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Category: 24 hours

Duffin’s Donuts

We just finished a two hour movie that took us right to 12:15pm. And unfortunately due to the lateness of its conclusion, we were limited in our late night dinner options. Not wanting another fast food burger we took the drive to “Duffin’s Donuts”. Still fast food, but more than just doughnuts.

It is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. And with free wifi and decent prices, they have the makings of a great hot spot. A prime destination for those wanting some greasy eats after a night out at the clubs or drinking. Or for those like us, individuals who are hungry this late, and are looking for something different. Older couples dining and young adults on a late night, cheap date. They are especially popular with semi-drivers, noticeable with their visibility vests and large semis parked out front. “Duffins” caters to those that travel between dusk at dawn. Tonight it was a mix from regulars to those like us, passing through.

Although it does feel like a fast food restaurant when you walk in. Plastic booths seats attached to tables, in red and yellow. And tiled walls and floors, reflecting the florescent, humming lights above. You order at the counter, at one of the two registers going simultaneously.

My partner was lured in by the glass case of fried chicken and spring rolls, despite what little pieces were left baking under the heat lamp. A piece of fried white meat chicken went for $2.85, and the vegetable spring roll, $1.50.

The chicken was from chicken distributor, “Fritou”. They delivered their factory fried poultry to such restaurants and convenient stores. It was surprisingly good. The juiciness of the meat didn’t really seem to be affected by the elongated wait under the lamp. The skin was crispy and the portion was fairly light. The spring roll on the other hand was disappointing, it had a drab flavour even with a dip in packets of plum sauce.

I played it safe with a Vietnamese mixed ham sub. It was pre-made and served cold on tough bread, that scraped the roof of my mouth. A through toast would have helped it exponentially. But considering where we were and the $5 we paid for it, it wasn’t all that bad. Ideally the pickles in this would have been tangier and the meat more flavourful. They were missing the rich paste and sour vegetable that makes the traditional sandwich iconic.

Given the show case of doughnuts and the excited faces of the grown men that stood in front of it, deciding what to get; we took a box of six to go.

The “rainbow” had pink icing and colourful sprinkles on a cakey doughnut ring.
The “buttermilk” was filled with custard. And unfortunately the combination of the two together was a little dense for my liking. I should have gotten it in either the strawberry or lemon jelly for some freshness.
The “angel” was a powdered sugar dusted doughnut filled with chocolate flavoured whipped cream.
The “honey dip” was your classic spongy ring coated in a thin layer of hardened sugar. I liked this the best for its texture.
The “Boston cream” was topped with marbled icing sugar and filled with custard cream. Another tried and true classic.
And the “French cruller” had a topping of caramel to give it some additional sweetness. It is also available in a chocolate or vanilla icing as well.

Overall, I found the doughnuts too dense. Bogged down by the heavy sugar coating and the cakey batter. Where I prefer an airy doughnut like the cruller or the honey dip was close to giving me.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
“Duffin’s” is an institution. Not necessarily the destination for a planned meal or really outstanding food. But instead, a great last minute stop for a cheap bite on the go. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

DUFFIN’S
1391 East 41st Avenue, Vancouver BC, V5W 3R9
604-325-5544
Duffin's Donuts Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Pho Hoa

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In defensive of fast food pho. I always hear people giving flack to this place. But who hasn’t at least once made this their after clubbing or drinking Saturday night/Sunday morning plans. The food isn’t the best, but by no means is it the worse. So before you get into this blog post I am going to go ahead and mention my disclaimer. I have written it at the bottom. So before you read my review and make up your mind, or voice your opinion over mine. I offer maybe starting at the bottom and work your way up? A suggestion for an different view?

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A long standing location on Kingsway and Nanaimo. Surrounding buildings and establishments have come and gone, but “Pho Hoa” remains. And today during my latest visit I have noticed things have changed yet again. Long gone is the neighbouring adult store that kept parallel late hours. Instead the only light on the block was the florescent and neon glow of their logo, a woman carrying a bowl with steam lines coming out the top. Inside the restaurant the set up has changed as well. There is nothing like a fresh paint job to perk up a once trying place. Though the choice of evergreen and mauve brown seems to be a mismatch, despite it being their trademark colours. They never really did put an emphasis on decor. With tiled floors, buzzing lights, and a few limp potted plants; the space felt like a cafeteria. Vietnamese styled water paintings and posters advertising their food and drinks hung on spacious walls. I kind of found the later pointless, considering you were already here to eat. What I appreciated was their consistency in furniture. Instead of being frugal with mismatched furniture, all speckled table tops were paired with the same hard seated chairs with low uncomfortable backs. It all looked to be very low maintenance, something necessary when maintaining a 24 hours establishment. With no closing hours and no after hours the staff are constantly cleaning. It was oddly dark despite multiple lights. Drab with faint trail of music from the kitchen and irritating with the sounds of buzzing equipment from the back. There were several exit signs hanging over head, despite the contained space and the only exit is essentially the entrance in which you came though. The individual sections were divided by stair steps, barriers and doors, the restaurant had lots of room. This guaranteed a quick wait, if any was needed at all. For regulars it was self serve. You choose your seat and were later given a laminated one page menu to order from.

