant. Sometimes you just want a dynamite roll.  

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If you take away the decor it is in and no longer call the rolls by their funny names, you realize there really isn’t anything special about the food. Each plate I had was sloppy and lacked presentation, this was made worse by the all you can eat style plastic dishware they sat on. Uninspired. You come for the novelty and stay for the hype. No more no less. Excuse the red tint to all my photos, the red toned lighting was hard to avoid in my pictures. When eating sushi I order base on the unusual, this is especially the case with “The Eatry”. You don’t come here for just a California roll. You get the crazy rolls made with sun dried tomatoes, figs, and ham; the stuff you can’t find at more authentic sushi shops. 

IMG_1179“KFC roll”. Made with the colonel’s own Kentucky fried recipe. Chicken seasoned with 11 herbs and spices. I prefer my KFC in a bucket. 

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“Miss Piggy Roll”, scallop, asparagus, and bacon. 

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On our latest visit my partner was the one to choose the location, only to order yam fries and wings. The wings are definitely not the best in the city as the menu claims them to be, they be juicer overall. 

Would I recommend it? – Yes. For those who have never been, it is definitely worth a look over. I suggest coming for lunch to avoid the line to and get a better view at the decor. The menu is the same, and without a line you are sure to be seated and to be able to eat immediately. With the widows open and the natural lighting pouring in, your setting is not cloaked in red as it normally is at night. You are able to enjoy a quiet lunch with an unusual feast for the eyes. The downside, being able to clearly see the age of the furniture and the wear and tear it has seen in the last 30 years. Ripped seat cushions, stained upholstery on the booths, dinged table corners, chipped plastic plates, and dust caught in hard to reach places. All of which is better hidden in the dim light of night’s light. After my last visit I was unimpressed in the light, and for that reason will not becoming back. Truthfully I find this place over rated. But don’t deny your craving to try this place once, and decide for yourself. 

THE EATERY
3431 W Broadway, Vancouver BC, V6R 2B3
604-738-5298
theeatery.ca
The Eatery on Urbanspoon

La Taqueria Pinche Taco Truck

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When a food truck stops by my workplace , as a food blogger I am obligated to try it out. So when “La Taqueria” came to South Granville I was all over it. It wasn’t until after my meal I realized they have two stationary restaurant locations in Vancouver, under the same name. The cart mimics the exterior of their restaurant on Cambie. All white with a painting of the Virgin Mary on the side. She is eye catching, in a red dress and blue habit. Her eyes closed in deep prayer. Surrounding her are roses, petals, and rays of light. All of which is sandwiched by the outline of two hands raised in the “rock out” symbol. Kind of an ironic imagery, no? All this and a painted bust of Jesus hovers over the door frame. Like his mother he is in red and blue, serene with prayer. 

Walking up at almost 4pm, I was the only customer in sight. Both men working today were too preoccupied by their electronical devices to pay any attention to a potential customer. I had to call their focus to ask if they were still serving. It would have been nice to me greeted. I watch “Food truck wars”. I know how hard some of them work to get attention and sell plates. Here it felt like they just didn’t care. Maybe because it wasn’t their business to care about? Either way I wasn’t made to feel welcome, and this wasn’t the right action considering they had no other customers. 

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After asking if I could order, I had to ask how I was to order, and where the menu was. I guess there was the assumption that I have heard of their truck and knew what it was all about. All the food trucks I have ever visited have always had their menu boldly printed on the side of their truck or as a large poster board to the side of the ordering window. There was never this level of guess work involved. One of the men pointed to a stack of papers under a weight, It was their menu. On one had this was a good idea as it allowed customers to take a page to go as reference. It gave them the ability to take the time to read in comfort, without trying to fight for visibility in front of a sign. And it gave the food truck the opportunity to update their offerings and prices at a whim, without the cost of having to reprint a whole cardboard cut out. The down side, potentially loosing customers like myself, who are not immediately aware of the sheet of paper menu service. As well as loosing the opportunity to serve those who are shy and more willing to stop to read a menu, then to stop to ask where one is. The half a page menu had its food listing on the front and a photo of a Mexican man giving you a confused stink eye on the back. I gave him a confused raised eyebrow in return. My suggestion would be to have both a take away menu and one boldly printed to be displayed. 

