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Month: February 2017 Page 2 of 4

Vancouver International Wine Festival 2017

Vancouver International Wine Festival

This year’s Vancouver international wine festival ran from February 11 to the 19th, 2017. My guest and I bought our tickets early for the “Trans Canada Tasting”, a good thing considering tickets were sold out well before the day.

This was the final tasting of the festival, and one with a Canadian theme. It is unique in that it brought Canadian wines, wine professionals, wine lovers, and journalists together for discussion. It was definitely a great way to celebrate Canada’s 150th. A note that was not lost on the room as we cheers to Canada at start of the event.

This showcase included a panel of wine experts across Canada, and one from the foreign wine market, for perspective. With two moderators hosting each topic. One of which was the first Canadian woman to claim the Master of Wine (MW) title in 2004, and a local to Vancouver. And the other, Canada’s first Master Sommelier. With them they also invited leading viticulturalists and winemakers from Nova Scotia, Ontario and British Columbia to present some of their regions’ benchmark wines.

It was an informative night, but not quite what my guest and I envision when we dressed up for our Saturday night downtown. There was leather and lace, when the crowd wore denim and flannel. We were gathered into a large room with green carpet, florescent lights, and beige walls. The room was set cool, I suspect for the sake of the wine, and not the people drinking it. Not the most romantic scene that I associate with wine on a Saturday night, but once again, this was more an educational work shop than wine tasting with a girlfriend.

We picked our own seats across many white clothed tables. Each table included a styrofoam bucket for those we choose to taste their wine and spit out their sip. And each setting had 12 glasses over a map of Canada, a bottle of water, and some crackers to nibble on, in order to refresh the palette.

You drank as the panelists discussed. They went into detail about how the best wines are grown at certain degrees above and below the equator. And how the land and climate affects the grapes during their growing season. What are the core varieties in each region, including the top preforming grapes within. Canada specifically had a smaller acreage for wine grapes, across lots of land. Tonight we would get to try wines from Quebec, Ontario, Nova Scotia, and of course British Columbia.

I am sure my interpretation of wine is off, but below are what we tasted and what I thought of each. We went through the tasting province by province, working our way from east to west. In the audience they had representatives from each of the wineries represented in this tasting. One by one they were given the mike, and we were given a behind the scenes look at what went into the making of that particular wine.

From Nova Scotia we had 4 whites.

I was smelled coconut and tasted pickles and pepper from the “Blomidon Estate Winery” 2014 Chardonnay at $33.26 a bottle. This wine spent 10 months in barrel, unfined, and particle filtered; giving it an alcohol percentage of 12.8%.

The “Benjamin Bride” was a Methode Classique sparkling wine at $35.99 a bottle. I smelled white peach and tasted apple amongst its tiny bubbles. It is aged 5 years in the lees on average, with an alcohol percentage of 11.5%.

From “Jost” is Tidal Bay 2015 for $19.99. This is the first and only appellation style wine in Canada. It is a hybrid blend. For me it smelled like lychee and florals with a hint of the former’s flavour, amongst other tropical fruits. It came at 11%.

From “Gasperrau Vineyard” we had a Riesling 2015 for $19.99 a bottle. I smelled orange and tasted sweeter sharp citrus notes from it.

The next four were from Ontario.

“Hidden bench vineyard and winery” had an Estate Riesling 2014 for $29 a bottle. It had a subtle clean scent with the flavour of lemon.

From “Closson chase” there was a south clos Chardonnay 2014 for $39.99. The smelled faintly like coconut and I got some of its creaminess in the taste, finished off with some black pepper. 12.5% alcohol content.

“Flat rock cellars” had a 2014 Pinot noir for $24.95. It was a lighter red that was easy to drink. It smelled like berries and flowers and tasted like it.

From “Chateau des charmes” we tried a Cabernet franc St. David’s bench vineyard 2014 at $27.95. This had an alcohol content of 13.3%. It smelled like cherries with a deeper flavour than the other red above.

From BC there were four options, three of which were from the Okanagan valley and the fourth Victoria.

“Wild goose vineyards” had a Stoney slope Riesling 2015 for $17.99. I smelled floral and citrus and tasted orange in its easy to drink smoothness. 12.2% alcohol content.

“Quails’ Gate winery” had a 2014 Rosemary’s block Chardonnay for $40.00. At this point I am starting to not trust my senses, after drinking so much, because yet again this was another white wine that smelled and tasted like coconut. 13.5% alcohol content

The “Averil creek vineyard” is on Vancouver Island, this is their 2013 Pinot noir for $30.49. Here I smelled strawberry and tasted pepper, it definitely had some spice to it. The alcohol content here was 13.7%.

And lastly was “Burrowing estate winery’s” 2013 Syrah for $39.04. This was my guest’s favourite, a full bodied red in scent and taste. I smelled a mix of red fruit. 14.5% alcohol content.

I proudly did not do any spitting, finishing off each glass and swallowed each mouthful with gusto. The bottle of water and buttery crackers helped for balance and to cleanse the pallet. With all that we had (especially compared to restaurant prices per glass) we certainly got our money’s worth, for our $60 per person ticket.

 

For me, this was a great way to justify drinking this much wine. But it was definitely geared towards those who wanted a much deeper understanding of wine, those who aspire to get a masters in wine themselves. Given the in depth conversation on soil and climate, and the use of terms that they did not take the time to explain for the wine novices like myself. However if the international wine festival returns to Vancouver I would like to return to check out one of their other events. Like perhaps the ones that paired wine with food. Don’t deny your cravings

 

VANCOUVER INTERNATIONAL WINE FESTIVAL
vanwinefest.ca

Wize Money, coffee leaf teas

All teas taste the same for me, but if you care where your tea comes from, consider this post.

I don’t drink coffee, but I don’t shy away from tea. I avoid coffee not for the caffeine, but for its flavour. I don’t like how bitter it is, so find myself diluting it so much that I am basically just drinking milk and cream. But with “Wize Monkey” brand of tea, I don’t have to choose caffeine over taste. Their coffee leaf tea gives you the energy partnered with the mild flavour of tea.

And if that is not an appealing enough reason for you given them a try, consider their origin story. Their product is sourced in Nicaragua, with their operations are based out of BC, founded by three local Vancouverites. They don’t have a stand alone shop, but their teas are now available in “Whole Foods” stores across Canada.

The company places a high importance on ethical sourcing. With a business plan geared towards breaking the poverty cycle in the rural coffee communities of Nicaragua. And a goal of revolutionizing the coffee industry. According to their website, “By using the excess leaves pruned off the plant during the off-season of bean harvesting, they can create delicious Coffee Leaf Tea and help farmers generate a year-round income”. And by “creating more value from existing resources, it helps families become more established and live more consistent lives”.