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Jackfruit and Durian smoothie. With such exotic flavours not commonplace in most restaurants, I had to order these for a try. Oddly these took the longest to prepare. Only slightly sweet, you absolutely got the full flavour of the fruit. A good thing if you are already familiar with the tastes. Never hearing of, seeing, or tasting durian my guest couldn’t get past the trademark stench to enjoy its unique flavour. Durian is a delicacy, known as the kings of fruits. With its spiked shell and pungent rotten smell it makes you earn its soft and sweet fruit. A treat I am very familiar with being born in south East Asian and having it as my mom’s favourite fruit. Jackfruit is another exotic fruit I grew up experiencing. With its rubber like texture and fibrous flesh it’s like no other. I have never had it fresh and unprocessed, only enjoying its taste in drinks and cakes, and it’s fruit in canned syrup and as dried chips.

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“Fried roll”. This spring roll was deep fried to order, and best eaten fresh. This large roll was equivalent to two regulars else where. With a crispy and flaky skin, it is rolled full of ingredients. The dipping sauce on the side was used to give the bites a tangy sweet and sour flavour. We enjoyed this with mouthfuls of dried noodle and a dab of fish sauce.

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“Pho noodle soup” with pieces of steak and beef brisket. We added meatball for $1.85, only to feel cheated with 4 halves. We ordered the large to share because when you are hungry, a small is too small. Each bowl of pho is made with their signature beef or chicken broth and accompanied by an assortment of meats. Cuts and parts for your choosing based on your preference. And served with a side dish of fresh basil, bean sprouts, chilli peppers and lemon wedges. I enjoy my pho as is with bean sprouts. I don’t soak the basil leaves in the soup, or squeeze in the chilli, nor do I want a spritz of lemon juice. I enjoy it as is, even without the use of the popular brown sauce mid way. Though it is a popular option for many and available as a bottle at each table, along side a squeezable bottle of chilli sauce and an caddy of extra eating utensils. They pretty much have it set up for self service after your food gets dropped off.

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“Grilled chicken vermicelli plate”. An item listed as dry, as in without soup. Each plate is prepared with julienne cucumber, shredded lettuce, pickled carrots and bean sprouts. Garnished with pan fried scallions and roasted peanuts. And served with their house fish sauce. Not as fatty as you would expect, it tasted healthy as the menu promised. Refreshing and zesty. The chicken were tender pieces of dark meat. It was well seasoned with a signs of a lovely grill. It broke apart easily with the disposable chopsticks provided.

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This observation may be based on traffic and time of day I have visited, (ie: only late at night after 12pm), but soliciting help from servers has always been a struggle. With plenty to do and lots to keep busy with, staff are always tending to a task. I guess this is preferred over them simply chit chatting. Though with their heads down and hands busy, acquiring help consists of stepping up and out of your seat, then actively requesting the presence of one of the two servers. When asked, doggy bagging consisted of bringing us plastic and styrofoam containers to do it ourselves. I guess this may be preferred as I didn’t want to collect it all home with me anyways. And finally when wanting to pay. Getting the bill meant getting up and waiting by the register. Though realistically the last step was done the quickest.

It just dawned on me, do they wash up before serving you, when in the middle of a cleaning job?

Would I come back? – Yes.
It is not the best pho. But it doesn’t need to be. It serves its function as fast food pho. This is the solution for those wanting a meal late at night and a spot to sit and sober up at, before stumbling home. An idea better than puking in a cab. Both true stories. So many of my great drunken nights have ended here, and for that reason this is also a yes to recommend. The above is despite what others say. As context I posted a picture of the food on my Instagram account and I immediately got called out for going there and was told the food was bad. Though the fact I ate until full and finished the leftovers the next day, proves that the food was good (At least to me). Maybe the stigma of the place has overpowered the reality? After all they have renovated and repaired. Stream lined their menu and improved their service. They still see customers and are open thanks to repeat business. So they must be doing something right. Right?

Upon reading its name many immediately feel the need to inject their opinions on this restaurant. They complain of the quality of food and the fact that it is still open. Yet they forget they have been here once, if not twice. Enough times to form their decision. Agreeably this would not be my first choice for the best pho in the city, though at the same time I hardly find it worth avoiding. Open 24 hours in a convenient to get to location with plenty of parking on the street, in their lot, and underground; chances are you can drive in and be seated with ease. A large sitting area with multiple tables and staff trained to be efficient, means you are in and out in no time. I remember many late nights here. A spot we knew would be open, a place we could get some hearty and nourishing food at, and a space we were allow to stay at without disruption. The perfect restaurant for when you can’t stomach anything greasy, gravied, or deep fried; like at all other 24 hour places. “Pho Hoa” is that other option.