“La Taqueria” is a taco shop on wheels, that only does tacos. They offer 8 varieties in meat, 4 in vegetarian, and the option to add any of the 12 into a $6 Mexican cheese quesadilla at an additional cost. The meat tacos were $2.50 each and any 4 went for $9.50. The vegetarian tacos went for $2.00 each and $7.00 for a set of 4. I don’t normally mention pricing in my posts, but I found the price for variety appealing. Normally you would not be able to mix and match flavours, and the discount in multiples comes from the chef only having to prepare one kind of a dish. Plus the difference in price between meat and veggie is worth mentioning. I think at $10 after tax this was a decent lunch. 

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I ordered the 4 meat taco combo. However did not pay attention to what was what. Was told the beef cheeks and beef tongue were their two top sellers, when I couldn’t decide what I wanted. “De Lengua”, braised beef tongue. “Carnitas”, pork confit with pickles red onions. “De Cachete”, braised beef cheeks. “Tinga de Pallo”, chicken with chorizo in a chipotle tomato sauce, topped with Mexican cheese and sour cream. 
I will be describing the tacos as a whole, for the most part they all tasted very similar. The texture of the meats were nice, but it tasted like they lacked seasonings. And unfortunately all the additional salsas I squirted over them, made it too much, they ended up over powering the actual dish. Though the spices in each salsa were well balanced between acidity and sweetness. 

I regretted my meaty choice. Upon reflection, I should of chosen the vegetarian combo instead. I find that vegetarian dishes are often more flavourful and more thoroughly seasoned, as if to compensate for their believed lack of flavour. Plus sautéed mushrooms, ground tofu in a secret recipe, refried cowboy beans, and roasted poblano peppers with creamed corn sounded better than what I tasted. 

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The men were unresponsive to start, but the one who serviced the counter was helpful when engaged. After I accepted my tacos he suggested I add some of the complimentary salsas to each. They were arranged and labeled from mild to hot. Once again I didn’t know what was in what, but took for granted he did. He not only recommended which salsas to use, but told me which to put on what. Out of the 4, I used the mild on the odd beef parts, and the medium green one on everything. There were also complimentary pickled vegetables and onion to add ons. But as they were at the bottom of the bowl, sitting out in the sun for god knows how long, I refrained from trying any. I did enjoy the pig shaped containers they were stored in though. 

I was told they ran out of take away containers, when I asked. Though isn’t it obvious I planned to not eat 4 tacos on the side of the street? I was offered another styrofoam plate as a cover to sandwich with the bottom, and help shield the food as I walked back to work. 

Would I come back? No. This food truck was confusing to come to. With not a friendly face out of the two to greet me. I had to ask if they were open and then where the menu was. As a first time guest this was an off putting enough experience to sour the food. 
Would I recommend it? – No. Over all the food was all the same: one layer, nothing special, and not worth returning for. Yes the flavours were authentic, and yes they were good enough to finish. But I can find better at many other taco places and burrito chains. And it just didn’t marry up against all the pizzazz and pop of other food trucks. Special ingredients, unique combinations, and creative spins are needed to make a menu stand out. There are just so many food options out there, make yours a viable one by offering what others can’t and don’t. Speaking of don’t, don’t deny your cravings. 

LA TAQUERIA 
lataqueria.ca
La Taqueria Pinche Taco Truck on Urbanspoon
La Taqueria Pinche Taco Truck on Urbanspoon

FlipTop Filipino Fusion Foodtruck

IMG_1426I don’t like going to food trucks, as it defeats the purpose of them being mobile. But I do love it when they come to me. So today when I saw a new one from the window of work, I had to cross the street. Not only was this truck new to me it was new to the area. And certainly not something you could miss or was to be missed. The “FlipTop” attracts attention with its red, yellow, and blue. The colours formed a graffiti stylized Philippines flag across the side. The menu and standee beside it echoed the theme, rising suns and shining stars. If the R&B music pumping doesn’t lure you in for a look, the friendly nature of the woman behind the counter will. She was leaned against the edge of the window, and ready to engage passerbyers. I approached their easy to read sign and was immediately greeted by her. She commented on my jewelry and easily made small talk. I had some questions, not being able to imagine what each menu option could be. She articulately drew me a picture with her words. It is promising when you see a food truck with a few “sold outs” on their menus at 3pm. It gives you some reassurance that you have chosen to grab lunch at a popular truck, one that is visited and revisited by many. In this case they were out of both their varieties of “Fili” cheesesteaks. The remaining menu was split between “snack bites” and “dinner bites”. I tried one from each and their dessert to go. 