So when their monkey logo-ed box came in the mail, I deemed it definitely worth my trying. But as a disclaimer, when it comes to anything I blog about as media, my experience may be sunnier than most. Although I can, and will always paint the most accurate image of things when it comes to my tasting experience. But as always, these are my opinions and you need not take them as fact. Unless you have my exact background, have lived my exact experiences, and we possess the same tongue; no one can truly taste and appreciate as you do.

Not only is all their celebratory information available online for the concerned consumer, but it is also splattered across every surface of their packaging as well. It was an interesting read, tidbits and facts to entice shoppers closer to their line of products. It was certainly working with me. And acted as a tell of society’s want to do more, and their support of companies that do. Therefore there is no surprise in the awards won by “Wize Monkey”. Including “Best New Product” in 2015 from the “World Tea Awards”, and the others they are in line for in 2017.

If you are looking for a variety of flavour selection, or a novelty or two, this isn’t the brand for that. They currently only offer five different flavours and none of them are a surprise. Earl grey, jasmine, mango party, minty marvel, and an original. You can buy each flavour by the box, or get a sample of each by purchasing their “discovery package”, with a bag of each. I was gifted both to try. And with the ability to steep each bag within up to three times, there is definitely extended use in their product, as you get 45 cups per box.

I shared my bounty with a local tea blogger, a young woman who knows her brews and can appreciate a cup a lot more than I can, and do. She was most impressed by this brand of tea made from the leaves of coffee, a feature that stands out on its own. And then like myself, she was additionally impressed by their social footprint. She declared that the tea themselves were classic teas done really well. But in terms of depth of flavour, she found the lighter ones fairly generic, when compared to a few others she has had.

A few of the tea were strong in scent, but weaker in flavour comparatively, like the original and the earl grey. The latter engulfed your space when you open the box. A potent scent that had you anticipating the brew to come. If you could salivate over tea, this would be that feeling. But that is what you expect from one of the creamiest earl greys, known for its richness without the need for milk and sugar.

With a lot of different tea brands to choose from why choose them? If supporting local entrepreneurs, who support other communities, is of importance to you, they are the ones to align yourself with. That and their tea is tasty with caffeine for that warm morning brew.

 

To try before you buy, they have a few events that they will be offering their wares at, this coming spring season. The following is taken directly from their marketing email.

March 4th – TEDxStanleyPark – Find Wize Monkey at TedX Stanley Park serving up a selection of Wize Monkey teas; answering questions about their vision, community initiatives and sustainable growth models.

March 4th & 5th – West Van Run – To help promote conversations surrounding health and wellness practices within local and global communities, Providing samples of new Wize Monkey products.

March 8 – 11 – Natural Products Expo West– The entire Wize Monkey team will be on site at the world’s largest natural foods convention in California. Having just been notified of their Top 4 Finalist status for the 2017 NEXTY Awards in the Best New Mission-Based Product category.

March 26 – Healthy Family Expo- That highlights a variety of eco-friendly products. Wize Monkey will be exhibiting its newest flavours in the Whole Foods Market aisle.

 

WIZE MONKEY
wizemonkey.com

Maxim’s Bakery

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When the “T&T” in Metrotown is far too busy, I turn to “Maxims”. A bakery not unsimillar to the one within “T&T”, but without the line. It is also a throw back to the convenient bakeries I frequented in Japan (when I visited a couple of years back).

It is essentially a room with plexiglass bread boxes that you pick out of. You get a clear view into a lit up box, equipped with a heated lamp to keep whatever is inside warm.

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On your way in you grab a set of tongs and a plastic tray to pick and choose with. From here you peruse the boxes, reading the labels, and deciding between all the brown and yellow, sweet and savoury buns. And they help you with all the options by offering a deal that waves the tax if you buy five or more pieces.

They had all the Chinese cocktail buns and flakey pastries you’d expect, and even some western interpretations. Barbecue pork filed buns, others with chicken and vegetables, sweet curry, and ones with shredded coconut and pasty custard.

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The “interpretations” included what I had on this tray. A sweet tomato sauce pizza, sugar topped apple pie, and a hot dog baked into a cocktail bun and topped with a bit of cheese. It was hard to tell what flavour the pizza was, but you got it after biting in and getting ham and pineapple under all that harden cheese. And like most Chinese food it is both sweet and savoury. Not bad, but not your traditional herby pizza. But overall, this is one to skip. The apple pie tasted like it also included cheese, salty. It wasn’t flaky, but decent for the premade fast food style. Although you are just better off getting the same from Superstore. The hot dog was pretty cut and dry. A salty wiener sandwiched between a sweeter bun and salty cheese. It could have used some mayonnaise and ketchup for more flavour. For dessert I had some coconut glutinous rice cake filled with crushed peanuts. I like that it was a thick layer of the rice flour to chew through. But I would have liked the peanuts toasted before being sprinkled over with sugar. I appreciate it more having growing up with it and not having any since I left home.

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This photo represents my usual order, two of each of my favourite buns. They are all pretty tasty, and fairly filling for the amount you pay. I just wish there was actually more filling in each. The barbecue pork bun has small cubes of pork in a sweeter salty sauce. The chicken bun was more like a chicken paste, speckled with frozen vegetable: corn, carrot, and peas. I could do without the large cuts of onion that pop up between bites. And the egg tart is a classic with crumbly crust and smooth custard centre.

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They also sell loaves of white bread, whole cakes, and desserts by the slice.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
Not necessarily a destination, but a good alternative choice, and a better convenience shop. I frequent them enough to consider them consistently above average. Quick and easy, it hits the spot, and doesn’t cost all that much. Those are enough points to have me returning. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

MAXIM’S
Metropolis at Metrotown
4800 Kingsway, Burnaby BC, V5H 4J2
604-438-2256
Maxim's Bakery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Prince Seafood Restaurant

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“The Prince” was the chosen destination for our family’s Chinese New Year day dinner. A restaurant that was in the neighbourhood I grew up in and a convenient stop for everyone invited.

Despite making our reservations 12 days ahead, we came in a couple of minutes late to discover management trying to give our table away. It was a busy night, understandably the stress was high and they overbooked trying to make as much as they could on the festive occasion. They felt justified in their decision as they tried calling us and was unable to reach anyone. The hostess had taken down our number wrong when placing the reservation, so when they tried to call us to come in earlier for our 6pm reservation, and couldn’t reach us, they saw this as reason enough to give the table away, assuming we wouldn’t show up. And when we were fighting to get our table back, instead of approaching the mix up apologetically, they blamed the error on us, that we had given the wrong number. When was the last time you gave out your number incorrectly, after reading it out twice, to the one taking in down?