Fast food pho? Ain’t nothing wrong with fast food? Not everything needs to be sit down and dine. And like food court Chinese food, this is where I would take someone to try pho for the first time. Don’t deny your cravings.

PHO HOA
2257 Kingsway, Vancouver BC, V5N 2T6
604-432-6022
phohoa.com
Pho Hoa Noodle Soup on Urbanspoon

Lucy’s Eastside Diner

IMG_451524 hour goodness.

Working late nights may mean grabbing dinner at 1:30am, though at this time of dawn your options are severely limited. Majority of establishments still open involve fried foods under heat lamps at connivence stores , and greasy Chinese meals in small and dingy hole in the walls. After googling 24 hour places in my proximity, I was sold on “Lucy’s”, as it was the only one that did not involve noodles in soup.

This is what you imagine when you think retro diner, it was like we walked back into the 70’s. Walls painted in a faded teal or pink. Black and white checkered floors tiles. Table tops and bar surfaces in vinyl with ribbed metal edges. Each seat was equipped with a napkin dispenser and a glass bottle of Heinz ketchup, which with its peeling label had clearly seen multiple refills. There was no music, the background was the buzzing of well lit bulbs and the humming of machinery kept behind the swinging kitchen doors. The most memorable decor piece was their collection of vintage fans behind the bar. It paired well with all their large black and white photos from other diner’s of the past.

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We took a seat in the back to avoid the argument at the front bar between the lone server and, by the sounds of things, a regular customer. Apparently he failed to pay her on his last visit and now was pestering her to sell alcohol past the 12am cut off. He, like 80% of the patrons were drunk, and made this their stumbling ground to sober up in. This, after being ejected from all the near by bars and restaurants. It must be hard to work a job that has you dealing with drunken guests on a regular bases. We figured that this is where all the drunk hipsters of Main Street gather. I was impressed and terrified over the way the server held her ground. She snapped back with a furious authoritative tone. In any other situation you would find her behaviour unacceptable, as this is the service industry. In this case it was necessary, how can you have a reasonable conversation with a belligerent drunk man? I felt bad hearing her repeat herself, but like everyone else, I awkwardly minded my own business. When it came time to take our order, serve, and check in she wasn’t exactly friendly, though it was a lot more pleasant that what I had heard from her earlier. Not that I was going to complain or voice opinion.

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The menu was an eye catching, cutesy teal and pink, a similar colour to the walls. This laminated page was filled with simple comfort foods, a listing sure to please any pinky eater. Hot dogs, poutine, sandwiches, burgers, soups and salads, and every platter imaginable from breakfast to dinner. I salivated reading meatloaf, fried chicken, and grilled cheese. This is the type of food I turn to after long day. The type of food that is simple to make and usually tastes good in any variation. The type of food that warrants them designating themselves, “Vancouver’s best hangover eats”. I concur.

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“Everyday all day burger combo”. A single burger or any foot long hot dog, with fries and either a milkshake or a can of Vancouver island’s original lucky lager. Seeing as it was after 12pm we selected the milkshake. And sadly were unable to have it spiked for the same reason.
The orange creamsicle was thick, the kind of shake you really have to pucker up and suck hard through a straw. You could definitely make out the vanilla ice cream in the mix.
There was some slight confusion over the burger. For condiments my guest asked for just ketchup and mayo. The server took it to mean no anything else, no lettuce, no tomato; and as a result no flavour. She walked away fast and didn’t clarify what we wanted; and we were too intimated to say anything after the fact. It tasted like a frozen patty and looked like it with its perfect circular shape. Every bite into the bun resulted in the dripping grease.

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“Mac N’ Cheese & Pulled Pork Hoagie”. A toasted hoagie filled with hot pulled pork, and top generously with mac n’ cheese. Your sides are a choice between fries or soup. I chose the roasted tomato over the cauliflower purée. There is nothing more homey then a bowl of tomato soup with some cheese on bread. In this case cheese flavoured macaroni over a hot dog bun. Combining two things I like into one, all in a hand held bun is a winning combination. I was genuinely surprised how good this was. The pulled pork was tender and coated lusciously in a rich sweet barbecue sauce. This paired nicely with the saltiness of the cheesy sauce. It was packed full of flavour and enjoyable to eat.

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
This is the perfect spot after a late night of drinking and dancing. They covered everything from cocktails to hot dogs. From daily drink specials to hearty breakfast platters, with breakfast available all day and all night. These were great meals, so simple that you can technically prepare yourself, but here don’t have to and can just sit and enjoy, with no clean up afterward. I enjoyed my time eating these comfort foods and being surrounded in its theme. Though the service and the crowd I could have done without though. Don’t deny your cravings.

LUCY’S
2708 Main Street, Vancouver BC
604-568-1550
lucyseastsidediner.com
Lucy's Eastside Diner on Urbanspoon

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