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“Lumpia”. There were two to an order, and both looked and tasted like Chinese style spring rolls. Each was made with locally grown vegetables sautéed, then wrapped in rice roll skins, before being deep fried. The pair was served with a sweet chilli dipping sauce. I have nothing too bad or too good to say. They were delicious, but nothing really special. Each roll on its own lacked flavour, yet when dipped, the sauces overwhelmed their subtle flavour. You just wished for a happy happy medium of the two. 

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“Pa man pandesal sliders”. These too came two per order. Each slider came with AAA Canadian Angus beef in a citrus soy marinade, pickled red cabbage, string carrots, crispy leeks, and hoisin mayo on a Filipino bun. I was impressed they held in place from cart to office. The execution is good for disposable packaging. The dressing was amazing, with numerous flavour notes. Each bun was jammed packed with meat, and there was just as much beef as you would find in a regular sized McDonald’s burger; but in a better cut and of a better quality. The meat was burnt in a delicious way, its edges singed with charcoal and the centre still a little pink. This was just fun to eat with its great taste and unique textures. I was most impressed by the thinly sliced vegetables made into strings. They were deep fried to a wonderful crispy texture that was present in each bite. 

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“FlipTop’s BBQ pork skewers”. Charbroiled, local, all natural pork skewers in “FlipTop’s” signature BBQ marinade, roasted garlic aioli, grated radish, fresh cilantro and nori seaweed. This was definitely the best piece of pork I have had to date. It was an incredibly succulent piece. The meat was cooked just so and was still a little rare. It looked so amazing that I got the most excited over eating it. You can’t wait until it is in your mouth, and are sad when it goes. You rarely get so much dressing on anything, let alone for meat on a stick. This was a unique flavour combination that all partnered well with one another. A definite recommend, and a must have over and over again. 

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Dessert was “Turon Brûlée”. Two deep fried banana spring rolls drizzled with a warm caramel sauce. This is best eaten right away to keep the crisp of the roll’s skin before made soggy by caramel. Good thing we intuitively started our tasting there. They were delicious with hints of maple and walnut along side the banana. The slices of banana almost melted in your mouth and the caramel wasn’t overly sweet. This dessert had as many textures as it did flavours. 

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The great service continued long after I paid. The lady in the window was very communicative. She reassured me that my order was being made and then packed to go. Then again when it was coming, and finally when I was next. She did this for all her other customers as well. With her sunny disposition you didn’t think to be impatient. The action I appreciated the most was every “thank you” and “good bye” from the woman was repeated by the chef back. It didn’t matter that he was cooking, he took the time to appreciate each guest. This went on consistently for every customer. One such customer seemed to be a huge fan of “FlipTop”. He hung out just to be near it. He gushed over the food and promised to talk it up some more to everyone. The owners of “FlipTop” were touched and thanked him for his loyal following. 

Would I come back? – Yes. I hope they come back around South Granville again, so I can have another pork skewer and try their take on a cheesesteak. The service was fast and courteous, and just the perfect cherry on top. It makes a world of difference when you are made to feel welcome. 
Would I recommend it? – Yes. The food was amazing with unique spices and exciting flavour combinations. They are really good at dressing their dishes, and clearly they have a winning recipe. For those throwing a party, they cater as well. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

FLIPTOP
778-986-FLIP (3547)
Fliptop Filipino Fusion on Urbanspoon

Abyssinia Ethiopian Restaurant

IMG_1447Have you ever been to a place you didn’t like anything about? But at the same time were glad you went, as it made for a great story? Well this is my story of such a place. The night started off rocky when finding “Abyssinia” was a trial in itself. A dimly lit awning and a hardly noticeable open sign, sandwiched between two dark and closed stores. How are customers driving by suppose to know you are open for dinner in the dark? This wasn’t hiding, it was camouflage.

We walked in and were allowed to sit anywhere we wanted in the empty restaurant. Which remained empty for the duration of our hour long stay. The older woman sitting behind the counter was the only one working tonight. Despite us being her only customers she seemed uninterested in our presence.

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The walls were a calming tone of orange and the hardwood floors looked to be in great shape. But other than that there was nothing I liked about the decor. Going to washroom to wash your hands was worrisome. Tiles covered in grime, cracks filled with grout, and fixtures coated in dust. 