What’s worst is they wanted to give our table to a family who decided to stroll in on one of the busiest Chinese dining out days, thinking they could get a table without the need to wait. And the restaurant’s manager was willing to reward this lack of planning. Sadly, for similar places, this is Chinese restaurant service in a nutshell. Here it is all about the dollar, sales and money is king. A point that was more so visible in the pricing compared to what we had below.

Sadly our time here did not get any better. The argument that began our service continued to sour the experience. Everyone was upset. We were high alert when it came the service, and it only got progressively worse.

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The restaurant’s full menu was not available this event night. Due to the higher traffic and the need to feed more faster, they had only few set menus that you could choose from. Having dined here previously, my parents were aware that the prices of all their regular dishes have been increased by $2-5 for the occasion. Considering the extra traffic and the additional staff needed to service them, the math made sense. However, what doesn’t is the fact that dishes were listed promising certain ingredients, but instead what showed up were cost cutting substitutions. For example, our delicacy of black chicken soup was no more than old short rib soup, yet we were not only paying the premium price for the promised premium ingredients, but were doing so at the elevated Chinese New Year price.

It is worth noting that my mandarin skills are weak and all these facts were given to me as second hand information, as translated by my father, (who is very proficient in both mandarin and English). It is a similar case with the name and descriptions of the dishes we had below.

The restaurant is deceivingly large. A pull out wall creates the illusion of privacy with smaller rooms holding several different tables within. We were given a table in the rowdy main room. But besides the additional bodies, you really couldn’t tell that everyone here was celebrating an occasion. The restaurant wasn’t decorated. They were lacking much of the traditional red and gold accents typically used to usher in a new year of luck and prosperity. Disappointing. It is like having dinner at a fancy restaurant during December without tinsel and a tree.

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When it came time to order my dad did it for the group, he choose one of the only 4 set menus available tonight. All 8 dishes that came with it was printed on a receipt and brought back to our table for the servers to cross off as they delivered them. This also gave us the opportunity to count off what we were still waiting for. Something that proved especially helpful, as we found we had to spot check the staff, to ensure everything we hand coming, actually came. A point we had to police a few times, when our server and the manger (you can always tell who they are by the full suits they wear) insisted dishes came when they didn’t. Instead of looking at our table at what dishes we did have, they immediately decided to argue that we were mistaken, and we thus had to argue are case. On both the occasions that this happened they were able to find our dishes, a point that was obvious given how they arrived at room temperature. No apology given, just our food cold. It was clear our meal was being rushed, they wanted us out to be able to seat and charge another family.

But sadly the culture at many such Chinese restaurants is to accept all the above as the norm, and to not defend your time and your money by bringing up any errors made. In this case, we ate our cold food in silence. Something that I thought silly considering how much more we had to pay just for being here on this day. But this is the ways, and who am I to attempt to start a movement?

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Our meal began with a cold appetizer platter (intentionally cold). A starter that buys the kitchen some time. This version came with fresh but rubbery calms, shrimp, beef shank that tasted more like ham, slightly warmer chewy fish paste wrapped in bean curd skin, and spicy jellyfish trimmed in shorter strips. The garlic chilli chilled prawns were my favourite, but they required a little more work than I could give to get into it.

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Next came the soup course. When the serving bowl arrived I read the receipt claiming it to be black chicken, but was corrected by the manager as being pork rib soup instead. Yet we were charged for the more expensive ingredients at the jacked up event price, without the actual conch or black chicken listed. This was just papaya and ribs in a clear broth. A sweeter soup, but nothing memorable.

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The clay pot with mushroom and sea cucumber was not for me. It was a bowl of rubbery pieces, flavoured with the strong taste of wilted lettuce in a thickened corn starch gravy that I do not like. I tried the large caps of mushroom and they surprisingly easy to chew through. As for the sea cucumber, it was once a delicacy I enjoyed as a child, but now in my adult years, a texture I avoid. It is like a more gelatinized version of cartilage. Not bad, but knowing how the actual marine creature looks like and likening it to a slug, really puts me off of them.

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Deep fried crispy whole chicken is a family favourite. However, this would be the worst rendition of it we have ever had. The chicken was dry and bland. The crackers that sat above it extremely oily, and instead of its expected light and crispy texture, biting into it was more like chewing through styrofoam. A fact we would have brought to the attention of the staff, had we thought it would make a difference. They did after all hear us complain as we bit in to a few, having to pull with clenched teeth.

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The preserved meat with cauliflower dish seemed like a cheap and easy filler. It was certainly the most modest, and the most lack lustre dish, given the special occasion. This is the type of dish you make at home when there is nothing else in your fridge to work with. It was more cauliflower than salty and fatty chunks of pork. But notable, as it was my first time trying Taiwanese wild cauliflower. It has the stem of broccoli with the florets of cauliflower, more green than white.

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For live seafood dishes, the freshness of your catch is proven by first bringing you your fish, crab, or lobster table side for you to inspect. This isn’t something my parents particularly enjoy, so we don’t put much stock into it. However both our fish and lobster were sharing a tub, turned upside, unmoving. At least they were fresh out of the tank. Though I almost feel better believing they were brought to us table side, already having died in the tank.

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The tilapia steamed in a soy sauce is trimmed table side. The spine is removed and the inside sauced by the server who delivers it. It is a gentle fish with a light seasoning. A typical staple at these set Chinese dinners.

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The lobster dish was the most impressive and instantly my favourite of the night (not that it had much competition. It was one dish I didn’t have any issue with, except for the price. Chinese New Year prices had us paying $29 per pound, and this was a 2-3lbs lobster.

It is served whole in a giant steamer, lined with lotus leaves, overtop some sticky rice. It was tasty buttery lobster and sweet corn rice. Luckily the lobster meat was relatively easy to remove flesh from shell, as we were only given our picks and cracking apparatuses after finishing half of the serving. We quickly gave up trying to call a staff member over, knowing they were avoiding eye contact.

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My second favourite dish was the braised eggplant with jumbo prawn, seasoned in a mild black bean flavour. The prawns were an impressive size, but a tad over cooked. This was a dish that would have been tastier had they served it to us right away, instead of insisting that we had it and quickly bringing us this cooled off portion almost immediately after.

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For dessert there were the usual bowls of red bean soup. Not a favourite of mine given its grainy texture.

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Luckily as a little extra perk for being here during Chinese New Year, we were given additional sweet snacks for dessert. Sesame seed cookie balls and coconut covered glutinous rice cake filled with custard. I preferred the latter with its soft and chewy texture, than the hard and dry texture of the former.