Each table top was a glass pane over a dirty white table cloth. Different pictures of African citizens were cut from magazines were used as decoration under it. This was only a little less appealing to look at than the print out declaring “Abyssinia” the winner of the 2013 award for one of the best Canadian restaurants, as published by Urbanspoon. I became more and more disappointed by this award as the night wore on. The last thing I want to see when I look past my plate is a face staring back at me and an award reminding me that I should enjoy it. Every other table, and ours came with a tooth pick container; a half used, unlit tea light; and a salt dispenser that was partially empty. Looking around each large container of salt was less that 1/5 full, and the salt in it was rock hard. Eventually we would learn that the food would be far from needing it. So in that case, why have something you don’t need on the table? I can’t imagine a reason to keep it if you aren’t going to use it. And the most unappealing element on the table was the frothed up napkin in each drinking glass. This is not the kind of restaurant you would do that sort of table setting technique in. Nor is it ever done with a disposable napkin in a glass meant for water or juice.

My guest and I sat for a while in silence, settled and waiting for a greeting or a menu. Not a word from the only woman running the restaurant could be heard, but there was movement as she went to the back. She did eventually approach our table with menus. When pouring water from a pitcher, some spilled onto the table, she wiped it away with her palm. An ice cube belly flopped into the second glass, causing numerous water slashes, these spills were smaller and therefore allowed to remain on the table. Despite this we still thanked her for the service. To that she replied with a “hmm” in a high pitched hum.

The menu was difficult to navigate without pictures or description as to what sauce was what, and which tasted like what. We played it safe, I avoided the beef tartare-like raw dish that I was actually contemplating on ordering. When asking for recommendations the woman suggested a vegetarian sampling with little piles of different veggies and nuts. I wasn’t keen remembering how it was like at the last African restaurant I visited . We ended up choosing lamb and chicken, feeling confident these should be easy enough dishes.

After taking our order the woman disappeared from the back, not to be seen until our food came. During our wait we heard the beeping of a microwave from the kitchen. Pretty sure it was used to reheat all the food we were about to have. Disappointing, but made sense as it seems she was the only one working both the front and back of house tonight.

The whole night was weird episode after weird episode. The lights went out, but we were too timid to say anything. So sat in the complete dark as the woman worked in the kitchen. We didn’t know why and even contemplated if this was her way of kicking us out. She later came back to dim the lights without an apology

The music was a mix of authentic African vocals and radio ads. The worse was the 4 minute long one on weight loss and help from a life of obesity. This was the worst thing to have on when trying to create an ambience for eating. It went on making you feel guilty to eat, as it offered a blended formula as a solution for a tighter tummy. A solution argued to be better than a gastric bypass.

One other customer came in and left, during the whole the hour plus we were there. He was a tiny man in his 50’s wearing a suit from the 40’s. He looked like the aging father of mob boss. No one was in the front to greet him, even though the door chimed when you pass through it. And you could not avoid hearing the squeak in his shoes every step he took, shuffling to the cash desk. There he stood, silently waiting. Nothing happened and no one came. He eventually squeaked himself back out.

When asking if there was a washroom, most people’s reaction is to say “yes” and to point that person in the right direction of it. This was not the case, a “yes” was given before she walked to the kitchen. Leaving us confused.

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Our food came fast, but then again speed in reheating is what a microwave is known for.
“Doro Wot”. A healthy spicy stew made from fresh chicken and sautéed red onions, seasoned with chilli pepper and flavour with garlic, ginger and various Ethiopian herbs. Comes with one hard boiled egg in it. The menu claimed that this was the “Signature of Ethiopia”. Portion alone I was utterly disappointed. I got one tiny chicken drumlet and one egg amongst all the chunky onion stew. This was absolutely not worth the $11.99 I had to pay for. It was far too salty to be eaten without the bread provided. The sponge like bread came as one on the plate and as a plate for us to share on the side. I only took one from the extra plate, so can see them salvaging what they can for the next order. The food was unappealing in taste and in presentation. Eventually the one note flavour became so redundant and I couldn’t get past its overwhelming saltiness, so I gave up eating all together. In no way was I full, and yet I could not bring myself to finish.

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“Abyssinia Yebeg tibis”. The menu deemed this as “one of the wonders of Abyssini”. It is lamb marinated in a special blend of spices and herbs. I don’t know why the menu also called this, “A surprise meal”. Maybe surprise as in you can’t believe this could be worth this much. The lamb was better than the chicken, but also not worth the $12.99 we had to pay for it. My guest said he honestly liked the spice, when asked. Though was made to feel nervous about giving the “wrong” answer to the woman.