When we finally wanted to leave, it was hard to track anyone down. First for take out containers and after to pay for the bill. We had what remained of our fish dish taken in the back to be doggy bagged. This was with three dishes left to go. However our fish never returned. It wasn’t until we asked that they thought to track it down and bring it to us.

All this grief, all this heartache, the sourness of a would and should be festive occasion turned horrible experience. And worst still my father insisted on giving a full and good tip. I understand the need of servers to supplement their wages with tips, and that our society deems it an expectation. But I believe they should at least try to do a good job to earn some of it. There were no pleasantries exchanged, no care given tonight from servers and the manger’s alike. Our plates weren’t even bussed between dishes, so that by the end we were eating dessert on top of chicken and fish bones, and lobster and shrimp shells. My parents didn’t want to make a fuss, but if we don’t bring any of this to the restaurant’s attention, or fight for our right to the quality of food and experience that we pay for, nothing will ever change. And I will have to continue writing bitters blog posts like these.

 

Would I come back? – No.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – No.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
This was not a good way to ring in the new year. I can make excuses for the restaurant and allow them to hide behind the fact that it was a busy service. But I don’t think it excuses the lack of quality in the food that we had, and the lack of care displayed towards us by the management. This was an all around bad dinner, made worse by the price we had no choice but to pay for it at. This experience was so scarring that my partners started a pack with our extended family then and there. Starting next year, we will not be visiting a Chinese restaurant for Chinese New Year, we will dine at a western one and avoid another bad and expensive meal. Looking back “White Spot” would have yielded better results. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

PRINCE
2881 Grandview Highway, Vancouver BC, V5M 2E1
604-430-6808
Prince Seafood Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Boston Pizza, Station Square

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We had a work dinner, this was our chosen destination. It allowed me to catalogue, pretty much the entire “Boston Pizza” dinner and dessert menu, if not highlight what were the most popular dishes amongst our group of over 35 individuals.

Given the size of our party and how much room we took up, our choice of restaurant was limited. Not only would they have to be able to accommodate our larger group, but also give us the opportunity to sit close-ish together, knowing full and well that we would want to move about to mingle, and potentially get rowdy all together. And then there is the ability for them to schedule enough staff to serve all of us, without us having to buy out the entire restaurant for the night. This is where larger chains like “Boston Pizza” come in. They are able to satisfy all the above, without loss of revenue and customers to their regular business. Whereas smaller establishments may not be able to sustain any of it. That is why, although such chains may not be my first choice of dining destination, I am thankful for the service that they provide; at prices that can accommodate any budget.

The down side to such an event, is the impossibility for me to share and taste off of everyone’s plate. Therefore I am unable to describe how most of the below turned out. However, know that everyone was satisfied with their meal. And those who did not finish, took what remained home.

I have photos of at least one of every thing ordered. A task that was not easy as I briskly pushed my way from table to table, jostling elbows and chairs that were in my way. It was nice to see that my food blogger reputation proceeded me and that everyone present supported it. No one dared to touch their plate until I took my photo. They went so far as to call me over and ensure that I got my shot before they began and warn others of my behaviour. I and we were successful for all but one entree. For the record, if you ever want to show a food blogger love, this is the way to do it.

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This was the newly relocated “Boston Pizza” at “Station Square”, same menu, same staff, just a brand new space between “Best Buy” and “Bed, Bath, and Beyond”. The space is divided between a more quieter dining area by the entrance and their entertainment lounge. We were all seated across two full length tables and three booths. All this behind the two rows of high tops that resembled bleachers, facing the television like seats at a sporting match.

We came on a Monday, one day too late for their Sunday magician that makes and gives out balloon animals. And one day too soon to take advantage of cheap pasta Tuesdays.

Everyone was given their own menu and the choice to have whatever appetizer, entree, and dessert they wanted, so long as they stayed within their own predetermined budget. Below is the listing of each unique thing ordered. Most followed the menu’s offerings, and a few customized their pizza and/or pasta to make it their own.

The descriptions are taken off the “Boston Pizza” website with my notes added in. There were duplicates of several dishes, however I have only taken and kept photos for each type of dish. For appetizers, there were several variations of the nachos being shared. And by far pasta was the most popular entree of the evening, in specific the marinara ravioli. And every one had or split a dessert. The chocolate brownie was the crowd favourite with any of their other chocolate forward desserts coming in a close second.

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First their appetizers. The THAI BITES are available in either chicken or shrimp. Both for $12.49. This was the former, breaded chicken breast fried and tossed in a sweet Thai chili sauce, served on a bed of crunchy Asian noodles and finished with julienne carrots, fresh cilantro, green onions, and sesame seeds.

The use of cactus cut chips for their nachos was a fun twist. Where I find most regular tortilla chips flimsy from all the toppings piled on top them, these thicker slices of potato held their own under the weight.

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I shared an order of the SPICY PEROGY CACTUS CUT NACHOS for $14.99.
It is smoked Applewood seasoned potato chips covered in layers of pizza mozzarella, cheddar, bacon, jalapeño peppers; and topped with sour cream and green onions. Served with salsa and their signature cactus sauce for dipping. I definitely got some of that promised spice in its name. The chips have a nice hearty crunch to them, with enough variety in the toppings to keep you coming back for more. It was best served warm with the cheese still melty, but not shabby at room temperate with lumpy sour cream.

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The CHEESESTEAK CACTUS CUT NACHOS was a similar idea at $1 more for the meat. $15.99 got you more of their Smoked Applewood seasoned Cactus Cut chips covered this time in layers of pizza mozzarella, cheddar, sliced BBQ steak, roasted red peppers, and red onions. It is finished with a drizzle of horseradish mayo and green onions; and also served with salsa and their signature cactus dip.

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And for those like nachos just the way they are, there is also the option to have a traditional serving of nachos made with tortilla chips. These corn chips are topped with tomato chunks, olive pieces, grated cheddar cheese, jalapeño slices, and chopped scallions. It is served with the traditional combo of salsa and sour cream, with guacamole costing you extra.

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The BOSTON’S PIZZA BREAD is literally a personal size pizza crust seasoned with herbs for $5.99. Here their signature pizza dough is baked golden brown and seasoned with garlic, herbs and parmesan. I would have liked to have seen it with a sauce, to give it more depth; marinara is the standard.

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The SPINACH AND ARTICHOKE DIP went for $11.49. It is a baked blend of spinach, marinated artichokes hearts, roasted garlic, balsamic-roasted red onions, Parmesan and pizza mozzarella. It is seasoned with a hint of Cajun spice and topped with a few chunks of fresh tomatoes and feta cheese. It is served with BOSTON’S PIZZA BREAD, like the above, for scooping.

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This is the starter size of the BP’S HOUSE SALAD for $6.99. It is a blend of garden greens, red pepper, red onions, carrot ribbons, and julienned beets; all tossed in a citrus vinaigrette. For those wanting a little more out of their salad there were plenty of add ons like a skewer of shrimp, chicken breast, and even a slice of cheese or garlic toast for a couple of dollars more.

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And seeing as the word “pizza” is in their name, many of us gravitated to a whole for themselves. Each pie is served within its pan, placed table side on a specialty black mental stand. The price is dependant on the size and then the specialty pizza itself. And the choices don’t end there, you get an option of crust and the ability to add on a dipping sauce for extra. And if you don’t see one that you like, you can also build your own, as a few diners did below.

The classic pizza flavour will always be PEPPERONI, when you don’t know what to get, you can’t go wrong with pepperoni. Theirs is made with their signature pizza sauce, pizza mozzarella and plenty of pepperoni slices.

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The RUSTIC ITALIAN utilizes their signature pizza sauce, pizza mozzarella, cheddar, spicy Italian sausage, red onions, green peppers and herbs. It is finished with fresh diced tomatoes and freshly grated Parmesan.

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The SPICY PEROGY is basically their SPICY PEROGY CACTUS CUT NACHOS over pizza dough. Sour cream, smoky bacon, Cactus Cut Potatoes, pizza mozzarella, cheddar, green onion, and a dollop of sour cream. They tasted very similar too.

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The TROPICAL CHICKEN features an alfredo sauce instead of the traditional tomato base sauce. From there pizza mozzarella, cheddar, smoky bacon, chunks of chicken breast, and pineapple are added.

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All their pizzas are available in gluten-free versions. This is the TROPICAL CHICKEN gluten-free. You can easily tell them apart by their rectangular shape to helps avoid confusion.

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Two more gluten free pizzas. These were a customized ham and mushroom and a bacon with black olives.

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Speaking of customizing your own pizza. This was a customized order of chicken and mushroom.

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It wasn’t “Boston Pasta”, but more of us ordered pasta over their pizza. I even had some as an upgraded side.

The BAKED-SEVEN CHEESE RAVIOLI was fairly popular at $17.29. Ravioli stuffed with Parmesan, Emmental, ricotta, fontina and Romano cheese. Sauced with your choice of either their beefy Bolognese or their signature marinara sauce. Then finished with pizza mozzarella and cheddar, and baked bubbly. The first is with the marinara sauce the second, their “beefy Bolognese” sauce. The bits of brown beef being the only visible difference.

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The BOSTON’S LASAGNA that went for $15.49 didn’t look all that different from the ravioli above. It was their beefy Bolognese sauce layered over lengthy lasagna noodles, topped with pizza mozzarella, then baked and topped with fresh Parmesan once out of the oven. This wasn’t lasagna in the traditional sense. More like they called it a “lasagna” because of the type of noodles use. It didn’t come out stacked firm and tall like a typical lasagna, and it lacked the thicken creamy cheeses in between layers of pasta, that I am use too. Tasty, but not as expected.

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This is their BOSTON’S GARLIC SHRIMP SPAGHETTI for $18.99. Sautéed shrimp, garlic and red onions tossed with spaghetti. Dressed in a white wine, pesto, and Parmesan sauce. Finished with fresh tomatoes and freshly grated Parmesan.

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Like with all the other pastas, you had the option to add in extra cheese or to bake the lot of it in cheese. The price differed by a couple of bucks for the service. This CHICKEN AND MUSHROOM FETTUCCINI was baked in cheese for $19.98. It is sautéed chicken breast and fresh mushrooms tossed with fettuccini noodles in their signature Marsala cream sauce with tomatoes and green onion.

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The MEDITERRANEAN VEGETABLE BOWTIE was priced at $16.99. It is bowtie noodles in a marinara sauce with basil pesto and white wine; topped with red peppers, red onions, and fresh tomato. This serving was requested to come without its other listed ingredients: no marinated artichoke hearts, sun-dried tomatoes, mushrooms, fresh spinach, feta, or crushed chilies.

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The BOSTON’S SMOKY MOUNTAIN SPAGHETTI AND MEATBALLS is a safe bet for $18.98. Spaghetti noodles smothered in their beefy Bolognese sauce, served topped with hearty homestyle meatballs and melted cheddar.

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And as is always the case, if you don’t like what you see, you can add on and remove ingredients to craft your own perfect pasta combination. The ability to do so started at $12.99. For example, this bowtie pasta in an alfredo sauce, baked with cheese and served with two skewers of shrimp. And this other order of Alfredo bowtie pasta, but with a double side of cheesy toast instead.

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And then a more classic fettuccine alfredo with the typical add on of grilled chicken breast and garlic toast.

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For entrees, they also covered many bar favourites like this order of three TACOS for $12.79. Three grilled soft tacos filled with lettuce, red onions, cilantro, cheddar, and tomatoes; with a squeeze of lime. It is topped with crunchy tortilla strips, their creamy sweet chili sauce, and your choice of breaded jalapeño shrimp or grilled chicken breast. This was the former, and I came too late to take a picture of it in its complete state.

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This is a chicken sandwich made using two pieces of their signature pizza bread to sandwich chargrilled chicken breast, lettuce, and mayonnaise.

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Their DOUBLE BACON BBQ BURGER had more colour at $14.99. But instead of regular potato fries, these was an upgraded to yam fries. The burger patty uses Canadian beef, dressed in salt and pepper, smothered in their Jack Daniel’s inspired BBQ sauce. Everything is sandwiched between two brioche buns with lettuce, tomato, cheddar cheese, pickles, and plenty of bacon.

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THE MVB (MOST VALUABLE BURGER) also runs at $14.99. Once again a Canadian all-beef patty is placed between a brioche bun. It is then stacked with cheddar cheese, fresh lettuce, tomatoes, red onions, pickles and their signature cactus dip.

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The full rack of ribs for $25.99 looked disappointing. Pasty brown coloured SLOW-ROASTED PORK BACK RIBS. You choose your own sauce and it is severed with garlic toast, seasonal vegetables and your choice of side dish. In this case it was fries. You were better off with the steak sandwich below.