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The woman would check on us regularly, each time her leers and eavesdropping made us feel uncomfortable. You felt the need to have to eat a piece each time she came around. She did make attempts at being friendly, teaching us how to enjoy the food with our hands by dipping. And recommending we scoop the stew out in order to have the bread absorb as much of if as possible. But then she made it much more uncomfortable by coming out from behind her counter to take a seat at a table across the room from ours. She repositioned the chair so that it directly faced us at a 90 degree angle. It was already awkward enough to be the only patrons in the restaurant. We didn’t need the third degree as well. From the corner of our eyes we could see that she was watching us eat and listening to us talk. This was also the case as she waited for us to do the math and settle our bill.

I went in to grab my usual business card souvenir, only to realize they had a 5 place business card rack by their cash register, stocked with other business cards. Odd.

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Would I come back? – No.
Would I recommend it? – No.
Between the food and service I didn’t know what was worse. Both didn’t mean to be, but the level of customer service and expectations at a restaurant have risen over the years. And not trying to keep up with it only makes it look like you are giving bad service. The only thing I liked about the night was the woman’s traditional African sarong that she wore.

To end this, I shake my head at the Urbanspoon ranking of 91% that “Abyssinia” has earned and the award that accompanied such a number. (Well, after my vote, 90% now) I question how is it that they are out ranking places that focus so much more on the quality of their food and the level of their service? The only reason I was here tonight was because my guest wanted me to try good African food. So you would think anyplace with 51 voters saying thumbs up would be a safe bet. So I don’t understand what it was that we experienced? If those guests who voted liked the food that’s great. But eating out is just as much the service and the experience as it is the food. All these factors need to be accounted for before casting your vote. 

ABYSSINIA ETHIOPIA
7546 Edmonds St, Burnaby BC, V3N 1B4
778-397-1121
Abyssinia Ethiopian Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Tentatsu Japanese Restaurant


IMG_1417Coming out of a graveyard shift, not having anything to eat at home, and not wanting to stand let alone leave the comfort of my bed; I decided to call for delivery. Googling places that deliver led me to “Just Eat”, a site that bring together all your delivery options, with extensive menus and an easy to order system. So I figured now would be as good of a time as any to try this program out. 

To start, for first timers you fill in the standard required information: name, address, phone number, email, and dietary restrictions. Completing an account for easy future ordering. Punching in my area of Burnaby, I got excited seeing an option for Thai food, not use to seeing Thai as an option for places that deliver. Only to type in my postal code and be considered out of range for its services. As usual in the world of delivery, my cuisine choices were Italian/pizza, Chinese, and Japanese. I was surprised to see an option for American food from a cafe, but was not compelled to go in that direction. I listened to the rumbles of my stomach and went for Japanese. I choose “Tentatsu” as they were the only Japanese place to deliver to my area. And the 4 1/2 out of 6 stars they had filled me with hope for a promising meal. With their higher ranking I even felt more adventurous to try something new with them. It almost felt like a blind date. I did however google pictures of the restaurant and food to ensure as little buyer’s remorse as possible. Also similar to a blind date. 

I took my time to read the word menu, with no pictures and limited descriptions to guide me. Although I took my time, I was skeptical that delivery would be possible at 2pm, the in between time where restaurants break from lunch to dinner. None the less I went through the drop down list determined to order what was unique to “Tentatsu”. I was impressed by the length of its menu. Impressed by their breath of their options outside the usual sushi restaurant fare. They were a small one of a kind sushi shop also offering Japanese style “robata” BBQ; “don” rice bowls; ramen on top of yakisoba and udon; “aburi” seared sushi in box and regular form; “okonomiyaki” Japanese pancakes; and a on going list of chef specialty sushi rolls. I was impressed at how much I wanted to try based on its name and list of ingredients. Some great sushi roll names were “daisy”, “sunflower”, “sunshine”, and “heart”. Made you feel all warm and tingly. The highlight rolls were the “snow white roll”, made with prawn tempura and crab meat topped with coconut shavings. And the “lotus roll” made from hamachi , scallop, green onion, beets, and soya bean flakes. The latter was an option I originally choose, but was later called over the phone and informed that they had run out of fresh hamachi. I didn’t want to try it with a substation so I selected another roll all together. 

IMG_1407 Wanted to try the “Tentatsu Goyza” because the menu specifically said they would be home made and take 15 minutes to prepare. Sounded promising and not the least store bought then reheated, as is the case in most Japanese places. At $4 I couldn’t lose and would have enough for dinner too. They were smaller than the ones you buy packaged and frozen at grocery stores. But you got two more than in an usual order. They were definitely fresh, though I couldn’t make out a taste any different from all the other Goyzas out there. 