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I had the “STEAK SANDWICH” for $19.99. And it was just as impressive in person as was in its menu photo. A thick 8-ounce New York strip loin steak, aged a minimum of 28 days, seasoned with Montréal steak spice, and charbroiled medium rare as I had requested. All the listed effort was worth it for this outcome of perfect tender texture and thoroughly seasoned flavour. It is highlighted on a French-style bun, with sautéed mushrooms, balsamic-roasted red onions, and fresh Parmesan. Each element was great alone, but made a complete bite coming together. I greedily had my serving with an entree on the side. A smaller portion of their lasagna, which is once again, essentially a beef sauce pasta prepared with lengths of ripply lasagna noodle. It was tasty, put not the solid slab-like cut into texture I wanted to wrap my tongue around.

And when it came time for dessert, between our group, we had one of each of the desserts twice over. Every item was visited twice or trice, except for the apple crisp that everyone bypassed. I guess it seemed the most tame and lack lustre compared to all the below.

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The FUTURE PROSPECTS RED VELVET CAKE at $4.99, was not only a tasty visual treat, it was also a charitable one as well. This is a Red Velvet Cake topped with a cheesecake mousse, and served with a berry sauce with whipped cream and a white chocolate coin. $1 from every cake sold goes to Boston Pizza Foundation Future Prospects. I liked the white chocolate medallion that crowned the single serve round of cake, but was disappointed how much larger it looked in the menu’s photo, than in person.

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The CHOCOLATE BROWNIE ADDICTION came in two sizes. The regular here goes for $6.49, and the bite sized version, with only one brownie square runs at $3.99. As I mentioned early, this was probably the favourite dessert of the room. A warm chocolate brownie topped with two scoops of vanilla bean ice cream, caramel and a chocolate sauce. This group likes its classics.

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We also saw a few of the traditional style NEW YORK CHEESECAKE went for $6.99 come to our tables. It is cream cheese on a graham cracker crust, dressed with a strawberry syrup.

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The WARM MINI DONUTS at $6.99 were good, but really nothing all that memorable. A warm cakey doughnut, where I was hoping for the spongy ones you get from fairs and outdoor carnivals. As a cakey doughnut I wished they came with more powered sugar to have an even coating of dust over each, and across your lips. Instead, they are served from the oven, tossed in icing sugar that is quick to melt. They come with a chocolate and berry sauce for some much needed dipped flavouring.

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The BOSTON CREAM PIESCRAPER for $8.99 was as visually decadent as it was delicious. But sadly there is such thing as too much of a good thing. Worthy of its pun-derful name, it is a tall serving of vanilla and custard ice cream. The latter was a little too sweet for me, and the chocolate ganache, whipped cream, and drizzles of caramel and chocolate sauce didn’t help. It was also all the same one texture, I was missing something hard and chewy to crunch on. And there was only so much crumbly cookie crust to go on. Some chopped nuts, a topping of cookie, or even a shard of brittle would have helped in this regard.

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The CHOCOLATE DOUGHCANO is a one of a kind “Boston Pizza” dessert for $8.99. It utilizes their pizza dough in another way, yet again. It is essentially two dessert stuffed into one other. Creamy chocolate mousse with chunks of cheesecake, caramel, toffee, pecans and almonds are wrapped and baked in their pizza dough until golden brown. It is served with icing sugar, whipped cream and chocolate sauce. When you cut into it, the chocolate oozes out like how a lava cake would. Another one for the chocolate lovers, and all together too sweet for me.

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The CHOCOLATE EXPLOSION ran at $7.99. It is basically the filling of the desert above, but shaped into a slice of cake and without the pizza crust-shell. Creamy chocolate mousse chunks of cheesecake, caramel, toffee, pecans and almonds on a chocolate crust.

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THE PANOOKIE is a large, freshly baked chocolate chip cookie, prepared and served in a pan, hot from the oven, for $5.99. It comes to your table with already partially melted vanilla bean ice cream and drizzles of chocolate and caramel sauces, oozing and gooey from the heat.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
Their food might not win any awards, but choosing this as our destination meant everyone was sure to find at least one thing that they could and would eat. We left with our bellies full and broad smiles on our faces, having paid prices that won’t break the bank. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

BOSTON PIZZA
Station Square
135-6200 McKay Avenue, Burnaby BC, V5H 4L7
604-431-6565
bostonpizza.com
Boston Pizza Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Frites, Granville

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I have been here once before, a few years back; when this poutinerie, imported from Montreal first opened its doors in BC. However after one visit, I found them good, but not having much more to bring me through the doors yet again. Especially given how the Vancouver food scene is speckled with poutine. Most places seem to offer their take on the traditional fries, cheese, and gravy; as well as clever interpretations all their own. From stand alone poutine shops to restaurants offering this popular Canadian classic their way. So with all there is to choose from, restaurants focusing on poutine really have their work cut out for them.

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Fast forward and I was back, and to my delight, much has changed. It was nice to see how they have made changes based off of the feedback from customers like me, and now offer a greater in depth menu. I was ready to try some of it, and to eat my words. They currently have a much more fulsome menu, with offerings able to give them their own spot on the market.

To read my original review and have a good comparison point between now and then, click the link.

Frites

My guest this evening was actually a former employee. With his behind the counter expertise, he easily navigated us towards what was a must try and why. They are now known of their international spins-off of the traditional poutine. You still have the fries, but everything else is new and different. The gravy is replaced with sauces, and the cheese a bevy of ingredients. There were falafel fries with a cucumber and tomato salsa, a Montreal smoked meat poutine, a Kalbi beef and kimchi poutine inspired by Korean cuisine, and for the pickle lovers a poutine with battered pickle pieces in a dill pickle sauce.

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My guest highly recommend the “Pad Thai frites”, as his favourite. Thicker cut fries are dressed in a spicy pad Thai sauce with bean sprouts, cilantro, lime, and peanuts. The end result is a taste and texture you wouldn’t expect to like, but do, and easily too. Sadly it was a little too spicy for me to enjoy fully but the juicy sprouts and the fragrant herbs did cut through a bit of that. But it was the tasty peanut sauce that had to coming back for more.

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And if you didn’t like any of their international poutines you can easily get a traditional one, where they don’t skimp on the cheese curds. This is the small, served in easy to take out box.

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But if you want an even easier way to eat gravy cheese and fries, they have a “deep fried poutine”. It is essentially a spring roll wrapper folded over fries, cheese, and bacon bits. Fried to order and served with gravy for dipping. This was carbs in carbs with a crispy bite from start to finish, and the addition of bacon also adds another layer to it. An interesting interpretation, but I must rather the original above.

And if you still can’t find exactly what you are looking for, you can simply customize your own poutine with over 15 different gourmet sauces to choose from. But instead, I turned my attention to their waffle sandwiches.

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Given the one man operation they were running, where you ordered behind the cash counter, speaking directly with the chef through his window; I was impressed with their freshly pressed waffles made into sandwich. You could hear the hinge of the press squeak and could smell the dough bubble and bake. And the end result was a delicious “Crispy chicken waffle sandwich”. Best eaten fresh when the dough is still crispy and the lettuce and tomato are still fresh. The fried chicken was no slouch either, a well fried crunchy and juicy piece of white meat, made tangy with a generous scoop of mayonnaise. A great lunch, or in my case a take out late night snack.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
First impressions are important, but I never miss an opportunity to reassess. If I had stayed away, I would have missed out of discovering their international fries. Some pretty interesting combinations for those like me, who love a lot of novelty for dinner. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

FRITES
1011 Granville Street, Vancouver BC, V6Z 1L5
60-559-0550
frieswithbenefits.com
Frites Granville Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Bug Tasting with #OpenExperience

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On my quest to becoming a more well informed food blogger, I seek out the unique. I go out of my way to find edibles that others may not get to try or want to try, and then take on the experience, to be able to write about it. Not only does this increase my overall knowledge, but it expands my palette as well.

This way of thinking has led me to this “Open Experience” bug tasting event, hosted by “Kudoz”. An event that is one of a kind, not only in subject matter, but by its benefactors.

According to their media outlet, “Kudoz is a learning platform for adults with cognitive disabilities. Through one-on-one experiences people learn new skills, meet new friends, and explore new places.” For those who signed up and were able to attend this free event, we were treated to the typical workings of a showcase, as well as given testimonials from those that used and benefitted from the program.

Their events not only cover bug tasting, but hikes, scrapbooking, bread baking, and even a crash course on politics. Basically anything any one has any interest in, and is willing to teach others on. The instructors are regular people like you and me, wanting to do some good and able to take on this venture. After our event, we were even extended the opportunity to do just that. Naturally it does work better if you are out going, have patience, and lack the fear to presenting in public. Our host for the evening, had all of those attributes and made a fine guide on this tour into the world of Entomophagy.

“Entomophagy” is the human use of insects as food. It is a subject and practice that elicits numerous looks of disgust, but a common one for many living in North, Central, and South America; Africa, Asia, Australia, and New Zealand. And all I can advise is to not knock it before you try it.

Our time tasting was supplemented with a crash course on sustainability. The ways that eating insects not only helps the planet, but offers a good source of protein. An especially useful tidbit for vegetarians; poignant, as my guest this evening is a vegetarian.

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But the highlight of the event was definitely being able to dig in and cross another to-do off the foodie bucket list. The tasting engages the senses through sight, touch, texture, and taste. Everything is preset out in a box grid. Each line representing crispy, crunchy, and chewy versus the columns of feel, look, and taste. You were comparing snacks that feels, look, and tasted like meal worms, crickets, or a protein bar made from cricket flour. We were encouraged to take notes on our experience and rank our enjoyment of each insect offering. Together as a group we nibble and chatted.

To watch the vlog of our very interactive experience click the link.

Overall it was something worth trying for the curious. The meal worms had a lovely crunch and an easy to pop into your mouth texture. They were seasoned like barbecue flavoured hickory sticks and had a similar shape.

The crickets were a little more intimidating, given their appearance. A few had protruding antennae and their wings and legs were prone to shedding. I can see why it is more popular to ground them up into flour, to be used in baking; or in today’s case the protein bars below. The crickets were mealy, their aftertaste grainy. They didn’t offer much flavour as is, but I am sure would have been just as tasty if seasoned in a sour cream and onion flavour or even barbecue like above.

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The protein bars were from local Vancouver company, “Coast Protein”. Currently they are the easiest way to get your bug fix within the city. Their chewy and nutty bars are available in peanut butter and chocolate flavour. They were tasty and certainly something anyone who likes a good bar can enjoy. You can’t tell many insects went into the making of this.

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Overall this was a great experience, and coming out of it, I wish there were more options for insect edibles in the city. For now we just have to make our baggies of leftover meal worms and crickets last. We were treated to packet of honey mustard crickets and sea salted mealworms as our parting gift. We would later use them to top a very Canadian poutine, adding a different crunch to the popular late night snack.

 

Once again, don’t knock it until you try it. And don’t deny those cravings.

 

KUDOZ
kudoz.ca

Curry Express

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I ventured for a meal at the Metrotown food court on the wrong day. It was busy, it was crowded, and line ups were unavoidable. So I saved my time and walked right up to the only stall without a wait: “Curry Express”. They are also the only Indian cuisine offering in all of the mall.

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They advertised themselves as being “fine Indian cuisine”, I would argue that detail. Especially as everything was premade, kept warm under heat lamps, and waiting to be dispensed from metal troughs.

I don’t have much experience when it comes to Indian cuisine. And given the noise and energy of the food court, it didn’t seem like the time or place to better educate myself. So, I therefore stuck with what I knew and ordered some butter chicken with two servings of naan.

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But sadly, just watching her scoop my order into the styrofoam bowl, I knew I would be disappointed. The portion was a small, and the container would not be filled to the brim. There was plenty of room for another scoop of sauce, which what I really wanted, and what was needed to dip my bread product into. At least the serving was tasty enough, to have me sopping up every last bit; with the naan providing a nice chewy base. The large cubes of chicken were surprisingly tender. But overall the dish wasn’t as creamy as I would have imagined it, or have had it in the past. Especially considering it is primary made out of butter. I have had versions a lot more luscious, and that was what I was missing from this.

Seeing the smaller portion of food I was about to get, I added on another serving from behind the sneeze proof glass. It looked good, and after confirming it was just potato and cauliflower I got it to go too. This portion would also not be filled to the top, and even more so. I really wasn’t feeling like I was getting my money’s worth, especially when I was given the total later.

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As for the dish, everything in it was grainy in texture; from the soften potatoes to the chopped up cauliflower florets. The seasoning of it was a lot spicier than with the butter chicken. It was also better over rice, than with my order of naan. Filling with starches, but not all that memorable.

Walking away I felt I had over paid, something that doesn’t happen often, as I value food, and am willing to pay unreasonable sums for quality and rarity. My bill came to $12.60. Apparently each small serving was $6.30 according to the cashier, when I asked. I am assuming this is after taxes. I could have gotten so much more from any of the other neighbouring stalls. Or the employees could have offered me the ability to take advantage of their combo for $9.75. Especially when they are trying to rush you through the order and check out process, not giving you much time to read the menu above the counter. The combo was two curries, naan, rice, and a drink. Something that I discovered myself after paying and staying back. I went through the menu as I just couldn’t believe I was asked to pay this much for so little food.