IMG_1410 I have tried oyster motoyaki, but never crab so added one of those to my food cart. “Crab motoyaki”, crab meat, scallops and mushroom baked in a crab shell. Was disappointed that it did not come in the shell I was promised by the menu. Though I guess for ease of delivery the disposable tin foil cups serve the purpose. Everything was saturated in an orange oil. The the whole bottom of the cup was packed tight with shredded crab meat and only on the top sat the caramelized looking custard. Two portions is one too many. With its luscious texture and creamy taste, its a flavour was amazing on the first bite, but tired your taste buds out fast. 

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“Pirate roll”. BBQ squid stuffed with dried pork, masago, seaweed, sushi rice, and tempura batter; was the description. I didn’t know what I would be getting. All the ingredients stuffed into the head of a squid? Everything made into a roll and deep fried? But when I opened the container, I saw this came out better than I could have ever hoped. It looked amazing, and was definitely nothing I have never seen or have ever tried before in the world of sushi. It was like an inverted roll. Rice and seaweed on the inside and squid on the out. Truly a creative concept with a delicious taste to match. The order came with its own herbed soya sauce that paralleled well with the flavours in each piece. It felt like I got a bonus in this dish. Not only did I get my squid rolled sushi, but I was able to try their squid robata at the same time. Definitely worth the Chef’s special pricing for this one. 

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“Panda roll”. This was my last minute substation, chosen for its name and as the only roll I could recall at the time. Crab meat, avocado, cucumber, topped with eel and tobiko. The name came from the use of white mayo, black fish roe, and a dark sauce over each piece. I am not a big fan of imitation crab meat, but with the additions to the California roll base, this roll was pretty amazing. So full of flavour and sauce that no soya was needed. 

IMG_1391 Selected “Aburi sushi” and was given an option to other by the piece, and as a set of 5 or 7. From there was given a drop down rolling menu to choose my desired fish. I choose “mixed” for five, without an opportunity to choose which of five I wanted out of the eight they had. So was impressed to get my first call from “Tentatsu” asking what I wanted. I requested each to be different and that they be at the discretion of the chef, throwing in I wanted the most popular ones. 
Couldn’t tell which was which, but they looked beautiful with their scoring and light skin discolouring sear. You got that sashimi taste without its slimy texture. These maybe any of the following: Hotategai, Ika, Saba, salmon, toro, tuna. I appreciated not being given “Ika” squid, as I had a whole one in my previous dish. 

I was however disappointed at the phone service. They called me twice needing more details in order to complete my delivery. One call was unavoidable, the other however could have been prevented with a check box option to choose my desired Aburi, instead if just “mixed”. I was disappointed to be called back a second time and immediately put on hold, without asking if I could wait. While waiting for my turn I could here a conversation in being had in Cantonese. Sigh, this was a Chinese run sushi place. Not saying it wouldn’t be good, but based on the menu I originally through it to be authentic Japanese. And when she came back to addressing me, there was no apologizing for calling me just to have me wait on the phone for her. When I completed the online form I was sent an confirmation saying the restaurant would email me. That I never got, so was happy to have the frost phone call. And truthfully I prefer a call confirmation, as otherwise I would have been left hungry and wondering if my food would come and how long it would take. My last call finished at 2:30pm and I was told it would be a 75 minute wait. I was hungry now, but felt my food would be worth the struggle to hold on. By 3:45pm I was in limbo. My order didn’t get to me until five minutes after. And to a hungry person counting down 75 minutes it was a broken promise. This all hardly seemed worth the 10-15% tip on service the site strongly suggested I give. Though the delivery guys was so polite and the fact that he even bowed impressed me so much that I ended up being more generous than I originally planned to be. 

Would I come back? – Yes. This delivery order made me wish my first taste of “Tentatsu” was had sitting and enjoying in their restaurant. I was utterly impressed with the food. Well packaged in styrofoam containers, I can only imagine how beautifully plated they would be dining in. Everything tasted great and I saw new things I didn’t know existed. And the best part is there is so much more to their long menu worth discovering; that there is plenty reason to go in or delivery out again. This was definitely worth the extra 5 minutes over I had to wait for it. Though mind you I was ravenous by the time I paid for the order and completed my re-plating and photo shoot of it. 
Would I recommend it? – Yes. This is a caliber of take out I have not even seen at other sushi places. Definitely worth a try for anyone too lazy to go out, but wants great Japanese food in Burnaby. Don’t deny your cravings. 

TENTATSU
2430 East Hastings Street, Vancouver BC
604-255-3733
Tentatsu on Urbanspoon

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