 

Would I come back? – No.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – No.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
It was tasty and something I wouldn’t mind having again, but I don’t think $6 a cup is something I could muster. This is given my experience with Indian restaurants serving food just as good, if not better, for less per portion size. But when at Metrotown, in the food court, and craving Indian; they are your only option, so buyer beware. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

CURRY EXPRESS
Metrotown Food Court
4820 Kingsway, Burnaby BC, V5H 4P1
604-454-1004
curry-express.ca
Curry Express Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

MeeT in Gastown

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During our downtown hot chocolate crawl we found ourself craving a break. A pause to give our sweet tooths a rest, and to fill our stomachs with something more substantial. And when I think of the opposite of chocolate, I think vegetables. That criteria led us to the second location of “Meet”, in Gastown. “Meet” is a Main Street favourite, a restaurant that serves up vegetarian and vegan comfort food for those with the dietary preference, as well as specializing in meat mimics and dishes that an omnivore like myself can appreciate. Most memorable is their cauliflower spoof of chicken wings. We wouldn’t be having that today, but if you get a chance, I suggest trying it for yourself.

This specific location has seen many incarnations. It is a unique space, beautifully done with skylights, featuring a court yard that leads into it. However it is definitely a destination, if you were walking past, you may not see them or want to venture closer for a better look. Therefore the real estate needed an established brand, a restaurant that already had a successful following to draw in a crowd. And they definitely found it with “Meet”.

The walkway leading to the restaurant is a corridor sandwiched by a clothing boutique on one side and a coffee shop on the other. If you didn’t know what you were looking for, or didn’t manage to notice the bubble lettering of “Meet” flagging it, you could easily miss the restaurant. The lone tree that centres the courtyard and obstructs a clear walk to the front door doesn’t help either. Although during the summer, when its leaves have flourished, it must provide wonderful crowd cover for those enjoying the patio.

Inside the space was well lit from the afore mentioned skylights. The setting is causal. Three rows of wooden tables with lightweight metal chairs. Above it bulbs shining at the ends twisted metal and others dangling by cables of rope. Blackboards offer up available specials.

We were given a table by the door, it offered us a view of those walking across cobblestones, and the ability to peer into the neighbouring businesses, also built with glass walls.

The menu is a front and back listing of comfort favourite. All vegetarian and vegan substitutions provided when asked. Thick soups, fresh salads, hearty chilli, french fry bowls, starchy noodles, and two handed burgers.

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We went for the “Sweet chilli cauliflower”, which resembled sweet and sour pork in its thickened sauce and its neon appearance. Cauliflower florets that are beer battered and seasoned with a tamarind, chilli, and ginger glaze. Then finished with a sprinkling of scallions and sesame seeds. As the menu promised it is one that you go back for. Crunchy cauliflower, gooey batter, and a delicious bite.

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The “Chilli cheez fries” were fries topped with chilli and in house made queso cheese (daiya cheese substitute is available for vegans), and topped with a cashew sour cream. The cheese looked like mustard, and didn’t actually taste like cheese, but it had a satisfying creaminess to it none-the-less. The use of cucumber in their salsa was a nice twist, it added a foreign juiciness and a nice crunch to the otherwise soften mound of chewy potatoes.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
Comfort bar food enjoyed with a clean twist, in a nice setting to enjoy lunch at or even a quick snack. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

MEET GASTOWN
12 Water Street, Vancouver BC, V6B 4K7
604-696-1111
Meet in Gastown Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Neptune Wonton Noodle

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With all the renovations happening at Station Square in Burnaby, there are now some new shops in this once forgotten complex, adjacent to Metrotown. One such is “Neptune Wonton Noodle”, a Chinese restaurant offering decent food and seats when the Fortune Chinese restaurant within the mall can’t.

They are a smaller restaurant that seems to be building up traction with an older crowd. They also must be fairly popular, enough to have a handful of locations across the lower mainland; thus being their newest. I don’t see myself going there as a destination, but they offer a decent option for a quick lunch or take out dinner when you don’t want to cook. The following dishes are ones purchased across three visits. Enough to give me a good assessment of the place.

The take out menu is your basic rice, noodle, appetizers, and chef specials divide. Most of it two to three words, giving you the gist of what you will be having. I stuck with what I knew.

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“Braised beef brisket with noodle in soup”. For take out it is packed into two separate containers. Soup that you pour into the noodle yourself. This was to ensure your noodles didn’t get water logged and soggy by the time you wanted to have them. Just unpacking it, the beef looked over cooked, this was quickly confirmed with the first bite. They were also very fatty pieces, even for me, one who typically likes the mix of lean meat and fatty sinew. I found myself painstakingly removing this fat with chopsticks, which isn’t an easy task. The dish also felt very plain, it could have used a carrot or some vegetable for freshness. Something more than just yellow noodles and brown meat. But at $7 it was pretty good and cheaper than any fast food menu combo. And despite the oily broth, I am going to say healthier too. A clear broth with an herbal after note. Not that great alone, best with the meat and noodles stewing in it.

My next visit came about because I was drinking the night before, much more than I should or could. So to balance things out the next day I ordered the “Preserved duck egg with lean pork congee” for brunch. I didn’t go in with high expectations so ordered based on price. Under $10 for a lunch that could eat like a dinner.

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However, what I was given instead and took out was Wendy’s order of “fresh shrimp wonton in noodle soup”. Lucky for me it cost the same, and as I just wanted something warm, it fit the bill. I called the restaurant explaining the situation, and that I had already left and had no intention of returning. The host (the one who handed off the wrong order) was extremely apologetic, to the point that she cut me off several times trying to say “sorry” and to end the conversation quick. What they offered me to rectify the situation was my correct order the next day, I would except this happily.

But now I was enjoying what Wendy wanted. It came with five full wontons and they were indeed fresh. Whole pieces of shrimp surrounded and shaped in a ball of pork. The noodles were filling and the broth another rich and clear soup. Once again I wanted some vegetable and more depth, but at $8 this was just quick and easy Chinese fast food.

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When I finally got my order of “Preserved duck egg with lean pork congee” I was pleasantly surprised. I figured it would be on the bland side and that I would need to come up with my own side for it. However stirring the portion up, you could see it was full of chewy pulled pork strings and chunks of gelatin like egg pieces. The savoury and warm rice porridge was a great compliment to the cold snowy day we were having. And the container of green onion packed on the side, offered some of that freshness I was lacking from the two dishes above.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
Overall I wouldn’t consider them a destination meal, but for quick stop with easy parking and plenty of access, they are fairly convenient. They also offer something different from the mall’s fast food court. For average Chinese at decent prices I would recommend them. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

NEPTUNE WONTON NOODLE
Station Square
2/F, 4405 Central Blvd, Burnaby BC, V5H 4M3
778-379-0639
Neptune Wonton Noodle Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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